Hope for the metropolitan solution to climate change

April 29, 2017 by  
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More than 7,000 cities will report emissions cuts and climate progress. That’s why Mike Bloomberg Carl Pope are optimistic about the future.

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Hope for the metropolitan solution to climate change

Gigantic golden egg sauna warms up residents of Sweden’s northernmost town

April 29, 2017 by  
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Bigert & Bergström just unveiled the Solar Egg, a giant golden sauna located in the town of Luossabacken, Sweden. The golden egg concept was hatched for the country’s northernmost town to provide residents with a toasty meeting place deep in the snow-covered landscape. The mining town of Kiruna is currently facing radical changes; the entire city is moving so that a mining company can extract more iron from underneath its landscape. Mining has been an essential part of the isolated town since the 19th century and the industry is vital to its existence. However, many are debating this dependence on iron mining – especially granted its impact on the environment and the town’s well-being. This issue inspired the Swedish designers from Bigert & Bergström to create the Solar Egg as a warm social meeting place where residents can debate the town’s future, or as they put it, “prompt thoughts of rebirth.” Related: Solar-powered Ecocapsule lets you live off-the-grid anywhere in the world The Solar Egg is made of stainless mirror sheeting that contrasts with the snowy landscape. The shimmering panels reflect and break up the surroundings into mirrored fragmented images – a design feature meant to represent the complexities that come with “heated” debates about climate change and sustainable living . The egg’s interior walls are clad in honeycomb wood panels that give the egg its pod-like shape. LED lighting illuminates the interior, and a large wood-heated, heart-shaped sauna stove made out of iron and stone sits in the middle of the space, providing a warm temperature of anywhere between 75° and 85° C. The Solar Egg is a part of Bigert & Bergström’s strategy to incorporate artwork into climate discussions – an initiative that began with the team’s Climate Chambers project in 1994. + Studio Bigert & Bergström Photography by Jean-Baptiste Béranger

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Gigantic golden egg sauna warms up residents of Sweden’s northernmost town

Inhabitat is hiring: morning news writer + social media editor

April 28, 2017 by  
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Calling all writers and editors with a passion for design and the environment! Inhabitat is hiring for two positions right now: Social Media Editor and Morning News Writer . Both are freelance, part-time, work-from-home positions. They could potentially be combined into a larger commitment for the right candidate, or two separate jobs for separate people. For more about each position and how to apply, please read on: MORNING NEWS WRITER Inhabitat is hiring a dedicated morning writer to cover breaking developments in the fields of environmental news , design , technology , and policy . We’re offering the right candidate first-rate story opportunities, 20 hours of work per week, and a platform to broadcast your voice to millions of monthly readers around the globe. Candidates must be available every weekday at 8am ET, and you should be able to source and quickly turn around breaking news stories with clarity, precision and wit. If you think you’d make a great new addition to the Inhabitat team, send the following information to editor [at] inhabitat.com with the headline “ Inhabitat News Writer “: 1. A cover letter telling us a bit about yourself, what your interests/specialties are, and why you would make a fantastic news writer for Inhabitat. 2. Your weekly availability. 3. Three breaking news stories that you would like to write for Inhabitat. 4. Three published story clips or links to online articles you have written. SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR Inhabitat is hiring a part-time social media editor for a weekend shift, (4 hours) as well as additional hours as needed during the week. Familiarity and expertise with current social media trends is a must, particularly including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit and Flipboard. Brownie points for experience or interest in live video (Facebook live, Instagram, Snapchat) or other new forms of publishing. If you think you’d make the perfect social media editor for Inhabitat, send the following information to editor [at] inhabitat.com with the headline “ Inhabitat Social Editor “: 1. A cover letter and resume telling us a bit about yourself, your background, experience and interest, and why you would make a great Social Media Editor for Inhabitat. 2. Your weekday and weekend availability. 3. Two published story clips or links to online articles you have written or edited. 4. Links to social media accounts you have managed (can be your personal account or for a brand). Examples: pinterest, twitter, instagram, facebook, etc

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Inhabitat is hiring: morning news writer + social media editor

El Salvador just became the first country to ban metal mining

April 28, 2017 by  
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El Salvador just became the wold’s first country to ban metal mining . In a historic move, the country will no longer allow “prospection, exploration, exploitation, extraction or processing of metallic minerals.” While the US seems to be moving backwards when it comes to environmental protection, El Salvador has made a landmark step towards protecting its environment from the ravages of metal mining . This law “is necessary in the face of an industry which, far from bringing any benefit to communities, brings serious pollution to water sources and the environment,” said Mauricio Sermeno, president of the Salvadoran Ecological Unit. Lawmakers expect the move to protect not only the environment, but poor rural communities that are often threatened by mining projects. Related: Colombian town turns down $35B gold mine – prefers a clean environment Multiple countries in Latin America are engaged in battles with mining interests. Nicaragua, Peru and Guatemala are fighting against Canadian and US mining firms. Other countries thrive on the money mining brings, but struggle with the toxic and environmental problems caused by it. In banning mining, El Salvador is drawing a line between gold and green. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren signed the bill into law on Thursday. Here’s hoping this inspires other countries to do the same. Via Phys.org Images via Wikimedia and Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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El Salvador just became the first country to ban metal mining

Ford introduces the first-ever hybrid police car

April 28, 2017 by  
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When you think of police cars, visions of large, powerful and gas-hungry vehicles probably come to mind. Well, that vision of the “dirty” police car may change forever with Ford’s first-ever hybrid police car: meet the Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan. Ford currently more police vehicles in the United States than any other car-maker, with 63 percent market share. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is expected help cities’ Police departments decrease emissions and save fuel. The hybrid sedan is rated at an EPA-estimated combined gas mileage of 38 mpg – more than twice that of today’s Police Interceptor. The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is powered by an Atkinson-cycle 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. The hybrid is calibrated for law enforcement’s unique duty cycle and will run in battery-only mode up to 60 mph. Related: Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog Police vehicles spend lots of time idling, so the the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan’s lithium-ion battery helps power the high electrical loads of the police vehicle, reducing engine run time and saving an estimated 0.27 gallons of fuel per hour. Ford estimates that Police Responder Hybrid Sedan customers could see nearly $3,900 a year in potential fuel savings per vehicle relative to the Police Interceptor. The Ford Police Responder Hybrid Sedan is making its debut in Los Angeles and New York, but Ford hopes to start delivering them nationwide by next summer. + Ford Images @Ford

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Ford introduces the first-ever hybrid police car

Denmark to end subsidies for renewables much sooner than anyone thought possible

April 28, 2017 by  
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The renewable energy industry is performing extremely well in Denmark . The country’s energy minister Lars Christian Lilleholt said it’s performing so well, they’ll be able to stop providing state support for clean energy providers in just a few years. Denmark’s renewable energy industry will be able to stand on its own, and Lilleholt said he could not have predicted this outcome even last year. Denmark’s renewable energy industry needed subsidies for over 40 years. But soon they’ll be able to survive without a boost from the government. According to Lilleholt, the country’s experience shows it’s no longer cheaper to produce coal than renewables. The milestone is even more crucial right as the direction of global energy policies is uncertain while United States President Donald Trump embarks on an ill-advised attempt to revive coal . According to Bloomberg, the president has “made clear he’s an enemy of wind power .” Related: Denmark just broke its own wind power record for the second year in a row Lilleholt said technology will help clean energy become even more efficient and said “already today, it’s impossible to build a new coal power plant without support.” A government-appointed panel gave him the findings on the energy future of Denmark, and said the country is set to meet power needs entirely with renewable energy by 2050. Half the country’s energy requirement could be supplied by renewables as soon as 2030. The panel thinks a large amount of new capacity will be constructed without subsidies. Industry members seem just as surprised as Lilleholt. Outgoing CEO of engineering firm Danfoss Niels B. Christiansen thinks the price of producing renewable energy could fall below market electricity prices between 2020 and 2030, saying, “A year ago, it was debatable whether renewable energy costs could drop so low. But everyone’s now thinking that it will probably happen sooner.” Denmark is home to both the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer and world’s largest offshore wind farm operator, Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Dong Energy A/S . Via Bloomberg Images via Wikimedia Commons and courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems A/S

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Denmark to end subsidies for renewables much sooner than anyone thought possible

Scientists create super-strong bricks from mars-like soil

April 28, 2017 by  
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Future Mars dwellers may actually be able to use locally-sourced materials for their buildings. Four University of California, San Diego engineers were able to press Mars-like dirt into bricks in a study funded by NASA . No other materials were necessary to keep the blocks together. And the bricks were incredibly tough – even more than steel-reinforced concrete . A high-pressure hammer helped the engineers pack dirt – with the same chemical composition and grain size and shape as soil on Mars – into strong bricks. Since storage will be limited on any craft carrying astronauts to Mars, they may be able to devote room to other equipment if they know they can construct habitats with the red planet’s resources. Related: Scientists use Martian dust to 3D print tools On Earth we typically have to employ some type of adhesive to keep construction materials together. But simulated Mars dirt actually has a chemical ingredient that helps bind it. Structural engineer Yu Qiao told The Verge the chemical ingredient “gives the soil strength when it’s compacted.” It may be feasible for humans to hammer out bricks on the red planet as well. NASA life sciences expert Jon Rask, not part of the study, told The Verge, “It’s really easy to swing a hammer on Mars. You can imagine a Mars explorer swinging a hammer to make strong building blocks.” The team worked with lunar soil in the past, when NASA aimed to go back to the moon . Lunar dirt requires a binder, but since the binder would have to be shipped from Earth, the team worked with the lunar dirt until they were able to take the binder content below the 15 percent construction materials on Earth generally require to just three percent. When NASA shifted its focus to Mars, the team did too, and decided to test their lunar dirt findings on Mars dirt. They first tried packing the dirt into blocks with six percent binder, and when that worked well, they decided to test the Martian dirt further and discovered it necessitated no binder whatsoever. The journal Scientific Reports published the engineers’ findings online yesterday. Via The Verge Images via the University of California, San Diego

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Scientists create super-strong bricks from mars-like soil

These solar-powered apartments in Sweden generate more energy than they use

April 28, 2017 by  
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Although the US may be moving backwards in terms of clean energy, countries like Sweden are going full throttle while adding plus-energy homes to their cities. Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture designed this newly-built apartment complex in Linköping. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also produces enough energy to sell surplus electricity back to the grid. Sweden’s solar energy tax used to be quite punitive, but the country has thankfully slashed the tax by 98% . As a result, developers and private home owners are embracing solar energy. In fact, the Linköping apartment complex generates more energy than it needs from its large roof-mounted photovoltaic array . Related: 8 homes that generate more energy than they consume As far as design, the architects wanted something that would pay homage to the city’s vernacular. Beautiful brass-colored windows on a white concrete facade give the building a delicate, yet modern aesthetic. On the interior, the units are bright and spacious and come with high ceilings . A community courtyard severs as a gathering place where residendts can discuss their amazingly low energy costs. + Kjellgren Kaminsky Images via Kjellgren Kaminsky

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These solar-powered apartments in Sweden generate more energy than they use

Unprecedented Bleaching Leaves the Great Barrier Reef Terminal

April 28, 2017 by  
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In 2016, the Great Barrier Reef saw the worst bleaching event on record — two-thirds (67 percent) of corals in the northern sector of the reef died after being exposed to unusually warm currents. While experts warned that these bleaching events…

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Unprecedented Bleaching Leaves the Great Barrier Reef Terminal

Old mountain retreat renovated into sublime off-grid refuge

April 28, 2017 by  
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The challenges of renovating older buildings are already numerous, but when working deep in 8,100-foot-high mountainous topography and extreme climate conditions, it can be downright perilous. Meeting the challenge head-on, architecture firms Arteks Arquitectura and Ginjaume Arquitectura i Paissatge partnered up to convert a 1930s mountain retreat in the Andorran Pyrenees into the modern, off-grid Illa Mountain Hut that can generate up to four days of self-sufficient energy . Working within the confines of such harsh conditions, reforming the mountain refuge proved to be an uphill battle at every turn. The first hurdle was working under the restrictions imposed by the area’s protected UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status. Additionally, the extreme weather conditions meant that the project team could only access the site – the 4th highest shelter in the Pyrenees – during the summer months. Related: Modern lodge in the Rocky Mountains produces as much energy as it consumes Although the conditions were not optimal for building, it did have its advantages. Working around so many environmental barriers enabled the building team to use the restrictions to their advantage by using eco-friendly materials that were purpose-built for the project. Due to the harsh conditions and topography, for example, the architectural team chose to use light and prefabricated materials that could be flown in by helicopter. With most of the elements prefabricated in workshops and assembled on site, the building now weighs about a third of a similarly-sized conventional building and the execution time of the project was cut down to a surprising six months. Using the existing building as a structural base helped the team to further minimize the cost of the project as well as reduce the waste associated with the project. The wooden frame was reinforced with an extended gabled roof which helps discharge large snow loads during winter. This feature was also strategic to optimize solar energy gain . Thanks to a large array of photovoltaic panels installed on the roof, the refuge can generate up to four days of energy self sufficiency , making the project 100% off-grid. In addition to its solar power, the structure uses an independent water treatment system equipped with coconut filters . Additionally, an efficient ventilation system and ultra-thick insulation keeps the interior spaces warm and cozy, free from the extreme exterior cold. + Arteks Arquitectura + Ginjaume Arquitectura i Paissatge Photography via Pol Viladoms

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Old mountain retreat renovated into sublime off-grid refuge

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