A president confronts the existential threat of climate change

January 20, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Towards the end of his second term, former president Barack Obama toured the Arctic with a Rolling Stone journalist. There, they faced our uncertain future.

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A president confronts the existential threat of climate change

Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Could a 22-mile bridge crossing the English Channel help boost transport between the United Kingdom and France after Brexit ? Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson thinks so – he proposed the infrastructure project and spoke about a second link with France’s president Emmanuel Macron . Johnson reportedly said to Macron that it’s ridiculous that two of the largest economies in the world are joined by only one railway line. The publication said Macron “is understood to have responded positively.” Johnson tweeted a picture of the two of them flashing a thumbs-up after what he described as great meetings. En marche ! Great meetings with French counterparts today pic.twitter.com/D73B1rSkd3 — Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) January 18, 2018 Related: New bridge linking Japan and Russia could enable 8400-mile rail trip from London to Tokyo But some people put the brakes on the idea . The United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping, which represents over 180 maritime industry bodies, tweeted there would be challenges with such an undertaking. CEO Guy Platten told The Guardian the Dover Strait – at the English Channel’s narrowest part – “is the world’s busiest shipping lane” and that the largest ships going through the strait can be around 70 meters, or nearly 230 feet, tall. Others pointed out that such a bridge would be incredibly expensive. Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges. https://t.co/jYD5O8B19W — UK Shipping (@ukshipping) January 18, 2018 Reuters reported France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Europe 1 radio, “All ideas merit consideration, even the most far-fetched ones … Let’s finish things that are already under way before thinking of new ones.” And a spokesperson for prime minister Theresa May said there were “no specific plans” regarding a Channel bridge: “What was agreed yesterday, and I think that’s what the foreign secretary tweeted about as well, is a panel of experts who will look at major projects together including infrastructure.” But according to The Guardian, some engineers said the Channel bridge idea might not be so far-fetched; architect Alan Dunlop pointed to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which is around 34 miles long. Bridge designer Ian Firth told BBC Radio 4’s Today program the project would be entirely feasible, and that before construction of the Channel tunnel there were bridge options being considered. Firth said, “There are bridges of a similar, if not quite the same, scale elsewhere…It would be a huge undertaking, but it would be absolutely possible, and shipping impact issues could be dealt with.” Via The Guardian (1, 2) and Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Boris Johnson proposes 22-mile bridge to connect UK and France

Nissan to start selling rooftop solar panels and batteries

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Tesla’s model of selling electric cars and solar panels seems to appeal to other automakers too – now Nissan is getting in on the game with Nissan Energy Solar . The company recently launched the service to sell rooftop panels along with their battery storage product xStorage Home . Their press release says United Kingdom residents equipped with solar products could save as much as 66 percent on their power bills. Nissan describes Nissan Energy Solar as an all-in-one solution. They’re offering three different panel options: the competitively priced Value option, the most efficient Efficiency option, or the Design option, which boasts panels integrated on rooftops. Combine that with the xStorage Home battery storage product, and Nissan hopes it will be easier for UK residents to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy – although with Nissan Energy Solar homeowners can opt to buy just solar power , just storage, or both. Users can charge up a Nissan Leaf or e-NV200 with the system. Related: Nissan’s xStorage battery for the home rivals Tesla’s Powerwall Nissan makes the case for why a buyer should choose their products over another company’s on the Nissan Energy Solar website: “We have partnered with some of the world’s largest and most advanced energy companies to provide our customers with a fully integrated product range, seamless service, and genuine value. Our products are some of the most sustainable on the market, giving a second life to batteries from our electric vehicles and maximizing our use of recyclable materials .” The company will perform LiDAR remote analysis of rooftops to optimize solar panels, according to Motoring Research . A six-panel system costs £3,881, which is around $5,383, including installation. Full Solar and Storage systems start at £7,635, around $10,589. The company’s products are designed, per Motoring Research, to be more affordable than Tesla’s. The Nissan New Energy website says the systems will be on sale soon. + Nissan Energy Solar + Nissan UK Via Motoring Research Images via Nissan

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Nissan to start selling rooftop solar panels and batteries

Researchers develop self-healing concrete powered by fungus

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Scientists at Binghamton University have developed the first application of fungi in self-healing concrete. In a paper recently published in the journal Construction and Building Materials , Binghamton University assistant professor Congrui Jin and her team outline the ways in which a special species of fungi,  Trichoderma reesei , may act as a sealing agent when mixed with concrete . “This idea was originally inspired by the miraculous ability of the human body to heal itself of cuts, bruises and broken bones,” said Jin in an interview at Binghampton . “For the damaged skins and tissues, the host will take in nutrients that can produce new substitutes to heal the damaged parts.” Jin and her team’s focus on concrete could not be more topical. In the United States , a crisis fueled by historic underinvestment in infrastructure has resulted in increasingly dangerous roads, bridges, and highways. While Washington struggles to fund the federal government and state governments lack the resources to tackle this multi-trillion dollar problem, citizens still want something to be done before a major collapse occurs. “Without proper treatment, cracks tend to progress further and eventually require costly repair,” said Jin . “If micro-cracks expand and reach the steel reinforcement, not only the concrete will be attacked, but also the reinforcement will be corroded, as it is exposed to water, oxygen, possibly CO2 and chlorides, leading to structural failure.” Related: How fungi made Earth’s atmosphere livable – new study If concrete were easier to repair, the cost of infrastructure maintenance would likely decrease. This is where T. reesei steps in. The fungus is mixed with concrete and lies dormant until the first crack in newly laid concrete appears. As water and oxygen permeate the crack, fungal spores will germinate, expand, and create calcium carbonate to fill the crack. While the technology is still in its early phase, its successful small-scale application demonstrates that fungal self-healing concrete may fit right in someday soon. Jin said , “In my opinion, further investigation in alternative microorganisms such as fungi and yeasts for the application of self-healing concrete becomes of great potential importance”. Via Binghamton University Images via Jonathan Cohen/Binghamton University and Congrui Jin/Binghamton University

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Researchers develop self-healing concrete powered by fungus

This jewelry is made with upcycled gold from Dell computers

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Did you know that there’s gold and silver in your computer? These precious metals end up in landfills when people don’t recycle their laptops and other electronics. According to Dell , American consumers trash $60 million in silver and gold every year just by not recycling smartphones. The technology company teamed up with actress and designer Nikki Reed to turn that e-waste into something stunning: jewelry . Globally, recycling rates for e-waste are under 15 percent, according to Dell. They aimed to take action, and along with mining their recycling stream for materials, they got creative and reached out to Reed. Now she’s transforming materials from old motherboards into a 14 to 18 carat gold jewelry line called The Circular Collection with her company BaYou with Love . Related: Marcela Godoy Turns E-Waste Into Unique and Beautiful Necklaces The jewelry is created in Los Angeles , with the mission of reflecting “a beautiful world in which we continuously reuse resources and strive for zero waste ,” according to the BaYou with Love website . The collection includes rings, earrings, and cuff links. Gemstones like opals and diamonds the company says are ethically sourced complete a few of the pieces. The collection ranges in price from the Gold Ball Ring at $78 to the Cufflinks at $348. Dell said in their statement, “We believe one reason recycling rates for e-waste are so low is that people do not recognize how valuable their electronics still are even if they don’t work.” The jewelry line is one attempt to highlight that value. The company also aims to make it easier for people to recycle by teaming up with Goodwill for Dell Reconnect : you can drop off old computer equipment from any brand at one of the around 2,000 participating Goodwill stores in North America for Dell to refurbish or recycle. You can find a location here . Reed started BaYou with Love with Freedom of Animals founder Morgan Mogle. They offer clothing, home, and beauty products created with sustainably sourced and recycled materials in the United States. + BaYou with Love + Dell Reconnect Via Dell and BaYou with Love Images via BaYou with Love

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This jewelry is made with upcycled gold from Dell computers

The Origin Treehouse has an amazing interior that will blow your mind

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Paris-based firm Atelier LAVIT just unveiled a beautiful treehouse with a surprisingly sophisticated twist. The octagon-shaped Origin Treehouse wraps around a hundred-year-old oak in a lush canopy of treetops. While some treehouse designers take a more rustic approach to their interiors, the French architects went another route, creating a living space that provides hotel-like comfort – and it even features a heated spa and lounge area. The Origin Treehouse consists of two structure: a platform with a heated spa and a lounge area that sits on a lower level. The second structure is a soaring “birds nest” that’s hidden by the lush foliage. High up in the trees, the 250-square-foot treehouse is accessed via a suspended walkway from the first platform. Related: Microsoft unveils amazing treehouse office where employees can brainstorm in fresh air Two large sliding glass doors open up to the living space, whose sophisticated design is certainly unique in the world of treehouses. The interior was based on the principles of hotel design: it’s simple, elegant and clutter-free. The interior walls are lined with light poplar panels, giving the space a clean, bright feel. Just past the living space lies a small sitting area, a bedroom, the bathroom, and a technical closet. The octagonal shape of the treehouse allowed the architects to install plenty of large windows, which flood the interior with natural light. Those wanting to get even closer to nature can take a wooden ladder from the back deck to a stunning rooftop terrace that provides panoramic views of the forest. According to the architects, the cabin’s unique design was meant to blend into the serene forestscape: “Origin Tree House discreetly stands out among the centenarian oaks of the Château de Raray forest, as if it had always been part of the scenery. Majestic and elegant, it integrates and completes an already impressive landscape, sublimating it by offering a shelter.” + Atelier LAVIT Via Contemporist Photography by Marco Lavit Nicora

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The Origin Treehouse has an amazing interior that will blow your mind

8 Ways to Go Green While Getting Fit

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Committing to a healthy lifestyle is No. 1 on the … The post 8 Ways to Go Green While Getting Fit appeared first on Earth911.com.

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8 Ways to Go Green While Getting Fit

Elegant LEED Gold winery mimics Napa Valleys curves

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Cargotecture has found an unlikely home at a winery in Napa Valley. Local firm Signum Architecture completed Odette Estate Winery, a LEED Gold-certified round building powered by solar and fitted with three shipping containers repurposed as offices. Designed to reflect the elegance and femininity of the wines produced there, the winery sports a curved form that evokes a swan’s wing—a nod to the Tchaikovsky ballet character Odette of Swan Lake. Selected as an Industrial Building Category winner in the American Architecture Prize 2017, the Odette Estate Winery was recognized for its elegant and sustainable design. The building’s adherence to LEED Gold standards is a visual continuation of the owner’s commitment to sustainable farming and wine production. Solar panels provide renewable energy while conscientious use of building materials lower the winery’s carbon footprint. Related: 100% solar-powered winery keeps naturally cool with cork-insulated roofs Nestled between the valley’s eastern hills, the Odette Estate Winery is topped with an undulating living roof that replicates the hilly topography. Sliding perforated aluminum screens cut into curving organic shapes shield the winery’s covered crush pad and open-air workspace. The mesh panels allow natural ventilation and light to pass through and, when backlit at night, give the building the appearance of a glowing lantern. The repurposed shipping containers at the front of the building are used for a state-of-the-art wine laboratory and office space. The fermentation and barrel room take up the majority of the building footprint. + Signum Architecture Photo credit: Adrian Gregorutti

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Elegant LEED Gold winery mimics Napa Valleys curves

Copper-clad Copenhagen landmark boasts Denmarks most energy-efficient laboratories

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Copenhagen’s recently completed Maersk Tower boasts the nation’s most energy-efficient laboratories, where waste energy is captured and reused. Designed by C.F. Møller Architects , this new city landmark is a pioneer within energy-efficient laboratory construction and boasts a variety of sustainable design elements from an innovative facade with movable climate shields to multiple green roofs. The copper-clad building was created as an extension of Panum, the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Seven years in the making, the 42,700-square-meter Maersk Tower sports a triangular and organic form clad in glass and copper-covered shutters that reference the city’s many copper church steeples. The vertical massing also leaves space for a new publicly accessible campus park with a zigzagging ‘floating path’ providing pedestrian and cyclist access to different parts of campus. Laboratories make up over half of the building, which also houses offices, shared facilities, an 18,000-square-meter foyer, canteen, auditoriums, and classrooms. “To create architecture for world-class health research, it is important to design a venue with many opportunities to meet—both across different professional groups and across the public domain and the research community,” wrote the architects. “This will help to disseminate the research activities, leading to knowledge sharing and inspiration for new and groundbreaking research.” To that end, all the shared facilities are grouped together in the low base on which Maersk Tower sits. An open atrium with a continuous spiral staircase joins 15 floors and promotes views of the outdoors and visual connectivity indoors. Every floor features an open “Science Plaza” that serves as natural gathering spaces. Related: Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food Natural light and ventilation are optimized throughout the building and views of greenery can be enjoyed from every floor. Copper shutters that adjust as needed provide protection from solar heat gain. Lush green roofs that top the tower and the low base help combat the urban heat island effect . + C.F. Møller Architects Images by Adam Moerk

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Copper-clad Copenhagen landmark boasts Denmarks most energy-efficient laboratories

A series of other thoughts about NAIAS 2018

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Eco Tech, Green

Let’s start out with my in-the-moment string of notes during the Press Preview at this year’s NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show). This covers the main ideas about this year’s program at the time. I’ll add a few more comments and expanded thoughts at the end. Not sure if it’s an actual color trend, but there’s a lot of orange at this year’s #NAIAS #NAIAS2018 Attendance seems down and space more open at #NAIAS2018. Things just seem off this year. First thought it was decline of auto industry. There’s been gap-filling of various kinds over the last few years, suppliers and related fields, but not the vacant corridors this year. The concept of automotive ownership may be starting to decline, but it’s not to that level yet. More media info is being released directly from the companies’ media sites directly – cheaper and easier than preparing press kits. The political environment can’t help. I don’t have #NAIAS info, but my personal impression is that foreign journalist turnout seems low. Even the “rides” are empty. Maybe journalists are all jaded, and these will fill during the public show. But lotsa folks standing around. There’s a hominess to a number of the displays. Wood flooring, even on the turntables. And a giant cozy shadowbox wall display. Maybe fewer booth babes (of the stand next to the car on the turntable variety) at #NAIAS2018 Don’t know about public show in comparison. Pretty sure this display was also at #naias2017 so there’s some recycling going on, even if -green- is no longer part of the program. Again, I don’t have specific numbers, but there seem to be fewer cars per display. There’s a subduedness, even in all the flash &bombast Outrageous seems to be the antithesis of #NAIAS2018 There’s too much of it in the world already, and adding to it won’t go far. They get it. Not sure if #NAIAS is relevant to @ecogeek anymore. Transport is an important element in a greener world, but carmakers have moved on. It wasn’t the first thing that occurred to me, but gradually, I had the growing sense that this was not nearly as full of a show as previous years.  There are several things that could be causing that, and it’s likely some combination of all of those factors.  (And I could be completely wrong, the numbers might be different, but it’s my sense of what I observed this year.)  I’m fairly certain that foreign coverage was down from previous years.  The increased travel difficulties (getting a visa at all, let alone a working visa) mean fewer reporters.  A few years ago, I recall the big, welcoming banner in the giant media room with flags of many nationalities.  In 2011, I wrote elsewhere : “The polyglot nature of the show is reinforced both by the numbers of national flags hanging from the ceiling overhead as well as the languages one overhears walking through the room.”  There was none of that in 2018. The cost of travel could be another factor.  With the big automakers increasingly running their own media, the handouts and press kits are in decline.  Now, all a writer needs to do to get lots of press releases and images is go to the media website of the company (media.carcompany.com or some such) and download all the information they need.  No travel and dealing with Michigan winter required. Could it be that ownership of automobiles is beginning to decline, and with it a waning interest in cars in general?  I’m not sure that we are quite at that point yet, but there could be an overall fading of interest in cars, and a matching reduction in the amount of coverage that media outlets are willing to provide for it.  Even the local TV and radio stations, that have had a notable presence at recent years’ shows were less present this year. There were cars to be seen, of course, but very much a less compelling show, especially for an EcoGeek.  Sure, there are still electric vehicles as part of the mix, and some ongoing forward steps from a couple of the companies that seem to be doing some things toward being greener.  But, at the end of the day, not a strong show, and not one with much in the way of green news at all.

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A series of other thoughts about NAIAS 2018

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