Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

March 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Semi-arid regions of Africa face unique obstacles in their efforts to address a growing housing crisis . For years people built roofs with bush timber, but thanks to climate change and deforestation , those building methods are no longer feasible. And sheet metal is simply too expensive for most rural families. So the Nubian Vault Association is bringing back an ages-old sustainable building material: mud bricks . Back in 2000, Burkina Faso farmer Seri Youlou and Frenchman Thomas Granier started the association, which is also known by its French name Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN). They resurrected what they call the Nubian Vault technique, or the process of constructing sturdy vaulted roofs with mud bricks similar to processes employed centuries ago in ancient Egypt. The brings are simply formed with earth and water and then dried in the sun. Houses with these vaulted roofs last for at least 50 years, or even more if they are well maintained. They’re also cheaper than tin or timber, and stay warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. Related: Bioclimatic Preschool Built with Rammed Earth and Mud Bricks Keeps Cool in the Moroccan Heat The association also works for economic growth by training local apprentices and supporting village masons in multiple West African countries. They aim for a self-sustaining Nubian Vault market, and according to Curbed, their A Roof, A Skill, A Market program has made a $22 million economic impact. They’ve trained over 380 masons, with hundreds more learning as apprentices. The group has now helped homeowners build over 1,800 homes across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal. A Nubian Vault home costs around $1,000, and families can lower costs by making their own mud bricks. Not only has the technique helped put a roof over families’ heads and driven economic development, it’s benefited the environment as well. According to AVN , since September 2015 Nubian Vault homes have saved around 55,000 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere. + The Nubian Vault Association Via Curbed Images via The Nubian Vault Facebook

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Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

4 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

March 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Eco Tech

Many news outlets have extensively covered the advantages of solar energy, and there are plenty. But very few things in life come with zero downside. Although the cost of solar energy has fallen dramatically in recent years and the technology has…

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4 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

March 24, 2017 by  
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If you’re looking to greenify your home, look no further than the plant-filled Living Table . At first glance, the table appears to be a simple square planter covered in a glass top, but an integrated capillary system within the design actually mimics how plants naturally grow, while eliminaing the need for drainage. The high-tech system offers an attractive low-maintenance planter that even those without a green thumb can manage. The Living Table has an integrated passive sub irrigation system that creates a capillary action where water flows upwards. This system, along with the ideal balance of moisture to aeration in the base, results in an attractive planter that doesn’t need drainage. The low-maintenance design, which allows the plants to auto regulate, is perfect for those who find themselves constantly killing their plants because of too much or too little water. Related: Give your succulents their own spacesuits with this 3D-printed planter As far as planting, the  Living Table system is designed for low-growing, ground cover type plants that won’t grow tall enough to touch the glass. Standard 4” plant containers or smaller can be placed directly onto the Habitat Horticulture Growtex capillary mat or plants can be directly planted into the table base using any standard potting soil. Although the planter design is meant to be low-maintenance, the manufacturers are careful to point out that the plants’ specific needs should be considered before planting. The Living Table comes in two sizes with either a stainless steel or powder white finish, and can be all yours for as little as $850.00. + The Living Table

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Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

China’s coasts threatened by rapidly rising sea levels

March 24, 2017 by  
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Sea levels are creeping up as temperatures get hotter here on Earth , and China’s State Oceanic Administration just revealed worrying information about its threat to the country’s coasts. Sea levels in 2016 in China rose 1.3 inches in just one year, a trend that could have challenging consequences. NASA data cited by International Business Times shows sea levels are rising by 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters (mm) to 0.14 inches (3.6 mm) every year at coasts, but the statistics are far worse in China according to their oceanic administration. Sea levels are rising swiftly in China due to climate change , El Niño, and La Niña, according to the agency. Not only did sea levels rise dramatically from 2015 to 2016, but 2016 sea levels were also 3.2 inches (82 mm) higher than the average level between 1993 and 2001. In a statement, the administration said, “Against the background of global climate change, China’s coastal air and sea temperatures have soared, coastal air pressure has fallen, and sea levels have also soared.” Related: Climate change will be the demise of US national parks 38 mm may not seem like much, so oceanographer Huang Gang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics put that in perspective, telling the South China Morning Post, “A few millimeters rise may seem small, but if you think about how big the ocean is, the changes make a huge difference when sea water hits the ground. The adverse impacts could come earlier if sea levels rise faster.” The administration said vulnerable coastal areas should start preparing with infrastructure updates like repairing drains or constructing dams or dykes. They warned such actions must happen soon to avoid damage. According to International Business Times, there are two main factors in climate change-caused rising sea levels: warmer ocean surface temperatures, which causes waters to expand, and melting glaciers. According to Reuters , sea temperatures between 1980 and 2016 increased by around 0.21 degrees Celsius, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade. Via International Business Times Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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China’s coasts threatened by rapidly rising sea levels

Worlds tallest skyscraper design hangs off an orbiting asteroid

March 24, 2017 by  
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What if your daily commute involved parachuting down to earth rather than being stuck in vehicular traffic? That’s the vision in Clouds Architecture Office’s incredible proposal for a skyscraper suspended off an orbiting asteroid. The design, called Analemma, would be powered by space-based solar panels and capture water in a semi-closed loop system that draws from the moisture in clouds and rainwater. While some may write off Analemma as an early April Fools’ Day joke, we think the unusual design is a fun and unconventional thought experiment worth exploring, if only to get our creative juices flowing. The conceptual design begins with the placement of a large orbiting asteroid set on a figure-eight geosynchronous path that moves between the north and southern hemispheres on a predictable daily loop. The skyscraper , suspended from the asteroid via a high-strength cable, would allow residents to parachute down to work when the orbit slows down and gets closest to midtown Manhattan. The proposed building is split into four main areas: business activities at the lower end of the tower, sleeping quarters placed approximately two-thirds of the way up, prayer rooms at the very top of the building, and surface transfer points at the bottom. The tower would be prefabricated in Dubai —which the architects say is “a specialist in tall building construction at one-fifth the cost of New York City construction”—and the modules transported and assembled above earth. Related: This 3D-printed space igloo just won NASA’s Mars habitat competition “Analemma Tower is a proposal for the world’s tallest building ever,” writes CAO. “Harnessing the power of planetary design thinking, it taps into the desire for extreme height, seclusion and constant mobility. If the recent boom in residential towers proves that sales price per square foot rises with floor elevation, then Analemma Tower will command record prices, justifying its high cost of construction.” + Clouds Architecture Office Via Dezeen Images via Clouds Architecture Office

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Worlds tallest skyscraper design hangs off an orbiting asteroid

State Department to approve permit for Keystone XL

March 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The Trump administration has announced its intention to reverse Barack Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline decision by March 27, according to a report by Politico . Obama blocked construction of the controversial pipeline 16 months ago, a move hailed by environmentalists and slammed by the oil industry. This should come as no surprise, given that one of Donald Trump ’s campaign promises was to push through both Keystone XL and the renewed Dakota Access Pipeline project. The pipeline’s cross-border permit will be signed by Tom Shannon, undersecretary for political affairs. Due to his personal connections with the industry as former CEO of Exxon Mobil, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has recused himself from the process. This will be the end result of a decade-long fight on the part of developer TransCanada to build the $8 billion project. If construction is completed, the pipeline could potentially result in catastrophic oil spills that could pollute drinking water and destroy ecosystems. But even more worrying is the amount of CO2 the project could produce by triggering development in Alberta’s oil sands . At a time when climate change is accelerating rapidly, the last thing we need is to promote projects that will pump huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Related: The Keystone XL Pipeline could be resurrected under Trump’s administration This isn’t the end of the road for anti-Keystone protesters. Though the project has won cross-border approval, it still needs to receive approval from the state of Nebraska and a small number of landowners who have refused to yield the right of way. The Nebraska decision isn’t expected until September. Via Politico Images via Wikimedia Commons and Maureen/Flickr

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State Department to approve permit for Keystone XL

9 VR videos that dive deep into water issues

March 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Immersive experiences bring people face-to-face with our impact on marine ecosystems.

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9 VR videos that dive deep into water issues

Five changes agri-businesses need to make if they want to survive

March 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

For an industry that relies heavily on natural resources such as clean air, soil and water, becoming more environmentally friendly is not just a marketing ploy — it is a necessity.

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Five changes agri-businesses need to make if they want to survive

Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

March 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Beijing’s pollution problem is no secret – earlier this year the city even created an environmental police squad in a bid to stop smog . Now, the nearby province of Hebei  – which contributes to Beijing’s smog with it’s heavy industry economy – is taking some creative new steps to combat the dangerous health risk that kills millions of people each year. The government is turning to nature to create a “green necklace” of trees and green belts as a natural way to fight pollution. People have recently pointed fingers at Hebei’s heavy industry as a source for some of Beijing’s hazardous pollution . The city has suffered from numerous smog outbreaks, often during the winter, according to Reuters. So the Hebei government announced this week both they and Beijing will plant trees and use wetlands and rivers to create a green necklace to protect the major global city. In a website notice, the government said it will increase forest coverage and set up green belts with the help of river systems, farms, mountains, and wetlands near Beijing. Related: China’s crazy smog-sucking vacuum tower might actually be working Transportation rules for Beijing and border areas are also part of the plan, which according to Reuters is part of a government effort to integrate the city, Hebei, and Tianjin, a major port city just southeast of Beijing. What have been described as fortress economies in the area could have prompted a race to the bottom in environmental law enforcement, according to Reuters. The cross-regional plan could also help address overpopulation – around 22 million people currently live in Beijing – by trying to limit urban development on the city’s borders. Beijing also plans to move some industries and “non-capital functions” out to Hebei, hoping such moves will also help cut pollution and congestion. Limited coal consumption is another piece of the strategy to clear the skies over Beijing, and the city just decommissioned the last coal-fired power plant earlier in March. Via Reuters Images via Bert Oostdijk on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution

World’s biggest river island could be India’s first carbon-neutral sector

March 23, 2017 by  
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Pollution has plagued India recently; a 2017 report showed people are more likely to die from air pollution not in China, as might be your first guess, but in India. But one area of the country could receive a breath of fresh air. Majuli, which is the largest river island in the world, could become the country’s first carbon-neutral district. Majuli, which is found in India’s Assam state, is home to plentiful biodiversity and the neo-Vaishnavite culture, which according to The Guardian is a monotheistic branch of Hinduism. But the river island is in trouble: monsoons and the river absorb homes as land is disappearing rapidly. In the middle of the 19th century, the river island was around 463 square miles, but in 2015 it was just around 154 square miles, and some research says Majuli could be gone in two decades. Related: New Delhi has the worst air pollution of any city on earth “Majuli is facing an existential crisis and therefore initiatives like designating [it] a carbon neutral district and biodiversity heritage site are [the] needs of the hour to preserve its rich heritage and legacy,” said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The government aims to make the river island the country’s first carbon-neutral sector by 2020 . Sonowal aims to raise awareness among locals as the area works to become free of pollution. He suggested parents could give a sapling to their children for their birthdays, and plant trees around their homes. He also started an electronic registry to scrutinize the climate impact of any projects proposed for Majuli. A project called the Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development, started late last year, will ensure the river island’s infrastructure is low carbon . According to Sonowal’s office as quoted by The Times of India, “Further declaration of Majuli as a Biodiversity Heritage Site, the first in the state, enforces the rich biological biodiversity in the wild, cultivated areas of the island and cultural heritage of Majuli.” Via India Times , The Times of India , and The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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World’s biggest river island could be India’s first carbon-neutral sector

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