How science-based targets guide Walmart’s sustainability course

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Walmart is the first retailer to sign up for approved science-based targets around emissions reductions, says Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart Stores. “We are committing to reducing emissions by 18 percent by 2025 in our operations,” she says, a level of rigor that “has pushed us to be more creative.”

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How science-based targets guide Walmart’s sustainability course

Three-fourths of sunscreens don’t work as they claim and may contain harmful chemicals

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Before heading to the beach, most people make sure to pack a bottle of sunscreen. After all, the ultraviolet rays can be seriously damaging and no one wants to get  skin cancer . But it turns out some ingredients in hundreds of common sunscreens don’t work as well as advertised, according to a new report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Additionally, 73 percent of 880 sunscreens that were tested contain “worrisome” ingredients people may not want to slather on their skin. Authors of the report , which was released on Tuesday, examined the SPF protection, chemical ingredients and overall safety and effectiveness of numerous sunscreens , moisturizers, and lip balms. Then, they compiled a list of the best- and worst-rated products to help consumers make the best – and healthiest – choices when preparing to have fun in the sun. Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the environmental advocacy group and lead scientist of the 2017 Sunscreens Guide, said of the findings, “Sunscreens are really mismarketed, and as a result, people who depend on them think they are far more powerful than they really are.” According to dermatologist Dr. Dawn Davis, who did not participate in the report and works at the Mayo Clinic, the SPF is a ratio of how long a person without sunscreen can be in the sun without becoming red. In his own words, “if you’re standing on the equator at high noon and it would usually take your skin one minute without sunscreen to become red and irritated, SPF 15 means you can stand in that same sun exposure for 15 minutes.” Related: Hawaii aims to ban coral reef-killing chemical sunscreens Most sunscreen brands offer products with high SPF, sometimes even over 100. Thought to be beneficial, they are actually misleading, says Lunder. “People who buy high-SPF products are more likely to get burned because they assume they’re getting better and longer-lasting protection,” she said. It is for this reason that she supports the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendation to choose a sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 (which would block 97% of UVB rays) and suggests one reapply it every few hours. SPF protection can also vary, depending on its age, how it has been stored and lab tests find that SPF levels can vary wildly. There is also something to be said about the questionable ingredients in certain sunscreens. While most chemicals in the product create a barrier to prevent damage from UV rays, other chemicals create damaging effects. Two ingredients, in particular, oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate, consumers should avoid. According to Lunder, oxybenzone “is a hormone disruptor that mimics body hormones and affects reproductive tract and other hormones.” And Retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, has been linked to the development of skin tumors under direct UV light. More research needs to be conducted on the latter, but authors of the report advise consumers to avoid sunscreens that contain both ingredients. All in all, the report recommends sunscreen products that are safe and offer adequate sun protection. The EWG says outdoor enthusiasts should look for three things: an SPF between 30 and 50 to protect from UVB rays, zinc oxide and titanium oxide to ward off UVA rays, and no oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. + Environmental Working Group Via CNN Images via  Bella Mecia , Pixabay

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Three-fourths of sunscreens don’t work as they claim and may contain harmful chemicals

Incredible teepee-shaped ORKA house is made from 24 interlacing beams

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

This   teepee-shaped home is made from twenty four interlacing beams that shelter a large open-plan living space. Antony Gibbon Designs ‘ ORKA house explores different geometric shapes and unconventional forms for residential architecture. The three-story dwelling features a rooftop platform with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The house has twenty four wooden beams that coalesce, forming a pivoted illusion which transforms angles into a seemingly curved hyperboloid form. Using the frame as an aesthetic starting point, the architects interlaced the beams to naturally create diamond-shaped patterns. These patterns become part of the geometry and symmetry of the structure. Related: This charred wood cabin can be rearranged in an infinite number of ways The envelope wraps around an area 10 meters in diameter (33 feet), allowing for a large open-plan living space. A spiral staircase connects the ground floor to another three floors, with the top floor doubling as an outdoor viewing platform and balcony offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. + Antony Gibbon Designs

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Incredible teepee-shaped ORKA house is made from 24 interlacing beams

Rare bag of moon dust to be auctioned for millions of dollars

May 23, 2017 by  
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Souvenirs from humankind’s missions to the Moon are extremely rare; NASA usually holds on to moon rocks or moon dust instead of allowing private owners to keep them. But they couldn’t hold on to one bag of moon dust. The artifact – supposedly collected by astronaut Neil Armstrong – is the property of a Chicago lawyer, and now she plans to auction it off. After Armstrong took that historic leap for mankind on the Apollo 11 mission, he did what many of us would do – grabbed a space souvenir in the form of a handful of moon rocks placed in a bag, which he put into a second bag. That second outer bag then embarked on a journey of its own. When the bag was accidentally put up for auction, lawyer Nancy Lee Carlson obtained the bag in February 2015 for $995 on a federal auction website. Related: ESA 3D prints extraterrestrial bricks with concentrated sunlight and moondust Carlson kept the bag for a while and then decided to send it to NASA to see if it was really authentic. NASA said the bag did indeed have traces of the moon’s dark gray powder. But then the agency tried to confiscate the bag as the property of the government . Carlson fought the move and this year in February a judge decided she’d acquired the bag legally and could keep it. NASA put out a statement after the ruling: “This artifact, we believe, belongs to the American people and should be on display for the public, which is where it was before all of these unfortunate events occurred.” Before going up for auction the bag belonged to Max Ary of the Kansas Cosmosphere museum; he was convicted of stealing such interstellar objects and putting them up for sale, and when several of his possessions were seized by the government, the moon bag was among them but was mixed up with another bag lacking the treasured dust. Now Carlson plans to auction the bag off once again on July 20, send some money to charity , and set up a scholarship at her alma mater, Northern Michigan University. Auctioneers think the bag could be sold for between two to four million dollars. Sotheby’s auction house curators think the bag of moon dust could be the only privately held object of this nature on Earth. Via the Chicago Tribune Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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Rare bag of moon dust to be auctioned for millions of dollars

Giant sinkhole opens up in front of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort

May 23, 2017 by  
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One of President Donald Trump’s claims on the campaign trail was that he’d “drain the swamp” if elected. Whether he kept that promise is up for debate; sure, he selected business tycoons like Rex Tillerson to fill top government positions but also chose people like the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Elaine Chao. But now the swamp may be encroaching on another part of America: Mar-a-Lago , Trump’s Florida golf club, where a sinkhole just opened up. Obviously, the Internet didn’t pass up on the opportunity to dish out puns. Yesterday the town of Palm Beach, Florida – where Mar-a-Lago is located – posted a traffic alert about the sinkhole on their website. “A four feet by four feet sinkhole has formed on Southern Boulevard directly in front of Mar-a-Lago,” the notice reads. “It appears to be in the vicinity of the newly installed water main. West Palm Beach utilities distribution crews have secured the area and will most likely need to do some exploratory excavation today. One lane is closed but the road remains open. Please pay attention to signs.” Related: Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers Naturally this was just too easy for Twitter . Some saw the sinkhole as a sign from God – whether Republicans would listen was another matter. Sinkhole opens next to Mar-a-Lago in obvious sign from increasingly irritated God https://t.co/IBicOjX698 pic.twitter.com/IhlzTpTU8K — Jezebel (@Jezebel) May 22, 2017 "Give us a sign, God."[sinkhole appears in front of Mar-A-Lago]"Hm, can't be sure that's anything." https://t.co/oTrfQkYBxR — Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) May 22, 2017 Some people wondered if the sinkhole had anything to do with the illuminated orb Trump was pictured touching in Saudi Arabia. Actions have consequences, people. pic.twitter.com/r0LOrGBldy — Slade Sohmer (@Slade) May 22, 2017 The #sinkhole at Mar-a-Lago is absolutely NOT an ancient evil escaping its glided cage after being released by The Orb. No siree. — Rogue Illuminati (@RogueIlluminati) May 23, 2017 Others thought perhaps the sinkhole had been mistakenly termed… My working theory: It’s a hellmouth, not a sinkhole. — Jeff LaMarche (@jeff_lamarche) May 22, 2017 Sean Spicer wants to make it very clear there is NOT a sinkhole in front of Mar-A-Lago… It is a Florida Swamp Center. — Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) May 22, 2017 Some Twitter users actually began to cheer for the sinkhole. rare heroic sinkhole ? https://t.co/i2i1I287vv — AS ? (@Alschapel) May 22, 2017 @townpalmbeach @Fahrenthold Has anyone ever rooted for a sinkhole before? — chuckyou2 (@chuckyoutwo) May 22, 2017 And as the metaphors left everyone’s heads spinning about the mysterious origins of the clearly supernatural sinkhole, former The Onion writer Dennis DiClaudio stepped in to make one thing clear: Hate to be pedantic, but the Mar-a-lago sinkhole isn't *technically* a metaphor, because metaphors aren't *that* obvious. — Dennis DiClaudio (@dennisdiclaudio) May 22, 2017 After Palm Beach has dealt with the sinkhole, we think Washington, D.C. could use a little “exploratory excavation” as well. Via The Washington Post Images via screenshot and screenshot

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Giant sinkhole opens up in front of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort

Bio-friendly energy storage device draws electrical power from the human body

May 23, 2017 by  
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Humans are constantly on the go, so doesn’t it make sense to harness some of that kinetic energy ? Scientists from UCLA and the University of Connecticut asked themselves that question, which eventually led to them developing an energy-storing device that can draw electrical power from the human body. The biological supercapacitor is a protein-based battery-like device capable of extracting energy from the human body. A supercapacitor is a term used to describe a high-performance electrochemical capacitor (ECs), which is similar to batteries but has a much higher power density. Supercapacitors have faster char-discharge rates, lower internal resistance, higher power density and better cycling ability than batteries. Once energy is obtained by the newly-developed energy storage device, it is then released inside an electrical circuit which looks similar to an implantable medical device. According to the paper Ultrathin Graphene – Protein Supercapacitors for Miniaturized Bioelectronics , which was published earlier this month, the supercapacitor utilizes a “harvester” that operates by using the body’s heat and movements to capture electrical charges from ions, which are found in human body fluids including blood and urine. Bleeping Computer reports , “As electrodes, the harvester uses a carbon nanomaterial called graphene, layered with modified human proteins. The electrodes collect energy from the human body , relay it to the harvester, which then stores it for later use.” Graphene sheets can be drawn as thin as a few atoms, which means the incredibly thin supercapacitors could potentially serve as alternatives to batteries. Related: Researchers close in on world’s first 100% self-charging lithium-ion battery Most importantly, the supercapacitors are bio-friendly , as they are made with natural materials. Graphene is composed of carbon, whereas current implantable medical devices are powered by classic batteries that contain toxic materials. Because the new device is thinner than a human hair, it is more flexible than traditional batteries, as well. This technology could have far-reaching implications for the medical industry. Researchers believe that an implantable medical device using a supercapacitor could last a lifetime. In result, patients wouldn’t need to go through operations at regular intervals to replace batteries – one of the main complications with implantable medical devices. In addition to being used with pacemakers, the new energy device could be paired with devices that stimulate other organs, such as the brain, stomach and/or bladder. + UCLA Via Bleeping Computer Images via Islam Mosa/University of Connecticut and Maher El-Kady/UCLA , Pixabay

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Bio-friendly energy storage device draws electrical power from the human body

MVRDV transforms an abandoned highway into a "plant village" in the sky

May 23, 2017 by  
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Architectural superstars MVRDV have transformed an abandoned highway in Seoul into a 983-meter-long elevated Skygarden. The “plant village” is located high above traffic, and it welcomes visitors to stroll through 24,000 indigenous trees and shrubs. Dutch firm MVRDV  was tasked with turning a 1970s-era highway into a space that would not only add greenery to the city, but would make the area more pedestrian friendly. The design is called Seoullo 7017 is Korea, which means “Seoul Street,” combined with 1970 and 2017, the years the highway was built and the year it was renovated. The park contains more than just the garden walkway itself. Along the way are tea houses, shopes, galleries, a theater and restaurants. Former on and off-ramps were converted into stairs, elevators and ramps to get on and off the garden superhighway. Plants are organized on the Skygarden in different families. These families are grouped by the Korean alphabet. This naturally led to splitting the Skygarden into different groupings of fragrance and color, providing visitors with a different experience depending on the season and area of the garden . At night, the Skygarden is illuminated with blue light, which is healthier for the plants. Related: Philadelphia Unveils Their Own Elevated Rail Park for the Abandoned Reading Viaduct “Our design offers a living dictionary of plants which are part of the natural heritage of South Korea and now, existing in the city center,” said Winy Maas of MVRDV. “The idea here is to connect city dwellers with nature, while at the same time also offering the opportunity of experiencing these amazing views to the Historical Seoul Station and Namdaemun Gate.” + MVRDV via ArchDaily and Dezeen images via Ossip van Duivenbode

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MVRDV transforms an abandoned highway into a "plant village" in the sky

Elon Musk reveals boring tunnels are for Hyperloop

May 23, 2017 by  
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Cleantech pioneer Elon Musk wants you to drive a Tesla electric car or truck, power your home with SolarCity solar panels and store renewable electricity with Tesla Powerwall battery packs. Oh yeah, he also wants to zip you from DC to NYC in less than 30 minutes via Hyperloop pods that can reach speeds of more than 600 miles per hour racing through evacuated tubes. Now Musk has revealed that part of the reason he started The Boring Company , besides finding a solution for LA’s “soul-destroying traffic,” is to launch and test Hyperloop by using his new Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to dig underneath the City of Angels . “Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes,” the company’s new FAQ page states regarding its specific goals, adding that “the electric skate can transport automobiles, goods, and/or people. And if one adds a vacuum shell, it is now a Hyperloop Pod which can travel at 600+ miles per hour.” Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company video envisions underground LA as a crazy slot car race The FAQ page mentions that The Boring Company aims to fix congestion in major cities by building an underground network of road tunnels “many levels deep” with the ability to keep adding levels. The key to making this work would be “increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more.” Costs would be mitigated by reducing the tunnel diameter, which the site claims can be accomplished by placing vehicles on a “stabilized electric sled.” Speeding up tunneling is another way to reduce costs, with the stated goal for the TBM to defeat the snail in a race. Hyperloop One has already built a full-scale test track at the company’s development site in Nevada. Countries from India to South Korea  to the United Arab Emirates  to Russia  have expressed interest in Hyperloop technology. It is clear that the race to build the first Hyperloop rapid transit system is underway and similar to his other ventures, Musk is eager to take the lead. + The Boring Company + Hyperloop One Via Archinect Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk reveals boring tunnels are for Hyperloop

Nations largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability

May 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

The first and largest cross-laminated timber (CLT) academic building in the U.S. has opened at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. Designed by Leers Weinzapfel Associates , the multidisciplinary Design Building brings together 500 students and 50 faculty across four departments into a light-filled 87,000-square-foot space. As a beacon of sustainability, the building features energy-saving elements, such as chilled beams and radiant flooring, and targets LEED Gold certification. Cross-laminated timber has long been praised for its durability, lightness, and speed of construction, however, has been slow to catch on in the U.S. relative to Europe and Canada. As the largest installation of wood-concrete composites in North America, the UMass Design Building paves the way in a growing trend of “mass timber” buildings. Cast-in-place concrete and CLT make up the Design Building’s floor slabs, while glue-laminated timber was used for the posts, beams, shear wall cores, and “zipper” trusses. To reference the colors and patterns of the nearby forests, the four-story building is wrapped in a durable envelope of copper-colored anodized aluminum panels punctuated with vertical windows. The glazing and skylights maximize daylight to the interior to reduce reliance on artificial lighting. Stormwater is managed onsite with bioswales and timber dams that filter and redirect runoff back to the Connecticut River. Related: Taiwan’s first CLT building paves way to greener alternatives to concrete and steel “To create a center space of collaboration, a coiling and rising band of studios, faculty offices and classrooms surrounds a skylit Commons for gathering and presentations,” write the architects. “The building also forms a green roof terrace, a contemplative space shared by the studios and faculty and a potential experimental space for the landscape department. The slope of the site creates a tall four-story façade on the west facing the mall, and the rising structure invites the community into the building and reveals the activities within.” + Leers Weinzapfel Associates Via Dezeen Images via Leers Weinzapfel Associates

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Nations largest cross-laminated timber academic building is an icon of sustainability

How to break the political logjam on climate change

May 23, 2017 by  
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It starts with leveraging market-based solutions and bipartisan appeal.

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How to break the political logjam on climate change

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