Did Project Drawdown miss a crucial climate solution?

March 23, 2018 by  
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Sustainable investing may be a better way to tackle climate change than switching to renewable energy.

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Did Project Drawdown miss a crucial climate solution?

3 problems that water abundance brings to coastal communities

March 23, 2018 by  
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And two things are missing in the face of rising seas and warmer oceans.

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3 problems that water abundance brings to coastal communities

Is a carbon tax on consumption the happy medium we’ve been looking for?

February 14, 2017 by  
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Here’s a better way to regulate carbon — and change the tired environment-versus-economy debate.

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Is a carbon tax on consumption the happy medium we’ve been looking for?

MIT researchers discover silk holds the key to vastly improved filtration

July 21, 2016 by  
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MIT and Tufts University researchers found silk is good for more than clothes, cool furniture , or bulletproof vests . They found a way to extract tiny silk building blocks, called nanofibrils, that vastly improve filtration techniques. Others attempted to extract these nanofibers in the past, but largely failed, and the researchers detailed their process to success in a paper published recently in the journal Nano Letters . These nanofibrils can be made into ” advanced filtration membranes ,” according to the researchers. In their paper, the scientists explained their four-step process, which involved exfoliating the silk, extracting nanofibrils via ultrasonic waves, and vacuum filtration. They utilized silk fibers made by domesticated silkworms. Related: Groundbreaking affordable, paper-thin filter removes viruses from water The new membranes are not only more effective for filtration, they’re more environmentally friendly. Used filters biodegrade, resulting in ” no lasting impact ,” according to MIT . The nanofibrils membranes are less expensive too: one piece costs between five and 51 cents, while a comparable piece of commercial membrane costs $1.20. The new membranes are very flexible and don’t dissolve in water, crucial for effective water filtration. The nanofibrils are also ” negatively charged at neutral pH ” which means they can snare positively charged molecules. MIT postdoc student Shengjie Ling said , “There has been a renewed focus recently on developing these types of ultrathin filtration membranes…The challenge has always been to create these new ultrathin and low-cost devices while retaining mechanical strength and good separation performance. Cast silk fibroin membranes aren’t an option, because they do not have porous structure and dissolve in water if not pretreated. We knew there had to be a better way.” The new membranes were designed in a collaboration between several different departments; material scientists and civil, computational, and biomedical engineers all worked together on the research. The new membranes could be used in research, food manufacturing, and to filter water . Via MIT News Images via the MIT/Tufts University researchers and Ed Schipul on Flickr

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MIT researchers discover silk holds the key to vastly improved filtration

Adorable ‘Grand Beedapest Hotel’ creates an urban home for bees

July 21, 2016 by  
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Tea company Taylors of Harrogate teamed up with Kew Gardens to design the Grand Beedapest Hotel , a luxury bee hotel à la Wes Anderson. Through their enchanting design, Taylors aims to raise awareness about bee population decline and inspire people to grow bee-friendly flowers and herbs such as lavender, geraniums, and sage. Bees are largely responsible for the fruits that help flavor Taylors tea , but pesticides, pollution, and habitat loss have all contributed to bee decline. According to one study, the same amount of bees live in cities as in rural areas , so Taylors decided to fight against habitat loss and illustrate how cities can actually help urban-dwelling bees thrive. Their quirky Grand Beedapest Hotel features a swimming pool with mint leaves, restaurant with roses and pollen, and a luxury suite with a rhubarb sugar water bath. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocs0taaZ8m0 + The Story of Bees Images via screenshot

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Adorable ‘Grand Beedapest Hotel’ creates an urban home for bees

Make 2015 your most organized year ever with these smart upcycled household items

January 21, 2015 by  
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Trying to get your house organized for the new year can cost a pretty penny, what with buying new bins, racks, baskets, etc. But there’s a better way to clean out your home without cleaning out your wallet – upcycling! All of your seasonal clothing, bulky kitchen supplies, and any stray bits and bobs can be efficiently stored and organized using repurposed or upcycled household items. To get your creative gears grinding, take a look at HomeTalk’s clipboard of Upcycled Clutter Busters for clever organizing ideas using upcycled household items. Whether you’re trying to corral your kitchen clutter, make some sense of your closet, or bring order to your desk, these ideas will help you find the perfect unassuming empty container to turn into beautiful, functional storage! + Upcycled Clutter Busters Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: clutter busters , DIY , diy home ideas , home ideas , home organization , hometalk , organized home , upcycled organization

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Make 2015 your most organized year ever with these smart upcycled household items

What if a 10-year-old designed a city?

March 26, 2013 by  
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Crossing the street can be dangerous for a child — at least, until she comes up with a better way.

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What if a 10-year-old designed a city?

Scientists Use Lightning Blasts To Recycle Concrete Debris into New Building Materials

December 13, 2012 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock Waste doesn’t always look like discarded soda bottles or piles of unwanted newspaper. Humans are constantly altering their environments to serve a new purpose or accommodate a new need. We tear down, erect, and renovate buildings constantly, and the result is millions of tons of building rubble. Until recently, the only way to recycle concrete waste was to smash it up and use it as a base layer for roads. Now, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics have developed a better way: use lightning to break separate concrete debris into its most basic, and reuseable, parts. Concrete is extremely versatile, which is why it’s the world’s most popular building material. Created by mixing cement, water and aggregate, and a mixture of stone particles such as gravel or limestone grit in various sizes, concrete is cheap and easy to use. Unfortunately these positive aspects have a big, dirty downside. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, “the production of one ton of burned cement clinker of limestone and clay releases 650 to 700 kilograms of carbon dioxide.” This means that every year 8 to 15 percent of global CO2 production is attributable to concrete manufacturing. The key to recycling concrete, and curbing some of these harmful carbon emissions , is efficiently reducing concrete rubble into ingredients that can then be mixed into new concrete. The process developed by the Fraunhofer researchers uses electrodynamic fragmentation, very short pulses (less than 500 nanoseconds) of induced lightning, to separate gravel from cement materials in concrete. When the lightning strikes the concrete debris, it runs along the path of least resistance which is the boundaries between the components, i.e. between the gravel and the cement stone. The initially generated impulses, the pre-discharges, first weaken the material mechanically. “The pre-discharge which reaches the counter-electrode in our fragmentation plant at first, then causes an electrical breakdown,” explains Volker Thome from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP at the Concrete Technology Group in Holzkirchen. ”At this instant a plasma channel is formed in the concrete which grows within a thousandth of a second, like a pressure wave from the inside outwards.” The force of the explosion quickly and efficiently breaks down concrete in a fraction of the time it would take for traditional methods. The researchers have set a goal of 20 tons per hour which they say could be reached in just two years’ time. +Fraunhofer Institute via Ecogeek

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Scientists Use Lightning Blasts To Recycle Concrete Debris into New Building Materials

SOM’s Shimmering White Cube for the LA Federal Courthouse Wins Award

December 13, 2012 by  
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The new Los Angeles Federal Courthouse will be designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill , and it will feature state-of-the-art sustainable design. Announced just this week, the US General Services Administration awarded the contract for the new project on Broadway street to the SF office of SOM. Although details are skant, the shimmering white cube will provide 550,000 square feet of space with updated security compared to the current Spring Street facility. The GSA , which is in charge of the process, is also looking for proposals to renovate the existing courthouse and use the sale of the building to finance construction. SOM competed against Yazdani Studio and Gruen Associates with Hensel Phelps; Brooks + Scarpa and HMC Architects with McCarthy; and NBBJ with Mortensen to land the award to design and build LA’s new federal courthouse. To be located on a currently empty site at 107 S. Broadway, the project will contain 550,000 square feet of new courtrooms, and provide space for active and senior judges of the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and U.S. Marshals Service. The project will be a sustainable, cost-effective, state-of-the-art court facility that includes security upgrades that are not available in the current 312 North Spring Street courthouse. “GSA is committed to reducing the federal government’s real estate footprint by making more efficient use of our current properties and getting rid of outdated facilities that no longer meet our needs,” said GSA Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini. “The agency is taking a new approach to property disposals by working with the private sector to exchange outdated properties for the construction of new sustainable facilities.” Construction is expected to begin in late 2013 and should be completed by 2016. The GSA hopes to revamp the old facilities and sell it to help finance the new project and they are currently accepting proposals for this renovation. + SOM Images Courtesy of GSA

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SOM’s Shimmering White Cube for the LA Federal Courthouse Wins Award

Ateliers O-S Architectes’ New Cultural Center in Nevers Incorporates Public Space into the Roof Design

December 13, 2012 by  
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The building will feature glazed walls, which will flood the ground floor of the center with natural light. Each of the concrete walls are concealed by timber cladding and make the space ambient and warm. The construction also incorporates a first-floor balcony which overlooks the space, and a 220-seat auditorium on the ground floor. Besides the innovative bleacher-filled roof, the center is a building designed to fulfill its purpose for the community, and it includes a creche, event rooms, and a dance hall, alongside meeting rooms that run along the first floor. + Ateliers O-S Architectes Images courtesy of Ateliers O-S Architectes

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Ateliers O-S Architectes’ New Cultural Center in Nevers Incorporates Public Space into the Roof Design

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