5 ways we can innovate to solve two crises at once

April 30, 2020 by  
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It would be devastating if the COVID-19 crisis killed off climate tech startups. We only have a few months to get it right.

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5 ways we can innovate to solve two crises at once

SDG No. 17, coronavirus and the battle for a collaborative future

April 30, 2020 by  
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Here’s why a key Sustainable Development Goal is back in style, and why it may be the SDG “for our times.”

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SDG No. 17, coronavirus and the battle for a collaborative future

How clean is your indoor air?

April 17, 2020 by  
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The 2020 Coronavirus /COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal for much of the population — a daily routine that now means moving from the bedroom to the living room instead of battling a commute and logging hours in an office building. With the kids tackling remote learning and you working from home, the carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio under your roof is likely different than it was just a few months ago. After all, there’s no doubt that an increase in the number of people at home affects the overall indoor air quality (IAQ) within the space. With that in mind, it’s important to give some consideration to the quality of the air you and your family are breathing in, both during the pandemic and in subsequent times. There is more to the equation than just making sure there is adequate oxygen in the building. Pollutants can float through your home, moving from one space to another. These pollutants can lead to allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. There might be other issues that go unnoticed too. Yet according to a study from Broan-NuTone, only 44% of Americans worry about their home’s indoor air quality. Related: Awair tracks 5 elements of air quality in your home In fact, there are many often overlooked clues that point to less than optimal IAQ. While you might recognize an increase in dust, most Americans don’t associate lingering food odors or allergy symptoms with poor IAQ. When evaluating IAQ, homeowners and renters should consider how effectively vent fans remove odors, smoke and moisture from the space. Lingering food scents, foggy mirrors and windows, and mold are all strong indicators that vent fans are not doing their job. Air filters, both stand-alone units and those inside the furnace’s forced-air system, are important tools in the battle for fresh indoor air.  This era of physical distancing has us spending more time indoors, and each activity, such as cleaning and cooking, can contribute to the toxins in your air. Then there is dust, dirt and pet dander thrown into the mix. Depending on the daily activities of your household, the number of people in the space, and the products you use, your IAQ might suffer more than you think. So it’s vital that you choose appliances and products carefully. Chemical pollution, for example, can be enough to exacerbate respiratory conditions. That means harsh cleaners can actually make you sick while you work to eliminate germs, especially if the fumes are left lingering around. It is imperative that filters in the furnace, air conditioner, air filter and grease filter above the stove are all washed or replaced frequently. In addition to cleaning filters, having effective exhaust fans is essential to maintaining healthy IAQ. To test exhaust fans, hold a ribbon of tissue near the fan while it is on. The appliance should suck the tissue inward. If it doesn’t, it is time for a replacement. In order for your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to benefit the air quality , they should be turned on before cooking or bathing and left on for at least 10 minutes afterward. The environmentalist in you might be screaming to turn off the vent, but the creation of mildew and other irritants isn’t a viable trade-off for the energy you’ll use running the fan a bit longer.  If you find that your home has excessive moisture in the form of damp towels, musty smells and foggy mirrors you may want to use absorption products such as Dri-Z-Air. The pellets are easy to refill and are versatile enough for the RV, garage or closet. A dehumidifier is another option to consider when moisture levels are high. While you know that dust is unsightly, it’s also a breeding ground for dust mites. Make sure to wipe or vacuum away dust often and clean linens in hot water frequently to keep allergens in commonly problematic areas low. To test your indoor air quality, you can buy an air quality monitor that ranges in price from $75 to around $800. You can also have your IAQ measured for you or purchase a VOC sensor or carbon dioxide meter to take your own readings. For safety, your home should also be equipped with a radon detector and a carbon monoxide detector. If any measure of IAQ shows the need for improvement, open windows and run fans to get air circulating. The recent indoor air quality study by Broan-Nutone highlights the need to spend a little time evaluating your indoor environment . According to the results, while the majority of people feel indoor air quality is exceptionally important since many of us spend more time inside than out, a fairly low number of respondents knew how to improve it by using appliances correctly. Remember that plants are another way to naturally filter pollutants out of the air. Outside of the standard household concerns, older homes should always be tested for asbestos, mold, lead -based paints and other toxic substances that could be lurking unnoticed. + Broan-NuTone Images via Broan-Nutone 

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How clean is your indoor air?

How clean is your indoor air?

April 17, 2020 by  
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The 2020 Coronavirus /COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal for much of the population — a daily routine that now means moving from the bedroom to the living room instead of battling a commute and logging hours in an office building. With the kids tackling remote learning and you working from home, the carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio under your roof is likely different than it was just a few months ago. After all, there’s no doubt that an increase in the number of people at home affects the overall indoor air quality (IAQ) within the space. With that in mind, it’s important to give some consideration to the quality of the air you and your family are breathing in, both during the pandemic and in subsequent times. There is more to the equation than just making sure there is adequate oxygen in the building. Pollutants can float through your home, moving from one space to another. These pollutants can lead to allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. There might be other issues that go unnoticed too. Yet according to a study from Broan-NuTone, only 44% of Americans worry about their home’s indoor air quality. Related: Awair tracks 5 elements of air quality in your home In fact, there are many often overlooked clues that point to less than optimal IAQ. While you might recognize an increase in dust, most Americans don’t associate lingering food odors or allergy symptoms with poor IAQ. When evaluating IAQ, homeowners and renters should consider how effectively vent fans remove odors, smoke and moisture from the space. Lingering food scents, foggy mirrors and windows, and mold are all strong indicators that vent fans are not doing their job. Air filters, both stand-alone units and those inside the furnace’s forced-air system, are important tools in the battle for fresh indoor air.  This era of physical distancing has us spending more time indoors, and each activity, such as cleaning and cooking, can contribute to the toxins in your air. Then there is dust, dirt and pet dander thrown into the mix. Depending on the daily activities of your household, the number of people in the space, and the products you use, your IAQ might suffer more than you think. So it’s vital that you choose appliances and products carefully. Chemical pollution, for example, can be enough to exacerbate respiratory conditions. That means harsh cleaners can actually make you sick while you work to eliminate germs, especially if the fumes are left lingering around. It is imperative that filters in the furnace, air conditioner, air filter and grease filter above the stove are all washed or replaced frequently. In addition to cleaning filters, having effective exhaust fans is essential to maintaining healthy IAQ. To test exhaust fans, hold a ribbon of tissue near the fan while it is on. The appliance should suck the tissue inward. If it doesn’t, it is time for a replacement. In order for your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to benefit the air quality , they should be turned on before cooking or bathing and left on for at least 10 minutes afterward. The environmentalist in you might be screaming to turn off the vent, but the creation of mildew and other irritants isn’t a viable trade-off for the energy you’ll use running the fan a bit longer.  If you find that your home has excessive moisture in the form of damp towels, musty smells and foggy mirrors you may want to use absorption products such as Dri-Z-Air. The pellets are easy to refill and are versatile enough for the RV, garage or closet. A dehumidifier is another option to consider when moisture levels are high. While you know that dust is unsightly, it’s also a breeding ground for dust mites. Make sure to wipe or vacuum away dust often and clean linens in hot water frequently to keep allergens in commonly problematic areas low. To test your indoor air quality, you can buy an air quality monitor that ranges in price from $75 to around $800. You can also have your IAQ measured for you or purchase a VOC sensor or carbon dioxide meter to take your own readings. For safety, your home should also be equipped with a radon detector and a carbon monoxide detector. If any measure of IAQ shows the need for improvement, open windows and run fans to get air circulating. The recent indoor air quality study by Broan-Nutone highlights the need to spend a little time evaluating your indoor environment . According to the results, while the majority of people feel indoor air quality is exceptionally important since many of us spend more time inside than out, a fairly low number of respondents knew how to improve it by using appliances correctly. Remember that plants are another way to naturally filter pollutants out of the air. Outside of the standard household concerns, older homes should always be tested for asbestos, mold, lead -based paints and other toxic substances that could be lurking unnoticed. + Broan-NuTone Images via Broan-Nutone 

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How clean is your indoor air?

Giant wooden pavilion in Taiwan is a birdhouse for humans

April 17, 2020 by  
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Designed by the creative minds behind Taipei-based Phoebe Says Wow Architects , the Boolean Birdhouse is a massive pavilion built in the middle of a national park in Taiwan. Set up for an annual flower show, the wooden building features five individual pitched roofs that jut up into the sky to create a welcoming place for birds to perch, while humans can also find a bit of respite inside the birdhouse. Located in Taiwan’s Yangmingshan National Park, the wooden building gives visitors to an annual flower show a place to rest while enjoying the incredible views. In particular, the region is known for its feathered wildlife, which inspired the architects to create a pavilion that was geared toward giving native birds a place to perch while giving visitors a chance to be close to nature. Related: Dramatically twisted timber weaves together in the Steampunk pavilion Spanning almost 900 square feet, the building includes five separate volumes with soaring pitched roofs. Clad in cypress shingles, the natural timber exterior and bark finishes are reminiscent of small, ubiquitous birdhouses found in backyards around the world. In fact, there are several bird-sized openings found throughout the exterior facade to let birds come in and out with ease. Although the structure is “for the birds ,” it’s also designed to be a resting place for human visitors of the flower show. Guests who enter the wooden pavilion through one of the dual entrances will find a dark interior filled with oddly-shaped spaces. The interior features a public area for exhibitions, but there are also several private corner nooks and curved crannies where people can take a moment to meditate or just take a quiet break. + Phoebe Says Wow Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Hey!Cheese, OS Studio and Shihhwa Hung via Phoebe Says Wow Architects

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Giant wooden pavilion in Taiwan is a birdhouse for humans

Archivist releases shirts made from recycled hotel sheets

April 17, 2020 by  
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Sometimes, being disruptive is fashionable. As for Archivist, a sustainable clothing company, its business plan counts on being disruptive in the name of fashion and corporate responsibility. With this mission, Archivist has found a unique yet luxurious inspiration for a new line of tailored shirts — hotel sheets. The story begins with a query on what happens to hotel sheets once they are discarded. The answer inspired a campaign to turn used bedding into sustainable fashion. As such, Archivist is the brainchild of partners Eugenie Haitsma and Johannes Offerhaus, Dutch designers who reached out to European hotels and quickly received 200 kilos of fine Egyptian cotton sheets. Although they were worn enough to be pulled from the hotels, these high-quality sheets still has plenty of performance life left. Archivist moved quickly to disrupt the flow of hotel sheets to landfills, instead creating a men’s leisure shirt and a women’s work shirt, two initial releases in what the company hopes to be a growing line of sustainable clothing options. Related: This biodegradable T-shirt is made from trees and algae The duo is busy reaching out to additional luxury hotels across Europe in a plan that helps them source materials while also extending an eco-friendly way for the hotels to get rid of old sheets. Transport distances are short because the hotels, located across Europe, send linens directly to a workshop near Bucharest. There, a family-run atelier thoroughly washes, cuts and manufactures the material into shirts. While there may be minor defects in the fabric, the team aims to minimize cut-off waste. Equally important, the shirt designs are timeless, offering a long lifespan instead of the disposable nature of trendy items. The men’s leisure shirt, made from 100% upcycled hotel linens, is offered in three sizes, which the company describes as flowy and oversized. The women’s work shirt is also created from sheets, but the design incorporates a subtle stripe woven into the fabric for a classic look that can be paired with a suit, slacks or jeans. It is also available in three sizes. Both shirts ship free within the EU and are priced at 150 euros (about $164). If you happen to get a shirt with a defect, Archivist will happily send you free patches. + Archivist Photography by Arturo Bamboo via Archivist

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Archivist releases shirts made from recycled hotel sheets

This biodegradable T-shirt is made from trees and algae

September 9, 2019 by  
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When it comes to your typical t-shirt, most people think of cotton, or perhaps a synthetic blend. But they probably don’t think about the all-natural Vollebak tee, made from wood and algae. The Vollebak Plant and Algae T-Shirt is an example of clothing that is produced with a vision for the end of the product life cycle when the shirt can be thrown in a landfill where it will biodegrade within a few months.  Beginning at the source, the Algae T uses eucalyptus, spruce, and beech wood from sustainably-harvested forested that are certified by both the Forestry Sustainability Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The wood is converted into pulp and then thread, and then fabric. Related: SAOLA offers sustainable sneakers sourced from algae and recycled plastic Beginning at the source, the Algae T uses eucalyptus, spruce, and beech wood from sustainably-harvested forested that are certified by both the Forestry Sustainability Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The wood is converted into pulp and then thread, and then fabric. Separately, the algae is grown in bioreactors. To process the algae, water and algae are pressed through a filter, separating out a pasty component of the algae. The paste is then placed in the sun until it dries into a powder. Mixed with a water binder, the dried algae powder becomes ink used on the front of the tee. The natural components of the algae ink mean it varies in depth of color from one shirt to the next and changes color with washings.  Because the ingredients are all natural , the Algae t-shirt can be composted after consumer use. The materials will break down organically, much faster than cotton and other materials, without adding chemicals to the soil and water. “The only thing different about this t shirt is that it grew in soil and water, and that’s where it’s designed to end up too. All you need to do is remember to compost it at the end of its life. Here it will biodegrade with them, turn into soil, and help new plants to grow,” explains Vollebak co-founder, Steve Tidball. We say that’s a much better way to think about fast fashion. <big>+ Vollebak</big> Via Core 77 <em>Images via Vollebak </em> 

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This biodegradable T-shirt is made from trees and algae

Prefab houseboat in Prague features a spacious rooftop lounge

September 9, 2019 by  
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Normally, Czech Republic-based firm Freedomky stays busy building charming, energy-efficient, tiny cabins. But when the team was approached by a client looking to “live freely” on the water, the designers used the same space- and energy-saving techniques they use frequently to build Freedomky No. 59, a prefab houseboat with a flexible interior design that can be used as a work space or vacation home. Designed in collaboration with architectural studio Atelier Št?pán , the Freedomky houseboat was directly created with the client’s love of adventure in mind. As a fan of the company’s cabin designs, the client, who spent time in various glamping locations across Europe, wanted the architects to design something that would allow him to set up a home in Prague. The man wanted to be close to the center of the city without feeling the congestion of the highly trafficked area. Hence, the design team and the client decided to take it to the water. Related: A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer The houseboat is a prefabricated structure comprised of two modules placed on a custom steel pontoon. The two separate units were joined together at a shipyard 25 miles north of Prague . Once the prefab construction was complete, the individual pieces were towed by boat to the home’s final installation site in the district of Smíchov in Prague. The journey took 18 hours, with the housing components passing under 14 bridges, including the famous Charles Bridge. Made with the same materials as Freedomky’s cabins, the boat’s exterior walls are crafted from eco-friendly wood or wooden components. Because of the humid environment, the designers replaced the larch facade normally used on their cabins with durable cement fiber boards. Working within the company motto of “free art of living everywhere,” the Freedomky team went to work designing a floating home with a breathtaking interior customized to the owner’s needs. The main objective was to create a flexible space, where the houseboat could be used as an office, an upscale living area or a weekend stay for guests. The interior of the houseboat is bright and airy, with modern furnishings that are flexible in their uses. The dining table can also be used as a work center, for example. The walls throughout the boat are painted a bright white, and the interior benefits from the natural light that pours in from the sliding glass doors and plentiful windows. At the owner’s request, there is a large rooftop terrace , which can be planted with vegetation. + Freedomky Via Dwell Photography by Lukas Pelech via Freedomky

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Prefab houseboat in Prague features a spacious rooftop lounge

Dubai announces plans for world’s biggest waste-to-energy facility

February 1, 2018 by  
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Dubai plans to deal with their garbage in a bold new way: with the largest waste-to-energy plant in the world. Gulf News and New Atlas reported the government announced plans for a facility that will handle as much as two million tons of solid waste yearly. That’s around 60 percent of the trash Dubai produces in a year. With a 185 megawatt (MW) capacity, the plant will generate power for around 120,000 homes. Dubai’s launching an ambitious effort to turn junk into energy . The waste-to-energy plant will treat around 5,000 metric tons every single day, and will generate as much power as 2,000 skyscrapers as big as the Burj Khalifa could consume – roughly two percent of Dubai’s annual electricity consumption, according to the Government of Dubai Media Office . Related: World’s largest waste-to-energy plant in China will be topped with green roofs and photovoltaics Dubai will raise the waste-to-energy plant on five acres of land, and will partner with Switzerland-based waste-to-energy technology company Hitachi Zosen Inova and Belgian construction company BESIX on the project. HV 132kV cables will connect the plant to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)’s grid. DEWA CEO Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer told Gulf News, “This will be a new source of [power] supply for Dubai. This will improve security of supply.” Construction will commence in a few months, according to Dubai Municipality director general Hussain Nasser Lootah, and the plant should be operating before World Expo 2020 . There is another waste-to-energy plant in progress vying for the title of world’s largest planned for Shenzhen , China; Inhabitat covered its green design here . Both could be finished in 2020. New Atlas reported the Shenzhen plant is still on track to claim the prize, but if the Dubai project reaches its goals, it could snag the title, with an output around 20 MW greater than the Shenzhen plant. Via New Atlas and Government of Dubai Media Office via Gulf News Images via BESIX

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Dubai announces plans for world’s biggest waste-to-energy facility

AeroMobil is launching a flying car that you can actually buy this year

April 11, 2017 by  
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We’ve been waiting for flying cars ever since the 1960s – and they’re set to become a viable reality this year. AeroMobil just announced that it is ready to launch its futuristic flying car – and you’ll actually be able to buy one in a few months. The company plans to show off the latest iteration of the car/plane hybrid next week in Monaco, with pre-orders starting later this year. According to the company, “AeroMobil is a completely integrated aircraft as well as a fully functioning four-wheeled car, powered by hybrid propulsion.” So far, we don’t know how much the futuristic car will cost, or any real specifics, but we do know that the company is aiming to revolutionize the way we get around. “AeroMobil aims to make personal transportation vastly more efficient and environmentally friendly by allowing significantly faster door-to-door travel for medium distance trips and in areas with limited or missing road infrastructure.?” Related: AeroMobil unveils futuristic flying car, plans to launch by 2017 AeroMobil revealed an early prototype of their flying car several years ago, and since then, they’ve been hard at work creating a car that fits within existing regulatory frameworks for both cars and airplanes, which means it will be a viable form of transportation in the very near future. They plan to show off the latest model at the supercar show Grimaldi Forum in Monaco from April 20 until April 24. + AeroMobil

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AeroMobil is launching a flying car that you can actually buy this year

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