Biden vs Trump on environmental issues and climate change

September 22, 2020 by  
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As the U.S. has grown increasingly polarized, it seems more and more like the two presidential candidates inhabit different planets. If you listen to Joe Biden on climate change, you might feel the urge to junk your car and invest in wind power. Meanwhile, the incumbent’s message seems to be that fossil fuels are A-OK. You might find yourself wondering, does Trump believe in climate change? What’s actually in Joe Biden’s climate change plan? Here’s a quick rundown on where the presidential candidates stand on environmental issues and climate change . Imminent need for climate action The most striking difference between the two candidates environmentally is the novella-length treatises the Biden campaign is generating with ideas about how to solve climate problems versus Trump’s more meager approach. Related: Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan: create millions of jobs, reverse climate change Biden has a long record of working on behalf of the climate, dating back, at least, to introducing the Global Climate Protection Act , the first climate change bill to reach the Senate. During his stint as vice president, Biden oversaw the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 , which allocated $90 billion toward clean energy. At that time, he called fighting climate change “the single most important thing” the executive team could do while in the White House. He also supported President Obama’s signing of the Paris Agreement. Trump, on the other hand, immediately withdrew from the 2015 Paris climate accord as soon as he took office. Now, the U.S. is the only member country to refuse to participate in the agreement to reduce global emissions . Trump avoids discussing global emission reduction and has refused to sign certain international documents unless climate change references are removed. The Environmental Protection Agency under Trump has taken a distinctly anti-science bent, with half the members of the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors dismissed in 2017 and a 2018 disbanding of a panel of scientists tasked with advising the agency on safe air pollution levels. Trumps agenda has been distinctly anti-environment, including loosening restrictions on methane emissions , waiving environmental laws during the pandemic , rolling back fuel efficiency requirements , repealing water protections and weakening the Endangered Species Act . Making America “great again” seems to mean reverting to the good old days before anybody gave a hoot about the planet. Fossil fuels The fossil fuel issue is a tricky dance for Democratic politicians. While most agree that the future lies in renewable energy, most cars and airplanes still run on fossil fuels. Biden pledged not to take any fossil fuel money for his campaign. But he still has a weakness for natural gas, which he has supported in the past as a “bridge fuel” between dirtier gasoline and coal and cleaner renewable energy. He has not called for a ban on fracking . Biden has promised to end all subsidies to fossil fuel companies. Trump doesn’t have a problem with fossil fuel. As it says on WhiteHouse.gov , “Americans have long been told that our country is running out of energy, but we now know that is wrong.” The president has promoted using more fossil fuel, especially coal. He’s chosen lobbyists and leaders in the fossil fuel industry for important federal posts, including as EPA administrator and as secretary of the Interior Department. Trump has worked to expand gas and oil drilling , including in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. He’s claimed victory over what he calls “the war on coal .” Renewable energy Biden talks about the U.S. achieving a target of 100% clean energy. His strategies include grid-scale storage that will be 10 times more economical than lithium-ion batteries, small modular nuclear reactors, net-zero energy buildings, development of carbon-neutral construction materials, doubling offshore wind production by 2030 and the development and deployment carbon capture sequestration technology. His track record in the Senate and as vice president bears out his commitment to clean energy. Trump has dismembered the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which privileged clean energy construction over oil and gas. His administration repeatedly sliced funding that incentivized developing clean energy, proposing to cut up to 87% of the Department of Energy’s Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget. He’s also proposed eliminating electric vehicle tax credits. While initially the Trump administration embraced new federal leases for offshore wind farms, it cut federal incentives for harvesting offshore wind. A 2018 tariff on solar panels manufactured outside the U.S. that was meant to boost jobs backfired, costing American jobs and upping panel prices. Environmental justice Biden has officially recognized that low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are disproportionately affected by pollution and climate change and addresses how to change this in the Joe Biden climate change plan. Trump has not addressed the subject. Via Joe Biden and WhiteHouse.gov Images via Adobe Stock and Pixabay

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Biden vs Trump on environmental issues and climate change

Old industrial building is now an energy-efficient complex in London

September 21, 2020 by  
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International practice Make Architects has transformed a 1950s industrial building into the Asta House, a mixed-use development comprising commercial offices, luxury and affordable residences, retail spaces and a new pocket park in London’s Fitzrovia. Developed for Derwent London, the adaptive reuse project was sustainably designed to retain as much of the original facade and structure as possible while injecting the building with a new, contemporary aesthetic. Make Architects also reduced the project’s long-term carbon footprint by installing triple glazing, additional insulation, operable windows and solar hot water heating panels to preheat domestic hot water for the entire building. Located on a corner site between Whitfield Street and Chitty Street, the Asta House features 36 design-led residences that include one- to three-bedroom apartments, 10 social apartments and four intermediate apartments. The architects also added two additional stories — carefully stepped back from the facade to preserve the building’s architectural integrity — to house a pair of penthouse apartments. By setting back the penthouses, the architects created space for extensive private decks. The other apartments in the building share a courtyard terrace backing Charlotte Mews, and all residents will have access to Poets Park, a 240-square-meter pocket park with a small cafe. Related: The origami-like monocoque pavilion in London is shaped by its environment The Asta House’s contemporary interiors feature a restrained material and color palette and are flooded with natural light from large windows. Contrast is created with black detailing against white backgrounds and the juxtaposition of rougher tactile elements with smooth surfaces. Built-in furniture helps achieve a streamlined appearance.  “The modern, yet intimate scale and design of this project aims to appeal to those who want a character-rich home in this bohemian area,” said architect Kunwook Kang. “Externally the project is completely respectful of its location, chiming with surrounding colours and massing. Internally our choice of materials was key. We’ve created smooth, consistent interiors that make the most of original features and crafted new ones to provide not only functional, efficient homes, but also spaces that delight.”  + Make Architects Images via Jack Hobhouse and Make Architects

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Old industrial building is now an energy-efficient complex in London

A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

September 17, 2020 by  
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In the outskirts of Jiaxing, China, a nature reserve has been transformed into a multipurpose recreational zone known as Ginkgo Swan Lake. Named after the inclusion of a ginkgo forest and a human-made lake, the family-friendly park features a small train track that loops around the grounds. Hangzhou-based architecture firm Hexia Architects recently completed Ginkgo Swan Lake’s second train station, which comprises a pair of eco-friendly timber buildings designed to highlight the outdoor landscape. Located in the Xiusui New District of Jiaxing in an area rich in both ecological resources and traditional culture, Ginkgo Swan Lake was created to celebrate a harmonious coexistence of ecology, nature and art . The park comprises a gridded ginkgo forest, a train track that loops around the lake, an art museum, an ecological bird island and a water village. Hexia Architects, which has been involved with multiple aspects of the park project, recently completed the second train station that serves as a multifunctional space for visitors of all ages. Related: Tiered timber tea house embraces a Chinese ginkgo forest The train station consists of two timber-and-glass buildings. To the south of the train tracks is the building with a reception and information desk that is flanked by amphitheater -like seating on either side and the main bathroom facilities behind it. The second floor includes child-friendly spaces including sunken ball pits, a small library and cloud-like seating. The building on the other side of the train tracks features a more flexible layout for pop-up stores, exhibitions and other gatherings. A pair of curved white staircases — dubbed the “White Towers” — lead up to two loft spaces for overlooking the double-height hall. Instead of steel or concrete, the architects opted to build the train station buildings with timber to reduce the carbon emissions of the project. All the technical equipment, such as the HVAC, are skillfully hidden to keep the focus on the exposed wooden structures. The architects explained, “We made two large space with wood structure to break a common misunderstanding in China that a wooden building is either an ancient building or a small building.” + Hexia Architects Photography by Gushang Culture via Hexia Architects

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A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

Global investment managers say no to carbon

September 11, 2020 by  
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A European group of global investment managers and pension funds has devised an ambitious plan to cut their portfolios down to net-zero carbon . The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change includes more than 1,200 members in 16 countries. Together, they control over $40 trillion in assets. The group distributes its recommended measures to asset managers to help them reach the European Union’s goal to be climate -neutral by 2050. Its policies are based on a framework developed with more than 70 funds around the world. Related: Critics question Amazon’s sustainability amidst Bezos Earth Fund launch As investors focus more on sustainability, especially since the Paris Climate Agreement, they’ve begun to pressure their asset managers to cut the carbon in their portfolios. “Countries, cities and companies around the globe are committing to achieve the goal of net-zero emissions and investors need to show similar leadership,” Stephanie Pfeifer, IIGCC’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. IIGCC’s agenda is lengthy. A few points include analyzing the latest policy developments for members, developing policy positions, collaborating with like-minded global and European bodies, and facilitating workshops and roundtables with peers. Decarbonizing the world’s economy is an overwhelming task. Before a slight pandemic-related blip downward, global coal demand was at an all-time high. With a projected 9.7 billion people by 2050, it will take a lot of money, education and commitment to meet the ever-increasing appetite for electricity with renewable sources. Oil use currently averages more than 90 million barrels per day, and 70% of this is used for transportation. To reach net-zero carbon goals, these diesel- and gasoline-chugging vehicles will need to be switched out for electric vehicles charged with renewable energy sources. On the plus side, the world spends more than $5 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies, which would go a long way in funding renewable energy instead. We might also see a big drop in healthcare costs if people were no longer exposed to the detrimental effects of burning coal for fuel. + Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change Via Forbes Image via Pixabay

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Global investment managers say no to carbon

LeSportsac’s ReCycled collection uses recycled water bottles

September 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

In 1974, LeSportsac opened its doors for business in New York City. Much has changed since then, but not the company’s focus on creating innovative, colorful and useful bags that encourage an on-the-go lifestyle. With the modern-day zeitgeist squarely aimed at improving sustainable practices, both in the private and business world, LeSportsac’s most recent release removes plastic from the waste stream while encouraging fans to continue their LeSportsac journey. Called ReCycled, the new bags come in three prints, each making a statement about green developments in production and packaging. LeSportsac’s effort to improve its products through sustainable practices has led to a reduced carbon footprint by utilizing post-consumer water bottles in the fabric. In fact, every yard of fabric equals nine recycled bottles, and each product lists the actual equivalent number of water bottles used. Related: This versatile, waterproof parka is made with recycled PET bottles Fortunately for the environment, many companies have adopted the advancing technology of turning  post-consumer plastic  into usable fabric. The process involves collecting, cleaning and shredding plastic into small chips. Subsequently, the chips are spun into yarn for the fabric.  Small and large cosmetic, cross-body, hobo and weekender bags make up the collection in all three prints. Eco Iris Garden features tones of blue and purple with the telltale yellow color punch of an iris in bloom. Eco Rose Garden offers a colorful and classically feminine floral motif. Eco Black delivers the same travel bag options in a more subdued color offering.  LeSportsac has even transformed its old logo to accommodate the recycled logo. The LeSportsac Fall 2020 ReCycled Collection debuted in-store and online mid-August 2020, and each component of the capsule collection is now ready for purchase. After more than four decades in the industry , LeSportsac aims to continue providing the bags consumers need for an active lifestyle while simultaneously focusing on sustainable, eco-friendly development. + LeSportsac Images via LeSportsac

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LeSportsac’s ReCycled collection uses recycled water bottles

CRA unveils designs for Biotic, a high-tech district in Brazil

September 8, 2020 by  
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After two years of development, international design firm Carlo Ratti Associati and consultancy firm Ernst & Young have unveiled their masterplan designs for Biotic, a high-tech innovation district in Brasilia, Brazil. Inspired by the Brazilian capital’s modernist masterplan engineered by urban planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer, Biotic was conceived as an extension of the city’s historic layout as well as a reinterpretation of the city’s iconic superblocks to create a more nature-centric community with greater mixed-use programming.  Developed for public real estate company TerraCap, the 10-million-square-foot Biotic would be located between the UNESCO World Heritage “Plano Piloto” — the foundation of Brasilia in 1960 — and the 42,000-hectare Brasilia National Park in the northwest of the Federal District. The proposed technology and innovation district focuses on “domesticating nature” to allow residents, workers and visitors closer contact with nature in both public and private areas. Related: How Barcelona “superblocks” return city streets to the people The Biotic project expands on Brasilia’s iconic Superquadra (or superblock ) modules by subdividing each into pedestrian blocks with street fronts. These internal neighborhoods would not only be protected from traffic and pollution, but the inward-facing spaces would also promote social cohesion and community. The masterplan also champions mixed-use programming — a feature that was typically avoided in Brazil’s modernist urban planning in the mid-century. The architects intend to take advantage of Brasilia’s year-round mild climate to cultivate stronger connections with nature. For example, outdoor offices would be designed with curtain walls that could open like real curtains. Digital technologies embedded into plazas , pedestrian zones, shared vegetable gardens and other spaces would be used to monitor sunlight, wind and temperature and create comfortable working environments while allowing close contact with nature. “The office buildings, hovering above the ground level, are designed for sun and wind to come in,” said James Schrader, project manager at CRA. “Thanks to a system of openable wooden facades that can slide along the building like a curtain, the interior spaces will open to the exterior, allowing users to enjoy Brasilia’s weather. This project merges the interior and exterior into one space.” + Carlo Ratti Associati Images via Carlo Ratti Associati

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CRA unveils designs for Biotic, a high-tech district in Brazil

Gardenhouse in Beverly Hills boasts one of the nations largest green walls

September 4, 2020 by  
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International architectural practice MAD Architects has completed the Gardenhouse, a mixed-use development in Beverly Hills that is the firm’s first project in the U.S. and hosts one of the largest living green walls in the country. Designed to mimic the neighborhood’s lush and hilly landscape, Gardenhouse combines ground-floor commercial space with 18 above-ground residential units that appear to “grow” out of the building’s living green wall. Inspired by a “hillside village,” the residential units appear as a cluster of white gabled structures of varying sizes for an eye-catching and playful look. Located at 8600 Wilshire Boulevard on a prominent corner lot, the 48,000-square-foot Gardenhouse immediately draws the eye with its massive, two-story green wall covered in lush plantings of native , drought-tolerant succulents and vines selected for minimal maintenance and irrigation. True to the design’s image of a “hillside village,” the building offers a variety of housing typologies including two studios, eight condominiums, three townhouses and five villas. Each unit is defined by a pitched-roof volume and comes with an independent entry and exit circulation route as well as access to underground parking. Related: MAD brings a surreal sports campus that mimics a green, martian landscape to China At the heart of the cluster of white gabled “houses” is a private, second-floor landscaped courtyard that the architects have dubbed a surprising “secret garden” in an urban environment. Each home is also equipped with a balcony for overlooking the shared courtyard.  “ Los Angeles and Beverly Hills are highly modernized and developed,” said Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects. “Their residences on the hills seemingly coexist with the urban environment. However, they also see enclosed movement at their core. The commune connection between the urban environment and nature is isolated. What new perspectives, and new value, can we bring to Los Angeles? Perhaps, we can create a hill in the urban context, so people can live on it and make it a village. This place will be half urban, half nature. This can offer an interesting response to Beverly Hills: a neighborhood which is often carefully organized and maintained, now with a witty, playful new resident.” + MAD Architects Photography by Nic Lehoux and Darren Bradley via MAD Architects

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Gardenhouse in Beverly Hills boasts one of the nations largest green walls

Award-winning solar home with spectacular desert views asks $5.35M

August 28, 2020 by  
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On the edge of the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, just outside of Las Vegas, an AIA award-winning home has hit the market for $5.35 million. Designed by PUNCH Architecture and built by Bugbee Custom Homes, this custom, 3,270-square-foot residence embraces the breathtaking desert landscape with carefully framed views and an indoor/outdoor design approach. The luxury Montana Court home is built largely with natural, modern materials and is topped with solar panels as well as a living roof. Recognized by the American Institute of Architecture’s Las Vegas chapter for its architectural innovation and design, the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath luxury home keeps the spotlight on the southern Nevada desert landscape with a restrained palette and contemporary aesthetic. The two-story home is built into the mountainous landscape and blends in with the desert with a natural materials palette, which will develop a patina over time. According to the real estate firm, The Ivan Sher Group, this site-sensitive approach is an exception to the typical Las Vegas luxury home, which tends to stand out from the background rather than complement it. Related: Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada “This is a home for those who fully appreciate nature and the outdoors, in addition to the excitement of the Las Vegas Strip,” said listing agent Anthony Spiegel. “There are panoramic views of Blue Diamond’s stunning mountain and desert scenery, and at night you can see millions of stars light up the sky. This home is also nearby one of the top biking trail systems in Southern Nevada, allowing residents the convenience to ride at any time.” Located in the small town of Blue Diamond, the Montana Court home is nestled among Joshua and Pinion trees, cacti, creosotes and rock formations in a setting that offers complete privacy in the outdoors. The exterior is wrapped in weathered steel that will evolve as the home ages. The home also includes a 1,200-square-foot garage, outdoor shower, barbecue area, fire pit and multiple sheltered outdoor spaces that seamlessly transition to the indoors through full-height glass doors. + 4 Montana Court Listing Images courtesy of The Ivan Sher Group

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Award-winning solar home with spectacular desert views asks $5.35M

Redwoods, condor sanctuary are damaged in California wildfires

August 28, 2020 by  
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The beloved giants of Big Basin Redwoods State Park have been facing massive wildfires in California. Fortunately, many survived, proving how tough and resilient these trees can be, although there has still been considerable damage. Meanwhile, a condor sanctuary has also been devastated, with experts fearing the loss of some of these critically endangered birds. Big Basin’s redwoods have stood in the Santa Cruz Mountains for more than 1,000 years. In 1902, the area became California’s first state park. The trees are a combination of old-growth and second-growth redwood forest, mixed with oaks, conifer and chaparral. The park is a popular hiking destination with more than 80 miles of trails, multiple waterfalls and good bird-watching opportunities. Related: Arctic wildfires rage through Siberia Early reports of the Santa Cruz Lightning Complex fires claimed the redwood trees were all gone. But a visitor on Tuesday found most trees still intact, though the park’s historic headquarters and other structures had burned in the fires. “But the forest is not gone,” Laura McLendon, conservation director for the Sempervirens Fund, told KQED . “It will regrow. Every old growth redwood I’ve ever seen, in Big Basin and other parks, has fire scars on them. They’ve been through multiple fires, possibly worse than this.” Scientists have done some interesting studies on redwoods, including one concluding that redwoods might be benefiting from climate change . A warming climate means less fog in northern California, which allows redwoods more sunshine and therefore more photosynthesis. Researchers have also looked into cloning giant redwoods, which could save the species if they burn in future fires. A sanctuary for endangered condors in Big Sur also suffered from the wildfires. Kelly Sorenson, executive director of Ventana Wildlife Society, which operates the sanctuary, watched in horror as fire took out a remote camera trained on a condor chick in a nest. Sorenson saw the chick’s parents fly away. “We were horrified. It was hard to watch. We still don’t know if the chick survived, or how well the free-flying birds have done,” Sorenson told the San Jose Mercury News. “I’m concerned we may have lost some condors. Any loss is a setback. I’m trying to keep the faith and keep hopeful.” The fate of at least four other wild condors who live in the sanctuary is also still unknown. Via CleanTechnica , EcoWatch and KQED Image via Anita Ritenour

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Redwoods, condor sanctuary are damaged in California wildfires

ON-A wants to renature Barcelona by greening the Camp Nou stadium

August 26, 2020 by  
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In a bid to bring greater green space to Barcelona, local architecture firm ON-A has proposed converting the city’s Camp Nou football stadium into a 26-hectare forested park. Dubbed Nou Parc, the design blankets the Camp Nou stadium and surrounding facilities with an undulating green roof strong enough to support a forest of trees. The architects estimate that the resulting park space could produce 15,000 kilograms of oxygen per day and absorb 25,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide daily. Opened in 1957 as the home stadium of FC Barcelona, the 99,354-seat Camp Nou football stadium is the largest stadium in Spain and Europe. According to the architects, less than 10% of the stadium grounds have been allocated to green space, which results in an urban heat island effect and also creates a divide between the neighborhood of Les Corts from the University Area. When the stadium is not in use for sports events or private functions, the massive area is typically disused.  Related: ZHA gets the green light for world’s first all-timber soccer stadium in England The Nou Parc proposal aims to bring greater functionality to Camp Nou with a publicly accessible green and leisure space that would not only better link the nearby neighborhoods but also improve urban air quality . The new park would be created in collaboration with tech company Verdtical so that the undulating green roof blanketing the buildings would be controlled by sensors and artificial intelligence capable of minimizing water consumption. Rainwater would also be collected and stored in two onsite lakes for irrigation of the park.  “Renaturing cities and gaining quality space for citizens is no longer just an interesting idea, it is a necessity,” said Jordi Fernández, co-founder of ON-A Architecture. “We are aware that cities must be re-naturalized, and that green provides unquestionable benefits for health, but the issue is not only green, the debate revolves around blue as well: the water . We cannot be green if that implies an excessive use of resources. The technology for the control of water consumption has come a long way and allows us to innovate and optimize green areas in urban spaces.” + ON-A Images via ON-A

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ON-A wants to renature Barcelona by greening the Camp Nou stadium

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