Uber rolls out autonomous cars in Arizona

February 22, 2017 by  
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Just shy of two months after Uber’s autonomous cars were banned in California, the company is rolling out its second round of experimental autonomous vehicles on the roadways of Arizona. Uber’s most-recent experiment is happening on the streets of Tempe Arizona, where locals have the option to ride in one of the company’s self-driving Volvo XC90s – along with two Uber engineers in the front seats for safety purposes. Uber’s operation on the streets of San Francisco lasted only a week due to a dispute over regulations, but the company could benefit from less restrictive regulations in the Grand Canyon State. Uber and California went their separate ways because the state’s DMV threatened legal action for the improper licensing of test vehicles. When Uber refused to apply for the necessary permits, the state just up and revoked their license. It didn’t take the company long to hit the road in Arizona, where Governor Doug Ducey put out a big welcome mat for them in the form of an executive order. Signed in August, 2015, the order directed several government agencies to “undertake any necessary steps to support the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads in the state. According to The Verge , he also “empowered” universities to launch pilot programs for self-driving cars. Related: Uber launches self-driving cars in Pittsburgh After nearly a year of rumors that the company was planning to experiment with autonomous cars, Uber confirmed suspicions when it announced and began testing the vehicles on the streets of Pittsburgh in September 2016. Pricing for the Arizona pilot project remains the same as UberX service in other cities, and the Volvos can carry up to three passengers along with the “safety drivers.” Riders will have the option to cancel their request if they feel nervous when a self-driving car shows up, allowing them to opt for a human-piloted vehicle instead. Via The Verge and Engadget Images via Uber, Dilu , Wikimedia Commons and Foo Conner , Flickr Creative Commons

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Uber rolls out autonomous cars in Arizona

German architecture students and refugees build a beautiful timber community center

February 22, 2017 by  
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Architecture students from Germany’s University of Kaiserslautern teamed up with 25 refugees to build a timber community center for a refugee camp in Mannheim, Germany. Completed as part of the “Building Together—Learning Together” program, the 550-square-meter structure breathes new life into the bare-bones surroundings with a beautiful new gathering space. The design/build project prioritized ecological and cost-effective design without compromising construction quality. The timber community center was created in response to the desolate conditions of the Mannheim refugee camp located on the former American Spinelli Barracks. To aid in the refugee crisis , 18 architecture students teamed up with 25 refugees to design the new building, from concept to final build. The students lived at the refugee camp and worked intensively for six weeks from mid-August to the end of October to realize the project and help teach their new coworkers basic building skills and German. Related: Self-shaping shelters that could revolutionize emergency housing The community center is made almost entirely of lightweight untreated timber , with the larger components prefabricated in a hangar of the former military facility and later assembled onsite. The main walls are clad in Douglas fir while the latticework walls are used as structural support, allowing for natural ventilation and light while also creating a beautiful dappled play of light and shadow. The center wraps around a small garden courtyard as well as a large outdoor events space. Built-in seating is arranged around this area, shielded from the elements by a two-meter-wall canopy and partitions. The center also includes a pair of storerooms that can be adapted for different uses in the future. + Atelier U20 Via ArchDaily Images © Yannick Wegner

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German architecture students and refugees build a beautiful timber community center

Earth, air and fire inspire deep green interior of Ecuador’s twisted tower

February 22, 2017 by  
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Design firm Arquitectónica transformed an 18-story tower in Quito, Ecuador into a slender urban sculpture that twists upwards to meet the sky. The building’s animated exterior is matched by a deep green interior designed by Marcel Wanders , and belongs to a larger scheme comprising four major developments conceived in collaboration between leading experts in real estate development, industrial design and architecture. The architects achieved the twisting shape of the tower by displacing the floor plates, generating the impression of movement. Nestled between two orthogonal buildings, the Oh Residences introduce an element of playfulness and surprise to the neighborhood. Related: Marcel Wanders Unveils Plant-Sprouting Swing for Droog The interior design, inspired by Ecuadorian flora and fauna , offers diverse spaces that reference three classical elements–earth, air and fire. The areas referencing earth use authentic natural materials , while sensations of serenity, softness and tranquility dominate the spaces where air is the main motif. Contrasts that combine crafts, patterns and colors mark the spaces with fire as the thematic guide. + YOO + Marcel Wanders + Arquitectónica + Uribe & Schwarzkopf

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Earth, air and fire inspire deep green interior of Ecuador’s twisted tower

New silicon nanoparticles could finally make solar windows commercially viable

February 22, 2017 by  
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The trend toward integrating solar into homes and buildings seems to be taking off. First Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled his rooftop solar shingles that are invisible when viewed from the street. Now, researchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Milano-Bicocca have developed technology that could usher in a future with photovoltaic windows harvesting renewable energy from the sun. The research, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Photonics, demonstrates that high-tech silicon nanoparticles embedded into luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) can make the performance of solar windows more efficient, comparable to flat solar concentrators. “In our lab, we ‘trick’ nature by shirking the dimension of silicon crystals to a few nanometers, that is about one ten-thousandths of the diameter of human hair,” said University of Minnesota mechanical engineering professor Uwe Kortshagen, one of the senior authors of the study. “At this size, silicon’s properties change and it becomes an efficient light emitter, with the important property not to re-absorb its own luminescence. This is the key feature that makes silicon nanoparticles ideally suited for LSC applications.” Related: Revolutionary new solar windows could generate 50 times more power than conventional photovoltaics Photovoltaic windows could be a game changer in the race to power cities with renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Modern glass office towers could be retrofited with photovoltaic windows that wouldn’t change the aesthetics of the building and yet would be able to meet the structure’s electricity needs. According to the US Department of Energy, turning the windows at One World Trade Center into solar collectors could power more than 350 apartments. The researchers say that silicon nanoparticles could make solar windows commercially viable for the building-integrated photovoltaic market. The silicon nanoparticles, which are produced using a plasma reactor and formed into a powder, could realize flexible LSCs that efficiently capture more than five percent of the sun’s energy. One day soon the sun shining on skyscrapers in cities around the world could also be the source of their energy. + Highly efficient luminescent solar concentrators based on earth-abundant indirect-bandgap silicon quantum dots Via Phys.org Images via University of Minnesota

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New silicon nanoparticles could finally make solar windows commercially viable

PNC Bank pushing efficiency toward zero

April 16, 2013 by  
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In a pilot project, PNC has built a net zero bank branch and plans to expand efforts to 12 other branches this year.

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PNC Bank pushing efficiency toward zero

Is Walmart’s index the best thing since sliced bread?

April 16, 2013 by  
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Walmart is asking bread makers to bake in sustainability. Can they rise to the occasion?

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Is Walmart’s index the best thing since sliced bread?

GreenBlue Works to Take the Confusion out of Recycling Labels

October 20, 2011 by  
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The group’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition is launching a pilot project — with big-name retail backers — to develop and test a standardized recycling label for all types of packaging that will make it easier to increase recycling rates.

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GreenBlue Works to Take the Confusion out of Recycling Labels

Interview with Tom Chappell, Founder of Tom’s of Maine and Rambler’s Way

January 12, 2010 by  
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While home for the holidays in Kennebunk, Maine I had the opportunity to sit down with Tom Chappell, founder of Tom’s of Maine — which sold to Colgate for $100 million in 2006 — to discuss his new business venture, Ramblers Way wool undergarments. What started as a pilot project on a sheep farm grew into a small business with ethical and sustainable standards at the forefront of its practice

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Interview with Tom Chappell, Founder of Tom’s of Maine and Rambler’s Way

Permablitz UK: Neighbors Reinvent Backyards (Video)

January 12, 2010 by  
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Image credit: Transition Derby The idea of near-instant ‘permablitz’ edible garden creation is an attractive one.

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Permablitz UK: Neighbors Reinvent Backyards (Video)

"Eco-Estate" Rises Next To Vienna’s Gasometers

January 12, 2010 by  
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Images from Atelier Albert Wimmer via World Architecture News TreeHugger previously noted the conversion of gas storage tanks built in 1896 into housing by some of Europe’s best architects; Now, right next door, Albert Wimmer Architects is has built an “ecological housing estate” built with “low energy construction.”… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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"Eco-Estate" Rises Next To Vienna’s Gasometers

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