Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech

February 10, 2020 by  
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After a visit to the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Diana Blank was inspired to fund a similar project in Georgia. Taking action, she founded the Kendeda Fund and funded it with $30 million to donate toward the cause. Georgia Tech is the recipient of Blank’s vision with a project by Lord Aeck Sargent and The Miller Hull Partnership that resulted in a Living Building . The net-positive Kendeda Building opened for classes in January 2020 and provides a place for learning and a template for innovative, sustainable design. The construction and design were influenced by the Living Building Challenge, “a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment.” Receiving this certification means meeting a host of requirements on everything from material selection to accessibility, and the Kendeda building checks all of the boxes. Related: Net-zero Del Mar Civic Center celebrates community and the great outdoors One example is The Red List, which is a compilation of chemicals common in mainstream construction. In order to avoid these chemicals, every building material was scrutinized to ensure it didn’t contain Red List items. John DuConge, the senior project manager, admitted, “Getting through the Red List compliance, that was truly a challenge, and that probably took a lot more time than anyone expected. But we’ve moved the needle in the market, I think, and that’s one of the things that will make it easier for the next Living Building Challenge project.” This added effort creates an atmosphere without off-gassing or other toxins, resulting in clean indoor air for the hundreds of students and staff using the building daily. Every system in the building stands as an example of the focus on function, internal health, aesthetic beauty and energy savings. This is quickly apparent in the fact that the project is net-positive for energy and water, meaning that it gives back more than it takes. The Kendeda Building incorporated the use of solar panels as a basic step in providing energy to the 47,000-square-foot building. They do the job, plus some, with extra energy to return to the grid. Additionally, these solar panels function as water collection devices. The primary heating and cooling systems then push that water through the floors to maintain a comfortable surface temperature. For additional temperature control, 62 ceiling fans throughout the building help balance the humid Georgia environment. Now complete, the structure consists of two 64-person classrooms , four class labs, a conference room, makerspace, auditorium, rooftop apiary and pollinator garden, an office space for co-located programs and a coffee cart. The Kendeda Building will be audited for certification for the first Living Building Challenge facility of its size and function in the Southeast, following one complete year of functional occupancy. + Georgia Tech Photography by Johnathan Hillyer, Justin Chan Photography, Miller Hull Partnership and Vertical River via Georgia Tech

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Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech

Climate crisis drives bumblebees closer to extinction

February 10, 2020 by  
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The climate crisis, rampant misuse of pesticides , lack of plant diversity, habitat loss, parasites and pathogens have collectively created the perfect storm for a decline in the bumblebee populations in both Europe and North America, according to the research team of Peter Soroye, Tim Newbold and Jeremy Kerr, who have recently published their findings in Science . The research shows that “Within just one human generation, the odds for bumblebee survival have dropped by an average of more than 30%.” The imminent mass extinction of bumblebees could mean a dreary future devoid of wild plants and many farmed crops, given that bumblebees are among the most crucial pollinators out there. Global warming has led to both temperature extremes and unpredictable precipitation. The combination of these atmospheric conditions has exacerbated local bumblebee extinction rates by reducing colonization, shrinking site occupancy and diminishing a habitat’s fertility to support the bumblebee population. Bumblebees tend to overheat, which is why they prefer more temperature regions. Related: Native bees are going extinct without much buzz But weather isn’t the only culprit. The dynamic use of land has contributed to habitat loss, and pesticide use has likewise resulted in a significant decline in these pollinators. Bumblebees are larger and fuzzier than honeybees. While they are not honey producers, they are still key pollinators. Many important fruits, nuts, vegetables and staple crops rely on bumblebees thriving. “When they land on flowers, they physically shake these flowers and shake the pollen off,” explained Peter Soroye, the study’s lead author. “A lot of crops like squash, berries, tomatoes need bumblebees to pollinate them, and honeybees or other pollinators just can’t do that.” In Europe, bumblebee populations decreased by an average of 17% between 1975 and 2000. For North American bumblebees, numbers plummeted by about 46% over the same period. These numbers indicate that the loss of bumblebees could adversely affect food diversity in the future.  “If things continue along the path without any change, then we can really quickly start to see a lot of these species being lost forever,” Soroye said. To mitigate against extinction, he recommended, “If you have a garden , fill it full of native plants that the bees can go visit.” + Science Via National Geographic and Reuters Image via Valerian Guillot

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Climate crisis drives bumblebees closer to extinction

How to properly and safely dispose of these 10 items in your home

February 10, 2020 by  
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Toxic chemicals, e-waste, light bulbs and batteries are just a few common household items that exit our homes and can end up in the landfill , where they may or may not break down or leach into the soil and water. Equally concerning is the potential for broken glass and chemicals to cause problems to sanitation workers, the water system and wildlife. Even when you make the best purchasing decisions upfront, you will eventually find yourself with toxic household waste. Before tossing items in the trash, check out these disposal options for items like batteries and paint that are safer for the planet. Tires Because most automotive, tractor and machine tires are a mixture of rubber and steel, they can’t be recycled without separating those components. As a result, you will likely have to pay to drop them somewhere. The landfill is one option, but you can commonly return them to a local tire center. Regardless of where you take it, the fee typically ranges from $2-10 per tire, so consider upcycling those old radials into a property border or flower bed divider. Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected Light bulbs Your local recycling center probably accepts spent CFL light bulbs. Because CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, it’s important that they are properly disposed of. Most large home improvement stores also provide a return option for CFLs and basic fluorescent bulbs. Depending on your local recycling center, LED or incandescent bulbs may be recyclable with your glass items. You can also visit Pinterest for ideas on ways to repurpose bulbs. Batteries The best option when it comes to batteries is to make the investment in rechargeable batteries. When they wear out, look for drop boxes at your local home improvement and office supply stores. For single-use household batteries, you can return them during city household waste collection events, or your recycling center may have a drop spot. Some home improvement stores also provide a drop location. Car, tractor and motorcycle batteries are easily recyclable at any retailer that sells them. You will likely even get a core refund for returning them. Check with automotive repair locations, car part stores or your local Battery Exchange. Electronics When the stereo, computer, TV or cell phone bites the dust, skip the landfill and head to the recycling center. You may need to separate the cords and/or batteries from the laptop or TV remote, but most components are accepted at these locations. Also check with the manufacturing company or service provider. For example, Apple and many cell phone companies will accept old devices for recycling, and some even offer a credit for it. Medications Expired and unneeded medications are absorbed into the soil and waterways if flushed down the toilet. They are also a danger to children and pets, so proper disposal is important. Most local police stations accept medications, and they can be returned at city waste collection events. The U.S. DEA also provides an annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies. Stains and paints The good news is that modern paints and stains are formulated to last, so you can finish up the can while doing touch ups or other projects, even years down the road. If you’re moving and have to come up with a quick yet responsible disposal method, visit your local Habitat for Humanity reStore, where it will reformulate the paint for resale. Another option is to allow the paint to dry in the can, either naturally or with the aid of a commercial paint-dry product. Once dry, it can be thrown out with the rest of your garbage without a risk of contamination, although we do recommend using it entirely or donating it for resell before turning to the landfill. Related: 6 of the best places to donate your things Cleaning products Between glass cleaner and furniture polish, household cleaners have a way of accumulating. So when you pull out the last of the carpet and no longer need carpet spot cleaner or you make the switch to natural cleaners and need to do away with your old bottles, keep an eye out for that city waste collection event. For cleaners you can still use, try to use them up and recycle the container when you can. Also consider giving away any cleaners you no longer want, but note that most donation centers will not accept them, so offer them to friends, family and co-workers. Lawn and garden products Insecticides and pesticides should not be added to the garbage, where they can leak into water systems and soil. The same goes for the old oil and gasoline from your lawn mower and other equipment. This type of pollution will impact plants, animals and humans. Hold onto any lawn and garden chemicals for the next household waste round-up to return them responsibly. Personal care products If you find your bathroom cabinets and shelves full of old skincare , fragrances or nail polish you don’t want anymore, it is important to dispose of them properly, especially if they are from your pre-green beauty days. Unused, unexpired products may be suitable for donation. Otherwise, do not dump products in the sink or toilet. Check with your local hazardous household waste facility to see if it can accept your items. If you must, put all of the contents of the containers into one jar and place it in the garbage. Eyeglasses Whether you’ve undergone laser eye surgery or upgraded your style, eyewear is another common household item that may no longer be serving its purpose. Fortunately, there are many ways to donate old eyeglasses where they can provide the gift of sight and keep them out of the landfills. Lyons Clubs International, New Eyes (a division of United Way), OnSight and Eyes of Hope are all options. You can also drop eyeglass lenses and frames at most optical centers or local drop boxes, or donate them to a thrift store. Via Earth 911 and EPA.gov Images via Shutterstock

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How to properly and safely dispose of these 10 items in your home

China’s Zero-Carbon City Dongtan Delayed, But Not Necessarily Dead, Says Planner

January 24, 2010 by  
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Peter Head (photo courtesy of Arup) Last year, I wrote a post mourning the demise of one of the world’s most exciting construction projects: an ecologically sustainable city for half a million people off the coast of Shanghai called Dongtan. The idea was ambitious: a city without a landfill or cars, producing its own renewable electricity and generating zero carbon emissions

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China’s Zero-Carbon City Dongtan Delayed, But Not Necessarily Dead, Says Planner

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