Seattle permanently closes 20 miles of street

May 18, 2020 by  
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Seattle recently made bold moves to put pedestrians and cyclists first as the pandemic-induced stay-at-home order creates a new normal. Up to 20 miles of roadways in the “Stay Healthy Streets” program shall remain permanently closed to nonessential through traffic to encourage people to exercise safely while social distancing.  Environmentalists  are praising the move because curtailing vehicular traffic means a reduction in  carbon emissions . “Our rapid response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 have been transformative in a number of places across the city,” Sam Zimbabwe, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director, told  The   Seattle Times . “Some of the responses are going to be long lasting, and we need to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city.” Related:  COVID-19 and its effects on the environment Quarantine fatigue has been a major motivation towards more citizen safety measures to sustain  public health  through exercise. Not only were 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets permanently closed to encourage walking, jogging, skateboarding, scootering and cycling, but  Seattle’s Office of the Mayor  also announced plans for enhanced bike infrastructure and additional protected bike lanes. The news has garnered praise from the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board. Mayor Jenny Durkan further explained, “We are in a marathon and not a sprint in our fight against COVID-19. As we assess how to make the changes that have kept us safe and healthy  sustainable  for the long term, we must ensure Seattle is rebuilding better than before. Safe and Healthy Streets are an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather. Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods.” According to SDOT, the streets that have become pedestrianized were selected because they have few open spaces, lower rates of car ownership and are located in routes open to essential services as well as takeout meals. Of course, postal services, deliveries, garbage and recycling trucks, plus emergency vehicles are still permitted on these “closed” streets. SDOT will also be reprogramming traffic signals to reduce pedestrian wait-times at crosswalks so that crowd formations at intersections can be avoided. Pushing buttons to request walk signals will no longer be needed for 75% of Seattle’s densest regions as walk signals there will become automated to minimize the touching of surfaces. An estimated $100,000 to $200,000 will be used for these safety measures, which include helpful new signs and barriers. The  SDOT blog  has documented that ever since Washington state’s Governor Jay Inslee issued stay-at-home orders, vehicular traffic has dropped by 57% in Seattle. It is hoped that permanently closing almost 20 miles of street will lead to fewer idling cars and limit traffic even after the lockdown lifts. In so doing, reductions in  air pollution  will continue for the Evergreen State’s Emerald City long after the lockdown lifts. + City of Seattle Office of the Mayor + Seattle Department of Transportation Images via Pexels

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Seattle permanently closes 20 miles of street

Architecture students design award-winning Passive House in South Dakota

May 18, 2020 by  
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In Brookings, South Dakota, a group of South Dakota State University architecture students designed and completed the Passive House 01, a home certified under the high-performance Passive House (PHIUS) standard. Funded by a housing grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the student-designed project was led by architects Robert Arlt and Charles MacBride to serve as a “case study house for the 21st century.” The architects said that the Passivhaus residence is not only 90% more efficient than a similar house built to code but is also the first house in the region to sell energy back to the grid.  Located on a long-vacant infill site, Passive House 01 is within walking distance to both the South Dakota State University campus and Main Street. The airtight home’s gabled form and front porch reference the vernacular, while its clean lines and hidden gutters give the home a contemporary appeal. The 2,000-square-foot residence comprises three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms as well as a detached garage located behind an exterior courtyard. Related: Imperial War Museum’s Passivhaus-targeted archive breaks world records for airtightness In contrast to the dark, fiber-cement lap siding exterior, the bright interior is dressed in white walls and light-colored timber. The double-height living and dining area in the heart of the home gives the interior an open and airy feel. This openness is emphasized by the open-riser stair, which the architects and students designed and constructed from custom cross-laminated timber and solid glulam with a locally harvested basswood slat railing. To meet net-zero energy targets, the team installed a 3.6 kWh solar system atop the garage. The home is oriented for passive solar — shading is provided along the south side — and quadruple-paned insulating glazing has been used throughout. Energy-efficient fixtures and appliances also help minimize energy use, which, in addition to air quality, is monitored through an online platform in real time. The project won an AIA South Dakota Honor design award in 2019. + South Dakota State University Photography by Peter Vondeline and Robert Arlt via South Dakota State University

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Architecture students design award-winning Passive House in South Dakota

Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae

May 18, 2020 by  
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Many conventional shoes are made with materials sourced from petroleum, but conscientious companies, like Native Shoes, have been rethinking that choice, digging for solutions in using readily available and eco-friendly materials instead. For Native Shoes, turning to algae , which naturally occurs in lakes and rivers, presented a benefit that is two-fold. Algae take oxygen from the water, and if oxygen levels deplete too much, they can kill off fish and become toxic to humans. Although algae often serve as food for aquatic life, removing some algae from the water makes it safer for the entire ecosystem. But then what do you do with all of this excess algae that has been removed? Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made using “Rise by Bloom” technology that repurposes the algae, transforming it into a high-performance material for the shoes. The company stated, “The innovative manufacturing process cleans up to 80L of water and 50 square meters of air per pair, resulting in cleaner lakes and rivers , healthier air and featherlight footwear.” Related: Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one The newest line builds on Native Shoes’ classic Jefferson model, with designs for women and children in new colors to welcome spring and warmer weather. The collection also includes the new Audrey Bloom, a classic, feminine flat; the Jefferson Bloom Child features a slip-on, slip-off kids’ shoe . The Jefferson Bloom is priced at $45, the Audrey Bloom is $55 and the Jefferson Bloom Child starts at $40. Native Shoes’ mission is to fuse innovation with sustainability to create comfortable, durable shoes that leave a small footprint on the planet. According to Native Shoes, the company hopes to find alternative uses for all of its products by 2023 in a goal to “Live Lightly.” As such, it has created initiatives such as the Native Shoes Remix Project, which recycles the shoes into playground equipment for local kids in Vancouver. Native Shoes is also experimenting with 3D printing and more plant-based designs. + Native Shoes Images via Native Shoes

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Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae

One-woman traveling bicycle library delivers free books in San Francisco

September 6, 2015 by  
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If you hear a huffing and puffing sound on the streets of San Francisco, be alert: it could be the great Bibliobicicleta coming your way. Alicia Tapia, a passionate school librarian, is biking around the city with a traveling pop-up library that she tows in a mini trailer. Capable of holding 100 free books, the library-on-wheels was started as a successful Kickstarter campaign that now spreads the love of reading to neighborhoods across the city. READ MORE>

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One-woman traveling bicycle library delivers free books in San Francisco

Houston Getting Extensive EV Charging Network

November 19, 2010 by  
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NRG Energy, a New Jersey-based utility company is building the nation’s first privately-funded network of electric vehicle charging stations in Houston.  EV drivers can subscribe to the service, giving them access to both private, home-based and public charging stations around the city The network is called evGo and will put everyone in Houston within five miles of a charging station by the end of 2011. There will be two levels of subscriptions.  For $49 a month customers will be provided with their own private charging station.  For $89 a month, customers will have access to a network of 50 to 150 charging stations located in public parking lots across the city,   The stations will mainly be in retail locations like Best Buy and Walgreens.  The network will include quick-chargers that can fully charge a battery in 25 minutes. If the the $10-million charging network is successful in Houston, the company plans to expand the idea to other major cities, with New York and Dallas at the top of the list.  NRG plans to focus on states where the electricity industry is deregulated, like Texas.

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Houston Getting Extensive EV Charging Network

Copenhagen to Residents: "You’re Safer On a Bike Than On a Sofa"

October 28, 2010 by  
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Photo via Public Health Copenhagen “You won’t believe it… You’re safer on the bicycle than on the sofa!” That’s the official slogan of a Copenhagen campaign—run not by the department of transportation or bike safety advocates, but by the city’s public health office

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Copenhagen to Residents: "You’re Safer On a Bike Than On a Sofa"

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