The world is going sideways. What’s a sustainability professional to do?

August 27, 2019 by  
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The Amazon and the Arctic are burning, Greenland and Antarctica are melting, and longstanding concerns such as plastic waste, air pollution and water security that don’t seem to be getting better. How do you stay positive?

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The world is going sideways. What’s a sustainability professional to do?

Air pollution may decrease eggs in women’s ovaries

June 26, 2019 by  
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Air pollution doesn’t only affect your lungs as new research suggests air quality may also be linked to a decrease in the number of eggs in women’s ovaries. It has long been known that environmental factors impact our reproductive systems, and multiple studies linked low sperm count with environmental indicators, but fewer examine the connection to ovaries. This newest study, presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology is the first to look at the prevalence of eggs and not just fertility. Italian researchers collected hormone samples from 1,300 Italian women and compared their levels of the AMH hormone to air quality metrics. The AMH hormone typically signals a woman’s egg “reserves” but can also fluctuate depending on the woman’s age, genetics and if they are a smoker. Related: Almost all U.S. national parks have polluted air Researchers found that lower AMH hormone levels were associated with higher air pollution indices. This suggests that air pollution may be connected to lower egg count in ovaries. However, researchers also recognize that often air pollution is concentrated in areas with lower income and other environmental justice issues, therefore there are likely confounding factors that also impact women’s ovaries within these areas. The study also did not measure direct exposure to air pollution, only indirect exposure via the average air pollution index at the participants’ home address. “Living in an area associated with high levels of air pollutants in our study increased the risk of severely reduced ovarian reserve by a factor of two or three,” said Dr. Antonio La Marca, who led the research. Other studies have similarly linked air quality with womens’ reproductive health, including one study that links pollution with irregular menstrual cycles and another that connected ozone pollution with decreased fertility . More research is needed to clarify the findings and determine if this is a temporary or permanent effect for women. Via The Guardian Image via Ian MacNicol

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Air pollution may decrease eggs in women’s ovaries

How to celebrate World Environment Day

June 5, 2019 by  
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Today, June 5, is World Environment Day! There are many ways that you can celebrate today, and you can use the celebration as a start to building more healthy, environmentally friendly habits. Here are some suggestions for fun activities and behavior changes to consider today and every day. Group activities for World Environment Day Plan a clean-up Get together with friends and neighbors for a clean-up activity in your area, such as at a beach, park or river. Get outside Getting outside doesn’t necessarily help nature , but taking the time to enjoy it and remember why it is essential to protect in the first place is a great way to honor the environment. Find a local hiking group or coordinate a picnic in the park. If your friends aren’t as excited about outdoor activities as you are, search for outdoorsy MeetUp groups in your area and meet some new, like-minded friends. Write to your senators What environmental issues are important to you and your family? This year, the theme of World Environment Day is “Air Pollution.” Find out what your local government is doing to protect the air quality in your area and write to your senator or representatives about your concerns. Healthy personal habits you can start now Use less water Small changes in how you use water at home can add up to a significant difference and conserve a lot of water in the long run. Turn off your tap when you are brushing your teeth. Be mindful of how long your shower is. When washing dishes, fill up a pot or large mixing bowl with warm water and dish soap. Use that water to scrub all of your dishes at once, and then turn on the tap only to rinse. Do not keep the tap running the whole time to wash and rinse each dish individually. Walk more You’ve heard it a million times, but have you implemented more walking in your own life? Consider the places you go often, like work, and figure out if there are ways that you can walk — even if it is only once or twice a week. Walking is great for your health, cuts down on transportation-related carbon emissions and allows you to get to know your neighborhood in a completely different way. Carpool Take the time to discuss with friends, family and coworkers before an event or activity and find out how you can cut down on the number of cars. For places that you go frequently — like work — get to know who lives near you and decide if you can agree on a schedule to carpool. Switch your light bulbs Every time a light bulb burns out in your house, switch to a long-lasting LED bulb . These light bulbs reduce your energy consumption and last a very long time. Buy energy-efficient appliances When possible, choose ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. It is an extra cost upfront, but it will significantly reduce your energy bill long into the future. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Keep fridge coils and AC vents clean If the coils on your refrigerator and the vents on your air conditioner are kept clean, they won’t need to use up additional energy just to cool to the regular temperature. Recycle e-waste When your cellphone or laptop breaks, bring it to an e-waste recycle facility rather than letting it sit around your house or tossing it into the trash. Shut off your devices When you are finished using it, turn off your computer and monitor. Avoid overcharging your cellphone or leaving it to charge overnight. Ideally, shut off your TV and other appliances through the main switch or outlet, not just the remote, so that you break the circuit and save energy . Switch to sustainable products Consider the products you use at home, like cleaning supplies and toothpaste . Switch to something more eco-friendly, ideally made from natural, biodegradable materials in plastic-free or fully recyclable packaging. Via News 18 Images via Riccardo Chiarini , Brian Yurasits and Arek Adeoye

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How to celebrate World Environment Day

LEED Platinum UCSB student housing harnesses Californias coastal climate

June 5, 2019 by  
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The University of California Santa Barbara boasts not only a beautiful campus near the ocean, but also recently completed student housing that’s been certified LEED Platinum . Designed by Los Angeles-based architectural firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), the UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing was created to take advantage of the region’s ideal coastal climate to reduce energy demands. In addition to the use of passive design principles, the project employs several other sustainable strategies such as bioswales, solar water heating, and increased insulation. The project is 20 percent over California’s Title 24 requirements. Spanning an area of 95,000 square feet, the UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing comprises seven structures that augment the existing housing volumes and student facilities located at the university’s 15-acre North Campus. LOHA designed the new housing clusters to align with the existing community’s scale and character while creating an environment that would encourage greater social activity. Related: These stunning student housing apartments are inspired by tiny homes “UCSB dormitories have typically pushed circulation to their exterior envelope, with an inert central courtyard accessible only from within the building,” explain the architects. “LOHA’s design inverts this circulation scheme, designing a reductive exterior edge with an open, lively interior courtyard containing all building circulation, encouraging movement throughout the complex. Social hubs (reading rooms, gathering spaces, dining) are dispersed and floated above others. This distribution of spaces creates varied student experiences to generate a healthy campus culture.” Durability was a major driving feature in the design as well. The San Joaquin Student Housing complex’s street-facing facade is clad in corrugated metal panels, while the interior-facing elevations are covered in painted plaster punctuated by aluminum fins that support the elevated walkways finished with industrial cable mesh. Aluminum sunshades provide protection from unwanted solar gain and passive fresh air intake units are installed at each unit’s entryway. The project also boasts a built environment that’s over 90 percent permeable, a boon for stormwater management and for preventing onsite heat island effects. + LOHA Photos by Bruce Damonte

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LEED Platinum UCSB student housing harnesses Californias coastal climate

A 1989 Airstream is converted into a modern home on wheels for a family of 6

June 5, 2019 by  
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Colorado-based Timeless Travel Trailers has unveiled a bevy of stunning converted Airstreams , but its latest design is by far one of its best. Re-configuring a 30-year-old, 37-foot Airstream Excella for a family of six was challenging to say the least, but the designers came through in spades, creating a sleek, contemporary home on wheels complete with plenty of seating and sleeping space for the family. Families often dream of hitting the road in a beautiful RV, but when it comes to large families, the logistics of traveling with so many can be a headache. Thankfully, when the design team was approached by a New York family about renovating an old Airstream that would be able to comfortably hold their family of six, the Colorado-based company took the challenge head on. Related: Artist revamps dingy interior of a 1962 Airstream with vibrant florals After cleaning up the Airstream’s signature aluminum cladding on the exterior and interior, the designers went to work creating a comfortable living space. Having gutted the original interior, the team custom-built three sofas that would fit in the living space. Not only do the sofas provide ample seating, but two of the couches fold out into a full-sized bed. Additionally, there are four bunk beds in the master bedroom, two of which convert into a king-sized bed. With the sleeping and seating spaces taken care of, the designers then focused on creating special touches for the family’s needs. On the main wall of the interior, they installed a pop-up projection screen with a stereo system for the ultimate movie nights. Adjacent to the living room, the contemporary kitchen is light and airy thanks to marble veneer waterfall countertops and white cabinetry. Across the aisle, a nook was built out with a small bar that includes a wine chiller and hide-away liquor storage that lifts up from the counter at the push of a button — a perfect feature to help the adults unwind. + Timeless Travel Trailers Images via Timeless Travel Trailers

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A 1989 Airstream is converted into a modern home on wheels for a family of 6

Jakarta’s massive bus system pilots electric vehicles

June 3, 2019 by  
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Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, is piloting a program to transition from public buses to electric vehicles . Jakarta’s bus system is the largest in the world with over 200 million riders and new routes added every year. The addition of cleaner vehicles promises to have a significant impact on the city’s toxic levels of air pollution. Starting in April, the city began testing electric buses produced by Chinese and Indonesian manufacturers. After the pilot trials, the city will test the buses with passengers. The city’s governor, Anies Baswedan is determined to make Jakarta one of the greenest cities in the world and cleaner transportation is a big step towards that goal. Related: UK-based company is making home delivery as green as possible with e-cargo bikes “We see the move toward electric vehicles as a vital way to combat air pollution and transition to a greener future. The electric bus trial program will give us a good sense of the changes we need to make to the system to ultimately replace all of Jakarta’s fleet of public vehicles with electric models,” said Transjakarta Chief Executive Officer Agung Wicaksono. The United Nation’s Environment Program is providing support for the initiative as part of their effort to reduce air pollution . In Asia and the Pacific alone, air pollution kills 4 million people every year. Bert Fabian, Program Officer for the UN Environment Program’s Air Quality and Mobility Unit, said: “The transition to electric mobility can have a dramatic effect in reducing pollutants and making cities healthier and more enjoyable places to live.” For some Jakarta residents, though, the clean vehicle program cannot come soon enough. This month, 57 residents unified to sue the city for its inability to address unacceptable air pollution . The lawsuit, which will be filed on June 18, will pressure the government to do more to clean up the air in the city and argues that transportation is only partially responsible. Citizens also call on the government to crack down on coal-fired industries surrounding the city. + U.N. Environment Program Image via Shutterstock

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Jakarta’s massive bus system pilots electric vehicles

Escape to the Azores at this charming eco resort by the sea

June 3, 2019 by  
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Looking for a summer getaway that checks the boxes for chic and environmentally friendly style? Meet Lava Homes , a new eco resort  on Azores’ Pico Island that’s a relaxing escape for nature- and yoga-lovers alike. Tucked into a hillside with breathtaking views of the sea, the 14-villa resort was designed by Portuguese architectural firm Diogo Mega Architects to embody nature conservation and sustainable principles as evidenced by its minimized site disturbance, use of renewable energy and locally sourced materials. Completed this year, Lava Homes is located on a steep slope along the north coast of Pico Island in the tiny parish of Santo Amaro, an area with superb views and few tourist lodgings. To respect the island landscape and cultural heritage, the architects preserved elements of existing ruins on site — old houses and animal enclosures — and carefully sited the buildings to minimize site impact and to mimic the layout of a small village. “The project was designed to alter as little as possible the topography of the land, so that the integration of the houses was as harmonious as possible,” the architects explained. “Our positioning is based on the conservation of nature, environmental quality and the safeguarding of the historical-cultural heritage and local identity. All housing units are equipped with photovoltaic panels , heating is done by salamanders to pellets, cooling is done by natural ventilation, water tanks have been kept for use in the irrigation, and the drinking water served is filtered local water by an active carbon system.” Related: Azulik, an eco-paradise in Tulum, celebrates the four natural elements Lava Homes offers three types of villas that range from one to three bedrooms; a glass-walled multipurpose center with a yoga room, meeting areas and a pool; and Magma, an on-site restaurant and bar that features locally sourced fare. The contemporary architecture was built from locally sourced materials, including stone and Cryptomeria wood from the islands. For energy efficiency, all glass openings are double glazed . Renewable energy sources — from heat pumps and photovoltaic panels to pellet stoves — are used throughout. Rainwater is also recycled for irrigation in the gardens that are planted with native and endemic flora. + Diogo Mega Architects Images via Miguel Cardoso e Diogo Mega

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Escape to the Azores at this charming eco resort by the sea

Almost All U.S. National Parks Have Polluted Air

May 9, 2019 by  
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Sure, we know that cities can be congested and polluted, but at least we have the national parks to escape to when we want to breathe in some fresh air, right? Wrong. According to a new report released by the National Park Conservation Association, 96 percent of all parks experience significant air pollution problems. The bipartisan nonprofit organization published a report, “Polluted Parks: How America is Failing to Protect our National Parks, People and Planet from Air Pollution” that analyzed air quality in 417 parks. Their findings assess the impact on nature, hazy skies, unhealthy air and climate change . Related: Plastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air “The poor air quality in our national parks is both disturbing and unacceptable. Nearly every single one of our more than 400 national parks is plagued by air pollution. If we don’t take immediate action to combat this, the results will be devastating and irreversible,” said President of the National Park Conservation Association Theresa Pierno. Although most national parks are located in areas of so-called pristine wilderness, air travels widely and freely. The Grand Canyon, for example, is down-wind from a coal-fired power plant, a mine and multiple industrial pollution sources that reach the park from both Mexico and California. The report is also filled with many alarming findings, including: 85 percent of national parks have air that is unhealthy to breathe at times 89 percent of national parks have haze pollution 88 percent of national parks have soil and water affected by air pollution 80 percent of all national parks will be directly impacted by climate change, with 100 percent indirectly impacted “America’s national parks are some of the most beloved places on earth and provide once in a lifetime experiences, but the iconic wildlife and irreplaceable natural and cultural resources that make these places so special are being seriously threatened by climate change and other effects of air pollution ,” said Stephanie Kodish, the Clean Air Program director for the National Parks Conservation Association. 330 million people visit America’s national parks every year, and most are in search of fresh air. The solution to ensuring our national park air remains fresh and clean is the same strategy for protecting clean air everywhere: reduce fossil fuel emissions and switch to clean energy sources. Air quality experts had reported positive results of the Clean Air Act, however, the current administration has rolled back on environmental regulations and invested in the fossil fuel industry. Via  Tree Hugger Image via PELSOP

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Almost All U.S. National Parks Have Polluted Air

Green roofs can improve air quality inside buildings

April 15, 2019 by  
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A new study has found that green roofs do a lot more than just provide extra space to grow plants. These eco-friendly roofs can also enhance air quality inside of buildings by reducing the ozone levels that come in from the outdoors. Scientists at Portland State University conducted the study at a large commercial building in Portland. Researchers installed devices on the roof, which was split between a traditional membrane and a green roof. The devices measured ozone levels of the air surrounding the building. They discovered that plants on the roof helped to trap ozone, preventing it from coming into the building. Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home The new study adds to the growing list of green roof benefits. According to Phys.org , this includes the ability to filter carbon dioxide, cut down on excess water runoff after big storms and reduce heat in urban environments. Not to mention all of the veggies and plants that can be grown, cultivated and even shared with the local community. But how does the vegetation trap ozone and remove it from the air? The process of trapping ozone is called dry deposition, where particles in the air accumulate on solid surfaces. The process of dry deposition is completely natural and has been proven to be an effective way of filtering air. Prior to the new research, however, scientists did not know that a green roof could actually improve air quality indoors. It should be noted that the study, which was published last month in Building and Environment, only took place over a few days. The scientists who led the research effort have admitted that more studies that measure pollutants trapped over a long period should be completed. They also want to look at other pollutants other than just ozone. Once this happens, we will better understand the broader benefits of green roofs and just how much they can contribute to better indoor air quality. + Portland State University Via Phys.org Image via Urformat

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Green roofs can improve air quality inside buildings

London becomes the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

April 10, 2019 by  
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London is officially the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The zone, which is active all hours of the day and night, will improve air quality in the city by cutting down on pollution caused by vehicle emissions . Any vehicle traveling inside the ULEZ will have to meet strict emission codes or be subject to fines. Scientists believe that vehicle emissions, specifically nitrogen oxide, account for the majority of air pollution in London and are a serious threat to public health. These harmful chemicals have been known to increase risks of dementia and cancer. Related: Teens exposed to air pollution more likely to experience psychotic episodes, new study says “This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan shared. The ULEZ was activated on April 8 and any vehicles traveling inside the zone that do not meet emissions standards will face charges of around $16 per day. Larger vehicles, such as trucks and buses, will have to pay heftier fines upwards of $130. The zone currently covers an area roughly four miles in size and will be expanded to a much larger area by the fall of 2021. The ULEZ is part of a larger plan to discourage high-emission vehicles from travelling around London. The first stage of the plan initiated what was called a T-charge, which went into effect in the winter of 2017. In the two years since, London has witnessed a drop of around 11,000 vehicles every day from the targeted area. The plan has also increased the number of vehicles becoming compliant with emissions standards in the area. The city’s famous fleet of red double-decker buses, for example, is being upgraded to comply with the new ULEZ.  There are approximately two million residents who live inside the ULEZ, and officials hope the new plan will improve the quality of air so that it meets standards enacted by the European Union. London may be the first city to enact an Ultra Low Emission Zone, but other locations, like New York City, are looking into similar plans. Via CNN Image via  Shrinkin’ Violet

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