Curvaceous algae-covered towers proposed for Hangzhou

May 11, 2018 by  
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Paris-based studio XTU Architects recently unveiled designs for a futuristic high-rise in Hangzhou that blends sustainable technologies into an organic, sculptural design. Cloaked in a “bio facade” of micro algae -covered panels, the curvaceous towers can produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. Dubbed French Dream Towers, the mixed-use complex would also incorporate rainwater harvesting, a greenhouse, and an aquaponics system. Currently under review, French Dream Towers comprises four buildings clustered around a central water body. The towers feature sloped facades that give the project its organic shape and help facilitate rainwater collection . The mixed-use complex includes a French Tech Hub with offices and co-working spaces; an Art Center comprising galleries, artist residences, and market space; a hotel with wellness facilities; and a luxury restaurant with French fusion cuisine and a bar. Related: Incredible Algae Dome absorbs sun and CO2 to produce superfood and oxygen “The culture of micro-algae on the building facade is a process developed by XTU for several years,” said the architects of their patent-pending micro-algae panels. “It allows the symbiosis: the bio facade uses the thermal building to regulate the culture temperature of algae and at the same time these facades allow a much better insulation of buildings.” + XTU Architects Via Dezeen Images via XTU Architects

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Curvaceous algae-covered towers proposed for Hangzhou

Foster + Partners masterplans the new Indian state capital Amaravati

May 11, 2018 by  
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Foster + Partners has moved one step closer to bringing to life the new Indian state capital of Amaravati—a city that’s projected to be “one of the most sustainable in the world.” The city will form the new administrative capital of the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which transferred its former capital of Hyderabad to the state of Telangana when state boundaries were redrawn in 2014. The acclaimed British architecture firm won an international competition to design the 83-square-mile city as well as key administrative buildings. Now in the design development phase, the Amaravati masterplan builds on Foster + Partners’ decades-long research on sustainable cities . The new city is located on the banks of the River Krishna and will be organized along a clearly defined green spine and a strong urban grid. The 550-hectare government complex will occupy the heart of the city and will feature two key buildings—the Legislature Assembly and High Court Complex—also designed by Foster + Partners. Related: Foster + Partners’ DJI HQ will be a “creative community in the sky” According to a project statement, the city will be designed to “the highest standards of sustainability, including the widespread use of solar energy.” At least 60-percent of the masterplan will be occupied by greenery or water in a pedestrian-friendly layout that encourages people to walk through the city. A comprehensive transportation plan will also include electric vehicles, water taxis, and dedicated cycling paths. A mixed-use quarter south of the riverbank will be organized around 13 urban plazas in a nod to the 13 state districts in Andhra Pradesh. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners masterplans the new Indian state capital Amaravati

New 3D-printed algae could revolutionize the way we make things

December 12, 2017 by  
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Plastic waste is clogging landfills and strangling the earth’s waterways – but thankfully, green design is here to save the world. Dutch designers Eric Klarenbeek and Maartje Dros have created a bioplastic made from algae that can be 3D printed into virtually any shape – and could finally provide the world with a viable green alternative to plastic. Klarenbeek and Dros begin by cultivating algae, which is then dried and processed into a liquid bioplastic that can be used to 3D print objects. This algae polymer can be used to manufacture any number of products from shampoo bottles and tableware to trash cans. The innovative process could completely replace products made from fossil fuels. Related:3D-Printed Mycelium Chair Sprouts Living Mushrooms! The designers believe that products made from algae (which absorbs carbon dioxide during photosynthesis) could revolutionize the manufacturing world. “Algae is equally interesting for making biomass because it can quickly filter CO2 from the sea and the atmosphere,” said the duo. “Everything that surrounds us – our products, houses and cars – can be a form of CO2 binding. If we think in these terms, makers can bring about a revolution. It’s about thinking beyond the carbon footprint: instead of zero emissions we need ‘negative’ emissions.” Algae bioplastic isn’t the duo’s first foray into innovative materials. A few years ago Klarenbeek created the world’s first 3D-printed chair made from living fungus , and the team has worked with Ecovative to develop a line of DIY mycelium products . + Eric Klarenbeek + Maartje Dros Via Dezeen Photography by Antoine Raab and Florent Gardin, courtesy of atelier LUMA

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How Scott’s Miracle-Gro found value in vulnerability

October 10, 2017 by  
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In response to criticism about its fertilizers, the company sought to step forward as an environmental leader.

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What does it look like to embed sustainability across an organization?

October 10, 2017 by  
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Hiring a chief sustainability officer is only the beginning of a journey.

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What does it look like to embed sustainability across an organization?

Incredible Algae Dome absorbs sun and CO2 to produce superfood and oxygen

September 5, 2017 by  
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Industrial agriculture is blamed as a major cause of greenhouse gas, but what if there was a way to sustainably produce food that could help solve some of the world’s toughest environmental problems? That’s what the folks at SPACE10 , a Copenhagen-based future-living lab, tackled with the futuristic Algae Dome, a four-meter-tall food-producing architecture pavilion that pumps out oxygen in a closed-loop system. Powered by solar energy, the Algae Dome offers a sustainable and hyper-local food system that can pop up almost anywhere with minimal impact on the environment. Architects Aleksander Wadas, Rafal Wroblewski, Anna Stempniewicz, and bioengineer Keenan Pinto created the Algae Dome, which was presented at the CHART art fair in Copenhagen last week. Although SPACE10 has experimented with growing microgreens before, the team targets an even smaller food with the Algae Dome—micro-algae. Praised as a future “superfood,” micro-algae is said to contain twice as much protein as meat and is packed with vitamins and minerals, with more beta carotene than carrots and more iron than found in spinach, according to SPACE10. Even better? Micro-algae are among the world’s fastest-growing organisms and can be grown with sunshine and water almost anywhere, all while sucking up carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen in the process. Related: SPACE10 creates an open-source Growroom you can build at home During the three-day CHART art fair, the Algae Dome produced 450 liters of micro-algae and provided an interactive architectural experience that was part food system, part furniture, and wholly educational. The large amount of food was produced in a surprisingly small amount of space thanks to the design that featured 320 meters of coiled tubing, showing off the flow of emerald green micro-algae. Visitors were invited to sit inside the pavilion and enjoy a “breath of fresh air” created by the micro-algae as it converted carbon dioxide into oxygen. Packets of delicious spirulina (a type of blue-green algae) chips, created by SPACE10’s chef-in-residence Simon Perez, were placed around the pavilion to give passersby the chance to try the superfood. “In the future, different species of microalgae could be used as a form of nutrient-rich food, as a replacement for soy protein in animal feed, in the development of biofuels, as a way to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and as a method of treating industrial wastewater,” said SPACE10. “In other words, microalgae could help combat malnutrition, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels , help stop the destruction of the rainforest, improve air quality, and reduce pollution. Little wonder that microalgae has been dubbed the future’s sustainable super crop.” SPACE10 sees the Algae Dome as the prototype for food-producing architecture that could pop up virtually anywhere, from bus stops to apartment complexes. + SPACE10 Picture credit: Niklas Adrian Vindelev

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Incredible Algae Dome absorbs sun and CO2 to produce superfood and oxygen

Breakthrough algae strain produces twice as much biofuel

June 23, 2017 by  
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Scientists have been working since the 1970’s to transform algae into biofuel . Now a new breakthrough could make this alternative energy source a more viable option. Researchers from Synthetic Genomics, Inc. and ExxonMobil were able to edit algae genes to produce two times more lipids. Those lipids can be turned into biofuel that isn’t too different from the diesel we use today. Researchers figured out how to tune a genetic switch to regulate the conversion of carbon to oil in the alga Nannochloropsis gaditana . They used multiple editing techniques including CRISPR-Cas9. They were able to boost the algae’s oil content from 20 percent to over 40 percent – and importantly, did so without stunting the algae’s growth rate. The modified algae can produce as much as five grams of lipid per meter per day. Related: New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80% Vice president for research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company Vijay Swarup said the milestone confirms their belief algae can offer a source of renewable energy . Synthetic Genomics CEO Oliver Fetzer said carbon dioxide and sunlight are two major components necessary for algae production, and both are plentiful and free. According to ScienceAlert, a past report indicated biofuels from algae could become a $50 billion industry , with the potential to offer transport fuel and food security. But we still could be years away from pumping this particular algae-based biofuel into our cars at gas stations. Researcher Imad Ajjawi of Synthetic Genomics told ScienceAlert this step was just a proof of concept, but did describe it as a significant milestone. According to Greentech Media , organizations have been working on making biofuel from algae for years, without much progress towards commercialization. In fact, they cited former ExxonMobil CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson , who back in 2009 said the work on turning algae into biofuels might not come up with real results for 25 years. The journal Nature Biotechnology published a study on the concept online this month. Via ScienceAlert and Synthetic Genomics Images via ExxonMobil and Wikimedia Commons

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Breakthrough algae strain produces twice as much biofuel

Vivobarefoot is launching a sneaker made out of algae

May 25, 2017 by  
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Vivobarefoot , a London-based purveyor of so-called “barefoot” footwear , is going green in an altogether unexpected way. Together with Bloom , a materials innovation firm from San Diego, the company is poised to debut the world’s first molded shoe derived from algae. No, swamp couture hasn’t suddenly become en vogue. Rather, Bloom harvests biomass from ponds and lakes, particularly those at risk for algal overload, and turns it into closed-cell foam known as ethylene-vinyl acetate, or EVA for short. Typically made from petroleum-based sources, EVA is what gives sneakers that extra-cushy feel. Vivobarefoot’s new lace-up is made almost entirely from the stuff, a fact that not only makes it equally at home on land and in water, but it also gives the environment a much-needed boost. Related: Researchers use algae to treat wastewater and generate biofuel A single pair of men’s size 42 Vivobarefoot x Bloom shoes, according to Vivobarefoot, returns 57 gallons of clean water to ecosystem while removing the equivalent of 40 balloons worth of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “This is a true revolution for the footwear industry with the first plant based alternative to the petro-foams in ubiquitous use,” said Galahad Clark, founder and managing director of Vivobarefoot, in a statement. “We are thrilled to be the first company to use Bloom in our shoes and further our mission to make the perfect shoe—perfect for feet and minimal impact on the planet.” Related: Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change The Vivobarefoot x Bloom shoe will be available for purchase online and in stores this July. + Vivobarefoot x Bloom

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Glass-encased circular Solo House snakes through a Spanish forest

May 25, 2017 by  
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Brussels-based Office KGDVS just unveiled an amazing glass-enclosed circular building that winds through a lush green forest in Spain’s mountainous Matarraña region. The curved home is built on a high plateau and clad in floor-to-ceiling windows to give the space one continual breathtaking view of its evergreen setting. Solo House II is part of a series of individual retreats designed by French developer Christian Bourdais and built by various architects. Office KGDVS put their own stamp on the second Solo Home design by placing the the concrete and glass home on top of a high plateau to provide optimal views. Related: Villa Nyberg: A Passive Swedish Prefab with a Cool Circular Floorplan “Since the scenery is so impressive, we felt architecture should be invisible, merely emphasising the natural qualities of the surroundings,” said the architects, “A simple circular roof with a diameter of 45 metres underlines the qualities of both the plateau and its edge.” The circular concrete roof is supported by multiple rows of columns that intersect throughout the length of the structure. The four sections of the home are made up of both straight and curved edges, which elongates the design. Sliding glass panels line the home’s volume, and open up to various open-air terraces. On the interior, sliding curtains made of metal mesh provide shade and privacy when needed. The home’s circular design was intended to put the focus on the home’s beautiful natural setting, but the curved shape also delivers a number of advantages. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels that run the length of the home flood the interior with natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting. The first Solo House was built by Chilean studio Pezo Von Ellrichshausen back in 2013. According to Bourdais, the Solo House project in Matarraña will eventually be joined by 15 other houses and a hotel. + Office KGDVS + Solo Houses Via Dezeen

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Glass-encased circular Solo House snakes through a Spanish forest

Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change

March 21, 2017 by  
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Talk of climate change probably evokes images of rising sea levels or hotter temperatures, but what about algae blooms ? Scientists have made a direct connection between an algae bloom in the Arabian Sea, which has blown up to the size of Mexico, and climate change. The massive bloom has been captured from satellites . 30 years ago, algae in the Gulf of Oman could barely be seen. Now, twice a year, microscopic organisms of the species Noctiluca scintillans turns the gulf green as it sprawls throughout the Arabian Sea towards India. Scientists say conditions produced by climate change are allowing the algae to thrive. Columbia University researchers have even traced the algae blooms to ice melting in the Himalayas. Related: Florida declares state of emergency due to gigantic algae bloom Satellite technology has also allowed researchers to connect algae with greater levels of water and air pollution . NASA ocean carbon and biology projects manager Paula Bontempi told the Associated Press satellite images of the algae are beautiful, like a Van Gogh painting, but in person the algae is smelly and ugly. She said, “We know that our Earth is changing. It may be in a direction we might not like.” The phenomenon threatens local ecosystems ; algae has been known to paralyze fish . The United Nations’ science agency says in rare cases algal toxins have killed humans. Oman faces unique threats from the algae bloom. There, algae can clog pipes at desalination plants providing as much as 90 percent of fresh water for the country. Fisheries in the country could also be harmed by the algae bloom; in 2008 an eruption of a different type of algae beached 50 tons of fish, which were starving for oxygen and rotted along the coast of Oman. Saleh al-Mashari, the captain of a researcher vessel, said this algae bloom has already caused damage. He told the Associated Press, “The fish are migrating. They can’t get enough air here.” Ahmad al-Alawi, a marine ecologist, said blooms are getting larger and lasting for longer periods of time. He said the blooms displace zooplankton, which are the base of the local food chain . Via Phys.org Images via Tristan Schmurr on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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