Students taking Lyft and Uber to class are taking LA’s smog problem from bad to worse

February 7, 2019 by  
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Environmentalists are concerned by the number of students using transportation services like Lyft and Uber to get to classes. Students at UCLA specifically use these alternative means of transportation around 11,000 times per week, and that is troublesome for a city that is already dealing with significant smog issues. “The  pollutants  coming out of the tailpipe heavily contribute to Los Angeles’ smog problem,” Yifang Zhu, a professor at UCLA, explained. Transportation staff at the university said that the majority of these trips are short in duration. Students who oversleep are also more likely to use Lyft or Uber, because they need to get to class in a hurry without being tardy. School officials believe this increase in traffic plays a part in the growing smog problem in Los Angeles. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Part of the issue with these services is that the vehicles are idling for a significant portion of time before picking up passengers. In fact, the idling can sometimes contribute more smog that actually driving to the destination, which is troublesome for a densely populated city like  Los Angeles . According to The Washington Post , younger generations are more apt to use services like Lyft or Uber , because they have an aversion to owning their own vehicles. These services can be more affordable than purchasing a car, especially on a student’s budget. While economics is clearly a factor to consider, previous research shows that millennials are the driving force behind these ride-hailing apps. For example, a 2016 study conducted by the Pew Research Center discovered that around 25 percent of young adults between 18 and 29 years old had used services like Lyft or Uber. Adults over the age of 65, meanwhile, barely register at only 4 percent. Although it may be more environmentally friendly to not own a car or truck, using alternative transportation services can be just as damaging. The transportation staff at UCLA gathered the information by combing through data from Uber and Lyft, two of the most widely used services on campus. Via The Washington Post Image via Josh Saldana

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Students taking Lyft and Uber to class are taking LA’s smog problem from bad to worse

Sydneys vibrant Green Square Library and Plaza collects and reuses rainwater

February 7, 2019 by  
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Former marshland in Sydney has been transformed into the new Green Square Library and Plaza, a striking project that’s not only revitalizing one of the city’s oldest industrial areas but is also a shining beacon for sustainability. Designed by Sydney-based architecture and urban design practice Stewart Hollenstein in association with Stewart Architecture , the Green Square project features a semi-submerged underground library with a plaza on top. Energy efficiency drove the design as well, from the numerous skylights that let in natural light to the library’s low-energy displacement ventilation system engineered by Arup. Created as a central gathering space for the growing Green Square neighborhood, the Green Square Library and Plaza draws the eye with its playful geometric cutouts and pavilions that punctuate the 8,000-square-meter plaza. The triangular-shaped glass pavilion on one end marks the entrance to the 3,000-square-meter underground library , while the large circular opening next to it brings light into the circular sunken garden at the heart of the library. Also on the plaza is a six-story glazed rectangular volume that includes a double-height reading room, computer lab, black-box theater, music room and community space. An outdoor amphitheater is found on the other end of the plaza. The four areas are visually connected with a series of 49 circular skylights that funnel light into the library, while the rest of the plaza is left open for other activities, from pop-up events on the lawn to a water play zone. Underground, the open-plan library is centered on a sunken garden with a children’s circle and “story tree.” Placing the library underground was no easy feat; because the project sits on former marshland, the area came with a permanent water table above excavation level. Waterproofing with four layers of defense was crucial to protecting the library from damage. The feat of engineering allowed for ample green space above — a key detail that earned the design first place in the global design competition for the public library. Related: This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops Daylight floods the library thanks to the weatherproof skylights that have been engineered to be walked on and to limit external heat gain. At night, the skylights are illuminated to bring visual interest and safety to the plaza. Reduced energy usage is also achieved with Arup’s bookshelf-integrated displacement ventilation system that brings improved indoor air quality and greater cooling efficiency. The landscaping on the plaza was designed to manage stormwater runoff and capture rainwater for reuse in the library. + Stewart Hollenstein Images by Tom Roe and Julien Lanoo via Stewart Hollenstein

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Sydneys vibrant Green Square Library and Plaza collects and reuses rainwater

NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier

February 7, 2019 by  
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NASA just made a disturbing discovering underneath the Antarctic ice. A team led by the space agency found a huge cavity — around 1,000 feet high — under a glacier in Antarctica, and it is steadily expanding in size. Experts have predicted they would a large cavity somewhere underneath the Thwaites Glacier, which is located in West Antarctica, but they did not expect such a large one between the ice sheet and bedrock. NASA scientists discovered the expansive chamber using a mix of radar and satellite imagery techniques. The cavity has been forming over the past three years as higher global temperatures have steadily melted the ice. The cavity, which is close to the size of Manhattan, is large enough to have housed around 14 billion tons of ice at one time. “[The size of] a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting,” Pietro Milillo, who works for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), explained. “As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster.” Related: Oceans warming 40 percent faster than previously thought NASA believes the cavity illustrates a need for more Antarctic studies in the near future, especially as global temperatures continue to rise. Keeping tabs on how fast these glacier’s are melting will also give us better insight on rising sea levels and climate change around the world. The space agency hopes that additional studies will help better predict how much oceans will rise — which has a direct impact on coastal populations. Being similar in size to Florida, the Thwaites Glacier has contributed to a four percent increase in sea level over the past few years. NASA discovered the Antarctic glacier has enough mass to raise sea levels around the world by around two feet. Even more concerning, melting glaciers affect nearby bodies of ice, which leads to additional runoff. Scientists previously found that sea levels are rising faster than they have over the past 2,800 years. Experts also anticipate that oceans might double their current pace over the next 100 years. The vast majority of the rise in sea levels is due to melting Antarctic glaciers. These massive chunks of ice contribute an astounding 14,000 tons of water per second into surrounding oceans . Via Fortune Image via NASA

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NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier

Elon Musk’s Boring Company asks LA to start digging a tunnel within city limits

November 22, 2017 by  
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Will The Boring Company get the green light from Los Angeles to start digging a traffic-killing tunnel ? Elon Musk’s venture recently filed an application with officials for approval to commence digging within city limits. A Boring Company spokesperson said the tunnel could stretch from Hawthorne – where Musk’s other company SpaceX is located – “along the 405 to Westwood, with a number of stops along the way.” According to Los Angeles’ Bureau of Engineering spokesperson Mary Nemick The Boring Company filed their application, although she and a spokesperson for the mayor said they wouldn’t immediately release the documents. The Los Angeles Times said lawmakers will now face questions about whether or not the city should back a privatized transportation system with new technology , and what type of environmental review there might be. Related: Elon Musk shows first glimpse of the Boring Company tunnel beneath LA Picture of The Boring Company LA tunnel taken yesterday pic.twitter.com/TfdVKyXFsJ — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2017 The tunnel could ultimately link the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with the San Fernando Valley. A Boring Company spokesperson said this week the tunnel could transport passengers on electric platforms traveling at speeds as fast as 130 miles per hour. Pedestrians and bicyclists could board a capsule able to carry eight to 16 people. The tunnel’s diameter would be around 12 feet, and it would be funded “entirely with private money,” according to a spokesperson. In an April TED talk, Musk suggested the trip between LAX and Westwood would take a mere six minutes. Musk also seems ambitious about the time it could take to complete the tunnel: a year or so to stretch along “the whole 405 N-S corridor from LAX to the 101,” he said in a tweet . The Los Angeles Times noted digging is typically the quickest portion of a tunnel project; environmental reviews and permits can take years. Councilman Mike Bonin invited Boring Company representatives to talk with the City Council next year about the effort, and requested a report on potential policy and regulatory questions. He said in an interview, “So far, in the public imagination, this idea has been at the level of blog posts and cocktail party conversation. We need to flesh it out more.” Via The Los Angeles Times Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company asks LA to start digging a tunnel within city limits

The rustic exterior of this abandoned barn hides a surprising space to get away from it all

November 22, 2017 by  
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This neglected old barn in Norway will soon host visitors from all around the world, thanks to a recent makeover helmed by architecture studio OPA Form . The renovated structure now features a modern sleeping module that can fit a family of four and offers stunning views of the picturesque valley Myrkdalen on the west-coast of Norway. The architects infused the original wooden building with new life by adding a module that’s practically invisible from the outside. The exterior looks as quaint and rustic as when it was built, 50 years ago. A sculptural window stretches out of the old cladding, offering views of the surroundings. Related: Architects transform 150-year-old Slovenian hay barn into a stunning contemporary home Inside, authentic rough surfaces still exist, except for a new addition that attaches to main room that once served as a cattle stable. The addition, a module clad in bright aspen with a circular entrance, was built with the utmost precision and with great respect for the history of the place. Completely self-sufficient, the addition doesn’t disrupt the original structure and has a part that stretches up in-between the low beams. The renovation project is part of firm’s strategy called “the barns they are a-changing”, which relates to the efforts in repurposing derelict buildings scattered across the Norwegian west coast. + OPA FORM Via Archdaily Lead Photo by Virre Dahl

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The rustic exterior of this abandoned barn hides a surprising space to get away from it all

Cover installs its first prefab dwelling for the masses in L.A.

October 12, 2017 by  
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Thoughtful prefabricated design for the masses just moved one big step closer to reality. Tech company Cover just completed and installed its first computer-designed dwelling—and it’s begun taking pre-orders worldwide and delivering in Los Angeles. Cover, which describes their work as “doing for homes what Tesla is doing for the car,” uses proprietary computer algorithms to design beautiful custom spaces crafted to meet the user’s needs and optimized to meet rigorous Passive House standards. Cover is setting out to revolutionize the building industry with its streamlined process that combines precision-made prefabricated panels with proprietary technology. Cover’s computer algorithms create high-quality floor plans customized to the client’s needs as well as property and zoning constraints in as little as three days. The custom-designed units can be built to sizes ranging from 100 to 1,200 square feet and can be used as standalone homes with full kitchens and bathrooms. Energy efficiency is a big component of Cover’s units. Each modular unique dwelling will be built in Cover’s Los Angeles factory to rigorous Passive House standards and boast 80% more energy efficiency than the average home. Floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors let in ample natural light, while the low-slope roof is optimized for photovoltaics . Radiant heating and cooling provide consistent and comfortable temperatures inside the airtight building envelope. Its steel structure is 100% recyclable. Related: Cover’s $50k algorithmic tiny houses are 80% more efficient than conventional homes “Unlike other prefab companies and builders, Cover is a technology company first, armed with a team of full-time software engineers, designers, manufacturing engineers, and architects who have developed technology that streamlines the entire process of designing, buying, permitting, manufacturing and assembling Cover units,” said Alexis Rivas, Co-Founder and CEO of Cover. “We focus on the quality of the spaces and the little details – like the way light reflects off surfaces, how a door handle feels or the framing of the view – to transform the living experience for our customers and ensure a more efficient, smarter, and thoughtful way of living.” The first Cover unit is a 320-square-foot space that will be used as a music studio and office. Cover plans to produce 150 units per year in its Los Angeles factory. + Cover

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Elon Musk says first segment of LA tunnel complete

June 30, 2017 by  
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If you ever want to take on a crazy project and see results in under a year, call Elon Musk . He’s already making progress on his stuck-in-traffic daydream of tunnels beneath Los Angeles . This week he tweeted The Boring Company’s tunnel boring machine, cheekily named Godot, completed the first tunnel portion. According to Musk, we’re “no longer waiting for Godot.” Musk seems to be having a lot of fun with his side project he somehow fits into his free time. And he’s making strides towards the dream of clearing out Los Angeles’ notorious congestion by moving vehicles underground. The Boring Company’s new machine has started operating and already finished the first segment of a tunnel. Related: Elon Musk says LA mayor is open to The Boring Company’s traffic tunnels No longer waiting for Godot. It has begun boring and just completed the first segment of tunnel in LA. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 28, 2017 Godot is around 400 feet long, with a diameter of 26 feet, and weighs 1,200 tons. Musk hinted on Twitter they still hope the machine will bore faster in the future. He said they have a long way to go before they beat Gary, a snail from SpongeBob SquarePants whom Musk referenced in April in a TED talk , saying “Victory is beating the snail.” The project started near the SpaceX parking lot in Hawthorne. And according to Electrek, it appears this first segment simply connects the parking lot to the company’s buildings. But Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has indicated his interest in Musk’s venture – he name-dropped the tech entrepreneur in an ABC7 interview and Musk said they’d had promising conversations. Electrek also quoted Musk as saying the full length of the first tunnel “will run from LAX to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood, and Sherman Oaks. Future tunnels will cover all of greater LA.” It seems this pipe dream might become reality after all. + The Boring Company Via The Verge and Electrek Images via The Boring Company

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Elon Musk says first segment of LA tunnel complete

Elon Musk’s Boring Company video envisions underground LA as a crazy slot car race

May 1, 2017 by  
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Boldness has never been a problem for Elon Musk , who decided to improve the experience of driving through Los Angeles – while the rest of us just honk our horns. After tweeting in December that the city’s notorious traffic was driving him nuts, he immediately set up The Boring Company to dig underground tunnels for relief from the congestion above ground. Now the company has released a YouTube video envisioning exactly what that system might look like. Check it out after the jump. Forget freeway on-ramps. In the future imagined by The Boring Company, cars simply drive onto a sled-like device on a city street that lowers them into the tunnel network. The sleds then connect to a track and shoot the cars under Los Angeles at speeds of 124 miles per hour, according to the video. A supercomputer could direct car movement to potentially eliminate accidents. Related: Elon Musk says new company will start drilling under LA next month There’s no mention of what travel times could look like via the futuristic underground tunnels in the video, but a Gizmodo article threw out the estimate of Compton to Malibu in a few minutes; right now that journey takes around an hour, at best. Musk recently spoke more about The Boring Company at TED2017, in addition to Tesla and SpaceX . The interviewer, TED Head Curator Chris Anderson, asked how much of the entrepreneur’s time the project takes up, and Musk estimated just two or three percent. “This is basically interns and people doing it part time…we bought some secondhand machinery…it’s kind of puttering along but it’s making good progress,” he said in the talk. Anderson joked The Boring Company is “what an Elon Musk hobby looks like.” One can imagine all sorts of regulatory hurdles his hobby company would have to jump before they could build the vast tunnel network envisioned in the video, but if anyone can do it, it’s probably Musk. If you want to learn more, settle in over a lunch break; Musk’s TED talk is 40 minutes long and can be watched here . + The Boring Company Via Gizmodo Images via screenshot

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company video envisions underground LA as a crazy slot car race

Why Paris 2024 promises record sustainability wins

February 17, 2017 by  
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First, the city must win the 2024 Olympics sweepstakes against Budapest and Los Angeles.

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Why Paris 2024 promises record sustainability wins

How to choose a living tree to replant after Christmas

December 8, 2016 by  
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It takes about 10 years for a Christmas tree to reach maturity, and it’s a shame to kill a tree just so it can prop up ornaments and lights for a couple of weeks. Even though many cities do an admirable job of recycling trees (or ‘treecycling’) after the holidays are over, it’s always a bit depressing to see hundreds of dried-up, tinsel-covered trees out on the curb in early January. So instead of heading out to a tree farm, you might consider bringing a live, potted tree into your home this winter. After the holidays are over, you can plant the tree in the ground again (or you can get someone else to plant it), so it can get back to sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Purchase a Tree from a Nursery Nurseries in most parts of the country sell young pines and fir trees, and the best way to find a tree is to call around to local nurseries and ask what’s in stock. Living trees are much heavier than cut trees (a typical 5-foot tree is about 150 pounds), so you’ll probably want to choose a slightly smaller tree than normal. Transporting a living tree is a bit trickier than a cut tree, because you’ll need to treat it more delicately. The Original Living Christmas Tree Company in Portland suggests standing it up in the trunk of a car, so that the crown is sticking out behind. Locate a Tree Rental Service If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a home for your tree after the holidays are over, a tree rental service might be a better option. Although tree rental services have been around for a few years in several cities, they aren’t available everywhere. Currently most of the live tree rental services in the country are located in California, Oregon and Washington. The Original Living Christmas Tree Company, which has been renting potted trees since 1992, is one of the oldest rental services in the country, and it offers eight different varieties for rent. In San Diego, dancing, singing elves from the Adopt A Christmas Tree company will deliver a potted tree to your front door. In most places, potted tree rentals will run from $75 to $100, but the prices vary widely. The Adopt-a-Stream Foundation in Everett, Washington, for example, offers tree rentals for just $20. In Los Angeles, prices at the Living Christmas Co. range from $25 for a tiny 2-foot allepo pine tree to more than $250 for a stately 9-foot Turkish fir. Choose a Tree that Grows Naturally in Your Region It’s important when choosing a Christmas tree to select one that grows naturally in your region so that once it’s replanted it will survive — hopefully — for many years to come. In the Pacific Northwest, Douglas fir is a good option. If you live south of the Mason-Dixon Line, you might consider Virginia pine or Eastern red cedar. And in the Northeast, a variety of pines and firs like Balsam fir, Fraser fir and white pine grow naturally. But who says all Christmas trees need to be conifers? In San Francisco, Friends of the Urban Forest and SF Environment offer non-traditional Christmas trees, like southern magnolia and small leaf tristania, which are planted on city streets after the Holidays. How To Care for a Live Tree Live trees should be treated with a bit more tenderness than a typical cut tree, because you want to make sure that it survives when it’s replanted. But you don’t need to have a green thumb to keep it alive. Just make sure it gets enough water (but not too much), and don’t leave it indoors too long. The longer you leave a tree inside the more acclimated it will become to the warm temperature. If you keep it indoors too long, it might not be hearty enough to plant outside. It’s best to keep the room that the tree is in as cool as possible, and if possible, use small LED lights and minimal ornaments so that you don’t put too much added stress on the tree. What To Do When Christmas is Over Once Christmas is over, rental services come to retrieve their trees. Some services rent the same trees every year, so in theory, if you like the tree you had last year, you could get it again this year (though it’ll be slightly taller). Others plant them after one use. If you purchase a tree from a nursery, you’ll have to deal with it yourself. There are a few options for live tree owners: you can donate the tree to a local parks department, church or school, or you can keep it an plant it yourself. If you live in a very cold climate, you’ll probably have to keep the tree in a pot until the ground thaws a bit  — just be sure to keep it outside and properly watered! Lead image (modified) © Louisa de Miranda and Flickr user Wonderlane

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