Studio NAB wants to boost urban biodiversity with an insect hotel at a bus stop

June 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Waiting for the bus is usually a drag, but what if the experience could instead become an opportunity to be closer to nature? French design practice Studio NAB has reinterpreted the humble bus stop as a hub for biodiversity that offers a “hotel” for birds and insects of all varieties. Built from recycled materials and topped with a vegetated green roof, the proposed Hotel Bus Stop aims to promote the population of native pollinating insects and reconnect people to nature. Studio NAB designed the Hotel Bus Stop to serve five purposes: to promote the presence of pollinating insects; to bring adults and children closer to nature and promote environmental awareness and education; to showcase architecture constructed from recycled materials such as wood, cardboard and stainless steel; to introduce urban greenery and improve air quality with a vegetated roof and exposed plant wall; and to create “green jobs” for maintenance around the bus stops. Related: 6 fun, fantastic bus stops from around the world “A broad scientific consensus now recognizes the role of man in the decline of biomass and biodiversity in general and that of insects in particular,” Studio NAB explained in a project statement. “The use of pesticides in intensive agriculture, the destruction of natural habitats, excessive urbanization, global warming and various pollutions are at the origin of this hecatomb. Our hegemony allied to our conscience obliges us today to fulfill a role of ‘guardian’ and to allow the ‘living’ to take its place in order to fight against the erosion of our biodiversity.” Envisioned for city centers and “eco-neighborhoods,” The Hotel Bus Stop would provide more habitats for pollinating insects that are essential for our food system and gardens, from fruit trees and vegetables to ornamental flowers. Auxiliary insects would also benefit, such as lacewings and earwigs that feed on aphids, a common garden pest. The underside of the bus stop roof would include boxes to encourage nesting by various bird species found throughout the city. + Studio NAB Images via Studio NAB

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Studio NAB wants to boost urban biodiversity with an insect hotel at a bus stop

Free at last: Canada passes Act to prohibit dolphin and whale captivity

June 13, 2019 by  
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This week, Canada’s parliament passed a long awaited Act that will prohibits whales, dolphins and porpoises from being bred or contained in captivity. Originally proposed in 2015 by then Senator Wilfred Moore from Nova Scotia, the legislation received broad support from the public and considerable pressure from animal rights groups. “Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry. But today we celebrate that we have ended the captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins. This is news to splash a fin at,” Humane Canada said in a tweet. The Senate voted to pass the “Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act” last year, and on Monday the House of Commons finally approved the legislation. The fine for breaking the new law is about $150,000. Related: German circus goes cruelty gree by replacing animals with holograms The legislation does contain exceptions, including mammals that are already held in captivity, those contained for injury rehabilitation and those held for licensed scientific research. Hopefully, these exceptions will have effective oversight that will not lead the way for companies to exploit as loopholes. The legislation will impact a few sites in Canada, including Marineland, which currently has 61 whales, dolphins and an orca. Marineland originally opposed the Act but has since agreed to go along with the legislation. The Act will also impact the Niagara Falls Amusement Park and a zoo . The Vancouver Aquarium also announced last year that it would no longer display dolphins and whales after public pressure. “The public told us they believed the continuing importation and display of these intelligent and sociable mammals was unethical and incompatible with evolving public opinion and we amended our bylaws accordingly,” said the Vancouver Park Board in a statement. In the U.S., amusement parks like SeaWorld continue to host dolphin shows despite protests . Animal rights activists have been campaigning for this change in Canada and throughout the world under the hashtags #freewilly and #emptythetanks. Via NPR Image via skeeze

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Free at last: Canada passes Act to prohibit dolphin and whale captivity

Wild bees are building nests with plastic

June 10, 2019 by  
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While plastic use is going out of vogue with more enlightened humans, it’s catching on with Argentinian bees. Scientists don’t know why Argentina’s solitary bees are now constructing nests out of plastic packaging left on crop fields. Unlike the large hive model with queens and workers, wild bees lay larvae in individual nests. Researchers at Argentina’s National Agricultural Technology Institute constructed 63 wooden nests for wild bees from 2017 to 2018. They later found that three nests were entirely lined with pieces of plastic that bees had cut and arranged in an overlapping pattern. The plastic seemed to have come from plastic bags or a similar material, with a texture reminiscent of the leaves bees usually use to line nests. Related: McDonald’s creates McHives to raise awareness of the world’s decreasing bee populations The scientists’ study, published in Apidologie, is the first to find nests entirely made from plastic. But researchers have known for years that bees sometimes incorporate plastic into nests otherwise made of natural materials . Canadian scientists have chronicled bees’ use of plastic foams and films in Toronto. Like the Argentinian bees, bees in Canada cut the plastic to mimic leaves. Scientists aren’t yet sure what to make of this architectural development. “It would demonstrate the adaptive flexibility that certain species of bees would have in the face of changes in environmental conditions,” Mariana Allasino, the Argentinian study’s lead author, wrote in a press release translated from Spanish. But will the plastic harm the bees? More research is required to gauge the risks. While microplastics are a huge threat to marine animals, some enterprising creatures find ways to use trash to their advantage. Finches and sparrows arrange cigarette butts in their nests to repel parasitic mites. Stinky but effective. “Sure it’s possible it might afford some benefits, but that hasn’t been shown yet,” entomologist Hollis Woodard told National Geographic. “I think it’s equally likely to have things that are harmful.” Via National Geographic Image via Judy Gallagher

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Wild bees are building nests with plastic

Leaked footage shows brutal animal abuse at Fair Oaks dairy farm

June 7, 2019 by  
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One of the largest dairy farms in the U.S. is under fire as leaked footage shows graphic animal abuse by farm workers at Fair Oaks. The farm and popular agriculture tour site was infiltrated by activists who were hired as workers and recorded the brutal treatment of calves. Founder and owner Mike McCloskey has pledged to fire remaining workers, improve animal welfare training and allow live streaming of the calves in the “Adventure” area, where about 500,000 annual visitors and school groups tour the farm every year. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative Despite his promises, Fair Oaks has received considerable attention and backlash, including calls for boycotts and removal from shelves in Chicago and Indiana. However, it remains to be seen how much the massive corporation will clean up its act , and how many consumers will remember to spend their dollars elsewhere. According to McCloskey, the problem was bad employees who did not follow the animal welfare training guidelines. In a video statement , he said, “That was a terrible judgment on my part. The way I have to look at this is that as hard as we try, you can always end up with bad people within your organization, and this is what happened to us.” The video depicts workers kicking, punching and burning calves as they stuffed them into trucks or piled their dead bodies just out of sight of school field trips. “The difference between the Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure and the reality of the dairy industry is night and day,” said Richard Couto, the founder of Animal Recovery Mission. “Everything is a lie.” The local police department is currently investigating the cases of animal abuse , and Fair Oaks’ founder has promised to increase video surveillance and hire a private auditor to make unannounced visits. While many are calling for a boycott of Fair Oaks and its associated Fairlife brand, some lawmakers and agriculture industry advocates argue that this was an isolated incident and that the boycott will cause people to lose jobs. + Animal Recovery Mission Via Journal and Courier Image via Shutterstock

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Leaked footage shows brutal animal abuse at Fair Oaks dairy farm

New York could become the first state to ban cat declawing

June 7, 2019 by  
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On Tuesday, New York lawmakers voted to ban cat declawing. If New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill, cats may be packing their little suitcases and moving to the first state to protect their claws by law. “Cat declawing is a horrific, yet often practiced surgery that leads to a lifetime of pain and discomfort for thousands of cats,” Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan told NPR . “Today, though, every cat and kitten in New York state lands on its feet as we prepare to make New York the best state for cats to live in the United States.” When cats are declawed, the vet removes part of the cat’s toe bones as well as the claws. Usually the surgery is only performed on the front feet, but sometimes claws are removed from all four paws. Pet owners often order this painful surgery to protect their furniture, and many command declawing as a requirement if the cat wants to live indoors. Adverse effects from declawing include back and joint problems, personality changes and litter box issues due to painful paws. Once their claws are removed, cats are unable to defend themselves nor to climb trees to escape predators, so they must stay inside forever. If the bill becomes law, the declawing procedure will still be performed for medical issues including injuries or infections. While many people and most cats were jubilant at the NY news, the bill is not without controversy. The New York State Veterinary Medical Society opposed the bill, arguing that pet owners who are diabetic, hemophiliac, immune-compromised or on immune suppressing medication are at great medical risk from cat scratches. They might be forced to relinquish their cats if declawing becomes illegal. According to the American Humane Society, about 71 percent of cats that enter shelters are euthanized. However, many other vets supported the bill, which passed on June 4, the annual New York State Animal Advocacy Day . This annual event is described on its Facebook page as “a bi-partisan event to further protect our companion pets from cruelty.” People who care more about couches than cats might consider adopting a pet rock instead. Via NPR Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Flensshot

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New York could become the first state to ban cat declawing

German circus goes cruelty-free by replacing animals with holograms

June 6, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The circuses of the future will have bright lights, virtual-reality technology and one especially awe-inspiring feature: consent from all entertainers. German-based Circus Roncalli is leading the way by becoming the first circus to use 3D holograms of animals instead of forcing live animals to entertain crowds. Circus Roncalli has been around since 1976 but led the pack by dropping live circus animals from its acts as early as the 1990s. Last year, founder and director Bernhard Paul invested half a million dollars (USD) to develop the holographic animal performances that have recently gone viral on social media. Related: New Jersey first state to ban wild animals in circuses His shows now feature acts by holographic elephants , horses and large goldfish and attracted over 600,000 attendees in the first year alone. With ticket prices between $32 and $78 USD per person, his investment was well worth it. Animal rights advocates and circus enthusiasts have jumped on his success, touting Circus Roncalli as the future of the circus and using it as an example to advocate for the end of animal abuse in entertainment. Many governments are also passing laws that prohibit the use of animals for entertainment. “Thankfully, the public is voting with their feet, and increasingly visiting shows where the performers get to choose instead of being forced to perform ,” said Jan Creamer from Animal Defenders International. “This is the future of circus — a performance everyone can enjoy and for which intelligent, sentient beings are not used and depicted as objects of entertainment.” Paul claims his years of success are due to the skills of his human performers, including amazing acrobatic tricks, and the circus animals are an added feature that the crowds love. Not all entertainment acts have the available cash to invest in large light shows; however, with increasing awareness and support for animal rights, other circuses should look to Circus Roncalli as inspiration. Via The Dodo and WSVN Miami Images via Circus Roncalli ( 1 , 2 )

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German circus goes cruelty-free by replacing animals with holograms

Innovative micro-house uses digital fabrication on low-cost timber construction

June 6, 2019 by  
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Can digital fabrication unlock a new frontier in low-cost timber construction? All signs point to yes in the IBA Timber Prototype House, a micro-architecture project that’s been playfully described as “a log cabin turned on its side” by its designers at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart . Designed to meet PassivHaus standards, the airtight and highly sustainable building system was developed as part of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Thueringen and is currently on show in Apolda until September 29. The IBA Timber Prototype House shows how computational design and fabrication technologies can turn low-cost timber construction into an environmentally friendly, economical and architecturally expressive way to build. The mono-material building consists of a series of staggered upright spruce timber frames with thin slits that serve as stress-relief cuts to prevent splitting and dead-air chambers to increase insulation values without compromising structural capacity. Digital fabrication and five-axis CNC milling also allowed for the creation of precision-cut airtight joints for connecting the timber elements so that no metal fasteners or adhesives were needed in construction. “Conventional building systems have a vast array of different materials embedded in them, which often have very high embedded energy costs and are difficult to separate for recycling ,” explains the ICD team. “In contrast, this research draws on traditional joinery, and a system was developed that relies purely on wood elements for structural connections and airtight enclosure, minimizing system layers and ensuring easy disassembly for end-of-life recycling. Furthermore, the project sources all the wood from within the state of Thueringen, where the demonstrator was built, allowing the team to minimize the embodied energy costs associated with moving materials over transportation networks.” Related: This geometric pod is an ultra-light micro-office on wheels The tiny building’s curving walls and roof are also a result of digital fabrication, while simulations of the home’s energy efficiency—the house achieves a U-value of 0.20 W/(m^2K) without additional insulation—have indicated that the prototype should perform up to PassivHaus standards even during cold German winters. + ICD Photos by Thomas Mueller

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Innovative micro-house uses digital fabrication on low-cost timber construction

Endangered Canadian Orca births first calf in three years

June 4, 2019 by  
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A small and endangered pod of orca whales primarily seen off the coast of British Columbia was seen with their first newborn calf since 2016. The calf has been called a “ray of hope” by whale researchers and conservationists and brings the total population up to just 76 whales. “Researchers at the Centre for Whale Research, have confirmed that the calf is a new addition, and based on its coloration and body condition was likely born sometime in the last one to three weeks…More field observations are needed to confirm the identity of the calf’s mother,” the research center said in a statement. Related: Russia to release hundreds of illegally captured orcas and belugas from ‘whale jail’ The whale was first observed and photographed by whale watchers on May 31, who noted its orange hue and fetal skin– evidence that it was born very recently. This subsection of endangered killer whales are unique to others of the same species because they primarily eat Chinook salmon instead of seals and mammals. The crash in salmon population in the Pacific Northwest contributed to a decline in whale population. Last year, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee released a plan to revive and protect salmon and whale populations. The newest calf belongs to the J-Pod, but there are two other pods of the endangered group– the L-pod and the K-pod. Just five months ago, the L-pod also successfully birthed a calf. “Southern resident killer whales , their population is small so any birth is huge,” a representative from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada told CBC News. Despite these recent celebrations, the survival rate for Orca calves is only 50 percent. The last successful Orca birth took place in 2016. However, last year after the death of the calf, the mother continued to carry the body for a heart wrenching 7 days, a story which received considerable media attention and drew sympathy for the vulnerable population. Via The Guardian Image via skeeze

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Endangered Canadian Orca births first calf in three years

An energy-optimized extension pierces a renovated brick bungalow

June 4, 2019 by  
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Having outgrown their single-story bungalow, a family approached Ghent-based architectural firm WE-S architecten for an expansion and renovation that would also bolster the home’s energy performance. The architects responded with an unusual proposal: an extension that appears to pierce straight through the existing structure at an angle. Clad in brick , the House TlL in Pittem, Belgium now spans 3,025 square feet with an east-west addition that follows site-specific passive design principles for improved energy performance. The clients’ former bungalow was not only poorly insulated , but also suffered from poor space allocation: a seldom-used indoor garage had occupied about a quarter of the home’s footprint. After conducting site studies, the architects removed the indoor garage and placed it to the front of the brick house in a covered parking pad as part of the new extension. Part of the volume is cut out of the building to maximize daylight, while the covered terrace protects the interior from cold westerly winds. Related: A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork Walls of glass bring natural light and air into the interiors, which have been renovated to look bright and airy. White-painted walls and a palette of natural materials with pops of greenery help achieve a minimalist aesthetic. The roofline has also been raised to heighten the spacious feel and bring additional light indoors. An open-plan living area, dining room, and kitchen occupy the heart of the brick house. The raised roofline allows for the creation of two rooms on the upper floor, one of which serves as a bedroom. “The project tries to interweave the existing bungalow within its environment with certain simplicity in planning and materialization,” explain the architects in a press release. “Variable room heights play a game of compression and decompression, which has its center of gravity in the double-height living space .” + WE-S architecten Images via Johnny Umans

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An energy-optimized extension pierces a renovated brick bungalow

McDonalds creates McHives to raise awareness of the world’s decreasing bee populations

May 28, 2019 by  
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Although McDonald’s restaurants are ubiquitous around the world, the popular fast food eateries in Sweden are currently expanding to meet the needs of tiny little clients that have an immeasurable impact on our world — honey bees. As part of a country-wide initiative to raise awareness about the world’s dwindling bee population , various franchises in Sweden are installing fully-functional beehives, known as McHives, on their rooftops. Brainchild of creative agency NORD DDB , the McHive initiative started last year when one McDonald’s franchise owner, Christina Richter, decided to place a small beehive on the restaurant’s rooftop. Now, in collaboration with McDonald’s sustainability office in Sweden, additional franchise owners have decided to follow Richter’s lead and install the 16-inch hives on their own roofs. Related: IKEA teams up with London artists to upcycle old furniture into funky abodes for birds, bees and bats The innovative beehives were designed and built by award winning set designer Nicklas Nilsson. Built to scale, the beekeeping box hives are remarkable in their realistic appearance, complete with the restaurant’s signature Golden Arches. Bees enter the structure through the main entrance and can even enjoy outdoor seating, or if they’re really in a hurry, they can swing by the mini drive-thru. Although there are currently five franchises with McHives on their roofs throughout the country, the first hive was recently auctioned for charity , raising more than $10,000 dollars for the Ronald McDonald House. Christoffer Rönnblad, Marketing director of McDonald’s Sweden, explained that the company was thrilled to join forces with the individual franchises in the name of sustainability . “We have a lot of really devoted franchisees who contribute to our sustainability work, and it feels good that we can use our size to amplify such a great idea as beehives on the rooftops,” Rönnblad said. “This miniature McDonald’s is a tribute to franchisee Christina Richter’s initiative.” + Nord DDB Via Adweek Images via McDonald’s

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McDonalds creates McHives to raise awareness of the world’s decreasing bee populations

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