Eco-friendly housing startup Module breaks ground in Pittsburgh

June 4, 2020 by  
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Home building and buying are modern-day decision-wheels with size and location options balanced with a desire for eco-friendly construction. Buying too large of a home creates wasteful material and utility usage. Buying too small means having to sell and re-buy when life requires more space. So, the Pittsburgh-based housing start-up Module decided to create homes that are both environmentally-friendly and modular , allowing them to grow with your family. Under construction in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood, Module is providing three types of housing: a duplex, an affordable home and a market-value house. The location allows easy access to the homes via public transportation, bike, or foot. The four housing units make up a Zero Energy Ready development. Zero Energy Ready certification means steps were taken to achieve extreme energy efficiency through quality HVAC and thermal protection systems. This not only conserves resources, but also saves the homeowner money. A fresh air system and safer building materials provide superior air quality too. Plus, a roof-to-foundation water barrier system keeps water from entering and damaging any part of the home. Inside the home, Energy Star products further reduce energy and water consumption. All this efficiency doesn’t require huge sacrifices. In fact, each design offers an outdoor pad that can be used as a patio or off-street parking. There are also yards and decks for entertaining and outdoor fun. The stand out feature of these homes is the modular capability. For example, the Haven design starts with a compact 1,000 square feet space. However, it can expand to 2,000 square feet with the addition of modules if the homeowner needs an additional bedroom or home office. Even the duplex, referred to as the Duo design, has expansion capabilities. Combined, the units provide 1,600 square feet of space, which can be adapted into over 2,500 square feet as needed. With the initial Pittsburgh development underway, Module is already seeking out other suitable vacant lots around the city where they can provide further adaptable and eco-friendly housing. + Module + Pittsburgh Green Story Images via Pittsburgh Green Story

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Eco-friendly housing startup Module breaks ground in Pittsburgh

We are in the sixth mass extinction, and it’s accelerating

June 4, 2020 by  
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The Earth is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction , and it’s picking up speed. New research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences updates the threats first detailed in a 2015 study. Species are disappearing faster than previously thought, the new study says. The cascading effect of collapsing ecosystems is making the planet steadily less habitable for people as well. “When humanity exterminates populations and species of other creatures, it is sawing off the limb on which it is sitting, destroying working parts of our own life-support system,” said Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich, co-author of the paper, in a press release from Stanford University. “The conservation of endangered species should be elevated to a national and global emergency for governments and institutions, equal to climate disruption to which it is linked.” Related: Trump administration moves to weaken Endangered Species Act amid global extinction risks The researchers analyzed numbers and distribution of critically endangered species. They determined that 515 species of terrestrial vertebrates have fewer than 1,000 individuals left, meaning they’re very close to extinction . Nearly half of those species have fewer than 250 surviving members, mostly due to human encroachment. The first five mass extinctions in the last 450 million years each destroyed 70% to 95% of animal, plant and microorganism species . Huge changes to the environment, such as asteroids, volcanic eruptions or depletion of oceanic oxygen caused the first five. The sixth, the study finds, is our doing. Almost all loss of species has happened since humans developed agriculture , about 11,000 years ago. Back then, there were only about a million of us. Now we number 7.7 billion, and that number is growing fast . “As our numbers have grown, humanity has come to pose an unprecedented threat to the vast majority of its living companions,” the study says. According to the study, it is a “moral imperative” for scientists to do whatever they can to stop extinction via the following suggestions: the International Union for Conservation of Nature should immediately classify any species with fewer than 5,000 remaining members as critically endangered; governments and institutions should elevate conservation of endangered species to a global emergency; illegal wildlife trade must stop now and the ban must be strictly enforced; and alternative food must be provided to low-income communities, especially in Africa, who depend on bush meat for survival. There’s no time to lose. “There is no doubt, for example, that there will be more pandemics if we continue destroying habitats and trading wildlife for human consumption as food and traditional medicines,” the study warns. “It is something that humanity cannot permit, as it may be a tipping point for the collapse of civilization.” + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Via Stanford News Service Image via Alex Strachan

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We are in the sixth mass extinction, and it’s accelerating

Designers made this pavilion out of upcycled paper waste

October 14, 2019 by  
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Originally created for the Copenhagen Art Fair to showcase a new sustainable method of design, the Paper Pavilion is made out of upcycled paper collected from the city itself. The art fair, in its fifth season, had a specific focus on pavilion designs that spotlighted sustainable construction , urbanization and recycling.  The pavilion was created by Denmark-based Japanese architects, PAN- PROJECTS. The architects wanted to combine sustainability with the appropriate amount of durability for their Paper Pavilion design, making sure to sacrifice the longevity of the structure whenever possible for the utilization of the materials that would only withstand through the duration of the three-day event. With this methodology in mind, PAN- PROJECTS decided to use paper as their primary building material due to its strength and recyclability . Additionally, the use of paper adds a certain aspect of uniqueness that sets the Paper Pavilion apart from similar projects at the Copenhagen Art Fair. Related: Mud and recycled materials make up this sustainable Kerala home The designers also took inspiration from the shape of a bagworm moth for the pavilion, taking into account especially the insect’s nesting habits of collecting local materials into a particular shape. The concept will hopefully encourage spectators to find a connection between the natural shape of the moth-inspired design to the urban environment that surrounds it. Moreover, the papers that helped create the paper pavilion were collected from around the city, so the connection between the city’s inhabitants to the artistic structure should provide additional insight. Following the Copenhagen Art Fair, the piece was relocated permanently to the entrance hall inside the Kunsthal Charlottenborg Museum in Copenhagen with slight redesign to fit the new location. The paper used in the piece can be recycled again after the structure comes down, as well. + Pan- Projects Via Archdaily Images via Pan- Projects

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Designers made this pavilion out of upcycled paper waste

Celebrate the second International E-Waste Day

October 14, 2019 by  
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Thanks to its inaugural success last year, the second International E-Waste Day will be observed on October 14, 2019. The day is meant to raise awareness for proper disposal of electrical equipment and electronic devices worldwide. The International E-Waste Day was developed by Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum to promote reuse and recycle practices. Consumers are encouraged to proactively increase rates of repairing appliances for recovery and reuse, recycling devices and properly disposing of electronics . Related: Lawmakers are pushing gadget manufacturers with the Right to Repair movement Consumption of computers, phones, other digital devices and household appliances continues to grow rapidly. Often replaced and discarded, this electronic waste, or e-waste, is a big problem for the planet. Ecological repercussions accompany the heightened demand for electronics. Producing this technology exacerbates mining and depleting natural reserves to procure raw materials. E-waste accumulates, threatening the environment with toxic pollution and contamination hazards. The mess can only be alleviated with plans that enable reuse, repair, resale and recycle initiatives. Global estimates project 50 million tons of e-waste will be generated this year. But only a fifth of that will be recycled, while the rest is placed in landfills, burned or illegally treated. Consequences include tremendous losses to valuable supply chain materials. Moreover, negative health, environmental and societal issues arise from irresponsible e-waste management . Collectively, the WEEE Forum implements high-quality standards for e-waste “collection, handling, storage, transport, preparation for reuse, processing and disposal.” Its proprietary software allows member groups and partners to document recycling and recovery quotas to benchmark operations. Similarly, the nonprofit has provided policy recommendations for improved optimization across its member groups. This year, the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency, is partnering with WEEE Forum to ensure global reach. More than 100 member organizations across 40 countries worldwide are expected to join in on activities as part of the second International E-Waste Day. Pascal Leroy, director general of the WEEE Forum, said, “There are many countries worldwide that are currently in the process of implementing e-waste legislation. We are therefore very pleased to have participants from six continents involved in this year’s International E-Waste Day.” Established in 2002, WEEE Forum addresses broadscale e-waste management. The nonprofit is the largest multinational organization harmonizing exchanges of best practices and knowledge on e-waste operations (collection, logistics and processing). To date, the WEEE Forum encompasses 36 producer responsibility groups from 25 countries. Representing the United States, at the moment, are Tennessee’s TERRA (The Electronics Reuse & Recycling Alliance) and Michigan’s VCER (Valley City Electronics Recycling). Whether you repair, reuse , resale, recycle or just spread the word this International E-Waste Day, don’t forget to do your part for the planet. + WEEE Forum Image via Volker Glätsch

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Celebrate the second International E-Waste Day

Los Angeles is evicting homeless people from 37 tiny homes

February 26, 2016 by  
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Los Angeles city officials say they are trying to “clean up” unsightly homeless camps around the city, but it’s gone far beyond seizing drugs and guns. Now the city is actively taking possession of tiny homes that some of LA’s most unfortunate residents rely on for shelter and safety. The donation-built homes, no larger than a garden shed, are a valuable asset to the homeless community, keeping them from sleeping on sidewalks and benches. Other members of the public have complained about the tiny homes, saying they are an eyesore and a hotbed for prostitution, drugs, and violence. Read the rest of Los Angeles is evicting homeless people from 37 tiny homes

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Los Angeles is evicting homeless people from 37 tiny homes

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

How Seattle is brewing an EV-charging network

July 21, 2015 by  
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Seattle City Light is bringing in smart charging technologies to power the 12,000 EVs driving around the city.

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How Seattle is brewing an EV-charging network

London Using Glue to Clean Up Air

November 28, 2011 by  
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The European Union is requiring member countries to have no more than 35 bad air days per year by 2012 or the countries will face fines of around $450 million.  In order to clean up air pollution to meet the EU’s standards, London is turning to glue.  Well, a glue of sorts.  The English capital is applying a calcium-based adhesive to streets to trap particulate air pollution and, believe it or not, it’s working. The city’s street sweepers have applied the adhesive to air pollution hot spots around the city and particulate levels in those areas have dropped 14 percent.  The project has cost the city $1.4 million so far, which is pretty expensive, but 14 percent is a pretty substantial reduction from glue alone and a far cry from a payout of $450 million if they didn’t meet the standards. London will be taking other action to reduce air pollution, including rolling out cleaner buses , retiring the most polluting taxis, enforcing stricter emissions standards and planting trees. via Grist

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A Short-Range Electric Vehicle for $7,000

November 22, 2011 by  
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The StreetScooter is caled an open-source electric vehicle and has been developed to provide an affordable and sustainable option for mobility. The target price for the vehicle is only $7,000, although the batteries would have to be leased separately. The StreetScooter is intended as a Short Distance Vehicle (SDV) with a range of 40 kilometers (about 25 miles). While this doesn’t meet every need, it is suitable for many basic transport purposes. A consortium of 20 different companies has been behind the development of this vehicle concept, which was recently unveiled at the Frankfurt International Auto Show. The design team began with the idea of a vehicle that is intended for primarily short trips, and could then be priced accordingly. While it has a limited range, the Street Scooter has a top speed of 74 miles per hour (120 kph). The modular approach undertaken by the design team focused on each partner applying their expertise to the area they knew best and having to coordinate only where the different systems interconnected. Production is supposed to begin in Europe in 2013 and then to follow to the United States later on. The original site is in German, but this link gives a Google translated version that can give you some idea about the project. via: Slashdot

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A Short-Range Electric Vehicle for $7,000

San Francisco’s Plan For Turning Parking Spaces Into Public Toilets

September 6, 2011 by  
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Photo by Timomcd via Flickr CC The parklet movement has gotten popular in San Francisco. If you aren’t familiar with parklets, it’s when businesses turn the parking spaces outside their storefront into pleasant public seating areas. Walk down Valencia Street in the Mission District and you’ll see at least five, and a lot more are popping up around the city. The idea has taken such hold that the city is looking to use the same concept for public … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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