Green-roofed holiday home is fashioned from three shipping containers

February 21, 2018 by  
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Led by a desire to reduce landscape impact, Melbourne-based Studio Edwards turned to cargotecture for a sustainably minded getaway on the Surf Coast in Victoria, Australia. Raised atop stilts on a steep slope, House 28 was fashioned from a trio of 20-foot shipping containers sourced from nearby Port Melbourne. In addition to minimized site disturbance, the green-roofed holiday home uses a rainwater catchment and filtration system to gather water and features double-glazed windows and doors to increase energy efficiency. Set overlooking the Wye River and Australia’s Otway Coast, House 28 is securely anchored to the hillside by steel stilts and deep concrete pile foundations. The architects joined two of the containers to form one long module housing the entrance, a spacious living area, and open kitchen with dining, while the other container comprises two bedrooms and a bathroom. The containers were angled towards one another and connected with a blackbutt timber deck. Related: Shipping container delivers heightened drama to a modern island home For a rugged finish, the containers were externally insulated and clad with galvanized steel sheeting. In contrast, the minimalist interiors are lined with marine-grade plywood for a warm feel. Full-height doubled-glazed windows and doors overlook the ocean to the south and keep the narrow buildings from feeling constrained. A garden of native dichondra covers the roof providing extra thermal insulation and rainwater filtration. + Studio Edwards Via Dezeen Images by Tony Gorsevski

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Green-roofed holiday home is fashioned from three shipping containers

Australia’s solar energy capacity could almost double in one year

February 13, 2018 by  
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Australia seems to be in the midst of a solar power boom. According to The Guardian, industry analysts said the country’s solar energy capacity could nearly double in a single year thanks to large-scale solar farms and a month of rooftop installations that broke records. Solar power is flourishing in Australia. January 2018 was the best January ever in the country for rooftop installations, according to a RenewEconomy article drawing on data from industry analysts SunWiz – boasting 111 megawatts of new solar panel installations. Australia saw a 69 percent rise compared against the same time a year before. Related: South Australia to host world’s largest thermal solar plant And almost 30 new solar farms are slated to go online, according to The Guardian. The Queensland and New South Wales governments approved what The Guardian described as an unprecedented amount of industrial solar farms in 2017. There are 18 large-scale projects being built in Queensland. And New South Wales approved 10 solar farms in 2017, which is twice as many as 2016, and have already approved one this year. Smart Energy Council chief executive John Grimes told The Guardian the new solar farms could be operational in 2018, as they can be built in weeks. Grimes said, “Rooftop installations and utilities are both booming and could turbo-boost the solar numbers overall.” Rooftop solar installations could add 1.3 gigawatts (GW) while large-scale solar projects add between 2.5 GW to 3.5 GW. As Australia’s current solar capacity is 7GW, all together the projects could almost double the nation’s solar power capacity, according to The Guardian. Residential solar panels are the biggest source of power in Queensland already – a bit under a third of homes there have solar installed. And in New South Wales, planning minister Anthony Roberts said the 10 solar farms would cut carbon emissions by over 2.5 million metric tons – which would be like taking around 800,000 cars off the streets. Via The Guardian Images via Jeremy Buckingham on Flickr and Michael Coghlan on Flickr

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Australia’s solar energy capacity could almost double in one year

New family of antibiotics discovered in soil offers hope

February 13, 2018 by  
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Antibiotic resistance threatens humanity even as superbugs are discovered in places like pig farms . But a recent discovery offers new hope. A Rockefeller University -led team of scientists found a new family of antibiotics in dirt, the BBC reported . The researchers hope the natural compounds could be used to fight infections that are difficult to treat. 12 scientists discovered malacidins, compounds which, based on tests, kill multiple bacterial diseases now resistant to most of our existing antibiotics. That includes the superbug MRSA . They utilized a gene sequencing technique to scrutinize over 1,000 soil samples that came from around America to find the new antibiotic family. The BBC said soil teems with millions of microorganisms that produce compounds that could be potentially therapeutic or serve as new antibiotics. Related: Antibiotic resistant bugs could kill 10 million people each year by 2050 Malacidins were present in many of the samples, suggesting it could be an important find. According to the BBC, the scientists gave rats MRSA and then tested malacidins; the compound eradicated the infection in skin wounds. They’re now working to boost the drug’s effectiveness so that perhaps it could be developed into a treatment for humans – but that could take a while. Rockefeller University scientist Sean Brady told the BBC, “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic. It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.” Antibiotic Research UK professor Colin Garner, who was not part of the research team, said the find is good news but we really need antibiotics for gram-negative bacteria . These new compounds might tackle gram-positive infections like MRSA, but “our concern are the so called gram-negative bacteria which are difficult to treat and where resistance is on the increase.” The journal Nature Microbiology published the research online yesterday. Scientists from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School contributed. Via the BBC Images via Pixabay and Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

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New family of antibiotics discovered in soil offers hope

Scientists dash to explore Antarctic ecosystem hidden by ice for 120,000 years

February 13, 2018 by  
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Scientists are seeking to explore an underwater area previously covered by an Antarctic ice shelf for 120,000 years. Climate change is affecting every corner of the globe and while its challenges are well known, the dramatic changes also open up new opportunities for exploration. The recent breaking away of a trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware from Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf offers scientists a chance to gain a greater understanding of the polar aquatic ecosystem that dwells beneath the ice. Researchers are now in a race against time to study the 2,246 square-mile area before it begins to change. “The calving of [iceberg] A-68 [from the Larsen C Ice Shelf] provides us with a unique opportunity to study marine life as it responds to a dramatic environmental change,” said Kkatrin Linse of the British Antarctica Survey (BAS) in a statement. “It’s important we get there quickly before the undersea environment changes as sunlight enters the water and new species begin to colonize.” Two previous efforts to explore newly exposed Antarctic ecosystems in 1995 and 2002 yielded little in terms of studied life. However, both efforts took five to 12 years after an iceberg’s break before studying the area up close. By then, organisms had begun to occupy space in the newly open habitat. Related: Meteorologist warns collapse of two Antarctic glaciers could flood every coastal city on Earth Scientists are set to depart from the Falkland Islands on February 21, then spend three weeks aboard the BAS research vessel RRS James Clark Ross on which the team will gather and study biological samples from organisms, sediments, and water . During their study, the team may encounter such wild Antarctic creatures as the icefish, which creates natural antifreeze within its body to survive in frigid waters, or the bristled marine worm, described by Live Science as “ a Christmas ornament from hell. “ Via Live Science Images via NASA   (1)

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Scientists dash to explore Antarctic ecosystem hidden by ice for 120,000 years

Clothing company removes 1,000,000 pounds of trash from global waters

February 13, 2018 by  
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Fast fashion is a dirty business, and the apparel industry is considered one of the world’s most toxic, second only to the oil industry when it comes to pollution. Some big labels are keen to tout their greenwashed textiles or “responsible” material sourcing, but few have taken measures to reduce waste. Enter  United By Blue , a sustainable fashion line that not only uses eco-friendly materials in the manufacturing of its products but has made a commitment to removing one pound of trash from global oceans and waterways for every product sold. The model, which was introduced in 2010, has so far led to the removal of 1,039,456 pounds of trash across 27 states—and counting. The initiative is wholly backed by United by Blue’s employees and like-minded volunteers looking to make a difference. Over 200 cleanups have been organized thus far, and everything from  plastic bottles , tires, appliances, to abandoned trucks have been scooped out of rivers, streams, creeks, and beaches. What’s more, United by Blue has budgeted time, resources, and money into its business plan for cleanups, and employees are paid for their contributions. Related: Billions of pieces of plastic trash are sickening the world’s coral reefs As it stands, eight million tons of plastic enter oceans each year with plastic bottles accounting for 1.5 million tons. There is almost no part of the world that has been untouched by the pollution , which endangers sea life and ends up in our food when we consume seafood that has unwittingly ingested plastic. Even scarier, in a recent study , researchers looked at more than 124,000 corals from 159 reefs in Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia, and found that plastic has ravaged the reefs. “We came across chairs, chip wrappers, Q-tips, garbage bags, water bottles, old nappies,” Joleah Lamb, a marine disease ecologist at Cornell University and lead author of the study, told the Atlantic . “Everything you see on the beach is probably lying on the reef.” Nearly 90 percent of corals that come into contact with plastic will get some sort of infection. Lamb and her colleagues reported that almost every time they lifted a piece of plastic shrouding coral, the coral was riddled with disease. Here’s hoping that more clothing companies follow United By Blue’s model so we can end this scourge once and for all. + United by Blue Via Treehugger

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Clothing company removes 1,000,000 pounds of trash from global waters

Off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes finally make their international debut

February 8, 2018 by  
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We’ve been following the the solar- and wind-powered Ecocapsule microhome since it first burst onto the design scene. Now, nearly 10 years after the visionary concept was born, its Bratislava-based designers are finally making their international debut with an exclusive release of 50 off-grid dwellings that can be installed pretty much anywhere. Although this round of smart, self-sufficient tiny dwellings will only be available to customers living in the United States, Japan, Australia and EU, the second mass-produced series could be available as soon as the end of 2018. Despite its futuristic design, the Ecocapsule encapsulates a great deal of what makes a building truly sustainable . Albeit made of fiberglass and steel, neither of which are renewable like bamboo or hemp, it deserves major kudos for its ability to generate its own energy with included solar panels and a wind turbine, and collect and filter its own water–all in a compact module with a negligible footprint. It is 15.32-feet-long, 7.22-feet-wide, and 14.76-feet-tall (wind turbine included). Ecocapsule’s Matej Gyárfáš said the wind turbine produces 750W of clean energy, while the embedded solar panels produce 880W at peak. The energy is stored in a battery with a capacity of 9kWh, though the whole microhome can be plugged into an external outlet if additional electricity is necessary. With its two water tanks at full capacity, the unit weighs 3,638 pounds. Made to sleep up to two people, the Ecocapsule can be transported in a shipping container , by passenger car with a trailer hitch, or by helicopter, which is how the first completed unit was carried to the roof of Bratislava’s UNIQ building (see attached picture in the gallery) on January 31, 2018. It has a clean, open interior design with plenty of natural light, and its spheroid shape promotes water collection while also ensuring optimal energy retention. Related: Solar-powered Ecocapsule lets you live off the grid anywhere in the world Gyárfáš said the design was originally intended as a “frontier dwelling, a housing unit for people who need to stay in nature for a longer time – e.g. scientists, photographers, rangers or extreme tourists.” But the design’s easy mobility, containerization and long-term energy independence expanded its potential, he said. He says it can be quickly shipped in “ rapid response situations where infrastructure is damaged” and even function as a “small power plant and water filtration unit.” The Ecocapsule can be installed on rooftops or vacant urban spaces, out in the middle of nature, or even in vineyards. According to the company, it is “a multipurpose unit, which can be used as a house, caravan, houseboat , hotel, or a research station.” Each of the first 50 pieces cost $89,000, according to Gyárfáš. Prices for the next iteration will be lower, but that number has not been revealed. All images via Ecocapsule

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Off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes finally make their international debut

Beautiful PET lamps combat plastic waste around the world

February 2, 2018 by  
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The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Triennial is in full swing and one of our favorite pieces on display at the massive art event is the brilliant and beautiful PET lamps that combine indigenous Australian craftsmanship with recycled plastic. Commissioned by NGV, this collaborative work brought indigenous Yolngu artists and PET Lamp Project founder Alvaro Catalán de Ocón together to create unique lights made with reclaimed plastic bottles and repurposed Yolngu mats. The woven PET Lamp chandeliers are hung as a stunning installation for the public to enjoy. Now in its fifth year, the PET Lamp Project has traveled around the world lighting up communities with beautiful sustainable crafts. For PET Lamp Project’s sixth installation, Alvaro Catalán de Ocón teamed up with seven Australia’s indigenous weavers in Arnhem Land, one of the five regions of the Northern Territory of Australia . The wide lamps are made from the leaves and roots of a tropical plant in the Pandanus genus, natural dyes, PET plastic bottles , electric cords, and low-voltage LEDs. Related: Artist upcycles plastic bottles into enchanting chandeliers The project was completed over six weeks in 2016. Some of the individual lampshades were joined together into a single interwoven piece. These beautiful upcycled lights are on display at the NGV Triennial until April 15, 2018. + PET Lamp Project Via Colossal Images via PET Lamp Project , installation image by Tom Ross

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Beautiful PET lamps combat plastic waste around the world

Scientists just found a chunk of North America attached to Australia

January 24, 2018 by  
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Billions of years ago, getting from North America to Australia would have taken no time at all. That’s because researchers just confirmed that the two distant continents were once attached to one another. Scientists at Curtin University found sandstone rocks in Queensland that aren’t native to Australia, but are found all over eastern Canada, confirming the long-ago link. According to the new information, a chunk of what is now Queensland broke away from eastern Canada 1.7 billion years ago, eventually connecting with northern Australia 100 million years later. The result was a supercontinent known as Columbia/Nuna. 300 million years after Nuna formed, it broke apart, but the piece of Canada stuck with Australia as it moved away. Scientists have suspected that Australia was near North America or Siberia when Nuna was around, but this is the first time they’ve been able to confirm it. Related: Ancient ocean crust in the Mediterranean Sea may predate supercontinent Pangea “This was a critical part of global continental reorganization when almost all continents on Earth assembled to form the supercontinent called Nuna,” said Adam Nordsvan, part of the research team. The scientists published their findings in Geology last week . Via Slashdot and Live Science images via Deposit Photos Flickr , and Geology

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Scientists just found a chunk of North America attached to Australia

Catastrophic weather shakes up the reinsurance market

January 23, 2018 by  
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Events in Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean and the U.S., including three hurricanes, caused catastrophe losses over $100 billion for the third year on record.

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Catastrophic weather shakes up the reinsurance market

The hire-wire act of balancing a modern grid with regulated assets

January 23, 2018 by  
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Utilities need a better safety net for investing in innovative new technologies.

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The hire-wire act of balancing a modern grid with regulated assets

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