LAGI announces location for 2018 renewable energy design competition

July 18, 2017 by  
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Energy infrastructure of the past, like oil refineries and rigs, aren’t typically considered beautiful. But as the world transitions to more renewable sources of power, what if utility-scale energy installations could double as art ? That’s the dream pursued by the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI), which holds a design competition every two years to present visions for energy-generating art able to power hundreds of homes. 2016’s winners included ethereal sailboats that harvested wind for power and fog for water, and a whale-inspired design generating wind, solar , and wave energy . LAGI just announced the location for their 2018 competition: Melbourne , Australia. LAGI is being sponsored by the State of Victoria to bring their 2018 contest to Melbourne, a city which hopes to be net zero by 2020. Artists, scientists, engineers, designers, and other creatives from around the world will be invited to submit designs tailored to the area for large-scale installations that add to the beauty of the area while generating clean energy . Related: Land Art Generator Initiative Santa Monica winners address California’s energy needs and drought One goal for these designs is to show how renewable energy installations, like solar and wind, can be integrated into the nature and culture of a region. LAGI2018 is part of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Action Plan under Action 13, which calls for “supporting important artistic and cultural sustainability events.” 2016’s top three winners included teams from Japan, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. The last four competitions – Dubai/Abu Dhabi in 2010, New York City in 2012, Copenhagen in 2014, and Santa Monica in 2016 – garnered over 800 submissions from more than 60 countries. The competition will launch in around six months, in January 2018, with submissions due in May. Public exhibitions will introduce some of the ideas to the people of Melbourne and nearby cities. According to LAGI, “2018 will be a year to celebrate the beauty of our sustainable future!” + Land Art Generator Initiative Images via Wikimedia Commons and courtesy of the Land Art Generator Initiative

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LAGI announces location for 2018 renewable energy design competition

The world’s most efficient 5-seater car is powered entirely by the sun

June 27, 2017 by  
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A team of students at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) just unveiled an electric car that seats five and is completely powered by the sun. Called Stella Vie, the vehicle stands apart because it’s more efficient than all solar cars before it. Even with fewer solar panels on its roof, the car is capable of a range of about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) on a warm summer day. According to the students, Stella Vie is “the car of the future.” Charged by the sun, the solar-powered vehicle can reach speeds up to 130 km/h (80 mph) and it also contains new, smart technology such as a parking navigation system that takes into account the position of the sun when parking (so it can keep charging). Like a Tesla, Stella Vie also uses the latest technology to warn drivers of upcoming traffic events. This allows for safer and more efficient driving. According to TU/e, Stella Vie was designed to find the most efficient route and show how much energy can be saved compared to a standard, fossil fuel-powered car. Any surplus energy that is generated by the vehicle can be supplied back to a house or the electric grid . Additionally, the smart charging and discharging system keeps track of energy prices and daily use to find the best time to recharge and discharge. Related: Record-Breaking Solar Car Can Travel 98 Miles on 15 Cents Worth of Electricity All in all, 23 students worked together to develop the car which is competing to win TU/e’s third world title at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge , which will take place this October in Australia . The competition requires the solar -powered cars to run 3,000 kilometers through the Australian outback. Stella Vie will compete in the Cruiser Class (for practical cars), where technical innovation, battery consumption and the number of occupants that can be transported are taken into account by judges. + TU/e Images via TU/e, Bart van Overbeeke

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The world’s most efficient 5-seater car is powered entirely by the sun

Shocking investigation reveals 70,000 dogs in Bali murdered and served to tourists every year

June 19, 2017 by  
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Each year 70,000 dogs are brutally killed in Bali , Indonesia, according to an investigation spearheaded by Animals Australia (AA). The animals are strangled, bludgeoned, or poisoned and then fed to tourists who think they’re eating chicken meat. AA estimates seven times more dogs are killed in Bali yearly than in the Yulin Dog-Eating Festival in China. Evidence obtained by ABC’s 7.30 program revealed a huge dog meat trade in Bali. An AA undercover investigator spent four months posing as a documentary maker to uncover details about the trade. Known simply as ‘Luke,’ the investigator said he started by getting to know key players in the unregulated industry, and “eventually, they invited me to join them as their gangs stole, hunted, poisoned, and killed dogs.” Related: Dogs raised for meat in South Korea to get forever homes in the US AA campaign director Lyn White said, “Tourists will walk down a street, they’ll see a street store selling satay but what they are not realizing is the letters RW on the store mean it is dog meat being served. They’re just sitting down ordering satay have no idea that they’re eating dog.” And it’s not just street vendors selling the meat to tourists as chicken, but restaurants as well. The Bali Animal Welfare Association, an organization working to rescue the animals from dog traders, has discovered 70 restaurants serving dog meat. It’s not illegal to consume dog meat in Bali. But White said it is illegal to kill animals cruelly or to consume meat tainted with poison. Luke described aggressive methods and said although he’s trained himself to cope with cruelty, in one village where he saw dogs being caught, nothing had prepared him for the brutality. On one occasion he witnessed hunters catching dogs by laying out fish meat laced with cyanide. For the first time in his career, he switched off his camera as he watched a puppy die over agonizing minutes. He said, “I sat stroking him as he died and found myself apologizing for the cruelty of my fellow man.” According to ABC, while some local people think dog meat is healthy, the practice isn’t a long-held tradition. Hindu leader Gusti Ngurah Harta is among those working to end the trade – he said Bali Hindus consider dogs to be a holy animal and that it’s upsetting people are eating them. AA is willing to partner with the Bali government to end the trade and find a positive solution, which may include compensating those who make their living in the trade. You can sign their petition for the governor of Bali here . Via Animals Australia , ABC , and International Business Times Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Shocking investigation reveals 70,000 dogs in Bali murdered and served to tourists every year

Elegant Australian home shows the beauty and toughness of rammed earth

June 14, 2017 by  
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Rammed earth may be an ancient building material, but the modern homes that use compact earth are anything but old-fashioned. One such example is Robson Rak Architects and Interior Designers’ recently completed Layer House, a robust and elegant home in Victoria, Australia that keeps naturally cool with rammed earth walls. Made from local materials by local artisans, the rammed earth is paired with timber to create a beautiful palette that will last the test of time. Built to last generations, the large 470-square-meter Layer House was designed with an eye for detail and quality. The home derives its name from the intersecting zones and private vistas created from an asymmetrical layout that wraps around a series of courtyards . Rammed earth and timber are the two main building materials in the Layer House. The architects write: “The sand component of the rammed earth is locally sourced and built by local artisans. Rammed earth is a sustainable, honest, and efficient building material that requires no maintenance and ages gracefully. The timber will be allowed to grey off and age with time.” A few vibrant pops of color, such as the green tiled island bench and blue sofa, provide contrast to the pale color palette. Related: Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower The low-maintenance rammed earth walls provide a thermal mass for passive cooling in summer and heating in winter. Energy efficiency is further improved with double glazed and thermally broken aluminum doors and windows. Louvers control the flow of cross ventilation, while hydronic heating is embedded into the concrete floors. + Robson Rak Architects and Interior Designers Via ArchDaily Images © Shannon McGrath

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India cancels plans for coal power stations as solar prices hit record low

May 26, 2017 by  
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India has canceled plans to construct nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations in the country as prices for solar electricity “free fall” to levels once considered impossible, The Independent reports. Experts expect a profound shift in global energy markets as the cost of solar has dropped by 25 percent in some regions. Tim Buckley, the director of energy finance studies at the IEEFA, explains that 13.7GW of coal power projects have been canceled just this month. He added that the dip in solar prices is so low, it will never be repeated. A few factors have contributed to the decline in solar prices. Reportedly, the price of photovoltaic panels — which account for a major percentage of solar power plant’s costs — have dropped by a staggering 30 percent in the past year. This has helped lower prices. Additionally, the Narendra Modi government is working hard to “assure private renewables developers by backing a payment security mechanism,” according to Scroll . For instance, the Solar Energy Corporation of India , the country’s largest solar power purchases, was included in an agreement last year between the Central government, the Reserve Bank of India and the state government. This safeguards it against payment defaults — which is important, as power distribution compares are reportedly notorious for delayed payment to renewable energy producers. Overaggressive bidding is also resulting in a decline in prices, according to The Independent. An auction for a 500-megawatt solar facility, for example, resulted in a tariff of just 2.44 rupees compared to a wholesale price charged by a major coal power utility of 3.2 rupees. That’s a 31 percent difference. Related: Chile’s solar price hits record global low – at half the price of coal “For the first time solar is cheaper than coal in India and the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound,” said Buckley. “Measures taken by the Indian Government to improve energy efficiency coupled with ambitious renewable energy targets and the plummeting cost of solar has had an impact on existing as well as proposed coal -fired power plants, rendering an increasing number as financially unviable.” What India is witnessing, says the analyst, is a further indication of the “rise of stranded assets across the Indian power generation sector.” He added, “The caliber of the global financial institutions who are bidding into India’s solar power infrastructure tenders is a strong endorsement of India’s leadership in this energy transformation and will have significant ripple effects into other transforming markets, as is already seen in the UAE, South Africa, Australia, Chile, and Mexico.” In 2017, India’s solar-generation capacity is expected to reach 8.8 gigawatts – a 76 percent increase from 2016. According to renewable energy consultancy Bridge To India, that will make the country the third-largest solar market in the world. Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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India cancels plans for coal power stations as solar prices hit record low

Fabulous multigenerational home allows owners to comfortably age in place

May 23, 2017 by  
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Practical yet playful, the Charles House is a multigenerational home designed with an eye for detail and sustainability in Kew, Australia. Austin Maynard Architects designed the spacious home for a family of five who wanted a home they could live in for at least 25 years. The home, which is adaptable to meet the needs of a growing extended family, is one of the architects’ most sustainable homes to date and features a solar array, bulk insulation, and double stud walls. Unlike its “McMansion” neighbors, the Charles House has a unique design that references historic Edwardian and Victorian homes with a modern twist. Instead of building on top of the plot’s entire width, the architects slotted the home on the southern edge and left a long strip of green open for a garden that runs from the street to the school sports field at the rear of the site. The continuous green strip is accessible to all the living spaces of the home and blur the line between indoor and outdoor living. “Sited in Kew, where neighbouring buildings compete for attention and status, our challenge was to create a home that didn’t dominate the street and was imbedded in gardens,” wrote the architects. “We aimed to create a home that didn’t have a tall defensive fence, but instead offered openness and life to the street.” Related: Innovative House M-M Brings Three Generations of Finns Under One Roof The home is broken down in a series of interconnected volumes, each clad in a different slate pattern. The interior is designed for adaptability and rooms can be converted to accommodate different uses. The home is topped with a rooftop solar array and also includes water collection, doubled glazed windows, and adjustable sun shading and siting. + Austin Maynard Architects Images © Peter Bennetts

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Fabulous multigenerational home allows owners to comfortably age in place

Passive solar home built of recycled natural materials "floats in the Australian bush

May 22, 2017 by  
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At first glance, the delightfully sinuous roof that tops the Lauriston house makes the building look more like sculpture than a home in the Australian bush. But a closer look reveals that the building truly is a welcoming retreat meticulously detailed with the luxurious comforts of home and more. Designed by Seeley Architects , the Lauriston house is a beautiful dwelling that embraces the outdoors as well as passive solar principles for an environmentally friendly footprint. Designed for a client who sought intimacy with the outdoors, the 380-square-meter Lauriston house’s rectangular volume is predominately covered in floor-to-ceiling glazing to overlook the landscape of olive groves and gum trees. To protect the glass home from the elements, the architects carefully sited the building and topped it with an undulating roof that protects against rain and sun. The roof’s wavy shape also references the hilly landscape near Kyneton, Victoria. “The geometrically aligned rows of olive trees set against a voluptuous landscape evoke a quiet, unspoken tension,” wrote the architects, referencing the contrast between the indigenous flora and the structured olive groves. “The house mimics this tension with the relationship of a meticulously detailed and structured frame against a seemingly effortless floating, sinuous roof.” The building’s glazed form is given a heightened sense of lightness with its bold cantilever . Related: Solar-powered Bush House exemplifies chic eco-friendly living in the Australian outback Local natural materials and textures give the home a sense of warmth, from the Messmate timber lining to the colonial-inspired French pattern bluestone. The interior is organized around a centrally located alfresco entrance that separates the private areas on the east end from the public spaces to the west. The open-plan living and dining area opens up to the cantilevered deck with stunning landscape views of hills, dams, and olive groves. The home’s integration of passive solar principles and rainwater capture systems ensures a lower energy footprint. + Seeley Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Peter Hyatt

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Passive solar home built of recycled natural materials "floats in the Australian bush

Prefabricated lakeside cabin is a beautiful exercise in restraint

May 22, 2017 by  
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Family reunions can be loud affairs, a fact that one Torontonian family patriarch with ten energetic grandkids knows well. To secure peace and quiet while staying close to visiting family, a homeowner on Ontario’s Lake Simcoe hired Superkül architects to design a retreat within a retreat—a modern kid-free cabin separate from his existing bungalow. Dubbed Pointe Cabin, the prefabricated modern dwelling is a beautiful exercise in restraint that fully embraces the outdoors. The two-bedroom, 840-square-foot Pointe Cabin is sited close to the client’s original log cottage, purchased in the 1970s, at the edge of Cook’s Bay on the southern tip of Lake Simcoe. Although the new addition contrasts with its predecessor in its contemporary design, both cabins are linked by their predominant use of timber that blends the buildings into the wooded surroundings. Natural, locally sourced , and low maintenance materials were used in the indoor and outdoor living areas and include a mixture of cedar, white oak, and spruce-pine-fir. Related: Superkül Designs Canada’s First Active House To meet cost and efficiency targets, the single-story cabin was prefabricated offsite. The factory-built wall, floor, and roof panels were trucked to the site and the home was assembled in just a few days. The two-bedroom home is connected to the original cabin with a glazed passageway and contains a private entry, kitchenette, bathroom, and wrap-around deck. Floor-to-ceiling glass frames views of the lake and the landscape. + Superkül architects Images via Superkül architects , by Shai Gil

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Prefabricated lakeside cabin is a beautiful exercise in restraint

Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water

May 18, 2017 by  
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As global temperatures increase due to global warming , ice caps and glaciers continue to melt at an increasing pace. While this reality disturbs some, it is being regarded as positive news by the National Advisor Bureau Limited, based in Dubai, India. This is because the firm seeks to harvest icebergs in the southern Indian ocean and tow them 5,700 miles (9,200 kilometers) away to the Gulf, where they could be melted and sold to local businesses or marketed as a tourist attraction. However ambitious, the Dubai firm faces many challenges in its ambition, including opposition from environmental activists . Phys reports that to accomplish the task of harvesting icebergs, the firm would send ships to Heard Island, an Australian nature reserve , and steer between massive icebergs the size of cities in search of truck-sized chunks. Then, the smaller icebergs would be secured to boats with nets and dragged thousands of miles back to the intended destination. Managing director of the company, Abdullah al-Shehi, believes that the icebergs would not melt significantly during the voyage as the majority of an iceberg’s mass is underwater. Al-Shehi is largely excited about the payday that could await someone who successfully transports an iceberg capable of holding 20 billion gallons of fresh water to the Gulf’s region water. This is because in Norway, for instance, one distillery sells 750 ml bottles of melted Arctic iceberg for $100 each. However, ice sourced from Antarctica is the driest in the world, therefore, yields much less water. If all the permits required are obtained, harvesting will begin in 2019. According to Robert Brears, the founder of Mitidaption, the project would require an initial investment of at least $500 million. Additionally, the firm faces a variety of obstacles. For one, Australia strictly limits access in order to preserve the diverse ecosystem of migratory birds, penguins, seals and fish. This could be disrupted by large ships. Additionally, Antarctica is subject to global treaties that mandate strict environmental regulations and ban mining and military activities. Said Christopher Readinger, head of the Antarctic team at the U.S. National Ice Center, “There are thousands and thousands of icebergs drifting around and they can move without warning. Storms down there can be really brutal, and there’s really not anyone that can help.” Environmentalists are also offering staunch resistant to the Dubai firm’s plan, as they argue there is a simpler method to address climate change in the Middle East. Examples given include drip-irrigation, fixing leaks and water conservations. Hoda Baraka, spokeswoman for the climate advocacy group 350.org , said , “This region is the heartland of the global oil industry, it will be at the forefront of experiencing these massive, insane heat waves, and there’s only one way to avoid this—reducing emissions and keeping all fossil fuels in the ground.” Related: 70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg Because the project is “an exceptionally futile and expensive way” to combat climate change and “seems to run counter to all ideas of climate change adaptation,” says Charlotte Streck, director of the consultancy firm Climate Focus, the Dubai firm is unlikely to receive financing from green investment groups. Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water

100-million-year-old dinosaur remains discovered in Canada look ‘weeks old’

May 15, 2017 by  
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A group of miners in Canada accidentally stumbled upon what is possibly the most intact dinosaur carcass science has ever seen. They discovered the fully-preserved nodosaur, a herbivore that stretched 18-feet-long and weighed nearly 3,000 pounds, in 2011 while working on a project 17 miles north of Alberta, Canada . Even though the dinosaur died over 110 million years ago, scientists say because they were preserved in just the right conditions, the remains appear to be only a few weeks old. The unexpected discovery was primarily made by heavy equipment operator Shawn Funk, who was carving through the Earth in Millennium Mine when his excavator contacted something hard. What looked like walnut brown rocks turned out to be the fossilized remains of an 110-million-years-old nodosaur. The imposing herbivore was intact enough for the front half (from the snout to the hips) to be recovered. To date, the specimen is the best fossil of a nodosaur ever found. According to Michael Greshko of National Geographic , the petrified dinosaur is a wonder to behold. “Fossilized remnants of skin still cover the bumpy armor plates dotting the animal’s skull. Its right forefoot lies by its side, its five digits splayed upward. I can count the scales on its sole,” writes Greshko. Related: World’s largest dinosaur footprint found in Australia’s “Jurassic Park” The dinosaur appears similarly to how it would have millions of years ago because of a rapid undersea burial. The fact that its tissue did not decompose but was instead fossilized is extremely rare, according to paleontologists. Said Paleobiologist Jakob Vinther, an expert on animal coloration from the U.K.’s University of Bristol, the dinosaur is so well-preserved it “might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never seen anything like this.” When the nodosaur was alive, it didn’t have shin-splitting till clubs like its cousin, the Ankylosauridae. Instead, it wielded thorny armor to deter predators. Alive during the Cretaceous period, the 18-foot-long dinosaur could have been considered the rhinoceros of its day. In other words, it was a grumpy herbivore that kept to itself. Rarely would it be messed with, as it had two 20-inch-long spikes jutting out of its shoulders. Head over to National Geographic for more images! . Via National Geographic Images via Don’tMessWithWildDinosaurs , TwoFeed

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100-million-year-old dinosaur remains discovered in Canada look ‘weeks old’

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