Urban Forest is set to be the greenest residential building

January 21, 2022 by  
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Urban Forest designed by Koichi Takada Architects and developed by Aria Property Group received approval to be built in South Brisbane, Australia . The 20-storey building will house 194 apartments, all trimmed out with luscious vertical garden balconies. A large garden with walkways is planted under the open-sided street level of the building, creating a sort of walk-through botanical gardens for residents and pedestrians. Depending on the types of plants integrated into the final design, the Urban Forest could look like anything from a trim bonsai tree with the undulating, but neat, balconies wrapping the building on every side, to something more like the overgrown jungle temples of Cambodia. Related: Vincent Callebaut unveils bioclimatic LEED-Gold timber tower Additionally, the Urban Forest has columns beneath the building that are stacked in layers like a 3D-printed model and flow up into a base for the apartment levels of the building. Every balcony appears to be designed to be a slightly different shape or size than the one next to it, creating a natural, flowing effect that will complement the plantings. “By raising the podium, the ground level becomes an extension of the surrounding parklands, giving back to the community 1,642 square meters of public park ,” the designers said. A two-story rooftop clubhouse tops the residential building with phenomenal city views of Brisbane. The living façade features 550 trees and 25,000 plants selected from 251 native species. An information center in the lobby will include details on the design of the building and on plant biodiversity. The vertical gardens are designed to create shade and natural thermal and solar insulation for the apartment residents. The rooftop communal space has a swimming pool and other shared spaces for gathering. Its aim is to restore the idea of community and “breathing spaces” for social interaction and wellbeing to reduce the isolation of high-rise living. Koichi Takada Architects advocates for a more “living design” approach to building with the Urban Forest. It is set to be the world’s greenest residential building, targeting a 6-star Green Star rating. It will set a standard for sustainable and subtropical high-rise apartment buildings. “One takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is the realization that we are all living things,” said Koichi Takada Architects. “We are here to live, not defy death in some way. Our architecture should do the same.” + Koichi Takada Architects Images via Binyan Studios

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Urban Forest is set to be the greenest residential building

Surf without wind or waves with this electric hydrofoil board

December 14, 2021 by  
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The Fliteboard Ultra Hydrofoil has received the 2021 Australian Good Design Award Best in Class in Product Design, Sport and Lifestyle Category for its innovative body design, electric vehicle technology and emissions-free watercraft. It’s basically a surfboard designed to make you feel like you’re flying over the water. Fliteboard Ultra was designed by Fliteboard, Katapult Design and Tekt Industries and commissioned by Fliteboard Founder David Trewern. It’s a nearly-silent board that aims to shift marine craft toward more environmentally-friendly options. It’s two feet and four inches long, with reduced swing weight, adjustable foot straps and hydrodynamic unibody fuselage. It’s made of carbon fiber and ash veneer. Related: Surfing citizen scientists collect important ocean data The designers emphasized that instead of retrofitting a motor to an existing board, they designed this new board with naval architects to be its own unique experience. The Fliteboard includes aerodynamic wings and the smallest diameter motor on the market (under 60 millimeter) — which houses a reduction gearbox that quadruples the torque — making the board more responsive and efficient. Newly redesigned efoil electronics allow wireless communication and GPS between the handset controller and the efoil. The removal of the external receiver and data cabling creates a simpler user experience and better reliability. The Fliteboard’s new wings allow for more tricks, including turns, wave riding, jumps and max speed riding. “This electric hydrofoil is smaller, lighter and more responsive than its beautifully designed and manufactured Australian Good Design Award-winning predecessor,” said The Good Design Awards jury. “The design improvements have resolved the desire to support more extreme performance for advanced riders. The designers should also be commended on the ‘limp home mode,’ which switches on when the battery is low.” For more on the Australian Good Design Awards and the award-winning Ultra Efoil, you can check out their Fliteboard Ultra product page . + Fliteboard Images via Fliteboard

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Without biosecurity, Earth risks invasion of alien organisms

December 3, 2021 by  
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Scientists warn that alien organisms may invade Earth if biosecurity measures aren’t taken. According to a study published in the international journal BioSciences ,  increased space travel puts Earth at risk of being invaded by alien organisms. The researchers behind the study say that there is evidence of living organisms having been transferred to space, which means that the reverse could also occur. The study was conducted by a team of scientists from Australia , including Dr. Phill Cassey, Head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Adelaide. Cassey said that apart from government-led space missions, private players in space travel such as SpaceX increase the risk of importing alien organisms. Related: Space tech may help improve weather predictions on Earth “The arrival of private companies such as SpaceX has meant there are now more players in space exploration than ever before,” said Cassey. The researchers say that those organizing space missions must invest in biosecurity to prevent such occurrences. Space biosecurity mainly focuses on preventing the transfer of organisms from Earth to space and vice versa. Currently, scientists say that the chance of organisms surviving the journey is low but still possible. “Risks that have low probability of occurrence, but have the potential for extreme consequences, are at the heart of biosecurity management. Because when things go wrong, they go really wrong,” Cassey said.  Cassey and study co-author Dr. Andrew Woolnough from the University of Melbourne and University of Adelaide argue that the only way of preventing these transfers is by working with invasion scientists. Invasion science is a field that deals with the causes and consequences of introducing organisms to new environments . Cassey and Woolnough say they have valuable information to help space mission organizers protect Earth from invasions. “We have a fantastic opportunity to contribute to international policy and to develop biosecurity mitigation measures that can be used by the expanding private space industry. This is an untapped economic development opportunity,” Woolnough said. Even though there is a known potential risk of alien organism invasion, there are no invasion scientists on the Committee on Space Research Planetary Protection. Traditionally, most human discoveries and innovations have come at a cost to nature. With experts on board, future damage could be prevented. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Virtual pavilion looks into the future of sustainable design

November 24, 2021 by  
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The built environment is responsible for consuming over one-third of global energy and produces 40% of the world’s energy-related carbon emissions. To highlight the impact of sustainable design for local and global contexts, the Visualization and VR team at AECOM, in collaboration with exhibition designers at Install Archive, designed a virtual pavilion called Build Better Now for COP26 . The pavilion can be accessed by the public from their phones or personal computers through the Build Better Now website. The immersive VR exhibition showcases 17 green building proposals from across the globe that provide innovative solutions to the rapidly changing climate and deteriorating ecology . The projects featured were selected from an international open call and chosen based on the complexity of environmentally friendly schemes and the positive impact they provide for individuals and the surrounding environment. The goal of the initiative is to support the industry to continue building more sustainable spaces and cities all over the globe. Related: Biophilic Belgian Pavilion features futuristic sustainable design The pavilion interface includes domed exhibition spaces located in a lush forest connected to a central hub with walkways. In the center of the main dome is The Fountain of Circular Recovery, a 3D installation by Make Architects that includes a short video demonstrating how a circular economy can be achieved by 2050. The 17 projects that the pavilion features encompass different aspects of environmentally friendly design. Some designs feature locally-sourced materials, including the University of East Anglia’s enterprise center, which uses thatch and reed, as well as a school made from bamboo in Indonesia. Some projects balance vernacular materials with modern construction methods like TECLA, 3D-printed housing built from extruded raw clay in the region of Lombardy in Italy. While some projects work to retrofit existing spaces, such as the range of revamped housing across the U.K. and an urban eco-village favela in Brazil, others provide innovative design solutions to fit their geographical contexts. These include cross-laminated timber ( CLT ) bridges that can be easily adapted to suit infrastructural requirements, a mass timber market building in Kenya, flat-pack homes in Pakistan and holistically-designed housing for vulnerable individuals in New Zealand. Large scale energy-efficient schemes that the pavilion features include the largest Passivhaus -certified building in the Southern Hemisphere (located in Australia) and an innovation district in Italy fully run on renewable energy. Other projects in this high-achieving category include a proposed cultural center in Sweden, which will be one of the world’s tallest timber buildings, as well as the largest energy-positive commercial building in Norway, which supplies its surplus energy to surrounding buildings and powers electric public transport buses. Alongside the featured projects, Build Better Now hosts events, tours, keynotes, roundtable discussions and even includes downloadable content to further educate and inspire the public through exemplary green solutions. This interactive educational initiative is a step in the right direction, as the built environment plays a pivotal role in supporting the global shift to a net-zero carbon economy. + Build Better Now Images courtesy of AECOM, PT Bambu, Iago Corazza, ZED PODS Limited, Context Architects, artist impression, Crookes and Jackson, and Chris Coupland

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Turns out, many Americans actually do support climate action

November 23, 2021 by  
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Americans are open to new climate change policies as long as they offer environmental, social and economic benefits. This is according to social scientists Janet K. Swim and Nathaniel Geiger. According to the two, many Americans are willing to embrace positive climate change policies regardless of political affiliation. Swim, a professor of psychology at Penn State, and Geiger, assistant professor of communication at Indiana University, say that their studies sought to understand people’s opinions on climate issues. They found some climate policies to be more popular than others. In general, they observed that Americans are willing to accept policies that offer incentives, as opposed to policies that punish. Related: Australia’s climate policy ranks last out of 60 countries As they explain in Renewable Energy World, “For example, about one-third of the respondents thought the disincentives for individuals would have more social harms than benefits, while only about 10% thought the same for other policy options.” In two recent studies, the researchers sampled responses from over 265 participants, ranging from ages 18 to 80. The participants were diverse in terms of political affiliation. The researchers found that 87% of the respondents preferred policies that increase renewable energy over those that decrease energy use. At the same time, 77% of respondents also showed support for policies that require energy reduction. Many respondents also thought that policies that promote increased green energy production, such as solar and wind, were better than policies that require people to stop using air conditioning without providing an alternative. The researchers say they were surprised that respondents’ political affiliations did not have a big influence on their preferences. This is coming at a time when political leaders have been accused of polarizing their supporters against specific climate policies. This study helps shed some light on how policies can be framed for public appeal. Overall, the researchers say that while “it may not always make sense for politicians to promote climate policy with the greatest public support…changing policies to increase their positive social impact – a carbon tax that rebates the proceeds to citizens is an example – can help win public support.” Via Renewable Energy World Lead image via Pixabay

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Mysterious tree thieves uproot unique specimen in Australia

November 19, 2021 by  
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Jeff Knispel finished planting 205 citrus  trees  on Tuesday, November 2. That Saturday, he noticed his trees had been stolen. Knispel grows citrus in the Riverland region of South  Australia , a couple of hours northeast of Adelaide. He’s joint managing director of the Nippy’s Group, a family business that has been producing fruit juice since the 1930s. Related: Trees face extinction, too. What can we do about it? The theft was obviously premeditated. “It might have been the case that preparation of this piece of land was visible for several weeks, which might have given the perpetrators a bit of a warning that trees were going to get planted,” said Knispel, as reported by ABC News Australia. It’s a big mystery. Where did the thief turn around and plant 205 trees? “They would have to be in a position where they could do something immediately with the trees because unless they’re watered or in the ground and  water , or back into pots, they’ll die in 48 hours or so.” To add to the intrigue, these weren’t ordinary citrus trees. They were a new, distinct strain developed in a  research  center and worth $6,000. The thieves probably don’t even know what type of citrus tree they’ve stolen. And Knispel is not telling. “If they plan to sell the plants at a growers’ market or a nursery and they don’t know the variety, it won’t help their cause,” said Knispel, as reported by The Guardian. “They don’t know if it’s a mandarin … or an orange. Or a Valencia or a navel.” The leaves of the purloined trees have a different shape than other citrus leaves. And their distinct DNA could be detected. But first, someone would have to find the trees. If the thieves manage to nurture a hidden grove until the trees mature enough to produce  fruit  — three to five years — the citrus will probably go untraced. The tree theft is a new one to Mark Doecke, chair of  Citrus SA , which represents South Australian citrus growers. “In my career as a grower I’ve never heard of trees being stolen, I’ve never heard of trees being stolen out of the ground, let alone after they’ve been planted,” said Doecke, as reported by ABC News Australia. “The trees themselves are worth thousands of  dollars , and a couple of years of lost production, its hard to put a number on that.” Via ABC News Australia , The Guardian

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Celebrate Native American heritage sustainability practices

November 3, 2021 by  
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Looking over the history of the planet and humanity, the vast majority of human environmental damage has been in the past century. As the population continues to grow and we struggle to agree on the most effective actions to take, perhaps we should be looking deep into the practices of one of the land’s first caretakers in order to understand what sustainability truly looks like.  Reports by notable researchers like those at the United Nations, the World Wildlife Federation, British Columbia University and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) shed light on the situation, showing an average two-thirds of global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have been lost since 1970. The same reports show, however, that lands managed by Indigenous people suffered significantly less impact and, in some cases, no impact at all. That’s a massive variation between astounding loss of animals and conservation of the entire ecosystem in a balance that benefits every living creature. Related: 12 sustainable, Indigenous-owned brands to support  The largest diversity and health of wildlife was overwhelmingly found in native-managed lands, specifically those studied in Australia , Canada and Brazil. The success in those regions comes from a variety of approaches rather than a single, overarching policy. Indigenous people share a connection with each other, the animals and the land. They understand it’s a delicate system that is all interdependent. Through their natural interaction with their surroundings, Indigenous populations have been a reliable source of information about where the trouble spots are, especially in regions like the Arctic and the Amazon where their eyes-on-the-ground are essential to the survival of the environment .  In their role as land stewards, they not only witness land degradation and notable decline in specific wildlife species, but they adapt their lifestyle to cater to those deficiencies. With this extensive knowledge handed down through the generations, Indigenous people are an essential resource in the battle against human-caused climate issues. For example, Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest have contributed to the protection and management of salmon. Knowledge of ethnobotany can, and has, influenced decisions about native plant species and forest management throughout several continents and crop development. For all of these reasons, leadership groups are calling for help from Indigenous communities around the globe to act as consultants for areas in need of their deeply-entrenched knowledge. Science has its limits in understanding how to best manage resources. It lacks historical information in the most extreme locations of the planet. These are the same locations Indigenous people have managed the land and sourced food for generations. It also fails to see connections between the deterioration of the land and the erosion of traditional land management by native people. The research bringing this connection to light puts a new emphasis on embracing what’s old as new again in the fight for the environment.  Yuria Celidwen, Ph.D. explained it in terms of native language , citing there are around 7,000 spoken languages in the world and that more than half of them are Indigenous languages. However, the language is being lost, with around 3,500 of those languages being spoken by less than 1,000 people. She said, “every two weeks, a language is lost.” This loss is mirrored in the erosion of other cultural aspects, such as land stewardship. She says that Indigenous people occupy around 20% of the world’s land area, yet protect an estimated 80% of the remaining forest biodiversity . That means not only do we need to spread their knowledge across the planet, but we need to protect the Indigenous lifestyle. In short, we need to help them so they can help us all. “We can clearly see what interdependence truly means ,” Celidwen said. In witnessing how Native groups interact with the land , it’s obvious the central focus shifted somewhere along the way from a belief the land will provide for us if we care for it, to thinking we can control the land to provide for our needs. In other words, we need to adopt a “planet first” attitude instead of a “human first” mindset. In the end, supporting the environment benefits us all. Shifting that focus to an emphasis on healthy ecosystems rewards us with prolific plant and animal life, rich soil, limited waste , clean and ample water and a natural cycle that meets the needs of all the planet’s inhabitants.  Every field that is turned into a parking lot or mall, the stripping of natural resources, the continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels, pollution of air and water, waste piling up beyond the boundaries of the landfills, overfishing, endangered coral and other marine life, degrading soil into dirt and countless other actions show we’re in a human first mentality that if not reversed, will put humans last. But the original stewards of the land can show us the change, if we’re willing. Native American Heritage Month is the perfect time to start before it’s too late.  Via Euro News , Mind Body Green , Scientific American Lead image via Pexels

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Earth has lost 14% of its coral reefs in less than a decade

October 7, 2021 by  
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A  new report  released by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network found that up to 14% of the world’s coral reefs have been depleted due to climate change between the years 2009 and 2018. In the period under review, mass coral bleaching events were experienced due to warming waters. The study is the largest done to review the status of corals across the world. It included observation of reefs in more than 70 countries over the past 40 years. The research found that the highly sensitive reefs were exposed to tough conditions due to climate change, including high temperatures and tsunamis. Tough weather patterns are said to have contributed to the depletion of the essential reefs. Related: Global warming driving mass migration of marine life The study estimates that the loss amounts to over 4,500 square miles of reefs lost in just nine years. This is more than all the living coral off the coast of Australia including the great barrier reef . The loss of corals is likely to continue since the world is on an upward warming trend, according to Paul Hardisty, head of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. “There are clearly unsettling trends toward coral loss, and we can expect these to continue as warming persists,” Hardisty said. “A clear message from the study is that climate change is the biggest threat to the world’s reefs, and we must all do our part by urgently curbing global greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating local pressures.” The value that coral reefs add to the ecosystem can never be overstated. Although they make up 0.2% of the ocean floor, they account for over 25% of the ocean system’s biodiversity . Coral reefs provide approximately $2.7 trillion in value per year, according to the report. Tourism contributes about $36 billion of this amount. With such a huge economic impact, coral reefs are just as important as other economic activities in the modern age. The good news is that, although coral reefs are vulnerable to climate change, they are still resilient. The report found that the reefs were facing the fight against warming waters. However, the researchers warn that the situation might soon change. With carbon emissions still on the rise, chances are the corals may not survive the high temperatures . Via HuffPost Photography by Tom Fisk

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Earth has lost 14% of its coral reefs in less than a decade

Rocket launch site could threaten endangered southern emu-wren

September 28, 2021 by  
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Construction of the planned permanent rocket launching facility at Whaler’s Bay in South Australia may push some species to extinction, including the southern emu-wren. The southern emu-wren is listed as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. The proposed construction by Southern Launch, an Australian startup that operates the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, is behind the project. The project is expected to help grow Australia’s space industry. A temporary launch pad has already been developed at the site and used for test firing the Hapith I rocket in September. Related: Here’s how the billionaire space race hurts the environment Conservationists have challenged the plans to build a permanent launch facility. The Nature Conservation Society of South Australia (NCSSA) opposes the plan, arguing that it would wipe out habitats for the endangered southern emu-wren. The bird is native to the Eyre Peninsula, and damaging its habitat may lead to extinction. Conservationists also worry about the western whipbird, which also relies on the habitat targeted by the project. The proposed launching pad threatens not only these birds but the ecosystem at large. According to the proposal, the launching pad would host up to 35 launches each year when operating on a commercial scale. This would mean increased air pollution and chances of fire . Patrick O’Connor, an ecologist with the University of Adelaide, warned of how this project could impact the birds. “We’ve already lost more habitat than this [southern emu-wren] species can reasonably tolerate,” O’Connor said. “If we lose this site, it’s just a matter of time. They’ll either hang on in the state they’re in, but if a big site like Whaler’s Way goes the risk is extinction.” The current plans include constructing two permanent launch pads and support infrastructures such as fuel storage tanks, roads, power generators and offices. The space needed for the facility would require clearing about 23.7 hectares (58.7 acres) of vegetation . Although the project is still under review by the South Australian government, conservationists are raising the alarm to avoid further endangering the habitat. Via The Guardian Lead image via Laurie Boyle

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Rocket launch site could threaten endangered southern emu-wren

The generational divides on climate anxiety

September 2, 2021 by  
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Different generations suffer from different anxieties, and those anxieties influence economic models. While Baby Boomers worry about rising inflation draining their retirement funds while they’re still aboveground, Gen Z is terrified that  climate change  means there will soon be no safe air to breathe nor water to drink. Older Americans suffer from price growth, which is the fastest it’s been for more than a decade. In a  Bankrate.com  survey published Wednesday, three-quarters of Baby Boomers said inflation has negatively impacted their  finances . Contrast that with 54% of Millennials and Gen Zers. Related: Biden unveils $2 trillion infrastructure and green economy plan Meanwhile, 37% of Gen Z called climate change a “top concern,” according to a Pew  Research  Center study. A third of Millennials agreed, while only 29% of Baby Boomers were as worried. Gen Zers are likelier to push for a green economy, inflation be damned. In that scenario, climate-friendly ventures would be rewarded, and those contributing to global warming, penalized. A  carbon  tax and a shift toward domestic production would have environmental upsides but could add to inflation. A new mental  health  issue, eco-anxiety, may further drive the green economy. While there’s not yet an official clinical diagnosis or definition, a team of clinicians is working on it. “The symptoms of clinical anxiety are the same,” said Navjot Bhullar, a professor of psychology at the University of New England in Australia, as reported by Verywell. “There’s a sense of dread or doom and not being able to concentrate, with a physical side of heart palpitations.” Of course, Gen Z is hardly the first generation to suspect the world was about to end. People have been predicting apocalyptic disasters throughout recorded history. Ever since World War Two, people have lived in fear of atomic bombs ending life on Earth. Generations who attended school between the 1950s and 1980s may remember practicing duck and cover drills, and some suffered from a mental health condition called nuclear anxiety. The difference this time? Well, the world does seem in more peril than ever, and we see the pollution, suffering, death and devastation on social media 24/7. That’s enough to spur climate dread in any generation. The green  economy  isn’t perfect. But it might be all we have. Via Business Insider , VeryWell Lead image via Ittmust

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The generational divides on climate anxiety

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