Top cities and countries for vegans

January 11, 2021 by  
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If you’re already vegan — or you love Veganuary so much you decide come February to move to a more veg-friendly locale — here are the top places in the country and the world to live. Every year, the website Chef’s Pencil uses Google search statistics to rank the best cities and countries in the world for vegans. The site, which covers industry trends and news as well as recipes , calculates values on a 0-100 scale, with 100 being the place to go if you’re in the mood for jackfruit tostadas or vegan pho. Note that Chef’s Pencil only included cities with a population of more than 100,000 in the study. Portland , Oregon reclaimed its top spot after being knocked off the list for two years by Bristol, which has fallen from vegan grace this year and didn’t even make the top 15. Portland is a great city for vegans, because there are more than 10 places that make their own vegan ice cream, plus hard-to-find specialty restaurants for items like vegan Israeli food and vegan Sri Lankan dishes. Related: Fun, eco-friendly things to do in Portland Edinburgh, Scotland took the No. 2 spot with a score of 94. Next up, Germany aced the vegan test with third, fourth and a tie for fifth place —Hamburg, Berlin and Leipzig, respectively. Amsterdam tied for fifth. Vancouver, Manchester, London and Seattle rounded out the top 10. If you’re contemplating a diet-based international move, the U.K. took top honors for vegan-friendly countries for the third year in a row with a perfect 100. In the past four years, U.K. Google searches for vegan restaurants have tripled, and demand for vegan cheese is through the roof. Google searches also reveal that people in the U.K. are keen on vegan perfume, makeup , shoes and bags. Australia came in second with a score of 88. Meat consumption has been decreasing in Australia, but the country still has a higher-than-average rate of meat eating, and only 1% of the population identifies as vegan. Israel, which took third place on the international list, scored two points below Australia with 86 but has a much larger dedicated vegan community of 5% of the population. With 85 points, New Zealand came in a close fourth, followed by Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada and Ireland. The U.S. didn’t make the top 10 list, but it ranked number 12 with a score of 57. + Chef’s Pencil Image via Chris Kr

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Top cities and countries for vegans

Greenery envelopes a Snhetta-designed timber office in Austria

September 4, 2020 by  
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Snøhetta has recently completed the new head office for ASI Reisen, an international trekking and adventure travel company that sought a space reflective of its working culture and sustainable ethics. Crafted for low environmental impact, the four-story, timber-framed building minimizes its energy footprint with rooftop solar panels, energy monitoring and automation systems, a reversible air-water heat pump system, a rainwater harvesting system and a “green curtain” of climbing plants that envelopes the building facade and serves as a glare shield. Completed in 2019 in Natters, just south of Innsburck, Austria, ASI Reisen’s new head office takes inspiration from the symbiotic relationship between nature and humans for its reduced environmental impact and sustainable construction methods. The “green curtain” that grows on a suspended metal frame around the building, for instance, contributes to local biodiversity while helping to blend the building into its forested surroundings. The green wall comprises 17 different warm-weather and evergreen species that, together with the garden, count toward a total of 1,215 new plants and 73 local species. The 118 climbing plants in the “green curtain” change appearance throughout the year and are irrigated by rainwater collected from the roof. Related: Snøhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers In addition to a timber structure that rests on a basement and building core of reinforced concrete, the office is clad in a timber facade treated with the traditional Japanese method of wood preservation called yakisugi . The carbonized timber facade is waterproof, long-lasting and resistant to pests. Timber also appears in the interior in the form of light-colored wood surfaces that lend warmth and pair well with the abundance of indoor plants. An open-plan office layout was applied but can be flexibly adapted for future needs. “With its resource-saving timber construction and sophisticated sustainable energy concept, the new ASI headquarters marks an inspiration for responsibly constructing our homes and office spaces for the future,” explained Patrick Lüth, managing director of Snøhetta’s studio in Innsbruck. “At the same time, the new office space offers a pleasant and modern working atmosphere for its employees.” + Snøhetta Photography by Christian Flatscher via Snøhetta

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Greenery envelopes a Snhetta-designed timber office in Austria

Burmese roofed turtle is rescued from extinction

September 4, 2020 by  
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The Burmese roofed turtle has been saved from the brink of extinction. The turtle had not been seen for over 20 years, leading many conservationists to assume that it was extinct . But in 2001, one Burmese roofed turtle was spotted in markets in Myanmar, sparking interest among scientists. From this point forward, efforts to save the endangered species were put in place by scientists in collaboration with the government of Myanmar. The efforts have paid off, with nearly 1,000 of these turtles existing today. The Burmese roofed turtle is a giant Asian river turtle that is characterized by its large eyes and small, natural smile. Since the sighting of a surviving turtle in Myanmar about 20 years ago, the population of the turtles has been increased to about 1,000, thanks to serious conservation efforts. Some of the turtles have already been released to the wild, while the others are still within captivity. Related: This turtle with a green mohawk is one of the most endangered reptiles in the world These turtles were once thriving around the mouth of the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar. But by the mid-20th century, fishing and overharvesting led to a significant drop in the number of turtles. For years, the state of the species was unknown, given that Myanmar had closed its borders. Scientists could not access the country and, as a result, could not make any efforts to save the turtles. By the time Myanmar reopened its borders in the 1990s, scientists could not find any Burmese roofed turtles and began to believe that they were extinct . “We came so close to losing them. If we didn’t intervene when we did, this turtle would have just been gone,” Steven Platt, a herpetologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told The New York Times . Turtles and tortoises are among the most vulnerable species globally. About half of the planet’s turtle and tortoise species , a total of 360 living species, are threatened. The scenario is especially bad for species across Asia, where turtles and tortoises are affected by habitat loss, climate change and hunting for consumption. But the recent good news on the growing population of Burmese roofed turtles gives hope that concerted conservation efforts can continue to save more vulnerable species. Via The New York Times and Wildlife Conservation Society Image via Wildlife Conservation Society

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Burmese roofed turtle is rescued from extinction

Sweden and Austria close their last coal plants

April 29, 2020 by  
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Europe just gained its second and third coal-free countries. Sweden and Austria have both shut their last coal-fired plants in late April, joining Belgium in going coal-free in favor of renewable energy sources. “With Sweden going coal-free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear,” Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, told PV Magazine . “Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection and more resilient economies.” Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 Sweden had originally planned on going coal-free in 2022, but it was able to achieve this goal two years early. A mild Swedish winter meant that energy utility Stockholm Exergi’s last coal-fired plant, located in Hjorthagen, eastern Stockholm, didn’t need to be used this year. The plant opened in 1989. In addition to environmental awareness that decreased the popularity of coal, market forces have driven the operational costs up. Statistics from the U.K.-based think-tank Carbon Tracker show that 40% of EU coal plants ran at a loss in 2017. In 2019, it cost almost 100% more to run a coal plant than to rely on renewable options. More European countries plan to join the coal-free future: France is aiming to be coal-free by 2022; Slovakia and Portugal by 2023; the U.K. by 2024; and Ireland and Italy by 2025. Stockholm Exergi CEO Anders Egelrud told PV Magazine he hopes the utility will eventually go carbon-negative. “Today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels , therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan,” Egelrud said, according to TheMayor.eu . “Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependence and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy.” Image via Steve Buissinne

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Germany to ban controversial weed-killer glyphosate by 2023

September 5, 2019 by  
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Reaching for the weed-killer glyphosate in Germany won’t be an option much longer. A primary component of Roundup, manufactured by Bayer-owned Monsanto , glyphosate’s critics believe it wipes out insect populations essential to ecosystems and the pollination of food crops. But the controversial chemical won’t have the chance to do either, as ministers have reported that the German government is banning the use of glyphosate when the EU’s approval period expires in 2023. “What we need is more humming and buzzing,” said environment minister Svenja Schulze to The Guardian . Schulze also added that “a world without insects is not worth living in.” Related: EPA backs the use of toxic herbicide chemical glyphosate Besides killing insects , there are other experts who believe glyphosate may cause cancer in people and needs to be banned as soon as possible “What harms insects also harms people,” Schulze said. First, glyphosate will be banned in city parks and private gardens in 2020, according to a policy plan. Additionally, using herbicides and insecticides will be restricted or banned in habitats such as grasslands, orchard fields and along the shores of Germany’s many rivers and lakes. Champions of the ban have been loud and clear about disapproval of the weed-killer, and in February, 1.75 million people in the German state of Bavaria voted for a referendum to “ save the bees .” They called for less chemical use and more organic farming and green areas. These environmentalists did face opposition from a regional agriculture association, who pushed the activists to “stop bashing farmers.” Others opposed to the ban include farmers and the chemical industry; both sectors want to keep using glyphosate . The manufacturer fought against the government’s ban, voicing its product could be used safely and was “an important tool for ensuring both the sustainability and productivity of agriculture.” It is not just Germany that is saying goodbye to glyphosate; in July, Austria was the first EU member to ban the weed killer. France has also decided to ban glyphosate by 2023. The chemical is scheduled to be re-evaluated in 2022 by EU authorities. Via The Guardian Image via Erich Westendarp

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Germany to ban controversial weed-killer glyphosate by 2023

A gorgeous events center in Pennsylvania is built almost entirely out of eco-friendly timber

June 6, 2019 by  
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Residents of Nappanee, Indiana now have a beautiful timber events center to enjoy thanks to the Pennsylvania-based builders at Mid-Atlantic Timberframes . The Sammlung Platz (The Gathering Place in German) is a massive, multi-use center that is made out of natural timbers that give the space a unique structural strength as well as an exceptionally warm atmosphere. The Mid-Atlantic Timberframes company has established itself as a leader in the design of timber structures. Working directly with clients, the company crafts homes and commercial buildings using timber frames to create naturally strong structures that eliminate the need for load-bearing walls. Related: Green-roofed timber dwelling in Austria is built with recycled materials The Sammlung Platz is a pegged mortise and tenon-style timber construction that pays homage to traditional barns. Designed to accommodate up to 1,000 people, the two-level, 26,000-square-foot open floor plan can be used for any number of community or private events . From the sophisticated cabin-like exterior, guests enter the interior space through large wooden and glass doors. Inside, the spacious community center is clad in beautiful timber walls that cover the ground and upper levels, giving the space a warm, cozy atmosphere. To open up the space further, a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams hovers over the room. Using timber in the construction also allowed the building to be more eco-friendly. According to Mid-Atlantic Timberframes, the company’s timbers come from sustainably managed forests, and their suppliers plant as many as 10 times the number of trees they cut down. Building with timber also means significantly less carbon emissions are released during construction, as opposed to steel and concrete. Additionally, there is minimal waste, because the timber logs are used in their entirety, rather than using numerous specialty-cut lumber panels. + Mid-Atlantic Timberframes Images via Mid-Atlantic Timberframes

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A gorgeous events center in Pennsylvania is built almost entirely out of eco-friendly timber

TRS Studio turns shipping containers into low-cost Pachacutec housing

June 6, 2019 by  
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Improved housing could soon be coming to Pachacutec, a dusty shantytown on the outskirts of Lima. Peruvian architectural practice TRS Studio has proposed low-cost cargotecture dwellings that not only are sensitive to the local vernacular, but also offer improved comfort and safety as compared to existing housing. The single-family homes would be made from shipping containers and recycled materials, including oriented strand board, wooden planks and polycarbonate panels. For the marginalized populations living in the “Pesquero II” settlement of Pachacutec, education and basic services can be difficult to obtain. A stable and comfortable house could give families greater stability and empower them to improve their living conditions. Thus, TRS Studio designed cargotecture housing adaptable to different family situations and would be built with community participation to give inhabitants a greater sense of ownership over their homes. Related: Is cargotecture the future of construction? What you need to know for your next project Each modular house consists of two floors. The first floor comprises the main living areas, including a kitchenette, as well as the master bedroom in the rear and an 18-square-meter space for a side garden or flexible recreational space. The second floor houses two additional bedrooms and a study that could be converted into a fourth bedroom. The natural finish of the construction materials would be left exposed yet reinforced for long-term durability. The shipping container frame, for instance, would be reinforced with steel columns, while unpainted OSB boards would be used for dividing walls. Recycled polycarbonate roofing would let in plenty of natural light indoors. “The construction in the first habitable modules will have educational purposes; we will have with the experience in this project, an exponential training in the construction process of the following habitable modules, helping to the future replicas will be even more effectives,” say the architects. “A fundamental aspect in this experience will be the change in the urban image of Pachacutec city, as a demonstrative zone in the field of sustainable construction in the long run, this differential implies that they will have formed in this district entrepreneurial people of the self-built sustainable architecture with the ability to teach other members of their community and to provide their services in other districts. Then, the attention will not be only in the project as architectural design, but also in the formation of future and sustainable constructors, improving their quality life and strengthening their values.” + TRS Studio Images via TRS Studio

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TRS Studio turns shipping containers into low-cost Pachacutec housing

Two thirds of world’s rivers are contaminated with drugs

May 30, 2019 by  
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A large study of the world’s rivers found that out of 711 sites tested, the majority are dangerously contaminated with antibiotics. The study , conducted by the University of York, is the largest of its kind and involved a team of international scientists testing for water pollution. Last month, British Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sally Davies argued that the rising prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is just as much an existential crisis as climate change and called on widespread awareness, protest and action. According to the United Nations , antibiotic resistant bacteria could be responsible for 10 million deaths by 2050. This most recent study confirms that environmental bacteria are a major pathway to resistance among bacteria, with over 65 percent of all sites recorded with dangerous levels of antibiotics. The prevalence of bacteria in rivers and ecosystems allows bacteria to develop immunity to the drugs over time, rendering them useless for human saving purposes. Related: Supreme Court will make historic Clean Water Act ruling “It’s quite scary and depressing. We could have large parts of the environment that have got antibiotics at levels high enough to affect resistance,” said Alistair Boxall, who co-led the study. Drugs enter waterways primarily through human and animal waste that contain the antibiotics and cause water pollution. In addition to health care, antibiotic use is alarmingly high in the farming industry. Waste can enter directly into waterways in low-income countries, or through leaks in wastewater facilities. In some cases, drug manufacturing sites might also leak or illegally dump waste into watersheds. According to the study, the Danube river in Austria contained clarithromycin at four times the level considered safe, while the Thames river contained ciprofloacin at three times the safe level. In Bangladesh a river was reported to be the most severe site, with metronidazole at 300 times the safe level. The researchers plan to follow their study with further research on how the antibiotic prevalence is further contaminating waters and affecting fish and wildlife . Via The Guardian Image via pxhere

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Two thirds of world’s rivers are contaminated with drugs

Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape

April 10, 2018 by  
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Lovers of minimalist architecture will swoon over Innauer-Matt Architekten’s Höller House, a beautiful modern home built mainly of wood in Austria’s picturesque Bregenzerwald valley. Set in a steep hillside, the dwelling combines inspiration from traditional farm buildings with a more contemporary vibe evidenced in its gabled form and restrained minimalist palette. Light timber is used throughout the home, inside and out, and is complemented by the structural framework’s exposed concrete columns. Built of timber felled from the homeowner’s forest, the 1,428-square-foot Höller House celebrates its timber construction with exposed wooden beams and surfaces left unpainted. Natural light fills the home through large openings and skylights , but privacy is also preserved by the slatted wooden facade and intentionally hidden entrance. Related: Handsome Austrian house is clad in a latticed facade made from local spruce To satisfy the client’s desire for a private outdoor space, Innauer-Matt Architekten added covered terraces that wrap around the home, a feature the architects call the “outermost shell.” The light-filled living and dining area serves as the inner “shell” and is organized around a core of exposed concrete comprising the staircase, toilet, and storage room. “This way we created a wide spectrum of translucence and transparency which we gradually and individually adapted to each room, its purpose and the level of desired intimacy, preventing unwanted insights while making beautiful outlooks part of every day life and living,” wrote the architects. + Innauer-Matt Architekten Images © Adolf Bereuter

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Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape

Sustainable circular economy principles inform Amsterdams flexible Circl pavilion

April 10, 2018 by  
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Interdisciplinary design studio DoepelStrijkers designed the interiors of the Circl pavilion, a sustainably minded space founded on the principles of the circular and inclusive economy. Located on the lower floors of Dutch banking group ABN AMRO’s headquarters in Amsterdam, the Circl pavilion emphasizes reusability throughout, from material choice to spatial design. Thanks to multifunctional and movable furnishings, the interior can be adapted for a variety of functions including a day care, performance venue, meetings, indoor market, exhibitions, or film screenings. Open to the public, the Circl pavilion can be tailored for different uses with the rearrangement of its movable walls that are remotely operated with the push of a button. The movable partitions are built of recycled aluminum and expanded metal mesh layered with recycled denim jeans for acoustic insulation. Similar examples of reuse and recycling can be seen throughout the interior. The textile plaster on the basement walls for instance, were made with recycled ABN AMRO business clothing. Select furnishings were sourced from ABN AMRO’s storage, while others were built from recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. Related: World’s first circular-economy business park mimics nature to achieve sustainability “The challenge for us as an office lies in translating our sustainable ambition into objects and spaces that transcend the traditional image of sustainable design,” wrote DoepelStrijkers. “We search for a spatial translation of sustainability criteria into an image that does not directly refer to reuse for example, but rather by incorporating the positive attributes of sustainable building principles into objects, spaces and buildings that reflect our contemporary design idiom.” + DoepelStrijkers Via Dezeen Images by Peter Tijhuis

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Sustainable circular economy principles inform Amsterdams flexible Circl pavilion

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