MIA Architecture’s office blends into the landscape with a mirrored facade

January 21, 2021 by  
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If ever there is a building type to emphasize dynamic appeal and make a statement, it should belong to an architectural firm. Standing true to this idea is the new office building for MIA Architecture, a firm located in Beaufays, Belgium. To articulate, MIA Architecture’s offices are actually an extension of an existing building, a home built in the 1970s. Expanding on the footprint of the home, the new addition honors the established height and also works with the same base of painted bricks and masonry heads. The project added an office as well as a meeting space and technical premises. Related: Bangkok’s Mega Park reimagines mega-malls as green community hubs If you approach the building from the front, you would barely notice it’s there, thanks to an ultimate harmonization with the heavily wooded environment. The exterior is framed in a “ mirror box ” that reflects the surrounding landscape, effectively cloaking the building from view. This ability to nearly disappear allows the unique office building to stand out while simultaneously blending into its environment. Windows are hidden behind the translucent skin (SGG Mirastar glass) and are only visible after dark, adding to the sci-fi effect. The design is remarkably discrete while making the entryway obvious with a metal grate walkway that seems to float above the ground. A wooden door materializes as visitors come closer toward the northwest corner of the building. Once inside, the oversized window provides views of the landscape, drawing the outside in and immersing the workspace into the gardens. The décor is minimalist with a streamlined black-and-white color palette. Beyond the look is the function, and MIA Architecture’s offices are constructed with efficiency in mind. The wood frame is filled with energy-saving insulation. Perhaps even more impressive than a nearly invisible facade is the technique used to construct the space in around three month’s time with low site-impact . + MIA Architecture Images via MIA Architecture

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MIA Architecture’s office blends into the landscape with a mirrored facade

The Philippines halts coal proposals to explore green energy

November 13, 2020 by  
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The Philippine government has halted the country’s coal exploration. While announcing this news, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that the government is seeking alternative, green energy sources as it steps away from coal power. The moratorium means that investors intending to pursue any projects related to coal power will have to look into alternatives. Currently, coal is the dominant source of energy in the Philippines , accounting for over 41% of the country’s total energy. With the world shifting gears towards clean energy, the Philippine government faces pressure to shift its energy policies and adopt cleaner energy. However, even the coal moratorium may not yield instant results, according to Cusi. With renewable energy sources such as hydropower and solar accounting for just 29% of the country’s energy and natural gas accounting for 13.5%, the Philippines could continue relying on coal for a long time. Still, the government now banks on the available energy to continue running its industries before exploring other sources for the future. “We see that we have enough supply for baseload power and we’re looking at a more flexible source like gas, geothermal , hydro and others,” Cusi said in a briefing. Further, the moratorium issued by the government does not affect existing coal-based projects or proposals already submitted. In other words, such projects will likely continue even though the government has stopped new applications. The Philippine government now intends to invest more in natural gas exploration. Although not a renewable source of energy, natural gas pollutes the environment significantly less than coal. The current state of coal power dominance in the Philippines has been instigated by a rush of coal power project approvals in recent years. As the government hits the brakes on coal use, experts anticipate other sources of power will take the number one spot in the coming years. Nevertheless, the country must maintain clear policies if it wishes to turn away from coal power for good. + Bangkok Post Image via Pixabay

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Zeabuz is launching a self-driving electric ferry in Norway

October 28, 2020 by  
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Norwegian company Zeabuz has announced that it will be launching a self-driving ferry next year. This zero-emission ferry was first developed in 2018 by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The ferry is expected to carry 12 passengers and will operate like an elevator, with passengers able to call the ferry to their location by pressing a button. The launch of the first self-driving electric ferry in Norway just goes to show the strides the country is making in developing water transport . In 2015, Norway was the first country to launch the world’s first electric car and passenger ferry . Related: 100% electric passenger vehicle and cargo ferry could help decarbonize sea travel According to Narve Mjøs, the director of DNV GL — a company that advises the maritime industry and organizes the Green Shipping Program in Norway — the country is on the right track when it comes to pioneering new technologies in water transport. Mjøs said that the use of new boats, like the one being launched by Zeabuz, provides a greener alternative to road transport. Further, he said that the process of automation via self-driving helps cut down operation costs. The newly launched ferry will operate along the canal that connects the port and the city center of Trondheim. Passengers will have a 1-minute travel time, rather than the 15 minutes it typically takes to walk between the two locations. The ferry also has the capacity to transport passenger bicycles, and it is designed to charge while docked. Riding the ferry will be free of charge, at least in Trondheim. Many countries are turning back to water transport, which was a popular means of travel before the invention of cars. For instance, Bangkok intends to launch 30 new electric ferries and 5,000 electric water taxis come next year. In July 2020, Uber announced plans to launch boat taxis along the Thames River in London. If such plans are actualized, we are likely to see a future with fewer cars and more zero-emission boats. + Zeabuz Via CNN Images via Zeabuz

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Zeabuz is launching a self-driving electric ferry in Norway

Asia’s largest organic rooftop farm can grow 20 tons of food annually

September 15, 2020 by  
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Organic urban agriculture, renewable energy and beautiful landscaping come together at the Thammasat University Rooftop Farm (TURF), Asia’s largest organic rooftop farm that spans 236,806 square feet. Bangkok-based landscape architecture and urban design firm  LANDPROCESS  designed the productive landscape in response to both the Thai capital’s sprawling urbanization and rising food and water scarcity concerns amid the climate crisis. Equipped with solar panels that produce up to 500,000 watts per hour and rainwater harvesting systems for irrigation, TURF grows more than 40 edible species of crops, including rice, indigenous vegetables, fruit trees and herbs. Located in the  Bangkok  subdistrict Bowon Niwet, TURF’s zigzagging terraced design that merges the earthwork of rice terraces with modern green roof technology takes inspiration from traditional agricultural practices found across Southeast Asia. The cascading terraces not only help organize the different crop areas but are also engineered to absorb, filter and slow down rainwater runoff 20 times more effectively than conventional concrete rooftops. The runoff collects at the bottom of the landscape in four retention ponds capable of holding over 3 million gallons of water total. TURF can provide up to 80,000 meals — 20 tons of organic food — each year for the 40,000 campus residents. The campus canteen collects food waste and uses it for  compost  on the urban farm. TURF also serves as an educational resource for the university and hosts year-round workshops on sustainable agriculture for students and the surrounding community. Social spaces are also built into the landscape, from intimate seating areas to a terraced amphitheater with universal outdoor access to the second-floor auditorium. Related: Eco-friendly Everlasting Forest Pavilion champions circular living in Bangkok “As lush green turns to dry brown, TURF is a realistic, but hopeful solution, putting urban dwellers back in tune with  agricultural  practices,” a press release states. “Lessons on Thai agriculture, landscape and native soil are embedded into TURF, educating future leaders to adapt and embrace climate challenges, by building sustainable cities for generations to come.” + LANDPROCESS Photo credit: Panoramic Studio / LANDPROCESS

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BMW, Ford, other automakers rev up carbon commitments

July 29, 2020 by  
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BMW, Ford, other automakers rev up carbon commitments Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 07/29/2020 – 02:00 The world’s biggest automakers are ramping up their carbon commitments even as they struggle to build back in the wake of the pandemic.  This week, Germany’s BMW took the plunge and set a goal to reduce its carbon emissions per car by at least one-third by 2030. Like its peers, BMW plans to reach those targets through a combination of developing and selling electric vehicles (including newly announced electric versions of the 5 Series sedan and X1 compact SUV), combined with incorporating more sustainable materials, working with its supply chain vendors and adopting clean energy for facilities. Last month, Ford announced that the company would become carbon neutral by 2050, a striking commitment for an American automaker. Mary Wroten, director of sustainability at Ford, told GreenBiz that Ford is aiming for 2050 to align with the Paris Commitments and because “anything after 2050 is unacceptable climate change risk.” Several big European and Asian automakers already have started down this road. Volvo Cars — owned by China’s Geely Holding and not to be mistaken with Volvo Group — is pledging to become carbon neutral by 2040. By 2025, Volvo Cars plans to reduce the CO2 footprint of each car it makes by 40 percent.  We have an obligation to get electrification right.   Volkswagen, which has linked electric vehicles to its comeback following the emissions scandal, says it’ll be carbon neutral by 2050. “We have an obligation to get electrification right,” Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh said in a release last year.  So what’s behind this carbon car company tipping point, even as automakers are expecting slower sales this year due to a global recession? Three macrotrends: Regulators in Europe and China are tightening emissions rules and driving automakers that sell into those markets to launch zero- and low-emissions vehicles. The U.S. at a federal level is lagging behind this movement, but states such as California have been acting much more aggressively to mandate emissions reductions targets for vehicles (such as the new Advanced Clean Truck rule). In general over the years, the auto industry has been slow to adopt zero-emission vehicle technologies. That has created an opening for upstart automakers such as Tesla, Rivian and Nikola Motors to emerge and gain customers from big auto. Rivian won a 100,000 electric delivery and freight truck deal with Amazon. Tesla is eligible to join the S&P 500 after four profitable quarters. Losing marketshare, and fear of losing marketshare, is a key driver of remaking the auto industry around sustainability.  Some automakers are using the struggles of the pandemic to lean into sustainability goals. “Build back better” is a refrain I’ve heard from a variety of transportation companies in recent weeks. In Europe, there’s a major push to fund clean transportation infrastructure, both EV chargers and hydrogen fueling, in stimulus packages.  What do you think? Are the automakers doing enough when it comes to carbon emissions? Love to hear your thoughts: katie@greenbiz.com . This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe  here . Pull Quote We have an obligation to get electrification right. Topics Transportation & Mobility Automobiles Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The BMW 7 series electric car at Bangkok Motor Show 2020.

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Eco-friendly Everlasting Forest Pavilion champions circular living in Bangkok

May 13, 2020 by  
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For this year’s Bangkok Design Week, which took place in February 2020, Thai design firm Plural Designs created the Everlasting Forest Pavilion, a temporary, tunnel-like structure built of biodegradable materials that promotes sustainable ideas and products to the public. Created in collaboration with a team of multidisciplinary experts, the pavilion champions the idea of environmentally friendly architecture and circular living as part of a larger vision for sustainable urban living. Installed in front of Bangkok’s Grand Postal Building, the Everlasting Forest Pavilion follows a “BCG” concept named after its three zones of Bio Economy, Circular Economy and Green Economy. Each zone is a showcase of innovative products and ideas and seamlessly connects to the next space. The pavilion’s circular form reinforces the idea of circular living with its tunnel-like architecture; the pavilion is centered on an “Everlasting Forest”, a densely planted green space with a walkway. All materials used in construction are eco-friendly, biodegradable and made from waste material. Related: Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis The first zone visitors encounter is the Green Economy, which introduces a variety of eco-friendly materials including lightweight fiber rebar, or glass-fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP), as a durable and low-carbon alternative building material to steel. The second zone is the Circular Economy , where examples of plastic waste upcycled into new, value-added products are showcased. Examples of uses for biodegradable and eco-friendly bioplastics are shown in the third zone, Bio Economy. The pavilion also includes a rest zone. As an extension of the project, a Smart Recycling Center was installed nearby to show the public how to responsibly sort and manage waste generated at the event. The architects said, “Everlasting Forest Pavilion is a space demonstrating the co-habitation between man-made structures and their surrounding environment including buildings, green spaces and daily life objects, whose resources and waste are all sustainably managed and utilized.” + Plural Designs Images via Plural Designs

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Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis

March 18, 2020 by  
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According to the World Air Quality Index of 2019, the city of Bangkok suffers from unhealthy levels of air pollution most of the year. In a bid to raise awareness about air quality and the urban heat island effect, Thai design collective Shma Company created Safezone Shelter, an ephemeral pavilion filled with air purifying plants and technology to create a welcoming gathering space for passersby. Shaped like a cloud, the sculptural intervention was briefly installed in front of the Grand Postal Building during Bangkok Design Week 2020.  In contrast to the brutalist architecture of the Grand Postal Building, the 150-square-meter Safezone Shelter features a futuristic, organic shape with a white nylon covering to evoke the appearance of a cloud. The white textile allows light to diffuse through while hiding the interior from outside views. Inside, the designers created an unexpected oasis filled with tropical plants, informational signage and seating, which also includes part of the postal building’s steps.  Related: Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhi’s air pollution To create a cooling microclimate, the designers engineered the pavilion to pull in hot, polluted air with fans and pass it through dense vegetation to capture dust particles. This “pre-filtered wind” is then passed through a dust filter plate and a cooling plate to purify the air . In addition to the cool air flow generated by fans, the trees, shrubs and ground cover help keep the pavilion’s interior temperatures to between 72 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A humidifier maintains humidity levels of 50% to 70%. Recorded nature sounds, such as the sounds of water and birds, are also played inside the space. “All of these inventive methods could further be applied to solve air pollution in other kinds of design,” the designers explained. “Looking wider at an urban scale, bus stops, recreational space under expressways and skywalks also have a potential to be revitalized with such purification systems. At the end, even high-rise buildings might become old-fashioned when a better choice like an air purifier tower could be constructed.” Safezone Shelter was put on display from December 2019 to February 2020.  + Shma Company Images via Shma

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Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis

Shmas Bangkok Green Link wants to add over 30 miles of greenways to Bangkok

December 6, 2019 by  
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At the 2019 Thai Urban Designers Association exhibition, landscape architecture studio Shma unveiled the Bangkok Green Link, an urban revitalization proposal for boosting the livability of the Thai capital with over 30 miles of greenways. In a bid to reconnect the city to nature and encourage residents to adopt healthier lifestyles, the project links major neighborhoods and transportation nodes with lush linear parks with diverse programming. Vibrant and chaotic, the city of Bangkok is infamous for its urban sprawl and haphazard city infrastructure that resulted from rapid growth and lack of urban planning. To accommodate rapid development, many of the city’s green spaces and canals were paved over; an inadequate transportation network has made the city of 8 million people a victim of intense traffic congestion and air pollution . To make Bangkok a greener and more sustainable city, Shma developed the Bangkok Green Link project with the concept of “Revitalize City Infrastructure to Relink Urban Life.” Related: Thailand’s first LEED Platinum “vertical village” to rise in Bangkok Proposed for the heart of the city, the Bangkok Green Link scheme includes 54 kilometers of new greenways with up to 10,800 large trees that can absorb approximately 1,620 tons of carbon dioxide a year and filter 3,580 tons of dust annually. The designers also believe that the greening effort can boost land prices, inspire residents to adopt healthier lifestyles and counteract the urban heat island effect. The greenways — which would be developed alongside canals, railways, existing sidewalks and under expressways — would provide much-needed public spaces. Shma has organized the proposed greenways into a set of 28-kilometer-long outer ring greenways and 26 kilometers of crossover greenways. The outer ring would consist of four main links: a 10-kilometer-long Mixed Urban Activity link split into six sections for different programming; the Sathorn Link that passes through a major road in Bangkok’s central business district; the Rail link that turns the space beside an underutilized railway into a bicycle expressway ; and the Vipawadee link that provides a linear parkway and bikeway that connects inner Bangkok to the north side of the city. The 26 kilometers of crossover greenways comprise eight sub-links to better connect formerly disconnected neighborhoods. + Shma Designs Images via Shma

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Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

March 1, 2019 by  
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A new study shows that close to 2,000 sites across the U.K. have poor air quality due to excess pollution. The cities most affected by high levels of toxic gas were in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, all of which were tested well beyond what is considered safe. One of the main culprits behind the alarming numbers is nitrogen dioxide, a gas that is considered one of the most harmful of urban pollutants. Kensington, Chelsea, Leeds and Doncaster all tested high in nitrogen dioxide in 2017. This gas irritates lungs and creates breathing issues. One of the main sources of nitrogen dioxide is vehicle emissions. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Earlier this week, London’s mayor announced a pollution alert as residents in the country enjoyed a rare warm spell for February. The warning was the first of its kind since last summer and was precipitated by light winds and lack of storms, which usually help drive away harmful gases. While poor air quality is a major issue across the country, London is about to initiate a plan to help clean things up. The city is establishing an ultra-low emission area in central London that will vastly improve air quality. The initiative is expected to remove around 45 percent of emissions by this spring. The researches who conducted the study are part of a group called Friends of the Earth. Based on their findings, the group called for better emission standards throughout the country and are urging ministers to tighten up government control. “It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly 2,000 locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air,” one of the researchers, Simon Bowens, explained. Air pollution has been previously linked to major health problems in human populations, including heart disease, dementia and even miscarriages. Children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution, which can damage lungs and even impact intelligence levels. If London’s new program is successful, hopefully other cities will follow suit and start improving air quality before it becomes an even bigger problem. Via The Guardian Images via Foto-Rabe

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Students taking Lyft and Uber to class are taking LA’s smog problem from bad to worse

February 7, 2019 by  
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Environmentalists are concerned by the number of students using transportation services like Lyft and Uber to get to classes. Students at UCLA specifically use these alternative means of transportation around 11,000 times per week, and that is troublesome for a city that is already dealing with significant smog issues. “The  pollutants  coming out of the tailpipe heavily contribute to Los Angeles’ smog problem,” Yifang Zhu, a professor at UCLA, explained. Transportation staff at the university said that the majority of these trips are short in duration. Students who oversleep are also more likely to use Lyft or Uber, because they need to get to class in a hurry without being tardy. School officials believe this increase in traffic plays a part in the growing smog problem in Los Angeles. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Part of the issue with these services is that the vehicles are idling for a significant portion of time before picking up passengers. In fact, the idling can sometimes contribute more smog that actually driving to the destination, which is troublesome for a densely populated city like  Los Angeles . According to The Washington Post , younger generations are more apt to use services like Lyft or Uber , because they have an aversion to owning their own vehicles. These services can be more affordable than purchasing a car, especially on a student’s budget. While economics is clearly a factor to consider, previous research shows that millennials are the driving force behind these ride-hailing apps. For example, a 2016 study conducted by the Pew Research Center discovered that around 25 percent of young adults between 18 and 29 years old had used services like Lyft or Uber. Adults over the age of 65, meanwhile, barely register at only 4 percent. Although it may be more environmentally friendly to not own a car or truck, using alternative transportation services can be just as damaging. The transportation staff at UCLA gathered the information by combing through data from Uber and Lyft, two of the most widely used services on campus. Via The Washington Post Image via Josh Saldana

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