England plans single-use plastic ban

August 30, 2021 by  
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England has announced a planned ban on polystyrene cups and single-use plastic cutlery and plates. But frustrated activists say the government is moving way too slowly. This autumn, the English government will start coming up with a plan to curtail single-use plastic and polystyrene perhaps within a couple of years. Meanwhile, the  EU  banned these same items in July. Related: 4ocean and Poralu Marine present BeBot, the beach cleaning robot The English government has a firmer plan for a plastic packaging tax, which will go into effect in April 2022. Companies that use plastic with less than 30% recycled content will have to pay a tax of £200 per ton of plastic. This measure seeks to encourage the use of  recycled  material. “We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our  environment ,” said George Eustice, environment secretary, as reported by The Guardian. “It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches. We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, now we are looking to go a step further.” England has already successfully limited some plastics. Since supermarkets started charging for plastic bags in 2015, their use has dropped by 95%. In 2018, England banned plastic microbeads from use in washing products. In 2020, it was goodbye to plastic  straws , drink stirrers and cotton swabs — or cotton buds, as they’re called in England. However, England is still lagging on charging deposits on plastic bottles, which probably won’t happen until 2024 or 2025. Americans and British people lead the world in per person plastic  waste . According to British ministers, the average person uses 37 single-use forks, knives and spoons and 18 disposable plastic plates each year. Plastic litter is blamed for killing more than 100,000 sea mammals and turtles and 1 million birds annually worldwide. Vegetable and fruit stickers, PVC cling film, teabags,  plastic  coffee pods and crisp packets may also find themselves forbidden in the future. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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England plans single-use plastic ban

Copper-clad Bondi House highlights compact, multi-level living

August 24, 2021 by  
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Armed with a thoughtful combination of natural light, garden outlooks and angled design, this copper-clad townhouse in Australia manages to achieve compact, multi-level living with a deep sense of  privacy  — despite its location on an exposed corner site. The Bondi House, named for the beachy suburb where it’s located in eastern Sydney, comes from Fox Johnston Architects and has already been shortlisted for the 2021 Australian Interior Design Awards, Houses Awards and the AIA NSW Architecture Awards. The home itself spans an impressive 212 square meters on a 153 square meter site, while still leaving room for  landscape  spaces for the owners to cultivate. The small space doesn’t infringe upon the neighbors either, instead using its setback and deep balcony to offer up additional space along the public walkway and light to the homes on the northwest side. Related: A sustainable, zinc-clad family home on a budget in Australia The living room uses concrete floors paired with exposed timber beams, as well as windows and doors crafted from western red cedar. The architects also chose local Sydney sandstone for the office plinth and dark stone for the kitchen benchtops. Natural light and organic tones cover the entire interior, culminating in a central  courtyard  that separates the kitchen from the living room, accented with curved windows. The office sits where the car space once stood, though the area could easily be refitted into a parking space if the owners ever choose to sell the property.  “The central courtyard was an early idea we developed to gather light and segment the living level into zones, which we think is more interesting in a small space, rather than that feeling of just being in one long room,” said Conrad Johnston, Director at Fox Johnston. “The copper wall is big gesture for the setting and the street. Next to a traditional semi we’ve attached this bold, curved copper wall on a tiny block. This sculptural element crowns and connects the entire site. It’s a bit full on but in a gentle way.” Copper lasts long and doesn’t easily degrade or corrode, making it immune to most environmental elements or hazards. Plus, it is completely  recyclable  at the end of its life.  Other sustainable features to the home include locally sourced construction materials, low VOC diminishes, 4 Green Start fittings and fixtures, native landscaping to reduce water usage and a 3,000-liter  rainwater  tank for irrigation. + Fox Johnston Via ArchDaily Images courtesy of Brett Boardman

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Copper-clad Bondi House highlights compact, multi-level living

The High Performance Surfing Center honors nature inside and out

July 23, 2021 by  
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When Branco Cavaleiro Architects was asked to develop a plan to house the High Performance Surfing Center in Cabedelo, Viana do Castelo, Portugal, the designers chose to incorporate protections for visitors as well as the surrounding landscape. The High Performance Surfing Center was designed with sustainable construction in mind. This idea was reflected in the selection of green building materials and choice to reduce energy consumption. Situated on a dune system within a grove of pine trees, the Surfing Center needed to respect the natural environment. For minimal site impact , architects designed the building to perch over the dunes through the use of pillars. Similarly, they worked around the pine trees, allowing the trees to remain untouched. Related: Eco hotel and golf resort boasts ocean views in Portugal The campus includes dormitories, a service area and a surf training wing with a gym and showers. The different wings connect with a central patio, which leads to the beach. The love for the surrounding nature is seen throughout the buildings via geothermal temperature control, LED lighting with a centralized management system for optimal efficiency and cladding in agglomerated black cork , which surrounds the whole building, including the roof. Designers kept sustainability in mind with the use of the cork, a local natural material in Portugal. The architects said, “Cork is a 100% natural, recyclable, non-toxic and durable material. In the process of manufacturing cork products, 100% of the material’s resources are used, in which production waste is reused again for cork agglomerates.” They explained that cork is “associated with behavior as a barrier against soil desertification, as it provides micro-ecosystems with high biodiversity, as well as contributing to the fixation of CO2.” The building’s tight envelope and thermal enhancements provide a high level of energy efficiency . Vast windows allow views, but the glazing minimizes heat transfer. Windows on the south side have a higher solar factor, while those facing north have a lower solar factor. + Branco Cavaleiro Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by José Campos via Branco Cavaleiro Architects

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The High Performance Surfing Center honors nature inside and out

LA County beaches close after an 8-hour sewage spill

July 14, 2021 by  
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On Monday night, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an  order to close  several beaches along Santa Monica Bay following a raw sewage spillover on Sunday. An estimated 17 million gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into the water after the Hyperion Water Reclamation sewage treatment plant experienced a power outage. Treatment plant officials said they had to release 6% of the plant’s daily load to avoid an even bigger problem. The spill lasted for over eight hours and led to the closure of all public beaches within the affected area, including El Segundo Beach and Dockweiler State Beach. According to the closure notice, all the beaches will be closed for at least one week and will only reopen after water tests show no elevated level of bacteria. Related: Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn has condemned the occurrence and says that she is still looking for answers from the officials at the sewer plant. She has questioned the amount of raw sewage discharged and the time taken for the plant to notify the public. “What happened yesterday was unacceptable and dangerous. Not only did the Hyperion Plant release seventeen million gallons of sewage into our ocean — the public had little to no information about it for hours,” Hahn said in an interview. “We need answers from LA City Sanitation about what went wrong and led to this massive spill, but we also need to recognize that LA County Public Health did not effectively communicate with the public and could have put swimmers in danger.” Spills in L.A. County have almost become a norm, with several minor spills occurring already this year. According to Heal the Bay , a total of 75 sewage spills have happened in Los Angeles County between 2020 and 2021. These minor spills account for 346,888 gallons of sewage waste.  The county’s last major spill occurred in 2015 when about 30 million gallons of waste were released into Santa Monica Bay by Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. Although the plant had to pay a settlement of $2.26 million, this clearly hasn’t stopped recurring sewer spills.  Via CBS News Lead image via Pixabay

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LA County beaches close after an 8-hour sewage spill

LA County beaches close after an 8-hour sewage spill

July 14, 2021 by  
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On Monday night, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued an  order to close  several beaches along Santa Monica Bay following a raw sewage spillover on Sunday. An estimated 17 million gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into the water after the Hyperion Water Reclamation sewage treatment plant experienced a power outage. Treatment plant officials said they had to release 6% of the plant’s daily load to avoid an even bigger problem. The spill lasted for over eight hours and led to the closure of all public beaches within the affected area, including El Segundo Beach and Dockweiler State Beach. According to the closure notice, all the beaches will be closed for at least one week and will only reopen after water tests show no elevated level of bacteria. Related: Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn has condemned the occurrence and says that she is still looking for answers from the officials at the sewer plant. She has questioned the amount of raw sewage discharged and the time taken for the plant to notify the public. “What happened yesterday was unacceptable and dangerous. Not only did the Hyperion Plant release seventeen million gallons of sewage into our ocean — the public had little to no information about it for hours,” Hahn said in an interview. “We need answers from LA City Sanitation about what went wrong and led to this massive spill, but we also need to recognize that LA County Public Health did not effectively communicate with the public and could have put swimmers in danger.” Spills in L.A. County have almost become a norm, with several minor spills occurring already this year. According to Heal the Bay , a total of 75 sewage spills have happened in Los Angeles County between 2020 and 2021. These minor spills account for 346,888 gallons of sewage waste.  The county’s last major spill occurred in 2015 when about 30 million gallons of waste were released into Santa Monica Bay by Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant. Although the plant had to pay a settlement of $2.26 million, this clearly hasn’t stopped recurring sewer spills.  Via CBS News Lead image via Pixabay

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Osokoa produces fun, playful organic children’s clothing

July 14, 2021 by  
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The year 2020 stands out as the year of the pandemic, and inasmuch, many people took advantage of opportunities to follow their dreams. Barcelona brand Osokoa stands as an example of how passion and determination gave birth to a longstanding vision of producing a premium, organic clothing line for children. The company describes itself as an “emotion brand”, a label it proudly wears in its gender-neutral clothing made from certified organic cotton . “Emotions and hopes go hand in hand. We make dreams in cotton, design smiles from the heart and bring together concepts in a way of dressing. Comfortable, quality, original, respectable, environmentally friendly and with a message!” Related: Mightly kids clothing is GOTS- and Fair Trade-certified That message is positivity, and it’s a theme woven throughout the product messaging. Osokoa explained, “Our collections ‘Self Esteem’ and ‘Hope’ were inspired by vitality, good energies and changes in the world, with big plans and positivity for the future.” The company’s mission is to take pride in the products it sells, with attention to a selection of natural materials , sustainable manufacturing and long-lasting garments. “We try with all our heart to give the best of ourselves and for that reason we have the invaluable help of smiles, joy and enthusiasm!” Let’s face it, the fashion world ranks near the top of the most damaging industries for the planet. Osokoa breaks away from the bad habits of fast fashion by starting with locally sourced, 100% organic, GOTS-certified cotton. It then relies on local, chemical-free manufacturing in the well-developed textile region in Barcelona. This minimizes transportation-related pollution and provides fair-trade jobs within the community. Osokoa also invests in ways to use minimal water and electricity in the process. Each decision along the process leans into choices that are best for the environment, right down to careful selection of the cardboard and other packaging the company uses. Almost all the materials used by Osokoa are recycled and can be reused. + Osokoa Photography by Gabitorohh Gabito via Osokoa

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Osokoa produces fun, playful organic children’s clothing

nat-2’s newest sneakers are made of recycled bubble wrap

July 8, 2021 by  
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From nat-2, a German footwear designer immersed in sustainable and eco-friendly design, we meet the vegan recycled bubble wrap sneakers. Yes, bubble wrap. The new vegan recycled bubble wrap sneakers were designed in collaboration with Israeli startup Remeant , and this is the first time the bubble wrap material has been used in shoes. The innovative material not only keeps bubble wrap out of the landfill, but it is 100% vegan and is available in a range of colors. Related: nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee The inclusion of recycled bubble wrap provides an interesting look and waterproof protection. The lining is made from a signature bioceramic yarn developed and made by nat-2. Real cork , taken from the outside of the tree without damaging it, makes up the insoles, and real rubber is used for the outsoles. Recycled PET is used to make the laces, and the heels consist of miniscule bits of glass. The vegan sneakers feature a low-profile design and are not gender-specific. They are meant to be durable and versatile for a long usable life, and perhaps could be the only pair of shoes you’ll need for days at the beach, at the office or just in the backyard. The company steps outside the lines with nearly every release. Examples in prior lines include shoes made with fungi, algae, coffee, corn, beans, flowers, cannabis, milk, moss, cast-off slaughterhouse blood and many more. Most of the sneakers are handmade and fairly produced via a small family manufacturer in Italy. The company also relies on low-impact packaging like shoeboxes and brochures made from recycled paper as well as wooden hang tags made out of wood from certified sustainable forests. nat-2 explained, “The reason for using many sustainable and eco-friendly materials and techniques is not only the ecological aspect but also a matter of what we consider as ‘good design’. By creating such innovative products and things, we also reach new aesthetics and haptics which have never [been] seen before in fashion , footwear and accessories.” + nat-2 Images via nat-2

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nat-2’s newest sneakers are made of recycled bubble wrap

Biomimicry helps nature-lovers and fragile wildlife co-exist at the Votu Hotel in Brazil

September 20, 2017 by  
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The Maraú Peninsula is a 25 mile long bar of pristine Brazilian sand, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the tranquil Camamu Bay on the other, where one glorious beach gives way to another. With such stunning landscapes, it’s no wonder hip Brazilians are flocking to these shores. But the native mangrove forests here are one the world’s most endangered ecosystems, and great care must be taken to preserve them. GCP Arquitectura and Urbanismo’s Votu Hotel takes an unusual approach to that challenge: biomimicry––sustainable innovation inspired by nature’s proven wisdom. According to Indian legend, the peninsula’s namesake, Maraú, was a peaceful fisherman who lived in with his beautiful wife, Saquaíra. One day, while Maraú was out fishing, his neighbor, Camamu, came ashore, and he and Saquaíra fell deeply in love. Camamu took her away in his canoe, and when Maraú returned to discover her abduction, he desperately begged the gods for a faster one. They granted his lovesick plea, and away he went after her at top speed, surfing the waves and sculpting the peninsula´s curved beaches and bays as he went. Today, the region is a dreamy wonderland of rich, golden sands, rugged white cliffs, nodding coconut palms, cool waterfalls, teeming coral reefs, tranquil mangrove forests and restingas ––special forests that grows on shifting coastal dunes. Unfortunately, humans are having a massive impact on the landscape. Less than 5% of the original forest cover remains, yet 40% of its plants and 60% of its vertebrates––including a long-hair maned sloth, giant armadillo, giant otter, and unique local populations of cougar, jaguar, and ocelot––are found nowhere else in the world. New species are discovered frequently: over a thousand new flowering plants, a black-faced lion tamarin recently believed extinct, and a brightly blonde-haired capuchin monkey in recent years. Meanwhile, the mangroves and estuaries provide critical nurseries for the fish, crustaceans, and mollusks that feed these populations. Inhabitating such a precious and endangered habitat requires the region’s hotels to care for it just as they care for the visitors who come here. The Votu Hotel, designed by GCP Arquitectura and Urbanismo , embraces the challenge using biomimicry, an innovative approach to design that is in accordance with nature. GCP even has a biologist on staff––Alessandro Araujo, a Certified Biomimicry Specialist educated by Biomimicry 3.8 ––and it’s her job to enhance natural processes already at work here by tapping nature’s proven solutions ––those favored for hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry The GCP team sought to maintain and support the region’s native species while minimizing air conditioning and electricity consumption, and good water management, ventilation, and thermal comfort were also critically important. These requirements were made challenging by the vulnerability of these shores to heavy rain, floods, coastal erosion, high temperatures, salt spray, and high humidity. To solve these problems, Araujo looked at species that solve these same kinds of challenges. Prairie dogs, for instance, are social rodents that live in large colonies or towns where outside temperatures can reach 100°F in the summer and -35°F in the winter. They rely on long underground burrows to insulate them from such extremes. GCP borrowed this concept for Votu, using concrete walls and a roof garden to buffer heat. The burrows also leverage a natural process called the Bernoulli principle, in which air flow is slowed by the prairie dogs’ earthen mounds, increasing pressure and forcing air to flow quickly through the tunnels. Votu’s team mimicked this clever strategy by optimizing the position of each bungalow using computer modeling, and placing a semi-permeable guardrail in front of the prevailing winds, slowing them and drawing air into ventilation ducts below the roof. The bungalow shell itself was inspired by another biological champion, the saguaro cactus, which relies on long spines and accordion-like folds to mitigate extremes of heat and exposure. The deep folds offer partial shade, cooling air on the shaded side and creating a gradient that facilitates circulation and minimizes heat absorption. The Votu bungalows mimic this strategy with vertical, wooden, self-shading slats. Local species were consulted as well. The little houses rest on stilts, just as the native mangroves and restinga forest trees do, preserving the natural topography and allowing the unimpeded flow of rainwater and tides. Meanwhile, the kitchen takes inspiration from the toco toucan, a local bird that experiences large temperature swings, from hot days to cool nights. The large, vascularized toucan beak is an extremely efficient thermal radiator, offering the greatest thermal exchange known among animals. Heat from the kitchen is dissipated the same way: as it rises, it is drawn into a copper coil that passes through the rooftop soil. Air cools in the shade of a roof garden, and eventually returns to the kitchen: a natural air conditioner requiring no additional energy. Biomimicry is known for its reliance on a simple set of Life’s Principles, and GCP is dedicated to following them. One Araujo particularly loves is “Be resource efficient,” which the team did by relying on multifunctional design, low energy processes, recycling, and fitting form to function. The bottom of Votu’s concrete structure doubles as the bathroom wall, for instance, while the upper part forms the roof. In front of the hotel, a thicket of bamboo intercepts any run-off from the bungalows or tidal wash from the beach, acting as a living filter against salinity, bacteria, or pollutants. In back of the bungalows, graywater goes into the banana circle, while blackwater passes through a biodigester and biofilter, ending in a compost pile that fertilizes a fruit-bearing orchard for the guests to enjoy. GCP’s approach to conservation and tourism may seem unusual, but biomimicry has been growing in popularity among architects for a long time. And after all, these ideas are proven winners, nature’s survivors. Why reinvent the wheel? And maybe, just maybe, such bio-inspiration will let nature’s wild places continue to survive and thrive as we enjoy them. + GCP Arquitetura & Urbanismo

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Biomimicry helps nature-lovers and fragile wildlife co-exist at the Votu Hotel in Brazil

Tesla patent reveals plans for a new battery-swapping machine

September 20, 2017 by  
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In the not-so-far future when  electric vehicles (EV) rule the road, don’t expect to sit around in line waiting for your battery to charge. That’s because electric automaker Tesla recently filed a patent for a mobile battery swapping technology that could replace a depleted battery in under 15 minutes. In 2013, the company toyed with the idea of building stationary rigs that can replace a car’s battery pack. However, that idea never took off. Now, the EV maker is improving on the concept and has filed a patent application for a more compact, mobile version that would be placed in strategic locations where Superchargers aren’t always available. As Elektrek reports, Tesla’s original system was designed to be autonomous, while the newer one can be operated by technicians. Additionally, the original battery swap service claimed a 90-second swap, whereas the new one says “less than fifteen minutes” is more plausible. Says the patent application, “In some implementations, the battery swap system is configured for use by one or more technicians, who will monitor certain aspects of the system’s operation and make necessary inputs when appropriate. For example, the battery -swapping system can be installed at a remote location (e.g., along a highway between two cities) and one or more technicians can be stationed at the location for operating the system. This can reduce or eliminate the need for the system to have vision components, which may otherwise be needed to align the battery pack or other components. Using techniques described herein it may be possible to exchange the battery pack of a vehicle in less than fifteen minutes.” As can be seen from the application figures, the patent application references swapping Model S and Model X battery packs. Both vehicles’ battery packs have been designed to be easily swappable. Model 3’s battery pack is not, on the other hand. Because the company aims to expedite the process in 15 minutes or less, it is unlikely the system will apply to more complicated swaps. Related: Tesla to TRIPLE number of Superchargers by end of 2018 When Tesla CEO Elon Musk last mentioned the battery swap system, he said it would likely be developed to support commercial fleets — if pursued at all. Now that plans for Tesla’ all- electric Semi-Truck have been shared, Musk’s vision is coming into focus. + Tesla Via Elektrek Images via Tesla , Pixabay

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Tesla patent reveals plans for a new battery-swapping machine

How the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Preserves the Environment

August 2, 2017 by  
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Breathtaking surroundings, historic structures, screams of delight — this is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. An amusement part and a beach might seem like a combination that simply can’t be environmentally friendly, but step right up and see…

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How the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Preserves the Environment

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