Cities in Germany to offer free public transit in fight against pollution

February 14, 2018 by  
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In what has been described a radical move for Germany , several cities across the country will trial free public transportation services in an effort to reduce car usage and related pollution. “Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany,” wrote German environment minister Barbara Hendricks and two colleagues in a letter to EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella.  Other pollution-fighting proposals in Germany include stricter regulations on emissions from buses and taxis, the establishment of low-emission zones, and support for car-sharing systems. The move is noteworthy at a time when German politics is particularly unstable; after losing the majority in a recent election, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Party is still working to achieve a coalition government deal with the Social Democratic Party. Despite lacking a ruling majority, the German government has seemed to have found consensus on tackling pollution with ideas such as free public transit. The shift in transit policy also follows Volkswagen’s emission cheating scandal , which has engendered opposition towards the auto industry . Related: Dunkirk, France offers free public transit to all Germany is planning to offer free public transit as part of an effort to meet an European Union mandate that limits nitrogen dioxide and fine particles pollution . Along with eight other EU members, the country failed to meet the January 30 deadline to reduce pollution, and so must act quickly to meet its obligations. While free public transit may be appealing to citizens, there are obstacles to overcome. “I don’t know any manufacturer who would be able to deliver the number of electric buses we would need,” Bonn mayor Ashok Sridharan told DPA . “We expect a clear statement about how [free transport] will be financed,” said Helmut Dedy, chief of the Association of German Cities. Some suggested a rush-hour ride in Berlin would help ministers understand the magnitude of the challenge in expanding public transit. “The conclusion would be clear,” wrote the Die Welt newspaper editorial staff: “more carriages, more personnel, and maybe even more tracks and lines would be needed. Where would the billions for that come from?” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Cities in Germany to offer free public transit in fight against pollution

These Adidas sneakers double as subway passes in Berlin

January 17, 2018 by  
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No ticket? No problem. If you’re wearing Adidas’s limited-edition EQT Support 93 sneaker , you’ll be able to hitch a free ride on Berlin’s metro through most of 2018. To satisfy the conductor, simply kick up your heels. An unlikely partnership between the footwear giant and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe —a.k.a. BVG, the German capital’s main public transport operator—each shoe incorporates an annual pass that’s been rendered in fabric and stitched into the tongue. Such passes typically go for €730 ($895), which means that the shoe itself, at €180 ($220), is a comparative steal. Unsurprisingly, some newspapers noted that hundreds of people camped outside shoe stores in the snow (a few of them over the weekend) for a chance to snap up one of just 500 pairs. As far as train-hopping is concerned, the shoe is certainly dressed for the occasion. It features camouflage-like squiggles that recall the design of the subway system’s upholstered seats, plus black-and-yellow sneakers that echo the colors of the trains’ facades. Related: San Francisco’s rapid transit to run on 100% renewable energy And BVG, which is ringing in its 90th year, demonstrates that you’re never to old to be a fashion icon. “How cool is that? Now we have an exclusive sneaker with our popular BVG seat pattern. We are sure that this shoe is a very special highlight for Berlin,” Sigrid Evelyn Nikutta, CEO of BVG, said in a statement. “It’s great that the BVG, which is celebrating its 90th birthday this year, is now becoming a cult object itself.” + Adidas Photos by Overkill

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These Adidas sneakers double as subway passes in Berlin

The world’s largest wildlife sanctuary proposed for Antarctica

January 17, 2018 by  
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While the US is busy trying to open more precious areas to fishing and drilling , a campaign led by the EU and Greenpeace seeks to protect an area the size of Germany in Antarctica. A nearly 700,000 square-mile area around the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea would become the world’s largest sanctuary if the proposal is accepted, protecting killer and blue whales, seals, penguins and other sea life. The idea for the massive sanctuary was initially put forth by the EU and then backed by Greenpeace. Multiple EU countries support the idea, and the concept will go to conference in October. Not only will the sanctuary be essential for protecting wildlife, it will also go a long way towards mitigating the effects of climate change. Related: Meteorologist warns collapse of two Antarctic glaciers could flood every coastal city on Earth One of the major impacts of protecting this area is that it would eliminate krill fishing within its borders. Krill is a major component of the diet of many animals, from penguins to whales. Countries including Russia, Norway and China are active in the krill fishing industry, which means getting their approval will be essential in the process. Via The Guardian Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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The world’s largest wildlife sanctuary proposed for Antarctica

VW unveils fully electric six-seater specifically for ridesharing

December 4, 2017 by  
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Uber , get ready for more competition. Volkswagen’s mobility startup Moia just introduced a fully electric vehicle optimized for ridesharing . Unveiled at TechCrunch in Berlin, the concept also includes an app so customers can book and pay for rides easily. The startup plans to roll out the six-seaterout on the streets of Hamburg, Germany next year, with an overall goal of removing one million cars from roads. Moia could offer travelers an easy, eco-friendly new way to get around cities. The startup, which began just a year ago at TechCrunch in London, aims to get cars off the streets to ensure cleaner air and reduced traffic . Six people can ride inside the vehicle, which features standalone seats with USB ports and dimmable reading lights so everyone’s comfortable. Passengers can check their emails or surf the Internet with WiFi. There’s also a storage area next to the driver for luggage or bags. Moia’s range is 300 kilometers, or over 186 miles, and can be charged to 80 percent in around 30 minutes. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Osnabrück designed and built it in a record 10 months. Related: Volkswagen confirms when the Microbus is coming back as an EV With the app, users can see available cars and ride costs before booking. The startup said they’ll employ a pooling algorithm to put riders with similar destinations in the same car to avoid detours and have as many people riding in one car as possible. Since October of this year, Moia has been testing their service in Hannover. They’ll debut the concept in Hamburg, with more locations to follow. CEO Ole Harms said in a statement, “In 2018, we’ll be ready to launch our ride pooling concept internationally and take the first steps toward our goal of reducing the number of cars in major cities by one million in Europe and the USA by 2025.” + Moia Via Moia Images via Moia

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VW unveils fully electric six-seater specifically for ridesharing

Coca-Cola increased its plastic bottle production by a billion in 2016

October 2, 2017 by  
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Coca-Cola increased its global production of single-use, throwaway plastic bottles by one billion in 2016, according to Greenpeace . Although the beverage behemoth does not publicly disclose its production numbers, an analysis by Greenpeace suggests a massive increase in output of plastic, which often ends up in landfills, water ways, or in large islands of trash floating in the ocean. The world’s largest soft drinks company contributes more than its fair share to a global plastic problem. It is estimated that by 2021, the global production of plastic bottles will reach half a trillion per year. Although there is a massive number of plastic bottles in circulation and being produced each year, only a small number of them are recycled. Less than half of the bottles purchased in 2016 were then returned for recycling while only 7 percent of the collected bottles were reused to create new bottles. Where do these non-recycled bottles go? Most often, they are deposited in landfills or the ocean. Between 5 million and 13 million tons of plastic seeps into seawater, where it is then ingested by birds , fish and other aquatic wildlife. According to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic, by weight, in the ocean than fish. Related: Coca Cola’s bright red Berlin HQ is actually pretty green, thanks to energy-saving design Although Coca-Cola’s plastic bottle production increase poses a problem for the planet’s health, the global beverage corporation is taking some steps to clean up its act. In July 2017, Coca-Cola European Partners announced its goal of increasing the amount of recycled plastic in each of its bottles to 50 percent by 2020. However, this goal is viewed by critics as insufficient, particularly considering that bottles could be made out of 100 percent plastic. “Coca-Cola talks the talk on sustainability but the astonishing rate at which it is pumping out single-use plastic bottles is still growing,” said Louise Edge, oceans campaigner for Greenpeace. “We have calculated it produced over 110bn throwaway plastic bottles every year – an astounding 3,400 a second – while refusing to take responsibility for its role in the plastic pollution crisis facing our oceans .” Via The Guardian Images via Greenpeace

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Coca-Cola increased its plastic bottle production by a billion in 2016

Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issue

October 2, 2017 by  
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People traversed the roads for several hours in Paris , France yesterday not in cars , but on their own two feet. The government held a Car Free Day , where the streets filled with bikers, walkers, and roller-bladers instead of smog. The goal for the day was to see public spaces less polluted and more peaceful. Paris held a Car Free Day in 2015 and 2016 as well. But this was the first time they extended the boundaries to include the entire city . From 11 AM to 6 PM local time, cars were asked to stay off the streets – with exceptions made for emergency vehicles, taxis, and buses. The Paris City Council hosted Car Free Day, together with collective Paris Sans Voiture , or Paris Without Car, which is behind the city-wide car-free idea. Related: Activists Show What it Would Look Like if Bikes Took Up as Much Room as Cars Pollution from cars is often an issue in France’s capital – the Associated Press said mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected after promising to slash air pollution and cut traffic . The government’s statement on the day said one of the Car Free Day’s objectives was “to show that cities can and must invent concrete solutions to fight against pollution” coming from road traffic. They encouraged people to travel by scooters , skates, bikes , or walking . The symbolic event also brought results. The government said Airparif Association conducted independent measurements during the Car Free Day using sensors and a bicycle outfitted with measuring instruments. They saw “an increased decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels along major roads” and “access roads to the capital.” Meanwhile, the Bruitparif Observatory looked at noise with the help of 11 measurement stations. They saw sound energy decreased 20 percent on average, as compared against a regular Sunday. Via Paris and Associated Press/NBC News Images © Henri Garat – Mairie de Paris

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Paris banned all cars for a day to highlight pollution issue

Tesla nears halfway mark with world’s largest battery installation in South Australia

October 2, 2017 by  
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Never one for small talk, Tesla announced that one of its most significant projects, apparently the world’s largest battery installation, is just about halfway finished. The 100MW/129MWh utility-grade battery bank near the site of the 100MW Hornsdale Wind Farm in South Australia will be the largest system connected to an energy grid. This massive undertaking was inspired by a bet between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Australian software billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who could not believe that Tesla was able to install its grid-tied battery systems as quickly as it claimed. Musk, confident in his company’s work, promised to install the world’s largest battery bank in 100 days or the State of South Australia would receive it for free. The clock is now ticking. After accepting the challenge, Tesla participated in a competitive bidding process to unlock a $115 million renewable energy fund from the State of South Australia , which has suffered disruptive blackouts in recent summer seasons. After estimating that the world’s largest battery bank would cost $32.35 million, excluding labor costs and taxes, Tesla was awarded the contract in partnership with the French company Neoen, which owns the Hornsdale Wind Farm on which the battery bank is being built. Musk made clear that the negotiation phase did not count towards the 100 days deadline. The stakes are high; if Tesla fails to complete its task within 100 days, it could suffer a loss of $50 million or more. Related: Tesla is shipping hundreds of Powerwall battery systems to Puerto Rico Last Friday, Tesla officially announced the start of its 100-day challenge, though it would seem that the company gave itself a bit of a head start. The battery bank, which is being built at the Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada , is nearly halfway complete as is the installation of batteries into the bank. “To have that [construction] done in two months … you can’t remodel your kitchen in that period of time,” said Musk at a kickoff event, seeming to acknowledge the absurdity of the situation. If any company is up to this kind of challenge, one based on a bet between billionaires, it’s Tesla. Via Ars Technica Images via Tesla

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Tesla nears halfway mark with world’s largest battery installation in South Australia

Former chicken coop transformed into a backyard artists studio in Berlin

September 25, 2017 by  
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We’ve heard of horse stables transformed into dwellings for people, but converted chicken coops are a first. Büros für Konstruktivismus turned an old henhouse into a timber-lined artist’s studio in the backyard of a Berlin villa. The adaptive reuse project, called Hühnerhaus (German for henhouse), preserves part of the original facade and completely overhauls the interior into a modern light-filled space. Constructed just after World War II in a lush garden, this former henhouse is a simple gabled structure with rustic roots. Architects Sandra Bartoli and Silvan Linden wanted to maintain the building’s slightly ruinous and overgrown appearance, while gutting and remaking the interior. Thus, the architects largely left the henhouse facade intact but transformed the interior into a single-room pine-lined space with an added mezzanine. The original chimney and steel beams were also covered in pine to create a near-seamless timber appearance. Related: Eight lucky hens live in this high-end chicken coop equipped with underfloor heating in New York Natural light pours in through large glazed surfaces. Stairs with in-built storage lead up to the mezzanine , where the attic for sheltering pigeons used to be. The door for pigeons was transformed into a triangle-shaped window that frames views of the trees and garden. + Büros für Konstruktivismus Via Dezeen Images via Büros für Konstruktivismus

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Former chicken coop transformed into a backyard artists studio in Berlin

Gogoro revs up Smartscooter expansion with $300 million in new funding

September 19, 2017 by  
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Get ready Gogoro fans—the firm’s innovative electric scooters could soon be coming to a city near you. The Smartscooter maker just nabbed $300 million in new funding with an impressive list of international backers. Four new high-profile partners joining their current investors include Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management, Singapore-based Temasek, Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation, and French energy giant ENGIE. A sign of growing global support in electric vehicles, this successful round of funding will go towards Gogoro’s technology development and expansion. Launched in Taiwan in 2015, Gogoro Smartscooter quickly rose to fame and was followed by expansions in Berlin and Paris in the form of electric scooter sharing programs . The major innovation lies with how the electric vehicle is powered—instead of plugging the scooter in for charging, Smartscooter owners swap out batteries at charging stations installed throughout the city. Often described as the “Tesla of electric scooters,” the innovative Smartscooter boasts over 100 million kilometers ridden by customers, including those on their new and improved Smartscooter 2. Related: Gogoro launches Smartscooter 2 with better handling, brighter headlights, and extra storage “One of the greatest challenges of our time is transitioning our cities to a smarter and more sustainable energy and transportation infrastructure,” said Horace Luke, co- founder and CEO of Gogoro. “Gogoro provides a new approach for cities to embrace sustainable energy through a smart connected infrastructure and battery swapping system that has demonstrated success across Taiwan and Berlin. New investments from leaders like Temasek and Generation combined with investments from visionary corporations like ENGIE and Sumitomo Corporation are a strong validation of Gogoro’s business and market success.” “This is a great sign that this sustainable technology of swappable batteries is something feasible that investors with high profiles around the world see as a viable solution,” added Luke in a conversation with Inhabitat. “It shows electric is here to stay and that it’s inevitable that electric will be the dominant player in the future.” The $300 million raised will be used for further development of technology and product, such as the use of big data collected from battery swapping to optimize the network and save energy. Gogoro also has plans to expand beyond its current three cities although they haven’t yet revealed which megacity they have their eye on next. + Gogoro

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Gogoro revs up Smartscooter expansion with $300 million in new funding

This new Berlin apartment building literally purifies the city’s air

August 30, 2017 by  
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Daniel Libeskind ‘s first residential project in Berlin is a spectacular faceted building that literally purifies the air. Sapphire is clad in geometric stoneware tiles coated in a layer of titanium dioxide that breaks down dirt and grime when exposed to the sun’s UV rays. The crystalline facade of the building is dominated by angular windows and canted walls that create balconies and intimate outdoor nooks that enhance the quality of the units. Each of the apartments has a unique plan with high-performance triple-glazed windows and external louvers. Related: Daniel Libeskind’s funky metallic apartments will purify the Berlin air The team made some of the windows fixed to adapt to the irregular shape of the volume, while the operable ones all conform to a standard dimension. While the upper floors house living units, retail shops occupy the ground floor of the building, along with underground parking and common outdoor area. The remarkable facade is clad in 3,600 Casalgrande Padana tiles, 500 of which are standard-sized while the other 3,100 tiles have been custom shaped. Each tile is specifically positioned to fit the architect’s vision, and the installation of the tiles took four months to complete. The titanium dioxide coating , produced by TOTO, allows the facade to clean itself and the air when it is exposed to natural light. + Studio Libeskind + Sapphire Berlin Via The Architect’s Newspaper Lead photo via Sapphire Berlin and Jan Bitter

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This new Berlin apartment building literally purifies the city’s air

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