Protecting Baby From Toxic Chemicals: Tips for a Toxin-Free First Year

December 2, 2019 by  
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Preparing for a new baby is overwhelming at the best … The post Protecting Baby From Toxic Chemicals: Tips for a Toxin-Free First Year appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Protecting Baby From Toxic Chemicals: Tips for a Toxin-Free First Year

SAP’s simple, sensible contribution to sustainability

November 21, 2019 by  
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Often, the best technology innovations are the ones that are virtually invisible.

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SAP’s simple, sensible contribution to sustainability

What US utility customers can learn from the PG&E ownership battle

November 21, 2019 by  
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There’s a battle raging over the ownership of PG&E Corp., one of the nation’s largest utilities, with cities, hedge fund managers and even customers all in the running.

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What US utility customers can learn from the PG&E ownership battle

3 Upcycled Dog Toys You Can Make

November 7, 2019 by  
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We all want the best for our dogs. And, when … The post 3 Upcycled Dog Toys You Can Make appeared first on Earth911.com.

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3 Upcycled Dog Toys You Can Make

Composting Toilet Taxonomy: How They Work

October 17, 2019 by  
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The United States’ infrastructure, once arguably the best in the … The post Composting Toilet Taxonomy: How They Work appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Composting Toilet Taxonomy: How They Work

Will California’s ingredient transparency law spur safer cleaners?

September 17, 2019 by  
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Disclosure, like many cleaning products, remains the best disinfectant.

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Will California’s ingredient transparency law spur safer cleaners?

The risky economics of the new natural gas infrastructure in the United States

September 17, 2019 by  
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Low natural gas prices have helped to shutter many coal plants. Watch a similar effect on natural gas generators as clean energy becomes more affordable.

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The risky economics of the new natural gas infrastructure in the United States

Entrepreneur Jigar Shah reflects on clean energy finance, the importance of plain speaking

August 22, 2019 by  
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What gives the founder of Generate Capital joy? Getting the best ideas unlocked.

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Entrepreneur Jigar Shah reflects on clean energy finance, the importance of plain speaking

Digging deeper for climate solutions: deep-root GMOs could feed world and store carbon

August 15, 2019 by  
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Scientists are experimenting with new genetic modification technology that “supercharges” plants to enhance what they already excel at– sequestering carbon. As the world scrambles to find innovative mitigation solutions, plants have been doing what they quietly perfected over millions and millions of years ago– taking carbon from the atmosphere and converting it into carbohydrates, energy and oxygen. A recent study shows one research institute’s promising progress on the quest to create a patented plant that grows deeper, cork-like roots that store 20 times more carbon than the average plant . The researchers believe these findings can eventually be applied to cash crops at a scale that can truly impact climate change. Related: Scientists confirm tree planting is our best bet against climate change The California-based Salk Institute is leading the way in what they call the Harnessing Plants Initiative. Their goal is to create an enhanced plant that not only stores more carbon but also yields an agricultural product that profits farmers and feeds people. Historically, genetic plant modification has been used to target and enhance specific traits within a plant, such as the size or taste of the fruit or its resistance to pests and disease. Now, Salk’s plant biologists are targeting specific hormones and genes that indicate and increase root biomass. Deep dive: why deep roots matter For centuries, farmers have recognized that deeper roots stabilize the soil and make trees and crops more resilient to heavy winds, floods, hurricanes and erosion. Deep roots also encourage drought resistance because they allow the plant to search for hard to reach water reserves that haven’t been dried out by the sun. But recently, deep roots have become coveted for their ability to sequester , store and stabilize carbon dioxide . The carbon in roots is stored as a complex carbohydrate that is not easily broken down by soil microbes and therefore it is more stable storage than above ground plants, especially for plants that are frequently harvested. The idea behind deep roots is actually very logical– deeper roots store the carbon further from the place we are trying to keep it away from– the atmosphere. Although plants have always sequestered carbon, they can no longer keep up with the rate that humans are pumping it into the atmosphere– at least not naturally. Globally, people emit 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year and plants can only capture about half. The idea, according the Salk’s plant biologist, Wolfgang Busch, is to “store carbon in parts of the soil where the carbon is more stable. Change the biochemistry, increase the stability. We’re not trying to get plants to do something they don’t normally do,” says Busch . “We’re just trying to increase the efficiency. Then we can use that to mitigate climate change .” Joanne Chory, also a plant biologist at the Salk Institute echoed Busch’s explanation in an interview with Foreign Policy News. “All we have to do is make them about 2 percent more efficient at redistributing carbon than they are right now, and we can effect a global change,” said Chory . The Salk Ideal Plant Wolfgang Busch, Chory and their team of plant biologists at the Salk Institute recently published their preliminary findings in Cell. Their research focused on a test plant – the thale cress – where they experimented with root hormones and a specific gene found to control the shape of roots. The science behind it: hormones and genes The hormone auxin is the most important hormone that dictates root growth. The biologists at Salk, however, also identified a gene – EXOCYST70A3 – that controls the shape and extent of roots by monitoring how much of the auxin hormone is released. By identifying and isolating these findings, the researchers can now control the size and direction of the roots in their test plants. The EXOCYST70A3 gene is present in all plants, so their research is profoundly scalable if applied to the world’s top grown crops. Indeed, Salk intends to apply their findings to corn , soy, rice, wheat, cotton and rapeseed (canola). Salk’s secret sauce: suberin But the researchers didn’t stop at isolating the hormone and gene, they also identified a specific substance to modify and replicate based on its benefits. According to their website, their ‘secret sauce’ is a substance called suberin . Suberin is a cork material that is carbon-rich, found naturally in plants and resistant to decomposition. It enhances soil, but is also one of the best (meaning most stable) storage vessels for carbon dioxide. Salk’s patented plant, The Ideal Plant, will maximize suberin within its roots. Ultimately, their plants will increase root biomass that is both deeper and higher in suberin. But aren’t GMOs bad for the environment? There is a lot of controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms , including their potentially harmful impacts on human health , ecosystems and farmers’ livelihoods. However, GMO proponents believe they are the answer to feeding the world’s growing population and increasing resilience against a rapidly changing environment. For the Salk Institute, GMO nay-sayers, like the European Union and India, aren’t their biggest concern. Their research continues (and receives millions of dollars of investment) for expected implementation in places where GMOs are not banned. In order to reach their goal of using the Salk Ideal Plant to store half of the carbon that humans emit every year, the researchers claim they would need their patented product in six percent of the world’s agriculturally productive land. While there are natural ways of cross breeding to reach similar results, it would take considerably longer and there simply isn’t enough time. The climate clock is ticking The Salk Institute’s recently published study holds promising breakthroughs, but they are still not ready with a usable product and time is running out. Environmental experts agree that drastic action needs to be taken to mitigate greenhouse gases , so the best time to start planting the yet-to-be-designed Ideal Plant was years ago. Via Vice Images via Salk Institute

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Digging deeper for climate solutions: deep-root GMOs could feed world and store carbon

Dramatic domino-effect facade wraps BIG-designed business school

April 29, 2019 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group has unveiled images of the stunning Business Innovation Hub at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Designed in collaboration with Goody Clancy Architects , the recently completed 70,000-square-foot extension and partial renovation of the Isenberg School of Management not only delivers a dramatic appearance with a falling dominoes-like facade, but also high sustainability standards. Clad in low-maintenance copper, the Isenberg School of Management Business Innovation Hub expects to achieve LEED Silver certification. Prominently located on Haigis Mall near the entrance of campus, the Isenberg School of Management Business Innovation Hub extends the existing Isenberg building footprint to the north and then loops around east, creating a donut shape that connects back to the existing building to nearly double the school’s current space. At the center of the “donut” is a garden courtyard . The architects further articulated the curved facade by pulling out the northwest corner to emphasize the 5,000-square-foot Student Learning Commons at the entrance and by introducing a unique faceted geometry that mimics the appearance of dominoes falling in a line. “The new Business Innovation Hub at the Isenberg School of Management is conceived as an extension of both the building and the campus mall,” Bjarke Ingels explained. “The linear structure is bent to form a full loop framing an internal courtyard for the life of the students. The facade is pulled away in a domino effect to create a generous invitation from the Haigis Mall to the Learning Commons. The mall and the courtyard — inside and outside form a forum for the students, the faculty and the profession to meet, mingle and mix society and academia.” The new extension offers facilities for more than 150 staff and 5,000 students in undergraduate, master’s and PhD programs. In contrast to the dark copper facade, which will develop a natural patina over time, the interior is bright and spacious with natural light streaming in from the outdoors and the inner courtyard. The flexible interior spaces are designed to facilitate collaboration with student interactions and chance encounters in mind. + BIG + Goody Clancy Architects Photography by Max Touhey and Laurian Ghinitoiu via BIG

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Dramatic domino-effect facade wraps BIG-designed business school

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