A zero-waste, self-sustaining home of the future

March 12, 2020 by  
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Designed by Shanghai-based firm YANG Design , the Green Concept House is a futuristic concept that envisions a residence where sustainable technologies are embedded into the living spaces to create a zero-waste, 100% self-sustaining home. The design features several high-tech systems that use spare household energy to provide water, lighting and energy for growing plants throughout the home, essentially becoming a living greenhouse. House Vision is an annual event that invites architects to create futuristic residential designs that incorporate innovative technologies. This year, against the backdrop of the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing’s Olympic Park, 10 dwellings were unveiled, one of which was the incredible Green Concept House by Yang Design. Related: A greenhouse is transformed into an experimental living space in Taiwan Like the other full-scale home prototypes, the Green Concept House was a collaboration between architects and leading global companies that specialize in the various fields of technology, such as energy, vehicles, logistics and artificial intelligence. The 1,600-square-foot structure is a powerhouse of futuristic tech that merges organic food production into the house in order to create a living space that is 100% self-sustaining. Several compact garden pockets in every corner of the layout would allow homeowners to care for almost any type of plant using spare household energy (from solar and wind power generation ) to provide water and light for the gardens. The setup would permit residents to closely monitor their home gardens, including fruits, vegetables and herbs, via an app on their phones. For example, the app would sound an alarm when one of the plants is in need of specific care. Another notification would alert homeowners when a specific fruit or veggie is ready to be picked. Using this full-circle system, homeowners will not only be able to grow their own organic fare but will also be able to lead zero-waste lifestyles . + YANG Design Via ArchDaily Images via YANG Design

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A zero-waste, self-sustaining home of the future

Calamus unveils worlds safest e-bike at CES 2020

February 6, 2020 by  
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India-based startup  Calamus  recently unveiled the Calamus One Ultrabike, an electric bicycle that they claim is “the world’s safest and most advanced” of its kind. Integrated with elements typically only seen on motor vehicles, the innovative e-bicycle combines safety features and high-end tech into a sleek and beautifully designed package. The Ultrabike was exhibited at the CES 2020 show and is available on Indiegogo for pre-order. Crafted to evoke continuity, the Ultrabike uses 6000 series aircraft-grade aluminum with automotive-grade paint for both the lightweight bike frame and handlebar, which is also part of a one-piece stem and handle design. To emphasize the design’s seamless flow, the removable battery was integrated into the down tube of the frame while all of the  bicycle cables — from the hydraulic brakes to the electrical and electronic cables — have been routed inside the frame. The internally routed cables also make the entire bike weatherproof and improve aerodynamics. Promising a range of nearly 45 miles on a single charge, the Ultrabike is powered by 250w/750w Ultra-drive mid-motors from Bafang and driven by Gates’ carbon belt CDX system for a smooth riding experience. For an improved user experience, each bike will also be equipped with sensors that track motor, battery, and component health to provide real-time diagnoses viewable via a 5-inch TFT LCD touchscreen. A high-performance chip stores and analyzes riding patterns to provide auto gear shifts, while an inbuilt GPS chip offers added functionality. Related: Propella’s lightweight electric bike rides like a regular bike For safety, the designers have added  LED  turn indicators into the handlebars as well as built-in ultrasonic sensors with haptic feedback for blind spot assistance. Security is enhanced with the addition of an ultra-fast biometric scanner for locking and unlocking the bike, geo-tracking and fencing with a ‘Find My Ride’ feature in the case of theft, anti-theft fasteners, an anti-theft alarm, and a patent-pending smart lock that can be accessed using a mobile app to lock and unlock the bike. The Calamus One Ultrabike can be pre-ordered on  Indiegogo . + Calamus Images via Calamus

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Calamus unveils worlds safest e-bike at CES 2020

People for Bikes is making cycling safer with Ride Spot

April 22, 2019 by  
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People for Bikes is doing its part to make  cycling safe. The non-profit organization now has two networking projects to help keep cyclists safe across the country: a city ratings database and a guide on the best city biking routes called Ride Spot. With safety being a top priority, People for Bikes  works diligently to urge cities to make it safer for people to ride bikes, whether for commuting or just for enjoying the ride. The non-profit’s database ranks cities based on cycling safety and community. Per the ratings map, the best place to ride a bike is Fort Collins, Colorado. Some of the worst places for cyclists, meanwhile, include cities in North Dakota, Missouri, Louisiana and Hawaii. Fortunately, People for Bikes is currently lobbying for these areas to pass  legislation  that promotes road safety. Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly The company has also started a program called Ride Spot , which features the best bike routes based on location. The routes are user-generated with help from local cyclists and owners of bike shops. People can use the app to find the safest routes in cities all across the United States. The company strongly encourages bike shops to contribute data to its platform, as they often know which areas of town feature the best routes. In addition to showing routes, the app also connects users with each other. In fact, cyclists can use the program to share stories about their daily commutes and new routes they have discovered as well as upload photos of their journeys. As more people get involved, Ride Spot could become a viable place for riders to share information on safe and recreational urban  cycling . People for Bikes hopes its new initiative will address three major issues many beginning cyclists face: knowing the safest routes, connecting with other riders and getting past the intimidation factor. + People for Bikes Via TreeHugger Image via Pexels

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People for Bikes is making cycling safer with Ride Spot

We love electric scooters but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment?

September 18, 2018 by  
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The debut of electric scooter programs in cities such as Austin, Washington D.C. and San Diego has been making headlines with promises of cleaner air , but is this really the case? Between LimeBike, Waybots, Spin and Bird, which has been newly introduced to the Los Angeles area, there is a plethora of companies jumping on the trend of promoting eco-friendly scooters to city planners and residents. With public transportation methods significantly improving in environmental efficiency — and the majority of distances traveled by scooter being walkable distances — the carbon footprint might not be as small as scooter-share programs are claiming. “Today, 40 percent of car trips are less than two miles long,” said Travis VanderZanden , founder and chief executive of Bird. “Our goal is to replace as many of those trips as possible, so we can get cars off the road and curb traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.” The scooters are the latest trend to enter the app-based mobility market, which has passengers whimsically racing through city streets at a $1 rental price, plus 15 cents for every minute after. Related: Paris launches electric scooter sharing program with Coup and Gogoro While Bird is assuming that half of its scooter rides are replacing mile-long car trips, Phil Lasley, who has been studying traffic, bicycle and pedestrian issues for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute said , “We honestly don’t know yet.” According to his evaluations, it is possible that the scooters are replacing short drives but with quantities still uncertain. He said there are many other aspects to consider. “Are these trips taking away from other bicycle trips? Are they taking away from transit? Are they taking away from walking?” Lasley asked. For instance, a mile-long trip to the office means that the 15-mph vehicle would charge for a minimum of 4 minutes plus extra for time in traffic. This exceeds the average public transportation fares for cities such as Austin and L.A., where the average full-fare ticket only costs $1.25 to $1.50 and can get you a lot farther. City bike-share programs are available at comparable rates to those of public transportation, as seen with L.A.’s new bicycle advertising campaign . The green transit platform is promoting the city’s carbon-free single rides at the same cost as a bus or metro ticket, while daily users of a monthly plan are seeing fractions of a dollar for their commute cycles. It goes without saying that owners of bikes, non-motorized scooters and skateboards are at a monetary and ecological advantage in comparison to those using electric scooters. Related: Gogoro revs up Smartscooter expansion with $300 million in new funding From an economic standpoint, Bird and LimeBike rides might be behind compared to alternatives such as buses, trains and bikes. But according to a Bird press release on its Austin launch, “Riders were able to prevent 445,334 pounds of carbon emissions.” LimeBike similarly claimed an estimated 8,500-pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in Austin in just two weeks. “With the launch of Lime-S, we are expanding the range of affordable, space-efficient and environmentally friendly mobility options available to D.C. residents,” said Jason Starr, a LimeBike executive for the company’s Washington D.C. division, back in March. With competing green vehicles focusing on both affordability and environmental friendliness, many people are looking to “space-efficien[cy]” to account for the hype of electric scooters. The space efficiency feature makes electric scooters fun to ride and easy to park anywhere, but it also means that chargers are driving long distances to pick up the scooters one by one. Each morning, electric scooters are dropped off en-mass at various hubs throughout the city. From there, riders can take the vehicles and drop them off wherever they wish within the city. Scooters now litter random sidewalks, storefronts and restaurant walkways — rarely in a collective group. At night they are “captured” (in the case of Birds) by the company’s chargers, who are individual citizens signed up to make money by collecting, powering and redistributing the scooters to the hubs each morning. Each scooter has a price tag on it, with those more difficult to collect scoring the charger a higher paycheck. The higher valuations on the remote scooters means that chargers are likely to drive farther to and from the stranded scooters, consuming more gas and emitting more carbon dioxide in the process. Similarly, morning commuters who wake up to find an empty dropping pad might eagerly run back to their reliable, personal vehicles instead of public transportation, because they are in a time-crunch. Whether these factors are being taken into account by the companies in their statistics is unclear. Related: Lyft is making all their rides carbon neutral Their popularity is as much their undoing as it is their achievement according to Haje Jan Kamps, portfolio director at venture capital firm Bolt. The entrepreneur recently published a piece on TechCrunch about the business models e-scooter companies would need to adopt in order to succeed. “They are currently in a massive scaling mode and so the only concern they have, really, is to get as many scooters on the roads as possible and as many rides as possible for each individual scooter,” Hamps said. “There is a real risk that some of the things like reusability or recyclability might be first on the chopping block.” The scooters are estimated to have a two-year life span , meaning they could end up in landfills at the end of their short life-cycle. This is something that Lasley agreed with. “It appears that these services are being heavily used,” he said, adding that the more popular they become, the more waste they will create. While we want to love the fun idea of electric scooters , it is clear that some things need to be improved. For these new companies, a learning and improvement process is to be expected. We are eager to see where these companies are headed in terms of creating a more eco-friendly product. Via Austin Monitor , The Washington Post ( 1 , 2 ) and  Chester Energy and Policy Images via Elvert Barnes ( 1 , 2 ), Luis Tamayo and Tim Evanson

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We love electric scooters but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment?

Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change

August 6, 2018 by  
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Michael Strasser, famous cyclist and the first cyclist to join the  UN Environment’s  Mountain Heroes campaign, has now been cycling for nearly two weeks. His goal? Establishing a new world record by cycling from Alaska to Patagonia through the longest overland route. But the 14,300-mile and nearly 610,000-vertical-foot  Ice2Ice expedition is not just about immense feats of strength and stamina. Strasser also seeks to demonstrate how personal transportation choices can mitigate climate change. Originally an architect, Strasser began his expedition on July 23. The Austrian cyclist is now crossing Canada and has been updating followers and contributors on his journey in real time. His candid memos are paired with a live tracking map that includes the time spent cycling as well as distance and elevation details. He wrote, “Yesterday, for example, that damned smoke was back in the morning for the first two hours,” referring to a forest fire that had broken out close to his trail. “And then, while I was still angry about the very rough roads, a little black bear appeared on the side of the road and put a smile on my lips.” The cyclist hopes to inspire action in order to protect mountain ecosystems , which provide freshwater around the world and are home to a diverse array of plants and animals. Related: Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution A rise in pollution and the impacts of climate change have put stress on these delicate mountain ecosystems. The glaciers through which Strasser is traveling have been reduced by nearly a third since the 1960s, displaying a visible amount of loss in ice and snow cover. Along with the fragile biological diversity in these areas, the retreating glaciers serve as one of the Earth’s most reliable sources of fresh drinking water. Climate change is disproportionately affecting these mountainous regions, along with high elevation zones such as the Arctic and Antarctica. “It would mean a lot to me if I could motivate every single person who follows me to sometimes take a bike instead of their car,” Strasser said. “If my attempt is to bike 23,000 kilometers and 185,000 vertical meters, then everyone can manage one or the other kilometer in their daily life too. I think if all of us contribute something even small, something big can come of it.” + Ice2Ice + UN Environment Images via Michael Strasser

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How to make American cities bike-friendly

June 19, 2018 by  
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If you live in a city, riding a bike can be a great option to get you where you need to go. More and more people are opting for bicycles instead of cars, but most American cities are lagging behind when it comes to offering safe roads for bicyclists. Many cities ban cyclists from riding on the sidewalk and expect them to share the road with passing cars. What can we do to encourage American cities to be more bicycle-friendly? America’s best cycling cities Not all cities fall short when it comes to bike-friendly roads — some of the best cycling cities in the world are right here at home. Atlanta took some of its unused urban railways and created “The BeltLine,”  a 22-mile-long loop for pedestrians and bicyclists. City planners are extending it another five miles in the coming year, and more than a million people have used it since its opening. Chicago has dedicated bike routes to help keep cyclists safe and out of the way of passing drivers. Baltimore has an electric-assisted bike-sharing program to make it easier for riders to navigate the sometimes-hilly terrain. Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike Moving away from car dependence Most people don’t think twice about hopping in a car and driving to work, even if work is only a few miles down the road. We need to change our underlying infrastructure to move away from car-dependent transportation. That’s not to say we all need to stop driving our cars — people who commute long distances, carry cargo or transport other passengers will find it difficult or impossible to do these things on a bicycle. Infrastructure changes give cities more control over traffic — both vehicles and bicycles — and allow them to separate or prioritize one or the other, depending on the conditions. Just adding bike lanes to the sides of existing roads isn’t enough — nor is expecting bicyclists to share the road with nothing to separate them from motorized vehicles. Related: 6 cycling accessories every bike commuter needs Separating cars and bikes When it comes down to it, a bicycle is never going to win in a fight with a car. In 2015, more than 800 cyclists were killed in accidents with vehicles. That’s more than two accidents every single day. The easiest way to prevent these collisions is to keep cars and bikes separate. Bike lanes with planters or plastic bollards provide a barrier between cyclists and drivers and may help keep people safe. Cities can install a temporary setup for a reasonable amount of money to study how well it works, and if it turns out to be a good option for the city, city planners and officials can move forward from there. Learn from cycling cities When transitioning American cities to be safer for cyclists, planners can turn to cities around the world for inspiration.  Europe has great ideas when it comes to making cities more cycling-friendly. For the Netherlands recently opened an 11-mile cycling highway that connects the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen. This is a “fast path” for bicycling commuters between the two cities. There are slower roadside paths as well for intercity travel. It isn’t just the infrastructure that the Netherlands has changed — it’s the “ psychology of the commute .” By giving cyclists a direct and convenient route that keeps them separate from cars, it has allowed more people to ride bikes. The bicycling highway has even encouraged people to reconsider transportation for their regional trips. Cycling is one of the best things we can do to help reduce our carbon footprint , so it’s important to make crowded cities safer for people who choose to leave their cars at home and opt to use bicycles. It’s better for your health and better for the environment, as long as we can keep cyclists safe during their daily commutes. City planners should stop thinking about cars and start focusing on public transportation and cycling as the primary forms of transportation for their citizens. Via  Atlanta ,  Biz Journals ,  Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center ,  Wired  and  CityLab Images via Vishal Banik , Paul Krueger (1 , 2) , Daniel Lobo  and Jonny Kennaugh

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Renovated Adobe headquarters channels design giants creative energy

March 5, 2018 by  
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When it came time to renovate creative software powerhouse Adobe’s headquarters in San Jose, it was abundantly clear that creativity and color would be central to the renovation. The firm tapped Gensler for the artful 143,000-square-foot redesign that’s sensitive to the environment and pays homage to the San Jose community. An artistic approach was applied throughout the building that’s furnished with locally made decor, emphasizes open and collaborative working environments, and offers a dazzling array of perks. Completed last year, Adobe’s newly renovated headquarters features new open workspaces, gathering areas, outdoor work areas, creative conference rooms, and amenities. The building houses 2,500 employees who have access to impressive perks that include a free onsite wellness center with fitness classes, meditation room, massage area, numerous and diverse eating options, on-site auto maintenance, dry cleaning, bicycle repair and rental, and open workspaces that embrace the indoor-outdoor experience. Natural light, outdoor access, and indoor greenery like the community garden and green wall highlight healthy working environments. Related: Adobe’s 410 Townsend is a Collaborative LEED Silver Office in San Francisco Adobe, which moved its headquarters to San Jose in 1994, is now the largest tech firm in the downtown core. To celebrate the community and the city’s agricultural past, the Adobe headquarters is decorated with locally made rugs, furniture, and decor. The building’s Palettes cafe takes inspiration from the region’s orchard history with its green design and A-shaped art installation built of locally sourced orchard crates. Bright splashes of color and art installation point to the firm’s creative and innovative spirit. + Gensler Via ArchDaily Images © Emily Hagopian Photography

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Renovated Adobe headquarters channels design giants creative energy

Swytch is revolutionizing the e-bike conversion system

November 16, 2017 by  
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Wheels like the GeoOrbital and Copenhagen Wheel will turn your standard bike into an electric one, but their weight can make it impossible to pedal far in non-electric mode. That’s why we’re so into the new Swytch eBike conversion kit. Swytch puts the electronics and battery on your handlebar, leaving your wheel light and easy to pedal, even when you aren’t in e-bike mode. Electric wheel conversion kits are heavy because they have to carry the battery, motor and electronics all within in the wheel structure. That makes it difficult to pedal when you aren’t using the electric assist. But Swytch claims to eliminate that problem by putting the battery and electronics in a pack that attaches to your handlebars, leaving just the motor on the wheel. That makes it so you can leave the wheel on full-time and still use the bike in non- e-bike mode. The pack can also be mounted in a few seconds (after the initial installation), so you can switch back and forth as needed. More: Swap-in wheel converts any bike into an electric within 60 seconds The pack also includes a light to improve visibility, and riders can control the amount of electric assistance and check range using a control panel on the top of the pack. It also weighs in at a scant 8.6 pounds (10.6 if you choose the larger battery). That’s half of the weight of the electric wheels out there, which typically weigh around 20 pounds. It’s also more versatile, fitting on any size wheel. That means you can now electrify your Penny-farthing, Kickbike or recumbent bike. The small battery has a 25-mile range, while the larger one can take you 50 miles. If you want to snatch up a Swytch, they are running and Indiegogo campaign (which has already surpassed its goal). You can get a kit for $299 right now, over half off the retail price of $650. That’s cheaper than other wheels, which sit in the $1,000 – $1,500 range. + Swytch Indiegogo Via New Atlas

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Swytch is revolutionizing the e-bike conversion system

Turn any bike into an e-bike with UrbanX’s drop-in wheel

March 20, 2017 by  
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Are you intrigued by electric bicycles but already own a regular bike? UrbanX created a drop-in wheel that can turn almost any old bicycle into a cool e-bike. The wheel only takes around one minute to install and boasts an impressive range of 30 miles on a single charge. The UrbanX bike wheel simplifies e-bikes: add their wheel and you’re good to go. The product adds an additional 15 pounds to a bike, which isn’t as heavy or clunky as some electric bikes can be. The company behind the product offers the wheel in six sizes; they say it will fit 99 percent of bikes. Their compact battery charges in an hour and a half. Related: Juicer electric bikes bridge dorky environmentalism and cool-guy style https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/934648866/urbanx-convert-any-bike-to-an-electric-bike-in-60/description The company offers a 240 watt motor and a 350 watt motor. The 240W motor’s top speed is 15 miles per hour (mph) while the 350W motor’s top speed is 20mph. Bikers can also pedal as normal; UrbanX includes a three level pedal assist system that can be switched via an app. UrbanX says their product “works smarter, not harder by using an algorithm to ensure 100 percent of motor output is utilized to power your ride.” They came up with their patent-pending Sinus Algorithm Controlling System to boost the battery and motor’s efficiency. UrbanX isn’t the first company to come out with such a product; GeoOrbital also recently unveiled a bike wheel that converts bicycles into e-bikes within 60 seconds. The look of the two wheels are quite different, and UrbanX’s 240W motor wheel is much less expensive than GeoOrbital’s wheel. To help bring their product to market, UrbanX also turned to crowdfunding . With over 30 days to go, they’ve raised more than double their initial goal of $50,000 on Kickstarter . The limited early bird prices for the tires start at $299. UrbanX ambitiously says they’ll be delivering the wheels this summer. Via TreeHugger Images via UrbanX Electric Wheel Facebook

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Turn any bike into an e-bike with UrbanX’s drop-in wheel

Beautiful P+R building can house hundreds of bicycles in the Netherlands

March 20, 2017 by  
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Park and ride buildings aren’t often beautiful, but this recently completed facility in Zutphen is a stunning exception. MoederscheimMoonen Architects created the stylish P+R facility near a railway station in the Netherlands’ Noorderhaven district. Built to reference the town’s industrial past, the contemporary building accommodates 375 parking spaces and has spots for over 600 bicycles . Located next to the town’s train station, the unique park and ride structure pays homage to the town’s historic warehouses and traditional industries through its design and choice of materials. One side of the building features a large gabled facade with wooden shutters to mimic the appearance of a factory warehouse. On the other side of the building are two helix-shaped ramps that hide the car’s vertical transport with a sculptural design. In a nod to the nearby steel bridge over the River IJssel, the structure is mounted on a series of “playfully positioned” galvanized columns. Related: Corridor-free high school in the Netherlands bathes students in natural light Ample natural light and ventilation passes through the building due to the slatted facade. The wooden slats were installed at different angles and combined with strips of red steel to create a playful and dynamic appearance. Vertical LED strips illuminate the building at night. + MoederscheimMoonen Architects Images by Harry Noback (HN) and Bart van Hoek (BvH)

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