Latest COVID-19 relief includes legislation on climate change

December 22, 2020 by  
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A $35 billion investment in clean power and other climate initiatives hitched a ride on the latest COVID-19 relief package. Backed by Senate Republicans as well as Democrats, the legislation will be the first significant climate change law in more than a decade — if it gets past President Trump’s desk this week. “This agreement protects both American consumers and American businesses,” said Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, as reported by The New York Times . “We can have clean air without damaging our economy.” Related: Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021 One of the most important parts of this new legislation is a requirement for manufacturers to phase out coolants called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are a small percentage of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they have a disproportionate effect. HFCs have 1,000 times the ability to trap heat compared to carbon dioxide. In 2016, 197 nations agreed that HFCs had to go. They signed what’s called the Kigali agreement because it was signed in Kigali, Rwanda. Scientists say that if all nations complied with phasing out HFCs, it could prevent an atmospheric temperature increase of almost 1°F. An atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6°F would be catastrophic, so ending HFCs could be of great help in avoiding this. Trump never ratified the Kigali agreement, instead opposing efforts to curb HFCs. This new legislation requires companies to decrease HFC production and consumption to about 15% of the 2012 levels by 2036. The EPA will oversee this phase-out. U.S. chemical companies strongly support phasing out HFCs, and most have already turned to climate-friendlier alternatives. If nobody could use HFCs, those who have already made the responsible choice will be at a more financially competitive advantage. Stephen Yurek was in Kigali in 2016, and, as chief executive of the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, has been lobbying lawmakers since. “U.S. companies are already the leaders with the technology that has been developed to replace the less environmentally friendly refrigerants,” he said. “This bill is a victory for the manufacturers of all these products — not just the refrigerants; the equipment and component manufacturers.” Now the legislation’s proponents are crossing their fingers that Trump won’t stall it. Yurek said he didn’t even want to use the word “climate” when discussing the bill. “We didn’t want to give him any excuse to not sign it.” Via The New York Times Image via Tim Hüfner

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Latest COVID-19 relief includes legislation on climate change

Proposed BREATHE Act seeks environmental justice

July 13, 2020 by  
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Environmental justice is one of the important topics that the BREATHE Act addresses. The Movement for Black Lives introduced the bill, which would make enormous changes to the justice system, as well as education, healthcare and many other aspects of Americans’ daily lives. “We crafted this bill to be big,” said Gina Clayton Johnson, executive director of Essie Justice Group and a co-creator of the act, as reported by New York Magazine’s The Cut . “We know the solution has to be as big as the 400-year-old problem itself.” Related: How to support environmental justice The proposal is divided into four sections. The third section, entitled “Allocating New Money to Build Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable Communities for All People,” calls for creating a clear plan to ensure all communities can access safe, clean water; bringing air standards within EPA safety limits; and making a plan to meet 100% of power demand with renewable and zero-emission energy . Other proposed environmental policy changes include funding preparedness efforts for climate change-related disasters, subsidizing community-owned sustainable energy solutions and funding for returning and preserving sacred sites to Indigenous communities. The other three sections of the BREATHE Act address divesting federal resources from incarceration and policing, investing in new approaches to community safety, holding officials accountable and enhancing self-determination of Black communities. The Movement for Black Lives is a nationwide coalition composed of Black organizations. Since forming in 2014, they’ve adopted an anti-capitalist, abolitionist stance calling for axing prisons, police forces and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The organization’s political champions include Ayanna Pressley, Democratic Representative of Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District and the first Black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib, Democratic Representative of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District and the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature. “The BREATHE Act is bold…. It pushes us to reimagine power structures and what community investment really looks like,” Tlaib said. “We can start to envision through this bill a new vision for public safety. One that protects and affirms Black lives.” + BREATHE Act Via Grist Image via S. Hermann & F. Richter

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Proposed BREATHE Act seeks environmental justice

Hood Rivers mixed-use Outpost achieves industrial chic with mass timber

July 13, 2020 by  
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About an hour west of Portland, Oregon, a stretch of post-industrial waterfront along the Hood River has been revitalized as Outpost, a dynamic new destination for making, co-working and play. Designed by local studio Skylab Architecture , the first completed mass timber building in the mixed-use development pays homage to the industrial roots of the area — the site was formerly home to an industrial wastewater treatment and processing facility. The project champions eco-friendly construction that includes locally sourced and sustainably harvested wood. The phased project is part of the city’s ongoing Waterfront Masterplan to reconnect residents with Hood River.  <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-1-889×592.jpg" alt="light and charred wood building with large windows" class="wp-image-2274542" Completed in 2018, phase one of Outpost comprises a 30,000-square-foot complex, which consists of a pair of three-story buildings that function as one large structure with a long bar shape. A partially covered, shared open area occupies the heart of the complex at the junction of the two buildings and houses the elevators and stairs as well as informal lounge spaces oriented toward Hood River. The industrial-scaled ground level across both buildings contain maker spaces, a brewery and a distillery. The second level supports retail and restaurants — public-facing spaces that are traditionally located on the street level — in order to take advantage of views of the waterfront, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. The third floor houses a variety of creative office spaces. Related: Wedge-shaped Sideyard champions CLT construction <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-3-889×592.jpg" alt="people looking out from a loft over a brewery" class="wp-image-2274544" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-4-889×592.jpeg" alt="dark wood tables with light wood benches in wood-lined room" class="wp-image-2274545" The structural framing is exposed throughout the interior to celebrate the selection of locally sourced and sustainably harvested timber beams. Tall ceiling heights, oversized windows and black metal accents emphasize the project’s industrial aesthetic. For energy efficiency, the architects optimized access to natural light and installed thermally broken windows. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-7-889×592.jpg" alt="people seated at large, U-shaped table with fire pit on an outdoor patio" class="wp-image-2274548" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-11-889×592.jpeg" alt="elongated dark wood building in front of mountainous landscape" class="wp-image-2274552" “Outpost puts the mixed in mixed-use commercial by merging traditionally exclusive industrial uses with commercial, mixed-use maker spaces that can be shared and experienced,” the firm explained. “Outpost represents a new prototype, a wood structure redefining industrial commercial buildings beyond storage and manufacturing.” Outpost will eventually become part of a 60,000-square-foot mixed-use development to better connect the city with the Columbia River waterfront. + Skylab Architecture Photography by Stephen Miller via Skylab Architecture

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Hood Rivers mixed-use Outpost achieves industrial chic with mass timber

States sue over Trump administration’s fuel efficiency rollback

June 1, 2020 by  
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Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. have sued the Trump administration over rollbacks in fuel-efficiency standards, citing poor science and threats to public health . While the world has focused on the novel coronavirus pandemic, President Trump has been busy easing environmental regulations. His undoing of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, the country’s biggest effort so far to fight climate change, has been especially bitter to environmentalists. Trump says lower standards are better for the auto industry and the economy in general. Related: Trump administration rolls back fuel efficiency standards California is leading the lawsuit. According to Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, the pandemic is a whole other reason — besides destroying the planet we live on — not to lower efficiency standards. “Vehicles are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in America, and pollution-related respiratory illnesses make people more susceptible to COVID-19,” Becerra told The New York Times . Under Obama’s plan, U.S. vehicles would be required to average 46.7 miles per gallon. Trump’s policy dials it down to 40.4 miles per gallon. According to the Trump administration’s estimates, this will result in Americans consuming 2 billion additional barrels of oil and releasing 867 to 923 more metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Fuel costs will average about an extra $1,000 over the lifetime of a single vehicle. The auto industry is split about Trump’s efficiency rollback. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation supports it. But four member companies — Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen — declared they will uphold higher standards than the government mandates. “The Trump administration’s rollback of the Clean Car Standards will hurt Americans, increase harmful pollution, cause more than 18,000 premature deaths, and cost consumers billions of dollars at the gas pump,” Peter Zalzal, lead attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, told The New York Times . “The rollback is deeply and fundamentally flawed, it is inconsistent with the agencies’ legal duty to reduce harmful pollution and conserve fuel, and we look forward to vigorously challenging it in court.” Via The New York Times Image via Pixabay

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States sue over Trump administration’s fuel efficiency rollback

Qatar to create 16 sustainable floating hotels for World Cup

June 1, 2020 by  
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As construction of the Lusail International Stadium continues, Qatar, the country set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is also beginning to address the impending question of crowd accommodation. The massive number of fans traveling to the Middle East to enjoy the soccer competition will need a place to stay. With the growing issue of climate change and the environmental toll of tourism in mind,  sustainability  is paramount. Finnish company Admares has designed a series of “floating” hotels that will sit on the surface of the water just 15 minutes from the new stadium. While the 16 structures will be designed to float off the coast of Qetaifan Island North in the Persian Gulf, the buildings will have the capacity to be reused and moved to another coastal location for further events. The island located off Lusail City spans over 4.5 million square feet and will serve as the main activities and tourism hub for the 2022 World Cup . Related: Construction to Begin on Zaha Hadid’s 2022 World Cup Stadium in Qatar Each  building  will be four stories high and measure 236 feet by 52 feet. The structures will each contain 101 guest rooms, a restaurant and a lounge bar. Unlike other buoyant accommodations, the floating hotels will require significantly lower water depth to operate and no major ports, since the draft is much smaller than a cruise ship. Once the Word Cup has ended and the fans have gone home, the buildings can be  reused  at any coastal location with at least 13 feet of water. The modular hotels are certainly on par with the overall architectural theme of the 2022 World Cup. The Qatar stadium will feature an efficient energy-saving  system with solar canopies built to control the temperature and produce energy for the stadium and surrounding buildings. Like the hotels, the stadium is anticipated to be reused as well. The seats are to be removed, and the space will be utilized as a community center complete with shopping and dining, as well as athletic, education, and health facilities. + Admares Images via ADMARES

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Qatar to create 16 sustainable floating hotels for World Cup

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