The National Butterfly Center is threatened by Trump’s border wall

November 2, 2018 by  
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The National Butterfly Center is a 100-acre wildlife preserve and botanical garden in South Texas. Not only is it the habitat of more than 100 different species of butterflies, but it is also home to several endangered plants and threatened animals. It happens to be located directly in the path of the Trump administration’s proposed border wall, and that means its future is in question. In September, Congress approved a federal spending bill that included $1.6 billion to fund the wall’s construction, and last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a waiver of 28 different laws that protect public lands, wildlife and the environment in order for construction. If the planned wall actually becomes a reality, it could cut the privately-owned center in two, leaving up to 70 percent of the preserve’s land between the wall and the Rio Grande. “It’s going to be a no-man’s land, Border Patrol’s enforcement zone,” Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, told NPR . “They will clear everything. So it’s not like all of this habitat is going to become Garden of Eden, undisturbed. It is going to be eliminated.” Related: Trump’s border wall threatens Texas plants and wildlife A group of scientists published a paper this summer outlining the proposed wall’s negative environmental impacts, and more than 2,700 scientists signed the paper to call on the Trump administration to rethink its border strategy. They would prefer the DHS follow existing environmental laws and avoid physical barriers. There are also multiple lawsuits pending against the Trump administration arguing that the DHS doesn’t have the authority to waive environmental laws to build the wall. But in the past, similar lawsuits in California and New Mexico have been unsuccessful. Wall construction could begin in February 2019. In the meantime, the butterfly preserve will continue to use its property as though the wall will not be built. “We have long-term plans for this place,” Trevino Wright said. “We’re not going to just pack up and abandon that.” + National Butterfly Center Via NPR Images via Alan Schmierer ( 1 , 2 )

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KOGAA creates an energy self-sufficient City Cell in response to climate change

November 2, 2018 by  
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Galvanized by the growing debate on climate change , Brno-based KOGAA Architectural Studio and NEXT Institute Research Platform have teamed up to create the City Cell Prototype (CCP), a pop-up installation that serves as a testing ground for ways cities can combat climate extremes. Completed this year, the temporary pavilion of nearly 300 square feet is presently located at Malinovsky Square in Brno, Czech Republic’s second-largest city. Built of timber and powered by solar energy, the City Cell Prototype is a multifunctional design that includes rainwater reuse, urban greenery, human shelter and educational opportunities. The City Cell Prototype is primarily constructed from pre-dried KVH timber, a material that has the added benefit of not requiring any additional protective coatings. Elevated off the ground on footings, the wooden structure is centered on a tree set inside a “biofilter.” To make the pavilion look inviting to the public, KOGAA inserted low-slung seating and made the all-timber envelope as transparent as possible using slatted wood screens and two entrances. In addition to the tree, planters have been installed on both ends of the structure, with one wall comprising rows of street-facing planters. Despite the pavilion’s minimalist appearance, the structure features multiple systems that work together to ensure energy self-sufficiency. The sloped roofs, which are made from a translucent material to let light through, are angled to channel rainwater into the centrally located biofilter, where the runoff is then filtered through settling and phyto-processes. Once filtered, the rainwater is stored in tanks and then pumped up to a drip irrigation system connected to the pavilion’s planters. The water pump is powered by solar energy harvested from photovoltaic panels mounted to the roof; solar power also provides electricity for the LED lighting system. Related: An experimental greenhouse pops up at a busy Copenhagen intersection “Together with the vertical greenery, the biofilter allows water retention and evaporation, allowing the surrounding microclimate to cool down,” the architects explained. “Its shape develops from the need to provide shading, collect water and the intent to create a spatial communication between the new object and the existing square, also achieved through the two-sided openness.” After the testing period, the CCP could be included in more permanent projects. + KOGAA Architectural Studio Images via Boys Play Nice

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KOGAA creates an energy self-sufficient City Cell in response to climate change

4 things you need to know about smart thermostats

November 2, 2018 by  
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Stuart Lombard has a mission: to reduce people’s carbon footprints while saving money. He found that heating and cooling made up the bulk of utility costs and searched to find a better way to monitor a home’s energy usage. He founded ecobee in 2007. The company developed a smart thermostat that allegedly saves people up to 23 percent a year on their heating and cooling bills. Some energy companies also offer rebates on smart thermostats, saving homeowners even more money. ecobee offers a few different products; the ecobee4, a smart Wi-Fi thermostat with room sensors, currently retails for $249. But even better than saving money, smart thermostats can help you do your part in reducing energy consumption and protecting the environment. Here are four things to know about smart thermostats. Reduces your carbon footprint Riding a bike to work instead of driving a car and installing solar panels are all positive steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint, but there are easier things you can do as well that will have little impact on your day-to-day life. Things like closing your curtains at night can have a positive impact on your heating and cooling bills and the environment. Lombard said, “There are some other great things like looking at your home and eliminating drafts, doing weather stripping, caulking, those are easy DIY projects for a lot of people.” Heating and cooling make up 40 to 70 percent of a home’s energy use, according to ecobee. In addition to making small changes yourself, a smart thermostat can greatly reduce this. Saves money Smart thermostats like the ecobee save you money in the long run. Lombard added, “The exciting thing about thermostats is from a consumer value proposition … it pays for itself in about a year.” Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Works with other technology A major trend right now is connecting all devices in your home. ecobee smart thermostats offer remote access from devices like your phone through an app. The ecobee4 works with Alexa — you can simply give Alexa a command to control your thermostat. Earlier models, like the ecobee3 lite, were Wi-Fi connected but did not have voice technology . Makes decisions for you The word “smart” is often thrown around to describe technological advancements. Generally speaking, smart technology is connected to the internet, which allows you to connect to a different device from your phone. The technology can use algorithms and other data to make decisions. Lombard said, “Our smart thermostats use weather to make smarter heater and cooling decisions.” The ecobee uses wireless room sensors to measure hot and cold spots in houses. It can also sense if someone is home or not and heat or cool the house accordingly. Because smart technology is connected to the internet, you can get frequent software updates, meaning devices work for longer periods of time. Whether you are looking to save some money each month on your utility bills or you want to do your part in saving the planet, investing in a smart thermostat is a good bet. + ecobee

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"Have to have see-through," says Trump of border wall

March 14, 2018 by  
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President Donald Trump stopped in Otay Mesa during his trip to California to inspect eight prototypes of the potential border wall . His feedback? “You have to have see-through,” Trump told reporters, according to CBS Los Angeles . “You have to know what’s on the other side of the wall. You could be two feet away from a criminal cartel and you don’t even know they’re there.” If we don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. Congress must fund the BORDER WALL & prohibit grants to sanctuary jurisdictions that threaten the security of our country & the people of our country. We must enforce our laws & protect our people! #BuildTheWall pic.twitter.com/NGqNueukvj — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018 Trump examined 30-foot border wall prototypes during his first trip to California since he won the election. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported he preferred a combination of a see-through wall topped with steel or rounded concrete to make it harder for climbers to scale. Archinect said there were solid, opaque options as well as four other materials, non-concrete prototypes Trump appeared to favor. Related: Artists are turning the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the world’s longest peace-themed mural The president said, “If you don’t have a wall system, we’re not going to have a country. There’s a lot of problems in Mexico , they have the cartels. We’re fighting the cartels, we’re fighting them hard.” Trump also addressed criticism about the border wall from California’s governor, Jerry Brown , saying he thinks the governor “has done a very poor job running California” and “the place is totally out of control.” “You have sanctuary cities where you have criminals living in the sanctuary cities,” he said. Brown responded on Twitter , saying bridges are better than walls. ? Thanks for the shout-out, @realDonaldTrump . But bridges are still better than walls. And California remains the 6th largest economy in the world and the most prosperous state in America. #Facts — Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) March 13, 2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune said hordes of both supporters and critics gathered throughout San Diego, and people were largely peaceful, but for shouting insults at the other side, and a Mexican flag was torn and almost burned. CBS Los Angeles said people peacefully protested Trump’s visit, chanting, “No ban! No wall!” Via CBS Los Angeles , The San Diego Union-Tribune , and Archinect Image via U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Flickr

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Eight prototypes for Trump’s wall near US-Mexico border pass military tests for impenetrability

February 13, 2018 by  
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Filed under the category of depressing news, eight prototypes for Trump’s border wall have been erected at the US-Mexico border in San Diego’s Otay Mesa area for testing. Over the past few months, the 30-foot wall sections have been assessed for breach-ability by the US Customs and Borders Protection agency, using sledgehammers, pickaxes, saws and various power tools. The result? Totally impenetrable, according to military testing. Muro de oro, sueño americano A post shared by Jill Marie Holslin (@jillholslin) on Oct 24, 2017 at 12:32am PDT The prototypes were submitted by the six companies that were chosen out of 250 by the Department of Homeland Security during the bidding process launched in February of 2017. The winning design may or may not serve to help Donald Trump fulfill his campaign promise of strengthening the border between the US and Mexico . Related: Solar-powered ‘ecotopia’ proposed as alternative to Trump’s border wall All of the eight designs are made from concrete , which was specified in the tender process. Other materials include steel reinforcements, as well as metal and an unspecified transparent material. One solid concrete wall is even topped with steel mesh and spikes. No word yet on whether the winning design will be outfitted with solar panels, as Trump has suggested. Tactical teams have spent the past few months attacking the wall to determine if it can stand up against penetration. Now, the teams have determined that the walls all pass muster. No word on which design Trump favors, but the testers said that the design with see-through steel barriers at the top was particularly “good”. It is likely that the final wall will include the best elements of each design. However, the wall installation is still far from reality. The various proposals for the project’s funding, which has an estimated price tag of $1.6 billion, have been stalled in the Senate for months and the state of California has filed a lawsuit to block its construction. Trump’s recently submitted budget proposal includes funding for the wall, but the budget has to pass congress approval before it would go forward. Via Dezeen and the LA Times Images via Wikipedia and EdmondMeinfelder

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Eight prototypes for Trump’s wall near US-Mexico border pass military tests for impenetrability

Cards Against Humanity buys land on the US-Mexico border to block Trump’s wall

November 15, 2017 by  
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You may have gotten some laughs from the irreverent Cards Against Humanity game in the past, but now the people behind the “party game for horrible people” have a higher objective: stop Donald Trump’s border wall. The company bought land on the border and worked with a law firm to make it harder for the Trump administration to act on its plan – and they asked fans to chip in $15 for a piece of the land in their new Cards Against Humanity Saves America campaign. Cards Against Humanity doesn’t want to see a United States-Mexico border wall erected, so they’re working to thwart Trump with their recent land purchase. On their campaign page, they said, “Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans. He is so afraid that he wants to build a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing. So we’ve purchased a plot of vacant land on the border and retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built.” Related: Provocative street art installation shows baby peering over US-Mexico border wall Those who gave Cards Against Humanity $15 earned “six America-saving surprises” during the holidays. The company has been quiet about most of the surprises, but they did say backers could expect an illustrated map of the land they purchased, new cards, and a certificate of their promise to battle Trump’s border wall. Other surprises are set to be delivered in December. The campaign seems to have resonated with Americans – The Washington Post reported it sold out in hours. This isn’t the first time Cards Against Humanity has gotten political , using humor to draw attention to current issues. For example, earlier this year they created a Weed Pack and donated proceeds to the Marijuana Public Policy Project to fight for legalization. They also sent potatoes to Republican Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson to persuade him to hold a town hall about the Affordable Care Act. + Cards Against Humanity Saves America Images via Cards Against Humanity Saves America and Anthony Albright on Flickr

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Provocative street art installation shows baby peering over US-Mexico border wall

September 18, 2017 by  
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Renowned street artist JR has installed a provocative new piece on the US-Mexico border. Best-known for his artistic commentary on social issues, JR reportedly designed a poster of a large baby peering over the border fence from the Mexican side. MyModernMet reported that the piece was installed in response to Donald Trump’s border wall rhetoric, as well as his efforts to rescind the DACA program that protects children of undocumented immigrants from being deported. The installation, entitled Kikito, is visible from the American side. Marc Azoulay, who manages JR’s New York Studio, said Kikito is the nickname of a 1-year-old Mexican boy who resides in Tecate, Mexico, where the installation is located. The activist and his team constructed an enormous wooden frame to support the gigantic poster. The project organized with renowned curator Pedro Alonzo  (who has worked with  Os Gemeos ,  Banksy , and  Swoon ) is still a work in progress. Work in progress on the Mexican side of the US/MEXICO border A post shared by JR (@jr) on Sep 6, 2017 at 1:33pm PDT Related: Street artist uses reverse graffiti to transform dirty cars into animal art As MyModernMet reports, JR’s work always centers on faces. His goal is to prove that if we look at one another without prejudice, the world would be a much different and better place. For his work on the separation wall between Israel and Palestine , for instance, the street artist pasted Palestinian portraits on the Israeli side and Israeli portraits on the Palestinian side. When all was done, people couldn’t distinguish one from the other. This newest installation is additional evidence that JR isn’t afraid to tackle difficult topics. JR told MyModernMet : “I think there is no such thing as art trying to change the world. But being an artist and creating art in tons of different contexts, no matter what the mood is and sometimes against the codes that stand around you, is a way of breaking society and changing the world—just by trying.” It was immensely gratifying to work on this project on the US/Mexico border with @JR and his amazing team. Thank you to everyone who made this possible. A post shared by Pedro Alonzo (@trucatriche) on Sep 6, 2017 at 11:09pm PDT ART PROJECT at the US/MEXICAN border – live now A post shared by JR (@jr) on Sep 5, 2017 at 10:46am PDT + JR Via MyModernMet Images via JR

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Provocative street art installation shows baby peering over US-Mexico border wall

Trump actually wants to build a border wall covered in solar panels

June 7, 2017 by  
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For all of the crazy concepts that people have come up with for Trump’s border wall , Trump’s own design might just be the most surprising of all. The climate change-Denier-in-Chief recently pitched to congressional Republicans the idea of building a renewable power-generating border wall covered in solar panels. According to Trump, the barriers would be “beautiful structures” that will pay for themselves. When Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate agreement , he claimed that it would somehow continue to be the greenest country in the world. According to Axios , Trump intends to do that by proposing a border wall that will generate clean energy. The energy that will be generated by the wall will be used to pay for itself. Related: Donald Trump would probably hate this crossable border wall Trump pictures the wall as a 50-foot high structure covered in solar panels . Realistically, a solar wall along the southern border has a lot of logistical challenges, though it could be possible to build a one that pays for itself. During the meeting, Trump told congressional representatives that they could talk about the solar wall as long as they mentioned that it was his idea (it wasn’t). While this latest concept may be an improvement on the border wall in general, talking about the wall is really just a distraction from the conversation about whether or not there should be a wall at all. On the bright side, at least we know now that Trump thinks solar is a viable and cost-effective technology for government projects, right? Via GTM Images via Gleason Partners and Flickr

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Trump actually wants to build a border wall covered in solar panels

Giant glass orb in Paris is wrapped with a rotating solar sail that follows the sun

June 7, 2017 by  
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Architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines teamed up to create the stunning, solar-powered Seine Musicale located on Seguin Island in Paris. The shimmering glass globe is framed within by Ban’s beloved timber , and its exterior is wrapped with a massive solar panel “sail” that rotates around the building to follow the sun. Located in Paris’ Boulogne-Billancourt suburb, the urban project is part of Jean Nouvel’s Island Master Plan for Seguin Island . The multi-use building comprises a concert seating hall with a capacity of 4,000, a classical music hall that seats 1,150, along with various rehearsal and recording rooms. Additionally, the building is surrounded by ample green space for visitors and practicing musicians. Related: Elliptical Music Pavilion in Austria is made from locally-sourced silver fir Although the exterior is clad in glass panels, that doesn’t mean that timber-loving Ban has forsaken his green building material of choice. The hexagonal globe frame, including the building’s beehive ceiling, is made out of timber. However, the star feature of the design is undoubtedly the massive triangular sail covered in solar panels. The sail will constantly rotate, following the path of the sun in order to provide the building with optimal solar energy throughout the day. The large covering also acts as a solar shield for the building’s all-glass Grand Foyer. A spokesperson from Shigeru Ban Architects explained that the building’s design was carefully crafted to fit into Nouvel’s urban plan for the area, hopefully becoming an eco-friendly icon for the developing area, “This environmentally friendly sail will ultimately become a new identity for the complex. It is expected to become a new symbol as the western gate into Paris.” + Shigeru Ban + Jean de Gastines Via Arch Daily Photographs via Luc Boegly & Sergio Grazia

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Giant glass orb in Paris is wrapped with a rotating solar sail that follows the sun

Trump will give architects just five days to submit proposals for a Mexican border wall

February 28, 2017 by  
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Donald Trump is pushing ahead with his campaign promise to build a massive border wall between the US and Mexico, disregarding criticisms about the cost and physical feasibility of the project. Despite the fact that the wall will be a massive infrastructure project, the administration seems to be in a rush to begin work as soon as possible – last week, the Department of Homeland Security issued an open call for designs – but architects have just five days to submit their proposals. There’s won’t be a lengthy period to prepare for the open call period, either – submissions open soon, starting on March 6th and closing on March 10th. The administration plans to choose a set of finalists by March 20th and to make final contract awards in mid-April. In a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 24th, Trump claimed construction would begin as soon as possible, calling the project “way, way, way ahead of schedule.” Related: Mexican designers envision Trump’s border wall in “all of its gorgeous perversity” Architects and designers have, of course, already published numerous plans for the border wall online, although none of their suggestions are likely to please the new President. One Mexican design firm suggested a hot pink wall that would cut through cities, across rivers, and through mountain ranges. Another suggested building it out of recycled shipping containers . One other tongue-in-cheek suggestion involved an Ikea-style instruction booklet for building the 1,000-mile barrier. Related: Trump plans to officially order Mexico border wall Despite an estimated price tag of potentially billions of dollars , it’s still unclear exactly how the wall is going to be funded . The rush to award a contract seems a bit premature in light of the budgeting issues involved. Via Dezeen Images via Wikipedia and EdmondMeinfelder

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