Mine waste dams threaten the environment, even when they don’t fail

March 17, 2020 by  
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The environmental damage and human health hazards that these activities create may be both severe and irreversible.

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Mine waste dams threaten the environment, even when they don’t fail

Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India

February 24, 2020 by  
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Southeast of New Delhi, in Greater Noida City, Rahul Jain Design Lab (RJDL) has transformed recycled shipping containers into a dynamic new cafe and gathering space for ITS Dental College. Named Cafe Infinity after its infinity loop shape, the building was created as an example of architecture that can be both economical and eco-friendly. The architects’ focus on sustainability has also informed the shape and positioning of the cafe for natural cooling. Cafe Infinity serves as a recreational space for ITS Dental College students, faculty and patients. The team deliberately left the corrugated metal walls of the 40-foot-long recycled shipping containers in their raw and industrial state to highlight the building’s origins. The rigid walls of the containers also provide an interesting point of contrast to the organic landscape. Related: Shipping container retreat in Brazil is inspired by tiny homes “The idea of using infinity was conceived to emphasize on the infinite possibilities of using a shipping container as a structural unit, regardless of the building type and site,” the architects explained of the building’s infinity loop shape that wraps around two courtyards. “The flexibility, modularity and sustainability makes shipping containers a perfect alternate to the conventional building structures, to reduce the overall carbon footprint while also being an ecologically and economically viable solution.” In addition to two cafe outlets and courtyards, Cafe Infinity also includes viewing decks, bathrooms, seating areas for faculty and visitors and a student lounge. To promote natural cooling , the architects turned the shipping container doors into louvers and installed them on the south side of the building to minimize unwanted solar gain while providing privacy. The building was also equipped with 50-millimeter Rockwool insulation, a mechanical cooling system, strategically placed openings and tinted windows.  + RJDL Photography by Rahul Jain via RJDL

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Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India

Brazilian home uses solar energy for 100% self-sufficiency

February 6, 2020 by  
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Brazilian firm  24 7 Arquitetura  has set a stunning modern home into a challenging mountainous landscape in Brazil’s Nova Lima region. In addition to the home’s contemporary aesthetic, which is comprised of several exposed concrete blocks, the residence is completely self-sustaining thanks to its massive rooftop  solar array  that generates all the power the home needs. Located north of Rio de Janeiro, Nova Lima is a mountainous region known for its mining sector. The area is marked by rugged low and high-rising topography covered in lush vegetation. Although the undulating landscape presented several challenges for the 24 7 Arquitetura team, the architects managed to use the natural layout to the benefit of the contemporary home . Related: Solar-powered residence in Thailand takes on a sculptural form with cantilevering cubes According to the architects, the solution to the building lot’s slope was to set the home’s main social areas at the highest elevation possible, jutting out of the sloped hill, but above the tree canopy. This allowed the main living area to open up to a large outdoor space with a swimming pool and outdoor lounge area. Building the home into the landscape also led the design to be slightly tilted to the east, which enables the home’s interior to be shaded from the harsh sun rays during the summertime. Additionally, the designers planted two trees in the middle of the home’s outdoor deck to provide additional shade and let  natural light  subtly filter into the living spaces. The first floor of the home was built out to house the garage, laundry facilities and extra storage while the second floor is at the heart of the home. The large open-plan living area opens up to a large deck via massive sliding glass doors, leading to the infinity  swimming pool . The top floor houses the master bedroom with an ensuite bath and open-air balcony space to take in the stunning views. At over 4,000 square feet, the home is a massive structure that requires a lot of energy. Thankfully, this energy is produced by a large rooftop solar array that produces about 1400kW per month. This not only generates enough energy for the home, but also for heating the pool water. + 24 7 Arquitetura Via Archdaily Photography by Pedro Kok

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Brazilian home uses solar energy for 100% self-sufficiency

6 lessons on zero-carbon energy systems from countries leading the way

February 6, 2020 by  
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From Brazil to Denmark and India to Turkey, nations around the world are strategizing to decarbonize.

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6 lessons on zero-carbon energy systems from countries leading the way

Tiny prefab cabins in Brazilian forest assembled in under two days

February 5, 2020 by  
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Brazilian architecture firm  Porto Quadrado  has revealed a serene refuge composed of three prefab cabins tucked into the wilderness of Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul. The Alpes São Chico Housing Complex is comprised of three tiny cabins, all made out of  structural insulated panels (SIP), which were assembled on-site in less than two days. The result is a low impact refuge that lets its homeowners reconnect with nature. According to the architects, they were first approached by a family who was looking to create a single building that would be shared by three families. Once they began to explore the incredibly remote location, however, the plan blossomed into another concept completely. Instead of one large structure with various bedrooms, the remote landscape inspired the designers to create three separate  tiny cabins  that would be oriented to make the most out of the incredible setting. Related: Tiny prefab timber cabin in New Zealand designed to be serene art studio To bring their concept to fruition economically and sustainably, the architects decided to use prefabricated materials. All of the project’s 48  prefabricated (SIP) panels were constructed off-site and brought to the building site to be assembled. Using the prefab model, the team was able to put together three, roughly 376-square-foot cubes all in less than two days. This process allowed the designers to not only reduce time and costs, but also reduce the impact of the entire project. The resulting complex, known as the Alpes São Chico Housing Complex, is comprised of three cubed SIP structures clad in a waterproof metal membrane. Metal was chosen to add extra durability and  resilience  to the cabins. It also helps to insulate the interior spaces, keeping the living spaces warm and cozy during cold or rainy weather. The cabins have all of the basics of a conventional house, but with an extremely strong  connection to the outdoors . The orientation of the modules’ layout was centered around creating a mixed indoor/outdoor space for each cabin that would create a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. Comprised of a minimalist layout with sparse furnishings, the interior houses a small bed and sofa, as well as a kitchenette and bathroom. At the heart of the tiny cabins,  however, is a small living room that opens up to a large open-air deck that becomes an integral part of the living area. + Porto Quadrado Via Archdaily Photography by Alessandro Quevedo

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Tiny prefab cabins in Brazilian forest assembled in under two days

This modular, shipping container home was completed in 2 months

February 3, 2020 by  
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Completed in March 2019, this modular home in the East Hampton town of Amagansett, Long Island encompasses a kitchen, four bedrooms and three bathrooms within 1,800 square feet of living space. Four repurposed 40-by-8 -foot shipping containers were used to construct the main part of the structure, two placed side-by-side and two more stacked on top. The inside was then carved out to create a larger interior space. The whole building was installed in two days and fully completed in two months. New York-based architecture firm MB Architecture is responsible for the project. The proposed site was a triangular, wooded corner lot on high ground that the clients hoped to turn into a summer and year-round weekend home with a large outdoor space and enough room for a pool and a lawn. Although the building site was restrictive, its high elevation provided beautiful views and plenty of natural light. Related: This container home in Brazil helps its residents disconnect In addition to the limited construction site, the clients were also set on sticking to a strict budget, which, after examination, proved to be much lower than the original projected costs. The shipping container method presented the perfect solution, significantly lowering the costs of construction while offering a unique design strategy. MB Architecture proposed prefabricating the building off-site and lowering the cost of transportation and materials by using the shipping containers.  The designers installed a wide staircase, which took up the width of a single shipping container , and extended the high living room ceiling to create a landing area that faces the backyard. Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows were added to take advantage of the natural sunlight and provide breathtaking views of the sunset and spacious outdoor area. An additional shipping container guest house consisting of two bedrooms was strategically placed away from the main structure to create a courtyard in between the two buildings, making the property feel larger. + MB Architecture Via AN Interior Photography by Matthew Carbone via MB Architecture

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This modular, shipping container home was completed in 2 months

Statistic of the decade: 8.4 million soccer fields of land deforested in the Amazon

January 3, 2020 by  
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That’s equivalent to about 10.3 million American football fields.

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Statistic of the decade: 8.4 million soccer fields of land deforested in the Amazon

Unilever ambitiously pledges to cut use of new plastics in half by 2025

October 8, 2019 by  
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To better align with green initiatives worldwide, the British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever recently pledged to invest in a more circular economy for plastics via a two-part plan. First, by the year 2025, Unilever will halve the bulk of its non-recycled plastic packaging waste. Secondly, the company will accelerate its recycling endeavors by focusing more on collecting and processing waste plastic rather than selling single-use virgin plastics. Unilever shared on its website that it pledges to “make the blue planet blue again” and especially commits to “making sustainable living commonplace.” To do so, the company will follow a three-pronged approach: 1) investing and partnering to better the waste management infrastructure, 2) purchasing and utilizing recycled plastics, rather than virgin plastics, in its packaging and 3) participating in extended responsibility programs that directly pay for the collection of all Unilever packaging. Related: Unilever’s energy-efficient office is one of the greenest in Europe Currently, Unilever uses about 700,000 tons of plastic packaging annually. To curb its association with the growing plastic pollution crisis, the company will cut its plastic use by 100,000 tons. Unilever vows to replace single-use plastic packaging with recycled materials in a shift toward reusable, refillable and even compostable alternatives. Unilever will also annually collect and recycle more than 600,000 tons of plastic. “Our plastic is our responsibility, and so we are committed to collecting back more than we sell, as part of our drive toward a circular economy,” said Alan Jope, Unilever CEO. “This is a daunting but exciting task, which will help drive global demand for recycled plastic.” Unilever is a portfolio powerhouse, owning many popular brands in both the food and cosmetics industries. It is the parent company that manufactures and distributes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Breyers ice cream, Klondike bars, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Knorr spices and Lipton ice tea.  Among its many cosmetics lines, Unilever owns Brut aftershave, Dove soap, Noxzema, Pond’s, Q-tips, Suave shampoo and conditioner and Vaseline. Despite its behemoth range of products that rely on plastic packaging, Unilever has been operating under the “Less, Better, No” plastic framework, planning to eliminate unnecessary packaging by innovating with the refill, reuse and recycled plastic sector as it moves away from virgin plastics. “Over the last five years, Unilever has collaborated with many partners to collect plastic packaging, including the United Nations Development Programme, to help segregate, collect and recycle packaging across India,” reads a company press release. “In addition, it has helped to establish almost 3,000 waste banks in Indonesia, offering more than 400,000 people the opportunity to recycle their waste. In Brazil, Unilever has a long-running partnership with retailer Grupo Pão de Açúcar to help collect waste through drop-off stations.” + Unilever Image via Shutterstock

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Unilever ambitiously pledges to cut use of new plastics in half by 2025

NYC bans processed meats served in public schools

October 8, 2019 by  
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In an effort to improve the Big Apple’s public health, all processed meats will no longer be offered at New York City public school and public university cafeterias. That means no pepperoni, bacon, cold-cut deli meats, sausages or hot dogs for lunch. The new ban follows on the heels of the city’s successful test-run across all city schools of Meatless Mondays. Policymakers and education officials say the decision to adopt Resolution 238 is thanks to scientific evidence linking disease and other ailments with red and processed meats . The move paves the way to healthier food choices, minimizing any associated health risks. Related: Meatless Mondays are coming to public schools in New York City Over the years, the World Health Organization has warned that processed meats are carcinogenic, increase the likelihood of obesity and pre-diabetes among children and teens and elevate risk factors associated with heart disease, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer rates among young adults. But these conditions, researchers say, are preventable through dietary and lifestyle changes. Similarly, the National Cancer Institute announced that young people of today exhibit double to quadruple the risks of colorectal cancers, when compared to those of the 1950s. Why? Sadly, today’s youth have diets low in fiber and high in processed meats, exacerbated by lifestyles lacking in physical activity . Even more worrisome, studies have shown just one hot dog or two bacon strips per day increases colorectal cancer risks by 18 percent. “We cannot continue feeding our children substances scientifically proven to increase cancer later in life,” said Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams. “Chicken nuggets and sloppy joes are in the same class of substances as cigarettes. We know that we would never give our children cigarettes to smoke, so there’s absolutely no reason why we should continue poisoning our children’s health with processed foods .” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics affirms that those following plant-based diets show lower rates of health complications than their omnivorous counterparts. In other words, curbing unhealthy meat consumption and removing processed meats from school menus is a positive change for students’ health. By offering more nutritious meals on public school campuses, from preschool through university, all NYC students can be better nourished, likely boosting academic performance and overall well-being. In September 2018, the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) became the first school district in the country to remove processed meats from all school lunch lines. This recent ban in such a large metropolitan area shows that the move toward providing plant-based alternatives for more nutritious school meals is gaining momentum. + Resolution 238 Via TreeHugger Image via Shutterstock

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Award-winning sustainable retreat offers a stylish defense against fire

September 20, 2019 by  
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Australian architectural firm Steendijk’s Bellbird Retreat is proof that designing for fire safety doesn’t have to mean compromising aesthetics. Located in pristine bushland about two hours southwest from Brisbane, the award-winning weekend escape features a striking, weathered steel roof and stellar landscape views as well as a reduced environmental footprint thanks to a rainwater harvesting system and optimized passive design elements. Located on a 141-hectare bush site in Killarney, the Bellbird Retreat is in an area at high risk of fire. To protect the house from devastating bushfires, the architects installed thick brick walls and a fire-resistant roof that uses weathered steel pleats, rather than combustible timber rafters, for the structural support of a single-span structure with unsupported cantilevered eaves. Computer modeling informed the shape and size of the roof, which fans out across the house with deep overhangs to provide protection from solar heat gain. Related: A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil “On approach, Bellbird Retreat appears fortress-like with the pleated steel roof crowning three pivoting brick blades that tie the dwelling inextricably to the site while sheltering the building from wind, sun and fire,” the architects explained. “The building sits boldly, carved into the landscape. It is positioned to maximize the mountain saddle for recreational use, enticing the occupant through sliding corner doors that peel back.” Elevated on a cantilevered concrete floor slab, the north-facing Bellbird Retreat spans 721 square feet and includes two bedrooms on the west side with a shared bathroom in between and an open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen on the east end. Fronted with floor-to-ceiling glass, the light-filled interior is dressed in a minimalist palette of locally grown indigenous hoop pine used for the joinery, doors, walls and ceilings. More impressive is the endless views of the landscape that residents can enjoy from dawn until nightfall. + Steendijk Via ArchDaily Images via Steendijk

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Award-winning sustainable retreat offers a stylish defense against fire

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