Carbon Engineering cuts cost of carbon capture to less than $100 per ton

June 8, 2018 by  
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Carbon Engineering, a British Columbia -based company that has the financial backing of Bill Gates, has released a peer-reviewed study that demonstrates how the company’s technology is capable of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a cost of less than $100 per ton. This price represents a significant drop from current costs, which can run as high as $600 per ton. “This is a real step forward, and it’s not just our company saying it,” Carbon Engineering co-founder David Keith told BBC News . “I hope this changes views about this technology from being this thing which people think is a magic saviour which it isn’t, or that it is absurdly expensive which it isn’t, to an industrial technology that is do-able and can be developed in a useful way.” Rather than storing the captured carbon, Carbon Engineering uses it to create a synthetic fuel with hydrogen , which is pulled from water using renewable energy. “What Carbon Engineering is taking to market is first of all carbon neutral fuels, in that sense we are just another emissions-cutting technology, there is no net removal from the atmosphere,” said Keith. The company claims that its fuel has a major advantage over traditional sources of biofuel due to its far less intensive water and land production requirements. Related: Bio-inspired membrane captures 90% of CO2 in power plant emissions While Keith has admitted that there are “hundreds of ways in which we can fail,” the technology developments at Carbon Engineering are promising. “Although direct air capture cost of around $100 per ton is still somewhat steep, in our current situation where sticks and carrots for similar technologies are sorely lacking, the cost can only be brought down through further development and streamlining of individual technologies and conjugated processes,” Edda Sif Aradóttir, who has worked on a project in Iceland that turns captured carbon into rock, told BBC News . Carbon Engineering’s latest announcement is a reminder that the biggest obstacle to taking serious action against climate change is political. “The biggest challenge we are facing is, however, that the words agreed on in the Paris agreement must be followed by actions,” said Edda. The technical solutions to climate change are already available but national legislations do not provide enough incentive or obligations for them to be applied at a large scale. This must change quickly if we are to [fulfill] the Paris agreement.” Via BBC News Images via Depositphotos

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Carbon Engineering cuts cost of carbon capture to less than $100 per ton

Canada set to purchase Kinder Morgan pipeline for $4.5 billion

May 30, 2018 by  
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The Canadian government is planning to buy the Trans Mountain oil pipeline from major energy corporation Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion in an effort to secure its construction. The controversial project, which would triple the current capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline and run from the tar sands of Alberta to the Pacific Coast, is a major priority for Ottawa . The pipeline has suffered delays due to opposition from indigenous communities and environmental groups. Alberta and British Columbia have also been at odds over the potential environmental risks of the project. With the Canadian government’s financial and political support, the project is more likely to move forward. The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would vastly increase Canada’s ability to export oil to Asia. Canada possesses the world’s third largest oil reserves, but 99 percent of its oil exports are sold in the U.S.  While the government’s takeover of the project has reassured its backers that it will be built, with construction starting in August, it also raises the stakes for Ottawa. “It’s a chess move that allows the project to proceed and positions it as a national interest,” infrastructure expert Matti Siemiatycki told the Guardian . “[But] it’s also highly risky because now the government bears the risk.” The government intervention to save the project is based on the idea that investing in oil today will pay off in the future, something that is far from certain. “The pipeline expansion presumes there’s going to be a high demand for oil going forward for decades — but there’s significant risk that that may not prevail because of changing technologies and changing demand,” explained Siemiatycki. Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought Meanwhile, environmental and indigenous groups continue their opposition. “The cost that they did not calculate in their $4.5 billion purchase is that Indigenous frontlines will stop this pipeline,” Tsleil-Waututh member and Coast Salish Watch House spokesperson Will George said in a statement. “The Watch House will continue to stand in the way of pipeline development, and I will continue to meet the responsibility passed on to me by my ancestors to protect the water and land.” In a statement, Greenpeace campaigner Mike Hudema asserted that “Trudeau is gambling billions of Canadian taxpayer dollars on an oil project that will never be built — a project that Kinder Morgan itself has indicated is ‘untenable’ and that faces more than a dozen lawsuits, crumbling economics and a growing resistance movement that is spreading around the world.” Even with government support, it remains to be seen whether the project will ultimately be completed. Via the Guardian Images via Bureau of Land Management Alaska (1, 2) and William Chen

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Canada set to purchase Kinder Morgan pipeline for $4.5 billion

Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

April 20, 2018 by  
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Bottlenose dolphins typically reside in tropical or warm-temperate waters around the world — but researchers recently glimpsed a group of around 200 of the dolphins and around 70 false killer whales off northern Vancouver Island’s west coast in Canada. They said this sighting is “the only occurrence of common bottlenose dolphins recorded in Canadian Pacific waters” — and a warming trend could be to blame. In July 2017, Halpin Wildlife Research , working with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Department of Environment and Climate Change , documented the dolphins and whales. In research published this month in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records , the three researchers involved said the sighting “is the most northerly record” for common bottlenose dolphins “in the eastern North Pacific .” Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” Lead author Luke Halpin said in a statement , “The sighting is also the first offshore report of false killer whales in British Columbia. To see the two species traveling together and interacting was quite special and rare. It is known that common bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales seek each other out and interact, but the purpose of the interactions is unclear.” Warming in eastern North Pacific waters between 2013 and 2016 could be the reason for the presence of the dolphins and whales. Halpin said he’s documented warm-water species in British Columbia waters since 2014, including a loggerhead turtle and a swordfish . He said, “With marine waters increasingly warming up, we can expect to see more typically warm-water species in the northeastern Pacific.” + BioMed Central + Marine Biodiversity Records Images via Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith on Flickr and the National Park Service

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Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

LEED Gold UBC Aquatic Center boasts innovative water recycling

April 11, 2018 by  
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A striking aquatics center on the University of British Columbia Vancouver Campus melds elite-level swimming facilities with impressive eco-credentials. Designed by Canadian architecture firm MJMA , in collaboration with Acton Ostry Architects , to achieve LEED Gold certification, the UBC Aquatic Center is awash in high water demands with its three pools, hot tub, steam and sauna, drinking fountains, and 34 showers. To meet water efficiency regulations set out by UBC and LEED Gold, the architects employed an innovative water management system that includes water recycling and an underground cistern tank that can store 1.3 million liters of rainwater at a time. The 85,000-square-foot UBC Aquatic Center is more than just a recreational facility for UBC staff and students. Envisioned as a community resource, the swimming center was also created to provide a high-performance training and competition venue for Olympians and includes separated sections for Community Aquatics and Competition Aquatics. In a fitting response to the demanding brief, the architects topped the mostly glazed building with a white angular roof for that gives the facility a sense of eye-catching drama and helps facilitate rainwater collection. Combined with a long skylight that bisects the building, the continuous ceramic fritted glazing that wraps around three elevations brings in copious amounts of natural light . Sensors for zoned lighting control help reduce electricity demands. Healthy indoor air quality is promoted with an air flow system that replaces chloromine-contaminated air from the top of the water surface with fresh air. Related: Flussbad Berlin Wants to Build an Enormous Natural Swimming Pool in the City’s River Water is captured from the roof and reused for plumbing, landscape irrigation and pool top up. Rainwater collection provides the facility with around 2.7 million liters of water each year—an amount equivalent to an Olympic-sized pool. Renewable materials were also used throughout the build with approximately 30% of materials sourced from British Columbia and Washington State. + MJMA Via Architect Magazine Images by Ema Peter

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LEED Gold UBC Aquatic Center boasts innovative water recycling

Land fight could give tens of thousands of US Native Americans rights in Canada

February 22, 2018 by  
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A land battle in British Columbia could afford indigenous people residing in the United States rights in Canada . Rick Desautel, an American citizen who identifies as Sinixt, shot an elk in Canada 40 miles north of the border, and the British Columbian government decided to bring charges to court. While they lost an appeal in December, they filed papers last month to appeal again — but The Guardian said the fight could have the unintended consequence of giving Native Americans new rights . In 2010, Desautel shot an elk, dressed it, and packed the meat to his hunting camp in the western Canada forests. He called in the hunt to local conservation officers, and as a conservation officer himself, knew he’d receive tickets as an American citizen without permits to hunt in British Columbia, and then thought they’d be dropped. But the British Columbia government instead decided to take the charges to court. Over eight years, Desautel battled to show his indigenous heritage and right to hunt in the territory of his ancestors before country borders were drawn, according to The Guardian. Related: Tired of red tape, indigenous leaders are creating their own climate fund The Canadian government said the Sinixt First Nation went extinct in 1955, but Desautel identifies as one of the peoples whose territory once sprawled from Washington state into southern British Columbia. In March 2017, the court affirmed Desautel’s right to hunt in Canada and, according to The Guardian “restored the Sinixt’s legal status.” The British Columbia government seems to want to keep fighting with their appeals. But this case could have unexpected consequences. According to The Guardian, experts think the Desautel ruling might apply to tens of thousands of people living in America, giving them hunting and fishing rights in Canada. The Guardian said the British Columbia supreme court made the case about the border when they determined Desautel didn’t need to be a Canadian resident to be given hunting rights. The outlet said the United States-Canada border has acted as a barrier to recognizing the traditional lands of indigenous people. Desautel said of the border, “It cuts off my relationship to my ancestors. I can go just as far as the border. After that, [the government] says I have no more past.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Land fight could give tens of thousands of US Native Americans rights in Canada

This human-sized birdhouse for two is perched among the treetops

November 14, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wished you could make like a bird and roost in the trees, you’ll love this charming birdhouse-shaped hideaway nestled in a British Columbia forest. Calgary-based design firm Studio North recently completed Birdhut, a cozy nest for people and birds alike. Built of reclaimed pine felled by a recent fire, the tiny 100-square-foot structure uses locally scavenged materials to mimic a bird’s nest-building process. Accessible via a bridge to the hillside, the cozy one-room Birdhut sleeps two (and a dog). Salvaged lodgepodge pines were used for the cross-braced structure, while planks reclaimed from a cabin deck are used for the platform and cladding. Western Red Cedar rounded shingles clad the facade and 8-millimeter clear polycarbonate panels top the roof, letting ample natural daylight into the cabin. Two circular windows let in natural ventilation. Related: Enchanting birdhouses inspired by famous architecture Twelve smaller circular holes punctuate the facade, each designed for different native birds . “The pileated woodpecker for instance, is a larger bird that seeks out a nesting space 15 to 25 feet above ground, with a 4” entry hole and an 8”x8”x24” cavity,” wrote the designers. “The warbler, on the other hand, is a smaller bird that typically nests 9 feet above ground with a 1 1/8” hole and a 4”x4”x6” cavity. Considering both the largest and smallest varieties of local birds, the hut sits 9 feet off the ground, with its peak at 20 feet above the ground and birdhouses scattered in between.” + Studio North Images by Mark Erickson

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This human-sized birdhouse for two is perched among the treetops

Rainforest Retreat is a nature lovers escape with minimal building impact

November 10, 2016 by  
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Hidden away in the British Columbia rainforest, the 825-square-foot cabin enjoys privacy and its many windows offer carefully framed views of the landscape. The building is handsomely clad in locally milled Douglas Fir and Red Cedar, which lend the cabin a sense of warmth, while helping it blend into the surroundings. The use of timber is repeated in the interior, where it is complemented by large white surfaces for a clean and contemporary appearance. Shade from the trees and cross-breezes naturally cool the building. Related: Modern timber-framed cabin is hidden high among the tree canopy of a Swedish island “The client’s wishes for simplicity, gentle exterior appearance, a small footprint, and abundant natural light set the stage for an open sculptural form,” writes Agathom. “Great effort was taken to minimize the building’s impact on the site, resulting in a long, slim structure. Slightly twisting two main blocks of the plan, and overlapping those shapes, made a building modest in area ever expansive and full of unexpected depth.” Custom lighting enhances forest views in the dark and a periscope light was installed to guide the client when outdoors. The Rainforest Retreat was this year’s Architizer A+ Awards winner in the Popular Choice category for Private House XS. + Agathom Via Dezeen Images via Agathom

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Rainforest Solutions Project saves over 12 million acres of forest, wins 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

October 6, 2016 by  
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The Great Bear Rainforest is ” one of the largest old growth temperate rainforests on the planet .” The region is also home to around 18,000 to 20,000 First Nations peoples, whose spirituality and identities are linked to the rainforest, according to Rainforest Solutions Project . Spirit bears, or Kermode bears, also make their home in the rainforest, and it is the only place in the world where they live, according to the Save The Great Bear Rainforest Facebook page . Related: 6 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge The Rainforest Solutions Project team said in a statement, “The problems we faced are very common, although the ecosystems and First Nations cultures are unique. The process for the parties to move through conflict to collaboration required alliances and cross-cultural relationships, while holding firm to key principles. This helped us all navigate through complex issues to bring the art of the possible into being at a meaningful scale now and into the future.” According to the Buckminster Fuller Institute , the agreement the Rainforest Solutions Project team helped develop is “historically unprecendented” and is “one of the most extraordinary approaches to conservation , social justice, and indigenous rights in recent memory.” Fuller Challenge Review Committee member Bill Browning said in a statement, “Selecting the Rainforest Solutions Project as the 2016 Winner is a provocative point in the evolution of the Challenge, as design is being recognized as an integral part of business and society.” + Rainforest Solutions Project + Buckminster Fuller Institute Images via Save the Great Bear Rainforest Facebook ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ) and Dogwood BC on Flickr ( 6 , 7 )

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Rainforest Solutions Project saves over 12 million acres of forest, wins 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

First Nations community launches the largest community-owned solar power installation in British Columbia

September 9, 2016 by  
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Home to over 1,000 members of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, the Lower Nicola Indian Band is made up of a community of Interior Salish peoples that have lived for thousands of years along the Thompson and Nicola rivers in the Southern Interior of the province. The territory’s location in the heart of British Columbia’s “sun belt” region made it an ideal place for a solar installation. The project is the first phase to make the community more energy self-sufficient and will likely be followed with initiatives to help community members add solar to their private homes. Related: First Nation builds spirited solar project in the heart of Canada’s oil sands The 330-panel rooftop solar array on the Lower Nicola Indian Band School gymnasium generates up to 85.8 kilowatts of electricity. Excess energy will be fed into the local BC Hydro grid. The school will integrate the solar project into the curriculum as an opportunity to teach students about renewable energy . The solar power installation was created in partnership with W Dusk Energy Group, the principal developer that specializes in working with First Nations community in renewable energy projects and other community development initiatives. + Lower Nicola Indian Band + W Dusk Energy Group Images via W Dusk Energy Group

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First Nations community launches the largest community-owned solar power installation in British Columbia

Meet SOLO, an affordable electric three-wheeled commuter vehicle for one

September 9, 2016 by  
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Called the SOLO for short, this little electric car is downright amazing. It has three wheels—two in the front and one in the rear. The body looks a lot like every other car out there, except that its triangular shape makes it appear as though it’s been smooshed in on itself a bit. The body is built largely from carbon fiber for a durable but lightweight ride, which aids in energy efficiency as well. Related: The 10 best electric vehicles for every buyer The SOLO may be small (and a little weird looking), but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. It boasts 140 ft-lbs of torque with an engine output up to 82 hp that can rev from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 8 seconds. With a top speed of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), the SOLO is right at home on interstates and city freeways, turning an ordinary commute into an emission-free breeze. The SOLO also features all-wheel disc brakes and sporty 15” aluminum alloy wheels make it easy to stop on a dime. Electra Meccanica recognizes that range anxiety can be a big turn-off for prospective EV buyers, so the SOLO was built with a 16.1 kWh Lithium Ion battery capable of providing up to six hours of run time and maximum range of 100 miles on a single charge. The average American commutes around 26 miles each way, so the SOLO provides more than enough coverage for a daily trek between the home and the office, with a few side trips thrown in for good measure. (That’s right. The SOLO may be tiny and only seat one person, but it still has room for groceries.) Electra Meccanica found that some 80 percent of commuters travel alone, so a single-seater commuter vehicle that happens to be better for the environment is so many “wins” we can’t keep track. Did we mention this cute little commuter is affordable, to boot? With a starting price of just $15,400 ($19,888 CAD), the SOLO fits comfortably into a wide range of car-buying budgets . Electra Meccanica is accepting pre-orders with a small refundable deposit for a very limited time. “The entire team here at Electra Meccanica is excited to unveil the SOLO at the Luxury and Supercar show,” said CEO Jerry Kroll. “Most people had a good idea of what the SOLO would become, but they will be impressed by its clever design and meticulous attention to detail. It far exceeded our expectations.” Same here, Jerry. Same here. + 2017 Electra Meccanica SOLO Images via Electra Meccanica

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Meet SOLO, an affordable electric three-wheeled commuter vehicle for one

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