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

Sublime tiny cabins in British Columbia that can be installed within hours

September 2, 2016 by  
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The cabin is intended for urban dwellers who don’t want to buy all the camping gear, but still want to get back to nature from time to time. Named “The Cobby”, the structure can also be used by those looking for a small office space or a romantic getaway. It comes at 104 square feet, just a few feet under the square footage which requires a building permit in Canada . Related: Fully-furnished tiny house from France easily fits a family of three All the materials used for building these cabins are sourced from Canada, including the sustainably harvested cedar used for cladding. Low-voltage LEDs are included in the package, with the option of adding a solar energy solution. Among the main features is the fact that the cabins can be easily installed in a few hours. The Cobby can be purchased at USD $19,200, and can be customized to include a deck and a washroom. + The Little Cabin Company Via Treehugger Photos via The Little Cabin Company

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Sublime tiny cabins in British Columbia that can be installed within hours

7 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

August 23, 2016 by  
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Cooperación Comunitaria In 2013, Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid ravaged La Montaña, one of the poorest and most marginalized areas of Mexico. Home to over three-quarters of the Mexican state Guerrero’s indigenous population, the beautiful but devastated area struggled to get back on its feet in the wake of mass destruction. Cooperación Comunitaria was founded to radically improve the population’s living conditions with a comprehensive model that begins with community outreach and ends with projects that integrate both local indigenous culture and modern, eco-friendly techniques. One such example is the organization’s program to build affordable and earthquake-resistant homes constructed from local materials . Taking Root’s CommuniTree The World Wildlife Fund estimates that between 46 to 58,000 square miles of forest are lost every year—equivalent to 48 football fields every minute. CommuniTree tackles deforestation with a comprehensive reforestation and carbon sequestration strategy that also aims to help turn the tide on poverty and climate change. The project is currently working with thousands of smallholding rural farming families in Nicaragua by providing economic incentives that encourage sustainable land-use change. PITCHAfrica’s Waterbank Schools PITCHAfrica designed and implemented the Waterbank School , an innovative rain-harvesting school campus model for Africa that comprises education buildings integrated with rainwater harvesting , collection, and filtering systems. By using buildings to collect water rather than female labor, more girls and women are able to attend the Waterbank Schools. The nonprofit says school attendance has risen by at least a quarter, and often as high as 95%. The Sentinel Project’s Una Hakika Canada-based nonprofit The Sentinel Project launched Una Hakika as part of their mission to prevent genocide worldwide. Described as a “hybrid of communications technology, social insight, and beneficial use of social media,” the Una Hakika project aims to use online and offline measures to empower ordinary citizens in combating misinformation that can lead to violence or genocide. The pilot has helped defused conflict between farmers and herders in Kenya’s Tana Delta and is now being tested in Burma to prove that it can be replicated in different contexts. Urban Death Project The Urban Death Project (UDP) wants to turn corpses into compost as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to burials and cremations. The UDP designed Recomposition centers that would safely decompose dead bodies into nutrient compost. The building would be a hybrid between a public park, funeral home, and memorial space. The first full-scale Recomposition center is slated to pop up in Seattle, Washington. Rainforest Solutions Project British Columbia’s enormous coastal rainforests are rich with resources and life, which is why they’ve become the target of many different interest groups including the government, First Nations, environmentalists, and logging companies. In an effort to protect the rainforests, Greenpeace, ForestEthics Solutions, and Sierra Club BC founded the Rainforest Solutions Project to promote conservation options and economic alternatives to industrial logging. One of their most recent successes is the historic 250-year agreement between different parties to conserve and sustainably manage the 15-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest, the world’s largest old-growth temperate rainforest. + Buckminster Fuller Institute

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7 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

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