Thousands of animals have been displaced by California wildfires

November 14, 2018 by  
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The California wildfires are raging on, but humans aren’t the only ones in danger. Thousands of pets and farm animals have received attention in Northern and Southern California while over 400 square miles continue to burn. Over the past few days, the fires have led to mass evacuations, jammed roads and packed shelters. The animals caught in the blazes are also trying to figure out where to escape. In Malibu last Friday, horses, goats and alpacas packed the shoreline along with humans, and a parking lot became an evacuation zone. Multiple photos have surfaced of animals tied to things like lifeguard towers and fences while smoke fills the background. Related: The fearless dog who refused to leave his goats during the Santa Rosa wildfire “There was just no time to do anything,” said Talley Hutcherson, a ranch owner. “Within hours, we had to make the decision to come to the beach because the [Pacific Coast Highway] was shut down.” Hutcherson’s decision to evacuate to the beach with eight horses required her to make multiple trips back and forth. Searchers combing through areas affected by the California wildfires have rescued hundreds of animals — including dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, ducks, and a tortoise https://t.co/eY2uwf8E5U — CNN (@CNN) November 14, 2018 According to the Huffington Post , animal shelters throughout Southern California are reaching capacity. But there are many shelters in the Los Angeles area that are still open and requesting donations. These facilities are caring for hundreds of animals , including horses, pigs and rabbits. The Los Angeles Zoo also briefly evacuated some animals last Friday while firefighters battled to contain a fire in nearby Griffith Park. The zoo does have an emergency evacuation plan in place when needed, and it eventually returned the animals to their habitats. But not all animals in the evacuation zones have been able to get to safety. Photos from the fires have shown injured and dead animals that became overwhelmed from smoke or flames. There has also been concern on social media for a popular giraffe and other animals at Malibu Wines and Saddlerock Ranch. The ranch was under evacuation orders but didn’t appear to have an emergency evacuation plan in place. Several buildings on the property ended up being damaged or destroyed by the fire, and when a USA Today reporter arrived over the weekend, the ranch looked empty except for one worker and the giraffe. Many people were extremely unhappy that the giraffe, named Stanley, was left behind. Via Huffington Post and USA Today Image via NASA

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Thousands of animals have been displaced by California wildfires

This jet black RV is designed for intrepid travelers who like to explore in style

November 14, 2018 by  
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Clad in jet black, corrugated metal siding and renewable Brazilian hardwood, the Draper is an impressive tiny home on wheels that is as tough as nails on the outside but surprisingly sophisticated on the inside. Created by the ingenious team from Land Ark RV , the Draper RV is designed to be the perfect roaming home for adventurers who want to travel in 300 square feet of style. The exterior of the Draper features black corrugated metal with a hint of red wood. Much like its sister design, the Drake , this RV has a unique, slanted shape that creates a sense of movement even when it is not in motion. The elevated volume not only gives the tiny home a bold presence and more interior space, but it also helps with the aerodynamic pull while on the road. Related: This bold ship-inspired tiny house has a surprising minimalist interior The two designs are quite similar, but the Draper has a few extras such as an ingenious fold-out deck. Made out of renewable Brazilian hardwood, the deck can be folded out to create a wonderful seating area, or folded up flush to the exterior when on the road. In contrast to its bold black exterior, the interior of the RV is light and airy. White-washed pine lends a fresh aesthetic, which is further enhanced by an abundance of natural light thanks to the many clerestory windows. The interior is also quite spacious, with 10′ ceilings that open up the space. Although the living area, which is installed with LED lighting , boasts a sophisticated design, the layout was created with adventurers in mind. There is a 7-foot-wide mud room at the entryway to store gear such as hiking boots, climbing equipment and more. There is also additional storage installed throughout the home. Custom-made,  flexible furniture makes the living space highly versatile. For example, a large galley kitchen with a convertible U-shaped dining space can be configured into different uses. When not needed, the dining table can be stowed underneath, opening up room for the sofa cushions to be folded out into a queen-sized bed, perfect for overnight guests. On the other side of the kitchen, the living room extends to the outdoor deck through a set of large sliding glass doors. The master bedroom is located on a sleeping loft at the far side of the home. The bedroom is reached by ladder and has enough space for a king-sized bed. The tiny home’s bathroom also comes installed with a vanity, wall-hung toilet and a full-size shower. + Land Ark RV Images via Land Ark RV

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This jet black RV is designed for intrepid travelers who like to explore in style

Innovating for 100

October 31, 2018 by  
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It’s no secret that Silicon Valley drives the tech world. From smart cars to smart homes, California continues to boast the world’s latest high-tech innovations and developments. Yet many Californians still lack access to technological advancements that could dramatically improve their everyday lives. High-tech products and services are viewed by many residents in low- to moderate-income communities as out-of-reach luxuries rather than attainable necessities.

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Innovating for 100

Progress despite politics — lessons from a red state utility commissioner

October 30, 2018 by  
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The Chair of Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission explains how to advance grid modernization, transportation electrification and other clean technologies in a “red state” under today’s contentious political climate.

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Progress despite politics — lessons from a red state utility commissioner

A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

October 30, 2018 by  
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San Francisco- and Oslo-based firm  Mork Ulnes Architects has unveiled a black  timber home tucked into a forestscape in Norden, California. To connect the home with its stunning scenery, the chalet-inspired Troll Hus was clad in pine tar-treated wood and elevated off the landscape with large concrete pillars for minimal site impact. The massive, 3,300-square-foot family home holds court in the middle of a pine forest , just an hour and a half outside of Sacramento. To blend the home into its pristine natural environment, it was clad in dark wood. The black, timber structure sits high up near the tree canopies, giving off a sense of peaceful solitude among the soaring trees. Related: A cypress tree grows through this hillside home in Los Angeles According to the architects, the inspiration for the design was to create a family home where the residents could reconnect with nature, whether inside or outside the home. They explained, “The design is driven both by the extreme environmental conditions found at a 6,800-foot elevation and a California sensibility of generous indoor-outdoor living.” While the elevation of the home certainly affords stunning views, the pillars are also a strategic feature that provides resilience and passive temperature control . The concrete legs were meant to reduce the impact on the environment and protect the home from snow fall, which can reach up to 800 inches during winter. Additionally, putting extra elevation to the home allows for optimal solar exposure in the winter and shading from direct sun in the summer. The orientation of the house also shields the building from strong winds. On the interior, the living space is clad in light wood paneling, creating a soothing vibe. An abundance of large windows brighten the interior with natural light . The open living and dining layout was designed to offer ample room for entertaining or simply enjoying the views in solitude. A large terrace wraps around one side of the home, further enhancing the design’s strong connection to the outdoors. + Mork Ulnes Architects Via Freshome Photography by  Bruce Damonte

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A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes

October 25, 2018 by  
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In sunny Santa Monica, local studio Minarc has unveiled one of its latest projects built from mnmMOD panels , its award-winning and patented prefabricated building system that yields net-zero energy efficiency. Dubbed the Dawnsknoll project, the 2,500-square-foot dwelling champions sustainability beyond just building materials. Positioned for optimal passive solar conditions, the single-family home also boasts repurposed and recycled materials throughout, high-performance energy systems and a healthy living environment. Inspired by the volcanic landscapes of Iceland , Dawnsknoll features a color palette evocative of the country’s dramatic vistas, from the bright, lava-like orange used in the multi-gathering space in the heart of the home to the swimming pool that echoes the color of blue lagoons. Iceland’s rocky landscape is further mimicked with translucent, glacier-inspired light fixtures, the abundance of concrete for the floors and walls and the dark-colored cabinets and shelving. “On the Dawnsknoll project, Minarc focuses on a couple of main concepts: sustainability, color and space,” the designers said in the project statement. “Our green practices and selection of sustainable products do not raise the cost of a house. We believe that building repurposed with recycled and reclaimed material should not be more expensive for our clients. Throughout this house, we recycled, repurposed and reused to its extent.” Related: These prefabricated mnmMOD wall panels could revolutionize the way we build In addition to the prefabricated mnmMOD panels — which are recyclable and resistant to fire and termites — the Dawnsknoll house features 90 percent reused furnishings. The designers aimed to “only use materials in their most organic form,” which meant no paint, tile or carpet. One of many recycled materials used was rubber, seen in the bathroom sinks as well as in the kitchen and juice bar cabinetry, where recycled rubber tires were used. Indoor-outdoor living was emphasized through operable glazed doors that also let in natural ventilation. Radiant floor heating and domestic water heating were installed as well. + Minarc Images by Art Gray

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This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes

California waters could open soon to offshore wind farms

October 24, 2018 by  
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With 3,427 miles of coastline , one would think establishing wind farms in California would be a cinch. As it turns out, the depth of the waters has kept the idea of offshore wind in this area at bay. Energy companies have been eagerly awaiting the curtain fall from government regulators that was finally announced on Friday by the U.S. Department of the Interior. While turbine installation will prove to be a challenge because of unique terrain demands, offshore wind turbines could help California’s plans to reach 100 percent green energy by 2045. If all goes as planned, the wind farms could be operating within the next six years. “We are early in the process here,” explained California Energy Commission member Karen Douglas. “Offshore wind has potential to help with our renewable energy goals.” California’s first ever offshore wind auction, allowing energy companies to lease waters in certain areas of the Pacific Ocean, was announced alongside two other wind farm initiatives already underway in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. So what’s slowing down California’s state officials and utility companies? “They would be in much deeper water than anything that has been built in the world so far,” Douglas said. Because the ocean’s depths are substantial — even close to shore — California’s coastline is not ideal for offshore wind farms . Related: World’s most powerful wind turbine installed off the coast of Scotland Regardless, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management ( BOEM ) followed up on the announcement with a “call for information and nominations” from energy companies looking to develop the offshore technology. Submissions will be accepted over a 100-day period that will close on Jan. 27, 2019. The state’s new wind farms will be concentrated within proposed areas off of Central and Northern California. In total, the 658 full and partial blocks on the Outer Continental Shelf that are offered for commercial wind energy leasing cover an area of 1,073 square miles (687,823 acres). The announcement is good news for Gov. Jerry Brown and his office of environmental reformers. In September, the governor signed a bill that mandated California’s energy reliance be supplied solely through renewable sources by 2045. The addition of offshore wind turbines could propel this shift to happen much faster than expected, as the state is now able to look beyond land-based wind farms and solar panels to meet demand. Via The New York Times , NOAA and BOEM Image via Lars Plougmann

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California waters could open soon to offshore wind farms

Frank Gehry tops Facebook HQ expansion with a 3.6-acre rooftop park

September 19, 2018 by  
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Facebook recently unveiled a peek inside MPK 21, its newest campus building designed by Frank Gehry and built in less than 18 months. Created as an extension to its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, this striking addition blurs the distinction between the indoors and outdoors with its massive walls of glass, sheltered courtyard and expansive 3.6-acre rooftop garden — named The Town Square — planted with 40-foot-tall redwood trees. In addition to its abundance of plant life, the building is also designed to meet green standards and is expected to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Located on a formerly unoccupied industrial site, MPK 21 connects to MPK 20 — another Facebook building also designed by Frank Gehry that opened in 2015 — via an amphitheater -style courtyard called The Bowl. The building houses offices with open workspaces, designed to promote collaboration between teams, as well as quiet areas for focused work. Employees traverse the length of the building with a single walkway, which also connects to five dining areas and a 2,000-person event and meeting space with state-of-the-art A/V technology. Artists from Facebook’s Artist in Residence Program were commissioned to create 15 art installations for MPK 21. “The building was designed to promote teamwork and allow our people to do their best work,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of Global Facilities and Real Estate, in a press release. “MPK 21 is designed to reduce impact on the environment and enhance employee well-being. The building encourages active engagement inside and outside of the building with pedestrian walkways, access to various outdoor areas, visible stairways and flexible work stations. The physical infrastructure is designed to reduce water, energy  and waste as well.” Related: Facebook signs Frank Gehry to design two more buildings for their California campus The LEED Platinum -targeted building is powered by 1.4 MW of photovoltaic solar roof tiles, which can generate nearly 2 million kWH of electricity a year. Approximately 17 million gallons of water will be saved annually thanks to a reclaimed water system, while the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours is minimized with an abundance of bird-friendly glazing. Facebook also enrolled in Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECO100 energy option to further reduce its carbon footprint. + Frank Gehry Via Dezeen Images via Facebook

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Frank Gehry tops Facebook HQ expansion with a 3.6-acre rooftop park

California plans to launch its own satellite to monitor air pollution

September 17, 2018 by  
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California has promised to launch its own satellite to track air quality in the fight against air pollution. Governor Jerry Brown announced the major initiative amid President Donald Trump’s bid to decrease NASA’s part in monitoring climate change. Brown has not announced when the state will launch the satellite or how much it will cost taxpayers. Brown has long stood in opposition to Trump’s administration, which has fought California’s tough emissions standards. Following the effort to cut NASA funding for climate research, Brown hopes that the satellite will ensure that California has independent access to data gathering in the long term. “We’re going to launch our own satellite — our own damn satellite to figure out where the pollution is and how we’re going to end it,” Brown explained. Related: Striking, solar-powered LA roundabout manages stormwater runoff with art NASA has its own climate change program called the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS). The system gathers data from a collection of satellites and high-altitude aircraft to keep track of carbon emissions around the world. The program came under fire in the latest rounds of White House budget cuts, which were directly aimed at climate change initiatives. Fortunately, the appropriations committee did not cut CMS funding, but the threat left many scientists worried about the program’s future. Brown is collaborating with a company based out of San Francisco called Planet Labs to launch the satellite. The company will work with California’s Air Resources Board to build the satellite and track carbon emissions throughout the state and the world. So far, Planet Labs — backed by companies like Google and DCVC — has a fleet of 150 satellites, all of which take photographs of the earth and transfer the data to various governments, private companies, journalists, agriculture business and hedge funds. Brown hopes the program will lead to better climate monitoring, despite the efforts from the Trump administration. Via Earther and Huffington Post Image via Prayitno

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California plans to launch its own satellite to monitor air pollution

This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures

September 13, 2018 by  
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Nestled in a historic mining area in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains, a holiday retreat offers luxurious comfort without compromising sustainability targets. Despite the region’s freezing cold winters and extremely hot summers, Bainbridge Island-based Coates Design Architects crafted the Tumble Creek Cabin to net-zero energy standards using renewable energy and passive solar strategies, rather than traditional energy consumptive cooling and heating systems. Powered by solar energy, the energy-efficient cabin boasts a contemporary design with an abundance of full-height glazing to look out on the landscape beyond. With a natural palette designed to evoke the region’s mining history, the 3,835-square-foot Tumble Creek Cabin is mainly built of stone, Corten steel and reclaimed barn wood. The steel and timber elements are left exposed throughout, while floor-to-ceiling glazing establishes strong connections with the outdoors. To minimize the home’s energy usage, Coates Design Architects oriented the home to follow passive solar principles and mapped the interior layout to conserve energy as much as possible. The self-contained entry vestibule and mud room, for instance, doubles as an air lock to stop chilly drafts and unwanted hot air from entering the main living spaces. Designed as “a legacy piece” for the clients’ extended family, the vacation home includes two primary bedroom suites and a bunk room in the main residence, and an additional guest room can be found in the separate extension. An L-shaped open-plan great room on the east side of the main house is anchored by a massive board-formed concrete fireplace and opens up to a spacious patio. A winding outdoor walkway leads from the patio to an outdoor spa and a freestanding garage on the southwest side of the site. Related: Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home In addition to a 10 kWh photovoltaic array on the roof, the cabin relies on radiant underfloor heating and an energy recovery ventilation system; both systems can be monitored and adjusted remotely. Energy-efficient aluminum-clad wood windows and doors were installed, as is a Tesla Powerwall for electric vehicle charging. + Coates Design Architects Images via Coates Design Architects

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This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures

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