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

10 transportation and city startups you should know

September 12, 2018 by  
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Meet the cream of the entrepreneurial crop featured at the California Climate Cup, one of the many affiliate events tied to the Global Climate Action Summit.

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10 transportation and city startups you should know

Striking, solar-powered LA roundabout manages stormwater runoff with art

September 12, 2018 by  
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Public art and stormwater management go hand-in-hand in the Riverside Roundabout, an intersection that’s far more functional and eye-catching than your average traffic circle. Designed by local art studio Greenmeme , the Riverside Roundabout is the “first modern roundabout in Los Angeles” that doubles as a stormwater detention landscape vegetated with native, water-wise plants that also help fight air pollution. Powered with solar energy, the bio-retention installation is also marked with giant egg-shaped granite sculptures with faces modeled on actual community members. Installed in 2017, the Riverside Roundabout is located in Los Angeles’ Cypress Park neighborhood at the intersection of Riverside Drive and San Fernando Road. In addition to its bio-retention functions, the traffic circle features a wide array of other sustainable elements including a 25,000-gallon rainwater cistern, a natural and durable materials palette and a solar tracking photovoltaic system that powers irrigation, lighting and the artwork. “We designed a stormwater detention landscape, including an outer ring of vegetated pavers that serves as the required truck apron,” the designers explained. “Curb cuts and a sculpted topography capture and detain stormwater from the bridge. The landscape uses local, water-wise plants that are typical of the riparian LA river corridor and are irrigated with reclaimed wastewater.” Related: A California beacon of sustainability gets a LEED Platinum refresh The focal point of the durable and low-maintenance roundabout is the nine egg-shaped stone sculptures built from Academy Black granite sourced from California. CNC cutting equipment was used to slice the stone into individual slabs that were then assembled together into the sculptures. Each piece features a face of a community member randomly chosen over the course of two years. The roundabout is capable of capturing and treating a 10-year rainfall event equating approximately 500,000 gallons of stormwater runoff from the adjacent bridge and roads. + Greenmeme Images by Makena Hunt

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Striking, solar-powered LA roundabout manages stormwater runoff with art

California legislature passes historic bill to achieve 100% clean energy

August 30, 2018 by  
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California is going all in on clean energy. Legislators just passed a bill that puts the state on a path to become 100 percent reliable on clean energy by 2045, making it the largest economy in the world to enact such an environmentally friendly policy. Governor Jerry Brown has until the end of next month to sign the bill and make it official. This is not the first eco-friendly move in the California state legislature. The state previously had a goal to become 50 percent reliant on clean energy by 2030, a goal the new bill upped to 60 percent. This past spring, legislators changed state building codes to require newly constructed houses to feature solar energy capabilities. The mandates show that California is looking to become a leader in environmental issues in the decades to come. The historic bill comes amid a struggle with Donald Trump’s administration, which has been attempting to revive interest in traditional energy sources, such as coal, over renewable energy . Trump has also been relaxing regulations when it comes to the environment. California’s new bill flies in the face of Trump’s political agenda and is a victory for clean energy supporters. It also follows what has been a difficult year for California, as the state continues to deal with the aftermath of historic wildfires. “Ongoing wildfires fueled by record-high temperatures and drier conditions exacerbated by climate change have shown us that we can’t wait any longer to tackle the climate crisis and move to clean energy,” said Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club. California is not the only state to eye 100 percent clean energy. Hawaii passed a similar bill in 2015 and plans on fulfilling the initiative in 2045. Following California’s clean energy bill , New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and New York are debating similar policies. Colorado and Maryland have also considered going 100 percent clean energy but did not have enough votes to pass it. Legislators in California passed their clean energy mandate 44 to 33 votes. Democrat Gov. Brown is fully expected to support the bill in the coming weeks. Via Earthjustice and Sierra Club Image via Camille Seaman / Solutions Project, 100% Campaign

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California legislature passes historic bill to achieve 100% clean energy

Bees addicted to pesticides much like smokers to nicotine, scientists say

August 30, 2018 by  
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Bees have developed a likening to pesticide-containing plants , according to a recent study. The affinity exhibited by the bees is similar to an addiction to nicotine from cigarettes. Apparently, the more pesticide-laced pollen that the bees ingest, the more they crave the tainted alternatives. The contaminated nectar is potentially harmful to bees and unfortunately, researchers are finding higher quantities entering bee colonies than before. To reach these conclusions, a British research team conducted a series of studies over 10-day periods, offering 10 different bee colonies access to both pure sugar solutions as well as a compound that contained neonicotinoids, or neonics. Over extensive exposure, the bees increasingly preferred the sugar flavored with pesticides over the natural alternative. Related: Canada moves to ban bee-killing pesticides “Interestingly, neonicotinoids target nerve receptors in insects that are similar to receptors targeted by nicotine in mammals ,” explained Richard Gill, researcher in the Department of Life Sciences at London’s Imperial College . “Whilst neonicotinoids are controversial, if the effects of replacements on non-target insects are not understood, then I believe it is sensible that we take advantage of current knowledge and further studies to provide guidance for using neonicotinoids more responsibly, rather than necessarily an outright ban.” Related: Total field ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids likely after new EU assessments Researchers will continue to experiment with the bees, according to lead scientist Andres Arce, part of the same Imperial College department as Gill. “Many studies on neonicotinoids feed bees exclusively with pesticide-laden food, but in reality, wild bees have a choice of where to feed,” Arce said. “We wanted to know if the bees could detect the pesticides and eventually learn to avoid them by feeding on the uncontaminated food we were offering. We now need to conduct further studies to try and understand the mechanism behind why they acquire this preference.” The extensive research will have major implications for agriculture practices in the EU as well as North America. The EU already imposed a partial ban on neonics in 2013 after evidence found that they may have an adverse effect to bee colonies. As of today, the ban has been extended to all crops that are not grown in greenhouses. Canada has already moved to ban the pesticide this year, with the U.S. following suit in the near future. + The Royal Society Publishing Via The Guardian Image via Axel Rouvin

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Bees addicted to pesticides much like smokers to nicotine, scientists say

This dreamy Malibu beach house is designed to withstand climate change

August 21, 2018 by  
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Ask any number of people what they envision as their dream home, and the majority will likely respond with something along the lines of, “A house on the beach where I can hear and see the crashing waves.” With the right amount of money (in this instance, $5.7 million), you can make that vision a reality with House Noir, a spacious, three-story beach house in marvelous Malibu, California . Built on the sandy Las Flores beach, just steps from the mighty Pacific Ocean, House Noir has unmatched views of the mountains, sea and Catalina Island. Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) met the challenge of designing an aesthetically pleasing and sustainable home that can also withstand natural disasters and the impacts of climate change : earthquakes, rising sea levels and an eroding coastline. Related: Hurricane-resistant home uses resilient boat-building techniques to weather the storm The team began by elevating the 1,790-square-foot house a generous 20 feet above the beach to accommodate a tall seawall and subterranean caisson foundation (or pier foundation), an impermeable retaining structure sunk into the ground. The added energy-absorbing features help the structure withstand earthquake tremors. To combat the caustic effects of sea air, which can seriously depreciate exterior paint and metal facades, LOHA enveloped the house with aluminum and non-corrosive metal and finished it off with high-quality rustproof paint. The entire exterior package is wrapped in standing-seam siding that is seamlessly molded up the sides of the structure over the roofline, all the way to the roof deck. The luxurious — and well-protected — interior of the home offers mesmerizing views throughout. Full-height glass doors, which lead to oblique balconies, allow ocean breezes to cool the beach house. An open-air staircase ascends from the ground floor up through the heart of the home to the rooftop deck, with perforated metal risers and treads that encourage beams of natural light  to illuminate every floor. Other amenities include a large designer kitchen, imported tiles, European fixtures, white oak floors, an airy mezzanine, two bedrooms, two and a half baths and the spacious, private rooftop deck with an outdoor shower. + Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) Via Dwell Images via Paul Vu/Simon Berlyn

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This dreamy Malibu beach house is designed to withstand climate change

This solar-powered, off-grid California guesthouse is 100% self-sustaining

August 16, 2018 by  
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Set in one of the last remaining undeveloped coastal areas in California, the Off-Grid Guest House, designed by architect Dan Weber of Anacapa and designer Steven Willson of Willson Design , is a stunning showcase of sustainable and low-impact design. The contemporary home is nestled into a steep hillside in a wildlife preserve and perfectly perched to offer breathtaking, nearly 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding landscape of rolling hills and rocky outcroppings. Due to its remote location, the guest house—and the owner’s nearby main residence—are completely self-sufficient by necessity and powered with a rooftop solar panel system. Topped with a lush green roof planted with native grasses, the Off-Grid Guest House is built from durable and resilient materials including steel, concrete and glass. Full-height glazing surrounds the home, as does a wraparound outdoor balcony that’s cantilevered over the landscape and is partly sheltered by overhanging eaves. The abundance of glazing—including the glass balustrades—blurs the boundaries between inside and out and welcomes sweeping panoramic landscape views into the living spaces. “At the heart of the Owner’s objectives for this project, is preservation and protection of the natural environment,” reads the project statement on Anacapa’s website. “As such, this modern guest house is nestled into the hillside and situated on a spectacular site with ocean views. This healthy home is the pinnacle of environmentally-conscious, low-impact design and construction.” Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas The home operates off the grid with a photovoltaic energy system, on-site water supply and sewage treatment system that directs wastewater to a septic tank and dry well. The interior is fitted out with LEDs and low-energy appliances. Jessica Helgerson Interior Design furnished the interior with rich walnut accents and custom fixtures and furnishings. The house also includes a detached garage discreetly built into the hillside. + Anacapa + Willson Design Images via Erin Feinblatt

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This solar-powered, off-grid California guesthouse is 100% self-sustaining

A beer crisis is brewing in Germany as bottle recycling slows amid heatwaves

August 15, 2018 by  
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With summer still in full swing and heatwaves gripping countries around the world, breweries across  Germany have been scrambling to keep up with the beer demand from hot and thirsty customers. The brew masters have enough of the bubbly beverage to go around, but companies are running out of containers to distribute their goods as people continue drinking  beer without returning the bottles for reuse fast enough. While there are approximately 4 billion beer bottles in circulation within Germany, the demand for beer is higher than the return rate of the glass bottles. Germany is very proactive in recycling , having one of the highest recycling rates in the EU at around 50 percent, according to a Eurostat data report . Customers pay a small deposit on bottles when they buy beer from the store, which they get back when they return the empty cases. This small incentive, and a high regard for the environment, encourages customers to reuse and refill the glass bottles up to 30 times. Related: France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive Greif Brewery recently told its customers to return their empty bottles, or they would have to go without beer. “We’ve had a beer bottle shortage since the middle of May,” said Christian Schuster, employee of Greif Brewery. “We can’t get hold of used ones fast enough, and ordering new ones takes time. I’m having to send my delivery guys out to look for old, empty bottles.” According to master brewer Thomas Tyrell, who heads up the Berlin plant for California’s Stone Brewing, German attitudes toward aluminum cans are contributing to the problem as much as the heat is. Most Germans believe that cans are not environmentally friendly, so they prefer glass bottles. This is not the case, he pointed out, and the cans hold the same small deposit fees as their glass counterparts. Many Germans also see drinking beer out of a can as being crass and ill-bred, but soon they may not care as many breweries struggle to put fresh beer on the shelves. Related: The world’s largest beer brewer invents low-carbon beer bubbles Meanwhile, Stone Brewing may have found the only solution to the problem. Stone opened its first brewery in Berlin two years ago — with canned beer. Manners aside, Tyrell added, “We think it’s best for the beer… there is no light ingress and, over time, there are some oxygen permeations through the lid of a bottle, which the can doesn’t have.” Any beer is good beer when there is none to be had, but with crisp and refreshing beer, Stone seems to hold a sustainable recipe for success. Via NPR Image via Kaktuslampan/Flickr

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A beer crisis is brewing in Germany as bottle recycling slows amid heatwaves

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