Lyft vows to help customers find electric vehicles with Green Mode

February 14, 2019 by  
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Lyft is making important strides to decrease carbon emissions in the ride-hailing industry. The company just announced a new initiative called Green Mode, which will make it easier for customers to find electric vehicles (EVs) through the platform. The company, which was the first of its kind to get a carbon-neutral label last year, is planning to introduce a score of electric vehicles in 2019. Putting thousands of EVs on the road will offer a more eco-friendly alternative to customers while putting more money in the pocket of its employees. According to Lyft , the Green Mode program will eventually be incorporated in cities around the world. The company hopes that introducing electric vehicles to cities will significantly curb carbon emissions and reduce the number of gas-powered vehicles on the road. With electric vehicles producing half as much greenhouse gases as their traditional counterparts, Lyft’s program is promising. Lyft will introduce Green Mode in Seattle first before branching out into other cities in the United States. Other locations have yet to be announced. Once the program is widespread, customers will be able to use Green Mode in the company’s app to filter electric and hybrid vehicles . The Green Mode program is also beneficial to drivers. Individuals who use Lyft are always looking for ways to decrease fuel costs, and providing electric vehicles would be a major step to make that happen. That is why Lyft plans to offer an electric vehicle rental service, in which drivers can rent EVs without worrying about mileage or maintenance costs. The company would also pay for the insurance. Lyft will incorporate the rental costs into the driver’s weekly rate. Because electricity costs much less than gasoline, this will put more money in the pocket of drivers who use electric vehicles. In fact, the company estimates that its Green Mode initiative will save employees thousands of dollars every year — and that only accounts for fuel savings. + Lyft Image via Lyft

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Lyft vows to help customers find electric vehicles with Green Mode

Valentine’s Day flower deliveries come at a huge cost to the environment

February 14, 2019 by  
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Americans purchase an estimated 250 million roses for Valentine’s Day every year, many of which come via flowery delivery from South America. But shipping these roses in time for the holiday comes at a heavy cost to the environment. Colombia has become a major trading center for roses because of the Andean Trade Preference Act, which was passed under President George H.W. Bush. This act encourages farmers in the region to grow roses as an alternative to coca plants. Growing these precious petals can be good for the economy of Colombia, and as many as 130,000 workers are now employed in the flower industry. Related: 9 ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day The biggest issue, unfortunately, is with flower delivery. According to TreeHugger , Colombian growers send out 30 cargo planes loaded with roses every day in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, and by the time the holiday rolls around, these planes will have burned about 360,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Those numbers do not factor in the weight of the packaging, which adds an even greater carbon footprint to the equation. That’s only the start of the problem. Once the flowers reach the U.S., hundreds of refrigerated trucks deliver the roses to various locations. Some of the flowers are also loaded on planes and shipped a second time to cities across the country. Once the flowers reach local businesses, they are wrapped in cellophane and given plastic stem tubes, all of which end up in landfills across the U.S. One way to fight this growing problem is to purchase roses that feature a Florverde Sustainable Flower label. These varieties of roses, while still shipped via airplanes, are grown using ethical, sustainable practices and are better for the environment. If you really want to help cut carbon emissions on Valentine’s Day, then consider buying seasonal flowers from local growers in your area. Via TreeHugger Image via Emily Fletke

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Valentine’s Day flower deliveries come at a huge cost to the environment

Lawmakers are pushing gadget manufacturers with the Right to Repair movement

January 17, 2019 by  
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The amount of electronics that we are throwing away each year is growing at an exponential rate, and this toxic trash is hazardous to both people and the planet. What are we supposed to do when our smartphones or other gadgets stop working? According to lawmakers in the United States and Europe, there is one option that should be available instead of getting rid of them— fixing them. Lawmakers in at least 18 states— and the European Parliament— believe that manufacturers should make it a priority that their products last longer and are easier to fix, a movement known as “Right To Repair.” The 18 U.S. states include California, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream on Earth, says the Global E-Waste Monitor. In 2016, our planet generated 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste, and as more products continue to hit the market, the forecasts for future waste are projected to skyrocket. Experts say that by 2021, we are looking at 52.2 million metric tons of e-waste . As technology advances for electronics, DIY fixes for gadgets are a huge challenge for consumers, thus causing more and more consumers and politicians to demand a change to the  law . Related: Precycle, a zero-waste grocery store, opens in Brooklyn California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman introduced the California Right To Repair Act last March, and her bill would require manufacturers to release diagnostic and repair instructions and make equipment or service parts available to small repair shops and product owners. “We should be working to reduce needless waste —repairing things that still have life—but companies use their power to make things harder to repair. Repair should be the easier, more affordable choice and it can be, but first, we need to fix our laws,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, in a press release in support of Eggman’s bill. Environmentalists say the “Right to Repair” legislation would not only save resources, but will also reduce carbon emissions from the manufacturing of new products. While the act proves to be beneficial, it could, however, prove to be a considerable challenge to pass. Tech giants like Apple and Microsoft believe that users fixing their own devices could be a security risk to the user, not to mention, the fact that these companies would prefer that consumers continue to buy their new products. Via EcoWatch Image via Shutterstock

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Ecovillage in Copenhagen strives to meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals

December 20, 2018 by  
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Danish architecture firm Lendager Group has won an international competition for its design of the UN17 Village, a sustainable residential development that will introduce 400 new homes to Copenhagen , Denmark. Selected over shortlisted proposals from prominent firms such as BIG and Henning Larsen, Lendager Group’s winning design aims to create “the first building project in the world that translates all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into tangible action.” The project will span an area of 35,000 square meters in the city’s southern district of Ørestad South and is slated for completion in 2023. Created in collaboration with NREP, MOE, Årstiderne Architects and Arup, the winning UN17 Village proposal will follow the UN’s 17 Global Goals with a design that will be built with recycled materials, renewable energy sources and other energy-saving strategies. The upcycled construction materials will also be locally harvested and processed to stimulate the local economy. In addition to creating 400 new homes, the residential development will also include a variety of public facilities such as a communal kitchen, workspaces, guest housing, a recreation center with a bathhouse and a communal laundromat fed with recycled rainwater. “The built environment is responsible for more than 40 percent of our global emissions ,” Lendager Group said in a press release. “However, it does not have to be this way. In nature, waste does not exist: organisms regenerate themselves and use dead organic materials as building blocks for future growth. The UN17 Village showcases how we can decouple growth from emissions by looking at waste as a resource, and by making sustainability and growth support each other without compromising on quality, aesthetics or price.” Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen A healthy indoor climate will also be emphasized throughout. The home interiors will have a spacious feel and will be dressed in nontoxic and certified materials. Rooftop solar panels will fulfill the energy needs while an abundance of greenery and garden spaces will be integrated to promote sustainable living. + Lendager Group Images by TMRW via Lendager Group

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Ecovillage in Copenhagen strives to meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Major utility company Xcel Energy commits to go carbon-free by 2050

December 13, 2018 by  
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A major utility company is making history. Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility company, has pledged to go completely carbon-free by 2050. The company serves eight states, and its ambitious new carbon reduction goal far exceeds its current target of a 60 percent reduction in Colorado by 2026. “Our biggest energy source in a few short years is going to be renewable energy . We’re going to absolutely integrate as much of that as we can into the grid,” said Xcel CEO Ben Fowke. The company said that it will be 80 percent carbon-free by 2030 before reaching the goal of 100 percent carbon reduction in 2050. These changes should mean more solar and wind energy  along with a reduction of coal. Fowke said that there will also be other technologies needed to meet the 100 percent carbon goal, including battery storage technology and maybe even carbon sequestration. Related: Blue dye could be the next key to harnessing renewable energy Xcel serves 3.6 million people in Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. For years, those customers have been demanding that the company make some changes. The utility company said that it really does listen to its customers, and with citizens of cities all over Colorado deciding that they want 100 percent renewable energy, Xcel decided it would be in its best interest to give the customers what they have asked for. Xcel’s commitment is the latest in announcements by large utility companies regarding huge new carbon reduction goals. Indiana’s NIPSCO sped up the retirement of multiple coal plants in favor of renewable energy, and Midwestern Utility MidAmerican announced that it would reach its 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2020. With companies turning away from fossil fuels in favor of renewables like wind and solar, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects America’s coal consumption to soon be at its lowest level in four decades. Via CPR Image via Laura Lee Dooley

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Major utility company Xcel Energy commits to go carbon-free by 2050

Even scientists are shocked by the latest UN report on climate change

October 10, 2018 by  
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According to a Monday report on climate change from the United Nations, maintaining the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is crucial if more extreme weather events and species’ extinctions are to be avoided. The current ceiling on temperature increase is set at 2 degrees Celcius since the 2015 Paris Agreement , to which nearly 200 nations are committed. However, new UN research shows that this pledge is not enough to avoid possibly irreparable damage to our planet’s ecosystems. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) both weighed in on the report, saying that as of now, the world is not even on course to achieving the 2C benchmark, let alone a lower target. The UN is calling for rapid changes on the part of nations, businesses and individuals. The unprecedented changes to travel and lifestyle may be jarring but are the only way to avoid catastrophic damage to our planet in the near future. Related: Flood frequency of the Amazon River has increased fivefold “There is clearly need for a much higher ambition level to reach even a 2 degrees target, we are moving more toward 3 to 5 (degrees) at the moment,” explained Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO. The 1.5C target would slow coastal flooding and ocean rise by the end of the century, giving people in these areas time to adapt to changes. Many species would also be given a greater chance of survival. Under the 2C target, coral reefs are still projected to disappear. The lower target would allow anywhere between 10 to 30 percent of coral reefs to possibly survive. “Even the scientists were surprised to see … how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2,” IPCC Vice-Chair Thelma Krug told Reuters . According the the IPCC, the human carbon footprint must fall by at least 45 percent by 2030 in order for the planet to maintain the 1.5C temperature rise and reach “net-zero” by mid-century. The report also stated that 70-85 percent of energy needs to be supplied by renewable sources by 2050 to stay at the 1.5C target — right now, renewable energy accounts for about 25 percent. Amjad Abdulla — board member for the IPCC and chief negotiator for small island states at risk of flooding — said, “The report shows we only have the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life as we know it.” While the U.S. is on target to meet the previous goal, the UN is still stressing that more action is needed. Urging individuals to make changes to their lifestyles, even at the smallest of levels, the report believes that every small incentive will make the difference. For us, this means reducing meat consumption and dairy intake, choosing public transportation or switching to electric and hybrid vehicles and demanding companies to supply low-carbon products for purchase. + United Nations Via Reuters Image via  Natasha Kasim

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Old Sydney warehouse is transformed into an industrial-chic home

October 10, 2018 by  
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Rather than strip Balmain, Sydney of its post-industrial architectural heritage and history, award-winning practice Carter Williamson Architects has taken care to sustainably breathe new life into the area’s old buildings. Case in point is the local studio’s transformation of a former timber factory into a stunning, modern home with industrial-chic styling woven throughout its four levels. Dubbed 102 The Mill, the unique home boasts 403 square meters of space with soaring ceilings and plenty of natural light. The adaptive reuse design is part of a greater redevelopment project in which a sawmill, cottage and factory were repurposed into multiple residences. All of the renovated buildings retain parts of the original construction. In 102 The Mill, these deliberately exposed frameworks are complemented by industrial-inspired lighting fixtures and minimalist, streamlined furnishings. Timber floors and warm fabrics help imbue the former factory with a sense of cozy warmth. Entering from the street-facing north facade, 102 The Mill allocates the main living and bedroom areas to the west side that faces the garden, while the staircase and elevator shaft are set on the eastern side of home. The ground floor includes a spacious entrance foyer that leads to an entertainment room and a guest suite; both rooms have access to the garden . An open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area are on the first floor, and an outdoor terrace has been added to the rear side. The second floor houses the master suite in addition to two bedrooms. The roof terrace offers extra entertaining space. Related: A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof “By embracing its former factory life, The Mill manages to capture the gritty feel of industrial Balmain, sympathetically redefining the traditional Sydney terrace house,” reads the project description. “The result sits with an inevitability, blending in with its inner Sydney surroundings, yet striking forward as a jewel of modern Australian architecture.” + Carter Williamson Architects Photography by Brett Boardman

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Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy

October 10, 2018 by  
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Acclaimed architecture practice Olson Kundig is best known for its spectacular residential works in the Pacific Northwest, yet the Seattle-based firm has embarked on somewhat new ground in its recent submission to the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) competition . Held this year in Melbourne, the international contest has invited designers to create a large-scale and site-specific public artwork that could generate clean energy for the city. In response, Olson Kundig developed Night and Day, a massive solar sail concept designed to produce 1,000 MWh of clean energy through a combination of solar energy and a hydro battery. Launched as part of Victoria State’s Renewable Energy Action Plan and Melbourne’s 2020 net-zero energy goals, the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative competition promotes a “clean energy landscape for a post-carbon world.” Olson Kundig’s Night and Day submission taps into that vision with a sculptural hydro-solar generator that uses eye-catching design to bring clean energy to the forefront of the public’s eye. Proposed for St. Kilda Triangle on Port Phillip Bay, the renewable energy power plant could power up to 200 homes with emissions-free energy, 24 hours a day. During the day, the curved solar sail — topped with 5,400 square meters of photovoltaic panels — collects energy and powers a pump that directs water into a suspended hydro battery vessel. At night, that water would be discharged through two Pelton turbines and transformed by a generator into electricity — a design solution that addresses the common problem of energy storage. Modular and scalable, the Night and Day proposal could also be installed at various sites. Related: This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne “This was different because it wasn’t just about creating architecture, something for the pleasure of its inhabitants,” said principal and owner Kevin Kudo-King of the submission, which also doubles as a pedestrian bridge. “It also needed to function as a machine, and it needed to generate power.” The winners of the 2018 LAGI Melbourne competition will be announced at an awards ceremony on October 11, 2018 at Fed Square, Melbourne . + Olson Kundig Images via LAGI

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Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy

Martian tiny home prototype champions zero waste and self sufficiency

October 10, 2018 by  
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International practice OPEN Architecture has teamed up with Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi to design MARS Case, a futuristic proposal for Martian living that takes inspiration from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden . Designed for easy transportation, the lightweight and compact housing prototype was unveiled to the public for the first time outside the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing as part of China House Vision, a multidisciplinary and experimental platform for ideas about the future of housing. The tiny home combines the principles of zero waste and self-sufficiency in a rejection of modern consumer excess. When asked to explore new possibilities for the future of housing, OPEN Architecture decided to push the envelope and begin its project with a dystopian premise that envisions humanity forced to settle on Mars . To design a home fit for human habitation on the planet, the architects designed a tiny home that is built on the idea of recycling. “There, we have no choice but to reduce the excessive consumption of four former lifestyles and carry only minimal essentials,” the firm said. “ Recycling will be the only way we survive. As we find new appreciation in every drop of water, every bite of food and every breath of air, will we at last discover the freedom of truly simple living? Is this what we should define as the idea house of the future?” Related: This off-grid, lunar lander-inspired tiny home is out of this world Measuring 2.4 meters by 2.4 meters by 2 meters, this “ideal” MARS Case house relies heavily on green technology, namely with the integration of domestic appliances in Xiaomi’s current product lines that can be controlled remotely via smartphone. The heat and condensation generated by the electronic devices would be harnessed, filtered and recycled to create an “integrated ecosystem.” + OPEN Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by WU Qingshan and Xiaomi

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Martian tiny home prototype champions zero waste and self sufficiency

Deadly heatwaves may make parts of China uninhabitable by the end of the century

August 1, 2018 by  
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It is no surprise that the world’s most populous country, China , is also the largest polluter on Earth. However, for individuals living in China’s northern plain, the most densely populated region on the planet, it may come as a shock that their homes could become uninhabitable by the end of the century. The region is expected to be subject to aggressive heatwaves that could kill even the healthiest of people in just a matter of hours if carbon emissions are not reduced. In a recent study published by MIT’s Center for Global Change Science , researchers found that China’s northern plain will be the worst spot in the world for future deadly heatwaves. “China is currently the largest contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases , with potentially serious implications to its own population,” said Professor Elfatih Eltahir, speaking on behalf of his team who ran extensive computerized climate models to research the unfolding event. “Continuation of current global emissions may limit the habitability of the most populous region of the most populous country on Earth.” Related: 6 ways that scientists are hacking the planet This is especially worrisome, because a large portion of the region’s 400 million people are farmers dependent on both the land and outdoor conditions for their livelihoods. According to Bloomberg , Chinese diets are becoming increasingly more like western ones — and it takes about 1 acre to feed the average individual in the U.S. When considering fields that are affected by pollution, which produce mercury-infected rice and milk powder with melamine, China barely has 0.2 acres of arable land per citizen. Pair the degradation of prime land by pollution with the dangerous heatwaves, and China will have a major humanitarian crisis in the near future. Eltahir and his team have previously published global models noting that the key driver to these heat waves is climate change, but that irrigation for farmland is also a serious contributor as water evaporation leads to harmful humidity levels. This combination of heat and humidity is measured in units called “wet bulb” temperature or WBTs. According to the U.S. National Weather Service, WBTs above 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit are classified with an “extreme danger” warning and, “If you don’t take precautions immediately, you may become seriously ill or even die.” WBTs above 95 degrees Fahrenheit will kill even the healthiest individuals sitting in the shade within just six hours. The country will be gambling with the lives of their citizens — not only those living in the northern region — if stricter regulations on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are not adopted. + MIT Center for Global Change Science + Nature Communications Via The Guardian

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Deadly heatwaves may make parts of China uninhabitable by the end of the century

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