We Earthlings: Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

June 9, 2020 by  
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Good, Better, Best: Cutting Carbon From Home Appliances

May 28, 2020 by  
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This is the fourth in a series of five articles … The post Good, Better, Best: Cutting Carbon From Home Appliances appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Good, Better, Best: Cutting Carbon From Home Heating and Cooling

May 21, 2020 by  
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MIT moves toward greener, more sustainable artificial intelligence

May 15, 2020 by  
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While current  artificial intelligence  (AI) technology holds strategic and transformative potential, it isn’t always environmentally-friendly due to high energy consumption. To the rescue are researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) , who have devised a solution that not only lowers costs but, more importantly, reduces the AI model training’s carbon footprint. Back in June 2019, the  University of Massachusetts at Amherst revealed  that the amount of  energy  utilized in AI model training equaled 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. How so? Contemporary AI isn’t just run on a personal laptop or simple server. Rather, deep neural networks are deployed on diverse arrays of specialized hardware platforms. The level of energy consumption required to power such AI technologies is approximately five times the lifetime  carbon emissions  from an average American car, including its manufacturing.  Related:  This AI food truck could bring fresh produce directly to you Moreover, both  Analytics Insight  and  Kepler Lounge  warned that Google’s AlphaGo Zero — the  AI  that plays the game of Go against itself to self-learn — generated a massive 96 tons of  carbon dioxide  over 40 days of research training. That amount of carbon dioxide equals 1,000 hours of air travel as well as the annual  carbon footprint  of 23 American homes! The takeaway then? Numbers like these would make AI model deployment both unfeasible and unsustainable over time. MIT’s research team has devised a groundbreaking automated AI system, termed a once-for-all (OFA) network, described in  their paper here . This AI system — the OFA network — minimizes  energy consumption  by “decoupling training and search, to reduce the cost.” The OFA network was constructed based on automatic machine learning (AutoML) advancements.  Essentially, the OFA network functions as a ‘mother’ network to numerous subnetworks. As the ‘mother’ network, it feeds its knowledge and past experiences to all the subnetworks, training them to operate independently without the need for further retraining. This is unlike previous AI technology  that had to “repeat the network design process and retrain the designed network from scratch for each case. Their total cost gr[ew] linearly … as the number of deployment scenarios increase[d], which … result[ed] in excessive energy consumption and  CO2  emission.” In other words, with the OFA network in use, there is little need for additional retraining of subnetworks. This efficiency decreases costs, curtails carbon emissions and improves  sustainability . Assistant Professor Song Han, of MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was the project’s lead researcher. He shared that, “Searching efficient neural network architectures has until now had a huge carbon footprint. But we reduced that footprint by orders of magnitude with these new methods.” Also of particular interest was Chuang Gan, co-author of the MIT research paper, who added, “The model is really compact. I am very excited to see OFA can keep pushing the boundary of efficient deep learning on edge devices.” Being compact means AI can progress towards miniaturization. That could spell next-generation advantages in green operations that improve environmental impact. + MIT News Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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Good, Better, Best: Cutting Your Consumer Carbon Footprint

May 14, 2020 by  
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Good, Better, Best: Reducing Your Transportation Carbon Footprint

May 7, 2020 by  
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Check out Glasir, the tree-shaped urban farming solution

February 20, 2020 by  
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In a bid to revolutionize agriculture, New York City and Bergen-based innovation studio  Framlab  has proposed Glasir, a community-based system for urban farming that combines the flexibility of modularity with aeroponics to vastly reduce the environmental footprint for growing food. Created in the likeness of a tree, the space-saving conceptual design grows vertically and can be installed in even the densest of urban areas. The high-yield, vertical farming proposal would be integrated with smart technology, sensors, and renewable systems such as solar panels to optimize production and minimize its carbon footprint. Named after a fabled and supernatural tree in Norse mythology, Glasir was conceived by Framlab as a response to the World Health Organization’s estimates that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025. To curb the water-guzzling and land-intensive processes of modern  agriculture , Framlab developed Glasir as an alternative that would provide neighborhoods with affordable, local produce year-round. The self-regulating system comprises a monopodial trunk that is expanded with branch-like modules and would occupy only a two-by-two-foot space, about the same size needed for a small street tree on a sidewalk.  The basic components for a Glasir system comprise ten base  modules : five growth modules, three production modules, and two access modules. The modules are all interconnected and feed information to one another through an artificial intelligence program. Environmental sensors track and evaluate site conditions such as solar gain, temperature levels, and winds to optimize growth. The system can be assembled in a variety of configurations to fit the needs of the community that it serves.  Related: Sustainable agriculture cleans up rivers in Cuba In addition to the use of extremely water-efficient aeroponic growing methods, Glasir reduces its environmental impact with translucent photovoltaic cells that power its electricity needs. A  rainwater collection  system stores, purifies and redirects runoff for irrigation in the production modules. The exterior of the modules will also be coated in Titanium Oxide to help clean air pollutants.  + Framlab Images via Framlab

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Tackling sustainability in sporting events

February 19, 2020 by  
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At the recent Super Bowl, the NFL focused on sustainability more than in past years with its Ocean to Everglades (O2E) initiative throughout South Florida. Efforts included education on invasive species, beach cleanups, food recovery and recycling initiatives. These conservation efforts are part of a larger trend internationally to shrink the carbon footprints of major sporting events. “Sports is one of the few avenues which can unite people of all different races, creeds and social status,” Matt Jozwiak said in an interview with Inhabitat. Jozwiak was a chef at swanky New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park before founding Rethink Food NYC . His organization feeds 2,000 New Yorkers a day by repurposing leftovers from restaurants and food companies in the tri-state area. Jozwiak is a big proponent of more sustainable sporting events. “The industry literally has the power to make drastic sustainability changes. When a sporting team comes out in favor of a cause, people listen.” He acknowledges there may be growing pains when adopting unfamiliar behaviors. “But eventually, fans will go along with the new changes.” Sporting events step up to sustainability Fans traveling to one European Cup match can generate almost 5,600 tons of carbon dioxide, according to the World Economic Forum. But now, many sports are taking a closer look at how to be more responsible. Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games are a leading example of organizers prioritizing sustainability in their planning. For example, builders will use locally sourced wood to construct the athletes’ village, and hydrogen fuel cells will power the event vehicles. Organizers plan to generate solar power onsite and recycle 99 percent of everything used during the event. With the exception of drinking water, they’ll use recycled rainwater for all Olympic water needs. Paris is hoping to be even more sustainable during its turn to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Related: Tokyo’s Olympic medals will be made from recycled phones Some European cities have given their football (soccer to Americans) stadiums an eco-makeover by installing seats made from recycled plastic. In Amsterdam, fans bought the old seats as souvenirs. The stadium in Pontedera, Italy boasts seats made using plastic from local waste. Meanwhile, in England, the Forest Green Rovers have won the title of world’s greenest football club by powering its grounds with solar, recycling water and serving an entirely vegan menu to players and fans. At the 2019 Helsinki International Horse Show, 135 tons of horse manure powered the electricity. A company called Fortum HorsePower enlists 4,300 Finnish horses to generate energy for electrical grids. Stadium food waste Jozwiak takes a special interest in food wasted inside stadiums. He’s found that stadiums are among the hardest places from which to rescue food, because they tend to only have games periodically and throw the food away afterward. Much of that food quickly spoils or gets soggy and unappetizing, like hamburger buns and pretzels. Stadiums should rely on freezers more, Jozwiak said. “Instead of purchasing food all the time, bulk purchase and immediately freezing can cut down a lot on the waste for sporting arenas. Proper refrigeration strategies can expand the lifecycle of food and reduce food waste.”  He also recommended a fire sale strategy for avoiding waste. “Implement a plan where spectators can purchase the remaining food to take home,” he advised. “A lot of food ends up in landfills . So if sporting arenas can provide the options for the fans to either buy or provide for free the remaining food, it would cut down on waste drastically.” One by one, stadium directors of operations need to craft individual action plans to become more sustainable, Joswiak suggested. In addition to avoiding food waste, he recommended conserving water and offering healthier food options with more vegetables and less meat . Stadiums should only contract with vendors who can manage recycling. New buildings should work to be LEED-certified. Joswiak suggested hosting a climate-related event for fans to explain and support all of these green changes. If fans could be convinced to bring their own reusable utensils, that would be great, too. Eco-travel to sporting events Of course, while the football match or the golf tournament is the main event, fans and players still have to travel to the game and may require overnight housing. According to Solar Impulse, 5 million people converged on Russia in 2018 to watch the FIFA World Cup. Their travel and accommodations generated about 85% of greenhouse gas emissions from this event, totaling about 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Related: Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center is open to the public 24/7 Some major governing bodies in sports are embracing carbon offset projects around the world to atone for their contribution to emissions. FIFA managed to offset 1.1 million tons of carbon emissions since the 2014 World Cup . The governing body for European football is promising to offset fan-generated emissions for the EURO 2020 competition. It has also collaborated with the 12 host cities to offer free public transportation to fans with tickets on the days of the matches. This should cut down on emissions and road congestion. Via World Economic Forum and Solar Impulse Images via Shutterstock

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myfoods smart greenhouses can grow nearly 900 pounds of produce a year

February 4, 2020 by  
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At CES 2020, French startup myfood presented a smart greenhouse that it says can grow up to 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of organic fruits and vegetables a year with only a few hours of work a week. Combining permaculture principles with smart technology to monitor plant health, the myfood smart greenhouses aim to change people’s relationships with food as a means of reducing the global carbon footprint . The startup has distributed nearly 200 smart greenhouses in 14 countries around the world and hopes to target the North American market next. Based in the French commune of Molsheim, myfood was born as a reaction against the agro-food industry’s intensive use of pesticides and fertilizers that have contributed to the loss of biodiversity and negatively affected human health. To reconnect people with nature, myfood developed a series of compact smart greenhouses to give communities around the world the opportunity to cultivate a healthy and diverse diet with fresh produce year-round from the comfort of their homes. Related: 3-hectare desert farm in Jordan can grow 286,600 pounds of veggies each year myfood currently has three types of smart greenhouses. For urban dwellers, the startup developed the 3.5-square-meter City smart greenhouse that can produce up to 100 kilograms of fruit and vegetables and can fit atop a rooftop, terrace , large balcony or small garden. Single urban dwellers with a very small living footprint can consider the 0.65-square-meter Aerospring Vertical Garden, which can grow up to 40 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a year in a small pot. The largest option, which is best suited for a single-family home with a yard, is the 22-square-meter Family smart greenhouse that can grow up to 400 kilograms of fruit and vegetables a year and is ideal for four people. All myfood structures are designed for easy and quick installation and are equipped with LED lighting and other energy-efficient systems that can be monitored remotely from a smartphone. Buyers also have the option to customize their smart greenhouses to best suit their needs, from off-grid applications to winterizing. “ Climate change requires a profound change in our consumption habits to limit our carbon dioxide emissions,” said Mickaël Gandecki, myfood co-founder. “To easily cultivate in a sustainable and efficient way, we employ both a synergy between fish and plants, as well as an approach inspired by nature and based on cutting-edge agronomic research. The connected and intelligent features enrich the experience by collecting parameters useful for managing the greenhouse. A dedicated social network supports users from the launch of the project, to the first harvests and beyond.” + myfood Images via myfood

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myfoods smart greenhouses can grow nearly 900 pounds of produce a year

Stunning House on the Rocks uses geothermal power

January 23, 2020 by  
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On Finland’s windswept Turku archipelago, Helsinki-based design practice and log house kit purveyor Pluspuu has completed yet another ecological wood house — fittingly named the House on the Rocks. Designed to embrace landscape views in multiple directions, the three-bedroom, two-bath residence is a custom design based on Pluspuu’s pre-designed house models Isokari and Kustavi. As with all Pluspuu projects, the geothermal-powered log house is built primarily from timber and boasts a relatively small carbon footprint. Completed last summer, the 150-square-meter House on the Rocks was constructed from 202 x 195-millimeter non-settling logs that are supposedly superior to the cheaper lamella log due to its flexibility of use without the need for post-construction adjustment. The solid log walls also mean that the house doesn’t need additional insulation aside from the eco-friendly wood fiber that insulates the sheet metal roof.  “The carbon footprint of the construction of a log house is extremely small, and the timber will act as a carbon sink for the house’s entire lifespan – this truly is eco-friendly construction,” the architects explained, noting that over 20% of all detached homes are log houses in Finland. “In addition to its environmental friendliness, a log house also has extremely healthy indoor air.” The home is also heated with geothermal heat distributed via underfloor heating. Related: Super-insulated modern log cabin withstands frigid Finnish winters in style Using Pluspuu’s pre-designed housing models as a starting point, the client worked with the architects to craft a site-specific dwelling that embraces outdoor views through large windows and a sea-facing terrace that’s over 100 square meters in size. The property also includes a freestanding Pluspuu Luoto 25 sauna as well as a two-room guesthouse on the shore; both structures are built from smaller 134 x 195-millimeter laminated timber.  + Pluspuu Images via Samuli Miettinen

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