More than 20 organizations launch Solar Saves Lives to electrify Puerto Rico

November 14, 2017 by  
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Puerto Rico’s electricity crisis continues – and the solar industry plans to help. More than 20 organizations and companies, including The Solar Foundation , Sunrun , and the Clinton Foundation , launched the Solar Saves Lives initiative to bring solar technology to American citizens in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) after the recent hurricanes . Their priorities are two food markets in San Juan and 62 rural medical clinics. Puerto Rico’s loss of power doesn’t just mean people sit in the dark. It also means it can be harder to obtain fresh water or food. Many rural medical clinics are still closed, meaning it can be difficult for people to receive medical attention they need. Several organizations and companies are responding with over $5 million in solar equipment commitments to work towards restoring power in Puerto Rico and the USVI and helping the islands be more resilient to future storms. Related: Richard Branson is planning to rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy Former president Bill Clinton said in a statement, “Seven weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall in the Caribbean, people in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still in urgent need of assistance. The solar equipment donated through this effort will save lives by aiding recovery efforts, providing power for people in remote areas, and solarizing critically needed services like refrigeration and medical care.” Direct Relief, Operation Blessing, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, SunSpec Alliance, BayWa r.e. Solar Systems, Prana Power, CAM Solar, Campervan HQ, Carolina Solar Energy, Renogy, and Solight Design are among the companies and organizations involved. Solar Saves Lives will be bringing equipment like lanterns, cell chargers, solar refrigeration units, solar water purification units, battery packs, solar panels, and inverters to impacted areas. Solar Saves Lives is asking for both product and monetary donations; find out how to help here . + Solar Saves Lives Images via Solar Saves Lives and Wikimedia Commons

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More than 20 organizations launch Solar Saves Lives to electrify Puerto Rico

Smog-fighting helicopters in Delhi grounded – due to smog

November 14, 2017 by  
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Delhi has been battling choking smog , prompting doctors to declare a public health emergency . The government came up with a plan: use helicopters to combat the air pollution . But there’s a problem: the helicopters can’t fly because the smog is so bad. Delhi’s government had asked state-owned company Pawan Hans to come up with a plan to deploy helicopters to drizzle water across the beleaguered city, with the hope it would help settle the smog. But Pawan Hans told city officials this week the choppers couldn’t fly in the haze. Chairman and managing director BP Sharma told The Indian Express , “Right now, with the prevailing smog, it is not possible for the helicopters to carry out operations.” Related: Delhi residents struggle to breathe as doctors declare air pollution health emergency There’s another roadblock that stands in the way: almost half of Delhi, according to an official, is part of a no-fly zone. This includes the city’s southern quarters where the prime minister, presidency, and parliament are based – and according to The Guardian , the no-fly zone is strictly policed. A Delhi government spokesperson told The Indian Express, “There are a few issues and these will be worked out while creating the [standard operating procedure]. All stakeholders are being consulted.” Experts had questioned the plan – one called it “nothing more than a load of hot air,” according to India Today . Mukesh Khare, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi professor who’s spent years working on urban air pollution, said the solution was impractical and would waste water and money, telling India Today the plan hadn’t been used anywhere in the world to take down air pollution, and that the water would dry rapidly, sending officials back to square one in a few hours. 52 percent of the particulate matter in Delhi’s air comes from dust kicked up by tens of thousands of cars , according to a 2015 study cited by The Guardian. Other factors like uncovered soil and sand from construction sites, crop burning, and slow winds have also played a role in the pollution. Via The Guardian , The Indian Express , and India Today Images via Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier on Flickr and Shalabh Gupta on Facebook

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Smog-fighting helicopters in Delhi grounded – due to smog

Richard Branson’s plan to help rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy

November 3, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy could help islands in the Caribbean be more resilient in the face of future hurricanes – and billionaire Richard Branson wants to make that happen. He’s spearheading a plan for recovery centering on renewable energy. Replacing fossil fuel power grids with clean energy sources like solar and wind could also promote economic development. Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Caribbean islands. Now, Branson aims to help them rebuild. He has spoken with lenders and foundations about a fund to pay for a Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan, a name that nods to the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe following World War 2. His efforts, which focus on renewable energy, could also include debt relief negotiations in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) might be involved – Branson met with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and said she was willing to facilitate meetings between creditors and Caribbean nations. He also said in a blog post he met recently with over 50 representatives from Caribbean governments and utility companies. Related: Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “We want to move the Caribbean countries into clean energy and make them more sustainable, which will make dealing with hurricanes much easier. The Caribbean heads of state agree with one voice that this is a good idea.” Branson rode out Hurricane Irma in a cellar on Necker, his private island in the British Virgin Islands. The island’s solar-powered microgrid weathered the storm well, he said, with the solar panels running again just 24 hours after the hurricane. In a blog post, Branson said people interested in helping could donate to the BVI Community Support Appeal , which aims “to raise money for the long term reconstruction” of the British Virgin Islands. Via the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Richard Branson Images via Caribbean Buzz Helicopters/Virgin and Ricardo Rossello on Twitter

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Richard Branson’s plan to help rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy

Colorful Peoples Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials

November 3, 2017 by  
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All the materials needed to build this temporary pavilion in the Netherlands are borrowed. bureau SLA and Overtreders W built the People’s Pavilion – a centerpiece of the Dutch Design Week (DDW) taking place in Eindhoven – using materials from suppliers and Eindhoven residents which will be returned after the event closes. The only exception is the faceted upper façade, which is made of plastic household waste materials collected by Eindhoven residents. The People’s Pavilion will function as the main pavilion of the World Design Event in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which provides a platform for future makers from all over the world. It will also be used as a meeting place and hang-out for visitors and serves as a venue for music and theater. Related: Spectacular origami pavilion made of recycled plastic pops up in Columbus, Indiana The 269-square-foot (25-square-meter) building can accommodate 200 seated or 600 standing people. Its structure is based on 12 concrete foundation piles and 19 wooden frames, designed in collaboration with Arup. Steel straps hold together wooden beams , while concrete piles and frames are connected with 350 tensioning straps. The glass roof resembles those used in the greenhouse industry. Related: The Folkets House is an inclusive space where refugees can learn skills and find jobs Colorful plastic tiles cover the upper façade of the building and are made from recycled plastic household waste . Leftovers from a refurbishment of BOL.com’s headquarters were used for the glass portion of the façade on the ground floor and will be reused for a new office space after the Dutch Design Week concludes. All the materials, including concrete slabs used for the podium, lighting, heating and bar are borrowed. + bureau SLA + Overtreders W + Dutch Design Week 

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Colorful Peoples Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials

Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

November 3, 2017 by  
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The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most beloved national parks , attracting over four million visitors annually — but President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t seem to care about that. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed lifting a ban on new uranium mining near the national park, as part of a broader effort, according to Reuters, to do away with regulations hindering development after a March executive order from the president. The Forest Service , which is under the USDA and manages the land that could be re-opened to uranium mining , prepared a report in response to Trump’s Executive Order 13783 titled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” They proposed lifting the mining ban, put in place in 2012 to protect the watershed around the Grand Canyon. Related: Big Oil celebrates Trump’s goal to open up drilling in national parks Uranium mining pollutes water, and impacts animals and plants as it removes water sources, according to Earthjustice . The Center for Biological Diversity reports past uranium mining in the Grand Canyon area “has polluted soils, washes, aquifers, and drinking water.” They said that according to nonpartisan polls, 80 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Arizona voters back permanent protection in the Grand Canyon region from new uranium mining. According to Reuters, global demand and prices for uranium are weak. The new report even says uranium mining doesn’t generate revenue for America, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Havasupai Tribal Chairman Don Watahomigie said in a statement, “This is a dangerous industry that is motivated by profit and greed with a long history of significantly damaging lands and waters. They are now seeking new mines when this industry has yet to clean up the hundreds of existing mines all over the landscape that continue to damage our home. We should learn from the past, not ignore it.” Via Reuters , the Associated Press , Earthjustice , and the Center for Biological Diversity Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

Here’s your once-in-a-lifetime chance to stay in a life-size LEGO House

November 3, 2017 by  
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Get ready to live out your childhood dream! The LEGO House in Billund, Denmark has partnered with Airbnb to offer one family the chance to spend the night in a home made of 25 million bricks . This is an incredible opportunity, and the two-story residence has some amazing features – check them out after the break! The home is well-suited for children, as nearly everything inside is made from LEGO bricks – from the bed in the middle of a LEGO-filled pool to a pixellated “waterfall” and even a giant teddy bear. Other quirky objects on display include a brick newspaper and a breakfast tray for the morning. There’s even a brick-built alarm clock! If guests do feel as if they are missing something, there are plenty more bricks to build with – patrons can use the LEGO molding machine in the lobby to build extra amenities. Other attractions a family might enjoy include the “Tree of Creativity” (which is built from over 6 million bricks) and “Experience Zones” that allow you to direct your own movie , create robotic cars and even design entire cities. LEGO also showcases fan-made masterpieces from all around the world in the Masterpiece Gallery. Related: LEGO relaunches its beloved Taj Mahal model with almost 6,000 bricks Though the LEGO House is a popular tourist attraction in the Danish town, visitors aren’t normally allowed to stay the night. To enter the competition, a family needs to share the one thing they would build if they had an unlimited supply of LEGO bricks. The winners will get the opportunity to bring the object to life, thanks to the help of Master Builder Jamie Berard. Said Berard, the Design Manager Specialist at the LEGO Group: “I am so intrigued to see what people will imagine . We have unlimited bricks here, and in some ways it can be a bit challenging but it also liberates you to imagine something that is truly meaningful and expressive. The uniqueness of the opportunity to stay in the home of the LEGO brick should hopefully inspire everyone. That’s how I feel when I come here.” Added James McClure, Airbnb’s General Manager for the UK and Nordic countries, “This really is a dream come true for any family with a passion for LEGO and I doubt there will be much sleeping as there is so much to enjoy in this incredible space.” + LEGO House + Airbnb Via Mirror UK Images via Airbnb/LEGO Home

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Here’s your once-in-a-lifetime chance to stay in a life-size LEGO House

Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

October 26, 2017 by  
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We hear about the issue of ocean plastic a lot, but new photographs visually demonstrate just how pervasive the pollution is. Roatán-based photographer Caroline Power shared pictures on Facebook taken near the Caribbean island belonging to Honduras, revealing what she calls a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam”. Power said, “This has to stop.” Power shared photographs of waves of plastic garbage floating in seaweed in a part of the world we tend to think of as pristine. Pressure group Blue Planet Society said the trash could have come from the Montagua River in Guatemala. Related: Could France-sized ocean garbage patch become 196th nation? Power seems to have posted in hopes of prompting people to think about their own consumption of single-use plastic. She wrote in the Facebook post, “Think about your daily lives. How did you take your food to go last time you ate out? How was your last street food served? Chances are it was styrofoam and served with a plastic fork and then put in a plastic bag. Do you still use plastic garbage bags? Plastic soda bottles? Ziplock bags? Plastic wrap on your food? Do you buy toilet paper that comes wrapped in plastic instead of paper? Do you put your fruit and veggies in produce bags at the grocery?” Power challenged people and businesses to keep their garbage, after sorting out organic and recyclable trash, for a week. She said, “You will be disgusted by how many single-use items you use.” Every single year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans . Plastic pollution isn’t just an eyesore; The Independent quoted statistics saying it’s harming over 600 species around the world. Around 100,000 marine animals and more than one million birds perish because of plastic every year. Surely we can do better? Via Caroline Power and The Independent Images via Caroline Power on Facebook

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Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

Natural light floods this solar-powered business school in Frankfurt

October 26, 2017 by  
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According to the World Green Building Council , students score higher on tests and learn up to 26% faster when placed in rooms lit by natural light. Danish practice Henning Larsen Architects took this report to heart when they designed the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, a light-filled academic building that officially opens today. Powered by solar and wind energy, this sustainability-minded business school takes cues from its urban surroundings while setting “new standards for transparent and open learning in the world of business and finance.” Transparency, community, and visibility are key to the design of the 32,790-square-meter Frankfurt School of Finance & Management . To open the school up the urban setting, the architects centered the development around the Street of Knowledge, a long public atrium that echoes The Zeil, one of Frankfurt’s oldest commercial streets. A wide variety of glass-fronted rooms branch off on either side of the Street of Knowledge in two north-south facing volumes that reinforce the atrium’s likeness to a real city street. Above the third floor terrace, these two parallel buildings turn into five offset towers of flexible 400-square-meter office units. Designed to the DGNB Platinum standard, the school reduces demands of primary energy by 60 percent as compared to the German energy saving ordinance (EnEV) standards. Computer simulations and calculations led the architects to optimize the building shape and facade, constructed with a mix of opaque and transparent elements, early on in the design process to minimize energy needs, solar radiation, noise pollution, and wind. Rooftop photovoltaics and a wind turbine supplement energy needs, while rainwater retention systems slow the effects of intense rainfall. The skylight and careful building orientation maximize access to natural light . Related: Frankfurt named the most sustainable city on the planet “As architects we know that light is one of the most important factors for learning,” said Partner and Design Principal at Henning Larsen, Louis Becker. “It helps improving our focus and performance. My hope and ambition is that the varied daylight-filled spaces we have created for Frankfurt School of Finance & Management will contribute to the important task of educating students that will excel within their field and give something back to the city of Frankfurt.” + Henning Larsen Images by Henning Larsen/Karsten Thormaehlen

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Natural light floods this solar-powered business school in Frankfurt

We need a ‘Marshall Plan’ to rebuild the Caribbean

October 24, 2017 by  
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If we don’t plan on building a more resilient Caribbean, today’s emergencies will become tomorrow’s normal — and the region will spiral downward.

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We need a ‘Marshall Plan’ to rebuild the Caribbean

Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy

September 29, 2017 by  
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Hurricane Maria has left swaths of Puerto Rico without power – and millions of people could have to go without electricity for months . The storm’s devastation has stirred new interest in obtaining more energy from clean sources like solar or wind . Energy experts say increasing renewables and transitioning from centralized grids to microgrids could boost resilience as Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands weather storms. CARICOM, a Caribbean nation consortium, already hoped to hit 47 percent renewable energy by 2027. The recent hurricanes could act as a motivation to work for that goal. Caribbean countries in the past have relied mostly on imported fossil fuels , which are expensive both for the islands and for the environment . And storms can cripple power lines. Related: Puerto Rico could be without electricity for months due to Hurricane Maria There is an alternative, according to The Washington Post. Renewable sources, coupled with battery storage , powering small grids could offer more resiliency. Fossil fuels would offer backup—at least initially until battery storage becomes more affordable. The microgrids could be connected to a main grid but could also be isolated. With this new setup, the Caribbean could benefit from trade winds and solar panels. According to renewable energy expert Tom Rogers, who works at Britain’s Coventry University, solar systems in the tropics can “generate over one and a half times more than exactly the same PV system” installed in a location with a higher latitude like Europe. Rogers told The Washington Post, “You look at islands like Dominica, Anguilla, and other islands affected by the recent hurricanes, I’ve spoken to a couple of the utilities, and they say they would prefer to rebuild using distributed generation with storage, and just trying to reduce the amount of transmission lines. Because that’s where their energy systems fail. It’s having these overhead cables.” Via The Washington Post Images via Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos/Puerto Rico National Guard and NOAA Satellites Twitter

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Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy

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