Self-sustainable childrens center in Tanzania harvests water like a baobab tree

October 16, 2019 by  
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In northern Tanzania, a Swedish team of architects, engineers and a non-profit collaborated with local workers to complete the Econef Children’s Center, a self-sustaining facility for orphans in the King’ori village. Asante Architecture & Design , Lönnqvist & Vanamo Architects , Architects Without Borders Sweden, Engineers Without Borders Sweden and Swedish-Tanzanian NGO ECONOF created the center to provide sleeping quarters and classrooms to orphaned children, as well as to also increase ECONEF’s independence by reducing building maintenance and operation costs. The off-grid buildings are powered with solar energy and harvest rainwater in a system inspired by the African baobab tree. Built to follow the local building vernacular, the Econef Children’s Center uses locally found materials and building techniques to keep costs low and to minimize the need for external construction expertise. The new center provides sleeping quarters and classrooms for 25 children. “The aim of the Children’s Center Project is to increase ECONEF’S independence and reduce its reliance on private donations,” explains the team in a project statement. “To help achieve this goal the new buildings are planned to be ecologically and economically sustainable and largely maintenance free. The center produces its own electricity through the installation of solar panels. Systems for rainwater harvesting and natural ventilation are integrated into the architectural design.” Related: Timber-clad waterfront house in Norway epitomizes modern Scandinavian design Inspired by the African baobab tree that can retain up to 120,000 liters of water in its trunk to survive in the desert, the building’s rainwater harvesting system draws rainwater from the roof’s spine through a central gutter that funnels the water into two water tanks tucked beneath the two of the inner courtyards. The collected rainwater is used for showers and laundry. + ECONEF Images by Robin Hayes

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Self-sustainable childrens center in Tanzania harvests water like a baobab tree

Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design

October 15, 2019 by  
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A Stefano Boeri Architetti -led design team has won a competition to design a new urban project to transform the Polcevera valley in Genoa, Italy into a beacon of sustainability. Titled “The Polcevera Park and The Red Circle,” the urban regeneration scheme will include a series of parks beneath the new Renzo Piano-designed bridge that will replace the Morandi Bridge that collapsed on August 14, 2018 — a tragedy that killed 43 people. In addition to revitalizing the area and memorializing the recent tragedy, the project will promote sustainable design through renewable technologies, green space and an emphasis on non-motorized transport. Designed in collaboration with architecture firm Metrogramma Milano and Dutch landscape design firm Inside Outside, The Polcevera Park and The Red Circle will include a sustainable mobility grid, a system of parks, and solar-powered buildings that will serve as hubs of productivity and innovation to lead the area’s economic revitalization. The Red Steel Circle refers to the circular elevated pedestrian/ cyclist pathway that will visually and physically knit together the two sides of the valley. This “relationship-building structure” measures 1,570 meters in length, 6 meters in width and 250 meters in diameter, and will be equipped with a 120-meter-tall Wind Tower for generating and producing renewable energy. The new series of parks will also be designed with sustainability in mind and include rainwater harvesting systems and an emphasis on biodiversity . A planting palette of species native to the Mediterranean basin area as well as a rich diversity of spaces — including recreational, educational and social areas — will define the landscape. A memorial to the victims of the collapsed Morandi bridge will be located at the heart of the park. Titled Genova in the wood, the art installation will feature 43 trees, one for each victim lost. Related: Stefano Boeri Architetti’s iridescent tower breaks ground in Tirana “The Red Circle, the Tower, the World Buildings, and the Polcevera Park with its vital chromatic and botanical variety will act as Genoa’s welcome to the passers-by of the future,” says Stefano Boeri. “A welcome to the world that crosses it and reaches Genoa from a network of infrastructure that stretches from east to west connecting Italy to Europe, parks perched on vertical walls, workers and noblewomen, singers- poets and naval engineers. A Superb City, even though it is afflicted by poignant melancholy; beautiful, even if in the harshness of its everlasting contradictions. A city of steel and sea, sculpted by wind and tragedy, but always able to stand tall.” + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via The Big Picture, Renovatio design, 46xy via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Renewable energy surpasses fossil fuels in the UK

October 15, 2019 by  
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In a first for the United Kingdom, wind turbines, solar panels and other renewable energy sources have generated more electricity than their fossil fuel counterparts of coal and natural gas. This significant milestone confirms that since the Industrial Revolution began and the U.K.’s first power plant was established in 1882, zero-carbon energy has finally generated more clean terawatt hours. This is thanks to the decreasing cost of renewable energy, making alternative power sources a more feasible and desirable choice. Full decarbonization of the British electricity grid system now looks to be within reach. Related: Scientists find a way to produce renewable energy from snow For centuries, coal was king for the British energy industry. According to Carbon Brief , coal stoked British lighting from the 1810s, and it powered British railroads and ships from the 1840s and British centralized electricity generators from the 1880s. Then, a profound cultural shift began upon the enactment of the influential Clean Air Act of 1956 as a response to London’s Great Smog of 1952 . The Act steered both public and private sectors away from coal use. Even financial grants were issued to fund the transition to cleaner fuel sources. The ban to use coal for home heating and the restrictions against burning coal in urban areas notably contributed to a decline in British coal use. The 1980s saw the imminent dethroning of British coal, first with numerous pit closures occurring as a consequence of widespread strikes by miners. The closures heightened the importation of foreign coal, in turn producing supply uncertainty and geopolitical conflict. By the turn of the millennium, British environmentalists pushed for greener ambitions that swept out the U.K.’s reliance on coal. Now, only seven power plants powered by coal remain in the British isles. The last one is scheduled to close by 2025. As Carbon Brief reported, “In the third quarter of 2019, some 39 percent of U.K. electricity was from coal, oil and gas, including 38 percent from gas and less than 1 percent from coal and oil combined.” But just how much exactly comes from renewables ? Renewable energy now accounts for 40 percent: 20 percent wind power, 19 percent nuclear, 12 percent plant biomass, mainly from wood pellets, and 6 percent solar power. Wind power’s dominance among British renewable energy sources is by virtue of some newly constructed offshore windfarms. For instance, the world’s largest offshore windfarm, the Hornsea 1 , comprises wind turbines that dot more than 157 square miles of the North Sea. Secondly, the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm , Scotland’s largest offshore wind farm off the Wick coast in the North Sea, likewise opened in July. Renewable clean energy has a bright future in the U.K. The British continue to build a smart energy system that offers resilience, reliability and sustainability . Via The Guardian Image via Stephen Gidley

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Golden State bans hotel mini-toiletries in effort to minimize waste

October 15, 2019 by  
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To reduce the impact of plastic waste pollution, California banned hotel and lodging use and distribution of travel-size plastic toiletries. No longer will miniature personal care products like shampoos, conditioners and liquid bath soaps be part of the amenities package. The proliferation of single-use plastics has devastated the environment and is overwhelming landfills . To minimize the single-use plastic footprint, the Golden State shall phase out toiletry bottles from all lodging accommodations by January 2023 for large hotels and by 2024 for lodgings with 50 rooms or less. The lodging establishments affected include resorts, hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts even certain vacation rentals. Related: One plastic teabag can release billions of microplastics into your cup As a replacement, hotels can offer bulk products, such as wall-mounted public dispensers. Doing so minimizes the need for reliance on single-use items. Hotel chains like Marriott International and the InterContinental Group (IHG) have already begun replacing single-use toiletries with wall-mounted dispensers. Meanwhile, Hilton and Wyndham Hotel Group have opted to sanitize and repackage leftover soap for a second life with Clean the World Foundation ’s recycling initiative. Interestingly, the reason for the implementation date beginning in 2023 is to allow an adjustment period. During this adjustment to the new law, all hotels and lodging establishments are given time to exhaust their current stock of single-use plastic personal care products. Should a hotel or lodging establishment be noncompliant, they will be issued a citation. On the first violation, a written warning will be issued along with a $500 fine. For each succeeding day of noncompliance thereafter, an additional $500 per day of noncompliance will be issued. A $2,000 fine will be imposed after a second or reoccurring violation. The legislation is aligned with California’s restrictions on single-use straws at restaurants and single-use plastic grocery bags. Via EcoWatch Images via Marriott

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Golden State bans hotel mini-toiletries in effort to minimize waste

Detroit, Montreal and Lisbon see seamless connections, data as key to ditching solo cars

June 11, 2019 by  
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Simpler fare structures, apps that integrate public transit and private transportation services are at the center of the roadmap.

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Shellfish farmers push to use pesticides in oyster beds

February 12, 2019 by  
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Pesticide use for oyster beds is once again threatening Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay. Shellfish growers are making another push to allow for the spray of pesticides on clam and oyster beds in the region, which environmentalists and state officials say is a major risk to invertebrates, like the Dungeness crab. Oyster growers claim they need the pesticides to kill burrowing shrimp that harm oyster beds and prevent them from harvesting their product. The companies are looking to reverse a current ban on the use of pesticides such as the neurotoxic imidacloprid. They area also supporting three bills in the state legislature. If passed, these initiatives would make it legal for the companies to spray pesticides in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The Ecology Department has already put measures in place that prevent the use of pesticides on oyster and clam beds. Related: France is the first country to ban all 5 pesticides linked to bee deaths Officials with the state and federal government claim that there is strong evidence that suggests these pesticides are harmful to the environment . While the chemicals are effective against burrowing shrimp, they also kill other forms of ocean life that include the Dungeness crab. Fortunately, there are a variety of groups that are fighting the oyster growers and the newly proposed laws. This includes the Western Environmental Law Center, the Center for Food Safety, the Center of Biological Diversity and the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, all of which are filing appeals to keep the pesticide ban in place. The appeals will be heard at the Pollution Control Hearings Board over the next few weeks. It is unclear if the oyster growers will be successful in their attempts to lobby for legislation that makes it legal to spray pesticides in oyster beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. Via Capital Press Image via SeahorseDigital

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SOM unveils images of new undulating mixed-use tower in China

April 9, 2018 by  
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SOM recently just unveiled the first images of a spiraling mixed-use tower planned for China . The Hangzhou Wangchao Center features an undulating glass façade and eight mega-columns that slope outward at the corners. This design helps to minimize wind loads and optimize the center’s performance and efficiency. The Center will offer hotel, office and retail spaces in the heart of  Hangzhou . As a result of an integrated architectural and engineering strategy, the tower’s distinct silhouette minimizes wind loads and creates flexible floor plates. Related: SOM’s diagrid glass tower rises like a Chinese paper lantern in Beijing In addition to the large sloping corner columns, architects designed secondary perimeter columns that branch out to maintain equal column bays. A Vierendeel transfer truss above the lobby connects the secondary columns to the corner columns. This structure allows for the use of planar glass panels as cladding material. The tower is slated for completion in 2021. SOM said, “Located at the intersection of several major transportation networks, the tower is a beacon of performance-driven design and is emblematic of Hangzhou’s future as a new global destination.” + SOM Via ArchDaily Images by Brick Visual

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Shigeru Bans Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opens in Japan

January 3, 2018 by  
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Japan’s Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center, designed by Pritzker winner Shigeru Ban , is officially open to the public at a time when visibility of Japan’s highest peak is at its best. Located 20 miles southwest of Mt. Fuji in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, the sculptural building pays homage to Fuji with its inverted latticed cone that, when seen in the reflecting pool, mimics the shape of the famous dormant volcano. Shigeru Ban’s design for the new Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center was selected from 238 entries in a competition commissioned shortly after Fuji was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The highlight of the 3,400-square-meter facility is the viewing tower and ascent, where visitors walk up a 193-meter spiral slope simulating a climb up the Japan’s highest peak. Full-height glazing at the highest part of the tower frames views of the 3,776-meter-tall mountain. Related: Shigeru Ban uses shipping containers and paper tubes to create a surprising mobile museum Glass walls surround the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center, giving it a sense of lightness, while the timber latticed cone is split between the interior and exterior. The facility also includes an exhibition room with a 4K theater and a touch screen with clips explicating the beliefs, culture, and nature of Mount Fuji. The Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opened December 23, 2017. + Shigeru Ban Images via Shigeru Ban

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Shigeru Bans Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opens in Japan

Glowing Maggies Center by Steven Holl Architects opens in London

December 28, 2017 by  
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Just in time for the holidays, Steven Holl Architects completed the latest Maggie’s Center, a building the U.S. firm describes as having “a new joyful, glowing presence.” The luminous building at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London is one in a network of drop-in centers with the charitable purpose of helping anyone who has been affected by cancer. Filled with natural light during the day and lit from within at night, this new Maggie’s Center is a sculptural beauty that takes inspiration from the church’s medieval heritage. Founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks and Charles Jencks in 1995, the Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Trust and the network of Maggie’s Centers seek to help those affected by cancer with free support, information, and advice. Located on the grounds of NHS hospitals, the buildings that house Maggie’s Centers also double as uplifting design destinations, having been designed by leading architects such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta. At the Maggie’s Center at St. Barts, Steven Holl Architects fashioned a curved three-story building—one of the few centers with a more vertical rather than horizontal profile—that draws the eye with its glowing matte glass facade decorated with colored glass fragments that evoke the “neume notation” of 13th century Medieval music. The glass facade is also organized in horizontal bands like a musical staff. “Interior lighting will be organized to allow the colored lenses together with the translucent white glass of the facade to present a new, joyful, glowing presence on this corner of the great square of St. Barts Hospital,” wrote the architects. Related: Light-filled cancer center harnesses the healing power of nature The architects continue to say that the building was envisioned as a “vessel within a vessel within a vessel,” referring to the glass cladding as the outer layer on a branching concrete frame that holds an inner layer of perforated bamboo . The inner bamboo shell wraps around an open curved staircase and is bathed in colored light that changes over time and by season. The ground floor welcomes visitors with a rest area, counseling room, kitchen, and dining area. The first floor comprises a library and two additional rooms, while the topmost floor opens up to a public roof garden with flowering trees and a multipurpose space for yoga, Tai Chi, meetings and more. + Steven Holl Architects Images by Iwan Baan

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Glowing Maggies Center by Steven Holl Architects opens in London

Critically endangered red wolf may be forced into extinction by GOP

December 1, 2017 by  
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There are only 45 to 60 red wolves left in the wild, concentrated in a small area of North Carolina — but for Republicans, that is simply too many. The  Canis rufus, which was declared endangered in 1982 and critically endangered in 1996, has seen only slight growth in its population over the last 30-plus years. As such, the wolves have been protected through a captive breeding and reintroduction program funded by the federal government. But now with Republicans controlling the Senate, a covert push is underway to eviscerate the protective agency and force these red wolves into extinction. As IFLS shares, the initiative is  buried in a Senate report , written as: “The Committee acknowledges the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s request that the [Fish and Wildlife] Service end the Red Wolf recovery program and declare the Red Wolf extinct.” The claim is that “landowners and other species” are being impacted by the wolves and that “the program has failed to meet population goals for the red wolf”—though, notably, absolutely no research or data was accompanied to back up the statements. If passed, the program would come to a close next year. Related: Red Wolves Critically Close to Extinction After Hunters Kill 10 Percent of Population “Senate Republicans are trying to hammer a final nail in the coffin of the struggling red wolf recovery program,” Perrin de Jong, a Center for Biological Diversity staff attorney, said in a  press release . “It is morally reprehensible for Senator Murkowski and her committee to push for the extinction of North Carolina’s most treasured wild predator. Instead of giving up on the red wolf, Congress should fund recovery efforts, something lawmakers have cynically blocked time and time again.” The handful of existing red wolves are the result of an aggressive reintroduction effort started in 1987 to bring them out of extinction. Even today, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reports they are “one of the world’s most endangered wild canids,” though they have made “good progress” in rebuilding the population, despite illegal poaching and interbreeding with coyotes. The goal has been to grow the number to 220 red wolves. Rather than disassembling the program, the Center for Biological Diversity is calling on pols to improve it: “The science demonstrates that red wolves are still recoverable. A 2014  report  by the nonpartisan Wildlife Management Institute concluded that recovery would require augmenting eastern North Carolina’s existing wild population of fewer than 45 red wolves with two additional wild populations and investing additional resources to build local support for red wolf recovery.” Both the subcommittee and the Interior Department will decide the fate of the wolves. Unfortunately, as the two are under the control of the GOP, a party that has little interest in environmental conservation, the future of the red wolf is bleak. Via  IFL Science Images via Center for Biological Diversity

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