Prefab Zhuhai Jinwan Civic Art Centre boasts energy- and water-saving design

March 26, 2021 by  
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Currently under construction, the Zaha Hadid Architects -designed Zhuhai Jinwan Civic Art Centre will soon provide the southern Chinese city with a stunning new hub for contemporary creativity. Located on a lake in the heart of Zhuhai’s Western Ecological New Town in the Jinwan district, the sculptural building combines four cultural institutions under one roof: a 1,200-seat grand theater; a 500-seat multifunctional hall; a science center; and an art museum. Built with prefabricated construction and energy-efficient technologies, the building will adhere to Zhuhai’s “sponge city” initiative for responsible stormwater management and is expected to achieve two stars within China’s Green Building Evaluation Standard. Slated for completion this year after four years of development, the Zhuhai Jinwan Civic Art Centre draws the eye with its latticed steel roof canopy that takes inspiration from the chevron patterns of migratory birds in southern China. The sculptural roof structure is constructed from prefabricated modules that are self-supporting, self-stabilizing and repeated across the entire canopy. Perforated aluminum panels in the canopy provide external solar shading. Related: Historic Zhuhai sugar factory to be reborn as a low-carbon cultural hub The four cultural institutions are arranged symmetrically around a central outdoor plaza. The larger grand theater and art museum venues will feature a lighter color palette than the smaller multifunctional hall and science center, which will be built with a darker palette of materials. Circulation, which includes interconnecting bridges and voids, emphasize connection with the surrounding promenades and civic spaces, including an external amphitheater on the west side of the center. To achieve two stars within China’s Green Building Evaluation Standard, the building’s structural components prioritize recycled materials, and the envelope will be wrapped in double-insulated glazing. Intelligent building controls and air quality sensors will automatically adjust the center’s interior environments for user comfort and energy savings. The landscaping and surrounding lake will use aquatic flora and fauna to naturally filter contaminates, and water-saving irrigation systems and stormwater management strategies will store and reuse runoff. Waste heat recovery systems will also help reduce water usage. + Zaha Hadid Architects Photography by Minmud, Slashcube and Methanoia via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Deforestation contributes to disease outbreaks, study says

March 26, 2021 by  
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A recent paper published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science has established that there is a connection between deforestation and the occurrence of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. The study indicates that deforestation has led to increased outbreaks of viruses similar to COVID-19 and also facilitates the spread of vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Of more concern is the fact that the findings also show an increase in disease spread in areas that are undergoing reforestation . The authors of the paper say that tree planting can equally increase the risk of diseases if not done correctly. The researchers explained that monocultures, like commercial forests, can kill native plants that provide protection against viruses and pests. Related: WWF releases report on avoiding the next zoonotic disease pandemic “I was surprised by how clear the pattern was,” said Serge Morand, study co-author and director of the French National Centre for Scientific Research. “We must give more consideration to the role of the forest in human health , animal health and environmental health. The message from this study is ‘don’t forget the forest.’” The researchers used data from the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organization, among others, to determine correlations among diseases, populations and forest cover. They found that from 1990 to 2016, there were nearly 4,000 outbreaks of 116 zoonotic diseases that crossed the species barrier to infect humans as well as 1,996 outbreaks of 69 vector-borne diseases. Previous studies have shown a strong relationship between the risk of diseases and proximity to ecosystems that have been destroyed by human activity. In particular, increased instances of malaria have been reported in Brazil, close to the Amazon rainforest , due to increased deforestation. Morand is concerned with the continued deterioration of the Amazon. Since president Jair Bolsonaro took over, logging and forest fires have been the order of the day. “Everyone in the field of planetary health is worried about what is happening to biodiversity , climate and public health in Brazil,” Morand said. “The stress there is growing. The Amazon is near a tipping point due to climate change, which is not good at all for the world ecosystem. If we reach the tipping point, the outcomes will be very bad in terms of drought, fires and for sure in terms of disease.” + Frontiers in Veterinary Science Via The Guardian Image via Martin Wegmann

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Deforestation contributes to disease outbreaks, study says

US solar panels may be partially produced via slave labor

January 19, 2021 by  
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In his first few months in office, President-elect Joe Biden will need to choose between working with Chinese companies on developing affordable solar energy solutions for the U.S. or ditching the possibly “dirty” solar for an expensive alternative back home. This follows reports that Chinese companies responsible for producing polysilicon and other solar panel components for the U.S. could be using slave labor. Most of the solar energy products from China are manufactured in the Xinjiang region, which has become synonymous with detention centers and forced labor. Over the past four years, China has established a network of detention facilities in the region, most of which contain factories. These detention centers are used to hold Muslim minorities, who are believed to be forced to provide labor for solar factories. Related: The afterlife of solar panels Unfortunately, the U.S., like many other countries, relies on China for solar panel parts. These materials are imported from Xinjiang and other areas under heavy government surveillance, where external observers do not have access. China became the dominant supplier of polysilicon in the world, following the 2014 tariff war with the U.S. In retaliation to U.S.-imposed tariffs, China imposed tariffs on companies in the U.S., South Korea and the EU and ventured into producing polysilicon and other materials. With that said, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has the legal authority to stop the importation of parts if it finds proof of slave labor in the manufacturing. In July 2020, the agency stopped a shipment of human hair extensions, based on reports that the products were made using  child labor . In December 2020, CBP also seized shipments of cotton and computer parts from the Xinjiang region that were also believed to have been made by  prison labor . “It’s quite possible solar companies could be scrutinized by CBP regarding Xinjiang-related forced labor risks in their supply chains even if there is no regional ban because this issue is getting more attention,” said Amy Lehr, director of the human rights program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and the lead author of a report on forced labor in Xinjiang. At this time, the Solar Energies Industry Association is recommending that U.S. solar companies move their supply chains away from this region. John Smirnow, general counsel of the association, said, “We have no indication that solar is being directly implicated, but given reports, we want to ensure forced labor is never a part of the solar supply chain.” Via Buzzfeed News Image via Chuttersnap

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A new LEED Gold civic center will reinvigorate downtown Long Beach

January 19, 2021 by  
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As part of Long Beach’s largest public-private partnership effort to date, international architecture firm SOM has helped inject new life into the downtown area with the Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan. This 22-acre project celebrated its grand unveiling of multiple LEED-targeted civic buildings late last year. The Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan, which has redesigned the downtown as a new and vibrant mixed-use district, targets New Development LEED Gold certification. Launched in 2015, the Long Beach Civic Center Master Plan provides a new heart for public life in the City of Long Beach. The LEED Gold-targeted, 270,000-square-foot City Hall and LEED Platinum -targeted, 232,000-square-foot Port Headquarters buildings, both completed in July 2019, are designed with energy-efficient, under-floor air conditioning systems and an abundance of natural light. The solar-powered, 93,500-square-foot Billie Jean King Main Library that opened to the public later that fall is also designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Related: SOM designs a low-carbon waterfront community for China’s “most livable city” The masterplan includes design guidelines for the development of 800 residential units and 50,000 square feet of commercial development. A regional bicycle network, buses and the Metro Blue Line have been woven into the design to promote a pedestrian-friendly environment. The historic Lincoln Park has been revitalized as well to better engage a greater cross-section of the city’s population. “Targeting New Development LEED ® Gold certification, the new Civic Center plan optimizes operations and maintenance, maximizes street parking, introduces plazas and promenades, and expands bike infrastructure to create a hierarchy and quality of place,” SOM explained in a project description. “The proposed sidewalk configurations, along with the scale and density of tree planting, create not only a welcoming and walkable environment, but a differentiated sense of place — one that befits the city’s dynamic center for culture, recreation, education, and government.” + SOM Images via SOM | Fotoworks/Benny Chan, 2020

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A new LEED Gold civic center will reinvigorate downtown Long Beach

Could contraception for pigeons be a humane option for population control?

January 19, 2021 by  
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City-dwellers often complain about pigeons, calling them “rats with wings” and condemning them as noisy, messy, disease-carrying feces machines. But they’re really pretty benign. Much of the problem is that pigeons aren’t afraid to colonize areas that people think of as theirs. So can we really justify the usual methods of pigeon control: trapping, shooting or poisoning? Erick Wolf, CEO of Innolytics, thinks not. For 15 years, he’s been developing birth control for pigeons and other birds that people deem pests. OvoControl is the official brand name, though Wolf sometimes calls his business model “Planned Pigeonhood.” The way it works is that a contraceptive chemical called nicarbazin is put into an automatic feeder and set out where a flock of pigeons live. Every morning at the same time, the feeder dumps the feed, and the pigeons flap around, gobbling it up in minutes. Related: Birds are dying mid-air possibly due to climate crisis effects The U.S. Humane Society recommends OvoControl as a kinder alternative to poisoning, and the EPA approved it back in 2010. Wolf spoke with Inhabitat about how he got in the family planning business for birds. [Note: This interview has been edited for space.] Inhabitat: How did you come up with this idea? Wolf: The active ingredient in this stuff, the chemical that interferes with egg fertilization in birds, has been around for 65 years. It was originally developed by Merck for use in chickens . The utility in chickens has nothing to do with egg hatchability, it has something to do with coccidiosis, an enteric disease that chickens get. But it’s got this one unwanted side effect in that it interferes with egg hatchability when fed to the wrong chicken. So we were sitting around the table having a couple of beers one day and said, “If it’s so good for preventing egg hatchability in chickens, why don’t you just feed it to pigeons?” Inhabitat: What’s wrong with the usual ways to control pigeons? Wolf:  The conventional methods for pigeon control is trap, shoot or poison , none of which is very humane. What they’re using in the U.S. to poison the birds is really horrible. You would think that a poison that’s used to kill an animal like that would be fast-acting, you’d give it to them, they’d drop over dead. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So this stuff that they use commercially takes 20 minutes to 2 hours for the bird to basically convulse to death. It’s awful. If you go out and kill animals like that, you end up with more of them a few months later. You’ve got a site with 100 pigeons at it and you go in and you trap or you shoot or you poison 50 of them, within a few weeks, a few months at the very latest, you have more than 100 pigeons again. They just breed back. So unless you stop the breeding, there’s no point. They’re just coming back. Inhabitat: How do OvoControl’s results compare? Wolf:  It works great, but it’s not an overnight success. It takes time, because you have to wait for the attrition of the population. Pigeons die every day. They die of disease, they die of nutrition, they die of predation. Some of them freeze to death in the winter, some of them roast in the summer. But there’s this constant replenishment going on. Unless you stop that, you’re going to live with the pigeons forever. These are pigeons, so they’re breeding every 6 weeks, two eggs per clutch. So five mating pairs of pigeons will make 400 birds in 2 years. So that’s what you’re up against. I have talked with customers that have killed 10,000 pigeons . They only had 3,000 to begin with. They’re harvesting birds.   People that call us are not ones that have a few pigeons around. I have conversations with people that have thousands of pigeons. And it seems like the more pigeons they’ve got, the more likely they are going to be to try to kill more of them. The more they get, the more they want to murder them. Inhabitat: So your method takes patience? Wolf: We’ll get customers that use it for a month and say, “I didn’t see anything happen.” I say, “You’re not supposed to see anything happen.” Pigeons die every day. But the only way to kill them with OvoControl is to just drop a 30-pound bag of it on them. Then the pigeon’s dead. But other than that, you’re not going to kill any pigeons. So get used to it. We have customers that have been using this stuff for years. After a couple, three years, the management will turn over or something and I stop getting orders. It’s usually about 2 or 3 years later, I’ll get an email: “Send us 10 bags.” (laughs) If you stop, they start breeding again. Inhabitat: Who are your customers? Wolf: Who’s going to pay for it? People have talked to us and they say, “Oh my gosh, cities must be great customers. They’ve got so many pigeons.” And I say yes and no. They’ve got a lot of pigeons but they’re not so interested in putting them on birth control. There’s not a budget in the city maintenance for birth control for birds. The low-hanging fruit for the business is pretty much large industrial sites. Power plants, oil refineries, steel mills, pulp and paper, glass foundries, ports. Not necessarily airports, but seaports. Big places. Places where you can’t stretch a net to keep the pigeons out. Any kind of manufacturing facility that’s got open doors. Hospitals are good. What a hospital has very typically are parking garages and lots of places for pigeons to find cubbies. There’s a lot of heat being produced there. College campuses are good because they’re multi-structure. At a multi-structure facility, the guy will come in there and say, “We’re going to net the physics building because it’s got all the pigeons on it.” So they net the physics building and all the pigeons go over to the chemistry building. They’re resident birds. They’re not leaving campus. That’s where they found food. That’s where their nests are. That’s where they’re going to stay. Inhabitat: Are your clients international? Wolf:  We have registrations now in Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan. We have one pending that looks very promising in Australia , and pending in New Zealand as well. Here in the home market, the U.S., it continues to be a really long, uphill battle. People want tangible and immediate results. When you tell them you’re going to lose half your birds over a year, and then another half over the next year and so on and so forth, the pest controller will say, “Forget it. My customer wants the birds gone today.” + OvoControl Images via Pixabay

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Could contraception for pigeons be a humane option for population control?

SoKind Gift Registry: Another Way To Give … and Receive

December 1, 2020 by  
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The SoKind registry from The Center for a New American Dream allows users to make lists of experiences they’d like to have or handmade gifts they’d like to receive. The post SoKind Gift Registry: Another Way To Give … and Receive appeared…

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SoKind Gift Registry: Another Way To Give … and Receive

Montana Heritage Center renovation will celebrate the states history and geology

October 23, 2020 by  
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A multimillion dollar expansion and renovation project is underway in Helena, Montana for the Montana Historical Society. Led by 80-year-old architecture firm Cushing Terrell, the Montana Heritage Center renovation project includes a 66,0000-square-foot expansion and the renovation of almost 67,000 square feet of existing space. The project will focus on the local land, with expansions appearing to emerge from the earth to reference the Lewis Overthrust, a geophysical event that helped define the state’s landscape with a collision of tectonic plates that drove one plate over another. The expansion project, to be completed in 2024, is 10 years in the making and will cost $52.7 million, nearly doubling the size of the existing 1952 Veterans and Pioneers Memorial Building. Inside, the building will preserve the stories of Montana’s people as a repository for historic collections and resources. When it is completed, the center will serve as a place of learning and discovery for local residents and visitors alike. Related: LEED Platinum Stockman Bank harvests rainwater and solar power in Missoula Designers are pursuing USGBC LEED and IWBI WELL certifications in an effort to highlight sustainable architecture. Continuing to pay homage to the existing structure’s history, the design uses the space between two buildings to connect the old with the new via a dynamic entryway. “The vision for who we can be in the future really has also been built into this process, bringing together diverse voices from across our state from east and west, north and south, our tribal nations, men and women, young and old — it will be reflected right here,” said Montana Governor Steve Bullock. “Those voices will shape its architecture and landscaping the way that our mountains and our plains and those winding rivers have shaped each and every one of us. This building design also looks to the future by incorporating sustainable features that will showcase the ingenuity and the values that make Montana such a special place.” For exterior landscaping , the design includes features and plants that mimic the Montana plains, grasslands, foothills, forests and mountain landscapes on a smaller scale, with a trail linking all of the ecosystems together. Thanks to this design, visitors to the center will have an opportunity to experience and feel connected to the diverse Montana backdrop as well as those who have lived within the state’s borders for generations. + Cushing Terrell Images via Cushing Terrell

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New study outlines ways to prevent future pandemics

July 27, 2020 by  
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The coronavirus pandemic has left the world devastated in many ways. Besides the deaths the pandemic has caused, COVID-19 has lead to a serious economic slowdown around the world. Millions of people have lost their jobs. While there are vaccines being tested for this virus, there are uncertainties about future pandemics. Scientists are now worried about the possibility of another pandemic occurring sooner than we expect. While the world is busy fighting the novel coronavirus, a group of scientists has been busy trying to find ways to prevent future pandemics. A study in the journal Science has argued that it is possible to prevent future pandemics at a fraction of the cost used to fight COVID-19. The study suggests that we could avoid another pandemic by controlling human and wildlife interactions. COVID-19 is believed to have originated from wild animals , specifically bats. Related: WWF releases report on avoiding the next zoonotic disease pandemic The study now proposes ways of ensuring that viruses from animals do not transfer to humans. The scientists have suggested measures that could reduce human-wildlife interaction and help prevent the spread of diseases. At the same time, these measures could protect the environment. The proposed measures include ending illegal wildlife trade, preserving forests and enhancing disease surveillance. “We have a lot of examples of these actions curtailing risk,” said Aaron Bernstein, director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and one of the authors of the study. “So we know that it’s possible — but we haven’t really invested at all.” Although there have been similar measures undertaken by governments, the seriousness of these actions has always been questionable. The study now provides evidence that shows taming both the illegal wildlife trade and deforestation could be achieved at a fraction of the economic cost of managing the coronavirus. If such actions are not taken and there is the occurrence of another pandemic in the near future, the impact would be devastating for the world. + Science Via Grist Image via Annie Spratt

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Floating islands bring a new type of public park to Copenhagen

April 22, 2020 by  
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Australian architect Marshall Blecher and Danish design studio Fokstrot have unveiled plans for a new type of public space in the heart of Copenhagen — a “parkipelago” of floating islands. Dubbed the Copenhagen Islands, this non-profit initiative follows the success of CPH-Ø1, the first prototype island that launched in 2018 and was anchored in various parts of the city harbor. Copenhagen Islands plans to launch three more human-made islands in 2020, with more planned in the future. Mobile, floating and free for public use, the Copenhagen Islands concept was created as a way to revitalize the forgotten parts of the city’s old harbor while introducing green space for the benefit of local residents, fauna and flora. Like the CPH-Ø1 prototype, which was a 20-square-meter timber platform with a linden tree at the center, all Copenhagen Islands will be constructed by hand using traditional techniques in the boat-building yards in the city’s south harbor. Related: This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste The islands will serve as platforms for different activities ranging from swim zones and floating saunas to gardens and a sail-in cafe. Endemic plants, trees and grasses will grow atop the island to provide habitat for birds and insects, while the space below each island is ideal for seaweed, fish and mollusks. The islands can be moved seasonally between underutilized and newly developed parts of the harbor to help catalyze urban growth. In winter, the islands can be joined together to create a “super continent” for special events or festivals. “The islands reintroduce wilderness and whimsy to the rapidly gentrifying harbor and offer a constantly changing, generous green space in the center of the city,” the architects explained. “The project also hints at a new type of climate resilient urbanism, inherently flexible in its use and only using sustainably sourced and recycled materials .” Copenhagen Islands has received the Taipei International Design Awards for Public Space as well as the award for Social Design. + Marshall Blecher + Fokstrot Images by MIR via Marshall Blecher

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Floating islands bring a new type of public park to Copenhagen

PICO microgarden lets you grow anywhere from home to car

April 22, 2020 by  
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Indoor gardening offers all the same benefits as a garden in the ground outside. Namely, fresh food and a  low environmental impact . But not everyone has the natural space for a garden, which is where indoor planting comes in for the win. While there are many systems and techniques you can implement inside the home, PICO stands out as a versatile option that you can place anywhere and still achieve growing success.  Most plants need to be located near a window for light. Often this means taking up limited tabletop or bookcase space. PICO is different because, while setting it on a tabletop is an option, it will also mount to vertical surfaces. In fact, it comes with a magnetic mount, which could be used on a refrigerator or desk, plus a standard wall mount and Velcro option for mounting to windows, mirrors and other surfaces. There are also three color options to match nearly any decor. The unit comes fully assembled. All you have to do is add a bit of soil and a few of your favorite seeds. There is no membership or seed pod to purchase. Watering is stable and consistent with a water reservoir and easy fill spout. A transparent window in the front allows you to easily see when more water is needed, typically about once each week. From there, the system automatically wicks water from the reservoir through the soil, using an on-demand system that replenishes moisture as the soil dries out.  With location and watering figured out, the last major component for successful indoor growth is proper lighting. PICO is equipped with a multi-spectrum growing light that conveniently extends from the compact planter design. As your plant grows, the light extends up to one foot higher for consistent light.  PICO is the newest addition to the  urban gardening product line from Altifarm Enverde, the company that previously released two larger versions of in-home garden systems. While PICO is not intended to provide high quantities of food, it’s automatic functions and placement versatility make it an option for growing readily available herbs, visually pleasing succulents, or fragrant mini roses. PICO is currently trending on a Kickstarter campaign that will close on May 17th. Shipments are expected immediately following the end of the campaign.  + Altifarm Enverde  Images via Altifarm Enverde

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PICO microgarden lets you grow anywhere from home to car

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