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

Barcelona’s new solar-powered sports center features a green facade

February 11, 2020 by  
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Barcelona, a city well-known for its avant-garde architecture, both modern and historic, is going green. Local firm  Architecture Anna Noguera  has just completed work on the Turó de la Peira’s Sports Center, a solar-powered complex covered in a  lush green facade . The building’s innovative hydroponic system includes a rainwater collection system that irrigates the vegetation year-round. Once known as a beautiful green area in the city, Barcelona’s Turó de la Peira Quarter was taken over by urban sprawl during the 1960s. Since then, the neighborhood has been suffocated with construction. Recently, the government decided to give the neighborhood a massive green overhaul , including the addition of a new solar-powered sports center wrapped in vegetation. Related: Denmark’s first timber parking garage will be enveloped in greenery At the hands of Architecture Anna Noguera, the Turó de la Peira Sports Center, which features a heated swimming pool on the ground floor and a sports court on the second floor, was constructed out of two existing buildings. Strategically combining the two buildings, the architects were able to add an abundance of natural lighting throughout the building thanks to a new translucent facade and 24 skylights. The light, along with the addition of  prefab timber  used on the walls and ceiling, gives the structure a healthy, modern atmosphere. Without a doubt, however, the center’s most eye-catching feature is its green envelope. The building has been equipped with a  hydroponic planting system, which wraps lush vegetation around the building. To keep the vegetation irrigated, a rooftop rainwater collection system filters water into a large tank in the basement. In addition to its  green facade , the building incorporates several energy-efficient systems. A massive solar array takes up the entire rooftop, generating 95.534 kWh per year. Additionally, the building has an innovative aerothermal system that allows the recovery of heat for the center’s hot water needs. + Architecture Anna Noguera Via V2com Photography by Enric Duch

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

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

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