EPA workers openly fight against potential Pruitt confirmation

February 17, 2017 by  
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With Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt ‘s installation as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head seeming more likely, current EPA employees have taken to their phones and the streets to resist his potential confirmation. They’ve contacted their senators and protested; one expert said he “can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this.” EPA scientists, policy experts, and environmental lawyers are openly opposing the confirmation of a man who’s sued the EPA 14 times – sometimes working with large fossil fuel companies – and can’t come up with even one EPA regulation he supports. The EPA’s union has sent emails and posted on social media exhorting members to take action. EPA employees in Chicago protested on the streets. Related: Scott Pruitt can’t name a single EPA regulation he approves of TechCrunch reported yesterday the EPA posted a snapshot of what their website looked like the day before Donald Trump’s inauguration after receiving numerous requests for the information. Two Democrat senators, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp , said they’ll vote for Pruitt, and only one Republican, Maine’s Susan Collins , said she’ll oppose him. EPA lawyer Nicole Cantello, who’s also the Chicago area union leader, told The New York Times, “It seems like Trump and Pruitt want a complete reversal of what EPA has done. I don’t know if there’s any other agency that’s been so reviled. So it’s in our interests to do this.” Should Pruitt be confirmed, it would be difficult to fire those workers who opposed him due to Civil Service protections, meaning there could be a lot of internal dissension against actions Pruitt aims to take, like dismantling the Clean Power Plan . Former EPA employee Judith Enck told The New York Times, “EPA staff are pretty careful. They’re risk-averse. If people are saying and doing things like this, it’s because they’re really concerned.” Via The New York Times Images via Lorie Shaull on Flickr and Gage Skidmore on Flickr

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EPA workers openly fight against potential Pruitt confirmation

Warming Huts 2017 winning designs are inspired by beaches, lanterns, and open borders

December 7, 2016 by  
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Warming Huts , an ” Art + Architecture Competition ” whose entrants design huts fit for the cold Winnipeg winters, have revealed their 2017 winners. Three winning teams designed the 2017 huts, which include a lantern-like hut, an ice block cabin and an “open border” hut. This year’s five winning huts are creative out-of-the-box designs that were inspired by history, tropical beaches and even  politics . Warming Huts invited Anish Kapoor to design a hut this year, and he envisioned “Stackhouse,” a geometric hut to be made wholly of ice blocks. They also selected the design of Nelson McIntyre Collegiate student Sean Kohli “On The Rails,” which was inspired by local history of rail transportation. Related: ROPE Pavilion by KNE Studio Is An Elegant Woven Warming Shelter In Canada Warming Huts also selected three winners. Team 888 of Chicago designed the winning “Greetings From Bubble Beach,” a geodesic dome retreat reminiscent of “an inverse snow globe,” according to the project description . Set on a wooden base, the dome will create a warm respite allowing visitors to step into summer. Team 888 plans to equip the dome with deck chairs, a palm tree, and a “sand-like ground layer.” The hut “Ice Lantern” is another winner. Designed by Lisa Tondino, Alexandra Bolen, Mathew Rodrigues, and Drew Klassen of Novia Scotia, Canada, designers say Ice Lantern is based on primitive hut archetypes. The lantern portion will hover over the snow, held in place by an “iglu snow-mound structure.” That structure will include wooden bench seating, offering warmth through natural insulation from the snow. The third winning design is “Open Border” from Joyce de Grauw and Paul van den Berg of the Netherlands. The two designers created a hut that looks like a red wall crossing an ice skating trail in the area. But skaters can shelter in the wall and cross through it at any point along the installation. In January 2017, the winners will travel to Winnipeg, Canada to construct the huts they designed. + Warming Huts Via Bustler Images via Warming Huts

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Warming Huts 2017 winning designs are inspired by beaches, lanterns, and open borders

Astronomers just calculated when a day on Earth will be 25 hours long

December 7, 2016 by  
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Many jokes are made about creating just one more hour in the day, but that will eventually become a reality. After a review of celestial data spanning 27 centuries, a team of astronomers has determined that Earth’s orbit slows almost two milliseconds every 100 years . If the slowdown continues—and it’s expected to—Earth will eventually experience an extra hour each day. Some careful math helped researchers estimate how long it might take for the orbit to slow enough to create a whole new hour. Collecting ancient documentation of celestial events , such as eclipses, was no small task. Researchers at Durham University and the UK’s Nautical Almanac Office collated data on events from 720BC to 2015, a span of 2,735 years. The oldest records came from Babylonian clay tablets written in cuneiform, with more added from ancient Greek texts, and scripts from China, medieval Europe, and the Arab region. Related: Newly discovered ‘ghost galaxy’ full of dark matter is as big as the Milky Way Leslie Morrison is an astronomer and co-author of the study, which was just published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society. Morrison and his team evaluated nearly 3,000 celestial records in order to arrive at the estimated orbital slowing rate of 2ms per century. Although it’s been long known that the Earth’s orbit is gradually slowing, this is the first study to produce an estimated rate of that change. The study results also discuss some of the factors in the Earth’s orbital slowdown, including the tidal braking effect caused by the moon’s gravity, changes in the world’s sea levels, and the electromagnetic forces between Earth’s core and its rocky mantle. Don’t start making plans for how to spend your extra hour. According to the study results, it will be another two million centuries before Earth’s day lengthens to 25 hours. Via The Guardian Images via NASA ( 1 , 2 )

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Astronomers just calculated when a day on Earth will be 25 hours long

Labyrinthine resort in Bangladesh lets nature take over

December 7, 2016 by  
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Nestled among the green hills of a tea plantation in northern Bangladesh , Dusai Resort & Spa was modeled after the area’s traditional villages. VITTI Sthapati Brindo used a hybrid construction system of traditional tea estate bungalows and standardized concrete structures, as well as local technology and materials, to create the labyrinthine development, which is dominated by an explosion of vegetation. Photo by Hasan Saifuddin Chandan The resort comprises a residential complex, dining, a swimming pool , a spa, a conference room, and an indoor and outdoor gaming facility. The individual cottages of the residential complex are arranged in an array around a semi-private courtyard, while the deluxe cottages for couples are arranged in flocks in more private areas. The layout of the entire site resembles a labyrinth, with a curving path, internal roads and walkways leading visitors from the reception area to their cottages. The linear routes connect the public, semi-private and private zones consecutively. Related: Jean-Michel Cousteau Eco Resort Showcases Traditional Building Photo by Hasan Saifuddin Chandan The design lets nature dominate built space. From the very beginning, the architects made a conscious effort to preserve existing open space, trees and the site’s natural topography. They used local craftsmanship and traditional construction techniques for a more sustainable approach to building on a slope. Bungalows were built on stilts, which allowed drainage to remain uninterrupted and dense vegetation untouched. The result demonstrates that the good life doesn’t have to be destructive. + VITTI Sthapati Brindo Ltd. Via v2com Lead photo by Hasan Saifuddin Chandan

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Labyrinthine resort in Bangladesh lets nature take over

Majority of Americans support Paris climate deal as Trump reconsiders pulling out

November 25, 2016 by  
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A new survey shows strong bipartisan support in the US for staying in the Paris climate agreement that formally commits its 193 signatories to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avert dangerous climate change. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll of 2,061 Americans finds that 71 percent agree that the US should participate in the pact, including a majority of Republicans (57 percent), Democrats (87 percent) and Independents (68 percent). President-elect Donald Trump has previously stated that he believes climate change is a hoax and that he intends to pull the US out of the Paris climate deal as soon as he takes office. However, in a potentially major reversal if he holds to it, Trump told New York Times reporters during a visit to the Midtown Manhattan newsroom that human activity is connected to climate change and that he would keep an open mind on the landmark climate accord. Related: Al Gore reaches out to work with Donald Trump on climate change On the link between human activities and climate change, Trump said that “I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much.” And when pressed on the Paris climate deal, Trump said that “I’m looking at it very closely. I have an open mind to it.” While this is a stunning reversal on his previous positions regarding man-made global warming, it remains to be seen whether Trump will change his policies that currently advocate for more oil, coal and natural gas at a time when many climate experts are warning that we have no carbon budget left and that we must keep remaining hydrocarbon reserves in the ground to sustain a livable climate. Trump’s new stance accepting human-induced climate change also goes against the climate deniers and fossil fuel industry insiders placed on his transition team and cabinet. The survey’s lead author Dina Smeltz, a senior fellow on public opinion and foreign policy at the Chicago Council, told The Washington Post that “an increasing percentage of Republicans now say that some gradual action should be taken” to address climate change concerns and that the American public “has been growing in their support for mitigating climate change.” + Chicago Council survey: Growing support in US for some climate action Via The Washington Post Lead image via Wikimedia , others via Wikimedia

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Majority of Americans support Paris climate deal as Trump reconsiders pulling out

Luxembourg bar renovation mimics Japanese origami for a low footprint

November 25, 2016 by  
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The new structure that envelops the existing building looks like a folded sheet of paper that allows the interior to open up to the natural surroundings. Lightweight and self-supporting, the wooden structure helps orientate the bar and eating areas toward the outside and guides views to the tall tree stalks, while allowing the possibility of changing the project in the future. Related: Reclaimed Wood Clads This Japanese Izakaya’s Origami-Like Interior in Montreal The architects also refurbished the existing kitchen and eating area on the ground floor and formed a smoking area with a fireplace and small dining area. They partly removed the lateral outdoor terrace and replaced it with a white sand beach. + Metaform architects Via v2com Photos by Steve Troes Fotodesign

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Luxembourg bar renovation mimics Japanese origami for a low footprint

Facebook gears up for ‘social VR’; Chicago gets its first CRO

November 1, 2016 by  
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This month’s Names in the News sustainability career round up ranges from Chicago’s first resilience chief to a new ocean policy guru.

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Facebook gears up for ‘social VR’; Chicago gets its first CRO

MAD offers up two design proposals for Lucas Museum: one for SF, one for LA

October 28, 2016 by  
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MAD principal architect Ma Yansong worked on the two designs for the Lucas Museum at the same time and while they have some common features, the two proposals are also very different. The design for San Francisco seats the museum on Treasure Island, an artificial island in San Francisco Bay which is a former military site that now holds a host of tourist activities. The proposed design is for a fluid, tapered structure that is elevated from street level, creating a pedestrian space underneath the museum. This would integrate the museum into the waterfront without robbing the public of precious surface spaces. In protecting the public space, MAD’s museum design meshes with architecture firm SOM ’s master plan for Treasure Island. Related: MAD Architects announce a design overhaul for controversial George Lucas Museum in Chicago The second design is for Exposition Park in Los Angeles, where the Lucas Museum would neighbor the Natural History Museum and Coliseum. The LA version of the proposed museum protects public spaces in much the same way the San Francisco design seeks to do, but also creates additional public space in the form of rooftop terraces featuring living trees and other plants. The museum would sit on a sprawling green lawn, where visitors could enjoy nature or host a picnic in conjunction with their art appreciation. An underground parking garage with space for around 1,800 vehicles is also incorporated into the LA design. Each design proposal offers around 100,000 square feet of gallery space, which is a third of the size of the since-abandoned Chicago proposal after it was scaled down  to 300,000 square feet. Reportedly, Lucas will decide on the proposed museum’s location within the next four months, but there’s no word on whether he’ll accept the design created for that city. It’s entirely possible we will see another round of design revisions in the early part of 2017, much like the Chicago project endured several updates. In the meantime, art lovers can take a sneak peek at the Lucas Museum’s collection, thanks to this special feature compiled by the San Francisco Chronicle. + Lucas Museum of Narrative Art + MAD Architects Via Dezeen Images via MAD Architects

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MAD offers up two design proposals for Lucas Museum: one for SF, one for LA

New green-roofed office building in Chicago is stacked for optimal solar absorption

October 6, 2016 by  
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The building comprises three bars stacked and arranged to maximize views of the surrounding landscape and optimize solar orientation. Its form and programmatic flexibility is rarely found in typical office buildings . Related: Digitas Decks Out Its Inspiring Chicago Office with Salvaged Factory Materials and Urban Graffiti Thornton Tomasetti analyzed and developed several sustainable strategies which were incorporated into the design of the building. Greywater reuse and rainwater harvesting systems were combined with detailed daylighting studies to reduce solar gains in the summer. The team used Honeybee software to evaluate the effects of automated interior blinds and calculate the efficiency of exterior shading devices. Other sustainable features include multiple green roofs , accommodation for low-emitting vehicles and native landscaping . + Goettsch Partners + Thornton Tomasetti Photos by James Steinkamp

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New green-roofed office building in Chicago is stacked for optimal solar absorption

Wind-powered Water Seer pulls 11 gallons of clean drinking water from thin air

October 6, 2016 by  
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A new device that relies on simple condensation to collect clean water from the atmosphere promises to provide up to 11 gallons of safe drinking water without an external power source, greenhouse gas emissions , or adverse environmental impacts. What’s more, the innovative Water Seer collection device could potentially run forever, gifting generations of people with access to ‘liquid gold’ in areas of the world where a harsh climate or lack of infrastructure make access to clean drinking water a major problem. Water Seer is powered by a simple wind turbine, and the device could easily be the first step toward a sustainable, enduring solution to water shortages around the world. http://vimeo.com/182748120 The Water Seer device is planted six or more feet into the ground, and soil is then packed around its metal neck. The top of the Water Seer holds a vertical wind turbine, which spins internal fan blades to draw air into the subterranean chamber. Because the underground chamber portion of the Water Seer is cooled by the surrounding earth, water condenses in the reservoir to creates sort of an artificial well, from which people can draw clean, safe drinking water around the clock. Related: Innovative Water-Gen machine harvests up to 825 gallons of clean water from thin air in a day The low-cost device was developed by VICI-Labs, in partnership with UC Berkeley and the National Peace Corps Association, as a possible solution for the 2.3 million people on the planet who lack regular access to safe drinking water. A single Water Seer device can collect up to 11 gallons of clean water every day with no external power supply required, and a collection of several devices can provide enough water to support a small village. The not-for-profit company will match US purchases of each unit by donating a Water Seer collection device to those in need living in developing countries or in arid climates . Water Seer launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $77,000 to build “orchards” of water collection devices around the world. The device has already been tested as a prototype, and the latest model was finalized in August 2016 and will undergo field tests with the National Peace Corps Association once the crowdfunding campaign closes. + Water Seer Website + Water Seer on Indiegogo Images via Water Seer

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Wind-powered Water Seer pulls 11 gallons of clean drinking water from thin air

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