Chicago snags green city spotlight for second year running

August 24, 2018 by  
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A new study has revealed Chicago to be the greenest city to work in within the U.S for the second consecutive year. About 70 percent of the Windy City’s office spaces are certified for energy efficiency, up from 66 percent last year. Other top cities include San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Each year, the U.S. Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE Group) surveys buildings in the 30 largest U.S real estate market areas and evaluates the results in collaboration with  Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Results depend on the amount of square footage of LEED – or Energy Star-certified commercial buildings constructed within a city. This year’s records show an extraordinary total of 4,700 green buildings in these 30 areas. The total square footage now accounts for 41 percent of all office spaces. CBRE Senior Vice President David Pogue revealed that green certification has “become a proxy for good building management,” in recent years. “Particularly in the services sector, a lot of their energy use and environmental impact is in the buildings they occupy, so the tenant base is demanding this, and institutional financiers also believe a sustainable building is a better building,” he said. According to the EPA, commercial buildings account for approximately 19 percent of total energy use in the country. As such, they are often the largest contributors of carbon emissions within cities. To combat this, LEED certification was established by The Green Building Council, which recognizes Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) through evaluation of aspects such as water systems and energy efficiency. Similarly, the EPA’s own Energy Star program focuses on strict performance standards in the energy category. “So many buildings have become dependent on this as a way of demonstrating quality to investors and corporate tenants,” Pogue added. “It’s going to cause every building to go back and reconsider what their energy use is — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.” Chicago is well on its way to reaching its goal of 100 percent renewable energy in city-run properties by 2025. Close competitors include San Francisco, with 64 percent of its office spaces certified as energy-efficient. Also notable is Los Angeles, which has the most Energy Star buildings, 716 in total, compared to Chicago’s 339. Via Bloomberg Images via Alan Stark and Michel Curi

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Chicago snags green city spotlight for second year running

3 cities using parks to climate-proof their future

April 25, 2018 by  
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Here’s what Gladsaxe, Jakarta and Chicago have in common.

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3 cities using parks to climate-proof their future

The bitter better place

April 25, 2018 by  
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There is no need to apologize for being relentless in our work, or vociferously clear about the consequences of inaction.

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The bitter better place

Urban Rivers designs a multiplayer Trashbot Game to clean the Chicago River

March 15, 2018 by  
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The non-profit organization Urban Rivers is currently fundraising to deploy a remote-controlled, trash-cleaning robot on the Chicago River. Urban Rivers already has a prototype out in the water and hopes to expand this into a full-fledged, multiplayer internet game. The organization’s “Trashbot Game” would allow players to control the robot from afar using simple keyboard directions to gather trash throughout the river. “We really hope that one day, this game is just so boring, because there’s no more trash left to clean,” said Urban Rivers co-founder Nick Wesley in the project’s Kickstarter video . Prior to its Trashbot initiative, Urban Rivers established a floating garden in Chicago, which was maintained by staff on kayaks . The workers began to notice that trash continuously drifted into the garden and eventually became too burdensome for manual clean-up. “Trash appeared at random times in large quantities. Sometimes we would remove all the trash and two hours there was more,” writes Urban Rivers . The garbage also affected local wildlife that depend upon the river and its floating garden. To solve this problem, Urban Rivers created Trashbot. Once fully developed, users will be able to log on from anywhere in the world to control the robot as it collects trash, which will later be removed by staff. Related: Baltimore’s floating trash-eaters have intercepted 1 million pounds of debris In the envisioned Trashbot game, users will be able to see through the “eyes” of Trashbot and gain points for collecting more trash . If Urban Rivers reaches its $5,000 goal, a second version of Trashbot will be developed while a high-powered WiFi hotspot and a home base trash station will be installed on-site. GPS tracking and a theft-prevention tether on Trashbot will also be funded. Via The Verge Images via Urban Rivers

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Urban Rivers designs a multiplayer Trashbot Game to clean the Chicago River

Ultra-thin Macbook-shaped roof tops new Apple Store in Chicago

October 24, 2017 by  
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A new Apple Store has just opened in downtown Chicago—and it’s an architectural beauty. Designed by Foster + Partners , Apple Michigan Avenue follows the tech giant’s new ( and controversial ) “Town Square” store concept in which stores are meant to serve as community hubs rather than simply commercial spaces. Naming aside, the new Apple flagship is a stunner with wraparound glazing and an ultra-thin carbon fiber roof in the recognizable shape of a Macbook cover. Located along the Chicago riverfront on North Michigan Avenue’s ‘Magnificent Mile,’ Apple Michigan Avenue was envisioned as a bridge between the city and the river. Granite staircases that flank the store step down to the waterfront from the historic Pioneer Court urban plaza. Massive curved glass walls wrap around the building on all sides, while four slender columns support an extremely thin floating roof. Related: First Apple Store in Southeast Asia is 100% powered by renewable energy “We fundamentally believe in great urban life, creating new gathering places, and connecting people in an analog way within an increasingly digital world,” said Stefan Behling, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “The design of Apple Michigan Avenue embodies this in its structure and materiality with a glass wall that dissolves into the background, revealing the only visible element of the building – its floating carbon fiber roof.” Interior stairs double as seating for Apple Michigan Avenue’s “forum,” the events space for talks about photography and coding, and hub of Today at Apple. + Foster + Partners Images by Neil Young

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Ultra-thin Macbook-shaped roof tops new Apple Store in Chicago

New York City is now offering free lunch at all public schools

September 8, 2017 by  
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Good riddance “lunch shaming” — the practice of holding children accountable for school lunch bills. Starting this school year in New York City, all 1.1 million students who attend public schools will receive their lunches for free. The move has been long sought after by food policy advocates, as 75 percent of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunches. Now an additional 200,000 kids will benefit, saving their families approximately $300 per year. According to city officials, the program will not cost the city additional money since New York state changed how it tracks families that are eligible for benefits and matched them with schools their children attend. The city was then able to identify more students whose families receive those benefits. It made officials realize the whole city qualifies for a federal program that dishes out free lunches at schools. According to Carmen Fariña, the school’s chancellor, “This is about equity. All communities matter.” Fariña is one of many who thinks the practice of lunch shaming needs to stop. When a student’s account is in overdraft, oftentimes their food is thrown away in front of them and they are given a simple sandwich on white bread as a replacement. The practice is so embarrassing, many kids choose to go hungry rather than subject themselves to the humiliation. Related: 8 Organic School Lunches That Can Be Prepared The Night Before New York isn’t the first city to offer free lunch to all students. Other major cities that do the same include Boston , Chicago, Detroit, and Dallas. However, New York has far more children to feed than any of those cities, which is why this initiative is particularly applaudable. While breakfasts were already free to students at the city’s public schools, this latest development will ensure all students receive most of their daily recommended food intake. This is vital, considering 13 million children in the United States live in food insecure households. Via New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons , Pixnio

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New York City is now offering free lunch at all public schools

The Hatchery announces new $30M food incubator for ‘global culinary capital’

July 11, 2017 by  
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A food incubator planned for Chicago’s East Garfield Park could provide much-needed economic growth for a struggling community. Nearly 40 percent of households there live below the poverty level, according to the Chicago Tribune . But the $30 million facility, being built by The Hatchery , could create 150 jobs in its first year, and in five years offer 900 jobs. The organization expects to break ground on the facility later this year. The Hatchery is a non-profit food business incubator started by three Chicago organizations: Accion Chicago , IFF , and Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago . They offer financing, production space, and other resources for startup food businesses, and the new $30 million facility could help them assist even more people in the community. Related: Rooftop wheat fields elevate Chicago’s urban farming scene to exciting new heights 75 to 100 entrepreneurs will be able to start their businesses in The Hatchery’s planned space, which will be around 65,000 square feet. The City of Chicago is providing around $8 million for the venture, largely through tax increment financing, and large food companies like Kellogg Company and Conagra Foods have also pitched in undisclosed amounts. Shared kitchen spaces will help businesses get on their feet, and as they grow they’ll be able to rent one of the 56 private production spaces. Event spaces, meeting rooms, and food storage will also be found inside The Hatchery, where entrepreneurs will be able to receive coaching and training. Accion Chicago will relocate their headquarters to the new facility. Locals will be able to obtain job training or go to food classes there. The space will also host a neighborhood market. Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the project in a press release, saying, “Chicago is the global culinary capital and The Hatchery will give our local entrepreneurs access to food and beverage companies that operate across the world.” Construction is slated to begin in October or November of this year, and the space could open in 2018. + The Hatchery Chicago Via the Chicago Tribune Images via The Hatchery Chicago Twitter and The Hatchery Chicago Facebook

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The Hatchery announces new $30M food incubator for ‘global culinary capital’

Germany generated 35% of its electricity with renewables in first half of 2017

July 11, 2017 by  
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Good news! In the first half of 2017, Germany derived 35.1 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources , according to the German Renewable Energy Federation (BEE). In a press release , the country’s trade body announced that Germany has successfully met its 2020 target for “share of gross electricity consumption.” It helped that from April 30 to May 1, the country generated 85 percent of its energy needs using renewable wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power. Germany has steadily increased its production of clean electricity over the past few years. In the first half of 2015, for instance, the country generated 32.7 percent of its energy needs from renewables , and 32.7 percent in the first half of 2016. Though the new record is positive news , progress in other sectors has been slow, specifically in the transportation and heating sectors. Said Haraold Uphoff, the acting director of BEE, “The power generation in Germany is progressing far too slowly.” Fortunately, the country is well on its way to producing 45 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2040, and 60 percent by 2050. The report details a jump in offshore wind energy in the first half of 2017. As Clean Technica reports, onshore wind energy grew “from 34.08 TWh in the first half of 2015, to 34.71 TWh a year later, but jumping to 39.75 TWh in the first half of this year. Offshore wind also jumped, from only 2.15 TWh in the first half of 2015 to 8.48 TWh this year.” Solar PV, as well, has seen incremental increases in growth. In 2015, output has increased from 19.50 Two in 2015 to 21.74 in the first half of 2017. Related: Germany, Denmark, and Belgium to boost offshore wind 5-fold within the next decade Time and again, Germany has proven its commitment to bettering the environment by taking action to meet goals outlined at the Paris Climate Change Conference . Their most recent effort includes signing a joint statement on climate cooperation with California earlier this month. The agreement was a “reaffirmation of joint ties” between the two to continue working on the persistent issue of global warming. Via Clean Technica Images via Pixabay

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Germany generated 35% of its electricity with renewables in first half of 2017

Houston superbug problem has been lurking for years, say researchers

May 18, 2017 by  
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Houston has a superbug problem, and it’s been lurking for years. A particularly virulent strain of Klebsiella pneumoniae , a bacteria that’s resistant to a broad spectrum of antibiotics, has a firm foothold on the Texan city, according to new research published in mBio , an online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology . Using genome sequencing, scientists from the Houston Methodist Research Institute found clone type 307 was responsible for more than one-third of resistant K. pneumoniae infections in their system. “Finding the otherwise uncommon strain in our city was a very surprising discovery,” James M. Musser, senior author of the study and chair of the Department of Pathology and Genomic Medicine at the Houston Methodist Research Institute and Houston Methodist Hospital, said in a statement. “Because K. pneumoniae is a common and important cause of human infections, we urgently need to identify potential vaccine targets or other new treatments, and develop new and rapid diagnostic techniques.” K. pneumoniae usually resides in the human intestines, where it doesn’t cause disease. When it migrates to other parts of the body, however, the bacteria can trigger infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, or blood septicity. Related: Student discovers a way to destroy superbug bacteria without antibiotics Musser’s team worked with researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and University of Chicago to analyze the genomes of 1,777 K. pneumoniae strains that caused infections in patients at Houston Methodist between September 2011 and May 2015. Clone type 307 emerged as the most abundant strain. But although the organism has been documented in regions of Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, the study marks the first time it’s been singled out for causing such a broad number of infections in one city. Why this strain is so common in Houston is still a mystery, Musser said. “The faster we can successfully identify which antibiotics this strain is sensitive to, the faster a treating physician can target the appropriate therapy to these ill patients,” said S. Wesley Long, primary author of the study and associate director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory at Houston Methodist Hospital. “Our discoveries also give us the tools to begin to understand how the germ is spreading throughout the Houston area.” Earlier this year, an elderly woman in Nevada died from a K. pneumoniae infection after failing to respond to all 26 antibiotics used in the United States. There’s no approved vaccine for the superbug, but scientists are working on it. “Fortunately, the strain 307 identified in our study remains susceptible to certain antibiotics that can be used to successfully treat infected patients,” said Long. + American Society for Microbiology Via CBS News Photos by Unsplash

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Houston superbug problem has been lurking for years, say researchers

The Obamas just revealed a first look at the new Presidential Center in Chicago

May 3, 2017 by  
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Former president and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama just revealed plans for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. The park-like campus will feature three buildings including a museum, a forum and a library. The highlight of the design is the museum, which is clad in light-colored stone and stands as a sort of “lantern” for the campus. Designers are focusing on merging the best of the outdoors with the best of the indoors by including plenty of green spaces, green roofs , and public gardens. The campus, located in the neighborhood Jackson Park, will host exhibition space, education rooms, a restaurant, public gardens, and the Presidential library, which will house documents, photos and artifacts from Obama’s time in office. Related: Obama’s presidential library will be set in Chicago’s Jackson Park Pathways will criss-cross the campus, allowing visitors to walk from green spaces on the ground level to the green roofs of the two lower buildings. An outdoor plaza will connect everything together. The design was created by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and will cost approximately $500 million to construct. Once completed, the buildings will comprise 200 – 225,000 square feet. Via The Chicago Tribune images via The Obama Foundation

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The Obamas just revealed a first look at the new Presidential Center in Chicago

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