This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views

April 18, 2019 by  
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In the Chilean city of Pucón, Santiago architect Alejandro Soffia has recently completed a prefab home that visually pops against its wooded surroundings. Fittingly named the Yellow House after its bright yellow facade, the modular residence is elevated off the ground for reduced site impact and to create a treehouse-like feel. The home’s modules were strategically connected with wooden joints and punctuated by full-height glazing to frame views of Lake Villarrica on one side and the Villarrica volcano on the other. Built from a series of SIP modules that Soffia designed himself, the prefabricated Yellow House spans just under 1,100 square feet and consists of a long hallway that connects an open-plan living room, kitchen, library and dining area on one end of the house to the two bedrooms on the other side. The house also opens up to an outdoor terrace built from wood. “The hypothesis is, that if you create a prefabricated system which has a good architectural design, then you can reproduce this quality as much as you need it, within the laws of short/long production series,” explains Soffia, who adds that he prefers prefabrication due to its reduced site impact and speed of construction without compromising quality. “And if in the serial industrial production of buildings you get bored, you can also customize form and function through the system. More benefits when you fasten the building process and have more control over quality and cost.” Related: A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park Full-height glazing fills the interior with light and creates an indoor/ outdoor living experience that immerses the owner in the forest. In contrast to the bright yellow corrugated facade, the interiors are lined in wood, with some sections left unpainted and others painted black. Minimalist decor keeps the focus on the outdoors. + Alejandro Soffia Via ArchDaily Images by Juan Durán Sierralta, Mathias Jacobs

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This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views

A guide to the different types of plastic

April 18, 2019 by  
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BPA, PET, HDPE. You’re trying to do the right thing by recycling, following health alerts and shopping wisely, but you’re not fluent in molecular chemistry. So how do you decipher exactly what it all means and how to stay green? We’re here to help with a handy guide on different types of plastic and how they impact the planet and your health. Fast facts about our plastic problem According to Earth Day , here are some stats that give you an idea of the scale of our plastic addiction. • Since its invention in the 1950s, over 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced. • Ninety-one percent of all plastics are not recycled, meaning almost all plastic ever produced is piled up in our landfills and oceans . • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year. If you tie all these bags together, they reach around the Earth 773 times. • By 2050, there will be more pounds of plastic in the ocean than fish. • There are more microplastics in the ocean than stars in the Milk Way. What are microplastics? Keep reading! Types of plastic: what the terms mean, where you find them and how they impact health Courtesy of National Geographic and  Waste4Change , below are terms commonly used by manufacturers and health advisers. Additives Additives are chemicals added to plastic to enhance certain qualities. For example, they might make the material stronger, more flexible, fire-resistant or UV inhibitive. Depending on what is added to the plastic, these substances can be toxic to your health. Biodegradable This term means that a material can break down into natural substances through decomposition within a reasonable amount of time. Plastic does not biodegrade , so the term is misleading and still means that the substance may leave toxic residue behind. In fact, some states are now banning this term in relation to plastic. Bioplastic Bioplastic is a broad term for all types of plastic, including both petroleum and biological-based products. It does not mean that a plastic is non-toxic, made from safe or natural sources or non-fossil-fuel-based. This term can be misleading, because many consumers assume “bio” means natural and therefore healthy. Related: Shellworks upcycled leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics Bisphenol-A (BPA) BPA is a toxic industrial chemical that can be found in plastic containers and in the coating of cans, among other uses. It can leach into foods and liquids. BPA-free products have merely replaced the substance with less-toxic bisphenol-S or bisphenol-F, both of which still pose health concerns. Compostable This term means something can break down or degrade into natural materials within a composting system, typically through decomposition by microorganisms. Some new plastics are labeled as compostable; however, this certification mostly requires industrial composting systems, not your garden compost pile. Compostable plastics do not leave behind toxic residue after they decompose, but they must be separated out for industrial composting and not put in recycle or landfill bins. Some major cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis have industrial composting programs, but many do not. Ghost nets/fishing gear Approximately 640,000 tons of fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in the ocean every year. Most of this equipment is made from plastic, including nets, buoys, traps and lines, and all of it endangers marine life . Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE is thick plastic used in bags, containers and bottles. It is safer and more stable that other plastics for food and drinks and can be recycled . Microplastics Microplastics are particles less than 5 millimeters long. There are two types: Primary: resin pellets melted down to make plastic or microbeads used in cosmetics and soaps Secondary : particles that result from larger pieces of plastic (such as fabrics and bottles) breaking down into millions of tiny particles that can enter air and water Ocean garbage patches Specific ocean currents carry litter thousands of miles and cause it to collect in certain areas known as garbage patches . The largest patch in the world spans a million square miles of ocean and is mostly made up of plastics. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE) Polyethylene terephthalate is a widely used plastic that is clear, strong and lightweight. It does not wrinkle and is typically used in food containers and fabrics. It is the most likely to be recycled, but it is a known carcinogen, meaning it can be absorbed into liquids over time and cause cancer . Polypropylene (PP) PP is stiffer and more heat-resistant than other types of plastic. It is often used for hot food containers, diapers, sanitary pads and car parts. It is safer than PVC and PET but still linked to asthma and hormone issues. Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Typically used in food containers and helmets, this material does not recycle well and can leach styrene that is toxic for the brain and nervous system. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) PVC is considered the most hazardous plastic, because it can leach chemicals like BPA, lead, mercury and cadmium that may cause cancer and disrupt hormones. It is often used in toys, cling wrap, detergent bottles, pipes and medical tubes. It usually has to be recycled into separate and more rare recycling programs. Single-use plastic Single-use plastic is designed to be used only once and then disposed of, such as grocery bags and packaging. Environmentalists encourage reducing your single-use plastic consumption, because after their short lifespan, these plastics pile up and pollute the Earth for centuries. Via National Geographic ,  Earth Day , Waste4Change and The Dodo Images via Shutterstock

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Environmental campaign floods UK Royal Mail with empty potato chip bags

September 28, 2018 by  
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The U.K. postal service has implored its public to stop mailing empty potato chip bags addressed without an envelope after a surge in chip bag mailings was encountered by its courier offices. The mailings are part of an environmental campaign urging the most popular brand of British crisps, Walkers, to reevaluate its plastic packaging. Walkers, owned by PepsiCo, is being met with a petition signed by more than 310,000 people and an online campaign that is sending unknown numbers of empty bags right to the company’s doorstep. Twitter is buzzing about the environmental activists , who have been posting pictures of themselves mailing the empty packets of chips through the Royal Mail service. The rebels are using the hashtag #PacketInWalkers to comment on the company’s latent efforts to revamp its packaging. An emailed statement from a Walkers spokesperson, released by CNN , stated, “We have received some returned packets and recognize the efforts being made to bring the issue of packaging waste to our attention. The returned packets will be used in our research, as we work towards our commitment of improving the recyclability of our packaging.” The company has announced that it plans to achieve plastic-free packaging by 2025. . @walkers_crisps 2025 is too long to wait for you to use plastic free packaging. It’s just not good enough. You produce 4 billion packs per year. I’m sending these back to you so you can deal with your own waste. #PacketInWalkers pic.twitter.com/S13uiZXpdx — Jarred Livesey (@Jaz_Livesey) September 22, 2018 For many campaign participants, such as Jarred Livesey, the commitments are vague and inadequate. “2025 is too long to wait for you to use plastic free packaging. It’s just not good enough,” he commented on Twitter last week. Despite PepsiCo working on a pilot project in the U.S., India and Chile that features compostable packaging , consumers are adamant about stopping the polluters as soon as possible. Related: UK’s Co-op to ditch single-use plastic bags for biodegradable bags Lisa Ann Pasquale went a step further in her Twitter commentary, suggesting, “What if — instead of buying crisps and posting the packages back to @walkers_crisps — we just save our planet AND cholesterol levels by not buying crisps… .” Pasquale makes a sound argument, considering the 11 million bags of potato chips Walkers produces daily in order to keep up supply for its spud-loving consumers, who consume approximately 6 billion packs of chips a year. The Royal Mail service is caught in the cross-hairs of this environmental argument. Bound by U.K. law to treat the empty potato chip bags as mail as long as they are properly addressed, there is not much else the national communications carrier can do. “If an item is addressed properly and carries the correct postage, then Royal Mail is obliged by law to handle and deliver the item to the stated address,” a Royal Mail spokesperson told CNN. “If they are taking part in this campaign, we would urge them to put crisp packets in an envelope before posting,” because improperly packaged bags could cause delays or be tossed from the sorting sequence. Via CNN Image via Allen Watkin

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Environmental campaign floods UK Royal Mail with empty potato chip bags

Explore the worlds driest desert at these eco-friendly geodomes

September 27, 2018 by  
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On the coastal edge of northern Chile’s Atacama Desert sits the Piedras Bayas BeachCamp , sustainable lodgings that offer a low-impact stay in the world’s driest desert. Chilean architecture firm MOREAS designed the eco-friendly retreat using local materials, non-contaminant sanitary systems and off-grid energy systems. Billed as a “sustainable tourism station,” the beach camp is oriented toward the water and offers an immersive experience in the virgin landscape. Elevated on stilts, the Piedras Bayas BeachCamp consists of a centrally located service center and three freestanding hotel suites. Spaced 50 meters apart to preserve privacy, each suite houses up to four people and comprises a white geodome for the sleeping quarters, a private bathroom and a personal terrace oriented for views of the water. The service center is equipped with a communal kitchen with all the appliances and tools needed for food prep, two outdoor dining areas, an office, two bathrooms, a staff room and a living area. Exterior raised pathways connect the various buildings. To minimize impact on the landscape, the project was constructed in three phases with a team of three carpenters, two local artisans and an architect on site. “The strategy was to have a wood structure as the skeleton, with skin made out of local materials,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The structural basis was made from wooden pillars, buried one meter in the sand compacted with salt water, and the foundations did not use any cement at all. The main local materials used for this project were ‘Brea’ and ‘Totora.’ It is inspired by a small village located 40 minutes from the site.” Related: Desert dome camp in Jordan offers tourists “The Martian” experience Nightly rates at the Piedras Bayas BaseCamp start at $120 USD with a minimum two-night stay requirement. Guests will have access to kayaks as well as electricity and hot water 24/7. + MOREAS Via ArchDaily Images by Alejandro Gálvez, Cristina Ananias and Eduardo Montesinos

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Explore the worlds driest desert at these eco-friendly geodomes

Locally salvaged zinc panels clad a seaside getaway in Chile

August 9, 2018 by  
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Designed by Chilean architecture firm Ortuzar Gebauer Arquitectos , the Coo Lodge is a seaside getaway that is tied into the surrounding landscape history with its weathered zinc cladding. The reclaimed metal plates, sourced from old construction sites, have been oxidized to a reddish color similar to the color of the ground. Located on the beach with spectacular views of the sea and distant volcanoes, the building was constructed to feel like an extension of the landscape. The zinc -clad Coo Lodge is located in Queilen, a tiny town in the southern Chilean archipelago of Chiloé known for its beaches and beautiful views. The architects looked to the landscape for much of the inspiration for the house design and even delved into the early history of the original inhabitants, nomadic navigators known as ‘Chonos or Payos’ who made their living from the sea. “To discover their vestiges was to discover their vernacular condition, it was to discover a culture,” the architects wrote. “The above opened our senses to work on the pre-existing.” The architects also divided the site into three main parts: a green field near the main road, a grass-covered rocky “intermediate level” and the white sand beach that was formerly covered by a large growth of weeds before the designers cleared out the space. Because the 1,722-square-foot Coo Lodge was placed on the “intermediate level,” the architects created a series of block-y volumes — six of which house bedrooms and one larger structure for the communal living areas — to complement the large sculptural rocks. The buildings are elevated  and fan out across the landscape, and they are connected by outdoor walkways. Large windows punctuate the sea-facing facades. Related: Chile’s rustic Casa Pollo is made from recycled zinc plates and reclaimed wood “The enclosures being separated are intimate, typical of the visitors who keep them in their status as a nomad in the place,” the architects continued. “A great volume is the space of encounter, public space, exposed, that around the fire and the kitchen , invites to live according to the logic of the rural ensemble in Chilo.” + Ortuzar Gebauer Arquitectos Images by Federico Cairoli

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Locally salvaged zinc panels clad a seaside getaway in Chile

One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact

May 18, 2018 by  
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Bad news for wildlife: 2.3 million square miles of protected areas around the world face human pressure from activities like road building, urbanization, or grazing, according to a new study . Lead author Kendall Jones, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland , said in a statement , “We found major road infrastructure such as highways, industrial agriculture, and even entire cities occurring inside the boundaries of places supposed to be set aside for nature conservation .” Millions of square miles “have this level of human influence that is harmful to the species they are trying to protect,” University of Queensland professor James Watson told the BBC . “It is not passive, it’s not agnostic; it is harmful and that is quite shocking.” Scientists at the University of Queensland, University of Northern British Columbia , and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) teamed up for the study, described as a reality check, that was recently published in the journal Science . Related: Chile creates five new national parks from 10 million acres of land in historic act Watson said that governments claim the areas are protected “when in reality they aren’t.” Even though more land has been protected in the last few decades, the lack of real protection is a major reason for  biodiversity ‘s continued, catastrophic decline. There was a ray of hope in the study’s findings: protected areas that have strict biodiversity conservation objectives in place tend to experience less human pressure. WCS listed the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador, and the Madidi National Park in Bolivia as examples. Watson said, “We know protected areas work — when well-funded, well-managed and well placed, they are extremely effective in halting the threats that cause biodiversity loss and ensure species return from the brink of extinction . There are also many protected areas that are still in good condition and protect the last strongholds of endangered species worldwide. The challenge is to improve the management of those protected areas that are most valuable for nature conservation to ensure they safeguard it.” + Wildlife Conservation Society + University of Queensland + Science Via the BBC Image via Depositphotos

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One-third of the world’s protected areas face ‘shocking’ human impact

Bering Sea ice is "at record low levels for this time of year"

May 18, 2018 by  
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Arctic sea ice is low, with the Bering Sea’s ice extent “the lowest recorded since at least 1979,” according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). This reflects a larger overall trend: in April, Arctic sea ice covered an area 378,400 square miles below the 1981 to 2010 average. According to Alaska-based meteorologist Rick Thoman, Bering Sea ice extent “is five percent of normal” for the middle of May, and “there is almost nothing left except for near shore ice in protected areas.” The worrisome part of all this? There are still four months to go in the Arctic’s melt season. NSIDC provided information on Arctic sea ice extent in April of this year, and said 2016 and 2018 essentially tied “for lowest April sea ice extent on record.” Barents Sea and Bering Sea ice extent was below average, as it was during the 2017 to 2018 winter. According to Earther , the Bering Sea has been something of a ground zero for crazy ice, with sea ice disappearing when it was supposed to be growing in February, rebounding slightly in March, and then plummeting in April. Bering Sea ice extent is 5% of normal for mid-May and there is almost nothing left except for near shore ice in protected areas. Chukchi Sea ice extent also at record low, with open water now north of 71N. #akwx #Arctic @Climatologist49 @ZLabe @lisashefguy @amy_holman pic.twitter.com/Ur7UmoptgL — Rick Thoman (@AlaskaWx) May 17, 2018 Related: Extreme Arctic warmth deeply concerning, scientists say Warm oceans have played a role in the dive of Bering Sea ice levels; University of Alaska Fairbanks climate researcher Brian Brettschneider told Earther that “Bering Sea SSTs [sea surface temperatures] have been at record or near record levels for months now. This represents a strong positive feedback. Warm waters are hard to freeze, which then allows for more solar absorption.” And Bering Sea ice typically protects Chukchi Sea ice. When Bering Sea ice disappeared in February, open water seeped into the Chukchi Sea — an event that has probably only happened in one other winter on record. + National Snow and Ice Data Center Via Earther Images via Depositphotos and the National Snow and Ice Data Center

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Bering Sea ice is "at record low levels for this time of year"

Angular Casa Casi Cubo in Chile plays with light, wind and shadow

February 20, 2018 by  
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Casa Casi Cubo in Chile uses geometry and patterns to provide shelter from the strong local winds — letting in tons of light. LAND Arquitectos designed the house as a pavilion -like structure that plays around with different shapes to create a balance between protection from the elements and exposing its occupants to expansive views of the sea. The designer deconstructed the shape of a parallelepiped and used pine wood to generate a series of bends that demarcate the edges of the roof and the facades of the building. Instead of trying to stand up to strong winds, the design breaks them up and channels them along the exterior. Related: Chile’s rustic Casa Pollo is made from recycled zinc plates and reclaimed wood The main shared space, where the stove and barbecue area are located, face the north side of the site and is the most protected from strong air currents. This space is connected to a semi-covered area enveloped by a perforated wooden skin. This outdoor space allows occupants to watch the passing sun and enjoy the constant interplay of light and shadow. + LAND Arquitectos Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Sergio Pirrone

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Angular Casa Casi Cubo in Chile plays with light, wind and shadow

New paper-based batteries can be discarded with zero ecological impact

February 20, 2018 by  
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Forget lithium – this Barcelona-based company is creating batteries with paper. Fuelium is developing paper -based batteries designed for disposable diagnostic devices, OZY reported . Unlike regular batteries, Fuelim batteries don’t create toxic waste that requires complicated recycling processes. What’s not to love? Paper, carbon, and non-toxic metals: those are the ingredients for Fuelium’s batteries. These won’t be powering cars right now; the company says their paper-based batteries are suited for powering in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) applications, or tests that can detect diseases with blood or tissue samples . Fuelium says their batteries are geared for “single-use electronic devices which can be disposed of without recycling.” Regular single-use diagnostic tests are thrown out after utilizing under one percent of their batteries’ charge, according to OZY. But Fuelium’s paper batteries, according to the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Research Park , “only generate the amount of energy needed for each application and do not contain heavy metals or are harmful to health .” Related: This revolutionary new paper battery is powered by bacteria Fuelium’s batteries can be customized for different applications with voltages between one and six volts, and power between one and 100 milliwatts. They’re cost-effective and can be easily integrated as the battery materials are compatible with manufacturing processes for rapid diagnostic tests. Any liquid sample can activate the paper-based batteries, according to the company, which suggests their product could be used in the areas of infectious disease, veterinary medicine, and women’s health, to name a few. Scientists Juan Pablo Esquivel, Neus Sabaté, and Sergi Gassó of the Microelectronics Institute of Barcelona started Fuelium in 2015, and according to OZY, they have signed their first contract. Esquivel told OZY their paper-based batteries are small and inexpensive, and don’t require recycling; instead, they can be tossed out with zero ecological impact. + Fuelium Via OZY Images via Self-Powered Engineered Devices and Dan Taylr on Flickr

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Crescent moon-shaped home on Chilean coast inspired by traditional boat-making techniques

February 19, 2018 by  
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Chilean studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen has created an incredibly sophisticated cylindrical home that blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings. Located on the Chilean coast overlooking the sea, the Rode House is a wooden structure shaped in a unique curved form that not only provides stunning views from any angle, but also protects the home from the area’s notoriously strong winds. Located on Chiloe island, the building site has dramatic views of the ocean, inspiring the architects to create a nature-inspired home design with a strong connection to the surroundings. Accordingly, the home’s dynamic shape is threefold: aesthetically vernacular, the low-lying structure blends into its environment, nestled into the rising prairie grass. Secondly, the cylindrical structure, which includes several angular forms, is a protective strategy that blocks the strong winds that blow in from the shore. Thirdly, the home’s materials and construction, along with its form, were all inspired by traditional woodworking techniques found in the region, especially prevalent in boats and churches still found in the area. Related: Chilean Folding House allows owners to control the temperature to adapt to the season The architects explain that their inspiration for the home’s curved shape came from the region’s long tradition of carpentry: “Knowing that the island is not only well known for the exuberant myths and legends but for a refined artisanal carpentry knowledge expressed both in churches and boats, accepting that something of that local knowledge would inform our project,” they said, “we preferred to have in mind that delicate artlessness of a totally forgotten wooden padlock.” The curved roof, covered in traditional thin wood shingles , was strategically angled to allow optimal natural light into the living space. This slanting volume continues through to the interior where double height ceilings add a sense of airiness to the interior. Inside, the walls are clad in light wooden panels, also adding to the serene cabin-like atmosphere. + Pezo von Ellrichshausen Via Ignant Photos via Pezo von Ellrichshausen

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