Zaha Hadid Architects completes futuristic, energy-saving airport in Beijing

October 11, 2019 by  
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China has officially opened the Beijing Daxing International Airport, a futuristic transit hub designed by Zaha Hadid Architects with the world’s biggest terminal spanning 700,000 square meters. Seamlessly integrated into the city’s expanding transportation network, the new airport is defined by dramatic sweeping curves, an abundance of interior daylighting and energy-saving systems that include photovoltaic panels and a rainwater harvesting system. The Beijing Daxing Airport is expected to accommodate 72 million travelers by 2025 and is planned for further expansion to serve up to 100 million passengers and 4 million tons of cargo annually. Located 46 kilometers south of Beijing’s city center in the Daxing District, the Beijing Daxing International Airport was created to alleviate congestion at the capital’s existing airport. The airport offers direct connections to Beijing — including a 20-minute express train — as well as to the national high-speed rail network and local train services for easy access to nearby regions such as Tianjin and the Hebei Province. The terminal features a compact, radial design to support a maximum number of aircraft and minimize distances from the center of the building. Related: MAD unveils an energy-saving, snowflake-shaped terminal for Harbin Airport “Recently assigned the airport code ‘PKX’ by the International Air Transport Association, Beijing Daxing sets a new standard in air transport services, serving the region’s growing population within a compact and efficient passenger terminal that is adaptable for future growth,” reads the architects’ press release. “Echoing principles within traditional Chinese architecture that organize interconnected spaces around a central courtyard, the terminal’s design guides all passengers seamlessly through the relevant departure, arrival or transfer zones toward the grand courtyard at its center — a multi-layered meeting space at the heart of the terminal.” Zaha Hadid Architects’ iconic, flowing lines are brought to life inside the airport, which features a vaulted roof fitted with linear skylights that flood the interior with natural light. To reduce energy demands, photovoltaic panels were installed to provide a minimum capacity of at least 10 MW. A composite ground-source heat pump system provides supplemental power to the centralized heating system with waste heat recovery. The airport also includes a rainwater collection and water management system that naturally purifies up to 2.8 million cubic meters of water in new wetlands, lakes and streams. + Zaha Hadid Architects Photography by Hufton+Crow via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Zaha Hadid Architects completes futuristic, energy-saving airport in Beijing

Archstorming announces winning proposals for a school made of recycled plastic in Mexico

October 11, 2019 by  
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Architectural competitions platform Archstorming recently presented the winners of its “Tulum Plastic School” competition that sought proposals for a school built of plastic for the NGO’s MOM I’M FINE Project and Los Amigos de la Esquina in Tulum, Mexico. From 230 submissions, an international jury selected three winning projects that draw attention to the problem of plastic waste in Mexico and found imaginative ways to reuse common plastic objects. First prize was awarded to Daniel Garcia and William Smith from Harvard University. The duo used the international plastic pallet as the building block for their proposed school . Instead of melting down plastic and reforming the material, the designers took advantage of the stability of pallets to create the school’s exterior walls and its very steep roof. The transparent, recyclable and corrugated plastic facade not only allows light into the school, but it also protects the school from the elements and can glow like a beacon when illuminated at night. Related: Passive solar school in Indonesia celebrates the natural landscape Malaysian designer David Nee Zhi Kang was awarded second place for his proposal of a school scaled and designed for children. The multifunctional school could also be opened up for community use. Rather than use processed plastic materials, the conceptual building is constructed from common plastic waste materials, such as recycled plastic bottles, and assembled with simple tools without the need of heavy machinery. The vision is for a building that can inspire the residents of Tulum to adopt similar recycling and building practices. In third place, Argentinian designers Iván Elías Barczuk, Matías Raúl Falero, Agustín Flamig and Adrián Eduardo Mendez proposed a modular design to reduce waste and for quick assembly with non-specialized labor. Each modular panel would be built from recycled, shredded-plastic liners and reconstituted wood. To further reduce the environmental footprint, the school can be equipped with vertical gardens, a rainwater collection system and photovoltaic panels. “The result of this contest shows that there are new, very attractive ways of designing a school using recycled plastic and that it is possible to introduce this material into architecture,” Archstorming said. + Tulum Plastic School Images via Archstorming

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Archstorming announces winning proposals for a school made of recycled plastic in Mexico

China is positioned to lead on climate change as the US rolls back its policies

September 16, 2019 by  
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Reducing China’s reliance on coal energy is an enormous long-term shift. But it looks like that might change.

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China is positioned to lead on climate change as the US rolls back its policies

Episode 187: The WRI director on sustainable food systems; The lifecycle of corporate commitments

September 5, 2019 by  
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Plus, how reporting can help investors and more on China’s Belt & Road Initiative.

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Episode 187: The WRI director on sustainable food systems; The lifecycle of corporate commitments

UNStudio designs terminal for worlds first cross-border cable car connecting Russia with China

August 1, 2019 by  
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After completing cable car designs in Gothenburg and Amsterdam, UNStudio has won a competition to design the Blagoveshchensk Cable Terminal for the world’s first cross-border cable car that will connect Russia and China. Presumably powered by electricity, the new form of public transport has been described by UNStudio’s founder Ben van Berkel to be “sustainable, extremely fast, reliable and efficient.” The new cross-border cable car line will connect the northern Chinese city of Heihe with the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk. Separated by the Amur River that has formed a boundary between Russia and China since the mid-19th century, the two cities belong to a free trade zone and have historically been trading partners, particularly when the Amur River freezes over to allow passage by foot. The frozen Amur river as a platform for trade and commerce inspired UNStudio’s winning Cable Car Terminal design, which aims to build social connections between the two cultures. As a result, the terminal will feature diverse programming and curated views of both cities. The angular building will also comprise a series of landscaped terraces to create a new shared urban space — dubbed the Urban Tribune — that will serve as a cultural focal point on the waterfront for Blagoveschensk. Related: The “world’s first vertical cable car” will climb to a height of 138 meters in the UK “As it crosses the natural border of the Amur River, the Blagoveshchensk – Heihe cable car will be the first ever cable car system to join two countries and cultures,” van Berkel said in a project statement. “This context provided rich inspiration for the Blagoveshchensk terminal station, which not only responds to its immediate urban location but also becomes an expression of cultural identity and a podium for the intermingling of cultures.” The cable car line will comprise two lines and four cabins — each with a capacity of 60 passengers and extra space for luggage — and can whisk passengers from one city to the other in less than eight minutes. + UNStudio Images via UNStudio

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UNStudio designs terminal for worlds first cross-border cable car connecting Russia with China

U.S. produces more waste and recycles less than other developed countries

July 5, 2019 by  
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Compared to the rest of the world, the waste and recycling stats in the U.S. just can’t compete. Although the U.S. is just 4 percent of the world’s total population, the country produces 12 percent of the total solid waste of 2.1 billion tons per year. When researchers from the global risk firm Verisk Maplecroft compared the numbers, they found that the U.S. lags behind other developed nations in terms of its capacity to handle and recycle waste. The average American generates 1,700 pounds of trash every year, including 234 pounds of plastic waste. That’s three times more than what the Chinese produce and seven times more than Ethiopians. But the problem isn’t just waste generation — what happens to all the waste is where the U.S. is embarrassingly behind the times. Related: Even the most remote islands are victims of plastic pollution “Where the U.S. is doing badly is the relationship between what it generates and its capacity to recycle,” said study author Niall Smith. “And relative to it’s high income peers, that’s where it is performing poorly.” On average, the U.S. is able to recycle 35 percent of all solid waste produced. Germany, in the lead for recycling efficiency, is able to recycle 68 percent of all waste. According to the researchers, the U.S. lacks the proper infrastructure to sustainably handle the waste and process the recycling and needs to find new places to send its plastic waste, with China refusing to accept more and the Philippines sending waste ships back at its shores. Much of the plastic in the U.S. is still burned in incinerators rather than recycled. While increased recycling and recycling infrastructure is paramount, Smith argues that there is already enough plastic in the world to cause a massive crisis for human and ecological health and that recycling is not enough. “There’s too much focus on recycling being the kind of silver bullet solution, which it is not,” Smith said. Instead, Americans need to focus on transforming into a zero-waste culture. Via BBC and The Guardian Image via Pexels

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U.S. produces more waste and recycles less than other developed countries

Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies

May 29, 2019 by  
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On Monday, Malaysian authorities reported that the last male Sumatran rhino died in a nature reserve on Borneo island. Currently, there is only one female from the same species remaining in Malaysia. The male, Tam, is thought to have died from old age after he was discovered on a palm oil plantation. Efforts to breed Tam with females of the same species were unsuccessful. Related: Koalas declared functionally extinct Sumatran rhinos are one of five rhino species , and only one of three found in Asia. At their peak, Sumatran rhinos could be found in Bhutan, India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos. They are the smallest rhino species in the world. Experts estimate that between 30 and 100 remain, with a few also living in captivity in Indonesia, and the U.S. Like most species on the brink of extinction , rhinos have suffered from deforestation and loss of habitat. Logging, roads, urban development, farms and palm oil plantations have carved up their habitat. According to experts, the fragmentation of natural spaces is the primary threat to their population. Small reserves and wild spaces are simply not enough. Disconnected populations also make it difficult for the solitary creatures to find mates and reproduce. “With logging, with roads for development, the patches of forest available are shrinking. Frankly it’s hard for them to find each other to mate and breed successfully,” said Cathy Dean of Save the Rhinos International. In addition, rhinos are frequently poached for their horns and other medicinal purposes. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists Sumatran rhinos as critically endangered , however Save the Rhino International believes there may still be hope for the species. According to their research, only about 20 rhinos could still provide enough genetic diversity to save them from extinction if they are able to successfully mate. Via BBC Image via Charles W. Harden

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Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies

India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment

May 20, 2019 by  
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The Indian government has embarked on many large scale renewable energy projects that are predicted to enable the world’s second most populous country to surpass its commitment to cut carbon emissions. According to a recently released report from Moody’s, 45 percent of all energy produced in India will be from non-fossil fuel sources by 2022. This is impressive, considering India only committed to 40 percent non-fossil fuel sources under the international Paris Agreement in 2015. Although coal remains the largest energy source, the aggressive additions of renewable sources will decrease coal’s overall contribution. Moody’s report, “Power Asia – Climate goals, declining costs of renewables signal decreasing reliance on coal power,” focuses on the role of investors in the energy industry as well as predictions for investments. Related: India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022 “There is a realization that renewables are quicker, cleaner, cheaper and also strategically in India’s interest because of energy security; it just makes financial sense to invest in renewables,” Sameer Kwatra, from the Natural Resources Defense Council,  said . The Indian government has invested in large scale wind, power and solar projects, including tripling its solar power capacity in three years. Much of the increase in renewable energy has been due to decreased prices in renewable technology and interest from private investors. If battery production and storage capacity also increase, the report expects that renewable energy sector growth could spike. Similarly, banks and private investors are under increased pressure to withdraw investments in fossil fuel companies and pipeline projects. Despite the fact that investments in renewable energy have been higher than fossil fuel investments for three years in a row, the coal industry is still growing steadily alongside the renewable industry, with Indian populations using more electricity annually. India’s success is a considerable achievement for the entire world. After the U.S. and China, India is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases . Via CleanTechnica Image via DoshiJi

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India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment

Breezy home in Mexico uses strategic cross ventilation and natural light to reduce its energy use

May 20, 2019 by  
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RDLP Arquitectos have unveiled Casa Puebla, a beautiful family home that incorporates traditional Mexican design with modern passive features . The stunning project features a contemporary shell over two rectangular volumes clad in raw concrete, paying homage to the tilework found in traditional Mexican constructions. The design features several passive design elements, including cross ventilation, natural light and sun shades, all of which reduce the home’s energy needs. According to the architects, one of the principle inspirations behind Casa Puebla’s beautiful,  nature-inspired design was the Popocatépetl volcano, one of the most beloved natural icons in central Mexico. Using the fiery landmark as a pillar of the design, architects then blended a series of natural elements with an avant-garde aesthetic. Related: The Nogal House saves energy with smart site-specific design The structure was built with two interconnecting rectangular volumes that form an L-shape. To add a bit of “visual contradiction,” the heavier concrete block was set on top of the lower glass-enclosed block. This unusual feature was instrumental in creating a double-height formation that ensures continual vertical ventilation throughout the interior. In addition, the design was strategic in creating multiple outdoor nooks that are shaded by the roof of the upper level. These outdoor areas, used for reading, entertaining and dining, forge a strong connection between the interior and the outdoors. As an implicit tribute to the local vernacular, the home was built with locally sourced, natural materials, primarily concrete and wood. The exposed concrete cladding , which provides a strong thermal envelope, pays homage to the use of tiles in traditional Mexican architecture. Vertical wooden shutters provide shade from the harsh summer sun while diffusing natural light throughout the interior. The use of concrete continues inside, where board-formed concrete makes up the walls and the pillars that frame the floor-to-ceiling glass panels . On the ground floor, an open floor plan houses the kitchen, dining and living rooms, and sliding glass doors lead to the exterior spaces. Contemporary furniture and elements run throughout the home, including a “floating” staircase that leads to the upper level. + RDLP Arquitectos Via Archdaily Images via RDLP Arquitectos

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Breezy home in Mexico uses strategic cross ventilation and natural light to reduce its energy use

Polls show climate change is a determining issue for 2020 elections

May 20, 2019 by  
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Recent polls indicate that climate change will be a central issue for voters in the upcoming 2020 presidential elections. According to the George Mason University poll , 38 percent of participants indicated that the topic is “very important” for their decision, while the lead researcher, Anthony Leiserowitz said, “This is truly a top-tier issue for the Democratic base.” The poll, released in early May, only sampled 1,000 people, but the results are consistent with similar polls by Manmouth University and CNN, which showed that climate change ranks as the second most important topic, right below healthcare. According to CNN , 82 percent of Democrats say it is “very important” that candidates take aggressive action to combat the climate crisis. The increased interest is likely due to a surge in both public awareness as well as extreme weather events ranging from wildfires to hurricanes. Related: Climate activists will turn up the heat at presidential debate “With the salience of wildfires in the West, sea-level rise in the Gulf Coast and Florida and the way that weather affects farmers, people are beginning to see the effects of climate change,” said Sean Hecht of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. In 2018, an alarming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  report upped the urgency of climate change and massive protests broke out across the globe. In 2016, no candidate had a specific climate platform, but reports indicate that this year, candidates will need to detail specific action plans if they hope to be taken seriously. With protests already planned for the first Democratic debate, it is almost certain that journalists will ask candidates tough questions about their positions on the environment and the fossil fuel industry. According to Bill McKibbens from 350.org , voters will be looking for more than broad support. Many progressive democrats are demanding candidates formally endorse the Green New Deal , while others expect candidates to refuse campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry — a long standing tradition with presidential hopefuls. Currently, only Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand and Jay Inslee have specific climate change platforms. Via Reuters Image via Molly Adams

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Polls show climate change is a determining issue for 2020 elections

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