10 things you need to know from the World Energy Outlook 2017

November 15, 2017 by  
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The landmark IEA report looks at China’s rise as a green leader and much more.

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10 things you need to know from the World Energy Outlook 2017

MAD Architects-designed residences rise like mountains in a UNESCO Heritage site

November 14, 2017 by  
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MAD Architects just completed the Huangshan Mountain Village, their latest nature-inspired project that mimics the curves of China’s most beautiful mountains in a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located on a ridge, the developments comprise ten unique buildings that rise like individual peaks overlooking Taiping Lake. The use of nature as inspiration creates, in the architects’ words, a new type of village landscape “where architecture becomes nature, and nature dissolves into architecture.” The Huangshan Mountain Village was created as part of a larger tourism masterplan for Huangshan Taiping Lake, a landscape rich in greenery, granite peaks, and historical significance. To respect the local topography , the architects designed each building with undulating lines that respond to the mountainous terrain and nearby terraced tea fields. Each structure juts out from the forest canopy like craggy granite mountains sculpted by the natural forces of wind and water. Spacious balconies and large strips of glazing bring the outdoors in. Related: MAD Architects Unveil Mountain-Shaped Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center “The impression we have of Taiping Lake in Huangshan is vague: each visit to this place yields different views, different impressions,” said Founder Ma Yansong . “It is a bit mysterious, like ancient Shanshui landscape paintings that are never based on realism, but rather, the imagination. This inexplicable feeling is always poetic; it is obscure and indistinct. This is the basic idea: we hope that residents will not just look at the scenery, but see themselves in relation to this environment, attention that is brought inward. In observing oneself, one perhaps begins to notice a different self than the one present in the city.” + MAD Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Laurian Ghinitoiu

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MAD Architects-designed residences rise like mountains in a UNESCO Heritage site

China navigates a cleaner maritime industry

November 14, 2017 by  
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Port cities and coastal nations will watch closely to see if China can reduce shipping emissions through its five-year plan.

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China navigates a cleaner maritime industry

A "giant leap backward for humankind" as CO2 levels rise after years of stability

November 13, 2017 by  
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Researchers had hoped global carbon emissions had peaked after three stable years – but a new projection shatters those hopes. The Global Carbon Project and University of East Anglia (UEA) revealed carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could grow by two percent in 2017. Future Earth executive director Amy Luers described the news as a “giant leap backward for humankind.” Researchers presented the information at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. They’re pointing to China’s activities as the main cause – CO2 emissions there are projected to grow by around 3.5 percent. Coal use is expected to increase in China and the United States in 2017 – after decreases since 2013. Related: Almost 200 countries gather at COP23 to accelerate climate action CO2 emissions are projected to go down in America and the European Union, by 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent respectively – both smaller declines than during the prior 10 years. India’s emissions are projected to increase by around two percent – but that’s down from more than six percent a year in the last decade. UEA’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research director Corinne Le Quéré said in a statement, “With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius. This year we have seen how climate change can amplify the impacts of hurricanes with more intense rainfall, higher sea levels, and warmer ocean conditions favoring more powerful storms. This is a window into the future.” The researchers said there are uncertainties in our ability to estimate emissions changes – Glen Peters of the CICERO Center for International Climate Research and lead author on a study said it could take up to 10 years to independently verify a change in emissions based on measurements of CO2 atmospheric concentrations. The research was published simultaneously in the journals Environmental Research Letters , Nature Climate Change , and Earth System Science Data Discussions , with scientists from around the world contributing to the studies. Via Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research , the University of East Anglia , and the AFP Images via Dirk Duckhorn on Flickr , © Robert Castillo/ Dreamstime.com via the Global Carbon Project , and the Global Carbon Project

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A "giant leap backward for humankind" as CO2 levels rise after years of stability

One of the world’s largest mining companies is ditching coal

November 10, 2017 by  
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Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second largest mining company, is selling off its coal mines with the goal of getting out of the business. Although environmental concerns are motivating some to act against coal, London-based Rio Tinto is choosing to dump coal due to its declining profitability. Still, Rio Tinto’s stated reason for moving away from coal must be taken in the context of a world that is shifting towards a low-carbon economy, in which renewable energy is steadily overtaking fossil fuels as the more economic choice to power the planet. Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sebastien Jacques framed the decision as a question of making the most out of limited resources, according to Bloomberg , stating that even a company as large as Rio Tinto needs to maximize its human and financial resources. Although Rio Tinto’s decision is based on effective usage of resources and profitability, it and other mining companies are wrestling with the future returns on dirty and increasingly cost-ineffective energy sources like coal. “The big diversified miners are all trying to work out which commodities are going to be most disadvantaged in the future, and the low-carbon transition is one of the big uncertainties that they and other companies are facing,” said Helen Wildsmith, head of climate change at CCLA Investment Management, according to Bloomberg . “We’re seeing more companies integrating their thinking on climate change scenarios into the macro-economic and cyclical scenarios that they work with.” Related: Biggest grid operator in US attacks Perry’s proposal to prop up coal Despite coal’s declining prospects, Rio Tinto is finding buyers for its coal mines, much of which are located in Australia . The mining giant has been selling off its coal assets since 2015. In early 2017, Rio Tinto reached an agreement to sell its Coal & Allied Industries Ltd. to China’s Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. With coal out of the picture, Rio Tinto will be focus more of its resources on extracting more valuable materials. Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos (1)  ( 2 )

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One of the world’s largest mining companies is ditching coal

Crazy new building in China looks like a giant crab!

November 10, 2017 by  
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China may have decided to steer away from “weird architecture” , but bizarre new buildings continue to pop up throughout the country. The new Ecology Center in Kunshan is one of the strangest we’ve seen – it looks a giant crab, complete with hairy claws and white pincers! The building is located on Yangcheng Lake’s eastern shore and it references the area’s famous crab-based delicacy. The outer shell is crafted from dark stainless steel , with pincers and claws resting on the ground. The crab’s durable exterior can supposedly withstand strong winds and typhoons . Related: 21 of China’s Quirkiest, Craziest and Most Fantastical Buildings Work is still underway on the building’s interior, which is expected to open to visitors in 2018. Via Archdaily

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Crazy new building in China looks like a giant crab!

China’s self-driving trackless train hits the streets of Zhuzhou

October 30, 2017 by  
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Back in June, Chinese company CRRC Corporation debuted a self-driving train that runs on virtual tracks – and it just officially hit the streets of Zhuzhou in China ‘s Hunan Province. The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) could ease emissions and traffic for a fraction of the cost of building a subway or streetcar system. The 100 percent electric train can transport as many as 300 passengers in three carriages through cities at speeds of 43 miles per hour. No traditional train tracks are necessary for the ART, which runs on dotted lines painted on streets, aided by sensors. The trackless train has been described as a hybrid between a bus and tram, and it’s 100 percent powered by electricity. Channel NewsAsia reported the ART could help speed up public transportation in Zhuzhou before spreading to other cities in China. The train can reportedly run for over 15 miles after charging for 10 minutes. A few outlets say the ART has lithium titanate batteries and charges via a flash charging facility . The ART is more than 103 feet long, and instead of steel wheels it has rubber tires. A twin-head system allows the train to travel without ever making a U-turn. The trackless train’s lifespan is reportedly around 25 years. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ People’s Daily Online reports that the ART is less expensive than the typical subway, which in China costs between 400 million to 700 million yuan, or around $60.1 million to $105.3 million, per kilometer. Compared against electric streetcars, which run around 150 million to 200 million yuan, or around $22.5 million to $30 million, per kilometer, the ART “is only about one-fifth the investment.” The train will be tested in Zhuzhou before opening to the public in 2018. Via Channel NewsAsia Images via New China TV on Youtube

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China’s self-driving trackless train hits the streets of Zhuzhou

Boston outlines its plans to adapt to rising sea levels

October 30, 2017 by  
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Boston , Massachusetts recently announced specific infrastructure projects and policies that must be implemented for the low-laying, water-surrounded city to adjust to expected sea level rise in the coming decades. A comprehensive report outlines short-term and long-term solutions in hopes of protecting communities from what is expected to be a three-foot sea level rise by 2070. “Climate change is here. It’s happening now,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “It’s more important than ever that we work together to make sure our city is ready for the changes ahead.” Two potential measures outlined in the report include raising a section of Main Street in Charlestown and building a seawall in East Boston, both of which are in neighborhoods that have experienced increasingly frequent and severe flooding in recent years. Founded in 1630, Boston, the only state capital in the contiguous United States located on the ocean, was built to take advantage of its marine location. Boston Harbor’s depth and relatively protected location thanks to dozens of harbor islands helped Boston to become a major port city in the British Colonies and later the early United States. As the city grew in population, landfill taken from nearby hills was used to cover the marshland surrounding the narrow peninsula and create new land, including the Back Bay neighborhood. Although Boston has tackled environmental challenges in the past, including a massive late 20th century clean-up of the harbor and nearby rivers, sea level rise of up to three feet in only 50 years time represents an unprecedented threat. Related: Boston man crosses harbor in a pumpkin boat If Main Street in Charlestown, historically a working-class community and now one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, were to be elevated, it would cost at least $2-3 million. This project would block all but the most extreme storm surges from flooding the area, protecting 250 residents and 60 businesses. In total, the mitigation projects for Charlestown alone could cost up to $62 million, though the report estimates that they would offer $201 million in economic benefits. In contrast, a retractable seawall in East Boston would protect 4,300 residents, at least 70 businesses, and cost only $100,000. Although not included in the recent report, Boston is also considering a massive sea wall across Boston Harbor to protect the entire city against rising sea levels. Will other cities follow suit? + Coastal Resilience Solutions Via WCVB Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Boston outlines its plans to adapt to rising sea levels

Chinese scientists created a type of rice that can grow in saltwater

October 25, 2017 by  
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For the first time, rice grown in diluted saltwater has yielded a crop sufficient enough to be commercially viable, according to a new study by Chinese scientists . The research team led by agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, also known as China’s “father of hybrid rice,” planted 200 types of rice in spring in the coastal city of Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong Province and then subsequently tested their resilience to saline-alkali soil and diluted saltwater; four types of rice showed particular promise. If successful on a large scale, these salt-resistant rice varieties could turn previously non-arable space into productive agricultural land. In order to test the rice’s resilience in saline-alkali environments, the scientists pumped in saltwater from the Yellow Sea, on which Qingdao is located. The seawater was first diluted to achieve a salinity level of .3 percent, then gradually increased to .6 percent. Although researchers expected only an output of around 4.5 tons per hectare, “the test results greatly exceeded our expectations,” according to Liu Shiping, a professor of agriculture at Yangzhou University. The four mentioned rice varieties ultimately produced yields of 6.5 to 9.3 tons per hectare. While some wild varieties of rice are known to survive in salty environments, they typically only yield 1.125 to 2.25 tons per hectare. Related: 7 plants that could save the world Increased yield from salt-resilient varieties of rice could have significant economic benefits. “If a farmer tries to grow some types of saline-tolerant rice now, they most likely will get 1,500 kilograms per hectare. That is just not profitable and not even worth the effort,” said Yuan. “Farmers will have an incentive to grow the rice if we can double the yield.” The current 100 million hectares of saline-alkali soil in China, one-fifth of which could be cultivated with the right crop, also may experience significant change as farmers move onto previously unusable land. Salt-resilient rice would prove to be an asset for South and Southeast Asia as well, regions where millions of hectare are left unused due to high salinity. The team plans to refine its rice varieties and growing techniques, so that salt-resilient rice may soon become a supplemental extension of the region’s staple crop. Via Xinhua / South China Morning Post Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Chinese scientists created a type of rice that can grow in saltwater

Green-roofed village shows a more sustainable way to build in post-disaster rural areas

October 24, 2017 by  
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When the 8.0-magnitude Sichuan Earthquake devastated China in 2008, nearly 5 million people were left homeless. Rural Urban Framework , a non-profit research and design collaborative, saw construction in the wake of disaster as an opportunity to improve the lives of rural villagers through new building typologies. Their recently completed project, Jintai Village, is a socially and environmentally sustainable prototype for earthquake reconstruction that combines rooftop farming, biogas technologies, denser living, and local materials in a self-sufficient community. Developed with support from the local government and NGOs, the Jintai Village Reconstruction project was created as an alternative to the hundreds of thousands of homes rebuilt after the 2008 earthquake and as “an investigation into modern rural livelihood.” Unlike most rural developments, this 4,000-square-meter project takes cues from denser urban living by placing buildings closer together with narrow alleys in between. The architects developed four housing types—varying in size, function, and roof sections—in their total of 22 houses united by their use of brick facades, concrete frameworks, and terraced roofs where villagers can grow food. Natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting systems, and insulation made of straw are built into the homes. Related: Eerie photos show nature swallowing up a Chinese village 7 years after an earthquake “By relating various programs of the village to an ecological cycle, environment responsiveness is heightened, transforming the village into a model for nearby areas,” said Rural Urban Framework to Dezeen . “Because the land available for house building is limited, the village combines dense urban living in a rural context.” The village also includes a concrete community center with space for growing vegetables on the roof. The humanitarian project was completed as part of the studio’s ongoing efforts to provide design services to charities and NGOs working in China . + Rural Urban Framework Via Dezeen Images by architects

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Green-roofed village shows a more sustainable way to build in post-disaster rural areas

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