German city offers ingenious alternative to single-use coffee cups

December 5, 2017 by  
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What do you do when you arrive at a coffee shop and realize you’ve forgotten your reusable mug ? Many of us, in need of caffeine, would guiltily accept the disposable cup that may or may not be recyclable. But the city of Freiburg, Germany came up with an inventive solution. They created the Freiburg Cup , which coffee lovers can snag for one Euro and return to participating stores to be cleaned and used again – up to 400 times. In Germany, over 300,000 disposable coffee cups are consumed every single hour, according to Freiburg representatives . And the 2.8 billion disposable cups consumed a year require 43,000 trees, 320 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 1.5 billion liters of water, and 3,000 tons of crude oil – not to mention many aren’t even recycled . And these resource-intensive cups are typically used for a mere 13 minutes before being tossed out. The city launched the Freiburg Cup around a year ago, and there are now around 107 bakeries and cafes participating. The cups are manufactured in southern Germany. Related: Vancouver on track to kill wasteful single-use packaging Coffee drinkers can obtain the plasticizer- and BPA-free cup comprised of recyclable polypropylene at participating cafes, identifiable by a green sticker in the window. When they’ve finished the beverage, they can return it to any one of those cafes, which will disinfect the containers. The city doesn’t offer a reusable lid, for financial and hygienic reasons, they said. But they seem to think the disposable lids have a good chance of being recycled – when the cup is returned for cleaning, the lids are placed in a yellow bag for recycling. So far the Freiburg Cup has been incredibly successful, according to TreeHugger , with other cities in the country expressing interest. Coffee drinkers can find the locations of participating cafes on the Freiburg Cup website . + Freiburg Cup Via TreeHugger Images via Freiburg Cup ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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Atlanta says all new construction must be "EV ready"

November 24, 2017 by  
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Several countries have already stated that within the next decade or so combustion vehicles will no longer be allowed, but here in the United States, the government hasn’t really made any significant mandates around EVs. Except for the city of Atlanta, which recently passed a new law that mandates all new residential homes and public parking facilities to accommodate electric vehicles . The new ordinance requires 20 percent of parking spaces in new commercial and multifamily parking structures to be EV ready, and new residential homes must also be equipped with the infrastructure needed to install EV charging stations. Related: California may ban gas and diesel-powered cars by 2030 “Today, the City of Atlanta has taken a historic step to increase our EV readiness and to ensure we remain a leading city in sustainability. I want to thank Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms for introducing this legislation and the Atlanta City Council for their work to pass this ordinance,” Mayor Kasim Reed said in a Tuesday statement . “I am proud of our City’s commitment to energy conservation, as well as our efforts to ensure that EVs and EV charging stations remain accessible to everyone.” The new “EV Ready” ordinance will go into effect immediately. This isn’t the first time that the Atlanta has made efforts to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road. The city already has a fleet of 60 electric vehicles and even its police department has a small fleet of electric vehicles. + City of Atlanta Via Treehugger Images via Honda, Chevy and Ford

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Atlanta says all new construction must be "EV ready"

Meteorologist warns collapse of two Antarctic glaciers could flood every coastal city on Earth

November 24, 2017 by  
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Two of Antarctica’s glaciers are holding our civilization hostage, meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote in a piece for Grist . Pine Island and Thwaites are among the continent’s biggest and fastest-melting glaciers , together holding back ice that could unleash 11 feet of sea level rise . If they collapse, every coastal city on our planet could flood. Thwaites and Pine Island sprawl across a plain over 150-miles-long, and inland widen to a reserve of ice two-miles-thick that’s about the size of Texas, according to Holthaus, who says there’s no doubt the ice will melt. The question is not if, but how soon. Should the two glaciers collapse, every shoreline and coastal city could be inundated with water, leaving hundreds of millions of climate refugees homeless. And those events could happen in 20 to 50 years – too fast for humans to adapt. Related: Antarctica’s newest iceberg may destabilize the entire ice shelf Two climatologists, in a study published in Nature last year, said an increase of six feet in ocean levels by 2100 was more likely than three feet – but if carbon emissions continue increasing in a worst case scenario, all 11 feet of ice held back in Antarctica could be freed. But if these glaciers are miles thick, wouldn’t it take an incredibly long time for them to collapse? That may not be the case in our warming world. Holthaus pointed to new evidence saying once we reach a certain temperature threshold, glacier ice shelves extending into the sea – like those of Thwaites and Pine Island – could melt from below and above, quickening their demise. Holthaus noted not every scientist thinks there’s cause for panic. National Snow and Ice Data Center lead scientist Ted Scambos said the two glaciers may not collapse all at once – and rapid collapse would still produce several icebergs that could slow the rate of retreat and act as a temporary ice shelf. But the scientific community is starting to think we need more research into the risk of rapid sea level rise, according to Holthaus. University of Michigan leading ice sheet scientist Jeremy Bassis said, “Every revision to our understanding has said that ice sheets can change faster than we thought. We didn’t predict that Pine Island was going to retreat, we didn’t predict that Larsen B was going to disintegrate. We tend to look at these things after they’ve happened.” Via Grist Images via Wikimedia Commons and NASA

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Meteorologist warns collapse of two Antarctic glaciers could flood every coastal city on Earth

These clever curtains transform your window into a dazzling nighttime cityscape

November 24, 2017 by  
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Do you dream of a new view from your city apartment? Now you can create your own with these snazzy curtains featuring cityscapes from New York and London. Designed by HoleRoll , the thick curtains – which block out heat and cold – are carefully punctured with thousands of tiny holes to let light shine through, resulting in sparkling urban skylines that will transform any room. The unique window coverings use a typical curtain system of roller blinds. Made out of thick German fabric, they block out 99 percent of light and UV rays from the interior. To create the dazzling cityscape images , the dark fabric is carefully punctured following a detailed design for each city. The tiny holes let in just a little bit of light, emulating those found in any nighttime skyline. Related: Light Activated Smart Curtains Could Cut Energy Bills by Half While the dreamy images are perfect for blocking out light and giving your home a bit of extra character, the curtain’s thick, light-blocking material may also help cut costs by keeping the cold out during winter and protecting the interior space from excessive heat during hot summer months. + HoleRoll Via Archdaily

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These clever curtains transform your window into a dazzling nighttime cityscape

The ultra-efficient, hidden heat source for Amazon’s new HQ

November 20, 2017 by  
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The “ecodistrict” project required cooperation from the city, architects and a corporate neighbor.

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The ultra-efficient, hidden heat source for Amazon’s new HQ

Hyperloop-inspired company promises 200 mph travel without the vacuum tubes

November 15, 2017 by  
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Arrivo, a high-speed transportation company founded by former SpaceX and Hyperloop One engineer Brogan BamBrogan, has announced a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation to construct a “ hyperloop-inspired ” track through Denver . Unlike the hyperloop design, which depends on new infrastructure, Arrivo’s system involves building open tracks on existing roadways and uses magnets to pull pods, which would hold cars, trucks, or buses, along a track at speeds of up to 200 mph. “People will tell you that a well-functioning freeway can move 2,000 to 2,500 vehicles an hour,” said BamBrogan said at a news conference. “The Arrivo system — because it’s a dedicated roadway with 21st century technology — can move 20,000 vehicles an hour.” Arrivo is distinct from Hyperloop in that it is designed for local travel rather than long, inter-city travel. For example, an Arrivo route from Denver Airport to the city’s downtown, a 32 mile journey that can take up to an hour in traffic, might instead take 8 minutes and cost as much as a toll road. Next year, Arrivo will invest $10 to $15 million into its research facility and test track in Colorado and plans to hire 40 to 50 engineers, with up to 200 engineers working on the project by 2020. Related: Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis The State of Colorado is enthusiastic about the project, but the partnership with Arrivo remains in its early stages. “As they prove out the technology and we prove the feasibility, then in a couple of years, we’ll talk about whether there is an infrastructure investment here,” said Shailen Bhatt in an interview with the Denver Post . “There’s no commitment by the state to say we’re going to definitely build one here, but we’re pretty confident that they’ll deliver a product that will move people quickly and safely.” Via The Denver Post and the Verge Images via Arrivo and Depositphotos

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Hyperloop-inspired company promises 200 mph travel without the vacuum tubes

Historic French building stuffed with plastic bags looks ready to explode

November 15, 2017 by  
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A shockingly large number of plastic bags appeared to fill a historic stone building to near bursting in Bordeaux last month. The eye-catching installation is the most recent work of Luzinterruptus , a design collective famous for raising environmental awareness with plastic art installations. Created for the FAB Festival de Bourdeaux, the temporary artwork, titled The Plastic We Live With, turned into a light installation at night evocative of illuminated stained glass. Inspired by France’s ban of single-use plastic bags passed last year, The Plastic We Live With draws attention to the staggering amount of plastic waste in the world. “The idea was to graphically visualize, in a way that could be understood by all, the plastic excess that is around us, a recurrent subject in our work and in life, since practically everything we consume is either made with this material or it is wrapped in it or we are eating it in small particles in the meat and the fish we ingest,” Luzinterruptus wrote. Related: PlasticWaste Labyrinth is a stunning look inside our plastic waste problem The team, aided by 30 volunteers from the Asociacion Bénévoles en Action, collected thousands of plastic bags and recycled plastic for months from the city stores and warehouses. The bags were assembled in the openings of the building’s facade and lit from behind at night. The installation was on view for four days, after which the plastic was taken down and recycled with the building returned to its original condition. + Luzinterruptus Images via Lola Martínez

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Spectacular rainforest-like green heart grows within Singapores Marina One

November 10, 2017 by  
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Singapore’s new title “City in a Garden” is evident in Marina One, a stunning energy-efficient cluster of four high-rises centered on a spectacular “Green Heart.” Designed by ingenhoven architects in collaboration with local firm A61 and landscape architecture firm Gustafson Porter + Bowman , Marina One, set to open later this year, offers a mix of residences, retail, and offices, but the real draw is the publicly accessible green center that takes inspiration from Asian rice paddy terraces. Planted with over 350 types of trees and planets, the 37,000-square-meter landscaped area mimics a rainforest and provides cooling microclimates and increased biodiversity. Located in Singapore’s Marina Bay Central Business District, Marina One consists of four buildings: a pair of LEED Platinum pre-certified office towers totaling 175,000 square meters and two 34-story residential towers with 1,042 apartments set atop a retail podium. “While the outer face of the four towers strictly follows the city grid, the maximised inner space is a free-formed three-dimensional biodiversity garden,” wrote ingenhoven architects, who say the “Green Heart” garden is the largest public plaza in the CBD. The shape and placement of the garden and buildings optimize natural ventilation and a comfortable microclimate year-round. Related: WOHA’s solar-powered SkyVille in Singapore boasts a deep-green public skypark The sustainability-minded development uses energy-saving systems such as solar shading and high-performance glazing, while solar panels draw renewable energy. Rainwater harvesting and NEWater for toilet flushing reduce water consumption. Marina One will offer direct connections to four out of the six Singaporean MRT lines and bus stations. The “Green Heart” will include 700 trees and is shaped by the undulating terraces that surround it. Wooden walkways traverse the landscape. + ingenhoven architects Via Dezeen Images via ingenhoven architects

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Foster + Partners London playground is built of natural and sustainable materials

November 7, 2017 by  
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A new urban oasis for school children in London combines sustainable design with holistic learning. Foster + Partners completed the Ashburnham School Playground in partnership with The Bryan Adams Foundation and playground designers Made From Scratch . The playground brings nature into the city with a variety of natural environments, from the beach sandpit to a bamboo grove, and also integrates rainwater collection. Providing environments for play is especially important in cities, where concrete tends to dominate the landscape. In place of Ashburnham School Playground’s existing asphalt play areas, Foster + Partners added a mix of hard and soft natural surfaces, emphasizing multi-sensory stimulation through a varied environment with landscaping that is low maintenance but provides seasonal variety throughout the year. The plantings were also selected to counteract air and noise pollution. Related: Seattle man wants the whole community to enjoy his recycled backyard playground Among the highlights of the new playground is a handcrafted timber treehouse built into the school’s largest tree, and the main climbing structure, over four meters tall, that takes inspiration from a dense jungle landscape with its tangle of logs, balance beams, rope bridges, nets, and green climbing vines. The refurbished playground also includes a beach sandpit flanked by boulders and untreated timber, custom-built steel and timber troughs that hold collected rainwater, a nest swing nestled in a bamboo grove, a living willow pod, sports pitches and a landscaped amphitheater. + Foster + Partners Images via Aaron Hargreaves / Foster + Partners and Ashburnham Community School

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Foster + Partners London playground is built of natural and sustainable materials

Foster + Partners Bloomberg HQ opens in London as worlds most sustainable office building

October 25, 2017 by  
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Bloomberg’s new European headquarters—billed the “world’s most sustainable office building”—opened yesterday in London. Designed by Foster + Partners , the 3.2-acre Bloomberg HQ achieved a BREEAM Outstanding rating with a 98.5% score that the architects say is the “highest design-stage score ever achieved by any major office development.” The nine-story headquarters is estimated to save 73 percent in water consumption and 35 percent in energy consumption when compared to typical office buildings. Clad in nearly 10,000 tonnes of English sandstone and bronze, the massive Bloomberg HQ mitigates its size by carving out a public pedestrian arcade between its two buildings, while bronze fins give the buildings human scale and also allow for natural ventilation and protection from solar gain. Located between the Bank of England and St. Paul’s Cathedral, the city block-sized development is also meant to blend in with and respect its historic surroundings. In addition to the pedestrian Bloomberg Arcade, the building features three public plazas and ground-floor restaurants to engage the urban fabric. Site-specific art installations, from artists like Cristina Iglesias and Olafur Eliasson , punctuate the development. Related: Bloomberg’s new London HQ rated world’s most sustainable office “From day one, we talked with Mike Bloomberg about creating an elegant stone building that responds to its historic setting yet is clearly of its own time and which would be a good neighbour in the City of London in every sense of the word,” said Lord Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners. “We wanted the building to have an integrity and continuity of expression both inside and out, creating an inspiring, innovative, dynamic and collaborative workplace for Bloomberg that embodies the core values of the company. Above all, we had a shared belief with Bloomberg that we should provide the highest standards of sustainability and wellbeing for its occupants, as well as create major new public spaces at ground level, making a significant contribution to the daily life of the City of London and its inhabitants.” + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners , photos by Neil Young

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