India could have its own Hyperloop system within 38 months

February 27, 2017 by  
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Past and present modes of transportation simply do not compare to the impressive abilities of  Hyperloop  technology. This efficient, low-cost vision of the future could be making its way to India in the next few years, according to Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) co-founder Bibop Gresta. He argues a system of high speed tubes that transport people and cargo could help ease the challenges associated with extreme population density and a dearth of infrastructure. Hyperloop technology involves a series of tubes with an interior vacuum-like environment, through which pods can zip from point A to point B at nearly the speed of sound. Forbes India interviewed HTT co-founder Gresta about his vision for the country – one he thinks could become reality in as little as three years. Related: BIG releases video sneak peek of Hyperloop designed to connect Abu Dhabi & Dubai “The Hyperloop is based on efficiency,” Gresta said. “The cost of creating it can sometimes be one-fourth the cost of a high speed rail, and the cost of operations can be one-fifth.” He also argues that construction and operation costs, as well as projected passenger rates of $20-$60, are based on American pricing and that these costs in India would be smaller. He has already met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the chief ministers of several states which his Hyperloop proposal would affect, and said the response was a positive one. Gresta said the country could have a functional Hyperloop system in place within just 38 months, once the project is approved. “We are ready with the technology and we can bring the money,” he explained. “We just need land and a commitment from the government of India.” A similar Hyperloop project is already underway in the capital of the UAE, where feasibility studies are being done to run the system between Abu Dhabi and the city of Al Ain. + Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Via Forbes India Images via Wikimedia , Getty Images

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India could have its own Hyperloop system within 38 months

Shapeshifting Tent House blurs the line between indoor and outdoor spaces

February 27, 2017 by  
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Spark Architect’s Tent House is a seasonal shapeshifter. Situated close to Australia ’s famed Sunshine Coast, the house’s location in a rainforest clearing called for a unique design that blurs the line between indoor and outdoor spaces. Limited by the natural size of the clearing and surrounded by a forest wall, the tent home was carefully planned to make maximum use of all available space. A large, open area houses a kitchen , a dining area complete with an accommodating table, and a living “room”, all with a welcoming flow that makes the home ideal for entertaining and for family living. A continuous corridor links the common spaces to hang-out nooks and multiple bedrooms, including two situated at either end of the house that feature picturesque views of the surrounding greenery. Although the area generally welcomes warm temperatures year round, the house was crafted for easy transitioning according to weather. The homeowners can manually slide open walls to welcome the fresh air as they wish; the roof also retracts to reveal the translucent tent canopy and expansive sky above. The tent buffers the home from sun exposure while still allowing for plenty of light to filter through. The space between the tent and the box-like structure’s insulated roof  encourages natural air flow. In addition to offering shade, the pitched tent canopy extends the home’s boundaries for play and relaxation. With the walls/doors open, the entire house becomes an open-air sanctuary, a perfect exploration ground for children and adults. Nature surrounds the Tent House in the form of trees, a river, and a garden area, but it is also reflected within the sleek space: a warm wood floor inset brightens up the concrete floor, and underneath the bar area, wood panels peek out to contrast with the industrial metal counter. The ultimate result is a shelter that looks like our childhood camping dreams grew up and made room for family and friends to join in on the indoor/outdoor fun. Via Uncrate All images © Christopher Jones

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Shapeshifting Tent House blurs the line between indoor and outdoor spaces

Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

February 23, 2017 by  
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Last year, during the 2016 Summer Games , it would have been hard to imagine the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro sitting empty in the hot Brazilian sun. Sadly, this is what has become of the space today. Despite having been officially reopened in January as a public recreation area, the park is treated to only a few visitors and a longstanding bad reputation. The $800 million Olympic Park was constructed in the months prior to last year’s Summer Games in a process that displaced residents and enraged others. Clare Richardson of Vice visited residents of the old Vila Autódromo favela, a community that was forced to move, later granted new public housing in the area. The city’s promises have fallen short of the agreed upon vision of building playgrounds, a court for sports, and a community center, leaving people with plain housing in an asphalt jungle. Residents have even resorted to creating their own speed bumps out of stones and trash cans to keep nearby roads safe. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Visitors to the area feel shortchanged, as well. Vital services that were available during the park’s grand opening event, such as running water and electricity, are no longer available. The typical two-hour journey from the center of the city greets commuters with a sad skatepark , playground, and the ghostly spectacles of towering arenas. Bigger events, like the Rock in Rio music festival, are planned, but the park has become an inconvenient eyesore for the rest of the year. “I’ve seen about 12 people here since I arrived five hours ago,” Vinicius Martini, a beer vendor at the park, told Vice. “And I haven’t sold any beer.” Via Vice Images via Clare Robinson

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Rios $800 million Olympic Park sits nearly abandoned after 2016 games

Stay in the world’s largest human birdhouse for free

February 23, 2017 by  
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Planning to attend SXSW but still searching for a place to stay? You may be in luck— HomeAway is opening up its human-sized Birdhouse in downtown Austin to two lucky groups of SXSW attendees for free. The vacation rental website teamed up with West Elm to transform the quirky space in their headquarters into comfortable and stylish bedrooms that sleeps six. Keep reading to take a tour inside of the world’s biggest human birdhouse. Perched in the middle of downtown Austin at 5th and Lamar, HomeAway’s giant two-story Birdhouse is an iconic landmark for Austinites and an ideal place to stay for SXSW. In hopes of providing a last-minute alternative to groups still looking for housing—there are less than 10,000 hotel rooms in downtown Austin—HomeAway has opened up the Birdhouse as part of a competition open to anyone over the age of 21. Entrants must answer the question “Why do you want to stay in the Birdhouse during SXSW?” and explain how the experience will impact them and the creative enterprise that they are part of. Entrants can choose from two two-night timeframes from and the winners will also receive a free two-night stay at a different HomeAway vacation rental for the nights that they do not stay in the Birdhouse. Related: SXSW Eco Announces Winners of the 2014 Place by Design Competition The Birdhouse is located on HomeAway’s third floor and has been converted into a rental with sleeping areas on two floors. HomeAway also rented the Birdhouse to guests last year with an auction with proceeds donated to Habitat to Humanity . You can enter the contest by sending HomeAway a message on their Birdhouse listing. + Birdhouse

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Stay in the world’s largest human birdhouse for free

California city on its way to becoming the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S.

February 19, 2017 by  
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The city of Lancaster, California is one step closer to becoming a Zero Net Energy city – the very first in the U.S. The proposed ordinance, recently moved forward by the city council, will require all new homes to be equipped with solar panels or to take other steps toward energy mitigation. The end goal is to create a city with a truly sustainable future. “This is a great stride in Lancaster’s journey to become a Zero Net City,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris in a statement. “The Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance expands upon Lancaster’s residential solar ordinance so that new homes built in Lancaster now will not only be environmentally friendly, but have a zero net impact on our environment, while reducing energy costs for the homeowners.” Related: Lancaster, California to require all new homes to have solar panels The ZNE ordinance requires all new homes built in the year 2017 and beyond to choose one of three options for energy use: install photovoltaic panels to support two watts of energy for each square foot, pay mitigation fees that will result in a discount on the energy generation rate section of their bill, or select a combination of both options. The required feasibility study for the ordinance is already taking place, which is needed before receiving approval from the California Energy Commission . These processes are expected to be complete by the end of the year. Images via  Wikimedia

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California city on its way to becoming the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S.

Why Paris 2024 promises record sustainability wins

February 17, 2017 by  
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First, the city must win the 2024 Olympics sweepstakes against Budapest and Los Angeles.

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Why Paris 2024 promises record sustainability wins

Seattle votes to divest billions of dollars from Wells Fargo over Dakota Access pipeline

February 7, 2017 by  
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Seattle could pull billions of dollars out of its longtime bank because of its role in the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline . On Wednesday, a Seattle City Council committee voted unanimously to divest nearly $3 billion of the city’s funds from Wells Fargo , one of 17 financial institutions involved in financing the contentious project. Although the bill still has to undergo a procedural vote by the full council on Tuesday, it is “widely expected to pass,” activist Shaun King wrote in the Daily News . During the hearing, councilwoman Debora Juarez said that committee members all agreed that divestment was the city’s “goal.” Should the legislation push through, Seattle will not renew its contract with Wells Fargo when it expires in 2018. Neither will the city be allowed to make new investments with the bank for three years. The proposal would be a major victory for the pipeline’s opponents, who returned to the site of last year’s monthslong protests at Standing Rock after President Donald Trump ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the completion of the 1,000-mile-long oil pipeline. “You faced down attack dogs, blizzards and rubber bullets,” councilwoman Kshama Sawant, who co-sponsored the bill, told a crowd on Wednesday, referring to the thousands of Native Americans and activists who faced off with law enforcement during last year’s standoff. “If we do not fight we will not win.” “Let’s build on this, make sure other cities move to divest from Wells Fargo,” she added. Related: 76 water protectors arrested at Standing Rock Jessica Ong, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo, said that the bank respects “all the views” being expressed in the dispute, including those of the Seattle City Council members. “We are obligated to fulfill our legal obligations as outlined under the credit agreement,” she said. “That being said, we remain respectful of the concerns being expressed by tribal governments and communities, other groups, and individuals.” Meanwhile, in North Dakota, hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police in riot gear in 14-degree weather. A “rogue group” of 76 protestors who illegally set up camp on private property was arrested and taken to local jails, according to authorities. “After repeated warnings to vacate a camp being illegally set up on private property in southern Morton County, south of Backwater Bridge, approximately 76 members of a rogue group of protesters were arrested by law enforcement officials today,” the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release. Via Grist Photos by Mike Mozart and Bryce Edwards

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Seattle votes to divest billions of dollars from Wells Fargo over Dakota Access pipeline

Japan’s experimental mission to clean up space junk ends in failure

February 7, 2017 by  
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An experimental effort to remove five decades worth of space junk orbiting Earth has met with failure due to technical problems. A Japanese team planned to use a 700-meter-long tether to coax floating debris to a lower orbit, where it would burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. But something went amiss and the tether couldn’t be extended – despite the best efforts of technicians who tried to fix it. According to the Guardian , more than 100 million pieces waste of various sizes, including cast-off equipment from old satellites and bits of rockets, are currently floating around the Earth. Experts say this garbage could pose risks for future space exploration, or even provoke armed conflict one day. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) developed a giant electrodynamic “tether” which they hoped could slow space refuse and bring it into a lower orbit – where they hoped it could later enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. The plan was to extend the 700-meter-long tether, made from steel and aluminum wires, from a cargo ship launched in December to bring astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station. However all did not go according to plan – “We believe the tether did not get released,” leading researcher Koichi Inoue told The Guardian. “It is certainly disappointing that we ended the mission without completing one of the main objectives.” Related: Japan successfully orbits giant space junk collector The Guardian notes that JAXA has had some other disappointing results lately, including aborting a mission to use a mini-rocket to send a satellite into orbit a few weeks ago, and last year’s abandoned launch of a satellite designed to search for X-rays emanating from black holes and galaxy clusters. Via The Guardian Images via Jaxa and Wikimedia Commons

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Japan’s experimental mission to clean up space junk ends in failure

This train station which doubles as city hall in Sweden will function as an "urban living room"

February 2, 2017 by  
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The new station and city hall in the southern Swedish city of Växjö is an urban living room that gathers several functions under one striking, prismatic roof. White Arkitekter ‘s winning proposal for an anonymous competition, the building combines an expressive form with accessibility, and provides a series of public spaces for citizens, visitors and employees. The 150,000-square-foot wooden structure is topped with an elegant, sloping roof that ensures lower energy consumption . The three main entrances connect these spaces to the city and lead to a central space that functions as a public living room with a tourist office, exhibition area, waiting room, cafés and shops, meeting rooms  for various occasions and a modern workplace for municipal employees. While glass dominates the exterior of the building, the interior prominently features wood. Related: White Arkitekter wins bid to design Sweden’s tallest timber building “Our goal has been to create a building at the forefront of development in sustainable construction as well as to achieve the highest Swedish environment certification,” said Klara Frosterud, Lead Architect at White Arkitekter. “People are placed at the heart of this building which will be socially, economically and ecologically sustainable over time,” she added. + White Arkitekter Via World Architecture News Images by Tegmark

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This train station which doubles as city hall in Sweden will function as an "urban living room"

1,700 Flint residents sue the EPA over tainted water

February 1, 2017 by  
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More than 1,700 residents of Flint, Michigan are seeking class action status for a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it mismanaged the water crisis in the city. The suit was filed in a U.S. District court in Michigan on Monday, and alleges that the agency failed to warn them of the dangers of the tainted water , and did nothing to pressure state or local authorities to address the issue. The plaintiffs are seeking a collective $722 million in damages. According to Reuters , part of the 30-page lawsuit reads, “This case involves a major failure on all levels of government to protect the health and safety of the public. Local, state and federal agencies and employees, working individually and at times in concert with each other, mismanaged this environmental catastrophe.” The EPA had not yet issued a comment on the court action at the time of publication. The water crisis resulted in thousands of children being exposed to water laced with lead , which is known to stunt cognitive development and cause a number of chronic health issues. Researchers believe there is no safe lower limit for lead exposure. Related: EPA regional head steps down after agency rules response to Flint water crisis “inadequate” While the city has switched back to a safe water source as of October 2015, it’s been a struggle for residents to access clean water in the meantime. The previous water system caused irreparable damage to the city’s pipes, and replacing them has been a very slow and expensive process. Though filters are available for residential taps, many are still limiting themselves to bottled water out of fear that contamination may still seep through. Via Reuters Images via Steve Johnson and Wikipedia

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