This urban tree cleans as much polluted air as an entire forest

June 26, 2017 by  
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Air pollution might be invisible, but it results in 7 million premature deaths each year. Fortunately, there’s a solution – the CityTree is a high-tech green wall that scrubs the air of harmful particulates – and it has as much air-purifying power as 275 urban trees. As you might have guessed, the CityTree isn’t really a tree . Instead, it’s a moss culture. Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions said: “Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants .” The CityTree is under 4 meters tall, approximately 3 meters wide and 2.19 meters deep. Two versions are available – one with or without a bench – and a display is included for information or advertising. Due to the huge surface area of moss installed, each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. Additionally, the installations are fully autonomous, as solar panels provide electricity and collected rainwater is filtered into a reservoir where it is pumped into the soil. Related: Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide The invention also has WiFi sensors which measure the soil humidity, temperature and water quality. “We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is.” said Wu. Every day, a CityTree can absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter. Over the length of an entire year, the invention can remove 240 metric tons of C02. Green City Solutions seeks to one day install CityTrees in major cities around the world – but they presently faces bureaucratic challenges. Said Wu, “We were installing them (the CityTrees) in Modena, Italy, and everything was planned and arranged, but now the city is hesitant about the places we can install because of security reasons.” Regardless, the company will persist and already has plans to introduce the invention to India , where air pollution has reached dangerous levels in certain locations. So far, 20 CityTrees have been successfully installed in major cities around the world – including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong. Costing about $25,000 each, they are a big investment – but one deemed to be worthwhile as they clean the air of harmful contaminants. + Green City Solutions Via CNN Images via Green City Solutions

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This urban tree cleans as much polluted air as an entire forest

You can now buy a village on the Isle of Skye heres how

June 19, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to own a village, here’s your chance. Mary’s Cottages, located in Elgol on the Isle of Skye, is up for sale – and for the right person, it could be an enchanting getaway. Marketed as a “lifestyle business,” the village includes four traditional Scottish blackhouses that have been restored in addition to the owner’s modern five-bedroom house — complete with a pitched, tiled roof that blends in with the surroundings. In each of the traditional Scottish houses, you’ll find classically decorated interiors, vaulted ceilings, underfloor heating, oil stoves and Caithness slate floors. Each cottage has its own traditional built-in kingsize bed, in addition to a mezzanine area with single beds that can be tucked away. Related: Italy is giving away hundreds of historic castles and villas for free According to agents Strutt and Parker , views from all the abodes are breathtaking. Additionally, one doesn’t need to walk far from the collection of cottages to see fishermen going about their duties, and dolphins, otters, eagles, and sharks enjoy the nearby bay. In fact, The Scotsman describes the location as being “ideal for holidaymakers.” When a venture into the city is needed, Elgol is only 45 minutes away and a drive to Edinburgh is six hours. As you might expect, a village — particularly on the Isle of Skye — isn’t cheap. Right now, it’s on the market for £1.25 million. + Strutt and Parker Via The Independent Images via Strutt and Parker

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Phoenix launches a hub for the circular economy

June 15, 2017 by  
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A new incubator from the Arizona State University and the city of Phoenix finds ways for both public and private organizations to overhaul waste.

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Detroit debuts brand new 20,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza

June 14, 2017 by  
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Detroit , Michigan is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for pedestrians . But the city is taking one step to overcome that with the recent opening of a new plaza by the iconic Spirit of Detroit statue. The 20,000 square foot civic square offers space for live performances and art displays, and will host food trucks . The Spirit of Detroit Plaza takes over one block of Woodward Avenue between Jefferson Avenue and Larned Street in front of the statue, which has adorned the area since 1958. The space boasts tables and chairs, colorful paintings on the sidewalk, lights, and planters. It will go through a 90-day trial this summer to see how pedestrians and traffic respond to the newly-created area. Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement, “Every world-class city has a central plaza where people can gather and celebrate its civic history, and in front of the Spirit of Detroit is the perfect place for all Detroiters to have the opportunity. We are committed to a Detroit that’s open and accessible to all and this new plaza has been envisioned to celebrate all of the diversities that come together to make us a great city.” Detroit said the new plaza offers “a more direct pedestrian link between Downtown and the Detroit Waterfront.” Vehicles will be redirected onto other nearby streets. The city also said the plaza’s presence could help slash the potential for crashes. The plaza helps simplify an intersection and that fact along with adjusted area traffic signals could even reduce delays on Jefferson Avenue. If the trial goes well, city agencies and the mayor aim to make the plaza permanent. City Planning Director Maurice Cox described the Spirit of Detroit Plaza as a “key piece in making a more vibrant, walkable, diverse downtown.” He appears to have high hopes for the plaza, saying in a statement, “By simplifying the downtown grid and consolidating traffic flow, we are creating a more inviting street and safer pedestrian crossings. And of course, if something changes or the design doesn’t work as well as we expect, we can adjust it or even restore its original design. We expect this will reset expectations for what is possible on neighborhood streets across the city.” Via Curbed Detroit and the City of Detroit Images via Janette Sadik-Khan on Twitter , City of Detroit , and City of Detroit on Twitter

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Portland debuts newly designed thief-proof bike racks

June 13, 2017 by  
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Portland , Oregon is home to more bike parking spaces on city streets than any other city in North America. But that also means there are more opportunities for bike thieves . So the city is rolling out a new bike rack design to deter would-be crooks. Bike burglars in Portland have recently attacked not a bike’s lock, but the rack to which it’s connected. Bike owners lose their ride, and the city has to replace the racks. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), which wants city residents to feel their bikes are safe, turned to a new design to thwart thieves. Related: Crazy SkunkLock makes would-be bike thieves vomit From the outside the new racks don’t look like anything special – CityLab described them as tubular arches. But inside there is a “free-floating, steel-wire cable routed through the hollow steel piping of the rack,” according to PBOT communications specialist Hannah Schafer. “This makes it difficult to cut through, because the wire moves when the blade attempts to get purchase.” Then, 10 inches above the ground is a bar spanning the bottom of the rack for extra security. The bar prevents a thief from unscrewing bolts to slip a U-lock around the bottom of the rack, according to Schafer. She told CityLab, “In addition, if a potential thief were to cut through the bike rack and wire rope, the bar makes it difficult to pry the rack apart and slip a U-lock off.” Radius Pipe Bending manufactures the new bike racks for the city. PBOT said they’re not able to replace all 7,000 racks currently in the city with the new design – the new racks cost around $5 more than the old ones – but new installations and maintenance will feature the new robber repellent design. Check out the city’s schematic here . Via CityLab and the Portland Bureau of Transportation Images via BikePortland.org Facebook and Portland Bureau of Transportation

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China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’

June 6, 2017 by  
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City public transportation systems typically rely on a mix of trains and buses . But what if the two could be combined? Chinese company CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive recently debuted a trackless train that could ease traffic and emissions in urban centers. The Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) uses sensors to run along invisible tracks on city streets. Train tracks on city streets could be a thing of the past if all goes well with the ART, recently unveiled in the city of Zhuzhou in the Hunan province in China , where it recently went on a trial run. Firstpost described the ART as the world’s first trackless train. Sensor technology enables the ART to glide over roads, helping it track a guiding system in place. The sensors send the information back to the train’s central control unit – what Firstpost described as a brain – to help it travel smoothly. Related: You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train More than 300 people can ride on the ART, which is comprised of three carriages in its basic state but can expand to include five. It has rubber wheels with plastic cores. A twin-head system means the train never has to make a U-turn, according to Firstpost. The trackless train is over 103 feet long. The ART is powered by electricity , so it won’t give off carbon emissions as traditional trains do. It can travel at a speed of around 43 miles per hour. CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive has reportedly been testing the ART technology for around four years, but the trackless train could finally be ready to roll out on the road in 2018. The company boasts a wide array of electric locomotives. Their Blue Locomotive won the title of Best New Energy Locomotive at the Berlin International Rail Transit Technology Exhibition. Via Firstpost Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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Nations tallest timber building to rise in Portland

June 6, 2017 by  
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The nation’s tallest wooden high-rise will soon take shape in Portland , Oregon. Funded by a $1.5 million-dollar award from the U.S. Tall Wood Building Prize Competition , the innovative timber building, named Framework, will be built from domestically sourced and engineered wood products. LEVER Architecture designed the mixed-use high-rise as a beacon of sustainability with its use of low-carbon materials, green roof, and resilient design. Slated to begin construction this fall, the 12-story Framework building will comprise ground-floor bank and retail, five floors of office space, and five floors for 60 residential units with a mix of studios as well as one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments. Nearly half of the 90,000-square-foot building will be zoned for affordable housing. The mixed-use building will also be primarily built of cross laminated timber and is designed to be fire- and earthquake-resistant. In a Framework press release: “Beneficial State Bank, a triple bottom line community bank, teamed with project^, a values-based commercial real estate developer; and Home Forward, the public housing authority for Multnomah County, Oregon to reimagine their existing Pearl District property in Portland, Oregon into Framework, the nation’s first wood high-rise building. The building seeks to develop a model for a sustainable urban ecology by promoting social justice , sustainable building, and economic opportunity thus yielding broad advancement of these objectives at a national scale.” Related: Magnificent timber skyscraper will sequester carbon and add greenery to Bordeaux Framework, which is expected to complete construction in late 2018, will likely be the nation’s first timber high-rise building with wood from the ground-floor as well as the first with exposed wood in North America. The building is also expected to use significantly less energy than a traditional building of similar size and function with energy savings of 60 percent when compared to code and water savings exceeding 30 percent compared to code. Framework is also expected to result in 1,824 tons of carbon dioxide emission offsets, equivalent to taking 348 cars off the road for a year. + LEVER Architecture

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Nations tallest timber building to rise in Portland

C.F. Mller unveils eco-conscious highrise in Sweden

May 2, 2017 by  
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International design firm C.F. Møller won an architecture competition with their proposal for an eco-conscious high-rise in the central Swedish city of Västerås. Topped with solar panels and a green roof , the energy-efficient skyscraper will be a beautiful landmark and model of hybrid design with its proposed timber and concrete structure. Greenery is woven throughout the design, from the panoramic garden on the 15th floor to the trees planted on every balcony. The 15,700-square-meter mixed-use tower was designed for an architecture competition launched by property management company Riksbyggen in January 2017. The winning design features an elliptical shape with 22 floors; concrete will be used for supporting construction up to the 15th floor, while the remaining seven floors will be framed in solid wood. Untreated wood , protected from the elements by balconies, clads the rounded facade. “The architecture and details of the facades are inspired by the light reflections on Lake Mälaren,” says Ola Jonsson, Architect and associate partner at C.F. Møller. “The result is a three-dimensional and dynamic facade composition that is exciting both near and from afar. The panoramic garden placed high up in the building is a focal point for the city and a fantastic common area for the residents of the house. Our ambition has been to optimize the synergies between the city, building and urban greenery.” Related: C.F. Møller is building a garden-filled vertical village in Antwerp The building’s ground floor will be open for restaurants and commercial use, while residences occupy the upper floors. A vertical green wall faces a public square and is complemented with small parks with active and passive spaces. A garden on the 15th floor offers additional green space to residents as well as 360-degree panoramic views of the city. Green roofs top the parking building and the tower. + C.F. Møller Images via C.F. Møller

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This man spent 36 years carving through mountains to bring water to his village

April 21, 2017 by  
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In 1959, the small village of Caowangba in China ’s Guizhou Province had a problem – a drought had dried up all the nearby water sources, and residents were forced to rely on a single well for drinking water. Even that single well was faltering, sometimes leaving the people of the town without enough water to go around. Worse yet, the town’s single rice paddy had dried up, making it hard for residents to access enough food. Something had to be done. But rather than give up and move to a new home, one man named Huang Dafa decided to lead an ambitious project to dig a 10-kilometer canal along the face of several sheer cliffs to bring water to his home. It took 36 years and at least one failed attempt, but now enough water flows to the city to provide food and drinking water to everyone. Many have compared Dafa to the legendary figure Yu Gong , an old man whose determination caused the gods to literally move mountains from his path. At only 23 years old, Dafa made the project his life’s work. To build the canal, villagers had to carve along the sheer cliffs of three karst mountains , dangerous work that involved climbing up the side of the mountains, tying themselves to trees, and rappelling hundreds of meters down the cliff to dig. Related: Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants 1,360 Acre Forest Naturally, it took a bit of persuading before anyone else in town was willing to take on this dangerous work. But in the end, the only other option was to do nothing and watch the town continue to struggle. Unfortunately, after a decade of work, the first attempt at a canal was unsuccessful in bringing water to the city. It wasn’t a total waste: the effort did create a tunnel through the mountains that allowed for easy travel through the stone, rather than around, which is still in use today. Dafa realized they needed a better understanding of irrigation to make the project work. So he left to study engineering for several years, and planned his next attempt even more meticulously. In the early 1990s, he persuaded the villagers to try again. The workers often slept in caves along the cliff side, and the remote location made it difficult to reach them in case of emergency – in fact, Dafa was working in the mountains when his daughter and grandson passed away, unable to reach them before they died. Related: Hundreds of beehives hang off a steep cliff in China to save wild honeybees Finally, in 1995, the new channel was finished, and water began to flow to Caowangba. As if the channel weren’t enough, Dafa’s efforts were also responsible for bringing electricity and a new road to the town that same year, allowing the residents to step into the modern era. Now, the community is thriving, and Huang Dafa is celebrated as a local hero at 82 years old. The channel provides running water to three other villages that happen to cross its path as well, providing water to 1,200 people and allowing them to grow 400,000 kilograms of rice every year. Via Oddity Central Images via VGC , China Daily

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This man spent 36 years carving through mountains to bring water to his village

Green-roofed wooden tower in Lagos maximizes daylight and natural ventilation

April 17, 2017 by  
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This green-roofed wooden tower planned for Lagos features a perforated envelope inspired by indigenous cultures of the area. Hermann Kamte & Associates designed the experimental structure as an alternative to the massive concrete buildings that dominate the city. By contrast, the wooden tower emphasizes passive design principles that marry indoor and outdoor living. The building was designed for the Plan B: City Above the City competition. Each floor provides a variety of residential units surrounded by a belt of lush greenery. Divided into 4 parts, the new building sits atop an existing housing estate, with sky gardens and other amenities separating the old and the new. A rooftop garden provides panoramic views of the city and functions as an informal gathering space and restaurant. Related: Shanty Megastructures envisions a colossal vertical slum in the heart of Lagos The wooden envelope incorporates traditional patterns from the Yoruba culture, and it provides protection from direct sun while giving the project a unique appearance. The entire structure is designed using LVL timber for both load-bearing and non-load bearing elements. + Hermann Kamte & Associates

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