Shanxi combats air pollution in China with smog curbs to 2020

August 9, 2018 by  
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Shanxi province is China’s primary coal mining hub and a major industrial manufacturing region. The province is now planning to voluntarily curb production of its goods over the course of the next three winters in an effort to cut down on smog pollution and improve air quality. This is part of a 2018 to 2020 anti-pollution crackdown, which hopes to take proper measures in improving the environmental state and reputation of the world’s second-largest economy. Twenty-eight northern Chinese cities have been issued a draft guidance on pollution reduction during winter months, and four of these cities are in Shanxi. The province is home to about 36 million people, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics of China , as well as a thriving coal mining industry. Related: Reforestation in China heralds the return of rare animals Local authorities in China are hoping to back their promises to the national and international communities by stepping up actions to reduce pollution and start protecting the environment. “Each level of officials must make anti-pollution tasks a significant stance in their work,” the Shanxi government said in a statement. “Those who neglect their duties, forge monitoring data or fail the targets will be punished.” In addition to production restrictions, efforts will include cutting down coal consumption by relying more on natural gas for heating as well as replacing some of the region’s coal-fired power plants. Local officials seem to be taking the mandate very seriously. “Each city [in Shanxi] should set up plans on production restrictions in steel, construction materials, non-ferrous and chemicals by the end of September each year,” officials announced. The province is hoping to go beyond the 15 percent reduction in emissions — compared to levels recorded in 2015 — that has been mandated by the national government, setting its own goal of a 20 percent decrease in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 2020. Via Reuters Images via Kleineolive and Tim Quijano

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BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen

August 9, 2018 by  
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Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group , the new home for the Shenzhen Energy Company has just reached completion in the business center of Shenzhen , China. Conceived as a new social and sustainable landmark in the heart of the city, the striking office development comprises two towers — one rising 220 meters to the north and the other to a height of 120 meters in the south — both of which are linked by a 34-meter-tall podium. Dubbed the Shenzhen Energy Mansion, the skyscraper is wrapped in an undulating facade that optimizes solar orientation while minimizing energy consumption. Created in collaboration with ARUP and Transsolar, BIG’s Shenzhen Energy Mansion design was selected the winner of an international design competition in 2009. Spanning an area of 96,000 square meters, this new headquarters for the Shenzhen Energy Company includes a pair of office towers and a mixed-use podium comprising the main lobbies, a conference center, a cafeteria and exhibition space. Circulation for visitors and workers are divided; the commercial spaces can be accessed through sliding glass walls on the north and south ends of the buildings while office workers enter from the front plaza to the lobby. Instead of the traditional glass curtain wall, BIG designed a pleated building envelope specially engineered to reduce solar loads and glare. Site studies and passive solar principles optimize the building’s orientation, which includes maximized north-facing openings for natural light and minimized exposure on the sunnier sides. Green roofs top the building. Related: BIG unveils designs for LEED-certified skyscraper in NYC “Shenzhen Energy Mansion is our first realized example of ‘engineering without engines’ — the idea that we can engineer the dependence on machinery out of our buildings and let architecture fulfill the performance,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “Shenzhen Energy Mansion appears as a subtle mutation of the classic skyscraper and exploits the building’s interface with the external elements: sun, daylight, humidity and wind to create maximum comfort and quality inside. A natural evolution that looks different because it performs differently.” + BIG Images by Chao Zhang

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BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen

HW-Studio transforms a warehouse into a food market in Mexico

August 9, 2018 by  
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When local architecture practice HW-Studio was tapped to redevelop an abandoned warehouse into a food market in the Mexican city of Morelia, the firm looked to the site’s extant conditions and the surroundings for inspiration. HW-Studio founder and lead project architect Rogelio Vallejo Bores was born and raised in the city and loved the site’s sense of solitude — a quality that he says is uncommon in the downtown of any Mexican city. As a result, he and his team used a minimalist design and material palette to create a food market, named the Mercado ‘Cantera’ (also known as the Morelia Market), that would defer to its surroundings. Completed this year on a budget of approximately $80,000 USD, the new food market in Morelia spans an area of 3,444 square feet. Before the architects began work on the design, they studied the perimeter and found it was located two blocks from one of the country’s most important music schools — a former convent of XCI Century Dominican nuns of Santa Catalina de Siena — as well as one of the most beloved and popular city squares, Las Rosas. Then the architects mapped out the most popular food spots in the area and found that people congregated in the public squares to eat. As a result, the guiding principles of the food market are borrowed from the design of public squares, from the use of natural materials, axial routes and sense of openness and connection with nature. “We thought that the place had lost its soul,” said the architects of the warehouse due to its numerous renovations. “Everything antique with architectural value would be rescued, and the new would formally and materially have a different nature: a white and defined nature that would demonstrate its own presence and its own historical and conceptual moment. With this, we would try to achieve a balance between the new and the old.” Related: Grain silo transformed into a community food hall in the Netherlands In contrast to the stone walls and other antique details that were preserved, the architects inserted minimalist and modern white volumes to house the food vendors. They also added a new tree-lined central corridor between the new volumes to emphasize the open-air market’s connection with the outdoors. The eating areas are located on the top of the stalls. The architects noted, “Its most important function is to frame, without exclusion, the different layers of architectural history left over the centuries.” + HW-Studio Via Dezeen Images by Bruno Gómez de la Cueva

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HW-Studio transforms a warehouse into a food market in Mexico

President Trump expected to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by two-thirds

December 4, 2017 by  
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President Trump flew to Utah today to announce plans to drastically reduce Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. The unprecedented move would rip apart land that is invaluable to the Native American tribes who hold the land sacred, will open pristine wilderness to coal mining and energy exploration and will prevent people from visiting the priceless environment that a majority of Americans want protected. Trump is expected to shrink Bear’s Ears by 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by half – even more than Utah officials have previously requested. Leaked maps obtained by the Wilderness Society reveal that the monuments will be selectively chopped up, which could expose archaeological and sacred Native American sites to destruction. The monuments are also home to diverse plant and animal life, including the endangered desert tortoise, and have been the location of invaluable paleontological discoveries. Related: Trump signs executive order aimed at eliminating national monuments Thousands of people gathered at the state Capitol on Saturday to protest the move, and again on Monday while Trump was making his announcement in the Capitol building. Tribal leaders and Salt Lake City mayor Jackie Biskupski spoke, calling on Americans to fight for protecting the land. Mayor @jackiebiskupski says “the future will judge us by what we leave behind”. Trump wants to destroy our past and future. #StandWithBearsEars #grandstaircase #handsoffourlands pic.twitter.com/AY4YrZvXIq — Kristine Lofgren (@Livingston761) December 3, 2017 If you want to help, head to the Bears Ears Coalition , where you can find links to support a lawsuit being brought by the Five tribes coalition in Utah, made up of representatives from the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe, Ute Mountain Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe and the Pueblo of Zuni. You can also head to Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to make your voice heard as Secretary Zinke finalizes plans on the monuments. photos by Kristine Lofgren for Inhabitat

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President Trump expected to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments by two-thirds

Electric cars are already less expensive to own and operate than gas-guzzling vehicles, according to study

December 4, 2017 by  
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Exciting news for electric car fans: a new study shows that EVs already cost less over four years than diesel or gasoline-fueled cars in Japan, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States. Four researchers at the University of Leeds came up with the discovery after scrutinizing the total price tag of ownership including insurance, fuel , maintenance, taxation, purchase price and depreciation. And although the low cost is aided by government support right now, in a few years EVs are expected to be the least expensive option without subsidies. EVs are already cheaper to operate and own in the markets the researchers looked at: California, Texas, Japan, and the UK. They said this lower expense is an important factor propelling the surge in EV sales. Electricity is less expensive than diesel or petrol, and maintenance costs are lower, as pure electric cars have simpler engines. Related: Stanford study says fossil-fueled cars will vanish in 8 years as ‘big oil’ collapses Study co-author James Tate of the University of Leeds told The Guardian , “We were surprised and encouraged because, as we scale up production, [pure] electric vehicles are going to be becoming cheaper and we expect battery costs are going to fall.” Hybrid cars tend to be slightly more expensive than gas-fueled cars, as they tend to draw lower subsidies. The researchers said people are basically forking out money for two engines in one car. Japan is one exception, as it provides higher subsidies for plug-in hybrids. In Japan and the UK, pure electric cars get a sales subsidy of around $6,729. In the US, the subsidy is around $8,748. Tate told The Guardian an EV like the Nissan Leaf could be as cheap to operate and own as a petrol car sans subsidy by 2025. The journal Applied Energy published the study online in November. + Applied Energy Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 , 3 )

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Electric cars are already less expensive to own and operate than gas-guzzling vehicles, according to study

German coal mine set to become "giant battery" for storing renewable energy

March 21, 2017 by  
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A German coal mine is about to become a massive battery for storing electricity from renewable energy sources. The Prosper-Haniel hard coal mine in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia that provided coal power to German industry since it opened in 1974 will soon be turned into a 200-megawatt pumped-storage hydroelectric reservoir. When completed, the nearly 2,000-foot-deep mine that is set to close in 2018 will essentially act as a giant battery that can store enough power for 400,000 homes. That’s a huge backup that’s much needed in one of the most progressive solar nations in the world. This “giant battery” stores energy by continually pumping water between two chambers, an upper and a lower connected via pipes with turbines. During periods of high electricity demand, power is produced by releasing the stored water from the upper chamber through the turbines and into the lower chamber. When demand decreases, pumps refill the upper chamber using the cheaper electricity available from the grid. Plants such as this tend to have a huge efficiency of about 80 percent, while also balancing the load in a larger power system. Related: Groundbreaking technology affordably captures C02 from fossil fuel plants As Bloomberg notes, creating this energy storage facility is a win, win for Germany—as it not only provides a much-needed place to store all that power it’s now producing through renewable energy initiatives , but it will also give a boost to the local economy in nearby Bottrop by providing jobs for many of the miners who would otherwise be out of work when the coal mine is shuttered next year. Via Bloomberg Images via Goseteufel , Wikimedia Commons and University of Duisburg-Essen

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The world’s largest private coal mining company declares bankruptcy

April 14, 2016 by  
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King Coal has seen better days. Mines are being closed, miners are facing widespread layoffs and the market price of coal has crashed over the past several years. The War on Coal just claimed one of its most dramatic casualties, Peabody Energy. The largest private coal mining company, Peabody has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy for most of its American divisions. Although the company will carry on in a reorganized form, this development represents the major shift away from coal that is happening across the globe. Read the rest of The world’s largest private coal mining company declares bankruptcy

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Daniel Libeskind’s ambitious design for The Kurdistan Museum in Iraq

April 14, 2016 by  
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Peak number of coal plants are shutting down in 2015, ushering in a greener era

May 21, 2015 by  
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In 2014, 39 percent of American electricity  was generated from the burning of coal, down from 52.8 percent from 1997. Though the fuel source has steadily declined from its late 20th century peak due to competition with other energy sources and increased enforcement of environmental safety measures, the coal industry still maintains great economic and political power. However, Big Coal may face its biggest challenge yet as the EPA implements new regulations governing greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, coal plants are shutting down at an impressive rate. Read the rest of Peak number of coal plants are shutting down in 2015, ushering in a greener era Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , climate regulations , coal , coal mining , coal power , coal power shutdown , epa , greenhouse gas emissions , greenhouse gas regulations , mitch mcconnell , War on Coal

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Peak number of coal plants are shutting down in 2015, ushering in a greener era

NASA Discovers That a Massive Methane Cloud Over American Southwest was Caused by Coal Mining

October 15, 2014 by  
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NASA scientists have confirmed that satellite data shows a methane hot spot in the southwest United States that is so big that it was ignored for years as a possible instrument error. The cloud of methane gas — a short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) that  is around 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide — takes up 2,500 square miles above the Four Corners region where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah intersect. The methane plume is about the size of Delaware and released about 0.59 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere annually during the seven years it was studied from 2003 to 2009. Read the rest of NASA Discovers That a Massive Methane Cloud Over American Southwest was Caused by Coal Mining Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: American southwest , carbon dioxide , coal mining , coalbed methane , Four Corners , fracking , greenhouse gas emission , methane cloud , methane hot spot , methane plume , nasa , satellite data , short-lived climate pollutant

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