Taichung Discovery Pavilion champions biodiversity in new "Half Earth" multimedia art installation

April 26, 2019 by  
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In Taichung , Taiwan, the recently completed Discovery Pavilion at the Taichung World Flower Expo explores what life could be like if humans returned half of the Earth’s habitable surfaces to nature — a concept known as “Half Earth” proposed by the “Father of Biodiversity” Edward Wilson in 2016. Taipei-based Cogitoimage International Co., Ltd designed the pavilion to advocate such preservation with a large-scale exhibition that covers the ecology of the Taichung Dajia River as it flows from high to low altitudes. In keeping with the eco-friendly ethos of the project, the main materials used in the project include recycled glass and cork, sustainably sourced timber and other natural materials. Created with the theme of “Viewing Half-Earth through Taichung’s Ecology,” the Discovery Pavilion uses mixed multimedia — from poems and crafts to art installations and new media — to promote environmental stewardship  and biodiversity preservation. Spanning an area of 31,861 square feet, the exhibition covers the vertical ecology along the Dajia River, the main river in Taichung city, as it morphs from the low-lying estuary to the snow-topped mountains at 12,740 feet above sea level. Endemic species are highlighted in the exhibition, from native flora to the endangered leopard cat and the Formosan Landlocked Salmon. “With the theme of “Viewing Half-Earth through Taichung’s Ecology”, Discovery Pavilion advocates to preserve half of our planet for other species and reinterpret the ecology of Dajia River,” read the Discovery Pavilion press release. “Edward’s “Half-Earth” concept has two main points. On the one hand, we should be aware that human beings are not the only masters and inhabitants of the earth. On the other hand, we need to think about how to reserve more spaces for other inhabitants of the earth, i.e. flora and fauna in the ecosystem .” Related: A disused railway will become a sustainable green corridor in Taiwan The Discovery Pavilion consists of nine exhibition areas that are independently crafted with different styles that come together as a cohesive whole. To create a multi-sensory experience, the designers used a variety of materials and technologies to reproduce different landscapes, from the pyramidal glass and hand-woven rice straw roof that evokes the low-lying rural areas in Lishan to the use of imaging technology that creates the sensation of being underwater with the Formosan Landlocked Salmon and reproduce the overall biodiversity of Taiwan. + Cogitoimage Images by Te-Fan Wang

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Taichung Discovery Pavilion champions biodiversity in new "Half Earth" multimedia art installation

Green roofs to take over NYC skyline by law

April 26, 2019 by  
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Moments before Earth Day, New York City passed a major Climate Mobilization Act with new regulations for reducing emissions and becoming a more resilient city — including requiring all new buildings to have green roofs . New York City’s Climate Mobilization Act has been likened to the Green New Deal for its progressive and holistic approach to reducing emissions and sparking a sustainable economy. Green buildings are a critical component to the act, because buildings are the city’s biggest contributor of carbon emissions. Related: New York City passes landmark bill to cut carbon emissions of big buildings by 80% According to the act, all new buildings will be required to incorporate vegetation, solar panels and/or small wind turbines into the roof design. This mandate also includes existing buildings that are undergoing major renovations. High-profile buildings have already set precedence in New York City for progressive green roof designs, including the Barclays Center, Javits Center and Brooklyn Steel. Critics of the act fear that the policies unfairly force landlords to pay for costly construction and retrofitting. The act includes loopholes for small buildings and places of worship as well as phasing options that spread out costs. There are also exemptions for buildings that include rent-stabilized apartments . This exception attempts to prevent evictions and rent spikes following major renovations — a familiar pattern in rapidly gentrifying areas. By 2030, according to the city’s estimates, the reduction in carbon emissions created by the mandated green roofs will be equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. The Climate Mobilization Act is also predicted to create thousands of jobs, including an estimated 3,600 construction jobs and 4,400 maintenance jobs. Council member Costa Constantinides said in a statement, “The Climate Mobilization Act is a down payment on the future of New York City — one that ensures we lead the way in the ever-growing fight against climate change .” Via Dwell Image via Javits Center

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Green roofs to take over NYC skyline by law

Fueled by chocolate: Ghana’s newest biofuel

April 26, 2019 by  
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Researchers in Ghana are testing a system that will turn cocoa into biofuel  — but don’t worry — it uses the green waste produced during harvest, so you can still eat all of the chocolate! The project is funded by the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and will be tested in Ghana, one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa. Chocolate is a multi-billion-dollar international industry, with the bulk of cocoa coming from Africa. “Every ton of cocoa beans harvested generates 10 tons of cocoa pod husks,” says Jo Darkwa , professor of energy storage technologies at Nottingham and one of the project team leads. Husks are typically discarded during harvest after the beans are extracted. Usually, the husks are left to decompose on the cocoa plantation while the beans head to fermentation and drying facilities before they are turned into chocolate. Now, researchers have developed a system that will use the husks as feedstock to generate biofuel. The husks are processed into pellets, or bricks, that can burn in generators and produce “green” electricity. Related: Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa “Feasibility studies indicate that cocoa pod husks could be converted into valuable biofuels and become an important energy supply for rural areas that only have 15 percent coverage at present,” explained Professor Darkwa. The many benefits of cocoa fuel This initiative is not only an innovate green technology, it also has other secondary benefits: Increase access to electricity If successful, the project could contribute to the Ghanaian government’s pledge to ensure 100 percent of Ghanaians have access to electricity by 2030. Reduce deforestation and improve climate and human health Currently, 80 percent of households in Ghana use wood as their main source of fuel for cooking and heating water. This practice not only leads to widespread deforestation in order to harvest wood, but indoor air pollution from wooden stoves is one of the top four leading risk factors for death worldwide. Create jobs If successful, the biofuel system would need workers to collect, transport , treat and process cocoa pod husks, which would create additional jobs and provide income for rural communities. Cocoa as chocolate, cocoa as compost Since it is the beans that are used to make chocolate, the husks are simply bio-waste, and therefore the biofuel system would not take away from farmers ’ profits in any way— in fact it would augment the profitability of the entire cocoa pod. However, cocoa pod waste is an important source of nutrients for cocoa trees. During harvest, ripe cocoa pods are collected and piled throughout the plantation. When the farmers are ready to extract the beans, the pods are cracked open and usually left in a heap to decompose. When husks biodegrade, they are an incredibly rich source of nutrients that help trees grow, improve soil quality and reduce plant disease. Studies show that the decaying pods host beneficial fungi and microbiotics, so will farmers and their crops be losing out on natural fertilizer if they ship their husks off to biofuel systems? Farmers with the capacity to do so might collect and bring the husks to an on-site composting location, but most small farmers do not have the capacity to process or evenly distribute the nutrients from the pile of decomposing husks and rely on nature to take its course. Farmers who do maximize the use of the compost may prefer to continue to do so, however those without that ability now have the option to profit from electricity generation instead. Testing the system in Ghana and the world “Undoubtedly, provision of sustainable energy services through cocoa pod husks would go a long way towards improving the quality of lives and thus alleviate poverty in rural communities as well as fight against climate change,” Professor Darkwa told Climate News Network . The project team is expected to test a prototype of their system at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in July 2019. The plan is to design, build and operate a small-scale bio-power electricity generation unit that burns husks in a gasification system. Each system includes a gasifier, small generator, solar drier and pelletizer and costs approximately US $50,000. If the prototype is successful, the system could be replicated in other countries following additional feasibility studies. Via Climate News Network Images via Flickr ,  dghchocolatier

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Fueled by chocolate: Ghana’s newest biofuel

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