Lessons from Schoonschip, Amsterdam’s floating eco-village

April 14, 2021 by  
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How can people live in harmony with global warming and rising water levels? In Amsterdam , a group of forward-thinking people decided to go with the flow. Schoonschip, a self-sustaining floating community of more than 100 residents, boasts innovative technology like 500 solar panels and a green roof on every house. This brave and fascinating experiment demonstrates how humans can adapt to the changing planet while forging stronger communities. TV director Marjan de Blok got the idea for the floating neighborhood after working on a documentary about a floating home . She and some friends began to brainstorm. “We are a bottom-up initiative built by the people that live here,” she told Inhabitat in an email. “Not owned / started / sold by a company / architect. For us this is important and it’s the biggest strength of the project.” Schoonschip has already received tons of press, not all of it accurate, de Blok said. “We don’t use grey water to water our plants, we don’t grow food on our roofs and we don’t use the jouliette to pay electricity with. These are just a couple of things that are not true but have been spread and copied.” Related: This home floats in a self-sufficient Amsterdam neighborhood Instead, graywater is used for showers, washing machines, drainage and dishwashers. “Black water,” i.e. human waste , will be fermented and transformed into energy at a biorefinery, in partnership with a water supplier called Waternet. For other accurate details of Schoonship design and technology, de Blok recommends this article from GB&D . Inhabitat talked to three residents to get an inside look at what it’s like to call a floating village home. Marjan de Blok, resident since May 2019 Inhabitat: How did you get the idea for Schoonship? It started when I was making a short documentary about a sustainable floating house about 11 years ago. I completely fell in love with the concept of living on the water, as sustainable as possible. It gave me a great feeling of freedom and it seemed like the answer to a lot of challenges we were facing and still are facing. At the same time, I realized that building a house like this, as sustainable as this, would take a lot of money and effort. That’s how the idea was born to start a group, build more houseboats , to make a bigger impact. I started to talk to some friends and every single one of them was so enthusiastic, that we said let’s go for it. At that time our plan was more simple than what it turned out to be today. The project grew and grew and the sustainable possibilities developed, so we just grew along and here we are with 46 households living in this sustainable neighborhood, inspiring people worldwide.  Schoonschip consists of 46 houses and one collective space that we realized with the group and that we use for all kinds of purposes. In total there are 30 water lots. So some of the lots you see are inhabited by two households. They have their own house, on a shared lot. One of the lots is even inhabited by three families. We were a foundation and now a homeowners association.  How has your life changed since moving to Schoonschip? For me personally my life changed completely. I moved from a top floor small apartment in the busy west of Amsterdam to the north. Living on the water means living with the weather. But the biggest change for me is the social part. Sharing a village or neighborhood with people that you know is a big change compared to living in a house in a street where you hardly know any neighbor. Now, in winter, especially now with the lockdown going on, it might seem a bit quiet, but in summertime it’s wild. Everybody is swimming and playing. Kids rule the jetty. What else should we know? The project didn’t finish when we moved here. Our goal is to inspire and inform people worldwide to try and play a role in a more sustainable way of living and to become part of development of the area that they live in. Hanneke Maas Geesteranus, resident  since June 2019 What have been the biggest adjustments to moving to Schoonschip? That we are responsible for our own house and all the technical things about the solar collectors, the warm heat pump, the charger, etc. This was rather new for me so I had to deepen my knowledge about sustainable techniques. What do you like the most about living there? I like our house and the feeling to live so close to the water. But most of all I like to live in a community like this. It is a little village. We know each other rather well. Everyone is friendly, helpful and supportive of each other. What do you miss about traditional on-land housing? The trees . Could you describe the qualities a person needs to thrive at Schoonschip? We have a lot of different people in the community. So the differences are very charming and needed. But in common, 1. Interest in sustainability, feel the importance of understanding, to share innovation and new ideas. 2. To be open to live with other people around you and willing to invest in the social aspects. Pieter Kool, resident since April 2019 What have been the biggest adjustments to moving to Schoonschip? We were living in a small downtown apartment with kids, so ever since we live here it feels like we’ve rented a super fancy holiday home — without having to leave! The comfort of living and the quality of light in the houseboat is incredible. It was quite easy to adjust to this actually… Practically, the biggest adjustment was getting rid of our car. Within Schoonschip, we’ve set up a car-sharing system with electric vehicles and most Schoonschippers joined the group. Prior to the switch, this felt like a big adjustment, but it wasn’t as much of a deal as we expected. It’s quite relaxed to not have the usual car ownership issues. Before we moved we did a CO2 footprint analysis of our household; we were already vegetarians and moving to an energy-neutral house, by far the biggest polluting aspect of our lives would be transportation. Realizing this, the choice to move to electric car-sharing was a no-brainer. What do you like best about living there? The environmental sustainability aspect of living at Schoonschip is great, but to me, the social sustainability is much more special and rewarding on a personal level. The project has run 13 years from initiation to completion and together we’ve worked very hard at achieving our goals. Everybody in the community participated and we’ve gotten to know each other really well. Some people left the project along the way, but many stayed. The people that are still in the project are all very different, but they also seem to share a mentality of resilience, openness and forgiveness toward each other. Nice people to be around with! What do you miss about traditional housing? We don’t have a shed, so DIY work is a bit of a hassle. We added a small floating garden to the boat which produces vegetables and even has a generous pear tree on it! + Schoonschip Images by Isabel Nabuurs, courtesy of Schoonschip

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Lessons from Schoonschip, Amsterdam’s floating eco-village

Miami Beach Aquatic Center and Park will include 3 acres of native landscaping

March 30, 2021 by  
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Architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa recently unveiled its design concept for the new Miami Beach Aquatic Center and Park. Among two pools and thousands of square feet worth of retail and community space, the project will highlight local plants and trees with native landscaping. The project is one of three finalists for the new community area in Florida . The community park will span three acres and will protect existing trees while adding a plethora of native plants to create its own microclimate. Additionally, the building’s green roof planters will harvest and treat stormwater, and all water runoff from the site will be directed to a system that will allow it to be reused for irrigation. Related: Serpentine roof tops a solar-powered community center in Western Sydney In a unique ecological setting like Florida, including native plants in landscape designers is an easy choice. Local plants are already adapted to the local climate and soil conditions and often do not require pesticides or as much irrigation (helping to prevent erosion). Plus, they are important for local pollinators like bees and hummingbirds. In addition to the green planters, the building’s roof also features solar panels to provide an alternative energy source during peak electricity hours. Located just a block from the beach, the structure’s ocean-facing terraces provide sweeping views for community members to enjoy. There is a 50-meter competition pool and a 25-meter multipurpose pool as well as a fitness center to promote healthy lifestyles. The architects hope that the center can become a “Community Living Room” for the local North Beach area, providing a central gathering space in a district that is already embracing walkability. There are spots to unwind but equal space to socialize with friends or shop thanks to the 10,000 square feet of retail. A 7,500-square-foot branch library welcomes students and community members to relax and learn. Tying the aquatic center and park together will be the parking lot, which is stacked to reduce its footprint and provide direct access to the lush green space. + Brooks + Scarpa Via ArchDaily   Images via Brooks + Scarpa

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Miami Beach Aquatic Center and Park will include 3 acres of native landscaping

Designer Lucas Couto joins Precious Plastic for recycling project

March 25, 2021 by  
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Lucas Couto, Senior Industrial Designer at EGGS Design in  Norway , is focused on turning plastic pollution into innovative recycled designs. The designer has teamed up with plastic recycling company Precious Plastic to help reveal the potential of plastic waste in the design space. According to Precious Plastic, the world produces about 300 million metric tons of new  plastic  each year. And since plastic has one of the slowest decomposition rates — close to 500 years — all of that waste has the potential to stick around for generations to come. The company is on a mission to show the world the opportunities of plastic waste, reduce the demand for virgin plastic and create a circular economy based around plastic recycling. Related: KALO’s PVC Bench is made from plastic waste and wood scraps Precious Plastic teaches everyday people how to create their own plastic  recycling  company and turns almost any type of plastic waste into large colorful sheets of new material that can be used to make different types of products (such as furniture and construction pieces). Upcycled plastic sheets come in a variety of colors based on the plastic products used in manufacturing. The community develops tools and machines that recycle plastic and share it with others around the world. Now, the company is collaborating with designer Lucas Couto on a project aimed at engaging the community in designing recycled plastic products. Over three weeks in July 2020, the Recycled Plastic Product series focused on challenges centered around different Precious Plastic Machines. Each week highlighted a different plastic recycling  technology : injection molding, beam extrusion and sheetpress. For example, a stool designed by Couto used extruded beams made from sheets of recycled plastic made up of four separate pieces that fit together. Another  stool  design helps to visualize the sheet press materials. After becoming inspired by the nursery pots around his home, the designer also created flower pots that highlighted the looks of mixed color injection molding while providing a product that would benefit from recyclability. + Lucas Couto Images via Lucas Couto

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Designer Lucas Couto joins Precious Plastic for recycling project

Major banks still back fossil fuel industry despite climate pledges

March 25, 2021 by  
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Banks are taking greenwashing to a whole new level. Despite climate-conscious PR, they are still putting their money toward financing fossil fuel projects, according to the new Banking on Climate Chaos report. In the last five years, while acceptance of climate change has gone more mainstream, the 60 largest commercial and private investment banks in the world financed the fossil fuel industry to a tune of nearly $4 trillion. At the same time, their glossy marketing promised things like “climate-conscious checking accounts” and “1% for the planet” credit cards. Despite some financial institutions pledging to achieve net-zero financed emissions, their strategies for doing so are vague. Related: #degrowth art series exposes greenwashing in the food industry “Banks are admitting that fossil fuel companies are major climate emitters, but they are taking no immediate steps to phase out the financing of fossil fuels across the board,” said Ginger Cassady, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, as reported by  Sierra Club . “Many of those banks are making 2050 commitments to align with the Paris Agreement when they need to act now on fossil fuels. Any bank that makes a ‘net zero by 2050’ policy commitment and then treats it as a license to continue with business as usual is guilty of greenwashing.” The Banking on Climate Chaos report (formerly called Banking on Climate Change) has come out annually since 2012, and it provides one of the most comprehensive looks at how the fossil fuel industry is financed. This year’s 157-page report covers big finance’s relation to tar sands oil , Arctic oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, fracked oil and gas, liquefied natural gas, coal mining and coal power. JPMorgan Chase is the worst offender for five years running, according to the report. The bank directed $51.3 billion into fossil fuel projects last year. From 2016 to 2020, it lent or underwrote $317 billion to similar projects. On the plus side, JPMorgan Chase was slightly less heinous in 2020 than in the past and has pledged to bring its financing more in line with the Paris Agreement . Citibank came in as second worst, but was still 33% better than JPMorgan Chase. + Banking on Climate Chaos Via Sierra Club Image via Niek Verlaan

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Major banks still back fossil fuel industry despite climate pledges

Kiribati Floating Houses address rising waters and land limitations

March 25, 2021 by  
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Architectural design takes all forms, with a focus from the ground up. But UOOU, an Amsterdam- and London-based design practice, came up with an architectural proposal that doesn’t consider the ground at all. Instead, the team focused on creating a housing solution for a group of atolls floating in the South Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Hawaii and Australia. Gianluca Santosuosso and Eri Pontikopoulou, with consultation from Matthias Kimmel, came up with the sustainable urban planning concept, which addresses the need for controlled growth over time. The area is known as the Republic of Kiribati. The problem is rising waters and limited landmass; the solution is floating structures. Related: Sneci houseboat leaves no footprint while floating on Lake Tisza The overall blueprint for the community resembles a tree, with the town center being the trunk while the housing units make up the branches. These units are focused on not only providing shelter but communing with the surrounding elements of nature. The designers kept the division between outdoors and inside thin, with openings to enjoy sunlight, the sky and the view of the Pacific Ocean from inside. Locally sourced, natural materials , particularly wood, are used to honor the culture and the oceanscape. In the center of each housing pod group is a versatile, open-air space for meeting the needs of the community. The land on an otherwise floating structure can house gardens, animals or pools for fish farming. The area offers protection from the corrosive effects of the surrounding waters while providing the opportunity to grow food and raise animals that are essential to the residents. The primary source of electricity comes from photovoltaic panels placed on slanted roofs of the homes. In addition to harvesting energy from the sun, the tilted roofs act as a source of rainwater collection. The water runs through enclosed pipes for maximum collection efficiency and is then stored in tanks below the homes. Although the floating houses would be connected to a larger community, the solar and water systems allow them to be more self-sufficient and even contribute to the neighbors as needed.  The Kiribati Floating Houses concept is presented by UOOU Studio, which said, “Our work focuses on architecture that connects man-made environments with nature, putting eco- and human-oriented design at the core of our mission.” + UOOU Studio Images via UOOU Studio

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Kiribati Floating Houses address rising waters and land limitations

Valuing the ‘lived experience’ in infrastructure decisions

March 25, 2021 by  
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Valuing the ‘lived experience’ in infrastructure decisions Heather Clancy Thu, 03/25/2021 – 01:00 As discussions over the Biden administration’s $3 trillion infrastructure vision take shape, one principle central to the president’s ideas to help America “build back better” after COVID-19 is ensuring that investments shaping a clean economy are firmly rooted in social and environmental justice.  What better way to actually do that than by more intentionally including historically disadvantaged low-income and BIPOC communities in the decision-making process? That’s the foundational question underlying the ” Square Partnership ” development model championed by startup accelerator Elemental Excelerator as part of its broader commitment to getting portfolio companies to embrace equity and access as core values.  Elemental’s approach brings together its startups, their customers and nonprofit advocacy organizations directly connected to the community that could be affected by a given solution — the accelerator largely acts as the project manager, among other things. One example of a Square Partnership in action is the four-sided relationship between Elemental; transportation planning software developer Remix , which Via Transportation just bought for $100 million ; an Oakland, California-based “liveable” community planning agency, TransForm ; and several project advisers that interact with its customers, including The GreenLining Institute.  “To really address equity issues, we believe it’s a combination of the government, nonprofits and the private sector working together,” said Darnell Grisby, executive director of TransForm, named this week to the California Transportation Commission. “Nonprofits have to understand the importance of the private sector.” The purpose of the year-long engagement was to co-create better equity analysis features for Remix Explore, a mapping software module for urban planners. Rachel Zack, director of policy at Remix, said one question that her company sought to explore was how to better embrace people who don’t have a technical background but who can provide valuable oral histories within the planning process.  “Transportation is the throughline through which we should be seeing all our social justice issues,” noted one adviser, Tamika Butler, during a recent webcast with the various project partners. And yet, as she notes in a detailed brief about the project, the BIPOC community isn’t well-represented in municipal planning meetings. “We are in rooms where people devalue our lived experience if it is not backed by the ‘right’ degree or statistics,” Butler wrote. “We are engaged in conversations where power, privilege and equity are thrown around as things we strive for without direct and intentional work to integrate any of those things in the processes, people or organizations bandying them about. That must change.” Three case studies were considered during this project: making sure a planned new park served low-income earners in surrounding neighborhoods; ensuring that changes to a city’s bus service were equitable; and a deeper look at how oral histories about a community align with the data that planners use to make decisions. Jamario Jackson, senior community planner with TransForm, said one a-ha moment was just how deeply connected decisions about public transit and transportation are to other planning decisions, especially housing and economic development. “It’s so important to work across disciplines,” he said. “These relationships are dynamic and ever changing. Planners are supposed to be working on behalf of the public … That is a real opportunity for growth.” Another conclusion: the “shiny new thing” isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes, pitching new technologies can overcomplicate things, observed Hana Creger, environmental program manager with the Greenlining Institute: “Equity projects require a reframing of the traditional measures for success, such as speed, efficiency, cost-effectiveness.” How well a solution actually meets a community’s expressed needs also must be highlighted, she said. “Companies are part of the solution and not the solution,” notes Sara Chandler, managing director for equity and access at Elemental. It believes the future success of equitable partnerships is rooted in six concepts: Multidisciplinary, multistakeholder collaboration for mutual benefit Clear, comprehensive processes for equity History and context that reflect a local community’s needs Transparency about outcomes Decision-making agency A posture open to diverse perspectives As the U.S. and countries around the world commit trillions of dollars and yen and euros and so on to building back better, we would all do well to consider how spending decisions are made and to ensure that the communities most affected by the decisions have a voice in them.  As I hope you’ve heard , exploring the opportunities for physical and digital infrastructure will be central to VERGE Infrastructure , the fifth conference within our annual VERGE conference. It will debut this year during VERGE 21 , scheduled for Oct. 25-28 and expected to convene more than 15,000 leaders from the private and public sectors.  Topics Social Justice Infrastructure Transportation & Mobility Environmental Justice Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Jamario Jackson of Transform addresses a group as part of its project with Elemental Excelerator and Remix.

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Is harmonization of reporting standards possible or even desirable?

March 24, 2021 by  
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Is harmonization of reporting standards possible or even desirable? Antonio Vives Wed, 03/24/2021 – 01:14 Interest in corporate sustainability metrics has skyrocketed in the last few years, particularly in the financial industry. With it has come a surge in demand for information related to these activities, one accommodated by existing reporting standards and frameworks produced by organizations such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), CDP and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), with more being proposed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation and the European Union. This data is collected and transformed by a wide variety of actors in the sustainability information industry for use by stakeholders and, particularly, investors. Given the proliferation of reporting and aggregating and disaggregating of information, over which there is no consensus, there has been widespread dissatisfaction about the lack of harmonization and comparability In response, there have been attempts at harmonization by the standard setters, based on the assumption that it is feasible and desirable. I’m not sure it’s either. Is harmonization possible or even desirable? If harmonization means consensus on a single standard, then the answer is most likely no. Why? Let’s consider four major components of the context in which this ecosystem operates. The object of reporting: It is nonfinancial metrics that purportedly represent the sustainability of the company. This is a fuzzy concept, different for each company, depending on the context in which operates. It changes with time, the material stakeholders affected and those it wants to affect, the actions of competitors and the pressure they receive from their stakeholders, among other factors. To get a sense of this, contrast the large differences in the sustainability ratings of a given company, by different raters based on sustainability information, with the generalized agreements in their respective credit ratings which are based on financial information. Quantification of the information: A significant, critical portion of the information required to assess sustainability is simply not quantifiable: culture; values; processes; strategies; product responsibility; quality of management, among others. Does the existence of a sustainability strategy or a board committee constitute sustainability? What is a measure of sustainability? Inputs such as the number of dollars spent on teaching the code of ethics; or outputs such as the number of hours taught; or results such as the number of cases considered by the ethics committee and its decisions; or impact such as the change brought about in the culture of the company? Which of these four attributes are reported through ESG indicators? Which ones indicate a potential financial impact? The users of the information: Every stakeholder uses a very different lens to make their decisions — from investors to managers to the community, employees, labor unions and governments. Each group is concerned about the impact on their stakes. Most users, especially those in the financial markets, are used to the strictures of financial accounting and want information that is comparable, relevant and reliable, among other attributes. But comparability requires the reduction to a minimum set of common information and its indicators, that risk losing relevance and reliability. Comparability requires generalization, but relevance requires specificity. And reliability requires consistency of the information through time and across providers. It’s hard to achieve all three, simultaneously. A given percentage of women on the board may be quite an achievement for one company but a serious deficiency in another. The sustainability information industry is composed of many varied actors. Most are in it for profit, each one with its own stake and market to protect and expand. There are standard-setters (GRI, SASB et al), compilers of information (Bloomberg et al), ratings companies (S&P Global et al), index providers (MSCI et al), accounting firms (the Big Four et al), and consultants on sustainability and reporting (Sustainalytics et al). According to the Reporting Exchange , there are over 650 ratings firms and more than 500 national reporting requirements. MSCI alone produces more than 1,500 equity and fixed income ESG indices. Blomberg collects information on over 700 indicators. Will they all accept to provide the same information, the same indicators, the same reports, use the same methodology for ratings and indices? (SASB has asked them to concentrate on their indicators.) What is possible? Based on these considerations, it looks difficult and maybe not even desirable to achieve harmonization. The needs of investors, which are more homogeneous and focused, seem to offer the most promise but with caveats: It would require a consensus about what is meant by sustainability and its measurement. Currently, each of over 650 sustainability raters has its own model of what sustainability means, using only quantifiable information, with their specific indicators and relative importance weighted to calculate a score. Finding consensus would require them to agree on a core set of comparable measures applicable to all companies, and another set specific to the industry, as in the SASB standards and the new WEF proposal. A third set of measures specific to each company, as proposed by the Yale Initiative on Sustainable Finance , would be added. Comparability requires generalization, but relevance requires specificity. This approach would please fund managers and analysts, as it would greatly simplify their work and even reduce potential legal liabilities by contending that their decisions are based on an accepted ESG reporting standard. It would enhance comparability but reduce relevance. It could disincentivize companies to differentiate themselves based on their sustainability . It also might motivate companies to gear their sustainability strategies to achieve better ratings and manage to specific indicators, not necessarily to have a better impact on society. A broader possibility would be for GRI to accept that its standards should be useful to investors and expand them, or for SASB/IIRC to accept that theirs also must serve all stakeholders and expand them. Either should subsume proposals such as the one offered by the WEF. But to please everybody, the resulting framework would be complex and unwieldy. It would involve a big cultural change and capitulation to the standards that prevailed. It does not look politically feasible, in the medium term, that the aforementioned institutions will agree to subsume their standards into a single entity. At the very minimum, I believe two standards will coexist — one to respond to the needs of finance providers and the other to the needs of all stakeholders. And the myriad indicators, indices and ratings provided by the extensive market of sustainability information would not disappear. Is reduction to a single reporting standard desirable? Yes, for some, but not for all stakeholders. Is it feasible? Yes, if one is willing to achieve simplicity and comparability at the expense of relevance and impact. Pull Quote Comparability requires generalization, but relevance requires specificity. Topics Reporting Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Is harmonization of reporting standards possible or even desirable?

Scientists raise alarm over the resurgence of murder hornets

March 23, 2021 by  
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Scientists and state agencies are concerned about the resurgence of the murder hornet, a giant flying insect known for its dangerous sting and ability to destroy an entire bee colony in just hours. Experts are warning the public that this invasive species’ hibernation is coming to an end, and scientists need help eradicating them before they become a bigger problem. The murder hornet starts building its nests in spring , but the activity comes with a trail of destruction. In the past two years, the bug has been spotted in the state of Washington and British Columbia. Related: Invasive “murder hornets” arrive in US, threaten honeybees “This is not a species we want to tolerate here in the United States. We may not get them all, but we will get as many as we can.” said Sven-Erik Spichiger, managing entomologist with the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Scientists are now calling on members of the public for help. The Washington State Department of Agriculture has published a  statement  encouraging residents to put out orange juice- or brown sugar-based traps. “Washington’s plans remain similar to last year’s response, including a strong emphasis on public outreach , reporting, and trapping in addition to the agency’s trapping,” the department said. “[The department] will continue to use orange juice and rice cooking wine in traps while citizen scientists will have the option of using either the orange juice or a brown sugar-based bait.” Last year, citizen trappings and reports were instrumental in containing the hornets. Almost half of the confirmed reports of murder hornets in Washington were from members of the public. The agency says that it will still be relying on the community this year as part of its broad approach to eradicate this invasive species . The so-called murder hornets, scientifically known as Vespa mandarinia , are killer insects that account for dozens of deaths every year in Asia. However, their biggest threat is not to humans but to bees. One hornet can kill one bee in just 14 seconds. + Washington State Department of Agriculture Via EcoWatch Image via Yasunori Koide

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Scientists raise alarm over the resurgence of murder hornets

This home floats in a self-sufficient Amsterdam neighborhood

March 1, 2021 by  
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In a city characterized by fast population growth, Amsterdam residents are beginning to entertain alternative living situations. Enter Schoonschip, a sustainable floating neighborhood located on the Johan van Hasselt Canal in a former industrial area. Local architecture firm i29 has created a striking floating home with a small footprint inside the community. The residence aligns with the ideals of the entire self-sufficient neighborhood, which is currently home to over 100 people. Schoonschip is designed to employ circular building practices while respecting the natural environment. At its heart, the neighborhood utilizes a shared smart grid (or “smart jetty”) that connects the energy, waste and water lines of each floating house. The neighborhood is energy self-sufficient and recovers nutrients from surrounding organic waste streams. Related: Waterstudio unveils the world’s first floating timber tower “The location has a strong industrial past but today it is one of the most rapid changing city parts of Amsterdam transforming into a more multi functional living area,” i29 said. “The new floating neighborhood is intended to be an urban ecosystem embedded within the fabric of the city: making full use of ambient energy and water for use and re-use, cycling nutrients and minimizing waste, plus creating space for natural biodiversity.” Residents take full advantage of the canal with designated water plots, allowing each home to have its own personal touch. With the freedom to choose their own architect and interior designers despite the uniformity of the urban plan, the owners of the i29 floating home had their visions brought to life with a unique design and aesthetic that also maximized the plot space. Water views are available directly from the basement, and a separate terrace sits just above water level. The exterior is clad in black-stained timber while the interior provides a sharp contrast with white walls, clean lines and accents of natural wood . Towering skylights give the home an exceptionally bright, airy feeling while also providing plenty of harbor views from multiple points. Mimicking the overall design aspect of the neighborhood, which connects each home via jetty, the i29 floating home connects each of its three levels through a central atrium. + i29 Via Dezeen Images via i29

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This home floats in a self-sufficient Amsterdam neighborhood

Eso Studio creates modern wallpaper using all-natural dyes

February 12, 2021 by  
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Wallpaper has a history that spans thousands of years . For centuries, paper wall coverings have evolved in design, prints and technology. Taking the craft on a sustainable ride, a studio based in Grand Rapids, Michigan has created a collection of wallpaper using natural dyes and biophilic design principles. Eso Studio, made up of a trio of co-workers, friends and business partners with a common goal, started out as 9-5 textile designers. They then began experimenting in natural dyeing on the side by extracting pigments from plants and botanicals. The team launched Eso Studio in 2017 to focus their efforts on natural textile colorings, including full-time development of a new wallpaper line, called Biophilia. Related: Artist revamps dingy interior of a 1962 Airstream with vibrant florals Starting out, the company focused on materials sourced from the owners’ own yards and kitchens. Onion skins (deep rust), avocado stones (pale pink), walnuts and flowers were turned into dye materials. The next step took the team into the community, where they realized co-owner Hannah Amodeo’s family restaurant was a great resource for natural materials, plus they could help reduce waste for the restaurant. Similarly, they reached out to local florists to source spent flowers and give them a second life at Eso Studio. The trio’s background in textile work originally had them making and selling naturally dyed silk scarves and home textiles , so it was an organic transition into wallpaper. The company emphasizes “slow and timeless design. Following the principles of biophilic design, the intent of the collection is to bring the ethereal and restorative power of nature into interior environments.” With this goal in mind, the Biophilia collection includes a range of styles from bold or subtle to large or small in scale. There are a variety of colors, textures and characteristics stemming from natural dyes . “Playful designs like ‘Tiger Eye’ and ‘Blueberry Crumble’ are excellent patterns for an accent wall or an eclectic vibe,” the company said of the varying options. “Textural and subtle, ‘Birch’ and ‘Dawn’ evoke a more atmospheric feel.” The functional design of the wallpaper also breaks from interior design tradition, with 5-, 8-, 9-, 10- and 12-foot panels that contrast the standard 30-foot continuous rolls. This allows for easy material calculations and installation while reducing consumer waste. Eso Studio’s Biophilia Collection is found in showrooms across the U.S. and internationally and is also available online. + Eso Studio Images via Eso Studio 

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