Companies in Japan launch edible single-use bags to save Nara deer

October 23, 2020 by  
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Local companies in Nara, Japan have developed single-use bags made from milk cartons and rice bran that are safe if ingested by the city’s iconic deer. In 2019, multiple deer accidentally swallowed trash , namely plastic bags, that were littered by tourists. Several of the deer died, including one that had consumed nearly 9 pounds of waste. This prompted concerned entities to create a safer alternative to plastic packaging that can be digested without harm to the deer. The newly developed bags have been instrumental in saving the lives of the hundreds of deer that roam Nara. The bags are safe for deer, because the milk cartons and rice bran used to make these bags contain easy-to-digest ingredients. While there has been a decline in tourists and their plastic waste during the pandemic, the single-use bags still stand as a positive change to continue into the future. Related: Climate change is killing reindeer in the Arctic Tourists in Nara can purchase treats to feed the deer, and signs are posted warning visitors to only feed the deer approved treats that do not come in plastic packaging. Still, many tourists left behind waste that was consumed by the animals . After hearing of the deer that died from ingesting plastic , Hidetoshi Matsukawa, a local businessman, reached out to other firms with the interest of creating bags and packaging that would be safe in the event that they were eaten by the deer. “We made the paper with the deer in mind,” Matsukawa said. “ Tourism in Nara is supported by deer so we will protect them and promote the bags as a brand for the local economy.” The efforts to market the bags as a safe option for visitors to the city have been fruitful. About 35,000 bags have already been sold to local businesses and Nara’s tourism bureau. Since 1957, Japan has deemed the deer in Nara as national treasures that are protected by law, as they are considered divine messengers in the area. Via The Guardian Image via Matazel

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Companies in Japan launch edible single-use bags to save Nara deer

Design experiment examines safety of food grown in urban vertical gardens

October 23, 2020 by  
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Interior architecture firm Annvil has brought together a team of urban planners, designers, environmentalists and natural scientists to study the interaction between the urban environment and horticulture. The project, called G(U)ARDEN, is a vertical garden experience set in Latvia aimed at exploring the safety of growing food in urban gardens. Urban agriculture has already been proven to reduce air pollution, collect and use runoff, increase productivity of space and aid in urban cooling, but it is still lacking in substantial scientific research in the safety of these plants being used for food. The G(U)ARDEN project will measure the biochemical composition of vegetables and fruits grown in urban environments, especially in places with intense traffic and air pollution.  Related: Snøhetta to revitalize Midtown Manhattan with vibrant garden The primary urban vertical garden of this project is located in Riga, Latvia and is made up of local plants from the city’s horticulture centers and nurseries. Researchers chose to use endemic plants to inspire residents to grow and conserve locally as well as to encourage sustainable and effective urban environmental development discussions. “Today we live in a digital world where everything is instantaneous. In answer to that, we want to stimulate people’s interest in real life — interest in the physical world and in being close to nature,” said Anna Butele, author of project G(U)ARDEN and the founder of Annvil. “We can do that by creating even more green environments in the city — meeting places that bring together different groups of society. This way we can also bring attention to neglected environments in the city.” The pilot program has started with the team studying the garden’s vegetable and fruit harvest in a scientific laboratory. Crops are measured for the presence of heavy metals, while the air and water is measured for microbiological composition to help identify all possible risk factors associated with the impact of the urban environment on edible plants . The data obtained from the experiment will aid in continued projects to help create a series of urban gardens in Latvia’s largest cities next year. + Annvil Photography by Ingus Baj?rs via Annvil

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Design experiment examines safety of food grown in urban vertical gardens

Renewable energy to power 2024 Olympic aquatic center

October 23, 2020 by  
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The architectural team of VenhoevenCS and Ateliers 2/3/4/ have revealed plans for a timber aquatic center in Paris, which will use a smart energy system to provide 90% of needed energy from recovered or  renewable energy  sources for the 2024 Olympics. The complex will also include a vast pedestrian bridge connecting it to the existing Stade de France. As the only new building constructed for the 2024 games, the timber aquatic center will remain useful well after the  Olympic  games end, with further opportunities for residents to learn swimming, practice sports, relax and build community. The idea is to provide healthy living incentives for the local people, as well as promote sustainability and biodiversity with abundant vegetation surrounding the structure. The proposal includes plans to create room for over 100 trees onsite to improve air quality, stimulate biodiversity and create new ecological connections. Related: Tokyo’s Olympic medals will be made from recycled phones According to the designers, the complex’s  solar roof  will be one of France’s largest solar farms and will cover 25% of all required electricity consumption, equivalent to 200 homes. With water preservation paramount for utility cost and environmental conservation, the building includes an efficient water consumption system to reuse 50% of the old water when freshwater is needed. The center also utilizes  upcycled furniture  in its design. All of the furniture inside restaurants, bars and entrances uses wood waste from the construction site or demolition sites, and the chairs are fashioned from 100% recycled plastic collected from a nearby school. The main structure is made of  wood , with a suspended roof shape that will minimize the need for air conditioning and make it more efficient to heat. The interior Olympic arena tribunes on three sides and contains room for 5,000 spectators to congregate around a massive modular pool for swimming, diving and water polo competitions. All other events will occur inside temporary venues or existing structures. + VenhoevenCS Via Dezeen Design: VenhoevenCS & Ateliers 2/3/4/ Images: Proloog

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Renewable energy to power 2024 Olympic aquatic center

San Diego Zoo successfully clones an endangered Przewalskis horse

October 16, 2020 by  
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Kurt, a baby Przewalski’s horse, looks and plays like any other baby horse. But the now two-month-old colt is unique in that he is a clone. The endangered Przewalski’s horse colt was created from stallion cells that had been frozen at the San Diego Zoo in 1980. The frozen cells were recently collected and fused with an egg from a domestic horse to create the world’s first cloned Przewalski’s horse. The process of cloning started several decades ago. In 1980, cells from a 5-year-old stallion were collected and stored at the San Diego Frozen Zoo facility. According to officials at the San Diego Zoo, the cells were merged with an egg after removing the nucleus. The egg was then implanted in a mare, who became the mother to Kurt two months ago. Related: Scientists in China have successfully cloned monkeys The San Diego Zoo now sees the birth of the cloned horse as a huge step forward in the efforts to restore the population of Przewalski’s horses. Also known as the Asiatic Wild Horse or Mongolian Wild Horse, this species was formerly extinct in the wild and only about 2,000 are left, mostly residing in zoos. Intensive breeding programs have aided in conservation efforts but have also limited the gene pool. Zoo officials say that it is necessary to take measures that will help repopulate the endangered species. Cloning, depending on cells available in the Frozen Zoo, can help prevent genetic diversity losses. “This colt is expected to be one of the most genetically important individuals of his species,” Bob Wiese, chief life sciences officer at San Diego Zoo Global, said in a statement. “We are hopeful that he will bring back genetic variation important for the future of the Przewalski’s horse population.” The baby horse has been named after Kurt Benirschke, who was instrumental in founding the Frozen Zoo facility. “A central tenet of the Frozen Zoo, when it was established by Dr. Benirschke, was that it would be used for purposes not possible at the time,” said Oliver Ryder of San Diego Zoo Global. The cloning was made possible through a partnership among the San Diego Zoo, conservation organization Revive & Restore and genetic preservation company ViaGen Equine. Przewalski’s horses are said to be the only truly wild horses in the world today. Although there are some horses in the wild in the U.S. and Australia, most are actually the ancestors of escaped domesticated horses. This species is named for Nikolai Przewalski, a Russian geographer who came across a horse skull and hide, then donated his findings to a museum. + San Diego Zoo Via Huffington Post Photography by Scott Stine via San Diego Zoo

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San Diego Zoo successfully clones an endangered Przewalskis horse

California governor issues executive order to conserve 30% of state land by 2030

October 9, 2020 by  
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On Wednesday, October 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an executive order to reserve 30% of state land for conservation by 2030. The governor said the move will help preserve biodiversity and prevent further destruction of vulnerable ecosystems. Gov. Newsom explained that the executive order corresponds with existing plans to conserve at least 30% of state land. Following the executive order, state agencies will be required to boost and maintain soil health, restore wetlands , manage forests to reduce fire risks and create more parks and green spaces for cities. The governor said California would be the first state to carry out this type of land conservation. Related: No new gas-powered cars by 2035, California governor says “This is a critical part of the climate change conversation, and it’s so often omitted,” the governor said. “When we talk about climate change , we get so consumed by energy and industry, commercial and residential side of this equation, and we forget our working lands. We forget our natural lands. We forget about species and we forget about animals, and plants, and insects. All of these things that truly make life not only worth living but life even capable of living.” The executive order is just one of many measures that have been put in place by the state to curb environmental degradation. Last month, the governor made an executive order to phase out gas-powered vehicles in favor of zero-emission vehicles by 2035. The executive order does not make it illegal for residents of California to own gas-powered cars or even resell them as used cars. It only aims at ensuring that gas-powered cars are phased out moving forward. “I don’t know of any other state in this country that’s been more forceful and forthright in establishing and anchoring a consciousness around climate change,” Gov. Newsom said. “We just want to fundamentally reconcile the fact we’re no longer living in the 19th century, and we don’t need to drill things or extract things in order to advance our economic goals and advance our mobility needs.” Via ABC7 Image via David Mark

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California governor issues executive order to conserve 30% of state land by 2030

Mature trees shape a leafy, light-filled home in Mexico

October 9, 2020 by  
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South of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, local architecture firm  Estudio Radillo Alba  has completed the Casa R.A., a family of five’s countryside home that takes its site-specific massing from the existing trees on site. Designed for a client who wanted a home that would make the most of the available land surface, the single-family dwelling embraces indoor/outdoor living with floor-to-ceiling windows and patios full of lush vegetation throughout the home.  Five mature trees shaped the design of Casa R.A., with designers arranging the building around the trees’ root systems. Two of the three trees, located at the front of the site, define the location of the garage, while another tree at the side of the home marks the main entrance. The remaining trees in the rear of the property provide shade and shelter to a back terrace. An  open-plan  living area, kitchen, dining space and small powder room reside on the ground floor. The second floor contains the master bedroom along with three secondary bedrooms and three baths. Sections of the home utilize cut-outs to make way for plant-filled patios, accesses and terraces. The home’s material palette stays light, using only mud-brick from a nearby region known for its mud-brick techniques. Related: Brick cladding conceals a family home’s sophisticated, zero-energy systems “The house was conceived as one single block which called for a single choice of material ,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Close to the plot, there is a region known for its production of mud-brick, a technique still practiced in some parts of the country. Its cultural value and its constructive heritage encouraged us to use it as a single material for the project’s envelope. The customized exposed brick covers and protects all structural elements, slabs, and mechanical installations while intending to reveal the constructive system and pay homage to the laborious process of the artisanal material.” + Estudio Radillo Alba Images via Ce?sar Belio

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Mature trees shape a leafy, light-filled home in Mexico

Tasmanian devils reunited with their motherland after 3,000 years

October 8, 2020 by  
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For the first time in 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils have reunited with mainland Australia in an event crowned by actors Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky. The actors helped conservationists in Australia release 11 Tasmanian devils into a 1,000-acre wildlife sanctuary in a bid to restore the lost glory of Australia’s wilderness. Although Tasmanian devils are originally from Australia, they have not stepped on the mainland for more than 3,000 years. The event was part of a long-term project that was started 10 years ago by Aussie Ark in partnership with Global Wildlife Conservation and WildArk . The mission is to find and bring animals that were originally native to Australia back to their motherland. Related: Rare dolphin species spotted in the Adriatic Sea “In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country,” Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark, said. “Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia’s beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators . Because of this reintroduction and all of the hard work leading up to it, someday we will see Tasmanian devils living throughout the great eastern forests as they did 3,000 years ago.” Although Tasmanian devils are originally from mainland Australia, their population started dwindling due to the introduction of dingoes. Besides predators such as dingoes, the endangered Tasmanian devil also faces a contagious disease known as Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD). This disease has killed up to 90% of wild Tasmanian devils. Today, only 25,000 of the species are left in Tasmania. Thanks to the campaign to repopulate Australia’s wild, there are now 26 Tasmanian devils in mainland Australia. Besides the 11 that were released recently, the organizations behind the campaign had earlier released 15 Tasmanian devils to the sanctuary for trial purposes. If all goes well, the conservationists will be releasing 40 more Tasmanian devils to the sanctuary in the next two years. The animals that are released to the sanctuary will be monitored to determine how they cope within their environment. + Global Wildlife Conservation Via People Photography by Wild Ark and Aussie Ark via Global Wildlife Conservation

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Tasmanian devils reunited with their motherland after 3,000 years

Some dual-flush toilets are actually wasting water

September 30, 2020 by  
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The innovation was supposed to save us water. But now, in shocking commode news, the water-saving organization Waterwise has revealed that dual-flush toilets actually waste water. Waterwise estimates that between 5% and 8% of U.K. toilets are leaking a total of 88 million gallons per day. Dual-flush toilets allow users to select from a small flush for liquids and a larger flush for solid waste , a design intended to save water. This type of toilet usually depends on a drop-valve system. The valve sits underwater and opens for a flush. But debris can catch in the valve, resulting in leaks and constant running. Related: High-tech public toilets proposed for San Francisco can recycle rainwater for reuse “Because we’ve got so many [loos] that continuously flow all through the day, collectively that water loss is now exceeding the amount of water they should be saving nationally,” Andrew Tucker, water efficiency manager at the U.K. sewerage company Thames Water, told the BBC . “The volume of water loss is getting bigger every day as more people refurbish and retrofit their older toilets and as we build more homes, so we’re actually adding a problem.” Some experts say the solution is to manufacture more dual-valve toilets that use a siphon system rather than a drop valve. The siphon works by forcing water down through a tube and into the pan when you depress your toilet handle. That way, the water can only escape if it’s above the water line, which makes it much less likely to leak. Jason Parker, managing director of U.K. plumbing manufacturer Thomas Dudley Ltd, wants drop valves outlawed, no matter the cost to his own business. “If we’re serious about wasting water and we want to stop it, the only way to do that is put a siphon back in,” he told the BBC. Additional water is lost when dual-flush users get confused over which button to push. Thames Water’s recent consumer research found that as many as 50% of customers either chose the wrong button or pushed both. Via BBC Image via Adobe Stock

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Some dual-flush toilets are actually wasting water

Super trawlers ravage UK’s protected waters amid pandemic

August 17, 2020 by  
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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.K., super trawlers have increased their activities in protected waters. According to a report released by Greenpeace, the massive fishing vessels have spent far more time in protected marine areas in the first half of 2020 compared to all of 2019. In March, when countries in Europe started imposing lockdown measures, many small vessel fishers were put out of business. But while the small vessels docked, super trawlers took advantage of open waters, including in protected marine areas. According to the Greenpeace report , the amount of time super trawlers spent in the U.K.’s protected waters in the first six months of 2020 is nearly double the time super trawlers spent fishing in the same areas last year. The vessels in question are more than 100 meters in length, and each is capable of catching and ferrying thousands of metric tons of fish . Related: Lapsed fishing moratorium endangers Amazon river dolphins The report revealed that during the first half of this year, super trawlers spent more than 5,590 hours in 19 of the country’s protected marine areas . In 2019, the super trawlers spent 2,963 hours in 39 protected marine areas in the U.K. Further, the data also shows a significant increase in the amount of time super trawlers have spent in protected waters since 2017. In 2017, super trawlers spent 475 hours of the entire year in protected marine areas. Greenpeace and other conservation groups are now calling for a total ban on large-scale fishing in such protected areas. Of more concern to the organization is the fact that most of the vessels fishing in these protected areas do not belong to the U.K. “Our government cannot continue to allow super trawlers to fish with ever-increasing intensity in parts of our waters that are supposed to be protected,” Chris Thorne of Greenpeace U.K. said. “At least 30% of the U.K. waters should be off-limits to all industrial fishing activity, in a network of fully or highly protected marine areas.” In its investigation, Greenpeace used data from automatic identification system satellites. The investigators used the data to track all ships with a length of over 100 meters. The data also monitored the speed of movement of the ships to determine when they were fishing. The data was cross-referenced by the data provided by the vessels. + Greenpeace Via The Guardian Image via Moritz320

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Super trawlers ravage UK’s protected waters amid pandemic

Green-roofed California winery will blend into a beautiful valley landscape

August 17, 2020 by  
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Along the slopes of the Santa Rosa Hills in California’s Santa Barbara County, Texas-based architecture firm Clayton & Little has unveiled designs to skillfully embed the Alma Rosa Winery into the valley floor. Designed to preserve the natural beauty of the El Jabali Ranch, the Alma Rosa Winery, along with its tasting room and vineyard equipment barn, will be mostly tucked into the hillsides or underground and layered with a green roof of native grasses to blend in with the landscape. Sustainability drove the design of the winery. Alma Rosa Winery uses eco-friendly farming practices on its vineyards and features an array of energy-saving techniques as part of a plan to take the winery and vineyard barn off the grid. Dedicated to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines, the Alma Rosa Winery has become a destination for visitors interested in tasting the vibrant wines and immersing themselves in the beautiful ranch. As a result, the architects plan to let the landscape take center stage by blanketing the nearly 25,000-square-foot complex in a vegetated roof. Ventilated subterranean caves that house the barrel storage spaces take advantage of the natural soil temperature to minimize mechanical cooling. The solar-powered winery also features integrated night cooling to further reduce energy demands. Related: A historic farm is thoughtfully repurposed into an organic winery A steel frame, native stone walls, cast-in-place concrete, reclaimed redwood and weathering steel will make up the simple materials palette, which was selected for regional availability and resiliency. “The intention was to design a space to reflect how a farmer would have built the necessities to run their operations — with both simplicity and flexibility in mind,” the architects explained. The native stone walls that define the buildings above-ground are also brought into the interiors of the Fermentation Hall, a large, two-level space with 64-ton capacity fermentation tanks, administration offices, flex offices, a meeting room and a break room. All spaces are open to natural light and views of the hillside and vineyard. The project also includes a new 3,569-square-foot Vineyard Equipment Barn, an open-air space built with reclaimed materials that houses heavy farming equipment, tools, picking bins and a closed workspace. + Clayton & Little Images via Clayton & Little

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Green-roofed California winery will blend into a beautiful valley landscape

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