White Sands officially becomes the 62nd national park

December 26, 2019 by  
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Last week, President Donald Trump signed legislation, seen here , designating White Sands National Park as the 62nd national park. Since 1933, the country’s largest gypsum dunefield has been a national monument. The recent signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (the 2020 defense spending bill), with a provision on White Sands, has now upgraded the national monument to its new national park status, thereby protecting its glistening white sand dunes, which are visible even from outer space. In 2018, a study conducted on eight national monuments that were upgraded to national parks found that redesignation increased visits by an average of 21 percent in the five years after redesignation. Projections further estimate that White Sands’ redesignation will bring $7.5 million in revenue and $3.3 million in labor income. Related: How national parks benefit the environment Wondering why the provision was included in the 2020 NDAA? The reason stems from White Sands National Monument sharing land with White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), the long-standing national military weapons testing area and site of the first atomic bomb detonation. By 1963, NASA established the White Sands Test Facility at WSMR, which eventually became the primary training ground for NASA space shuttle pilots and a rocket research test site. However, White Sands’ appeal goes beyond strategic military and aerospace history, extending to its geological, biological and anthropological assets. For instance, the endless dunes’ surreal beauty makes White Sands one of Earth’s natural wonders. Gypsum, which makes up the dunes, is a common sedimentary mineral, usually forming via precipitation from highly saline waters. Thus, White Sands’ landscape formed because Lake Otero dried up millennia ago . Its predominantly desert habitat today supports unique wildlife , with five endemic species and many well-adapted flora and fauna. Archaeologically, the area was home to hunter-gatherers as far back as 10,000 years ago and even has the planet’s largest collection of Ice Age fossilized footprints. “Our staff are very excited for White Sands to be recognized as a national park and to reintroduce ourselves to the American public,” shared Marie Sauter, superintendent of White Sands National Park. “We are so appreciative of our partners, local communities and congressional leaders who made this achievement possible and look forward to continued success working together.” With national park 36 CFR 2.1 protections, desert sand and other resources cannot be removed from White Sands. This ensures the ecosystem thrives and remains in tact for future generations to enjoy. + National Park Service Via EcoWatch Image via White Sands National Monument

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White Sands officially becomes the 62nd national park

Your essential guide to eco-wellness in Tampa, Florida

December 23, 2019 by  
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Tampa is a big city that loves to live outside. The city of almost 400,000 has gone from old-time Florida to explosive modern growth, surprising some long-time residents to find that their city is suddenly hip. Tampa’s setting on Tampa Bay lends itself to water sports. Thanks to recent development along the Hillsborough River, including a 2.6-mile Riverwalk, Tampa is very pedestrian-friendly. It’s a winning combination of sunshine, beaches and big-city amenities. Outdoors Tampa The Riverwalk is probably Tampa’s most popular place to run, bike, or walk your dog. It’s even well-lit at night, with locals and visitors strolling until late. You can also rent a kayak or stand up paddle (SUP) board from several shops along the Riverwalk. “You get a different perspective from the water,” said Aida Perez, manager of paddle rental outfit Urban Kai . “You get that feel of a really live and active city when you’re paddle boarding on the river.” Urban Kai also offers lessons and guided expeditions. It’s fun to SUP under bridges and get your photo taken with Tampa’s tallest buildings in the background. Just north of Tampa, Thonotosassa offers a completely different view of the Hillsborough River. Rent a canoe from Canoe Escape and you’ll see alligators. A lot of alligators. Plus roseate spoonbills, herons, snakes and birds I’d never heard of, like anhingas and limpkins. “We always tell people you’re visiting their home,” said Mike Cole, general manager of Canoe Escape, as he calmly paddles by 6-foot gators drowsing on logs. Wellness Tampa’s warm weather lends itself to outdoor fitness classes. It seems like every night of the week offers free or low-cost group exercise, from Zumba in parks to weekly yoga sessions in the courtyard of Armature Works, a converted streetcar barn which is now a lively public market.  Kodawari Studios offers lots of wellness under one roof, including chiropractic care, energy work, a float tank, sauna , cold plunge and a robust yoga schedule spanning styles from power to yin. Yoga Loft Tampa has locations in downtown and Ybor, and offers aerial as well as lots of flow classes. Spa Evangeline gives facials and massages. For a specialty couples experience, soak in a two-person Jacuzzi , followed by side-by-side massages with agave rubbed into your scalps while drinking champagne. Eating out in Tampa Tampa has lots of healthy eating options. Both bowl specialist Fresh Kitchen and Taco Dirty work on the customizable plan. Pick a combo of bases, protein, veggies, and sauces. Vegans might choose kale slaw or braised lentils at Fresh Kitchen, or lime jalapeno sour cream and vegan cauli queso at Taco Dirty. Plant-based Dixie Dharma debuted in Tampa in 2019. Top vegan takes on Southern classics include Carolina jackfruit, chili dogs, and the orange bird — a sloppy joe with orange barbecue sauce and house slaw served on a toasted potato bun. Vietnamese restaurant Bamboozle has vegan pho, vegan tofu lemongrass banh mi sandwiches and three types of vegan fresh rolls — avocado , veggie and tofu. They make each roll fresh as you wait and also craft three different vegan dipping sauces. Sweet Soul SoHo is a can’t miss for vegan dessert lovers. The brownie sundae is a big bowl of soft serve topped with chocolate granola, cacao nibs, brownie chunks and your choice of drizzle. “Everything here has a nutritional benefit,” says owner and Tampa native Taylor Winter. The gray vanilla ice cream takes a little getting used to, but the charcoal adds a detox benefit without altering the flavor, Winter says. Same with the Blue Majik algae that makes the coconut soft serve a glacial blue. Public transit If you’d rather not fly to Tampa, check out the Amtrak timetable. Tampa is right on the New York-Miami Silver Star line, with two passenger trains daily. You can also take Amtrak trains or buses to many points within Florida. Tampa must have the most beautiful streetcars in the country. Streetcars were a common way to get around the city from the 1890s until just after World War Two, when cars took over. But Tampa brought back electric streetcar service in 2002. Now about ten historic replica streetcars carry folks around, plus one refurbished original that plied Tampa’s tracks from 1923 to 1946. All have gorgeous wood interiors. Take the streetcar from downtown to Ybor City, a historically Cuban neighborhood once famous for cigar manufacturing, and now known for nightlife and colorful chickens in yards. Tampa also has an extensive bus network. You can also download the Coast Bike Share app and cruise around town on one of the program’s ubiquitous blue bikes . Eco-hotels The Tampa Marriott Water Street is the top wellness hotel in town. Its Stay Well rooms, located on the 15th floor, have spectacular river views, comfy Stay Well mattresses and an air purification system. The circadian lighting system is fun to play with. You can set it to modes like “energize,” “relax,” and “play,” which makes lights cycle through shades from light pink to magenta. There’s even a special shower infuser which promises softer skin and hair. Embassy Suites by Hilton earned a 2-palm rating from Green Lodging Florida, which means they pay attention to things like waste reduction, recycling , water conservation, indoor air quality and energy efficiency. For a funkier, more communal experience, stay at Gram’s Place . This independent hostel is in a residential neighborhood, a short walk or bike ride from downtown. Dedicated to the late musician Gram Parsons, the hostel has two fully equipped kitchens, a sundeck, clothing-optional hot tub, small backyard bar, dorms and private rooms. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Your essential guide to eco-wellness in Tampa, Florida

US businesses stand by the Paris Agreement at COP25

December 16, 2019 by  
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While the United States government has kept a low profile at this year’s COP25, the country’s businesses have played a more enthusiastic role.

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US businesses stand by the Paris Agreement at COP25

US businesses stand by the Paris Agreement at COP25

December 16, 2019 by  
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While the United States government has kept a low profile at this year’s COP25, the country’s businesses have played a more enthusiastic role.

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US businesses stand by the Paris Agreement at COP25

US businesses stand by the Paris Agreement at COP25

December 16, 2019 by  
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While the United States government has kept a low profile at this year’s COP25, the country’s businesses have played a more enthusiastic role.

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US businesses stand by the Paris Agreement at COP25

Your guide to Europe’s ‘Green New Deal,’ the continent’s new plan to get to net zero

December 16, 2019 by  
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Not got time to read every line of the European Green Deal? We’ve got you covered.

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Your guide to Europe’s ‘Green New Deal,’ the continent’s new plan to get to net zero

This is one of the only LEED Gold-certified hotels in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Opened in March 2018 and located in Madrid, Spain, the VP Plaza España Design hotel is committed to sustainability efforts in both its design and daily practices. The hotel implements recycling and solid waste management programs and even continuous education on sustainable operation practices for the staff as well as incentives for guests to reduce their environmental impact. The hotel is one of the few in its country to earn LEED Gold certification as a mark of excellence from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 5-star hotel was able to secure the coveted certification with its high scores in sustainable setting, design, water and energy use efficiency and use of quality materials and resources. Related: LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood The hotel has implemented several measures to reduce energy consumption. These include thermal enclosures and installations, a lighting and energy system with motion detectors to save energy when the lights aren’t in use, daylight sensors to measure and adjust electric lighting and window sensors that open and close window shades depending on the daylight. In terms of water efficiency, the hotel has selected plants for its outdoor landscaping that require less irrigation. Systems throughout the property monitor water consumption and bathrooms while using high-efficiency fixtures and fittings, such as dual-flush toilets and low-flow showers. These environmental initiatives have reduced water consumption by nearly 33 percent. The building monitors outdoor air ventilation levels, and intelligent controls are utilized for lighting and thermal systems. To further support high air quality inside the hotel, the design team used low-VOC paints. Additionally, the hotel sourced building materials locally, including the furniture and artwork, with wood sourced from responsibly managed forests . This focus on materials supports local economic growth while minimizing the environmental footprint. The general manager of VP Plaza España Design, Francisco Garcia de Oro, has high hopes that the hotel can become an example for sustainability throughout Spain . “For us, being environmentally responsible is not an option but an obligation. We hope to continue to raise the bar in sustainable tourism and will continue to seek ways to improve our operation every day.” + VP Plaza España Design Images via VP Plaza España Design

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This is one of the only LEED Gold-certified hotels in Spain

Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Spain’s Rías Baixas area is a picturesque part of the country. Now, in this idyllic region sits a highly energy-efficient home designed by local firm ARKKE . The architects incorporated several bioclimatic features into the design, taking advantage of the local climate and landscape to help reduce the building’s energy use. The Small Bioclimatic House is a compact, two-bedroom home that sits elevated on a steep hill side overlooking the Ría de Arousa, the largest estuary in Galicia. The area is known for its picturesque landscape dotted with quaint fishing villages, so the architects wanted to create an energy-efficient home that harmonizes with the surroundings and complements the existing vernacular. Related: Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint The home is just over 900 square feet and is surrounded by natural landscaping. According to the architects, the layout and size of the house was inspired by the limited building space as well as the stunning views. The firm explained, “The essential premise of the commission was to design a small, highly efficient and healthy house capable of making the most of a very narrow plot but with delicious views of the Arosa estuary.” The architects created a simple, one-story design with two bedrooms, a living room, an open kitchen and a bathroom. The front wall is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a front deck; this helps the family to enjoy optimal natural light as well as unobstructed views year-round. To create a strong thermal envelope for the home, the architects chose to build with CLT . The porch extends laterally, forming eaves that shade the interiors from direct solar radiation, again reducing the home’s energy use. Additionally, the entire envelope has been insulated with a unique exterior insulation system (SATE) to withstand both the region’s frigid winters and the searing summer months. + ARKKE Via ArchDaily Images via ARKKE

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Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Spain’s Rías Baixas area is a picturesque part of the country. Now, in this idyllic region sits a highly energy-efficient home designed by local firm ARKKE . The architects incorporated several bioclimatic features into the design, taking advantage of the local climate and landscape to help reduce the building’s energy use. The Small Bioclimatic House is a compact, two-bedroom home that sits elevated on a steep hill side overlooking the Ría de Arousa, the largest estuary in Galicia. The area is known for its picturesque landscape dotted with quaint fishing villages, so the architects wanted to create an energy-efficient home that harmonizes with the surroundings and complements the existing vernacular. Related: Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint The home is just over 900 square feet and is surrounded by natural landscaping. According to the architects, the layout and size of the house was inspired by the limited building space as well as the stunning views. The firm explained, “The essential premise of the commission was to design a small, highly efficient and healthy house capable of making the most of a very narrow plot but with delicious views of the Arosa estuary.” The architects created a simple, one-story design with two bedrooms, a living room, an open kitchen and a bathroom. The front wall is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a front deck; this helps the family to enjoy optimal natural light as well as unobstructed views year-round. To create a strong thermal envelope for the home, the architects chose to build with CLT . The porch extends laterally, forming eaves that shade the interiors from direct solar radiation, again reducing the home’s energy use. Additionally, the entire envelope has been insulated with a unique exterior insulation system (SATE) to withstand both the region’s frigid winters and the searing summer months. + ARKKE Via ArchDaily Images via ARKKE

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Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

Net-zero energy DPR office becomes Austins first WELL-certified workplace

November 11, 2019 by  
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Construction management firm DPR Construction has recently moved into an impressive new workplace of its own making — a LEED Gold -certified facility located on the east side of Austin, Texas. Designed to follow sustainable principles, the net-zero energy office is fitted with energy-efficient fixtures, environmentally friendly materials and health-minded features that have also earned the project WELL Silver certification. The interiors of the new office — DPR’s regional team occupies the top floor of the mixed-use facility — were designed by IA Interior Architects . DPR’s Austin office is the fifth net-zero energy office completed by the company across the country and is seen as one of the firm’s “living labs” for sustainable design. In addition to a focus on energy efficiency, the building is notable for its promotion of healthy living. Natural lighting is emphasized while materials with volatile organic compounds are limited wherever possible. Circadian lighting design, ergonomic workspaces, a spotlight on healthy eating and activity incentive programs have helped the project achieve WELL Certification. Related: Sound-absorbing materials fold into a giant origami-like meeting pod The workspace design is also reflective of DPR’s four core values: integrity, enjoyment, uniqueness and ever-forward. As an extension of the company’s flat organizational structure, an open-office concept was created in place of private offices. Instead, employees can work from a variety of different work areas with adjustable-height workstations. Amenity spaces such as the bar/break room and the gaming corridor surround the office. “Multiple green walls with air plants and succulents, like the one in reception, enhance and in some cases provide privacy,” reads a project statement by IA Interior Architects. “Environmentally friendly and sustainable local materials, views to the outside, circadian lighting design and an increase in natural light provided by the added skylights are all factors contributing to the design’s sustainability story and DPR’s commitment to wellness in the workplace.” + IA Interior Architects Photography by Robin Hill via IA Interior Architects

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Net-zero energy DPR office becomes Austins first WELL-certified workplace

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