For 2019, the 10 worst cities for air quality are in California and Arizona

September 24, 2019 by  
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Since the enactment of the Clean Air Act in 1970, there has been growing awareness for the importance of good air quality in American cities. Air quality plays a significant role with health and sustainable living. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recognizes this, which is why for the 2019 American Fitness Index rankings, the ACSM added air quality as an environmental indicator of a city’s health. According to its findings, these are the 10 cities in the U.S. with the worst air quality. The annual Fitness Index assesses 100 of the United States’ largest metropolitan areas. The cities are evaluated, then ranked from the highest score to the lowest score. The index is a helpful tool to compare the air quality of these 100 cities. It does so by considering the healthy behaviors of a city’s residents, the population of residents with chronic diseases as well as the community’s infrastructure. In turn, the rankings provide insight on air quality safety that can helpfully instruct a city’s policy makers, infrastructure management and governmental direction. Related: Almost all U.S. national parks have polluted air According to the 2019 Fitness Index, these are the 10 worst metropolitan areas with bad air quality, or air pollution . They each have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution: Long Beach, California Los Angeles, California Gilbert, Arizona Phoenix, Arizona Scottsdale, Arizona Chandler, Arizona Mesa, Arizona Glendale, Arizona Riverside, California Bakersfield, California What determines air quality? Geography and weather are the natural agents influencing air quality. But man-made elements — including vehicular use plus industrial emissions — especially affect air quality. In fact, two of the most common pollutants are ozone and particles, like soot from wildfires. Exposure to pollutants and airborne toxins predisposes a given area or region’s population to ailments. These include cardiovascular harm (heart disease and stroke), shortness of breath, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, wheezing, coughing, susceptibility to infections, even allergies — all of which can be influenced and impacted by air pollution. Annual rankings indicate a consistent monitoring of air quality, which is a positive takeaway. This type of monitoring can inform agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ), so that key safeguards and their enforcement can be put in place. + American Fitness Index Image via Florian Lehmuth

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For 2019, the 10 worst cities for air quality are in California and Arizona

The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

September 13, 2019 by  
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The rate of world deforestation continues to accelerate, despite governments’ promises to reverse it. Now, the world loses 64 million acres a year of forested land, which is equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom, according to a new study by Climate Focus . Thirty-seven governments as well as many multinational companies, NGOs and groups representing indigenous communities have signed the New York Declaration on Forests since it sprang from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2014. This declaration pledged to cut the deforestation rate in half by 2020 and to end it by 2030. Unfortunately, this feel-good, non-legally binding declaration has been hugely unsuccessful. Since the declaration was penned, tree cover loss has skyrocketed by 43 percent, while tropical primary forests have been slashed. The world is now in worse shape than when the well-intended pledge was made. Some countries are making an effort. Indonesia slowed its rate of deforestation by a third between 2017 and 2018. Some countries, such as Ethiopia, Mexico and El Salvador, are determinedly planting trees. But these attempts are overshadowed by deforestation in much of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Major forests in these regions saw marked decreases in tree cover between 2014 and 2018. Latin America lost the most forest by volume, but Africa experienced the greatest increase in the rate of deforestation. Of course, the recent Amazon wildfires are bringing deforestation to a whole new level. Climate scientists worry about feedback loops, where climate change makes trees drier, leading to increased flammability and more fires and carbon dioxide, which in turn makes things drier, hotter and even more flammable. “Deforestation, mostly for agriculture, contributes around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions,” Jo House, an environmental specialist at the University of Bristol, told The Guardian . “At the same time, forests naturally take up around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This natural sink provided by forests is at risk from the dual compounding threats of further deforestation and future climate change . The continued loss of primary forests at ever-increasing rates. despite their incalculable value and irreplaceability, is both shocking and tragic.” + Climate Focus Via The Guardian Image via Robert Jones

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The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

Artist converts old city bus into public swimming pool

September 12, 2019 by  
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As the the last vestiges of summer are upon us, the residents of one French region can still squeeze out a little summer fun thanks to French artist Benedetto Bufalino . The artist, who is known for converting old automobiles into fun and functional objects, has recently presented the northern French region of Artois with a new public swimming pool , converted out of an old bus. Accommodating up to ten swimmers at a time, The Bus Pool offers locals a respite from late summer heat. The installation is part of a local program, “operation odyssey”, which hosts various events throughout the summer to attract visitors to the area of the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, an UNESCO World Heritage site . The pool was unveiled in late August and will be installed in three local towns until it finds a permanent home. Related: This 18th-century London townhouse hides a swimming pool under a glass floor Adding to his portfolio of transforming discarded vehicles into something fun and useful, the artist salvaged an old Tadeo model bus from the local transport graveyard. Once he completely gutted the interior seats and flooring, the next step was removing an entire side panel. Tipping it over onto its side, he then retrofitted the interior body of the bus with a custom shell so that it would be able to hold water. The finished product is a colorful swimming pool that measures almost 30 feet long and almost 8 feet wide. The pool holds up to 10 swimmers at a time and even boats a lifeguard station at one end. Water temps are kept at around 82 degrees at the swimming pool . The Bus Pool is the latest addition to Bufalino’s long portfolio of public art installations. In 2016, the French artist turned an old cement truck into a giant disco ball . + Benedetto Bufalino Via Designboom Drone photography by Romain Hayem

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Artist converts old city bus into public swimming pool

This off-grid tiny cabin in the Australian wilderness is just what you need for a late summer getaway

August 23, 2019 by  
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If you’ve been stuck at your desk all summer, now is the perfect time for a little break, and this beautiful tiny cabin in Australia is just the place to get away from it all. Designed by Sydney-based firm Fresh Prince , the Barrington Tops cabin is an off-grid eco cabin that is nestled into the remote wilderness. Located in New South Wales, the 150-square-foot cabin , which is available on Airbnb , is surrounded by pristine woodland just steps away from a babbling brook. The serene location inspired the architects to create something classic and minimalist. Related: 160-square-foot off-grid Elsewhere Cabin invites us all to live a little simpler Clad in matte black Weathertex (an eco-friendly, locally sourced timber product made from forest thinnings and other industry by-products), the prefab structure manages to blend in quietly with its location. Built on a wheeled chassis, the lightweight cabin is quite mobile. Designed to be used as an off-grid retreat, the cabin produces all of its own energy and was built to have minimal impact on the environment. A solar array is affixed to the pitched roof, which generates sufficient power for the residence. The design also features sustainable plywood lining, a composting toilet and low-E glass windows with operable louvres that provide a natural system of air ventilation. The dark black exterior gives way to a bright, light-filled interior thanks to a large glass door. The door, along with several windows, let in an abundance of natural light , which, paired with the lightly-hued plywood walls, opens up the compact space. The layout is simple , with a bed at one end and a bathroom at the other, separated by a compact kitchen with a small refrigerator and a two-burner gas stove. There is a small dining set in front of the door, which can be moved outside to dine al fresco. To make the most out of the cabin’s limited interior space, the architects went with a function-first mentality. Fresh Prince founder Richie Northcott explained, “Working within a small footprint, everything must earn its place; there is no room for waste or inefficiency. The cabin was conceived as one continuous piece of joinery, interlocking and aligning to provide space for storage, cooking, sleeping and sitting, without disrupting the overall space.” + Barrington Tops Cabin + Fresh Prince Via TreeHugger Photography by Rachel Mackay via Fresh Prince

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This off-grid tiny cabin in the Australian wilderness is just what you need for a late summer getaway

A solar-powered, concrete home in Brazil is a powerhouse of sustainability

July 26, 2019 by  
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São Paolo-based firm Steck Arquitetura has just unveiled the Julieta House, a concrete home that spans nearly 7,000 square feet. Located in the city of Piracicaba, the house is comprised of a concrete shell that provides a strong thermal envelope along with a bevy of sustainable features such as solar power to help the home reduce its energy needs to a bare minimum. Surrounded by a low-lying concrete wall, the three-story home is located on a sloped lot that creates extra space for its large volume. The partially-embedded ground floor houses the garage, storage space and maintenance equipment. Related: Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system The main living area is located on the first floor, where high ceilings with sunken spaces add a sense of whimsy to the atmosphere. The main social areas, along with the private bedrooms, all boast a modern, minimalist design. Sparse furnishings bring out the warm palette of wood and concrete that is further enhanced by an abundance of natural light . At the heart of the home is the massive swimming pool . Thanks to a few savvy design techniques, the indoor area and outdoor area have a seamless connection. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors slide completely open to create one large, open-air living space, which includes easy access to the pool. Concrete features prominently throughout the design. From the exterior envelope to the concrete roofs that have several shade-providing overhangs, the raw concrete surfaces throughout the home create an interesting juxtaposition with the Mediterranean-style layout. In addition to the tight thermal envelope, the home also boasts a number of sustainable features. A green roof shares space with a solar array hooked up to meet the home’s energy needs, including the solar-powered water heater. Additionally, using the wet Brazilian climate to its advantage, the home was installed with a rainwater catchment system that is used to irrigate the gardens. + Steck Arquitetura Via ArchDaily Photography by Adriano Pacelli via Steck Arquitetura

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Green-roofed home in Poland is made out of reclaimed brick

July 25, 2019 by  
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Polish architectural firm Biuro Toprojekt has unveiled a beautiful home that showcases a brilliant brick and glass facade. The Red House is a 3,900-square-foot home clad with chiaroscuro-style walls made from reclaimed bricks on one side, while the back consists almost entirely of glass doors and windows that frame incredible views of the serene forestscape surrounding the residence. Located in Poland’s Upper Silesia, the brick house sits on the edge of an expansive forestscape. Using the idyllic setting as inspiration, the architects decided to use as many eco-friendly and reclaimed building materials and features as possible, including a solar array that generates sufficient power to the house. Related: A beautiful brick home is embedded into the Brazilian countryside At first glance, the stunning brick exterior catches the eye. Made out of old bricks reclaimed from a nearby brickworks, the facades were hand-laid in a chiaroscuro style, creating a vibrant, three-dimensional pattern made up of light and shadows. The lovely brick facade is topped with a green roof planted with native vegetation, including vines, which will begin to fall over the roofline over time, further melding the structure into its natural setting. The entrance is through an open cutout in the exterior wall that leads into a brick courtyard and garage. As the residents walk inside, the mood changes dramatically as the surroundings transform from a solid brick exterior to a contemporary, luminous space. Although the front facade is marked by its brilliant brick walls, the back of the home consists of entire walls made up of large, sliding glass doors and full-height windows that frame the views of the forest. White walls, along with a natural color palette and minimal furnishings , create a modern but comfortable atmosphere. + Biuro Toprojekt Via Dwell Photography by Juliusz Soko?owski via Biuro Toprojekt

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Green-roofed home in Poland is made out of reclaimed brick

Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint

July 16, 2019 by  
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Designed by Brazilian firm PITTA Arquitetura , the aptly named Casa Modelo serves as an architectural model for sustainable home design. Built using numerous bioclimatic principles , the solar-powered home has minimal environmental impact on its idyllic tropical setting just outside of São Paulo. Built for the owner of a sustainable real estate development company, Casa Modelo is located in the remote area of Ubatuba. Surrounded by acres of lush, green, protected biospheres that span out to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, the home has a setting that is as idyllic as it gets. Related: Striking home in Greece uses bioclimatic features to be energy-efficient year-round The incredible location set the tone for the design. Working with the homeowner, the architects sought to create a model sustainable home that could serve as a platform for future constructions in the area. At the forefront of the design was the objective of reducing the home’s impact on the pristine natural setting. Inserting the 1,100-square-foot building into the lot with minimal interference was essential to the project. Accordingly, the timber home is elevated off of the landscape by a concrete platform and pillars that allow natural vegetation to grow under and around the structure. The local climate is marked by severe humidity, ultra hot summers and considerable rainfall, all of which prompted the designers to create a resilient structure that could stand up to the extreme elements. Not only did elevating the home reduce its impact on the landscape, but it also helps keep ground humidity at bay and improves natural air circulation. Passive, energy-saving features are found throughout the home, namely in the structure’s large openings and high interior ceilings. The open-plan living area and kitchen open up to the outdoors thanks to a long stretch of sliding glass doors with retractable timber screens on either side of the house. The doors can be completely or partially left open to ensure cool temps and natural ventilation on the interior, a feature that also creates a strong, seamless connection with the outdoors. The layout was also driven by the natural elements. The two bedrooms were orientated to embrace the morning sunlight , while overhangs shade the living spaces from the hot summer sun. In the winter months, sunlight from the large, north-facing windows is absorbed by the concrete walls and floors during the day and released at night. In addition to its impressive passive features, the home was installed with several systems to minimize energy use. A solar array covers 100 percent of the electrical needs, which are reduced thanks to highly efficient lighting, electrical equipment and smart home devices. Additionally, an innovative rainwater harvesting system provides water for the residents. + PITTA Arquitetura Via Dwell Photography by Gustavo Alkmim via PITTA Arquitetura

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Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint

Chevron spills 800,000 gallon of oil and water in California

July 16, 2019 by  
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Major oil corporation Chevron spilled 800,000 gallons of crude oil and water into a dry creek in Southern California. While the spill is estimated to contain mostly water, experts estimate that between 240,000 and 265,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled— making it in the largest oil spill in California’s recent history. The spill first occurred on May 10 and stopped immediately, however it began to seep again on June 8 and continued to spill into the creek until June 23. The head of California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources first cited Chevron with a violation and asked them to stop extraction within that area, however, since the company did not act swiftly the head of the Division has now ordered the corporation to completely stop the spill and take measures to prevent such spills in the future. Related: Airplanes’ contrail clouds are more harmful than their carbon emissions The increased citation came on the head of the Division’s second day in the position, after his predecessor was fired by Governor Gavin Newson for issuing more fracking permits than the state typically awards. Since the spill occurred in a dry creek in Kern County, it has caused as much damage as it would have in an active watershed. Therefore, the spill has been fairy contained with limited impact to surrounding wildlife . The spill is close to Bakersfield, one of the state’s major agricultural areas. “The Chevron spill clearly shows that California needs stronger climate leadership from the governor,” Greenpeace USA’s executive director said to local news KQED. “Oil and gas infrastructure will never be free from spills and leaks or from spewing climate pollution . We face a growing public health crisis and climate emergency stoked by rampant oil and gas development” Company officials only began to clean up the spill on July 12 and casually reported that they would “review the order” from the state. Via EcoWatch Image via ArtBrom

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Chevron spills 800,000 gallon of oil and water in California

Chteau La Coste adds a solar-powered cottage designed by Jean Prouv

July 10, 2019 by  
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Chateâu La Coste is known as one of the world’s most innovative art and architectural escapes. Located in fairytale-esque Provence, the 600-acre property is comprised of biodynamic vineyards and a winery designed by architect Jean Nouvel, among countless works of art and designs by other notable names. Now, the famed Chateâu has added another incredible property: a solar-powered luxury suite inside a refurbished Jean Prouvé-designed one-room shelter. Self-taught architect and designer Jean Prouvé is known as one of the great modernist masters. In 1944, he famously created a design for demountable, 6-meter-by-6-meter temporary shelters. Related: Group of friends build a DIY cabin retreat, complete with suspended tree decks Now, a refurbished version of this shelter design holds court in a serene pine forest as a solar-powered luxury suite for guests lucky enough to stay at the Chateâu La Coste. The Suite N° 30 is a one-bedroom studio space clad in natural wood paneling . The structure’s front entrance is through an open-air platform with ample room for seating. Blue-framed glass doors open up to the interior space, which, like the exterior, boasts an off-grid cabin feel. The interior of the suite is filled with midcentury furniture from the likes of Pierre Jeanneret and Serge Mouille, among others. While the cabin mainly stays true to the original design, the suite has an added bathroom and kitchen. This is not your ordinary kitchenette — it is a cylindrical pod designed by none other than Richard Rogers . The pod houses a solar-powered kitchen, complete with all of the amenities needed to put together a tasty meal. The tiny cottage is an important addition to the sprawling art estate, not only for its design prowess, but as a way of keeping Prouvé’s legacy alive. “Prouvé is as important as Le Corbusier, although completely different in terms of scale and ambition,” said Daniel Kennedy, director of Château La Coste’s Art Centre. “We wanted to offer the adventure of living inside a completely autonomous nomadic house and make it function as a hotel, which meant adding phone lines, light switches, softer lighting, bathrobes and filling up the kitchen fridge like a mini-bar.” + Château La Coste Via Wallpaper Images via Château La Coste

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Chteau La Coste adds a solar-powered cottage designed by Jean Prouv

With dual sleeping lofts, this family-friendly tiny home proves that the more, the merrier

July 5, 2019 by  
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Although some people might be under the impression that tiny homes don’t have enough space for a family, one savvy, space-efficient design is proving otherwise. Designed and built by New Zealand-based Build Tiny , the Dance Tiny House was custom designed to be a durable family home that boasts beautiful and child-proof interiors. Clad in very practical gray vinyl siding, the tiny home on wheels is durable yet lightweight enough to be towed easily. Double-glazed aluminum windows and quality insulation allow for a tight thermal envelope, reducing energy costs as well as maintaining a comfortable interior temperature. Related: Keep your tiny home safe with these 9 security tips Inside, the space is bright and open with a minimalist interior design that manages to avoid clutter. All-white plywood walls and honey-toned wood flooring, along with an abundance of natural light, gives the home a fresh, modern feel. A compact, open-plan living room with a small sofa and chair make up the social area of the home. To the left of the entrance is the kitchen with full-sized appliances. Although small, the cooking area includes ample counter space thanks to an ingenious rolling butcher block extension. Most of the home’s furnishings, including the counters, feature curved edges to ensure optimal safety for little ones. The far end of the residence houses the bathroom, which has a shower and plenty of storage space. The home’s dual sleeping lofts are accessible via a staircase in the kitchen, with the steps pulling double duty as storage in the form of pull-out drawers and cubbies. At the top, the master bedroom has plenty of room for a queen-sized bed and also includes a full-height closet and built-in storage . Connected by a narrow hallway, the children’s room is located on the opposite side. With plenty of space for a single or double bed, there is also room for play or study. The entire loft is made child-proof thanks to a gate and a metal safety barrier. + Build Tiny Via Tiny House Talk Images via Build Tiny

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With dual sleeping lofts, this family-friendly tiny home proves that the more, the merrier

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