Verizon pledges $1 billion for programs that help the environment

February 15, 2019 by  
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Verizon is fulfilling its promise to better the environment. Keeping true to its commitment to corporate responsibility , the telecommunications company has allocated $1 billion to spend on programs that have a positive impact on the environment. Last year, Verizon committed to convert 50 percent of its energy consumption to renewable sources over the next six years. To that end, Verizon borrowed $1 billion worth of funds from green bonds to pay for projects that invest in renewable energy sources at its production facilities. This includes hydrogen fuel cells, solar technology and wind farms. “This is now a real game changer,” Verizon’s chief sustainability officer Jim Gown explained. “The whole goal of this new bond was to focus on a new, unique funding source.” Related: Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen Verizon would not have been able to fulfill its promise of renewable energy without the new bonds. According to Fortune , the bonds were a major success because more people were purchasing the low-cost bonds than they had to sell, which resulted in a low borrowing rate. The company did not reveal how low the rate sank. Green bonds have become a popular way to fund environmental projects over the past five years. Last year, these types of bonds raised more than $167 billion across the world, and experts believe that number could reach as high as $200 billion in 2019. Verizon is on a growing list of companies that are using green bonds to fulfill their promise of corporate responsibility. Apple , for example, previously borrowed $2.5 billion to fund projects, while Telefónica, a cell phone company based out of Spain, took out $1.1 billion this year. Along with funding renewable energy projects, Verizon plans to use the bonds to increase efficiency in its facilities. Most of the $1 billion the company borrowed will be used to better the environment, but some of it will go toward installing LED lighting and smart sensors to reduce energy use when employees are gone. The company is taking its commitment to corporate responsibility a step further by also spending money on its reforestation program, which seeks to plant new trees in Miami and Puerto Rico, areas that have recently been devastated by hurricanes. + Verizon Via Fortune Image via Shutterstock

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Verizon pledges $1 billion for programs that help the environment

Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen

January 29, 2019 by  
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In a bid to bring more renewable energy and greater resilience to the city of Copenhagen , the Danish government has announced plans to build nine new artificial islands as part of what will become the largest and most ambitious land reclamation project in Scandinavia. Slated to begin construction in 2022, the project, dubbed Holmene (the Islets), will comprise 3 million square meters of land and will be located just 10 kilometers south of Copenhagen. Copenhagen-based architecture and planning firm URBAN POWER designed the project with environmentally friendly targets in mind, from the creation of the biggest waste-to-energy plant in Northern Europe to improved biodiversity. In addition to producing fossil fuel-free energy, the nine artificial islands of Holmene will also serve as a tech hub, a flood barrier and a sports and recreation destination. Several islets and reefs will also be inaccessible to create “untouched nature” as part of a plan to improve the area’s biodiversity. The islands will be constructed from 26 million cubic meters of surplus soil sourced from the region’s subway and building projects; the soil will also be used to create natural flood barriers around the coastline and a base for a future “green belt of nature” on each island. Key to the vision will be the focus on green technologies. Biowaste and wastewater from the region’s 1.5 million citizens will be processed in a new waste-to-energy plant and turned into clean water and biogas. Together with wind turbines and other sustainable technologies, the plant is expected to produce over 300,000 MWh of renewable energy, an amount estimated to be equivalent to the power consumption of a quarter of the Copenhagen city population. Related: Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year The Holmene project has an estimated construction cost of 425 million euros and is expected to create 380 new businesses and 12,000 jobs. The project was developed in collaboration with the consulting engineer firm COWI along with DHI-group, MOE, Aglaja and Rambøll. The environmental impact assessment starts in 2019 and the project is slated for completion in 2040. + URBAN POWER Images by URBAN POWER for Hvldovre Municipality

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Denmark to build 9 renewable energy-producing islands south of Copenhagen

COBEs Red Cross Volunteer House is an urban living room in Copenhagen

December 31, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen-based architecture firm COBE has unveiled images of the Red Cross Volunteer House, a new building in Copenhagen that not only celebrates the efforts of Red Cross volunteers, but also the power of great public space. Completed November 2017 as an extension of the national headquarters of the Red Cross, the Red Cross Volunteer House is a triangular building with an 850-square-meter roof that doubles as a large staircase and new meeting place for 34,000 Red Cross volunteers. Open to the public, the terraced space has also been embraced by the city as a new “urban living room.” With a floor area of 750 square meters, the Red Cross Volunteer House was designed by COBE — which won the design bid in a 2013 competition — in close collaboration with the Red Cross and representatives of the volunteer organization. Set partially underground, the volunteer center consists of exhibition spaces, meeting rooms, conference facilities, training facilities, disaster management facilities and a cafe. The extension also houses the main entrance to both the volunteer center and the headquarters, which are further linked with a green park. Yellow bricks were also used on the extension’s triangular roof to visually tie the building to the headquarters’ yellow-brick facade. “With the Red Cross Volunteer House we wanted to create a place that provides optimal settings for the heroes of everyday life – the thousands of volunteers who make an extraordinary effort to help marginalized people,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and COBE founder. “The roof of the building is now the Red Cross’s face to the world and a unique meeting place that acts both as a terraced stand and as stairs while also offering an attractive and inviting space to the many thousands of volunteers and, equally, to passersby and the rest of the city. The building has become an urban space and expresses both generosity and modesty while inviting the outside world in.” Related: COBE transforms former grain silo into swanky apartments in Copenhagen Since the project was opened to the public in November 2017, the Red Cross has garnered increased attention and visits from volunteers and passersby. The extension was constructed with a grant of DKK 30.7 million from the private foundation A. P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formål. + COBE Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST via COBE

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6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019

December 31, 2018 by  
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Global carbon emissions may be on the rise and poised to reach an all-time high this year , but that doesn’t mean there isn’t positive climate news to talk about. If you are looking for some uplifting stories about the environment as we close out 2018 and head into the new year, here are six reasons to be hopeful in spite of  climate change . Plant-based meat The carbon dioxide produced from burning fossil fuels is still the main greenhouse gas , but methane and nitrous oxide are more potent, and the levels are rising. Livestock farming is the main source of methane and nitrous oxide, and because the world loves meat and dairy, these gases are a huge factor in the battle against climate change. Simply put, if we don’t radically curb our meat consumption, we can’t beat global warming . Related: Look out meat industry — flexitarianism is on the rise People all over the world are switching to vegetarian, vegan  and flexitarian diets, and that is a step in the right direction. Bill Gates has invested in two plant-based burger companies that make food from plants that looks and tastes like meat. Major companies like Tyson, Danone and Nestle are also investing in plant-based products that have a tiny carbon footprint, so the market will continue to grow and offer a wide variety of plant-based foods. The renewable energy revolution Renewable energy is quickly becoming the new normal. Thanks to the cost of solar panels and wind turbines plummeting over the last decade, renewables are now cheaper than coal. There are already systems in place to shift from gas and oil to renewables. Companies all over the world are committing to renewable energy, and now more than half of the new capacity for generating electricity is renewable. Many parts of the world are already installing the cheapest electricity available. Last year, there was so much wind power in Germany that customers got free electricity . Even in the U.S., despite President Trump’s rollback of key climate legislation, there has been $30 billion invested in renewable energy sources. “We Are Still In” movement As a response to President Trump’s decision to back out of the Paris Agreement, thousands of America’s CEOs, college presidents and politicians have declared that the U.S. is “still in” the climate change fight with the We Are Still In movement. Over 2,600 leaders from across the country are standing together and committed to delivering the goals from the Paris Agreement. They also want to make sure that the U.S. continues to be a world leader in reducing emissions. More than 1,800 businesses and investors, 18 states and tribes and 335 of America’s colleges and universities are also part of the movement. More than half of the country’s Fortune 500 companies have the goal of cutting pollution . The death of coal Production of fossil fuels seems to have peaked in 2013, and since then, the demise has been shocking. Five years ago, the IEA anticipated a 40 percent growth in coal burning by 2040. But now, it only expects 1 percent growth. Bankruptcies are taking over the coal industry, and plans for many new coal plants are now dead and buried. China has halted plans for 151 coal plants, and in the U.K., coal has plummeted from 40 percent of the power supply to just 2 percent. This is all happening because solar and wind are now cheaper, but there is still more that can be done. When it becomes cheaper to build renewable energy sources compared to running existing coal plants, there will be zero reasons to keep digging coal out of the ground. Electric cars Oil is responsible for providing one-third of the world’s energy, so figuring out how to reduce this usage is a big challenge. One of the most promising options for reducing oil usage is battery-powered cars. They are starting to make a dent in the market, and China is leading the way by selling more electric cars every month than the U.S. and Europe combined. Just about every car manufacturer has  plans to go electric , and some will be doing it sooner rather than later. Both Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover have announced plans to end production of pure fossil-fueled cars by 2021, and Tesla has already rolled out its Model 3. If current growth rates continue, EV-volumes.com analyst Viktor Irle said  that 80 percent of new cars will be electric by 2030. Batteries A big piece of the renewable puzzle is batteries. The big issue is how to deliver solar power when it’s cloudy or how to provide wind power on a calm day. New battery technology is now making it possible to continuously store renewable power, even when the sun is behind the clouds and the wind stops blowing. With battery technology improving so fast, the price of battery storage is expected to drop in half by 2030. The price of lithium-ion batteries has already dropped by 75 percent over the last six years. The latest battery technology is also contributing to the rising demand for electric cars. Via Grist , The Guardian and WWF Images via Appolinary Kalashnikova , KMW737 , Andreas160578 , Jon Tyson , Benita Welter , Stefan Schweihofer and  Sabine van Erp

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6 positive advancements against climate change to lead us into 2019

3XN unveils a sustainable redesign for the Sydney Fish Market

November 8, 2018 by  
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Danish design practice 3XN has revealed its competition-winning redesign for the Sydney Fish Market, a waterfront marketplace that will undergo a $250 million expansion and, in the process, revitalize the waterfront. Topped with an undulating, wave-inspired roof, the contemporary building will emphasize connections with the outdoors while improving visitor access. Sustainability has also guided the design of the structure, which will feature smart, water-saving strategies including rainwater harvesting , graywater recycling and bio-filtration systems. The Sydney Fish Market, one of the city’s top tourist draws, will be relocated from its existing location in Pyrmont to an adjacent wharf on a 3.6-hectare site at Blackwattle Bay on the east side of the Sydney Harbor. 3XN has proposed upgrades to enhance the visitor experience with the addition of improved public space and circulation, a flexible and modular interior and room for several new features: a seafood cooking school, restaurants, bars, a new promenade and a new ferry stop. At the same time, the Danish architects will strive to preserve the architectural heritage and character of the existing market. Individual stalls will fill the interior’s semi-open layout to evoke traditional marketplaces. Built of timber and aluminum, the undulating roof will sport a fish scale-like pattern. In addition to the new market’s connections and strengthened sight lines with the waterfront , the building also aims to improve the harbor ecosystem through sustainable design. The bio-filtration system, for instance, will filter water runoff while doubling as a habitat for local birds. Industrial food waste will be recycled. Related: 3XN unveils competition-winning designs for Denmark’s Climatorium “Environmental and social sustainability are essential and inseparable parts of the design,” said Kim Herforth Nielsen, founding partner of 3XN. “The roof, landscaped forms, open atmosphere, plantings and materials that characterize the experience of the design are examples of this union. Throughout the course of the new market’s concept and design development, public amenity and environmental sustainability have formed the core of our decision-making processes.” The project is expected to break ground in 2019 and is slated to open in 2023. + 3XN Images via 3XN, Doug&Wolf, Aesthetica.Studio and mir.no

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A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

November 8, 2018 by  
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A dark and gloomy, non-insulated dwelling with zero views to speak of has been dramatically transformed into a bright and sustainable home thanks to the work of local architecture studio Urban Creative . Flanked by 6-meter-tall walls and set on a long and narrow lot in inner Melbourne , 2 Halves Make a Home is a three-bedroom family residence that comprises two structures centered on a light-filled courtyard that allows daylight to penetrate deep into the living areas. Bricks sourced from the original decrepit structure were recycled for the construction of the new home, which features repurposed and sustainable materials throughout, from low-VOC finishes to a solar photovoltaic system and green wall. Faced with a site only 5.5 meters in width, the architects knew that access to the outdoors and light were crucial to making the family residence feel comfortably spacious. To that end, a courtyard was inserted along with walls of operable double-pane glass that blur the line between indoors and out. In addition to allowing natural light to enter the home, the courtyard also promotes passive cross ventilation while the full-height glazing and adjacent masonry party walls help capture early morning solar gain for passive heating in winter. “The original brick party wall has been uncovered and cleaned back to expose its rich warmth throughout the main axis of the dwelling,” the architects explained. “Not only does this avoid the use of new materials to construct this facade, but both dwellings on either side of the party wall serve to insulate each other.” Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne Aside from the renovated brick wall and reclaimed brick used for the ground-floor facade, other recycled materials were used wherever possible. Reclaimed timber was used from the stairs and floorboards to the repurposed internal solid timber doors and timber shelves in the living room. Instead of replacing the ground floor structural slab, the architects polished the concrete and added a hydronic heating system. Low-VOC materials and finishes, like Tadelakt — a Moroccan rendering technique based on lime plaster and olive oil soap — promote a healthy indoor living environment. The house is also equipped with a solar array and a rainwater harvesting system. + Urban Creative Photography by Jessie May via Urban Creative

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A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

3XN unveils competition-winning designs for Denmarks Climatorium

October 3, 2018 by  
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Danish architectural practice 3XN Architects recently won a competition for the Climatorium, Denmark’s new international climate center that will be located in Lemvig. Created in collaboration with urban development consultancy SLA and technical advisory company Orbicon, the winning entry will help establish Lemvig as a center for climate change adaptation and support the country’s role as an exporter of climate solutions. Slated for completion in 2020, the sculptural waterfront building will serve as a public forum for knowledge, education, innovation and development projects that can promote climate-related growth and job opportunities. Inspired by the coastal location, the architects have integrated a wave motif to the entrance section of the two-story structure. The surrounding landscape, named the Climate Wedge, also mimics the local environment with its undulating shape structured with meteorological isobar lines in reference to the city’s wind conditions. The outdoor space is planted with native , low-maintenance vegetation and includes sheltered spaces where the public can gather and reconnect with the harbor front. A site-specific approach was taken to the building design as well. The Climatorium is carefully sized to match the existing scale of the other waterfront buildings and is clad in a simple material palette of wood, concrete and steel in a nod to the nearby boat halls. A ground-floor glass facade helps activate the building on the ground level and attracts passersby to come and visit exhibitions about climate change or enjoy food in the cafe. The lower floor can also be used for conferences, concerts and other events. Related: This dreamy Malibu beach house is designed to withstand climate change “We have aimed to create a building that tells the story about climate ,” said Jan Ammundsen, Senior Partner and Head of Design at 3XN. “The building has a rectilinear, stringent expression but forms a wave shape that lends it a distinct and easily decoded identity. The wave tells the story of the site and also refers to the serious challenges we face as a result of climate change.” + 3XN Architects Images via 3XN Architects

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A sustainable tiny cabin powers this holographic lighthouse of the future

September 21, 2018 by  
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Lighthouses are beloved around the world for their architectural beauty and historical significance. But in recent times, the number of operational lighthouses has sharply declined due to the advancement of electronic navigation technology. In a bid to raise awareness of these romantic maritime towers and promote preservation, French designer Nicolas Abdelkader of Paris-based Studio NAB has proposed Hololightkeeper, an experimental and sustainable project that combines traditional maritime design with futuristic holographic technology to create a glowing lighthouse-like projection out at sea. Abdelkader conceived the project with two main parts: a 3D holographic lighthouse projected onto highly transparent mesh and a compact, 30-square-meter cabin from where the hologram would be controlled. In a nod to traditional lighthouse operations, a “lighthouse keeper” would live in the tiny cabin and manage this 3D luminous lighthouse. This guardian can control the holographic diffusion of the 3D lighthouse, which would measure 25 meters in height, diffuse at a range of 50 meters and serve as a guiding beacon to boats at night. To minimize the architecture’s site impact, Abdelkader designed the building with a light metal framework clad in stainless steel panels and elevated on a series of reinforced concrete and steel piles anchored into hard rock in the seabed. Moreover, the tiny cabin would be built for energy self-sufficiency by drawing power from a wind turbine and solar panels, while drinking water would be provided through a desalination process of the seawater. Natural wood wool within the walls would serve as insulation, and a green roof would add an extra layer of protection. Related: Denmark’s 116-year-old lighthouse transformed into a giant kaleidoscope “The starting point of this project was to note that there still remains around the world more or less 1,500 lighthouses in activity and that consequently, the lighthouse and the job by lighthouse keeper, as we know them, are declining,” Abdelkader explained. “The Studio NAB thus thought about a solution to try to stem the phenomenon, to revive this ancestral job and to modernize the famous concrete monolith such as it is anchored in the collective imaginary, while preserving its aesthetic codes by means of holographic image in 3D.” + Studio NAB Images via Studio NAB

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A sustainable tiny cabin powers this holographic lighthouse of the future

Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

September 18, 2018 by  
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At last, the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains have made their global debut in the northern countryside of Germany . As of Monday, two Coradia iLint locomotives have been transporting passengers back and forth to the towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude, just west of Hamburg. The efficient trains were produced by French transportation engineers at Alstom, the same manufacturers who amazed the world in the early 1980s with the world-record-setting bullet train. While the TGV captured many people’s attention as the fastest locomotive in production, its true feat was providing a solution to the 1973 oil crisis in France by featuring an electric — not gas — fueled transmission. Nearly four decades later, Alstom has come to the rescue again as European cities continue to struggle with pollution. Replacing diesel powered engines that are stagnating Germany’s fight for the green is the first push. Related: New photosynthesis machine is twice as efficient at creating hydrogen fuel Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge inaugurated the pair of novel trains at an unveiling ceremony in Bremervoerde, where the trains will undergo routine hydrogen refueling. The company leader said, “The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production.” The bright blue Coradia iLint trains currently operate on a 62-mile (100-kilometer) course. However, in equal capacity to their gas-gulping counterparts, the hydrogen-powered vehicles can travel the span of 600 miles (1000 kilometers) on one tank of hydrogen. The trains rely on fuel cells that can produce electricity from a combined mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. The models are extremely efficient in the conversion — excess electricity can be siphoned into ion lithium batteries stored on board. The only byproducts emitted by this process are steam and water. Many German states have expressed interest in adopting the models to their own transportation lines. The company announced it will be delivering a set of 14 trains to the Lower Saxony region of the nation by 2021. While the zero-emission alternatives are attractive because of their quieter, eco-friendly nature and ability to run without electrified railways, they are not without a high initial price. Stefan Schrank, Alstom’s project manager, said, “Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run.” It’s a price many countries are willing to pay for cleaner air . France plans to rail its first hydrogen train by 2022, with the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Canada eager to follow suit. + Alstom Via The Guardian Image via René Frampe / Alstom

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Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

This 1970s Airstream is an off-grid oasis for a family of six

September 18, 2018 by  
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Moving from a spacious contemporary home into a tiny home would be daunting for anyone, but Jonathan and Ashley Longnecker made the huge life change for themselves and their four children. In just a few months, the ambitious couple renovated an old 1970s Airstream Sovereign into their dream off-grid home on wheels , or what they call their Tiny Shiny Home . The Longneckers long dreamed of traveling with their children, but it wasn’t until they were presented with an opportunity to renovate an old Airstream that they began to think seriously about living and working on the road. Once they bought the 1972 Airstream Sovereign, the couple took just six months to renovate the iconic body into a sustainable “adventure-mobile.” From the onset of the renovation process, Ashley and Jonathan knew that they had to make their new home as sustainable as possible. The roof is outfitted with solar panels , while the interior boasts a number of eco-friendly features, such as efficient appliances in the kitchen, a composting toilet and a 50-gallon fresh water tank that allows them to live completely off the grid. Related: Couple restores an old Airstream into a chic tiny home on wheels As for the interior, the 220-square foot trailer was designed to be ultra-functional thanks to custom-made flexible furnishings . The four kids have bunk beds that can be folded up to create two couches. The compact kitchen is fully equipped with all of the basics to prepare meals for a large family. The entire family of six fits comfortably in the dinette set, making it easy to enjoy meals together. The benches can be converted into a sleeping area. There is also a small office space for the family, so they can work from their tiny home. The design palette is modern and fresh with all-white walls that contrast nicely with the dark wood cabinets and flooring. An abundance of windows allow  natural light to brighten the interior of the Airstream, but the family often sits under the trailer’s exterior canopy to enjoy the beautiful sunsets and sunrises of wherever they might be. + Tiny Shiny Home Via Dwell Images via Jonathan and Ashley Longnecker

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