Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’

November 13, 2017 by  
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Bill Gates  is purchasing 25,000 acres of land in the West Valley area of Arizona, 45 minutes west of Phoenix, with the intent of building a high-tech “smart city” named Belmont. “Belmont will create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs,” said Belmont Partners, the real estate firm involved in the purchase, in a press statement. The purchase, made by an investment firm run by Gates, cost $80 million and will be developed along the proposed freeway I-11, which would connect Belmont to Las Vegas and other major hubs of the region. Although Gates has given the project a new boost of funding and publicity, the planned community of Belmont, Arizona has been in the works since the 1990s. Although the housing crash put a damper on the city’s development, the regional real estate market has since recovered. The city also is banking on the parallel development of I-11, a proposed interstate highway that would run through Belmont to Las Vegas. The first section of I-11, near Boulder City, Arizona, was opened in August 2017. Related: Bill Gates launches $1 billion clean energy fund to fight climate change 3,800 acres of the proposed community will be used for office, retail and commercial space while an additional 470 acres will be set aside for public schools . The remaining space is enough land for 80,000 residential units. “Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model,” said Belmont Properties in a statement. When completed, Belmont will join Arcosanti , an ecologically-inspired experimental town to the north of Phoenix, as one of the region’s most high-profile planned communities. Via Popular Mechanics and The Republic Images via Gisela Giardino/Flickr and  Depositphotos

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Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’

7.3-magnitude earthquake hits Iran and Iraq, killing hundreds

November 13, 2017 by  
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  More than 300 people are dead after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday. The quake, which struck the northern border region between Iran and Iraq , killed hundreds of people in Iran and at least six people in Iraq. The BBC said this is the world’s deadliest earthquake this year. The 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck 32 kilometers, or around 20 miles, south of Halabjah, Iraq, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), at 21:18 local time. Iranian media said at least 14 provinces in the country were impacted, but Kermanshah was hit the hardest. Thousands of people were injured – the BBC gave the number as over 7,000. The town of Sarpol-e-Zahab had the most victims – and it was hard for people to receive medical care as the town’s main hospital was severely damaged. Related: New super concrete makes buildings strong enough to withstand magnitude 9 earthquakes Many homes in the mountainous area were built with mud bricks , according to the BBC, putting them at risk of collapse during a strong earthquake such as this one. Rescuers worked to find survivors beneath collapsed buildings, and some teams were hindered by mudslides . Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’aLQg7guVSqpAXLNVtA0m7A’,sig:’hHuNL1AV0_nt58qsjJfq6zIN3hrLkz3TwevBjgcHOEc=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’873538724′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); Baghdad residents felt the earthquake; local Majida Ameer told Reuters, “I was sitting with my kids having dinner and suddenly the building was just dancing in the air. I thought at first that it was a huge bomb. But then I heard everyone around me screaming: ‘Earthquake!’” Reuters quoted the head of Iranian Red Crescent as saying over 70,000 people needed shelter following the quake. Many people left their homes to go outside in cold weather in fear of aftershocks – and so far there have been around 153, according to the Iranian seismological center, with more expected. Embed from Getty Images window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’uFcvJSipSvVSR9z0J52gzw’,sig:’spq5txH69X6BtLZTpp28fC0ql-oXpfbpPsw-m9AZ1RE=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’873514006′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })}); According to Reuters, Iran rests across major fault lines , and is prone to tremors. This one hit at a depth of 23.2 kilometers, around 14.4 miles, and was reportedly felt in Kuwait, Israel, and Turkey. The BBC said it’s the deadliest quake Iran has experienced since 2012. It’s the sixth earthquake with a magnitude of seven or more this year – as opposed to 16 in 2016 and 19 in 2015. Via Reuters and the BBC Images via Reuters video and the United States Geological Survey

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7.3-magnitude earthquake hits Iran and Iraq, killing hundreds

One Bitcoin transaction takes more energy than a household uses in a week

November 13, 2017 by  
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Although Bitcoin has suffered a dramatic fall in value over the past several days, 2017 has seen Bitcoin’s value reach new heights. But with its increased value comes an increased strain on energy consumption. According to cryptocurrency analyst Alex de Vries, also known as Digiconomist , it would be profitable to use 24 terawatt-hours of electricity, about the equivalent annual energy consumption to Nigeria, a nation of 186 million, to “mine” Bitcoins each year. Even simple transactions with Bitcoin consume large amounts of energy; 215 kilowatt-hours (KWh), or enough electricity to power an American household for a week, are required to complete each of the roughly 300,000 Bitcoin transactions that occur each day. Bitcoins are created by “ mining ,” a process which involves running a powerful computing system so that it may solve complex cryptographic puzzles and produce a Bitcoin. The price of Bitcoin is proportional to the amount of electricity that can profitably be used to extract Bitcoin from a computing rig. When the price rises, miners must compensate by adding more powerful computing components, which then adds to the energy bill. Motherboard estimates that, at a minimum, the energy used by global Bitcoin extraction network at present could power 821,940 average American homes daily. Related: This Russian cottage is heated for free with Bitcoin mining What does this energy consumption mean for climate change and the environment? Using data available from a coal-powered Bitcoin mine in Mongolia , the Digiconomist determined that this single mine produces the emissions equivalent of 203,000 car kilometers traveled per hour of mining. When asked by Motherboard whether this energy problem might be fixed as the system matures, the Digiconomist responded that “Blockchain is inefficient tech by design, as we create trust by building a system based on distrust.” Bitcoin transactions are thousands of times less efficient than credit card transactions, by design. In the brave new world of Bitcoin, it seems that unless drastic changes are made, the cryptocurrency will continue to consume enormous amounts of energy. Via Motherboard Images via Depositphotos (1)

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One Bitcoin transaction takes more energy than a household uses in a week

This swanky desert guesthouse was fashioned out of a former horse barn

November 9, 2017 by  
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This stunning modernist guest home bears little similarity to its previous form: an old concrete barn for horses. Design-build firm The Construction Zone led the adaptive reuse project, the Barn Guest House, transforming the old horse stalls into room dividers. Full-height north-facing glass gives the guesthouse an indoor-outdoor character that embraces a desert garden In Phoenix. Topped with a flat overhanging roof, the 750-square-foot guest home contains a master suite, kitchen, and living area separated by concrete walls. Timber, seen in the Douglas fir -clad roof and furnishings and cabinetry, imbue the home with much needed warmth in a predominately cool-toned palette of concrete, glass, and black steel. Related: Atelier Data Transforms an Old Horse Stable into a Simple but Stunning Home in Portugal The interior decor is kept minimal to maintain the home’s sense of lightness in the landscape, while a few pops of red hues and natural timber tones break up the gray color scheme. The Barn Guest House looks out over an outdoor entertaining patio , bocce ball court, jacuzzi, and cacti-studded gardens. + The Construction Zone Via Dezeen Images by Bill Timmerman

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This swanky desert guesthouse was fashioned out of a former horse barn

Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23

November 9, 2017 by  
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Artist Andreco has unveiled his latest art installation, Climate 04-Sea Level Rise in Venice, to raise awareness of the climate change conference COP 23 currently underway in Bonn, Germany. Introduced as a project promoting dialogue between the arts and sciences, the climate change-inspired installation calls attention to the effects of potential sea level rise in Venice. The site-specific project consists of three parts: a wall mural, a sculpture, and an academic conference. Climate 04-Sea Level Rise is the fourth iteration of Andreco’s ongoing Climate project, started in Paris in November 2015 during COP 21 . For each conference since, the artist has realized various site-specific installations that take inspiration from recent scientific research and estimates in climate studies. From the introduction of the new installation: “Andreco’s aim for this project is to underline the weaknesses of the territory where his interventions will take place. While in Bari the main theme was the accelerating desertification caused by the rising temperatures, in Venice the artist’s focus is the sea level rise.” Related: Almost 200 countries gather at COP23 to accelerate climate action Andreco’s interventions in Venice begins with a giant mural , located next to Canal Grande in Fondamenta Santa Lucia, that represents his artistic interpretation about estimates and data regarding sea level rise in the Italian city. The mural is made of long curvaceous blue lines, punctuated by equations and mathematical symbols, mimicking waves that rise high above a person’s height. A crystalline steel sculpture to the side contains native coastal plants that speak to the importance of the landscape in combating storm surges. The last part of the intervention was a series of talks by international researchers held to stimulate public discussion about climate change. + Andreco

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Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23

Subterranean Oxygen Park is a breath of fresh air in the Qatari desert

August 18, 2017 by  
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A “green lung” in Qatar’s desert landscape is helping people stay healthy and active, and reconnecting them to nature. Erik Behrens and James Haig Streeter of AECOM recently completed Oxygen Park, a unique public space in Doha’s Education City. Built to promote exercise and social gatherings, Oxygen Park is partly buried underground and features undulating, organic forms masses inspired by the desert’s wind-eroded rocks and landscapes. Oxygen Park derives its name from the elemental life-force of oxygen , which the park also produces with its tree-studded green landscape. The designers wrote: “Oxygen Park is a man-made ‘green lung’ with a design inspired by nature. It is an antidote to the generic indoor gym environment and helps people to get back to nature, while fostering social engagement and promoting active healthy lifestyles.” A series of “balloon lights” float above the subterranean landscape to draw attention to Oxygen Park from afar. Related: SOMA Architects’ luxury Shaza Hotel breaks ground in Doha The park’s exercise features include shaded running trails, subterranean pitches for team sports, and equestrian facilities. More passive recreational areas also punctuate the park in the form of water plazas, sensory gardens, shade gardens, play gardens , and a series of soundscape -filled, folly spheres. The use of water and shade are seamlessly integrated into the design to provide relief from the hot climate. At night, a beautiful lighting scheme illuminates the park and water to create a safe and attractive environment for workouts and strolls after sundown. + AECOM Images by Markus Elblaus

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Subterranean Oxygen Park is a breath of fresh air in the Qatari desert

Frank Lloyd Wright architecture school grad built this beautiful desert shelter for $2K

May 17, 2017 by  
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Students at The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Taliesin West have erected small sleeping shelters on the school’s Arizona desert property in for decades, hearkening back to the early days of the school, when young architects resided in tents as they built the permanent building. Chilean architect Jaime Inostroza just raised his own tiny shelter, and – in keeping with the famous architect’s principles – it is meant to “respond to the landscape of the Sonora desert .” Inostroza named his shelter Atalaya, which means the crow’s nest of a ship, wherein crew members can glimpse the horizon. In his design statement, Inostroza said he wanted to build a sleeping shelter that would let him “dwell within the horizon of the Alameda of the Palos Verdes.” Atalaya is 12 feet tall, the same height as many of the surrounding trees. Related: Taliesin West students built protective desert shelters using mostly local materials With just a $2,000 budget from the school – and honoring Wright’s principles of sustainable design – Inostroza incorporated local stones into his shelter, and reused an old concrete pad resting on the site as a plinth for his new structure. Western red-cedar comprises the wooden parts of the shelter, a type Inostroza chose because it can last for 25 years and was more beautiful than another type of wood he could have picked such as pine. A wall-stair provides access to a small sleeping chamber. Fabric panels intended to amplify the surrounding desert colors cover Atalaya. Inostroza also considered light and the way it changes daily in the desert; he said the site of his sleeping shelter “becomes a distiller of the light” at sunset. He went through several designs before he settled on one, which happened to be the simplest. He told azcentral.com, “I’ve learned to always be asking: What is the essence? What is here? You don’t want to impose yourself on the site, you want to exalt what is already there.” Via ArchDaily , Curbed , and azcentral.com Images © Andrew Pielage /via ArchDaily

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Frank Lloyd Wright architecture school grad built this beautiful desert shelter for $2K

Desert dome camp in Jordan offers tourists "The Martian" experience

April 12, 2017 by  
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Most of us at this point in human history can only dream of journeying to Mars . But Freedomes and SunCity Camp are making that experience almost possible with a dome tent camp in Wadi Rum, Jordan – close to where the 2015 movie “The Martian” was filmed. Visitors can now get that Martian experience inside one of 20 geodesic dome structures dotting the desert . Freedomes is known for their inexpensive DIY backyard dome kits . But you may not know they also created the domed habitat astronaut Mark Watney survives in for The Martian’s set design. Freedomes’ brand F.Domes created smaller versions of that big screen dome suitable as part of their glamping line , and set them up at SunCity Camp in Wadi Rum, allowing visitors to get about as close as they can get to visiting Mars. Related: Create your own backyard geodesic dome with these super affordable DIY kits The camp is near where the movie was filmed, and Freedomes said the sandstone and granite rock formations amidst the desert allow tourists to feel as if they’ve traveled to the red planet. Each dome includes a private bathroom and panoramic window for a sweeping view of the Wadi Rum desert. 5,000 Bedouins reside in the Wadi Rum desert, which they call the Valley of the Moon. SunCity Camp says they can connect visitors to local Bedouin guides, whom they described as hospitable and friendly. The Bedouins have a deep knowledge of the desert; they are semi-nomadic and many still dwell in traditional goats’ hair tents. SunCity Camp has a restaurant which serves Bedouin meals like zarb, or lamb cooked beneath the desert sand. There’s no mention of how much it costs to stay the night in one of the Martian domes; but SunCity’s other tent accommodations range from around $159 to $318 a night. + Freedomes + SunCity Camp Images courtesy of Freedomes and SunCity Camp Facebook

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Desert dome camp in Jordan offers tourists "The Martian" experience

Archaeologist suggests ancient humans helped catalyze the Sahara’s desertification

March 17, 2017 by  
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The Sahara Desert we know, with its rolling sand dunes and hot temperatures, used to be a verdant grassland with lakes. Scientists have traditionally attributed the dramatic change to a wobble in Earth’s orbital axis , but now archaeologist David K. Wright of Seoul National University is suggesting actually, humans may have been to blame. A 10,000-year or so wet period called the African Humid Period brought moisture to northern and eastern Africa. But around 8,000 years ago the moisture balance began to change. Today below the sand-dominated landscape can be found signs of rivers and plants, remnants of a greener history. In an article published in the journal Frontiers in Earth Science , Wright explained humans used to be thought of as passive agents in the end of the African Humid Period. But he thinks humans might actually have been active agents in the change. Related: The Mediterranean will become a desert unless global warming is limited to 1.5°C Wright said, “In East Asia there are long established theories of how Neolithic populations changed the landscape so profoundly that monsoons sopped penetrating so far inland.” He thinks a similar phenomenon could have happened in the Sahara. People growing crops and raising livestock could have changed the environment , exposing soil, and sunlight bouncing from the soil could have warmed the air, influencing atmospheric conditions enough so there wasn’t as much rainfall, which only added to the desertification of the Sahara. As yet, Wright needs more evidence for other scientists to fully get on board with his ideas. He said, “There were lakes everywhere in the Sahara at this time, and they will have the records of the changing vegetation. We need to drill down into these former lake beds to get the vegetation records, look at the archaeology , and see what people were doing there.” If Wright turns out to be right, his research could yield insights into how we can adapt to large scale climate change . Via Phys.org and ScienceAlert Images via Charly W. Karl on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Archaeologist suggests ancient humans helped catalyze the Sahara’s desertification

Longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa lit up with Philips LEDs

July 21, 2016 by  
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The Mohammed VI Bridge was inaugurated just two weeks ago by its namesake. The bridge spans a section of desert connecting Rabat to the city of Salé with 3,116 feet (950 meters) of roadway, making it the longest bridge of its kind on the African continent. The bridge carries six lanes of vehicle traffic and spans between two 650-foot (200-meter) tall towers. Some 160 cables lend strength to the bridge as well, and provide the perfect support for the Philips LED lighting system that illuminates the bridge’s cables and pillars high above the roadway. Related: Philips announces the most affordable LED light bulb ever, yours for under $5 The futuristic lighting system employs Philips Color Kinetics technology. It allows bridge officials to change up to 16 million colors and can be programmed to display elaborate light shows. In addition to the wow factor of the sight of the illuminated bridge, the LED lighting system can keep costs under control, operating at a level up to 75 percent more energy efficient other existing lighting systems. + Philips Lighting Images via Philips Lighting

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Longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa lit up with Philips LEDs

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