A new rammed earth spiritual center arrives in Arizona desert

August 31, 2021 by  
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The new TSG Foundation site is located on an 11-acre parcel of land in the Sonoran Desert in Scottsdale, Arizona . Some of the sustainable features include rammed earth construction, zinc tile exterior cladding, solar power, desert landscaping with native and drought-tolerant  plants , and energy-efficient LED lighting. “Like the beauty of a physical building that is designed by principles to nurture health, respect for its environment, longevity, and a source of peace and joy, building the inner life of a human being is designed to produce similar outcomes – if it is built utilizing similar principles,” said Gita Saraydarian, Founder and President of TSG Foundation. Built to embody the principles of the  Living Building Challenge  — a green building standard similar to LEED that focuses more on human health — the center has aligned its construction values with those of the challenge (Health and Happiness, Equity, Energy, Water , Materials, Place and Beauty). Related: Morocco Pavilion is a rammed earth wonder for Dubai Expo As visitors enter the center, a  desert  pavement driveway leads to parking areas landscaped to screen them from street view with asphalt made using decomposed granite, or gravelcrete, to minimize thermal gain. There’s a pedestrian bridge linking the parking area to the main building with additional landscaping and bicycle racks to connect the visitors to the outdoors as they enter. The designers at  180 Degrees Design + Build , responsible for the architecture, chose to axially rotate the site to allow more southern natural sunlight during the wintertime, as well as northern views looking out over the Carefree Mountains. Additionally, the building offers opportunities for nighttime star gazing. The architects also included principles of  Feng Shui  — Fire, Water, Earth and Metal — in the design throughout both the building itself and the building site. The 3,000-square-foot sanctuary space has passive and active energy strategies to assist the Foundation in its goal to become a Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Water Certified Building through the Living Building Challenge. + 180 Degrees Design + Build Images courtesy of 180 Degrees Inc.

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A new rammed earth spiritual center arrives in Arizona desert

Louisiana dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida

August 31, 2021 by  
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Residents of Louisiana are stuck in the dark following destructive Hurricane Ida on Sunday. Officials are still counting losses and have said that it may take weeks before power is restored in some areas. The hurricane hit Louisiana with winds at speeds of 150 mph (240 km/h). Ida is now the fifth strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland. Officials have confirmed the death of one person. Further, about 1 million residents of Louisiana are in the dark following destroyed power supply systems. Related: Climate change doubles natural disaster costs in the US According to CNN, about 25,000 workers from across the country are currently fighting to restore power . The workers are expected to bring back normalcy in phases, but some areas may wait longer than others before power returns. New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said that although the hurricane was one of the strongest in history, protection measures helped reduce casualties and losses. “The systems we depended on to save lives and protect our city did just that and we are grateful, but there is so much more work to be done,” said Cantrell Hurricane Ida was initially predicted to be life-threatening, with some scientists even comparing it to Hurricane Katrina of 2005. Ida had a path similar to Katrina but did not cause as much destruction. Katrina claimed over 1,800 lives and properties worth billions. Some of the defense systems put in place after Katrina were effective in mitigating Ida’s effects. Governor John Bel Edwards said the systems “performed magnificently” in reducing the hurricane’s effect. Hurricane Ida gathered strength over the Gulf of Mexico , stopping up to 90% of the region’s oil production. Ida landed in New Orleans as a category four hurricane. A hurricane of this strength can destroy trees and buildings if there are no protection measures. As Hurricane Ida moved further inland, its winds speed dropped to 95 mph (153km/h), making it a category one hurricane. Even though the hurricane has downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves further inland, the National Hurricane Center has warned of potential flooding due to heavy rains. Residents of Mississippi , Alabama, and Florida have been asked to remain watchful. Mayor Cantrell has urged New Orleans residents who already evacuated to stay away from their homes until power returns. Via BBC and CNN Lead image via The National Guard

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Louisiana dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida

This summer, consider sustainable seafood

July 23, 2021 by  
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This summer, consider sustainable seafood Theresa Lieb Fri, 07/23/2021 – 02:30 Summer makes me nostalgic for seafood. As a kid, our annual family vacation to Croatia was my favorite time of the year. I spent my days snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, strolling through quaint markets and eating lots of seafood.  But those days are long gone. Seafood hasn’t been part of my diet after learning about the detrimental effects of overfishing on our oceans , appalling human rights violations on vessels and fish sentience .  I’m well aware of many sustainable fishing initiatives and their economic importance. Yet as a consumer, I’ve found it too daunting to evaluate whether the seafood at my restaurants or supermarkets are truly sustainable and ethical.  While diving into seafood issues in preparation for VERGE Food , however, I’ve come across a few better approaches I’d consider supporting. Hopefully, they help bring a better catch to your plate this summer. The smaller, the better In 2019, a study from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future had a surprising finding. Completely eliminating meat, fish and dairy from our plates isn’t the most sustainable way to eat. Instead, complementing a plant-based diet with modest amounts of low-food chain animals such as forage fish, bivalves (mussels, oysters, clams and scallops) and insects has the lowest carbon, land and water footprint. It also adds flexibility and nutritious benefits.  Patagonia Provisions stocks its online shop with sustainably sourced anchovies, mackerels and mussels. They come in handy cans to avoid food waste — a particular problem with quickly spoiling seafood — and are easily recycled. Fresh oysters are another great option. They are truly nature-positive, just like other clams and mussels. Oysters filter up to 100 gallons of water a day, absorb nitrogen, control algal blooms, provide shelter for small fish, protect coastlines and much more . Follow these five tips for buying the best ones.  Plant-based seafood is catching up  Compared to alternative meat and dairy markets, plant-based seafood remains a small segment. But there’s an increasing number of startups in this space who make products that taste great, are healthy and come with a much smaller environmental footprint than the traditional products they’re emulating.  A desert in Arizona is producing sustainable shrimp. Good Catch offers a whopping variety: Three tuna flavors, fish cakes, fish burgers, crab cakes and three breaded varieties. You can order them online or try it at one of their restaurant partners. Sophie’s Kitchen is another one-stop-shop for your seafood cravings, including favorites such as shrimp and smoked salmon. Their tuna is available on Amazon and you can find their other products in many supermarkets .  I’m also excited about Wildtype. They’re constructing the world’s first cultivated seafood pilot plant in San Francisco which soon will allow them to bring their salmon to sushi restaurants.  Kelp is the new kale Seaweed has been all the hype this year — for good reason. It’s a splendid addition to diversified seafood platters. The plants boost ocean health, have the potential to sequester incredible amounts of carbon and provide low barriers to entry for new ocean farmers.  How do you make it part of your diet? Nori — the algae holding sushi together — is the most well-known and widely available seaweed product. But it can be used for a lot more than sushi, such as Japanese miso soup or wrapped around tofu and deep-fried for a dish similar to fried fish. Added to a smoothie , seaweed can give you a calcium and iron boost.  If you’re not much of a home cook, the New York-based startup AKUA might have a good solution for you. Bon Appetit’s Amanda Shapiro says their kelp burger is all she wants to eat this summer  “even if it weren’t made of a super-cool, planet-saving seaweed.” Get some in their online shop for your next barbeque.  Climate-friendly shrimp grows in the desert  Shrimp is the most consumed seafood in the U.S. It’s also the most carbon-intensive , emitting over four times as many greenhouse gases per serving as farmed salmon, poultry or cheese. Most shrimp is imported from tropical countries such as Thailand, where mangrove forests are cut down to make space for shrimp ponds, releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.  Arizona Desert Shrimp is working to decarbonize America’s favorite seafood. Courtesy of Arizona Desert Shrimp Close Authorship But Victoria and Maurice Kemp are proving that it doesn’t have to be this way. They run a shrimp farm at the cutting edge of sustainability in Arizona . Their ponds sit on top of an aquifer too saline for human consumption but just right for shrimp. Once the shrimp are harvested, the Kemps’ next-door farmer irrigates his alfalfa and cotton crops with the nutrient-rich water, reducing his fertilizer need before it returns to the aquifer. No deforestation is involved either, making their product a lot greener. Kemp needs between one and 1.2 pounds of feed to produce one pound of shrimp, a feed to food ratio eight times lower than beef.   The Kemps told me they also hold a patent on a vertical shrimp farming technique that would bring sustainable production closer to urban centers and are looking for the right investor to scale their business. Even now, they’ll ship their Arizona Desert Shrimp right to your door.  These are just a few ways to make your fish consumption more diverse and sustainable. If you choose other options, make sure to check if the products align with Seafood Watch’s recommendations or look out for MSC certification .  What are your sustainable seafood favorites? Send me your tips! I’m at theresa@greenbiz.com. [Want more great analysis on sustainable food systems? Sign up for  Food Weekly , our free email newsletter.] Pull Quote A desert in Arizona is producing sustainable shrimp. Topics Food & Agriculture Oceans & Fisheries Fisheries Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A sustainable shrimp farm in the desert, using water from a saline aquafer. Courtesy of Arizona Desert Shrimp Close Authorship

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This summer, consider sustainable seafood

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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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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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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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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The power of zero: How to actually build a Net Zero office

March 12, 2016 by  
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A trip to the desert for a look at bleeding edge design in green building.

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The power of zero: How to actually build a Net Zero office

Death Valley springs to life with millions of flowers in rare ‘super bloom’

February 24, 2016 by  
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