Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

March 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Semi-arid regions of Africa face unique obstacles in their efforts to address a growing housing crisis . For years people built roofs with bush timber, but thanks to climate change and deforestation , those building methods are no longer feasible. And sheet metal is simply too expensive for most rural families. So the Nubian Vault Association is bringing back an ages-old sustainable building material: mud bricks . Back in 2000, Burkina Faso farmer Seri Youlou and Frenchman Thomas Granier started the association, which is also known by its French name Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN). They resurrected what they call the Nubian Vault technique, or the process of constructing sturdy vaulted roofs with mud bricks similar to processes employed centuries ago in ancient Egypt. The brings are simply formed with earth and water and then dried in the sun. Houses with these vaulted roofs last for at least 50 years, or even more if they are well maintained. They’re also cheaper than tin or timber, and stay warm in cold weather and cool in warm weather. Related: Bioclimatic Preschool Built with Rammed Earth and Mud Bricks Keeps Cool in the Moroccan Heat The association also works for economic growth by training local apprentices and supporting village masons in multiple West African countries. They aim for a self-sustaining Nubian Vault market, and according to Curbed, their A Roof, A Skill, A Market program has made a $22 million economic impact. They’ve trained over 380 masons, with hundreds more learning as apprentices. The group has now helped homeowners build over 1,800 homes across Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal. A Nubian Vault home costs around $1,000, and families can lower costs by making their own mud bricks. Not only has the technique helped put a roof over families’ heads and driven economic development, it’s benefited the environment as well. According to AVN , since September 2015 Nubian Vault homes have saved around 55,000 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere. + The Nubian Vault Association Via Curbed Images via The Nubian Vault Facebook

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Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis

Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

March 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

If you’re looking to greenify your home, look no further than the plant-filled Living Table . At first glance, the table appears to be a simple square planter covered in a glass top, but an integrated capillary system within the design actually mimics how plants naturally grow, while eliminaing the need for drainage. The high-tech system offers an attractive low-maintenance planter that even those without a green thumb can manage. The Living Table has an integrated passive sub irrigation system that creates a capillary action where water flows upwards. This system, along with the ideal balance of moisture to aeration in the base, results in an attractive planter that doesn’t need drainage. The low-maintenance design, which allows the plants to auto regulate, is perfect for those who find themselves constantly killing their plants because of too much or too little water. Related: Give your succulents their own spacesuits with this 3D-printed planter As far as planting, the  Living Table system is designed for low-growing, ground cover type plants that won’t grow tall enough to touch the glass. Standard 4” plant containers or smaller can be placed directly onto the Habitat Horticulture Growtex capillary mat or plants can be directly planted into the table base using any standard potting soil. Although the planter design is meant to be low-maintenance, the manufacturers are careful to point out that the plants’ specific needs should be considered before planting. The Living Table comes in two sizes with either a stainless steel or powder white finish, and can be all yours for as little as $850.00. + The Living Table

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Spruce up your home with this verdant Living Table

China’s coasts threatened by rapidly rising sea levels

March 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Sea levels are creeping up as temperatures get hotter here on Earth , and China’s State Oceanic Administration just revealed worrying information about its threat to the country’s coasts. Sea levels in 2016 in China rose 1.3 inches in just one year, a trend that could have challenging consequences. NASA data cited by International Business Times shows sea levels are rising by 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters (mm) to 0.14 inches (3.6 mm) every year at coasts, but the statistics are far worse in China according to their oceanic administration. Sea levels are rising swiftly in China due to climate change , El Niño, and La Niña, according to the agency. Not only did sea levels rise dramatically from 2015 to 2016, but 2016 sea levels were also 3.2 inches (82 mm) higher than the average level between 1993 and 2001. In a statement, the administration said, “Against the background of global climate change, China’s coastal air and sea temperatures have soared, coastal air pressure has fallen, and sea levels have also soared.” Related: Climate change will be the demise of US national parks 38 mm may not seem like much, so oceanographer Huang Gang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics put that in perspective, telling the South China Morning Post, “A few millimeters rise may seem small, but if you think about how big the ocean is, the changes make a huge difference when sea water hits the ground. The adverse impacts could come earlier if sea levels rise faster.” The administration said vulnerable coastal areas should start preparing with infrastructure updates like repairing drains or constructing dams or dykes. They warned such actions must happen soon to avoid damage. According to International Business Times, there are two main factors in climate change-caused rising sea levels: warmer ocean surface temperatures, which causes waters to expand, and melting glaciers. According to Reuters , sea temperatures between 1980 and 2016 increased by around 0.21 degrees Celsius, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit, per decade. Via International Business Times Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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China’s coasts threatened by rapidly rising sea levels

Tiny indoor vertical garden grows micro-veggies on its own in 10 days

March 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

You don’t need green thumbs to grow microgreens with this EcoQube Frame. The tiny indoor vertical garden grows micro-veggies in 10 days with only fertilized water, doing all the work for you. Compact and low-maintenance, the design is suited for apartments, homes and offices of all sizes, and allows you to grow nutritious food sources quickly, without worrying about watering and feeding your plants . Aqua Design Innovations (ADI) launched EcoQube Frame on Kickstarter , and it has been a smashing success. The group tripled their goal and raised over $30,000 in the first 40 minutes of crowdfunding. Learn more about this amazing design after the break. The EcoQube Frame contains two sections with one plant pad for each section; each plant pad has hundreds of small pockets that hold seeds in place so that plants can sprout evenly. The reservoir below contains fertilized water that provides all the necessary nutrients for successful germination. “It’s really the simplest, easiest and most compact way to grow indoor plants vertically without soil,” said the designers. “It’s also great for those who don’t feel like they have a green thumb. Since the reservoir waters the plants automatically, you don’t have to worry about over watering or root rot – which is a common problem when growing plants or micro-veggies.” Related: Smart Taiga Tower is like having an 80 square foot garden right inside your home EcoQube’s seed pads are all made from natural, 100 percent compostable fibers, and provide just enough water to allow the plants to grow. The designers claim that EcoQube can grow up to $25 worth of micro-veggies in a little over a week, and pays for itself after only one month of growing. + EcoQube Frame Kickstarter + Aqua Design Innovations (ADI)

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Tiny indoor vertical garden grows micro-veggies on its own in 10 days

6 delightful tiny library designs from around the world

March 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Children and adults can now check out books for free from tiny libraries in over 50,000 neighborhoods in 70 different countries. Some libraries are built with sustainable materials , some consider height differences between kids and grownups, while others are just plain fun. The organization behind these free exchanges, Little Free Library , recently held a Little Free Library Design Competition that drew an astonishing 300 designs from 40 countries. Check out the winners after the jump. Friendly Owlie library has eyes that glow at night Owls are commonly associated with wisdom. So an owl outline offered the perfect shape for Bartosz Bochynski’s tiny library, called Owlie. Bochynski, who is of design studio FUTUMATA in London , England, said Owlie could be constructed with affordable, sustainable materials and lit with LED lights . The friendly little library can hold around 40 tomes, some of which can be seen through the owl’s eyes which light up at night. Owlie was the judge’s choice in the competition. Related: Little Free Library: Tiny House-Shaped Boxes Let You Take a Book or Leave One Sleek little library with removable parts allows for easy customization Seth Thompson of San Francisco , California designed a little library designed for effortless rearranging. With a removable plexiglass door and shelves, the little library could accommodate a hanging flower planter, according to Thompson, and stewards can write on the door with dry-erase markers. Snøhetta San Francisco, one of the competition’s judges, described Thompson’s library as iconic, earning him the judge’s choice runner-up award. Flat-packed library is easy to assemble and includes a seat Chronicle Books , who partnered with Little Free Library for the competition, picked two winners, stipulating their choices had to weigh no more than 42 pounds, be able to be flat-packed , and be built with environmentally friendly materials. They picked Rachel Murdaugh and Clark Nexsen from Asheville, North Carolina as the winners. Nexsen and Murdaugh’s flat-packed library assembles simply and comes with instructions and hardware. It even includes a seat so patrons can peruse books before checking them out. Geometrical library assembles with just a hammer and screwdriver Lea Randebrock of Lahti, Finland nabbed the runner-up prize from Chronicle Books with this flat-packed library than can be set up onsite with a screwdriver and hammer. Randebrock said the design is intended for serial production, allowing for more tiny libraries. The Chronicle Books team noted they loved the surprise shelving inside the modern little library. Earthy Tree of Knowledge draws inspiration from nature The Little Free Library staff and founder also chose a winner and runner-up, with the help of votes from the whole Little Free Library community. Ryo Otsuka and Lin Zihao of CIRCLE in Tokyo, Japan claimed the prize with their nature -inspired Tree of Knowledge. They said they aimed to emphasize the origins of paper, a primary element of books , in their tree design. Little library in Ohio transforms into community center The 4th Street Farms Little Free Library is more than just a design concept; it’s already a fixture of its Columbus, Ohio neighborhood and has morphed into a mini community center offering a Little Food Pantry alongside books. Mural elements from local artists adorn the library, and varying shelf heights allow patrons of all ages to explore offerings. Motion sensor lighting brightens the space day or night. Nine honorable mentions include designs from Germany, China, Italy, and Ireland, to name a few. They include one shaped like a big chunk of cheese, one designed for beach use, and one inside a floating pavilion. Flip through Inhabitat’s gallery to see more of the clever designs! + Little Free Library Via Chronicle Books Images courtesy of Little Free Library

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6 delightful tiny library designs from around the world

Artist’s incredibly realistic stone animals are begging to be cuddled

March 20, 2017 by  
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In a world of angst-driven, politically-minded art , stone artist Akie Nakata is giving us some artwork we’d just love to cuddle. The Japanese artist paints cutesy animals onto smooth rocks, creating images so realistic it’s hard to fight the urge to reach out and pet them. Nakata starts her artistic process by collecting stones of all shapes and sizes. Once she finds inspiration in its shape, she begins the process of painstakingly creating the palm-sized creatures. She spends an astonishing amount of time on each project, perfecting each brush stroke so the finished product has a realistic appearance. Related: These artists create mind-bending artwork solely from autumn leaves https://youtu.be/PjyefLV2Mrk She explains that her methodical process is inspired by her spiritual respect for nature and is what keeps her enjoying the work, “What I paint on stone is inspired by the stone itself,” she explains. “In order to bring out the living being that I feel in the stone to its surface, I proceed very carefully. I consider step by step, for example, whether I am positioning the backbone in the right place. Does it feel right? Am I forcing something that disagrees with the natural shape of the stone?” You can find the artist’s work on  Instagram , Facebook , and her website . + Akie Nakata Via Laughing Squid All images via Akie Nakata

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Artist’s incredibly realistic stone animals are begging to be cuddled

Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Fresh produce – ideally grown locally right in your backyard – is essential to a healthy diet, but with scores of people either lacking the space, time, or knowledge to cultivate their own food , for many that ideal simply isn’t attainable. Enter French company Myfood . They aim to bring food production back home, and they’re doing it with smart solar aquaponic greenhouses . These groundbreaking greenhouses, which are small enough to fit in a yard or even a city balcony, can produce 660 to 880 pounds of vegetables every year. Myfood is pursuing the vision that everyone should be able to grow their own produce locally. To that end, they’ve come up with small family greenhouses powered by the sun that can function off-grid . Their Family22 greenhouse is 22 square meters, or around 237 square feet, and comes complete with solar panels and a rainwater collection system. Their model City offers a smaller option for those residing in busy metropolises – it’s just 38 square feet. Both models can be installed above ground, making them suitable for backyards or rooftops. Related: The Sunbubble greenhouse is a mini Eden for your backyard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi728-dgViU Inside the greenhouse, fish swimming around the base of vertical towers fertilize the vegetables growing – no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides needed. Inspired by permaculture , the team also developed raised beds that can surround the greenhouse for added food production. Ultimately, after several months, the beds become self-fertile. The greenhouses are intended for everyone from seasoned gardeners to people with zero gardening experience. Often one barrier that stands in the way of home food production is a lack of knowledge, so Myfood makes it easy for anyone to get started growing their own food through their smart structures designed to control the climate to guarantee success, according to Myfood. The team’s app enables families to remotely monitor the greenhouse. Myfood co-founder Mickaël Gandecki said, “The production of fresh and natural food, close to the consumer, offers a response to the environmental impact and lack of transparency of intensive, industrial agriculture .” Myfood recently unveiled what they described as the first European line of smart aquaponic greenhouses at the Paris International Agricultural Show 2017 during February 25 through March 5. In France and Benelux, a City model costs around $4,820 and the Family22 around $8,577. Those figures include installation, delivery, and tax. Outside the European Union costs are slightly different; not including installation, delivery or tax, the City is around $3,569 and the Family22 is around $6,432. You can find out more on their website here . + Myfood Images courtesy of Myfood

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Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year

New experimental architecture school to be built near reclaimed area of Aarhus, Denmark

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

For over 50 years, the Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark has been housed in a not-so-temporary location. But now the experimental school is about to get a major upgrade in a beautiful, sustainable new facility designed by Vargo Nielsen Palle , ADEPT , and Rolvung og Brøndsted . Not only is the school designed to inspire students, but to engage the local community as well. The new Aarhus School of Architecture is meant to be an experimental laboratory serving as a bridge between students and the city, with facilities for learning and community use. It’s right next to Aarhus’ Green Wedge, a reclaimed area once used for industrial purposes that was transformed into an open landscape. Passive and active ventilation clear the air inside, and optimized daylight conditions ensure an excellent working space inside the 139,930-square-foot building. Related: LEED Gold-seeking Santa Monica science facility uses architecture to teach students about sustainability Flexible spaces comprising workshops , studios, and public areas offer opportunities for experimentation inside the industrial structure. Vargo Nielsen Palle said in a statement, “When given the right tools and opportunity, people engage their surroundings…The school should not just be an institution for architecture – it should continue this open laboratory, sharing its tools and programs with the public to create opportunities for the informal evolution of architecture.” Aarhus School of Architecture rector Torben Nielsen said, “It is a powerful project that interweaves with its surroundings…It will be a factory for architectural experimentation that will set the stage for cooperation with the city, the profession, and our neighbors – just as we wanted.” Vargo Nielsen Palle, ADEPT, and Rolvung og Brøndsted designed the school together with engineering companies Tri-Consult and Steensen Varming . They won an international competition entered by heavy hitters like BIG and SANAA . The new school is expected to be complete in 2020. + Vargo Nielsen Palle + ADEPT + Rolvung og Brøndsted Via Aarhus School of Architecture Images courtesy of Vargo Nielsen Palle, ADEPT, and Rolvung og Brøndsted

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New experimental architecture school to be built near reclaimed area of Aarhus, Denmark

Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular urban land and air transport system

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Showcasing what could be the future of human transportation, Airbus and Italdesign unveiled their Pop.Up concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show yesterday – a modular ground and air transport system. With the goal of tackling rush hour traffic around the world, the companies have essentially created a car paired with a drone that can swoop down, pick it up and transport passengers far above the traffic below. Passengers use a smartphone app to call for the drone, and Airbus says the vehicle might one day be able to pair with future transport systems like Hyperloop . According to Airbus , their modular concept includes a capsule that connects to either a ground or air module, and can be integrated into other means of transportation. Trips in the vehicle are entirely managed by an artificial intelligence platform that offers passengers multiple optimized choices of transport combinations based on where and how they want to travel. Passengers can interact with the computer through their smartphone app, and enjoy the stress-free ride of an autonomous vehicle that travels on both land and air. Related: The world’s first flying car is finally available for pre-order The heart of the vehicle is the capsule, designed to house passengers. It becomes a city car by connecting with a battery-powered chassis ground module made of carbon fiber, to become an electric city car for two people. When traffic becomes too much to bear, the passengers can call on the air module powered by eight counter-rotating motors to come and pick up the capsule – leaving the chassis on the ground. It then essentially becomes a vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL), autonomous urban air vehicle . Airbus notes that upon depositing passengers at their destination, both the air and ground modules autonomously return to their respective charging stations to wait for their next customers. While it’s exciting, the project is likely to remain a concept for the time being, as neither Airbus nor Italdesign make any mention about production or launch of their new creation. Airbus technology incubator, A 3 is, however, hard at work on Project Vahana – a futuristic urban transit system that includes single-passenger aircraft. Via Airbus Images via Italdesign

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Airbus and Italdesign unveil modular urban land and air transport system

Archaeologist suggests ancient humans helped catalyze the Sahara’s desertification

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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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