Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The Netherlands’ legendary Afsluitdijk dike has been in use for 85 years but it needed a renovation — so the Dutch government turned to designer Daan Roosegaarde for help. Studio Roosegaarde recently unveiled their Icoon Afsluitdijk project featuring three eye-catching designs: Gates of Light, Windvogel, and Glowing Nature, with elements from clean power -generating kites to live bioluminescent algae . Studio Roosegaarde launched three striking designs at the Afsluitdijk. Icoon Afsluitdijk is intended to bolster the causeway’s iconic value, with the installations bringing light to the area after sunset. Related: Daan Roosegaarde unveils mind-expanding 295-foot SPACE installation in Eindhoven Gates of Light includes restored 1932 floodgates fitted with prisms that reflect light from vehicle headlights. If there are no cars by the Gates of Light – which the studio described as an example of a “futuristic and energy neutral landscape” – the structures don’t light up. Studio Roosegaarde said they were inspired to utilize retroreflection based on how butterfly wings reflect light. Windvogel could offer enough power for 200 households. The smart kites’ lines move back and forth in the wind to generate energy , much like a dynamo on a bicycle, according to Studio Roosegaarde. Glowing Nature is an exhibit in the dike’s historic bunkers featuring living algae. The bioluminescent microorganisms only light up when touched under optimal conditions and care. They could offer inspiration for light or energy solutions for the future, according to the studio. Roosegaarde said in a statement, “The Afsluitdijk represents a part of Dutch daring and innovation. We live with water, we fight with water, and we endeavor a new harmony…By adding a subtle layer of light and interaction, we enhance the beauty of the dike and form new links between man and landscape, darkness and light, poetry and practice.” Gates of Light will become a permanent part of the dike. Glowing Nature and Windvogel can be glimpsed until January 21, 2018. + Studio Roosegaarde Images courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

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Iconic Dutch dike renovation opens with energy-generating kites that can power 200 homes

This brilliant project turns plastic waste into 3D-printed benches for Amsterdam

November 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

Rotterdam-based studio The New Raw is rallying citizens to turn their household plastic waste into stylish public furniture. Their “Print Your City!” initiative combines 3D printing with recycling to re-design urban space. The first prototype to come out of this call to action is the XXX bench, designed for the Municipality of Amsterdam. According to recent reports, Amsterdam residents generate 23 kg of plastic waste per person annually. Rotterdam-based studio The New Raw has worked out that this amounts to enough plastic to build one bench for every two Amsterdammers every year. The team collaborated with Aectual to 3D-print their first piece of 100% recycled furniture, the XXX bench. Related: World’s First Wrench 3D-Printed with Recycled Ocean Plastic Wins Innovation Award The XXX bench seats two to four people and takes the form of a double-sided rocking chair. The balance required for it to function makes a statement on working together to close the cycle for plastic. Print Your City! was kick-started in 2016 as part of the AMS Institute’s Circular City Program and it’s supported by TU Delft and AEB Amsterdam. + The New Raw + Aectual

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This brilliant project turns plastic waste into 3D-printed benches for Amsterdam

Swytch is revolutionizing the e-bike conversion system

November 16, 2017 by  
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Wheels like the GeoOrbital and Copenhagen Wheel will turn your standard bike into an electric one, but their weight can make it impossible to pedal far in non-electric mode. That’s why we’re so into the new Swytch eBike conversion kit. Swytch puts the electronics and battery on your handlebar, leaving your wheel light and easy to pedal, even when you aren’t in e-bike mode. Electric wheel conversion kits are heavy because they have to carry the battery, motor and electronics all within in the wheel structure. That makes it difficult to pedal when you aren’t using the electric assist. But Swytch claims to eliminate that problem by putting the battery and electronics in a pack that attaches to your handlebars, leaving just the motor on the wheel. That makes it so you can leave the wheel on full-time and still use the bike in non- e-bike mode. The pack can also be mounted in a few seconds (after the initial installation), so you can switch back and forth as needed. More: Swap-in wheel converts any bike into an electric within 60 seconds The pack also includes a light to improve visibility, and riders can control the amount of electric assistance and check range using a control panel on the top of the pack. It also weighs in at a scant 8.6 pounds (10.6 if you choose the larger battery). That’s half of the weight of the electric wheels out there, which typically weigh around 20 pounds. It’s also more versatile, fitting on any size wheel. That means you can now electrify your Penny-farthing, Kickbike or recumbent bike. The small battery has a 25-mile range, while the larger one can take you 50 miles. If you want to snatch up a Swytch, they are running and Indiegogo campaign (which has already surpassed its goal). You can get a kit for $299 right now, over half off the retail price of $650. That’s cheaper than other wheels, which sit in the $1,000 – $1,500 range. + Swytch Indiegogo Via New Atlas

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Swytch is revolutionizing the e-bike conversion system

World’s largest botanical garden to bloom in the desert of Oman

November 15, 2017 by  
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Perhaps the dry desert landscape of Oman may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of lush forests, but the Arabian nation is getting a massive infusion of greenery with the world’s largest botanical garden . Showcasing the country’s rich bio-diversity, the Oman Botanic Garden – designed by Arup, Grimshaw and Haley Sharpe Design – will be a whopping 1,037 acres of land filled with native flora, with two beautiful biomes housing the country’s most unique plant species. Located in the foothills of the Al Hajar Mountains in the Sultanate of Oman, the botanical garden’s site is one of the few locations in the world where the ancient sea bed is still visible after the landscape was elevated by tectonic activity. Working with this unique landscape, the architects designed a complex that would blend into the Mars-esque environment. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: 7 best botanical gardens from around the world Visitors to the gardens will enjoy open walkways that run through the undulating landscape, winding through the wadis, mountains and desert plains as they enjoy the impressive botanic diversity. Inside the two biomes, which house the most unique or sensitive flora, the interior environments were carefully designed to mimic the natural temperature and humidity of the plants’ native climate. Along with the visitors center, the complex will have additional spaces for education and research facilities dedicated to protecting the region’s ample bio-diversity. The garden’s buildings and the landscape architecture were all designed to meet the standards of LEED Platinum . Making the design sustainable was quite a challenge given the region’s water scarcity. Thanks to advanced systems, the entire complex will operate with a grey water irrigation system that works in collaboration with sustainably-sourced water. + Arup + Grimshaw + Haley Sharpe Design Via World Architecture News

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World’s largest botanical garden to bloom in the desert of Oman

MIT and Lamborghini designed an electric supercar – and it’s incredible

November 14, 2017 by  
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Looking for the car of your dreams? We’ve found it. Lamborghini recently partnered with MIT to produce a futuristic, semi-autonomous car that’s as sexy as it is eco-friendly. As you might expect, the Terzo Millennio looks like a Lamborghini supercar. But its sleek, sharp angles aren’t its most impressive feature. The vehicle’s carbon fiber body actually stores energy – and it’s able to heal itself. Lamborghini and MIT sought to develop a supercar for the generation after the next that focuses on five distinct areas: energy, materials, storage, propulsion, design, and emotion. The Terzo Millennio has four electric motors — one in each wheel. This allows for more freedom in the design, as all the motor-related parts are hidden in the wheel wells. Rather than relying on standard batteries, the vehicle is powered by supercapacitors. CNET reports that supercapacitors “accept and deliver charge faster than batteries can, while withstanding numerous charge cycles and featuring storage capacities much higher than standard capacitators.” Related: MIT students find a way to make stronger concrete with plastic bottles New technology can monitor the car’s carbon fiber structure. This prevents a small crack (for example) from growing and altering the charge of the vehicle. The MIT researchers refer to this as a “self-repairing” process. The Terzo Millennio is also designed to be semi-autonomous . This means it will work with the driver to help them become more proficient at handling the vehicle and navigating roads. Technically, it could ferry around a passenger, but the vehicle treats autonomy as a means to an end instead of the end itself. + Lamborghini Via CNET Images via Lamborghini

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MIT and Lamborghini designed an electric supercar – and it’s incredible

Smart living wall monitored by artificial intelligence purifies indoor air

November 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

We spend around 22 hours per day inside, often exposed to more pollutants than we are outside. In an effort to improve indoor air quality and reconnect humans with nature , Finland -based health technology company Naava has designed a smart green wall monitored by sensors and artificial intelligence . They describe their product as a “fully automated air purifier, humidifier, and living plant wall all in one,” and even boast a scientific study to support the claim that their wall sucks pollutants out of the air. The philosophy behind Naava’s green wall is fairly simple: plants absorb air, the microbes of their roots purify that air, and then fans send the purified air back into the room. Plants grow in a soiless growth medium on the vertical garden , which can be attached to a wall or act as a space divider. It can even be set up on a wheelbase to move freely around a room. The green wall is equipped with an integrated water tank, and doesn’t require natural light as it has a lamp. Related: Nearly 10,000 plants grow on NYC’s largest public indoor green wall Naava co-founder and chief technology officer Niko Järvinen said in a statement , “Every American inhales as much as 3,000 gallons of contaminated indoor air every day…Humans are not at their most efficient and healthiest in an artificial indoor environment. Naava wants to change that and create human-friendly and health-enhancing indoors spaces with the help of the world’s only smart green wall.” The green walls naturalize 650 square feet of air, according to the company. They say their product reduces harmful chemicals in the air, and a study released online late October in the journal Air Quality, Atmosphere, and Health seems to back that up. Seven researchers from institutions in Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom tested Naava’s green wall and found a high level of volatile organic compound removal efficiency, according to the study. The Naava service team maintains the green walls every four to six weeks, and charges $249 a month for their Nature as a Service solution. The team boasts more than 1,000 smart green wall installations, and recently introduced their green wall to the United States at this year’s Greenbuild . They also recently opened a New Jersey production facility. + Naava Images courtesy of Naava

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Smart living wall monitored by artificial intelligence purifies indoor air

These magenta greenhouses grow plants faster while generating clean energy

November 8, 2017 by  
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Could a new rose-colored glass change the world of greenhouse design? A UC Santa Cruz spinoff called Soliculture has discovered that covering greenhouses in magenta solar panels allows plants to grow better while generating electricity more efficiently and at less cost than with traditional photovoltaic systems. The pinkish panels are a new technology called Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs). A bright magenta luminescent dye is embedded into the panel glass. The dark color absorbs blue and green wavelengths of light and transfers the energy to the photovoltaic strips, where electricity is generated and used to power the greenhouse’s fans, heaters, watering systems, etc. The idea behind the technology is to convert greenhouses into ultra-efficient food production systems that can operate completely off-grid . Related: Solar-powered aquaponic greenhouses grow up to 880 lbs of produce each year The team behind Soliculture conducted a study to compare the growing conditions of traditional, transparent greenhouses with the new magenta-clad buildings. Using a variety of plants, including 20 varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, limes, peppers, strawberries and basil, the researchers monitored both photosynthesis and fruit production in both structures. The results of the study showed that 80 percent of the plants weren’t affected by the magenta light, and 20 percent of the inventory actually grew better. Even better, the tomato plants grown in the WSPV houses required 5 percent less water. According to Soliculture co-founder Prof. Michael Loik, the colored panels were a bit of an experiment,”I thought the plants would grow more slowly, because it’s darker under these pink panels,” says Loik. “Plants are sensitive not just to the intensity of light but also to color. But it turns out the plants grow just as well.” + Soliculture Via New Atlas Images via Soliculture and Elena Zhukova/UC Santa Cruz

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These magenta greenhouses grow plants faster while generating clean energy

NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants

November 3, 2017 by  
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In its quest to sustainably serve the needs of urban farmers , NexLoop  found inspiration for its water management system in the natural world. Seeking to create a system that is self-sufficient and adaptable to local needs, the NexLoop team observed the ability of cribellate orb weaver spiders to craft webs that capture water from fog in the air. The team then incorporated this design into their system, called the AquaWeb, to passively capture water from the atmosphere. The biomimetically-designed AquaWeb incorporates ideas from fungi, bees, and plants to create a naturally-inspired solution to the complex human problem of growing food. For its work, NexLoop was awarded the 2017 Ray of Hope Prize from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and the Biomimicry Institute. After determining how water capture would work, the team looked at drought-tolerant plants such as the crystalline ice plant to learn how it effectively stores water to survive in dry areas and applied these lessons to the AquaWeb’s storage system. As for distribution of this water, the team studied fungi , which are essential organisms in places like forests where mycorrhizal fungal networks transport water and nutrients to trees that need them. As for a solid structure, the team incorporated the hexagonal shape of honey bee nests. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry The AquaWeb seeks to meet the needs of a global community that is increasingly urban . The global population is expected rise to at least 9 billion by 2050, 70 percent of which will live in cities. This historic shift towards urban living will require adoption of food systems that are locally based, resilient, and efficient in its use of resources. AquaWeb’s passive capture and storage of rainwater is a key feature for stability in a world increasingly plagued by extreme weather. As part of the 2017 Ray of Hope Prize, the NexLoop team received $100,000 to promote and refine its design. The second place prize was awarded to Team Windchill, which designed an electricity-free refrigerator based on animal temperature regulation, while the third place prize went to Team Evolution’s Solutions, which invented a food waste nutrient recycling and supply system aimed to help hydroponic farmers . + Biomimicry Institute Images via NexLoop and Depositphotos

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NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants

Richard Branson’s plan to help rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy

November 3, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy could help islands in the Caribbean be more resilient in the face of future hurricanes – and billionaire Richard Branson wants to make that happen. He’s spearheading a plan for recovery centering on renewable energy. Replacing fossil fuel power grids with clean energy sources like solar and wind could also promote economic development. Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Caribbean islands. Now, Branson aims to help them rebuild. He has spoken with lenders and foundations about a fund to pay for a Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan, a name that nods to the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe following World War 2. His efforts, which focus on renewable energy, could also include debt relief negotiations in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) might be involved – Branson met with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and said she was willing to facilitate meetings between creditors and Caribbean nations. He also said in a blog post he met recently with over 50 representatives from Caribbean governments and utility companies. Related: Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “We want to move the Caribbean countries into clean energy and make them more sustainable, which will make dealing with hurricanes much easier. The Caribbean heads of state agree with one voice that this is a good idea.” Branson rode out Hurricane Irma in a cellar on Necker, his private island in the British Virgin Islands. The island’s solar-powered microgrid weathered the storm well, he said, with the solar panels running again just 24 hours after the hurricane. In a blog post, Branson said people interested in helping could donate to the BVI Community Support Appeal , which aims “to raise money for the long term reconstruction” of the British Virgin Islands. Via the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Richard Branson Images via Caribbean Buzz Helicopters/Virgin and Ricardo Rossello on Twitter

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Richard Branson’s plan to help rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy

Colorful Peoples Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials

November 3, 2017 by  
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All the materials needed to build this temporary pavilion in the Netherlands are borrowed. bureau SLA and Overtreders W built the People’s Pavilion – a centerpiece of the Dutch Design Week (DDW) taking place in Eindhoven – using materials from suppliers and Eindhoven residents which will be returned after the event closes. The only exception is the faceted upper façade, which is made of plastic household waste materials collected by Eindhoven residents. The People’s Pavilion will function as the main pavilion of the World Design Event in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which provides a platform for future makers from all over the world. It will also be used as a meeting place and hang-out for visitors and serves as a venue for music and theater. Related: Spectacular origami pavilion made of recycled plastic pops up in Columbus, Indiana The 269-square-foot (25-square-meter) building can accommodate 200 seated or 600 standing people. Its structure is based on 12 concrete foundation piles and 19 wooden frames, designed in collaboration with Arup. Steel straps hold together wooden beams , while concrete piles and frames are connected with 350 tensioning straps. The glass roof resembles those used in the greenhouse industry. Related: The Folkets House is an inclusive space where refugees can learn skills and find jobs Colorful plastic tiles cover the upper façade of the building and are made from recycled plastic household waste . Leftovers from a refurbishment of BOL.com’s headquarters were used for the glass portion of the façade on the ground floor and will be reused for a new office space after the Dutch Design Week concludes. All the materials, including concrete slabs used for the podium, lighting, heating and bar are borrowed. + bureau SLA + Overtreders W + Dutch Design Week 

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Colorful Peoples Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials

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