Toward a playbook for public-private partnerships

May 1, 2018 by  
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Here’s a tool for building sustainable cities, whether in Charlotte or Detroit, San Francisco or New York City and beyond.

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Toward a playbook for public-private partnerships

How businesses are benefiting from Hawaiian Electric’s virtual power plant

May 1, 2018 by  
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Some, like amusement park Wet n’ Wild, are finding energy efficiency opportunities and receiving lower power bills.

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How businesses are benefiting from Hawaiian Electric’s virtual power plant

Behind Europe’s quest to scale industrial symbiosis

May 1, 2018 by  
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The European Union is putting considerable resources behind efforts to circularize resources and redefine the notion of waste.

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Behind Europe’s quest to scale industrial symbiosis

Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit

February 9, 2018 by  
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“Work hard, stay bumble,” is the motto of Detroit nonprofit Detroit Hives . The organization aims to conserve honeybees by turning abandoned urban lots into community bee farms. Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey started the nonprofit last year, and so far they’ve transformed one lot into a space with vegetable garden plots and three hives – and they’re just getting started. Something’s buzzing in Detroit. Detroit Hives is tackling a few issues, namely honeybee conservation , blight in the city created by vacant lots , and educating the community on bees . Paule told HuffPost the inspiration came from a cold that just wouldn’t go away. A local market worker told him to try local honey for its medicinal properties. He and Lindsey also began to realize how urban blight might play a part in allergies, as overgrown ragweeds took over. They could tackle that issue by producing local honey on vacant sites. Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free Lindsey and Paule took beekeeping courses and purchased their first vacant lot for $340 on Detroit’s East Side. Thousands of bees now buzz on the lot, and the neighbors love the farm, according to Lindsey. We transform Detroit Vacant lots into urban bee farms. We are responsible for a quarter of a million honey bees in the East Warren community and we offer tours and bee education for the community. Work Hard, Stay Bumble. #DetroitHives #Savethebees #UrbanBeekeeper #UrbanBeeFarm #Detroit #Michigan #PureMichigan #Nonprofit #VizzeeInc #Honey #Support #Donate #Canon #Beekeeper A post shared by Detroit Hives (@detroithives) on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:47pm PDT She told HuffPost, “They say they wish we were there 10, 20 years ago. That area has always been a place where people dump trash, so when we came there, we gave that area a sense of purpose. The neighbors keep an eye on the area to make sure that people aren’t dumping anymore.” We bring bee consciousness to your community by transforming blighted land into honey bee conservations. #beekeeping #DetroitHives #Michigan #PureMichigan #DNR #MDNR #urbanbeekeeper #blackgirlmagic #beeeducation #rawhoney #adidasoriginals #blackbeekeepers #blackbeekeeper A post shared by Detroit Hives (@detroithives) on Aug 4, 2017 at 10:58am PDT Per Black Enterprise, Detroit Hives has partnered with local vendors like The Black Bottom Brewery, Detroit Soup, and a homeless shelter to provide local, raw honey, and they also sell their sweet product. They offer public tours and speak at schools in the area to help the community learn more about bees. They aim to expand beyond their first farm this year. + Detroit Hives Via Black Enterprise and HuffPost Images via Eric Ward on Unsplash and Massimiliano Latella on Unsplash

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Vacant lots are being transformed into urban bee farms in Detroit

The sun is getting dimmer – but it won’t let us off the hook for global warming

February 9, 2018 by  
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Sun worshippers, take note – scientists say that Earth’s life-giving orb of light is dimming, and by 2050 we’ll be living in a colder, darker world than the one we know today. If you think that’s positive news for global warming, brace yourself: while we might get a short reprieve, in the long run, we are still as screwed as ever. The sun has a regular 11-year cycle in which solar radiation rises and falls. But according to a recent study in The Astrophysical journal Letters , for the past few cycles the high has been lower than normal. Consequently, the amount of heat and light we get from the sun has been dropping. In the next few decades, that effect is likely to continue, leaving us with 5 to 8% less radiation. The last time this happened was when the Earth went through what is known as a mini-Ice Age (aka The Grand Minimum to scientists), which happened during the mid-1600s. There’s some debate that this mini-Ice Age was actually due to volcanic activity, but the point is this: even though we may experience some reduction in the heat and light reaching the Earth, the rapidly warming planet is heating up faster than the sun is dimming. Which means that, in all likelihood, we may experience a few years that aren’t as hot as they could be, but they will still be hotter than normal. Related: Scientists Consider Blocking Out the Sun to Stop Climate Change Short term, this means that we might get a bit of a break from the effects of climate change. But the problem is that we humans have a hard time making difficult changes based on future consequences. If we start to see a lessening of global warming’s impact, many may conclude that the threat is over and continue business as usual. But eventually, the sun is going to heat back up, and when it does, we will be in really bad shape. + The Astrophysical journal Letters Via Outer Places Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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The sun is getting dimmer – but it won’t let us off the hook for global warming

6 urban farms feeding the world

October 26, 2017 by  
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A bustling city is the last place you’d ever expect to find a farm. But urban agriculture is alive and well, providing city dwellers with local, sustainable food.  These days, you can urban farms  inside warehouses, on top of buildings, and even on the tiniest plots of land. If you are looking to grow food in your city, take a look at these six different urban farming projects we’ve rounded up to highlight various creative antidotes to the pressing issue that is global food security . Detroit agrihood feeds 2,000 households for free The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative started a three-acre agrihood in Detroit to bring local, fresh produce to the neighborhood. The agrihood includes a two-acre garden, children’s sensory garden, 200-tree fruit orchard, and a Community Resource Center in the works. Nutritional illiteracy and food insecurity are two obstacles Detroit residents face, and the agrihood provides a community-friendly solution offering free produce to around 2,000 households. Related: Wind-powered vertical Skyfarms are the future of sustainable agriculture Rooftop farms in Gaza grow food where resources are scarce Urban farming initiatives don’t need to be massive to make a difference. The almost two-million population of Palestine’s Gaza Strip doesn’t have much land to farm, so in 2010 the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization introduced the concept of rooftop farming on a large scale by giving 200 homes equipment for aquaponic growing systems. Other Palestinians have built garden beds with recycled plastic and wood, planted with seeds from nearby farmers. Ahmad Saleh, a former professor and community organizer, said rooftop gardens empower people and help create healthier populations. Indianapolis warehouse farm is 100 percent powered by renewable energy Old warehouses are being transformed into farms in some areas of the world, like at Farm 360 in Indianapolis , Indiana. The farm’s hydroponic systems are completely powered by clean energy, and the indoor farm produces fresh, local food year-round. The nearby neighborhood had struggled with poverty and unemployment, and one of Farm 360’s goals was to boost economic growth by providing jobs close enough to where employees live for them to walk or bike to work. Farm on Tel Aviv mall roof produces 10,000 heads of greens every month Israel’s oldest mall, Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv , received a burst of life with the Green in the City rooftop farm. There’s no dirt necessary for the hydroponic systems able to churn out 10,000 heads of greens a month, inside two greenhouses boasting around 8,073 square feet of space. All of the produce is sold, largely to local homes and restaurants through online orders delivered by bicycle. The Green in the City garden was launched by hydroponics company LivinGreen and the sustainability department of Dizengoff Center to raise awareness of the food crisis and offer affordable local produce. World’s largest rooftop farm in Chicago can grow 10 million crops annually Chicago , Illinois is home to the world’s biggest rooftop garden after Brooklyn-based agriculture company Gotham Greens expanded out of New York to start the 75,000-square-foot garden on top of a Method Products manufacturing plant. William McDonough + Partners and Heitman Architects designed the project, which grows 10 million pesticide-free herbs and greens every year, all year round, inside a greenhouse facility powered by renewable energy . Massive Shanghai urban farm to feed nearly 24 million people Shanghai , China is home to over 24 million people, and a 100-hectare urban farm planned for the city could feed nearly all of them. Architecture firm Sasaki is behind the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District, which is designed to weave vertical farms among towers. Hydroponic and aquaponic methods, floating greenhouses, and algae farms are all part of the design. Images via The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative Facebook , Mohamed Hajjar , Esther Boston , © Lucy Wang , Gotham Greens, and ArchDaily

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6 urban farms feeding the world

MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

October 26, 2017 by  
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Americans consume 8.6 billion water bottles — every year. Of those, only 1 of 5 is recycled . Fortunately, a handful of MIT students have developed a solution to this problem, and it involves repurposing waste plastic bottles to reinforce concrete. Because the newly-invented method results in the concrete being more durable than existing concrete, plastic bottles may soon be used to construct everything from stronger building foundations to sidewalks and street barriers. According to the study , which was published in the journal Waste Management, MIT students discovered a method to produce concrete that is up to 20 percent stronger than conventional concrete. First, plastic flakes are exposed to small amounts of harmless gamma radiation . Then, they are pulverized into a fine powder, after which it is added to concrete. The discovery has far-reaching implications, as concrete is the second most widely used material on Earth (the first is water). MIT News reports that approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon emissions are generated by manufacturing concrete. By replacing small portions of concrete with recycled plastic, the cement industry’s toll on the environment would be reduced. The newly-discovered method would also prevent millions of water and soda bottles from ending up in landfills . Michael Short, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, said, “There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT students Carolyn Schaefer and Michael Ortega explored the possibility of plastic-reinforced concrete as part of their class’s Nuclear Systems Design Project. In the future, the team intends to experiment with different types of plastic , along with various doses of gamma radiation, to determine their effects on concrete. So far, they’ve determined that substituting 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic significantly improves the mixture’s strength. While this may not seem like a lot, it is enough to have a significant impact if implemented on a global scale. “Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” said Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”’’ Via MIT News Images via MIT , Pixabay

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MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

Schmidt Hammer Lassen adds modern Scandinavian design to Detroit

August 25, 2017 by  
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Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s first project in the U.S. will dramatically modernize the look of downtown Detroit . Expected to break ground in early 2018, the Monroe Block project is a mixed-use development with shimmering glass towers. The cluster of five buildings will feature pedestrian friendly design with plenty of greenery inside and out. Located next to Detroit’s historic theater district, the Monroe Block will comprise 810,000 square feet of office space , 170,000 square feet of retail, 482 apartments, and 48,000 square feet of public plazas and green space. Schmidt Hammer Lassen is working alongside local architects Neumann Smith and engineering firm Buro Happold. Developer Bedrock Detroit commissioned the project alongside a mixed-use development designed by SHoP Architects that includes Detroit’s tallest tower and will replace the historic Hudson’s department store. Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveils competition-winning design for the Shanghai Library “Our Scandinavian heritage has a strong influence on the way we approach city building on this scale,” said Schmidt Hammer Lassen senior partner Kristian Ahlmark according to Dezeen . “We always try to think urbanism, city space and the built environment in that order. In Detroit, we found many existing spaces that held a great amount of urban qualities, but laid undefined due to the vast amount of open space. Our project is very much about stitching together and re-establishing some of the indisputable qualities of the original masterplan.” The Monroe Block is expected for completion in early 2022. + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Via Dezeen

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Schmidt Hammer Lassen adds modern Scandinavian design to Detroit

True North Detroit is an affordable live-work community made from prefab Quonset huts

August 23, 2017 by  
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A number of grassroots initiatives and organizations are revitalizing Detroit as a testing ground for urban innovation. Edwin Chan and his Los Angeles–based design practice EC3 recognized the potential of the city’s underutilized community spaces and recently completed True North Detroit , a half-acre live-work community made from lightweight prefabricated Quonset huts. This small complex of nine vaulted buildings offers affordable housing for Detroit’s growing creative population. Located in the Core City neighborhood, about two and a half miles northwest of downtown, the community breathes new life into an area that consists mostly of vacant lots. Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free “The majority of Detroit’s housing stock is either out of date or completely dilapidated,” Edwin Chan said. “Rather than being determined by ‘market demands,’ True North’s design is an inclusive and aspirational vision to create a new typology of affordable housing and to promote alternative, creative lifestyles in one of the world’s most iconic cities.” Related: These tiny houses help minimum wage workers become homeowners in Detroit The architects modified the original shape of the Quonset huts to create more elongated, higher spaces ideal for a variety of activities. The center island houses the kitchens, bathrooms, and utilities. This space is built from durable polycarbonate , while the rest of the structure has a more transparent envelope that allows natural light into the interior. Affordable materials and building methods were used in the construction of the apartments, which range from 475 to 1,600 square feet. + Edwin Chan + True North Detroit Via Archpaper

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True North Detroit is an affordable live-work community made from prefab Quonset huts

People are using recycled laptop batteries to power their homes

August 23, 2017 by  
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Why spend thousands of dollars on a Tesla Powerwall when you could build your own – for a fraction of the cost? This is a question many alternative energy enthusiasts have asked, and it is ultimately what has led hundreds of people to develop their own versions using recycled laptop batteries. Now that plans for DIY Powerwalls are being shared for free online, several people have created rigs capable of storing far more energy than the Tesla version. On Facebook , YouTube and in forums , people are learning how to safely create their own DIY versions that cost much less than a Tesla Powerwall. One of the most popular powerwall builders is Jehu Garcia . He told Vice, “It’s the future. It’s clean, simple, efficient and powerful.” Joe Williams , another DIY powerwall enthusiast, added ”The end result is being able to rely on something I not only built myself but understand the ins and outs of to power some or all of my electricity in my home. That is inspiring.” There are several DIY versions capable of storing more energy than Tesla’s Powerwall. On the French forum  Diypowerwalls.com , user Glubux said his powerwall can store 28 kWh of energy. “I run all the house with it, in fact I even bought an electric oven and induction cooking plate to use the extra energy during summer,” they said. Australian YouTuber Peter Matthews claims he has created a gigantic battery that can store 40 kWh of energy. Reportedly, it harvests power from over 40 solar panels on Matthews’ roof and stores nearly enough power for his home’s electricity needs. “The only things I don’t run are the big air conditioners and the water heating system,” he said. The alternative energy aficionado created DIYpowerwalls as well as the most popular powerwall Facebook group . Related: Mercedes takes on the Tesla Powerwall with a new battery for buildings Most of the powerwall hobbyists recommend using 18650 lithium-ion batteries for their projects. The batteries are usually encased in a colorful plastic and can be found inside electronics, such as laptops. If sourced online or from a computer store, the batteries will cost more than $5 a piece. If obtained second-hand, from old Dell, HP, Lenovo and LG laptops, it’s possible to save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars on the project. Of course, one might meet challenges collecting the batteries , as tech companies frown upon their creative repurposing. A positive effect of the DIY powerwall trend is that it reduces waste . According to Carl E. Smith, the CEO and president of  Call2Recycle , approximately 95 percent of consumer batteries which are sold in the US are not recycled and are ultimately thrown away. ”Virtually all batteries can be recycled into valuable secondary products which is the biggest reason why they should not be landfilled and should be recycled instead,” he said. Though it can be time-consuming to source the used batteries, it’s a worthwhile investment according to DIY powerwall enthusiasts. And, if one carefully follows instructions when building their own version (such as those that follow), the risk of burning down one’s house is minimized. Ultimately, there is a risk associated with creating your own energy storage device, but the trend can’t be ignored as it grows in popularity. Via Motherboard Vice Images via  Daniel Römer ,  Jehu Garcia ,  Glubux

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People are using recycled laptop batteries to power their homes

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