Indian Railways installing rooftop solar panels on 250 trains

June 23, 2017 by  
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Some of the world’s most polluting cities may be found in India, but the country’s government, as well as private corporations, are working hard to transition the economy into a more sustainable one. Indian Railways, for instance, is installing flexible solar panels on 250 local trains. The intention is to reduce fuel costs and benefit the environment while lowering the company’s own emissions to meet government standards. The railway has not yet decided which trains will receive the solar panels but has floated the money to install the systems, which will be used to power lights and fans on the trains. According to The Economic Times , companies selected through the process will need to install flexible solar panels and battery systems on six trains. Following a two-month trial period, large-scale implementation will take place. The initiative is expected to give another boost to India’s rapidly growing renewable energy program, especially since the trains would primarily run in areas where tracks have yet to be electrified. Related: New project could see UK electric trains powered by off-grid solar As Clean Techies reports, Indian Railways has undertaken numerous initiatives to shift to clean energy sources. Earlier this year, it was announced by the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that “7,000 railway stations across the country will be fed with solar power as per the Indian Railways mission to implement 1,000 megawatts of solar power capacity.” The news was shared during the union budget speech on February 1, 2017. Minister Jaitley also said that work to set up rooftop solar power systems at 300 stations has already begun and that the number will increase to 2,000 stations. Because of initiatives such as these, Indian Railways could potentially source up to 25% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2025, according to a study conducted by the United Nations Development Program. The report reads, “The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has found that Indian Railways could set up 5 gigawatts of solar power capacity, through rooftop and utility-scale projects, to significantly increase its consumption of renewable energy over the next few years.” As a result of solar prices declining in recent months, India has canceled plans to construct nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations . Experts now expect a profound shift in global energy markets. Via The Economic Times , Clean Techies Images via Pixabay  and Unsplash ( 1 , 2 )

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Indian Railways installing rooftop solar panels on 250 trains

The 2018 Nissan Leaf will feature semi-autonomous driving technology

June 23, 2017 by  
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We’re just a few months away from the debut of the all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf – and the automaker just announced a killer feature for its next-generation electric vehicle. In addition to a complete restyling and a longer driving range , the 2018 Leaf will be able to drive itself with Nissan’s new ProPILOT Assist autonomous technology. ProPILOT Assist can take over driving tasks on the highway, which includes accelerating, braking and steering controls. The 2018 Leaf won’t have the full SAE Level 4 technology, which would give it the ability to also drive autonomously on city streets. Nissan says that “in the coming years” the ProPILOT Assist technology will be improved to give it the ability to navigate city intersections. Related: Nissan is working on a new 340-mile-range electric car Nissan hasn’t revealed any details about the 2018 Leaf’s powertrain – and most importantly – what its new driving range will be. It’s being reported that the 2018 Leaf will be offered with two battery options, similar to what Tesla does with its models. The bigger battery pack could give the 2018 Leaf a driving range close to 300 miles, which would easily beat the Chevy Bolt and the upcoming Tesla Model 3. The 2018 Nissan Leaf will be officially revealed in early September. Images @Nissan + Nissan

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The 2018 Nissan Leaf will feature semi-autonomous driving technology

FOLKK puts a sustainable twist on handcrafted products by Balkan artisans

June 16, 2017 by  
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A group of Belgrade-based designers are on a mission to revive the centuries-long craftsmanship of Balkan artisans through sustainable production techniques and the use of locally available materials . Working under the auspices of the Nova Iskra design hub, FOLKK tackles the issue of rural exodus by enabling local makers to sustainably produce homewares such as kilims, pillows, wooden plates, knitting and serving boards. Envisioned as a decentralized network, FOLKK connects designers and makers to collaborate, learn and create affordable home products imbued with the spirit of sustainability. The team has already gathered over 200 creatives from the Balkan region and selected 12 participants who cooperated with designers to manufacture 30 product proposals. After several months, they produced 10 beautiful prototypes that combine ethnic-styled motifs and local folklore heritage with modern-day functional requirements. Related: Abyssinia pendant lamps are made by Ethiopian crafters out of discarded plastic bottles Among FOLKK’s prototypes is a beautiful hand-woven pillow stuffed with unprocessed wool collected from Serbian shepherds. Weavers from the south of Serbia use traditional techniques , looms and tools to make kilims, while the two-sided food plates and modular serving boards showcase the beauty of locally harvested wood . Related: This cozy mountain retreat in Serbia was built using locally sourced timber Two thirds of FOLKK’s revenue goes directly to the makers, while the remaining sum gets reinvested in the development of new products and reaching out to new makers. The team has launched a Kickstarter campaign offering a variety of goodies to backers. The campaign is great opportunity to get your hands on original, hand-made products from the Balkan region, and help keep traditional craftsmanship alive at the same time. + FOLKK Kickstarter campaign + FOLKK + Nova Iskra

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FOLKK puts a sustainable twist on handcrafted products by Balkan artisans

Artist wraps vintage steam locomotive in 39,000 square feet of aluminum foil

June 16, 2017 by  
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All aboard! Polish artist Piotr Janowski made waves a few years ago when he covered an entire Florida home in aluminum foil – and his latest work is equally massive and just as shimmery. The artist just unveiled “Get Off Lodz Fabryczna,” a vintage 1953 steam locomotive covered in 39,000 square feet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Built in 1953, the steam locomotive Px 48 is over 42 feet long and weighs 30 tons. Working with 14 local art students, Janowski covered every inch of the massive vehicle in just four days. The art installation was created to mark the opening of the new Train Station ?ód? Fabryczna and was carefully unveiled at the front of the station, where it’s been on display since December 2016. Related: Why did this Florida man cover his entire house with aluminum foil? According to the artist, the shiny installation is meant to inspire people to find new ways to look at common objects that often go overlooked in our daily lives: “It is very important for me to involve the urban and the natural environment into my art and to open new perspectives. Aluminum as a medium gives me the chance to gain great depth and vibrations of colors and tones mirroring the surrounding space.” + Piotr Janowski Images via Piotr Janowski

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Artist wraps vintage steam locomotive in 39,000 square feet of aluminum foil

Brazil declares official end to Zika virus epidemic

May 12, 2017 by  
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It’s time to pack your bags! For the past 18 months, travelers have been wary of visiting Brazil due to the mosquito-borne Zika virus – and for good reason. One of the defects, microcephaly, results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. Because cases have dramatically dropped in recent months, however, officials have finally declared an end to the threat. Between January and April, 2017, the number of Zika cases dropped by 95 percent, compared to the same period a year ago. Additionally, zero people have died this year, compared to eight people between January and April, 2016. This development is what prompted officials to declare an end to the public health emergency. The Guardian reports that during the 2016 Olympics , the threat of the Zika virus was at its peak. Athletes and spectators were concerned they would contract the virus, and one female athlete – a Spanish windsurfer – says she contracted Zika while training in Brazil ahead of the Games. In response to the outbreak, Brazil launched a campaign targeted at eradicating mosquitos in the country. Those efforts have resulted in a dramatic decline of Zika cases. Though the World Health Organization (WHO) lifted its own international emergency in November 2016, Brazil has only now declared an end to the virus – which is transported by mosquitos and sexual contact. Related: Zika virus can remain in sperm for twice as long as previously thought The WHO warns that the virus is “here to stay.” Though a decline in cases is a good sign, the battle will be an ongoing one. Said Adeilson Cavalcante, secretary for health surveillance at Brazil’s health ministry, “The end of the emergency doesn’t mean the end of surveillance or assistance” to those who are affected. She added, “The health ministry and other organisations involved in this area will maintain a policy of fighting Zika, dengue and chikungunya.” Via The Guardian Images via Business Insider , Alabama Today

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Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

May 2, 2017 by  
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Are humans an endangered species ? Some scientists think so. Author Phil Torres wrote a piece for Salon detailing evidence from various sources – from climate change data to a recent article by theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking – showing the possibility of an apocalypse that could occur in some of our lifetimes. Torres said, “We are in a unique moment of human history, one marked by an exceptionally high probability of disaster.” Climate change isn’t the only issue humanity must contend with today. Overpopulation , ocean acidification, antibiotic resistance , and the potential of a global pandemic threaten us. In a December 2016 article for The Guardian , Hawking said, “Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together…we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.” And all of this while an anti-intellectual president sits in the White House. Related: Scientists say we have 10 years to save Earth Donald Trump’s election prompted The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists to move the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand 30 seconds closer to midnight – the closest it’s been since 1953. In a New York Times article , scientists Lawrence Krauss and David Titley wrote their organization made the move because Trump had pledged to impede progress on climate change action and nuclear proliferation. They aren’t the only scientists predicting disaster. Microbiologist Frank Fenner, whose work helped defeat smallpox, said in 2010 “humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction , and climate change.” Biologist Neil Dawe said it wouldn’t surprise him if the generation following him saw the end of humanity. Ecologist Guy McPherson went so far as to say humanity could be extinct by 2026 . But we don’t have to go the way of the dinosaurs just yet. Hawking said humanity must break down barriers inside and outside nations, and help equip people for a changing economy with training and financial support. He said he is an optimist for our species, but elites must learn lessons from 2016 – and “above all a measure of humility.” Via Salon Images via David Blackwell. on Flickr and Lwp Kommunikáció on Flickr

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Several scientists predict the apocalypse will occur uncomfortably soon

Thailands first LEED Platinum vertical village to rise in Bangkok

April 17, 2017 by  
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Thailand’s wealthiest man, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, has teamed up with architecture firm SOM to plan One Bangkok, a $3.5 billion project that will be first in Thailand to target LEED Platinum certification for Neighborhood Development. Located in the heart of the capital next to Lumphini Park, the 16.7-acre mixed-use development is one of the largest private-sector developments in Thailand to date. The “people-centric” project will include luxury amenities, public spaces, and sustainable design technologies to reduce energy use. SOM designed One Bangkok to “foster community and promote well-being in a dense urban environment” using attractive streetscapes, eight acres of public plazas, and a mixed-use program. In addition to public space, the 1.83-million-square-meter project will comprise five Grade-A office towers, five luxury hotels, three luxury residential towers, and retail. An estimated 60,000 people are expected to live and work in the district upon completion in 2025. Related: SOM designs pedestrian-friendly revamp for the heart of Philadelphia To achieve LEED Platinum certification for Neighborhood Development, One Bangkok will centralize energy and water-management systems to maximize efficiency. The landscape optimizes stormwater management efficiency by reducing runoff and retaining rainwater onsite for absorption and return to groundwater. Green spaces are also integrated into the buildings on higher levels, from cascading green terraces to networks of sky gardens. The first stage of One Bangkok is expected to open in 2021. + SOM Renderings via SOM , Diagram via PPtv Thailand

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Thailands first LEED Platinum vertical village to rise in Bangkok

NASA announces alien life could be thriving on one of Saturn’s moons

April 13, 2017 by  
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In a live broadcast today, NASA researchers announced the agency has uncovered the existence of key ingredients for life as we know it on Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus . Scientists already knew that the moon had liquid water on the surface, due to the presence of geysers spewing water near the moon’s south pole. Now, hydrogen has been detected in those jets of water, which suggests the strong possibility that Enceladus’s oceans could support microbial life. It may seem strange that an ice-covered world like Enceladus is being looked at as a potential source of extraterrestrial life, but beneath the planet’s icy shell spans a worldwide ocean over a rocky core. The ice is thought to act as a protective outer layer for the sea, the same way that our atmosphere protects Earth and makes life possible on our own planet. In fact, NASA is closely observing many of these “ ocean worlds ” for signs of life. While Enceladus’s geysers have been known to scientists since 2005, this is the first time the Cassini probe has been able to detect any traces of possible life within them. It’s believed that the plumes originate in a hydrothermal system within the moon’s core, estimated to be 2 1/2 times more powerful than the one that drives Yellowstone’s geysers and hot springs. Despite the icy outer shell, the gravitational pull of Saturn provides heat for the water in the moon’s interior, another encouraging sign for the development of life. Related: Trump plans to strip NASA’s earth science division, promote mission to Mars This new information about the moon comes from October 2015, when the Cassini craft flew into the plumes themselves, a mere 30 miles above the moon’s surface. The probe was able to capture particles from the plume inside a piece of equipment called an Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer, which can analyze the makeup of material encountered on its journey through space. The probe detected a number of interesting organic molecules, including molecular hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. The level of hydrogen , in particular, was surprising to researchers . This volatile gas isn’t easily captured on small, icy worlds like Enceladus, so there must be some chemical process beneath the surface producing the molecules. It may be that hot water from the ocean is flowing into iron-rich cracks in the sea floor, causing a chemical reaction that is constantly replenishing the ocean’s supply of molecular hydrogen. This is the same process that happens in Earth’s own hydrothermal vents , which helps fuel the strange and diverse ecosystems of the deep oceans. Because we’re familiar with exactly how this process supports Earth life, there’s a strong possibility that life could thrive on Enceladus in the same way. Unfortunately, we don’t currently have the instruments necessary to detect life directly on these watery worlds – only to look for the chemical indications of an environment that could potentially support it. Related: NASA discovers 7 Earth-sized planets outside our solar system NASA also today announced that they had found evidence of similar water plumes on Jupiter’s moon Europa , though less is known about their makeup. Unlike the Saturn Cassini mission, scientists don’t currently have an up-close view of Europa. Instead, they had to rely on data from the Hubble Space Telescope , which has been monitoring the moon to try to learn more about the makeup of its oceans. We may not know for certain until the 2020s, when NASA’s Europa Clipper mission is scheduled to launch. Via NASA Images via NASA/JPL

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NASA announces alien life could be thriving on one of Saturn’s moons

Zaha Hadid Architects unveil plans for spectacular Eco Park in England

April 7, 2017 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects just unveiled plans for a state-of-the-art technology hub and slatted-timber footbridge at a new eco park in Gloucestershire, England. The architects previously won a competition to design the entire business park, including its Green Technology Hub, the new Forest Green Rovers football stadium and a footbridge linking the two main sides of the development. The 100-acre Eco Park, commissioned by renewable energy company Ecotricity, will offer state-of-the-arts sporting facilities and an additional 50 acres for a green technology business park expected to create up to 4,000 jobs. Aiming to become carbon neutral or negative by generating energy on-site, Eco Park is expected to enhance biodiversity and create a unique connection between sustainability, sports and technology. Related: Jared Kushner’s 666 tower by Zaha Hadid gets reimagined as the Eye of Sauron Eco Park’s glasshouse-like Green Technology Hub features distinctive timber slates that cover the buildings and match the material of the bowl-shaped stadium and the footbridge . “The Green Technology Hub proposals apply the latest sustainable design technologies with ecologically sound materials and construction methods to create an integrated community for world-leading research and development,” said Zaha Hadid Architects. Related: Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza focuses on environmental sustainability “The bridge design creates one single, fluid form by fusing together individual timber elements,” added the architects. “This important, unifying gesture builds connections for the community, conveying Eco Park as a facility for all.” + Zaha Hadid Architects Via Dezeen

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Zaha Hadid Architects unveil plans for spectacular Eco Park in England

Star-shaped Schneider Electric building in South Africa aims for LEED Gold certification

February 7, 2017 by  
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The Midrand Waterfall Development in South Africa will soon receive a couple of world-class, energy-efficient additions aiming for the highest green certification in the country. The first among them, the Schneider Electric office designed by Aevitas Group is a star-shaped structure optimized for a superior energy performance, targeting a LEED Gold certification . Located on a five-sided site, the building assumes a star-shaped form. It was designed as a perimeter building with a central, enclosed, quadruple-volume atrium flooded with natural light that penetrates the interior through large skylights. The atrium features landscaped elements and planters that double as public seating. Related: BIG’s battleship-inspired LEED Gold office opens in Philadelphia The architects conducted extensive energy performance studies, analyzing thermal loads on the building. As a result, the facades are single glazed, double glazed and clad in insulated aluminium panels . Thanks to low-flow fittings, the water consumption has been reduced by 30 percent, while the efficient drip-irrigation systems reduce water consumption by 55 percent. An efficient waste management plan reduce the amount of waste generated during the construction. Renewable energy systems, lighting control, BMS, daylighting control and HVAC systems add to the sustainability of the design. + Aevitas Group Via solid GREEN

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