City of Berkeley bans natural gas in new buildings and homes

July 23, 2019 by  
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The Californian city of Berkeley has become the first in the country to pass a ban on natural gas piping in new buildings, including private homes. Although it is considered cleaner than oil, natural gas is still a fossil fuel and contributes to global warming . New buildings in Berkeley, with few exceptions, will have to rely on electricity for heating water and kitchen appliances starting in January 2020. The natural gas ordinance was spearheaded by councilmember Kate Harrison, who told the San Francisco Chronicle , “It’s an enormous issue. We need to really tackle this. When we think about pollution and climate change issues, we tend to think about factories and cars, but all buildings are producing greenhouse gas .” Related: California is the first US state to require solar energy for new houses The legislation passed unanimously, but some critics outside of the city town halls and council meetings argue that electricity prices are higher than natural gas . The mandate will come at an expense to homeowners and renters in the Bay Area’s already stifling housing market. The ordinance also comes with funding for a two-year position for one staff member in the Office of Planning and Development who will oversee the implementation of the ban. David Hochschild, chairman of the California Energy Commission, reported that at least 50 other cities throughout the state of California are considering such a ban in hopes of addressing the contribution that buildings make to climate change and to encourage higher usage of electricity and renewable energy. Berkeley has a history of progressive bans, including becoming the first city in the country to ban smoking in restaurants and bars back in 1977. Earlier this year, the city banned single-use plastic utensils in restaurants (such as plastic forks). Restaurants and cafes throughout the city must use compostable utensils for takeaway meals and beverages. The city also passed an ordinance adding a 25 cents tax onto single-use cups, such as coffee cups. Via San Francisco Chronicle and NRDC Image via Pixabay

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Artist David Mach designs sculptural building out of repurposed shipping containers

July 12, 2019 by  
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UK-artist and self-proclaimed “accidental architect” David Mach has just unveiled an amazing design for his first ever building. Slated for a new development just west of Edinburgh, Mach 1 is a massive, sculptural building built out of over 30 shipping containers . The building is a collaboration between the developers of Edinburgh Park, Parabola and Stirling Prize-nominated architects, Dixon Jones , who created the project’s master plan. The complex, which is just in the planning stages, is slated for a large 43-acre lot just west of the Scottish capital. The development plan envisions a vibrant community made up of office space, a new public square, sports and leisure facilities, a health center, along with various retail shops and restaurants. Related: David Mach Creates Enormous Sculptures from Coat Hangers and Matches During the planning stages, the decision was made to commission a landmark for the new development, something that would be eye-catching, but also multi-functional. Enter, UK artist, David Mach , who is known for creating immense, dynamic art installations using a wide range of materials. Mach’s vision for the project is what has been named “Mach 1”. The formidable concepts envisions a large building made out of more than 30 shipping containers stacked at various angles. Slated to hold court in the middle of the development, Mach 1 will stand out not only for its large stature, but also its use of repurposed materials . The artist explains that the building is an homage to the way that urban developments can put sustainability at the forefront of new projects, “What we are planning to build, is a substantial building, made from around 30 sea containers. There is quite a dramatic shape to the building, not a regular piece of architecture. It will be something that you really notice. It is a building that really makes a statement about itself.” The shipping container building will house the development’s marketing offices to start, including a display area that will feature a full site model and information about the construction of Edinburgh Park. Mach 1 will also include a large gallery space for exhibitions and a cafe. The interior will be outfitted with various flexible elements in order to be able to host small and large events throughout the year. + David Mach Via Archdaily Images via David Mach , Dixon Jones  and Assembly Studios

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Why Autodesk is investing in an urban prefab construction startup

July 11, 2019 by  
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The software company’s strategic investment in Factory OS includes goals for impact metrics such as waste reduction, jobs creation potential and how the collaboration can stimulate the development of more affordable housing.

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Teeny, tiny creatures play a big role in climate change

July 11, 2019 by  
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Tiny bacteria, protozoa and fungi in agricultural systems contribute methane into the atmosphere — and they’re spreading.

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Where the 2020 candidates stand on climate change

July 9, 2019 by  
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Climate change was predicted to be a hot topic for the first democratic presidential debates. Despite pressure from activists , the issue received just seven minutes of airtime on the first night of the debates and eight minutes on the second night. Still, it is important to be informed on where each person stands when it comes to the climate crisis. Below is a breakdown of the candidates’ current climate platforms (in no particular order). Jay Inslee (Governor, WA) Inslee has established himself as “the climate candidate.” Vox’s climate reporter went so far as to say that other candidates should simply adopt Inslee’s climate plan as their own platforms, as it is the only plan that adequately address the gravity of the crisis. Inslee’s Our Climate Movement plan includes: • Eliminating carbon emissions by 2045 • Investing $9 trillion in clean energy , green jobs and resilient infrastructure • Phasing out fossil fuel production Joe Biden (former Vice President) On June 4, Biden released a $1.7 trillion Clean Energy Revolution plan, which includes: • 100 percent net-zero emissions by 2050 • Investing in resilient infrastructure • Committing to the Paris Agreement • Spurring economic growth and green jobs Biden’s platforms are generally more moderate than other candidates, and he is wooing the labor unions. While some activists are sour about his appeal to moderate votes, others believe his ability to garner bipartisan support and labor votes may make him more effective in pushing through legislation. On June 27, Biden signed a pledge to refuse campaign money from oil companies. Elizabeth Warren (Senator, MA) Warren’s main focus is taking down big banks and big oil companies, including protecting public lands from oil corporations. She backed the Green New Deal , supports a ban on fracking and wants to focus on green job development and industries. She has also presented a plan to greatly reduce emissions produced by the military. Amy Klobuchar (Senator, MN) Klobuchar backed the Green New Deal and supports further development of nuclear energy as an alternative to dirty fossil fuels . Her proposal, released on March 28, includes a major investment in infrastructure adaptation and clean energy. She will also reinstate clean power rules and gas mileage standards and will rejoin the Paris Agreement. Seth Moulton (Representative, MA) Moulton backed the Green New Deal, plans to focus on green jobs and supports further innovation in carbon sequestration with farmers and rural communities. Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator, NY) Gillibrand co-sponsored the Green New Deal and avidly supported a carbon tax in the past. She opposes opening new land and water to oil drilling and supported legislation that would help the U.S. surpass its previous Paris Agreement commitment. Tim Ryan (Representative, OH) Ryan has defended his moderate stance on climate change and commitment to prioritizing jobs development and economic growth. He is critical of a carbon tax, arguing it would encourage companies to take jobs overseas. Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, South Bend IA) Buttigieg supports the Green New Deal, nuclear energy and a ban on fracking. He wants to focus on solutions that center low-income Americans and mentioned putting rural communities at the forefront of climate adaptation, such as supporting carbon sequestration innovation among farmers. He is also in favor of a carbon tax. Buttigieg would recommit to the Paris Climate Agreement and plans to decarbonize transportation and industries as well as support energy efficiency in homes. Marianne Williamson (author) Williamson wants to close existing nuclear power reactors and ban fracking. She supports the Green New Deal. Tulsi Gabbard (Representative, HI) Gabbard has been outspoken about climate action during her time in Congress. She supports aspects of the Green New Deal, including reaching carbon neutrality, but does not support nuclear power unless there is a solution for nuclear waste. She also supports a ban on fracking. Bill de Blasio (Mayor, New York City) Mayor de Blasio recently passed New York City’s own version of a Green New Deal, so he is expected to be an advocate for progressive climate action. Kamala Harris (Senator, CA) Harris has not taken a firm stance on a fracking ban, nuclear energy nor a carbon tax. She has come out in support of the Green New Deal and promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Joe Sestak (former Representative, PA) Sestak’s climate plan includes rejoining the Paris Agreement, ceasing subsidies for fossil fuel corporations, implementing a carbon tax and investing in regenerative agriculture . Bernie Sanders (Senator, VT) Sanders’ climate platform on his campaign website promises to: • Pass the Green New Deal • Invest in infrastructure for front-line communities • Reduce transportation-related pollution • Ban fracking and drilling • End exports of coal, gas and oil Corey Booker (Senator, NJ) Booker officially backed the Green New Deal, supports nuclear energy and wants to ban fracking. He also has an outspoken commitment to climate justice and to addressing the disproportionate impact that the climate crisis has on people of color and low-income families. Beto O’Rourke (former Representative, TX) O’Rourke has a $5 trillion climate plan that aims for net-zero emissions by 2050, but he still supports natural gas. His plan also includes $1.2 trillion in grants for energy and economic transformation at the community level. John Hickenlooper (former governor, CO) Hickenlooper previously worked as a geologist for a major oil company. He has not signed on to the Green New Deal and believes the U.S. should continue fracking. His climate plan includes: • Rejoining the Paris Agreement • Making $100 billion available annually in climate finance • Establishing a climate corps national service program Michael Bennet (Senator, CO) Bennet believes the U.S. should continue using natural gas and has not signed on the Green New Deal. On May 20, he released a climate plan with eight points: • Create 10 million green jobs by 2030 • Launch a 2030 climate challenge to push states to develop climate plans • Conserve 30 percent of land and oceans by 2030 • Establish a climate bank with $1 trillion to spend on infrastructure by 2030 • Cut energy waste in half by 2040 • Achieve 100 percent clean emissions by 2050 • Decarbonize agriculture • Develop options for houses to purchase retrofits, renewable energy and zero-emissions vehicles Andrew Yang (entrepreneur) Yang’s website mentions support for fossil fuel regulation and investment in renewable energy both for the environment and for the economy.  He also favors a carbon tax and dividend but believes much of the climate action needs to happen at the state and local level, with general support from the federal government. Steve Bullock (Governor, MT) Bullock said he would rejoin the Paris Agreement and invest in renewable energy; however, he does not support the Green New Deal nor does he think it will get very far. Bullock also has a long record of supporting the coal industry in his home state of Montana.  Wayne Messam (Mayor, Miramar FL) When pressed for his ideas about the climate crisis, Messam told radio station WBUR that he would develop an infrastructure bill that focused on resilience for bridges, dams and levees. He would transition the country to renewable energies and transition fossil fuel jobs toward the green economy. John Delaney (former Representative, MD) Delaney supports nuclear power and does not support the Green New Deal. He released a $4 trillion dollar climate plan that includes: • Establishing a carbon tax • Promoting negative emissions technology • Increasing renewable energy budget • Developing a climate corps national service program • Creating a pipeline network that delivers carbon dioxide to oil fields for sequestration Julián Castro (former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) Castro supports the Green New Deal and was one of only three candidates to say climate change will be the No. 1 priority of his presidency. He has mentioned that his first action as president would be to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and he is opposed to subsidizing oil corporations. Greenpeace developed a report card to grade all candidates on their climate policies. See the visual here . Via Politico , Inside Climate News , NRDC and Greenpeace Images via Shutterstock

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Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

July 8, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor. Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit. “The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.” Related: Singapore’s first new-build, net-zero energy building opens its doors Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use. + ONG&ONG Images via ONG&ONG

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Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

July 2, 2019 by  
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New Orleans-based firm Office of Jonathan Tate has unveiled a modern residential complex for combat veterans and their families. Located in the Gentilly district of the city, the Bastion Community is comprised of 29 two-unit apartment buildings laid out specifically in a way to foster social interaction. Additionally, considering the area’s history for severe flooding, the development was constructed with several resilient features . Located on a formerly vacant lot that spans 6.4 acres, the Bastion Community is now a vibrant residential complex comprising 29 apartment buildings, each containing two units. Within the development, there are various one-, two- or three-bedroom options, ranging from 720 square feet to 1,200 square feet. Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen Already known locally for creating modern but affordable housing complexes, the architects specifically designed the Bastion Community to be a “protected but inclusive and thriving live-work environment” for post-9/11 combat veterans and their families. The layout of the homes as well as the on-site community and wellness center were part of a strategy to create a strong sense of community for those who often feel isolated. The homes are uniform in their design, which includes pitched roofs, pale exterior tones and wooden fencing. All units were built to be adapted to be ADA accessible . Considering the location has a long history of flooding , resiliency was at the forefront of the design. All of the structures are elevated off the landscape via concrete piers to allow flood waters to flow freely under the buildings without causing harm. Additionally, landscaping and building strategies for filtering, storing and returning water to the soil were also incorporated into the design. In addition to their resiliency, the apartments were designed to be sustainable and durable for years to come. Tight insulation and high-performance HVAC equipment were used to cut energy costs, and there are tentative plans to install solar panels in the future. Each unit has high vaulted ceilings and operable windows to allow for natural air ventilation. + Office of Jonathan Tate Via Dezeen Photography by William Crocker and aerial photography by Jackson Hill

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A vacant lot in New Orleans is converted into resilient and affordable housing for war veterans

A Mumbai industrial complex becomes a modern, mixed-use campus

May 29, 2019 by  
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In the Mumbai suburb of Vikhroli, Indian architectural firm Studio Lotus and GPL Design Studio have given a disused industrial complex new life as a modern, mixed-use center. Dubbed the Imagine Studio, the project serves as an experience center for ‘The Trees,’ a flagship adaptive reuse project for Godrej Properties Ltd. Imagine Studio provides new public and private functions while celebrating the site’s industrial heritage. Located on a one-acre site, the Imagine Studio complex spans 10,763 square feet and comprises a small cluster of renovated industrial buildings. The programming includes a marketing office, sample showcase flats for ‘The Trees,’ meeting spaces, an all-day cafe located within a repurposed Boiler Plant, a multipurpose gallery for cultural events and several outdoor spaces to market the client’s upcoming residential and commercial development properties. The public is also invited to experience the multifunctional space. “The intent was to illustrate an invigorated public realm as a microcosm of the [Trees’] master plan while preserving the essence of the site’s industrial heritage,” the architects said. “Existing buildings and its elements were recycled not only to underline their relevance in the bygone eras but also add meaning as important design punctuations in the narrative. The buzzing public spaces will eventually extend the edge of the gated development to include the community and city in its activities. Buildings of the Imagine Studio will ultimately get absorbed into the commercial hub of the development; continuing to stay on as key markers celebrating the rich traditions of the historic company while taking it strategically forward into its future.” Related: Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan The Imagine Studio is defined with an industrially inspired palette that includes concrete, Corten steel , brass and timber combined to follow the Japanese principles of “wabi sabi,” or a view of beauty in imperfection. The materials are deliberately left unfinished so as to develop a patina over time. Elements from the old buildings were also salvaged and reused, such as the old louvers of the primary industrial plant that were repurposed, coated in Corten steel and perforated with patterns. + Studio Lotus Images via Edmund Sumner, Dilip Bhatia, Studio Lotus, GPL Design Studio

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A Mumbai industrial complex becomes a modern, mixed-use campus

This sleek, reusable cutlery set can fit right inside your pocket

May 28, 2019 by  
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Single-use plastic is one of the biggest environmental issues facing us today. Between the production of petroleum and the massive waste stream endangering animals and the planet, it’s time for a war on plastic. One company has decided to begin its battle on the issue with the development of Outlery — compact and portable eating utensils that eliminate the need for the estimated 1,000 plastic utensils Americans use each year. Beginning as a Kickstarter campaign with a meager goal of $5,580, the project has raised over $500,000 with still over a month left in the campaign. Clearly, the idea has the support of similar-minded backers. Outlery comes in two designs: a three-piece cutlery set (fork, knife and spoon) and a chopsticks set. Both products are designed with convenience and portability in mind. In contrast to the typically long and awkward-to-transport silverware you might normally bring from home, Outlery utensils disassemble and fit into a small carrying case about the size of a box of mints. The container will easily slide into a purse, shirt pocket or backpack. When you’re ready to use them, they are readily available and screw together again in just a few seconds. Related: Biofase has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits Outlery is 100 percent plastic-free as an obvious statement against single-use disposable plastic forks, knives, spoons and chopsticks. “Outlery is an eco-conscious company that is committed to creating innovative solutions to everyday single-use products,” said Bushra Ch, founder and CEO of Outlery. “The amount of plastic being dumped in the ocean everyday is alarming. It’s hurting sea life , our oceans and most importantly, it has entered our food chain. Ironically, most of the plastic being used today is easily replaceable. We don’t need plastic cutlery, we don’t need plastic straws and neither do we need plastic coffee mugs. At Outlery, we have set out to create easy-to-use and creative alternatives to everyday products. We are starting with plastic cutlery and chopsticks, because the waste produced from these is alarming.” The stainless steel design is intended to endure a long life to further combat the disposable mindset. With this focus on quality, the company has even hired a firm to closely inspect every order before it ships. The Kickstarter campaign, found here , ends on July 5, 2019. Outlery production is expected to start immediately following that date with orders shipping out in the fall. + Outlery Images via Outlery

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This sleek, reusable cutlery set can fit right inside your pocket

Cambridges first co-housing development fosters sustainable living

May 23, 2019 by  
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Marmalade Lane, the first cohousing development in Cambridge, has recently been completed in Orchard Park and serves as a promising solution to the critical undersupply of houses in the market. Cambridge-based architectural firm Mole Architects designed the development that comprises 42 contemporary homes with shared facilities and garden space for a mixed and integenerational resident group. Billed as a “sustainable neighborhood,” the cohousing community was designed in accordance to passive design principles and with the Trivselhus’ Climate Shield prefabricated timber frame panel system for superior thermal efficiency and airtightness. Marmalade Lane’s 42 homes include a mix of two- to five-bedroom terraced houses as well as one- and two-bedroom apartments. Designed to foster a community spirit and sustainable living, the development has shared public spaces for growing food , playing, socializing and quiet contemplation. The residents— members of K1 Cohousing who have a stake in the common areas and contribute to community management— also have access to a flexible “common house” that serves as the community’s social heart and houses a play room, guest bedrooms, laundry facilities, meeting rooms and a large hall and kitchen for shared meals and parties. A separate workshop and gym are also onsite. “As a custom-build development, each K1 Cohousing household selected one of five ‘shell’ house or flat types which they then configured through the floor-by-floor selection of floorplans, kitchen and bathroom fittings, and one of four external brick specifications,” according to the press release. “Wide and narrow house and ‘paired’ flat shells share a 7.8m-deep plan, allowing them to be distributed in any sequence along a terrace. Homes have been tailored to individual requirements without the risks or complexity of self-build, while balancing personalisation with the harmony of a visually cohesive architectural style based on repeating wall and window proportions, porches and balconies.” Related: LILAC: UK’s First Strawbale Co-Housing Project Opens in Leeds For energy efficiency and flexibility in floorplan configuration, the brick-clad cohousing structures are built with Trivselhus ’ Climate Shield closed panel timber frame system that was prefabricated in southern Sweden. The triple-glazed composite aluminum and timber windows along with electrical ducting were also factory-fitted so that a single house can be quickly assembled on site in just two days. Each home is also equipped with mechanical ventilation and heat recovery as well as air source-heat pumps. + Mole Architects Images by David Butler

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