Federal judge blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline

November 12, 2018 by  
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In a major setback for President Trump and his administration, a U.S. district judge has issued an order to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline while the State Department studies its impact on the environment . Last year, the Trump administration approved the controversial 1,179-mile pipeline, but Judge Brian Morris’ 54-page order is preventing it from being built — for now. The decision does not permanently stop construction, but it is putting the development on hold until the State Department takes a harder look at the impact the pipeline will have on oil prices, the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, potential oil spills and cultural resources. Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought Under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, there is an obligation to protect the environment. Under the Obama administration, the State Department denied a permit to build the pipeline because of the environmental effects. But President Trump shifted the policy when he took office and invited TransCanada to re-submit its permit application just four days after he was sworn in. Then, in March 2017, the POTUS signed an executive order supporting the Keystone Pipeline’s construction. Judge Morris wrote in his decision that the president did not give a reasoned explanation or a fact-based determination for the course reversal. According to NPR , there has been a lot of backlash from environmentalists and indigenous peoples since the pipeline’s conception in 2008 because of the possible environmental impact and violations of historic treaties. “Today’s ruling is a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they cannot bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities.” If the Keystone Pipeline does become a reality, it will run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Canada, and it will transport about 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day. Via NPR Image via Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Federal judge blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline

Yves Bhar designs compact, prefab homes to tackle the housing crisis

November 12, 2018 by  
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Yves Béhar has designed everything from high-tech wearables to voice-activated,  transforming furniture  — now, the prolific San Francisco-based designer is adding prefabricated homes to the list. Unveiled earlier this month at the Summit Festival in Los Angeles, the YB1 (Yves Béhar LivingHomes) is a line of prefabricated accessory dwelling units created in partnership with LivingHomes, the design studio of California-based prefabricated home producers Plant Prefab. The fully customizable homes are built with sustainable construction methods and materials, and they are aimed at increasing urban density while reducing the environmental impact of new construction. Designed with flexibility in mind, the modular YB1 can be fully customized to meet a variety of living requirements, climatic conditions and aesthetic desires. The first three available versions of YB1, for instance, include three different floor plans and roof systems thanks to a 4-foot grid system that allows for a range of 250- to 1,200-square-foot units. Depending on the footprint, the interiors can be outfitted with a full kitchen, bathroom with a shower, living room, a bedroom and an office. Homeowners will be able to choose the appliances, finishes, lighting and electrical systems ahead of time for pre-installation. “Following our work on efficient living with robotic furniture company ORI, I’m excited to extend the passion for tiny homes and prefab by partnering with LivingHomes. For me, the next frontier of design is to think of the entire home as a product that a homeowner can shape to their needs in terms of size, usage, aesthetic and lifestyle,” said Yves Béhar, founder and CEO of fuseproject . “This is why we’re interested in the customizable nature of prefabricated ADU’s: people want their living environment to be a reflection of their specific life needs. The design goal of the LivingHomes ADU is adding urban density with a range of sizes and home designs while providing a building system that delivers on sustainable and efficient living in urban areas.” Related: Yves Béhar’s shapeshifting Ori furniture transforms your home at the touch of a button To reduce the environmental impact of YB1, the designers will use Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood siding and cement panels as well as passive solar principles to inform the roof options. The houses will also offer Smart Home capabilities for measuring resource use and energy production. Plant Prefab’s efficient building system allows the homes to be constructed in just one month. Then, it takes only a day to install them on-site. Initial pricing for the YB1 starts at around $280,000; however, the designers hope to offer Yves Béhar LivingHomes for less than $100,000 in the future. + YB1 Images via Yves Béhar

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Yves Bhar designs compact, prefab homes to tackle the housing crisis

Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume

October 15, 2018 by  
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It’s no secret that the building sector is a resource-intensive industry, but La Mesa, California-based nonprofit Green New World believes that the future of construction can and should be greener, healthier and energy-producing. Green New World created the House of PeacE (also known as Project HOPE), an autonomous and regenerative residential housing model that champions carbon-free living. Combining biophilic design with renewable energy systems and natural materials, Green New World’s first carbon-negative residential prototype — dubbed HOPEone — is slated for completion by 2019. Conceived as a decentralized, autonomous housing model, Project House of PeacE (HOPE) will integrate water, energy, waste and food production and be adaptable to different climate zones. Shaped into a cluster of domes, the HOPEone prototype will be built from locally sourced earth using low-impact and affordable Superadobe construction methods. The building technique can be easily taught to people and can produce well-insulated and ecologically sound buildings with demonstrated resistance to earthquakes, fires and storms. The geometry of the domes is engineered to optimize energy-efficient thermal regulation and follow passive heating and cooling principles. Related: Dome-shaped Earth Bag House keeps residents naturally cool in Colombia “Modules are selected based on a low-embodied energy and environmental footprint while being simple to recreate with basic skills and, as far as is possible, are constructed with locally available, low-cost and low-impact materials,” Green New World explained. “The first HOPE model, HOPEone, is nearing completion, where the productivity of the core bioenergy modules and carbon sequestration modules will be assessed for the development of future prototypes.” In addition to energy and water conservation measures, the prototype will also harvest and generate its own resources. Depending on the location and climate conditions, different water harvesting systems will be installed and sized to meet the consumption of the inhabitants. The harvested water will be treated with ozone and subject to a three-stage purification, mineralization and alkalization treatment system. Solar photovoltaic panels will also be added to the buildings as will an anaerobic bioreactor for creating biogas used for heating and cooking. + Green New World

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Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume

Why the business world should be far more involved with community recycling

October 9, 2018 by  
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The economics of local programs are challenging, but their existence is critical for the development of a circular economy.

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Why the business world should be far more involved with community recycling

Mecanoo unveils winning designs for a solar-powered velodrome in Luxembourg

October 4, 2018 by  
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Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo and Luxembourg-based design practice Metaform Architects have placed first in an international design competition for the Mondorf-les-Bains Velodrome and Sports Complex in southeastern Luxembourg. The winning design was created to look like a natural extension of the landscape thanks to its engineered timber structure and sprawling, sloped green roof onto which a rounded velodrome is placed. Sustainable and passive solar principles also guided the design of the 24,500-square-meter complex, which optimizes natural light and is powered with solar energy. The Mondorf-les-Bains Velodrome and Sports Complex will be built among the rolling hills in the countryside of Luxembourg in a region known for its thermal baths. The 65 million-euro project will serve as a major sporting hub for the community and comprise a velodrome, aquatics center with indoor and outdoor facilities, two cafes, a multisports hall, a climbing wall and offices for the Luxembourgish Cycling Federation (FSCL). The pools and sports hall are designed to be embedded into the sloped landscape and topped with a green roof to visually reduce the size of the development and simultaneously draw attention to the elevated velodrome that will serve as a landmark structure visible from the neighboring highway. “The Velodrome, Multi-Sports and Swimming Pool Complex project is inspired by its surroundings, a subtly undulating topography,” the architects explained. “The main challenge was to integrate all three functions under one roof while paying respect to the context and at the same time to create the architectural landmark for the city of Mondorf-les-Bains.” Related: Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung In addition to the massive green roof , wood and concrete finishes will be applied to further tie the building to the landscape. Strategically placed skylights and glazing will let in ample natural light while framing outdoor views. The dates for construction and completion have yet to be announced. + Mecanoo + Metaform Architects Images via Mecanoo

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Mecanoo unveils winning designs for a solar-powered velodrome in Luxembourg

A sustainable campus is built from 22 recycled shipping containers

September 20, 2018 by  
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The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute in Thailand is taking its own teachings to heart with the an eco-friendly campus crafted from 22 recycled shipping containers. Now, the institute has a clear example when teaching students about the importance of upcycling and sustainability, plus plenty of space for educating on tree conservation, urban farming, waste management and more. As an institution aimed at teaching others about sustainability, the ISDSI made every effort to minimize any impact throughout the building process. Starting with a bare lot full of trees , the final design saved all but two of the acacia wood grove by using a skilled crane operator to maneuver the shipping containers into place around the existing landscape. They also scrutinized the amount of concrete that was necessary and took steps to avoid greenhouse gas emissions. Related: 13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island The  shipping containers were hand-selected with the end design in mind, so when each showed up on site, it had a specific purpose. Once the containers were properly stacked, builders began to cut out portions of the massive metal boxes in order to create windows, doors, decks and connecting open-air walkways. To take the sustainable design one step further, none of the cut metal went to waste, as it was turned into interior walls, doors, sinks, bathroom stalls and a kiosk and welcome counter in the cafe and gym. The complex also includes classrooms, conference rooms, a kitchen and plenty of outdoor spaces. The entire project took about nine months to complete. In addition to reusing containers slotted for melt-down recycling on the front end of the project, careful thought went into long-term energy savings from daily operations. For example, the entire campus uses low-energy LED lighting for areas not already lit through copious natural lighting. Proper insulation keeps the campus temperate, but when air conditioning is necessary, each pod has its own unit for efficiency, and most of the units were recycled from old buildings. Outside areas also received a sustainability upgrade with the use of composting , an on-campus garden, plants and green spaces, all intended to help support the soil and provide fresh air. + The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute Images via ISDSI

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A sustainable campus is built from 22 recycled shipping containers

Wooden skyscraper city proposed for Stockholms most eco-friendly neighborhood

September 5, 2018 by  
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When Anders Berensson Architects was tapped by the Stockholm Center Party to design a new Stockholm neighborhood that would be the densest, tallest and most environmentally friendly in the city, the Swedish architecture firm responded with Masthamnen, a skinny timber “skyscraper city” elevated atop traditional city blocks. The mixed-use proposal includes a combination of residential, office and retail spaces in a pedestrian-friendly environment integrated with public parkland that connects the new district with the surrounding hilly landscape and urban fabric. Located in a valley between three hills, Masthamnen is organized into three main parts: a lower block city on the same level as today’s dock levels; an elevated timber “ skyscraper city” on top; and a series of landscaped roofs and bridges that link the development to the hilly terrain. The lower section would comprise 19 new city blocks ranging from six to 10 floors. In total, these blocks would contain 2,500 apartments, 60,000 square meters of office space and nearly 100 shops and restaurants. The wooden skyscraper city elevated atop these blocks would consist of 31 new skinny wooden skyscrapers ranging between 25 and 35 floors to include approximately 3,000 apartments with an estimated 30 shops and restaurants. Views are prioritized in the design and layout, and each skyscraper is given sufficient clearance to avoid obstructing views. Cross-laminated timber would be used as the primarily building material. Related: Nation’s first large-scale mass timber residence hall breaks ground in Arkansas “When entering the new city area you will often be at the same height as the roofs of the new district,” Anders Berensson Architects added. “Therefore we have chosen to propose a Public Park on all roofs of the lower block city and connect them with bridges. The roofs and bridges form a large public landscape that binds together all beautiful high situated promenade trails that already exist on eastern Södermalm. This way, we also make eastern Södermalm easier and more beautiful to have a stroll on.” + Anders Berensson Architects Images via Anders Berensson Architects

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Wooden skyscraper city proposed for Stockholms most eco-friendly neighborhood

UNStudio completes a marina with a luxe yacht-like clubhouse in China

July 19, 2018 by  
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UNStudio’s Asia office recently completed the Keppel Cove Marina & Clubhouse, a massive waterfront complex in the city of Zhongshan in China’s Guangdong province. Set on the banks of the Xi River, the Keppel Cove Marina was created as part of a 50,000-square-meter masterplan that includes a service building and high-end residential villas as well as supporting infrastructure including bridges, roads and external dykes. Sinuous lines define the eye-catching new marina and clubhouse, which is meant to mimic the form and experience of a luxury yacht. Conceived as the first and only marina with a private port of immigration in China, the Keppel Cove Marina plays up its special status with a lavish design. At the heart of the development is the Marina clubhouse, which features a fan shape informed by the main access routes that also take in the best views of the water. A bridge, likened to a “stalk,” connects the back of the clubhouse to other developments. “The landscape surrounding the building is designed and organized with respect to views of the surrounding environment: there are plateaus from which to experience and enjoy the river Xi and viewpoints that connect people with the soft landscape of Shenwan,” explained UNStudio in its project statement. “The architecture allows for these views to also be enjoyed by the public without infringing upon the privacy of exclusive users or residents.” Related: UNStudio designs “future-proof” cable car for Amsterdam The Marina clubhouse is intersected by large funnel-like spaces that give the building’s interior its sculptural and curved appearance. These open funnel spaces allow for views and natural light to penetrate through the entire building and also bring in cross ventilation for natural cooling. Taking cues from the materials found in luxury yachts, the architects lined these sinuous spaces with wood paneling, while the facade is made up of bronze-colored aluminum panels. Ample glazing wraps around the building, and the undersides of the roof and the balconies are clad with mirror finishes to mimic the glittering reflection of sunlight off water. + UNStudio Images © Tom Roe

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UNStudio completes a marina with a luxe yacht-like clubhouse in China

Girl Scouts introduces 30 new badges with emphasis on the environment and STEM

July 19, 2018 by  
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Girl Scouts of the USA has released 30 new badges with emphasis on environmental advocacy and STEM . The new badges round out last year’s issuance of educational programs for girls ages 5-18. In a statement, Girl Scouts said the new programs “address some of society’s most pressing needs, such as cybersecurity, environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science and space exploration.” Along with new opportunities to earn badges in Robotics, Mechanical Engineering and Cybersecurity, Girl Scouts members can earn badges for Environmental Stewardship. These badges prepare girls to actively protect the environment . The organization said, “Although Girl Scouts have been advocating for the environment since [its] founding 106 years ago, these badges are the first to specifically prepare girls to be environmental advocates who address problems, find solutions, and protect the natural world.” Related: The Girl Scouts of Utah built impressive summer cabins without a single drop of glue Girls in grades six through 12 will be immersed in outdoor experiences and learn how to actively serve as environmental advocates. Girls in kindergarten through grade five “learn how to respect the outdoors and take action to protect the natural world.” The new environmentally-focused badges are funded by the Elliott Wildlife Values Project , a Girl Scouts partner. In addition to hands-on training, the young women are equipped with “soft skills” that include “confidence and perseverance” as well as “hard skills” that instill successful decision-making practices for leadership positions. With STEM education for women emerging as a priority for many organizations as well as being included in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals , the Girl Scouts’ 2.6 million members have joined a powerhouse network committed to both shaping the future female workforce and protecting our world. The environmental and STEM programming will help develop thinking-patterns that are valuable in these technical fields of study. Moreover, the Environmental Stewardship programming will help girls of all ages gain leadership skills, engage with nature and make a positive impact on the environment. To learn more, join or volunteer, visit the Girl Scouts website . + Girl Scouts Images via Girl Scouts

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Girl Scouts introduces 30 new badges with emphasis on the environment and STEM

Ron Whitmore, Deputy Director of Research & Development, Hawai’i on sustainability and policy

June 29, 2018 by  
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Ron Whitmore, Deputy Director of the Department of Research and Development, County of Hawai’i, tackling big issues, collaboration, innovation, inter-agency, policy, climate change, sustainability, research, development, affordability.

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Ron Whitmore, Deputy Director of Research & Development, Hawai’i on sustainability and policy

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