Microsoft is building a ‘Planetary Computer’ to protect biodiversity

April 16, 2020 by  
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It’s all about collecting and connecting data, which is part of the software giant’s DNA.

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Microsoft is building a ‘Planetary Computer’ to protect biodiversity

Microsoft is building a ‘Planetary Computer’ to protect biodiversity

April 16, 2020 by  
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It’s all about collecting and connecting data, which is part of the software giant’s DNA.

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Microsoft is building a ‘Planetary Computer’ to protect biodiversity

Addressing the social impacts of our food system

April 16, 2020 by  
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U.S. farmworkers face a slew of social, economic and political challenges that have caused a decades-long farmworker shortage. Here’s how brands such as Alter Ego, Clif Bar, Driscoll’s, Kuli Kuli and Philz Coffee are stepping in.

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Addressing the social impacts of our food system

Solar-powered innovation center targets LEED Gold in Toronto

April 8, 2020 by  
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Sustainability, indigenous culture and contemporary design come together in Perkins and Will’s design for the new $85 million Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) at Seneca College’s Newnham Campus. Created in collaboration with the First Peoples@Seneca Office, the LEED Gold-targeted building features indigenous-led design and services, such as counseling and financial aid, as part of Seneca’s commitment to the Indigenous Education Protocol. In addition to cultural responsiveness, CITE is home to state-of-the-art engineering and robotics labs as well as an entrepreneurial incubator for students and industry leaders. Located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the 274,000-square-foot CITE building integrates messaging about indigenous teachings and history throughout, from the punctuated terracotta panels lining the facade that reference Anishinaabe birchbark ‘memory chests’ to the vibrant, indigenous-inspired interior artwork. The relationship between these Indigenous stories with the building’s academic programs are visualized in eight graphic murals created in collaboration with design firm Bruce Mau Design that include a hoop dance, a pow wow, DNA sequencing and a map of the Internet. Related: Perkins + Will’s KTTC building blends beauty and sustainability in Ontario To achieve LEED Gold standards, Perkins and Will wrapped the building in glass to promote reliance on natural light rather than artificial sources. The facade’s punctuated terracotta boxes as well as the south-facing structural colonnade — held up by 13 columns representative of the 13 moons of the lunar cycle — help deflect unwanted solar gain. CITE also features a building integrated solar array, stormwater management cisterns, a biodiverse landscape design, locally sourced, recycled materials wherever possible and increased use of FSC-certified wood finishes for lowered embodied carbon. “CITE presented the perfect opportunity to show how Indigenous knowledge can guide post-secondary education. To provide a more sustainable vision for future innovation, we paired themes like the Internet, space exploration and coding with Indigenous knowledge spanning seven generations,” said Andrew Frontini, principal and design director at Perkins and Will’s Toronto studio. “We organized the structural order of the building elements of the building to support these theme. As you walk through CITE, you encounter overlapping Indigenous and technological stories that initially might speak to different audiences, but over time our hope is that they merge together as one.” + Perkins and Will Images by doublespace photography

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Solar-powered innovation center targets LEED Gold in Toronto

Architects envision a green, solar-powered skyscraper

March 19, 2020 by  
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Warsaw-based architecture firm  FAAB Architektura  has unveiled designs for the Vertical Oasis Building, a conceptual skyscraper that would use renewable energy to reduce its carbon footprint. Envisioned for densely populated cities around the world, the futuristic proposal features a conical shape with a facade built of materials designed to harness solar energy. Large round openings that punctuate the facade reveal an abundance of greenery growing inside the building. The Vertical Oasis Building was conceived as mixed-use development comprising retail, office spaces, hotels and residences that also doubles as a local heat distribution center for the surrounding neighborhood. Powered by ground heat pumps and  solar energy , the conceptual design promotes a new type of urban development that not only meets the needs of local citizens, but also uses technology and biotechnology to reduce its environmental impact and improve livability.  Although there are no plans for construction, the architects have identified the materials that they would use for the building. BIPV active panels and glazing made with “clearview power technology” would allow all parts of the facade to harness solar energy. The greenery that grows on all levels of the building would be installed inside multifunctional VOS WCC modular panels. This “green layer” would be used to help preserve endangered local plant species, purify the air, reduce noise pollution and promote natural cooling. The green layer would also be connected to an AI and machine learning program so that building users can monitor and interact with the system from their smartphone.  Related: FAAB reimagines Warsaw’s largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park “Harvesting electricity from the sun, lowering the building’s energy demand, the geometry of the facade creating shade where needed, these are the features creating the basic ECO-DNA of the Vertical Oasis Building,” said the architects. “However, the main goal is to change the environment in the vicinity of the building while making inhabitants of the building involved in the process; give them tools to be able to control, manage and enhance the changing  climate .” + FAAB Architektura Images via FAAB Architektura

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Architects envision a green, solar-powered skyscraper

Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the U.S.

December 17, 2018 by  
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The Asian longhorned tick used to be a species only found in China, Japan, Korea and southeastern Russia, plus parts of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. But last year, an established population was found in New Jersey, and since then, the ticks have been found in eight other states. Because the tick is parthenogenetic — which means the females can reproduce without needing male DNA — it is possible that it will soon occupy large parts of the Pacific Northwest and the eastern U.S. “There is a good chance for this tick to become widely distributed in North America,” said Ilia Rochlin, a researcher at the Rutgers University Center for Vector Biology. “Mosquito control has been very successful in this country, but we are losing the battle with tick-borne diseases.” Related: Winter ticks are responsible for New England’s moose massacres The Asian longhorned tick’s ability to clone makes it possible for them to cause “massive” infestations of hosts, and Rochlin said that researchers have already seen large numbers on livestock and dogs. He added that the ticks can bite humans, pets, farm animals and wildlife . The Journal of Medical Entomology published new research about the tick last week, and even though the tick can cause infectious disease, there have not been any reported illnesses in animals or humans in the U.S. One of the diseases the Asian longhorned tick can transmit is a hemorrhagic illness called thrombocytopenia syndrome. According to the CDC , the illness recently emerged in China, South Korea and Japan. The syndrome causes severe fever, nausea, diarrhea and muscle pain. Most patients must be hospitalized, and almost a third of infected people have died. The tick can also carry other illnesses like Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. Rochlin said that all of these illnesses can lead to severe disabilities. Asian longhorned ticks can spread quickly in favorable habitats. If you add that to their aggressive biting behavior and potential for carrying pathogens, Rochlin said the tick is a significant public health concern. + Journal of Medical Entromology Via CNN Image via James Gathany / CDC

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Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the U.S.

Scientists pledge to sequence the DNA of all 1.5 million known species on Earth

April 25, 2018 by  
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You may have heard of the Human Genome Project, but an international group of researchers has recently announced plans to go one step further. The Earth BioGenome Project is a massive effort to sequence the DNA of every single one of the 1.5 million species on Earth – and it will officially be the largest genome sequencing project ever undertaken. Ultimately, scientists hope that it will help us understand and protect the plants, animals, and fungi that call our planet home. Researchers announced their ambitious plans this week at the World Economic Forum , writing that “increasing our understanding of Earth’s biodiversity and responsibly stewarding its resources are among the most crucial scientific and social challenges of the new millennium. These challenges require fundamental new knowledge of the organization, evolution, functions, and interactions among millions of the planet’s organisms.” Related: Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing So far, we’ve sequenced just 0.2 percent (about 2,500) of the eukaryotic species on Earth, so we have a long way to go to before reaching the 1.5 million known species – and that doesn’t even take into account the estimated 10 to 15 million undiscovered ones. The entire project is estimated to take about 10 years and $4.7 billion to complete. While that may sound like a ton of money, sequencing a genome is just a fraction of the cost that it used to be. In fact, today sequencing a new species costs just $30,000, compared to the $2.7 billion it cost to sequence the first human genome. Once completed, the data will be made available as part of the public domain. Via Gizmodo Image via Nikola Jovanovic and Deposit Photos

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Scientists pledge to sequence the DNA of all 1.5 million known species on Earth

EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

April 25, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new policy which will classify the burning of wood as a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel source. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled this policy shift to an audience of timber industry leaders in Georgia, who have a vested interest in whether they can market wood-based fuel products as ‘green energy.’ Pruitt supported his decision by claiming that forest regrowth will lead to greater absorption of carbon dioxide and somehow counteract the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and burning wood. Scientists, none of whom were consulted in this policy change, disagree. “Today’s announcement grants America’s foresters much-needed certainty and clarity with respect to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” Pruitt said in a  press release . A study published by British think-tank Chatham House concluded that when all emissions and carbon absorption is accounted for, harvesting energy from burning wood produces carbon pollution equivalent to that of coal . Further, using this method of energy to create steam may be 50 percent more carbon intensive than coal. Scientist William Moomaw, who focuses on forests and their role in climate change, told Mashable that the policy was announced with “zero consultation” of agency scientists or the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. “It’s a bad idea because anything that has carbon in it produces carbon dioxide when you burn it,” Moomaw said. “This is horrific.” Related: Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them The EPA’s decision to inaccurately classify burning wood as carbon neutral may have global consequences. “Between this and the Europeans [who constitute the largest market for bioenergy], it means no chance of staying within the 2-degree limit,” Moomaw explained. Even if the forests do grow back to their original state, the damage will already be done. “The carbon dioxide in the air will have warmed the planet. … When the tree regrows, the glacier doesn’t regrow,” Moomaw said. “The climate change effects are irreversible. Carbon neutrality is not climate neutrality.” Via Mashable Images via Depositphotos (1)

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EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

DNA analysis reveals there are no wild horses left in the world

February 23, 2018 by  
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Researchers are examining the DNA of horses – and what they’ve discovered upends everything we thought we knew. A new study claims the last “ wild ” horses on the planet are actually descendants of horses domesticated in Kazakhstan 5,500 years ago by people of the Botai culture. This also means that today’s domesticated horses don’t come from the Botai, as previously thought. In fact, the origins of domesticated horses are now a mystery. Przewalski’s horses, thought to be the last truly wild horses on Earth, are actually descended from domesticated horses, which means that the last wild horses probably went extinct hundreds or thousands of years ago. Przewalski’s horses nearly went extinct, but 15 individuals were rounded up and protected a century ago. It is these horses that all modern Przewalski’s horses descend from. Until now, scientists believed that modern domesticated horses descended from horses bred by the Botai people. But if Przewalski’s horses come from the Botai, it means that modern domesticated horses don’t. That leaves scientists scratching their heads about where domesticated horses descend from. Related: These are the last truly wild horses on Earth From a research standpoint, this finding is both exciting and disappointing. It points to a huge loss in biodiversity, and it means that all the information we’ve been gathering on “wild horses” is actually information on feral animals. The findings were recently published in the journal Science by Sandra Olsen from the University of Kansas and Ludovic Orlando from the National Center for Scientific Research . + Science Via Gizmodo Images via NCSR and Flickr

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DNA analysis reveals there are no wild horses left in the world

This restaurant in London has a gorgeous living wall that purifies air and absorbs noise

November 21, 2017 by  
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This restaurant in London has a daylit greenhouse at its heart with a beautiful living wall made of terracotta cells. Architecture studio Fusion DNA designed this verdant structure for Nando’s Putney Kitchen restaurant, creating a space that offers a moment of relaxation and peace amidst London’s bustling urban activity. The vertical garden occupies the restaurant main hall and features a glass roof that provides ample daylight that allows plants to thrive. The wall is made of terracotta cells, with a single pipe located at the top providing necessary water that is evenly distributed by gravity through a non-woven fabric. Cells are filled with a special substrate that stores water. Related: This living wall uses artificial intelligence to purify indoor air The green wall has several functions–it absorbs the noise produced by the customers, as well as volatile organic pollutants in order to improve indoor air quality . The project, completed in collaboration with Spanish landscape and vertical garden specialists Singulargreen and Urbanarbolismo won the 2017 Bar and Restaurant Design Award, a globally recognized competition dedicated to the design of food and beverage spaces. + FUSION Design & Architecture + Singulargreen + Urbanarbolismo

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This restaurant in London has a gorgeous living wall that purifies air and absorbs noise

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