Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the greenest school in Nepal

April 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

In Nepal , access to education doesn’t just improve job prospects — schools can save lives, whether it’s rescuing children from malnourishment or delaying the age of marriage to reduce rates of HIV, maternal death and suicide. That’s why American nonprofit BlinkNow has dedicated itself to building community infrastructure in Surkhet, Nepal, including the Kopila Valley School. Powered entirely by solar energy and built of rammed earth walls, the campus is billed by the founders as the “greenest school in Nepal.” Located on three acres of land, the recently opened Kopila Valley School serves more than 400 students from nursery through 12th grade. The campus was built to expand on the nonprofit’s existing primary school and create a safe and nurturing environment that is not only a place of learning (with school uniforms and books provided), but also offers children nutritious meals, basic medical and dental care and after-school activities, such as sports and cooking classes. The school employs more than 100 Nepalese teachers and administrators. The campus also includes a Mental Health and Counseling Center, the Kopila Valley Health Clinic, a tutoring room, a computer lab, a stage and a small library. Sustainability is at the forefront of the campus design. Locally sourced rammed earth , chosen for superior thermal mass and temperature control, was used to construct the 18-inch-thick walls reinforced with steel bars for stability and earthquake resilience and a small amount of PPC cement to protect against dampness during monsoon season. Natural ventilation and lighting were also optimized in the positioning of the buildings and windows, while covered terraces at southern-facing walls provide shade. The campus is 100 percent solar-powered with a 25.2 kWp solar PV system and a 20 kVA off-grid battery system. Related: UK architect helps locals rebuild Nepal temple destroyed by earthquake A 300,000-liter underground cistern stores rainwater harvested from the rooftops that is filtered for potable use. The landscaping and permeable paving ensure rainwater is also used to replenish the groundwater system. All wastewater is treated on site with constructed wetlands and then recycled. Gray water from sinks is used to flush the toilets; black water is filtered for plant irrigation; solids are converted in a pressurized tank into biogas fuel for cooking. Solar cookers are also used for cooking. + BlinkNow Images via BlinkNow

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Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the greenest school in Nepal

Bird deaths from skyscrapers reaches into the hundreds of millions

April 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Scientists believe the number of bird deaths associated with skyscrapers has reached hundreds of millions. Researchers estimate that anywhere between 100 million and one billion birds die from smashing into glass buildings every year — and they now know which areas of the country are the worst for these incidents. More birds die from hitting buildings in Chicago than any other city in America. Scientists believe around five million birds migrate through Chicago in the fall and spring as they make their way from Central and South America to Canada. According to The Guardian , Manhattan is another deadly place for birds who are migrating north and south. Related: Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends The majority of birds travel across the U.S. at night because the weather is cooler. These birds are often attracted to the bright lights of the cities. Large glass structures, like skyscrapers, are particularly dangerous, because they reflect the surrounding landscape, tricking the birds into thinking they are flying into trees or open air. The new bird conservation study was published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Other cities listed in the study, which was entirely based in the U.S., include Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Atlanta and St. Louis. “We’re trying to raise awareness — trying to provide data and insight that could help,” Kyle Horton, an author of the study, shared. One of the ongoing issues with studying bird deaths is obtaining reliable numbers. The New York City Audubon, for example, employs volunteers to collect birds that are killed in the fall and spring of each year. The organization recently reported that between 90,000 and 200,000 birds die from building collisions yearly. Other cities have initiated similar plans, but large scale implementation is difficult. Although the high number of bird deaths is concerning, bird conservationists believe that researchers and designers can come up with solutions to help curb those deaths in the near future — it all starts with recognizing the problem. Via The Guardian Image via Pexels

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Bird deaths from skyscrapers reaches into the hundreds of millions

3D-printed jewelry company uses plants, not fossil fuels, to make its beautiful designs

April 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Traditionally, most jewelry has always been made out of some type of metal: silver, gold, bronze or copper. Mining for precious metals and gemstones often causes environmental damage, ranging from water pollution to greenhouse gas emissions to soil erosion. Today, however, those looking to decorate themselves with shiny baubles have a new option —  eco-friendly, 3D-printed jewelry. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Winter Hill Jewelry is an innovative, family-run company that makes beautiful and affordable 3D-printed earrings and necklaces out of plant-based plastic . Winter Hill Jewelry is the brainchild of Vanessa Templeman, a mother of two who started experimenting with her family’s 3D printer at home. The printer had been used to print toys for the kids, but soon Templeman decided to do something a bit more creative. After initially drawing and designing her pieces by hand, she then updated to Tinkercard to help streamline the process, which ends with beautiful 3D models of her designs. Related: Elle turns E-waste into unique and eye-catching jewelry According to Templeman, the 3D printing process not only allows her to create and manufacture her own designs, but has also opened up a niche in the jewelry market for eco-friendly designs. Focused on having minimal environment impact, the company uses a full-cycle system that is set up to reduce waste throughout the manufacturing process. Instead of using regular plastic that is made from fossil fuels, for example, they use PLA, a plant-based plastic that is compostable. While they try to reduce waste as much as possible, any remnants left over from the production process can be easily recycled. Additionally, the Flash Forge Creator Pro 3D printers used by Winter Hill Jewelry are fully powered by solar-generated energy . Once the jewelry is printed, they are displayed on cards made out of 100 percent recycled paper and shipped in biodegradable bubble wrap. As an additional way to use its product for good, the company has a special collection that includes a “Cuterus” line of pins and earrings. Portions from the sale of these items are donated to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center OB. + Winter Hill Jewelry Images via Winter Hill Jewelry

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3D-printed jewelry company uses plants, not fossil fuels, to make its beautiful designs

A post-earthquake home in Mexico is built of compressed earth blocks

March 28, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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In the aftermath of the Puebla earthquake that struck central Mexico in September 2017, Fundación PienZa Sostenible and Love Army México tapped Mexico City-based firm Francisco Pardo Arquitecto to design a home for a family who had lost their house in the disaster. Working in close collaboration with the Guzman family, the architects created a new and more earthquake-resistant dwelling that not only caters to the family’s needs but also offers improved living conditions. Named Casa Karina after the matriarch in the family of four, the home is built largely of compressed earth blocks , created in situ, along with pinewood used for the doors and windows. Located in the rural town of Ocuilan de Arteaga, the Guzmans’ 807-square-foot lot is located on family land split into five equal parts among the siblings. The Guzman’s original home was of poor construction: a single-story wood structure covered in metal sheets without insulation ; the floors were bare soil. In designing an improved home for the Guzmans, the architects decided to build a multi-story house with the communal areas and full bathroom on the ground floor, two bedrooms on the second floor and an open terrace on the third floor from where views of the town, the neighboring fields and the surrounding volcanoes can be seen. By building upward, the architects also allocated enough area on the grounds for a field for growing crops and space where the couple’s two daughters can play outdoors. The kitchen, located at the heart of the home, overlooks views of the field. Related: This Ecuadorian home uses the natural elements of rammed earth as a foundation The new construction is also far more robust than the previous house, with concrete foundations and polished cement floors. The compressed earth block walls are reinforced with concrete slabs. The architects said, “This is how we were able to entirely adapt the design to the needs and uses of the Guzman family and to build a new and more resistant home for them, providing better space conditions.” + Francisco Pardo Arquitecto Photography by Jaime Navarro, Pablo Astorga and Fernanda Olivares via Francisco Pardo Arquitecto

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A post-earthquake home in Mexico is built of compressed earth blocks

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