HOK designs aquaponics facility to alleviate Kansas Citys food desert

June 18, 2018 by  
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Nonprofit Nile Valley Aquaponics is raising fish in a Kansas City food desert—and they’re creating jobs, providing healthy food and promoting sustainable urban farming in the process. To help the nonprofit lead the community to greener and healthier living, American architecture and engineering firm HOK designed the Nile Valley Aquaponics Facility, which could double the annual harvest to 50,000 pounds of fish and 70,000 pounds of vegetables. The building would be constructed using sustainable building methods and feature resource-saving systems such as rainwater cisterns and a wind turbine. Designed to cover a 0.7-acre lot, the Nile Valley Aquaponics Facility aims to expand the nonprofit’s food production capacity and introduce additional eco-friendly farming features. Aquaponics is a closed-loop system for raising mercury-free fish in tandem with vegetables. The urban farming effort not only gives the community greater access to fresh produce and fish, but also provides low-income youth with economic and educational opportunities through jobs, lessons, field trips and mentoring. The new facility would include two new greenhouses that could increase the output of fish from 25,000 to 50,000 pounds and the production of vegetables from 35,000 to 75,000 pounds. A third greenhouse would be used for education. “Designed as a modern kit of parts, the new greenhouses will be constructed with economical, sustainable and easily procurable materials to promote the use of this model in other cities,” says HOK. Related: New Orleans golf course transformed into city’s biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus The grounds would also include a community event space, marketplace for selling food and packaged goods, a chicken coop and run, beehives, rainwater collection cisterns, solar panels, a wind turbine and community-raised garden beds. The facility is designed to use zero pesticides and 90 percent less water than traditional farming. Nile Valley Aquaponics’ new brand identity, designed by Barkley, is woven into the facility through high-impact graphics that showcase the nonprofit’s mission. The projected fundraising goal for the Nile Valley Aquaponics Facility is $1 million. + HOK Images by HOK

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HOK designs aquaponics facility to alleviate Kansas Citys food desert

Bronx community garden transformed with sustainable improvements

June 18, 2018 by  
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A newly renovated community garden has officially opened in the Bronx. Fannie’s Garden at Paradise on Earth , a venture of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), received a dramatic upgrade with sustainable features like permeable pavement , a rain garden , and a shade structure designed to support solar panels. The 13,000-square foot-garden offers space for urban residents to escape the city, get their hands dirty in 24 garden beds, and enjoy the colors of native plants. NYRP just celebrated the grand opening of the community garden last week. They renovated Paradise on Earth, founded in 1981, together with design firm Sawyer | Berson around what NYRP described as “simple, elegant geometry.” The garden includes 12 raised garden beds for kids, six raised beds for adults, and six raised beds that meet Americans with Disabilities Act height requirements. Related: Brooklyn Grange announces a new location — in a former WWII shipyard The garden also includes open space for children to run on natural turf, a multipurpose raised deck underneath a tree — a NYRP Instagram post shows students practicing yoga on the deck as one potential use — and a slatted shade structure that NYRP said has been “pre-fitted to support solar panels and an off-grid electrical system” at Paradise on Earth. A chicken coop, outdoor kitchen, drinking fountain, and a trellis and tool shed are also part of the renovation. The upgrades kept sustainability in mind with a rain garden meant to “capture, store, and infiltrate storm water before it reaches the sewer system” and a compost toilet . The community garden is located in the Morrisania neighborhood at 1106 Fox Street, Bronx, New York, 10459. If you’d like to volunteer at the garden, such as cultivating produce or helping with maintenance, you can find out more information at NYRP’s volunteer page . + Paradise on Earth + New York Restoration Project + Sawyer | Berson Images courtesy of New York Restoration Project

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

June 18, 2018 by  
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The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London , will soon switch to clean energy in a big way. Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid. Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world. Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change. In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools , social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space , at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement . “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.” Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement , even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy targets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

2017 Gift Guide: Green gifts under $20

December 4, 2017 by  
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  Looking for a green gift that doesn’t break the bank? We’ve got 15 unique and affordable gifts that will wow everyone on your list for under $20. There’s something for everyone on your list, from a mushroom garden that grows right on the counter for the chef, to a recycled-paper photo album for the Instagrammer in your life. GIFTS UNDER $20 >

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2017 Gift Guide: Green gifts under $20

Why natural stone is the best choice for your fireplace

September 26, 2017 by  
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Now that fall has started to settle in, there’s nothing better than getting cozy next to a roaring fire. And when it comes to fireplace design, natural stone is simply the most elegant, durable, and efficient material around. Natural stone retains heat better than just about anything out there, it’s practically maintenance-free, and it’s incredibly resistant to wear and tear. On top of that, it can handle extremes in temperature and doesn’t suffer from rot and mold like other materials. Whether it’s time to update your old brick fireplace or build something new, read on to find out why natural stone is the greenest choice. Zebrino marble fireplace – Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery Heat retention Natural stone absorbs, stores and radiates heat, so it can actually improve the efficiency of your home as the the warmth of a fire radiates throughout your space. Marble and limestone are particularly good at absorbing heat, while granite is particularly good at conducting heat. Basalt and soapstone are particularly good at storing heat and releasing it slowly over a long period of time. Stacked stone fireplace – Image courtesy of Eldorado Stone Low maintenance Natural stone is exceptionally easy to maintain – simply give it a wipe with a cloth every now and then to keep it looking new. That said, some stones, like marble, are porous so you may want to consider sealing them to help prevent dirt or soot from settling in. Regardless of the type of stone you use, you’ll be able to spend your time enjoying it rather than trying to maintain it. Image via Deposit Photos Longevity Natural stone is one of world’s oldest building materials – and it’s extraordinarily long-lasting. Just look at ancient buildings around the world – stone survives while other materials fade and rot away. Some stone surfaces can last many lifetimes without losing their luster, while others like limestone will weather beautifully over time. Stacked stone fire pit – Image courtesy of Marmiro Stones Durability Natural stone is known for being practically indestructible. It can handle wear and tear without falling apart, and it’s extremely resistant to water damage and mold. That’s why people use stone in areas that take the most beating – like countertops, floors, bathrooms and fireplaces. Related: How stone can help you create a more sustainable home Types of stone While you can choose just about any natural stone for your fireplace, there are a few options that are particularly well suited for the space. Limestone and soapstone are clean and simple, with a more modern feel, while slate is incredibly durable with a rustic vibe. Marble has a rich beauty that is impossible to replicate – and it can be honed or polished if you want a more formal look. Granite is a great choice for any contemporary space, and it’s one of the hardest and strongest stones available. If you prefer something dramatic, you can’t go wrong with a richly textured stone like quartzite. + Use Natural Stone Thanks in part to the Natural Stone Institute for sponsoring this post

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Why natural stone is the best choice for your fireplace

Volcanic eruption of Bali’s Mount Agung will cool Earth’s temperature

September 26, 2017 by  
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When Bali’s Mount Agung erupts in the near future, which could come at any moment, climate watchers may notice a slight shift from the seemingly endless global temperature rise . Ever so slightly, global temperatures will drop in the wake of the eruption. While this may sound like good news, it will only serve to temporarily cool down the planet. If Mount Agung’s most recent eruption offers any insight, the global temperature drop from the imminent volcanic activity should be approximately 0.1-0.4 degrees Celsius, as it was in 1963. Although this may not seem like much, even a small change in global temperature can make a significant difference on climate. For example, during the most recent Ice Age, the planet’s global temperature was only 5 degrees Celsius cooler than it is today. The significant cooling that should follow Agung’s eruption is the result of its spewing ash and sulfur dioxide into the air. When the sulfur dioxide reacts with the water vapor in the atmosphere, it becomes sulfuric acid. Accumulation of these droplets creates an atmospheric haze, which blocks the Sun’s ultraviolet rays from reaching the Earth, which causes the global cooling. Though the haze can remain in the atmosphere for years, its effects are short lived. “They’re small enough that they can stay up there for a while … but eventually they get rained out,” said Richard Arculus, Emeritus Professor in geology at the Australian National University. “These are short-term effects, not like the enduring, year after year injection of carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels — which keeps accumulating.” Related: NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth Though the cooling effects may be significant, and brief, you are unlikely to notice any major temperature change on the ground. However, it is not unheard of for volcanic eruptions to cause disruptive changes to the planet’s climate. For example, the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia resulted in what has become known as the Year Without Summer, during which Europe and the Northeast United States suffered from major crop losses due to unseasonable frost and lack of sunlight sufficient for plants . Via Australian Broadcasting Corporation Images via Martin Garrido , Jonathan Lin , and Flickr/unukorno

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Volcanic eruption of Bali’s Mount Agung will cool Earth’s temperature

Man builds ultra-efficient green home as a love letter to the environment

September 26, 2017 by  
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Many people may be in love with our beautiful earth, but Maryland resident, Ed Gaddy is straight up infatuated. Recently featured in the Baltimore Sun , the eco-warrior has spent seven years fulfilling his dream of building an ultra-efficient home. Designed in collaboration with friend and architect Miche Booz , the home’s many sustainable features were hand picked by Gaddy to reflect his fervent commitment to environmental preservation , creating an architectural “love letter to the environment” in the process. Gaddy first purchased the 1.22-acre lot located in Clarksville, Maryland in 2010. The property is just a mere 10-minute walk to his office, eliminating the need for a car. Gaddy told the Baltimore Sun that his initial objective was to build a beautiful three-bedroom home that was self-sustaining . Before breaking ground however, he and Booz decided to shoot for the impressive goal of achieving all three of the major sustainability certifications: LEED , Living Building Challenge , and Passive House . Related: This stunning passive home in Seattle is 51% more energy-efficient than its neighbors “The three certifications reflects his commitment and passion for this particular subject,” Booz said. “I would say it bordered on a fixation, and a good one. It’s his way of contributing to what he considers a crisis on the planet. He was all in — financially, emotionally and intellectually.” To start the project, the home had to be orientated to take advantage of optimal sunlight during the day, warming the interior in the winter months and shading the interior during the summer heat. High-efficiency windows were installed throughout the home to avoid air loss. All of the construction materials in the design were selected for their zero or low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Additional finishings like paint and tiles, along with the flooring, were chosen for their durability or potential for future recycling such as the kitchen’s stainless steel countertops. The appliances in the kitchen and bathroom are the highest rated in terms of efficiency. For water conservation , the bathrooms were equipped with toilets that use less than a gallon per flush and waterless urinals were also installed. Point-of-use water heaters in both the bathrooms and the kitchen reduce the time it takes to run hot water to the faucets. As far as energy generation, the home is equipped with a solar array and there’s a heat recovery ventilator that transfers heat and cold throughout. According to Gaddy, they also installed top-of-the-line heat pumps, but the structure’s 18-inch thick, three-layer insulation ensures they are rarely necessary. Outside, almost as much detail was put into landscaping as was the home design itself. The lot was landscaped to reduce runoff and a collection system directs rain to a large underground cistern for greywater use . Native plants were planted in the raised garden beds, and they put in a vegetable garden, along with cherry, apple, walnut and peach trees. Thanks to this amazing sustainable profile , Gaddy’s dream home has achieved two of the three green certifications so far. It has been certified as LEED Platinum, as well as a Net Zero Energy Building by the International Living Future Institute. They expect to receive the Living Building Challenge certification soon. The Passive House classification has been denied to Gaddy due to a small hitch concerning a failed airtightness test. Gaddy is currently working on fixing the issue and will hopefully achieve that certification soon. So, what is your love letter to the environment? + Miche Booz Via Baltimore Sun Photography by Algerina Perna via Baltimore Sun  

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Pentatonic launches new brand of modern furniture made with nothing but trash

September 8, 2017 by  
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Trash never looked so good. Pentatonic has launched a new brand of modern, modular furniture made with nothing but repurposed waste materials . But – unlike similar brands – their commitment goes beyond simply recycling . Hit the jump for a closer look. Pentatonic is launching their brand with AirTool Chair and AirTool Foil Table , as well as glassware made from smartphone glass. Their website lists the trash that went in to each piece; for example, 96 plastic bottles and 28.4 aluminum cans went into an AirTool Chair with a plyfix felt seat, along with some old food containers and industrial waste. 1,436 aluminum cans and 190 CDs or DVDs were used for an AirTool Foil table. Pentatonic says they do not use additives, toxins, glues, or resins. Related: Eco-friendly DIY modular furniture can be reassembled over and over into different pieces Pentatonic, which has offices in London and Berlin, sourced 90 percent of their trash locally; the remaining 10 percent came from places like Taiwan, which is home to the world’s largest concentration of wasted smartphone glass, according to the company. Users don’t need any tools to put together the modular Pentatonic products. The company also sells the individual components online in case a consumer loses a piece or wants to design their own furniture with Pentatonic pieces. Consumers also become part of the supply chain when they return old, used pieces to the company: Pentatonic lists a buy-back value on their website which they describe as a guaranteed sum customers will receive if they want to get rid of a product. Pentatonic will transform those used goods into new pieces of furniture. Pentatonic’s products are available to buy on their website . If you’re in London , you can check out their products in person at a popup store in Shoreditch East London at 2 Chance Street from September 15 to October 12. They’ll also be present at the London Design Festival , September 18 to 24, in the Design Frontiers exhibition at Somerset House. + Pentatonic Images courtesy of Pentatonic

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Pentatonic launches new brand of modern furniture made with nothing but trash

Kenyan activists are using human poop to make affordable cooking fuel

August 15, 2017 by  
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Resources are scarce in Kenya, and nearly half of the population lives below the poverty line , but they do have poop. Activists with Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company are providing clean fuel for local residents in the form of small balls of human feces. The group takes in truckloads of sewage from septic systems and pit latrines and transforms the waste into safe, economical briquettes that burn cleaner and longer than coal. And don’t worry: they are odor-free. Ordinarily, human feces can pose various health problems if left untreated or if disposed of improperly. Sometimes, it can even lead to cholera outbreaks or other sanitation -related diseases. However, because it is the most abundant and widely available human resource, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company developed a method to turn it into an affordable, clean-burning fuel. To create the briquettes, the company slowly sun-dries the feces. Then, it treats it at a high temperature of 300 Celsius (572 Fahrenheit) in a kiln via a carbonizing process where sawdust is added to it. TreeHugger reports that the resulting product is then mixed with a small amount of molasses to act as a binder. It is then rolled into balls and dried. One kilo of the briquettes is said to cost just 50 cents USD — a very reasonable price for Kenyan citizens. John Irungu, the site manager at Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company, describes carbonization as “a process whereby we increase the carbon content of your materials.” He added, “In this case we are using the drum kiln whereby the sludge is fed, the drum has some holes at the bottom, these holes allow the oxygen to come in, in a controlled manner, that oxygen will only support combustion but to a certain level so that it doesn’t burn completely into ash. In this way, you are able to eliminate all the volatile matters, all the harmful gasses, and it is at this point that you ensure that your sludge doesn’t smell it is safe for handling when you are carrying out the other processes which is milling and briquette production.” Related: First-ever dog poop composting program in NYC comes to Brooklyn park It took some time to overcome the stigma that surrounds the use of human feces, but the company succeeded by informing residents that they could obtain a cleaner-burning cooking fuel for a fraction of the cost. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Turning poop into fuel These Kenyan entrepreneurs built thousands of special toilets to turn poop into sustainable fuel. Posted by Al Jazeera English on Saturday, July 15, 2017 Every month, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company produces about two tons of the human waste briquettes. By the end of the year, the goal is to produce 10 tons per month. This will occur once additional de-watering and carbonization equipment is procured, as it will scale up and optimize the present production methods. The company is also invested in the construction of more than 6,000 toilets that can collect waste. Someday, the company will expand its offerings elsewhere in Kenya, Africa. + Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company Via TreeHugger Images via  Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company

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Mexico’s gorgeous Sunset Chapel looks like a gigantic boulder

August 15, 2017 by  
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Through several contrasting features, this striking chapel in Acapulco, Mexico embodies feelings of both hope and sadness. Mexico City-based Bunker Arquitectura constructed the Sunset Chapel on top of a hill and gave it an appearance of a huge boulder that blends into the natural environment. Bunker Arquitectura combined contrasting materials – glass and concrete – to embody elements of transparency and solidity, merging opposing ideas and religious contexts. The chapel mimics the large granite rocks piled up on the hill to blend into the surrounding landscape. Related: BNKR Arquitectura Reveals Plans for an Incredible Underground Skyscraper in Mexico City A triangular aperture functions as the main entrance into the small interior, while smaller slits in the walls provide views of the surroundings and allow natural light inside. A fully glazed wall on the upper floor features a crucifix which dominates the space. + Bunker Arquitectura Via Ignant Photos by Esteban Suárez

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Mexico’s gorgeous Sunset Chapel looks like a gigantic boulder

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