Community is the key to resilience

July 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Four weeks into the job, Josh Stanbro, chief resilience officer of the City and County of Honolulu, discussed confronting the sustainability challenges confronting the city and Hawaii as a state and part of the world at large.”On Oahu, people recognize that there are direct and immediate threats from climate change,” said Stanbro. Forward-thinking Honolulu had recently voted to establish an office of resilience that tackles affordable housing, critical infrastructure and response to natural hazards associated with climate change and sea level rise.  

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Community is the key to resilience

Centuries-old apartment in Israel transformed into a remarkable modern "cave"

July 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

This ancient apartment in Israel was skillfully renovated to unify its cavernous, centuries-old rooms into a modern residence that offers stunning views of the sea. Pitsou Kedem Architects concealed some parts of the traditional arches while uncovering others to create an elegant combination of the old and the new. The rooms of the apartment, located in Tel Aviv-Yafo – an ancient port city in Israel– have been altered over hundreds of years, giving each room its own unique character. The architects approached the refurbishment of the entire space as an opportunity to bring more natural light into the interior and open it up toward the sea. Related: Decrepit cave transformed into a beautiful modern home in China The integrated interior spaces are sheltered underneath beautiful arches . Some of the decorations added over the years have been covered in plaster, while the dome in the kitchen was uncovered. The team introduced a new raw concrete floor with accentuated filing stones to the floor level. Black sheet covering emphasize the openings connecting the rooms. These dark elements also hide new technical systems in the walls. + Pitsou Kedem Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Amit Geron

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Centuries-old apartment in Israel transformed into a remarkable modern "cave"

Germany expects to add 900 MW of new offshore wind capacity in 2017

July 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Germany’s offshore wind boom is accelerating. The Federal Republic has already brought online a total of 626 megawatts (MW) of new offshore wind capacity in the first six months of 2017 and industry groups said in a recent joint statement that they expect to see total installations of 900 MW by the end of the year. If Germany hits the 900 MW mark in 2017, it would exceed the 818 MW added in 2016. At the current rate of expansion, Germany could be on track to blow past government targets of 6,500 MW for 2020, the industry groups said. The country’s installed offshore wind total is already at 4,729 MW from 1,055 turbines. Related: Germany, Denmark, and Belgium to boost offshore wind 5-fold within the next decade The industry groups said that the offshore wind industry is moving away from the era of costly subsidies to becoming more commercially viable and bringing costs down for consumers. “This paradigm shift offers the next government chances to lift expansion targets to at least 20 gigawatts (20,000 MW) up to 2030 and at least 30 GW to 2035, utilizing the economic and industrial political potential of offshore wind,” the industry groups said. Germany’s offshore wind farms delivered 8.48 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity to the grid in the first six month of 2016 — producing more electricity than was generated in all of 2015 (8.29TWh). Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia 1 , 2 , 3

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Germany expects to add 900 MW of new offshore wind capacity in 2017

Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Scientists have been stumped for years over why the southern Amazon rainforest ‘s rainy season begins two to three months earlier than they’d expect. But now an international team that includes researchers from NASA and Google has discovered the forest actually triggers its own rainy season, thanks to water vapor off plant leaves. The finding points to one disastrous consequence of deforestation in this part of the world: as trees are cut down, it appears there’s actually less rainfall. Monsoon winds and the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which NASA describes as a belt of converging trade winds that shifts depending on the seasons, control when the rainy season begins in many tropical locations, and the southern Amazon experiences both factors. But they don’t kick in until December or January, while the southern Amazon’s rainy season typically begins in the middle of October. Related: Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces “death spiral” To try and find out why, the team of scientists led by Jonathon Wright of Tsinghua University scrutinized data on water vapor from NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, aboard the agency’s Aura satellite , together with other satellite measurements, to discover clouds in the southern Amazon at the dry season’s close form via water rising from the rainforest. But the southern Amazon’s rainy season already begins nearly a month later than it did back in the 1970’s. Evidence indicates if the region’s dry season stretches longer than five to seven months, there won’t be enough rain for the rainforest to remain a rainforest – it could transition to grassy plains. But the dry season is already a few weeks shorter on average than that benchmark in parts of the southern Amazon. The new study, published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , bolsters the idea that deforestation is partly to blame for the delayed start of the rainy season. The rainforest’s capacity to develop clouds dwindles as trees are chopped down. And if deforestation harms the forest to the point where it can’t trigger its own rainy season, the southern Amazon’s rainy season likely wouldn’t commence until December or January. Such changes could have far-reaching impacts. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “The loss of a major Amazonian forest ecosystem could increase Brazilian droughts and potentially disrupt rainfall patterns as far away as Texas.” Via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Images via Center for International Forestry Research and Jay on Flickr

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Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season

Configurable wooden shelter hangs from the treetops

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Need a quiet space to get away from it all? French architecture firm,  Les Etablissements Tourneux has created a multi-use wooden shelter that hangs from the tree tops. Although compact in size, the Sequoia Shelter is incredibly flexible thanks to multiple wooden planks with hinges, which allow the structure to be configured in a variety of shapes without causing harm to the tree or its branches. The shelter is made out of individual panels of spruce that can be configured in different shapes. It’s also possible to create various awnings and terraces within the design. The narrow apex at the top and flexible configuration were strategic to creating a hanging treehouse that causes little to no damage to trees and branches. Aesthetically, the natural spruce planks give the treehouse a light, airy feel. Related: Kengo Kuma envisions shapeshifting nomadic shelters woven from hundreds of identical wooden pieces The structure is incredibly easy to put together, making it a practical solution for off-grid living , an additional guest room, or just for plain, old fun. A flat base means it can be set on the ground and easily transported. Recently, the shelter was used as a music studio and lecture space for the Embranchements Festival in Nancy, France. + Les Etablissements Tourneux Via NotCot Images via Les Etablissements Tourneux

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Configurable wooden shelter hangs from the treetops

Shigeru Ban designs 20,000 homes for severely overcrowded refugee camp in Kenya

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

World-renowned architect, Shigeru Ban , is taking his talents to those who need it most. Working in collaboration with UN-Habitat, the UN agency that focuses on sustainable development , the 2014 Pritzker Prize recipient designed a prototype for some 20,000 new homes for refugees in Kenya’s Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement . True to form, Ban promotes the use of locally-sourced, sustainable materials in the shelter design. The Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement is currently home to almost 37,000 refugees, 17,000 of whom arrived in the first half of 2017 alone. This continuous influx of inhabitants is expected to increase over the next few months, putting the settlement, which has a capacity of 45,000, in a severely precarious situation. Related: 10 groundbreaking designs by Shigeru Ban that changed our ideas about architecture Ban is well-known for his dedication to humanitarian construction, having built various refugee and crisis shelters around the world, namely Rwanda, Italy, and Nepal. Ban is also known for his work with sustainable and locally-sourced materials, a trait that will be essential in the Kenyan camp. On a recent trip to the settlement, Ban highlighted the importance of using local construction techniques and sustainable materials , “The key thing will be to design and construct shelter where no or little technical supervision is required, and use materials that are locally available and eco-friendly. It’s important that the houses can be easily maintained by inhabitants.” The plan calls for Ban’s shelter design to be used initially as a prototype for 20 shelters. After a test period, the design, if successful, will be used to replace some of the camp’s deteriorating structures. + Shigeru Ban Via Archdaily Images via UNHCR

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Shigeru Ban designs 20,000 homes for severely overcrowded refugee camp in Kenya

Survey: Americans Miss Out on Savings from Energy Hacks

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Eco Tech

Americans love a deal. There is a proliferation of websites that specialize in coupons of every kind, people camp out all night for big deals, and some sales have even become official holidays. But while we are focused on upfront savings on…

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Survey: Americans Miss Out on Savings from Energy Hacks

Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

When the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent began pushing for green roofs , a supermarket wondered if it could do regulations one better. Fast-forward a few years and IGA Extra Famille Duchemin now claims to be the first grocery store in Canada to sell produce grown on its own roof. High above its LEED Gold-certified retail space, IGA’s 25,000-foot garden features more than 30 different varieties of certified-organic produce, including tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, kale, eggplant, and basil. Speaking to the Ottawa Citizen , co-owner Richard Duchemin said he decided to perceive Saint-Laurent’s requirement not as a burden but an opportunity. Related: New York City unveils massive green-roofed film and fashion hub in Brooklyn Not only does a green roof help regulate the temperature of the building below it, saving energy, but it also feeds into consumer demand for food with a smaller carbon footprint. “People are very interested in buying local,” he said. “There’s nothing more local than this.” The garden, which is irrigated using water reclaimed from the store’s dehumidification system, has also become a mini-Eden for birds, bees, and other embattled urban fauna. Duchemin compares IGA’s produce-laden roof to those “little boxes where [supermarkets] grow herbs,” but on a grander scale. “We pushed it further because we know we’re able to sell what we produce here,” he added. Related: Green roofs cool co-working shipping container office in Brazil If proven successful, GA Extra Famille Duchemin could even kick-start a trend across Canada. Pierre St-Laurent, executive vice-president for Quebec at Sobeys , which owns the IGA chain, is said to be following the store’s progress with great interest. Photos via Facebook Via Ottawa Citizen

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Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

Gehry Partners unveils plant-covered offices for Los Angeles

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Frank Gehry’s firm Gehry Partners is bringing a burst of greenery to Los Angeles’ Playa Vista neighborhood. The world-renowned architecture firm unveiled renderings for their new eight-story office project, called New Beatrice West, that will incorporate the firm’s current offices next door. The eco-conscious structure will be covered in green walls , topped with trees, and feature energy-efficient systems. Located on a corner lot across five contiguous lots, New Beatrice West will be a mixed-use structure that will be integrated into its nearly 88,000-square-foot neighbor, 12541 Beatrice Street, that currently houses Gehry Partners’ offices. Three levels of retail and restaurant space make up the lower floors, while the upper five levels will house offices. Parking is mostly tucked underground across two levels. The building will also accommodate long- and short-term bike parking spaces, as well as locker rooms and showers for bike commuters . Related: Frank Gehry to revitalize the LA River as “a water reclamation project” The building will comprise a series of terraced glass boxes topped with trees and covered with green walls. To minimize energy use, the architects plan to include low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient lighting, and passive design prinicples. The project’s construction period is estimated at 22 months. + Gehry Partners Via Curbed Images via LA Department of Planning

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Gehry Partners unveils plant-covered offices for Los Angeles

16-year-old inspires U.S. city to pass law requiring solar panels on all new homes

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

More United States cities are taking strong measures to move the clean energy economy forward. This week, South Miami passed a law requiring new houses to be outfitted with solar panels . The law will even apply to some renovations. It’s the first of its kind in Florida , and passed four to one – and some of the inspiration for the law came from a high school student. High schooler Delaney Reynolds, who was 16 at the time, learned about San Francisco’s 2016 measure requiring solar panels on all new buildings of 10 stories or less. She thought cities in Florida could do the same. Reynolds, who started a nonprofit called The Sink or Swim Project to tackle climate change in South Florida, wrote mayors of around half a dozen cities in her area, according to InsideClimate News, and South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard was the first to reply. He asked Reynolds to help write the ordinance. Related: San Francisco approves measure to require solar panels on new buildings Under the law, new homes will have to have 175 square feet of solar panels per 1,000 square feet of roof area in the sun, or 2.75 kilowatts per 1,000 square feet of living space – whichever one is less. If the house is constructed beneath trees already there it may be exempt. If more than 75 percent of an existing home is being replaced by renovations , or if a home is being extended by 75 percent, the new law will apply as well. On Tuesday, the law passed, with only commissioner Josh Liebman voting against it. Liebman said he’s not against solar power but is for freedom of choice. The law will go into effect in September. Only around 10 new homes are built in the area a year, so Stoddard acknowledges the measure won’t change the world. But he said officials in other areas like Orlando and St. Petersburg have indicated interest, so the idea could spread. Via InsideClimate News and Miami Herald Images via Wikimedia Commons and The Sink or Swim Project Facebook

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16-year-old inspires U.S. city to pass law requiring solar panels on all new homes

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