The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

June 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Don’t throw it out — throw it on. The Agraloop Bio-Refinery , a new technology developed by materials science company Circular Systems S.P.C. , is capable of turning food waste such as banana peels, pineapple leaves and hemp stalks into natural fiber that can be woven into clothing . “We want to enable food crops to become our primary fibers,” Circular Systems CEO and co-founder Isaac Nichelson told Fast Company . The waste materials mentioned, plus sugar cane and flax stalk, could generate up to 250 million tons of fiber each year if processed through the Agraloop, meeting the global demand for fiber two and a half times over. Farmers are encouraged to acquire their own Agraloop systems, so that they may earn extra income from creating natural, sustainable fiber from materials they would otherwise compost . While the Agraloop is a novel technology, its values are aligned with the clothing industry’s past. In 1960, 97 percent of the fibers used to produce clothing came from natural sources. Today, only 35 percent is naturally sourced. The return to natural form for the fashion industry is desperately needed in a moment where many acknowledge the need for reform within the industry, from its labor practices to its environmental impact. Related: Biotech company Nanollose could offer plant-free alternatives for the textile industry “Right now, it’s so extractive and so destructive, and we’re looking at these resources becoming more and more finite as the population grows,” Nichelson said. “If there’s not collective and very swift action, it’s going to be catastrophic for the industry from an economic standpoint.” Enter the Agraloop. “[It’s a] regenerative system that uses plant-based chemistry and plant-based energy to upgrade the fibres whilst enriching the local communities and creating a new economic system,” Nichelson explained. Ultimately, a move towards sustainability will be beneficial for both the environment and those seeking to make a profit. Nichelson said, “All of our industries need to be retrofitted for real sustainability and become regenerative by nature, and it will be better for business.” + Circular Systems Via EcoWatch and Fast Company Image via  Depositphotos

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The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

An innovative forever house renovation features a pocket park for the community

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Mention the word ‘ renovation ’ and thoughts of expansion immediately spring to mind — especially in the expensive suburb Fitzroy of  Melbourne . So when the owners of a two-story terrace house in the neighborhood decided against creating a large home and instead sought to turn part of their unused site into a pocket park, they smartly tapped Austin Maynard Architects to lead the project. The local Australian architecture firm — known for its creative and anti-McMansion designs — created the King Bill “forever home” for a family of four that includes a revamped garden space and curved extensions, one of which is housed in an overhauled horse stable. Instead of building out the entire vacant lot east of the main house, Austin Maynard Architects selectively added a couple structures to the site. Contemporary additions include a new pavilion housing the kitchen, living and dining spaces, as well as a glazed corridor that connects the main house to the old horse stable that’s been converted into the garage and parents’ retreat. Corrugated colorbond steel metal clads the curvaceous extensions to provide a playful and striking contrast to the original brick left intact on the 19th-century terrace house. “Long time Fitzroy locals, the clients chose not to capitalise on their block by exploiting the vacant site,” the architects explained. “They wanted more living space but they had no intention of maximising the economic yields by creating a huge home. Instead, they sought to give something back to the suburb they love through a rich and generous garden .” Related: Energy-efficient Cut Paw Paw house is “ridiculously inside-out” in Australia The team refreshed the garden with new plants while preserving the existing pear and silver birch trees. The concrete slab of the new living space pavilion was carefully cantilevered so as not to disturb the tree root zones. The architects included minimal paving in the garden to maximize site permeability; the plantings also help to reduce the area’s heat island effect. The home also features  passive solar principles and rooftop solar panels. Rainwater is harvested and reused for irrigation and to flush toilets. Thanks to double-glazed windows, natural light fills the home. + Austin Maynard Architects Images by Derek Swalwell

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An innovative forever house renovation features a pocket park for the community

Animals are becoming nocturnal to avoid humans

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Researchers have learned that dozens of species of animals have reacted to increased contact with human beings by shifting their internal clocks to become more nocturnal. “It suggests that animals might be playing it safe around people,” study leader Kaitlyn Gaynor told Phys.org . “We may think that we leave no trace when we’re just hiking in the woods , but our mere presence can have lasting consequences.” In a new study published in the journal Science , Gaynor and her team analyzed data from 76 previous studies on 62 different animal species spread out over six continents and concluded that even relatively low-impact activities can affect animal behavior. Animals featured in this study, many of whom were mammals, include coyotes in California, wild boars in Poland, lions in Tanzania, tigers in Nepal, and otters in Brazil . To determine the effect of human behavior on sleeping patterns, researchers determined how long animals were active at night when affected by different kinds of human activities, such as hunting, hiking , and farming. The team concluded that human presence correlated with a 20 percent increase on average of nocturnal activity among the animals studied. Related: Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing “bat-friendly” streetlights This research is among the first to explore and quantify how human behavior impacts animal activity and sleep patterns on a broad scale.  “No one else has compiled all this information and analyzed it in such a … robust way,” researcher Ana Benitez Lopez, who reviewed the study, told Phys.org. The study is a reminder that simply being in a wild space can fundamentally change it. “It’s a little bit scary,” ecologist Marlee Tucker, who did not participate in the study, told Phys.org. “Even if people think that we’re not deliberately trying to impact animals, we probably are without knowing it.” While some animals will struggle with adapting to night life, the shift may also provide benefits to animals who hope to share space with humans without ever dealing with them. Armed with new knowledge, I will nonetheless continue to hike and camp , because it helps me sleep. Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos

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Animals are becoming nocturnal to avoid humans

Couple transforms a fire truck into a cozy camper for traveling Europe

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

When Anna and Sebastian Schlüter decided to take a break from working in Berlin to embark on their long-awaited trip around Europe, traveling via fire truck wasn’t the first thing on their minds. But on the advice of Sebastian’s father, and after coming across a deal on a 1987 Mercedes-Benz fire truck, the duo found themselves in a year-long conversion project that turned the vehicle into a cozy travel camper. Nicknamed ‘ Bombero ’ (Spanish for “fireman”), the converted fire truck took about a year to complete and has provided the perfect travel wheels for Anna and Sebastian, who have visited 19 countries and counting thus far. Purchased for approximately $14,700 USD, the 30-year-old Mercedes Benz fire truck conversion involved a gut-renovation that decreased the 11-ton vehicle to a weight of 7.5 tons. The couple initially parked the vehicle on the Schlüter family farm in Nottuln, Germany, where it was worked on with help from Sebastian’s brother and father, who has experience with converting a Unimog into a camper . Thanks to Sebastian’s father’s experience and many helping hands, the project was relatively low-cost. Sebastian handled the engineering and construction, while Anna led the interior design. The cost of materials, some of which were gifted or found in secondhand shops, is estimated at around $29,520. In addition to emptying out the interior, the Schlüters made the fire truck more livable by lifting up the roof to add extra windows and inserting insulation and wiring. Custom-made upholstery, a mix of birch , oak and spruce as well as decorative elements like porcelain door knobs make the space cozy and inviting. The fire truck was outfitted with all the necessities, such as a full-size bed, closet, dining area, a bathroom and a full kitchen with an oven and electrical appliances. The off-grid home is also equipped with a gas tank, fresh water and gray water tanks and rooftop solar panels. Related: The Beer Moth is a Sweet Room in a Refurbished Fire Truck in Scotland “Many decisions were very deliberately led by quality over price — keeping in mind that anything that keeps you from having to fix it while on the road will give you peace of mind and let you enjoy traveling rather than being stressed out and having to find solutions while in a foreign country,” explained the couple. “This decision paid off very well — no items, besides the brake lights, has broken down during the last 11 months! Not one thing!” Anna and Sebastian hit the road with their dog, Lotta, in June 2017 and have clocked more than 10,000 miles in their ongoing trip around Europe. You can follow the Bombero Travel adventure here . + Bombero Travel Via Dwell Conversion image copyright Anna Schlüter, all others copyright Seraia Photography

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Couple transforms a fire truck into a cozy camper for traveling Europe

Calling for a sea change in the business of oceans

June 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Let’s reimagine the blue economy.

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Calling for a sea change in the business of oceans

The nuclear industry is making a big bet on small power plants

June 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Small-scale nuclear reactor technology is trying to reenter the mainstream global energy sector

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The nuclear industry is making a big bet on small power plants

Ben & Jerry’s backs onshore wind farms with gusty ice cream names

June 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Cherry Gale-cia, anyone? How about some Strawberry Breeze-cake or Caramel Blew Blew? Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s  has tweaked the names of some popular flavors with a gusty twist to rally support for onshore wind power in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported . The company isn’t just changing flavor names, though; it’s also promoting a petition requesting that the government reconsider its opposition to onshore wind. Would you be surprised to hear that the vast majority of Brits support onshore wind? New government figures show 76% of us love it! Find out more & join us by signing the petition! https://t.co/5oANc1YOrL #windpower pic.twitter.com/5UtCUpyEg4 — Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) June 13, 2018 76 percent of Brits support onshore wind farms , according to the findings of a UK government poll released in April. Despite that, construction on the farms has mostly ceased since the government stopped subsidies and put planning reforms in place. Ben & Jerry’s is supporting 10:10 Climate Action ‘s Blown Away campaign; the group’s petition calls on Minister for Housing, Communities, and Local Government James Brokenshire to remove additional planning requirements introduced in 2015, with the ultimate goal of unlocking onshore wind power in England. Over 26,000 people have signed the petition — you can sign it on 10:10’s website . The #UK needs onshore #windpower ! 25965 people have already signed the petition. Join us! https://t.co/Wf98ZlujDF pic.twitter.com/u1qPWviyhV — Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) June 9, 2018 Related: Ben & Jerry’s launches vegan ice cream flavors Ben & Jerry’s, owned by Unilever, will sell renamed flavors at half price on what they’re calling windy Wednesdays. UK social mission manager Rebecca Baron told The Guardian, “If we want to move away from polluting fossil fuels and build a future based on clean energy , then wind power is a vital ingredient.” People could save around £1.6 billion, or $2.1 billion, on household power bills between 2019 and 2025 with new onshore wind, according to a report  from renewable energy consultants BVG Associates . This isn’t the first time Ben & Jerry’s has gotten involved in environmental or social issues; they launched a new flavor for climate action in 2015. They describe backing 10:10’s Blown Away campaign as the latest installment in their ongoing climate activism . + 10:10 Blown Away + 10:10 Climate Action Petition Via The Guardian Images courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s

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Ben & Jerry’s backs onshore wind farms with gusty ice cream names

New ‘agrihood’ coming to the Island of Hawaii

June 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

In a first for the Big Island of Hawaii, a new sustainable “ agrihood ” known as Kuwili Lani, Hawaiian for “to embrace the heavens,” has received final subdivision approval and properties in this new neighborhood are now available to the public. An agrihood is an organized sustainable community that, rather than being built around a pool or a golf course, is centered on spaces designed for community food production. Backed by Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, the Kuwili Lani project is the result of over ten years of research and organizing which are now bearing fruit. Now that the infrastructure in the gated community is complete, lots are available for purchase from mid-$200k to mid-$300k. Located on the Hamakua Coast in Laupahoehoe, Kuwili Lani is designed with sustainability in mind across the board. From the community’s independence from the energy grid, made possible by on-site wind and solar power generation, to each of the eleven one-acre lots being zoned for agricultural use, Kuwili Lani intends to offer its residents a unique, sustainable lifestyle only 25 miles from the nearby city of Hilo. The community’s careful use of natural resources is also reflected in its sustainable rain harvesting for outdoor, agricultural use; the potable county water supply will be piped into the community. Related: Hawaii just set the most ambitious climate goal of any US state: carbon neutral by 2045 Although there may be communal food production plots, individual plot owners are encouraged to grow their own food on their own lots. Neighbors may coordinate to determine what the community needs and then delegate, so that Kuwili Lani may be able to provide its own fruit, vegetables, and even seafood right on site. Overall, the new sustainable community is aimed at those who want to be good stewards of the Earth while also taking charge of their own lives. “Kuwili Lani is based on the principle of being independent and in charge of one’s own destiny,” Michael Whelan, managing partner for Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, said in a statement. “We wanted to create a path for people to follow who are aware of the way their lifestyle impacts our environment.” Via Kuwili Lani Images via Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers

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New ‘agrihood’ coming to the Island of Hawaii

A light-filled extension turns an Australian home into an oasis of calm

June 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

When clients approached Fitzroy-based architecture and interior design firm Taylor Knights for a home renovation and extension , they emphasized their desire for a calm and comfortable retreat. The design studio responded with a light-filled modern space that soothes the soul with its abundance of windows that overlook an ivy-lined sideway and the north-facing garden beyond. The project—called the Brunswick West House—comprises the living spaces in a new 50-square-meter alteration and addition to an existing California Bungalow home in Victoria, Australia. Crafted as the home’s new “social heart,” the contemporary extension is arranged in and around three sculptural masonry walls. A stunning ivy-lined sideway was repurposed into the new entrance walkway so that homeowners and guests could access the rear extension without walking through the home’s main volume, where the bedrooms are now located. A variety of active and passive spaces were carved out from the new living room and dining area and carefully positioned to optimize outdoor views. The space has also been designed to accommodate the clients’ diverse collection of artwork and literature. “As with many projects of this scale, making incisive moves early on is essential to managing the design and construction process,” said the architects. “From the beginning, the project was always about achieving ‘quality over quantity’, and our client was keen to follow through on this idea. As a result, we looked to avoid significant (and potentially fiddly) reconfiguration of the existing internal spaces by repurposing the generous ivy-lined sideway, creating a lush and unassuming new entry point at the centre of the home. This approach enables the home to operate quite cleanly and disparately in two parts of a whole: the existing rooms now accommodate bedrooms, while the addition forms the new social heart of the home.” Related: A Victorian cottage transforms into a light-filled passive solar abode To reduce energy demands, the new living spaces are oriented towards the north and eaves were installed to block unwanted heat gain in the summer. The doors and windows are outfitted with energy-efficient glazing. Sustainable timber has also been used throughout the home. + Taylor Knights Images by Tom Blachford

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A light-filled extension turns an Australian home into an oasis of calm

The Philippines envisions a green smart city to combat pollution in Manila

June 11, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Traffic is an unpleasant facet of life in cities , but in Manila, the most densely populated city in the world , it’s a severe drain on the economy and the quality of life of residents. This metropolis in the Philippines is infamous for traffic congestion, which contributes to its substantial smog problem. With it also comes many other forms of pollution and environmental hazards. The country has an ambitious plan to combat these issues — build a new smart city that is green and resilient. The Plan The new city, dubbed New Clark City , is considered Manila’s twin city. It’s located in Central Luzon, about  75 miles from Manila at a former U.S. military base. It’s expected to be larger than the size of Manhattan and home to up to two million people . The Bases Conversion and Development Authority ( BCDA ), a government entity vested with corporate powers that converts former military properties, is the leading developer of the project. Both government and private investments will fund the new city. The government plans to move many of its offices and thousands of its workers to the smart city .  By the end of 2023, the government aims to have eight mid-rise government buildings and 8,000 housing units in New Clark City. The Department of Transportation has already moved to Clark , and BCDA will do so this year. One of the most notable parts of the project is the expansion of Clark Airport, which would double the volume of flights the facility can handle. This development is scheduled for completion in 2020. Related: Panasonic is building an incredible smart city outside of Denver Smart, Green and Resilient New Clark City aims to avoid many of the problems that plague Manila by emphasizing green design and smart technologies.  Two-thirds of the city’s land will be used for green space and agriculture . Developers plan to use green building techniques — such an energy monitoring systems and renewable energy — to increase energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The project is slated to include a  rail system connecting the new city to Manila . The inclusion of reliable public transport should alleviate some of the hassle for commuters, visitors and in-city residents alike. The Philippines anticipates autonomous cars will further reduce current and future congestion. While reducing traffic, these technologies are also expected to help keep air quality at the World Health Organization’s recommended safe levels — air pollution levels in Manila are currently  70 percent higher than WHO’s endorsed rates. New Clark City is designed with resilience to disasters in mind. The city’s elevation at its lowest point is 184 feet above sea level  to minimize the risk of flooding, and green space along rivers will also allow room for water to rise without damaging nearby property. In case of power disruption or an emergency, the city will also host backup government offices, so agencies can continue operations. The government said it is working to develop the city quickly while still keeping the design green. Challenges Against New Clark City The New Clark City project has received praise for its vision, and the plans suggest it could have substantial environmental and economic benefits for Manila and the Philippines. But such an ambitious project isn’t without its challenges. One of the primary roadblocks is getting residents to actually move to the city. To address this challenge, the Philippines is prioritizing connecting New Clark City to Manila via train to make the smart city easily accessible. The BCDA also hopes to attract people by building a sports facility that will host the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Another critical strategy for jump-starting the economy and moving people to the urban center is to gradually relocate government agencies to New Clark City. Sustainable design is another critical challenge to this project. Because of the tight time frame, project managers had to carefully weigh the long-term needs of the natural world with the short-term profitability of the developers. To that end, they have spent time making sure the space, when finished, will prioritize natural landscapes and farmland. The Philippines expects to complete the full development plan within 30 years . In total, New Clark City is an approximately $14 billion project — a high price to pay, especially  if the city fails . A City for the Future The government hopes the benefits of New Clark City will outweigh the costs. As evidenced by the state of Manila’s traffic congestion and environmental problems, there is a demand for change. If New Clark City succeeds, its victory may enable Manila to revitalize and integrate more smart, green features, which could reduce the country’s environmental impact substantially. Building a new city from scratch — and keeping it green — is, of course, no small feat, but this modern city could mean a new, brighter future for the Philippines . + New Clark City Via  World Population Review ,  Rent PMI ,  Business Insider ,  Bloomberg ,  Reuters  and  CNN Images via New Clark City  and BCDA

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The Philippines envisions a green smart city to combat pollution in Manila

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