Innovation is the key to unlocking clean energy

August 14, 2017 by  
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Harness the fact that change is constant to create jobs, bolster our economy and improve our lives.

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Innovation is the key to unlocking clean energy

Innovation is the key to unlocking clean energy

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Harness the fact that change is constant to create jobs, bolster our economy and improve our lives.

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Innovation is the key to unlocking clean energy

New online grocery store sells quality goods for just $3

July 17, 2017 by  
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Whether you’re shopping for a facial cleanser, gluten-free brownie mix, or bowls and mugs for your kitchen, everything you seek can be obtained at incredible low prices through Brandless . The new online retailer based out of San Francisco, California is selling nearly 200 generically packaged staples for a mere $3. Products include pantry items, beauty products, office and household supplies and personal care items. Best of all, over 50 percent of the items are organic , with many of the foods being free of preservatives, GMO-free and gluten-free. According to co-founder Tina Sharkey, the goal of Brandless is to “democratize goodness,” and ensure every consumer has access to affordable, basic necessities. “We feel like as a nation, we have become quite polarized, and we see all people as the same,” Sharkey  told NBC News . “We deeply believe people being able to live their values.” Some of the products presently being advertised on the Brandless website include organic applesauce, sea-salt quinoa chips, a six-ounce bag of fair-trade Colombian coffee, virgin coconut oil, and an eight-inch serrated bread knife. Because the store specialized in packaged nonperishables, no produce, bread, frozen goods, dairy or meat is sold. However, that doesn’t mean consumers aren’t receiving great deals. One can expect to pay $9 flat rate in shipping, unless they spend $72, in which case shipping is free. An annual membership costing $36 allows one to receive free shipping if their shopping cart totals $48 or more. As Today reports, Brandless can afford to sell a variety of high-quality products for $3 because none of the items on the shelves are brand names. In fact, all are unique to Brandless, which co-founder Ido Leffler says saves money in retail space, warehousing and distribution by eliminating the “brand tax” that often makes products cost up to 40 percent more. Before any item is sold, both Leffler and Sharkey approve the products, going through multiple rounds of taste tests before settling on what they want. They hope to attract health-conscious consumers and believe that in time, Brandless can rival stores such as Whole Foods , Sprouts and Trader Joes. Related: EarthCraft-certified Organic Life House teaches Atlanta agrihood residents about healthy living The co-founders are aware they need to sell a lot of the products to be successful, so the goal right now is to reach as many customers as possible. “We will absolutely scale our logistics and operations to work to delight everybody as quickly and we can,” said Sharkey. ”We’re just getting started.” + Brandless Via Today , GrubStreet Images via Brandless

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New online grocery store sells quality goods for just $3

UK man builds highly sustainable Passivhaus-standard home for his elderly parents

July 17, 2017 by  
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A UK man has built his parents the ultimate gift: a highly sustainable home where they can comfortably live out their lives in one of their favorite places on Earth—and it’s also a house that’s won numerous awards to boot. The loving son is Richard Pender, who began the self-built project, called Shawm , as a master’s student studying renewable energy at Newcastle University. Richard worked in collaboration with Dan Kerr of MawsonKerr Architects to create a beautiful airtight home in rural Northumberland that’s built to Passivhaus standards. Richard’s retired parents, Tony and Anne Pender, previously resided in a traditional farmhouse but needed a more modern home where they could comfortably age in place. To allow his parents to continue living in the beautiful yet wild landscapes of rural Northumberland, Richard lived and worked onsite to design and build a custom home with minimal environmental impact. Though Richard isn’t an architect, he drew on his experience with conventional property development projects and dedicated three years to research to meet the highest standards of energy efficiency and detailing. Related: Colorado man builds state’s most energy efficient house The new Shawm home is located within a former farmyard behind the existing farmhouse. The timber-frame new-build is attached to an existing stone wall and features a traditional barn-like silhouette with a clean and contemporary appearance. Materials were sourced locally, such as the larch cladding from Borders and the bespoke furnishings built from trees felled onsite. Richard also manufactured the entire timber frame with a specially designed jig in an old hay shed. Since Shawm was built with Passivhaus principles, the low-impact and low-energy home features highly insulated fabric with airtight construction, thus doing away with any need for a space heating system. The house also includes mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, ‘passive’ solar gain through the south, and use of local and low-carbon materials wherever possible. However, because the site on which Shawm is built is oriented to the north, the home was unable to attain Passivhaus certification. A small biomass pellet boiler provides space heating and domestic hot water in the winter. A solar array powers the house year-round, while rainwater is stored and pumped around the home for non-potable uses. Shawm is also disability friendly and includes ramps, electric blinds, and intercom front door control. The Shawm house won four Regional RIBA Awards, a National RIBA Award, and is long-listed for the RIBA House of the Year 2017 . + Shawm House Via Dezeen Images via Shawm House , by Renderloft

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UK man builds highly sustainable Passivhaus-standard home for his elderly parents

The origins of the circular economy

June 17, 2017 by  
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The role of digital technology gave rise to circular thinking, impacting how we see the world, how the economy really works and how we can act within it.

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The origins of the circular economy

Clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs in most US states

March 28, 2017 by  
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Clean energy is increasingly providing work for people across the United States, contrary to what the president might think, and a new Sierra Club report reveals just how much of an impact on the economy it has made. Renewable energy jobs now exceed jobs in coal, oil, and gas in 41 American states and Washington, D.C., according to the report. Sierra Club drew on 2017 Department of Energy jobs data to discover clean energy jobs exceed those in fossil fuels by more than 2.5 to one. The energy jobs of the future, including those in wind , solar , energy efficiency , battery storage , and smart grid technology, already exceed coal, oil, and gas jobs nationally, including positions in extraction, mining, and power generation. According to Sierra Club’s analysis, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by over 2.5 to one, and exceed gas and coal jobs by five to one. While only nine states have more fossil fuel than clean energy jobs, just six states have more jobs in coal and gas, according to the report. Related: Solar power now provides twice as many jobs as coal in U.S. In a statement Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, “Right now, clean energy jobs already overwhelm dirty fuels in nearly every state across America, and that growth is only going to continue as clean energy keeps getting more affordable and accessible by the day. These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.” If Trump really wants to increase jobs as he claims – and not just fill the pockets of his fossil fuel friends – he should look no further than renewable energy. The report concludes policies to invest in and incentivize clean energy could generate millions of new jobs across America, more than could be created in the fossil fuel sector. Sierra Club also said the clean energy transition should benefit everyone; this means putting first communities and workers who depended on fossil fuels in the past. You can read the full report here . Via Sierra Club ( 1 , 2 ) Images via U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr and Walmart on Flickr

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Clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs in most US states

Scientists turn spinach into human heart tissue

March 28, 2017 by  
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Popeye was right: spinach really is good for the muscles, and not just the ones in your biceps. In fact, scientists have discovered a way to use the leafy stuff, which has a vascular system not dissimilar to ours, to grow layers of working heart muscle, according to a paper published this month in the journal Biomaterials . The new technique, a collaboration between Worcester Polytechnic Institute , the University of Wisconsin-Madison , and Arkansas State University-Jonesboro , marks a breakthrough in the field of human tissue regeneration, which has hitherto been stymied by scale. To wit, although current bioengineering methods can recreate cellular scaffolding on a large scope, fabricating branching networks of tiny blood vessels has proven far trickier. But then scientists noticed that plants and animals evolved parallel means of distributing water and nutrients to their respective cells. “Plants and animals exploit fundamentally different approaches to transporting fluids, chemicals, and macromolecules, yet there are surprising similarities in their vascular network structures,” the authors wrote. “The development of decellularized plants for scaffolding opens up the potential for a new branch of science that investigates the mimicry between plant and animal.” To test their theory, the researchers stripped a bunch of spinach leaves of their cells, leaving behind a network of cellulose. They then seeded the spinach veins with beating human-heart cells. With the leaf fully networked, the team pumped fluids and microbeads through their pint-size proto-heart, mimicking the flow of human cells through our own arterial system. Related: Engineers build artificial muscles from onion skin and gold So far, so successful. “We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising,” said Glenn Gaudette, professor of biomedical engineering at WPI and corresponding author of the paper. And it’s not just spinach that’s up for the job. Other decellularized plants could help deliver oxygen to damaged tissue in victims of heart attacks or other kinds of cardiac trauma. Even better, bioengineers could tweak different plant species to repair a range of tissues in the body. Spinach might work best for highly vascularized cardiac tissue, for instance, but the cylindrical hollow structure of something like jewelweed might be more appropriate for an arterial graft. Similarly, the vascular columns of wood could one day play a role in healing human bones. “Adapting abundant plants that farmers have been cultivating for thousands of years for use in tissue engineering could solve a host of problems limiting the field,” Gaudette added. + Worchester Polytechnic Institute Via National Geographic

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Scientists turn spinach into human heart tissue

$10 million project to test universal basic income in the US

December 9, 2016 by  
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Could a universal basic income (UBI) be the answer to income inequality in an increasingly automated world? One US group is investing $10 million to find out. The Economic Security Project is a coalition of investors, activists, and technology companies committed to spending the next two years exploring the feasibility of a UBI for US citizens. The work will follow up on previous trials of the UBI , which have shown promising but inconsistent results. (Advocates of the idea claim the programs were under-funded and too short-lived to prove the concept one way or another .) Research has generally shown direct cash transfers to be more helpful than other forms of aid in poor nations, but it’s unclear exactly how matters will play out in a more developed country. Related: Ontario is rolling out a basic income test for citizens living under the poverty line The ESP funds will be used in a variety of ways over the next two years: while there will be some unconditional cash stipends delivered to US citizens, it appears that work will mainly be done through state and local basic income campaigns rather than the organization itself. Some of the funds will also be donated to fund nonprofit research into the best ways to implement UBI and on advocacy efforts to influence political policy. While a universal income may sound like a handout, proponents of the idea believe it will become increasingly necessary as technology advances. One high-profile backer is Elon Musk , who recently told CNBC he believes in the near future, there simply won’t be enough jobs to keep the economy afloat otherwise. But his vision of the future isn’t completely grim: he believes we’ll simply adapt and use our newfound leisure time on more interesting hobbies instead of work. Via The Independent Images via Steven Depolo and Tracy O

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$10 million project to test universal basic income in the US

Minim Workspace is an affordable office that can be parked like a car

December 9, 2016 by  
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Why work in a cubicle when you can park your office in a new place every day? The mobile Minim Workspace can be parked anywhere that’s legal to park a car for an extended time period. The trailer, which can be used as a studio and home office, is cousin to Minim House , an award-winning mobile micro home that received three American Institute of Architects awards for design. The 80-square-foot Minim Workspace is cost effective, flexible and provides a private, quiet office space. The full office model includes a keyless entry, a five-foot electric sit or standing desk with a conference table, six-foot sofa, noiseless AC system, LED lighting , a microwave, sink, and a fridge. Related: Tiny workplace on wheels can make each day at the office different! The company also offers an off-grid option that includes a 1.5kW solar array , one battery bank, and all electronics necessary to fully power the Workspace, including lighting, outlets, heat, and air-conditioning. The off-grid system is not designed for continual full overnight use since it requires some sun exposure, and must be switched off when the Workspace is unoccupied. Minim is currently accepting deposits for leased units within 75 miles of Washington DC, with delivery expected March 2017. + Minimwork

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Minim Workspace is an affordable office that can be parked like a car

China’s coal use peaks in a ‘real turning point’ for the fight against climate change

July 27, 2016 by  
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A new study reveals that China’s coal use peaked in 2014, marking a “real turning point” in the fight against climate change . Economists at China’s Tsinghua University and the London School of Economics said this peak is likely a permanent trend – which is significant, as China produces more emissions than any other country in the world. Between 2000 and 2013, China’s coal consumption tripled. During those years, the country produced billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide. Since then, coal production and coal burning have fallen for several reasons. For starters, China’s economy has moved from heavy industry towards technology, and there’s been a greater emphasis on energy efficiency . Further, the Chinese government has turned its attention to dealing with water and air pollution. Related: China on track to reach Paris climate goal way sooner than expected Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics, co-author on the paper, told The Guardian “I think historians really will see [the coal peak of] 2014 as a very important even in the history of the climate and economy of the world.” The economists said the peak could be a breakthrough in the Anthropocene Era , or the geological period in which human influences alter the environment. Stern said other nations might be influenced by China’s shift, bringing the world closer to goals set in the Paris agreement . The New Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Patricia Espinosa described the peak as a “very positive development.” She said, “It underlines how ambitious and deliberate policies to shift away from highly polluting fuels to cleaner energy sources can deliver global climate benefits and national improvements in health and indeed in people’s lives.” + Nature Geoscience Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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China’s coal use peaks in a ‘real turning point’ for the fight against climate change

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