Solar-powered Embassy of Australia designs unveiled for Washington, D.C.

November 16, 2016 by  
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Designed by Bates Smart’s Sir Osbourne McCutcheon in 1964, the existing Embassy of Australia is an austere monolith located at 1601 Massachusetts Avenue with views of the White House. The new replacement eschews the stiff and boxy form in favor of a multifaceted structure that engages the public realm through a mostly glazed envelope promoting transparency and natural light . “The environmentally sensitive design embodies the spirit of Australia through direct references to the distinctive Australian landscape: its bright and clear natural light and open skies, its warm materiality and its vast scale,” said the architects in a press release. “The use of these associations will create a civic building and symbol of Australia that is both enduring and welcoming.” Related: National Museum of African American History and Culture opens in Washington, DC In addition to the full-height glazing on all floors, a large glass atrium also funnels natural light deep into the building. Public spaces, including an exhibition gallery and event spaces, occupy the ground floor, while offices are placed on the upper levels. The embassy will minimize its energy footprint with the installation of a thermally efficient facade system. A green roof and photovoltaic array will top the building. + Bates Smart Via ArchDaily

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Solar-powered Embassy of Australia designs unveiled for Washington, D.C.

Eco architect William McDonough unveils new language to end the war on carbon

November 16, 2016 by  
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The first way to end the war on carbon, according to the co-author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things , is to stop calling it a war. Architect and designer William McDonough , who recently unveiled plans for the ‘Silicon Valley of Agriculture’ in Denmark , has established a new language for carbon that acknowledges the way the element can be used “safely, productively and profitably.” “Climate change is the result of breakdowns in the carbon cycle caused by us: it is a design failure,” McDonough said in a press release. “Anthropogenic greenhouse gases in the atmosphere make airborne carbon a material in the wrong place, at the wrong dose and wrong duration. It is we who have made carbon a toxin—like lead in our drinking water. In the right place, carbon is a resource and tool.” In the same way that the Cradle-to-Cradle movement taught movers and shakers in the sustainability sphere to rethink the way we make things to reduce, or even obliterate waste, McDonough’s new carbon language is designed to help us model human designs on the “life-giving carbon cycle, and to perceive “closed-loop flows of carbon nutrients” as an asset, rather than something to demonize. Related: 9 questions with eco architect William McDonough on the future of agriculture The three new categories of carbon replaces negative terms such as ” zero carbon “, “low carbon” or “negative carbon” with more positive language. Living carbon : organic, flowing in biological cycles, providing fresh food, healthy forests and fertile soil; something we want to cultivate and grow Durable carbon : locked in stable solids such as coal and limestone or recyclable polymers that are used and reused; ranges from reusable fibers like paper and cloth, to building and infrastructure elements that can last for generations and then be reused Fugitive carbon : has ended up somewhere unwanted and can be toxic; includes carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, ‘waste to energy’ plants, methane leaks, deforestation , much industrial agriculture and urban development McDonough also identifies new strategies for tackling climate change, as follows: Carbon positive : actions converting atmospheric carbon to forms that enhance soil nutrition or to durable forms such as polymers and solid aggregates; also recycling of carbon into nutrients from organic materials, food waste, compostable polymers and sewers Carbon neutral : actions that transform or maintain carbon in durable Earth-bound forms and cycles across generations; or renewable energy such as solar , wind and hydropower that do not release carbon Carbon negative : actions that pollute the land, water and atmosphere with various forms of carbon, for example, CO2 and methane into the atmosphere or plastics in the ocean McDonough also launched an understandable blueprint for this new carbon language. “The Carbon Positive City integrates agriculture, regenerative land management practices and urban design at a regional and international scale,” according to the firm. In this way, wastewater treatment facilities become “fertilizer factories” while agriculture can be seen as “solar orchards” that provide clean energy, food, water, in addition to jobs. + William McDonough + Partners Images via William McDonough + Parters, Wikicommons

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Eco architect William McDonough unveils new language to end the war on carbon

Innovative new light therapy could treat bees poisoned by pesticides

November 16, 2016 by  
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Bees treated with light therapy bounce back from pesticide poisoning at surprising rates, a new study found. Pesticides threaten the world’s already unstable global bee population , but this new treatment, which involves installing infrared lights directly into hives, could significantly improve survival rates. Researchers at the University College London saw a need to improve bee’s odds against neonicotinoid pesticides , which reduce their mobility and render them unable to feed themselves. “Neonicotinoid pesticides are a persistent threat to global bee populations, which play a critical role in agriculture,” said lead study author and Professor Glen Jeffery of UCL’s Institute of Opthamology . By interfering with mitochondrial function and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, this specific kind of pesticide can do a great deal of damage. Related: Neonicotinoid insecticides kill honeybee sperm The researchers , who published their findings in PLoS One , exposed two samples of bees to the neonicotinoid Imidacloprid for 10 days. One group was given twice daily treatments of near infrared light therapy , which was found to greatly improve ATP production, mobility, and rate of survival in comparison to the control group. Even more impressive, bees that had not been poisoned also showed an increase in survival rate after receiving the groundbreaking therapy. The treatment is especially promising because the near infrared light is not detectable by the bees, and therefore does not interfere with their daily activity. “It’s beneficial even for bees that aren’t affected by pesticides, so light therapy can be an effective means of preventing loss of life in case a colony becomes exposed to neonicotinoids,” said Professor Jeffery. “Essentially, it recharges the cell’s batteries.” Via Phys.org Images via Wikimedia , Pixabay

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Innovative new light therapy could treat bees poisoned by pesticides

Enchanting birdhouses inspired by famous architecture

November 16, 2016 by  
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Barnhard counts famous architects “mixed with the rich skate and surf culture in Santa Cruz ” as inspiration for his artistic creations. He utilizes materials like teak, mahogany, walnut, and bamboo. Some of his handmade birdhouses even include living walls flourishing with succulents to attract birds. His charming birdhouses pay homage to famous buildings, architects, or design approaches like those taught at the Bauhaus School in Germany. Related: Artist creates thousands of urban birdhouses out of recycled scrap wood His Living Wall Bauhaus birdhouse made of bamboo plywood is one inspired by the Bauhaus School, which Barnhard said “created mid century modern architecture before its time” in the product description. The dimensions for the birdhouse are nine by nine by six and a half inches. The Living Wall Bauhaus sells for $199.99. Or there’s the Eichleresque Atrium birdhouse made with teak wood and aluminum, influenced by Eichler’s Bay Area housing developments and atrium concept. The $399.99 birdhouse comes with a little planter that can hold succulents or birdseed. Barnhard’s Mixed Media House blends ideas from Eichler, The Bauhaus School, and Frank Lloyd Wright into a modern cedar and bamboo birdhouse. The birdhouse, which retails for $349.99, includes a living wall and small metal container for birdseed. The Kauai House birdhouse draws inspiration from Hawaiian architecture , integrating “the outdoor/indoor living that is so prevalent in warmer climates and embraced by mid century modern design,” according to the product description. The delightful $329.99 birdhouse comes with two little handmade surfboards. Other birdhouses were inspired by the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Eichler homes in San Mateo , and 1960’s Sunnyvale homes. Barnhard sells these lovely designs on his website and on Etsy . + Sourgrassbuilt Via My Modern Met Images via E. Spencer Toy/Sunset Publishing ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) and Sourgrassbuilt ( 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 )

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Enchanting birdhouses inspired by famous architecture

New law requires all electric and hybrid vehicles to make noise by 2019

November 16, 2016 by  
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The days of having an electric car suddenly appear out of nowhere next to you will soon be gone, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) just finalized its “Quiet Car” rule – a law designed to make sure pedestrians don’t get hurt by near-silent electric cars they can’t hear coming. As of 2019, electric vehicles will have to make enough noise at low speeds to let you know they’re coming.

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New law requires all electric and hybrid vehicles to make noise by 2019

Nicolas Sarkozy calls for a carbon tax on the US if Trump pulls out of the Paris climate agreement

November 16, 2016 by  
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President-elect Trump has made no secret of his plans to pull out of the Paris climate agreement – a move that would have devastating environmental implications. But former French President Nicolas Sarkozy isn’t going to take this sort of climate change-repudiating nonsense lying down. He is calling for a carbon tax on the United States should the country decide to back out of its promises under the new Trump administration. Trump has repeatedly denied that global warming is a threat to the environment, even while quietly fortifying his real estate holdings against rising sea levels . Still, during his campaign, he promised to pull out of the Paris agreement that the US and over 100 other countries enacted to combat manmade warming. President Obama has championed the agreement, defending the pact on Monday during a press conference . Related: Trump advisers seek loopholes to allow ASAP withdrawal from Paris climate deal If Trump finds a way to scrap the agreement – and it is increasingly looking like he will – Sarkozy thinks Europe should impose a carbon tax on the US – sort of like an economic wall against poor policy decisions. “Well, I will demand that Europe put in place a carbon tax at its border, a tax of 1-3 per cent, for all products coming from the United States, if the United States doesn’t apply environmental rules that we are imposing on our companies,” he said. It is particularly important for the US to stick to the agreement, which aims at keeping temperatures from rising beyond the 2 degree point that most scientists agree is the point of no return for the planet. The US is one of the biggest carbon emitters on Earth, and it is hard to make a real global impact if the country isn’t on board. It is also difficult to convince other countries to comply if the US isn’t willing to take steps to reduce its emissions. Speaking about the agreement, President Obama stated “It says to China and India and other counties that are potentially polluting: come on board.” Via ZME Science Images via Wikimedia and Gage Skidmore

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Nicolas Sarkozy calls for a carbon tax on the US if Trump pulls out of the Paris climate agreement

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