Creating a truly green building may be harder than rocket science

September 11, 2017 by  
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Promised energy savings in buildings don’t deliver. The problem is inept modeling systems that fail to capture how buildings really work.

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Creating a truly green building may be harder than rocket science

11 can’t-miss impact conferences that are just around the corner

September 11, 2017 by  
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Grab your calendar for these networking and thought leadership opportunities.

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11 can’t-miss impact conferences that are just around the corner

New North African solar farms could send 4.5 gigawatts of energy to Europe

September 7, 2017 by  
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The age-old plan to power Europe with solar farms in North Africa and the Middle East may finally become a reality. This past June, Tunisia-based TuNur filed a request to export 4.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar energy to Europe. That’s enough to power 5 million homes or 7 million electric cars! If the joint venture between UK-based solar specialist Nur Energie and Tunisian and Maltese investors proves successful, the energy landscape in Europe will be forever changed. Said Daniel Rich, the chief operating officer at TuNur: “Today you have a market in need of low carbon dispatchable power, which has the mechanisms to import power from other countries. Next door is a region with extreme solar resource and in need for investment and development. Finally, there are technologies that can satisfy the demand at very competitive pricing and have a very high local impact.” The National reports that project is making fast progress. By 2020, the TuNur solar plant in Tunisia will be linked with Malta, a feat which will cost approximately €1.6 billion. (The island is already linked to the European mainland via an undersea power line that connects to Sicily.) A second cable link will connect Tunisia to central Italy at a point north of Rome. A third cable, which would link Tunisia to the south of France, is presently under review. Related: European firms eye artificial island for North Sea wind and solar farm The project will do more than provide Europe with clean energy – it will stimulate over $5 billion of investment in Tunisia . Approximately 20,000 direct and indirect jobs — specifically in the interior regions which are least developed — will also be generated. + TuNur Via The National Images via TuNur , Pixabay

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New North African solar farms could send 4.5 gigawatts of energy to Europe

Plastic fibers found in over 80% of tap water samples from five continents

September 7, 2017 by  
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If you had a glass of water from the tap today, you likely ingested plastic. Orb Media conducted an investigation of plastic in our tap water over 10 months, and their results were shocking: over 80 percent of samples they collected – in places like the United States Capitol building or the shores of Uganda’s Lake Victoria – contained plastic fibers. The authors of the study say we’re living in the Plastic Age – and the contamination probably is not limited to our water. Orb Media and a researcher from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health scrutinized plastic fibers in our tap water for the report, titled Invisibles, for what Orb Media described as the “first public scientific study of its kind.” Microplastics contaminating our water come from a variety of sources, from synthetic clothes to tire dust to microbeads to plastic utensils. According to Orb Media, “We have produced more plastic in the last 10 years than in the entirety of the last century.” They said experts said plastics are probably in your food too – like baby formula, sauces, or craft beer. Related: Plankton Pundit video shows exact moment plastic enters the food chain The research authors tested tap water in the United States, Europe, Indonesia, India, Lebanon, Uganda, and Ecuador. The United States had the greatest amount of plastics in their water at 94 percent of samples; the researchers detected the fibers at the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters, Congress buildings, and Trump Tower in New York. Lebanon and India had the next greatest amounts of contamination. Europe had the least – but plastics were still found in 72 percent of samples there. It’s easy to blame waste management or sewage treatment systems. But one marine biology professor said designers have a role to play too. Associate Dean of Research at Plymouth University Richard Thompson told Orb Media, “Plastics are inherently recyclable . What’s preventing us from recycling I’d argue, is inadequate, inappropriate, or…lack of proper consideration on the design stage for what’s going to happen at the end of life.” Senior Research Associate at the University of New South Wales Mark Browne said, “It’s all of our fault.” + Invisibles Via Orb Media and The Guardian Lead image via Depositphotos , others via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Plastic fibers found in over 80% of tap water samples from five continents

Modular WonderFrame sun shade structure turns this building into an energy efficient marvel

September 6, 2017 by  
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Students will learn sustainable building principles at a seriously green new academic building at Universidad EAN . The 215,278 square foot building in Bogotá, Colombia will feature the endlessly reusable and recyclable WonderFrame shade structure, designed by Cradle to Cradle founder William McDonough . The modular system includes perforated panels that can both shade and allow daylight to filter through, almost like tree leaves. Inhabitat spoke with McDonough and lead architect Roger Schickedantz about the building, called Project Legacy, which is McDonough’s first Cradle to Cradle-inspired signature building in Latin America. McDonough originally designed the WonderFrame as a temporary structure at the 2016 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Schickedantz said at Universidad EAN, 11.5 by 8.6 foot modules will be anchored to the facade of Project Legacy. Each module includes around 30 perforated, painted steel sheet triangles. While this WonderFrame is intended to be permanent, Schickedantz said it could be deconstructed and put together somewhere else as the WonderFrame is put together with bolts. Shade panels can also be moved around in the frame to change the way light enters the building. Related: INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Green Architect & Cradle to Cradle Founder William McDonough “WonderFrame is based on experiments we’ve been doing for inexpensive structural solutions for roofs and floors that are invisible,” McDonough told Inhabitat. “Here, it is used as a delightful skin of human expression. It allows for flexible adaptation for color, for solar collectors, for light and shade. Someday, perhaps even for planters .” The WonderFrame will blanket roughly 85 percent of the building’s facade, making it the largest installation of the system so far. And the design is meant to reflect Colombian culture. Schickedantz told Inhabitat, “Colombia has a rich indigenous culture which celebrates color and pattern. The shade pattern designed for the WonderFrame provides a modern, graphically expressive interpretation… The WonderFrame establishes a dialogue with a 2011 building designed by Daniel Bonilla, which anchors the campus block. The Bonilla building is covered in multi-hued green ribbon sunshades. The William McDonough + Partners building generates a new complementary and contrasting composition which joins the two buildings in a unified whole.” The WonderFrame is just the start of the building’s sustainability . The LEED Gold -seeking building will include solar chimneys to allow for natural ventilation. Rooftop solar will help power the building. Cradle to Cradle certified fabric and auditorium seating will comprise some of the building materials. Universidad EAN students will accompany the design team in interviews with vendors, according to Schickedantz, for the building where they will one day learn Cradle to Cradle Concepts. He told Inhabitat, “Ultimately, the intent is to inspire students to develop and market their own products. We envision a new generation of products which incorporate circular economy concepts and improve the world.” Groundbreaking is expected later this year. + William McDonough + Partners Images courtesy of William McDonough + Partners

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Modular WonderFrame sun shade structure turns this building into an energy efficient marvel

Tesla begins production of solar roof tiles in Buffalo, New York

September 4, 2017 by  
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It’s official! Tesla has started producing solar roof tiles at its factory in Buffalo, New York. Several hundred employees and machines have been installed in the 1.2 million-square-foot factory, and they are now creating  tiles that can harness the sun’s energy without compromising the appearance of a roof. The company is already installing solar roofs but has been making them on a small scale near its vehicle factory in Fremont, California. Now that the factory in Buffalo is running, production is expected to increase substantially. Reportedly, traditional solar panels will also be produced in the factory. AP News reports that Tesla’s partner, Panasonic Corp ., will produce the photovoltaic cells while Tesla workers combine them into modules that fit into the solar tiles. Said JB Straubel, Tesla’s Chief Technical Officer, “By the end of this year we will have the ramp-up of solar roof modules started in a substantial way. This is an interim milestone that we’re pretty proud of.” SolarCity was acquired by Tesla last year for around $2 billion. It was run by cousins of Tesla CEO Elon Musk , who sat on the company’s board. Straubel said, “This factory, and the opportunity to build solar modules and cells in the U.S., was part of why this project made sense.” Related: Tesla and SolarCity power an entire island with nearly 100% solar According to Straubel, Tesla’s goal is to reach two gigawatts of cell production annually at the Buffalo plant — more than the initial target of one gigawatt by 2019. As The Washington Post reports, one gigawatt is equal to the annual output of a large nuclear or coal-fired power plant . “So it’s like we’re eliminating one of those every single year,” Straubel said. Tesla has not revealed how many customers have ordered the solar roof tiles. However, Straubel said demand is strong and that orders will keep the company occupied until the end of next year. Both he and Musk have the solar tiles installed on their roofs. Via AP News, The Washington Post Images via Tesla

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Tesla begins production of solar roof tiles in Buffalo, New York

10 vegan sources of protein you can grow at home

September 4, 2017 by  
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When most people go vegan , the number one question that tends to get asked of them is usually “where are you going to get your protein from?” Sound familiar? Yes, protein is indeed an important part of a healthy diet, and if you’re keen on growing your own food, it’s a good idea to have a few solid sources growing in amongst your herbs and lettuces . Read on to discover 10 delicious, plant-based, nutrient-dense foods you can cultivate in your own garden . Amaranth This gorgeous plant can be grown pretty much anywhere, and its seeds are an incredibly rich source of protein. Those seeds can be cooked like quinoa as a pseudo grain into a gorgeous, crunchy dish that can be served either savory or sweet. Try cooking it like breakfast porridge with cinnamon, apples, and maple syrup. Amaranth leaves are also edible, and are prepared in the same way spinach is. Those leaves don’t have as much protein as the seeds, but they do have some protein content, as well as iron and calcium. Squash and Pumpkin Seeds Growing pumpkins and squash is a lot of fun, and serves multiple purposes, especially if you grow small, easy-to-manage varieties like Luxury Pie Pumpkin or Lakota Squash. Not only can you carve these hardy gourds to creep out your neighbors at Halloween, you can eat the vegetables’ flesh in soups, pies, and muffins, and then roast those glorious seeds of theirs into crunchy, protein-rich snacks. Sunflower Seeds Not only are sunflower seeds incredibly high in protein, they also have very high levels of magnesium and vitamin B6. Sunflowers are gorgeous, sunny additions to anyone’s garden, and in addition to providing you with nutrient-dense food, they’ll also attract pollinators to your yard. In permaculture , they’re often referred to as the fourth sister in the traditional guild of corn, beans, and squash: beans can climb up sunflower stalks, and they draw bees over to fertilize other crops. Green Peas These tasty little gems are packed with protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium (the latter being great for alleviating winter depression) and are as delicious as they are pretty to look at. Even better, peas are incredibly easy to cultivate, and can be grown indoors as well as out in your garden, which is great for adding some edible greenery to your living space over the winter months. Related: How to maximize your south-facing windows to grow food all winter Green Beans Just 1/2 a cup of fresh green beans contain about four grams of protein, and they’re a great source of vitamin B6 as well. You can cultivate either pole or bush varieties, and you can pick the haricots verts right off the vine while they’re new. Just steam them or sautee them lightly, and serve with a bit of Earth Balance or a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash of salt. Dry Beans If you let those green beans mature fully, the seeds within will ripen into the rich, creamy beans we use for everything from soups and stews to chili, or even brownies. Beans are one of the top protein sources for people around the world, and they’re also full of magnesium, fiber, and iron. There are so many different types that you can cultivate, from creamy white Hutterite soup bush beans to spotted, fuchsia scarlet runner pole beans. All are delicious, easy to grow, and ideal for any vegan diet. You can even sprout them for a raw, crunchy snack. Related: How to sprout seeds and beans on your kitchen counter Groundnuts Are you familiar with these wonderful little tubers?  Apios americana , also known as the potato bean, is a perennial, indigenous North American vine with tuber roots that taste… well, mildly like potatoes. Groundnuts have 17 percent crude protein (that’s three times the amount of a regular potato), and thrive in damp woodlands without a lot of direct light. You can boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew… anything you’d do with a regular or sweet potato, and since they’re perennial, they’ll come back year after year. Hazelnuts Hazelnut (filbert) bushes don’t take up a lot of space, and start producing nuts more quickly than nut-bearing trees like walnuts, pecans, or chesnuts. If you plant 2- or 3-year-old bushes, you’ll be able to harvest nuts even more quickly. Hazelnut bushes can thrive in almost any soil type, but need full sun for a good 4–6 hours a day. In addition to protein, each nut will also provide you with calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin C. How’s that for a nutrient-dense powerhouse? Peanuts People who don’t suffer from peanut allergies can grow these fabulous plants as easily as they can grow potatoes. Although they thrive best in warmer, southern climates, those of you who live a bit further north can also grow them with ease: you’ll just need to get cultivars that do well in a cooler climate with a shorter growing season. They’ll need about 100 frost-free days to reach maturity, and since they’re tropical, they’ll need to be grown in the warmest, sunniest spot you can offer them. Kale Adding this one in for honorable mention, but with good cause: most people don’t realize just how much protein leafy greens have to offer, and kale is one of the easiest (and tastiest) members of the brassica family that you can grow. It also has a crazy-high amount of both vitamin C and vitamin A, and you can eat it at any stage of its development: use the baby greens in salads, maturing leaves in salads or smoothies, and braise the older leaves like you would cook collard greens. Whenever possible, aim to cultivate heirloom, organic seeds in your garden, and be sure to share those seeds with your friends and neighbors so they can grow them in their own yards! Biodiversity is incredibly important, and by choosing organic seeds, you help ensure future plant generations are healthy, and unsullied by genetic machinations thanks to companies like Monsanto. Photos via Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons

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10 vegan sources of protein you can grow at home

Translucent Ho Chi Minh City office tower infused with greenery helps combat urban pollution

September 4, 2017 by  
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The nature-loving firm Vo Trong Nghia Architects  just unveiled their design for a translucent office building in Ho Chi Minh City. The ten-story tower, which will be the headquarters of electric company Nanoco, will be infused with various tree-filled terraces in an attempt to combat the city’s notorious pollution – and provide a healthy workspace on the interior. The large tower is comprised of translucent glass blocks that are obliquely stacked, creating pockets of open terrace space throughout the design. The terraces will be used to plant large trees that will pull double duty as a filter against direct solar exposure during the daytime and create a healthy ambience throughout the building’s interior. Additionally, the translucent cladding provides the city with a glowing beacon during the night. Related: Vietnam’s “Forest in the Sky” apartment building is topped with 50,000 trees The first four stories of the Nanoco building will house a showroom and community area, while the upper six floors will be used as office space . A multi-functional space on the first floor will be used for events and exhibitions throughout the year. + Vo Trong Nghia Architects Via Design Boom

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Translucent Ho Chi Minh City office tower infused with greenery helps combat urban pollution

Microsoft’s cloud serves up energy emissions data in near real time

August 9, 2017 by  
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The service, based on RMI’s WattTime, tracks the carbon dioxide, sulphur and other atmospheric-polluting emissions produced by specific power plants.

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Microsoft’s cloud serves up energy emissions data in near real time

When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

August 9, 2017 by  
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CRISPR gene editing can fight crop disease far more benignly than conventional practices.

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When genetic engineering is the environmentally friendly choice

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