Foster + Partners Bloomberg HQ opens in London as worlds most sustainable office building

October 25, 2017 by  
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Bloomberg’s new European headquarters—billed the “world’s most sustainable office building”—opened yesterday in London. Designed by Foster + Partners , the 3.2-acre Bloomberg HQ achieved a BREEAM Outstanding rating with a 98.5% score that the architects say is the “highest design-stage score ever achieved by any major office development.” The nine-story headquarters is estimated to save 73 percent in water consumption and 35 percent in energy consumption when compared to typical office buildings. Clad in nearly 10,000 tonnes of English sandstone and bronze, the massive Bloomberg HQ mitigates its size by carving out a public pedestrian arcade between its two buildings, while bronze fins give the buildings human scale and also allow for natural ventilation and protection from solar gain. Located between the Bank of England and St. Paul’s Cathedral, the city block-sized development is also meant to blend in with and respect its historic surroundings. In addition to the pedestrian Bloomberg Arcade, the building features three public plazas and ground-floor restaurants to engage the urban fabric. Site-specific art installations, from artists like Cristina Iglesias and Olafur Eliasson , punctuate the development. Related: Bloomberg’s new London HQ rated world’s most sustainable office “From day one, we talked with Mike Bloomberg about creating an elegant stone building that responds to its historic setting yet is clearly of its own time and which would be a good neighbour in the City of London in every sense of the word,” said Lord Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners. “We wanted the building to have an integrity and continuity of expression both inside and out, creating an inspiring, innovative, dynamic and collaborative workplace for Bloomberg that embodies the core values of the company. Above all, we had a shared belief with Bloomberg that we should provide the highest standards of sustainability and wellbeing for its occupants, as well as create major new public spaces at ground level, making a significant contribution to the daily life of the City of London and its inhabitants.” + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners , photos by Neil Young

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Foster + Partners Bloomberg HQ opens in London as worlds most sustainable office building

Frances first Vertical Forest will add a hectare of forest to Paris skyline

October 25, 2017 by  
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Stefano Boeri Architetti’s Vertical Forests continue to take root around the world, with the latest project planned for Paris . Designed for Villiers sur Marne in east Paris, Forêt Blanche will be a 54-meter-tall tower built predominately of timber. Two thousand trees, shrubs, and plants will cover the wooden facade—a green surface equivalent to a hectare of forest. Forêt Blanche recently won the Marne Europe — Villiers sur Marne competition along with a dozen other structures of the Balcon sur Paris project designed by the likes of Kengo Kuma Architects and Oxo Architectes. The first French Vertical Forest will be a mixed-use building comprising residential apartments stacked on top of offices and retail on the lower levels. Terraces and balconies will allow occupants to enjoy the ample greenery and panoramic city views. Related: China’s first vertical forest is rising in Nanjing In addition to Forêt Blanche, the architects’ Balcon sur Paris submission also included La Cour Verte, a building with a lush hanging garden. James Corner Field Operations and Atelier Paul Arène led the landscape architecture vision. Forêt Blanche will join a growing number of Vertical Forests built or currently planned for cities around the world, from Asia to Europe. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Frances first Vertical Forest will add a hectare of forest to Paris skyline

Oxford, UK to create first zero-emissions zone in the world

October 12, 2017 by  
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Oxford , England, with its history of learning dating back to the 11th century, is now shifting into the future with an electric-vehicle only zone in the city center. In banning all internal combustion engine vehicles, the city is establishing what it says is the first zero-emissions zone in the world. Starting in 2020, six streets in Oxford’s city center will be free of smaller gas-guzzling vehicles, including buses and taxis. By 2035, the ban will have expanded to all fossil-fuel powered vehicles and will encompass the entire city center. While such a dramatic change in the city center’s urban design may encourage less driving, thus less greenhouse gas emissions, the zone was inspired by a need to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide, most of which comes from car exhaust, by three-fourths. Chronic exposure to nitrogen dioxide can cause respiratory problems and eye irritation. Data from the World Health Organization also indicates that Oxford is one of eleven British cities to exceed the safe limits of toxic particles known as PM10s and PM2.5s. A “step change” is urgently needed to prevent air pollution from “damaging the health” of Oxford residents, said city councilor John Tanner. Related: GM’s plans for “all-electric-future” spell doom for fossil fuel industry The switch-over plan is expected to cost Oxford city government, bus companies, and local businesses approximately £7 million to replace the fossil-fuel consuming vehicles, including all municipal vehicles, with electric vehicles. An additional £7 million will be spent to build compliance infrastructure , such as CCTV cameras with plate number recognition technology. Those who still choose to bring their old fashioned vehicles into the city center after the ban will face a significant fine. To sustain such a project, Oxford would require sustained commitment from local, regional, and perhaps federal government. Via The Guardian Images via  Martijn van Sabben ,  Giuseppe Milo

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Oxford, UK to create first zero-emissions zone in the world

London considers banning wood-burning stoves to tackle air pollution

October 2, 2017 by  
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Wood-burning stoves could be producing up to one third of London’s fine particle pollution , according to figures cited by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan . A ban on the stoves could help address the air pollution plaguing the capital; last week, Khan triggered the emergency air quality alert for the seventh time in 13 months. Wood-burning stoves have recently been popular in Britain – The Guardian reports 1.5 million have been sold in the country. 16 percent of households in southeast England have the stoves, compared to five percent nationally. But somewhere between a quarter and a third of fine particle pollution in the capital could arise from domestic wood burning. And King’s College London research indicates during very high air pollution in January, domestic wood burning yielded half of the emissions in some parts of London. Related: London breaks legal limits on air pollution in just five days in 2017 Khan said, “Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London, so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles. With more than 400 schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution levels, and significant health impacts on our most vulnerable communities, we cannot wait any longer.” In a letter to Environment Secretary Michael Grove, Khan requested London’s environment department amend a Clean Air Act to set up zero-emission zones where people won’t be allowed to burn solid fuel from 2025 on. Khan also called for tougher enforcement on emissions restrictions for construction machinery like diggers and bulldozers, and for greater powers to tackle emissions coming from Thames River traffic. In a statement , the London government said half of toxic emissions come from cars and other road vehicles, and that the second-largest source of PM 2.5 particles is construction machinery. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Joshua Newton on Unsplash

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Couple builds tiny A-frame cabin in three weeks for only $700

October 2, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of building your own affordable tiny house you’ve gotta check out this cozy solar-powered cabin in Missoula, Montana that cost just $700 to build. Photographer Alla Ponomareva and her husband Garrett bought plans for the A-frame cabin from well-known tiny house enthusiast Derek Diedricksen and customized the design to fit their needs. The couple built the 80-foot cabin by themselves in only three weeks. They slightly modified the original plan and relied heavily on reused and upcycled elements – including window frames, boards, nails, and roofing. Related: Author Builds Tiny Solar-Powered Off Grid Cabin for Under $2,000! They transformed an aged log into a rustic countertop. Plastic sheeting covers a portion of a wall to provide additional natural light . It can be lifted upwards to provide a connection to the surroundings. The cabin is perfect size for two people, and it includes two single beds, shelving and a camping stove. A solar panel mounted on the roof can provide enough electricity to power smartphones and other small devices. + Derek Diedricksen + Alla Ponomareva Via New Atlas Photos by Alla Ponomareva

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Couple builds tiny A-frame cabin in three weeks for only $700

Beech Architects convert 125-year-old windmill into a modern guesthouse

September 26, 2017 by  
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Beech Architects converted a 125-year-old windmill in Suffolk, England, into a modern guest house for rent. Complete with a metal-clad observation pod on top, the new guesthouse is well insulated and features custom-made furniture that fits its constraining circular layout. The 60-foot high windmill was built in 1891 and had a role in agricultural production at the time. However, the building had been disused for decades–until Beech Architects restored it. The owners, a surveyor and his wife who live in the house next door, plan to rent out the new guesthouse for extra income. Related: This windmill converted into a beach house is the perfect waterfront getaway “The biggest design challenge was the reinstatement of the cap or ‘pod’, which was not intended as a faithful historic reconstruction, but rather as contemporary and innovative interpretation that would also serve as the principal living and viewing platform ,” Beech Architects told Dezeen. Related: Rothschild Foundation Moves Into Beautifully Renovated Windmill Hill Dairy Farm The architects added insulation panels to the exterior walls and topped the entire structure with a wooden observation pod. The flexible timber rib system, manufactured by MetsaWood , is covered by 200 panels of zinc. This particular element of the conversion is why some locals complained that the structure doesn’t fit into its surroundings and looks “alien”. Nevertheless, the conversion project has recently received a RIBA award nomination. + Beech Architects Via Treehugger

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Beech Architects convert 125-year-old windmill into a modern guesthouse

Wolves return to Rome’s periphery for the first time in 100 years

September 26, 2017 by  
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The wolf , an animal that has served as a symbol of Rome since ancient times, has returned to the historic Italian city for the first time in a century. The alpha predators were recently sighted in a nature preserve at Castel di Guido, only a short distance from Leonardo DiVinci international airport and the perimeter highway encircling the capital of Italy. Scientists estimate that there are at least four wolves, two cubs and two adults, that reside in the area. According to Roman mythology, Romulus, Rome’s founder, and his brother Remus were suckled by a female wolf in a cave after being abandoned on the Tiber River. This episode is represented throughout Roman iconography, including the seal for Rome’s soccer club, AS Roma. The return of this iconic species to Rome is welcomed by the locals. “We’re very pleased that they are back,” said Alessia De Lorenzis, a professor whose work involves tracking and documenting the wolf pack. Related: American Coywolf is a fascinating hybrid species with supercharged adaptation Wolves were originally hunted in Europe and North America, nearly to extinction, in part due to their predation of livestock animals. The modern wolves of Rome seem to pose little threat to livestock as an analysis of their feces has demonstrated that they rely almost entirely on a diet of wild boar, a plentiful animal in the region. In Italy, the killing of wolves was promoted until the 1970s, a time when the Italian wolf population had fallen to about 100 animals. Wolves received protected status in 1971 and the population has since recovered to about 1,500-2,000 individuals, with a particularly robust population in the mountainous region on the border of France . Via The Telegraph Images via  the Italian League for Bird Protection

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Wolves return to Rome’s periphery for the first time in 100 years

Beach plastic audit in the Philippines reveals which businesses are the worst polluters

September 26, 2017 by  
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1.88 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic litters the Philippines every year. Greenpeace Philippines and the #breakfreefromplastic group decided to clean up some of that junk at Freedom Island, and discern the businesses most responsible for the pollution . Nestlé topped the list, followed by Unilever and Indonesian company PT Torabika Mayora. The Philippines is the third worst polluter of Earth’s oceans , according to Greenpeace. They spent a week cleaning up the beach and performing an audit, which they said was the first one of its kind in the Philippines. There, the organizations picked up 54,260 pieces of trash. They found single-use items like plastic straws and bags, and trash like footwear and styrofoam. Related: Could France-sized ocean garbage patch become 196th nation? Most of the garbage included sachets, small plastic parcels used largely in developing countries allowing people with low-incomes to buy quality products . But the single-use sachets typically make their way into landfills and the ocean instead of being recycled . In order, these are the companies most responsible for plastic pollution at Freedom Island according to Greenpeace: Nestlé, Unilever, PT Torabika Mayora, Universal Robina Corporation, Procter & Gamble, Nutri-Asia, Monde Nissin, Zesto, Colgate Palmolive, and Liwayway. Greenpeace called for companies to rethink packaging and delivery practices. Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Abigail Aguilar said in a statement, “They could for instance practice extended producer responsibility where companies substitute non-reusable and non-recyclable products with new systems, such as refillables – prevention instead of end-of-pipe waste management …Citizens are burdened with the social and environmental impacts of plastic waste, rather than those that are responsible.” China is the worst ocean polluter. Greenpeace cited a study which found Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam join China and the Philippines in the top 10 countries with the most poorly managed plastic trash. All that garbage is costing them; the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation estimated in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region, the cost to fishing , shipping, and tourism industries was $1.2 billion. + Greenpeace Philippines + #breakfreefromplastic + #plasticpolluters Images © Daniel Müller/Greenpeace

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Beach plastic audit in the Philippines reveals which businesses are the worst polluters

Wind-powered machine mimics the sound of 500 galloping horses

September 11, 2017 by  
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How do you bring an ancient landscape to life? Architecture studio NEON breathes life into England’s historical Chesters Roman Fort by recreating the sound of 500 galloping horses. Architect Mark Nixon led the design of Cavalary 360, a wind-powered installation that mimics the sounds of horse hooves clopping on the ground while framing the North Tyne landscape. The site-specific musical instrument pays homage to the 500 horses that belonged to the Roman cavalrymen that roamed the land 1,600 years ago. Calvary 360 was created as part of Hadrian’s Calvary, an exhibition that celebrates the Roman cavalry with unique installations installed along Hadrian’s Wall . “It can be difficult to make a connection between the preserved walls of the Roman cavalry fort (the most extensive in Britain) and the powerful mounted troops based here,” wrote NEON. “Cavalry 360° is a vast site specific musical instrument which uses the force of the wind to create the sound of the cavalry moving across the landscape beyond. The piece creates an equine soundscape as a means of evoking the imagination of the viewer to fill in the gaps.” Related: Mobile residence for writers to meander the border of England’s former Roman Empire The massive musical instrument is a circular structure made up of 32 wind turbines elevated on tall black frames. Each wind turbine is connected to 15 beaters, each of which represents a single horse in the cavalry. The frame units are visually paired to represent the 30 horses in a turma, the term for a cavalry unit in the Roman Roman army. The cups at the end of the three turbine arms catch the wind, which powers and rotates the insulation that changes sound depending on the direction and speed of the wind. Visitors are encouraged to stand in the middle of Cavalary 360 to experience the full effect and look out to views of the fort and landscape through the black frames. + NEON Via Dezeen Images by Lightly Frozen

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Wind-powered machine mimics the sound of 500 galloping horses

Why 2,000-year-old Roman concrete is stronger than our own

July 10, 2017 by  
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The exact formula for Roman concrete has been lost. This is unfortunate, as many 2,000-year-old Roman concrete piers and breakwaters structures are even stronger today than they were when they were built millennia ago, while our modern marine concrete structures break down in decades. An international team of researchers recently discovered that seawater has a role to play in the ancient material’s surprising longevity. Concrete in ancient Rome was comprised of volcanic ash, lime, and seawater, mixed with chunks of volcanic rock. A team led by University of Utah geologist Marie Jackson discovered it’s seawater that could help the building material last – the substance fosters the growth of interlocking minerals that provide cohesion to the concrete. Related: Family accidentally discovers “extraordinarily well-preserved” Roman villa in England Back between 2002 and 2009 Jackson and colleagues found the rare mineral aluminous tobermorite, or Al-tobermorite, in Roman harbor concrete gathered by the ROMACONS project. The mineral is incredibly difficult to make in a laboratory, requiring high temperatures. Going back to those drill cores to scrutinize them with new methods for this research, Jackson found the mineral again along with a related one, phillipsite, in pumice particles and pores. The team knew something had to encourage those minerals to grow in low temperatures after the concrete hardened, and it turns out seawater washing over those piers and breakwaters could be the key. Jackson said in a statement, “We’re looking at a system that thrives in open chemical exchange with seawater…No one has produced tobermorite at 20 degrees Celsius. Oh – except the Romans!” Jackson has never come across the Roman recipe for concrete in an extensive search of old texts. But she’s working with geological engineer Tom Adams on a replacement recipe. The rocks the Romans used aren’t common throughout the world, so they’ll have to make substitutions. And if they’re successful, Roman concrete probably won’t start popping up everywhere, but could be perfect for certain projects like a proposed tidal lagoon for tidal power in the United Kingdom. Jackson is the lead author on a study published on July 3 in American Mineralogist . She was joined by researchers at institutions in China, Italy, Washington, and California. Via The University of Utah Images via J.P. Oleson and Marie Jackson

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