Call for climate action issued by Christian leaders

September 13, 2021 by  
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Christian leaders have petitioned officials worldwide to take action to address the climate crisis. In an unprecedented move, heads of several Christian denominations released a joint statement to encourage climate action ahead of key environmental conferences. The heads of the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, and Eastern Orthodox Church issued a  joint statement  last week, calling on global leaders to address two key issues: social inequality and climate change. The statement, seemingly directed toward the upcoming COP26 U.N. climate summit, sums up the current climate crisis . The statement urges leaders to take action to avoid a much worse scenario in the future. Related: Leaked report details what must be done to stop climate change “Today, we are paying the price,” the statement said. “All of us—whoever and wherever we are—can play a part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and environmental degradation …. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.”  The statement points out that those most affected by the climate crisis are the poor, saying, “the people bearing the most catastrophic consequences of these abuses are the poorest on the planet and have been the least responsible for causing them.” In contrast, the people most responsible for environmental damage are the wealthy. In November, Pope Francis will attend the COP26 U.N. Summit in Scotland. He has appealed to Christians to pray for world leaders to make courageous choices at the meeting. Church support could play a key role in climate negotiations. There are also plans to host major world religious leaders and scientists at the Vatican to forge a “common stand” on climate issues. Still, the community has its skeletons in the closet. Archbishop Justin Welby of the Anglican Commission, a co-signer of the statement, has been criticized for his contribution to carbon emissions . Welby, a former oil executive, hasn’t divested his Church of England from fossil fuel companies. He claims the church may hold more sway in changing the industry as an investor. Via EcoWatch Lead image via Pixabay

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Call for climate action issued by Christian leaders

The climate is changing. How are central banks responding?

September 10, 2021 by  
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From the Bank of England to the People’s Bank of China, monetary authorities of the world’s largest economies are gauging how climate change could rock the financial system.

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The climate is changing. How are central banks responding?

England plans single-use plastic ban

August 30, 2021 by  
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England has announced a planned ban on polystyrene cups and single-use plastic cutlery and plates. But frustrated activists say the government is moving way too slowly. This autumn, the English government will start coming up with a plan to curtail single-use plastic and polystyrene perhaps within a couple of years. Meanwhile, the  EU  banned these same items in July. Related: 4ocean and Poralu Marine present BeBot, the beach cleaning robot The English government has a firmer plan for a plastic packaging tax, which will go into effect in April 2022. Companies that use plastic with less than 30% recycled content will have to pay a tax of £200 per ton of plastic. This measure seeks to encourage the use of  recycled  material. “We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our  environment ,” said George Eustice, environment secretary, as reported by The Guardian. “It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches. We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, now we are looking to go a step further.” England has already successfully limited some plastics. Since supermarkets started charging for plastic bags in 2015, their use has dropped by 95%. In 2018, England banned plastic microbeads from use in washing products. In 2020, it was goodbye to plastic  straws , drink stirrers and cotton swabs — or cotton buds, as they’re called in England. However, England is still lagging on charging deposits on plastic bottles, which probably won’t happen until 2024 or 2025. Americans and British people lead the world in per person plastic  waste . According to British ministers, the average person uses 37 single-use forks, knives and spoons and 18 disposable plastic plates each year. Plastic litter is blamed for killing more than 100,000 sea mammals and turtles and 1 million birds annually worldwide. Vegetable and fruit stickers, PVC cling film, teabags,  plastic  coffee pods and crisp packets may also find themselves forbidden in the future. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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England plans single-use plastic ban

Explore the Saltbox Passive House’s sweet sustainable design

August 20, 2021 by  
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The Saltbox Passive House is located in Bromont, Quebec , and is a residence for a family of four. The 3100-square-foot home sits in a meadow at the edge of a 2.5-acre wooded plot. Its design combines elements of the local context with energy-efficient strategies to enhance sustainability while maintaining a modern aesthetic. Through the efforts of the architects from Atelier l’Abri, the contractor Construction Rocket and consultants from the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS), the building has obtained LEED Platinum and PHIUS 2018+ certifications, making it the third certified passive house in Quebec. The architects employed an L-shaped plan with two different roof slopes that mirror the topography of the landscape. The name of the house stems from the architectural language of saltbox buildings, a form of vernacular architecture from New England . The primary characteristic of saltbox houses is a gable roof over the main section of the building with a single-pitch roof over the lower section, making them easy to identify at first glance. Related: Passive House-certified residence frames ski resort views in Utah The Saltbox Passive House comprises three levels, of which the bottom two are tucked into the mountain along the rear retaining wall. The basement level serves as a workshop and houses a garage. The ground level includes shared spaces for the family. This includes living and dining spaces, which are organized around a double-height volume encompassing the kitchen, pantry, mudroom and powder room. This volume extends to the top level and is adjacent to the passageway that leads to the private spaces, including the three bedrooms and a home office. Throughout the design process, the architects collaborated with consultants to ensure that the project met Passivhaus Institut standards. Established in the early 1980s in Germany, the institute promotes buildings that consider occupant comfort while maintaining high levels of energy efficiency. This is often achieved through the use of well-insulated interiors, extensive heat recovery from mechanical ventilation systems and conscious design of openings for thermal comfort. Several design choices were made to ensure high performance without compromising comfort and aesthetics. The house incorporates south-facing, triple-glazed UPVC openings to capture sunlight and frame views of the lush landscape while serving as a means of passive solar heating. Close attention to materiality has further reduced the building’s carbon footprint. Cellulose insulation, excavated stone for the retaining wall and cedar cladding are all readily available in the region and aid in keeping the house thermally insulated. Though the building is connected to public electricity systems and utilities, its enhanced environmentally friendly measures reduce dependence on these facilities. + L’Abri Photography by Raphaël Thibodeau

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Explore the Saltbox Passive House’s sweet sustainable design

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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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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London considers banning wood-burning stoves to tackle air pollution

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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