UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

April 19, 2018 by  
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8.5 billion plastic straws are tossed out in the United Kingdom every year, according to a recent study cited by the government . They plan to take action — by ending sales of plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers and straws in a bid to reduce ocean plastic waste. The UK is cracking down on ocean plastic . The government announced the ban at the summit for the Commonwealth heads of government. Prime Minister Theresa May said, “ Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world…the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban .” Related: Queen of England bans plastic bottles and straws at royal estates The ban won’t take effect immediately; the statement said the government would work with industries to ensure time to adapt and create alternatives. Plastic straws utilized for medical reasons could also be excluded from the ban. May challenged other countries in the Commonwealth, which includes 53 member countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean, to battle marine plastic as well. The UK government is committing to £61.4 million, around $87.4 million, in funding for research and better waste management for developing countries , according to May, who said, “The Commonwealth is a unique organization, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments, and coastlines. Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.” The UK government’s microbead ban went into effect in January of this year, and their five pence single-use plastic bag law has resulted in nine billion fewer bags distributed, according to the government. Another statistic the government drew on to back the plastic straw scheme is that one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals perish due to eating plastic waste and getting tangled in it. They also said there are more than 150 million metric tons of plastic in the oceans on our planet. + United Kingdom Government Images via Depositphotos and Carly Jayne on Unsplash

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UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

What’s behind the California bill to ban internal combustion car sales by 2040

March 29, 2018 by  
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A bold bill follows in the footsteps of England, France, China and others.

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What’s behind the California bill to ban internal combustion car sales by 2040

The No. 1 way to win buy-in through hearts and minds

March 29, 2018 by  
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David Williams, chief executive at Impact International, reveals the biggest pain point for managing change and the “nemawashi” opportunity.

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The No. 1 way to win buy-in through hearts and minds

Deep freeze in the UK causes massive die-off of sea creatures

March 6, 2018 by  
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Scientists and conservationists in the United Kingdom have observed a mass die-off of invertebrate sea creatures as a result of recent frigid weather . “There was a 3C drop in sea temperature last week which will have caused animals to hunker down and reduce their activity levels,” Bex Lynam of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said in a statement . “This makes them vulnerable to rough seas – they became dislodged by large waves and washed ashore when the rough weather kicked in.” Tens of thousands of mostly dead animals covered the beaches of the Holderness coast in Yorkshire, as well as locations in Kent and Norfolk. The bizarre, tragic phenomenon is all the more unsettling in context; while Europe froze, the Arctic thawed in the dead of polar winter . Although most creatures washed ashore were dead, some lobsters survived the frost . Those lucky few are being gathered up and cared for before they will be releasing back into the wild. “This area is very important for shellfish and we work alongside fishermen to promote sustainable fisheries and protect reproductive stocks,” said Lynam. “It’s worth saving them so that they can be put back into the sea and continue to breed.” While some fish did perish, most of the dead were invertebrate species. “Larger animals such as dolphins are more mobile and can save themselves by swimming away when this sort of thing happens,” explained Lynam. Related: World’s first floating wind farm performing better than anticipated While a specific deep freeze cannot be blamed on climate change , climate scientists predict that these extreme weather events will become more frequent as the change accelerates. Beyond confronting climate change, there are steps that humans can take to protect marine life. “We can’t prevent natural disasters like this,” Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s senior living seas officer Dr. Lisa Bassey said in a statement . “But we can mitigate against declining marine life and the problems that humans cause by creating enough protected areas at sea and by ensuring that these sites are large enough and close enough to offer fish , crustaceans, dolphins and other marine life the protection they require to withstand natural events such as this.” Via The Guardian Images via Bex Lynham/Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

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Deep freeze in the UK causes massive die-off of sea creatures

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

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