Mirrored art complex in Bangkok seamlessly co-exists with the surrounding trees

June 21, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A reflective facade and calculated layout blends Bangkok’s new Naiipa Art Complex into the environment. Designed by Bangkok-based Stu/D/O Architects , the mixed-use building carefully wraps around the existing trees on the property while using its mirrored cladding to camouflage the structure into the lush green backdrop. The Naiipa complex (which means “deep in the forest”) is a 25,000-square-foot building that includes an art gallery, music studio, dance studio and office space, along with restaurants and coffee shops. According to the architects, the plan was to provide a community-focused center that wouldn’t disturb the existing greenery . Stu/D/O said, “The project is named after the concept of concealing the architecture in the forest as the vision of greenery is expanded by using reflective glass all around.” Related: Gorgeous mirrored facade extension allows brick Belgian notary to blend into the landscape To create a subtle volume for the large building and its multiple uses, the design was divided into two main sections separated by a tree-filled courtyard. Building A is an elongated structure that was carefully built around an existing pink trumpet tree to protect its growth. The second building is a cube-like four-story structure. A winding multilevel walkway that connects the two buildings intertwines around the existing trees , giving visitors a chance to truly connect with nature. To disguise the complex within its surroundings, the architects used three different types of glazing to create a mirrored effect : reflective, translucent and transparent. According to the firm, the multiple glazed walls, along with the “rhythmic folding pattern” of the facade, helped accomplish the goal. The east side of the building uses a translucent double facade that helps filter direct sunlight and reduce heat on the interior. As visitors follow this facade to the entrance, the building begins to “fold,” creating a narrow entrance reminiscent of a vibrant forest. Inside, the sun’s rays are reflected off the exterior facade , creating displays of shadow and light throughout the day, again imitating a forest canopy. The structure welcomes visitors with a floating “Bird Nest” gallery that is clad in reflective glass and appears to be surrounded by trees, creating a true feeling of ‘Naiipa.’ + Stu/D/O Architects Via Archdaily Images via Stu/D/O Architects

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Mirrored art complex in Bangkok seamlessly co-exists with the surrounding trees

A striking concrete home in Ontario targets minimal environment impact

June 21, 2018 by  
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Toronto-based Teeple Architects has paired a beautiful but unusual site in Ontario with the sculptural Port Hope House, an award-winning residence that boasts a wide array of sustainable features. Located east of Toronto , the single-family rural home takes inspiration from the client’s 75-acre property that consists of a woodlot, a fallow field, an abandoned Grand Trunk railway cut and a steep cliff that falls into Lake Ontario. Built with long concrete walls, the Port Hope House appears like a rock outcropping lifting upwards. Teeple Architects carefully sited the Port Hope House to reap the advantages of the property’s four distinctive site conditions — the quiet and dark woods to the north, the open fallow field, the rail cut that hints at man’s intervention and the dramatic lake embankment to the south. The project was rendered as a “tectonic expression” that rises from the earth as a single, curving volume and then splits into two framed volumes so natural light can penetrate deep inside the home. “As an architectural composition, the project offers a unique interpretation of the domestic space — a fundamental object of architectural inquiry — based on the particular experiences and opportunities of a site,” Teeple Architects explained. “Expressed as a small handful of sculptural but restrained moves, the project breaks the mold of contemporary home design in imagining the house as a natural form, an organic but certainly not pre-ordained result of creative exchange between architect, client and environment.” Related: Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum is sustainably built from CNC-milled beetle-kill timber To minimize its environmental footprint, the light-filled house features a high-performance envelope with heat-mirror film glazing and follows passive solar principles. The long concrete walls offer high thermal mass and are clad with charcoal zinc siding. Water and sewage are treated on site to reduce reliance on the grid. Rainwater is harvested for irrigation, and geothermal energy has been tapped for heating. + Teeple Architects Images by Scott Norsworthy

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First paper straw factory in decades to open as UK bans plastic

June 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

As the United Kingdom moves forward with its planned ban on single-use plastic products, the first paper straw factory in decades is opening in Wales to meet the consumer demand. Transcend Packaging, the owner and operator of the new plant, has already reached out to 1,361 McDonald’s restaurants throughout the U.K. , as well as other restaurants, to provide them with more environmentally-friendly straws. “We spotted a huge opportunity, and we went for it,” Transcend Packaging sales and marketing director Mark Varney told The Guardian . “When the BBC’s Blue Planet II was on the telly and the government started talking about the dangers of plastic straws, we saw a niche in the market.” Because of the change in British plastic policy, that niche may soon grow into a national industry. Even before the national plastic ban, companies were moving to use more eco-friendly products, though the acquisition of these products was not necessarily sustainable. “It is great that all these businesses are phasing out plastic straws, but the problem for them was where to get paper ones from,” Varney said. “Everyone is having to import them from China , and when you look at the carbon footprint of that it kind of defeats the exercise.” Thus, Transcend Packaging’s factory was born. Varney continued, “We set up this company to give the the customers what they actually want: biodegradable paper straws made in the U.K.” Related: India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022 While paper straws are marginally more expensive than plastic straws, there are numerous benefits not captured in the numbers. For example, “ McDonald’s , bless them, understood the massive difference to the environment,” said Varney, and embraced the paper straw for the company’s public image and the good of the environment. Via Gizmodo and The Guardian Image via Depositphotos

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First paper straw factory in decades to open as UK bans plastic

6 tents perfect for camping this summer

June 18, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Now that summer is here, it’s time to prepare for some  camping trips. But finding a great tent can be tricky. Are you an adventurer who needs a tent that will withstand all types of weather ? Are you looking to stay somewhere unconventional (like in the trees, or on a lake)? Or maybe you need something that can easily be packed away or recycled after use. If you’re on the hunt for a new tent, here are some of our favorite options that are perfect for your summer camping trip. 1. Alfheim by Nordisk Summer is the best time for camping and and enjoying nature. If you’re planning for longer than a day trip, you’re going to need a tent to protect you from the elements. The Alfheim by Nordisk is a teepee-inspired tent that requires only one person to set up. The Alfheim comes in two different sizes: 12.6 meters squared or 19.6 meters squared. The 19.6-square-meter tent also has an organic option. Other custom options include a ground sheet that zips in and mesh dividers to create separate sleeping spaces. 2. Shoal Tent by SmithFly There’s something magical about spending a camping trip next to the water , but with the Shoal Tent , you can camp right on the water . The tent sits on an inflatable raft that can easily be deflated and carried from campsite to campsite — or from lake to lake. The entire structure of the tent inflates along with the raft, making it very lightweight. The tent has an 8’ x 8’ footprint, so it is comfortable and roomy. 3. KarTent Have you ever been so tired after an event that you just can’t be bothered to break down your tent and take it home with you? It happens more often than you think — every year, thousands of festival-goers leave their tents behind. What if the tents were made of cardboard ? Hear us out. The KarTent is a tent made out of recycled cardboard , and once your journey is over, you can choose to either take it home or drop it into the nearest recycling bin. It’s big enough for two people and secures to the ground with recyclable pegs. For larger events, you can buy the tents in bulk; the company will set them up for you when you arrive and break them down once your event is over. 4. Sky-Pod If you want to sleep among the trees , you’re in luck — the Sky-Pod tent allows you to do just that. You can hang a Sky-Pod as high as four feet above the ground, which is ideal for enjoying life in the trees , but it is also a great safety measure if you’re camping in areas that are prone to flash floods. It also reduces your impact on the environment — you don’t have to worry about placing your tent on a game trail or crushing important flora under your tent’s floor. 5. Sierra Shack by Alite Pop-up tents are an easy way to get out of the weather no matter where you are, but they tend to be difficult to set up and awkward to sleep in. The Sierra Shack is a handy, budget-friendly pop-up tent  that unfolds instantly, has enough room for two people and can even be zipped with other Sierra Shacks to create a small chain of tents. Each tent has a built-in rainfly to keep you dry in case of overnight rain . Once you break it down, the tent weighs less than seven pounds, so you can easily carry it from one campsite to the next. 6.  Stingray Tree Tent by Tensile If you like sleeping in a hammock but don’t like getting caught in the rain, Tensile’s Stingray Tree Tent is the tent for you. The tent keeps you off the ground and provides an enclosed environment to protect you from weather, bugs and other outdoor unpleasantness. You can easily string the tent between any two stable items — trees, boulders or even vehicles. This tent has one major benefit over a standard hammock, though — it can hold up to three full-sized adults. In addition to these practical benefits, the company pledges to plant 18 trees for every tent purchased with its partners Arbor Day Foundation, Eden Projects and WeForest. As you can see, you don’t have to stick with a traditional canvas-and-poles tent during your summer camping trip. Hopefully, these tents inspire you to reconnect with nature and start exploring. Happy trails! Images via Anruf Advertising, Nordisk Smith (Alfheim); SmithFly (Fly Shoal Tent); KarTent (KarTent); Sky-Pod, Zak Bentley (Sky-Pod); Alite Designs (Sierra Shack); Taylor Burke, Justin Hartney and Sean Murphy (Stingray Tree Tent)

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6 tents perfect for camping this summer

100% solar-powered Fiji resort combines 5-star luxury with sustainability

June 18, 2018 by  
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Luxury travel doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. At Six Senses’ new Fiji Resort , visitors can indulge in five-star comforts and minimize their stay’s carbon footprint. Crafted by Auckland design firm Space Studio , this 24-villa resort on Malolo Island is powered entirely with solar energy and promotes environmental awareness throughout. Opened last month, the Six Senses Fiji comprises 24 villas, two restaurants, a lounge, a library, welcome and guest service areas and a spa. The development will soon include a total of 60 privately owned residences — 11 of which have already been completed. The five-star resort blends contemporary design with elements of traditional Fijian culture, which is celebrated in the handiwork and artwork produced by local villagers, the Rise Beyond the Reef charity and the local material palette of grass cloth wallpaper and timber. In addition to cultural awareness, Six Senses Fiji also turns its spotlight on sustainability. The 100 percent solar -powered resort is equipped with its own water filtration plant on site so that staff can bottle water in glass and eliminate single-use plastic bottles. Reusable containers can be found in places like the on-site gourmet deli, and guests are encouraged to return those containers for reuse. Food waste is turned into compost for the resort’s farm and garden with a worm-based septic system. Recyclable waste is sorted in the resort’s “recycling corner,” after which the items are shipped to Denarau Island on the return barges that bring food supplies twice a week. Related: Experience bliss at a luxury Indian spa nestled in a former coffee estate “We also try to have as little waste as possible by creating a lot of our own homemade tonics and bitters using local produce and shrubs, so there’s no waste to begin with,” said Karen Morris, Six Senses Fiji director of sales and marketing. “We’re growing our own kombucha, so we don’t need to ship it in, and we’re creating our own tepache, a fermented pineapple drink.” A luxurious night at Six Senses Fiji starts at $870. + Space Studio + Six Senses Fiji Images via Six Senses Fiji

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100% solar-powered Fiji resort combines 5-star luxury with sustainability

SeagrassSpotter app empowers ocean lovers to become citizen scientists

June 15, 2018 by  
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Bet you don’t often think about seagrass , but this powerhouse plant supports thousands of marine creatures, sequesters carbon, cleans water, and generates oxygen — and it’s in trouble. Earth loses around two football pitches of seagrass every single hour, according to Wales-based charity Project Seagrass , and co-founder Richard Unsworth told Mongabay  that irregular mapping of seagrass meadows has hindered work to protect the plants. So Project Seagrass released their SeagrassSpotter app, with the hope that instead of a handful of researchers, thousands of citizen scientists will get on board with the conservation effort. “Saving seagrass means saving our seas,” Project Seagrass says on its website . Seagrasses, not to be confused with seaweed, take up just 0.1 percent of the seafloor but “are responsible for 11 percent of the organic carbon buried in the ocean .” Millions of people depend on seagrass for livelihoods and food. But seagrass meadows “are being lost at the same rate as rainforests and coral reefs ,” according to the SeagrassSpotter website . Overfishing, bad water quality, increased sedimentation, trampling, and boating threaten the plants. Related: New SubCAS technology enables scientists to better study deep-sea ecosystems Project Seagrass aims to build a more comprehensive picture of seagrass meadows to inspire scientific research and conservation measures with the SeagrassSpotter app, created in association with Swansea University and Cardiff University . People from beachgoers to SCUBA divers to fishers can get in on the action by submitting seagrass sightings. Unsworth told Mongabay, “We’re asking people visiting the coast or going out to sea — for diving, fishing, kayaking — to keep their eyes out for seagrass so that they can take a picture [to] upload to our website. The more people that get involved the more likely we are to develop a better understanding of the world’s seagrass.” Ready to help save seagrass? Download the app for iOS or Android . You can also submit seagrass sightings on the SeagrassSpotter website. Project Seagrass is shooting for at least 100,000 records; collected data will be freely available. + Project Seagrass + SeagrassSpotter Via Mongabay Image via Depositphotos

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SeagrassSpotter app empowers ocean lovers to become citizen scientists

Michigan adopts most robust lead water rules in US

June 15, 2018 by  
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In the wake of the Flint crisis, Michigan is adopting new lead water rules — the strictest in the U.S., according to Reuters . Lead service lines will have to be replaced, and the lead concentrations allowed in drinking water will be lower than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s standard. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Michigan Senior Policy Advocate Cyndi Roper said in a statement , “There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, so despite some troubling loopholes, these rules set an example other states and the Environmental Protection Agency could follow to address an issue plaguing water systems across the country.” More than 18 million Americans received water through systems with lead violations in 2015, the NRDC said . Lead contamination of drinking water still troubles people across the U.S., and Michigan is taking some action. Their new Lead and Copper Rule, as laid out in a statement from Governor Rick Snyder, lowers the level of allowable lead to 12 parts per billion (ppb) in 2025. The EPA’s Lead Action Level is 15 ppb . Related: Flint activist and stay-at-home mom wins the Goldman Environmental Prize All public water systems will be required to replace lead service lines at a rate averaging 5 percent a year starting in 2021 during a 20-year period. The rules also require a second sample collection at locations that obtain water from lead service lines and the creation of a statewide water system advisory council. All public water systems will have to conduct asset inventory under the new rules as well. “The new Michigan Lead and Copper Rule is the most stringent in the world when applied to cities with lead pipes, yet it strikes a reasonable balance between cost and benefit,” Virginia Tech University engineering professor Marc Edwards said in the governor’s statement. “It provides the EPA  with a good exemplar to follow, if they ever begin to wage their long-promised war on lead in water.” + Office of Governor Rick Snyder + Natural Resources Defense Council (1 , 2) Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2)

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Michigan adopts most robust lead water rules in US

Toxic chemicals found in small, furry animals decades after mine closure

June 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The environmental impact of large-scale industrial activity can be felt long after the activity stops. A new study published in the journal ScienceDirect found that decades after the closure of the Giant Mine — located on the outskirts of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories province of Canada  — small animals still carried significant amounts of toxic chemicals, such as arsenic, in their fur. While high levels of arsenic had been documented in the soil, plants and fish near the Giant Mine, scientists had not previously documented the impact on small  mammals . Understanding the potential toxicity of these animals is important, as these creatures are still hunted for their furs and food, through which humans could also absorb the dangerous chemicals. The Giant Mine near Yellowknife contributed to the arsenic contamination of the surrounding area through its 55 years as an active gold mine. To extract gold from ore, it must be heated at extremely high temperatures. This process creates a toxic compound called arsenic trioxide, about 237,000 tons of which is buried underground near the mine site. Arsenic is naturally found within the Earth, often in gold-holding rocks. While arsenic usually seeps slowly into the environment through steady erosion of the rock, gold mining accelerates that process. Related: This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water Small mammals like the snowshoe hare often serve as early warning signs of an environment’s contamination . Because of the animal’s limited habitat range and diet of ground plants, the contaminant levels are often higher than other organisms. When snowshoe hares who lived near Giant Mine were tested for levels of arsenic, researchers found that their arsenic levels were 20 to 50 times higher than hares who lived elsewhere. Arsenic-contaminated wildlife often suffer from osteoporosis, neurological damage, reproductive issues and chronic metabolic disease. Scientists are most concerned that the arsenic contamination will find its way up the food chain, harming larger mammals, including humans. + ScienceDirect Via EcoWatch Images via Denali National Park and Preserve (1, 2)

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Despite sustainability pledges, World Cup stadium built on rare wildlife habitat

June 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Today, at 6 p.m. local time in Moscow , the 2018 World Cup will begin with a match between host country Russia and Saudi Arabia. This year’s tournament will be the first in which FIFA required that all stadiums be built and renovated with sustainability in mind. Despite this requirement, some stadiums, such as Kaliningrad, have been less than environmentally friendly. Kaliningrad Stadium was built on one of Kaliningrad’s last wetlands, a habitat for rare birds, on October Island. “It was a typical delta island, with peat and a wetland reed-bed. It was a little corner of heaven in the city, where birds lived,” local ecologist Alexandra Korolyova told ABC News . “Really, if Russia paid more attention to protecting the environment, it could potentially have become a reservation or national park within the city.” The fate of Kaliningrad’s wetlands was sealed in 2014 when much of the habitat was buried beneath more than a million tons of sand to prepare the grounds for the stadium . While Kaliningrad Stadium was constructed with green materials and features energy efficient ventilation and electrical systems, its impact is not ecologically sustainable, particularly considering how the wetlands once served as a natural cleaner of the nearby polluted river. “We’ve lost a lot, and I don’t see what we’ve gained,” said Korolyova. Related: Qatar unveils first-ever FIFA World Cup stadium to be built from shipping containers From the Russian state perspective, not much was lost at Kaliningrad. “Everything was done in accordance with best practice,” chairman of Russia’s World Cup organizing committee Arkady Dvorkovich told the Associated Press . “This place, in my view, was more like wasteland than a place with very good nature. Theoretically, of course, you can call any swamp a very beautiful and environmentally clean place, but it’s not really correct in relation to the city infrastructure and the cities .” Via EcoWatch , ABC News and Associated Press Images via Dmitry Rozhkov/Wikimedia and A. Savin/Wikimedia

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Despite sustainability pledges, World Cup stadium built on rare wildlife habitat

New study shows some LED lights can harm wildlife

June 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Researchers have concluded that certain types of LED lights can be harmful toward a wide variety of wildlife, calling attention to the potential hazards of the rapid expansion of LED light usage. Though LEDs made up only 9 percent of the global market in 2011, that number is expected to rise to 69 percent by 2020. In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology , researchers concluded that blue and white LED lighting is the most harmful to wildlife , particularly animals such as sea turtles and insects, while green, amber and yellow are more favorable. As the urbanization of our planet continues, it is essential that policymakers and scientists understand the potential outcomes of altering a space so drastically from its natural state. “Outdoor environments are changing rapidly and in ways that can impact wildlife species,” study leader author Travis Longcore told Phys.org . The researchers incorporated existing ecological data into the study as the team examined the impacts of different kinds of LED lights on animals such as insects, sea turtles, salmon and Newell’s shearwater seabird. Related: New research links LED streetlights to increased risk of cancer LED lights seem to adversely affect species in different ways. Loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings can be lured inland by artificial light rather than into the ocean , while migrating juvenile salmon’s attraction to light may leave them vulnerable to predators. To better inform the public regarding the risks of LED, the study includes the first publicly available database that documents how about 24 different kinds of light can impact wildlife. “If we don’t provide advice and information to decision-makers, they will go with the cheapest lighting or lighting that serves only one interest and does not balance other interests,” Longcore said. “We provide a method to assess the probable consequences of new light sources to keep up with the changing technology and wildlife concerns.” + Journal of Experimental Zoology Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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New study shows some LED lights can harm wildlife

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