The decarbonization promise of indoor agriculture is still in the seed stage

May 22, 2020 by  
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The decarbonization promise of indoor agriculture is still in the seed stage Jim Giles Fri, 05/22/2020 – 01:18 Here’s a tale of two chefs. Both are based in the Midwest and both are preparing a Caesar salad. One uses lettuce shipped from where much of our lettuce is grown: The fields around Monterey, California. The other sources her greens from a nearby indoor farm. Out in Monterey, the farmer used diesel-powered machinery, pumped water, fertilizer and pesticides. At the indoor farm, precision systems provided the lettuce with exactly the amount of water and nutrients the crop requires — and no more. The pickers in California discarded lettuces that didn’t look perfect. That wasn’t an issue indoors: Conditions are so well controlled that almost all the crop met consumers’ exacting standards. Finally, when the crop was packed and ready, the indoor farmer drove 20 miles or so to drop the lettuce at our chef’s restaurant. The Monterey produce had to travel 2,000 miles. Which chef is preparing the more environmentally friendly salad? Let’s start with the bad news. The story above about indoor farming, a tale about a technology can produce dramatic environmental gains — it doesn’t hold true. The Monterey lettuce is currently the better bet, according to a new analysis from the WWF . For places that are food-insecure, this could be a real game-changer. The problem with indoor farming, also known as controlled environment agriculture, is the electric grid. Indoor farms use LEDs to light crops. In St. Louis, Missouri, the focus of the WWF study, two-thirds of electricity comes from fossil fuel plants that pump out health-damaging particulates and planet-warming carbon dioxide. The WWF team combined these and other impacts into a single score that captures total environmental harm. Lettuce grown in St. Louis greenhouses, which supplement LEDs with natural light, scored twice as high as the conventional crop. In a vertical farm lit entirely by LEDs, the difference was threefold. Now to the good news: Our chef who sources from a nearby indoor farm may not be making the best environmental choice today, but she likely will be soon. That’s partly because if we look beyond energy use, indoor ag delivers clear benefits. Indoor systems require little or even no pesticides and generate 80 percent less waste. They use less space, which can free up land for biodiversity. The WWF study found that precision indoor water systems use 1 liter of water to produce a kilogram of lettuce; for field-grown lettuce, the figure is 150 liters. Another reason is that indoor ag’s energy problem is likely to become less serious. Market forces are already adding renewables to the U.S. electricity mix and pushing out coal. Technology improvements in the pipeline also will cut energy use in indoor farms. PlantLab , a Netherlands-based startup, has developed an LED that’s more efficient in indoor ag settings because it emits light at the exact wavelengths used for photosynthesis. New crop varieties from Precision Indoor Plants , a public-private partnership that is developing seeds specifically for indoor use, may require less light to grow. This tech is at an early stage, which makes it tough to quantify future impact. But the data we do have shows that a combination of efficiency improvements and grid decarbonization can make indoor farms a much better environmental choice for some crops. Cutting energy use also will lower costs, making indoor farms competitive on price. It’s fascinating to speculate about what would happen if both these trends came to fruition. Indoor farms likely would diversify, for starters. At present, indoor farms in urban areas profitably can grow leafy greens but little else. If energy costs come down, cucumbers, berries and tomatoes also might make financial sense, suggests Julia Kurnik , director of innovation startups for WWF. When this project ends, key players will already be invested and ready to move ahead with building a pilot system that can be replicated worldwide … With more diverse output, the farms could become local hubs that would strengthen the food system’s resilience to extreme weather events and other shocks. “For places that are food-insecure, this could be a real game-changer,” Kurnik added. Venture capitalists already have seen this future; hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed to indoor farming companies in recent years. That’s essential if this industry is to grow, but it’s also great to see an organization such as the WWF in the mix. After studying the potential, the WWF has convened a diverse group of stakeholders to map out the expansion of indoor ag in St. Louis. In addition to business execs and investors, the group includes civic and community leaders. “By working as a group to make those decisions,” explains the report, “when this project ends, key players will already be invested and ready to move ahead with building a pilot system that can be replicated worldwide, making food production more environmentally sustainable.” I’ll certainly be keeping tabs on progress in St. Louis, and with indoor ag more generally. If you know of a particular project or related technology that deserves a mention, drop me an email at jg@greenbiz.com . This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter.  Sign up here  to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote For places that are food-insecure, this could be a real game-changer. When this project ends, key players will already be invested and ready to move ahead with building a pilot system that can be replicated worldwide … Topics Food & Agriculture Urban Agriculture Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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CX Landscape proposes futuristic coastal park in response to climate change

May 19, 2020 by  
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Australia-based CX Landscape has unveiled designs for Sea Line Park, a conceptual project to link the eastern and western inner suburbs of Melbourne with a linear coastal park. Designed to serve as a new line of defense against rising waters, the Sea Line Park would comprise three islands, two pontoon bridges and undersea roads to provide a new direct connection between Williams Town to the west and Elwood in the east. The fantastical proposal would also draw power from renewable sources, including tidal and solar power. Bookended by two movable pontoon bridges, the Sea Line Park consists of three curvaceous green islands : two “Sports Islands” flanking a central “Art Island”. The Sports Islands would function as public outdoor recreation space for both active and passive programs. The Art Island serves primarily as an events space and would be home to a large north-facing meadow that can host open cinemas, performances, markets and other events. A naturalistic landscape with pedestrian and cyclist paths would be integrated onto all islands. Related: Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy The linear parks would also house a live seed bank within a series of pods, the design of which is inspired by the diamond-patterned totem polls of the Wurundjeri tribe. Solar panels would cover the exterior of each pod and — along with the tidal power generation units integrated in the two pontoon bridges — provide energy for the entire park. The islands are also punctuated by bubble-like structures that house seawater purification and freshwater storage systems. To address ocean waste, the designers have proposed using submarine robots to collect plastic ocean debris and repurposing the waste as raw material for 3D printing construction materials. “This park will grow, adapt and innovate with the help of cutting-edge technologies, to be resilient and resistant to natural disasters and climate change ,” the designers said. “A self-sustained living hub is suitable for any coastal cities around the world, which can carry the critical resources and civilizations to create a mobile global village.” + CX Landscape Images via CX Landscape

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CX Landscape proposes futuristic coastal park in response to climate change

"Embroidered filtering skin helps library regulate light

January 20, 2020 by  
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French design practice Serero Architectes Urbanistes has recently completed the new Bayeux Media Library, a light-filled cultural institution that connects the northwestern French commune’s historical roots to its future development zones. Inspired by the famous Bayeux Tapestry, the building includes an “embroidered filtering skin” along its north facade comprising a series of multicolored tubes hanging behind the glazed facade to help filter views and light while mitigating unwanted solar gain. Energy usage is reduced thanks to an abundance of glazing outfitted with solar shades as well as an insulating green roof. Located next to the beltway near Bayeux’s dense historic center, the Bayeux Media Library has been strategically located to provide views of the cathedral. To emphasize a connection between the historic center and nearby contemporary development, the architects opted for a “transparent, landscape-building” with a horizontal profile and minimalist design. The glazed library also focuses on the indoor/ outdoor experience with outdoor reading terraces on the south side. At the heart of the contemporary Bayeux Media Library is its reference to the Bayeux Tapestry, a nearly 230-foot-long embroidered cloth dating back to the 11th century that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. “It inspired the design of the media library’s north façade,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Stitch by stitch and thread by thread, embroidery was applied to the fabric to form the tapestry’s semiotic elements. The Boulevard Ware façade of the library is entirely glazed and protected by a ‘filtering skin’ composed of tubes tinted in the natural colors of the woolen yarns in the famous Bayeux Tapestry: beige, brown, bronze green, blue-black and deep blue with yellow highlights.” Related: Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design In addition to the “embroidered” filtering skin on the north facade, the architects added an overhanging roof to shield the interior from unwanted solar gain on the south facade. The glazed east, west, and south facades are also equipped with roller blinds. Skylights let in additional natural light.  + Serero Architectes Urbanistes Photography by Didier Boy de la Tour via Serero Architectes Urbanistes

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"Embroidered filtering skin helps library regulate light

Architect makes playful puzzle pavilion for Design Week Mexico

January 20, 2020 by  
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At the 11th annual Design Week Mexico, Mexican architect Gerardo Broissin created the Egaligilo Pavilion, an eye-catching structure made with large jigsaw puzzle-shaped concrete pieces. Installed on the grounds of Mexico City’s contemporary art museum Museo Tamayo, the boxy pavilion draws the eye with its puzzle-inspired form and bubble-like protrusions designed to deliberately obscure views of the interior. Inside is a lush garden that remains exposed to the outdoor elements thanks to small slits and perforations cut into the pavilion on all sides. Installed last year at the beginning of October, Broissin’s Egaligilo Pavilion builds upon Design Week Mexico’s tradition of using architecture and design to spur thought-provoking conversations. The basis for the Egaligilo Pavilion begins with the teachings of French philosopher Michel Foucault, particularly how the discovery of self is centered on a state of constant questioning. Broissin explores this “principle of agitation” by designing a space that juxtaposes seemingly opposite elements, from the inclusion of both traditional and parametric architecture to the concepts of the artificial and the natural. For instance, the rectangular pavilion’s puzzle piece-shaped panels seem to suggest rigidity and order but are contrasted with the bubble-like dome protrusions and further undermined by the interior’s curved walls. A large circular opening marks one end of the pavilion and provides the only view inside of the structure, which houses a surprisingly lush garden with a mulch ground. Related: This prefab weekend retreat made from shipping containers can be ordered online “The Egaligilo’s external structure remains light weighted and displays shape contrasts, it holds a living oasis inside, in which symbolism is exalted and gives the visitor the capacity to assume a new role, to reinvent him/herself following Foucault,” Broissin said in the project statement. “A space that originally should have been outside is held on to walls that are capriciously opened to light, but can’t be penetrated by the gaze. This quality demands the visitor to immerse in space, and once again, creates a tension between the limit of the public and the private.” + Gerardo Broissin Images via Gerardo Broissin

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Architect makes playful puzzle pavilion for Design Week Mexico

Learn about polar bears during a free virtual field trip to the Arctic Tundra this November

October 31, 2019 by  
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Discovery Education and Polar Bears International have once again partnered to host an exciting, immersive and free virtual field trip to the Arctic tundra. Students from K-12 and teachers everywhere are welcome to virtually observe the polar bears of Canada’s Hudson Bay in their natural habitat. Registration is now open for this engaging, educational webcast, where audience members will be transported beyond classroom walls to the site of the annual Canadian polar bear migration. Students and educators worldwide can tune in to the Virtual Field Trip to the Arctic Tundra event that will take place on two dates: Wednesday, November 13 at 12 p.m. Central Time and Thursday, November 14 at 11:30 a.m. Central Time. Both events, which will be live and span at least 30 minutes each, will treat attendees to visually engaging material about the polar habitat, sea ice, Arctic adaptations, climate change and especially the polar bears. Related: Newly released video game challenges players to survive the climate apocalypse To coincide with the webcast events, there will also be two live question-and-answer virtual sessions, where attendees can inquire more about the north polar region’s wildlife , environment and careers on the tundra. These virtual Q&A sessions will be held on Wednesday, November 13 at 1:30 p.m. Central Time and Thursday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m. Central Time. Following both dates, Discovery Education Experience will archive the events and their respective Q&A sessions in both the Polar Bears content channel as well as the Virtual Field Trip content channel. These will serve as digital curriculum and classroom instructional resources that both students and teachers can enjoy. Now in its sixth year, this virtual event has been a wonderful collaboration between Discovery Education and Polar Bears International. Their partnership in this Tundra Connections program brings important awareness to polar bears and their habits, ecology, threats and the need for conservation to secure the future of these majestic animals of the Arctic. “Discovery Education is excited to present the upcoming Tundra Connections Virtual Field Trip to teachers and students worldwide at no cost,” shared Discovery Education Director of Product Development Kyle Schutt. “Discovery Education understands that these types of events can spark in students a lifelong interest in a particular subject, and we encourage all educators to bring their students to the Arctic with us. Who knows, your class may contain the next great wildlife biologist!” + Discovery Education + Polar Bears International Image via Pixabay

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Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish

July 30, 2019 by  
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It’s no surprise that humanity is consuming more natural resources than the earth can replenish–– that is what experts mean when they say we are living unsustainably. But now, researchers can calculate the exact day of the year which we have surpassed the resources the earth can regenerate annually and this year that date was July 29. The Global Footprint Network has been calculating what they call, “Earth Overshoot Day” since 1986. Related: Scientific consensus reaches beyond 99% on human-caused climate change “Earth Overshoot Day falling on July 29 means that humanity is currently using nature 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate,” explained the Global Footprint Network. “This is akin to using 1.75 Earths.” Their calculations are based on natural resources, including timber, fibers, food and carbon sequestration . Their data can also measure each country’s sustainability based on allotted resources per capita. Their findings show that some countries consume far more rapidly than others. For example, Qatar and Luxembourg were the first two countries to reach their nation’s Earth Overshoot Day. Iraq, Indonesia and Cuba were among the lowest, with their Overshoot Days not falling until December, when the year is almost over. “The costs of this global ecological overspending are becoming increasingly evident in the form of deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss or the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter leads to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events,” said the Global Footprint Network. What can we do to change this course? Well, according to the Global Footprint Network, certain actions do have a significant impact on the Overshoot Day. For example, if the world cut meat consumption in half, our collective Overshoot Day would move 15 days. “We have only got one Earth— this is the ultimately defining context for human existence,” said the Global Footprint Network. “We can’t use 1.75 without destructive consequences.” Via EcoWatch Image via ThorstenF

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Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish

It takes years to fully recover from big storms like Sandy — here’s how business can help

July 3, 2019 by  
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The impacts of extreme weather events and natural disasters are felt for more years than most people think.

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It takes years to fully recover from big storms like Sandy — here’s how business can help

The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

June 27, 2019 by  
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The World Surf League (WSL)  is known for being the authority for all things surfing, famous for showcasing the most talented professional surfers to the rest of the world. Now, they’ve decided to use that powerful platform to set an example for sports organizations everywhere by committing to substantial environmental initiatives. Earlier in June, the WSL announced a series of pledges that will apply to all WSL Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour events. They include becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2019, eliminating single-serve plastics by the end of 2019 and leaving each place better than they found it. The WSL runs more than 230 global surfing events each year. Considering the WSL’s millions of passionate fans, and the organization’s plan to hold competitions throughout Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Tahiti, France, Portugal, California and Hawaii in 2019 alone, these public commitments are bound to inspire others to address critical issues about the state of our environment. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Along with the announcement came an expansion of the WSL’s already-active ocean conservation efforts by their launch of a global campaign to “ Stop Trashing Waves ” with its non-profit arm, WSL PURE (“Protecting Understanding and Respecting the Environment”). WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt spoke of breaking new ground in the world of sports when it comes to the “urgent battle against climate change and ocean pollution,” saying, “We believe it’s our responsibility to be ‘all in’ with our efforts to protect the ocean and beaches amid the devastating climate crisis we all face. We invite everyone who cares about the ocean to join us.” So how does the WSL plan on carrying out these goals? For starters, the organization is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in REDD+ and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified carbon offset projects. These projects are focused on restoring and protecting natural and renewable energy ecosystems based in each of the WSL’s operating regions. The WSL will also be making an effort to limit non-essential travel and implement policies to reduce carbon emissions within its offices. 11-time WSL Champion and surfing legend, Kelly Slater, spoke of the announcement with enthusiasm. “I think it’s a great stance and an important message to send to people around the world. The ocean is vital to everyone, for food, for oxygen and especially to us surfers. I think everyone should make it their priority to care about this issue and make changes in their lives to help.” + World Surf League Images via World Surf League

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The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm

April 26, 2019 by  
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Along the waterfront on New York’s north shore, Staten Island Urby sits overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan . The millennial-friendly residential space includes 571 units, 35,000 square feet of commercial space and something a little unusual for an apartment complex: a massive urban farm. When it comes to innovation, the urban farm, also known as Rabbit’s Garden, incorporates bio-dynamic, bio-intensive and agro-ecological methods into its farming techniques. Rabbit’s Garden sells its variety of vegetables, herbs, microgreens and flowers to both CSA (“Community Supported Agriculture”) members and wholesale clients, but that’s not all it does. The urban farm is also a place for Urby residents and the larger Staten Island community to familiarize themselves with agriculture, a rare experience in a big city. The garden team provides educational workshops on everything from cooking and gardening to art, science and sustainability. Some of the events planned for 2019 include community volunteer days, a workshop on composting , farm dinners and cooking classes. Urby residents have the chance to use the produce in their own personal cooking, and local, on-site restaurants often use the fresh vegetables for seasonal dishes. Urby also sells produce at the weekly farmers market. Related: SUPERFARM design envisions an urban vertical farm that is energy self-sufficient The inspiration behind Urby combines the nature of apartment living with the personal touches of boutique hotel hospitality. Plenty of space and natural light with an abundance of communal areas and in-house culture teams that plan neighborly get-togethers further add to the hospitality aspect. The farm is one of these areas, and the cozy Urby kitchen and dining room is another. Along with these spaces, residents of the luxury apartment complex also enjoy amenities such as a fully-equipped gym, a heated saltwater pool, on-site dining options and outdoor spaces aimed at social interaction. Landscaped spots with Wi-Fi capability ensure that residents stay connected, while outdoor courtyards with fire pits and lounging space inspire social interactions and collective creativity. If residents are feeling a little more reclusive, there are plenty of comfortable spots throughout the property to curl up with a good book or get some work done without interruption as well. Rabbit’s Garden is run by farmer-in-residence Olivia Gamber, a longtime urban agriculture-enthusiast with a degree in Environmental Studies and years of community garden experience under her belt. Urby was created by real estate developer and hotelier David Barry, known for his contributions to the New York boutique hotel scene as both a developer and operator. Urby also has two other communities located in Jersey City and Harrison, New Jersey, and it plans to continue growing the collection of complexes in the future. + Urby Images via Urby

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This apartment building in Staten Island has a 5,000-square-foot urban farm

5 ways to throw a zero-waste Super Bowl party

January 31, 2019 by  
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Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest party days of the year. For many people, that means a house full of friends and family as well as pizza boxes, chip bags, beer cans and football decorations. However, it is possible to have an epic Super Bowl party without a ton of waste . It just takes a little bit of planning to go green, and the planet will thank you for your zero-waste celebration. Tell your guests There is no need to keep your guests in the dark about your goal of having a zero-waste Super Bowl party. When you send out your e-vites, make it clear you are going green, and encourage guests to do their part by carpooling and bringing their own cups and reusable containers for leftovers. Related: How to start the journey to zero-waste living You can also ask some of your guests to bring a dish they made at home. You might be surprised how many people are willing to do their part. DIY decor Instead of using plastic decorations, you can make your own with fabric. At your local craft store, you should be able to find fabric in team colors, and you might be able to find some with team logos. Use the fabric to make table cloths, napkins and banners. When the game is over, you can use the DIY decorations as cleaning cloths. Also, you can light up the room with strings of LED lights that you can easily find in team colors. If you are really crafty, you can make decorations with newspaper clippings about the game. Carefully plan the menu The food is the biggest source of waste at a Super Bowl party, so if you are going green, this is the part that takes major planning. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest days of the year for pizza delivery and beer drinking, and both of those things can produce a ton of trash. So ditch the pizza delivery and beer cans, and instead, make your own pizzas and finger foods and order a keg. Related: 6 tasty vegetarian Super Bowl snacks that will fool carnivores Homemade pizza and finger foods (sliders, chips and dip, deli meats and cheeses, chicken wings, cookies, brownies) will remove the need for plastic utensils. Buying your ingredients at local farmer’s markets will also reduce your environmental footprint. A keg will remove the mountain of beer cans and bottles in your trash can. Just remember to use glassware or mason jars instead of plastic cups, or have your guests bring their own. If you have guests that aren’t beer drinkers, you could opt for a root beer keg or large containers of non-alcoholic drinks that you can find at big box stores like Costco. If you can’t imagine a Super Bowl party without pizza delivery, you need to compost those greasy cardboard boxes instead of throwing them in the trash or recycling . When it comes to the dishes, ditch the disposable plates and instead opt for reusable, stainless steel camping trays or recyclable dishes. Or use your real, everyday dishes. Serve your food in large, reusable containers so you can easily store leftovers and make clean up a lot easier. Another fun idea for the party is to provide reusable glass straws in team colors. Label trash, recycling and compost areas Use different containers for your trash, compostables  and recyclables and clearly label them, so your guests know exactly where everything goes. A large pot is a great option to collect food waste, reusable dishes can go in the sink, paper goes into the compost or recycling piles and any cloth materials will need to be laundered. Enjoy yourself Throwing a zero-waste Super Bowl party is a great goal, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. It is possible that some of your guests aren’t familiar with the concept of zero-waste, so be patient and answer their questions. Explaining what you are trying to do is a great way to spread the message. You are planting a seed among your friends and family. Even if your Super Bowl party isn’t completely free of waste, reducing the waste is a great first step. Related: The Super Bowl of DIY beer Last year, the Super Bowl itself aimed for a zero-waste event called Rush2Recycle . Even though it wasn’t perfect, it was a gigantic step in the right direction. The program successfully recovered 91 percent of the trash, with 63 tons of game day waste being recycled or donated for reuse and composting. Relax and have fun. Don’t worry about perfection. Taking these steps toward reducing your Super Bowl party waste is reason enough to celebrate and have a good time. Via ECOlunchbox Images via Manuel Hoster and Shutterstock

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