Smog-fighting helicopters in Delhi grounded – due to smog

November 14, 2017 by  
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Delhi has been battling choking smog , prompting doctors to declare a public health emergency . The government came up with a plan: use helicopters to combat the air pollution . But there’s a problem: the helicopters can’t fly because the smog is so bad. Delhi’s government had asked state-owned company Pawan Hans to come up with a plan to deploy helicopters to drizzle water across the beleaguered city, with the hope it would help settle the smog. But Pawan Hans told city officials this week the choppers couldn’t fly in the haze. Chairman and managing director BP Sharma told The Indian Express , “Right now, with the prevailing smog, it is not possible for the helicopters to carry out operations.” Related: Delhi residents struggle to breathe as doctors declare air pollution health emergency There’s another roadblock that stands in the way: almost half of Delhi, according to an official, is part of a no-fly zone. This includes the city’s southern quarters where the prime minister, presidency, and parliament are based – and according to The Guardian , the no-fly zone is strictly policed. A Delhi government spokesperson told The Indian Express, “There are a few issues and these will be worked out while creating the [standard operating procedure]. All stakeholders are being consulted.” Experts had questioned the plan – one called it “nothing more than a load of hot air,” according to India Today . Mukesh Khare, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi professor who’s spent years working on urban air pollution, said the solution was impractical and would waste water and money, telling India Today the plan hadn’t been used anywhere in the world to take down air pollution, and that the water would dry rapidly, sending officials back to square one in a few hours. 52 percent of the particulate matter in Delhi’s air comes from dust kicked up by tens of thousands of cars , according to a 2015 study cited by The Guardian. Other factors like uncovered soil and sand from construction sites, crop burning, and slow winds have also played a role in the pollution. Via The Guardian , The Indian Express , and India Today Images via Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier on Flickr and Shalabh Gupta on Facebook

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Smog-fighting helicopters in Delhi grounded – due to smog

Italy bans the use of animals in circuses

November 13, 2017 by  
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Animal rights activists are winning victories as more countries prohibit animals in circus acts. This month the Italian Parliament adopted legislation to phase out animals in traveling shows and circuses, according to Animal Defenders International (ADI). It’s a big move, as there are an estimated 100 circuses with 2,000 animals in Italy . Italy became the 41st country to pass measures prohibiting animals in circuses. ADI said on their Facebook page that Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini promoted the legislation to phase out animals in circuses. Related: America’s largest animal circus closes after 146 years ADI president Jan Creamer said in a statement, “Traveling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals. Through ADI’s undercover investigations we have shown the violence and abuse that is used to force these animals to obey and perform tricks. We applaud Italy and urge countries like the UK and the US to follow this example and end this cruelty.” It’s not yet clear how Italy’s phase-out will play out; ADI said within a year, Italy will outline how the law will be implemented through a ministerial decree. It’s not yet known how long circuses will have to phase animals out of their shows. ZME Science highlighted some of the issues with animals performing in circuses, pointing to an investigation from researchers at Wageningen University. They found 71 percent of observed animals were experiencing medical issues, and 33 percent of lions and tigers didn’t have access to an outdoor enclosure. They said circus lions spent 98 percent of their time inside on average. Elephants spent 17 hours a day shackled on average, and tigers – though scared of fire – were often forced to jump through flaming hoops. Ireland also stood up for animal rights recently , with a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses that will take effect on January 1, 2018. Via Animal Defenders International ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via Wikimedia Commons and ~Pawsitive~Candie_N on Flickr

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Italy bans the use of animals in circuses

Red Mountain Retreat captures the essence of the rugged Icelandic landscape

November 13, 2017 by  
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The Red Mountain Retreat captures the mystique and mystery of the Icelandic landscape. Johanners Torpe Studios designed the proposal for a spa and wellness retreat that offers an escape from the stresses of everyday life and provides stunning views of a nearby glacier. The resort is located on the Western peninsula of Snæfellsness, where the river meets the sea. It faces a majestic glacier covered stratovolcano and references old Icelandic tales that celebrate the union between man and nature. The design explores the interplay between nature and architecture and aims to facilitate a journey of self-discovery. This is done by exposing the guest to nature in various ways, whilst maintaining a sense of protection and basic principles of shelter. Related: The world’s first 100% solar-powered five-star resort has opened The spa sits at the heart of the resort and captures several natural elements to create wind tunnels, fire baths and ice pools. The outdoor lagoon looks like a natural extension of the river and features shallow passages, areas with currents, and still water pools . Concrete reinterprets the rocky landscape of the surroundings, creating contrasting rough and smooth textures, as well as patterns inspired by those found in the layers of the turf houses. Green roofs references traditional building techniques and intensify the connection between the architecture and nature. + Johannes Torpe Studios [galley]

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Red Mountain Retreat captures the essence of the rugged Icelandic landscape

Street artist paints huge lifelike murals of butterflies

November 2, 2017 by  
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Graffiti artist Mantra is livening up cities with magnificent nature murals . The France-based self-taught painter adorns the sides of buildings and walls with huge murals, and butterflies are a common motif in his work — which has brightened up spaces in France, Spain, Colombia, and Austria. Nature , butterflies, and books often take center stage in Mantra’s lifelike artwork . He’s painted several butterfly murals where the insects appear as three-dimensional mounted specimens surrounded by frames as might be seen in a museum. Other murals feature women with butterfly tattoos, holding butterflies, or wearing blouses with a butterfly print. Related: Provocative street art installation shows baby peering over US-Mexico border wall La Reina del Rio (lost tape) #Bogotá Nov 2015 Drone : @kozmo_films Music : @roccaeloriginal – Con la Luna Album Bogotá/Paris Illustrated from a picture of @juliatrotti Model : @kristinasrzich Gracias a mis hermanos @ospeninkcrew @dexsink y @oxmesoleuno . #freehand #graffiti #spraycanart #noprojector #nojoke A post shared by Mantra (@mantrarea) on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:39pm PDT Butterflies aren’t the only creatures Mantra brings to life. He’s painted a snake, a bird, a grasshopper, an owl, and a cat. He often paints women outside in nature, but one striking mural features a woman reading among dozens of books on shelves. What appear to be stingrays and an owl keep her company in the piece entitled “Curiosity feeds Imagination.” Earlier this year, Street Art United States spoke with Mantra , who’s been creating street art since 2008. They reported he doesn’t use a projector or grid, but sketches out his work freehand. Mantra said he spent as much time as he could outside as a kid, and that frogs, owls, foxes, and reptiles were his superheros. He said he found “a sense of belonging, and a way of self-expression” in graffiti. Mantra also gave advice for aspiring artists in the interview, saying, “Remind yourself that you are here, alive, and all the small lessons hiding in small things surrounding us feed our imagination.” Find more of Mantra’s work on Facebook or Instagram . His art can also be glimpsed in Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, and Seattle. + Mantra Via Street Art United States and TreeHugger Images via Mantra on Facebook

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Street artist paints huge lifelike murals of butterflies

Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

October 26, 2017 by  
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We hear about the issue of ocean plastic a lot, but new photographs visually demonstrate just how pervasive the pollution is. Roatán-based photographer Caroline Power shared pictures on Facebook taken near the Caribbean island belonging to Honduras, revealing what she calls a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam”. Power said, “This has to stop.” Power shared photographs of waves of plastic garbage floating in seaweed in a part of the world we tend to think of as pristine. Pressure group Blue Planet Society said the trash could have come from the Montagua River in Guatemala. Related: Could France-sized ocean garbage patch become 196th nation? Power seems to have posted in hopes of prompting people to think about their own consumption of single-use plastic. She wrote in the Facebook post, “Think about your daily lives. How did you take your food to go last time you ate out? How was your last street food served? Chances are it was styrofoam and served with a plastic fork and then put in a plastic bag. Do you still use plastic garbage bags? Plastic soda bottles? Ziplock bags? Plastic wrap on your food? Do you buy toilet paper that comes wrapped in plastic instead of paper? Do you put your fruit and veggies in produce bags at the grocery?” Power challenged people and businesses to keep their garbage, after sorting out organic and recyclable trash, for a week. She said, “You will be disgusted by how many single-use items you use.” Every single year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans . Plastic pollution isn’t just an eyesore; The Independent quoted statistics saying it’s harming over 600 species around the world. Around 100,000 marine animals and more than one million birds perish because of plastic every year. Surely we can do better? Via Caroline Power and The Independent Images via Caroline Power on Facebook

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Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a "sea of plastic and Styrofoam"

Zaha Hadid Architects futuristic KAPSARC named Saudi Arabias smartest building

October 26, 2017 by  
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Despite its name, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC) is big on renewable energy, as evidenced by its LEED Platinum certification—the first of Zaha Hadid Architects’ projects to receive the title. Located in the Riyadh Plateau, KAPSARC is a non-profit dedicated to studying energy and their environmental impacts. The crystalline and futuristic campus recently opened to the public for Saudi Design Week 2017; the Honeywell Smart Building Awards program named the project Saudi Arabia’s ‘smartest’ building after its many eco-conscious features. Made up of white hexagonal prismatic honeycomb structures, KAPSARC uses its partially modular system to optimize solar orientation, increase connectivity, and maximize daylighting . The building massing and facade optimization helped the structure achieve a 45% reduction in energy performance (compared to the ASHRAE baseline standards), while the solar array that tops a south-facing roof provides renewable energy with a capacity of 5,000MWh per year. “A research centre is by its very nature a forward-looking institution and KAPSARC’s architecture also looks to the future with a formal composition that can be expanded or adapted without compromising the centre’s visual character,” wrote the architects. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects unveils designs for wave-inspired Melbourne apartment tower The 70,000-square-meter campus comprises five buildings: the Energy Knowledge Centre; the Energy Computer Centre; a Conference Centre with exhibition hall and 300-seat auditorium; a Research Library with archives for 100,000 volumes; and the Musalla, an inspirational place for prayer within the campus. Each building differs in size and is flexible enough to adapt to different uses or changes in requirements. The facade features a strong protective shell to shield the interior from the harsh climate. All KAPSARC’s potable water is recycled and reused onsite while all of its irrigation water is used from non-potable sources. Forty percent of the campus’ construction materials were locally sourced and thirty percent of the materials are made with recycled content. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by Hufton + Crow

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Zaha Hadid Architects futuristic KAPSARC named Saudi Arabias smartest building

Natural light floods this solar-powered business school in Frankfurt

October 26, 2017 by  
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According to the World Green Building Council , students score higher on tests and learn up to 26% faster when placed in rooms lit by natural light. Danish practice Henning Larsen Architects took this report to heart when they designed the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, a light-filled academic building that officially opens today. Powered by solar and wind energy, this sustainability-minded business school takes cues from its urban surroundings while setting “new standards for transparent and open learning in the world of business and finance.” Transparency, community, and visibility are key to the design of the 32,790-square-meter Frankfurt School of Finance & Management . To open the school up the urban setting, the architects centered the development around the Street of Knowledge, a long public atrium that echoes The Zeil, one of Frankfurt’s oldest commercial streets. A wide variety of glass-fronted rooms branch off on either side of the Street of Knowledge in two north-south facing volumes that reinforce the atrium’s likeness to a real city street. Above the third floor terrace, these two parallel buildings turn into five offset towers of flexible 400-square-meter office units. Designed to the DGNB Platinum standard, the school reduces demands of primary energy by 60 percent as compared to the German energy saving ordinance (EnEV) standards. Computer simulations and calculations led the architects to optimize the building shape and facade, constructed with a mix of opaque and transparent elements, early on in the design process to minimize energy needs, solar radiation, noise pollution, and wind. Rooftop photovoltaics and a wind turbine supplement energy needs, while rainwater retention systems slow the effects of intense rainfall. The skylight and careful building orientation maximize access to natural light . Related: Frankfurt named the most sustainable city on the planet “As architects we know that light is one of the most important factors for learning,” said Partner and Design Principal at Henning Larsen, Louis Becker. “It helps improving our focus and performance. My hope and ambition is that the varied daylight-filled spaces we have created for Frankfurt School of Finance & Management will contribute to the important task of educating students that will excel within their field and give something back to the city of Frankfurt.” + Henning Larsen Images by Henning Larsen/Karsten Thormaehlen

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Natural light floods this solar-powered business school in Frankfurt

Silicon Valley’s top firms are embracing diversity

September 30, 2017 by  
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Google, HP and Facebook echo the #YesWeCode mission by championing minorities and women in the workplace — but there’s still room for innovation.

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Silicon Valley’s top firms are embracing diversity

What’s the best way to buy renewable energy?

September 21, 2017 by  
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Etsy, Facebook, Google, REI, Starbucks share tales of progress at VERGE17.

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Dubai to expand massive solar park to include world’s tallest solar tower

September 19, 2017 by  
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There are 2.3 million photovoltaic panels at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park near Dubai . And now the massive solar farm is about to get a 700 megawatt (MW) extension, which will include the addition of an 853-foot solar tower , the world’s tallest. The first phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park became operational in 2013 with 13 MW. It now has a capacity of 200 MW, after the second phase was launched in March this year. But the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has big plans for the solar park : by 2020, they plan to increase capacity to 1,000 MW, with the aim to increase that number to 5,000 MW by 2030. The solar park is the world’s biggest single-site concentrated solar power (CSP) project. Related: Phase 3 of world’s largest solar park slated to begin this month DEWA recently awarded the 14.2 billion AED fourth phase of the solar park to a consortium including ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia and Shanghai Electric in China. They won the contract with a bid of 7.3 US cents per kilowatt-hour. DEWA CEO HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer said in a statement, “Our focus on renewable energy generation has led to a drop in prices worldwide and has lowered the price of solar power bids in Europe and the Middle East. This was evident today when we received the lowest CSP project cost in the world.” CSP has been more expensive than traditional solar power in the past, which is one of its downsides. But CSP projects also have the ability to store some of the power as heat for later use. In 2030, the solar park could cover 83 square miles, and slash carbon emissions by 6.5 million metric tons a year. Via New Atlas and Business Wire Images via AETOS Wire and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – DEWA Facebook

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