A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

September 17, 2020 by  
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In the outskirts of Jiaxing, China, a nature reserve has been transformed into a multipurpose recreational zone known as Ginkgo Swan Lake. Named after the inclusion of a ginkgo forest and a human-made lake, the family-friendly park features a small train track that loops around the grounds. Hangzhou-based architecture firm Hexia Architects recently completed Ginkgo Swan Lake’s second train station, which comprises a pair of eco-friendly timber buildings designed to highlight the outdoor landscape. Located in the Xiusui New District of Jiaxing in an area rich in both ecological resources and traditional culture, Ginkgo Swan Lake was created to celebrate a harmonious coexistence of ecology, nature and art . The park comprises a gridded ginkgo forest, a train track that loops around the lake, an art museum, an ecological bird island and a water village. Hexia Architects, which has been involved with multiple aspects of the park project, recently completed the second train station that serves as a multifunctional space for visitors of all ages. Related: Tiered timber tea house embraces a Chinese ginkgo forest The train station consists of two timber-and-glass buildings. To the south of the train tracks is the building with a reception and information desk that is flanked by amphitheater -like seating on either side and the main bathroom facilities behind it. The second floor includes child-friendly spaces including sunken ball pits, a small library and cloud-like seating. The building on the other side of the train tracks features a more flexible layout for pop-up stores, exhibitions and other gatherings. A pair of curved white staircases — dubbed the “White Towers” — lead up to two loft spaces for overlooking the double-height hall. Instead of steel or concrete, the architects opted to build the train station buildings with timber to reduce the carbon emissions of the project. All the technical equipment, such as the HVAC, are skillfully hidden to keep the focus on the exposed wooden structures. The architects explained, “We made two large space with wood structure to break a common misunderstanding in China that a wooden building is either an ancient building or a small building.” + Hexia Architects Photography by Gushang Culture via Hexia Architects

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A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

The daily life of a tree farmer with One Tree Planted

August 21, 2020 by  
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Trees make the world a better place for humans by providing shade, sequestering CO2 , intercepting airborne particles, aiding respiratory health and adding great beauty to this planet we call home. Because trees do so much for us, planting more of them is an eco-strategy touted by many environmental organizations. But what’s it really like spending your workday growing, planting and caring for trees? To find out, we talked to a Zach Clark-Lee, a professional tree farmer who works with the environmental charity One Tree Planted. Founded in 2014, One Tree Planted works on reforestation projects in North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Some of its goals are to restore forests after natural disasters, create jobs and enhance biodiversity . The organization figures that it costs approximately $1 to grow and plant a tree, from land prep to maintaining and monitoring the planted tree. So if you have a dollar, you can sponsor a tree through One Tree Planted’s website. Or learn more about planting some trees yourself. Related: Nonprofit plants 80,000 trees in Kenya and Rwanda Here’s what Clark-Lee had to say about working with One Tree Planted. Inhabitat: What and where is your job, and how did you become affiliated with One Tree Planted? Clark-Lee: I work for the Colorado State Forest Service Seedling Nursery in Fort Collins, Colorado as a tree farmer . I took a tour of the nursery while in school, and I immediately fell in love with their mission and passion. I started as a volunteer in 2014 for about 4-5 weeks and then was offered a seasonal position. One year later, I started training to become the container production supervisor. Now, this is not the only hat that I wear. I’m the volunteer coordinator for the nursery, a licensed drone flier, tree planter and tour guide. Giving tours is how I became affiliated with One Tree Planted. I connected with their mission and values right away and then started growing trees for their vast projects. I’ve gotten a significant number of trees in the ground by working with One Tree Planted and have connected with some fantastic people along the way. Inhabitat: What was your motivation behind getting involved in the industry? Clark-Lee: To be completely honest, my motivation at first was completely selfish. I just wanted to be able to work outside. The more I learned during my hands-on experience, the more I realized how important my work and the work of the nursery was. My motivation adapted quickly. While I still love the fact that I get to work outside, I’m driven by a purpose, a want and a need to make our world a better place. Ultimately, I want to ensure my kids and future generations all over the world have a thriving planet to call home. Inhabitat: How many trees do you cultivate yearly? Clark-Lee: We sell roughly 500,000 native trees , perennials, shrubs and grasses every year. These plants have so many different applications such as going to post-fire/flood affected areas, building habitats, erosion control, creating living snow fences and windbreaks and more. Inhabitat: What’s a typical day like for you? Clark-Lee: I arrive at 6:45 in the morning and get our crew rolling for the day. We may be seeding, transplanting, weeding or getting orders ready for distribution. Every day that I’m on the farm, I get to nurture our plants to help others and Mother Nature. The days are long, and sometimes more challenging than others, but I experience a constant rewarding feeling from my work. A feeling that makes me want to get up and do it again day after day. Home is an interesting concept for me. The nursery is really my second residence, and after a long day on the 130-acre farm, I get to go to my  actual  home and spend time with my family. Inhabitat: What happens after you’ve grown the trees, and where do they go? Clark-Lee: We grow and sell trees for many different reasons. Some of our plants are going to areas that may have been impacted by devastating fires or floods . Some may be for habitat rehabilitation and animal corridors that house birds, lions, bobcats, pollinators and more. We also have specific projects for a number of different conservation efforts, like helping reservations restore their land or helping farmers/landowners with windbreaks or living snow fences to better manage their properties. Inhabitat: Do you plant trees yourself? Why? Clark-Lee: Yes, we plant the trees ourselves, mainly to ensure the success, health and beauty of the tree planting. We want our plants to help Colorado and surrounding states be as healthy and prosperous as we all know they can be. We also plant species on our property for seed increase, when seed may be hard to get your hands on. Inhabitat: Where have you planted trees? Clark-Lee: I have started my own plantings on the “High Park” burn scar, just outside of Fort Collins. I saw this site and realized that not many people were planting there. So, I took it upon myself to change that. With the help of One Tree Planted, I was able to purchase the trees from the nursery and get started. Planting is a passion of mine, and I cannot wait for the pandemic to end so that I can return to the forest with my volunteers. Inhabitat: What wild animals have you seen in the field? Clark-Lee: I have seen amazing wildlife , like mountain lions, bobcats, eagles, hawks and owls. Inhabitat: What do you like the most about working in the industry? Clark-Lee: What I like most about working in the industry is the like-minded people I have the opportunity to connect with. Volunteers are truly a different type of breed — an amazing one! They are happy to get out in the hot sun and traverse all kinds of terrain just to put trees in the ground. Volunteers don’t do it for the money, they do it because they are passionate about the cause and want to help. Inhabitat: How long have you done this work, and how long do you plan to do it? Clark-Lee: I have been doing this work for almost 7 years now, and I don’t think I could be any happier doing anything else. I have been able to grow and plant trees for the world’s health and help others find their path in this industry. Inhabitat: What else should readers know about your work? Clark-Lee: Passion is the ultimate driver for my work. If you’re looking for ways to help fight climate change , or get involved in your own community, you can start with planting trees. Get out and volunteer for an hour or two, or 10 hours, or a whole week. Do it until passion slaps you across the face. You might discover something in you that you never knew you had. Inhabitat: What are your hopes for the future of forests, and how does your work contribute to that? Clark-Lee: I hope that I can pass my torch to the future generations with a smile and know that we are in safe hands. I hope that my passion rubs off on people from all walks of life. I want my work to instill hope in others. Trees are the answer, and don’t let anyone forget it. See professional tree planters in action in this video from One Tree Planted. + One Tree Planted Images via Jplenio , George Bakos and Siggy Nowak

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The daily life of a tree farmer with One Tree Planted

How Everland is changing the eco-retreat scene

August 12, 2020 by  
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Imagine a place full of cutting-edge art, gorgeous community spaces, comfortable accommodations for everyone in the family and lots of opportunities to learn, explore and have fun. This is exactly what Everland Art Park is striving to become. Everland is designed to be a complete eco-retreat and immersive art park that everyone can enjoy. Here, you can truly immerse yourself in a world of art . You can find tranquility, explore your own creativity, discover nature and maybe even take a nap in a hammock. Everland is designed to be an eco-friendly retreat that’s all about connecting with and celebrating nature, something that humans forget how to do all too often. Related: Truly get away from it all at this gorgeous eco-resort and yoga retreat What is an art park? One of Everland’s main goals is to be an immersive art park filled with large-scale installations and other artworks of all kinds. The design is meant to surround you with art. Here, nature is part of the display itself. The natural world isn’t just a backdrop, it is part of the decor and a bigger part of the experience. Artists from all around the world have been working with Everland to create amazing art installations. These installations are connected through a trail network that will take you through different zones of the art park. Themed pieces will make you gasp, stare and even think deeply about issues like human archetypes, symbology, rites of passage and self-exploration. Even the trails are artist-created so that the journey itself is part of the artistic experience. You’ll go through various interactive storylines while you’re walking through Everland. The paths will take you through forests, past treehouses , into nature nests and along large-scale artworks. You’ll read messages and poems as you walk through the park, too. There are several different paths to choose from, depending on the type of journey you want. Take the Elder’s Path, the Inner Child’s Path, the Visionary’s Path, the Steward’s path, the Sky Path, the Earth Path or the Inner Path. Each one tells a different story and provides you with a different experience. Eco-retreat Everland strives to be more than a place where you can look at art. This is also an amazing eco-retreat. You can book traditional lodgings or camp out in tents, depending on the experience you want to have. Choose from traditional camping to glamping to relaxing in a comfortable cabin . The materials used to construct the lodgings are thoughtfully sourced, and the entire design is meant to go with the flow of nature, not against it. There are also lots of ways to play and enjoy nature here. There are meditation nooks everywhere, plenty of streams and ponds to explore, beautiful landscapes and several trails. Everland uses repurposed and upcycled materials to create play spaces and public spaces to enhance the natural world rather than take away from it. In total, Everland encompasses 145 acres of gorgeous landscape about 45 minutes outside of Denver, Colorado. Being eco-friendly is about using what is readily available in nature — resources that can be renewed through natural growth cycles. This eco-retreat is a great reminder that anyone can live a little more sustainably every day simply by using what is already around and what is renewable. Amenities The Retreat Center has 9,500 square feet full of gathering spaces. This center includes a community kitchen and dining area, two large meeting rooms and 13 private retreat rooms that all have their own exit to the rest of the retreat. Beautiful, rustic decor creates stunning places to relax, all set against the amazing natural backdrop of the Colorado wilderness. Everland is surrounded by national forests. The grounds include natural ponds and streams, a wetlands area, an outdoor amphitheater, the boulder fields and plenty of winding hiking, biking and walking trails. A dream deferred The spread of COVID-19 throughout the world put many plans for Everland on hold. However, this amazing art park and eco-retreat is on track to open for summer 2021 and will continue to expand as the years progress. Artists from around the world are still collaborating with Everland to create a unique place unlike any other on Earth. This eco-friendly retreat is all about connecting to nature and to the creative spirit. It’s a wonderful, beautiful way to relax and a great reminder that nature is meant to be enjoyed and celebrated. + Everland Photography by Jeff Jones Photography via Everland

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How Everland is changing the eco-retreat scene

Remembering Flex exec Bruce Klafter

July 27, 2020 by  
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Remembering Flex exec Bruce Klafter pete may Mon, 07/27/2020 – 01:45 Longtime GreenBiz friend Bruce Klafter died July 18 after a short and intense bout of pancreatic cancer. Bruce most recently was a vice president of sustainability strategy and outreach at Flex in Silicon Valley. GreenBiz co-founder and President Pete May reflects on his interaction with Bruce over the years. And below, we provide memories of Bruce from many of his friends and collaborators in the sustainability community. In the course of a business career, you meet colleagues who are smart, or kind, or just really good at what they do. Bruce Klafter was all of those things.  I first met Bruce in 2007. Joel Makower and I had just founded GreenBiz Group (then called Greener World Media). I was very actively getting out to meet practitioners in what was then the emerging field of sustainable business. Bruce at that time was managing director, corporate responsibility and sustainability at Applied Materials — then and now a massive player in materials engineering for the semiconductor and solar photovoltaic industries. Bruce was engaging, warm, thoughtful and way farther along the journey in sustainability and environmental, health and safety issues than most people I spoke with back then. ( Read his 2013 interview , when he “retired” from Applied Materials, in which he recounts his professional journey to that point.) Over the years, I got to know Bruce and I considered him a friend. We even got together to play tennis once and he roundly thrashed me. He was in good shape but, more tellingly, he was strategic in how he played — just as he was in his day job. In typical Bruce fashion, he offered no trash-talking after; he instead commended me on my game and noted what I needed to work on.  Bruce left his handprints all over the industry, a hand that was always advancing good. Bruce was always a big fan of GreenBiz — our website, our team and our events. He was always diplomatic but he didn’t shrink from giving detailed, measured and constructive feedback. I can still hear him, with his Chicago accent, saying, “Yeah, that article on LCA was good, but I think you could have gone deeper on …” Or “I thought the conference was good this year, and your team always does a professional job, but I thought the mainstage speakers could have been better.” Or without arrogance, “I thought some of the sessions were too 101.” Feedback from Bruce was always valuable, never trite, never superficial and never a stroke to one’s ego. I always walked away thinking “Yeah, we can really improve in this or that area.” Engaging with and giving back to the community always came easily for Bruce. He was present at most every sustainability gathering in the San Francisco Bay Area and often farther afield — as a speaker or just an attendee. He lectured at the Presidio School of Management and was integrally involved with Acterra, SASB, GRI and other sustainability leadership organizations. Bruce was present at leading conferences such as GreenBiz, VERGE and BSR. He always had time for early career professionals who sought his advice.  In 2013, Bruce joined Flex, the giant multinational electronics contract manufacturer, where he most recently was vice president of sustainability strategy and outreach. Over the years, we would meet up regularly at Flex headquarters in San Jose, where Bruce would share insights about the company and the industry. When I saw him in January, we spent some time in the cafeteria. We talked about work and he gave me advice on how GreenBiz should deal with Flex. When I asked him about his family, he lit up, speaking so proudly of his kids.  By that time Bruce was dealing with a challenge way bigger than any challenge in his career: pancreatic cancer. And he was doing it with courage, in his own quiet measured way,  Bruce attended our GreenBiz 20 in Phoenix in February. He later confided in me that that was where the cancer treatments really started to affect him. I last saw him at our VERGE Host Committee meeting at Cisco Systems in late February, just weeks before the world shut down for COVID-19. He participated actively, passionately describing Flex’s work in the circular economy and other topics. During a break, he expressed a quiet confidence in how he was dealing with his illness.  From the calm way he described it, I never imagined that was the last time I would see him. But it was. And that hurts.  Bruce was personally warm and engaging, intelligent, blessed with a sense of humor and dedicated to the work of building bridges and bringing change. On July 21, his family held a beautiful and moving ceremony. With more than 200 friends and colleagues tuning in by Zoom, the officiating rabbi, along with Bruce’s spouse, son and daughter, described a caring father and husband known for his humble, caring and unassuming manner.  Cancer is cruel. It often takes the best among us. Like Bruce Klafter.  Bruce, you were loved and will be sorely missed by the team at GreenBiz Group, and by the sustainability community all around us.   The Klafter family has requested that any donations in his name go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network , dedicated to fighting the world’s toughest cancer. Below are a handful of memories from members of the sustainability community who Bruce touched. Eric Austermann, Vice President, Social and Environmental Responsibility, Jabil Deepest condolences to Bruce’s family. I’ve known Bruce since the early beginnings of the Responsible Business Alliance (EICC when we first connected). Bruce was an outstanding person, with contagious impact. Bruce left his handprints all over the industry, a hand that was always advancing good.  Evident by our respective companies, Bruce and I were direct competitors. Bruce’s intellect, gentle (but very effective) passion and overall leadership at Flex inspired a healthy competitiveness that, frankly, raised the bar for all.  Peggy Brannigan, Global Senior Program Manager, Environmental Sustainability, LinkedIn I also want to share my appreciation for Bruce. I worked with him on the Acterra Business Environmental Awards program, and from the first time we met, I benefited from his generous welcoming spirit and his kindness. He was purposeful and had a big impact but always sensitive to taking good care of the relationships with people. Bruce Hartsough, former director of sustainability, Intuit; Board Chair, Bay Nature I was deeply saddened to hear that Bruce Klafter had passed. I met him when we were both members of the GreenBiz Executive Network (GBEN) at the time that he was leading Sustainability at Applied Materials while I was doing likewise for Intuit. Bruce was personally warm and engaging, intelligent, blessed with a sense of humor and dedicated to the work of building bridges and bringing change. He was one of the nicest people that I met during that time, and afterwards I was always glad to catch up with him at some of the nonprofit events that we were both involved in. I’m truly sorry that he has left us. In a situation where some would resort to divisiveness, aggression, preconceived opinions or determination to outshine all others, Bruce did none of those things. Ellen Jackowski, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer, HP Inc. Bruce was one of the best in our business and his legacy will live on for generations. He contributed to so many solutions, co-developed important pathways forward and did everything with such intention and openness to create change within our industry. I will miss Bruce’s friendship, and will never forget him or his passion to create a better world. Cecily Joseph, Board Chair Net Impact; former vice president, Corporate Responsibility, Symantec My heart aches for Bruce’s family. Bruce was a mentor and friend to many in the sustainability space including me. He was always so kind and gracious. When we last met, I recall him speaking so very proudly of his children. He will be missed. Mike Mielke, Senior Vice President, Environment and Energy, Silicon Valley Leadership Group Bruce was my first professional mentor upon my arrival in Silicon Valley. I had heard so much about him before our meeting, and I was nervous that first time. Bruce, although he offered me some really helpful and point-blank advice, did so with such insight, thoughtfulness and kindness, that I knew right there and then I wanted to work however and whenever I could with this sharp, experienced, kind and witty man. I must confess I was overcome with grief when I learned of his passing. But I am comforted by the knowledge that Bruce positively touched and affected the lives of so many people — more than he could possibly know. Life is short and precious, and we should try our best to take advantage of the time we have to make a real difference however we can. That is what he taught me, and I believe Bruce tried to live every day that way. Adam Stern, former director, Acterra Many people talk about corporate environmental sustainability. Bruce lived and breathed it and made it happen. He was a brilliant strategist and an inspiring leader for all of us in the field. May his memory be a blessing. Kathrin Winkler, former chief sustainability officer, EMC; Editor-at-Large, GreenBiz In a situation where some would resort to divisiveness, aggression, preconceived opinions or determination to outshine all others, Bruce did none of those things. He was thoughtful, kind, open to others’ perspectives, willing to listen and with his calm demeanor, able to bring peace.  Pull Quote Bruce was personally warm and engaging, intelligent, blessed with a sense of humor and dedicated to the work of building bridges and bringing change. Bruce left his handprints all over the industry, a hand that was always advancing good. In a situation where some would resort to divisiveness, aggression, preconceived opinions or determination to outshine all others, Bruce did none of those things. Topics Corporate Strategy Leadership GreenBiz Executive Network 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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Remembering Flex exec Bruce Klafter

It will take personal sustainability to meet the global challenges we face

July 6, 2020 by  
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It will take personal sustainability to meet the global challenges we face Chris Gaither Mon, 07/06/2020 – 02:15 Earth Day, when we remember the planet’s fragility and resilience, was when I finally understood that I had nothing left to give. It was April 2017. After two decades of striving in my career, I had risen to a role of great impact: a director on Apple’s Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives team. My boss, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, had entrusted me with orchestrating the company’s annual Earth Day celebration. And, wow, had we stepped up our game that year. We released a 58-page environmental responsibility report and a series of animated videos about Apple’s environmental achievements, posing curious questions such as “Do solar farms feed yaks?” We turned the leaf on our logo green at hundreds of Apple stores around the world. Even bolder, we announced ambitions to make Apple products out of entirely recycled or renewable materials. I drank beer and hugged the brilliant people from so many Apple teams who had pulled all of this off. I smiled. But mostly, I wanted to fall into bed. To inspire Apple employees, we created an hour-long presentation for Lisa to deliver in Town Hall, the campus theater where the first iPhone was announced. And we brought musician Jason Mraz to play an Earth Day concert on the green lawns of One Infinite Loop. Whew. Surrounded by thousands of my colleagues as Mraz performed, I drank beer and hugged the brilliant people from so many Apple teams who had pulled all of this off. I smiled. But mostly, I wanted to fall into bed. Insistent inner voice That wasn’t new. The enormity of my job, leading strategy and engagement for Lisa’s team, usually left me exhausted — especially after Earth Day, when I felt like one of Santa’s elves just after Christmas. What was different? This time, when I told myself I’d bounce back soon, I knew I was lying. Underneath my sheen of accomplishment and pride, a quiet and insistent inner voice told me I was depleted. Cooked. Burned out. That voice was right. As May deepened, so did my sadness and fatigue. The physical and emotional crisis overwhelmed me. Nearly every day, I sat in my glass-walled office and tried to avoid eye contact with my colleagues so they wouldn’t see my tears. I felt like I was failing at everything. I couldn’t gain any momentum on projects. My well of creative energy had run dry. My body no longer allowed me to pretend that this hard-charging life was right for me. Previous injuries flared up, sending lightning bolts of pain along the nerves in my hands, feet and back. As I tried to ignore the pain, my body kept turning up the volume: a 3 out of 10, then a 4, then a 7. My body seemed to be asking, “Can you hear me now?” The pain reached a 10 that spring of 2017. And still I tried to soldier on. Don’t be an idiot, I told myself. Your boss served President Barack Obama, and now she reports to Tim Cook. You have a wonderful team. You have a great title and lots of stock in the world’s most valuable company. Even better, you get to tell stories of the powerful work Apple is doing on climate action, resource conservation, natural-disaster relief and HIV prevention. You show others what’s possible. You become what Robert Kennedy (whose photo hangs on the wall of Tim’s office, alongside Martin Luther King Jr.’s) called a “ripple of hope,” spreading inspiration through customers, investors, suppliers, policymakers and industry. Listening to your spirit So what if you feel down? Most people would kill for this job. Suck it up. Here’s the thing: You can’t think your way through an existential crisis. You can’t talk your way out of burnout. You need to listen, deeply, to your spirit. You need to honor what it’s telling you. And my spirit was telling me something profound: For the previous few years, I’d devoted myself to corporate and planetary sustainability. But along the way, I’d completely lost my human sustainability. Only when I hit the depths of my crisis did I understand that I needed to quit the job I’d worked so hard to get. Only when I hit the depths of my crisis did I understand that I needed to quit the job I’d worked so hard to get. I’d let the burnout go for so long that stepping off the corporate treadmill was the only way I could truly recuperate from the punishment of two decades of high-stress work, long commutes, poor health habits and time away from my family. So that’s what I did. I sat across from Lisa in her office, swallowed hard past the lump in my throat and told her I was leaving to recover my well-being. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I haven’t regretted it for a moment. In the three years since, I’ve come back to life. I’ve gotten well. I’ve crafted a career of purpose and meaning. I’m an executive coach who helps leaders — especially environmental sustainability leaders — nourish and inspire themselves so they can keep doing the work they love. Why am I telling you this story? Because, my friends, I see myself in you. I see you suffering under the weight of the environmental crisis. I see you struggling with weariness, depression and burnout. I see you decide you can’t take a day off when the planet is burning. I see you sacrifice your own sustainability for planetary sustainability. I get it. You keep going because you have a big heart. You’re called to do this work, maybe by your love of wildlife or natural places, or by a deep desire for racial and economic equality. The problem is, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy or creativity that you need to do great work. And great work, maybe even transcendent work, is critical right now. That’s why I’m starting this series with GreenBiz. I’ll be writing regularly about ways you can tend to your human sustainability. Purpose. Love. Natural beauty. Breath. Poetry. Stillness. Rest. I’ll use as examples things my clients and I get right, things I get wrong (so, so wrong) and things I still struggle with every day. My hope is that you’ll reconnect with that wise voice inside you, and the spark that brings you most alive, so you can be at your absolute best. Because, to find solutions to our most pressing problems, the world needs you at your best. Pull Quote I drank beer and hugged the brilliant people from so many Apple teams who had pulled all of this off. I smiled. But mostly, I wanted to fall into bed. Only when I hit the depths of my crisis did I understand that I needed to quit the job I’d worked so hard to get. Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The author with Lisa Jackson at the Apple campus, Earth Day 2017. Photo courtesy of Chris Gaither.

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It will take personal sustainability to meet the global challenges we face

This sustainable Jackson Hole residence has a LED-lit indoor slide

July 2, 2020 by  
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The Jackson Tech House not only has spectacular views of the Teton Range from its location high on a double sloped site, but it also has a number of unique and sustainable features. The style of the exterior incorporates a modern-yet-rustic look with natural moss rock and unpainted corral board wood siding, while the inside contains surprising features such as heated ramps and an indoor slide. The project was designed by Cushing Terrell and Hoyt Architects . The multiple layers of the home that hug the surrounding terrain are connected by heated concrete ramps, and the main level connects to a recreation room with an indoor slide embedded with color-changing LED lights . Related: Passive House-inspired home ushers in spectacular Grand Tetons views For added sustainability, there are solar panels incorporated into the design as well as a number of green roofs and sustainable furnishing materials, including dark wood, concrete and steel accents. Some of the custom features in the Jackson Tech House include flat-screen panels inlaid into the entryway floor and an adjustable system of chainmail shade curtains that work on a trolly. The inlaid floor screens can be used to display artwork, photos or other images. There is a pair of triple-stacked bunk beds in one bedroom; another bedroom holds two sets of bunk beds near a corner window with views of the rugged terrain outside. The yard that surrounds the front door is landscaped with drought-resistant plants and succulents. Outside, a Pickard steam injection pizza oven is included in the outdoor kitchen and dining space so that the owners can make and enjoy meals while enjoying the beautiful views of the Wyoming mountains. Inside, the kitchen features an extra-long bar island with a gas range and hood, stainless steel appliances and hardwood flooring on a raised platform. In the family room, which opens up into the kitchen, a mechanized fireplace has doors that slide up and out to stay hidden when not in use, and there is a designated slot for firewood. + Cushing Terrell Photography by Gibeon Photography via Cushing Terrell

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This sustainable Jackson Hole residence has a LED-lit indoor slide

Parent shares process of making life-size board game from cardboard

June 25, 2020 by  
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Every parent can attest that kids often enjoy playing with the box a gift comes in more than the gift itself, and who’s to blame them? Plain old cardboard offers endless opportunities to create costumes, doll houses and massive, interactive board games. With this in mind, Luanga Lue Nuwame went straight to the recycling pile when looking for boredom busters for his household during the pandemic. The result turned their entire living room into a real life game. The best part is, since the family has already hammered out a basic design, you can replicate this upcycled project at home. The inventor commented that this is a “transforming modular game that can be configured into an infinite number of ways.” The Big Sunny Board Game Challenge is more than a game; it’s an adventure. First came the actual building of game pieces, requiring precise cutting of the octagonal floor spaces, each colored and given its own activity icon. Even rolling the dice is a game in itself with giant dice that bounce across the room. At this point, strategy kicks in while the player moves the homemade, life-size cardboard cutout the distance of one die and moves their body the distance of the other die. Related: Get serious about climate change with this board game Once on a new game space, players must participate in the listed activity. Of course, creators of the game can make these spaces represent their own interests, but The Big Sunny Board Game Challenge features a chore challenge, dance-off, safe space, roll again, trivia space and more. Perhaps your board could include other recycling projects and other environmentally friendly activities. During the process of building the game board, the creator produced a series of explanatory videos on YouTube’s Homemade Game Guru — a channel dedicated to showing viewers how to make creations out of cardboard. With the game complete, he’s also included the first father/daughter game challenge to explain how the game works. To create your own The Big Sunny Board Game Challenge, start saving your cardboard, brainstorm some game “tasks” and get cutting. + Luanga Lue Nuwame Images via Luanga Lue Nuwame

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Solar-powered bungalow in Australia promotes indoor-outdoor living

June 24, 2020 by  
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This bungalow-style home combines a thermal chimney system with solar power to improve energy efficiency. The young family who bought the original home wanted to present the rest of their community with a welcomed sense of connection through indoor-outdoor living, multiple entryways and a large-scale colorful mural on the side of the house. The two-level project in Melbourne, Australia was led by Gardiner Architects and completed in 2018. The thermal chimney effect is achieved by having the two stories spaced around the home’s stairwell, so that cool air is drawn from below and exhausted at the top. Sheet metal and shiplap cover the exterior. There are also solar panels fitted to the roof and a skylight to bring natural light inside. The brick wall, which runs down the middle of the building, works thermally as a heat sink and cool sink, while the concrete floor and efficient insulation provides additional assistance in thermal regulation. Despite only having ceiling fans and no air conditioning, the temperature inside remains comfortable throughout the year, even during the summer months. Related: Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions The home incorporates three different zones: the children’s bedroom upstairs, the adult bedroom downstairs and the living spaces toward the back. A main, informal living space and sporadic communal spaces provide plenty of opportunities for activities, and an additional ground-level common area has the flexibility to be used as a study, homework room or space for long-term projects, such as artwork or puzzles. This concept adds to the sustainability elements of the home, as the designers are able to provide more amenities in a smaller footprint. As with most homes with young children, the clients wanted a house that would help center the family around the kitchen. Because the family enjoys gardening with herbs and vegetables, making kombucha, bee keeping and preserving fruit, they wanted a large, open kitchen that connected to the dining and living spaces and also the backyard. A sizable kitchen window opens to a butler’s pantry, and large glass doors open to the deck. Windows in the living room are designed to fold back, allowing inside activities to merge with outdoor ones with ease and creating the ability to connect larger gatherings of neighbors or family. A green roof was incorporated as an extension of garden space and a spot for the family to keep their bees. + Gardiner Architects Via Houzz Photography by Rory Gardiner via Gardiner Architects

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Solar-powered bungalow in Australia promotes indoor-outdoor living

Plastic rain is contaminating protected habitats

June 24, 2020 by  
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The term “pristine” environment is no longer applicable even to the most remote locations on Earth. Recent research has established that plastic rain is now pouring in the most protected areas in the western U.S. The research, which was published in the journal Science , reveals that 11 protected areas in the western U.S. receive rain that is contaminated with plastic microparticles. Over a period of 14 months, the researchers collected rainwater samples across 11 areas that are known to have the most pristine environments. The rainwater in these protected areas was found to be highly contaminated with plastic particles. The researchers revealed that the 11 protected areas receive over 1,000 metric tons of microplastic each year. Related: Record high amount of microplastic found on seafloors Research director and environmental scientist Janice Brahney of Utah University said, “We just did that for the area of protected areas in the West, which is only 6 percent of the total U.S. area.” Brahney’s comments indicate that plastic rain might be a much bigger problem in areas that are not protected. This research confirms a situation that is already spreading around the world. In recent years, several studies have found increasing amounts of microplastics in rainwater, especially in protected habitats, like the French Pyrenees and the Arctic . When microplastics mix with rain, they freely flow into rivers and oceans. Consequently, they affect the natural environment and the lifespan of many species. Scientists are now saying that plastic rain is a much more complex problem than acid rain. In the past few decades, the increase in the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere resulted in acid rain in many parts of the world. Thankfully, efforts to control the emission of these gases have reduced acid rain significantly. Unfortunately, the microplastic problem is not one that can be solved overnight. We do not have a proper mechanism to trap the microplastics in the atmosphere. Even stopping the production of plastic today will only be half of the solution. To worsen the situation, the world still produces and uses plastics in large amounts. A Consultancy McKinsey publication reports that plastic waste is expected to rise from 260 million tons in 2020 to about 460 million tons in 2030. Although the research on plastic rain was only conducted in a handful of locations, it shows the gravity of the situation. If action is not taken to control the production and use of plastics, we are looking at a future where both water and air will be full of microplastics. + Science Via Wired Image via Dennis Kleine

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Plastic rain is contaminating protected habitats

How we can fight the pandemic by embracing circularity

June 12, 2020 by  
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How we can fight the pandemic by embracing circularity Garry Cooper Fri, 06/12/2020 – 01:30 Throughout the pandemic response, a key issue has been a lack of communication and coordination to get personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies to where they are most needed, with many areas of the country suffering from severe resource shortages as a result. The only truly successful solution has been, and will continue to be, to strategically adopt two core elements of a circular economy model: reuse and resource sharing. The key goals of the circular economy are ” designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems .” Unlike in our current linear economic model, which generally discards materials once used, the circular economy enables more value to be extracted from an item by eschewing the “take-make-waste” pattern. In a situation where supply is limited, the circular model gets far more use out of the same supply. While the need for a circular economy has been growing for decades, especially as the impacts of climate change have begun to loom larger, this pandemic has caused that need to increase dramatically. Taking on the circularity principles of reuse and resource sharing — and equally important, having a more coordinated approach around those efforts — is critical for directing supplies to the places where there is the greatest need in a timely and equitable fashion. My company, Rheaply, has pivoted our resource-sharing technology to aid in this approach. In partnership with the city of Chicago, we built Chicago PPE Market , a platform that provides small businesses and nonprofits access to a network of local manufacturers and suppliers of PPE at cost-controlled rates, helping them protect their staff and prevent further spread of the virus. Within the first week of the platform going live, we onboarded 1,555 small businesses, with over 165,000 listings and 2,100 transactions for items such as face coverings, protective shields and various sanitizers. Yet we are just one company contributing to the efforts to fight the pandemic. To truly fight the virus, we must all adopt a circularity approach, sharing physical resources and human capital. Even beyond the pandemic, this approach will allow us to more efficiently and cooperatively operate as a global community. The first step is to change the way we think about the resources we have. To do so, we must do the following: Establish a community-oriented mindset.  With healthcare professionals advising “social distancing,” we are all keeping physically distant from others, even as states begin to reopen. Mentally, however, distancing is a way of making people think more about others. You distance yourself to protect everyone, not just yourself. We have to think about fighting this virus as a team effort, not as something that just healthcare professionals can do.  We also have to think about that “team” more broadly. To combat the virus effectively, the team has to be made up of your family, your friends, your co-workers, your neighbors, your city, your state, your country — the global community. For most people, the most effective way to help the team is to practice social distancing in order to prevent the spread of disease. But for those with the power to do so, it is imperative to think about the broader team and allow for human capital and medical supplies to be allocated to places where the need is greatest now, while also planning for sufficient healthcare workers and PPE to fight the virus when it spikes in new areas. Think about the resources you have that might help others. There may be other ways to help that may surprise you.  Check your cabinets . Consider what resources you might have in your home or business. If you’re a dentist whose practice has been forced to temporarily close or whose practice has a surplus of supplies that could benefit healthcare providers, consider donating or selling those items to institutions in need. If you’re a graduate student working in a lab, think about the gloves, gowns and masks you’re not currently using and donate them. If you’re not in charge of the supplies at your organization, make the case to your superiors for donating supplies. Think about your skills . Not all resources are tangible. If you’re someone who is healthy, consider how your skills could be used as resources to benefit others. One example would be people who have put their sewing skills to work to make masks. Another would be individuals who use 3D printers to make PPE . Pivot your business . If you’re a manufacturer or other business owner, think about how your business could alter its offering to make a difference. If you have the resources and access to certain supply chains, you may be able to shift to manufacturing PPE. Businesses ranging from hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer to fashion brands have begun creating masks. You might be surprised to see how your business’s strengths could be directed toward fighting the virus.  If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. Think about using, not owning, resources.  Question the way you think about items. Plenty of items don’t need to be owned, but instead just used for a period of time (properly decontaminated N95 masks or face shields) — you may have items that could be reused by those currently in greater need. Ask yourself, “What is the true value of idle resources that I’ve put aside?” If you’re not using an item, then it is of little value to you, whereas it may be of great value to someone else. For items that should not be reused (gloves), think about how much of these items you actually need. Ask yourself, “Do I need this many gloves right now?” In many cases, your need is probably less dire than the need of overwhelmed healthcare providers.   At the same time, we also should be thoughtful about how we treat and value the skills of our healthcare workers. Those who oversee healthcare providers can’t think of healthcare providers as belonging exclusively to certain institutions; instead, they have to think about them as having transferable skills that could provide a huge benefit to institutions and communities around the country and the world.  If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. If you lend a hand now, then others will be more willing to help you when you are in need. These times are tough, and it’s easy to start feeling helpless. But practicing and advocating for the principles of a circular economy are crucial ways to help. You have the power to make a difference. Let’s get started. Pull Quote If we spread this way of thinking, both about supplies and human capital, then we can create a system where we all can rely on each other. Topics Circular Economy Corporate Strategy Climate Strategy Reuse Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Rows of N95 respiratory mask, used as personal protective equipment. Shutterstock Faizzamal Close Authorship

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