Netherlands’ massive vault of sustainability and art

October 11, 2021 by  
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Located in Amersfoort, Netherlands, the CollectionCentre Netherlands (CC NL) designed by cepezed architects is a masterpiece of modern architectural design . From the impressive exterior design, to the functionality of the collection center, the CC NL is a true reflection of the future. The building was officially launched on September 13, 2021 by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid Van Engleshoven. With a storage space of about 30, 000 square meters, the building is home to over 500, 000 pieces of art and historical objects , including artifacts, evidence, paintings, jewelry, clothing and furniture. The CC NL holds pieces from the Rijksmuseum, Netherlands Open Air Museum, Paleis Het Loo and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Related: Sculptural roof tops eco-minded Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts expansion CC NL is designed in three sections: the ”head,” ”neck” and ”trunk.” The “neck” is the busiest of the three sections of the building, functioning as workshops where all the objects are processed, shaped and preserved before being transferred to storage rooms. It is also home to the freezer room, oxygen-free area, photo studio and X-ray room. The “head,” on the other hand, contains the entrance and walkways. Lastly, the ”trunk” forms the most co-pact part of the collection center. The CC NL has four stories with large pans for the storage of key objects. The storage in this section features maximum protection and also has small fire compartments. It has rooms with highly classified information stored under special rooms in special facilities. The aim of the building is to achieve durable, sustainable and beautiful preservation of history. To achieve this, the designers constructed the building with special rooms where museum species can be taken to get rid of harmful pests through freezing. With open access, the building’s resources can be used by research institutions. The CC NL is ranked the 15th most sustainable in Holland. The roof and facades used in the construction of the building give it a highly insulating outlook. The ground is less insulated since it was intended to act as a buffer. Its direct contact with the earth buffers the environment within, cutting down the need for air conditioning. On average, internal temperatures are maintained at about 12 and 15 degrees Celsius. This ensures the safety of the CC NL and reduces the risks of fires.Other aspects of the building that make it stand out in terms of sustainability include water recycling and renewable energy . With over 3,600 square meters of solar panels on the roof, the center can manage most of its energy needs without requiring external support in sunny months. It is also fitted with an ATES and gray water flushing toilet. The center also uses a rural rainwater collection system , that acts as an infiltration facility for the local vegetation. The widespread ecological landscape with detailed integration of flora and fauna makes the design one of the most sustainable section centers in the world. For those who work at the CC NL, the breathtaking beauty , comfort and usability are key factors. The working space here is among the best in Europe and will remain so for years. + cepezed architects Photography by Lucas van der Wee

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Siempre Eco is the new wallet-friendly sustainability brand

October 11, 2021 by  
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One of the main barriers many individuals face when choosing to live more sustainably is the cost of environmentally friendly products. Compared to disposable, single-use plastic products, items made from materials like bamboo or organic cotton are often more expensive as they factor in costs of materials, ethical labor and production. Started by Rabia Dhanani, Siempre Eco is a lifestyle startup committed to providing affordable eco-friendly alternatives for everyday items. Upon graduating amid the instability of the pandemic, Dhanani found herself with a lot of spare time. To save some money and keep herself busy, she set out on a mission to try making beeswax wraps, an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap that her family had begun using at home. Beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton sheets with a coating of beeswax, pine resin and jojoba oil. These waxy sheets create an antibacterial layer to keep food fresh for up to two weeks and have a year-long shelf life. However, they can be relatively expensive and often cost upwards of $10 apiece. Related: This long-standing natural soap company started by accident After a few weeks of experimenting with different materials and spending over $400 of her savings, Dhanani’s beeswax wrap trials finally yielded some positive results. She decided to continue this venture and sell the wraps to family and friends as a summer project. As the project gained momentum, Dhanani realized that she could create a meaningful impact on people’s daily lives while keeping her costs and carbon footprint minimal. Siempre Eco aims to provide people with sustainable and affordable alternatives for daily use and self-care items. Since the company values impact over profit, the profit margin is a little lower than that of competitors. In doing so, prices remain consistent, encouraging customers to switch to sustainable alternatives, as they can afford to use them in the long run. Over the past year, Siempre Eco has expanded its collection of products that range from lifestyle to kitchen items, all of which use locally sourced materials and/or ethical manufacturing. The products can now be found in over 40 retail stores in Canada, and the website offers worldwide shipping. The most popular products, besides beeswax wraps, include bamboo straws, shower fizzies and reusable wool dryer balls. Approximately 98% of Siempre Eco’s packaging is recyclable, reusable or biodegradable . A lot of the materials are paper-based and use recycled paper and/or cardboard, including recycled paper boxes, wrapping paper and box filling. Other forms of environmentally-friendly packaging include reusable glass jars, rice paper packaging and even corn mailers, which can be composted after receiving a package. In the near future, Siempre Eco looks forward to preparing curated boxes of products and partnering with other small sustainable businesses to create exciting theme-based bundles. The company is also in discussions with a massive North American retailer to bring the product range to over 400 stores. + Siempre Eco Images courtesy of Siempre Ec o

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Siempre Eco is the new wallet-friendly sustainability brand

Rocket launch site could threaten endangered southern emu-wren

September 28, 2021 by  
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Construction of the planned permanent rocket launching facility at Whaler’s Bay in South Australia may push some species to extinction, including the southern emu-wren. The southern emu-wren is listed as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. The proposed construction by Southern Launch, an Australian startup that operates the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, is behind the project. The project is expected to help grow Australia’s space industry. A temporary launch pad has already been developed at the site and used for test firing the Hapith I rocket in September. Related: Here’s how the billionaire space race hurts the environment Conservationists have challenged the plans to build a permanent launch facility. The Nature Conservation Society of South Australia (NCSSA) opposes the plan, arguing that it would wipe out habitats for the endangered southern emu-wren. The bird is native to the Eyre Peninsula, and damaging its habitat may lead to extinction. Conservationists also worry about the western whipbird, which also relies on the habitat targeted by the project. The proposed launching pad threatens not only these birds but the ecosystem at large. According to the proposal, the launching pad would host up to 35 launches each year when operating on a commercial scale. This would mean increased air pollution and chances of fire . Patrick O’Connor, an ecologist with the University of Adelaide, warned of how this project could impact the birds. “We’ve already lost more habitat than this [southern emu-wren] species can reasonably tolerate,” O’Connor said. “If we lose this site, it’s just a matter of time. They’ll either hang on in the state they’re in, but if a big site like Whaler’s Way goes the risk is extinction.” The current plans include constructing two permanent launch pads and support infrastructures such as fuel storage tanks, roads, power generators and offices. The space needed for the facility would require clearing about 23.7 hectares (58.7 acres) of vegetation . Although the project is still under review by the South Australian government, conservationists are raising the alarm to avoid further endangering the habitat. Via The Guardian Lead image via Laurie Boyle

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An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready

September 16, 2021 by  
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This is East 17th Street, a collection of homes that range in size and style. It’s got beautiful construction, lovely walkways and landscaping. But what truly makes this Austin, Texas project unique is that these are the first 3D-printed homes for sale in America. Yes, you read that correctly. These homes were all made with a 3D printer. The homes range in size from 900 to 2,000 square feet in two and four-bedroom designs. All the houses have covered front porches, covered parking and a modern interior design . The rooms are big and open, the master bedrooms have vaulted ceilings, and the windows are large to let in plenty of light. Wood cabinets, woven rugs and little touches of greenery add pops of color to the neutral palette of the homes. A highly modern and uncluttered design creates a free-flowing, elegant look inside and out. Related: Khawarizm Studio showcases unique 3D printed vase and lamp Designed by Logan Architecture, the collection includes four houses total. Each home is solid, sturdy, safe and move-in ready. Their 3D-printed construction is proof that the future is now. The 3D printing for each home is thanks to Texas construction company ICON, which used its Vulcan building system. Through this process, 3D printing robotics layer cement onto striated surfaces. According to ICON, this system creates a tough, highly weather-resistant design. The 3D printing technology “provides safer, more resilient homes that are designed to withstand fire , flood, wind, and other natural disasters better than conventionally built homes and that can be built in a matter of weeks,” the company said in a statement. Printing the homes took five to seven days and was complete in March 2021. According to ICON, the East 17th Street Residences “are the first 3D-printed homes for sale in the US and ready for move-in.” + ICON Via Dezeen Images via ICON

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An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready

Evacuations ordered as Caldor Fire moves toward Lake Tahoe

August 30, 2021 by  
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Over the weekend, evacuation warnings were issued to the residents of South Lake Tahoe as the Caldor Fire advanced. Additional evacuation orders now include El Dorado County. Toxic smoke clouds South Lake Tahoe, causing fear among locals and vacationers. On Friday, only 12% of the fire was contained. Continuously blowing winds escalated small spot fires , making containment more complex for firefighters. Despite the tough conditions, firefighters are working fast, aiming to prevent the fire from descending further. Related: California Caldor Fire destroys town, keeps raging “We’re trying to keep it west of the 89, and definitely trying to keep it from Lake Tahoe,” Rosie Smith, an assistant engine operator with the U.S. Forest Service, said. “It’s just the extreme fire behavior that we’ve had over the last few weeks has made it difficult for us really to get ahead of the thing.” The Caldor Fire started roughly two weeks ago and has expanded quickly despite firefighters’ best efforts. As of Friday, the fire had claimed over 143,000 acres of forest. Current reports estimate that this number has grown to 177,260 acres. And though containment reached 19% on Sunday, that number has now dropped to 14%. While the danger of the fire reaching Lake Tahoe is apparent, officials say that conditions are more favorable close to the basin. Factors such as winds slowing down, the topography changing, and a granite ridge blocking off the town may help contain the fire’s spread. “The granite gives us the benefit of less fuels , so it slows the rate of spread for the fire and gives us the chance to make a direct attack, potentially,” said Jason Hunter, a Caldor Fire information officer. “We’re focusing a lot of efforts up here, a lot of resources on this side of the fire.” Still, conditions prove difficult. Extreme heat and rugged terrain complicate firefighting efforts, and Cal Fire Division Chief Eric Schwab reports that the Caldor Fire shows “no sign that it’s starting to slow down.” Via Los Angeles Times , AP News and KCRA Images via Pacific Southwest Forest Service, USDA

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England plans single-use plastic ban

August 30, 2021 by  
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England has announced a planned ban on polystyrene cups and single-use plastic cutlery and plates. But frustrated activists say the government is moving way too slowly. This autumn, the English government will start coming up with a plan to curtail single-use plastic and polystyrene perhaps within a couple of years. Meanwhile, the  EU  banned these same items in July. Related: 4ocean and Poralu Marine present BeBot, the beach cleaning robot The English government has a firmer plan for a plastic packaging tax, which will go into effect in April 2022. Companies that use plastic with less than 30% recycled content will have to pay a tax of £200 per ton of plastic. This measure seeks to encourage the use of  recycled  material. “We’ve all seen the damage that plastic does to our  environment ,” said George Eustice, environment secretary, as reported by The Guardian. “It is right that we put in place measures that will tackle the plastic carelessly strewn across our parks and green spaces and washed up on beaches. We have made progress to turn the tide on plastic, now we are looking to go a step further.” England has already successfully limited some plastics. Since supermarkets started charging for plastic bags in 2015, their use has dropped by 95%. In 2018, England banned plastic microbeads from use in washing products. In 2020, it was goodbye to plastic  straws , drink stirrers and cotton swabs — or cotton buds, as they’re called in England. However, England is still lagging on charging deposits on plastic bottles, which probably won’t happen until 2024 or 2025. Americans and British people lead the world in per person plastic  waste . According to British ministers, the average person uses 37 single-use forks, knives and spoons and 18 disposable plastic plates each year. Plastic litter is blamed for killing more than 100,000 sea mammals and turtles and 1 million birds annually worldwide. Vegetable and fruit stickers, PVC cling film, teabags,  plastic  coffee pods and crisp packets may also find themselves forbidden in the future. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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California Caldor Fire destroys town, keeps raging

August 19, 2021 by  
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What started as a little blaze last weekend in El Dorado County,  California , has turned into a town-gobbling inferno. The Caldor Fire tore through the 1,200-person town of Grizzly Flats, leaving not much more than the elementary school play structure, then headed for Highway 50. As of Wednesday evening, the fire had grown to more than 30,000 acres, shot smoke plumes through the sky and was 0% contained. At least two people were seriously injured in Grizzly Flats, which is about 60 miles east of Sacramento. More than 20,000 people have evacuated from the wider area. The Caldor  Fire’s  long evacuation list keeps expanding. Related: Wildfire smoke linked to almost 20,000 COVID-19 cases last year The fire’s growth has been immense, doubling in size from Tuesday to Wednesday. Extreme dryness combined with southwest winds are to blame for the unprecedented wildfire behavior, says Cal Fire. “We know this fire has done things that nobody could have predicted, but that’s how firefighting has been in the state this year,” said El Dorado National  Forest  Supervisor Chief Jeff Marsolais in a Tuesday briefing. More than 600 fire personnel are battling the blaze. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of  emergency  for El Dorado County on Tuesday morning. This will help California access federal funds to fight the fire. Now the Caldor has joined the list of other California wildfires which may require federal funds, including the Monument Fire in Trinity County, the enormous Dixie Fire in Butte, Lassen, Plumas and Tehama counties. Officials are still investigating what caused the Caldor Fire. It’s too soon to guess how many structures will be lost or damaged. CalFire estimated that the Caldor will be fully contained by August 21. Meanwhile,  medical  centers are already overloaded, and medical personnel are worried about people with COVID-19 having to evacuate from the area. At Marshall Hospital in Placerville, workers are trying desperately to reserve enough space for severe COVID cases and casualties from the fire. Via Sacramento Bee , KCRA Lead image via InciWeb

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Wildfire smoke linked to almost 20,000 COVID-19 cases last year

August 17, 2021 by  
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The coronavirus  pandemic  and raging wildfires were two heinous events of 2020. And in one of life’s unfair twists of evil synergy, a new study from Harvard says that smoke from West Coast wildfires increased the cases of COVID illnesses and deaths. The study, published in the journal  Science Advances , attributed 19,742 additional COVID cases — and 748 deaths — to last year’s heavy blanket of wildfire smoke in  Oregon , California and Washington. Tiny particulate matter, aka PM 2.5, was the culprit. Wildfire smoke carries small pieces of ash full of zinc, nickel, iron and other stuff you don’t want to breathe in. Once these particles lodge in your lungs, you become more susceptible to all kinds of respiratory diseases, including the infamous star of 2020, COVID-19. And when these particles worm their way into your bloodstream, you might also suffer neurological and cardiovascular problems. Related: Siberian wildfires send smoke to North Pole in historical first “We weren’t terribly surprised by the results as  scientists ,” said study co-author Kevin Josey, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But as humans, we are dismayed about the impacts.” The study authors examined air quality records and satellite images from 92 counties in California, Washington and Oregon. They focused on the nine-month period from March 15 to December 16, 2020, calculating  wildfire -related PM 2.5 exposure in each county. They then correlated increased PM 2.5 exposure with increased COVID-19 cases and deaths. The authors linked wildfire smoke with an 11.7% increase in cases. Deaths also went up by 8.4%. The relationship was more striking in some places than others. For example, Whitman County, Washington and San Bernardino, California , saw an enormous increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths related to excessive PM 2.5 exposure. And now it’s wildfire season again, and the Delta variant of  COVID-19  is raging. The best defense? Get vaccinated. Minimize your smoke inhalation. Stay inside on the smokiest days. And prepare for more. By mid-century, we’ll likely be facing annual “smoke waves,” or periods of at least 48 hours where wildfires push PM 2.5 concentrations past the range of safely breathable air. Via EcoWatch , Grist Lead image via Pixabay

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Siberian wildfires send smoke to North Pole in historical first

August 16, 2021 by  
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Aisen Nikolayev, head of the Siberian region Yakutia, declared last Friday a non-working day following heavy smoke from raging forest fires. Nikolayev urged residents to stay at home due to the health risks associated with the smoke.  Yakutia, the largest and coldest region in Russia , has dealt with forest fires on an “unprecedented scale” this year. Residents of Yakutsk, the regional capital, and several other districts were urged to stay at home in a bid to protect them breathing in the heavy smoke. Related: California Dixie fire growing too fast for warning systems Last Thursday, Nikolayev announced that the health risk associated with the smoke necessitated a day off. In a statement via the RIA Novosti news agency, Nikolayev said, “Smoke from the fires has an extremely negative effect on people’s well-being. In order to minimize these consequences today, I signed a decree declaring tomorrow a non-working day for 11 municipalities.” This announcement came with a recommendation that residents spend the day at home. The smoke also caused several flight delays on Thursday at Yakutsk airport due to poor visibility. As the fires worsened, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered firefighting reinforcement. The head of the emergencies ministry also visited Yakutia to oversee firefighting operations. In the vast Siberian region, wildfires have, so far, burned an area of more than 22.7 acres, an area the size of Portugal. NASA has announced that, for the first time in history, satellite images show smoke from the wildfires traveling all the way to the North Pole. Although Russia has not asked for international help in fighting the fire, local firefighters have lamented their lack of equipment and resources to deal with such a massive fire. Additionally, as The Guardian noted in an article about the fires, a 2015 law “allows regions to ignore blazes if the cost of fighting fires outweighs the expected damage.” Critics worry that this “provides cover for authorities to avoid fighting wildfires.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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California couple charged for starting wildfire during gender reveal

July 23, 2021 by  
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Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez, a Southern California couple responsible for starting a forest fire last year, have recently been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The couple started the fire after a gender reveal went wrong, sparking a fire that killed a firefighter. The couple now faces both felony and misdemeanor charges. According to an announcement made by San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson, the couple pleaded not guilty to charges involving the El Dorado Fire. The El Dorado Fire started on September 5 last year when the couple and their children and friends ignited a “ smoke -generating pyrotechnic device” to reveal the gender of their new baby. The party, held at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, turned tragic when the device ignited nearby grass. Although the party tried to put out the fire using water, they could not handle the quickly spreading flames. Related: Oregon’s Bootleg Fire is creating its own weather When firefighters were called to help, the fire had already spread and was difficult to contain. Charles Morton, a 39-year-old leader of the elite Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Squad, ended up losing his life in the fire. Morton had worked as a firefighter for more than 18 years. The fire also injured 13 other people and led to the destruction of vast tracks of forest land, claiming about 36 square miles in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Hundreds of families were evacuated from the region, and about five homes and 15 other buildings were destroyed. The state of California experienced thousands of fires last year, with El Dorado being just one of the many. Approximately 4% of the state was affected by wildfires fueled by dry conditions and strong winds. Nearly 10,500 buildings were destroyed across the state, with about 33 people losing their lives to wildfires. Via Huffpost Lead image via Pexels

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