Brooks + Scarpa completes forest-like kinetic sculpture ringed with rain gardens

August 7, 2017 by  
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Public art should do more than decorate. Brooks + Scarpa targeted a triple bottom line with their design of the recently completed Gateway Sculpture at Pembroke Pines City Center in southern Florida. Constructed to enhance user experience, the sculpture is made up of four yellow stainless-steel tree columns topped with kinetic canopies that create the effect of dappled light as visitors walk beneath. Environmental and economic sustainability were considered for the project, which is designed for low maintenance, optimal environmental comfort, and landscape conservation. The eye-catching Gateway Sculpture welcomes locals and visitors to the new Pembroke Pines City Center that comprises a public plaza , a 3,500-seat performing arts hall, city hall, and The Frank Art Gallery. Prior to this new development Pembroke Pines had no downtown or community space. Working with a limited budget, Brooks + Scarpa crafted a beautiful community anchor that framed the pedestrian thoroughfare to the public plaza. The sculpture evokes an experience of a subtropical hardwood forest with its tree-like columns topped with canopy-like perforated plates that spin in the continuous breeze of south Florida. The sculpture provides much-needed shade for seating underneath, while programmable uplighting enhances the experience at night. Stainless steel was chosen for its durability in the heavy saltwater-laden coastal environment and ability to withstand 175 mile-per-hour winds. Related: Rolling green ‘ribbons’ proposed for new urban park in downtown LA “A triple-bottom-line approach was conceived of that worked within the clients abilities and budget,” wrote Brooks + Scarpa. “This is achieved through material durability where stainless steel was used over mild steel to insure the longevity of the structure. A durable paint that is environmentally sensitive was also employed. Lastly, large planting areas surround the structure collecting stormwater from the entire building and impervious hardscape of the plaza. Essentially rain gardens , these planters include native facultative landscape material with vibrant color to enhance user experience and provide critical refuge and habitat to native wildlife.” + Brooks + Scarpa Images via Brooks + Scarpa

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Brooks + Scarpa completes forest-like kinetic sculpture ringed with rain gardens

16-year-old inspires U.S. city to pass law requiring solar panels on all new homes

July 20, 2017 by  
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More United States cities are taking strong measures to move the clean energy economy forward. This week, South Miami passed a law requiring new houses to be outfitted with solar panels . The law will even apply to some renovations. It’s the first of its kind in Florida , and passed four to one – and some of the inspiration for the law came from a high school student. High schooler Delaney Reynolds, who was 16 at the time, learned about San Francisco’s 2016 measure requiring solar panels on all new buildings of 10 stories or less. She thought cities in Florida could do the same. Reynolds, who started a nonprofit called The Sink or Swim Project to tackle climate change in South Florida, wrote mayors of around half a dozen cities in her area, according to InsideClimate News, and South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard was the first to reply. He asked Reynolds to help write the ordinance. Related: San Francisco approves measure to require solar panels on new buildings Under the law, new homes will have to have 175 square feet of solar panels per 1,000 square feet of roof area in the sun, or 2.75 kilowatts per 1,000 square feet of living space – whichever one is less. If the house is constructed beneath trees already there it may be exempt. If more than 75 percent of an existing home is being replaced by renovations , or if a home is being extended by 75 percent, the new law will apply as well. On Tuesday, the law passed, with only commissioner Josh Liebman voting against it. Liebman said he’s not against solar power but is for freedom of choice. The law will go into effect in September. Only around 10 new homes are built in the area a year, so Stoddard acknowledges the measure won’t change the world. But he said officials in other areas like Orlando and St. Petersburg have indicated interest, so the idea could spread. Via InsideClimate News and Miami Herald Images via Wikimedia Commons and The Sink or Swim Project Facebook

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Giant sinkhole opens up in front of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort

May 23, 2017 by  
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One of President Donald Trump’s claims on the campaign trail was that he’d “drain the swamp” if elected. Whether he kept that promise is up for debate; sure, he selected business tycoons like Rex Tillerson to fill top government positions but also chose people like the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Elaine Chao. But now the swamp may be encroaching on another part of America: Mar-a-Lago , Trump’s Florida golf club, where a sinkhole just opened up. Obviously, the Internet didn’t pass up on the opportunity to dish out puns. Yesterday the town of Palm Beach, Florida – where Mar-a-Lago is located – posted a traffic alert about the sinkhole on their website. “A four feet by four feet sinkhole has formed on Southern Boulevard directly in front of Mar-a-Lago,” the notice reads. “It appears to be in the vicinity of the newly installed water main. West Palm Beach utilities distribution crews have secured the area and will most likely need to do some exploratory excavation today. One lane is closed but the road remains open. Please pay attention to signs.” Related: Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers Naturally this was just too easy for Twitter . Some saw the sinkhole as a sign from God – whether Republicans would listen was another matter. Sinkhole opens next to Mar-a-Lago in obvious sign from increasingly irritated God https://t.co/IBicOjX698 pic.twitter.com/IhlzTpTU8K — Jezebel (@Jezebel) May 22, 2017 "Give us a sign, God."[sinkhole appears in front of Mar-A-Lago]"Hm, can't be sure that's anything." https://t.co/oTrfQkYBxR — Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) May 22, 2017 Some people wondered if the sinkhole had anything to do with the illuminated orb Trump was pictured touching in Saudi Arabia. Actions have consequences, people. pic.twitter.com/r0LOrGBldy — Slade Sohmer (@Slade) May 22, 2017 The #sinkhole at Mar-a-Lago is absolutely NOT an ancient evil escaping its glided cage after being released by The Orb. No siree. — Rogue Illuminati (@RogueIlluminati) May 23, 2017 Others thought perhaps the sinkhole had been mistakenly termed… My working theory: It’s a hellmouth, not a sinkhole. — Jeff LaMarche (@jeff_lamarche) May 22, 2017 Sean Spicer wants to make it very clear there is NOT a sinkhole in front of Mar-A-Lago… It is a Florida Swamp Center. — Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) May 22, 2017 Some Twitter users actually began to cheer for the sinkhole. rare heroic sinkhole ? https://t.co/i2i1I287vv — AS ? (@Alschapel) May 22, 2017 @townpalmbeach @Fahrenthold Has anyone ever rooted for a sinkhole before? — chuckyou2 (@chuckyoutwo) May 22, 2017 And as the metaphors left everyone’s heads spinning about the mysterious origins of the clearly supernatural sinkhole, former The Onion writer Dennis DiClaudio stepped in to make one thing clear: Hate to be pedantic, but the Mar-a-lago sinkhole isn't *technically* a metaphor, because metaphors aren't *that* obvious. — Dennis DiClaudio (@dennisdiclaudio) May 22, 2017 After Palm Beach has dealt with the sinkhole, we think Washington, D.C. could use a little “exploratory excavation” as well. Via The Washington Post Images via screenshot and screenshot

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Giant sinkhole opens up in front of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort

Mexico-sized algae bloom in the Arabian Sea connected to climate change

March 21, 2017 by  
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Talk of climate change probably evokes images of rising sea levels or hotter temperatures, but what about algae blooms ? Scientists have made a direct connection between an algae bloom in the Arabian Sea, which has blown up to the size of Mexico, and climate change. The massive bloom has been captured from satellites . 30 years ago, algae in the Gulf of Oman could barely be seen. Now, twice a year, microscopic organisms of the species Noctiluca scintillans turns the gulf green as it sprawls throughout the Arabian Sea towards India. Scientists say conditions produced by climate change are allowing the algae to thrive. Columbia University researchers have even traced the algae blooms to ice melting in the Himalayas. Related: Florida declares state of emergency due to gigantic algae bloom Satellite technology has also allowed researchers to connect algae with greater levels of water and air pollution . NASA ocean carbon and biology projects manager Paula Bontempi told the Associated Press satellite images of the algae are beautiful, like a Van Gogh painting, but in person the algae is smelly and ugly. She said, “We know that our Earth is changing. It may be in a direction we might not like.” The phenomenon threatens local ecosystems ; algae has been known to paralyze fish . The United Nations’ science agency says in rare cases algal toxins have killed humans. Oman faces unique threats from the algae bloom. There, algae can clog pipes at desalination plants providing as much as 90 percent of fresh water for the country. Fisheries in the country could also be harmed by the algae bloom; in 2008 an eruption of a different type of algae beached 50 tons of fish, which were starving for oxygen and rotted along the coast of Oman. Saleh al-Mashari, the captain of a researcher vessel, said this algae bloom has already caused damage. He told the Associated Press, “The fish are migrating. They can’t get enough air here.” Ahmad al-Alawi, a marine ecologist, said blooms are getting larger and lasting for longer periods of time. He said the blooms displace zooplankton, which are the base of the local food chain . Via Phys.org Images via Tristan Schmurr on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Boston public schools phase in new map to decolonize curriculum

March 21, 2017 by  
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The global map on which all your geographical knowledge is based probably wasn’t as accurate as you thought. For nearly 500 years, classrooms have referred to the Mercator projection, which exaggerated the size of continents in the northern hemisphere. But now Boston public schools are switching over to the Gall-Peters projection, which attempts to correct the sizes of countries and could have a dramatic impact on students’ worldview. The Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator devised the Mercator projection all the way back in 1569. Now hundreds of years later, Boston schools are implementing a replacement, and director of the Boston public schools history department Natacha Scott says they believe they are the first public school district in America to make the switch. Related: New map reveals the world’s most toxic countries The Mercator projection has informed our collective worldview for centuries, but Mercator made it seem as if North America and Europe were larger than South America and Africa , for example. He also moved the equator, which places Germany near the map’s middle instead of much further north. Arno Peters, a German historian, released his projection in 1974 – as it corresponds with work by James Gall, a 19th century Scottish cartographer; today it’s called the Peters or Gall-Peters projection. Now in Boston classrooms, teachers have put the Gall-Peters projection up next to the Mercator projection. Colin Rose, Assistant Superintendent of Opportunity and Achievement Gaps for the Boston Public Schools, told The Guardian, “This is the start of a three-year effort to decolonize the curriculum in our public schools…It’s important that students trust the material they are given in school but also question it. The Mercator projection is a symbolic representation that put Europe at the center of the world. And when you continue to show images of the places where people’s heritage is rooted that is not accurate, that has an effect on students.” But some people say the Gall-Peters projection is also distorted – stemming mainly from the fact that it’s difficult to place a three dimensional sphere shape on a two dimensional piece of paper. Sizes are correct in the Gall-Peters projection, but shapes are wrong: near the poles countries are stretched horizontally and near the equator they’re stretched vertically, according to Business Insider, which pointed to four alternatives , including the Winkel tripel projection which National Geographic adopted in 1998. Via The Guardian and Business Insider Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Self-sustaining island eco-lodge in Florida has its own desalination system

February 21, 2017 by  
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For those looking to get away from the chaos of modern life, a stunning luxury eco-lodge is currently on the market. The solar-powered Melody Key Lodge is a timber home located on 5.24 acres of secluded island paradise, just 25 miles from Key West, Florida. But if you’re on a tight budget, you might not want to read on. The breathtaking lodge previously owned by an undisclosed rockstar comprises a three-story timber structure with three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. The top open floor, which houses the gourmet kitchen, dining area, living and lounge space, offers beautiful 360-degree views of the ocean. Lucky guests will be able to choose between a dip in the pristine beaches or the adjacent freshwater pool. Related: For $2.3 million, this breathtaking self-sufficient Scottish island could be yours The home, which is listed for $6,900,000, is perfect for wealthy folks looking to go off grid . In addition to its integrated solar system and backup generator, there’s also a desalination water system. Add in all-you-can-eat seafood, and off-grid living has never been so luxurious. + Engel & Völkers Florida Keys Via Uncrate  

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How Sweden plans to heat homes with internet searches

February 21, 2017 by  
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Emails and Instagram photos don’t come without a carbon footprint : they’re stored in data centers which continually battle excess heat and suck up electricity to cool servers. But Stockholm, Sweden recently came up with a rather ingenious use for all that waste heat : what if it could warm homes instead? Most data centers aren’t very environmentally friendly. According to one estimate, they consume roughly the same amount of power as the airline industry, and the amount of electricity used in the centers could triple during the upcoming decade. But data center heat could help cities transition away from fossil fuels in a major way. Just one 10-megawatt data center can provide enough heat for 20,000 apartments. Related: Why Microsoft is dropping data centers on the ocean floor Stockholm started an initiative, Stockholm Data Parks , for their vision of “a data center industry where no heat is wasted.” Under the initiative, renewable energy will power data centers, and heat produced will be sold to district heating company Fortum Värme , which has been looking to biomass or waste heat to provide heating instead of fossil fuels. The presence of a district heating system sets Stockholm up to utilize data center heat on a large scale. Stockholm’s district heating system has already begun working with small data centers, and Stockholm Data Parks said on their website they will bring together, prepare, and offer “all necessary infrastructure elements at attractive greenfield and brownfield sites suited for data center activity.” Power grid operator Ellevio and dark fiber provider Stokab are participating in the initiative along with Fortum Värme. Some data centers do operate on renewable energy, but if their excess heat could go to a district heating system, Stockholm’s data centers could even become carbon positive. A 10-megawatt center could lower emissions by 8,000 metric tons. Since Stockholm’s goal is to go fossil fuel free by 2040, the Stockholm Data Parks vision could push the country closer to that target. + Stockholm Data Parks Via Fast Company’s Co.Exist Images via Pexels and Stockholm Data Parks

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Florida Republican introduces bill that would abolish the EPA

February 6, 2017 by  
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Republicans really have it out for the government agency tasked with protecting the United States’ natural resources. Late last week Florida representative Matt Gaetz – along with Republican pals from Kentucky, Mississippi, and Georgia – introduced HR 861 , a bill designed to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Republicans apparently view Donald Trump’s presidency as a grand opportunity to scrap the EPA . HR 861’s full text isn’t available online yet, but the Courier-Journal reports it would enable states to take over environmental regulations and oversight from the federal government. It’s unclear how this transition would occur. Related: Myron Ebell says Trump plans to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency Experts lambasted the extreme bill, saying it would incite chaos. In theory it may sound nice for states to control environmental protection , but University of Florida law professor Mary Jane Angelo noted the amount of money available to states varies wildly across America. Some citizens’ health would therefore be better protected than others, depending on a state’s wealth. She said the EPA already works with states and local governments on many environmental issues through cooperative federalism. States are also granted some flexibility on how to execute a law in ways that make sense for them. If the EPA disappeared, “decisions would have to be made on hundreds of programs.” The bill has been skewered as a flashy move that ultimately wouldn’t help constituents, absurd especially from a representative whose state faces the consequences of sea level rise maybe even in the next 10 years. Portions of southern Florida, such as Miami, could be underwater by 2025, according to some predictions . Another law professor at the university, Alyson Flournoy, said the bill “seems to be part of a wave from elected officials designed to capture headlines but not do good government.” She said, “We don’t need less government or more government. We need good government.” Via Gizmodo and the Courier-Journal Images via Tim Evanson on Flickr and USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency on Flickr

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Florida Republican introduces bill that would abolish the EPA

Space station lettuce farm now producing fresh greens every 10 days for crew

December 5, 2016 by  
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This is the year “astronaut food” meets “rabbit food.” Finally, crew members living aboard the International Space Station can munch on fresh leafy greens as part of their regular diet , in addition to the airtight packages of freeze-dried meals that have sustained space explorers for decades. After several years in development and testing, NASA’s very own “space gardener” Shane Kimbrough has successfully harvested several batches of fresh lettuce, while carefully tending the tiny plants and troubleshooting their moisture and nutrient needs along the way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Gxn_nfgWA Finding ways to grow safe, nutritious fresh vegetables in zero gravity has been a challenge, to put it mildly. During his historic 340-day mission aboard ISS, American astronaut Scott Kelly assisted in the early stages of NASA’s “Veggie” system, which was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wisconsin, and tested at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida before deploying to the ISS in mid-2014 . ISS crew members feasted on freshly harvested leafy greens grown in space for the first time back in August 2015 . The next challenge was to increase crop yields so that the system could produce enough fresh greens for the entire crew, which typically ranges from three to six astronauts but can occasionally rise as high as 10. Related: Astronauts are munching on lettuce grown in space for the first time ever Kimbrough oversees the operations of the Veg-03 experiment, the most recent phase of the ongoing project. The latest round began October 25 and involves six red romaine lettuce plants growing simultaneously for the first time. Because lettuce can be harvested (by cutting) and then regrow in about 10 days , it’s the perfect renewable crop for the space station, where resources and square footage are at a premium. The most recent harvest, which took place December 2, yielded a small amount of lettuce which was divided between crew member consumption and conservation for scientific evaluation. The ongoing experiment serves a dual purpose, in that ISS crew will gain access to fresh, nutritious greens to help balance their shelf-stable diet and NASA will be able to learn more about how various forms of life function in zero gravity environments. Via NASA Images via NASA

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Space station lettuce farm now producing fresh greens every 10 days for crew

One-of-a-kind floating plaza in Palm Beach lets you walk on water

November 2, 2016 by  
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The project aims to transform a vacant area on the coast of Lake Worth Lagoon in West Palm Beach, Florida , and create a new complex that includes housing units, retail spaces and various leisure facilities. Visitors will be able to stroll from the West Palm Beach city center directly into the middle of the lagoon and relax on a unique floating plaza. Related: Brockholes: UK’s First Floating Nature Reserve Is Now Open For Exploration The project utilizes the technology employed in the design of underwater vessels-a system of responsive air chambers that enable buoyancy. A series of public spaces, including a restaurant serving food made with hydroponically grown produce, a circular pool, an auditorium , and a water plaza. + Carlo Ratti Associati

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