Coral in the Mediterranean threatened by heatwaves

January 21, 2022 by  
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A new study has found that heatwaves associated with climate change are threatening coral populations in the Mediterranean. The study, published in  Proceedings of the Royal Society Biology , established that corals could be wiped out unless action is taken soon.  This wide-scale research on heatwaves’ long-term effects on corals has established that some areas have already seen an 80 to 90% reduction in biomass. According to the researchers behind the study, these reductions affect the ecosystem’s overall functioning. They say corals are the key to the existence and functions of coral reefs. Heatwaves threaten the existence of the reefs entirely, a situation that could affect sea life for almost all sea creatures. Related: An underwater forest of sculptures attracts marine life in the Mediterranean Sea The study was done by researchers from the Faculty of Biology, the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) at the University of Barcelona, and the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) of Barcelona. The findings are part of the first long-term analysis showing heatwaves’ effects on corals in the Mediterranean . Although there have been various studies on the impact of heatwaves on corals, most focus on short periods. Knowledge on long-term effects remains limited, given the time corals take to reproduce and grow. Corals grow over hundreds of years, a timeframe that complicates research. For this study, the researchers analyzed results obtained in long-term monitoring on different populations of corals. The observed data dates back to 2003 when a heatwave caused mass coral mortality in the protected sea area of Scandola in Corsega, France . “We observed an average biomass loss regarding the initial biomass of 80% in populations of red gorgonian, and up to a 93% regarding the studied population of red coral,” noted Daniel Gómez, a researcher at ICM-CSIC. Joaquim Garrabou, also a member of ICM-CSIC, is more concerned with the continued depreciation of affairs over the years. “These data are worrying for the conservation of these emblematic species , and it indicates that the effects of the climate crisis are speeding up with obvious consequences for the submarine landscapes, where the loss of coral equals the loss of trees in forests.” The experts now say that the only way to save the corals and their reefs is to take drastic measures. “There is an urgent need for stronger measures to be implemented against the climate crisis before the loss of biodiversity becomes irreplaceable,” the experts concluded. Via Newswise Lead image via Pixabay

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Coral in the Mediterranean threatened by heatwaves

Passive design helps Lucio building regulate its temperature

January 17, 2022 by  
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The architectural design of the Lucio office building in Lille, France , integrates with the sun for variable lighting and temperature control in a smart passive design. Developed by Barbarito Bancel architects for client Foncière de L’Érable, the new building sits in a developing area along the banks of the Deûle. The location rests within EuraTechnologies, an economic hub for information and communication technology . Startups from around the world are located here, creating a community of research and development laboratories, corporate buildings, schools and more.  Related: One of the largest CLT construction in the US is in Oregon Optimally situating the building took precedence, and the result is a complex that opens into the Cour de Bretagne plaza. Lucio faces the main building of the new development called Le Blan-Lafont, which features a bell tower and represents the region’s historical thread mills.  The Lucio interior office spaces have a modular design, possible because of the completely open floor plan void of vertical columns. However, the real architectural action takes place in the four facades of the building that are exposed to the sun most of the day. This  passive design  not only creates a welcoming workplace but lowers energy consumption through natural lighting within the compact and efficiently-built space.  Lighting and temperature throughout the space are controlled via glass and aluminum louvers that drape the entire facade. The technology allows the outer shell to open and close in response to the weather, providing more or less natural light as needed. The system ensures  energy efficiency  by providing solar heat when it’s cold and protecting against solar heat when it’s hot. The windows also offer extensive and impressive views of the surrounding public areas.  The lightly-colored exterior materials for the building stand in contrast to the surrounding  brick  buildings. Inside, the layout optimizes light, energy and temperature control by using prestressed, lightened concrete slabs. An ultra-efficient HVAC system balances out the cooling needs.  + Barbarito Bancel Via v2com , Archivibe Images via Alessandra Chemollo

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Passive design helps Lucio building regulate its temperature

New winery in France is serving sustainable alcohol

January 4, 2022 by  
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Château Angélus recently acquired a new winery in Libourne, France , designed by Architect Eric Castagnotto from Architecte DPLG. The cellar is used for making Château Angélus’ second wine Carillon d’Angélus and a new wine Tempo d’Angélus introduced in Quebec in November 2021. Their goal is to create not only sustainable wine , but an eco-friendly winery rich in technological innovation, sustainable building and growing techniques. Carillon d’Angélus Cellar was already a winery but had become too small to accommodate new efficient equipment. The winery is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site , limiting development possibilities and architecture for the new owners. Therefore, the owners decided to start from scratch with a new winery design in the nearby community of Saint-Magne-de-Castillon. Related: A French wine cellar’s updated facade doubles as housing for local bats The new  Carillon d’Angélus Cellar is 4,400 square-meter facility on 3.30 hectares. It is semi-submerged underground with a green roof . The wine-making cellar is gravity-fed. The design is inspired by wine-making cellar Fleur de Boüard in Lalande, which has 18 inverted truncated cone-shaped vats, hoist system and vat lift. Additionally, solar panels help with some of the power required for the operations. Furthermore, Carillon d’Angélus, and the full Chateau Angelus estate, is HVE3 certified. That means it is the highest level of High Environmental Value Certification honoring best practices regarding biodiversity , phytosanitary strategy and fertilization. The building is also Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) certified, which is the British equivalent of France’s Haute Qualité Environnementale (HQE). The new winery is planning plenty of experimentation with numerous prototypes for electronic mustimeters and grape washers. Carillon d’Angelus aims to be a center not only of eco-friendly wine production but of technological innovation for the industry. + GALLEON Fine Wines Images via GALLEON Fine Wines

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New winery in France is serving sustainable alcohol

8 positive environmental stories from 2021

December 29, 2021 by  
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All too often, headlines are built strictly from terrible and shocking stories. It’s easy to lose track of the kindness and generosity of humanity, as well as efforts to do good for the planet. If you’ve been following environmental news in 2021, like every year, has highlighted atrocities around the globe. Yet, there are countless stories of policy changes, local cleanup efforts, impactful corporate action and innovations all aimed at decreasing carbon, conserving trees, protecting wildlife and so much more.  1. Limiting oil and gas exploration This year’s COP26 saw nations from every corner of the planet focused on the same goals. With the environment in the forefront, seven countries pledged to end oil and gas exploration. None of the seven countries source significant oil from their own soil, but the resulting Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance gives other nations and regions a platform to join the effort. You can read more at 7 countries vow to end new oil and gas exploration . Related: Inhabitat’s Positive News page 2. New York City uses goats for invasive weed control The Riverside Park Conservancy has been battling invasive species in the park for fifteen years. Although they’ve seen an outpouring of volunteer efforts to clear the plants , they quickly return to the steep hillside that’s difficult to access. So they brought in two dozen goats in an event dubbed, “Running of the Goats.” The goats munched throughout the day and five remained for six weeks to happily eat away at the problem porcelain berry, English ivy, mugwort, multiflora rose and poison ivy. Allowing the animals to graze eliminates the need for toxic weed killers, which are harmful to the land and the citizens. 3. Lab-grown meat reduces environmental impact  It’s fairly well established at this point that raising livestock impacts the land in negative ways. There’s the issue with methane release, a greenhouse gas that’s more damaging than carbon dioxide. Plus, land requirements for production results in damaging the soil. Then there’s the concern in regards to animal treatment. Lab-grown meat is leading the way towards a reduction in animal reliance for food. Take, for example, this new facility in California that’s capable of producing 50,000 pounds of lab-grown meat annually and a short-term goal to raise that number to 400,000 pounds.  4. Protections for Tongass National Forest It’s our nation’s largest national forest , covering 16 million acres in Southeast Alaska. This area is home to 800-year-old trees, Indigenous people and 400 species of wildlife and fish. While there were previously protections in place, former president Trump had exempted the area in his last few months of office, which opened the door for building roads, logging and other damaging activities. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the reimplementation of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, a win for the natives and the planet. According to the Alaska Wilderness League, Tongass National Forest is one of the world’s largest intact temperate forests. It stores more than 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon and sequesters an additional 10 million metric tons annually. 5. 110 countries pledge to end deforestation by 2030 Without policies to protect existing trees, we’ll be rudderless in our efforts to maintain air quality, slow global warming and mitigate the effects of erosion, landslides and wildfires . Another result of COP26, leaders from 110 nations signed the deforestation pledge, vowing to eliminate deforestation by 2030. It will limit investments in contributing projects and implement restrictions against tree removal to make room for animal grazing and growing of crops such as palm oil.  6. Reforestation projects abound In addition to protecting existing trees, replanting them is critical to nature’s long-term balance. Fortunately, myriad businesses have begun contributing to reforestation. In addition, non-profits around the globe are making a measurable contribution. One Tree Planted is one such organization. Its mid-year update reports 58,000 mangrove trees planted in a sensitive region in Haiti , the planting of 430,000 native trees in Minnesota , 40,000 native trees in Mexico and over 814,000 trees in California . Also, forests the size of France have been restored in the past 20 years, showing how small efforts grow into notable accomplishments. 7. Ocean Cleanup sees major achievement If you’ve never heard of it, Google the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In short, it’s a massive area of the Pacific Ocean that has become a collection point for ocean pollution . A Dutch inventor decided to tackle the problem when he was just 18 years old. He began making a device to tackle the problem and started Ocean Cleanup, his organization aimed at eliminating 90% of the plastic floating in the ocean by 2040. After two previous launches that resulted in failure, during the summer and fall of 2021, Ocean Cleanup collected and removed 20,000 pounds of waste, which was brought back to shore and recycled.  8. Eastern barred bandicoot extinction reclassification  You likely don’t give this Australian marsupial much thought, but with the countless plants and animals going extinct each year, it’s good news that the bandicoot has been reclassified as endangered, which is an upgrade from the previous classification of “extinct in the wild.” Officials say it’s been a 30-year effort to protect the small furry animal that was almost completely eliminated by foxes and lack of suitable habitat.  Via Inhabitat , Eco Watch , NY Times and BBC Images via Pexels

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8 positive environmental stories from 2021

Smart flower LOTUS moves in response to light

November 19, 2021 by  
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The recipe for this art display includes a dash of intrigue, a measure of intelligence and a full serving of “WOW” factor. LOTUS is a nature-inspired smart material that mirrors how flowers act when greeted by the sun .  The story of LOTUS begins in 2010 with curiosity and a deep dive into smart materials . The design team at Studio Roosegaarde was looking for a material that not only looked like something that came from nature, but actually responds to stimuli in real time.  Related: Los Angeles art show features historic Barnsdall olive wood With that, the LOTUS family of smart flowers was born. In the past decade, the assorted art installations have changed in scope and shape, yet all are LOTUS flowers that open in response to light. LOTUS OCULUS is the most recent release. “LOTUS OCULUS pays homage to the grandeur of the Pantheon and continues this legacy by creating an organic architecture of movement and shadows,” the artists comment. “This dynamic dialogue is what Daan Roosegaarde calls ‘Techno-Poetry.’” It’s easy to see why. When you view the art in motion, it seems to breathe in the atmosphere around it. Upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious the larger form is actually composed of many smaller panels of the material, each of which curls into a flower shape when stimulated.   Taking a step back, the entire exhibit comes to life as the parts fold and unfold in response to the changing environment . The result is an interplay of light and movement throughout the space. LOTUS OCULUS was commissioned by Bulgari and was placed in the Modern Art Gallery in Milan. The unique and interactive design was awarded the A’Design Gold Award and Media Architecture Award Denmark. The material takes a different shape as LOTUS Maffei, which is part of the permanent art collection of Palazzo Maffei Museum in Verona, Italy . That’s no small cast credit in the company of notable works by Lucio Fontana, Pablo Picasso and Gerrit Rietveld.  In a focal point for the 17th-century Sainte Marie Madeleine Church in Lille, France, the material was shaped for what is known as the LOTUS DOME . ?This striking exhibition draws the visitor in, enticing them to move around the dome, bringing the LOTUS petals to life in the process.  Roosegaarde describes this tangible connection between light and material as “a metamorphosis of nature and technology . In search of a new harmony between people and the environment, LOTUS is a work of art and a pilot for a more organic architecture.” + Studio Roosegaarde Images via Daan Roosegaarde

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Smart flower LOTUS moves in response to light

7 countries vow to end new oil and gas exploration

November 12, 2021 by  
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Yesterday at  COP26 , seven countries and one Canadian province joined forces as the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance. BOGA members committed to stop exploring for and producing  oil  and gas. Since none of the seven is a major oil or gas producer, the pledge seems more symbolic than practical for solving the climate crisis. But  Costa Rica , Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden, Wales and Quebec are bravely taking the lead as BOGA’s core members. Portugal, New Zealand and California were dubbed associate members for their “significant, concrete steps” in reducing oil and gas production. Related: Will promises from world leaders at COP26 actually happen? “If we want to address the climate crisis, we need a managed but decisive phase-out of oil and gas production,” said Andrea Meza, the minister of environment and energy of Costa Rica, in a statement. Costa Rica — which doesn’t produce oil or gas — and Denmark founded and are co-chairing the new alliance.  Denmark  is the European Union’s biggest oil producer, but that’s not saying much, as they produce less than 1% of the United States’ 2019 oil output. In addition to ending exploration and oil drilling, BOGA members have promised to decrease all fossil fuel production in line with the  Paris Agreement  timeline. Lars Koch of ActionAid Denmark said BOGA presented a test for oil-producing countries. “If they don’t become members of this alliance, what they are actually saying is, ‘We don’t mean what we say about 1.5,’” he said, as reported by Grist. “It is just pure, deep greenwashing.”  Despite a lot of nice words in Glasgow, most of the world’s major economies are still on track to produce way more oil, coal and gas than the Paris Agreement  global warming  target can bear: about 110% of that target, according to a report the United Nations released last month. In the U.S., the Biden administration plans to open 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to drilling next week and to lease huge tracts of public lands for new gas and oil development early next year. So, uh, how are we cutting  emissions  in half by 2030? Via Grist Lead image via Pixabay

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Giant puppet represents refugee children at COP26

November 10, 2021 by  
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Yesterday, Little Amal finally made it to  COP26  in Glasgow, just in time to lead a plenary session with Samoan activist Brianna Fruean on Gender Day. Little Amal arrived on foot, which is fitting for a giant puppet depicting a nine-year-old Syrian refugee. Like many refugees, the puppet traveled a long way — 4,970 miles after leaving Gaziantep, Turkey, on July 27. Gaziantep is near the Syrian border. The  Handspring Puppet Company  created Little Amal, whose name means “hope” in Arabic. The Capetown-based puppeteers wanted to raise awareness about the problems of unaccompanied  refugee  children. Little Amal’s backstory is that her mother went out to find them food one day but never came back. Related: SCAD artist turns recycled materials into giant puppets to revitalize a historic French village Operating the 11-foot-tall puppet is a complex operation. One puppeteer is inside Amal’s frame,  walking  on stilts and operating strings that control the refugee girl’s facial expressions. Three more puppeteers — one for each arm and another to support the puppet’s back — round out the team. “We are  artists , so we create emotion, empathy, to try and make things change,” said Claire Bejanin, who was responsible for Amal’s journey through France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium, as reported by Reuters. Giant puppets entered the  political  arena in the 1960s. In 1963, New York City’s Bread and Puppet Theater took on landlords, police and the Vietnam War. The idea of using protest puppets large and small caught on and spread to other places, from the  San Diego Puppet Insurgency  confronting border issues to Brooklyn’s  Great Small Works  standing up for Black lives. Peter Schumann, founder of Bread and Puppet Theater, has written that since puppets aren’t taken seriously, they work well as lowbrow vehicles for political performance. At the Gender Day plenary, Amal and Fruean exchanged gifts. The Samoan activist gave Amal a flower to represent light and hope. The  Syrian  refugee puppet gave Fruean a bag of seeds. Alok Sharma, president of the climate talks, stated that climate and gender are “profoundly intertwined” and acknowledged that climate change disproportionately affects women and girls. Nine-year-old Alicia Minardi was visiting the protest site with her school class. “I’m happy and sad,” she said, as reported by Reuters. “Happy because for me and my classmates, everything is great, but I’m sad because there are a lot of  children  for whom it’s very hard to live like this.” Via Reuters Lead image via Walk with Amal

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Giant puppet represents refugee children at COP26

French wood house builds a connection with its environment

October 29, 2021 by  
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The PRS House in Mereville, France , a 150 square meter of living space, is an answer to sustainability. The design brought forward by Quinze Architecture does not only bring humanity close to nature, but also retains nature in its pristine form. The first and most impressive fact about the PRS house is its location. The choice of having a living space sandwiched within the woods might be questionable to others, but a view of the PRS would change that perception. It is not an Australopithecus living home, but rather a modern space designed to correspond to natural spaces. Its shape and volume also make it look as if it was part of the natural features that grew with the land. Related: Bamboo Pavilion brings people together with natural design The other notable feature is its proximity to water. Being at the center of a valley with a river below, the views are breathtaking. The beauty of it all is that neither the structure of the house, nor the materials used to build it, impact the natural environment. Considering the location and the house’s need for power, the designers positioned it in a North-South alignment. The fully glazed roof is perfect for collecting the sun rays and converting the energy into power to be used in the house. The beauty of all the materials used in the building is that they are bio-sourced. In other words, they are biodegradable and do not introduce any foreign matter to the environment. The entire building is built out of wood sourced from the region where it is constructed. Additionally, it reduces the carbon footprint associated with concrete production. The wood used gives the building its aesthetic beauty both on the outside and the inside. The light wood used on the walls and windows cuts down the cost of construction . Most importantly, the wood helps keep the building warm, reducing the need for artificial warming and cooling. For a modern masterpiece, the PRS is an ideal living space that can suit any modern family . It has two floors, with the ground floor containing the living room, dining room and kitchen. The upper living space is home to private areas such as the master bedroom and bathrooms. + Quinze Architecture Photography by Mathieu Fiol

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French wood house builds a connection with its environment

United Nations rejects youth activist climate petition

October 19, 2021 by  
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The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child declined to rule on a complaint filed by youth activists from twelve countries. The young adults claimed that Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey have violated children’s rights by failing to control carbon emissions, despite knowing about the perils of climate change. The panel told the activists that they should have brought their cases to national courts. The self-dubbed “Children vs. the Climate Crisis” insist there’s not time for lengthy court cases; they need to take their case to the top. The youth come from twelve countries: Argentina , Brazil, France, Germany, India, Palau, Marshall Islands, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Tunisia and the United States. Some countries, such as the Marshall Islands , are especially pressed for time — their chain of ancient submerged volcanoes may be under the rising seas by 2035. Related: “Climate shocks” threaten over half of Earth’s children “The truth is that I’m doing this because I feel like I haven’t been left a choice and this is the only way for me to not feel guilty,” said 18-year-old French climate activist Iris Duquesne as reported by EcoWatch. “The shame of having the possibility to do something and not doing it is too big. This is the main motivation for all youth climate activists, this and anger. Anger to feel left behind, not listened to and simply left alone.” The petition in question was filed in 2019 by 16 activists who ranged in age from eight to 17 at the time. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors 196 signatories of a 1989 convention declaring the civil, cultural, economic and political rights of children unassailable. Of these, 48 countries agreed to allow children to take action to fix violations. The five countries named in the petition are part of this subset. Environmental and human rights attorneys from Hausfeld and Earthjustice are representing the youth activists. The lawyers said in a statement that the committee’s decision, announced October 11, “delivered a rebuke to young people around the world who are demanding immediate action on the climate crisis. In dismissing the case, the Committee told children that climate change is a dire global emergency , but the UN’s doors are closed to them.” However, the kids had some wins. The committee acknowledged that states are legally responsible for emis s ions that cause harm beyond their borders, and that the youth are indeed victims of climate-related threats to their health, life and culture. These findings could significantly influence future litigation. Via Washington Post and EcoWatch Lead image via Pexels

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Multifunctional award-winning site built on underused land

October 19, 2021 by  
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Les Ateliers Cabot is the winning project for C40 Reinventing Montreal 2021, which is part of the Reinventing Cities project. It is a call for designers and architects to come up with project ideas that will create carbon-neutral urban areas in underused sites into great new developments. These projects are meant to inspire the rest of the world and Les Ateliers Cabot is a truly inspiring project. Several different firms came together to create this project. Sid Lee Architecture, Ateliers Creatifs Montreal, the Centre for Sustainable Development and Collectif Recolte all worked together to create the design. This is a multifunctional site, including an artist studios, office space, business space and facilities for food production . Related: Eco-friendly housing redefines Tanzanian urban architecture The project uses low-carbon solutions that can be produced on a city-wide scale. The new buildings will mostly be made of wood, including beams, columns and floors. The goal is to achieve zero-organic waste in three years. It’s a mix of new and restored buildings that includes the old sawmill — which will be part of the new public square. The site includes an interior courtyard, an event space and a pedestrian entrance and a public square. Existing industrial buildings will be reused, with the new buildings incorporated into the new design. The buildings will have sloping roofs part of rainwater collection systems. There’s also an urban forest nearby, which the southwest entrance offers a beautiful view of. The site is located between two large canals and surrounded by nature , like many other sites that aren’t being used out in the world. But, hopefully, projects like this will help change all of that. Through socio-financing, the project will be open to as many people as possible, allowing for contributions at all levels. This will truly make the project community-created . Les Ateliers Cabot is one example of how an underused site can become an amazing new urban development. + Sid Lee Architecture Images via Sid Lee Architecture

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