Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

February 26, 2021 by  
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Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher Deonna Anderson Fri, 02/26/2021 – 00:30   Moving from a linear business model to a circular takes time, effort and trial and error. But it also has its hidden benefits. “It can help you with some operational efficiencies. It can also position you to be sort of a company of the future, and also, frankly, tackle the environmental challenges that we have of our consumption model,” said Tensie Whelan, director at New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business, at the end of a conversation that she moderated about circular business models at GreenBiz 21 .  Whelan led a conversation with leaders at REI, IKEA and Eileen Fisher, each of which are embracing circular practices in some parts of their businesses. For REI, transitioning to a circular model seems inevitable so it’s doing the work now. “REI, as a company, we believe that this broader kind of shift to a more circular economy is something that the world is really going to have to do over the next 10 years,” said Ken Voeller, director of circular commerce and new business development at REI. “And it’s also a shift that’s going to take many forms. There’s resale, there’s rental, there’s designing products with circularity in mind. It’s not really like there’s a silver bullet.” I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it. Here are four lessons about implementing and iterating circular business models from these retailers. 1. The nuts and bolts of resell sound simple on paper But they’re more complicated in action.  “There’s a lot to think about, as it relates to how do you want to build the infrastructure to support a more circular economy. And then how do you want to build the capability to support it,” Voeller said, noting that the effort aligns with the company’s broader business aspirations, including halving its carbon footprint by 2030. REI has been partnering with Trove (formerly Yerdle) to work out the kinks and operate its resell program in an effort to become more circular. “As we think about the things that we can do as a company to continue to grow revenue, without necessarily growing environmental impact, our circular businesses really hit that sweet spot of being able to do both of those things,” Voeller added. In order to make a circular economy work, a company needs a lot of partners. For REI, while Trove is one of those partners, in a sense, so are the customers that return items for the recommerce program. 2. Engaging customers before they step foot into a store IKEA, known for its flat-packed furniture, has launched buyback programs in select markets. Debuting on Black Friday 2020 , the program was temporarily launched in some countries where IKEA operates, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. And IKEA U.S. is looking forward to launching such a program in the future, after it’s able to wade through state regulations. The program is part of the company’s journey to become more circular. Here’s what the process looks like for a customer interested in selling furniture back to IKEA: Complete an online form about the piece of furniture Receive an payment offer from IKEA Drop off furniture at the store Receive payment from IKEA in the form of a voucher IKEA will sell item in its bargain section “We wouldn’t be asking a customer to lug in a big bookcase that maybe they have sitting in their basement that they haven’t used, just to see if we’ll buy it back from them,” said Jenn Keesson, sustainability manager at IKEA U.S., during the GreenBiz 21 discussion. At the time of the Black Friday announcement, the company noted that any items it is unable to resell will be recycled. “It’s really an end of life solution. … I’m sure that all of us can think of an item in our house that we haven’t gotten rid of, but we’re still not using. So we were excited to be able to offer this solution to our customers in the U.S.,” Keesson said. 3. Presenting customers with all their options Since clothing company Eileen Fisher launched its takeback and resale program Renew in 2009, it has collected 1.5 million returned garments, according to Cynthia Power, director of Eileen Fisher Renew. “I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it,” Power said. “It’s exciting to keep trying to figure out how to make it better and how to keep the most garments in use for as long as possible.” Since clothing company Eileen Fisher launched its resale program Renew in 2009, it has taken back 1.5 million garments. Photo by melissamn on Shutterstock. Eileen Fisher Renew has been experimenting with the larger main brand in some of its retail stores to display new products alongside used products, design samples and remanufactured products. “We’re really trying to give the customer a view into all the different life cycles of our clothes,” Power said. 4. A gateway for customers — new and old For both Eileen Fisher and REI, the recommerce work each company is doing seems to be getting the attention of people who’ve never shopped with them before. “We really see the renew program and resell in general as an opportunity to bring in a new customer who, whether it’s price point or environmental values, or whatever the customer likes, offers them a new way into the brand,” Power said. “We’ve definitely seen a significant percentage of new customers purchasing from Renew who haven’t necessarily purchased from the main line before.” A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up. Voeller of REI noted a similar trend at the outdoor recreation company and added that its resell program also offers an opportunity to develop a different type of relationship with existing customers. “We really view the supply side of our recommerce business as a really interesting retention tool to keep customers engaged with REI and continuing to turn to us for their outdoor purchases,” he said. “They’re able to say, ‘I’ve got this backpack that’s been in my closet for three years. I’ve used it twice. I really don’t need that. Why don’t I trade that into REI, and I’ll get credit to apply towards the thing that I really do want?’”  And while most of the conversations and strategies between these business leaders focused on resale, they know it’s not the only circular business model. Companies that want to be more circular likely will need and want to take multiple approaches to get there. “A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up,” Voeller said.    Pull Quote A circular economy will not just be resale, and it will not just be rental. It will be resale, and rental and circular products designed from the ground up. I think resale is still quite innovative and continues to morph and change and [there’s] still quite a limited number of brands that are doing it. Topics Circular Economy GreenBiz 21 Business Development Recommerce GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Ikea, REI and Eileen Fisher are banking on a circular model to propel them into the next era of commerce.//Images by  Graeme Dawes ,  Eric Glenn and  Helen89 on Shutterstock.

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Circular business model lessons from IKEA, REI and Eileen Fisher

BREEAM-Excellent Le Monde Group HQ by Snhetta opens in Paris

February 3, 2021 by  
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French media company Le Monde Group has recently welcomed its 1,600 employees into its new headquarters, a striking Snøhetta-designed building that’s not only certified BREEAM Excellent but has also been awarded the prestigious French real estate prize, Grand Prix SIMI, in the category “New Office Building Larger than 10,000 square meters.” Located in the city’s 13th arrondissement, the curvaceous office building draws the eye with its bold plaza, soaring archway and semi-transparent outer skin that comprises over 20,000 pixelated glass elements in a pattern with nearly 800 possible configurations. The facade’s sophisticated, text-like pattern evokes the printed letters of newspapers and magazines.  Located at the intersection of Paris ’ old historic parts and the more modern district on the Rive Gauche, the 23,000-square-meter Le Monde Group Headquarters unites the company’s six newsrooms, which had been previously scattered across different sites in the city, under one roof. Transparency, accessibility and a sense of open dialogue with Paris drove the design of the building’s translucent, dynamic facade and public plaza with ground-floor retail spaces. The site also features over 300 bicycle parking spots and easy access to a neighboring train station. Related: Snøhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers “Since its inception the Le Monde Group Headquarters has embodied an architectural and symbolic counterpoint to the many challenges our societies face today,” said Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, founding partner of Snøhetta . “The building is primarily about opening up in a time where fear and uncertainty pushes our societies to increase barriers and strengthen security enforcement. In this sense, the project invites us to reflect on how architecture can create spaces that can be both public and private, exterior and interior, transparent or opaque. Like so many other of our projects, it is a hybrid building that explores the interstices of architecture and that is conceived to be at the service of the public.” Solar panels cover almost the entire roof of the building, while a portion of the building is pulled back to make room for an open-air terrace framed in vegetation. Accessible from both sides of the structure, the elevated terrace provides stunning views of the surrounding cityscape and the Seine River. Inside, the light-filled interiors include high-quality, expansive offices with a variety of flexible workspaces and meeting rooms as well as amenities such as a library, a staff restaurant, an auditorium and a Le Monde Group analogue archive. + Snøhetta Photography by Marwan Harmouche, Ludwig Favre and Jared Chulski via Snøhetta

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BREEAM-Excellent Le Monde Group HQ by Snhetta opens in Paris

Architects design a rooftop nature conservatory in Hong Kong

February 3, 2021 by  
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A design team led by PLandscape and LAAB Architects has brought a rooftop nature conservatory in Hong Kong to life. The Nature Discovery Park will offer a plethora of nature-based learning experiences with a biodiversity museum, an outdoor farm to provide farm-to-table dining, a butterfly garden and more. The park is found at the center of Hong Kong on the top level of the popular K11 MUSEA shopping mall. The urban location offers city residents (who otherwise would have little to no access to farm life) an opportunity to experience their food in a whole new light. Design-wise, the protective pitched roof and reflection of the crops against glass competes with the city’s skyscrapers, helping to remind Hong Kong’s citizens that the natural world and urban life can coexist. Related: Rehabilitation Center of China is topped with a healing roof garden At the center of the park is a glass greenhouse encasing an organic hydroponic nursery leading out to an organized, outdoor farm. The structure features steel and aluminum cladding in its frame, with the glass facade included to reduce heat gain and large sliding doors to promote natural ventilation. All door handles, pendant lamps and tables are made of sustainably harvested wood. In order to reduce construction waste, the greenhouse was prefabricated and installed onsite. In addition to hosting farm-to-table meals with the ingredients grown onsite, the park offers tours, nature explorations and education programs that focus on subjects such as biodiversity and sustainability. Guests of the farm-to-table restaurant have the option of exploring the gardens and learning more about their food’s growing conditions and urban farming in general before enjoying a meal. The museum itself features an aquarium designed to reflect the marine species that would be present in the nearby Victoria Harbor without pollution. The building features a rooftop butterfly garden growing pollinator-friendly plants to attract Hong Kong’s diverse populations of butterflies. + LAAB Architects Photography by Otto Ng of LAAB Architects via v2com

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Architects design a rooftop nature conservatory in Hong Kong

3 takeaways from Colgate-Palmolive’s 2025 strategy

December 23, 2020 by  
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3 takeaways from Colgate-Palmolive’s 2025 strategy Deonna Anderson Wed, 12/23/2020 – 01:15 When you think of Colgate-Palmolive, the first thing likely to come to mind is its eponymous toothpaste or dish soap. But the company also owns a lot of other brands that offer other consumer packaged goods such as deodorant (Speed Stick), body soap (Irish Spring) and other household cleaning products (Fabuloso). And what are those items packaged in? Most of the time, plastic . The company was the eighth biggest plastic polluter in 2019, according to the Changing Markets Foundation. But it recently made a commitment to eliminate a substantial chunk of its plastic waste by 2025.  Back in November, Colgate-Palmolive released details about its 2025 strategy, which centers on three key areas and a few goals with longer-term trajectories. Among areas it’s planning to address is preserving the environment. The commitment to eliminate one-third of its plastic waste by 2025 is part of its “preserve the environment” ambition, and it’s part of a goal that also includes transitioning to 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable plastic packaging by the same year. Shortly after the 2025 strategy’s publication, I spoke with Ann Tracy, chief sustainability officer at Colgate-Palmolive, about the specific commitments, how the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on its sustainability goals and why it held firm with the release schedule for the company’s recyclable toothpaste tube. “We didn’t slow down the implementation of our new recyclable tube,” Tracy said. “We’re continuing to invest and put even more resources, even hiring some resources around the plastic waste issue.” Here are three other major takeaways from our conversation. 1. Its plastic strategy focuses on three areas. Those areas are the possibility of using new materials; moving its packaging to be 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable; and developing other ways to deliver its products with potentially less packaging. For example, it’s exploring whether toothpaste really needs to be in a tube. “If you think about toothpaste, can it be in a different format other than paste to deliver the same, clean benefits for your oral health? So, can it be tablets? Can it be chewable?” Tracy said. “Things like cleaning products that are a little tablet that you just drop into a reusable container and add water so that it’s reducing the overall environmental footprint. Those are examples.” As of September, the company was testing a tablet cleaning product with its PLOOF Ajax line in France, according to a LinkedIn post from Greg P. Corra, director of packaging innovation and sustainability at Colgate-Palmolive. Companies already are taking a similar approach. For toothpaste , there’s Bite , Lush and Hello . For cleaning products, there’s Blueland , Seventh Generation and Amazon’s in-house product line Clean Revolution . Additionally, Tracy said, the company is studying what role it should play in driving better recycling infrastructure around the world. “Different countries have different levels of infrastructure. The U.S. itself, although we’re considered a developed country, we have a very disparate [system.]” In late June, Colgate-Palmolive was part of a group of consumer brands and corporate foundations to invest $54 million with Closed Loop Partners’ infrastructure fund to “support additional recycling infrastructure and spur growth and technological innovation around end markets for post-consumer materials across North America.”  2. The company is aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its global operations by 2040. To achieve this, Colgate-Palmolive has set goals that will build up to this one. One goal is to source 100 percent renewable electricity in its operations by 2030. “I like to call it the cousin target,” Tracy said, noting that the company recently launched its process to get to 100 percent renewable energy by engaging with its operations around the world. Colgate operates in more than 80 countries, with its headquarters in New York City and six divisions around the world including in Latin America, Europe and Asia. It has more than 50 manufacturing and research facilities globally and in 2019, it made $15.7 billion of worldwide net sales, according to the company’s website. To source the renewable electricity, Colgate plans to implement a multi-pronged strategy: buying green power; building solar farms; and negotiating power purchase agreements.  Tracy said Colgate is still working with outside partners to help it build a plan for how to get to net-zero carbon by 2040 but noted that the company considers purchasing offsets to be the last resort on its decarbonization journey.  “We don’t have a strategy around offsets yet other than we do believe they will play a role to close gaps at the end, but that’s what we consider them —  a gap closer, not a leading technology,” she said. “We’d like to see the offsets become a bit more standardized and accepted before we start building our strategy around that.” The company is also accessing how to address its Scope 3 emissions and beginning to work with its tier one suppliers to help “extend the carbon footprint reduction beyond [its] own supply chain.” 3. Its recyclable toothpaste tube took a lot of partnership — and will continue to. Tracy said the company developed a roadmap to convert every single tube it makes to the recyclable tube format over the next couple of years. During the first quarter of 2020, it launched its first recyclable toothpaste tubes with its Tom’s of Maine and Smile for Good lines. Colgate-Palmolive makes most of its own toothpaste tubes internally. To give a sense of how many toothpaste tubes it sells worldwide, in 2019, the Colgate toothpaste brand sold almost 80 million units in the United States, according to data on Statista. “It takes a lot of investment because we have to convert all our equipment,” she said. “I like to say half the job was the engineering and the technology to develop the tube, but the other half of the job was to work with the local recycling infrastructure to make sure it’s accepted into the mainstream. It takes a lot of partners.”  Right now, Tracy said, the company is “busy ramping up the Optic White line in the U.S., which is one of our biggest lines of toothpaste or brands of toothpaste in the U.S. So, we’re launching that very shortly here along with all our kids’ toothpaste in the U.S.”  She added that, in Europe, by the end of 2021, 80 percent of the tubes will be converted to the recyclable version. Colgate-Palmolive hopes to eventually convert all its tubes. It’s still early days for this effort, so the company doesn’t have many more learnings to share at this point but Tracy said it wants to make sure all its tubes are actually recycled. “Until we have scale, until other tubes convert to this recyclable technology, technically it’s not recycled,” Tracy said. “We’re working very hard with partners to make sure it’s accepted into the recycling industry.” Its partners include Recycling Partnership and the American Plastic Recycling Association, who are helping with its plastic waste reduction efforts. “We had to work with them to get the tube accepted and make sure it was recognized as recyclable,” Tracy said. “We could not have done this work without external partners, absolutely not.” Topics Commitments & Goals Plastic Plastic Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock monticello Close Authorship

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San Antonio unveils new wildlife land bridge

December 16, 2020 by  
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The newly built Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge now connects two sections of a San Antonio park that were previously separated by a highway. The bridge, which is aimed at serving both humans and animals, was developed to reduce human-wildlife conflicts along the busy highway. According to the  City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department , the bridge is the biggest of its kind in the U.S. The six-lane highway crossing the Phil Hardberger Park makes it difficult for animals to get from one side to the other. Even though there are barriers restricting the animals from crossing the highway, there are those that still break through. This has led to various accidents on this highway. Related: $87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions Former Mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger, who shares his name with the park, said in an interview that the animals within the park have always been threatened by the highway. “Even though you do put up barriers, they’ll get across or start to get across,” Hardberger said. “Right now, it’s six lanes. [The Texas Department of Transportation] says it will eventually be eight lanes. We’ve had some accidents between cars and deer especially and some of the smaller animals as well.” The bridge, which opened on Friday, has already be used by local wildlife, as seen by construction workers. The new structure is 150 feet long and about 150 feet wide. It is also designed to feature walking trails for humans and natural vegetation for the animals. Once the vegetation is fully developed, the bridge is expected to resemble the look of the park . San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has applauded the project, expressing his expectations for the park once the landscape is fully developed. Nirenberg said , “I look forward to watching the landscape grow and mature with native trees and plants and observing wildlife through viewing blinds designed by local artists.” For years, measures intended to help wildlife cross busy roads and other human-made impediments have been implemented. According to  National Geographic , such structures originated in France in the 1950s. Today, there are plenty of these structures around the world, including in the United States. Currently, there are similar projects underway in Houston and San Francisco. + San Antonio Parks and Recreation Via Huffington Post Photography by Justin Moore; rendering via San Antonio Parks and Recreation

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3 big trends headlining a tumultuous year in food

December 11, 2020 by  
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3 big trends headlining a tumultuous year in food Jim Giles Fri, 12/11/2020 – 01:45 I’m going to try to make sense of this tumultuous year, starting with three trends from the past 12 months that I see as key to the immediate future of food. 1. An insane year for alternative proteins The trend: By Dec. 1, venture capitalists invested a whopping $1.5 billion in alternative proteins during 2020, according to the latest data from the Good Food Institute . That money — close to double the 2019 total — is making the industry increasingly visible. At the start of the year, the Impossible Burger was available in around 150 stores — now you can find it in more than 15,000. Newer alt proteins are also coming. Just last week, Singapore became the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown meat . And while the field may not need further incentives, it got one anyway: This week, the XPRIZE Foundation announced a new $15 million competition focused on chicken and fish alternatives .  The twist: Moving fast means breaking things. I see two bumps in the road. First, alternatives have a tiny market share because animal meat is cheap and, for now, tastes better. Consumption of animal products should and will decrease, but many alt protein brands and startups will disappear before that happens. The second challenge was summed up by the French ag minister’s response to the news from Singapore : “Meat comes from life, not from laboratories. Count on me so that in France, meat remains natural and never artificial!” I’d bet on seeing more of a backlash against alt proteins. The question is whether it will dent the industry’s trajectory. My take: The minister should visit a concentrated animal feeding operation and explain why he describes what happens there as “natural.” 2. How committed is your company? The trend: Where do we start? How about June, when Unilever committed to zeroing-out emissions from all its products by 2039 ? Or last week, when Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, said it would spend  $3.6 billion over the next five years as it moves toward a 2050 net-zero target? Or back in March at Horizon Organic, a U.S. dairy brand that committed to going carbon-negative by 2025 ? Those are just the first three that come to mind in a bumper year for target-setting. The twist: What’s the rest of the industry doing? Far less, in many cases. When experts at CDP, a nonprofit that tracks sustainability commitments, surveyed 479 food and ag companies , only 75 reported having emissions commitments in line with the Paris Agreement. The situation is worse for deforestation. Around half of companies that source soy told CDP that they can track their purchases to the country of origin and no further. This means that when it comes to Brazil and other forest nations, most food companies are blind as to whether their soy comes from newly cleared land. My take: I’m going for glass half-full, at least on emissions. The industry is way behind where it should be, but every company that sets a meaningful target heaps a little more pressure on those that haven’t. 3. The rush for regenerative ag  The trend: Another area where a flood of new initiatives in 2020 made it challenging to keep up. Big industry names such as Bayer and Cargill said they would help farmers transition to regenerative methods, and big names from the wider corporate world — JPMorgan Chase and IBM, for instance — bought some of the first carbon credits from Indigo Carbon, an soil offsets marketplace. Nori, an Indigo competitor, closed a $4 million funding round . Another disruptive company, Farmers Business Network, launched a service designed to help farmers earn a premium from regeneratively farmed grain . Again, those are just the first examples that come to mind. The twist: No one disputes that these efforts will be good for soil health. But do regenerative methods sequester as much carbon as advocates claim? Some prominent experts think not. In May, the World Resources Institute warned of regenerative ag’s ” limited potential to mitigate climate change .” If so, should we be building an offsets market around soil credits? Again, experts have doubts: One important step toward such a market, the creation of a protocol for soil carbon offsets, was the subject of multi-pronged criticism . My take: If I’m honest, this worries the hell out of me. Imagine the PR storm if a big company shrinks its carbon footprint using credits that later come under attack in the media. The ensuing controversy could do huge damage to efforts to pay farmers to store carbon in soils. That’s it for part one of my 2020 roundup. Look for more of my reflections (and maybe some predictions) before the end of December.  This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Topics Food & Agriculture Alternative Protein Regenerative Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff 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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Intergenerational living community in France upholds passive design principles

November 12, 2020 by  
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Supported by Studio Losa Architects and the Centre Communal d’Action Sociale (CCAS) of Clermont-Ferrand, one of France’s largest social action community centers, Clos des Vignes, is an intergenerational and inclusive village made with passive design principles. The ambitious project incorporates 40 units within eight buildings and a multifunctional hall in the city of Clermont-Ferrand in central France . The community serves as a home for independent seniors, people who receive public assistance and people with disabilities. Following studies conducted by the CCAS of Clermont-Ferrand aimed at discovering optimal housing designs for seniors to supplement assisted living facilities, a need was found for promoting home support while preserving social life. Additionally, the study found that older communities must prioritize self-reliance and support among the residents to protect quality of life, all while limiting building energy consumption to reach a passive level. Related: This nature-filled community is a smart housing solution for Singapore’s aging population Of the 40 units, half are one-bedrooms and half are two-bedrooms. Thirty of the units are reserved for seniors while the remaining 10 are intended for students or young couples. Views of the region’s famous Puy de Dôme volcano and Monts du Livradois-Forez nature preserve serve as an inspiration for new lifestyles and renewed physical and mental energy for the village inhabitants. All of the units and public garden spaces are accessible to those with reduced mobility. The housing complex also incorporates smart home management with automation of certain amenities and tablets linked to provide direct access to a CCAS platform for car, services and group activities. The design features vegetable gardens and walking paths, with 4,000 square meters of grounds open to the public in the day and closed at nightfall to be enjoyed exclusively by residents. Ground coverings are chosen for high resistance outside while low-maintenance and high-performing interior insulation regulates the thermal and acoustic environment of the interior. Solar panels produce energy for water and space heating to add to passive house design principles, and the structures utilize a combination of steel and concrete in construction. + Studio LOSA Photography by Nicolas Grosmond via aR. Communication

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3D-printed modular oasis stays naturally cool in Abu Dhabi

November 12, 2020 by  
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Italian firm Barberio Colella Architetti and architect Angelo Figliola have unveiled a futuristic vision for an urban oasis in Abu Dhabi that combines cutting-edge technology with low-tech systems to stay naturally cool in extreme climates. The conceptual project — dubbed Urban Dunes — uses locally sourced sand as the main building material, which would be 3D printed in stereotomic blocks of sandstone. In addition to providing passive cooling, the oasis would also pay homage to the region’s culture with intricate and elegant spaces that mimic the traditional architecture of Abu Dhabi. Designed to span 1,000 square meters, the Urban Dunes project features the tagline “rethinking local sustainable models.” The proposal “started from the deep awareness of the climatic context of Abu Dhabi’s and the Emirates’ traditional architecture, such as elegant vaulted spaces, vernacular shading devices and cold-water basins,” the architects explained in a press statement. As a result, Urban Dunes’ sculptural, sand dune-like form is integrated with iconic elements such as mashrabiya , vaulted spaces, water basins, fountains and palms. Related: Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia For adaptability, the architects have proposed a modular design to fit a variety of spatial settings. The basic module, a square, can be extended to create everything from an L-shaped layout to a courtyard. Each module would be made from 3D-printed blocks that stack together to create a vault with a thickness of 55 centimeters that, together with the heat-reflective cool pigments mixed into the sand, help protect against solar heat gain. The vaulted spaces below are also optimized for natural cooling with elegant mashrabiya, a type of perforated window screen to enable natural ventilation . The incoming airflow is cooled by the water basins placed around the interior as well as the two waterfall fountains and palm trees in the center. Earth pipes are laid underground to feed water to the fountains and basins. + Barberio Colella Architetti Images via Barberio Colella Architetti

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3D-printed modular oasis stays naturally cool in Abu Dhabi

World leaders commit to Earth’s recovery

September 29, 2020 by  
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World leaders are looking toward a post- COVID-19 world and planning to put the planet at the center of recovery plans. More than 60 countries, including France, Germany and the U.K., have pledged to promote sustainable economic systems and slash pollution by 2050. The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature was introduced on Monday with 64 signatories. By signing, leaders promised to address issues such as deforestation , ecosystem degradation, illicit wildlife and timber trafficking, the climate crisis, unsustainable fishing and environmentally harmful subsidies as well as to take steps to transition to a circular economy. Related: UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5°C limit before 2030 “Science clearly shows that biodiversity loss, land and ocean degradation, pollution, resource depletion and climate change are accelerating at an unprecedented rate. This acceleration is causing irreversible harm to our life support systems and aggravating poverty and inequalities as well as hunger and malnutrition,” the pledge reads. “Despite ambitious global agreements and targets for the protection, sustainable use and restoration of biodiversity, and notwithstanding many local success stories, the global trends continue rapidly in the wrong direction. A transformative change is needed: we cannot simply carry on as before.” This is a busy time for environmental promises. On Wednesday, the UN is virtually hosting a major biodiversity summit from New York. More than 116 heads of governments and states are trying to get on the summit’s oversubscribed speakers’ roster. The U.K. is an enthusiastic supporter of the nature pledge. “We must act now — right now. We cannot afford to dither and delay because biodiversity loss is happening today and it is happening at a frightening rate,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “Left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all. Extinction is forever — so our action must be immediate.” Johnson said that by 2030, 30% of the U.K.’s land will be reserved for nature. Countries large and small from five continents have signed on, including Mexico, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Kenya, Fiji, the Seychelles and Mexico. But a few important players are noticeably absent, such as Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro and Xi Jinping, the leaders of the U.S., Brazil and China, respectively. “Many of the most important countries in the world that are causing climate change due to their emissions of greenhouse gases , and/or are destroying their biodiversity, are not signatures to this pledge,” said Robert Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, to the Guardian. “Without countries such as the USA, Brazil, China, Russia, India, and Australia we cannot succeed in achieving the Paris Climate goal or halting and ultimately reversing the loss of biodiversity.” + Leaders’ Pledge for Nature Via The Guardian Image via Arek Socha

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262 wicker baskets come together in a stunning arched pavilion

September 8, 2020 by  
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For the third annual Annecy Paysages landscape architecture festival, Riga-based Didzis Jaunzems Architecture (DJA) has crafted the Wicker Pavilion, a beautiful and innovative pavilion covered with 262 traditional wicker baskets. Located in the heart of Jardins de l’Europe in the alpine town of Annecy, France, the pavilion provided park visitors respite from the hot summer sun while framing select views of the landscape. DJA also participated in the festival last year with the UGUNS pavilion. With the Wicker Pavilion, Didzis Jaunzems Architecture has combined contemporary architecture with traditional Latvian craftsmanship. The arched pavilion was built with a timber grid shell structure technique. “The triangular mesh of the timber grid is assembled on the ground, then the middle part is lifted to a necessary height and then the three corners are fixed to create the final arched shape,” the architects explained. “The load bearing structure is made of pine tree planks 21 x 45 mm in 6 structural layers connected with bolts at crossing points.” Related: Glowing Wishing Pavilion is made with 5,000 recycled plastic bricks The timber-framed shell was then covered with 262 traditional wicker baskets that were woven into cone shapes by Latvian artisans. The lattice structure of the wicker baskets allows for filtered daylight through the pavilion, creating a dynamic play of light and shadow on the grass. In addition to providing a shaded space for park visitors, the arched pavilion also invites a sense of play. The gridded triangular sections of the frame are large enough for passersby to poke their heads inside and look through to views framed by the conical wicker baskets. To improve the flexibility of the timber structure during the construction process, the architects wet the structure with water to increase the pliability of the materials. Over time, the timber and wicker materials will develop a natural patina and turn a silvery gray to better blend in with the surrounding landscape. + DJA Photography by Eriks Bozis via DJA

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262 wicker baskets come together in a stunning arched pavilion

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