MVRDV to dramatically revitalize Frances historic Palais du Commerce

February 14, 2019 by  
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Dutch design firm MVRDV has won a competition to renovate and expand the historic Palais du Commerce in Rennes, France. The impressive 19th century palace had once served multiple public functions but now suffers from disconnect with current civic life. Working in collaboration with co-architects Bernard Desmoulin for developers Frey and Engie Avenue, MVRDV plans to reactivate the former public building and transform it into an inviting mixed-use destination that will serve as the centerpiece of the city’s main commercial street. The 18,000-square-meter redevelopment project will include not only a building restoration with a modern 6,000-square-meter timber expansion of the Palais du Commerce, but also the reactivation of the surroundings including the transformation of the Place de la République into a pedestrian-friendly public square as well as the conversion of the Rue du Pré Botté into a landscaped pedestrian area. The landmark building will also be updated with a sensitive approach that will be respectful of its iconic 19th-century design while greatly increasing the building’s transparency. In addition to the replacement of existing windows with larger panes of glass, glazed storefronts will be added to the arches of the arcade and a new grand, winding staircase will anchor the center of the facade. “Not only is Palais du Commerce a local landmark, but its transformation will turn the Place de la République into a popular destination and act as a vital catalyst for its surroundings,” says Nathalie de Vries, founding partner of MVRDV. “Our design approaches this task with an appreciation of the building’s history, but also with an eye towards the future, helping Rennes to achieve its urban vision. The additions that we will make are clearly modern in character, clearly showcasing this design as the latest chapter in the building’s storied history.” Related: MVRDV designs solar-powered “KoolKiel” with Jenga-like architecture in Germany The building’s mixed-use program will include new shops, a hotel, offices, a co-working space, a variety of leisure spaces — including a LEGO museum, event space and an electronic music bar — and a school for the kitchen and hotel industry led by chef Thierry Marx. All spaces of the building will be used more effectively, from the basements to the roof, which will include a new bistro in the building’s central dome. Construction on the project is slated to begin in 2022, with completion expected in 2025. + MVRDV Images via ENGRAM, diagrams via MVRDV

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MVRDV to dramatically revitalize Frances historic Palais du Commerce

Vulnerable nuclear waste stockpiles are becoming a"global crisis"

February 4, 2019 by  
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Nuclear waste is quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest problems. Earth’s growing stockpile of radioactive waste is troublesome, because these chemicals remain in their radioactive state for several millennia — and we have yet to come up with a foolproof storage solution. A new study explored facilities that store nuclear waste in seven locations around the world, including the United States, France, Japan, Belgium, Britain, Finland and Sweden. Officials discovered that the majority of nuclear waste lacked proper defense mechanisms, like secondary protocols, and are vulnerable to failing in the wake of natural and man-made disasters. Related: Blue dye could be the next key to harnessing renewable energy Storage of nuclear waste is one of the biggest obstacles facing nuclear power plants . It was once thought that deep underground was a good storage option, but that is not the case. According to Greenpeace , all of the storage facilities in the study showed some percentage of radiation leaks, which is incredibly detrimental to the environment. “More than 65 years after the start of the civil use of nuclear power, not a single country can claim that it has the solution to manage the most dangerous radioactive wastes ,” Shaun Burnie, who works with Greenpeace Germany and led the new study, explained. Even worse, some storage facilities are located in areas prone to natural disasters. For example, the U.S. is in the process of building a major nuclear waste site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain range, which features seismic and volcanic activity, hardly suitable for keeping radioactive waste safe. The building of the Yucca Mountain facility was placed on hold by former President Barack Obama in 2010. Donald Trump, however, has expressed interest in reviving the construction and finishing the site before his term is up. As if that is not bad enough, governments are seemingly turning a blind eye to public concerns. The nuclear waste report comes after it was revealed that the U.S. government secretly moved weapons-grade plutonium across several states, despite passionate opposition from politicians in South Carolina. If scientists do not come up with a better method of disposing of nuclear waste, then it really could become the next global crisis. Fortunately, countries are exploring alternative renewable sources for energy that do not result in radioactive waste and are healthier for the environment. + Greenpeace Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Vulnerable nuclear waste stockpiles are becoming a"global crisis"

New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers

January 30, 2019 by  
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In the first study of its kind, French researchers have discovered that disposable diapers contain trace amounts of chemicals that are harmful to humans. After testing 23 different diapers sold in France between 2016 and 2018, the researchers found about 60 dangerous chemicals, including glyphosate , which is used in the controversial weed killer Roundup. Now, Ministers have given manufacturers two weeks to put together a “plan of action” to remove the harmful substances. In the report published last week and first reported by The Guardian , no specific brands were mentioned; however, researchers did find the toxins in diapers marketed as “ecological.” They also said that they tested well-known labels. Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, said that some of the chemicals, like perfumes , were added intentionally. Some of them could also “migrate through urine, for example, and enter into prolonged contact with babies’ skin.” Related: This groundbreaking new machine can recycle 220 pounds of diapers in a single hour In the 206-page Safety in Baby Nappies report , researchers said that some of the substances they found had been banned in the EU for more than 15 years, and others were usually found in cigarette smoke or diesel fumes. Agnes Buzyn, the French health secretary, said that “there is no immediate risk for the health of the child,” and parents should keep using disposable diapers, just as they have for decades. She did admit that there could be some long-term risks, and they do want to protect children. Pampers and Joone, two major diaper manufacturers, have already reacted to the report. Pampers said its diapers have always been safe, and it has already put the report’s recommendations in place. Joone’s president Carole Juge-Llewellyn said that the report was “alarmist,” and the company is transparent about the toxicology analysis of its products. The report said that it can’t prove the health effects linked to wearing disposable diapers, but it still recommends eliminating or minimizing the dangerous chemicals. Of course, if parents want to avoid chemicals completely as well as minimize waste when it comes to diapers, they can always opt for cloth diapers , which are now easier to use than ever before. + Safety in Baby Nappies Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers

A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach

November 1, 2018 by  
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Surf’s up for a young couple living in the southwestern France surfing mecca of Soorts-Hossegor. Custom-designed by Paris-based firm Java Architecture, ‘Une Maison Pour Surfer’ serves as a home base for the surf-loving couple and their new baby. Keeping within a tight budget and focusing on minimal impact to the environment, the architects created an elongated home using  prefabricated modules . The 1,000-square-foot home was built in collaboration with the homeowners, a young couple who lived in Paris but wanted a vacation home  to relax and spend their time on the coast doing what they love — surfing. Their chosen spot was the idyllic area of Soorts-Hossegor, a popular area for water sports. Related: The Truck Surf Hotel is traveling retreat that hits the best surf spots in Europe and Africa Located on a hilly landscape surrounded by forest, the welcoming family home has a  minimal impact on the natural surroundings. Building on the top of the hill meant that no big trees had to be cut down, and using prefabricated modules allowed the project to have a reduced construction and transportation time, which in return minimized the project’s carbon footprint. Taking on a shed-like appearance, the home is an elongated form with a gabled roof . Clad in thin, dark wood panels, the exterior blends into the surrounding forestscape, virtually camouflaged within the tree canopy. An extra-wide porch serves as the main attraction. Jutting out into the landscape and covered in a corrugated polycarbonate cladding, this space is the most active area for the family. The transparent nature of the structure lets natural light into the home but protects the interior from rain and wind. Although the large porch is the activity center, the interior living space is just as relaxing. Light wooden panels were used to clad the walls and flooring throughout the home. The design scheme uses muted colors and minimal furnishings to create an ultra soothing space that welcomes the family after a long day on the waves. + Java Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Java Architecture

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A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach

Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

September 18, 2018 by  
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At last, the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains have made their global debut in the northern countryside of Germany . As of Monday, two Coradia iLint locomotives have been transporting passengers back and forth to the towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude, just west of Hamburg. The efficient trains were produced by French transportation engineers at Alstom, the same manufacturers who amazed the world in the early 1980s with the world-record-setting bullet train. While the TGV captured many people’s attention as the fastest locomotive in production, its true feat was providing a solution to the 1973 oil crisis in France by featuring an electric — not gas — fueled transmission. Nearly four decades later, Alstom has come to the rescue again as European cities continue to struggle with pollution. Replacing diesel powered engines that are stagnating Germany’s fight for the green is the first push. Related: New photosynthesis machine is twice as efficient at creating hydrogen fuel Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge inaugurated the pair of novel trains at an unveiling ceremony in Bremervoerde, where the trains will undergo routine hydrogen refueling. The company leader said, “The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production.” The bright blue Coradia iLint trains currently operate on a 62-mile (100-kilometer) course. However, in equal capacity to their gas-gulping counterparts, the hydrogen-powered vehicles can travel the span of 600 miles (1000 kilometers) on one tank of hydrogen. The trains rely on fuel cells that can produce electricity from a combined mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. The models are extremely efficient in the conversion — excess electricity can be siphoned into ion lithium batteries stored on board. The only byproducts emitted by this process are steam and water. Many German states have expressed interest in adopting the models to their own transportation lines. The company announced it will be delivering a set of 14 trains to the Lower Saxony region of the nation by 2021. While the zero-emission alternatives are attractive because of their quieter, eco-friendly nature and ability to run without electrified railways, they are not without a high initial price. Stefan Schrank, Alstom’s project manager, said, “Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run.” It’s a price many countries are willing to pay for cleaner air . France plans to rail its first hydrogen train by 2022, with the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Canada eager to follow suit. + Alstom Via The Guardian Image via René Frampe / Alstom

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Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

France moves to reshape infrastructure and promote bicycle transportation

September 17, 2018 by  
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France plans to launch a major endeavor to triple the amount of cyclists on its streets within the next seven years. The action will include building better bike lanes, providing financial incentives for commuters to switch to bicycle transportation and cracking down on bike theft. The plan was announced by the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at a speech in Nantes, where he revealed that cycling accounts for only 3 percent of transportation in the country. Despite hosting the acclaimed Tour de France competition, France has fallen far behind other EU nations in bicycle transportation. In the Netherlands, cycling accounts for almost a third of all transportation, backed by a strong cycling culture as well as organized routes and laws that make Dutch riders feel safe on the roads. “Fifty million euros per year will not turn France into the Netherlands, but it is a start,” said Olivier Schneider, head of the French Bike Users Federation (FUB). Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly France’s total fund for cycling infrastructure over the next seven years amounts to 350 million euros ($410 million). “We plan to triple the share of cycling to 9 percent by 2024, when we host the Olympics,” Philippe said. “The discontinuity on the bike lane maps creates insecurity and discourages people from cycling.” Currently, bike lanes in French cities only run short distances and are not safely connected to one another at major intersections or heavy traffic zones. In addition to addressing these incomplete routes, the government will restructure one-way streets to include two-way bike routes, saving commuters inconvenience and time. Converters to cycling will be rewarded yearly with 200 euro ($233) tax-free stipends from the French government, and many private companies are looking to double that amount, providing their own 400 ($467) euro tax-free rewards each year for commuters. Companies are also being mandated by the government to allocate proper bicycle parking facilities for their employees, a feature that train hubs around the country will also boast. To deter bike thieves from suspending the country’s progress, new bikes will be subject to a mandatory identification engraving system, which will make it easier for burglars to be apprehended and fined. The French government will also introduce cycling lessons in all secondary schools by 2022 to ensure that future generations embrace the cycling culture and respect for a clean environment. Via Reuters Image via Veroyama

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France moves to reshape infrastructure and promote bicycle transportation

How can citizens share responsibility for a polluted river valley basin?

September 15, 2018 by  
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Here’s how France created a system for participatory decision-making for its river water.

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How can citizens share responsibility for a polluted river valley basin?

France could ban stores from tossing out unsold clothing

May 11, 2018 by  
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Earlier this year a viral Facebook photo of a clothing store in France destroying apparel sparked outrage — and Paris-based group Emmaus got involved. The organization working to end homelessness started tackling the clothing dilemma, and a recent Circular Economy Roadmap from the government proposes a solution: banning stores from chucking unsold clothes . (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v3.0’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Exposition de la poubelle de Celio, rue du Gros Horloge à Rouen. (Artiste inconnu).Celio jette ses vêtements … Posted by Nathalie Beauval on  Saturday, February 3, 2018 France’s Circular Economy Roadmap calls for applying the main principles of the food waste battle to the clothing industry by 2019; a 2016 law requires grocery stores to donate food instead of throwing it away. The government said in the roadmap they aim to ensure unsold textiles “are neither discarded nor eliminated.” So France could prohibit stores from trashing clothing that isn’t sold. Clothing stores might have to donate unsold wares instead. Related: This Swedish power plant is burning H&M clothes instead of fossil fuels Emmaus deputy director general Valérie Fayard told local research company Novethic while the details aren’t clear yet, as this is a roadmap presentation, it’s still good news. She said, “The deadline of 2019 will allow the government to launch an inventory of the situation, calculate the number of tonnages discarded, the processes put in place by brands, and difficulties.” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said by 2019, roadmap measures could be translated into legislation, according to Fashion Network . Europe ditches four million tons of clothing every year, according to Fashion Network. Meanwhile, five million tons are placed on the market. France is one of Europe’s biggest fashion markets — but they throw away 700,000 tons of clothing per year and only recycle 160,000 tons. Green Matters said France was “the first country to pass a law” preventing supermarkets and grocery stores from tossing out food nearing expiration. + Circular Economy Roadmap Via Novethic , Green Matters , My Modern Met , and Fashion Network Images via Alp Allen Altiner on Unsplash and Cam Morin on Unsplash

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France could ban stores from tossing out unsold clothing

Macron says what Trump won’t and urges action on climate change in US Congress

April 26, 2018 by  
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While it seemed like French President Macron was cozying up to President Trump in Washington DC as the special guest of honor for the first State Dinner of the Trump Administration , the two leaders are an ocean apart on the issue of climate change. “Some people think that securing current industries and their jobs is more urgent than transforming our economies to meet the challenge of global change.” Macron said in a speech to the US Congress. “In the long run, we will have to face the same realities. We’re just citizens of the same planet.” In his speech to Congress, Macron acknowledged the economic concerns regarding the initial cost of abandoning fossil fuels. “I hear [those worries]. . . but we must find a transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Macron. “What is the meaning of our life, really, if we work and live destroying the planet, while sacrificing the future of our children?” Macron urged the United States to understand that there is “no Planet B,” that the world must work together to solve the problem or all will suffer. Despite the current atmosphere in Washington, Macron remained optimistic that the disagreements between France and the United States, historic allies, would someday be resolved. ““I am sure one day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement,” said Macron. Related: Macron offers 18 scientists the chance to “Make Our Planet Great Again” While Democrats heartily applauded Macron’s positions on climate change, the Republican side of the aisle was predictably less than enthusiastic. President Trump has notably called climate change a hoax created by the Chinese, withdrawn the United States from the Paris agreement, and increased tariffs on Chinese solar panels, therefore increasing the cost of solar power in the United States . Trump also picked Scott Pruitt, a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and a climate-change skeptic, as head Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency , an executive appointment that was approved 52-46 by the United States Senate. Via Washington Post Images via C-SPAN

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Macron says what Trump won’t and urges action on climate change in US Congress

HyperloopTT is building the world’s third Hyperloop test track in France

April 16, 2018 by  
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Hyperloop Transportation Technologies just began construction on the world’s third Hyperloop test track. According to its latest announcement, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies ‘ full-scale tubes just reached a research and development facility in Toulouse, France , and a test track is under construction. The two other Hyperloop test tracks are Virgin Hyperloop One in the desert near Las Vegas and Elon Musk’s near the SpaceX headquarters in California. The race toward a functioning, real-world Hyperloop system continues as more test tracks pop up , governments sign deals , and billionaires get in on the action. Construction of Hyperloop TT’s test track will happen in two phases. The first phase is the building of a closed system around 1,050 feet long, which the company says will be operational in 2018. In 2019, the company plans to finish a 0.6-mile system elevated by pylons at around 20 feet for the second phase. HyperloopTT’s passenger and freight tubes have an interior diameter of about 13 feet. A full-scale passenger capsule is scheduled to arrive in France this summer “for assembly and integration” — it’s almost finished being built at a facility in Spain. Related: Hyperloop One exhibits exciting first images of full-scale test track In the company’s statement, HyperloopTT chairman Bibop Gresta said, “We’ve pioneered the technology , proved feasible and insurable by the world’s largest reinsurance company, Munich RE. We have agreements in place in nine countries where we’re working on feasibility and regulations. We have a research center for freight and logistics in Brazil and a facility in Toulouse where we’ll deliver the first full-scale passenger capsule. Hyperloop is no longer a concept, it has become a commercial industry.” Stay tuned — HyperloopTT said they’ll soon reveal details for a public unveiling of their France facility this year. + Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Via The Verge Images via Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

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