14,000 forced from homes by flooding in San Jose

February 23, 2017 by  
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A series of heavy rainstorms has caused severe flooding near San Jose, California, forcing a mandatory evacuation of at least 14,000 residents overnight . About 250 of those people had to be rescued via boat by emergency crews. The flooding affected Coyote Creek and the spillway of the Anderson Reservoir, which was filled to capacity by the recent rain. An additional 22,000 have not been ordered to evacuate yet, but have been encouraged to leave their homes. Some of those affected have complained that they received no advance notice that they needed to evacuate until firefighters showed up, delivering notifications door-to-door, leaving them little time to prepare. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has pledged to investigate the issue. Floodwaters have begun to recede, however, the danger may not have passed. Further rain is forecast for this weekend, but the break in the rain should allow authorities time to assess the current damage. Water levels in Coyote Creek are already at a 100 year peak, so any additional rain could be dangerous. Related: California storms could herald the end of punishing historic drought After a lengthy drought, heavy storms have pummeled much of California this year, causing mudslides and flooding. Earlier in the month, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated near the Oroville dam due to fears it might overflow. Via NPR Images via AJ+

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14,000 forced from homes by flooding in San Jose

Did Uber flub its chance to expand self-driving ride-hailing service to San Francisco?

December 28, 2016 by  
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A few weeks ago, Uber quietly expanded its self-driving ride-hailing service to its hometown of San Francisco. The launch marked a triumphant leap forward just three short months after the company initially began offering riders in Pittsburgh the option of hailing a self-driving car. Unfortunately, the California Department of Motor Vehicles swiftly shut down the San Francisco operation by revoking the registrations on Uber’s 16 self-driving vehicles, citing the company’s failure to obtain the proper permits. That decision prompted Uber to announce it would look for another city to roll out its self-driving pilot program, but many questions remain about whether they will ever be able to pull it off in their home state.

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Did Uber flub its chance to expand self-driving ride-hailing service to San Francisco?

7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

December 28, 2016 by  
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These seven rustic cabins designed and built by students at the University of Colorado Denver function as base camp for a non-profit focused on wilderness education. Clad in hot-rolled steel, the COBS Year-Round Micro Cabins blend with the surrounding pine forest and remain comfortable even in extremely cold weather. https://youtu.be/HwwYRDhGRxc The structures were built by 28 students as part of a design-build program called the Colorado Building Workshop . Organized by the architecture school at the University of Colorado Denver, the workshop produced 14 similar structures in 2015. Related: Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape The cabins, each offering around 200 square feet of interior space and 100 square feet of deck, are elevated and supported by metal columns with concrete footings. Sheets of hot-rolled steel, which form low-maintenance rainscreens , envelop structurally insulated panels (SIPs) used for the walls and flat roofs, providing a high degree of thermal insulation . Birch plywood line the interior walls to create a warm, cozy atmosphere. All the electrical appliances, including lighting, heating and refrigerators within each structure are powered by a single electrical circuit. + Colorado Building Workshop + University of Colorado Denver Via Dezeen Photos by Jesse Kuroiwa

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7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

How to choose a living tree to replant after Christmas

December 8, 2016 by  
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It takes about 10 years for a Christmas tree to reach maturity, and it’s a shame to kill a tree just so it can prop up ornaments and lights for a couple of weeks. Even though many cities do an admirable job of recycling trees (or ‘treecycling’) after the holidays are over, it’s always a bit depressing to see hundreds of dried-up, tinsel-covered trees out on the curb in early January. So instead of heading out to a tree farm, you might consider bringing a live, potted tree into your home this winter. After the holidays are over, you can plant the tree in the ground again (or you can get someone else to plant it), so it can get back to sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere. Purchase a Tree from a Nursery Nurseries in most parts of the country sell young pines and fir trees, and the best way to find a tree is to call around to local nurseries and ask what’s in stock. Living trees are much heavier than cut trees (a typical 5-foot tree is about 150 pounds), so you’ll probably want to choose a slightly smaller tree than normal. Transporting a living tree is a bit trickier than a cut tree, because you’ll need to treat it more delicately. The Original Living Christmas Tree Company in Portland suggests standing it up in the trunk of a car, so that the crown is sticking out behind. Locate a Tree Rental Service If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a home for your tree after the holidays are over, a tree rental service might be a better option. Although tree rental services have been around for a few years in several cities, they aren’t available everywhere. Currently most of the live tree rental services in the country are located in California, Oregon and Washington. The Original Living Christmas Tree Company, which has been renting potted trees since 1992, is one of the oldest rental services in the country, and it offers eight different varieties for rent. In San Diego, dancing, singing elves from the Adopt A Christmas Tree company will deliver a potted tree to your front door. In most places, potted tree rentals will run from $75 to $100, but the prices vary widely. The Adopt-a-Stream Foundation in Everett, Washington, for example, offers tree rentals for just $20. In Los Angeles, prices at the Living Christmas Co. range from $25 for a tiny 2-foot allepo pine tree to more than $250 for a stately 9-foot Turkish fir. Choose a Tree that Grows Naturally in Your Region It’s important when choosing a Christmas tree to select one that grows naturally in your region so that once it’s replanted it will survive — hopefully — for many years to come. In the Pacific Northwest, Douglas fir is a good option. If you live south of the Mason-Dixon Line, you might consider Virginia pine or Eastern red cedar. And in the Northeast, a variety of pines and firs like Balsam fir, Fraser fir and white pine grow naturally. But who says all Christmas trees need to be conifers? In San Francisco, Friends of the Urban Forest and SF Environment offer non-traditional Christmas trees, like southern magnolia and small leaf tristania, which are planted on city streets after the Holidays. How To Care for a Live Tree Live trees should be treated with a bit more tenderness than a typical cut tree, because you want to make sure that it survives when it’s replanted. But you don’t need to have a green thumb to keep it alive. Just make sure it gets enough water (but not too much), and don’t leave it indoors too long. The longer you leave a tree inside the more acclimated it will become to the warm temperature. If you keep it indoors too long, it might not be hearty enough to plant outside. It’s best to keep the room that the tree is in as cool as possible, and if possible, use small LED lights and minimal ornaments so that you don’t put too much added stress on the tree. What To Do When Christmas is Over Once Christmas is over, rental services come to retrieve their trees. Some services rent the same trees every year, so in theory, if you like the tree you had last year, you could get it again this year (though it’ll be slightly taller). Others plant them after one use. If you purchase a tree from a nursery, you’ll have to deal with it yourself. There are a few options for live tree owners: you can donate the tree to a local parks department, church or school, or you can keep it an plant it yourself. If you live in a very cold climate, you’ll probably have to keep the tree in a pot until the ground thaws a bit  — just be sure to keep it outside and properly watered! Lead image (modified) © Louisa de Miranda and Flickr user Wonderlane

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SolarCity chatter lifts hopes for building-integrated solar

October 17, 2016 by  
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The BIPV market could triple to $9 billion by 2019. Early examples: the San Francisco 49ers stadium and the flagship Apple store in San Francisco.

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SolarCity chatter lifts hopes for building-integrated solar

San Francisco may be first US city to pass legislation for green roofs on new buildings

September 19, 2016 by  
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30 percent of all the land area in San Francisco is comprised of rooftops, but most are underutilized, according to the San Francisco Planning Department . City supervisor Scott Weiner is offering a solution that builds on the measure passed earlier this year to require rooftop solar . If new legislation introduced September 6 is approved, San Francisco would be the first city ” to pass requirements for green roofs .” The San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved the legislation Weiner introduced. The existing solar mandate requires 15 percent of rooftops on buildings with 10 stories or less to include solar panels. The new legislation would go a step further: 30 percent of new roofs could be turned into green roofs or a blend of green roof and solar panels. Owners could include two square feet of living roofs or a blend of living roofs and solar as opposed to one square foot of rooftop solar panels. According to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities , their 11th Annual CitiesAlive Conference, hosted in San Francisco in 2013, helped inspire the legislation. Related: Santa Monica to require rooftop solar panels on all new buildings In a statement, Weiner said, ” Climate change and our continuing drought demand that we take aggressive action to improve our city’s sustainability…Rooftops are one of the last untapped environmental resources in our growing city, and we need to be strategic about how we activate these spaces. Our solar requirement was a great step, and by adding green roofs to the mix, we will make our buildings greener, our air cleaner, and our city healthier.” The next step is a vote from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors set to occur later in 2016. If they pass the ordinance, new buildings could start adhering to the new legislation January 1, 2017. The 14th Annual CitiesAlive Conference will take place in November in Washington, D.C. + Green Roofs for Healthy Cities Images via Peter M. on Flickr and San Francisco Planning Facebook

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General Motors announces plans to switch to 100% renewable energy

September 19, 2016 by  
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General Motors just announced an ambitious plan to power all of its global operations with 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2050. The automaker has pledged to generate or source all electrical power for its 350 operations in 59 countries with energy generated from wind, sun and landfill gas.

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Bruges just built a two-mile-long underground pipeline for beer

September 19, 2016 by  
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The Belgian city of Bruges is renowned for its historic architecture and cobbled streets – however the narrow winding roads also make traffic a nightmare. That was a major problem for De Halve Maan brewery, which moves a million gallons of beer each year to their bottling plant outside of town. Now, an underground pipeline will help ease traffic congestion by pumping the beer directly to the facility. The series of bundled pipes can transport up to 1,060 gallons of beer per hour. The owner of the De Halve Maan, Xavier Vanneste, had the idea when he saw construction workers installing cable networks in the city’s center. However, building the pipeline was no easy feat . It took three years to obtain the permits, raise funds, and finally construct the line. Due to the historical significance of many sites in the city, the route needed to be thoroughly researched before any pipe was laid. All in all, it costs $4.5 million to build, with about $335,000 crowdfunded from online beer lovers. Related: Beer made from harvested fog wets whistles of parched communities in Chile In order to preserve the beer’s taste and satisfy food safety requirements, the pipeline uses high-density polyethylene, a tough, food-grade plastic. Between batches, the pipes will be sterilized with jets of cleaning solution. The pipe began pumping beer beneath the streets of Bruges this summer. + De Halve Maan Via The Guardian Images via De Halve Maan and Wolfgang Staudt

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Bruges just built a two-mile-long underground pipeline for beer

San Franciscos notorious Tenderloin district welcomes safe writing space for kids

July 11, 2016 by  
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The nonprofit writing center is a welcome addition to the city’s notorious Tenderloin neighborhood and provides a much needed safe space for local youth. Located at the corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Leavenworth Street, the building was acquired in such poor condition that it required extensive demolition, abatement, and structural upgrades, with no shortage of surprises along the way. Some of the better discoveries included the uncovering of an antique hand-painted map, which was preserved and displayed as a decorative finish. In addition to the writing lab, the center now includes a themed retail storefront, a fog bank, trapdoor, portholes, a hidden passageway, and a tree house. These playful features tie together a theme of exploration and discovery, while salvaged doors, windows, mirrors, building material, and even a fireplace, add to the center’s artistic charm. The 5,000 square foot space also houses a meeting room and administrative office. Related: Re-Imagining A City: Temporary exhibits take over San Francisco streets Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the project is the collaboration between over 50 firms providing their services and materials at cost or in-kind. Through an outreach program spearheaded by BCCI , design firms, architects, and subcontractors (many of which are competitors) banded together to lower costs and building time for a cause they supported. The 826 Valencia Tenderloin Center celebrated its Grand Opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 19, 2016. Learn more about 826 Valencia and its initiatives here . + 826 Valencia + BCCI Construction Company Photos via Matthew Millman Photography

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San Franciscos notorious Tenderloin district welcomes safe writing space for kids

Former saloon is transformed into a creative design office in San Francisco

June 24, 2016 by  
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Located in the city’s former red light district, the historic 1906 brick building underwent several renovations in the past century. When Terry & Terry Architecture was commissioned to renovate the building, the designers sought to preserve as much of the existing structure as possible and leave intact the attractive and exposed brick walls . The interior was completely gutted and expanded to make room for the main office and conference areas on the first floor, as well as additional office space and archive exhibit space on the new second floor. Related: Dilapidated 18th Century Barn Transformed into Gorgeous Modern Home in Yorkshire Steel-framed glazing wraps around the updated facade to let in natural light and minimize dependence on artificial lighting. The old brick masonry buildings are left exposed and provide good thermal mass to help keep the interior temperatures moderate and comfortable. The exposed brick walls are complemented with clean lines, steel stairways and elements, warm-toned timber furnishings, and white-painted walls for a contemporary and welcoming feel. + Terry & Terry Architecture Via Dezeen Images via Terry & Terry Architecture

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