Sustainability career options you may not have considered

January 30, 2020 by  
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In the past 10 to 20 years, careers in sustainability have grown exponentially. This is partly due to increased awareness of climate change. It’s also a result of innovation in the field; for example, the use of wind turbines and solar panels create jobs that didn’t exist before. Looking into the future, more and more jobs will fall into the category of sustainability. Many industries will face stricter resource management, opening the door to an endless number of earth-focused jobs — including some that don’t even exist yet! If you’ve considered a career in sustainability, here are some green jobs you might want to look into. Engineer There are hundreds of types of engineering degrees and titles, with myriad job opportunities in sustainability. Wind, water and solar engineers study and develop those technologies while product, systems and mechanical engineers can also find ways for business and manufacturing to be more eco-friendly. Engineers focused on urban design can influence the infrastructure of an entire city, and structural engineers can work to design buildings with earth-friendly materials and passive energy systems. Then there are environmental, water, renewable energy and even recycling engineers, too. Solar, wind or water specialists Even if you’re not interested in becoming an energy engineer, there are many job opportunities relating to renewable energy. You can install solar panels or wind turbines. If you’re a mechanical type, you can work as a repair technician. Or, you could contribute to research and development for new systems. Another option is to educate others about renewable energy or work in product and system sales. Related: Former coal miners receive training for renewable energy jobs Organic farmer As the population of the planet continues to grow, food production is a central focus for many. But artificial, preservative-filled foods are a poor solution for feeding the masses. If you enjoy a hard day’s work and the satisfaction of literally seeing the fruits of your labor, working as an organic farmer might be for you. Energy broker As more and more clean systems become available to produce energy, we will continue to need ways to store, transport and use it. As a broker, you can facilitate this process by buying and selling renewable energy for clients. Green construction workers Opportunities for construction planning and work at the residential and commercial levels mean you can take part in helping to build more sustainable structures. Modern construction practices involve the use of energy-conserving HVAC systems, smart home technology , energy-efficient windows, improved insulation, non-toxic paints, water reclamation, solar panels and so much more. Jobs include construction worker, site manager, structural engineer, systems design engineer, architect, HVAC installer, technician or floor covering specialist. Electric car mechanic The number of electric cars on the road continues to rise, making a job as an electric car mechanic a promising career choice for the future. In this position, you can perform repairs or even convert gas-guzzling vehicles into electric ones. Teacher or public speaker Education is a powerful tool in the drive to inspire people to change their habits or get involved in a cause. As a teacher or public speaker, you can inform attendees in classrooms, offices and conference centers about important topics like climate change . This will allow you to educate the public about the needs of the environment and steps they can take as individuals or businesses to lower their ecological footprints. Writer There has always been power in words, but if public speaking isn’t your thing, perhaps you can express the same information through the written word instead. For example, you can work as a journalist researching companies who pollute or, on the other end of the spectrum, go out of their way to support environmental causes. There are also opportunities to create content on social media, formulating social media campaigns that create awareness about environmental topics. Consultant Depending on your background, you might not need to obtain additional education in order to work in an industry related to sustainability. As a consultant, you can use your existing knowledge to advise businesses. For example, if you have experience as a contractor, architect or engineer, you can help businesses identify eco-friendly materials or systems during construction or a remodel. Green jobs will continue to evolve and offer new challenges, but one thing is for certain — they are here to stay. Images via Shutterstock

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Sustainability career options you may not have considered

Why exploring multiple futures is vital in our response to the climate crisis

January 22, 2020 by  
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While we can’t predict the future, we can get imaginative and creative with what it could look like.

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Why exploring multiple futures is vital in our response to the climate crisis

This minimalist, solar-powered home stands strong against earthquakes

January 14, 2020 by  
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Located in the Swiss municipality of Grimisuat in the district of Sion, House ROFR was created with the future in mind. The modern, solar-powered home is situated on a hilly slope with the help of a protective and stabilizing wall along a surrounding orchard. In addition to its impressive green design features, the house also frames breathtaking views of its mountainous setting. The area here in the canton of Valais is known for its seismic activity. The Swiss Seismological Service has recorded about 270 earthquakes per year over the past 10 years, making it the most quake-prone region in the country. This, of course, has influenced the design decisions made by architects completing projects in the potentially hazardous part of Switzerland — and House ROFR is no exception. The entire structure of the building is made of strong concrete. Related: Experimental prefab home eschews fossil fuels in Geneva Per the client’s request, the 200-square-meter flat roof was equipped with as many solar modules as possible. Excess energy from the solar panels is stored in batteries, supplying both the house and electric cars with electricity. The home also uses geothermal heating to keep the interiors warm when the temperatures drop. The design provides for plenty of functional spaces with luxurious additions, such as a wine cave and cheese cellar on the ground floor along with a laundry room, changing room and bathroom. There are two areas making up the property — a larger, 220-square-meter house with the entire living space distributed on the upper floor as well as a smaller, two-level flat. The upper floor holds a patio terrace, the kitchen, a large fireplace and a concrete corridor connecting the different rooms. Occupants must go through the open garage to enter the house, though it is separated from the landscaped garden by larch wooden slats for added aesthetics. Rather than building a traditional garage, the designer wanted to give the owner the opportunity to turn the garage into an additional living area in the future. + Ralph Germann Architectes Photography by Lionel Henriod via Ralph Germann Architectes

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This minimalist, solar-powered home stands strong against earthquakes

Building homes that fight against climate change

November 21, 2019 by  
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Even with concerted efforts to curb climate change, it’s clear we are already living through the effects of a warming world. As such, it’s time to get serious about where and how we build our homes to keep our families safe while also lessening our impact on the planet. From incorporating renewable energy and ethical labor practices to reducing waste and designing for resilience, B Corp-certified home builder Deltec Homes is exemplifying just how to design and build homes that keep your family and Mother Earth safe and secure for generations to come. Building for resilience With hurricanes intensifying around the world, resilient design is becoming more and more important as the climate crisis worsens. As such, it is important to design homes that can stand strong against these natural disasters. Deltec Homes keeps disaster-proofing at the forefront of its designs. For example, the company has homes that feature a unique, eye-catching panoramic layout. Deltec Homes has built structures that have withstood some of the most intense storms in recent years, such as Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Michael and Dorian. The rounded design ensures that wind pressure doesn’t build up on a traditionally flat side of the home, which can collapse the walls. Instead, the pressure is dispersed around the structure. Additionally, Deltec Homes uses reinforced windows with impact glass to help keep the wind and water from breaking the windows and entering the building. The team also uses a special grade of lumber that is twice as strong as traditional lumber to boost resiliency. “We build what we believe to be the strongest wood homes on the planet, as evidenced by thousands of homes in the path of these major hurricanes that performed incredibly well,” said Steve Linton, president of Deltec Homes. Linton and the company are well aware that hurricanes are becoming more damaging, but Deltec Homes is continuously improving the strength of its homes. “We are seeing hurricanes hitting really high wind speeds. After Hurricane Dorian, we sat with our engineering team and said, ‘We know we can withstand 185 mph. What happens when these storms are 200 to 250 mph?’ We are continuing to innovate the system to stand up to the next generation of storms, whatever that turns out to be.” Following the Deltec Way for minimal impact Deltec Homes is the first prefabricated home builder to earn B Corp-certification , meaning it meets strict standards for ethics and sustainability. In an industry notorious for mass amounts of waste, the company is focused on lessening the impact that our homes tend to have on the planet. “Everything we build is with 100 percent renewable energy,” Linton said. “In 2007, we had, at the time, the largest solar array in North Carolina. We are proud to produce homes with low environmental footprints. Deltec is  not a company with a single-minded focus on profit; we want to solve social and environmental challenges. This is used as a way to gain clarity on our purpose, thinking of that purpose beyond financial. It’s a kind of concept that in order to be the best in the world, you also have to be the best for the world.” As such, renewable energy is important to the Deltec Way. Every prefabricated home is constructed through 100 percent renewable energy and is made almost entirely with local, U.S. building materials. The company also continuously works to reduce its own energy consumption while helping homeowners reduce theirs as well, with homes that exceed the energy code by at least 30 percent. Construction is a wasteful practice as we know, but it doesn’t have to be. Prefabrication is one of the top ways to reduce waste in homebuilding, not to mention it leads to faster building times — this way, your family can move into your dream home in no time. Deltec Homes’ prefabrication building techniques actually divert more than 80 percent of construction waste from our landfills, leaving the planet a cleaner place. Having proved that building for a better planet is possible, Deltec notes that its vision is to change the way the world builds. “We’ve been doing this for over 50 years. It’s hard for this industry to adapt to the changing world, but it’s crucial for future generations that we rise to the challenge of standing up to climate change,” Linton said. Reducing energy usage and choosing renewable energy sources One of the biggest impacts on the climate is energy usage. Relying on fossil fuels to power, heat and cool a home can quickly increase your family’s carbon footprint and drain the planet of its resources. Unfortunately, this means future generations will suffer the consequences. But if you are looking to build a sustainable home, Deltec Homes will work with you to design and build one that will last your family for years to come without sacrificing planetary health. Each Deltec home is, on average, 55 percent more energy efficient than traditional homes . This is in part to stringent airtightness, which prevents harsh winds (both hot and cold air, depending on the season) from entering the structure. Deltec Homes boasts structures that are three to five times more airtight than traditional new construction. Similarly, Deltec Homes emphasizes passive design, which means you won’t need to rely much on the furnace or the air conditioner. Instead, your home will naturally maintain a comfortable temperature year-round. If you want to further future-proof your home, you can also consult with Deltec Homes regarding renewable energy systems, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, LEED Certification and even the Zero Energy Ready Home program , which meets energy efficiency, water use reduction and indoor air quality goals. Deltec Homes works with each client personally to help them meet their sustainability goals and even encourage them to do more in giving back to the planet. “We have a dedicated sustainability manager who spends a large part of her time listening to customer goals and also offering suggestions on the latest tech to achieve those goals,” Linton explained. The team speaks with clients about how to “build a high-performance home and put renewable energy in today, or design to add [renewable energy] 5 years from now.” According to Linton, they use this consulting to get clients to think about the future and how to make their homes continue to fight against climate change. “What we try to do when working with a customer is to encourage them to think about their home in the future and for it to perform in a way that makes a difference, from reducing energy use and carbon to withstanding storms. We want to help people prioritize what they want to do in their home, so that together, we can change the way the world builds.” To learn more about Deltec Homes, you can schedule a call, attend an event or receive a free informational magazine here . + Deltec Homes Images via Deltec Homes

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Building homes that fight against climate change

Giant, abstract trees hold up the roof of an experimental Korean home

November 21, 2019 by  
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When designing the House of Three Trees, Seoul-based architecture practice Jae Kim Architects & Researchers (JK-AR) started with a question: What would Korean architecture look like if timber remained the dominant construction material from ancient times until today? To answer this alternate-reality proposition, the architects conceived a project representative of “the rebirth of East Asian timber architecture of the 21st century” that blends digital design and fabrication with traditional Korean architecture. Built with sculptural, tree-like structures that employ the iconic wooden bracket systems of ancient times, the experimental home also relates to the local vernacular with low-cost materials commonly used in rural Korean buildings. During the late Joseon Dynasty of Korea in the 17th and 19th centuries, timber resources were mostly exhausted until globalization led to the import of cheaper wooden materials from around the world. Due to the popularization of reinforced concrete structures and the high cost of timber construction, development of timber architecture slowed. Using algorithmic tools, JK-AR envisions how timber architecture could have evolved had timber resources continued to be readily available with The House of Three Trees. The experimental home features tree-like supporting structures solely composed of wooden joinery — using more than 4,000 timber elements — constructed with traditional techniques and zero additive fasteners. Related: Moon Hoon’s funky new home captures sunlight on Jeju Island “The house criticizes today’s application of traditional buildings that is superficial, merely imitating traditional expressions in architecture, or too abstract,” the architects explained. “Rather, the house redefines the virtue of East Asian timber buildings in its tectonic aspect which is a combination of structure and ornamentation. Moreover, the house serves as an example of how contemporary technology, such as design computation and digital fabrication, can reinterpret traditional architecture. Technology can give East Asian timber construction the potential to evolve in a new direction.” The home takes on a hexagonal shape, influenced by the irregular building plot, with an interior defined by three tree-like columns that support the roof. Covered in asphalt shingles, the butterfly roof is raised to provide a glimpse of the trees inside. Polycarbonate corrugated panels wrap around the home in a nod to rural Korean construction; these panels also create a double-skin around the plywood facade to improve the building’s insulation performance and water resistance. + Jae Kim Architects & Researchers Photography by Roh Kyung via Jae Kim Architects & Researchers

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Giant, abstract trees hold up the roof of an experimental Korean home

This smart furniture features solar-powered charging ports

November 21, 2019 by  
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Budapest-based design studio Hello Wood has unveiled a collection of outdoor smart furniture designed for schools and universities. The furniture is outfitted with solar panels to generate clean energy for charging USB ports. The sleek designs include extra-long, undulating lounge chairs and a funky “fluid cube,” all made out of solid wood. Over the years, Hello Wood has created all types of innovative wooden installations, from LED Christmas trees built from reused wooden boxes to a solar-powered pop-up park to a colossal tiger stature made out of reclaimed timber . Now, the crafty wood artists have created a new collection of outdoor wooden pieces slated for the community spaces at local educational institutions. Related: 14 amazing timber structures explore the future of wood as a building material Already installed in four Hungarian educational institutions, the outdoor pieces add a bit of whimsy to the open spaces found on campuses. The outdoor furniture collection includes two vastly different designs. One is a long lounge chair/bench that stretches out in a zig-zag shape with large curvatures marking the seating areas. The second design is what the designers call a “fluid cube.” The wooden cube is open on three sides, with a built-in bench on the interior. In addition to their unique shapes, the furniture pieces are also sustainable. The wood used in Hello Wood’s latest installation is all certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which guarantees that the timber comes from responsibly managed forests. Both pieces have been equipped with solar panels, which were manufactured using recycled plastic waste . The solar energy is used to generate enough power to charge the multiple USB ports the students can use while they relax in the fresh air. + Hello Wood Photography by Zsuzsa Darab and Hello Wood

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This smart furniture features solar-powered charging ports

The great EV infrastructure challenge

November 13, 2019 by  
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And 10 things you need to know about the future of electrified transportation.

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The great EV infrastructure challenge

Passive House Design: Changing the Future of New Home Construction

October 31, 2019 by  
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Existing buildings consume between 40 percent and 50 percent of … The post Passive House Design: Changing the Future of New Home Construction appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Passive House Design: Changing the Future of New Home Construction

Earth911 Quiz #77: Energy Efficiency Programs Challenge

October 31, 2019 by  
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Many utilities and state governments collaborate to provide energy efficiency … The post Earth911 Quiz #77: Energy Efficiency Programs Challenge appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #77: Energy Efficiency Programs Challenge

Rael San Fratello prints amazing 3D mud structures as prototypes for affordable housing of the future

October 24, 2019 by  
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Led by architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, design studio Rael San Fratello has become well-known for creating innovative and sustainable designs, but now the studio is truly breaking ground when it comes to 3D printing . As part of its Emerging Objects series, the design team has created four solid mud structures. Built by a low-cost, portable 3D robot, the four buildings were all printed using soil and wood sourced on site in Colorado’s expansive Valle de San Luis. The team chose Colorado’s San Luis Valley as the site for their series due to its rich history of Ancestral Pueblo and the Indo-Hispano cultures. Referring to the traditional building practices of these cultures, which predominately included using earthen materials to create sturdy housing, Rael San Fratello has managed to create four 3D-printed prototypes: Hearth, Beacon, Lookout and Kiln, that explore the various techniques of mud construction . Related: BigDelta machine 3D-prints durable, affordable houses from dirt The project, called Mud Frontiers, began by researching the typical earthen items that have been made from the clay harvested from the area. They then collaborated with 3D ceramic print company 3D Potter to create a small, portable robot called Potterbot XLS-1, which was built to print the mud creations on site. The first design, Hearth was built using a thin wall of mud reinforced with rot-resistant juniper wood. This structure has a tiny fireplace on the interior that burns the wood as well. The second design, Beacon was designed to research just how thin the mud walls could be by stacking various coils of mudwork. In this structure, light illuminates through the indentations along the walls, serving as a “beacon” of light. The third design, Lookout, was comprised of a network of undulating mud coils that are layers to form a staircase, creating a structure that is strong enough to withstand substantial weight. Additionally, this structure was built with cross sections of mud piping that can be used to create a system of natural air circulation through various openings. The final prototype, Kiln, included a culmination of the anterior designs, but adds a kiln that uses locally-sourced clay fired with juniper wood to create earthen ware items. Using the various traditional techniques helped designers determine that mud could indeed be a viable solution for providing more affordable construction options in the future. Especially as urban and rural area designers and architects look for sustainable materials to build resilient structures. “What we learned was really how accessible, robust and powerful it was to print large scale structures so quickly using the soil just beneath our feet,” Rael told Dezeen. “We discovered work flows for printing, material mixture processes, structural applications and theories about new and old ways of living and designing for the future using humankind’s most humble material.” + Rael San Fratello + Emerging Objects Via Dezeen Photography by Rael San Fratello

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Rael San Fratello prints amazing 3D mud structures as prototypes for affordable housing of the future

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