Innovative Future Tree was built by robots and 3D-printing

July 29, 2020 by  
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Robotic construction has taken another step forward with the Future Tree, a recently completed timber canopy built with robots in a project by Gramazio Kohler Research and ETH Zurich . Completed in October 2019, following 2 years of planning and approximately 4 months of construction, the Future Tree is a study of complex timber structures and digital concrete. The tree-like canopy was installed over the courtyard of the office building extension of Basler & Hofmann in Esslingen, Switzerland. An industrial robot was used to fabricate and assemble the Future Tree’s 380 timber elements made from acetylated pine wood and fitted with full-threaded screws and tension cables to form a reciprocal frame. The structure’s canopy-like crown is supported by a single, trunk-like concrete column and anchored to the office building on two sides while cantilevering on the opposite corner. Related: Robots weave an insect-inspired carbon-fiber forest in London “The frame’s geometry is informed by its structural behaviour, differentiating its flexural rigidity by playing with the opening of the reciprocal knots to achieve a higher stiffness in the cantilevering part,” Gramazio Kohler Research’s explained. “To integrate geometric, structural and fabrication concerns we developed a custom computational model of the design.” Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the project is Future Tree’s reinforced concrete column, which was made with a novel fabrication process called “Eggshell” that combines an ultra-thin, robotically 3D-printed formwork with fast-hardening concrete. As the first built example using this fabrication process, Future Tree “shows [how] non-standard concrete structures can be fabricated efficiently, economically and sustainably,” according to Gramazio Kohler Research. Because the formwork — which is 3D-printed to a thickness of 1.5 millimeters using a robotic arm — is filled with fast-hardening concrete in a layer-by-layer casting process to minimize hydrostatic pressure, it can be recycled and reused after the concrete has hydrated. + Gramazio Kohler Research Images by Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich and Basler & Hofmann AG

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Innovative Future Tree was built by robots and 3D-printing

Checking On the Future of Sustainable Tires

June 30, 2020 by  
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The tire has been around for approximately 200 years — … The post Checking On the Future of Sustainable Tires appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Checking On the Future of Sustainable Tires

We Earthlings: Laundry Tips To Reduce Microplastic Pollution

June 30, 2020 by  
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Did you know that by reducing the temperature of a … The post We Earthlings: Laundry Tips To Reduce Microplastic Pollution appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: Laundry Tips To Reduce Microplastic Pollution

Infographic: Why Should You Switch To Green Cleaning?

June 30, 2020 by  
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Earth911 Inspiration: Our Future’s Vast Possibilities

June 5, 2020 by  
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This week’s quote comes from Gifford Pinchot, a pioneer in … The post Earth911 Inspiration: Our Future’s Vast Possibilities appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Inspiration: Our Future’s Vast Possibilities

Maven Moment: The Hope Chest for Your Future

June 3, 2020 by  
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Biofueling the Future

May 26, 2020 by  
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Biofueling the Future

Biofueling the Future

May 26, 2020 by  
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Bringing home the bacon: A kindergartner tests the future of food

May 15, 2020 by  
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Bringing home the bacon: A kindergartner tests the future of food Jim Giles Fri, 05/15/2020 – 00:05 Today I bring you exclusive data from the cutting edge of food science. Let me begin by managing expectations. This experiment is so grievously flawed that, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, I would not submit it to any journal likely to accept it. The experiment in question is a taste test of a new product from Berkeley-based startup Prime Roots . Its flaws begin with the sample size, which is n=1. Our sole tester is Jay Giles, aged 6. Here he is, pre-test: Jay is nonetheless an interesting subject, because he frequently exhibits high levels of hostility toward novel foodstuffs. Requests that he eat something not on his (extremely short) list of pre-approved foods are typically met with claims that “today is the worst day ever,” followed by various acts of low-level vandalism. Jay’s list of pre-approved foods includes bacon. It does not include fake bacon made from fungi grown in a vat, the subject of our test. Because I value my sanity and the structural integrity of my home, I have told him that it is real bacon. Which brings us to the question I set out to answer: Will he notice the difference? I had no good explanation for why his breakfast was sitting in a pool of yellow froth, so I opted for misdirection and reminded him that he was getting a side of toast. My experiment may be ridiculous, but this question isn’t. Most experts say that reducing meat consumption is an essential part of cutting greenhouse gas emissions from food systems, which contribute a quarter of the global total . It’s also one of the easier ways that individuals can make a difference. Shifting to a vegetarian meal just one day a week, for instance, saves the equivalent of driving more than 1,000 miles over the course of a year. A lot more meat-eaters will make that change if they can switch to a convincing substitute. Prior to my experiment, my wife offered to wager me any sum of money that our tester would not eat the bacon. I opened the packet and was glad I declined. The new bacon looks, at best, bacon-ish:   Then I sniffed: Hint of dank. I was reminded of a musty basement from a childhood home. It wasn’t an altogether unpleasant smell, but it didn’t exactly shout “breakfast” at me.  Luckily our tester was too busy playing with Lego to notice, so I hastily began frying. Matters improved. The bacon-not-bacon sizzled, the dank odor lessened and I got wafts of real bacon. Our tester wandered over. He looked hesitant. “What are those bubbles?” he asked. I had no good explanation for why his breakfast was sitting in a pool of yellow froth, so I opted for misdirection and reminded him that he was getting a side of toast. Calamity averted, he sat down. I served Jay with a plate of fungi masquerading as bacon. “What’s this?” he said, looking skeptical as he tentatively chewed the edge of one slice. “Bacon,” I lied. He frowned. Sensing disaster, I abandoned methodological integrity and offered him tomato ketchup. Too late. Jay piled up the neatly sliced pieces of bacon and deposited them on my place. To my relief, he then turned his attention not to retribution but to his buttered toast. Was that it for this great emissions-reducing superfood? It seemed so… but wait! What’s this? A second tester! Eight-year-old Sam Giles was excluded from our experimental protocol because he does not like bacon. Until this morning, that is. Now he’s munching away, renewing my hope in humanity’s ability to save itself from climate catastrophe through low-carbon eating. “I don’t like the normal kind but I do like this one,” said Sam. “You’re the only one,” replied Jay. “It tastes like tree trunks.” I’m tempted to speculate on what this means for the future of alternative proteins, but I suspect the answer is not very much. So I’ll just say that I joined Sam and enjoyed my breakfast. Prime Roots bacon doesn’t taste much like bacon, but it’s salty and crispy and generally pretty good. I’ll eat it again. Pull Quote I had no good explanation for why his breakfast was sitting in a pool of yellow froth, so I opted for misdirection and reminded him that he was getting a side of toast. Topics Food Systems Alternative Protein Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A taste test of a new product from Berkeley-based startup Prime Roots. Close Authorship

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Bringing home the bacon: A kindergartner tests the future of food

Now is a great time to optimize energy in buildings. You’d think.

May 8, 2020 by  
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Now is a great time to optimize energy in buildings. You’d think. Sarah Golden Fri, 05/08/2020 – 00:43 Despite being mostly empty, commercial real estate energy bills are mostly unchanged.  Commercial buildings in the United Kingdom have reduced energy consumption only by 16 percent on average during the pandemic, according to analysis from Carbon Intelligence . The worst-performing buildings are only achieving a 3 percent reduction, according to the analysis. Anecdotal evidence suggests similar numbers in the United States.  What a waste of time and money.  With occupancy so low and energy bills so high, there may never have been a more persuasive argument — or a better opportunity — to optimize buildings. You’d think.  The (missed) opportunity for capital upgrades  With buildings empty, service providers hungry for work and capital cheap, it seems a great time to bring buildings into the 21st century.  But as we’re still grasping the extent of the economic fallout, commercial real estate owners are cautious. “The financial smoke will have to clear before many people will put project capital at risk there,” explained Steve Gossett Jr., operating partner at Generate Capital, via email. “Most landlords are likely to husband cash rather than invest in their assets right now because they aren’t sure how functional the capital markets will be for real estate in the near future or how stable their tenants are.” In the short term, landlords are worried struggling companies will renegotiate leases or shift to a work-from-home model, requiring less office space writ large. The result: Commercial office spaces could become stranded assets, subject to write-downs and operating losses.  Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again.   “In the past, before COVID, we’d say, ‘Oh, if you do these improvements you can increase your rental rates and you can have higher-quality tenants,’” said Marta Schantz, senior vice president of the Urban Land Institute’s Greenprint, an alliance of real estate owners and investors. “But now that case sounds tone-deaf to the market. If folks are worried about people even being able to pay their rent, they’re less focused on increasing rental rates and more on just getting rent.” To say the least, this is a missed opportunity. About half of all buildings were built before 1980 , and many are old, dumb and wasteful. The U.S. building stock accounts for about 40 percent of the emissions. And the technology exists to change that; buildings could be optimized and transformed to be a resource for the electric grid. Buildings could be cheaper to run, provide healthier spaces and become more resilient. What building owners can do now: tighten operations  As occupancy drops close to zero, some building operators have been surprised at how little change there has been in their energy consumption.  “In general, some clients probably have been surprised to find that parasitic loads were higher than expected,” said Kyle Goehring, executive vice president of clean energy solutions at JLL, in an email.  Simply reviewing systems and buildings presets can save energy and money, according to Schantz.  For example, facility managers could reduce the run time of HVAC systems (responsible for about 40 percent of energy consumption), turn off lights in unoccupied spaces (lighting is responsible for 20 percent of energy use) or unplug appliances that aren’t needed (which account for about 33 percent of buildings’ energy use). For more specific ideas, check out Schantz’s blog or GreenBiz’s coverage . Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future. These ideas, which are of course important, sound like no-brainers. As the world is turned upside down, I’m craving a cataclysmic change, not energy efficiency 101.  But according to Schantz, the basics are revolutionary when facility managers never had time to examine operations in the before-time.  “I very much hope that as folks go through their buildings they will also find some red flags that they didn’t know existed,” she said. “Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again.” The COVID-19 conundrum and financial solutions As people make sense of these crazy times, I often hear big ideas about how we could transform the future. As we emerge from this crisis, what type of world do we want to create? Simultaneously, it seems we’re also paralyzed by constantly constricting opportunities. The vanishing jobs, capital and resources are shifting mindsets to survival, not reinvention.  The good news is that the same financial mechanisms that allow building owners to upgrade without upfront costs are the same measures that would support broader economic development. This is especially true if the private sector partners with federal dollars to stretch capital further.  “Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future,” wrote Kevin Self, senior vice president of strategy, business development and government relations at Schneider Electric, in an email.  Schneider Electric is one service organization providing financing structures to move along projects without upfront capital. These include energy-as-a-service and energy savings performance contracting.  “Not only does digitization support resilience and sustainability, it saves on cost,” wrote Self.  Schneider Electric is not the only organization offering financial solutions for energy upgrades. Service providers and startups have emerged in this space over the last 10 years, vying for companies’ potential energy savings. Other X-as-a-service organizations include Carbon Lighthouse , Sparkfund , Redaptive , Parity , Measurabl and Metrus .  While many of these service providers are likely working hard to navigate these turbulent months, the role they play will be more important than ever as we rebuild our future. This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe  here . Pull Quote Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again. Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future. Topics Energy & Climate Buildings COVID-19 Energy Efficiency COVID-19 Featured Column Power Points 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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