Innovative food tracker uses app to help you live zero-waste

February 24, 2020 by  
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Industrial designers  Altino Alex  and  Savin Dimov  have just unveiled an innovative product geared towards helping families around the world reduce their food waste. The  Bubble Food Tracker  is an app-controlled food tracker that monitors products in your kitchen, keeping you aware of what you have in stock and your regular consumption habits, all to bring you closer to a  zero-waste lifestyle . Food waste  is one of the world’s most pressing issues. In fact, according to the  Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations , approximately one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year (around 1.3 billion tons) gets lost or wasted. And unsurprisingly, its fruits and vegetables that have the highest wastage rates of any food. Related: Supermarket happy hour reduces food waste Thankfully, ambitious and eco-conscious designers are beginning to put their thinking caps on when it comes to helping us all reduce our food waste. Industrial designers Altino Alex and Savin Dimov have just unveiled the Bubble Food Tracker, an innovative concept that makes it easier and more efficient to truly have a zero-waste kitchen. The Bubble is a smart, user-friendly and app-controlled tracker. When food items are placed in its capsule-like container, the information is sent directly to a smartphone. This way, people know, at the touch of the screen, no matter where they are, just what food products they already have in stock. The system is designed to take the guessing game out of shopping , enabling shoppers in the moment to avoid buying what they already have at home. Additionally, the Bubble regularly registers your eating habits, keeping track of which food products are consumed the most in the household and what is often left behind. This helpful tool allows families to work together to become more efficient about food shopping and to teach children about the true cost of wasteful food habits. + Altino Alex + Savin Dimov Via Yanko Design Images via Altino Alex

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South Africa’s first interior 6 star Green Star awarded to Formfunc

February 14, 2020 by  
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The Green Building Council recently awarded South Africa’s highest possible Interiors Green Star v1 certification to Capetown-based company  Formfunc Studio’s  office spaces — the first such rating to be awarded in the country for an office and distribution center. Spearheaded by local multidisciplinary environmental firm  Terramanzi Group , the design optimizes energy efficiency as well as occupant health and wellness. Designed with the Green Star Rating Tool in mind, the environmental consultants from the Terramanzi Group assessed all elements of the office fit-out to ensure ratings of between 75 to 100 credits for each evaluated category. This meant careful planning on a wide range of factors, from materials used to Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) and emissions. Key to the design was a “less is more” approach that led to a minimalist interior design with unplastered walls and exposed ceilings to minimize materials.  Low VOC  paints and sealants were used wherever possible.  Low-tech and high-tech solutions were used throughout, such as the installation of  floor-to-ceiling glazing  that takes advantage of natural daylight and the highly efficient HVAC system that improves outside air rates into the building to achieve above SANS 10400 requirements. Sensors were also installed to monitor and control carbon dioxide, water, and electricity levels. To promote responsible environmental stewardship, the office has been equipped with a recycling station and a composting unit for organic waste. Employees also have access to biking and motorbike parking on-site.  Related: This amazing green office is covered with native plants that were rescued on-site “As we are the exclusive distributor of Humanscale® ergonomic chairs, workstations and other  office  accessories to the southern African market, it was imperative that our office environment went beyond just an ergonomic solution but also reflected our brand and our philosophy of recreating workspaces that are simpler and healthier for our employees to work in,” Kim Kowalski, director and co-founder of Formfunc, explained in a project statement. + Terramanzi Group Images via Formfunc Studio

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South Africa’s first interior 6 star Green Star awarded to Formfunc

January 2020 was the hottest January on record

February 14, 2020 by  
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Citing 141 years of records, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has called last month the hottest January of all, to date. Meanwhile, the 10 warmest January temperatures all took place this century, since 2002, highlighting the accelerated climate crisis . Typically, the first month of the year is the coldest. But recent recordings reveal significantly warmer average temperatures. As NOAA reported, “January 2020 marked the 44th consecutive January and the 421st consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average.” Related: Antarctica reaches record high temperature NOAA also found that “The January global land and ocean surface temperature was the highest on record at 2.05 degrees F (1.14 degrees C) above the 20th-century average. This surpassed the record set in January 2016 by 0.04 of a degree F (0.02 of a degree C).” Last month registered 2.70 degrees F above average for the Northern Hemisphere, while the Southern Hemisphere docked at 1.40 degrees F above average. This was closely tied to a considerable lack of snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. Yet another worrisome trend is that both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice coverage were significantly diminished. According to NASA, 97% of publishing climate scientists recognize human activity as the culprit in the alarming uptick of global temperatures — specifically the burning of fossil fuels , the misuse of land by logging and animal husbandry for the meat industry — all of which increase concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. These runaway global temperatures have had far-reaching repercussions, such as creating climate extremes, unpredictable precipitation, retreating glaciers, sea level rise , ecosystem imbalances and endangerment of many flora and fauna. If left unmitigated, the climate crisis will start to adversely affect humans further by disrupting food supplies, causing property damage, burdening economies, inciting population displacement and compounding the magnitude of public health issues. + NOAA + NASA Image via Angie Agostino

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January 2020 was the hottest January on record

DIY sweet treats for Valentines Day

February 14, 2020 by  
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From pesticide residue on cut flowers to the questionable ingredients in conversation hearts, standard-issue Valentine romance won’t cut it for your earth-conscious sweetie. But don’t worry, you can make DIY treats that are delicious, personalized and easier on the environment than conventional Valentine’s Day candy. Fair-trade ingredients The best Valentine’s Day candy starts with fair-trade ingredients. Cocoa is one of the most important fair-trade items, as 90% of the global cocoa supply comes from small family farms in tropical places. The 6 million farmers earning their living through growing and selling cocoa beans are vulnerable to pressures that drive the market price down. If you buy chocolate bars and chips that are Fair-Trade certified, you know that the farmers are being fairly paid for their work. Since 1998, this program has invested about $14 million into cocoa-producing communities in places like Peru, Ecuador, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Many other ingredients besides cocoa are covered by the fair-trade certification system. Some of these items that you might use in Valentine’s Day recipes include sugar, coffee, honey, tea and fruits like bananas . Simple Valentine’s Day treats Does the intricacy of the treat reflect your love for your partner? Not necessarily. Even if you’re challenged by lack of time and/or kitchen skills, you can still produce a thoughtful and tasty Valentine’s Day gift. Related: 14 vegan and vegetarian Valentine’s Day dinner ideas Three-ingredient vegan chocolate pots contain only chocolate, dates and almond milk. You melt unsweetened chocolate in a microwave, throw it in a blender with the dates and almond milk, then refrigerate until it solidifies. The trickiest thing is remembering that you’ll need to refrigerate it for at least four hours, so plan ahead. Get the full recipe here . Another option for those who have trouble juggling multiple ingredients, this three-ingredient velvety chocolate fruit dip combines coconut cream, cacao powder and maple syrup. Just add a fourth ingredient — some fruit — and you’ll be ready for Valentine’s Day. Try bananas, mango slices or chunks of pineapple for best results. Does your darling love ice cream? The simplest vegan ice cream consists of two ingredients: cocoa powder and bananas, both of which you can get fair-trade certified. You just need a blender or food processor and a freezer. Want to jazz it up? Add coconut, berries or nuts. Prefer to be even more minimalist? Make a one-ingredient ice cream of bananas only. Chocolate delicacies For a more traditional Valentine’s Day candy gift — but still vegan and fair-trade — make your own vegan chocolate salted caramels . You can get really romantic by shaping them into hearts. What if your love is not only vegan, but a gluten-free raw foodie? A vegan chocolate almond cheesecake with a gluten-free crust is an excellent solution to this Valentine’s Day gift-giving challenge. This recipe tops the cheesecake with cocoa nibs and extra almonds. Perhaps cookies are your loved one’s favorite treat. These heart-shaped chocolate sugar cookies are vegan and gluten-free. You’ll need heart-shaped cookie cutters and a rolling pin for this recipe. Fancy and fruity desserts It’s hard to fathom, but not everybody rates chocolate as their favorite. Some people don’t like it at all and would even prefer fruit ! If your partner values berries over cocoa, whip up a raw strawberry cashew cream tart . The crust is made of dates, coconuts and almonds, and the filling is strawberry cashew cream. Remember that strawberries usually top the dirty dozen list of produce that you should buy organic, so shop accordingly. No pesticides for your valentine! Strawberry donuts with jam frosting make for a sweet Valentine’s Day breakfast. If you like decorating, you can heap on the pink frosting and arrange freeze-dried strawberry bits or candy sprinkles. Related: 9 ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day Few vegan desserts involve dusting off your blowtorch. But this vegan crème brûlée recipe made with coconut milk will awe and impress your partner, especially when they see you welding that blowtorch in the name of love. Flowers for those who don’t like sweets What if your partner doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth? Cut flowers are a Valentine’s Day staple, but they are notoriously pesticide-ridden, and many flower farms don’t treat workers or the environment well. If you’re concerned about sustainable practices in the floral industry, the internet provides a few tools. For California-grown flowers, you can look at Bloomcheck , which measures wildlife protection, air and soil quality and impact on workers and community. Rainforest Alliance monitors South America , with more than 1.3 million farms using Rainforest Alliance methods to protect local ecosystems and workers. Veriflora vets farms in the whole western hemisphere. A low-key Valentine’s Day Sometimes Valentine’s Day is the worst time to go out to dinner or to dessert shops. The stress of making reservations and battling a sea of lovers can put a damper on romance. Instead, consider celebrating at home with a simple, homemade dinner followed by DIY treats. Whipping up dinner together is a good way to show your love and is much more personal than making a reservation. Images via Shutterstock

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Water Street Tampa hits major sustainability milestone

February 12, 2020 by  
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Back in June 2019, Inhabitat did a story about Florida’s Water Street Tampa and its goal to become the  world’s healthiest neighborhood . Fast forward to January 2020, and the ambitious 56-acre neighborhood in the heart of Downtown Tampa is making headlines again with its new cooling plant, one of the first buildings to open. The District Cooling Plant will produce and distribute cold water to provide sustainable air conditioning to most of the buildings that make up Water Street Tampa .  Tampa Mayor Jane Castor attended the new plant’s ribbon-cutting ceremony and said, “As our city continues to grow, we have to make sure we’re doing so in a thoughtful way. This district cooling facility will play a big role in reducing our energy consumption while we work to create a more sustainable and resilient city. This is a big step forward in the right direction as we continue transforming Tampa together.” The project was designed by Florida-based architect Baker Barrios and spans 12,500-square feet of space constructed and installed by Tampa Bay Trane. It was built using 8,500 linear feet of insulated underground steel piping infrastructure and will concentrate noise pollution into a single building rather than separate individual buildings while it cools. Even better, the system is 30 to 40 percent more efficient than most traditional air conditioning systems while consuming less energy. The way that the plant is set up also frees up rooftop space that would normally be dedicated to housing individual air conditioners, making the neighborhood roofs available for use as shared amenity spaces for the residents. The concrete masonry design combined with structural steel and brick pattern is a nod towards the historic cigar factories in Ybor City, a nearby iconic district northeast of Tampa’s downtown. + Water Street Tampa Photography by Nicole Abbott

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LEED-Platinum learning lab is a beacon of sustainability

February 12, 2020 by  
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In a bold move to embrace environmental education, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine recently welcomed the Roux Center for the Environment, a new three-story academic building that’s also been certified LEED Platinum. Designed by Cambridge-based architectural firm Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. , the 29,000-square-foot interdisciplinary building brings together faculty and students from across campus into a collaborative setting focused on finding solutions to the world’s environmental challenges. Officially opened in October 2018, the Roux Center for the Environment comprises flexible classrooms, laboratories, research labs, teaching labs, offices, conference rooms, common spaces, storage, and other miscellaneous support spaces. Durable, thermally-modified poplar siding clads the east and west facades, while glass wraps around the north and south facades. The walls of glass that surround the front entrance of the building also provide views into The Lantern, an indoor amphitheater -like space that can seat up to 150 people and hosts lectures and informal gatherings.  “Transparency, both physical and pedagogical, enables a clearer engagement of teaching, learning and scholarship,” the architects’ project statement said. “The building’s form is expressed by two bars shifted and angled to one another within the trapezoidal site, with the east bar housing faculty offices and research labs and the west bar containing classrooms and teaching labs. A glazed circulation space connects the two, fostering connections between faculty and students.” Related: Green-roofed CLT classrooms immerse children in nature As a teaching and learning lab for sustainable technologies, the Roux Center for the Environment includes a variety of renewable energy and energy-saving systems that have earned the building LEED Platinum certification. Examples of such systems include the rooftop solar array that offsets 13% of annual electric costs; a gray water reclamation system; high-efficiency mechanical systems for reduced energy usage; an experimental, research-based green roof; and stormwater swales at grade. + Cambridge Seven Associates Images by Jeff Goldberg – Esto

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LEED-Platinum learning lab is a beacon of sustainability

Barcelona’s new solar-powered sports center features a green facade

February 11, 2020 by  
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Barcelona, a city well-known for its avant-garde architecture, both modern and historic, is going green. Local firm  Architecture Anna Noguera  has just completed work on the Turó de la Peira’s Sports Center, a solar-powered complex covered in a  lush green facade . The building’s innovative hydroponic system includes a rainwater collection system that irrigates the vegetation year-round. Once known as a beautiful green area in the city, Barcelona’s Turó de la Peira Quarter was taken over by urban sprawl during the 1960s. Since then, the neighborhood has been suffocated with construction. Recently, the government decided to give the neighborhood a massive green overhaul , including the addition of a new solar-powered sports center wrapped in vegetation. Related: Denmark’s first timber parking garage will be enveloped in greenery At the hands of Architecture Anna Noguera, the Turó de la Peira Sports Center, which features a heated swimming pool on the ground floor and a sports court on the second floor, was constructed out of two existing buildings. Strategically combining the two buildings, the architects were able to add an abundance of natural lighting throughout the building thanks to a new translucent facade and 24 skylights. The light, along with the addition of  prefab timber  used on the walls and ceiling, gives the structure a healthy, modern atmosphere. Without a doubt, however, the center’s most eye-catching feature is its green envelope. The building has been equipped with a  hydroponic planting system, which wraps lush vegetation around the building. To keep the vegetation irrigated, a rooftop rainwater collection system filters water into a large tank in the basement. In addition to its  green facade , the building incorporates several energy-efficient systems. A massive solar array takes up the entire rooftop, generating 95.534 kWh per year. Additionally, the building has an innovative aerothermal system that allows the recovery of heat for the center’s hot water needs. + Architecture Anna Noguera Via V2com Photography by Enric Duch

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Odd.Bot, the weed-pulling robot that could eliminate herbicides

February 11, 2020 by  
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The aging adage, “there’s an app for that,” is evolving into, “there’s a robot for that.” More and more automation is finding its way to the market for household chores like cleaning floors, and now that innovation is in farmer’s fields with Odd.Bot, an automatic weeding robot. Odd.Bot made an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month with an informational booth and the weed-plucking device on display. Martijn Lukaart, Founder and CEO, explains that Odd.Bot is currently intended for use in organic farming fields to make the weed-pulling process easier for large farms who currently do all the work by hand. Many large-scale farmers have already invested in a platform that allows workers to lay face down on a bed as they are propelled through the rows of crops. This provides workers a quicker and more comfortable way to pull weeds manually. However, Odd.Bot’s goal is to work the fields ahead of humans with many advantages for the  crops , farmers and workers. Related: California man files lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly hiding dangers of glyphosate Firstly, Odd.Bot can improve crop yield by tackling weeds early on and continuously. This gives crops more room to grow without competition from weeds, and thus a larger yield. Additionally, Odd.Bot is 100% organic by achieving the task without any chemicals or harm to the plants . Using the robot provides farmers an alternative to the struggles of finding and keeping as many employees. Plus, it makes the job much easier for those workers who are on staff. Odd.Bot works by autonomously roving along rows of crops, propelled on heavy-duty tires. A mechanism in the center of the robot then extends down to extract weeds as it moves. Cameras and sensors keep the robot on task and away from growing crops, regardless of row width. The robots can be rented to clear fields for a jumpstart to the growing season or as helpful “hand” as crops mature. In addition to reducing the manual workload and minimizing the need for gas-guzzling tractors that pollute the environment, Odd.Bot also hopes to move into the traditional farming market where they can influence a diversion from traditional herbicide usage. On the company website, they state, “With our Weed Whacker we aim to save more than 170.000 liters of chemical herbicides in the next seven years.” By making organic farming more profitable, Odd.Bot also hopes to directly or indirectly contribute to providing healthy food at reasonable costs. + Odd.Bot Images via Odd.Bot

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Calamus unveils worlds safest e-bike at CES 2020

February 6, 2020 by  
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India-based startup  Calamus  recently unveiled the Calamus One Ultrabike, an electric bicycle that they claim is “the world’s safest and most advanced” of its kind. Integrated with elements typically only seen on motor vehicles, the innovative e-bicycle combines safety features and high-end tech into a sleek and beautifully designed package. The Ultrabike was exhibited at the CES 2020 show and is available on Indiegogo for pre-order. Crafted to evoke continuity, the Ultrabike uses 6000 series aircraft-grade aluminum with automotive-grade paint for both the lightweight bike frame and handlebar, which is also part of a one-piece stem and handle design. To emphasize the design’s seamless flow, the removable battery was integrated into the down tube of the frame while all of the  bicycle cables — from the hydraulic brakes to the electrical and electronic cables — have been routed inside the frame. The internally routed cables also make the entire bike weatherproof and improve aerodynamics. Promising a range of nearly 45 miles on a single charge, the Ultrabike is powered by 250w/750w Ultra-drive mid-motors from Bafang and driven by Gates’ carbon belt CDX system for a smooth riding experience. For an improved user experience, each bike will also be equipped with sensors that track motor, battery, and component health to provide real-time diagnoses viewable via a 5-inch TFT LCD touchscreen. A high-performance chip stores and analyzes riding patterns to provide auto gear shifts, while an inbuilt GPS chip offers added functionality. Related: Propella’s lightweight electric bike rides like a regular bike For safety, the designers have added  LED  turn indicators into the handlebars as well as built-in ultrasonic sensors with haptic feedback for blind spot assistance. Security is enhanced with the addition of an ultra-fast biometric scanner for locking and unlocking the bike, geo-tracking and fencing with a ‘Find My Ride’ feature in the case of theft, anti-theft fasteners, an anti-theft alarm, and a patent-pending smart lock that can be accessed using a mobile app to lock and unlock the bike. The Calamus One Ultrabike can be pre-ordered on  Indiegogo . + Calamus Images via Calamus

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Calamus unveils worlds safest e-bike at CES 2020

Floating, nest-inspired Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa opens

February 6, 2020 by  
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One of the most eagerly-awaited floating hotels has finally opened their doors. Located on Sweden’s remote Lule River, the Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa is a nest-inspired, circular building that floats on the water during the summer months and is suspended on top of the frozen lake during winter. Designed by architectural team Johan Kauppi, Annkathrin Lundqvist and Bertil Hagström, the striking design incorporates several luxury cabins built with all-natural, sustainable materials . While there are several floating spas located around the world, this particular project is certainly one of a kind. Located on the Lule River in Swedish Lapland, guests to the hotel and spa will be able to enjoy a spectacularly idyllic region often referred to as Northern Europe’s last remaining wilderness. Related: Floating sauna with charred timber cladding boasts minimal site impact The remote solitude is the perfect backdrop for an otherworldly spa experience . The circular building, which is reached by a wide wooden walkway that leads from the lake’s shore, features a spa, saunas, a hot bath and indoor and outdoor showers. In the middle of the circular building is an outdoor cold bath that, set at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, is sure to get your heart pumping. Guests can choose from a wide-range of holistic treatments geared towards relaxation and wellness. The hotel offers six wooden Scandinavian-inspired cabins, which were all built with natural and sustainable materials , that will float on the water during summer or stand frozen on the ice in the winter months. There is also a larger cabin located nearby and a private suite with loft space  nearby. All of the structures feature large walls of glass as well as open-air wooden decks to take in the incredible surroundings. Besides the treatments on offer, guests to the unique hotel will be able to enjoy a wide array of activities. Dog sledding through the snow-covered forests is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For those visiting during the months of August to April, the northern lights fill the night sky over the hotel. + Arctic Bath Via Design Boom Images via Daniel Holmgren and Pasquale Baseotto

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