Architects transform a residential building into a lush, green oasis in the heart of So Paulo

May 20, 2019 by  
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Although São Paulo is known as a bustling metropolis, a local architectural firm, Lucia Manzano Arquitetura , is doing its part to add more green to the concrete and glass cityscape. The Lorena is a residential building in the heart of the city that is designed to integrate architecture and landscape. It infuses an abundance of vegetation throughout from its ground floor garden, which was planted with native shrubs and trees to attract local fauna, to the massive balconies covered in hanging greenery, and of course, a lush green roof. Sitting in the middle of São Paulo, the 28,000-square-foot Lorena building holds court in a quiet area, standing out significantly from its concrete neighbors thanks to the massive amount of vegetation that hangs from each of its outdoor terraces and rooftop gardens . According to the architects, the inspiration for the design was to create a strong relationship between landscape and architecture. To do so, the building was covered in layers of vibrant plants. Related: Translucent Ho Chi Minh City office tower infused with greenery helps combat urban pollution The concrete building is four stories, comprised of several 5,543-square-foot duplex units. The common areas, the ground floor and the rooftop were conceived as private gardens for the residents. On the ground floor, the landscaping includes  native vegetation , such as local species from the Atlantic Forest as well as fruit and native trees, chosen to attract local birds and insects. This space also has an extended splash pool to create a soothing oasis where the residents can relax. At the top of the building, residents can also enjoy a beautiful green roof . Equipped with large trees, shrubs and flowers, there are also plenty of lounge chairs to take in the stunning views of the city. When they are not strolling along the pool or taking in the rooftop vistas, residents have their own private escape at home. Each duplex has four bedrooms, each with its own private balcony that pulls double-duty as flowerbeds. The living space in each unit opens up to a balcony, merging the interior with the exterior. As well as creating the sense of being surrounded by a garden , the abundance of plant life also provides the residences with plenty of privacy. + Lucia Manzano Arquitetura  Via Archdaily Photography by Evelyn Müller via Lucia Manzano Arquitetura

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New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

May 10, 2019 by  
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Despite its irrefutable success — founded in 1891 and now receiving one million visitors a year — the New York Botanical Garden’s staff tirelessly finds innovative ways to stimulate visitors’ connection to nature. This year, it launched a new artist residency program, inviting internationally acclaimed visual artist Michele Oka Doner and sought-after composer Angélica Negrón to be the first participants. “People come to nature in different ways,” Barbara Corcoran, NYBG’s vice president for continuing and public education, told Inhabitat. “Some people come to the garden and they’re very observant, they really see the plants, they read the labels, and they have quite a good knowledge. They’re gardeners themselves or they’re naturalists.” Others might need extra help connecting. “ Music and art are two ways to do that,” she said. Carrie Rebora Barratt, who became CEO and president of the garden in 2018, came up with the residency idea. Her training as an art historian and museum administrator and her previous position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art had shown her the value of artist residencies. Michele Oka Doner Love of nature fuels Michele Oka Doner’s five decades of artwork. This is apparent as soon as you walk into her SoHo studio. “It’s like a treasure trove of nature,” Corcoran said. “She’s a collector of natural objects and archaeological finds like fossils and little bird skulls, like dozens of them, and old stone tools and shells and nature books. So this is like a laboratory. When you go there, you really get to see what she’s all about.” Doner’s past works include “A Walk on the Beach,” composed of 9,000 bronze starfish, sand dollars, coral and other sea-inspired sculptures embedded in the concourse at Miami International Airport. Her installation at the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory in Munich includes 400 shamanistic sculptures . She’s still developing her ideas for the site-specific work she’ll create at the New York Botanical Garden . Related: Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls On June 12, Doner will give a free talk at the garden called “Ecstatic Nutrition: The Trees of My Life” about three trees that greatly influenced her. “It kicks off our Wellness Wednesdays, which we have through the summer,” Corcoran said.  “Michele is a close observer of nature and a fine storyteller. She has this kind of enchantment with the natural world and its sacredness, and it really comes across. I think it will be very inspiring to hear her talk.” Angélica Negrón Composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón is a classically trained violinist who is well-known for her electronic music. Much of her work includes nontraditional instruments, such as toys, music boxes and electrodes hooked up to vegetables. A YouTube video shows Negrón in a market, lining up vegetables on a shelf to gauge their aesthetic as well as musical potential.  “I try to find vegetables or fruits that match the textures of the songs. I do love cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, vegetables that have kind of design element. I call it a vegetable synth,” she said in the video. “I try to coordinate it so it all looks like part of the same instrument.” Corcoran said that both artists are interested in science and technology. Negrón has met with a New York Botanical Garden scientist and horticulturalist to learn more about tree communication. “ Trees communicate largely through their roots,” Corcoran said. “That’s all very fascinating to her.” Negrón has already performed twice at the garden, delighting the public with her vegetable synth. “She assigns each vegetable with a different note,” Corcoran explained. “And then when she touches them, the water in those fruits and plants and vegetables conduct the electricity that creates the notes. By tapping different vegetables, she creates a musical piece.” She also adds in acoustic and electronic instruments and found sounds for a result Corcoran describes as “soothing and mesmerizing.” Negrón’s residency will culminate in November with a world-premiere performance in the Thain Family Forest. “We’ll have several choruses here,” Corcoran said. “So it’s a mix of live choral music with sounds that are coming from the trees. I think that’s going to be a real artistic happening that you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in New York in the fall. Plus, it’s in the old growth forest at a beautiful time of year.” Visiting the garden The New York Botanical Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round, plus occasional holiday Mondays. In addition to leisurely strolling and soaking up the beauty, there’s always something going on. Activities range from the extremely practical — learning to repot orchids — to something as celebratory as the Brazil-themed World Pride Night in June. The botanical garden is a vital center for plant research. Its herbarium contains 7.8 million specimens, and it employs about 200 PhD-level scientists and support staff who travel the world to collect plants and bring them back for study. But most of all, it’s a place where busy urbanites can spend time in nature . “It’s a real oasis for people,” Corcoran said. “And I think now more than ever, people need that.” + New York Botanical Garden Images via NYBG and Ben Hider / NYBG

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Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption

May 10, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than a gorgeous minimalist design that boasts energy-efficiency features, and Barcelona-based firm, Pepe Gascón Arquitectura,  has managed to combine the two beautifully. Located just east of Barcelona, the Elvira&Marcos House is a minimalist, all-white rectangular volume with slender windows, surrounded by a natural landscape of overgrown grass and wildflowers. The home’s minimalist design conceals an extremely tight insulative shell and geothermal energy system to reduce the home’s energy consumption. The 2,475 square foot home was built on a lot that was slated for development years ago, before Spain’s economy was hit by the economic crisis. Today, the Elvira & Marcos home is the only residence in the area, adding a touch of mysterious solitude to the gorgeous home design. Related: Geothermal-powered Forest House showcases sustainable features in Maryland The all-white, rectangular-shaped home is surrounded by a plot made up of overgrown greenery that partially hides the home from view. According to the architects, leaving the landscape in its wild state was a strategic move to create “a house with a clear geometry but without resorting to unnecessary gestures, offering a forceful interpretation with a certain neutrality in the midst of the surrounding heterogeneity.” The exterior of the home is made out of flexible stucco finish that comes with an integral Exterior Thermal Insulation System (SATE), creating a tight insulative shell for the structure. In addition to the exterior insulation, the SATE system was also used in the roof to avoid energy-wasting thermal bridges. The end result is an extremely tight envelope, that, together with a geothermal energy system installed, drastically reduces the home’s energy consumption. The interior of the three-story home is connected by an large interior steel staircase that holds court in the middle of the kitchen. The home’s minimalist aesthetic continues throughout the home’s open layout with all-white walls and a continuous concrete floor. Natural light shines into the living area from the slender slat windows— which is made even more open and airy thanks to its double height ceilings. + Pepe Gascón Arquitectura Via Design Milk Photography by Aitor Estévez via Pepe Gascón Arquitectura  

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These are the best 9 tricks and gadgets to keep your spring garden in tip-top shape

April 29, 2019 by  
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Flowers are sprouting and the weather is heating up, it’s safe to say spring is in full effect (at least in some areas) and now is the perfect time to start planning how to revive your garden . From the best times of day to plant to all the latest garden gadgets on the market, here is a quick and easy guide to achieving the best springtime garden in no time. Spring Cleaning Once the weather starts warming up, you should clean up your garden in preparation for the growing season. This includes getting rid of dead leaves and other debris that has accumulated over the winter. You can put the organic materials in your compost pile for later use. If you notice any weeds, now is the time to get ahead of the game. Avoid putting them in the compost, however, as the seeds will cause you major headaches down the road. Plant In The Evening Some garden gurus argue that plants do better, in terms of growth rate and durability, when they are put in the ground after the sun goes down. At the very least, planting at night ensures that you get the most out of your initial watering as the sun is not baking most of it away. The only thing to consider is having plenty of lighting so that you do not get lost in the dark. Related: This Garden Planner makes urban gardening easy Coffee Ground Fertilizer Speaking of fertilizer, old coffee grounds are a great way to infuse more nutrients into the ground. You will, of course, will have needed to save up those grounds over the winter in order for this to work. If you did stock up, then you can use the coffee grounds as an excellent source of nitrogen, which can give your vegetables an extra boost. If you are just starting to save your coffee grounds, you can either add them to an existing compost pile or store them in a large container. Once you are ready to prep the soil, simply add the grounds to the soil after it has been tilled and rake them in. Garden Sensors Garden sensors are a great way to keep tabs on the condition of your soil. Many of these sensors, which are often accompanied by an app, will tell you the pH level of the soil, moisture content, nutrients and light intensity. Some sensors are also part of a larger database and can tell you when it is the best time to plant certain species. If you are not keen on using technology , there are sensors that have the same functionality without relying on a smartphone. Prep The Soil You should start preparing the ground for planting as quickly as possible. The best way to prep the soil is to till anywhere between 8 to 12 inches below the ground. As you till, remove large rocks you encounter as these can harm growth. Once the soil is tilled, you can add some fertilizer to the mix. If the ground is too wet when you till, let it dry out before proceeding. Too much moisture can also cause issues with growth. Plant Cam If you are into tracking the progress of your garden, then a plant cam is the perfect gadget for you. These cams use time-lapse photography to document plant growth throughout the season, making it an ideal fit for your high-tech spring garden. Garden cams come in several versions, but most use either photography or video to record plant growth. Collecting Water Collecting rainwater is a great way to better the environment and put some more cash in your wallet. According to Thompson Morgan , rainwater is also healthier for plants as it contains more nutrients than groundwater. Tap water can also contain too much alkaline, which is not good for growth. There are quite a few methods of collecting rainwater and each one will depend on your budget and how much time you want to invest in the project. One of the best ways to recycle water is to build a rain collection system that gathers water from the gutters on your home. The water is then stored in large containers for later use. Pest Blaster No matter how well you prepare your garden , it will all be ruined if pests enter the equation. Luckily, you can get rid of unwanted rats, foxes or cats using the latest technology in outdoor repellents. One good option is ultrasonic repellers, which are battery operated and emit frequencies outside of our hearing zone. Most of these repellers come affixed to a mounting stake, which makes them easy to install anywhere in your garden. They are also very affordable, so if you have a little wiggle room in your budget you can install several to keep the pests away. Copper Trick For smaller insects, like slugs and snails, adding some copper tape to planters can help keep these pests away from your precious veggies. When snails and slugs crawl across copper, their slime creates an electrical charge that naturally makes them go away. You can find copper tape at your local garden store. Via EcoWatch Images via Shutterstock

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A growing number of states are aiming for clean energy

April 29, 2019 by  
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While President Donald Trump tries to ease environmental regulations and shirk responsibility for climate change , at the state level, the wind is blowing a different way toward clean energy and the elimination of greenhouse gases from electricity production. A growing number of states are pushing — and passing — renewable energy bills. Instead of generating power from finite sources like fossil fuel, they’re embracing solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources. On Earth Day, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed legislation that the state would reach a target of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. “Today, Nevada sent a message to the country and world that the Silver State is open for business as a renewable leader, and our commitment to growing our clean energy economy transcends party lines,” Sisolak said in his office’s press release. Related: Scientists find a way to produce renewable energy from snow Nevada is the fourth state to proclaim a goal of 100 percent clean energy. California, New Mexico and Hawaii have already passed similar bills. Washington, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois are hashing out clean energy legislation. Puerto Rico plans to take advantage of its sunshine, wind and water; last month, the territory passed a bill to power the island entirely with renewable energy by 2050. Then, there are the cities. According to the Sierra Club , more than 90 U.S. cities have already set their 100 percent renewable energy goals, from little Abita Springs, Louisiana to giant Chicago. Six U.S. cities — Aspen, Burlington, Georgetown, Greensburg, Rock Port and Kodiak Island — have already succeeded. They now power themselves 100 percent with clean energy . As Nevada Governor Sisolak has pointed out, clean energy can be good for employment as well as for the environment. According to his office, at the end of 2018, more than 32,000 people worked in Nevada’s renewable energy sector. The state’s new standards could boost this figure by another 11,170 jobs by 2030, adding $539 million in wages and boosting overall economic activity by $1.5 billion. Via Grist , Bloomberg , Sierra Club  and Vox Image via BlackRockSolar

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A growing number of states are aiming for clean energy

7 Easy Ways to Plant a Tree Where It’s Needed Most

April 26, 2019 by  
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With this handy list of resources, you could plant a tree in a deforested or at-risk area of the globe with less than $10 and a few clicks on the Web. The post 7 Easy Ways to Plant a Tree Where It’s Needed Most appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Eucalyptus screens block out the sun’s harsh rays in this off-grid home

April 24, 2019 by  
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São Paulo-based firm Studio MK27 has unveiled a spectacular home made out of a beautiful blend of natural and prefabricated materials. The Catuçaba House is tucked into the remote rolling hills of Catuçaba, its horizontal volume sitting almost 5,000 feet above sea level. Wanting to forge a strong relationship with its stunning natural surroundings, the architects designed the home with a number of sustainable features to be completely off-grid and low-impact. In fact, the home’s sustainability profile is so impressive that it is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification. The 3,300-square-foot home is a beautiful study in eco-friendly minimalism. The residence, which is a wooden prefab structure , is comprised of an elongated form that sits on a series of pillars. These wooden pillars were carefully embedded into the landscape to reduce the impact on the terrain. Related: This off-grid home on a Greek island provides ‘cinematic frames’ of the sea A wooden deck cantilevers over the hilly topography, creating a large platform that is book-ended by two adobe walls made from local soil. As a passive feature , sliding shades made out of eucalyptus branches cover the floor-to-ceiling front facade and filter light through the interior, offering a vibrant movement of shadows and light in the living space. Further integrating the design into its natural surroundings, the architects covered the home’s roof in native greenery. Like the home’s exterior, the interior is marked by wood finishes throughout, all of which are certified as sustainably-sourced lumber . The living and private spaces are designated by interior wooden frames filled with eco-friendly wool insulation. The rustic decor continues with exposed wooden ceilings, clay flooring, white walls and wood-burning stoves. Because of its remote location, the house has no access to grid electricity or water; therefore, it operates completely off-grid. Solar panels on the roof, along with a nearby wind turbine, generate enough energy for the residence’s needs. Drinking water is collected from a nearby spring. Additionally, the house was installed with an integrated rainwater collection system which routes gray water to irrigate the garden. The sustainable Catuçaba home was completed in 2016 and has since earned a number of accolades. It is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification from the Green Building Council. + Studio MK27  Via Dezeen Photography by Fernando Guerra via Studio MK27

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A guide to the different types of plastic

April 18, 2019 by  
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BPA, PET, HDPE. You’re trying to do the right thing by recycling, following health alerts and shopping wisely, but you’re not fluent in molecular chemistry. So how do you decipher exactly what it all means and how to stay green? We’re here to help with a handy guide on different types of plastic and how they impact the planet and your health. Fast facts about our plastic problem According to Earth Day , here are some stats that give you an idea of the scale of our plastic addiction. • Since its invention in the 1950s, over 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced. • Ninety-one percent of all plastics are not recycled, meaning almost all plastic ever produced is piled up in our landfills and oceans . • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year. If you tie all these bags together, they reach around the Earth 773 times. • By 2050, there will be more pounds of plastic in the ocean than fish. • There are more microplastics in the ocean than stars in the Milk Way. What are microplastics? Keep reading! Types of plastic: what the terms mean, where you find them and how they impact health Courtesy of National Geographic and  Waste4Change , below are terms commonly used by manufacturers and health advisers. Additives Additives are chemicals added to plastic to enhance certain qualities. For example, they might make the material stronger, more flexible, fire-resistant or UV inhibitive. Depending on what is added to the plastic, these substances can be toxic to your health. Biodegradable This term means that a material can break down into natural substances through decomposition within a reasonable amount of time. Plastic does not biodegrade , so the term is misleading and still means that the substance may leave toxic residue behind. In fact, some states are now banning this term in relation to plastic. Bioplastic Bioplastic is a broad term for all types of plastic, including both petroleum and biological-based products. It does not mean that a plastic is non-toxic, made from safe or natural sources or non-fossil-fuel-based. This term can be misleading, because many consumers assume “bio” means natural and therefore healthy. Related: Shellworks upcycled leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics Bisphenol-A (BPA) BPA is a toxic industrial chemical that can be found in plastic containers and in the coating of cans, among other uses. It can leach into foods and liquids. BPA-free products have merely replaced the substance with less-toxic bisphenol-S or bisphenol-F, both of which still pose health concerns. Compostable This term means something can break down or degrade into natural materials within a composting system, typically through decomposition by microorganisms. Some new plastics are labeled as compostable; however, this certification mostly requires industrial composting systems, not your garden compost pile. Compostable plastics do not leave behind toxic residue after they decompose, but they must be separated out for industrial composting and not put in recycle or landfill bins. Some major cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis have industrial composting programs, but many do not. Ghost nets/fishing gear Approximately 640,000 tons of fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in the ocean every year. Most of this equipment is made from plastic, including nets, buoys, traps and lines, and all of it endangers marine life . Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE is thick plastic used in bags, containers and bottles. It is safer and more stable that other plastics for food and drinks and can be recycled . Microplastics Microplastics are particles less than 5 millimeters long. There are two types: Primary: resin pellets melted down to make plastic or microbeads used in cosmetics and soaps Secondary : particles that result from larger pieces of plastic (such as fabrics and bottles) breaking down into millions of tiny particles that can enter air and water Ocean garbage patches Specific ocean currents carry litter thousands of miles and cause it to collect in certain areas known as garbage patches . The largest patch in the world spans a million square miles of ocean and is mostly made up of plastics. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE) Polyethylene terephthalate is a widely used plastic that is clear, strong and lightweight. It does not wrinkle and is typically used in food containers and fabrics. It is the most likely to be recycled, but it is a known carcinogen, meaning it can be absorbed into liquids over time and cause cancer . Polypropylene (PP) PP is stiffer and more heat-resistant than other types of plastic. It is often used for hot food containers, diapers, sanitary pads and car parts. It is safer than PVC and PET but still linked to asthma and hormone issues. Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Typically used in food containers and helmets, this material does not recycle well and can leach styrene that is toxic for the brain and nervous system. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) PVC is considered the most hazardous plastic, because it can leach chemicals like BPA, lead, mercury and cadmium that may cause cancer and disrupt hormones. It is often used in toys, cling wrap, detergent bottles, pipes and medical tubes. It usually has to be recycled into separate and more rare recycling programs. Single-use plastic Single-use plastic is designed to be used only once and then disposed of, such as grocery bags and packaging. Environmentalists encourage reducing your single-use plastic consumption, because after their short lifespan, these plastics pile up and pollute the Earth for centuries. Via National Geographic ,  Earth Day , Waste4Change and The Dodo Images via Shutterstock

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Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening

April 10, 2019 by  
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After a dreary winter, spring has finally arrived! It’s time … The post Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening

Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening

April 10, 2019 by  
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After a dreary winter, spring has finally arrived! It’s time … The post Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening

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