Ramboll helps Lombok locals build earthquake-resistant bamboo housing

January 17, 2020 by  
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In 2018 when Lombok was struck by several earthquakes, some measuring up to magnitude 7, local communities around the seismic region were greatly affected. After the series of earthquakes settled, there were over 500 people dead, 445,000 people homeless and 129,000 homes damaged. Concerned that the quality of the area’s buildings was partially to blame, Els Houttave, founder of the Lombok-based charity Grenzeloos Milieu, knew that something had to be done to ensure this type of devastation never happened again. She teamed up with Ramboll bridge engineer Xavier Echegaray and structural engineer Marcin Dawydzik to find a solution that was both sustainable and resilient. When Dawydzik traveled to Lombok, he discovered the problem was in the building techniques and materials : “Villages were flattened with bricks and rubble scattered all around, in many cases the building foundations were all that remained. This was not an unusually powerful earthquake for the region, but lack of reinforcement in the buildings meant the damage, and consequential loss of life, was far greater than it should have been. What I found even more disturbing was that communities had already started rebuilding with the same absence of structural integrity that had existed in the destroyed buildings!”   As it turns out, the building solution was closer than expected. The partially-destroyed villages were surrounded by bamboo forests, a time-honored building material that is lightweight, strong, affordable, sustainable and reaches full maturity in about five years. Working hand-in-hand with the locals, Ramboll has now built three prototype earthquake-proof “template houses” made almost entirely out of locally-sourced bamboo. The homes are raised on cross-braced columns with a central staircase leading to the living area and space for two bedrooms. The walls are finished with bamboo woven sheets or canes and the roofing is made from recycled Tetra Pak carton packaging.  Going even further, the project headed by Grenzeloos Milieu and University College London will provide locals with a free blueprint on how to construct affordable earthquake-proof homes without complicated construction knowledge necessary. Additionally, Grenzeloos Milieu is growing more bamboo forests and teaching communities how to harvest the trees for food and construction. Ramboll volunteers on the ground in Lombok will teach the process hands-on while ensuring safety and efficiency . + Ramboll Via Dezeen Images via Ramboll

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Ramboll helps Lombok locals build earthquake-resistant bamboo housing

Planet Beyond earbuds combine tech, sustainability and fashion

January 17, 2020 by  
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High-tech products don’t have to be sterile and uniform, but there haven’t been a lot of options for personalizing or styling even common gadgets, like earbuds, until now. That’s what inspired Planet Beyond, a company aimed at offering fashionable options alongside state-of-the-art technology and sustainability. The earbuds, released in early December 2019, offer superior sound that is comparable to Bose or Apple. Even the basic model earbuds are embellished with a metal centerpiece, available in gold, gunmetal or silver tones, giving each pair a striking and unique look. The silicone earpieces not only deliver comfort but are designed for interchangeability of additional jewelry. Related: Korvaa is the world’s first headphones “grown” from bio-based materials Users can create ear art with a selection of add-on options. The jewelry components come in a variety of styles including leaves, shooting stars and sun rays. Each design is available in the same three base colors to match or contrast the center and are easily interchangeable whenever you want a different look. While quality sound is at the heart of these earbuds, sold as product PB01 to represent Planet Beyond’s initial product release, the brand’s bigger goal aims to add something that no other company has brought to the earbud market — style. As a start-up focused on sustainability, Planet Beyond has also placed importance on practicing corporate responsibility. With that in mind, each product is created from recycled metal . “Beyond being lightweight and durable, our Bluetooth earpieces are the synthesis of sustainability, fashion and technology ,” the company said. “With a broad range of offerings at attainable prices, we believe everyone deserves to witness the new intersection of technology and art.” Available now, the PB01 has a base price of $115. The optional accessories add an additional $55 each. With a team made up of a mathematician, an engineer, a computer programmer and an architect, we expect to see more wearable tech innovation from Planet Beyond in the future. + Planet Beyond Images via Planet Beyond

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Planet Beyond earbuds combine tech, sustainability and fashion

The World Bank will stop funding oil and gas projects after 2019

December 12, 2017 by  
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One of the world’s leading financial institutions just announced plans to stop financing oil and gas projects. Today at the One Planet Summit , the World Bank officially announced that it will quit financing upstream oil and gas after 2019. The announcement is part of their efforts to assist developing countries in meeting the goals of the Paris Accord . World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, together with French president Emmanuel Macron and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, gathered world leaders at the One Planet Summit to work towards action on climate change . On the occasion, the World Bank Group made several announcements, the first of which was their decision to quit financing upstream oil and gas after 2019. Related: World’s largest sovereign wealth fund could ditch oil and gas stocks The move is meant to help developing nations move closer to Paris deal goals. There may be exceptions for some countries; the World Bank said, “In exceptional circumstances, consideration will be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within the countries’ Paris Agreement commitments.” In opening remarks , Kim called for incentives for change, such as “removing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing carbon pricing, increasing energy efficiency standards, and implementing auctions for lowest cost renewable energy .” He said, “Every day, climate change becomes a more urgent economic, social, and existential threat to all countries and all people. We need investments in the trillions – not billions – to have any hope of keeping the commitments we made here two years ago. That’s what this summit is all about.” The World Bank also said they’re on track to reach their goal of directing 28 percent of their lending towards climate action by 2020. They also think they’ll meet the targets of their Climate Change Action Plan, which seeks to assist developing countries in adding enough renewable energy to power 150 million houses , or 30 gigawatts. Via the World Bank Images via World Bank on Twitter and Jim Yong Kim on Twitter

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The World Bank will stop funding oil and gas projects after 2019

11 charitable green gifts that give back

December 12, 2017 by  
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Turn your holiday shopping into an act of kindness this year with our picks for festive and charitable gifts that give back. The National Wildlife Federation dedicates proceeds from its holiday birdseed wreaths to protect American wild animals, and you can  adopt an African elephant for just $25 from the World Wildlife Fund. Check out our favorite gifts that give back here ! GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK >

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11 charitable green gifts that give back

SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

September 14, 2017 by  
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The game-changing power of solar energy is a gift to all of the global community. Nations of the world, having recognized the absolute necessity to do so, are slowly shifting towards a clean energy economy while reaping the benefits. These benefits are being particularly felt in the developing economies of the Global South , where communities are making the transition from no electricity access to resilient, local power through solar energy. SOLARKIOSK, a Berlin-based social enterprise, is supporting this movement and empowering local communities by installing innovative multi-purpose structures called E-HUBBs that are powered by the sun and operated by members of the communities they serve. SOLARKIOSK has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge – read on for a closer look at this world-changing initiative. Although similar in appearance to shipping container homes , the E-HUBB is emphatically much more – it’s “an energy-connectivity gateway.” With the energy generated through its solar panels, a single E-HUBB can provide power for phone and computer charging, a Wi-Fi hotspot, an LED TV, a refrigerator, a printer, interior and exterior lighting, and more. It also offers a display area and storage space, solar products and sustainable consumer goods. “SOLARKIOSK is continuously working on the design of the E-HUBB, in order to make it more efficient in terms of maintenance, implementation and transportation,” said Marija Makejeva, Business Development Manager at SOLARKIOSK. “Over time, the design has evolved across 3 different E-HUBB models from an aluminum to a steel structure, which is more cost-efficient and easier to source. Solar components and remote metering options have also undergone significant improvement as technology has evolved.” Related: Compact OffGridBox provides drinking water and power where it’s needed most E-HUBBs have proven their versatility by serving the needs of different communities. A last-mile distribution retail E-HUBB brings underserved populations much needed products and services across Sub-Saharan Africa. There’s also a Connected Solar Clinic operated by the Jordanian Ministry of Health, a banking kiosk that offers financial tools to off-grid populations in Nigeria , and a solar school unit for the displaced population at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan . In addition to the tangible impacts of power generation, commercial empowerment, and more, the E-HUBB also has the ability to positively impact and inspire younger generations who will one day inherit these changing communities. “The fascination always surfaces in the eyes of the kids as they gaze upon the site clearly delighted by the atmosphere emitted by SOLARKIOSK,” reads a statement by the company. “Being accepted and loved by the children is a great reassurance for our work directive and personal initiative; a true blessing.” Related: The Great Green Wall of Africa could fight desertification and poverty Each E-HUBB is uniquely fitted for the local community’s needs and is operated by members of the community, ninety percent of whom are women . “SOLARKIOSK sees great value in empowering women through job creation within the network of E-HUBBs,” said Makejeva. For its success in supporting localized community development, SOLARKIOSK has been nominated for the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. “The Fuller Challenge was established to draw attention to a ‘whole systems’ approach to addressing some of the complex problems facing the world,” said Founding Director Elizabeth Thompson. “Fuller’s hypothesis was that integrated solutions that focus on root cause, and are designed to be models for replication elsewhere, lead to long lasting, transformational change.” The prize winner receives $100,000 in funding as well as inclusion in the Challenge’s Catalyst Program, which offers support in expanding the winner’s work. “Our criteria have been distilled from Fuller’s voluminous writings and talks about the fundamental principles of what he called design science,” said Thompson. “The program set a very high bar for what we are looking for, so the projects selected as semi-finalists, finalists, and winners are truly exceptional examples!” If it were to receive this award, SOLARKIOSK would be well-positioned to scale up its operations in the coming years. While the economic empowerment gained in a local community through the support of SOLARKIOSK is exceptional, the mission and impact is more than that. An E-HUBB is a center for the community, a gathering place around which people can share stories, build strong relationships, and find inspiration for a brighter future. + SOLARKIOSK + Buckminster Fuller Challenge

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SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands

Mexico City is sinking – and it’s going to cause some real problems

February 20, 2017 by  
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Mexico City , a scant mile and a half above sea level, is sinking. It’s a turn of events that shouldn’t surprise anyone with a rudimentary grasp of history. Established by the Aztecs in 1325, the city formerly known as Tenochtitlán occupies what was once a plexus of interconnected lakes that were first drained by the Spaniards, then paved over with concrete and steel by modern engineers. As a result, Mexico City has to dig deep—literally—to obtain fresh water for its 21 million residents. But the drilling weakens the brittle clay beds that serve as the city’s foundation, according to the New York Times , hastening the collapse even further. For Mexico City, climate change isn’t a game of partisan ping-pong. Per the Times : More heat and drought mean more evaporation and yet more demand for water, adding pressure to tap distant reservoirs at staggering costs or further drain underground aquifers and hasten the city’s collapse. In the immense neighborhood of Iztapalapa — where nearly two million people live, many of them unable to count on water from their taps — a teenager was swallowed up where a crack in the brittle ground split open a street. Sidewalks resemble broken china, and 15 elementary schools have crumbled or caved in. Related: Xomali House in Mexico City makes clever use of a tiny 115 square foot lot Rising temperatures and the increased incidence of droughts and floods could send millions of Mexicans fleeing north and “heightening already extreme political tensions over immigration.” At the same time, Mexico City is facing a water crisis that prevents nearly 20 percent of its residents from getting water from their faucets each day. People have had to resort to hiring trucks to deliver drinking water, sometimes at prices 10 times higher than what richer neighborhoods with more reliable plumbing have to pay. “Climate change is expected to have two effects,” Ramón Aguirre Díaz, director of the Water System of Mexico City, told the Times . “We expect heavier, more intense rains, which means more floods, but also more and longer droughts.” If rain stops filling the reservoirs, “there is no way we can provide enough trucks of water to deal with that scenario,” he added. Mexico City could still rally some long-term solutions, but like most places, the city is roiled by political infighting. “There has to be a consensus—of scientists, politicians, engineers and society—when it comes to pollution, water, climate,” said Claudia Sheinbaum, a former environment minister. “We have the resources, but lack the political will.” Via New York Times

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Mexico City is sinking – and it’s going to cause some real problems

JFK Airport is opening a $65 million pet terminal

February 20, 2017 by  
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Traveling with pets just got a little bit easier for anyone passing through New York’s John F. Kennedy airport . The airport just gave us a first look at The ARK – a $65-million terminal for animals complete with a “Pet Oasis.” The facility will educate pet owners on any flight requirements before takeoff, provide food and water for flights, receive incoming pets and help board others on their outgoing flights, and even microchip animals who need it. Soon, the ARK plans to provide even more services. Phase 2, to be launched sometime in Q2 2017, will see the opening of the ARK Import-Export Center, with facilities for horses and an aviary. By summer, the terminal should be fully operational with a pet boarding facility, a grooming service, a veterinary clinic and a blood laboratory all open for business. Related: Man Tries to Smuggle Turtle Disguised as Hamburger Through Airport Security The ARK will be open 24-hours a day, and it will serve as a central resource for all airlines making stops at JFK. John J. Cuticelli, the CEO of ARK Development, said in a press release , “Transporting live cargo by plane can be a complex and arduous process for owners and animals alike. Our goal is to create a more efficient and safe process by reducing the need for additional travel and offering trained animal care staff immediately pre- and post-flight. The ARK provides a healthy and comfortable environment, and sets new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services.” + The ARK at JFK

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JFK Airport is opening a $65 million pet terminal

World’s first floating city one step closer to reality in French Polynesia

January 16, 2017 by  
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San Francisco’s Seasteading Institute has signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Polynesian government that brings the world’s first floating city closer to reality. The Seasteading Institute first established in 2008 has long sought to implement their vision of self-sustaining communities that can withstand rising sea levels, partnering with DeltaSync in 2013 to build a pilot project in The Netherlands . The new agreement could see construction on a full-blown city begin in the South Pacific as early as 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDqtOPNLwMs The Seasteading Institute’s executive director Randolph Hencken told Pacific Beat the recent agreement with the French Polynesian government comprises a major turning point for their organization. The memorandum of understanding ensures all due diligence regarding the economic and environmental impact of such a project will be undertaken. Also, over the next two years, a new legal framework will be created to protect the pioneering initiative. “Mr Hencken said the detail of political autonomy needed to be negotiated and considered under the sovereignty of French Polynesia and France, of which French Polynesia is a territory,” Pacific Beat wrote. Mr Hencken said the Pacific islands appealed to the institute because of its sheltered waters. Building in the open ocean would be possible, he said, but not economically feasible. Related: 5 Pacific islands have already disappeared because of climate change “If we can be behind a reef break,” he said, “then we can design floating platforms that are sufficient for those waters at an affordable cost.” If by the end of 2018 the floating island city remains appealing to the French Polynesian government and construction proceeds in 2019, Hencken hopes eventually hundreds of thousands of people will move there. As melting ice makes seas swell, threatening a wave of climate refugees from low-lying areas, Hencken said floating cities can provide sovereignty and resilience. “So much of the world — places like Kiribati and many of the islands of French Polynesia — are threatened by rising sea levels,” Mr Hencken told the paper . “We are planning to spin off a new industry of floating islands that will allow people to stay tethered to their sovereignty as opposed to having to flee to other countries. + The Seasteading Institute Via ABC Images via The Seasteading Institute

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World’s first floating city one step closer to reality in French Polynesia

The fhlo bottle keeps you hydrated and helps get water to those in need

March 29, 2016 by  
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The fhlo bottle is a reusable water bottle designed to keep you hydrated and make an impact. Every purchase of a fhlo bottle  helps keep well water flowing for those in need through The Adventure Product, which creates jobs and restores wells in developing nations. The design is a modern take on the fuel canisters used to transport water back and forth from the wells in developing nations. The opening clasp is a cam style latch and the transparent front allows you to keep tabs on your liquid levels. It features a 1/3 volume indicator reminding you when its time to fill up and representing the broken wells you’re helping restore. The bottle is designed to be unique so it can act as an iconic symbol that can get the conversation started about getting water to those who need it. + Support fhlo on Kickstarter The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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The fhlo bottle keeps you hydrated and helps get water to those in need

Solar-powered FlipFlic transforms ordinary blinds into self-adjusting smart windows

March 29, 2016 by  
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If you want to make your home more comfortable, livable, and energy-efficient, home automation is for you. One fantastic and affordable example of home automation is the FlipFlic , a solar-powered device that adjusts your window blinds based on sunlight, temperature , or customized app settings. Small and elegant, the FlipFlic is easy to install and can be attached to any existing window blinds—vertical or horizontal—and is outfitted with sensors that automatically respond to changing conditions. The device also comes with a smartphone app so that you can open or close your blinds instantly with just a tap of a finger. Want to get your hands on FlipFlic? Head over to their Kickstarter campaign where you can get a FlipFlic at a special early-bird price. + FlipFlic The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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Solar-powered FlipFlic transforms ordinary blinds into self-adjusting smart windows

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