The Netherlands is converting prisons into homes for refugees

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Unlike the United States of America, the prison population and crime rate in the Netherlands has been steadily decreasing for years. As a result, the country’s government is repurposing correctional facilities into housing for refugees who are waiting to be granted asylum status — a process that usually takes a minimum of six months. Not only will the refugees not be required to work, they will be supplied with educational materials to learn Dutch, ride bicycles and build connections within the local community. After the number of migrants exceeded 50,000 in one year alone in the Netherlands, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) proposed a solution for the overflow of refugees: transform empty prisons into temporary housing for families and individuals escaping war. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and photographer Muhammed Muheisen captured the scoop by dedicating the past two years to photographing the refugee crisis as people traversed across continents. After hearing rumors that penitentiaries were being converted to house migrants in the Netherlands, his interest was piqued. He told National Geographic , “I didn’t exactly understand. I thought they feel like they are in prisons.” Related: Green roof with bee hotel tops energy-neutral fair trade building in the Netherlands After waiting six months to get permission to visit the prison and take photos, Muheisen spent 40 days touring three different facilities, meeting residents and documenting their lives. “We’re talking about dozens of nationalities,” he said. “Dozens. The whole world is under this dome.” The refugees will be able to live in the centers for a minimum of six months and are free to come and go as they please. Additionally, they are supplied with resources needed to acclimate to the new country, learn Dutch and even ride bicycles. According to one Syrian man, the prison gives him hope for his future. The refugee told Muheisen, “If a country has no prisoners to put in jail, it means this is the safest country that I want to be living in.” Via National Geographic Images via Wikipedia , Wikimedia

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The Netherlands is converting prisons into homes for refugees

World’s greenest and healthiest office crowned in Washington, D.C.

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) headquarters in Washington DC was just named the greenest and healthiest office on the planet! Perkins+Will designed the groundbreaking interior, which has received both LEED and WELL Platinum Certification under WELL Building Standard. The 8,500-square-foot office features human-centric design elements that reduce stress, increase air quality, mask sounds and regulate the body’s physiological processes. Employees have no assigned seats, but choose available workplace environments that support specific daily tasks. The interior includes meeting spaces and private areas that can be reserved for several hours at a time. Related: GSK’s US Headquarters Awarded Double LEED Platinum in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard Biophilic design strategies employed throughout the space include the use of natural materials , architectural forms, patterning, and state-of-the-art monitoring systems to create a world-class working environment. ASID staff participated in the design process by wearing sensors that measured speech patterns and body movement when they interacted with each other. These sensor readings were compared to show how their interactions changed as a result of the new office design. Related: NBBJ Unveils New Plans for Biosphere Greenhouses at Amazon’s Seattle HQ “We began this project with a clear goal of showcasing the many ways design can positively affect the health and well-being of employees while boosting resource efficiency ,” said ASID CEO Randy W. Fiser. “At ASID, we believe in research-based results in design and placed an emphasis on third-party validation of the space,” he added. + Perkins+Will + American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)

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World’s greenest and healthiest office crowned in Washington, D.C.

Three stacked spruce ‘shoeboxes’ reimagine a 1934 house in Ljubljana

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

This renovated house in Slovenia consists of three spruce-covered volumes stacked up like shoeboxes. Ofis Arhitekti renovated a house designed by architect Emil Navinsek in 1934 as a home for his two sisters. The new structure expands the existing floor plan with a stacked structure that creates pleasant overhangs and terraces. The house is located on a street with homes built mostly in the 1960s and 1970s. It is here where Slovenian architect Emil Navinsek (known for innovative school space concepts) built his own residence and a house for his two unmarried elderly sisters next to it. It is the latter one that underwent an extensive renovation. Related: Build your own tiny home or treehouse with these stackable wooden micro-units Ofis Architects introduced three stacked cubic volumes that combine a concrete base, metal frames and wooden substructure. Each shoebox volume was clad in dark spruce to soften the structured shape. While renovating the existing structure, the team added an extension that protrudes through the old walls and creates a living room on the ground floor, kids rooms and guest room on the first floor, and master bedroom housed on the top floor. A staircase attached to a main vertical concrete wall, located at the heart of the house, acts as an intersection of volumes and connector of old and new. The entire interior is inspired by Adolf Loos and features elevated podiums, niches and small sitting areas. + Ofis Arhitekti Photos by Tomaz Gregoric

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Three stacked spruce ‘shoeboxes’ reimagine a 1934 house in Ljubljana

INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Eric Lundgren, the founder and CEO of e-waste recycling company ITAP , recently beat the electric vehicle driving range of a Tesla with a car made from trash and powered by repurposed Nintendo batteries. (Well, technically not just Nintendo batteries but Lenovo laptop and Time Warner cable box batteries too.) But how did he accomplish the seemingly impossible? Read on for our exclusive interview. “It’s not magic. We just put a larger battery in a lighter frame. It’s that simple,” Lundgren explained in a recent interview with Inhabitat. “We basically put a 130 kilowatt hours battery pack in a car that weighs a little bit less than a Tesla.” Related: ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars Lundgren is a pioneer in hybrid recycling — reusing the components in broken electronics or outdated electronics so that they don’t end up in toxic landfills. His trash car — the Phoenix — broke the world record for longest EV range last month, outlasting a Tesla Model S P100D on a round-trip from L.A. to San Diego. His team had already set the EV range record but Guinness didn’t accept the results because of missing film footage of the event so they gave it another go with cameras on for the entire race. They built the Phoenix in 35 days at a cost of $13,000 using 88 percent consumer waste. The $150,000 Tesla died at 318 miles while the trash car set the new world record — 382.3 miles on a single charge. Related: Electric cars could reach cost parity with conventional cars by next year In our interview (edited for clarity), Lundgren talks about how despite his success with electric vehicle range, his passion lies in making hybrid recycling widely accepted in society. Inhabitat: What motivated you to build the Phoenix and beat the EV world range record? Eric Lundgren: I’m all about hybrid recycling. The Phoenix was a way to demonstrate hybrid recycling. That was the purpose. I don’t want to become a car manufacturer. I want to do hybrid recycling and the Phoenix was a great demonstration. Inhabitat: What materials did you use to build the Phoenix? Lundgren: It is the most environmental car ever built with the lowest carbon footprint. The chassis of the car came from a scrap yard. It was about to get crushed and we dragged it out of the scrap yard. It didn’t even have wheels on it. We put wheels on it. We took out everything. Converted it to an EV. And we put used batteries – basically trash batteries – in it. The controller came off of a forklift. The blinker came off of a bicycle. The car itself is two 1997 BMW 528is that we frankensteined together to make one car. Inhabitat: What is the connection to hybrid recycling? Lundgren: We used garbage. We used all garbage, all old technology. All things that our consumer world said were trash and have zero value. And we built something that is the most valuable because it just beat a world record. So we’re demonstrating the value in garbage and trying to educate the public and corporations to start practicing hybrid recycling, which is a way of saving that value rather than destroying it. Inhabitat: It is amazing how badly you beat the Tesla. Lundgren: We took 35 days to build it. Tesla took a year-and-a-half to build their car. Tesla’s research and development cost was $1.4 billion. Our R&D cost: I paid my engineers in Keystone Light beer. Our car has one-tenth the carbon footprint ratio of a Tesla. Inhabitat: The number one issue with EVs is range anxiety. You would think that Tesla would want to increase their range. Lundgren: If Tesla increased their range, are you willing to pay an extra $30,000 for an extra hundred miles? My guess is they did some sort of marketing survey and realized that at 300 miles people are not willing to pay more money for longer range so they stopped there and the world says ‘oh, they must have stopped there because that’s the best that a car can do.’ Well I just proved that that’s not true. I just proved that cars can do more. Inhabitat: What are your objectives regarding the EV industry and hybrid recycling? Lundgren: My goal is to push the EV industry to produce cars that people want to buy so that we can get off of fossil fuel. My other goal is to demonstrate hybrid recycling so that companies like Tesla send dead battery packs to a hybrid recycler that can actually salvage the good parts out of them to build something new – rather than what they currently do, which is send them to a company in Canada, which smelts the battery pack for its commodity value. That’s bringing all the value in a pack down to its lowest common denominator. Inhabitat: What are you working on next? Lundgren: We’re going to build the largest repurposed battery pack for my facilities. All the power from my recycling is going to come from solar panels that go to a giant solar power array that runs my entire factory that produces batteries from trash. So in other words, my processing facility is going to be run from the sun to garbage batteries. That’s what is going to power my entire processing facility within the next six weeks. Inhabitat: You are building an electric semi truck to compete with Elon Musk’s Tesla Semi? Lundgren: In September Elon Musk releases his electric semi . In November, I’m releasing an electric semi that costs a fraction of the price of his, goes 55 miles further and is built from basically consumer waste. I don’t know what his semi is going to cost. My guess is it is going to cost around $300,000 or $400,000. My semi is going to cost $60,000 – and it will go farther than his. Inhabitat: Any thoughts on the era of affordable electric vehicles about to begin with the upcoming release of the Tesla Model 3 ? Lundgren: I truly believe that the world is going to go EV . I truly believe that the world is going to utilize lithium to get away from burning coal and to get away from all of these other primitive ways that we produce and use power, and transport ourselves today. We need to evolve as a society – and electric vehicles are a way to do that – but the recycling of those vehicles is just as important as the manufacturing. It doesn’t get enough attention. People don’t realize what happens to things when they just discard them. We need to start worrying about efficiency on the back end so we can become more efficient on the front end. Inhabitat: And where do you see hybrid recycling going? Lundgren: In the future, electronics of any type – whether it be an electric car or a laptop or tablet or cell phone or server router, you name it – all of that product is going to be reused very similar to how a chop shop in the auto industry works. If your car has a flat tire, you don’t throw away your car. And if you do, then they salvage every other working part. Let’s say you blow an engine — the chop shop salvages the catalytic converter and the exhaust and the windshield and the transmission and all the other parts. But in electronics today we throw it all away. We’re at a point where hybrid recycling is going to kick off. It’s going to become huge. Nobody understands it, so this car [the Phoenix] is a great demonstration for it. + ITAP Images via Jehu Garcia [Editor’s note: Lundgren was sentenced after we completed this interview to serve 15 months in federal prison for distributing free software (computer restore Freeware) in order to divert computers from landfills and empower consumers to fix their property. He is currently appealing the sentence.]

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INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

How Canada’s dairy capital became a ‘change agent’ for renewables

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

A small agricultural city is jumping at the chance to lead the way on sustainability.

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How Canada’s dairy capital became a ‘change agent’ for renewables

REBA, a Google SVP and a physicist find the equation for change

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Google’s Urs Holzle, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and John Goodenough have the imagination and capacity to make the impossible possible for renewable energy.

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REBA, a Google SVP and a physicist find the equation for change

REBA, a Google SVP and a physicist find the equation for change

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Google’s Urs Holzle, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance and John Goodenough have the imagination and capacity to make the impossible possible for renewable energy.

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REBA, a Google SVP and a physicist find the equation for change

Top U.S. truck fleets pave way to fuel efficiency

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Run on Less is a first-of-its-kind cross-country roadshow organized by Carbon War Room and the North American Council for Freight Efficiency to showcase advances in fuel efficiency.

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Top U.S. truck fleets pave way to fuel efficiency

The Tesla of solar electric yachts launches in New Zealand

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The future of boating is electric – and silent. That’s what Dutch company Soel Yachts says, and they’re bringing electric travel to the seas with their SoelCat 12. Inhabitat covered the boat’s design last year , and now the company is launching their sustainably-powered yacht in New Zealand . The yacht is kind to the environment not simply in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions , but in the reduction of noise pollution as well. The SoelCat 12, which was built in New Zealand, is powered by the sun. Soel Yachts describes the boat as the ‘ Tesla on the water,’ noting while cars are transitioning over to being powered by electricity , the same movement largely hasn’t occurred in boating. They want to revolutionize the boating industry, and are debuting the SoelCat 12, designed in partnership with Naval DC , in Auckland, New Zealand this week. Related: Solar-powered yacht sails silently for a cleaner, greener eco-tourism experience The company says it wasn’t enough to just stick an electric motor on a boat. They kept electric propulsion in mind as they designed the SoelCat 12, evidenced for example in the highly efficient lines of the hull. Traveling at a speed of eight knots, the yacht can run simply on battery power for six hours. Reducing the speed to six knots, the boat can travel for 24 hours – even at night when the yacht’s solar panels aren’t harvesting energy. The boat’s systems can be monitored on a phone or tablet, allowing boaters to see their energy use as in a Tesla, according to Soel Yachts. Soel Yachts co-founder Joep Koster said in a statement the SoelCat 12 “reduces all disturbing sound and CO2 emissions in our harbors, lagoons, and oceans .” The solar electric yacht quietly glides through waves, minimizing disturbance in the form of noise pollution to marine life. And the yacht is still useful even when it’s not in use. Soel Yachts says the boat can become a mobile power station, offering energy for as much as five homes, even in remote locations. + Soel Yachts + Naval DC Images courtesy of Soel Yachts

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The Tesla of solar electric yachts launches in New Zealand

This Louisiana craft beer pioneer ‘went green’ long before it was cool

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Abita Brewing Company has been a tastemaker since 1986, both in terms of craft beer – you’ve probably sipped their Purple Haze – and in sustainability . Before Heinekin opened a carbon neutral brewery or Sierra Nevada installed a Tesla Powerpack system , Abita invested in clean tech because they felt it was the right thing to do. Inhabitat visited brewery headquarters in Abita Springs, Louisiana and spoke with President David Blossman and Director of Brewing Operations Jaime Jurado about the decision to go green well before other breweries in the United States. Abita was the first brewery in North America to put in an energy-efficient Merlin Brewhouse – or the vessels in which beer is brewed – back in 2001. Craft beer wasn’t as big back then – Blossman said business was “sideways at best” but Abita took a chance and installed the expensive brewhouse because they figured craft beer would eventually take off. Related: San Diego brewery unveils beer made from 100% recycled wastewater Jurado said, “Dave made decisions on renewable tech long before anyone else did.” One such decision was the installation of a rooftop solar array atop their bottling facility. Every year the solar panels generate around 116,180 kilowatt-hours (kWh), avoiding around 81.3 tons of carbon dioxide. 25 percent of the bottling plant’s roof is covered in the photovoltaics, which provide around five to seven percent of all the electricity Abita consumes. A wastewater treatment plant behind the brewery provides more power. The plant treats all the brewery wastewater, and bacteria anaerobically produce biogas , which comprises 17 percent of the natural gas the brewery uses. Although the Merlin brewhouse was forward-thinking when Abita first installed it, they recently put in the Krones EquiTherm brewhouse, which is even more energy- and water-efficient. It was the first one installed in the United States, and also allows for more flexibility in the types of beer Abita can brew. Heat from the brewhouse is recovered and reused; Jurado said, “We use a lot of heat but we recover a majority of the heat so we net out saving energy .” Breweries also use carbon dioxide (CO2) in their process, and it has to be heated to stay in a gas state. Meanwhile, warm water used in the packaging process needs to be cooled, so Abita came up with a system to accomplish both tasks and reduce electricity costs by around $6,000 a year. With the energy recovery system, they can use CO2 in a non-contact way to turn it into gas and cool the water. Even beyond the brewing process, Abita considers the environment . Jurado said, “Our bottle is not the industry standard bottle, which is called the long neck. You see them in Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser, Shiner products. Dave uses the heritage bottle which uses 11 percent less glass and 11 percent less energy.” The squatter bottle isn’t as noticeable on the shelf, but as Jurado said, “11 percent spoke a language.” The recyclable bottle requires less paper for labels and is still the standard 12 ounces. Plus more cases of beer inside heritage bottles fit on trucks. But the most sustainable packaging is stainless steel kegs, according to Jurado, which can be refilled over and over. Larger breweries only have around nine percent of sales in kegs, but they comprise 30 percent of Abita’s sales. Blossman told Inhabitat, “If you’re going to do something, you want to use less natural resources whether that be in natural gas or grain or water – they’re all important.” As many breweries do, Abita gives their spent grain – or the grain leftover after the brewing process – to farmers for feed. But the brewery is located close to dairy farmers so their spent grain doesn’t even have to travel that far. Abita Brewing Company fits right in to the town of Abita Springs, Louisiana, which recently became the first in the state and 24th American city to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. In St. Tammany Parish, where Abita is located, there are currently only three electric vehicle charging stations, but Abita Springs will soon have the fourth, sponsored by the brewery. The brewery has also given back in the form of charity beers, such as the Save Our Shore pilsner they brewed following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. They raised over $600,000 that went towards restoring coastal wetland habitats and helping struggling fishermen and their families. If you want to find out more about green brewing at Abita, check out their website . + Abita Brewing Company Images courtesy Abita Brewing Company and via Lacy Cooke for Inhabitat

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This Louisiana craft beer pioneer ‘went green’ long before it was cool

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