Ugakei Circles sustainable nature park set to open in 2021

August 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

It’s no secret that tourism is often an incredibly important component to a destination’s economy. In the past, overconsumption and polluting modes of transport have given tourism a bad name. Now more than ever, the future of tourism is focusing on sustainability, and Inabe, a city located between two of Japan’s busiest cities (Kyoto and Nagoya), is no exception. This is the setting for Ugakei Circles, a sustainable tourism project set to open in spring 2021, consisting of overnight glamping cabins, estuary camping sites and a centralized communal area. The project is a collaboration between Danish and Japanese design teams focused on sustainable tourism development and low-impact, regenerative tourism. Related: Bee + Hive to help explorers book green hotels and sustainable tourism experiences Responsible for the project are Danish architects Tredje Natur, Japanese engineers Structured Environment and sustainability experts Henrik Innovation. The plan is to build the new park on an existing campground using only renewable materials and repurposed building waste . Design plans for the center building and the central courtyard feature optimal micro-climate conditions with wind protection and an optimized roof profile that catches the sun rays in the winter and provides shade in the summer. The park will include an overnight section that accommodates permanent Nordic cotton tents and cabins suited to glamping as well as a public river plateau where guests can pitch their own tents. All guests can take advantage of the property’s hiking routes, ocean views, mountain creeks and several natural waterfalls. There is an education center for children and adults to learn more about the nature that surrounds them through activities, a community hub, reception area and spaces for shops and workshops. The nature park proposal highlights the importance of outdoor activity and circular gatherings, as early civilizations in Denmark and Japan often centered their communities around the universal shape. “We believe the future is about circularity,” said Flemming Rafn Thomsen, lead architect and co-founder of Tredje Natur. “Our proposal is composed by a family of circles that define a series of sustainable communities. The master plan and buildings embody a unique environment and a regenerative ‘hygge’ experience in nature. It is our hope that our project will become the base camp for a new type of regional nature-based development that promote sustainable awareness and brings the gift of nature to many urban dwellers.” + Tredje Natur Images via Tredje Natur, Structured Environment and Henrik Innovation

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Ugakei Circles sustainable nature park set to open in 2021

This fashion boutique in India is crafted from recycled materials

August 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

Located in Gujarat, India, this boutique shop designed by Manoj Patel Design Studio is completely made out of recycled materials . The 350-square-foot space, completed in 2020, sells fine women’s wear and combines two rooms together to create a contemporary consumer experience using reused traditional and scrap materials. Not only do the sustainability features make this project cost-effective and environmentally responsive, it has introduced a series of unique wall patterns and buying conditions for the owner’s clients. When customers enter the store, their attention is immediately grabbed by the dark, contrasting colors in the ceiling mural and the bright, green accent walls. A custom arrangement of earth-toned waste clay tiles adds texture and a dramatic effect to the walls by resembling old-fashioned floor and ceiling interiors. Related: This green wall uses upcycled clay tiles for natural cooling Materials include reused clay roof tiles, recycled beer bottles , recycled window shutters, unused sample tiles, wasted metal rings and old mirror cladding. The client, a fashion designer, provided their own reclaimed fabrics to reupholster the seating as well. The designer chose these specific upcycled materials for both their longevity and their aesthetics. The layout, which combines two older rooms to form the studio, incorporates graphics and material frames in various sections to give guests a different perspective when viewed from particular angles. One such accent area is meant to resemble the traditional designs of Indian saris, while another uses reclaimed glass bottles to reflect the pattern of a necklace. Recycled table legs are used as door handles, and the clothes-hanging area was constructed by turning old metal rings into floral hooks. Broken tiles are arranged into mosaics, depicting flowers and leaves on the studio’s floor. Architect Manoj Patel is passionate about climate-responsive architecture, and his firm has continued to reflect recycled construction techniques, nature preservation and sustainable building materials since it opened in 2015. + Manoj Patel Design Studio Photography by Tejas Shah Photography via Manoj Patel Design Studio

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This fashion boutique in India is crafted from recycled materials

COVID-19 reduces UK carbon emissions by 30 million metric tons

August 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Toward the end of March, the coronavirus pandemic began to take over in many European countries. Since then, major cities across the world have experienced some form of lockdown. While the virus has come at many costs, the lockdowns have had some positive environmental impacts. Research carried out by The Eco Experts between the months of March and July has revealed that carbon dioxide emissions in the U.K. dropped significantly — by 30 million metric tons — due to reduced travel and power consumption. The report shows that carbon emissions have dropped in five key areas: public transport, road vehicles, air travel, energy usage and pollution in London. In the past 3 months, public transport journeys have dropped to a mere 11.7% of normal levels, leading to 1.89 million metric tons less of carbon emissions. Further, road journeys decreased to 52.6% of normal levels, leading to a reduction of 15.2 million metric tons of carbon emissions. Related: Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions Besides public transport and road vehicles, the study also surveyed air transport and energy consumption throughout the U.K. It found that there were 295,713 fewer flights than normal. This led to a 6.9 million metric ton reduction in CO2 emissions. However, the study established that there has been an increase in domestic power consumption, which rose by 30%. On the flip side, the overall power consumption reduced by 15%, because of the reduction in power demand in businesses. Since March, most major industries have either been closed or have reduced production. Consequently, less power has been consumed over this period. In this sector, the U.K. has saved up to 6.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions . The reduction in power consumption and transport has impacted emissions in many cities. The analysis took a closer look at U.K.’s most polluted city, London, and found that the restrictions have led to a reduction of 1.17 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. Further, there has been a 26% reduction in nitrogen dioxide in central London . Globally, there have been significant drops in greenhouse gas emissions over the past few months. As the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, it is a time to reflect and look for the positives. We could take some lessons from this pandemic that will help us care for the environment in the future. + The Eco Experts Image via Liushuquan

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COVID-19 reduces UK carbon emissions by 30 million metric tons

Solar-powered House of Music mimics the shape of an orchestra

August 4, 2020 by  
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Bologna-based Mario Cucinella Architects has crafted the House of Music, a solar-powered community landmark in the nearby commune of Pieve di Cento that celebrates the town’s long-standing musical tradition. Designed to represent an orchestra with its individual instrumental sections, the timber-clad building comprises nine small, circular music rooms that connect to a central open space. The ventilated curved oak facade, a nod to musical instruments, not only helps to amplify sound like an instrument’s music box, but it also ensures high levels of energy efficiency .  Completed in 2017 after four years of planning and construction, the House of Music for Pieve di Cento is located in the former Lamborghini production area that had been previously reclaimed and transformed into a recreational park. The recently completed building benefits from an existing cycling path that connects the House of Music to the town center and beyond to an expansion area to the south. The public is encouraged to engage the building via the long curved bench that wraps around the exterior of the building and faces views of the park. Related: Mirage Architecture envisions a solar-powered glass cube for Lithuania’s national concert hall To maintain high levels of thermal inertia and sound insulation, Mario Cucinella Architects constructed the House of Music with a load-bearing masonry structure wrapped in curved oak slats. The flat roofs are topped with a series of curved and elevated disks that help deflect unwanted solar gain and are engineered to promote natural ventilation into the building. A photovoltaic array is located atop the roof as well. The energy-efficient design was informed by the architects’ bioclimatic study of the site.  The well-insulated interiors feature materials that enhance acoustics and reduce reverb. The nine music rooms open up to a central outdoor space that serves as a meeting space and area for ensemble rehearsals and recitals. The architects noted, “The House of Music’s exterior lighting makes it some sort of comforting lighthouse that encourages people to resume musical and recreational activities after the earthquake that shook the area in 2012.” + Mario Cucinella Architects Photography by Moreno Maggi via Mario Cucinella Architects

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Solar-powered House of Music mimics the shape of an orchestra

Electric truck fleets will need a lot of power, but utilities aren’t planning for it

August 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Electric truck fleets will need a lot of power, but utilities aren’t planning for it Stephen Nadel Tue, 08/04/2020 – 01:11 As more electric buses and trucks enter the market, future fleets will require a lot of electricity for charging. While some utilities in California and elsewhere are planning for an increase in power demand, many have yet to do so and need to get started. This issue is critical, because freight trucks emit more than one-quarter of all vehicle emissions. Recent product developments offer growing opportunities to electrify trucks and buses and slash their emissions (see our recent white paper ). And just last week, a group of 15 states plus D.C. announced plans to fully electrify truck sales by 2050. Utilities will need to be ready to power electric fleets. Electric truck fleets need substantial power Power for trucks and buses is generally more of an issue than for cars because trucks typically have larger batteries and because trucks and buses are often parts of fleets with many vehicles that charge at the same location. For example, a Tesla Model 3 battery stores 54-75 kWh; a Proterra transit bus battery stores 220-660 kWh. In Amsterdam, a 100-bus transit fleet is powered by a set of slow and fast chargers that together have a peak load of 13 MW (megawatts). This is equivalent to the power used by a typical large factory. And they are thinking of expanding the fleet to 250 buses. California utilities are finding that grid capacity is often adequate in the short term, but that upgrade needs likely will grow in the medium term. Many other fleets also will need a lot of “juice.” For example, a rough estimate of the power needed to serve a fleet of 200 delivery vans at an Amazon fulfillment center is about 4 MW. And for electric 18-wheelers, chargers may need up to 2 MW of power each; a recent proposal calls for charging stations every 100 miles along the U.S. West Coast’s I-5 corridor, each with a peak load of 23.5 MW. Utilities need distribution planning These examples show the need for more power at a given site than most utilities can provide without planning and investment. Meeting these needs often will require changes to primary and secondary power distribution systems (feeders that deliver power to distribution transformers and to end customers) and substation upgrades. For large loads, a new substation may be needed. A paper recently released by the California Electric Transportation Coalition estimates that for loads over 5 MW, distribution system and substation upgrades will be needed most of the time. According to the paper, typical utility costs are $1 million to $9 million for substation upgrades, $150,000 to $6 million for primary distribution upgrades, and $5,000 to $100,000 for secondary distribution upgrades. Similarly, Black and Veatch, in a paper on Electric Fleets, also provides some general guidance, shown in the table below, while recognizing that each site is unique. Now is the time to begin understanding where such upgrades will be needed and start planning for them. California policy pushes utilities toward planning In California, state agencies and a statewide effort called CALSTART have been funding demonstration projects and vehicle and charger purchases for several years. The California Air Resources Board voted in June to phase in zero-emission requirements for truck sales, mandating that, beginning in 2024, manufacturers must increase their zero-emission truck sales to 30-50 percent by 2030 and 40-75 percent by 2035. By 2035, more than 300,000 trucks will be zero-emission vehicles. California utilities operate programs that work with fleet owners to install the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicle fleets. California utilities operate programs that work with fleet owners to install the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicle fleets. For example, Southern California Edison operates the Charge Ready Transport program for medium- and heavy-duty fleets. Normally, when customers request new or upgraded service from the utility, there are fees associated with the new upgrade. With Charge Ready, the utility generally pays these costs, and it will sometimes pay half the cost of chargers; the customer is responsible for the other half and for charger installation costs. Sites with at least two electric vehicles are eligible, but program managers report that at least five vehicles are often needed for the economics to make sense for the utility. One way to do this is to develop and implement a phased plan, with some components sized for future planned growth and other components added as needed. Southern California Edison, for example, has 24 commitments so far, and has a five-year goal of 870 sites, with an average of 10 chargers per site. The utility notes that one charger usually can serve several vehicles and that cycling of charging, some storage, and other load management techniques can reduce capacity needs (a nominal 10 MW load often can be reduced below 5 MW). Through this program, utility representatives are regularly talking with fleet operators, and they can use these discussions to help identify needed upgrades to the utility grid. For example, California transit agencies are doing the planning to meet a California Air Resources Board mandate for 100 percent electric or fuel cell buses by 2040; utilities are talking with the agencies and their consultants as part of this process. California utilities are finding that grid capacity is often adequate in the short term, but that upgrade needs likely will grow in the medium term (seven to 10 years out). They can manage grid needs with good planning (school buses generally can be charged overnight and don’t need fast chargers), load management techniques and some battery storage to address peak needs. Customer conversations drive planning elsewhere We also spoke with a northeastern utility (wishing to be unnamed) that has been talking with customers about many issues, including fleets. It has used these discussions to identify a few areas where grid upgrades might be needed if fleets electrify. It is factoring these findings into a broader grid-planning effort underway that is driven by multiple needs, including fleets. Even within an integrated planning effort, this utility is struggling with the question of when to take action to prepare the electric system for fleet electrification: Should it act on state or federal policy? Should it act when the specific customer request is submitted, or is there something in between? Recognizing that any option has scheduling and cost allocation implications, it notes that there are no easy answers. Many utilities need to start paying attention As part of our research, we also talked with several other utilities and found that they have not yet looked at how fleets might relate to grid planning. However, several of these companies are developing plans to look into these issues in the next year. We also talked with a major truck manufacturer, also wishing to remain unnamed, that views grid limitations as a key obstacle to truck electrification.  Based on these cases, it appears that fleet electrification can have a substantial impact on electric grids and that, while these impacts are small at present, they likely will grow over time. Fleet owners, electric utilities, and utility regulators need to start planning for these impacts now, so that grid improvements can be made steadily as electric fleets grow. Fleet and grid planning should happen in parallel, so that grid upgrades do not happen sooner or later than needed but are in place when needed. These grid impacts can be managed and planned for, but the time to begin this planning is now. Pull Quote California utilities are finding that grid capacity is often adequate in the short term, but that upgrade needs likely will grow in the medium term. California utilities operate programs that work with fleet owners to install the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicle fleets. Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Energy ACEEE Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Concept of a Tesla Semi truck. Shutterstock Mike Mareen Close Authorship

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Electric truck fleets will need a lot of power, but utilities aren’t planning for it

Severe coastal floods could affect 287 million people by 2100

August 3, 2020 by  
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A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports has revealed that more than 4% of the world’s population could be exposed to severe flooding by the end of the century. The study was inspired by a continuous rise in the number of coastal floods across the world, and it builds upon previous research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Currently, about 148 million people experience flooding events across the world, but this could increase to 287 million by 2100. Many of the floods are related to the rise in sea levels caused by melting glaciers. The study has now revealed that if measures are not taken to control greenhouse gas emissions , about 77 million additional people would be exposed to flooding in the next 80 years. However, even if the measures being taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions are maintained, global warming would still continue at a rate of 1.8 degrees Celsius. This would mean that about 54 million people will be exposed to coastal flooding at the end of the century. The effects of increased coastal flooding will get worse with time. In the worst-case scenario, coastal assets worth $14.2 trillion will experience flooding at the turn of the century — an equivalent of 20% of the current global GDP. Considering such factors, efforts must be made to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Related: Venice’s worst flood in 50 years blamed on climate change The causes of increased flooding in coastal cities are human-caused global warming , storm surges and high tides. As global temperatures rise, more land-based ice melts, leading to sea level rise. But the study indicates that even immediate action may not stop the extreme flooding. The report warns that by 2050, major flooding events will have increased in intensity. A one-in-100-years flooding event could occur every 10 years. As much as 4% of the global population might be exposed to severe flooding events. Professor Ian Young of the University of Melbourne and co-author of the study said, “We certainly need to mitigate our greenhouse gases but that won’t solve this problem. The sea-level rise is already baked in — even if we reduce emissions today the sea level will continue to rise because the glaciers will continue to melt for hundreds of years.” The study has identified some regions that are likely to be affected the most by the continuous rise in sea levels. Among the areas of highest concern include southeastern China, northern Australia and Bangladesh as well as Gujarat and West Bengal in India. In the U.S., North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia have been identified as the most likely to be exposed. Other countries that are likely to be affected by major flooding include France, Germany and the U.K. + Scientific Reports Via The Guardian Image via Kelly Sikkema

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Severe coastal floods could affect 287 million people by 2100

Former railway yard to receive a green transformation in St. Petersburg

August 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Dutch architectural firms KCAP and Orange Architects have teamed up with A.Len Architectural Bureau to redesign St. Petersburg’s former Tovarno-Vitebskaya railway yard into a new mixed-use district with extensive greenery. Created as a continuation of Glorax Development’s Ligovsky City neighborhood development project, the new adaptive reuse proposal will combine historic structures with contemporary architecture to inject new life into the area while paying homage to the site’s history. A variety of green space will be incorporated into the masterplan, from linear parks and landscaped boulevards that follow the historic railway tracks to more intimate courtyards and walkways interspersed between the new buildings. Located in the southeastern part of St. Petersburg’s “gray belt”, the adaptive reuse proposal would transform a former railway yard on Ligovsky Prospekt into a predominately residential district for 8,600 people. The 30-hectare site would also include restaurants, cafes, leisure facilities, street retail, service companies, sports facilities, four kindergartens, one primary and one secondary school and both underground and surface parking lots.  Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France The architects have inventoried the existing architectural structures and plan to reuse many historic elements — such as small buildings, blue cranes, tracks and poles — into the long and linear public parks that will be developed along the main railway tracks from north to south. The project’s main entrance will be located on the primarily mixed-use northern end where the new “Borovaya” metro station will stand and serve as the new urban center for Ligovsky. In contrast, the southern part of the site will feature taller buildings, three of which will create a strong building edge nicknamed “The Trio.” “We want to create an active and landscaped environment where you can feel the history of the railway and live with the people around you,” said Patrick Meijers, partner at Orange Architects. “An area that simultaneously is smoothly connected to the city of St. Petersburg.” + KCAP + Orange Architects Images via Orange Architects

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Former railway yard to receive a green transformation in St. Petersburg

Check out this handmade wood cabin in North Carolina

August 3, 2020 by  
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This 400-square-foot cabin, nicknamed The Nook, can be found in the charming, forested area of Swannanoa, North Carolina, just outside of Asheville. The project was a labor of love by owner and professional photographer Mike Belleme, who built the cabin himself along with a rotating crew of local community craftspeople. Even better, he used locally sourced materials in the construction, milling some of the wood himself from fallen trees on the property. The spacious cabin’s 18-foot ceilings help provide plenty of opportunity for natural light. This is only magnified by its large windows and open design, which was executed by local firm Shelter Design Studio. With a special breakfast alcove, a tea loft and dedicated lofts for entertainment and sleeping, it is easy to see how The Nook got its name. In an effort to take the cabin’s simple form and enhance it with as many distinct zones (or “nooks”) as possible, the Asheville-based studio has achieved a unique and thoughtful space with lots of room for lounging and storage. Related: Work from home in this minimalist, modular 15-sided cabin A network of talented local artisans and craftspeople including woodworkers, weavers and metalworkers were involved in the building process, so the result is both custom and high-quality. A selection of the materials used in the furnishings was foraged by the owner himself, such as a handmade ladder made from found ash wood . Locally sourced cypress wood makes up the exterior siding, and the entryway is made of reclaimed oak treated with the Japanese wood charring technique of shou sugi ban. There is a modern kitchen, bathroom and a set of sliding glass doors that open to an outdoor back porch. To add a touch of whimsy, an indoor swing is installed in front of one of the massive windows. The Nook is available to rent now through Airbnb . + Shelter Design Studio Images via Mike Belleme

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Check out this handmade wood cabin in North Carolina

What to do with banana peels

July 31, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Banana peels. They’re so associated with comedy, you probably crack a smile just thinking about these famous casings. Bananas are a delicious snack and a little taste of the tropics that just about everyone enjoys, but they’re also an environmental problem. So what can you do with banana peels once you’ve eaten the delicious treats they keep wrapped inside? What’s the big deal? Other than being an obvious slip-and-fall hazard, what’s the big deal with banana peels? For starters, they produce methane gas. This gas is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which is already pretty bad stuff for the planet. Related: 10 ways to use up mushy, overripe bananas Americans eat around 3.2 billion — yes, billion — pounds of bananas every year. That is a lot of methane-producing peels. But don’t give up on eating bananas just yet. There are plenty of environmentally friendly uses for banana peels. Banana peels as fertilizer and compost If you’re a home gardener, banana peels are a valuable resource. Wrap your peels around the base of your tomato plants. This works as a great slow-release fertilizer that provides your plants with nutrients, namely phosphorus, throughout the season. You can also soak your peels in water overnight. Take the banana-rich water and mix it with standard water to use for all your indoor plants. You want to get a ratio of about one part banana-peel water to five parts normal water. Banana peels are a great addition to the compost pile or bin because they are so rich in nutrients. The peels break down very quickly in compost. These peels are also great for animal feed as well. If you keep chickens, rabbits or any type of livestock, grind up dried banana peels and add them to your feed. Do you have aphids in your garden ? Cut two or three banana peels into pieces and dig one-inch holes near the base of your plants that are damaged from insects. Drop the pieces of peel inside. Ants and aphids will be drawn to the peels instead of to your plants. Home remedies If you have itchy bug bites or a rash, such as poison ivy, these fruit skins provide soothing relief. Rub the peel directly on the area to reduce the itchiness and help your skin heal. You can even use banana peels as a cheap polish. Rub the outer layer of peels on leather items of all kinds, including shoes and furniture, to polish the leather. Blend a peel with water to make silver polish. Need to remove a splinter? Leave the needles in the sewing kit and grab yourself a banana peel. Tape a piece of the peel to the skin directly where the splinter has embedded itself and leave it there for about 30 minutes. The enzymes in the peel will naturally draw the splinter toward the surface of the skin so it can easily be pulled out. You can integrate banana peels into your daily skincare routine, as they may help fade scars and soothe acne. Rub the fleshy part of the peel directly on your face. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before you rinse your face thoroughly. Do this every day, and you could notice an improvement in scars and acne within a week or two. Banish bugs Grab a container with a lid and poke some small holes in the lid. Place the peel inside and cover the container with the perforated lid. This is a great way to attract and trap fruit flies and other little insects. They’re drawn to the sweet smell of the banana, and then they’re trapped by your DIY trick. You can throw the peel away after a day or two and freshen the trap as needed. Cook with banana peels Get creative and start experimenting with cooking banana peels. They can be made into vinegar, pickled in brine, broiled with cinnamon and sugar to become a unique dessert or even turned into a spicy curry. There are dozens of ways to cook with the peels that you once threw away. Once you start using them in your recipes, you’re going to find all kinds of ways to give new life to those peels. Add a peel to any roasting pan when you’re cooking meat or fish. This helps to tenderize and moisten the meat while it’s cooking. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can actually just eat your banana peels. They’re full of antioxidants and nutrients, so they’re actually really good for you. Boil peels for about 10 minutes in water and run it through the juicer or blend it up with other fruits and enjoy! Banana peels make a great chutney ingredient, too. Soak them in cold water, then boil the peels and chop them up to mix in with other chutney ingredients to add a tasty, nutritious burst to your dish. There are several different recipes for banana tea online, or you can play around with your own recipe . If you boil the peels for about 10 minutes, enough flavor will be released into the water to create a great flavor. You can also candy your peels to use as a topping for cupcakes, cakes, yogurt, ice cream and a variety of other treats. Chop up the peel into small pieces and cook it on medium heat with a half-cup of sugar and a half-cup of water. Once it caramelizes, spread the mixture on a cookie sheet or parchment paper to allow it to cool. Then, you can chop or break it into pieces and have a sweet banana topping any time. Getting serious about banana peels It’s no laughing matter — banana peels have too many uses to simply be thrown away. The peels are a great source of both potassium, magnesium and fiber, and they’re packed with Vitamins C and B6. So if you’re throwing out your peels, you’re losing out on an all-purpose personal care product, household remedy, garden aid and cooking ingredient that can be added to just about anything. Images via Louis Hansel , t_watanabe , Vicran and bluebudgie

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AI doesn’t have to be a power hog

July 30, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

AI doesn’t have to be a power hog Heather Clancy Thu, 07/30/2020 – 02:15 Plenty of prognostications, including this one from the World Economic Forum, tout the integral role artificial intelligence could play in “saving the planet.”  Indeed, AI is integral to all manner of technologies, ranging from autonomous vehicles to more informed disaster response systems to smart buildings and data collection networks monitoring everything from energy consumption to deforestation.  The flip side to this rosy view is that there are plenty of ethical concerns to consider. What’s more, the climate impact of AI — both in terms of power consumption and all the electronic waste that gadgets create — is a legitimate, growing concern. Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests the process of “training” neural networks to make decisions or searching them to find answers uses five times the lifetime emissions of the average U.S. car. Not an insignificant amount.  What does that mean if things continue on their current trajectory? Right now, data centers use about 2 percent of the world’s electricity. At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load, semiconductor firm Applied Materials CEO Gary Dickerson predicted in August 2019 . Although progress is being made, he reiterated that warning last week. At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load. “Customized design will be critical,” he told attendees of a longstanding industry conference, SemiconWest . “New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt.” So, what’s being done to “bend the curve,” so to speak? Technologists from Applied Materials, Arm, Google, Intel, Microsoft and VMware last week shared insights about advances that could help us avoid the most extreme future scenarios, if the businesses investing in AI technologies start thinking differently. While much of the panel (which I helped organize) was highly technical, here are four of my high-level takeaways for those thinking about harnessing AI for climate solutions. Get acquainted with the concept of “die stacking” in computing hardware design. There is concern that Moore’s Law , the idea that the number of transistors on integrated circuit will double every two years, is slowing down. That’s why more semiconductor engineers are talking up designs that stack multiple chips on top of each other within a system, allowing more processing capability to fit in a given space.  Rob Aitken, a research fellow with microprocessor firm Arm, predicts these designs will show up first in computing infrastructure that couples high-performance processing with very localized memory. “The vertical stacking essentially allows you to get more connectivity bandwidth, and it allows you to get that bandwidth at lower capacitance for lower power use, and also a lower delay, which means improved performance,” he said during the panel. So, definitely look for far more specialized hardware. Remember this acronym, MRAM. It stands for magnetic random-access memory , a format that uses far less power in standby mode than existing technologies, which require energy to maintain the “state” of their information and respond quickly to processing requests when they pop up. Among the big-name players eyeing this market: Intel; Micron; Qualcomm; Samsung; and Toshiba. Plenty of R&D power there. Consider running AI applications in cloud data centers using carbon-free energy. That could mean deferring the processing power needed for certain workloads to times of day when a facility is more likely to be using renewable energy. “If we were able to run these workloads when we had this excess of green, clean, energy, right now we have these really high compute workloads running clean, which is exactly what we want,” said Samantha Alt, cloud solution architect at Intel. “But what if we take this a step further, and we only had the data center running when this clean energy was available? We have a data center that’s awake when we have this excess amount of green, clean energy, and then asleep when it’s not.” This is a technique that Google talked up in April, but it’s not yet widely used, and it will require attention to new cooling designs to keep the facilities from running too hot as well as memory components that can respond dynamically when a facility goes in and out of sleep mode. New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt.   Live on the edge. That could mean using specialized AI-savvy processors in some gadgets or systems you’re trying to make smarter such as automotive systems or smart phones or a building system. Rather than sending all the data to a massive, centralized cloud service, the processing (at least some of it) happens locally. Hey, if energy systems can be distributed, why not data centers?  “We have a lot of potential to move forward, especially when we bring AI to the edge,” said Moe Tanabian, general manager for intelligent devices at Microsoft. “Why is edge important? There are lots of AI-driven tasks and benefits that we derive from AI that are local in nature. You want to know how many people are in a room: people counting. This is very valuable because when the whole HVAC system of the whole building can be more efficient, you can significantly lower the balance of energy consumption in major buildings.” The point to all this is that getting to a nirvana in which AI can handle many things we’d love it to handle to help with the climate crisis will require some pretty substantial upgrades to the computing infrastructure that underlies it. The environmental implications of those system overhauls need to be part of data center procurement criteria immediately, and the semiconductor industry needs to step up with the right answers. Intel and AMD have been leading the way, and Applied Materials last week threw down the gauntlet , but more of the industry needs to wake up. This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe here . Follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady. Pull Quote At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load. New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt. 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AI doesn’t have to be a power hog

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