This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne

July 17, 2018 by  
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What if renewable energy infrastructure could be both functional and beautiful? Exploring that notion is Italian architectural practice Antonio Maccà, who designed ‘Sun Ray,’ a massive solar collector that could generate enough energy to power 220 Melbourne homes — with approximately 1,100 MWh of electricity produced annually. Shortlisted for this year’s Land Art Generator Initiative Melbourne design competition, the conceptual design was conceived as a symbol for the future of sustainable energy that also doubles as public artwork. Envisioned for the City of Port Phillip in Melbourne , Sun Ray consists of a series of flat mirrors — each with a single-axis tracking system — laid out in a round shape with a diameter of 279 feet and elevated atop slender steel columns. To capture the sun’s energy, Antonio Maccà tapped into linear Fresnel reflector technology, in which mirrors are used to focus sunlight onto a solar receiver. A power block tucked underground transforms the solar energy into electricity before feeding it into the city power grid. “Sun Ray is a new symbol of renewable energy, lighting the way to the State of Victoria’s zero- greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target,” explained Antonio Maccà in his project statement. “It is also a cultural attractor for Melbourne, an investigation of light as a physical and symbolic source of illumination for life. It is a place for reflection, relaxation, learning and play — and it is a linear Fresnel reflector solar power plant that provides heat and electricity for hundreds of homes in St Kilda.” Related: This gigantic solar hourglass could power 1,000 Danish homes Residents and visitors can interact with the Sun Ray by using it as a shade canopy. The 50 primary mirror lines cast shade over the public park space, while the mirrors create a constantly changing play of light and shadow as they turn to track the sun. The winning design of the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative Melbourne will be announced on October 11. + Land Art Generator Initiative Renderings by Antonio Maccà

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This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne

The Philippines envisions a green smart city to combat pollution in Manila

June 11, 2018 by  
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Traffic is an unpleasant facet of life in cities , but in Manila, the most densely populated city in the world , it’s a severe drain on the economy and the quality of life of residents. This metropolis in the Philippines is infamous for traffic congestion, which contributes to its substantial smog problem. With it also comes many other forms of pollution and environmental hazards. The country has an ambitious plan to combat these issues — build a new smart city that is green and resilient. The Plan The new city, dubbed New Clark City , is considered Manila’s twin city. It’s located in Central Luzon, about  75 miles from Manila at a former U.S. military base. It’s expected to be larger than the size of Manhattan and home to up to two million people . The Bases Conversion and Development Authority ( BCDA ), a government entity vested with corporate powers that converts former military properties, is the leading developer of the project. Both government and private investments will fund the new city. The government plans to move many of its offices and thousands of its workers to the smart city .  By the end of 2023, the government aims to have eight mid-rise government buildings and 8,000 housing units in New Clark City. The Department of Transportation has already moved to Clark , and BCDA will do so this year. One of the most notable parts of the project is the expansion of Clark Airport, which would double the volume of flights the facility can handle. This development is scheduled for completion in 2020. Related: Panasonic is building an incredible smart city outside of Denver Smart, Green and Resilient New Clark City aims to avoid many of the problems that plague Manila by emphasizing green design and smart technologies.  Two-thirds of the city’s land will be used for green space and agriculture . Developers plan to use green building techniques — such an energy monitoring systems and renewable energy — to increase energy efficiency and cut greenhouse gas emissions. The project is slated to include a  rail system connecting the new city to Manila . The inclusion of reliable public transport should alleviate some of the hassle for commuters, visitors and in-city residents alike. The Philippines anticipates autonomous cars will further reduce current and future congestion. While reducing traffic, these technologies are also expected to help keep air quality at the World Health Organization’s recommended safe levels — air pollution levels in Manila are currently  70 percent higher than WHO’s endorsed rates. New Clark City is designed with resilience to disasters in mind. The city’s elevation at its lowest point is 184 feet above sea level  to minimize the risk of flooding, and green space along rivers will also allow room for water to rise without damaging nearby property. In case of power disruption or an emergency, the city will also host backup government offices, so agencies can continue operations. The government said it is working to develop the city quickly while still keeping the design green. Challenges Against New Clark City The New Clark City project has received praise for its vision, and the plans suggest it could have substantial environmental and economic benefits for Manila and the Philippines. But such an ambitious project isn’t without its challenges. One of the primary roadblocks is getting residents to actually move to the city. To address this challenge, the Philippines is prioritizing connecting New Clark City to Manila via train to make the smart city easily accessible. The BCDA also hopes to attract people by building a sports facility that will host the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Another critical strategy for jump-starting the economy and moving people to the urban center is to gradually relocate government agencies to New Clark City. Sustainable design is another critical challenge to this project. Because of the tight time frame, project managers had to carefully weigh the long-term needs of the natural world with the short-term profitability of the developers. To that end, they have spent time making sure the space, when finished, will prioritize natural landscapes and farmland. The Philippines expects to complete the full development plan within 30 years . In total, New Clark City is an approximately $14 billion project — a high price to pay, especially  if the city fails . A City for the Future The government hopes the benefits of New Clark City will outweigh the costs. As evidenced by the state of Manila’s traffic congestion and environmental problems, there is a demand for change. If New Clark City succeeds, its victory may enable Manila to revitalize and integrate more smart, green features, which could reduce the country’s environmental impact substantially. Building a new city from scratch — and keeping it green — is, of course, no small feat, but this modern city could mean a new, brighter future for the Philippines . + New Clark City Via  World Population Review ,  Rent PMI ,  Business Insider ,  Bloomberg ,  Reuters  and  CNN Images via New Clark City  and BCDA

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The Philippines envisions a green smart city to combat pollution in Manila

Pope Francis calls on oil executives to transition to clean power

June 11, 2018 by  
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Pope Francis hasn’t been quiet about the urgency of combating climate change . Most recently, during a two-day conference in Vatican City, he took oil company executives to task and called for clean power as climate change continues to threaten people and the environment . The pope said, “Civilization requires energy , but energy use must not destroy civilization.” The conference gathered experts, investors and oil executives who support scientific opinion that human activity has caused climate change. The 50 participants included ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, BP  group chief executive Bob Dudley and Equinor (formerly Statoil) CEO Eldar Sætre. Pope Francis said it was worrying that searches for new fossil fuel reserves still continue, and said, “There is no time to lose.” Related: Catholic churches to make massive divestment from fossil fuels Pope Francis said, “We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected. If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger … the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it. But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels. Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.” The pope called for attendees to comprise the core of leaders “who envision the global energy transition in a way that will take into account all the peoples of the earth, as well as future generations and all species and ecosystems.” Pope Francis said our situation is dire, and even after the 2015 Paris Agreement , carbon dioxide emissions are still high. The New York Times quoted him as saying, “We received the earth as a garden-home from the Creator. Let us not pass it on to future generations as a wilderness.” Via The Guardian , Reuters  and The New York Times Images via Aleteia Image Department/Flickr , Depositphotos

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Pope Francis calls on oil executives to transition to clean power

Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

June 11, 2018 by  
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Yellowstone National Park superintendent Dan Wenk says he was forced out of his position by President Donald Trump’s administration because of his wildlife advocacy, The Guardian reported . Former National Park Service director Jon Jarvis told the publication the move was meant to make Wenk into an example to weaken a culture of conservation . Wenk said, “It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the park service and places like Yellowstone, but that’s how these guys are. Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.” Last week, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) told Wenk, who has been the Yellowstone superintendent since 2011, that he must accept a reassignment to the Capital Region in Washington, D.C. in 60 days or resign. The Guardian said Wenk had been outspoken about creating more room for wild bison to ramble outside the national park to Montana, a move opposed by the cattle industry, which comprises a core section of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke ‘s constituency. Wenk had also questioned proposed sport hunting of grizzly bears. Related: US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change Jarvis told The Guardian that preservation in large parks, largely in Alaska and the American West, conflicts with Zinke’s hopes to increase industrial development and monetize natural resources located on public lands . He said that Zinke “holds little regard for the esprit de corps traditions of the park service. Dan [Wenk] was set up as the first domino to fall.” An April 2018 Office of Inspector General at the DOI report scrutinized the reassignment of 27 senior executives between June 15, 2017 and October 29, 2017 and discovered the DOI’s Executive Resources Board “did not document its plan for selecting senior executives for reassignment, nor did it consistently apply the reasons it stated it used to select senior executives for reassignment.” They also found the board “did not gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments” and didn’t effectively communicate with the senior executives or most managers impacted by the reassignments. The report said, “As a result, many of the affected senior executives questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives…believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change , energy, or conservation.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

Beekeepers file a complaint against Bayer after glyphosate was discovered in honey

June 11, 2018 by  
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Beekeepers in France aren’t happy with Bayer . Agence France Presse reported (AFP) a beekeeping cooperative in the northern part of the country filed a legal complaint against the chemical giant after the controversial herbicide glyphosate was found in honey . The complaint was filed the same day as the close of Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto . The head of the beekeeping cooperative, which represents around 200 beekeepers, detected traces of glyphosate in three batches of honey from one of the members. A lawyer for the beekeeping cooperative, Emmanuel Ludot, told AFP the member’s hives are close to beet, rapeseed and sunflower fields, “But you also can’t forget the weekend gardeners who often tend to use Roundup .” Roundup, according to the news agency, “is the most widely used in France.” President Emmanuel Macron has said he’ll outlaw the weedkiller by 2021. Related: Monsanto will scrap its notorious name after acquisition by Bayer It is Ludot’s hope that this legal complaint will incite an inquiry to nail down the percentage of glyphosate in the honey batches and find if there are any health ramifications for humans. If glyphosate is detected in honey, the whole shipment is rejected, Famille Michaud president Vincent Michaud told AFP. Famille Michaud is one of France’s biggest honey marketers and Michaud said they “regularly detect foreign substances, including glyphosate.” Michaud said beekeepers usually say they’ll sell the honey at a market or roadside stand where there is no quality control if their shipments are rejected, “but this beekeeper had the courage to say, ‘I’m not going to be like everyone else; I’m going to file suit against Monsanto.’” On the date of Monsanto’s acquisition by Bayer, June 7, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said in a statement he was “proud of the path we have paved as Monsanto.” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said, “Our sustainability targets are as important to us as our financial targets. We aim to live up to the heightened responsibility that a leadership position in agriculture entails and to deepen our dialogue with society.” The AFP said some scientists suspect glyphosate of causing cancer . Via Agence France Presse Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Beekeepers file a complaint against Bayer after glyphosate was discovered in honey

Apple invests millions in a carbon-free aluminum smelting method

May 11, 2018 by  
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For over 130 years, aluminum , a material in many Apple products, has been produced in the same dirty, greenhouse gas -releasing way. That could all change soon: Apple is partnering with aluminum company Alcoa Corporation and metal company Rio Tinto to commercialize technology that, according to Apple , “eliminates direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process.” Fast Company reported the tech giant is investing $10.1 million in research and development. Rio Tinto and Alcoa are coming together to form Elysis, a joint venture company, with the goal of packaging the technology for sale in 2024. Not only is Apple betting big on the venture, the governments of Quebec and Canada are investing around $47 million. Elysis will be based in Montreal and will employ 100 people to work towards commercialization of what Alcoa called the world’s first zero-carbon aluminum smelting technology. Apple said they’d be offering technical support. Related: Apple’s new recycling robot can disassemble 200 iPhones in a single hour Alcoa said in Canada, “the technology could eliminate the equivalent of 6.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, if fully implemented at existing aluminum smelters in the country. That represents an amount roughly equal to taking nearly 1.8 million light-duty vehicles off the road.” Apple chose eight materials to zero in on to seek cleaner production methods, and aluminum is one of those. The company said back in 2015, three of their engineers started a search for an improved method of mass-producing aluminum, and they found it at Alcoa. The company’s founder, Charles Hall, pioneered the old method in 1886, but it uses a carbon material that smolders throughout the process, so greenhouse gases are released. But then Alcoa developed a new process that utilizes an advanced conductive material rather than carbon. The smelting process releases oxygen , not carbon dioxide. Rio Tinto brings smelting technology development experience to the joint venture, which will work towards larger scale production. Alcoa CEO Roy Harvey said in the company’s statement, “This discovery has been long sought in the aluminum industry, and this announcement is the culmination of the work from many dedicated Alcoa employees. Today, our history of innovation continues as we take aluminum’s sustainable advantage to a new level with the potential to improve the carbon footprint of a range of products from cars to consumer electronics.” + Apple + Alcoa Via Fast Company Images via Apple

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Bio-inspired membrane captures 90% of CO2 in power plant emissions

May 8, 2018 by  
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Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a new biologically inspired membrane that can capture carbon dioxide from power plant smoke. Sandia fellow and University of New Mexico regents’ professor Jeff Brinker said, “Our inexpensive method follows nature’s lead in our use of a water-based membrane only 18 nanometers thick that incorporates natural enzymes to capture 90 percent of carbon dioxide released. This is almost 70 percent better than current commercial methods, and it’s done at a fraction of the cost.” Brinker said that, in the past, it has been prohibitively expensive to remove CO2 from coal smoke with available polymer membranes. However, his team’s membrane boasts a “relatively low cost of $40 per ton.” The researchers call the membrane a ‘memzyme’ because it operates like a filter but is near-saturated with carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme “developed by living cells over millions of years to help rid themselves of carbon dioxide efficiently and rapidly.” University of New Mexico professor Ying-Bing Jiang came up with the concept of employing watery membranes, inspired by processes in the human body that separate out CO2. Brinker said the arrangement of the membrane inside the flue of a generating station would be similar to a catalytic converter in a car. Related: 18-year-old invents cheaper CO2 capture tech to fight climate change The work is patented and energy companies have shown interest. In addition, the membranes have worked efficiently for months in laboratory settings. Nature Communications published the work online earlier this month; researchers from other institutions in the United States contributed. + Sandia National Laboratories + Nature Communications Images via Randy Montoya and courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories

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Climate change could reverse all reductions in child mortality over the last 25 years

May 8, 2018 by  
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Kids could be especially vulnerable to climate change -related health risks, and a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) article once again sounds the alarm. The authors say climate change “threatens to reverse the gains in global child health and the reductions in global child mortality made over the past 25 years.” While the impacts of climate change could be felt by all humans, the authors say they’ll be disproportionally felt by poor people and children . 88 percent of diseases attributable to climate change appear in kids under five, according to the World Health Organization. The new paper delves into studies about how climate change could impact children’s health and calls for better preparation. CNN cited paper co-author and Memorial University pediatrics chairman Kevin Chan as saying weather events tied to climate change that have impacted kids’ health include Hurricanes Harvey or Irma . Pathogens like the Zika virus or extreme heat could also put children’s health at risk. Related: AAP warns of the impact of global warming on children’s health Chan told CNN he, along with the paper’s other author Rebecca Pass Philipsborn of the Emory University School of Medicine , aimed to reveal “there’s very little research and evidence around children. A lot of the research is very, very broad and tends to look more at adult populations. I don’t think they factor in the specific impacts on children themselves, and I think more research is needed in that arena.” Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health executive director Mona Sarfaty, who wasn’t involved in this new AAP article, told CNN, “The danger to children is real and is already witnessed by physicians in the US…They are more vulnerable to the heat-related increases in air pollution that come from fossil fuel exhaust, because their lungs are still developing. Outdoor play also makes them more prey to insect vectors carrying dangerous infections.” Chan told CNN, “We really need more efforts into addressing climate change to protect our children.” + American Academy of Pediatrics Via CNN Images via Pixabay and Eoghan Rice/Trócaire via Trocaire on Flickr

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Climate change could reverse all reductions in child mortality over the last 25 years

EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

April 25, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new policy which will classify the burning of wood as a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel source. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled this policy shift to an audience of timber industry leaders in Georgia, who have a vested interest in whether they can market wood-based fuel products as ‘green energy.’ Pruitt supported his decision by claiming that forest regrowth will lead to greater absorption of carbon dioxide and somehow counteract the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and burning wood. Scientists, none of whom were consulted in this policy change, disagree. “Today’s announcement grants America’s foresters much-needed certainty and clarity with respect to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” Pruitt said in a  press release . A study published by British think-tank Chatham House concluded that when all emissions and carbon absorption is accounted for, harvesting energy from burning wood produces carbon pollution equivalent to that of coal . Further, using this method of energy to create steam may be 50 percent more carbon intensive than coal. Scientist William Moomaw, who focuses on forests and their role in climate change, told Mashable that the policy was announced with “zero consultation” of agency scientists or the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. “It’s a bad idea because anything that has carbon in it produces carbon dioxide when you burn it,” Moomaw said. “This is horrific.” Related: Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them The EPA’s decision to inaccurately classify burning wood as carbon neutral may have global consequences. “Between this and the Europeans [who constitute the largest market for bioenergy], it means no chance of staying within the 2-degree limit,” Moomaw explained. Even if the forests do grow back to their original state, the damage will already be done. “The carbon dioxide in the air will have warmed the planet. … When the tree regrows, the glacier doesn’t regrow,” Moomaw said. “The climate change effects are irreversible. Carbon neutrality is not climate neutrality.” Via Mashable Images via Depositphotos (1)

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EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

Why natural gas makes global warming worse

April 9, 2018 by  
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Hint: it has to do with methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

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