Supreme Court votes to uphold Virginia’s ban on uranium mining

June 19, 2019 by  
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The Supreme Court disappointed the Trump administration and an eager mining corporation by voting to keep the country’s largest uranium deposit underground. On June 17, the court voted six to three to uphold Virginia’s uranium mining ban in a move that re-confirms the sovereignty of states to determine the future of their natural resources and the protection of their environments. The uranium deposit in question is worth an estimated $6 billion and is situated on a private estate in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Uranium is an essential ingredient for nuclear energy and contributes to about 20 percent of the country’s electricity production. Uranium is also an essential ingredient in nuclear weapons; therefore, control over its sources is critically important to the government and military. Related: Demand for sand — the largest mining industry no one talks about Despite pressure from the federal government and legal challenges from Virginia Uranium, Inc., the state of Virginia passed a ban on uranium mining due to environmental and health concerns associated with its extraction. “This is a big win for the health and safety of Virginians and our environment,” Attorney General for Virginia Mark Herring said of the Supreme Court ruling. “We are well within our rights as a state to decide that a risky, potentially dangerous activity like uranium mining is not for us.” Uranium is a radioactive material, and the environmental concerns related to its extraction include contaminated water, soil and disrupted landscapes that cause major erosion and landslides. Virginia Uranium, Inc. argued that the state is confiscating a nationally important resource. The corporation said it is disappointed with the ruling and plans to mount a new challenge after its argument that the federal-level Atomic Energy Act of 1954 governs nuclear energy development and supersedes any state ban proved unsuccessful in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruling was written by Justice Neil Gorsch, who was appointed by President Trump in 2017. Via Reuters Image via Shutterstock

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Supreme Court votes to uphold Virginia’s ban on uranium mining

Doctors orders: 2 hours in nature boosts mental health, study says

June 17, 2019 by  
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According to British researchers, only two hours of sitting in nature per week could have measurable benefits on mental health. This is the first study to examine exactly how long people should spend in the natural environment to feel a positive impact. The researchers believe that with further confirmation, the two hour threshold could be added to similar health recommendations, such as five fruits and vegetables per day or 150 minutes of exercise per week. The study was published in Scientific Reports and used data from Natural England , the largest data set on the topic. The researchers analyzed more than 20,000 people in England to assess their physical activity from the previous week, their general health and their level of satisfaction with life. Their findings showed that people who had spent at least two hours in nature indicated a significant shift away from dissatisfaction — just 14 percent felt their health was poor after spending time in nature compared to 25 percent of other participants who did not spend time in nature but reported poor health. The researchers did not notice any significant changes among those who had spent more than two hours outside and therefore reached the conclusion that two hours is the recommended duration. Related: How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being “It’s fascinating to see this link between exposure to nature and better health and well-being,” said professor Helen Stokes-Lampard from the Royal College of General Practitioners. “This research makes a strong case for people to get out and about in more natural environments.” The findings held true across the diverse study participants, irrelevant of wealth, disabilities, illness or urban location. The findings also revealed that the nature benefits are not necessarily tied to physical exercise , and that there is a benefit to spending time in nature, even if it is just sitting on a park bench. + Scientific Reports Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Desmond Tutu Clinic welcomes HIV patients with a striking sawtooth roof

June 12, 2019 by  
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In the Cape Town township of Masiphumelele, approximately 30 percent of the residents are infected with HIV. To help the low-income community, South African architectural practice theMAAK partnered with the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation (DTHF) to build a striking new public building to serve the area. Topped with a sawtooth roof, the humanitarian structure sports a dynamic facade that puts forth a confident and welcoming face for the DTHF. Located next to Masiphumelele High School, the recently completed Desmond Tutu Clinic spans nearly 5,400 square feet and is one of several clinics that the DTHF has built in communities around South Africa. The clinic not only serves as a new home for the Foundation’s industry-leading medical work, but also takes the social needs of the area into consideration by welcoming visitors with a new social forecourt. Related: Incredible luxury tree house is hidden away in a Cape Town forest “Balancing ‘striking and welcoming’, ‘bold and subtle’, the sawtoothed building appropriately addresses both the ambition and prestige of the internationally acclaimed research of DTHF as well as the sensitive human nature of their work,” the architects said. “It is on arrival that the new building shows its proudest face. From this angle, the north-facing aluminium facade fins optically compound to form a confident new image for DTHF. Seeing this strong formal presence as you approach the scheme, clearly marks a positive and impressive move forward for the Foundation and their growing footprint in developing communities around South Africa. Moving across the site, and changing one’s angle of view, the dynamic facade thins to subtly reveal the inner workings of the facility.” The zigzagging outline of the sawtooth roof is most visible on the north and south facades; the northern facade was made more prominent to mark the entrance. The roof’s geometry calls attention to the public building and lets in southern light into offices on the upper floor, while overhangs help shield the light-sensitive lab spaces on the ground floor. + theMAAK Photography by theMAAK and Anton Scholtz

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How to celebrate World Environment Day

June 5, 2019 by  
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Today, June 5, is World Environment Day! There are many ways that you can celebrate today, and you can use the celebration as a start to building more healthy, environmentally friendly habits. Here are some suggestions for fun activities and behavior changes to consider today and every day. Group activities for World Environment Day Plan a clean-up Get together with friends and neighbors for a clean-up activity in your area, such as at a beach, park or river. Get outside Getting outside doesn’t necessarily help nature , but taking the time to enjoy it and remember why it is essential to protect in the first place is a great way to honor the environment. Find a local hiking group or coordinate a picnic in the park. If your friends aren’t as excited about outdoor activities as you are, search for outdoorsy MeetUp groups in your area and meet some new, like-minded friends. Write to your senators What environmental issues are important to you and your family? This year, the theme of World Environment Day is “Air Pollution.” Find out what your local government is doing to protect the air quality in your area and write to your senator or representatives about your concerns. Healthy personal habits you can start now Use less water Small changes in how you use water at home can add up to a significant difference and conserve a lot of water in the long run. Turn off your tap when you are brushing your teeth. Be mindful of how long your shower is. When washing dishes, fill up a pot or large mixing bowl with warm water and dish soap. Use that water to scrub all of your dishes at once, and then turn on the tap only to rinse. Do not keep the tap running the whole time to wash and rinse each dish individually. Walk more You’ve heard it a million times, but have you implemented more walking in your own life? Consider the places you go often, like work, and figure out if there are ways that you can walk — even if it is only once or twice a week. Walking is great for your health, cuts down on transportation-related carbon emissions and allows you to get to know your neighborhood in a completely different way. Carpool Take the time to discuss with friends, family and coworkers before an event or activity and find out how you can cut down on the number of cars. For places that you go frequently — like work — get to know who lives near you and decide if you can agree on a schedule to carpool. Switch your light bulbs Every time a light bulb burns out in your house, switch to a long-lasting LED bulb . These light bulbs reduce your energy consumption and last a very long time. Buy energy-efficient appliances When possible, choose ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. It is an extra cost upfront, but it will significantly reduce your energy bill long into the future. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Keep fridge coils and AC vents clean If the coils on your refrigerator and the vents on your air conditioner are kept clean, they won’t need to use up additional energy just to cool to the regular temperature. Recycle e-waste When your cellphone or laptop breaks, bring it to an e-waste recycle facility rather than letting it sit around your house or tossing it into the trash. Shut off your devices When you are finished using it, turn off your computer and monitor. Avoid overcharging your cellphone or leaving it to charge overnight. Ideally, shut off your TV and other appliances through the main switch or outlet, not just the remote, so that you break the circuit and save energy . Switch to sustainable products Consider the products you use at home, like cleaning supplies and toothpaste . Switch to something more eco-friendly, ideally made from natural, biodegradable materials in plastic-free or fully recyclable packaging. Via News 18 Images via Riccardo Chiarini , Brian Yurasits and Arek Adeoye

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How to celebrate World Environment Day

LEED Platinum UCSB student housing harnesses Californias coastal climate

June 5, 2019 by  
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The University of California Santa Barbara boasts not only a beautiful campus near the ocean, but also recently completed student housing that’s been certified LEED Platinum . Designed by Los Angeles-based architectural firm Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA), the UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing was created to take advantage of the region’s ideal coastal climate to reduce energy demands. In addition to the use of passive design principles, the project employs several other sustainable strategies such as bioswales, solar water heating, and increased insulation. The project is 20 percent over California’s Title 24 requirements. Spanning an area of 95,000 square feet, the UCSB San Joaquin Student Housing comprises seven structures that augment the existing housing volumes and student facilities located at the university’s 15-acre North Campus. LOHA designed the new housing clusters to align with the existing community’s scale and character while creating an environment that would encourage greater social activity. Related: These stunning student housing apartments are inspired by tiny homes “UCSB dormitories have typically pushed circulation to their exterior envelope, with an inert central courtyard accessible only from within the building,” explain the architects. “LOHA’s design inverts this circulation scheme, designing a reductive exterior edge with an open, lively interior courtyard containing all building circulation, encouraging movement throughout the complex. Social hubs (reading rooms, gathering spaces, dining) are dispersed and floated above others. This distribution of spaces creates varied student experiences to generate a healthy campus culture.” Durability was a major driving feature in the design as well. The San Joaquin Student Housing complex’s street-facing facade is clad in corrugated metal panels, while the interior-facing elevations are covered in painted plaster punctuated by aluminum fins that support the elevated walkways finished with industrial cable mesh. Aluminum sunshades provide protection from unwanted solar gain and passive fresh air intake units are installed at each unit’s entryway. The project also boasts a built environment that’s over 90 percent permeable, a boon for stormwater management and for preventing onsite heat island effects. + LOHA Photos by Bruce Damonte

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LEED Platinum UCSB student housing harnesses Californias coastal climate

UNStudio envisions a Garden City of the 21st Century for India

May 28, 2019 by  
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UNStudio has unveiled designs for Karle Town Center (KTC), a new innovative tech campus in Bangalore, dubbed the “Silicon Valley of India.” Currently under construction, the campus will feature contemporary architecture painted in UNStudio and Monopol Color’s unique and patented ‘Coolest White’ for a striking contrast against Bangalore’s dense green canopy. Resiliency and health are also major themes in the design of KTC, which will not only maximize passive design techniques and feature expanses of green space, but it will also integrate “sensorial technologies” that draw on a user dataset collection to create a more responsive and customizable environment for the betterment of workers and residents alike. Set next to the established Manyata Tech Park, the Karle Town Center enjoys direct access to the city’s ring road arterial and expanding metro lines as well as views over Nagavara Lake. The campus’ mixed program will offer an inviting live/work environment both day and night for residents, employees and visitors. In addition to office and residential space, the KTC Masterplan will include a grand central theater, event square plazas, elevated retail stages and amphitheater -style staircases large enough to accommodate outdoor meetings. The KTC Masterplan is accompanied by the Urban Branding Manual, a purpose-designed document developed by UNStudio that will provide a strategy guide for ensuring the proper execution of the urban vision and design integrity. The Urban Branding Manual for Karle Town Center is centered on three ideas: Garden, Health and Culture. The three pillars aim to “inspire the whole of India to ‘lead by example’ when designing future urban destinations,” UNStudio said in a project statement. Related: UNStudio unveils sustainable vision for “The Smartest Neighborhood in the World” To shape KTC as Bangalore’s “Garden City of the 21st Century,” UNStudio has collaborated with Amsterdam-based BALJON Landscape Architects to create a sustainable and resilient landscape plan that will include semi-public vegetative sky gardens and vegetation along the streetscapes, avenues and the lakefront promenade. The abundance of landscaping will help mitigate the urban heat island effect and filter air pollution. Large underground water retention zones will be used to irrigate the landscaping and store treated gray water. + UNStudio Image via UNStudio

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UNStudio envisions a Garden City of the 21st Century for India

California bans pesticide linked to brain damage in children

May 10, 2019 by  
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In a move that is both a victory for environmental justice and a snub to the current president, the California Senate officially banned a pesticide that has been proven to cause brain damage in children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had previously attempted to ban the toxic chemical, chlorpyrifos, nationwide, however, the Trump administration rejected the overwhelming scientific evidence of its health impact on pregnant women and children living near major farms. This week, California representatives voted to overrule the president in their own state. Public health activists believe the Trump administration is protecting the business interests of Dow Dupont, a chlorpyrifos manufacturer that previously donated to the president’s campaign. Related: EPA backs the use of toxic herbicide chemical glyphosate According to studies, the pesticide has been linked to impaired brain and neurological development among children. It has also been linked to increased risk of autism, memory problems and lower IQs among the children of women who were exposed to the chemical while pregnant. “Countless people have suffered as a result of this chemical,” the California EPA secretary, Jared Blumenfeld, said in an interview on Wednesday. “A lot of people live and work and go to school right next to fields that are being sprayed with chlorpyrifos … It’s an issue of environmental health and justice.” Low income and immigrant communities of California’s central valley are largely impacted due to their proximity to major industrial farms where the chemical is sprayed. Chlorpyrifos pesticides are often used on almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes and walnuts among other products. Research shows that the chemical is linked to these health concerns at even lower doses than originally thought. According to Dow Dupont’s spokesman, the manufacturing company is planning to challenge the ban, saying it unfairly hurts farmers who need a way to effectively control pests. The ban will “remove an important tool for farmers and undermines the highly effective system for regulating pesticides,” the spokesman said in a statement. However, California’s governor has proposed a $5.7 million plan to help farmers transition to more sustainable pest control options. “The science is definitive,” said Blumenfeld . “This job really should have been done by the U.S. EPA .” Via The Guardian Image via  skeeze

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California bans pesticide linked to brain damage in children

Amsterdam Announces Plan to Ban All Polluting Cars by 2030

May 8, 2019 by  
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On Thursday, the city of Amsterdam announced its plan to replace all gasoline and diesel-powered cars and motorcycles with electric vehicles by 2030. The plan is an attempt to address unhealthy and alarming rates of air pollution in the city due to high traffic. Currently, toxic air pollution in Amsterdam exceeds European Union standards. In 2018, the Dutch health council called on the government to develop a plan to address toxic amounts of nitrogen dioxide and particle matter, specifically in the congested cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Related: Lyft vows to help customers find electric vehicles with Green Mode “Pollution often is a silent killer and is one of the greatest health hazards in Amsterdam,” said Sharon Dijksma , the city’s traffic councilor. According to Dijksma, Amsterdam residents lose an average of one year off their life expectancy due to air pollution. The Dutch government’s goal is to replace all polluting cars, buses, boats and motorcycles with electric vehicles or hydrogen powered vehicles. The plan will be rolled out in phases over the next decade, including: By 2020: All cars built before 2005 will be banned from the city. By 2022: All polluting public buses and taxis will be banned. By 2025: All polluting boats and mopeds will also be banned. The city will also increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations in order to reach a total of at least 23,000. Although climate activists are mostly supportive of the initiative, some groups fear that this car ban will unfairly affect poor families who cannot afford electric vehicles. The loudest voice of dissent comes from the Rai Association, an automotive industry lobbying group, which argues that the ban will shut low income families out of the city. However, supporters argue that electric vehicles have become increasingly less expensive and that the price is expected to steadily decline over the next 11 years. The government also plans to use subsidies and parking permits to incentivize drivers to switch to cleaner cars. Via Ecowatch Image via Shutterstock

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A potato field is transformed into an award-winning communal home in the Netherlands

May 8, 2019 by  
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Amsterdam-based architectural firm bureau SLA and Utrecht-based ZakenMaker have transformed a one-hectare potato field in the rural area of Oosterwold Almere, the Netherlands into nine connected homes for a group of pioneers seeking a sustainable communal lifestyle. Initially, Frode Bolhuis had approached the architects to construct his dream home, but the very limited budget prompted him to ask eight of his like-minded friends to join to make the project possible. The nine homes—each 1,722 square feet in size—are all located under one roof in the Oosterwold Co-living Complex, a long rectangular building with a shared porch, landscape and vegetable garden. The client’s tight budget largely drove the design decisions behind Oosterwold Co-living Complex. Not only did the project morph into a co-living complex as a result of limited funds, but the architects also decided that only the exterior would be designed and left the design of the interiors up to families. Elevated off the ground for a reduced footprint and to allow residents to choose the location of the sewage system and water pipes, the rectilinear building extends nearly 330 feet in length and appears to float above the landscape. “The façade is designed to give maximum freedom of choice within an efficient building system,” explain the architects. “Each family received a plan for seven windows and doors, which can be placed in the façade. The space between the frames is vitrified with solid parts of glass without a frame. This creates an uncluttered but diverse façade. Oosterwold Co-living Complex demonstrates that it’s possible to achieve a convincing design within a tight budget and which, most importantly, manages to meet the expectations of nine different clients.” Related: How shared space makes four micro apartments in Japan seem much larger For a cost-effective solution to insulation, the architects built the floor, roof and adjoining walls out of hollow wooden cassettes that were then filled with insulating cellulose. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a long, communal porch that overlooks the shared landscape and vegetable garden. The windows also bring ample amounts of natural light indoors while the roof overhang helps block unwanted solar gain. The Oosterwold Co-living Complex won the Frame Awards 2019 in the category Co-living Complex of the Year. + bureau SLA + ZakenMaker Images by Filip Dujardin

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A potato field is transformed into an award-winning communal home in the Netherlands

EPA backs the use of toxic herbicide chemical glyphosate

May 3, 2019 by  
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The toxic chemical glyphosate , a common herbicide, has been found to be a threat to public health and a recognized carcinogenic. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is caught between a weed and a hard place as they defend the big-money herbicide even after their own science advisors deemed it a hazard. Commonly known by its brand name Roundup, Bayer, formally known as Monsato, sells about 300 million pounds of the weed killer annually in the U.S. for agricultural use. Farm use accounts for about 90 percent of American sales, with 10 percent sprayed on lawns, parks, golf courses, playground and other non- agricultural uses. Glyphosate sticks to crops, works its way into water and has been linked to cancer-related troubles with the liver, kidney, immune and reproductive systems of farm workers. Related: Researchers find weedkiller ingredient Glyphosate in name brand beer and wine The EPA has had a long and shady past with Monsanto and glyphosate. According to documents recently made available during court proceedings, Monsanto and the EPA Pesticide Office worked together to downplay the herbicide’s cancer risks. In an April 2019 report , the EPA said, “The agency has determined that glyphosate is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans and therefore a quantitative cancer assessment was not conducted.” However, just the week before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released its draft Toxicological Profile for Glyphosate which is much more concerned with the potential dangers of glyphosates. Many scientists strenuously disagree with the EPA’s conclusions. “The EPA’s pesticide office is out on a limb here— with Monsanto and Bayer and virtually nobody else,” says Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at NRDC. “Health agencies and credible non-industry experts who’ve reviewed this question have all found a link between glyphosate and cancer,” Sass says. “The EPA should take the advice of its own science advisors who have rejected the agency’s no-cancer-risk classification.” Via NRDC Image via Mike Mozart

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