More than 50% of New York Citys public schools now have gardens

October 17, 2017 by  
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There’s a food revolution brewing in over half of New York City’s public schools, and it’s not slowing down. Thanks to the local nonprofit GrowNYC , The Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, and Grow to Learn , five boroughs have been established to set up sustainable gardens in public schools. There are now at least 700 gardens across the city, and teachers are witnessing a myriad of changes in the kids who are spending more time outdoors and less time in a “traditional” classroom setting. From container gardens to bottle planters in the classrooms, teachers and the kids are getting creative to grow produce at their schools. Arielle Hartman, School Gardens Coordinator with GrowNYC, said, “I’ve seen teachers grow plants in soda bottles and old shoes or in projector carts with fluorescent lights.” Some of the most popular vegetables and fruit that are being grown include tomatoes , cucumbers, lettuce, eggplant, mint, collard greens, and herbs. At some schools, grapes and strawberries are cultivated, as well. The benefits of school gardening extend beyond the children learning about where their food comes from — which is an important lesson. For many kids, the gardens exist as a place of respite and contemplation. Rodale’s Organic Life reports, “Schools are using these green spaces not only as teaching tools and hands-on laboratories for math and science, they’ve also become arenas for social and emotional growth, particularly for students who may not do well in the traditional classroom environment, as well as serving as a respite for teachers and administrators.” As a result of improved emotional well-being among the student body, teachers are witnessing a reduction in behavioral issues . Julie Walsh, Assistant Director at GrowNYC, said, “Behavioral issues are dramatically reduced when kids are exposed to nature and to this kind of real sensory and experimental learning that the natural world offers.” Research presented at the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition supports this observation. It noted that green schoolyards — which are bursting with nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables — provide children, families and their communities a “healthy environment ” for relaxation and play. Related: The Garden School is a New Green-Roofed Learning Facility for China Walsh says that by partnering with agencies, such as the Parks Department and the Department of Education, the challenge of introducing gardens into schools was made much easier. “Historically, one of the challenges for successful and sustainable school garden models has been a lack of coordination,” said Walsh. “If you try to do this in a vacuum, you run into bureaucratic impediments. By partnering […], we’re able to help schools run the gauntlet with these agencies so they don’t run into obstacles.” Other schools can easily implement a garden by partnering with the Grow to Learn program. Registered schools can attend free workshops that cover a number of relevant topics, and schools are eligible to receive free garden materials, access to an online resource library and garden network and the tools to apply for mini-grant funding to start or expand a school garden. The future of school gardens is only limited by the creativity of the teachers, parents, administrators, and students. As long as all involved are willing to work together, public school gardens can flourish across the entire city — and perhaps, the entire nation. GrowNYC , + Grow to Learn Via Rodale’s Organic Life Images via  Pinterest , Arielle Hartman, Grow to Learn, Pixabay

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More than 50% of New York Citys public schools now have gardens

A luscious open-air ‘urban forest’ tops this formerly abandoned penthouse

October 17, 2017 by  
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Parisian firm Matteo Cainer Architects just unveiled plans to convert an old abandoned apartment into a beautiful solar-powered penthouse filled with natural light and pockets of lush green vegetation. The renovation of the 1,400 square-meter space – referred to as “La Forêt Urbaine” – includes a lush open-air urban forest that echoes the many surrounding parks below. Located on a central Paris street with striking 360-degree views of the city’s landmarks, the original apartment, which had been empty for some 30 years, was broken up into two floors with several rooms. To create an open layout, the renovation began by tearing down walls and reconfiguring the living space . Related: Explore Andrew Franz’s Greenery-Covered West Village Penthouse Addition and Townhouse Renovation Several sustainable features were used to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. Solar panels were installed on the rooftop’s veranda and the living space was installed with in-floor heating and cooling. The various windows allow the homeowners to take advantage of natural ventilation in order to reduce energy use year-round. In an attempt to bring in the surrounding green space to the home, multiple garden pockets were installed within and around the living spaces, which are clad in glazed walls. The result is a beautiful open floor plan filled with greenery and natural light . Of course, at the heart of the project, is the expansive rooftop garden with spectacular city views. The landscape design really shines here, with different sections being distinguished by their uses by sculptured bushes and trees. The large area includes an outdoor dining area, a lounge space with a fire place and even an open-air cinema. A glass veranda houses an enclosed large entertainment area and a gym, both installed with several hanging gardens. + Matteo Cainer Architects Images via Matteo Cainer Architects

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A luscious open-air ‘urban forest’ tops this formerly abandoned penthouse

BREAKING: Scotland bans fracking indefinitely

October 3, 2017 by  
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Go, Scotland! After hearing an overwhelming response from the public on the process of fracking , the country’s government put an “effective ban” on the controversial technique. Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, told MSPs that the practice “cannot and will not take place in Scotland .” Wheelhouse said there is little economic justification for fracking, and that the ban would deeply cut Scotland’s climate emissions. Over 65,000 people showed up to the public consultation on fracking; reportedly, 99 percent opposed the process. The energy minister said allowing fracking would cause “Long-lasting negative impacts on communities,” as well as impact Scotland’s public health and the environment. As a result, the moratorium which was put in place since 2015 would continue “indefinitely.” He said, ”The decision I am announcing today means that fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland.” In 2015, the country banned fracking and underground coal gasification. This development followed a series of reports on the potential health, environmental and economic effects of allowing the technique. Once Wheelhouse saw that 99 percent of the public opposed fracking, he realized “there is no social licence for unconventional oil and gas to be taken forward at this time”. Related: Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill Environmentalists are celebrating the move. WWF Scotland official Sam Gardner said it was “excellent news.” He said, “the climate science is clear” that dirty fuels should be “left in the ground.” However, some are saying the move did not go far enough. Labour MSP Claudia Beamish, for instance, argued that the ministers were “merely extending” the existing moratorium which “could be overturned at any point at the whim of a minister.” The Scottish Green agrees that a permanent ban needs to be instated. Mary Church, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said ministers should “go further than relying on planning powers” and “instead commit to passing a law to ban the fracking industry for good.” Not everyone is in favor of the move. Scottish Conservatives say Scotland will miss out on a “much-needed economic boost” and high-skilled jobs. Tory MSP Dean Lockhart commented that ministers had “ignored scientific and economic evidence to take a “short-sighted and economically damaging decision which is nothing more than a bid to appease the green elements of the pro-independence movement.” According to Wheelhouse, MSPs will be given a vote on the issue later this year before a final decision is made. The BBC reports that because only Conservatives oppose the ban, the vote is likely to be a formality and nothing more. Via BBC , The Guardian Images via  Claudia Beamish MSP , Pixabay,   Wikimedia Commons  and DepositPhotos

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BREAKING: Scotland bans fracking indefinitely

GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

October 3, 2017 by  
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General Motors , a symbol of 20th century automotive domination, has decided to embrace the “all-electric future” of the 21st century and beyond, declaring that someday in the near future, it will produce and sell only electric cars . “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s chief of global product development. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.” To accelerate into this future, GM announced two new electric car models, scheduled to be released next year, followed by an additional 18 all-electric models by 2023. General Motors is riding high as it shifts gear into electric; the car company was the third-largest in the world in 2016. Because of its immense size, the company would not yet commit to a specific year in which it would make the transition away from combustion engine cars. However, its recent actions speak as loud as its words. At a press event on Monday, GM revealed several concept designs for upcoming electric vehicles, including an SUV, a crossover, a non-traditional model which resembled a small, boxy bus, and Surus, a heavy-duty truck with two electric motors, powered by fuel cells. Related: Renault’s Trezor is the electric car of the future Though renowned already as a pioneer in the field, thanks in part to its Chevy Bolt, GM will face heavy traffic on the road ahead. Tesla , Volvo, Nissan, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have all made various moves into the electric car industry, with more expected in the future. Ford, a fellow Big Three American automaker, announced on Monday, the same day as GM’s press event, that it will form an “Edison Group,” focused on the development of electric cars. “We see an inflection point in the major markets toward battery electric vehicles,” said Sherif Marakby, head of electrification and autonomous vehicles at Ford. “We feel it’s important to have a cross-functional team all the way from defining the strategy plans and implementation to advanced marketing.” Via Washington Post Images via Car and Driver  and Wikipedia

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GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

October 3, 2017 by  
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General Motors , a symbol of 20th century automotive domination, has decided to embrace the “all-electric future” of the 21st century and beyond, declaring that someday in the near future, it will produce and sell only electric cars . “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s chief of global product development. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.” To accelerate into this future, GM announced two new electric car models, scheduled to be released next year, followed by an additional 18 all-electric models by 2023. General Motors is riding high as it shifts gear into electric; the car company was the third-largest in the world in 2016. Because of its immense size, the company would not yet commit to a specific year in which it would make the transition away from combustion engine cars. However, its recent actions speak as loud as its words. At a press event on Monday, GM revealed several concept designs for upcoming electric vehicles, including an SUV, a crossover, a non-traditional model which resembled a small, boxy bus, and Surus, a heavy-duty truck with two electric motors, powered by fuel cells. Related: Renault’s Trezor is the electric car of the future Though renowned already as a pioneer in the field, thanks in part to its Chevy Bolt, GM will face heavy traffic on the road ahead. Tesla , Volvo, Nissan, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have all made various moves into the electric car industry, with more expected in the future. Ford, a fellow Big Three American automaker, announced on Monday, the same day as GM’s press event, that it will form an “Edison Group,” focused on the development of electric cars. “We see an inflection point in the major markets toward battery electric vehicles,” said Sherif Marakby, head of electrification and autonomous vehicles at Ford. “We feel it’s important to have a cross-functional team all the way from defining the strategy plans and implementation to advanced marketing.” Via Washington Post Images via Car and Driver  and Wikipedia

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GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

London considers banning wood-burning stoves to tackle air pollution

October 2, 2017 by  
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Wood-burning stoves could be producing up to one third of London’s fine particle pollution , according to figures cited by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan . A ban on the stoves could help address the air pollution plaguing the capital; last week, Khan triggered the emergency air quality alert for the seventh time in 13 months. Wood-burning stoves have recently been popular in Britain – The Guardian reports 1.5 million have been sold in the country. 16 percent of households in southeast England have the stoves, compared to five percent nationally. But somewhere between a quarter and a third of fine particle pollution in the capital could arise from domestic wood burning. And King’s College London research indicates during very high air pollution in January, domestic wood burning yielded half of the emissions in some parts of London. Related: London breaks legal limits on air pollution in just five days in 2017 Khan said, “Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London, so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles. With more than 400 schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution levels, and significant health impacts on our most vulnerable communities, we cannot wait any longer.” In a letter to Environment Secretary Michael Grove, Khan requested London’s environment department amend a Clean Air Act to set up zero-emission zones where people won’t be allowed to burn solid fuel from 2025 on. Khan also called for tougher enforcement on emissions restrictions for construction machinery like diggers and bulldozers, and for greater powers to tackle emissions coming from Thames River traffic. In a statement , the London government said half of toxic emissions come from cars and other road vehicles, and that the second-largest source of PM 2.5 particles is construction machinery. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Joshua Newton on Unsplash

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London considers banning wood-burning stoves to tackle air pollution

Couple builds tiny A-frame cabin in three weeks for only $700

October 2, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamed of building your own affordable tiny house you’ve gotta check out this cozy solar-powered cabin in Missoula, Montana that cost just $700 to build. Photographer Alla Ponomareva and her husband Garrett bought plans for the A-frame cabin from well-known tiny house enthusiast Derek Diedricksen and customized the design to fit their needs. The couple built the 80-foot cabin by themselves in only three weeks. They slightly modified the original plan and relied heavily on reused and upcycled elements – including window frames, boards, nails, and roofing. Related: Author Builds Tiny Solar-Powered Off Grid Cabin for Under $2,000! They transformed an aged log into a rustic countertop. Plastic sheeting covers a portion of a wall to provide additional natural light . It can be lifted upwards to provide a connection to the surroundings. The cabin is perfect size for two people, and it includes two single beds, shelving and a camping stove. A solar panel mounted on the roof can provide enough electricity to power smartphones and other small devices. + Derek Diedricksen + Alla Ponomareva Via New Atlas Photos by Alla Ponomareva

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Couple builds tiny A-frame cabin in three weeks for only $700

Nestl pays $200 per year to bottle water near Flint, Michigan – while residents go without

October 2, 2017 by  
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For three years, residents of Flint, Michigan, have had to rely on sub-par bottled water to meet their daily needs. Though the crisis attracted national attention and inspired cities elsewhere to check their own water supplies for lead, little has changed in Flint in terms of the poor water supply. Adding insult to injury, The Guardian reports that just two hours away, Nestlé pumps nearly 100,000 times what the average Michigan resident uses into bottles that are later sold for $1 each. And the cost? A measly $200 per year. In 2014, Flint switched water sources to save funds. While a new pipeline connecting Flint with Lake Huron was under construction, the city began to rely on the Flint River as a water source during the two-year transition. The issue was, the water in the Flint River is of poor quality. Because the state Department of Environmental Quality was not treating the Flint River water with an anti-corrosive agent — which violated federal law, the river was 19 times more corrosive than water from Detroit, according to a study by Virginia Tech. The corrosiveness of the water resulted in lead leaching from service lines to homes. To this day, the crisis has yet to be resolved. And to make matters worse, Nestle now wants to pump more water from Michigan. The Guardian reports that in a recent permit application, Nestlé asked to pump 210 million gallons per year from Evart, the small town two hours away from Flint where residents don’t live in fear of their water supply. Within the next few months, the state will decide whether or not to grant Nestlé this permit. Understandably, residents in Flint are infuriated — and confused — by this recent development. Some are asking, “Why do we get undrinkable , unaffordable tap water, when the world’s largest food and beverage company, Nestlé , bottles the state’s most precious resource for next to nothing?” Chuck Wolverton, a resident of Flint, told The Guardian bottled water “is a necessity of life right now.” Every night, he drives 15 miles outside of town to his brother’s residence where he showers and washes clothes. “Don’t seem right, because they’re making profits off of it,” said Wolverton. He says of the Flint water he pays $180/month for, “I don’t even give it to my dogs.” As Gina Luster, a mom who lives in Flint with her family, told the paper, “With the money they make, they could come and fix Flint – and I mean the water plants and our pipes. Me and you wouldn’t even be having this conversation.” Related: Michigan health department head charged with involuntary manslaughter over Flint crisis Though bottled water is a detriment to the environment, it became the most highly-consumed beverage in North America this year, largely due to fears of lead-tainted water. Nestlé is but one corporation profiting from the lead-water crisis. In 2016, the company had $92bn  in sales in 2016 and $7.4bn from water alone. Yet, all it pays to harvest water in the town two hours away from Flint , Michigan, is $200 a year. It’s an unfair reality, one Flint residents and activists demand to see changed. “We’re not saying give everyone a new car, a new home. We’re just asking for our water treatment,” Luster said. “That’s a no-brainer.” Via The Guardian Images via  EcoWatch ,  The Overlook Journal ,  CNBC

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Nestl pays $200 per year to bottle water near Flint, Michigan – while residents go without

Stunning Lake Michigan home is built from dying ash reclaimed onsite

October 2, 2017 by  
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This stunning timber home by the lake sensitively embraces its Midwestern landscape with its design and use of local, reclaimed materials. Designed by Desai Chia Architects in collaboration with Environment Architects (AOR) , the Michigan Lake House boasts stunning lake views and a striking folded roof. The site-sensitive home features a native plant palette and stormwater management in addition to locally sourced and salvaged materials. Located on a woodland bluff, the 4,800-square-foot Michigan Lake House comprises three offset structures: one for the communal areas, including the living room, kitchen, and covered terrace; and the two others that separately house the master bedroom suite and three children’s bedrooms. A dining area breezeway connects the three structures. The undulating roof takes inspiration from the natural rolling terrain as well as the vernacular architecture of nearby fishing villages. The roof also cantilevers over the south end of the home to provide shade for the lakeside-viewing terrace. Related: Exquisite Shore House is a modernist triumph that embraces nature Shou Sugi Ban timber—charred to protect the wood from rot and pests—clads the exterior to blend the home into the landscape. The use of dark timber continues inside the home but is offset by light-colored ash, which was inhabitat.com/tag/reclaimed-materials reclaimed onsite and milled into custom furnishings, flooring, ceiling panels, and trim work. “The interiors of the house embody the indigenous landscape that once thrived with old growth ash,” wrote the architects. Locally sourced stone was used for the outdoor seating areas, pathways, and steps. + Desai Chia Architects + Environment Architects Images via Desai Chia Architects

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Stunning Lake Michigan home is built from dying ash reclaimed onsite

OMAs MPavilion 2017 with a floating roof opens today in Melbourne

October 2, 2017 by  
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Melbourne is heating up for the summer with a new OMA-designed amphitheater. OMA founder Rem Koolhaas and colleague Daniel Gianotten just completed MPavilion 2017, a temporary pavilion that opened today in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens. Commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, MPavilion 2017 is the fourth annual architect-designed summer pavilion for the city and is OMA’s first Australian commission. The multifunctional amphitheater will host hundreds of free events throughout the four-month season. OMA designed MPavilion 2017 as a 19-by-19-meter aluminum-clad steel structure that transforms to accommodate a variety of unexpected programming. Surrounded by an artificial hill landscaped with native plants , the adaptable amphitheater comprises one fixed tiered grandstand and one moveable grandstand that rotates to open up to the park. The floating translucent roof is built with a two-meter-deep gridded, machine-like canopy with embedded advanced lighting technology. Related: Studio Mumbai unveils handmade pavilion crafted from seven kilometers of bamboo “Our design for MPavilion 2017 is intended to provoke all kinds of activities through its configurable nature and a materiality that relates to its direct surroundings,” said Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of OMA. “We are happy that MPavilion can perform as a theater of debate around the city and its development, and contribute to the ongoing civic discourse of Melbourne.” MPavilion will be open everyday from 9AM to 4PM until February 4, 2018. At the end of the four-month season MPavilion will be moved to a permanent new home within Melbourne’s Central Business District. + OMA + MPavilion 2017 Images by Timothy Burgess and John Gollings

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OMAs MPavilion 2017 with a floating roof opens today in Melbourne

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