The best eco tourism spots in San Diego

January 8, 2020 by  
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With 70 miles of coastline and average high temperatures ranging from 66 degrees in January to 77 in August, San Diego is a city where people like to spend time outside. This city of over 1.42 million between Los Angeles and Mexico has endless beaches, parks and cultural opportunities to explore. Its history combines native Kumeyaay people, Mexicans and European explorers, who first landed in San Diego Bay in 1542. Nowadays it’s home to people from around the world and welcomes nearly 36 million visitors per year. San Diego outdoors San Diego’s mild temperatures and beautiful topography make it ideal for biking, hiking and, of course, water sports. La Jolla Sea Kayak will take you on a tour of this beach town’s seven sea caves, where you might see sea lions, leopard sharks and dolphins. If you prefer a more placid paddle, the SUP Connection at Liberty Station offers a sheltered area to practice your SUP and kayak maneuvers. Some of San Diego’s best views are from Cabrillo National Monument at the end of the Point Loma peninsula. An excellent historic lighthouse welcomes lighthouse lovers, the ocean views stun bicyclists and hikers, and this national park unit has some of the best tide pools in the area. In springtime, the wildflowers are awesome. If you’re visiting San Diego with your canine friend, don’t miss the dog-friendly beaches. Dog Beach is a spacious section of Ocean Beach where dogs can run off-leash 24/7. Most of Fiesta Island in Mission Bay is also open to dogs. The SUP Connection offers SUP Pups — private lessons for if you want help training your dog to join you paddle boarding. If you can tear yourself away from the ocean, Balboa Park is an enduring San Diego attraction for museums, gardens , a miniature railroad, the zoo and just walking around. Much of the park was built for the 1935-36 California-Pacific International Exposition. The botanical building and lily pond are much beloved photographic backdrops. On the park’s eastern edge, the less-trafficked historic cactus garden features succulents and African protea. The Spanish Village Art Center houses 35 working art studios for those who like to shop and meet makers. Some of the area’s best beaches are on Coronado Island. For a varied outing, take the ferry from downtown San Diego to Coronado, rent a bike and explore. Don’t miss the famous Hotel Del Coronado. Built in 1888, the wooden Victorian beach resort provided the setting for many movies, including Marilyn Monroe’s “Some Like it Hot.” The beach in front of the Hotel Del has calm water and family-friendly swimming. San Diego wellness Not only does San Diego have a bazillion yoga studios, but many classes are also held outside. Whether you want to do yin yoga in Ocean Beach or vinyasa at Bird Rock in La Jolla, yogis dot every major beach. Mission Bay Aquatic Center will help you take your practice onto a stand-up paddleboard. Or go a little inland and join a Hatha class beside a koi pond at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. Just a little bit up the coast in San Diego’s North County, you can visit the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas. Founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, the SRF offers lectures, meditations, kirtans and other events. Or just stroll through the beautiful meditation gardens. Also in North County, the Chopra Center is part of Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad. It hosts varied multi-day meditation and wellness retreats from an Ayurvedic medicine perspective. Dining out in San Diego San Diego has a high veg IQ, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. For old-school veg food, try Jyoti-Bihanga in Normal Heights. Run by devotees of spiritual master Sri Chinmoy, this vegetarian restaurant has been serving Neatloaf sandwiches and other hearty meals for more than thirty years. For modern fast-casual wraps, bowls, tacos and burgers, try one of Native Foods’ three vegan outlets in San Diego County. In Ocean Beach, Peace Pies has all your raw vegan needs covered, from mango curry wraps to coconut cream pie. Veganic Thai Café in Hillcrest and Plumeria in University Heights and Encinitas allow you to enjoy your pad thai without worries of fish sauce contamination. Heartwork Coffee Bar in Hillcrest offers a case full of delicious vegan croissants, scones and other treats. Public transit Southern California is known for its car-centered ways, but many San Diego neighborhoods are extremely walkable. Since the city is large and spread out, you might need to take a bus, trolley or Uber to get between neighborhoods. San Diego Metropolitan Transit System runs the county’s extensive bus and trolley system. If you’re visiting Tijuana , the easiest way is to take the trolley to the border and walk across. For those with limited time who are firmly on the tourist track, buying a day-pass on the Old Town Trolley will take you directly to San Diego’s most-visited spots. You can hop on and off as much as you like. Guides will clue you in on the city’s history and lore between stops. Amtrak is a good way to get to other southern California cities, such as Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, without braving the hectic highways. For those needing to cross water, ferries run to Coronado Island, or you can call a water taxi. Since San Diego’s airport is downtown, it’s one of the few American cities where you can easily walk to many hotels. A shared-use bike/pedestrian path connects the airport to Liberty Station and Point Loma to the west, and downtown San Diego to the east. Eco hotels Many San Diego hotels are getting greener, but the city has a few real standouts. Hotel Indigo is the city’s only LEED-certified and Platinum Level GreenLeader, featuring rooftop composting and an eco-roof. It’s also central to all kinds of public transit. The Lafayette Hotel , Sheraton Hotel & Marina , Bahia Resort Hotel , and La Jolla’s Estancia Hotel & Spa are Gold Level GreenLeaders. The Bahia’s long list of eco measures includes subsidizing public transit for employees, converting cooking oil to biodiesel , participating in beach cleanups, and composting 100 percent of food waste. The Lafayette combines eco-consciousness with 1940s Hollywood style glamour. One warning: Avoid the many hotels located in the area called Hotel Circle, as you’ll find yourself walled in by unsightly freeways and a total lack of charm. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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The best eco tourism spots in San Diego

A Closer Look at the Hotel Industry’s Eco-Friendly Push

December 2, 2019 by  
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If you’ve stayed in a hotel, inn, or resort in … The post A Closer Look at the Hotel Industry’s Eco-Friendly Push appeared first on Earth911.com.

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A Closer Look at the Hotel Industry’s Eco-Friendly Push

Minimalist hotel gym made out of locally-sourced stone features one of the largest glass panels in the world

November 5, 2019 by  
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UK architecture firm  Invisible Studio has become known for its ground-breaking low-impact designs , but this time the innovative architects have just unveiled a beautiful structure that manages to combine sustainability with elegant minimalism. To put it simply, “Room in a Productive Garden” is a small hotel gymnasium made out of natural stone with a large window that looks out over a vegetable garden. However, even though it may just appear to be a big window, it is, in fact, one of the largest glass panels in the world! The new project is part of an expansion of a hotel in Somerset. Located on  the grounds of Hadspen House, the single-story 1,600-square-feet room is a bright and airy gymnasium where guests can enjoy a nice workout while taking in the serene view of the vegetable garden out front. Related: This tiny timber cabin was built from construction waste for under $30K The small gym was strategically designed to blend into its natural surroundings. It’s minimalist volume was intentional to reduce the project’s impact on the landscape. Additionally, the designers used natural stone sourced on site to create the exterior cladding. The stone was crushed and rammed into the walls to add an earthy tone to the facade. According to the architectural studio, the eco-friendly building was “conceived in a manner as ‘no building’ – more, a window on to a mature productive garden with as few distractions from the garden as possible,” they explain. “The garden provides food for the hotel, and is an important part of the arrival experience into the gymnasium. At the heart of the design is the massive glass window , which not only lets in optimal light into the workout space, but also provides serene views of the surrounding nature. At 50 feet wide and 10 foot tall, the continous glass panel is one of the largest in the world. The interior of the building is also an example of sophisticated minimalism . The gym walls are lined entirely in beech wood, with slats concealing the lighting and ventilation systems. At the base of the glass panel, there is a long continuous bench for those who would like to take in the unobstructed views calmly versus running on the treadmill. + Invisible Studio Via World Architecture Images via Invisible Studio

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Minimalist hotel gym made out of locally-sourced stone features one of the largest glass panels in the world

Biodegradable coffee pods are now available for composting

November 5, 2019 by  
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In the United Kingdom alone, approximately 95 million cups of coffee are consumed daily, with more than one-third of British coffee-drinkers admitting that they dispose of their coffee capsules into trash bins. Roughly 20 billion non-biodegradable, one-cup coffee pods end up in landfills. But Italian espresso giant Lavazza is offering a more eco-friendly alternative — a compostable coffee pod. Non-biodegradable coffee pods are a challenge to recycle because a single capsule is comprised of a mix of materials, including aluminum, foil and especially plastic . Plastic takes up to 500 years before it begins to disintegrate. Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead Lavazza, meanwhile, is now offering more sustainable coffee pods, called Eco Caps, that are biopolymer-based. In contrast to the non-biodegradable coffee pods, Eco Caps take just six months to degrade. These pods are convenient to dispose of in the food waste bin, depending on your local composting rules. Lavazza has partnered with TerraCycle, a waste collection service that specialized in hard-to-recycle items, to make it easier for Eco Caps to be industrially composted if local composting is not available. The TerraCycle partnership was formed to solve the issue of consumers being generally confused about what can be recycled. Compostable and biodegradable coffee pods are becoming a trend. For instance, online retailer Halo also offers a separate range of compostable pods that are made with paper pulp and sugar cane. “The coffee revolution has happened, and one of the key challenges the industry now faces is the millions of tons of waste created as a result,” explained Richard Hardwick, Halo’s co-founder. “Aluminum and plastic coffee capsules are difficult to recycle, so most of them end up in the bin. And that’s why up to 75 percent are currently being sent to landfill every minute. Most people don’t understand the irreversible damage these coffee capsules are inflicting on the planet.” + Lavazza Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Biodegradable coffee pods are now available for composting

Student designs an ecotourism hot-spot for the Iranian desert

September 10, 2019 by  
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A student finalist in this year’s Radical Innovation competition has found a possible solution for conserving Iran’s deserts while also promoting ecotourism in the region. Sharareh Faryadi’s Nebka Protective System could be applied to both residential and tourist accommodations in deserts. Radical Innovation “mobilizes disruptors from around the world with the ideas to propel the industry forward,” according to its website. A jury of design and hospitality experts judged the competition on design, creativity and potential for impacting the industry. Nearly 50 people entered from more than 20 countries. The judges chose three professional finalists, one student winner and two student honorable mentions, with the Nebka Protective System earning a student honorable mention. Related: Experimental design-build festival takes over Californian desert The Iranian desert faces problems like air pollution , inaccessibility and, well, a huge mass of sand. But it’s also a hauntingly beautiful place of great interest to desert researchers and with potential for increased tourism. Almost a quarter of Iran’s land is desert. The Lut Desert is the most famous and is a UNESCO-registered natural phenomenon. While the shifting sands make for a magical landscape, desert wildlife benefits from some stability — that’s where nebkas come in. A nebka is a little, wind-blown accumulation of sand anchored by a bush or a tree. Nebkas help desert animals survive and help control evaporation and shifting sand sediments. Having more nebkas in deserts close to developed areas could protect cities from shifting sand. Faryadi’s Nebka Protective System is an elaborate but intriguing way to increase the number of nebkas over a 12-year cycle. Imagine a circular area in the desert that’s free of nebkas; Faryadi proposed placing a round observatory building in the center of the circle, with a long, arm-shaped hotel reaching out from that center like a clock hand. The circle is divided into 12 sections. During the first year, the long walls of the hotel would act as a dam against wind-blown sand. Each tourist and researcher staying inside would plant a seed. Some of these would sprout, spawning nebkas to stabilize the sand. After a year, the whole hotel would be lifted into the second section, and the nebka development would begin all over again. Twelve years later, the hotel would make a full circle, and the empty desert would turn into a jungle of young nebkas. The round, central area would include a glass elevator for watching the desert, and people would be able to walk around it for 360-degree views. Faryadi also planned for lots of common space, restaurants , cafes, a museum and desert research institute and areas for sand therapy, said to ease muscle and joint pain. The design incorporated traditional Iranian architecture, such as a large, open space to serve as the central yard in the family suites. Solar and wind would provide power, including that required for moving the structure every year. + Radical Innovation Images via Radical Innovation

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Student designs an ecotourism hot-spot for the Iranian desert

An eco-friendly island resort immerses guests in the wild beauty of northern Norway

July 23, 2019 by  
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On a remote island above the Arctic Circle, Norwegian architecture firm Stinessen Arkitektur has created the Manshausen Island Resort, an eco-friendly getaway with spectacular views that has also been recently expanded with a new extension. Located on the Steigen Archipelago off the coast of northern Norway, the resort comprises a series of contemporary cabins carefully sited and elevated off the ground to minimize site impact while maximizing individual panoramic views. The new addition, which was completed three years after the resort’s opening in June 2015, includes new cabins and a sauna that was constructed from materials leftover from the first stage of construction. Sandwiched between mountains and sea, Manshausen Island features a dramatic landscape and a harsh climate with long winters and temperamental weather conditions. Despite the short building season, remote location and disagreeable weather conditions, the architects succeeded in developing a low-maintenance and sustainably minded resort with cabins designed in the image of the island’s two main existing structures: the old farm-house and stone quays. Each compact cabin was crafted for minimum impact on the landscape; the resort team plans to make the island self-sufficient by 2020 and all waste is already treated on the island. Related: A cluster of wooden cabins create a serene weekend retreat in Norway As with the original cabins at the resort, the new cabins in the extension — dubbed Manshausen 2.0 — have been built from cross-laminated timber , aluminum sheet cladding and custom, full-height glazing that allows for unobstructed views of the landscape. Prefabricated elements were used for “plug and play” installation of the shelters. Each 30-square-meter cabin was designed to be as compact as possible yet can comfortably accommodate up to four to five people and includes a kitchen and plenty of storage space. “Although [the new cabins] enjoy much of the same undisturbed sea views, the positioning in the landscape offers a unique approach to the design,” the architects explained. “Wave heights, extreme weather conditions and also future raise in sea level were studied to determine the exact positions of the cabins.” + Stinessen Arkitektur Images by Adrien Giret, Snorre Stinessen, Kjell Ove Storvik

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An eco-friendly island resort immerses guests in the wild beauty of northern Norway

Endangered California condors are making a comeback with the birth of 1,000th chick

July 23, 2019 by  
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The largest bird in North America is making a comeback after reaching an alarming population size of about 20 birds . The California condor was highly endangered during the late 20th century but holds spiritual importance to indigenous tribes and nature-lovers. Last week, conservationists announced that the 1,000th chick hatched and successfully survived, giving new hope that the birds’ population will continue to grow. The condor population plummeted in the 20th century because of hunting , habitat loss and lead poisoning from eating the carcasses of animals that had been shot with lead bullets. When the population was nearing just 20 birds, conservationists began breeding them in captivity. Related: 10 species at risk of extinction under the Trump administration According to Tim Hauch, manager of the Peregrine Fund’s condor program, more than 300 wild California condors exist today. There is a total of more than 500 when those in captivity are included. The newest chick was born in Zion National Park, located in southwestern Utah. Condors lay only one egg at a time , and female condors do not nest every year. Conservationists are incredibly hopeful every time one is born. “We’re seeing more chicks born in the wild than we ever have before,” Hauck told NPR. “And that’s just a step toward success for the condor and achieving a sustainable population.” Although the chick was born in May, it was not considered to be a survivor until July, given the typical mortality of young condors within the first two months. The chick will be able to leave the nest and begin flying around November. California condors are unique birds that can live up to 60 years in the right conditions. That makes condors not only the largest bird in North America, with a wingspan of 10 feet, but also one of the longest living birds in the world. Those who study California condors also believe that the birds are capable of having distinct personalities, which separates them from many other avian species. Via NPR Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Endangered California condors are making a comeback with the birth of 1,000th chick

This solar-powered home in Brazil blends into its environment with a massive green roof and an open-air ground floor

July 23, 2019 by  
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When it comes to modern homes, most architects focus on creating a soothing harmony between the indoors and outdoors, meaning lots of natural light, floor-to-ceiling windows, natural vegetation and so on. But Brazilian firm Reinach Mendonça Arquitetos Associados has gone one step further by completely eliminating exterior walls. Located São Paulo, the solar-powered RFC Residence features an open-air ground floor that leads out to a connecting courtyard, blurring the lines between nature and the man-made. Spanning more than 6,500 square feet, the RFC Residence was built for a family of four with a strong passion for cooking. They asked the architects to design an open-plan layout that would place the kitchen at the heart of the living area to be not only a functional space for preparing meals but a spacious social area as well. Related: A micro home with a green roof sits atop a granite wine cellar in rural Portugal Topped with a green roof that shares space with a solar array, the home was built with a number of passive and active design measures. The rectangular volume is made up of two levels: an open-air ground floor and an upper floor clad in exposed brick with a long interior hallway lined in glass panels. The upper level houses the master bedroom and the kids’ bedrooms. The social spaces are all located on the first floor, which contains a living room, entertainment area, dining room and a large chef’s kitchen in the middle. Wrapped around a central courtyard , these wall-less living spaces are all connected, creating a seamless connection between the rooms as well as the interior and the exterior. Native vegetation was used in the landscaping to create a lush outdoor area. The main living areas all maintain a nice, cool temperature year-round thanks to natural air circulation . Additionally, the second level was built with overhangs that shade the ground floor, creating a more comfortable space for residents to take in the fresh air. There is also a small swimming pool as well as a wooden sauna and dressing room in the backyard. + Reinach Mendonça Arquitetos Associados Via ArchDaily Photography by Nelson Kon via Reinach Mendonça Arquitetos Associados

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This solar-powered home in Brazil blends into its environment with a massive green roof and an open-air ground floor

City of Berkeley bans natural gas in new buildings and homes

July 23, 2019 by  
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The Californian city of Berkeley has become the first in the country to pass a ban on natural gas piping in new buildings, including private homes. Although it is considered cleaner than oil, natural gas is still a fossil fuel and contributes to global warming . New buildings in Berkeley, with few exceptions, will have to rely on electricity for heating water and kitchen appliances starting in January 2020. The natural gas ordinance was spearheaded by councilmember Kate Harrison, who told the San Francisco Chronicle , “It’s an enormous issue. We need to really tackle this. When we think about pollution and climate change issues, we tend to think about factories and cars, but all buildings are producing greenhouse gas .” Related: California is the first US state to require solar energy for new houses The legislation passed unanimously, but some critics outside of the city town halls and council meetings argue that electricity prices are higher than natural gas . The mandate will come at an expense to homeowners and renters in the Bay Area’s already stifling housing market. The ordinance also comes with funding for a two-year position for one staff member in the Office of Planning and Development who will oversee the implementation of the ban. David Hochschild, chairman of the California Energy Commission, reported that at least 50 other cities throughout the state of California are considering such a ban in hopes of addressing the contribution that buildings make to climate change and to encourage higher usage of electricity and renewable energy. Berkeley has a history of progressive bans, including becoming the first city in the country to ban smoking in restaurants and bars back in 1977. Earlier this year, the city banned single-use plastic utensils in restaurants (such as plastic forks). Restaurants and cafes throughout the city must use compostable utensils for takeaway meals and beverages. The city also passed an ordinance adding a 25 cents tax onto single-use cups, such as coffee cups. Via San Francisco Chronicle and NRDC Image via Pixabay

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City of Berkeley bans natural gas in new buildings and homes

LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood

June 14, 2019 by  
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This 39-room inn in the popular Wine Country town of Healdsburg boasts sustainable, natural materials and an eco-friendly design that earned it a LEED Gold certification. Glass is used to encase the lobby entry, while the walls and floors are made of textured and smooth concrete. Steel and reclaimed redwood slats are utilized throughout the exterior to create a naturally open feel and provide views of the surrounding trees and foliage. Artfully-described as “modern organic” by the building’s creators at David Baker Architects, Harmon Guest House is the natural companion to its two sister boutique eco hotels, the swanky Hotel Healdsburg and the trendy h2hotel. As described on the firm’s website , “This contextual new inn slips into the Healdsburg scene as a fresh surprise with an understated California vibe, yet seems as if it’s always naturally been there.” Related: This luxury resort in Canada is recognized globally for its contributions to eco tourism These organic intentions are apparent from the moment you walk up to the building. The design subconsciously promotes sustainable transportation thanks to the sheltered bus stop bench built into the face of the hotel and a shared fleet of bicycles available for guest use. Even the check-in desk has been crafted from one single, fallen eucalyptus tree. The combination of a vast glass entryway, bare polished concrete and unadorned wooden screens is a reminder to all who enter that the condition of being natural is just as beautiful (if not more) than decoration or embellishment. The 39 rooms (including six suites) are connected by a centralized courtyard and glass-enclosed bridges. Each room provides a private outdoor space with a balcony or patio. Both the common spaces and individual rooms feature locally sourced art and fixtures. The presence of the hotel benefits Healdsburg’s own Foss Creek, which is visible from the rear of the inn and accessible via footbridge. A creekside park allows guests to enjoy the restored area between the water and land while the property’s presence spanning the creek aids in the protection of the natural area. + David Baker Architects + Harmon Guest House Photography by Bruce Damonte and Angie Silvy via David Baker Architects

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LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood

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