Carbfix turns emissions into stone

March 16, 2021 by  
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An  Icelandic  startup has an intriguing solution to the emissions problem: turn carbon into stone. While it sounds like an evil power out of a fairy tale, and maybe there is a little bit of magic to Carbfix’s approach, we’ll assume its proprietary technology is scientific. Here’s how it works. As most of us know, trees and plants bind carbon from the atmosphere. But, so do rocks. Carbfix’s technology just makes the process of the carbon getting into the rocks a lot faster. The startup dissolves carbon in water, which interacts with reactive rock formations, “to form stable minerals providing a permanent and safe carbon sink,” according to the  Carbfix  website. Carbfix injects this solution into the subsurface, adds a little proprietary technology, and voila, within two years the carbon has turned to stone. Related: “Carbon-absorbing” vertical forest skyscraper nears completion in Taipei Here’s what’s going on under the surface. The carbonated water is acidic and reacts with underground  rocks . Over time, iron, calcium and other elements are released into the water, combine with dissolved carbon dioxide and form carbonates underground. Since they’re stable for thousands of years, we can consider the carbon permanently stored. “This is a technology that can be scaled — it’s cheap and economic and environmentally friendly,” said Carbfix CEO Edda Sif Pind Aradottir, as reported by Bloomberg. “Basically, we are just doing what  nature  has been doing for millions of years, so we are helping nature help itself.” Carbon  emissions are the top reason for global warming and a major factor in extreme weather events and ocean acidification. Carbfix aims to cut climate change off at the knees and help the world reach the Paris agreement goals. The project first started in 2006. The following year, it was formalized by four founding partners: the University of Iceland, Reykjavik Energy, Earth Institute at Columbia University and CNRS in Toulouse. Additional research institutes and universities have also worked on the project in the last decade. In 2019, Carbfix became a subsidiary of Reykjavik Energy, then in 2020 it began operating as a separate entity. Its mission is to store one billion tons of CO2 by 2030. + Carbfix Via EcoWatch Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate change pushes US weather to extremes

February 18, 2021 by  
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Terrible hurricanes in the summer and temperatures now plunging to the lowest they’ve been in decades in much of the U.S. — is all this bad weather just bad luck? Not according to climate scientists, who say this deadly weather is one more sign of climate change . Oklahoma City saw a temperature this week of -14°F, the coldest it’s been since 1899, before Oklahoma was even a state. In Texas, Dallas dropped to -2°F, while southerly Houston and San Antonio got down to 13°F and 12­°F, respectively. In New Orleans, if COVID-19 hadn’t already ruined Mardi Gras, ice would have. Many cities across the U.S. have or are expected to hit record low temperatures this week. Related: Spiders are becoming aggressive thanks to climate change Then, there were power outages galore — more than 4.2 million people without power in Texas alone on Tuesday morning — to make deadly storms even more lethal. In this topsy-turvy world, Texans would be more comfortable right now in Iceland. “There are waves in the jet stream and because of climate change and the warmer air in the Arctic and the largely ice-free Arctic sea, those waves are able to go far south,” said Chris Gloninger, a meteorologist with NBC10 Boston. “So places like Alaska or Iceland, which today is in the low 40s, is warmer than places like Texas, Louisiana or Oklahoma. That’s why we’re seeing these extremes.” Texas is especially vulnerable to the current storms because its main electric grid is separate from the rest of the country. Texas is better known for A/C than for heaters, and this week’s need for cranking up the heat broke the grid, plunging vulnerable Texans into cold and darkness. At least 20 people in the state have died from these conditions. Are we convinced yet? Extreme weather sure is making it harder for climate change deniers to win their arguments, according to Michael E. Mann, author of The New Climate War, as reported by NBCLX . “We really are so close to seeing the action that we need to confront the climate crisis,” Mann said. “But there are still obstacles that have been thrown in our path by the same institutions that were denying climate change years ago. There’s no way to deny it now because people can see it playing out in real time in the form of unprecedented, devastating weather events.” You can find more information on where to donate money or resources to those experiencing these life-threatening cold conditions here and here . Via NBCLX and CNN Image via NOAA ( 1 , 2 )

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Climate change pushes US weather to extremes

ZHA unveils solar-powered student residences for HKUST

February 18, 2021 by  
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In response to an urgent demand for more student housing at its Clear Water Bay campus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has tapped Zaha Hadid Architects and local architecture firm Leigh & Orange to design the university’s new residence halls that will house more than 1,500 students once complete in 2023. The student housing buildings also incorporate sustainable design features in line with the university’s pledge to transition the Clear Water Bay campus to carbon-neutral operations. In addition to implementing rooftop solar and high-performance insulation, the architects will optimize the residential facilities’ energy-efficient operations with digital design tools, including Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D simulations. Inspired by the university’s mission to solve pressing global issues with technology and innovation, the architects have harnessed the power of digital design tools to optimize the design across multiple site parameters, including terrain, solar radiation, sight lines and soil considerations. As a result, the new residences will be strategically integrated into a steep, sloping site with a hexagonal configuration that embraces the natural landscape. The digital tools will also ensure passive solar considerations, proper material selection and efficient construction strategies to minimize time and waste. Related: ZHA’s sculptural “urban oasis” in Hong Kong to be LEED Platinum The 35,500-square-meter HKUST residence halls will comprise three differing clusters that all include communal living areas and rooms that face open spaces. The “Y” cluster apartments will accommodate 27 students; the “V” cluster will house 36 students; and the “Linear” cluster will offer collective housing for 18 students. The residences will be connected via a rooftop walkway — the main circulation route connecting to the academic blocks in the north — that will include shaded gathering spaces and photovoltaic arrays . To protect against Hong Kong’s intense sunlight, the buildings will be wrapped in high-performance, prefabricated facade units fitted with double-glazed windows and external solar shading fins. + Zaha Hadid Architects + Leigh & Orange Images via Visual Brick

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ZHA unveils solar-powered student residences for HKUST

The Haeckels Victorian-style bathing machine has a sauna inside

January 17, 2020 by  
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Is there anything better than self-care by the sea? UK-based skincare brand Haeckels is on a mission to reintroduce the local community of Margate Beach to the healing powers of the ocean. The region has a history of ocean-based health remedies and was home to one of the UK’s first sea-bathing hospitals. The company has built a wood-burning sauna on dreamy Margate Beach, located on the southeast coast of Britain. The idea is to give people more reasons to get outside (even during the colder winter months) while helping users relax and rejuvenate before enjoying the salty seawater just steps away. To help house the sauna, the company built a “bathing machine” structure using traditional materials. Bathing machines were popular from the 18th to 20th centuries as a beachside place for women to change their clothes before heading into the water. The walls were constructed using wood planks, with oak for the wheels and a steel frame; a retracting awning made of waxed cloth pulls up into a door for privacy and security.  Haeckels founder Dom Bridges got the idea from a trip to the popular Blue Lagoon spa in Iceland, where visitors go to bathe in the warm geothermal water surrounded by freezing temperatures. He found the perfect spot to start the project after discovering Margate, an area that had a rich history of sea bathing during the Victorian era, and began constructing the updated version of a traditional bathing machine with the help of a crowdfunding campaign in 2014. Names of the donors who contributed to the campaign, which raised £30,000 (about $39,000 USD), are laser-engraved onto the side of the structure. Bridges teamed up with local craftspeople from Re-Works Studio and Moosejaw Woodworks to complete the project, with a total of 20 people contributing their unique skills. Currently, the use of the beach sauna is free of charge to the public , but the company encourages supporters to contribute funds to the project’s Patreon membership platform to help pay for supplies, cleaning, maintenance and rent. Haeckels has also made the bathing machine available for private bookings for group hire or personal treatments. + Haeckels Via Dezeen Images via Haeckels

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The Haeckels Victorian-style bathing machine has a sauna inside

Airstream unveils new 2020 camper with smart technology

January 17, 2020 by  
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Airstream is a long-standing American legend beloved by many roaming road warriors, but now the iconic campers have been given a sleek modern makeover. The new 2020 Airstream Classics feature an impressive apartment-like interior design scheme that uses a “comfort white” color scheme to create a more contemporary living space that puts the campers once again at the forefront of tiny home design. Although Airstreams come in various sizes and styles, the campers have normally been manufactured with dark wood accents and rough textures that contrast with the campers’ ultra shimmery exteriors. The newly-unveiled 2020 Classics, however, have taken a decidedly contemporary turn that breathes new life into the classic campers. Related: This 1970s Airstream is an off-grid oasis for a family of six Perhaps taking cues from the burgeoning tiny home sector , the reformatted trailers now boast a bright and airy apartment-like layout. The living space is comprised of matte grey curved ceilings with all white walls that contrast nicely with a few black tables. Adding a sense of whimsy to the design, woven vinyl floors with a textured, grasscloth look run the length of the space. Although the campers boast a contemporary design, some things have remained the same such as the abundance of natural light that floods the interior space thanks to Airstream’s signature wide windows. The living space features a comfy living area that faces a small desk that pulls double duty as an entertainment area or office space. Further down the aisle, a contemporary kitchen will please any home cook. Outfitted with white shaker-style cabinetry and German-imported brass hardware, the space also features dark Corian countertops that compliment the grey, white and black color scheme that runs throughout the interior. A dining nook across from the kitchen provides ample space to enjoy a nice spread of home-cooked fare. At the end of the trailer , the bedroom has two single beds with stylish white linens with grey accents. Blackout shades keep the morning sun out while sleeping in, but otherwise, the space is just as bright and fresh as the rest of the interior. Ranging from 30 to 33 feet, the Classic Travel Trailer starts at just $156,400. In addition to its newly-renovated interiors, the Airstream Classics come with all-new Smart Control Technology that lets you control and monitor the trailer’s features from an app . For example, you can turn the exterior and interior lights on and off, extend and retract the awning, adjust the air conditioner or heat pump, and monitor tank and battery levels, all with just the touch of a button. + Airstream Via Curbed Images via Airstream

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Airstream unveils new 2020 camper with smart technology

New Marine Education Center in Malm raises climate change awareness

January 17, 2020 by  
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In Malmö, Sweden, the recently completed Marine Education Center is giving visitors a closer look at the effects of climate change and sustainable technology. Copenhagen-based practice NORD Architects designed the building, which not only provides an indoor-outdoor learning landscape but also visually blurs the boundaries between the built environment and its surroundings. As a beacon of sustainability, the center is integrated with energy-efficient technologies including solar panels, geothermal heat exchangers and rainwater collection systems. Located next to the Öresund strait, the Marine Education Center officially opened in the fall of 2018, four years after NORD Architects won the bid for the project in a design competition. Surrounded by earth berms built up to resemble sand dunes, the single-story building appears nestled into the landscape, while its long footprint emphasizes the vastness of its surroundings. The wave-like protrusions that top the roof add both visual interest and practical purpose; the angled elements are used to mount solar panels , let in indirect daylight and promote natural ventilation. Related: Obra Architects stimulates climate change discussion with a “climate-correcting machine” Beneath the roof are two enclosed areas separated by a large, sheltered walkway. Walls of glass surround the classrooms and gathering spaces to let in light and frame views of the sea, while the use of timber adds a sense of warmth to the interior. The Marine Education Center was designed to be highly flexible and can adapt over time to accommodate new technologies.  “We have developed a learning landscape where education is everywhere,” said Johannes Molander Pedersen, partner at NORD Architects. “It is in the landscape, in the building and in the transition between nature and culture. The center is open for everyone who is interested in the role we as humans play in nature’s life cycle. It allows hands-on learning experience that invites users to explore using their senses in the field, and thereafter analyze and understand their observations of the marine life .” + NORD Architects Photography by Adam Mørk via NORD Architects

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New e-snowmobiles bring eco tourism to the northern lights

November 11, 2019 by  
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Between Norway and the North Pole is Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago and one of the most rugged and northern inhabited areas. With an average January high of 9 degrees and 24 hours of darkness, you might not expect this to be a tourist hot-spot. But the northern lights are drawing bigger and bigger crowds through Svalbard’s dark winter. The trick is making sure that the roughly 75,000 annual visitors don’t overwhelm the environment and culture of the archipelago’s 2,583 year-round residents. One strategy has been to spread tourism out over the entire year, and a new tactic is using electric snowmobiles to explore the area in a more sustainable way. Off the Map Travel, based in England, specializes in Northern Lights travel. Its “Truly Green Aurora Holiday” package has developed the lowest impact Arctic northern lights adventure yet. The team has harnessed Arctic winds to power e-snowmobiles. Off the Map Travel offers the new activity out of Longyearbyen, the Svalbard town where the majority of the population lives. The company recommends this activity from November to January, when the skies over the islands are almost permanently black. Related: Sleep beneath the northern lights in this unique Iceland bubble “Although the northern lights are a natural phenomenon and are never guaranteed, you need clear, dark skies to optimize your chances to see them,” noted Jonny Cooper, Arctic travel expert and founder of Off the Map Travel. “Svalbard’s dark skies and extended aurora viewing are due to the sun’s being at least six degrees below the horizon. This means it can be dark all day, so the northern lights can appear at any time. In effect, the sun never rises.” In addition to the more eco-friendly nature of the e-snowmobiles, they are also much quieter. Unlike the roar of an average snowmobile , the electric variety allows visitors a peaceful and silent experience. “The quiet engine allows for gentle searching of the northern lights, reindeer , ptarmigans and polar foxes,” Cooper said. “Exploring some of the most uncharted areas of our planet has never been more eco-friendly.” + Off the Map Travel Image via Off the Map Travel

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New e-snowmobiles bring eco tourism to the northern lights

Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

August 19, 2019 by  
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What melts faster than an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day? Greenland’s ice sheet. In July, the world’s second biggest ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice and increased sea levels by about half a millimeter. On August 15 alone, Greenland’s ice sheet had a major meltdown, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean, scientists reported. While it’s not unusual for Greenland’s ice sheet to melt during the summer, it usually starts at the end of May but began weeks earlier this year. Meteorologists reported that July has been one of the hottest months around the world ever recorded. For instance, global average temperatures for this July are in line with and possibly higher than July 2016, which holds the current record, according to preliminary data reported by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme . Related: Iceland will unveil monument for the first glacier lost to climate change According to Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with Danish Meteorological Institute , Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July, enough to fill nearly 80 million Olympic swimming pools. Mottram told CNN the expected average of ice melt this time of year would be between 60 and 70 billion tons. What could it mean? All this wacky weather may ultimately result in one of Greenland’s biggest ice melts since 1950. With the melt season typically lasting to the end of August, Mottram said the ice sheet could see substantial melting; however, it might not be as much as in recent weeks. Melting ice isn’t the only issue facing the Arctic, as the area has also experienced wildfires , which scientists said could be because of high temperatures. Since June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service has observed more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle. The recent wildfires and ice melt in the Arctic Circle could be strong indicators of more climate change -related issues ahead. Via CNN Image via NASA

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Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

WilkinsonEyre gets green light for giant geothermal-powered biodome in Iceland

July 23, 2019 by  
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London-based practice WilkinsonEyre has just been granted planning permission for the Aldin Biodomes, a massive biodome complex that will showcase a rich tropical environment and local food production techniques in Iceland’s Reykjavik region. Designed for local consultancy firm Spor í sandinn, the ambitious development aims to be the “world’s first geo-climate biodome” that will also be carbon-neutral . Powered by Iceland’s abundant geothermal energy, the greenhouses are envisioned as a major city landmark in the same vein as Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, also designed by WilkinsonEyre. Spanning approximately 48,000 square feet, the Aldin Biodomes will consist of a Main Nature Dome and a Tropical Dome. Elevated on a hilltop, the domes are designed to be seen from the city skyline and will catch the eye with undulating forms and glittering glass facades. The complex will be located on the edge of the outdoor recreational area Elliðaárdalur in the center of the Capital region, where it will serve as a new gateway to the largest green area closest to Reykjavik. The domes are oriented toward the northwest for guaranteed views of Iceland’s midnight sunsets during summer and the Northern Lights in wintertime. Related: These beautiful desert biodomes will be 100% self-sustaining The geothermal-powered Aldin Biodomes are envisioned as a year-round attraction offering more than just a welcome escape into a tropical environment during the harsh winters. In the lush Tropical Dome, visitors can enjoy a rich showcase of exotic plants as well as the Farm Lab, an educational environment on local food production. The Main Nature Dome will house a multifunctional space with a reception, an information area, a specialty restaurant, a visitors’ shop and a marketplace that emphasizes Iceland’s fresh products. “The unique and thought-provoking environments of the Biodomes are eye-catching visual landmarks on the city skyline,” said a statement on Spor í sandinn’s website. “Close attention is paid on the choice of materials, their aesthetic qualities and sustainability . Each structure catches and reflects the ever-shifting play of light from day to day and season to season — similarly to the burgeoning plant-life within. Striking colors, forms and textures of the vegetation, and the bustling throngs of visitors, will create a world of magic and a feast for the senses and the imagination.” + WilkinsonEyre Images via WilkinsonEyre

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WilkinsonEyre gets green light for giant geothermal-powered biodome in Iceland

Cyclo is the packable and sustainable helmet made from recycled plastic

July 23, 2019 by  
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Study after study shows that wearing a helmet saves lives and reduces injuries during an accident, yet some statistics detail a usage rate as low as 17 percent. Users report that a contributing factor to not wearing a helmet is the bulk and inconvenience of packing it around. Fortunately, the next generation of helmet is here, and the construction brings style, safety and a compact, portable design. Currently trending on Indiegogo, the Cyclo helmet was created by a few people who have been in the design realm for a while, with notable careers as engineers at Aston Martin and Boeing. The Cyclo offers users packability never before seen in a helmet. That’s because of the unique design that allows the rounded upper portion to flip over into the lower part of the helmet frame. Released with a durable clip, the movable parts stay securely in place during use. The helmet is built to exceed all U.S., European and Canadian standards. Related: DIY device emits a distinctive sound to keep cyclists safe While packability was a significant goal during the design phase, co-founders Josh Cohen, CEO, Dom Cotton, CMO and Will Wood, design engineer, felt the pull of corporate responsibility . With sustainability becoming a hot topic in every industry, the team decided to incorporate recycled materials into the helmet. By partnering with Plastic Oceans U.K., Cyclo supports efforts to clean up significant plastic pollution in the ocean. As a result, each helmet represents 20 water bottles removed from marine ecosystems. Sparked by a helmet-less ride Cohen experienced while cycling in London, the helmet is aimed at convenience to encourage a higher user rate. Environmentally responsible, portable and safe, the Cyclo can be worn when riding scooters, skateboards, bikes or segways. With the compact design, it easily slides into a backpack, gym bag or work bag. “Josh’s experience of riding in London highlighted a clear gap in the market,” Cotton said. “Helmets are really important but can be inconvenient, especially for urban riders. We’ve created something that will help more people to ride more often and protect themselves and our planet in the process.” Cyclo is currently offering a discount through the Indiegogo campaign , which is ending soon. The team is taking orders now with production set to begin in early 2020, and the first product shipments going out the following spring. + Cyclo Images via Cyclo

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Cyclo is the packable and sustainable helmet made from recycled plastic

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