India will be in hot water over energy issues

September 15, 2021 by  
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Water challenges such as an increase in floods and droughts will threaten India’s energy security.

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India will be in hot water over energy issues

Third Space proposal imagines accessible education programs

September 14, 2021 by  
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Studio Saar has teamed up with  Dharohar , a non-profit that runs science workshops and school programs, to unveil the design for a new accessible learning center in Udaipur, Rajasthan,  India . Known as Third Space: The Haveli of Curiosity, this learning and cultural center will support leisure, cultural and educational programs and provide high-quality facilities for learning, socializing and performing arts. Already, Dharohar works with between 30 and 40 schools each year to facilitate programs that support student academic and extracurricular enrichment. Once open, Third Space will have enough space to accommodate 2,000 visitors each day for activities, workshops and laboratories. It will also include a theatre for film screenings and talks, a cafe, shop and store. The proposed plans for the center are inspired by traditional Haveli  courtyard  homes and position trees as wayfinders for visitors. Related: Walk to work at this eco-friendly office tower in India Construction materials will include local white  marble  cut using water jet techniques to create ventilation screens and projecting wind catchers for enhanced passive cooling. The off-cut marble screen waste will be used to create floor tiles and wall masonry on the ground floor. Even the  waste  from marble dust will be used in the concrete mix to reduce cement and sand content, resulting in a whiter finish.  The center will also feature a  rooftop garden  with play spaces for children shaded with tensile fabric and a steel system to limit the use of concrete. The building site is situated adjacent to a 123-acre reforested jungle to provide hands-on opportunities to learn about nature, monitor flora and fauna and connect the community to the local ecosystems.  “Working on Third Space has been an incredibly exciting and rewarding journey so far,” said Jonny Buckland of Studio Saar. “It was a joy to draw inspiration from architectural heritage of Rajasthan and have the freedom to reimagine it. A key challenge for us was interpreting this complex brief and being able to bind the multiple uses into a single coherent building.” Construction for the project commenced in December of 2020 and is expected to be completed by  Spring  2023. + Studio Saar Images © Hayes Davidson and Mir

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What Norway’s election results mean for the environment

September 14, 2021 by  
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Norway’s parliamentary election on September 13 tested the country’s commitment to fighting climate change. With the election of new prime minister Jonas Gahr Støre of the Labour Party, many are wondering how the country will reconcile its fossil fuel-based economy with a need for climate action. As David Boyd, U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment,  reports  Norway has a “strong environmental record.” Hydropower plants generate most of the country’s power, and its air and water are fairly clean. Strict environmental regulations ban fossil fuels for heating in buildings. In August, about 70% of new cars sold in Norway were electric; that’s more than any other country on Earth. These climate-friendly indicators are at odds with Norway’s continued economic dependence on fossil fuels. Related: Modern wood cabin embraces daylight and landscape views in Norway This paradox can be put into context by looking at the history of Norway’s economy. While the Norwegian economy was stable when relying on fishing and timber operations, it grew tremendously as the country began focusing on fossil fuel production. Fossil fuels comprise 14% of Norway’s GDP and 41% of its exports. The industry also accounts for 6-7% of employment. Currently, Norway’s petroleum production is predicted to increase until 2024. Conservatives and Labour, known as establishment parties, recognize a need to transition away from fossil fuels — though their commitment to proactive change is questionable. Still, a coalition between the Labour and Socialist Left parties could produce some changes. Complete ending fossil fuel exploration faces an uncertain future, however, as the Green Party lost out in the election . Summing up the election results, CNN reports, “Labour secured some 26% of the ballots, which translates to 48 seats in the 169-seat parliament. The eurosceptic Progess Party came in third, but is an unlikely Labour ally. The smaller Center Party and the Socialist Left Party gained 28 and 13 seats, respectively. The Greens ended with just three seats, two more than it already had.” Via Time , CNN and Life in Norway Lead image via Pixabay

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NOMA Collectives Joshua Tree Edit highlights global artisans

September 8, 2021 by  
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California-based NOMA Collective, the brainchild of  interior designer  and creative director Rebecca Haskins, partners with craftspeople from places like Guatemala, Mexico, India and Sub-Saharan Africa to connect lesser-known global artisans with conscious consumers. Seeking out women’s cooperatives, small family-run businesses and individual artists, the company can provide unique pieces that are not only made using traditional, generations-long crafting techniques but also made one at a time by hand. All products are  fair trade  through ethical work environments and crafted using locally sourced materials, many of which are natural or recycled. Already the collective features gifts and home decor such as baskets, blankets and throws, pillows, rugs, napkins and hand towels, amongst others. Related: GlobeIn offers unique, handmade items from around the globe NOMA’s latest collection is inspired by the shapes, textures and colors of the desert — specifically  Joshua Tree National Park  in southeastern California. This area is known for its pastel sunsets and vast stretches of arid desert landscape, dotted with a variety of cacti, succulents and spikey Joshua “trees” (which aren’t really trees but rather plants more closely related to the yucca family). Dubbed the Joshua Tree Edit, the collection features pops of greens, blues and light pinks akin to that of the West Coast desert setting. Among the collection are the Santiago Blankets in both navy and grey colors and a pair of thick wool throws that come from the mountain region of Momostenango, Guatemala. The  wool  is locally sourced and spun by hand on an antique wooden spinning wheel before being dyed using non-toxic dyes, a process that can take up to four days to complete. The collection also includes several baskets, like the Abaco Hamper, which is hand weaved using reduced strips of  recycled plastic  in the West African nation of Senegal. There are also decorative bowls, like the Ivy Wooden Bowl carved by artisans in remote Rwanda. + NOMA Collective Photographs courtesy of Charlotte Lea

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NOMA Collectives Joshua Tree Edit highlights global artisans

Walk to work at this eco-friendly office tower in India

September 1, 2021 by  
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Commuting got you down? New Delhi-based architectural practice Design Forum International (DFI) takes traffic jams out of the morning routine with a plan for a “walk to work” office tower dubbed Amtron. Proposed for development in Bongora’s Tech City in Assam, India, the project blends pedestrian-friendly design with sustainability features. In an attempt to move away from what DFI describes as “the conventional closed work environment,” the design incorporates a landscaped plaza and co-working spaces to foster an open atmosphere. Meanwhile, drop-off and pick-up points at opposite ends of the building prevent traffic jams. This combination of easy movement and an open environment helps the tower achieve DFI’s pedestrian-friendly goal. Related: Live, work and shop at this green building in France Speaking on the inspiration behind this design, a statement from DFI explains, “In accordance with DFI’s ethos of people-first design , [Amtron] is an experience that promotes meaningful interactions and pauses that awes, inspires and stays in the memory of its users.” Sustainability features such as solar panels , rainwater harvesting and green terraces show that this project keeps the environment in mind. In addition to mutual shading and sun-tracking louvers that minimize heat gain and reduce the need for artificial air conditioning, solar-reflective glazing helps regulate temperature while still allowing in natural light. Solar panels on the roof help address the tower’s energy needs. To address water needs, harvested rainwater and recycled wastewater fuel a drip-irrigation system for the landscaping full of native, climate-adaptive vegetation. Green terraces on the facade round out Amtron’s sustainable features and help prevent the heat island effect. ??As for the project’s material palette, DFI wanted to balance the modern and traditional. A reinforced cement concrete (RCC) core supports the tower, while recycled wood panels used for roofing and ceilings help “infuse regional identity.” For the cladding, zinc and aluminum protect the structure from weathering. Amtron’s predicted completion time is 18-21 months after its mid-2021 targeted construction start date. + Design Forum International Images via Design Forum International

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Passive design keeps House Under Shadows cool and near net-zero

August 30, 2021 by  
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House Under Shadows is actually two houses, connected through  passive design  elements to provide efficient space for two families in a sustainable way. The structure is located in Karnal, Haryana, India, and was designed by Zero Energy Design Lab. The two separate houses each feature all the elements of comfortable housing with attention to net-zero features while honoring the culture of the area. In a press release, the architects reported, “the design was inspired by the proximity and architectural elements of a palatial hotel in Karnal – Noor Mahal’s ‘chowk’ and ‘chhatris’ which are elements derived from the traditional Indian ‘havelis.’” Related: The Cantilever House combats a hot climate with sustainable design The homes are oriented north to south to take advantage of natural sun and cooling in the North Indian climate. Glazed windows minimize heat and glare while allowing  natural light  and views. They also facilitate natural ventilation. A central courtyard between the two homes is clad in stone, taking advantage of its strong thermal attributes. Meanwhile,  vertical gardens  filter the air while helping to cool the space. The pool, central to each home, acts as a heat sink, collecting heat during the day and releasing it at night. Cantilevers throughout the design shade and shelter vertical walls for further heat reduction. The most strikingly innovative feature of House Under Shadows is the additional roof that spans the courtyard and residences, bringing the separate units under a singular roof while maintaining privacy for the residents. According to the architects, this pergola reduces solar exposure by 50%, adding to the  energy-efficient  aspects of the space. The Voronoi pattern throws light and shade throughout the interior space for an intriguing visual appeal. The shadow pattern is essentially part of the  interior design , an element that is combined with the art and furnishings centered around natural colors and textures.  The team relied on a material palette of locally sourced materials with low and neutral carbon footprints that reflect heat and minimize the need for artificial cooling and lighting. This includes stone cladding and natural  wood  ceilings. + Zero Energy Design Lab   Via ArchDaily   Images via Zero Energy Design Lab

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Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

August 3, 2021 by  
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Spotted lanternflies are extremely cool-looking bugs, with polka-dotted wings in shades of red, black and beige that make them resemble paper lanterns. But people should be very worried about this invasive  insect , according to entomologist Frank Hale. The spotted lanternfly hales from India, Vietnam and China. It probably immigrated to the U.S. as a stowaway in a cut stone or wood product shipment circa 2012. The initial U.S. sighting in 2014 was, fittingly enough, on a common  invasive  tree of heaven in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Since then, spotted lanternflies have spread to at least 26 counties in  Pennsylvania  and been spotted in several other eastern states. Related: More than half of Europe’s native trees face extinction The problem is, this is one destructive little bug. Lanternflies feed by piercing  tree  bark and vines, biting right into the plant’s vascular system and sucking out the sap. At an inch long, they’re pretty big for a sucking insect and can remove an awful lot of sap, jeopardizing the lives of their hosts. Then they excrete large amounts of the euphemistically called “honeydew,” which coats the tree. “The heavy flow of honeydew and the resulting sooty mold makes a mess of the landscape,” said Hale, as reported in Ecowatch. Woe to those who park beneath a tree infested with lanternflies. These invasive bugs also have a yen for grapevines. It takes a lot of  insecticide  to kill them, driving up production costs and making vintners kiss their organic status goodbye. Eastern wine-producing areas, including Long Island and Finger Lakes in New York, Newport, Rhode Island and parts of Virginia all face the threat of lanternflies ruining their vineyards. How have these little bugs spread so far in just a few years? In late summer and autumn, lanternflies lay egg masses. Any smooth surface is fair game. Including  cars , trains and trucks. The unborn lanternflies can hitch a ride anywhere, leading to future infestations. Scientists are trying to figure out the best way to stop these bugs from continuing their west and southward trajectory. “Two naturally occurring fungal pathogens of spotted lanternflies have been identified in the U.S.,” Hale told Ecowatch. “Also, U.S. labs are testing two parasitoid insects – insects that grow by feeding on lanternflies and killing them in the process – that have been brought from  China  for testing and possible future release.” Wait, haven’t we seen that in a sci-fi movie? In the meantime, if you see spotted lanternflies in your area, contact your local county extension office for suggestions on how to control the bugs. And if you’re the unlucky first sighter of the bugs in your area, contact your state department of  agriculture .  “ If the infestation is caught early before it can become established in your area, hopefully it can be eradicated there,” said Hale. “Eventually, it will spread to many parts of the country. We can slow the spread by identifying and eradicating new infestations wherever they arise.” Via Ecowatch , USDA Lead image via F Delventhal

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Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

August 3, 2021 by  
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Spotted lanternflies are extremely cool-looking bugs, with polka-dotted wings in shades of red, black and beige that make them resemble paper lanterns. But people should be very worried about this invasive  insect , according to entomologist Frank Hale. The spotted lanternfly hales from India, Vietnam and China. It probably immigrated to the U.S. as a stowaway in a cut stone or wood product shipment circa 2012. The initial U.S. sighting in 2014 was, fittingly enough, on a common  invasive  tree of heaven in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Since then, spotted lanternflies have spread to at least 26 counties in  Pennsylvania  and been spotted in several other eastern states. Related: More than half of Europe’s native trees face extinction The problem is, this is one destructive little bug. Lanternflies feed by piercing  tree  bark and vines, biting right into the plant’s vascular system and sucking out the sap. At an inch long, they’re pretty big for a sucking insect and can remove an awful lot of sap, jeopardizing the lives of their hosts. Then they excrete large amounts of the euphemistically called “honeydew,” which coats the tree. “The heavy flow of honeydew and the resulting sooty mold makes a mess of the landscape,” said Hale, as reported in Ecowatch. Woe to those who park beneath a tree infested with lanternflies. These invasive bugs also have a yen for grapevines. It takes a lot of  insecticide  to kill them, driving up production costs and making vintners kiss their organic status goodbye. Eastern wine-producing areas, including Long Island and Finger Lakes in New York, Newport, Rhode Island and parts of Virginia all face the threat of lanternflies ruining their vineyards. How have these little bugs spread so far in just a few years? In late summer and autumn, lanternflies lay egg masses. Any smooth surface is fair game. Including  cars , trains and trucks. The unborn lanternflies can hitch a ride anywhere, leading to future infestations. Scientists are trying to figure out the best way to stop these bugs from continuing their west and southward trajectory. “Two naturally occurring fungal pathogens of spotted lanternflies have been identified in the U.S.,” Hale told Ecowatch. “Also, U.S. labs are testing two parasitoid insects – insects that grow by feeding on lanternflies and killing them in the process – that have been brought from  China  for testing and possible future release.” Wait, haven’t we seen that in a sci-fi movie? In the meantime, if you see spotted lanternflies in your area, contact your local county extension office for suggestions on how to control the bugs. And if you’re the unlucky first sighter of the bugs in your area, contact your state department of  agriculture .  “ If the infestation is caught early before it can become established in your area, hopefully it can be eradicated there,” said Hale. “Eventually, it will spread to many parts of the country. We can slow the spread by identifying and eradicating new infestations wherever they arise.” Via Ecowatch , USDA Lead image via F Delventhal

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Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

The Cantilever House combats a hot climate with sustainable design

July 13, 2021 by  
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Located in the National Capital Region of Delhi, India , the Cantilever House by Zero Energy Design (ZED) Lab features a geometric design that focuses on energy efficiency and traditional architectural elements in response to the harsh North Indian climate. The client is an outdoor-lover who wanted to take advantage of the natural surroundings without jeopardizing the environmental elements with high-impact construction methods. Related: Ekodome’s Geodesic Dome Kits turn into popup shelters or greenhouses “The primary challenge was to design the frame with judicious use of steel for economic viability, given that the cantilevers form a dominant part of the design scheme and a typical one demands adequate steel reinforcement to generate structural integrity,” the designers explained. “Additionally, the design received skepticism from the client, and workers on the site had to be trained to execute the construction with precision.” The design consists of passive cooling techniques and renewable energy resources to combat the hot and dry climate of the region. Designers placed the living areas in the north and east to bring in natural light but included private areas in the west and south for minimal heat gain throughout the day. There is also a pergola outside of the south windows to provide shade. A double-height lobby is protected by the summer court to the north and a winter court to the south, in order to accomplish stack ventilation, while the north face of the home is double glazed with low-E coating for thermal resistance to avoid glare and subsequent heat gain. To the south, designers included a smaller number of windows to further prevent heat gain. A variety of plants and vertical gardens , as well as a water court on the north side, create a cooler microclimate and add air-purifying elements for the residents. A solar hot water system installed on the rooftop provides hot water for the home, and a rainwater harvesting system is used to irrigate the front and rear lawns. + ZED Lab Photography by Andre J. Fanthome via ZED Lab

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The Cantilever House combats a hot climate with sustainable design

LGs new smartphone repels mosquitos using sound waves

October 30, 2017 by  
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Forget bug spray — LG recently unveiled a new smartphone that repels mosquitos using sound waves. The India-exclusive K7i smartphone is a fairly ordinary phone with a 5-inch HD display, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Except its unique Mosquito Away feature sets it apart from other devices. By using ultrasonic sound wave technology, pesky mosquitos are supposedly driven away from the vicinity of the phone. The Mosquito Away feature was previously installed in the company’s air conditioners, washing machines, and TVs. According to LG , the ultrasonic waves are “absolutely safe” for humans. Additionally, the technology is silent, odorless and also user-friendly. It is presently selling for 7,990 rupees in India — or $121. Unfortunately, it’s not clear whether or not the technology actually works. The  BBC , for instance, says the tech is a myth. And according to Bart Knols, an entomologist who chairs the advisory board of the Dutch Malaria Foundation, there is “no scientific evidence whatsoever” that mosquitos can be driven away using ultrasonic sound technology. Related: Flesh-eating bacteria might be spread by mosquitoes in Australia If the Mosquito Away feature does work, the technology could have grand implications. Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of malaria. In 2015,  212 million malaria cases were reported , which resulted in 429,000 deaths. Through prevention and control measures, there has been a 29 percent reduction in malaria mortality globally since 2010. However, the parasite which is spread by mosquitos still puts populations at risk, particularly in third-world nations. Via Phone Radar , The Verge Images via LG , Pixabay , YouTube

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LGs new smartphone repels mosquitos using sound waves

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