An old school bus is upcycled into an open-air theater in India

July 27, 2018 by  
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When Doaba Public School in Punjab, India decided to retire a 20-year-old school bus , it was reluctant to part ways with the vehicle. The bus had belonged to the school’s first fleet of school buses — now increased to a fleet of more than 50 vehicles — so, the administrators tapped Indian design practice Studio Ardete to reuse the decommissioned bus. The resulting design, called the Bavillion, is a geometric pavilion that’s integrated into the school and offers a play area, an open-air theater and a gallery space. The 323-square-foot Bavillion serves the Doaba Public School located in the remote Punjabi village of Parowal. More than 2,500 students from over 100 villages travel — primarily on buses — to the school. Knowing how important buses are to the school, Studio Ardete was careful to keep the vehicle shape intact (including the steering wheel and driver’s seat) while gutting the interior to make way for a new gallery space lined with multi-faceted panels for texture. The pavilion structure was built on the outside of the bus as a “triangular prismatic volume,” and a deck was installed atop the roof of the bus. The upcycled “Bus-Building” was also developed to teach the students and community about the circular economy and the benefits of recycling. The pavilion functions as a congregation space with bleacher seating for students and teachers, while the interior gallery offers insight and documentation on the school’s history over the past four decades. Related: Old Greyhound bus converted into gorgeous tiny house on wheels “The bond shared by the school bus and the school has thus found a new meaning,” Studio Ardete said in a project statement. “After serving more than 8,000 school trips and taking on the responsibility of a million student’s transfers, it finally rests as an integral part of the school. A play area, an open air theater, a gallery and above all a symbol that inculcates the importance of reuse and upcycling in the students so their vision for tomorrow can be driven toward a sustainable future.” + Studio Ardete Images via Ar.Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

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An old school bus is upcycled into an open-air theater in India

Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

July 27, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm  Studio Komma is working on a ground-breaking circular housing concept that would transform cargo ships into luxury homes. The Marine-doc Estate is an ambitious project that will develop various sustainable communities featuring multiple retired merchant ships converted into luxury eco-homes with expansive green roofs and plenty of outdoor space. The initial phase of the Marine-doc Estate project is kicking off with two communities planned for the Netherlands, with the potential of building more communities internationally. Depending on the building location, each estate would have up to 14 maritime homes spread out over natural landscape with open water connections. Related: Last surviving Ellis Island ferry transformed into a floating home The first step involves lifting the former cargo ships out of their boat yards by crane to be placed into their new locations on land. The estates themselves will be selected according to their landscapes. The eco-communities will be arranged on lush natural terrains in the vicinity of open water in order to strike a balance between providing privacy to the residents and fostering a strong sense of community. Once in place, the original metal structures will then be built out into proper living spaces with sustainability at the forefront of the design. Since the ships vary in shape and size, each home will have a unique aesthetic, but the entire renovation process will focus on retaining the ships’ nautical origins. According to the architects, original features such as the stern, wheelhouse and foredeck will be enhanced with “sleek geometric shapes” on the exterior. Measuring up to 200 feet in length, the elongated volume of the interior will be broken up with flexible partitions that will enable future residents to personalize the layout. To embed the new homes into their landscapes, the firm included a large rooftop garden terrace  on each home that will provide stellar 360° views of the estate grounds. The homes will also have outdoor decks to further connect the new homes with their surroundings. + Studio Komma Via Archdaily Images via Studio Komma / Buro Poelman Reesink

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Taj Mahal will be restored to original glory thanks to environmental and cultural push

July 26, 2018 by  
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The Taj Mahal, India’s world-famous monument to love, is sparking a powerful environmental and national heritage movement due to the extreme pollution turning the iconic white building yellow and green. The building’s location in Agra – which ranks eighth on the World Health Organization ‘s (WHO) list of most polluted cities – has proven less than ideal when it comes to staying pollution-free. Now, India’s Supreme Court is pushing for better pollution protections in order to preserve the mausoleum’s majesty. WHO reported that, as of 2016, “92% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO’s Ambient Air Quality guidelines.” It should come as no surprise, then, that the Taj Mahal’s striking white marble is being dyed yellow and green. The nearby Yamuna River also has trash covering its banks, and smog from tanneries and factories further pollutes the surrounding air. Outcries against this environmental and cultural desecration of the beloved mausoleum have prompted India’s government to take swift action. The country’s Supreme Court is leading the charge, with a proposal to ban all plastics, as well as pollution-emitting factories and construction zones, around the building. Related: Uranium-contaminated groundwater found throughout India In addition, the court justices are advocating for a switch to electric and hydrogen vehicles for the area’s residents, as well as a restoration of green cover within the Taj Mahal’s grounds. Those who wish to visit the structure in its most authentic form need not worry, as “replacing present day lawns with tree cover as it existed originally will increase the biomass,” according to a draft document of the plan. In the past “there have been various studies, various plans, but they have not been implemented in right earnest in a coordinated manner,” explained Divay Gupta of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). This time, though, the justices have said that authorities should either restore the structure or tear it down – and we sincerely hope they choose the former. +WHO +INTACH Via Reuters Images via Shutterstock

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Taj Mahal will be restored to original glory thanks to environmental and cultural push

Solar-powered glass PurePod cabins provide the ultimate connection with nature

July 26, 2018 by  
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For those looking to commune with nature, these sustainable all-glass cabins located in idyllic landscapes around New Zealand are just for you. Powered by solar energy, PurePods are tiny transparent capsules in stunningly beautiful settings far, far away from any type of human activity. This remove from civilization allows guests to sit back, relax, and completely immerse themselves in nature. There are six PurePod locations around New Zealand, all in secluded landscapes outside of Christchurch. The locations are extremely off-grid and guests must hike for 10-15 minutes through natural terrain to reach their destination, enjoying a leisurely walk through lush forest and rolling hills. Related: Sweden is putting stressed-out people in tiny glass ‘chillout cabins’ The cabins are approximately 200 square feet and have large sliding doors that lead out to a wooden deck. However, their transparent facades give off the feeling of camping in the open air. From sunrise to sunset, cabin guests can enjoy 360-degree views of New Zealand’s incredible landscape, and they can drift off to sleep while enjoying stunning views of the Milky Way at night. The cabins operate completely off-grid and are built to minimize impact on the environment. The electricity comes from  solar panels , which generate enough to run the LED lighting , refrigerator and the water system. Bio-fuel heaters are used to keep the cabins warm and toasty even on chilly nights. For extra-sunny days, window blinds and ceiling shades help provide a respite from the heat. As the cabins are designed for disconnecting , they have no internet, TV or phone service, but guests will be able to enjoy what the company calls “sustainable luxury.” Each cabin has a comfortable queen-sized bed with ultra-soft linens, a small kitchen and a glass-enclosed shower with hot water. Guests can cook their own meals on a cooking hob and outdoor grill or take advantage of the cabins’ meal delivery system, which can be set up at the time of reservation. + PurePods Via Dwell Images via PurePods

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Solar power prices expected to drop further this year

June 12, 2018 by  
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The price of solar energy could further fall this year, experts say. A Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysis published by PV Magazine predicted a 34 percent drop in the price of multicrystalline solar modules in China, an event expected to influence prices around the world. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said a price drop could open up “further space for more ambition to tackle climate change , which is crucial to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement .” The 2018 solar panel price decline could be about the same as the drop in module prices in 2016, and would be exceeded only by 2011’s 40 percent drop in prices, PV Magazine said. BNEF’s benchmark monocrystalline module price was $0.37 per watt for 2017’s fourth quarter, and could be just $0.24 per watt by 2018’s close. BNEF experts predict module prices will drop another 10 to 15 percent next year. Related: The cost of high-efficiency solar panels fell 37% in 2017 The price decline is a result of withdrawn support for China’s photovoltaic market. Since China is the biggest solar market in the world, the price fall could emanate. PV Magazine cited a BNEF note saying, “Oversupply is universal.” The note predicted a market panic initially, and developers could halt installation in the third quarter and wait for cheaper module prices and release of new quotas. India and developing countries around the world could benefit from the panel price decline, according to the UNFCCC. The UNFCCC praised the International Solar Alliance (ISA), started by India and France in 2015 to focus on investment in large-scale solar power in developing countries. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said earlier this year, “Our globally agreed goals in the Paris Agreement and the Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot be achieved without your [ISA’s] effort to scale up solar power generation and support countries with great solar potential … This is our moment to deliver on the promise of a better future agreed in Paris.” + Bloomberg New Energy Finance Via PV Magazine and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Solar power prices expected to drop further this year

These charming timber cabins in South India are a retreat for nature lovers

May 22, 2018 by  
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If your dream getaway involves nature excursions in a tropical environment, prepare to fall in love with the Cardamom Club resort in Thekkady, India. Recently renovated by Bangalore-based Kumar La Noce , this boutique resort features a series of elevated tiny cabins primarily built from sustainably sourced Bangkirai hardwood. Combining contemporary design with traditional elements, each 430-square-foot cabin rests lightly on the landscape and blends in with the verdant surroundings. Set within an eight-acre cardamom plantation, the Cardamom Club resort features a nearly 50-foot-long infinity pool and spa block — both of which are raised on stilts and also built with extremely durable Bangkirai wood. The hardwood’s reddish tones provide a striking contrast to the lush green backdrop. “Our first response upon visiting the spectacularly lush site was to ‘tread gently,’ which led us to imagine the built structures as light-weight volumes floating within a sea of green,” said Bhavana Kumar, the principal architect and co-founder of Kumar La Noce. The cabins have a minimalist interior filled with  natural light that pours through the plentiful windows. Rooms are dressed in handcrafted textiles and furnishings made with natural fibers — such as  rattan chairs and rice-paper light fixtures — that emphasize the resort’s back-to-nature aesthetic. Operable windows, ceiling fans and linen shades allow guests to control the interior microclimate. The bathrooms are fitted with black granite countertops; a small porthole window looks out over the lush landscape. The hotel rooms also extend out to private terraces. Related: Sleep among the treetops in a nomadic hotel with minimal impact In addition to Kumar La Noce’s elevated cabins  — dubbed the ‘Mountain-View Cottages’ — the hotel also offers ‘Garden-View Cottages’ designed to match a Western aesthetic. The retreat offers 13 rooms in total as well as a variety of experience packages, from spa and massage programs to bird watching and visits to an elephant sanctuary. + Kumar La Noce Images via Kumar La Noce , by Kumar La Noce and Vivek Muthuramalingam

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Foster + Partners masterplans the new Indian state capital Amaravati

May 11, 2018 by  
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Foster + Partners has moved one step closer to bringing to life the new Indian state capital of Amaravati—a city that’s projected to be “one of the most sustainable in the world.” The city will form the new administrative capital of the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which transferred its former capital of Hyderabad to the state of Telangana when state boundaries were redrawn in 2014. The acclaimed British architecture firm won an international competition to design the 83-square-mile city as well as key administrative buildings. Now in the design development phase, the Amaravati masterplan builds on Foster + Partners’ decades-long research on sustainable cities . The new city is located on the banks of the River Krishna and will be organized along a clearly defined green spine and a strong urban grid. The 550-hectare government complex will occupy the heart of the city and will feature two key buildings—the Legislature Assembly and High Court Complex—also designed by Foster + Partners. Related: Foster + Partners’ DJI HQ will be a “creative community in the sky” According to a project statement, the city will be designed to “the highest standards of sustainability, including the widespread use of solar energy.” At least 60-percent of the masterplan will be occupied by greenery or water in a pedestrian-friendly layout that encourages people to walk through the city. A comprehensive transportation plan will also include electric vehicles, water taxis, and dedicated cycling paths. A mixed-use quarter south of the riverbank will be organized around 13 urban plazas in a nod to the 13 state districts in Andhra Pradesh. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners masterplans the new Indian state capital Amaravati

For the first time ever, all villages in India have electricity

April 30, 2018 by  
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India has just reached a major energy milestone: for the first time ever, every single one of its inhabited villages has electricity. There are nearly 600,000 villages in the country, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised that they would all be connected to power within 1,000 days of August 2015. Last Saturday, Leisang village was connected to India’s power grid, completing that promise. I salute the efforts of all those who worked tirelessly on the ground, including the team of officials, the technical staff and all others, to make this dream of a #PowerfulIndia a reality. Their efforts today will help generations of Indians in the coming years. pic.twitter.com/t8WjZgpNuT — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 29, 2018 While Leisang was connected to the main power grid, some villages have relied on off-grid supply networks, usually powered by solar . Pakol, a village in the same same state, was the last village to be powered by an off-grid system. The power initiative, which Modi tags as #PowerfulIndia, also seeks to strengthen metering and power distribution within the country. Leisang village in Manipur, like the thousands of other villages across India has been powered and empowered! This news will make every Indian proud and delighted. https://t.co/UCPEEITbIM #PowerfulIndia — Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 29, 2018 Related: The Indian city of Diu is 100% powered by the sun A village is considered to have power if 10 percent of its buildings have access to electricity . That means India has a long way to go before everyone has working power, but the successful initiative is a milestone nonetheless.” Village electrification means that the infrastructure to supply power has now reached certain parts of the village. The next step should be to focus on providing connection to all households and ensuring adequate power supply to these homes,” former power secretary P Uma Shankar said. It is up to individual homes to seek electrification if they choose. Via Times of India Image via Deposit Photos

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Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

April 4, 2018 by  
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Uravu , a startup based in Hyderabad, India, has created a device that can produce water from an unlikely source–the air itself. The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India . “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.” Uravu is named after a Malayalam word that sometimes refers to freshwater springs and can be translated as “source.” While the technology behind Uravu’s system is not new, it did have some problems. “You need high humidity and energy consumption (involved) is high,” said Shrivastav, referring to the outdated technology. “There are a lot of moving parts. What we wanted to do was have a simple modular device.” The company found inspiration in the fact that the atmosphere is constantly holding various amounts of moisture. “So that got us thinking why this resource isn’t being utilised,” said Shrivastav. “[Water vapor] also doesn’t limit itself to desalination which happens only in the coast. Or rainfall which doesn’t happen everywhere.” Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests To produce drinking water , users will have to supplement their device with an attachable mineral cartridge. The current prototype generates approximately 50 liters (13.20 gallons) daily, though the team hopes to someday develop a machine capable of producing 2,000 liters (528.34 gallons) per day. “Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity , such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.” + Uravu Via Quartz India Images via Depositphotos and Uravu

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Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

Turtle hatchlings spotted on Mumbai beach for the first time in nearly 20 years

March 30, 2018 by  
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Plastic and trash used to pile five feet high in some spots on Versova Beach in Mumbai , India, but in 2015, local lawyer Afroz Shah launched what the United Nations described as the “world’s largest beach cleanup project” — and people recently spotted Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings there. The Independent and The Guardian said it’s the first time turtle hatchlings have been glimpsed on the beach in years. Week 127 . Fantastic news for Mumbai . We got back Olive Ridley Sea Turtle after 20 years. Historic moment Nested and Hatched at our beach. We facilitate their journey to ocean. Constant cleaning helps marine species. Marine conservation centre needed at @versovabeach pic.twitter.com/j79xCKamNh — Afroz Shah (@AfrozShah1) March 22, 2018 Around 80 to 90 turtle hatchlings recently crawled towards the sea at Versova, guarded by volunteers who The Guardian said slept in the sand to protect the baby turtles from birds of prey or dogs. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies Olive Ridley turtles as vulnerable , and they may not have been born at this Mumbai beach for almost two decades. Related: Tiny treadmills for turtle hatchlings help scientists evaluate their stamina Scientist Sumedha Korgaonkar, who’s finishing a PhD on Olive Ridley turtles, told The Guardian it is possible small amounts of the animals nested on the beach in the past; she can’t be sure because “regular patrolling for turtle nests is not done in Mumbai.” However, she added, “Beach cleanups definitely have a positive effect on nesting turtles.” Yes yes .. We did it .. Thank you Afroz . Here is the journey . lovely Mumbaikars . we did . Urban cities getting our olive Ridley turtle back . pic.twitter.com/vg4ZJe5cTk — Clean Up Versova (@versovabeach) March 22, 2018 Shah has been leading volunteers to clean up the 5,000 tons of trash at Versova for more than two years. Around 55,000 people reside near the beach, and Shah started by offering to clean up communal toilets and picking up waste on his own. He told The Guardian, “For the first six to eight weeks, nobody joined. Then two men approached me and said, very politely, ‘Please sir, can we wear your gloves?’ Both of them just came and joined me. That’s when I knew it was going to be a success.” Shah’s effort flourished into a national movement; everyone from slum dwellers to politicians to school children to celebrities has joined in. UN Environment head Erik Solheim said in a 2017 press release , “What Afroz Shah has achieved on Versova beach is nothing short of remarkable. These 100 weeks of hard work and determination by Afroz and countless volunteers goes way beyond dealing with a local crisis. This has inspired what is becoming a nationwide and global movement to turn the tide on plastic and waste.” Via The Independent , The Guardian , and UN Environment Image via Wikimedia Commons

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