Solar outshined all fossil-fuels sources combined in 2017

April 19, 2018 by  
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Last year, the world invested more in solar power than all fossil-fuel sources combined. Investors and governments installed an all-time record of 157 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity, according to a new report from the United Nations (UN). In 2017, the world installed 98 W of solar capacity, nearly half of which was in China. The net new capacity from fossil fuels was only 70W in 2017. “We are at a turning point … from fossil fuels to the renewable world,” UN Environment head Erik Solheim told Reuters . “The markets are there and renewables can take on coal, they can take on oil and gas.” Although renewable energy is clearly the way of the future, fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy on the planet. Only 12.1 percent of the world’s electricity came from renewable energy sources, an improvement on 5.2 percent in 2007. This boom in renewable energy has been backed by strong investment in recent years. In 2017, global investment in renewable energy rose by two percent. China invested $122.6 billion, 45 percent of global investment and the most of any country, into the industry in the same year. Related: World’s largest solar energy project will be 100 times bigger than any other on the planet Governments and investors have noticed a change in the fundamentals behind renewable energy. “Much lower costs … are the driver of solar investment worldwide,” said report lead author Angus McCrone told Reuters . For example, the cost of energy production through large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) decreased by 15 percent last year to $86 per megawatt hour. Even with an administration hostile to renewable energy in the White House, the drive towards renewable energy continues. “Trump can no more brake this than those who opposed the Industrial Revolution could stop the Industrial Revolution,” said Solheim. President Trump recently signed a government spending bill that retained many of the existing tax credits for renewable energy in the United States . Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Solar outshined all fossil-fuels sources combined in 2017

UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

April 19, 2018 by  
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8.5 billion plastic straws are tossed out in the United Kingdom every year, according to a recent study cited by the government . They plan to take action — by ending sales of plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers and straws in a bid to reduce ocean plastic waste. The UK is cracking down on ocean plastic . The government announced the ban at the summit for the Commonwealth heads of government. Prime Minister Theresa May said, “ Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world…the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban .” Related: Queen of England bans plastic bottles and straws at royal estates The ban won’t take effect immediately; the statement said the government would work with industries to ensure time to adapt and create alternatives. Plastic straws utilized for medical reasons could also be excluded from the ban. May challenged other countries in the Commonwealth, which includes 53 member countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean, to battle marine plastic as well. The UK government is committing to £61.4 million, around $87.4 million, in funding for research and better waste management for developing countries , according to May, who said, “The Commonwealth is a unique organization, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments, and coastlines. Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.” The UK government’s microbead ban went into effect in January of this year, and their five pence single-use plastic bag law has resulted in nine billion fewer bags distributed, according to the government. Another statistic the government drew on to back the plastic straw scheme is that one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals perish due to eating plastic waste and getting tangled in it. They also said there are more than 150 million metric tons of plastic in the oceans on our planet. + United Kingdom Government Images via Depositphotos and Carly Jayne on Unsplash

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UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

Couple converts $7,000 Joshua Tree cabin into a sophisticated desert oasis

April 19, 2018 by  
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When Kathrin and Brian Smirke decided to buy an abandoned property in the desert landscape of Joshua Tree for $7,000, they knew that they had a massive undertaking on their hands. The old cabin , which dated back to 1957, had been left rotting in the desert for years. But with a lot of vision and hard work, the ambitious duo converted the 480-square-foot homestead into a beautiful desert oasis. The couple chronicled the massive renovation project they lovingly call “The Shack Attack” on their blog, We Are in Our Element . The poor state of the structure meant gutting the interior down to the base boards to start fresh. Over a period of two years, the couple revamped the cabin into a beautiful desert home. “We spent over a year planning, demolishing, building, planning again, building, and then finally decorating this little gem,” Kathrin explains. “What makes this home special is that we did a lot of the work ourselves, including the design, complete demolition, framing, plumbing, trim electrical, and we even built a lot of the interior fixtures and art.” Related: Stunning Lucid Stead Cabin Reflects the Colors and Movements of the Mojave Desert The process was quite detailed, with the Smirkes focused on reducing the project’s footprint at every turn. They also had to deal with several building restrictions included in the sale of the property, namely not being allowed to increase the square footage of the structure. Nevertheless, they were determined to fit a comfortable living room, kitchen, full bathroom, and bedroom that would accommodate a king-size bed into the compact space . Using various reclaimed materials, they converted the space into a light-filled home. Large sliding glass doors in the entrance and the bedroom open the interior up to incredible views as well as an abundance of natural light. Additionally, they managed to salvage some materials from the original building – Brian created a few decorative pieces by repurposing timber from the original structure. In the kitchen, Kathrin and Brian formed and poured the concrete countertops themselves and made the floating shelves out of leftover clear pine and plywood. At the back of the home is a compact sleeping area that fits a comfortable king-size platform bed. Again, multiple windows in the room add a light and airy touch to the small space. To take full advantage of the desert landscape , the couple put a lot of work into creating a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. A large covered porch offers stunning views. But, without a doubt, the heart of the project is the outdoor bathtub, an old water trough painted white. Surrounded by a wooden deck, this is the ultimate space for relaxing while the desert sun sets. The Shack Attack is available to rent via Airbnb throughout the year. + We Are in Our Element Via Dwell Images via We Are in Our Element

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Couple converts $7,000 Joshua Tree cabin into a sophisticated desert oasis

German slang wraps around MVRDV-designed building for Munich

November 23, 2017 by  
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German architecture takes a playful turn in WERK12, a mixed-use building designed by MVRDV that’s just broke ground in Munich . Located in a post-industrial site in the emerging Werksviertel neighborhood, WERK12 draws inspiration from its industrial heritage and modern graffiti culture. To set the mood for the stylish spaces within, MVRDV teamed up with artists Engelmann and Engl to wrap the building in 5-meter-tall German slang lettering that light up at night. Located near Munich’s East Station, the 9,600-square-meter WERK12 was commissioned by OTEC GmbH & Co. KG as part of a 40-hectare urban regeneration masterplan that will create approximately 1,200 new homes and up to 7,000 new jobs. The mixed-use building will comprise loft-style offices, restaurants, sports facilities, a skyline swimming pool, and restaurants for nightlife and gastronomy. The façade’s use of giant German words, found in various youth and subculture groups, as public signage is a nod to the graffiti culture and extensive use of signage found around the area. “WERK12 is totally unique and entirely new for Munich and is a strong contrast to the historic centre just ten minutes away”, says Jacob van Rijs, MVRDV co-founder. “It is a flexible and completely user adaptable building with spaces that can transform over time with bold and expressive texts on the façade are visible from a distance. This transparent building becomes a new focal point on the new Plaza that will form the heart of the Werksviertel.” Related: China’s new futuristic library is unlike any we’ve seen before The five-floor building will be optimized for natural daylight and feature tall ceilings and airy, open spaces flexible enough for multiple uses. The high ceilings, all over 5 meter in height, allows for split levels to break up the space and add visual interest. MVRDV pushed the elevator shaft and fire escape stairs to the outside of the building to create the deep and flexible interiors, while turning the outdoor stairways into a focal point punctuated by 3.25-meter-wide terraces . WERK12 is slated for completion in February 2019. + MVRDV

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German slang wraps around MVRDV-designed building for Munich

Recycled bedsprings transformed into an art pavilion at Dubai Design Week

November 23, 2017 by  
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Old copper bedsprings have been transformed into a surprisingly chic exhibition space at this year’s Dubai Design Week. Fahed + Architects designed Pavilion Abwab (“doors” in Arabic) to house a curated selection of 47 designs by design talent from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA). The cloud of mesh metal made of locally sourced materials takes inspiration from nature and showcases the firm’s commitment to environmentally friendly practices. The temporary Abwab pavilion consolidates all the designs into a single space, unlike Dubai Design Week’s former practice of commissioning independent pavilions for six MENASA countries. Designers from 15 different MENASA countries were represented this year at the exhibition that was split into eight categories: interpretation, mimicry, intersection, geometry, tactility, artisanal, nostalgia, and re-use . Related: Beautiful timber pavilion unfolds like origami Fahed + Architects sourced the used bedsprings from local waste management company bee’ah . A series of interconnected posts supported the cloud of mesh. “Set against a large mass of buildings within the d3 corridors, the structure’s silhouette will be reminiscent of impetuous ocean waves, coral clusters in a reef and clouds in the sky, referencing the practice’s environmental commitment,” reads a statement on Dubai Design Week . “The pavilion will distill daylight to create patterns on the exhibited works and on the ground.” + Fahed + Architects Via Dezeen Images by Photo Solutions

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Recycled bedsprings transformed into an art pavilion at Dubai Design Week

Global coal production falls 6.2% in the biggest decline in history

June 15, 2017 by  
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U.S. President Donald Trump may believe coal is the future , but newly-released statistics by BP Statistical Review of Energy state otherwise. According to the data, global coal production fell by an astonishing 6.2 percent last year — the largest annual decline on record. Additionally, consumption decreased for the second year in a row, dropping 1.7 percent. In wake of these findings, it should come as no surprise that once again, renewables were the fastest growing energy source, growing by a whopping 12 percent — a statistic which represents the largest annual incremental increase in output on record. The report , entitled “Energy markets in transition: BP Statistical Review shows long-term shifts underway,” concluded that the oil market is declining because fast-growing markets are shifting “towards lower carbon fuels as renewable energy continues to grow strongly and coal use falls.” The report also showed that the shift from coal is widespread. The UK, for instance, consumed 52.5 percent less in 2016, the U.S. experienced an 8.8 percent dip in consumption and China’s reliance dropped by 1.6 percent. Evidence to support these conclusions abound. For instance, the UK recently experienced its first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution. India also intends to halt all coal plant production in the near future, as renewable technologies have become more affordable. Related: U.S. coal production dips to lowest point in 35 years due to rise of renewable energy sources Bob Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive, said, “Global energy markets are in transition. The longer-term trends we can see in this data are changing the patterns of demand and the mix of supply as the world works to meet the challenge of supplying the energy it needs while also reducing carbon emissions . At the same time markets are responding to shorter-run run factors, most notably the oversupply that has weighed on oil prices for the past three years.” As was previously mentioned, renewable energy was the fastest growing of all energy sources, increasing by 12 percent. Though solar, wind and other renewable energy sources provide only 4 percent of the world’s total energy, the increase represents almost one-third of the total growth in energy demand in 2016. Despite certain leaders’ opposition to renewable energy investments, it seems clear the future is green and that consumers will continue to invest in energy sources that are beneficial for the environment, wildlife, and future generations – and their bottom line. + BP Statistical Review of Energy Images via Pixabay

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Global coal production falls 6.2% in the biggest decline in history

Dreamy treehouse hidden by Woodstock offers magnificent Catskills views

June 15, 2017 by  
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A perfect getaway surrounded by nature is hidden away near the town of Woodstock. UK-based Antony Gibbon Designs crafted this blissful retreat, called Inhabit Treehouse, that’s nestled within dense forest less than a two-hour drive from New York City. Built from locally and sustainably sourced reclaimed timber , Inhabit treehouse offers beautiful and cozy digs with stunning views of a lake and the Catskills mountain range beyond. Built for a family with plans of opening the treehouse up to rentals, Inhabit Treehouse is a small and efficiently designed space with all the comforts of home. FSC-certified reclaimed cedar sourced from the Catskills valley clads the treehouse , while FSC-certified reclaimed pine lines the interior. The timber facade will develop an attractive patina over time to help the building blend into the landscape. Large windows open the treehouse up to natural light and views of the outdoors. Guests can also reconnect with nature from the two balconies on either side of the building. The treehouse interior comprises an open-plan kitchen, dining area, and living room with a wood-burning stove ; a spacious loft bedroom; shower and bathroom; and a second bedroom in the rear that could easily be transformed into an office. A large terrace beneath the treehouse leads down to the lake and a hot tub. Related: Incredible teepee-shaped ORKA house is made from 24 interlacing beams “Inhabit Treehouse contrasts geometric forms against the organic forms of the forest but still blends into the surroundings with its timber materials,” Antony Gibbons told Inhabitat. “New trees were also planted close to the structure to help strengthen the idea that the building cuts through the forest and is semi-camouflaged into its surroundings. The sharp geometric angles of the Interior also created an interesting layout that pushed away from 90 degree corners as much as possible.” + Antony Gibbons Design Images via Antony Gibbons Design

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Dreamy treehouse hidden by Woodstock offers magnificent Catskills views

Chinas rival to AirBnB opens new Beijing office with cutting-edge interior design

February 15, 2017 by  
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Airbnb’s biggest rival in China, Xiaozhu , just opened their latest office in Beijing, a diverse and flexible work environment that bears similarities to an Ikea showroom. The office space, called Sliced House, is the work of People’s Architecture Office (PAO) and People’s Industrial Design Office (PIDO), and is largely inspired by the diversity of the home-sharing startup’s online listings. The office’s collection of domestic spaces creates a casual and playful setting that fosters spontaneous interactions. PAO credits Xiaozhu’s need for a flexible work environment to the startup’s rapid growth—the five-year-old startup is valued at over $300 million and could possibly be bought out by AirBnB in the near future. The office is mostly open plan but also includes private meeting rooms, a conference room, and lounge. Most of the workspaces can be rearranged into different configurations, from the jigsaw-like worktables that can break away into individual desks to the conference room that uses room dividers to transform one long conference table to three smaller tables in separate rooms. The fixed meeting rooms are built to look like cozy living rooms and kitchens. Related: Airbnb launches nature-filled Tokyo office that feels like a beautiful cozy home “Sliced House is conceived as a house that has been divided and its parts dispersed throughout an otherwise banal office interior,” write the architects. “Shared interior finishes between split spaces make apparent that adjacent portions refer to a single room. These sliced samples of domesticity include kitchen, living room, and bedroom and double as ad hoc meeting areas. Such spaces reflect Xiaozhu’s rental offerings, providing users with a wide spectrum of settings to choose from.” PIDO custom built the transforming furniture , which include workspaces and a mobile trishaw-like meeting area made from converted tricycles . This wheeled workspaces were inspired by Xiaozhu’s Tricycle House listing and the tricycle’s long history in China. + People’s Architecture Office Via ArchDaily

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Chinas rival to AirBnB opens new Beijing office with cutting-edge interior design

WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’

February 15, 2017 by  
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Singapore’s 48 North Canal Road is a dynamic office space designed by the renowned architecture firm, WOHA . Working within local Urban Redevelopment Authority’s guidelines to guard the heritage-protected storefront on one side, the green-loving architects tacked on a vibrant addition to the rear of the building using a contemporary mix of glass, brick and aluminum, and infused the entire program with lush pocket parks . Although the architects had to work within a number of spatial restrictions, they were able to strategically maneuver new open space out of the existing layout. The plan focused on vertically “lifting up” the existing office space in order to maximize flexibility and provide optimal natural light and city views. A curtain wall made of perforated aluminum panels runs the height of the building, serving as an integrated sunscreen to shade the interior atrium space. Related: WOHA’s solar-powered SkyVille in Singapore boasts a deep-green public skypark The building’s design consists of an eye-catching “fractal, triangulated geometry”. Interestingly, this feature was inspired by local city code that requires splayed corners on certain buildings located on corner intersections. Using the requirement to their advantage, the architects carried this theme throughout the design, “chiseling” various disjointed geometric forms and creating little nooks and seating areas along the way. The flat spaces created by this method were converted into green pocket parks throughout the building, including the more spacious rooftop, which was transformed into an outdoor recreational lounge. Visitors and tenants can also enjoy a cafe, break-out areas, and meeting rooms that are all organized around the building’s central green space. + WOHA Via Architonic Photography by Patrick Bingham-Hall

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WOHA revamps Singapore office with lush ‘pocket parks’

The promise of a digitally enabled circular economy

September 8, 2016 by  
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The fourth Industrial Revolution is already underway. Here’s what it looks like.

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The promise of a digitally enabled circular economy

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