Singapore, the City in a Garden, sets an example for a green planet

August 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Singapore has transformed itself from a hub of pollution to an environmental dream-city in the past 50 years. From afar, the country’s landscape looks like any other modern city with abounding skyscrapers etched into its skyline. On the inside however, a green heart has grown at the center of the city, spreading into the minds of its people and up the walls of its buildings. This heart was initiated by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — often called ‘Chief Gardener’ — who pushed his imperative of a clean and green Singapore until it became reality. In the 1960s, raw sewage loaded already-polluted canals of the city-state with so much waste that they poured sludge-like  waters into the Singapore River and surrounding areas. “In the 1960s, Singapore was like any other developing country – dirty and polluted, lacking proper sanitation and facing high unemployment,” Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources for Singapore, explained in his recent address to the Global Environment Outlook 6 (GEO6) . “These challenges were particularly acute, given our constraints as a small island state with limited resources; we did not even have enough drinking water.” These problems encouraged rapid industrialization to help improve living conditions for the citizens of Singapore, but the widespread urbanization only aggravated the environmental concerns. Related: A rainforest-like green heart grows within Singapore’s Marina One Yew saw the decay as “a blighted urban jungle of concrete [that] destroys the human spirit.” He believed that “we need the greenery of nature to lift our spirits,” hence planting the first tree of many in 1963 to inspire a generation of eco-warriors into action. This has become The Singapore Story  of the ‘Biophilic City in a Garden.’ The incredible journey began with this small deed, shortly before Singapore’s separation from Malaysia. Now, the city sits at the center of architectural innovation and technological design and has become a green global powerhouse. “We merely wanted to rise above the region we found ourselves in,” Lim Liang Jim, group director of the  National Biodiversity Centre at the National Parks Board, said in an interview with UN Environment . “Lee Kuan Yew had a plan. Keep us clean. Keep us green.” The generation that pioneered this change understood that if Singapore became “a nice place to live, then people will come and invest. Then we moved up,” Jim explained. But the movement was not solely economic or aesthetic in nature. The small self-governing city-state was urged to clean up the region by Singaporeans who wanted to stay on their land. These residents launched a strenuous 30-year campaign, cleaning up pollution and creating agencies where there were none to support their cause. This lead to the inception of the National Parks Board, which decided there should be greenery and plant life everywhere people looked. The board rejected the idea of being confined to a concrete jungle and instead constructed a sustainable model for any city to follow. Part of the ongoing changes involves educating students from an early age on the importance of environmental awareness, protection and advocacy. “We are going back to history, to ensure that we build from the ground up and ensure that the youth of Singapore don’t take our 50 years of history for granted,” said Lim, who believes that history can be easily forgotten by the minds of young Singaporeans who only know the smell of fresh air and the sights of lush greenery. “[Environmentalism] has to be something that is driven by the grassroots movement, it has to become in a sense political. You can’t easily turn a nature reserve into buildings, it would require some reasoned discussion with the public. We have to make sure that the younger generation appreciates our nature and biodiversity and do not take them for granted.” Related: Giant glowing bottle walls light up Singapore for “plastic binge” awareness This is Singapore’s mission in preserving the achievements it has made while ensuring the future of its vision as an environmental champion. It believes that its citizens are entrusted a with stewardship that makes caring for common spaces second-nature. The residents built this new Singapore from the ground up, adding innovative features like the SGBioAtlas , which allows members of the public to become ‘citizen scientists’ by uploading photos of plants or animals and to the National Biodiversity Centre’s central database. Other ongoing projects include urban planning and zoning as well as policy changes and public awareness campaigns focused on a smaller carbon footprint and zero waste, among other goals. With its visionary leadership, Singapore’s long-term plan includes a phase of sustainable development found in its Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 , which underlines improvement in sectors that include all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through 2030. “Our approach has been to build a livable and sustainable city through pragmatic policy-making based on sound economic principles and science; a focus on long-term planning and effective implementation; and the ability to mobilize popular support for the common good,” Zulkifli said. Singapore has set the standard for a clean and green future worldwide, and it looks absolutely inviting. + The Singapore Story Via UN Environment Images via Joan Campderrós-i-Canas ( 1 , 2 ), Jaafar Alnasser and Jo Sau

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Singapore, the City in a Garden, sets an example for a green planet

A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

August 15, 2018 by  
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Barcelona- and Mexico City-based firm  Cadaval Sola-Morales has just unveiled Casa de la Roca, a beautiful, dark timber home topped with a green roof  and located in a remote forest in Mexico. The single-story structure features a jet-black facade crafted from felled trees and finished with a living roof to help camouflage the home into the peaceful, secluded forestscape. When designing Casa de la Roca, the architects were focused on one objective: to create a home that would easily blend into the landscape for years to come. Acting accordingly, the architects chose materials based on durability. The structure, which sits on a low-maintenance concrete foundation, is clad in reclaimed timber from local felled or dead trees. Related: Living trees grow through the ceiling of Cadaval & Sola-Morales’ Tepoztlan Lounge in Mexico The exterior walls were then coated in black paint to add longevity to the structure. “We used paint (and not dye), to add another layer of material protection; dye tends to lose its qualities over the years,” the architects explained. “It is black, responding to the desire to blend in with the landscape, seeking a certain anonymity in front of the vegetation and exuberant views.” The dark exterior essentially allows the home to hide deep within the forest , but that wasn’t enough for the architects. Once the dwelling was constructed, the team finished the entire roof with vegetation, creating an even stronger connection between the man-made and natural. According to the architects, the home’s layout of three long hallways that converge into the main living space was also inspired by the landscape. The team wanted the house to have three private lookouts at each end to provide distinct views of the forest. The three “arms” of the home come together at a central point, which is also where people can come together and socialize . The interior space is both elegant and welcoming. A minimal amount of furniture is spread out over the open-plan living room, so the main focus is always on the incredible nature that surrounds the home. Extra large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors allow optimal natural light into the home, while also creating a seamless connection to the forest. + Cadaval Sola-Morales Via Wallpaper Photography by Sandra Pereznieto

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A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

Save local wildlife with a stylish FrogLog in your pool

August 10, 2018 by  
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One of the worst things for pool owners in the sweltering summer months is going out for a swim to cool down and enjoy time with friends and family, only to find a critter has made it into their splash-zone and couldn’t find a way out. In an effort to save local animals , the FrogLog offers a simple escape route for small creatures who might otherwise drown in a pool. So, how does it work exactly? Adhere it to the side of the pool, where animals such as mice, squirrels and frogs have a tendency to swim as they try to escape, and the mesh netting surrounding the FrogLog will allow them to climb up to dry land. No guidance is needed — the animals will circle the edge of the pool and happen upon the FrogLog themselves. The ramp allows them to scurry or hop — whatever their style — out of the pool instead of drowning. Related: This modular outdoor swimming pool from Finland could make a splash near you The FrogLog is effective in saving reptiles and amphibians such as frogs, turtles and lizards; mammals such as rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels; and birds and baby ducklings among many other small creatures. Since wildlife biologist Rich Mason started the project 14 years ago, the FrogLog has saved more than one million animals. Related: Fish-friendly whirlpool turbine makes hydropower green again Efficient and compact, only one FrogLog is needed for a pool measuring 15 feet by 30 feet. If you choose to run your pump and filter at night, keep your chlorine levels high, have multiple skimmers or just happen to have a super luxurious mega-pool sitting in your backyard, you may need an extra FrogLog or two. Not to worry though, at an affordable $22.99, the clever contraption is a no-brainer decision in keeping your pool clean, reducing maintenance and rescuing native animals in style. + FrogLog Image via FrogLog

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Save local wildlife with a stylish FrogLog in your pool

This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

August 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese designer and material scientist  Jun Kamei has invented an underwater breathing device constructed with 3D printing . Kamei foresees complications arising from higher sea levels, which he believes will affect up to three billion people globally. Thus, he has designed Amphibio , a 3D-printed garment that he hopes will help those people affected by rising seas to work with nature in submerged portions of the Earth. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the mega-cities situated in the coastal areas,” Kamei explained. He believes Amphibio will become essential to our next generations, who will be forced to spend much more time in water as a result of a “flooded world.” Amphibio replicates the method that aquatic insects use to trap air, forming a gas-exchanging gill. The breathing apparatus’s microporous, hydrophobic material thus enables oxygen extraction from surrounding water while also removing carbon dioxide . Kamei, a graduate of the Royal College of Art , returned to his alma mater with a team from the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab to construct the two-part accessory, which features a respiratory mask attached to the gill assembly. Related: MIT’s mind-reading AlterEgo headset can hear what you’re thinking The working prototype of Amphibio does not yet produce enough oxygen to sustain a human being. However, Kamei is optimistic. He developed the 3D-printable material filament himself, and, in the future, he hopes people can buy it themselves. As 3D printing becomes more common and readily available in society, he envisions a future in which people can print garments tailored to their own body shape – and in which Amphibio is one of their options. + Amphibio Via Design Milk and Dezeen Photography by Mikito Tateisi

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

Treetop House combines the best of two worlds

August 6, 2018 by  
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There’s nothing as special as being with family – that is, until you need to be alone. The family of five who contracted with Ben Callery Architects  to design the Treetop House wanted this concept to play a key part in the house’s design, and they were delighted when Callery so easily grasped it. He also understood that the design had to commune with nature, include as many views as possible of the lush parkland  around the site, and incorporate as many aspects of sustainability as possible. Callery knew the kitchen was the favorite family gathering place. Dedicated to nurturing casual yet intimate communications between parents and children, Callery’s design concentrated on the kitchen views of the parkland tree canopies, a never-ending source of wonder for young and old year-round. The tall kitchen ceilings and oversized windows flood the room with natural light and provide an unobstructed view of the rooftop deck, a favorite venue for family activities and entertaining. A turf roof , though inaccessible to pedestrian traffic, brings the magnificent foliage of the park even closer. The high, banistered deck protrudes out, bringing the treetops even closer, accelerating the excitement of nature at one’s fingertips. To create private spaces for everyone to retreat for alone time, Callery designed the other rooms with lower ceilings to create a cozy atmosphere of privacy and security. While no family member in the house is ever far away, the sanctuaries everyone needs now and then to read, study or just reflect on life are readily available. Related: The Treebox is an amazing modern home set high up in the treetops Easy-opening windows with electric external blinds help control the rays of the sun from dawn to dusk and provide shelter from the variable winds. The house also runs on solar power, has energy-saving underground water tanks, and was constructed with green materials that provide optimum thermal efficiency . + Ben Callery Architects Images via Nic Granleese and Jack Love

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Treetop House combines the best of two worlds

Episode 134: Dow on ‘valuing nature’, and a new niche for fuel cells

August 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

This week, we also explore why August is the new October for sustainability.

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Episode 134: Dow on ‘valuing nature’, and a new niche for fuel cells

Episode 133: Calling all change agents, valuing total impact

July 27, 2018 by  
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This week, we also debate how retailers can champion circular economy principles and 8 common traits of successful sustainability leaders.

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Episode 133: Calling all change agents, valuing total impact

Green buildings boost health, productivity and value for investors

July 27, 2018 by  
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Plus, savvy companies can use them as a recruitment tool.

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Green buildings boost health, productivity and value for investors

The Eye of the Storm dome home can withstand hurricanes and it’s officially on the market

July 18, 2018 by  
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Beachfront homes on Sullivan’s Island off Charleston, South Carolina are among the most magnificent dwellings in the country. With vistas that seem to extend beyond infinity and backyards bordering Charleston Harbor, these upscale houses offer the ideal trio of magnificent ocean views, peace and tranquility – except, that is, during hurricane season . After Hurricane Hugo demolished his parents’ prized home on the island in 1989, George Paul, a builder and designer of dome structures , rebuilt the home, called Eye of the Storm, in collaboration with architect X Dilling in 1991. Now the hurricane-defying 650-ton dome home is up for sale by Pareto Real Estate with a price tag of $4.9M. The unique house, located at 2851 Marshall Blvd on Sullivan’s Island, stands out in the crowd of conventionally constructed homes and is situated only 230 feet from the water. Built from concrete, steel, and glass, the home takes the shape of a striking white dome, and it sits on a nearly ½-acre land parcel. Related: Escape the everyday in this Geodesic Dome House in Palm Springs The 3,571-square-foot home has three bedrooms and four baths on the upper level. The main floor has an open, freeform living, dining, and kitchen space that provides unhindered views of the surrounding areas since support beams are not necessary in domed configurations. The showcase fireplace design reflects the lines of the dome’s exterior. Extravagant granite counters were added to the kitchen in a 2018 restoration. To accommodate beachcombing guests, an additional bathroom, two shower rooms and a storage room comprise the 526-square-foot ground floor. Curved concrete walls throughout the home create a flow akin to that of the steady, mesmerizing ocean currents . A secluded, 159-square-foot deck borders the master bedroom and an enormous 889 square feet of deck space embraces the back of the home. Oversized glass openings on decks and balconies provide views that vary from fantastic to fearful, depending on the weather. + Dwell Images via Michael D. Royal/Pareto Real Estate

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The Eye of the Storm dome home can withstand hurricanes and it’s officially on the market

This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste

July 11, 2018 by  
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More than 1,000 square feet of plastic ultimately destined to pollute the ocean is getting a second lease on life in Rotterdam. On July 4, 2018, Recycled Island Foundation opened its prototype to the public: a floating park made entirely from recycled plastic waste and appropriately named the Recycled Park. According to a report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment , more than 1,000 cubic meters of plastic waste is transported every year down the Meuse River and into the North Sea. The plastics come from landfills, agriculture, sewage and inland shipping. They ultimate reach the river through a number of methods, including dumping, littering and run-off. Instead of letting the plastic reach the ocean, the Recycled Island Foundation and 25 partners created the Recycled Park: a public space in Rotterdam consisting of floating platforms made from recycled plastic waste. The team set traps along the Meuse River that collect waste, which is then gathered and transformed into platforms for the floating park. Related: A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal The Recycled Park project is focused on the Meuse River because of the overall viability of plastic in the aquatic space. The collected waste  is newer than in other waterways, so it can easily be made into platforms. To create the platforms, the collected plastic is sent to Wageningen University, which leads the research on effective recycling techniques . From there, the platforms are designed with HEBO Mariteimservice , who removes the garbage from the water. But the platforms aren’t just designed to reduce plastic pollution — they also serve as a wildlife habitat. Plants grow both above and below the river surface, allowing greenery to thrive on top of the platforms, providing a habitat capable of sustaining marine life and encouraging fish to lay eggs below the platforms. With the prototype park open, the organization is now looking for expansion options. Its ultimate goal is to incorporate several aquatic platform types into the park, while finding a permanent location to collect plastic from the Dutch harbor . + Recycled Park + Recycled Island Foundation Images via Recycled Island Foundation

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This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste

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