Giant twisting staircase revealed in Schmidt Hammer Lassen-designed solar-powered office

January 18, 2018 by  
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Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has unveiled designs of a new sustainable office campus in Oslo for the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Norway’s largest geotechnical specialist community. Topped with green roofs and solar panels, the approximately 30,000-square-meter campus comprises two modern structures that will accommodate up to 300 employees. Both buildings will be flooded with natural light, while the larger of the two features a dramatic spiral staircase that winds its way up a light-filled atrium. Winner of a 2016 competition, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects’ designs for the new NGI campus aims to expand Oslo’s science community and increase public engagement. Approximately 20 percent of the campus will be open to the public with cafes, shops, and meeting spaces occupying the ground floor. The campus’ location at a busy intersection and the addition of a new public green space will also tie the campus in with the neighborhood. The area will also see the addition of a new cycling and pedestrian bridge in 2019. “The campus is designed with a modern expression and a strong identity with respect to its context,” said Kim Holst Jensen, senior partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “The campus buildings will stand prominently in the local skyline and will reciprocate the voluminous Ullevål Stadion, Norway’s national football stadium located directly across the street.” Related: Energy-conscious library that doubles as a “living room” breaks ground in Shanghai The office complex will be built to BREEAM NOR environmental certifications and draw energy from renewable sources. Ample glazing promotes transparency, optimizing natural light and views of the outdoors. In addition to the ground-floor public areas and a spacious atrium with a spiral staircase, the buildings will also include advanced laboratories, a central canteen and dining area, offices, meeting rooms, courtyards, and basement parking. + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Images via Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Giant twisting staircase revealed in Schmidt Hammer Lassen-designed solar-powered office

How the world’s first floating city could restore the environment

December 27, 2017 by  
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The world got a little closer to the first floating city when the Seasteading Institute signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Polynesian government earlier this year. Not only could floating cities offer a sustainable place to live, but they could also potentially help coral reefs recover and provide a habitat for marine life, according to Joe Quirk, Blue Frontiers co-founder and Seasteading Institute seavangelist. Inhabitat spoke with Quirk and architect Simon Nummy to learn more about the vision for the world’s first floating city. Quirk told Inhabitat, “We think of cities as being a blight on the land and polluting the oceans. Floating cities are so different because they could actually be environmentally restorative.” For example, an increase in ocean temperatures has caused much of coral bleaching . Quirk said the mere presence of a floating city could help combat this issue. He said, “The corals could actually recover if we could just lower the temperature a little. Our engineers at Blue Frontiers have devised a plan to position the platforms to create some shadows to lower the temperatures. So as the sun moves about, you get enough light on the ocean floor to spark photosynthesis, but you lower the heat just enough to have a restorative effect.” Related: World’s first floating city one step closer to reality in French Polynesia Solid floating structures can also increase the amount of sea life by serving as a habitat, according to Quirk. He said platform floors, that would be below water level, could be made of glass, creating an aquarium apartment or aquarium restaurant. There are currently a few visions for what the floating cities might look like from different designers, as seen in the images. Nummy, who won the Seasteading Institute’s Architectural Design Contest, told Inhabitat, “The intent is for an architecture derived from nautical technology and sensibility, combined with a deep respect and willingness to learn from the culture and knowledge of the original seasteaders, the Polynesians.” The goal is for the floating city, which will be placed around one kilometer, or a little over half a mile, from shore inside a protected lagoon, to be 100 percent renewable and 100 percent self-sufficient. Floating solar panels could help power the city, and Quirk said as water cools panels, they could generate 20 percent more energy than their landlocked cousins. 20 percent of the floating city could be comprised of solar panels. Another goal is to not discharge any water into the lagoon – waste water is to be treated and recycled. Food could be cultivated in sea farming systems. “Each building strives for energy independence and the architecture results from this; energy efficiency and passive strategies are vital,” Nummy told Inhabitat. “Polynesian architecture is primarily about the roof and we have tried to interpret this in a contemporary, sensitive way that both reflects local precedents while harvesting rainwater and discretely maximizing the opportunities for photovoltaics and vertical axis wind turbines .” The floating city could be designed to look like a natural island, featuring green roofs and buildings constructed with locally-sourced materials – potentially bamboo, coconut fiber, or local wood like teak. Nummy told Inhabitat, “The buildings are designed to connect to nature and embrace the magnificent Tahitian views. Walls are to be louvred or openable whenever possible.” 2020 is the goal for construction of the floating village, which would include around 15 islands 82 by 82 feet. Quirk said the first floating city could be kind of like the first iPhone – rather bulky and expensive – but they aim to drive down the price with later iterations. Two to three years after 2020, they hope to double the amount of platforms – from around 15 to around 30 – and then triple the amount two to three years after that. Quirk said, “Island nations and coastal nations are already suffering from sea level rise , and this is a realistic way for them to adapt.” + Seasteading Institute + Blue Frontiers + Blue21 Images courtesy of Blue Frontiers, Blue21, and Simon Nummy

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How the world’s first floating city could restore the environment

MIT engineers just unveiled living, glowing plants

December 13, 2017 by  
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Glowing plants might sound like the stuff of science fiction – but a team of MIT researchers just grew a crop of watercress that emits emit dim light for almost four hours. Postdoctoral researcher Seon-Yeong Kwak led a team of engineers and scientists to instill the plants with the same enzyme that makes fireflies sparkle. MIT chemical engineering professor Michael Strano said, “The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp – a lamp that you don’t have to plug in. The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself.” Plant lamps or even tree street lights could brighten our world in the future thanks to recent research on glowing plants. The plants are illuminated by luciferase – the same enzyme that helps fireflies shine. Luciferase acts on the molecule luciferin to give off light. The team put these three components into nanoparticle carriers to get them to the correct part of a plant. The scientists showed they can also turn off the light by adding nanoparticles with a luciferase inhibitor, so they think they could eventually create plants that stop emitting light in response to conditions like sunlight. Related: 5 Bioluminescent Species that Light Up the World Past experiments to create light-emitting plants attempted to genetically engineer plants to express the gene for luciferase, according to MIT . But it’s a process that takes a lot of work for very dim light – and it’s often limited to just one plant type. The new MIT process can work on any kind of plant; so far the scientists have demonstrated it with watercress, kale, arugula, and spinach. They hope to be able to spray or paint the nanoparticles on leaves with future iterations, so trees or large plants could serve as light sources. The journal Nano Letters published the research online in November. Scientists from the University of California, Riverside and the University of California, Berkeley contributed to the work. + Nano Letters + MIT News Images via Seon-Yeong Kwak

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MIT engineers just unveiled living, glowing plants

RMI @ 35: A conversation with Amory Lovins

October 23, 2017 by  
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The co-founder and life spirit of the Rocky Mountain Institute looks back — and forward.

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RMI @ 35: A conversation with Amory Lovins

High aspirations: What’s next for Rocky Mountain Institute

October 23, 2017 by  
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A heightened sense of urgency and purpose as the non-profit marks its 35th anniversary.

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5 disruptive technologies driving the circular economy

October 23, 2017 by  
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From Apple’s Liam to the Nigerian company HelloTractor, waste materials are creating value for both emerging and established businesses.

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5 disruptive technologies driving the circular economy

MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months

October 12, 2017 by  
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Could this air-breathing battery help solve energy storage woes? 10 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers developed the battery capable of storing electricity for months for around one fifth of the cost of comparable technologies. MIT professor Yet-Ming Chiang said, “This battery literally inhales and exhales air , but it doesn’t exhale carbon dioxide , like humans – it exhales oxygen .” MIT says their air-breathing battery could help renewable energy , like solar and wind, be more practicable for the grid . Their rechargeable flow battery costs a fraction of current technology, and can store power for long periods of time, with zero emissions and few location restraints. Related: Former Tesla executives to produce battery “with significantly lower carbon footprint” Sulfur dissolved in water comprises the battery’s liquid anode. What MIT described as an aerated liquid salt solution in the liquid cathode brings in and lets out oxygen. According to the institute, “Oxygen flowing into the cathode causes the anode to discharge electrons to an external circuit. Oxygen flowing out sends electrons back to the anode, recharging the battery.” The cost of the anode, cathode, and electrode materials in the battery is around 1/30 that of lithium-ion batteries , according to MIT. If the battery system was scaled up, it could store electricity for around $20 to $30 per kilowatt-hour – compare that against today’s batteries, which are around $100 per kilowatt-hour, at least. Right now, the prototype is about as big as a coffee cup. But Chiang said flow batteries are highly scalable. This new technology could compete with pumped hydroelectric storage systems, though, since the MIT system is more compact, it could be deployed in more locations where renewable energy is being generated. As solar and wind energy production can be intermittent, the battery could store the energy they generate to offer a reliable source of power. The journal Joule published the research this week. Via MIT News Images courtesy of the researchers and Felice Frankel

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MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months

Company Honored for Making Products Out of Hard-to-Recycle Waste

May 30, 2017 by  
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Imagine if all of America’s commercial recycling gurus joined forces to form one, huge recycling powerhouse. Well, it’s real, folks, and it’s called the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, also known as ISRI. ISRI represents more than 1,300…

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Company Honored for Making Products Out of Hard-to-Recycle Waste

Special Announcement: The Sustainability Solutions Celebration

February 23, 2017 by  
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ASU, with the help of some special guests, previews the Sustainability Solutions Celebration, presented as part of the Sustainability Solutions Festival hosted by the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

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Special Announcement: The Sustainability Solutions Celebration

Rethinking the Water Cycle for a Water Quality Constrained World

February 23, 2017 by  
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Global water scarcity is a function of the compounding impacts of decreasing availability and declining quality. The impacts of these factors on business are complex and far reaching. Succeeding in a water quality constrained world requires the ingenuity of business to drive water strategies that go beyond conservation to reuse, recycling and stewardship.  Ecolab vice president of sustainability Emilio Tenuta will outline imperatives for achieving business resilience  amidst water scarcity.

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Rethinking the Water Cycle for a Water Quality Constrained World

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