Biden vs Trump on environmental issues and climate change

September 22, 2020 by  
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As the U.S. has grown increasingly polarized, it seems more and more like the two presidential candidates inhabit different planets. If you listen to Joe Biden on climate change, you might feel the urge to junk your car and invest in wind power. Meanwhile, the incumbent’s message seems to be that fossil fuels are A-OK. You might find yourself wondering, does Trump believe in climate change? What’s actually in Joe Biden’s climate change plan? Here’s a quick rundown on where the presidential candidates stand on environmental issues and climate change . Imminent need for climate action The most striking difference between the two candidates environmentally is the novella-length treatises the Biden campaign is generating with ideas about how to solve climate problems versus Trump’s more meager approach. Related: Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan: create millions of jobs, reverse climate change Biden has a long record of working on behalf of the climate, dating back, at least, to introducing the Global Climate Protection Act , the first climate change bill to reach the Senate. During his stint as vice president, Biden oversaw the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 , which allocated $90 billion toward clean energy. At that time, he called fighting climate change “the single most important thing” the executive team could do while in the White House. He also supported President Obama’s signing of the Paris Agreement. Trump, on the other hand, immediately withdrew from the 2015 Paris climate accord as soon as he took office. Now, the U.S. is the only member country to refuse to participate in the agreement to reduce global emissions . Trump avoids discussing global emission reduction and has refused to sign certain international documents unless climate change references are removed. The Environmental Protection Agency under Trump has taken a distinctly anti-science bent, with half the members of the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors dismissed in 2017 and a 2018 disbanding of a panel of scientists tasked with advising the agency on safe air pollution levels. Trumps agenda has been distinctly anti-environment, including loosening restrictions on methane emissions , waiving environmental laws during the pandemic , rolling back fuel efficiency requirements , repealing water protections and weakening the Endangered Species Act . Making America “great again” seems to mean reverting to the good old days before anybody gave a hoot about the planet. Fossil fuels The fossil fuel issue is a tricky dance for Democratic politicians. While most agree that the future lies in renewable energy, most cars and airplanes still run on fossil fuels. Biden pledged not to take any fossil fuel money for his campaign. But he still has a weakness for natural gas, which he has supported in the past as a “bridge fuel” between dirtier gasoline and coal and cleaner renewable energy. He has not called for a ban on fracking . Biden has promised to end all subsidies to fossil fuel companies. Trump doesn’t have a problem with fossil fuel. As it says on WhiteHouse.gov , “Americans have long been told that our country is running out of energy, but we now know that is wrong.” The president has promoted using more fossil fuel, especially coal. He’s chosen lobbyists and leaders in the fossil fuel industry for important federal posts, including as EPA administrator and as secretary of the Interior Department. Trump has worked to expand gas and oil drilling , including in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. He’s claimed victory over what he calls “the war on coal .” Renewable energy Biden talks about the U.S. achieving a target of 100% clean energy. His strategies include grid-scale storage that will be 10 times more economical than lithium-ion batteries, small modular nuclear reactors, net-zero energy buildings, development of carbon-neutral construction materials, doubling offshore wind production by 2030 and the development and deployment carbon capture sequestration technology. His track record in the Senate and as vice president bears out his commitment to clean energy. Trump has dismembered the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which privileged clean energy construction over oil and gas. His administration repeatedly sliced funding that incentivized developing clean energy, proposing to cut up to 87% of the Department of Energy’s Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy budget. He’s also proposed eliminating electric vehicle tax credits. While initially the Trump administration embraced new federal leases for offshore wind farms, it cut federal incentives for harvesting offshore wind. A 2018 tariff on solar panels manufactured outside the U.S. that was meant to boost jobs backfired, costing American jobs and upping panel prices. Environmental justice Biden has officially recognized that low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are disproportionately affected by pollution and climate change and addresses how to change this in the Joe Biden climate change plan. Trump has not addressed the subject. Via Joe Biden and WhiteHouse.gov Images via Adobe Stock and Pixabay

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Biden vs Trump on environmental issues and climate change

Candelas hydrofoil boat is the worlds first electric speedboat

September 22, 2020 by  
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Candela is a Sweden-based start-up company on a mission to switch the world’s marine transport industry to electric power. Now, the company has announced its new hydrofoil boat, the Candela Seven, as the world’s first fully electric speedboat. According to Candela, the biggest hurdle keeping the electric marine craft industry from reaching its full potential is the discrepancy between speed and range. Electric water-bound vehicles typically either have speed or range, but not both, because planing motor boat hulls need enormous amounts of energy to go fast. A standard 25-foot boat, for example, needs 15 times the amount of energy of a standard car. Building an electric boat with the capability to perform just as efficiently as a boat that uses fossil fuels with contemporary batteries poses the biggest challenge. Related: Cool retro boats restored with electric motors In order to reduce friction from the water, Candela uses submerged hydrofoils under the surface of the water. These wings provide enough lift at 17 knots to completely lift the boat’s hull out of the water, reducing energy use by as much as 80%. The result is an exceedingly long all-electric range at high speeds, upward of 50 nautical miles or 92 kilometers, on one charge. Speeds go up to 20 knots, and the range is three times more efficient than the best electric boats currently on the market. In addition to the range and speed, these hydrofoils also provide a smoother ride thanks to their ability to move above the water’s wake and chop. Rather than feeling the boat bounce up and down on the water as it moves, occupants on the hydrofoil boat get to effortlessly glide along the water as the hydrofoils lift the vessel up and over rough water. According to the company, a series of onboard computers and sensors went into the design of the Candela Seven. In order to monitor the boat’s stability, these sensors constantly measure the height and adjust the foils to maintaining pitch, roll and height automatically. + Candela Speed Boat Via Electrek Images via Candela Speed Boat

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Candelas hydrofoil boat is the worlds first electric speedboat

A midcentury home receives a sensitive renovation in Montreal

September 11, 2020 by  
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Local practice Salem Architecture has recently renovated the Maison Ave Courcelette, a stately, midcentury home with an improved indoor/outdoor connection in the heart of Montreal. Originally constructed in 1947, the house was built with beautiful attention to detail and sculptural, rounded openings — elements that both the architect, Jad Salem, and the owner wanted to preserve and highlight. The resulting transformation achieves those goals while generously opening up the interior to the large exterior courtyard and bringing an abundance of natural light indoors. Located in the residential borough of Outremont, the Maison Ave Courcelette project connects to a large backyard and is surrounded by many mature trees around the perimeter of the site. To improve the relationship between the home and the outdoors, the architects opened up the rear, south-facing facade with large sliding glass doors. The stones of the facade that were replaced by the new glazing were kept for use in a possible house extension. The new cladding on a portion of the rear facade is made up of vertically oriented timber elements that complement the original stone of the house and serve as an openwork sidewall for privacy from the neighbors while allowing natural light to filter through. Related: Transformed midcentury modern home focuses on sustainability To protect the house from unwanted solar gain in the south, the architects created covered outdoor terraces as well as a retractable canopy for comfortable use of an entertaining space with a sunken seating area and a fire pit next to the pool. “The landscaping, in separate areas, offers owners the opportunity to enjoy the backyard while having a variety of experiences and atmospheres,” the architects noted. New windows have also been added to other parts of the home to bring in additional daylight. Inside, original midcentury building elements have been elegantly enhanced. The architects added new arched openings that follow the configurations of the existing arched windows to elevate the sculptural feel of the home. The railing of the central curved staircase — a major focal point — has been kept minimal so as not to detract attention from the staircase’s sculptural shape and the rounded openings in the ceilings. The original wood floor has also been maintained in some rooms while materials for the new floors were carefully selected to complement existing finishes. + Salem Architecture Photography by Phil Bernard via Salem Architecture

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A midcentury home receives a sensitive renovation in Montreal

UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

September 11, 2020 by  
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According to the United Nations’ United in Science Report 2020 , global temperatures could exceed the 1.5°C limit set in the Paris Agreement in the next decade. Global temperatures have been on a steady rise since the 1800s due to the effects of industrialization. According to the report, global temperatures have already risen by 2°F (1.1°C) since the late 1800s. Of greater concern is the fact that the last five years have been hotter than previous years. Although the high temperatures experienced in the last five years could be temporary, there is a cause for alarm if global warming continues at the current rate. According to the UN, the world has about a 25% chance of experiencing a year of temperatures hot enough to push global temperatures past the 1.5°C limit in the next five years. The report, released by the UN World Meteorological Organization, reinstates the importance of the Paris Agreement . In 2015, world leaders set two warming limits, with 1.5°C being the most stringent. The limits were set to mark temperature changes where human survival will be more difficult. Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year The report has come at a time when the U.S. is experiencing record-setting temperatures and destruction. A Labor Day weekend heatwave led to several wildfires in California and burned a record amount of land across the state. Death Valley also hit 130°F last month, marking the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Fires are also burning in the Amazon and the Arctic. “Record heat, ice loss, wildfires, floods, and droughts continue to worsen, affecting communities, nations, and economies around the world,” wrote UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his foreward. The United in Science report highlighted more disruptions that are likely to occur in the coming years as a result of burning fossil fuels . The world should expect increased polar ice melting and rising sea levels. The only hope is for countries to drastically cut down the use of fossil fuels. Guterres said, “The solution to slowing down the rate of global temperature rise and keeping it below 1.5°C is for nations to dramatically cut emissions , with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.” + United in Science 2020 Via Huffington Post Image via Emilian Robert Vicol

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UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

CRA unveils designs for Biotic, a high-tech district in Brazil

September 8, 2020 by  
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After two years of development, international design firm Carlo Ratti Associati and consultancy firm Ernst & Young have unveiled their masterplan designs for Biotic, a high-tech innovation district in Brasilia, Brazil. Inspired by the Brazilian capital’s modernist masterplan engineered by urban planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer, Biotic was conceived as an extension of the city’s historic layout as well as a reinterpretation of the city’s iconic superblocks to create a more nature-centric community with greater mixed-use programming.  Developed for public real estate company TerraCap, the 10-million-square-foot Biotic would be located between the UNESCO World Heritage “Plano Piloto” — the foundation of Brasilia in 1960 — and the 42,000-hectare Brasilia National Park in the northwest of the Federal District. The proposed technology and innovation district focuses on “domesticating nature” to allow residents, workers and visitors closer contact with nature in both public and private areas. Related: How Barcelona “superblocks” return city streets to the people The Biotic project expands on Brasilia’s iconic Superquadra (or superblock ) modules by subdividing each into pedestrian blocks with street fronts. These internal neighborhoods would not only be protected from traffic and pollution, but the inward-facing spaces would also promote social cohesion and community. The masterplan also champions mixed-use programming — a feature that was typically avoided in Brazil’s modernist urban planning in the mid-century. The architects intend to take advantage of Brasilia’s year-round mild climate to cultivate stronger connections with nature. For example, outdoor offices would be designed with curtain walls that could open like real curtains. Digital technologies embedded into plazas , pedestrian zones, shared vegetable gardens and other spaces would be used to monitor sunlight, wind and temperature and create comfortable working environments while allowing close contact with nature. “The office buildings, hovering above the ground level, are designed for sun and wind to come in,” said James Schrader, project manager at CRA. “Thanks to a system of openable wooden facades that can slide along the building like a curtain, the interior spaces will open to the exterior, allowing users to enjoy Brasilia’s weather. This project merges the interior and exterior into one space.” + Carlo Ratti Associati Images via Carlo Ratti Associati

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CRA unveils designs for Biotic, a high-tech district in Brazil

This timber-clad cabin appears to hover over an idyllic lake landscape

September 3, 2020 by  
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Rye-based architectural practice RX Architects has completed a charming cabin at the edge of a lake in Brabourne, an English village within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty about a two-hour drive from London. Dubbed the Lake Cabin, the gabled nature retreat is wrapped in natural wood that will develop a patina over time to help blend the building into the landscape. The remote cabin can only be accessed by a woodland trail, which is inaccessible by vehicles and enjoys uninterrupted views across the lake and to the countryside beyond. Positioned to face north, the Lake Cabin sits at the southern edge of the lake against a backdrop of dense forest. Connection with nature was paramount in the design, which features a natural materials palette, large walls of glazing and a wooden deck that cantilevers over the water. The gabled building is clad in a combination of rough sawn, wide English oak planks as well as thin, narrow-planed English oak planks. “This is combined with a concrete datum line to the base of the building, which steps up to create a concrete bench and log store,” the architects added. Related: A homey, floating cabin makes for the ultimate romantic getaway in South Australia The pared-back design approach continues to the interior of the exposed timber-framed structure, which is covered in limed Douglas fir boards. A bronze seamed roof tops the building for a visual contrast with the timber cladding. The roof extends over the southern and western elevations to provide the L-shaped, cantilevered deck some protection from the elements and unwanted solar gain. Two walls of sliding glass along the south and west sides of the home open up to the deck and create a seamless indoor/outdoor experience with the lake. Like the architectural design, the interior layout is also restrained and centers on a large, open-plan living area, dining space and kitchen that connects with the outdoor deck. A wet room is tucked away near the main entrance, and stairs and a ladder lead up to a lofted sleeping area above.  + RX Architects Photography by Ashley Gendek via RX Architects

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This timber-clad cabin appears to hover over an idyllic lake landscape

Modern passive house is carbon-negative and energy-positive

August 26, 2020 by  
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Designed by McLean Quinlan Architects, the Devon Passivhaus combines contemporary architecture with a rustic outdoor setting. The modern passive house uses a minimalist-yet-elegant brick wall as its facade, with a discreet doorway carved into the front and a simple oriel glass window to peek inside at the stunning interiors. The brick design is modeled after an existing garden wall that connects the property, while the front door mimics the style of an old gate that would have accompanied such a wall in the past. The original garden and footprint inspired the design of the home, while the historic brick paths leading up to the property were restored as well. The house is certified Passive and includes eco-friendly features such as air source heating, MVHR, solar power , battery storage, super-insulation and triple-glazing in order to sustain over 100% of its required energy. Related: Local earth bricks form this inspiring co-working space in Ouagadougou Past the initial brick and into the interior of the home, a glass roofed courtyard with a winter garden is located in the center, helping to channel natural light to the inside. Natural and repurposed materials, including reclaimed terracotta, sawn oak wood and clay plaster, are found throughout the home in order to connect it with the outdoors. The clients are also avid art collectors, so the designers were sure to include spaces to display and curate their many pieces of pottery and paintings. The project leaders decided to aim toward passive capability after achieving planning under the open countryside house route. “We’d always aimed to make the house high performing, but having a benchmark to aim for and test against enabled the whole project team to get behind the ambition,” said Fiona McLean of McLean and Quinlan Architects. “The wall panels, 4Wall fromTribus, were an innovative product. A ‘hyperSIP’ panel constructed using steel framing and magnesium oxide boards sandwiching PIR insulation. Their benefits were excellent airtightness, waterproof, minimal thermal bridging, good core strength and low U-Values.” According to the clients, they’ve become carbon-negative and energy-positive by 40% thanks to the clever design. In the sunny summer months, the house generates 3,500kwh of electricity while only using 60kwh, with remaining power stored in the grid. + McLean and Quinlan Photography by Jim Stephenson via McLean and Quinlan

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Modern passive house is carbon-negative and energy-positive

Meet eBussy, the new modular, electric truck-to-van

August 12, 2020 by  
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The eBussy has a look and name like no other electric vehicle you’ve seen before. German company Electric Brands’s eBussy, short for electric bus system, proves that even larger vehicles can perform well without a trail of  carbon emissions pouring out the back. This 100% electric vehicle integrates  solar panels  to generate enough power for treks up to 200 km (124 miles) without a recharge. Thanks to reliable German innovation, the system regenerates energy from the braking system to add to the power supply too. With a full charge and power from the solar panels, the eBussy can roll up to 600 km (373 miles). Plus, the charge time is only a short three hours.  Related: Volkswagen reveals plans for mobile electric car charging robot Versatile, modular design makes the eBussy stand out. The vehicle features 10 interchangeable body parts that can turn it into a convertible, an offroad vehicle, a box body, station wagon, pickup, box van or camping bus in a few simple steps. The flatbed truck option even has a dumping feature to easily offload cargo. In addition to the remarkable body design options, the interior offers seating options and space configurations to haul either more passengers or more cargo. Even with all the configuration options, the eBussy remains light, weighing in at only 450-600 kg (around 1,100 pounds) in a stripped-down model. Adding function to the already fabulous vehicle, the eBussy can pack and carry up to 1,000 kg (around 2,200 lbs). That’s a lot of camping gear! With the option to recharge using your home outlet, a conventional charging station or solar power alone, eBussy speaks to sustainability. German locals can even swing by an exchange center to swap out drained batteries for fresh ones. Perhaps best of all, the eBussy is up to 98% recyclable , a huge advancement in the world of electric vehicles and green design.  + Electric Brands Images via Electric Brands

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Meet eBussy, the new modular, electric truck-to-van

This energy-efficient home in Spain has a rainwater-fed infinity pool

August 11, 2020 by  
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Find Casa Palerm on the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca, located in the Spanish Mediterranean. The area is known for its lavish beach resorts, world-famous beaches, stunning limestone mountains and ancient ruins. This home in Spain designed by OHLAB is an example of an energy-efficient architectural design that doesn’t detract from its stunning surroundings. The house itself is an extension of an existing hotel in Lloret de Vistalegre, a region in the center of Mallorca that is rich with wide-open countrysides. Near the hotel’s property farmhouse, Casa Palerm functions as a smaller vacation home . Related: This is one of the only LEED Gold-certified hotels in Spain There is one compact, single level making up the house, which is topped with a pitched roof. The entire structure has a width of about six meters with low-cost beams and no columns. This layout not only favors cross-ventilation , natural lighting and thermoregulation of the interior but also provides a parallel layout to take full advantage of the property’s views. The stretching countryside, as well as the Tramuntana Mountains to the north, can be enjoyed from multiple spots in the house. The living/dining room opens up to a massive porch on both sides, providing excellent ventilation during favorable weather. This panoramic format is built intentionally to have cinematographic proportions of 2.66:1, invoking a feel of being inside an old movie theater. The windows here can be completely hidden in the facade to be opened or closed depending on the season. A wattle (cañizo) pergola on the ceiling expands on both sides to protect the terraces from the hot summer sun and to filter the light and shadows. These energy-efficient choices, paired with the discrete design, help integrate the home into its surrounding environment.  Low-maintenance, drought-resistant Mediterranean plants and deciduous trees make up the garden, providing natural shade and aesthetics. Rainwater is stored in the water-collecting tank under the terrace to be reused for the garden irrigation, toilet tanks and the infinity pool. Natural and local materials , such as the rustic local limestone for the mortar plastering, became essential tools during construction. The home also contains reused ceramic tiles for the roof, local mare stone, sepi wood and artisan cement for the floors and sinks. + OHLAB Photography by José Hevia via OHLAB

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This energy-efficient home in Spain has a rainwater-fed infinity pool

MVRDV plans to sustainably repurpose the Dutch Expo 2000 Pavilion

August 11, 2020 by  
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MVRDV has unveiled plans to sustainably transform one of its seminal projects, the Dutch Pavilion at the 2000 World Expo in Hannover. The redesign will highlight the Expo Pavilion’s reputation as a landmark for sustainable design, while transforming it into a co-working office building flanked by two new buildings: one containing student housing and the other comprising offices and parking spaces. The new vision for the Expo 2000 Pavilion will also retain the building’s third-floor forest, which made the pavilion an icon in the 2000 World Expo.  MVRDV’s design for the original Expo 2000 Pavilion responds to the Dutch Expo theme “Holland Creates Space.” The architects took a space-saving approach by stacking six different Dutch landscapes into a tower and leaving the remainder of the site open as multipurpose outdoor space. This “stacked landscape” concept conceptualizes the building as a self-contained ecosystem capable of generating its own internal resource cycles.  Related: MVRDV designs a sustainable “urban living room” for Shenzhen The architects’ new vision for the pavilion maintains the “stacked landscape” concept, while renovating the interior to better fit an office environment. The first floor that was originally used as a grid of greenhouses, for instance, will be turned into an office with a similarly strict rectilinear layout. On the second floor, the architects will repurpose pod planters into glazed meeting rooms and office spaces. The third-floor forest level and exterior staircases will largely be kept the same as will the ground-level “dunes” that will remain as communal meeting areas with small cafes and exhibition spaces. The co-working office building will be complemented by two new buildings that form perimeter blocks around the site and create an entry point on the west side of the site. The larger of the two buildings will contain 370 student apartments as well as 300 bike parking spots. The smaller building will feature three levels of office and meeting rooms as well as ample parking. The two new buildings will feature stepped roofs with colorful accessible terraces with different programming — from gardens and sports facilities to study areas and a cinema — in a nod to the “stacked landscape” concept.  + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV plans to sustainably repurpose the Dutch Expo 2000 Pavilion

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