This industrial complex has a facade made from its own construction waste

September 18, 2020 by  
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Located in the North India city of Kishangarh, this innovative industrial complex for Stonex India and designed by Deli-based Urbanscape Architects revolves around sustainable construction. The building features sunken courtyards with earth-cooled floors and a stone screen facade made from the complex’s own construction waste. As the main site for Stonex India, one of the country’s top marble manufacturers and suppliers, the architecture of Stonex Kishangarh had to implement stone into its design. Additionally, the company’s respect for its surroundings and for nature, as well as its central ethos — strength and perfection — had to be put on display as well. The result certainly implements all of these concepts, especially in its inspiring stone facade . Related: Award-winning Fly-Ash chair uses recycled coal byproduct The stone screen is fabricated using a combination of leftover stone from a nearby rock quarry and actual stone wastage generated from the building site itself. The screen not only provides solar shading from the southeastern and western glares but also presents a sustainable alternative to wasting stone scraps. Throughout the rest of the complex, spaces are used thoughtfully and allow for maximum potential for green covering and horticulture landscaping. Finished in 2019, the industrial complex stands at about 215,278 square feet in size. What’s more, the orientation and design of the building itself does its part to facilitate climate responsiveness through the concept of earth berming, namely the idea of building a wall of earth around the outside of a structure to achieve passive cooling. Part of the structure is sunken into the ground, combating the hot and dry regional climate to stay cool in the warmer summer months and warm during the winter. Indoor temperatures and floor slabs are regulated with radiant cooling, which allow for 60% efficiency in the structure’s running costs, according to the architects. This model has also led to HVAC load cutting by nearly 40%. + Urbanscape Architects Images via Urbanscape Architects

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This industrial complex has a facade made from its own construction waste

World gets F on Aichi biodiversity report card

September 18, 2020 by  
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In 2010, representatives from 194 countries met in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, and agreed on 20 biodiversity targets to reach in the next decade. Ten years later, the signatories have fallen far short. A new UN report details progress made on what are called the Aichi biodiversity targets. Overall, zero of the targets have been completely fulfilled. The 20 targets are further broken down into 60 elements. Of these, seven have been achieved. Thirty-eight show progress. As the U.S. in 2020 is faced with record-setting wildfires in the west and an unprecedented hurricane season in the southeast and the entire world reels from a pandemic and a year of heightened racial tension, the targets seem heartbreakingly idealistic. For example, “By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, Indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.” If only. Nor have we managed “ By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.” Related: Naturalis Biodiversity Center reopens with a sustainable, future-proof renovation Progress looks modest when faced with the 20 ambitious targets. Global deforestation rates have decreased by about one-third, but they remain high. Some regions have curbed overfishing, but overall things are worse for marine creatures. Perhaps our best accomplishment is saving 48 species from extinction. “Earth’s living systems as a whole are being compromised,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the UN’s head of biodiversity, as reported on Earth.org . “And the more humanity exploits nature in unsustainable ways and undermines its contributions to people, the more we undermine our own wellbeing, security and prosperity.” Members of the Convention on Biological Diversity are currently working on targets for the 2020s. This decade’s agenda has been delayed by COVID-19, but members expect to finalize goals in May 2021. One target under negotiation: a proposal to protect 30% of Earth. + Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 Via Earth.org Image via Wendy Cover/NOAA

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World gets F on Aichi biodiversity report card

Birds are dying mid-air possibly due to climate crisis effects

September 17, 2020 by  
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The deaths of thousands of birds in the southwestern U.S. have sparked concern from scientists. This phenomenon has been described as a national tragedy by ornithologists, who suggest that it could be related to the climate crisis. The species of birds affected include flycatchers, warblers and swallows. Bird carcasses have been spotted in numerous places, including New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arizona and Nebraska. According to Martha Desmond, a biology professor at New Mexico State University (NMSU), many of the cases show signs of starvation. The carcasses have little remaining fat reserves, and many of the birds appear to have nose-dived into the ground mid-flight. Related: Migratory birds triumph over Trump administration “I collected over a dozen in just a two-mile stretch in front of my house,” Desmond said. “To see this and to be picking up these carcasses and realizing how widespread this is, is personally devastating. To see this many individuals and species dying is a national tragedy.” Many of the birds belonged to a group of long-distance migrants that fly from Alaska and Canada to Central and South America. These birds travel long journeys and have to make several landings for food before they proceed. However, the recent fires across the western states might have made it difficult for the birds to follow their regular route. If the birds moved farther inland to the Chihuahuan desert, they likely struggled to find food and water, leading to starvation. At the same time, the southwestern states have experienced drier conditions than usual, which might have reduced the number of insects on which the birds could feed. Scientists have also discussed the possibility that the wildfires and their accompanying smoke may have harmed the birds’ lungs. “It could be a combination of things. It could be something that’s still completely unknown to us,” said Allison Salas, graduate student at NMSU. “The fact that we’re finding hundreds of these birds dying, just kind of falling out of the sky is extremely alarming. … The volume of carcasses that we have found has literally given me chills.” Via The Guardian Image via Florian Hahn

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World’s first "living coffin" made of mycelium is used in a burial

September 17, 2020 by  
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A “living coffin” has been used in a burial for the first time in the Netherlands. The coffin is made out of mycelium , a complex system of thread-like fibers that form the vegetative part of fungi. The coffin, called Living Cocoon, was developed by a Netherlands-based startup known as Loop to serve as a more sustainable option for burials. Speaking to Metro Newspaper , Bob Hendrikx, the founder of Loop, confirmed the successful burial. “I didn’t actually go, but I talked to a relative beforehand — it was a moving moment, we discussed the cycle of life,” Hendrikx said. “He had lost his mother, but he was happy because thanks to this box, she will return to nature and will soon be living like a tree. It was a hopeful conversation.” Related: The many ways fungi are saving our planet Hendrikx explained that mycelium neutralizes toxins and provides nutrients for plants growing above-ground. But mycelium’s natural properties have made it popular in many applications. “Mycelium is constantly looking for waste products — oil, plastic, metals, other pollutants — and converting them into nutrients for the environment,” Hendrikx said. “For example, mycelium was used in Chernobyl, is utilised in Rotterdam to clean up soil and some farmers also apply it to make the land healthy again.” The coffin presents an opportunity for human bodies to feed the earth after their life span. Wooden caskets can take longer than a decade to decompose . Varnished wood or metal components further slow the process. However, by using caskets made out of mycelium, we can speed up decomposition. The mycelium coffin is absorbed in the soil within 4 to 6 weeks. Further, the coffin contributes effectively to the full decomposition of the body, which then enriches the surrounding soil. The entire process can be completed in less than three years. Currently, Loop is working with researchers to determine the effect of human bodies on the quality of the soil . According to Hendrix, the company hopes the research can persuade policymakers to convert polluted areas into forests by burying bodies in such areas. + Loop Via TU Delft and The Guardian Images via Loop

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World’s first "living coffin" made of mycelium is used in a burial

This villa in India is made up of cascading floating terraces

September 17, 2020 by  
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Currently under construction in Hyderabad, India and designed by Studio Symbiosis, the Floating Terraces Villa will measure 11,840 square feet on one acre of natural landscape. One of the property’s most unique features is its cascading terraces , which appear to float from the indoor living space to the outside in order to protect residents from the region’s harsh climate. According to the architects, the nature-focused villa is designed to create an intimate relationship between the building and the surrounding landscape, with the terraces and a series of outdoor courtyards fostering this connection. The city of Hyderabad in South India is known for its iconic monuments that attract visitors from around the world. The area’s arid climate includes extremely hot, dry days with slightly cooler temperatures at night, limiting most people indoors for the majority of daylight hours. This is the main hurdle that the villa addresses through its build. The designers extended the series of cascading terraces from indoor to outdoor, creating a barrier for occupants during the hotter parts of the day and allowing for circulating ventilation with the cooler evening winds. Additionally, the terraces serve to create varied levels of privacy between rooms. Related: BIG’s LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces The center of the Floating Terraces Villa is defined by its double-height living space, which spills into a kitchen, library and formal drawing room. Bedrooms, each with its own dedicated outdoor courtyard and views into the main gardens, are flanked along the central living space as well. A double-height family room is accessed through a semi-covered green space , providing views of four separate courtyards while serving as a supplemental connection to nature. The starting point of the design was originally derived from a traditional Indian system of architecture called Vastu Shastra, modified to create alternating periphery grids that favor outdoor courtyards. Exposed concrete and natural wood are prioritized as construction elements. + Studio Symbiosis Images via Studio Symbiosis

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This villa in India is made up of cascading floating terraces

U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

July 10, 2019 by  
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How can we give power back to farmers — and out carbon back into the ground?

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U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

One of Africa’s biggest cities could run out of water by September

July 25, 2017 by  
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Kenya’s capital city, Nairboi , is dangerously low on water . The city, home to around 3.4 million people, has been rationing water since January 1, but it may not be enough. 60 percent of residents already don’t have reliable water – and the city could run dry by September. Nairobi’s water issues stem back in part to two low rainy seasons. The October to December 2016 rains amounted to only 10.5 inches of water, compared with the 27.5 inches or so expected. The March to May 2017 rains were late, arriving at last in May, but only poured down around 17.3 inches when around 39 inches were expected. Related: 70% of Bolivian residents lack sufficient water amid worst drought in 25 years “Nairobi used to be a swamp but is no longer behaving like one. Our underground rivers have dried up,” engineer Lucy Njambi Macharia of the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company said. The city’s water company now distributes just around 105,668,821 gallons of water a day – when the city needs around 92,460,218 gallons more than that. Experts aren’t without ideas on how to solve the problem. Rainwater harvesting on buildings, “deliberate efforts to cause groundwater recharge,” and pumping treated wastewater back into the ground are among potential solutions. But experts say the most crucial solution is to care for the land. Soil and water conservation from farmers are pieces of the puzzle – and the city could provide incentives so farmers work against erosion . There are already organizations tackling the dilemma. Nairobi Water Fund’s water fund manager Fred Kihara told The Guardian, “Working with 15,000 farmers, we’ve increased water to Nairobi by 27,000 cubic meters a day. Most is terracing, sediment trapping, 200,000 trees a season. The deal is you can keep the soil on your land with this good quality Napier grass that we supply you.” Deputy director general of the World Agroforestry Center Ravi Prabhu seems hopeful. He told The Guardian, “There is growing political will, and investments have started to flow. What is required is social capital from watershed to water user, and this situation could be turned around.” Meanwhile, the Vatican today shut down 100 historic water foundations in solidarity with Rome, according to The Guardian , which also faces crippling water shortages. Rationing in Italy’s capital has left many residents without water for up to eight hours a day. It’s a growing trend that affects all of us – we must be proactive. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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Oldest living manatee in captivity, Snooty, dies at age 69

July 25, 2017 by  
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Grab your tissues, folks. A 1,300-pound manatee named Snooty recently passed away after celebrating his 69th birthday. In the wild, manatees are fortunate to live into their teens, which is partly why the elder marine mammal was beloved by so many. According to the South Florida Museum, Snooty’s death was accidental and that the circumstances are being investigated. Snooty was born in captivity in 1948 — before laws were passed to protect marine wildlife . Every year, a party was thrown to celebrate the manatee’s birthday. This year, thousands of people traveled from all over to visit the celebrity mammal. Regarding Snooty’s untimely death, the museum said in a press release, “Snooty was found in an underwater area only used to access plumbing for the exhibit life support system. Early indications are that an access panel door that is normally bolted shut had somehow been knocked loose and that Snooty was able to swim in. Snooty’s habitat undergoes a daily visual inspection and there were no indications the previous day that there was anything amiss. The Aquarium will remain closed while Museum staff continues its investigation and staff who worked with him have an opportunity to grieve.” In 2015, the manatee was certified as the world’s oldest captive manatee by the Guinness World Records . Just a handful of years prior, he gained notoriety when his life history made him one of the most renowned stewards for endangered species and the environment. Following the manatee’s death, the museum posted on their Facebook page, saying: “We know that our community and Snooty fans around the world share our grief.” (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); The South Florida Museum is deeply saddened to share the news that our beloved Snooty has died. Snooty’s death was a… Posted by South Florida Museum on  Sunday, July 23, 2017 Via BayNews9 Images via Sarasota Herald Tribune , Wikimedia Commons

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Oldest living manatee in captivity, Snooty, dies at age 69

Cougar Annie: An UnSung Eco-Heroine

October 1, 2010 by  
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Image from Ecotrust Canada Gather ’round the campfire and we will tell you a story of a real-life cowgirl who lived in the wilds of British Columbia until she was 97 years old. She was Ada Annie Rae-Arthur, known as Cougar Annie because she was so good at shooting and trapping cougars

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Cougar Annie: An UnSung Eco-Heroine

Urban Orchard Slips Back into the Ground

September 17, 2010 by  
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Images by B. Alter We first visited the Union Street Urban Orchard when it opened, back at the end of June. It is an orchard of 85 fruit trees and more, created on an abandoned site in the east end of London.

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Urban Orchard Slips Back into the Ground

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