Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

March 1, 2019 by  
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A new study shows that close to 2,000 sites across the U.K. have poor air quality due to excess pollution. The cities most affected by high levels of toxic gas were in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, all of which were tested well beyond what is considered safe. One of the main culprits behind the alarming numbers is nitrogen dioxide, a gas that is considered one of the most harmful of urban pollutants. Kensington, Chelsea, Leeds and Doncaster all tested high in nitrogen dioxide in 2017. This gas irritates lungs and creates breathing issues. One of the main sources of nitrogen dioxide is vehicle emissions. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Earlier this week, London’s mayor announced a pollution alert as residents in the country enjoyed a rare warm spell for February. The warning was the first of its kind since last summer and was precipitated by light winds and lack of storms, which usually help drive away harmful gases. While poor air quality is a major issue across the country, London is about to initiate a plan to help clean things up. The city is establishing an ultra-low emission area in central London that will vastly improve air quality. The initiative is expected to remove around 45 percent of emissions by this spring. The researches who conducted the study are part of a group called Friends of the Earth. Based on their findings, the group called for better emission standards throughout the country and are urging ministers to tighten up government control. “It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly 2,000 locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air,” one of the researchers, Simon Bowens, explained. Air pollution has been previously linked to major health problems in human populations, including heart disease, dementia and even miscarriages. Children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution, which can damage lungs and even impact intelligence levels. If London’s new program is successful, hopefully other cities will follow suit and start improving air quality before it becomes an even bigger problem. Via The Guardian Images via Foto-Rabe

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Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

March 1, 2019 by  
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A new study shows that close to 2,000 sites across the U.K. have poor air quality due to excess pollution. The cities most affected by high levels of toxic gas were in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, all of which were tested well beyond what is considered safe. One of the main culprits behind the alarming numbers is nitrogen dioxide, a gas that is considered one of the most harmful of urban pollutants. Kensington, Chelsea, Leeds and Doncaster all tested high in nitrogen dioxide in 2017. This gas irritates lungs and creates breathing issues. One of the main sources of nitrogen dioxide is vehicle emissions. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Earlier this week, London’s mayor announced a pollution alert as residents in the country enjoyed a rare warm spell for February. The warning was the first of its kind since last summer and was precipitated by light winds and lack of storms, which usually help drive away harmful gases. While poor air quality is a major issue across the country, London is about to initiate a plan to help clean things up. The city is establishing an ultra-low emission area in central London that will vastly improve air quality. The initiative is expected to remove around 45 percent of emissions by this spring. The researches who conducted the study are part of a group called Friends of the Earth. Based on their findings, the group called for better emission standards throughout the country and are urging ministers to tighten up government control. “It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly 2,000 locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air,” one of the researchers, Simon Bowens, explained. Air pollution has been previously linked to major health problems in human populations, including heart disease, dementia and even miscarriages. Children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution, which can damage lungs and even impact intelligence levels. If London’s new program is successful, hopefully other cities will follow suit and start improving air quality before it becomes an even bigger problem. Via The Guardian Images via Foto-Rabe

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Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

Metal-clad Eco Cottage puts a modern spin on Irish rural architecture

January 15, 2019 by  
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Ballymoney-based sustainable architecture firm 2020 Architects has completed a new contemporary and low-energy home that offers a refreshing and sustainable take on the typical rural architecture found across Northern Ireland . Located in the coastal fishing village of Ardglass, the Black Cottage (also known as the Eco Cottage) champions low-cost construction and energy efficiency with its simple material palette and highly insulated timber frame. The project is clad in cost-effective black corrugated metal panels and offers a bright and welcoming environment indoors. According to the architects, the stereotypical Northern Irish cottage consists of simple forms, white render and a slate roof. The Black Cottage references the local vernacular with its gabled shape, yet departs from the norm with a black facade; the fiber cement corrugated cladding installed on the timber frame muffles the sounds of rain and wind. Moreover, the dark exterior material helps recede the building into the landscape and protect it from the coastal elements while fulfilling the client’s desires for a building that “challenged the stereotypical contemporary representation of the Irish cottage.” Inside, the building features white walls, large triple-glazed windows  and double-height vaulted spaces that make the interior feel bright and airy. Natural light and perfect views of the marina from the south fill the home, which is set on an elevated and exposed plot on the north shore. In addition to highly effective insulation, the Eco Cottage is equipped with a direct air intake stove and a mechanical heat recovery and ventilation system. Related: Sleep beneath the Milky Way in these amazing Bubble Domes in Ireland “The design draws on a basic vernacular form alongside a very simple palette of material that not only hark back to the agricultural and industrial heritage of the area but would also provide a low cost and low tech solution to the construction,” 2020 Architects said in a project statement. “The palette of dark external materials also helps to settle the building and reduce the impact of an additional building visible from the many vantage points in the harbour.” + 2020 Architects Images via 2020 Architects

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Metal-clad Eco Cottage puts a modern spin on Irish rural architecture

Lume Traveler offers panoramic sky views from an open roof

August 23, 2018 by  
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Just when you thought campers couldn’t offer any more incredible features, along comes Lume Traveler , an inconspicuous aluminum trailer with a simple 6-foot-long retractable roof that lets you gaze at the sky while lying in bed. It’s the icing on the cake for a camper that already offers many modern amenities, including an outdoor kitchen and solar panels . Imagine lying on your back in a comfy double bed and simply retracting a 6-foot by 3.6-foot fabric panel that covers most of the camper’s roof, revealing a sweeping view of the sky, day or night. Gaze at constellations, count falling stars or soak up some rays as you get lost in the reverberating orchestra of nature’s sounds. It even has a built-in screen to keep out bugs and other unwanted creatures. When you’re ready to come down to earth, Lume Traveler is just as comfortable and stimulating. The enhanced interior boasts a leather wall, teak floors and a place specially designed to house an optional audio system and 32-inch flat screen TV. Upscale trims include oak, linen, convenient roll-up curtains and gray wool felt wall coverings that repel dirt. Related to: Sleep beneath the Milky Way in these amazing Bubble Domes in Ireland Cooking al fresco is another feature that adds an adventurous aspect to Lume Traveler’s charm. Just open the trailer’s rear hatch to reveal two gas burners perched atop a stainless steel counter. For larger meals, fire up the grill with the extra gas connection. Under the kitchen counter is a 40-liter fridge that slides out for easy access. Meal preparation is a snap with a sink and cutting board combo, and there is ample lower and upper cabinet space for dishes, pots, pans and dry goods. All indoor power is generated by a 100-watt solar panel . All in all, the Lume Traveler combines the joy of the great outdoors, the security of a sound shelter and the basic amenities of home. This innovative trailer is a development inspired by campers who long to convene with nature while still enjoying some modern conveniences. + Lume Traveler Via Curbed Images via Lume Traveler

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Lume Traveler offers panoramic sky views from an open roof

Google will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2018

October 13, 2017 by  
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After 10 years as a carbon-neutral company, Google has announced that all of its data centers and offices will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy , mostly from solar and wind sources. The corporate giant made quick progress towards meeting their goal, which was set in 2016 and will be fulfilled by 2018. In its 2017 Environmental Report, Google, self-described as the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, declared that in making its big shift to clean energy, it had pioneered “new energy purchasing models that others can follow” and “helped drive wide-scale global adoption of clean energy.” “We believe Google can build tools to improve people’s lives while reducing our dependence on natural resources and fossil fuels,” said Google executive Urs Hölzle. Google’s rapid shift to clean energy is welcome not only for the influence it may have on other companies but also for its impact on Google’s energy consumption, which was estimated in 2015 to be as large as the city of San Francisco . In line with its sustainability focus, Google has also launched an initiative to add air quality sensors to Google Street View vehicles and plans to change its waste disposal systems to ensure that the company adds nothing to landfills. Half of Google’s 14 data centers have already reached that particular milestone. Related: Alphabet X to beam wireless service to Puerto Rico with a fleet of balloons Most of Google’s renewable energy is purchased from an outside provider. However, they are making important moves to provide some of their own in-house energy, including the company’s recent acquisition of the Tellenes wind farm in Norway. The 12-year deal to provide 100 percent of the energy produced will power Google’s data centers in Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland . Google expects to purchase power as soon as it is available, which is expected in fall 2017. Via Inverse Images via Wikimedia Commons   (1)  and Robbie Shade/Flickr

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Google will be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2018

Virgin Hyperloop One: Richard Branson invests in Musk-inspired high-speed transportation

October 13, 2017 by  
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A Hyperloop project just got a huge boost from none other than business magnate Richard Branson . Hyperloop One will rebrand as Virgin Hyperloop One, as the Virgin Group invests in the high-speed transportation effort. The investment follows a July full-scale test , which co-founder Shervin Pishevar described as their Kitty Hawk moment. Virgin Hyperloop One seems set to take on the world with help from Branson. He said in a blog post Virgin has always “been known for disruption and investing in innovative companies” and that he visited their test site, DevLoop, near Las Vegas during the summer, and was impressed with the tests. He’s now investing in the effort, and will also sit on the company’s board of directors. Related: Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system Branson said during the second phase of testing, the Hyperloop team achieved a top speed of 192 miles per hour, and the longest test was 10.6 seconds. 436 meters, or around 1,430 feet, is the maximum distance traveled. The DevLoop tube length is 500 meters – around 1,640 feet – long, with a diameter of 3.3 meters, or around 11 feet. Hyperloop One said in their statement on the investment that the partnership “feels like a natural fit.” Their President of Engineering Josh Giegel once worked at Virgin Galactic. Branson said he invests in people, not simply technology . Hyperloop One said they already have projects afoot in the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands, and hope to accelerate commercialization with the help of the Virgin Group. Both Branson’s blog and Hyperloop One’s statement mentioned the importance of clean transportation technology – the Hyperloop mode of transportation will be all- electric and efficient. Even though the Virgin name is now attached to the project, Hyperloop One said Virgin won’t be the sole operator. Around the world, they’ll work with many different operators, chosen by customers. Via Virgin Group and Hyperloop One Images via Greg Rose/Virgin and Hyperloop One

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Virgin Hyperloop One: Richard Branson invests in Musk-inspired high-speed transportation

Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill

July 3, 2017 by  
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Ireland is one signature away from banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking . After the country’s House of Representatives, the Dáil Éireann, passed a fracking ban the end of May, Ireland’s Senate, the Seanad Éireann, followed suit the end of June. Now the bill just needs Irish President Michael Higgins’ signature before Ireland bids farewell to the controversial practice. “We’ve made history,” said Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin, who introduced the bill, after the vote. President Higgins is expected to sign the bill “in the coming days,” according to the Fine Gael Party . France, Bulgaria, and Germany are the only other European Union states to have banned the practice onshore so far. Related: Ireland votes to be world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels “Fracking must be seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland,” McLoughlin said in a statement. “If fracking was allowed to take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland it would pose significant threats to the air, water, and the health and safety of individuals and communities here.” According to The Irish Times, politicians across the political spectrum in Ireland supported the bill. A public consultation earlier in 2017 drew 8,000 submissions, with just one opposing the ban. Environmental activists touted the bill as protecting people, the environment, and water quality in the country. There are large shale deposits in multiple counties in Ireland such as Sligo and Leitrim, the counties McLoughlin represents. Irish communities will be safe from the negative impacts of fracking seen in towns and cities in the United States, according to McLoughlin, where states are beginning to consider fracking bans . Earlier this year Maryland joined Vermont and New York to ban fracking , and they were the first state with gas reserves to do so. Via The Irish Times and EcoWatch Images via Friends of the Earth Ireland and greensefa on Flickr

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Ireland set to ban fracking after both houses of Parliament pass bill

Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

February 27, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy can generate enough power for entire countries–a fact Denmark can confirm. Last week on Wednesday, the nation met all of its power needs via wind energy , according to information from wind power trade organization WindEurope . The group said the energy Denmark produced from onshore and offshore wind was sufficient to power 10 million European Union (EU) households. Denmark produced 27 GWh via offshore wind and 70 gigawatt-hours (GWh) via onshore wind on February 23, according to WindEurope. This isn’t the first time wind power has achieved renewable energy feats in the country; 2015 saw several big days for wind energy. By the end of that year, 1,271 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind and 3,799 MW of onshore wind was installed in Denmark, amounting to a little over five gigawatts (GW) of wind energy. Related: Germany generated so much renewable energy last weekend electric prices went negative The industry did experience a slight slump in 2016, owing mainly to low winds. Before that year, Danish Wind Industry Association CEO Jan Hylleberg said since 2008 they’d “experienced continuous growth in the wind energy production and each year set a new world record.” Although the industry expected the trend wouldn’t continue in 2016, Hylleberg said the fact they didn’t maintain that upward movement was frustrating, but it appears 2017 is off to a soaring start. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind ‘s new nine MW wind turbine already smashed the record for energy generation in a 24 hour period during testing at a test field off Denmark’s coast. Hylleberg described Denmark as world champions at harnessing wind. But the Nordic country wasn’t the only nation to obtain a large amount of power via wind energy last week. WindEurope also reported Germany and Ireland respectively met 52 and 42 percent of their electricity needs with wind. According to the organization, “Wind power in the EU as a whole covered almost 19 percent of the bloc’s electricity needs.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

Ireland votes to be world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels

January 26, 2017 by  
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In a historic move, Ireland may become the world’s first country to fully divest from all fossil fuels , according to 350.org’s Fossil Free Europe . The country’s parliament just passed “first-of-its-kind fossil fuel divestment legislation” with a majority vote. The historic bill could enable Ireland to fully divest their sovereign wealth fund, which is worth more than 8 billion Euros or around $8.5 billion, from oil, gas, and coal. Fossil Free Europe and Trócaire reported today that the bill passed in the Irish parliament’s lower house, the Dáil. Fossil Free Europe described the event as “an important moment in the history of the divestment movement.” Related: Sydney plans to divest $500 million from fossil fuels Trócaire Executive Director Éamonn Meehan said in a statement, “The Irish political system is now finally acknowledging what the overwhelming majority of people already know: that to have a fighting chance to combat catastrophic climate change we must phase out fossil fuels and stop the growth of the industry that is driving this crisis.” The bill is now headed for the committee stage, according to Trócaire and Fossil Free Europe, who noted last week all major political parties support it, except the Fine Gael political party.. Meehan thinks the move could send a powerful message to the rest of the world, as a climate change denier takes control of the White House, and said, “The support of a majority in the Dáil for this bill is an incredibly important moment for the climate justice movement in Ireland and will inspire other countries to follow our lead.” A few years ago Norway’s sovereign wealth fund also made a move to divest from some fossil fuel companies, but not all; according to EcoWatch they still had billions in other fossil fuel companies. Via Fossil Free Europe and Trócaire Images via Justin Pickard on Flickr and Fossil Free Facebook

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Ireland votes to be world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels

The Keystone XL pipeline would only create 35 full-time, permanent jobs

January 26, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump seems to think the words ‘create jobs ‘ grant him the ability to forgo any fact-checking. He’s said he supports the Keystone XL pipeline because it would create 28,000 jobs , but it turns out the controversial project would generate a mere 35 full-time, permanent jobs. Trump’s mysterious 28,000 number doesn’t originate in TransCanada’s government application or the State Department’s years-long study of the pipeline, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Instead, they say the pipeline would create 35 full-time, permanent jobs, and maybe 15 temporary contractor positions. Back in 2014 the State Department provided that 35-job figure in their 11-page report. The pipeline would also create 3,900 “person years of employment.” Related: Trump signs executive actions to reinstate Keystone and Dakota Access Pipeline Let’s dig into that “person years of employment” figure. According to the NRDC, that number means there’s enough pipeline construction work for 3,900 people to work full-time for one year. But since the pipeline could take two years, the NRDC said “a more realistic way to view this number is 1,950 full-time construction jobs lasting for the two year timeline of the project’s construction.” Those jobs could benefit thousands of people, but the figure isn’t even close to 28,000 jobs. The 35 full-time positions would work in TransCanada’s Nebraska office and monitor day to day operations for the pipeline. The reasons against the pipeline that led to President Barack Obama’s rejection still hold true today. According to NRDC, “It’s an environmental disaster waiting to happen, a climate-wrecking project with no place in today’s energy mix, and it’s not in America’s national interest.” They said the pipeline will benefit Canadian oil companies far more than the American economy. If Trump actually wants to create jobs instead of just blathering about it, he should take a closer look at renewable energy – the growing industry could add not 28,000, but millions of jobs . Via Natural Resources Defense Council Images via Wikimedia Commons and NRDC pix on Flickr

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The Keystone XL pipeline would only create 35 full-time, permanent jobs

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