Huge "light cannons" funnel daylight deep within this ultra green eco city in China

April 20, 2017 by  
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Giant “light cannons” funnel natural light deep within this new high-tech “eco city” in China. NBBJ designed the Nanjing Eco-Tech Island Exhibition Center as an incubator for innovative technology and environmental companies. To strengthen the project’s sustainability, the design team included green roofs , water retention systems, natural ventilation , responsive facades and geothermal conditioning. The Nanjing Eco-Tech Park includes an exhibition hall, research offices and residential buildings. The Exhibition Center welcomes visitors a they approach the island from downtown Nanjing. The peaks on the building’s roof each have an oculus that funnels natural light inside the structure. The complex consists of eight, pentagon-shaped office buildings with large interior courtyards. Related: Amazon’s biosphere domes are slowly taking shape in Seattle The architects conducted light studies to come up with optimal daylighting and shading strategies for different times of the day and year. Light gets diffused by the cone geometry of the light cannons, while the overhangs function as passive solar shading devices. Related: Diébédo Francis Kéré unveils 2017 Serpentine Pavilion with rain-gathering roof The Exhibition Center is the first structure to be built on the island, and it has received the MIPIM Asia Best Chinese Futura Project Bronze Award. + NBBJ Via World Architecture News Lead photo by Paul Dingman

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Huge "light cannons" funnel daylight deep within this ultra green eco city in China

7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding

March 22, 2017 by  
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Last summer researchers revealed crazy bubbling tundra in Siberia in a surreal video. Scientists believe the weird phenomenon is caused by methane released by melting permafrost . Now around 7,000 of those bubbles are getting ready to explode. The bursts could result in small potholes – or large craters . Researchers uncovered 15 bubbles causing the ground to lurch like a waterbed on Bely Island in Siberia last summer. Then scientists found around 7,000 more bubbles on the Gydan and Yamal peninsulas. Yamal Department for Science and Innovation director Alexey Titovsky recently told The Siberian Times, “With time the bubble explodes, releasing gas. This is how gigantic funnels form.” Related: Insane video shows Siberian ground bubbling like a “wobbling waterbed” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06Xc3LtZRWo Scientists think the mysterious craters – or funnels – are connected to climate change . They think when permafrost melts, it releases methane, which causes eruptions that then result in craters. That’s the theory, anyway – Titovsky said they’re continuing to research the bubbles. He told The Siberian Times, “We need to know which bumps are dangerous and which are not. Scientists are working on detecting and structuring signs of potential threat, like the maximum height of a bump and pressure that the earth can withstand.” According to The Siberian Times, scientists are making a map of Yamal’s underground gas bubbles, which could threaten infrastructure and transport in what the publication described as a key energy production region. The Russian Academy of Science’s Ural branch also connected thawing permafrost with the phenomenon. A spokesperson told The Siberian Times of the bubbles, “Their appearance at such high latitudes is most likely linked to thawing permafrost which is in turn linked to overall rise of temperature on the north of Eurasia during the last several decades. An abnormally warm summer in 2016 on the Yamal peninsula must have added to the process.” Researchers Dorothee Ehrich and Alexander Sokolov punctured one of the 15 bubbles found last year, and found the air escaping from the bumps included 20 times more carbon dioxide and 200 times more methane than nearby air, according to EcoWatch. Via EcoWatch and The Siberian Times Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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7,000 methane gas bubbles in Siberia on the verge of exploding

European firms eye artificial island for North Sea wind and solar farm

March 15, 2017 by  
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Of all the opponents of wind turbines , few are as vociferous as the loose collective that planners and developers deride as “Nimby,” a term that derives from the acronym for “not in my backyard.” Driven to stake out real estate further offshore, a group of European companies have devised a plan almost breathtaking in its audacity: create a vast artificial island in the middle of the tumultuous North Sea, populate the area around it with thousands of spinning pylons, and drum up enough renewable energy for millions of Europeans by 2050. The venture, born of the 2050 goals laid out by the Paris agreement on climate change , is a collaboration between Denmark’s Energinet and the German and Dutch arms of electricity firm TenneT . To solidify the partnership, the companies will be meeting with Maroš Šef?ovi?, the European Commissioner for Energy, at the North Seas Energy Forum in Brussels next week to sign a trilateral agreement. If greenlit, the proposed 2.5-square-mile Power Link Island, also known as the North Sea Wind Power Hub, will boast its own harbor, air strip, solar farm, and artificial lake, along with homes for in-residence staff. Early estimates place the price of construction in the ball park of $1.3 billion. Dogger Bank, a large sandbank about 62 miles off the east coast of England, is thought to be the ideal location for the island because it’s centrally located, has waters shallow enough for turbines, and is buffeted by constant wind. Related: China is building artificial islands in disputed South China Sea territory Underwater transmission lines, coursing with energy, could potentially power the homes of 80 million people in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Belgium. By linking the energy markets of those countries, Power Link Island could facilitate international trading in electricity. It could even consolidate energy by serving as a connective hub for other, scattered wind farms or bud off smaller but similar enclaves. “This project can significantly contribute to a completely renewable supply of electricity in Northwest Europe,” said Mel Kroon, CEO of TenneT. There’s another upside: An island of significant scope could, through economies of scale, also whittle down costs. “Offshore wind has in recent years proved to be increasingly competitive and it is important to us to constantly focus on further reduction in prices of grid connections and interconnections,” said Peder Østermark Andreasen, CEO of Energinet. “We need innovative and large-scale projects so that offshore wind can play an even bigger part in our future energy supply.” + Energinet + TenneT Via The Next Web

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Singapore’s giant vertical farm grows 80 tons of vegetables every year

February 10, 2017 by  
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This vertical farm in Singapore grows a whopping 80 tons of veggies every single year. The farm was founded by Panasonic , and it uses LED lights to quickly and efficiently grow produce indoors without depending on unpredictable weather conditions. Panasonic believes indoor farming is a key to the future that could solve food supply issues worldwide. Panasonic started their indoor farm in a 2,670 square foot space and initially produced 3.6 tons of vegetables per year. But the company’s Agriculture Business Division assistant manager Alfred Tham recently told Business Insider that the farm has quadrupled its square footage and food output. Related: Futuristic Japanese indoor vertical farm produces 12,000 heads of lettuce a day with LED lighting Vertical farming allows Panasonic to make the most of the warehouse space, although they do grow their plants in soil in contrast to many vertical farms. They source their LED lights from a local company. Rather than depending on sunlight or rain showers, the farmers can control the indoor farm’s climate – including pH levels, temperature, and oxygen. 40 varieties of crops grow in the indoor farm – from mizuna to romaine lettuce, mini red radishes and Swiss chard. But the goal is to start cultivating 30 additional varieties by March of this year. Right now the flourishing farm accounts for just 0.015 percent of produce grown in the country, but Panasonic hopes to boost that statistic up to five percent. As Singapore currently imports more than 90 percent of its food, indoor farms could enable the island nation to become more self-sufficient. Panasonic is selling the indoor farm’s produce under the brand name Veggie Life, and a three ounce bowl of greens goes for around $5 in grocery stores. They also sell their produce to local restaurants. Via Business Insider Images via Panasonic ( 1 , 2 )

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Scientists find evidence of lost continent beneath Mauritius

February 2, 2017 by  
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A group of geoscientists have uncovered an ancient secret. The scientists from German and South African research institutions found evidence of a formerly undiscovered continent beneath the small Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. This lost continent likely vanished into the ocean around 84 million years ago, undiscovered by humans until just recently. Three geoscientists realized zircon they found on Mauritius was much too old for the relatively new island which formed in the wake of underwater volcanic eruptions eight to nine million years ago. Volcanic eruptions on the island spewed out the zircon crystals that researchers now think may derive from an ancient continent linking India and Madagascar as part of the Gondwana supercontinent. Lewis Ashwal of University of the Witwatersrand , who is the lead author on a paper published online January 31 by Nature , said, “Mauritius is an island, and there is no rock older than nine million years old on the island. However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as three billion years.” Related: Ancient ocean crust in the Mediterranean Sea may predate supercontinent Pangea Back in 2013, scientists found ancient zircons billions of years old in Mauritius beach sand, but that find was controversial as other scientists said the materials could have arrived at the beach from somewhere else. The new discovery lends credence to the idea that there once was a continent under Mauritius billions of years ago, as these zircons could not have been transported to the island via wind or waves, according to Ashwal. He said, “The fact that we have found zircons of this age proves that there are much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have originated from a continent.” Now some people think other pieces of the Gondwana supercontinent may be found in the future, as we explore deeper in the oceans . Via ScienceAlert and Phys.org Images via Ludovic Lubeigt on Flickr and Susan Webb/Wits University

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Scientists find evidence of lost continent beneath Mauritius

Weird but wonderful Wind House brings whimsy to Koreas Jeju Island

January 19, 2017 by  
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A peculiar home has popped up on Korea’s idyllic Jeju island , and it’s unlike any we’ve seen before. Moon Hoon , a Seoul-based architect who’s never afraid to think outside of the box, recently completed the Wind House, a low-lying structure topped with a large-scale golden sculptural object that bears similarities to a duck head or hairdryer. Despite its alien appearance, the golden protrusion’s shape takes inspiration from the wind-swept landscape, while its golden color alludes to the island’s fall and winter foliage. Moon Hoon, the same architect behind a Star Wars House and the candy-inspired Lollipop House , was commissioned by an eye doctor with a love of contemporary art and a taste for the eccentric. The client tasked Hoon to design three small houses with the requirements that they be unique and functional. The resulting Wind House comprises a volcanic stone wall that runs the perimeter of the site, two low-lying houses that sit at right angles to one another, and a third house in the middle topped with a inhabitable and sculptural space that Hoon describes as “blossom[ing] like a golden flower.” The boxy gray-colored homes draw inspiration from traditional Jeju architecture and provide a sharp contrast to the glistening gold crown. Accessible via a spiral staircase , the duck head-shaped space includes a living room, kitchen, and bedroom. Unlike the other interior spaces, which are painted a demure white and kept relatively minimalist, the interior of the “hovering flower” is painted a vibrant shade of red complemented with black furniture and a zebra print floor. A slit window offers views towards Hallasan, the volcano located at the center of the island. Related: The Force is Strong With This Sandcrawler-Inspired Star Wars House in South Korea “The sharp difference and contrast between the horizontal houses and hovering houses grounded secularly by high volcanic rock walls bring about a kind of contrasting harmony like that of flowers blossoming among the green leaves,” says the architect. Moon Hoon and Tomeny Kisilewicz also produced an unusual five-minute science fiction film that stars the Wind House as the hero that saves the residents of Jeju from the erupting Hallasan. + Moon Hoon Via ArchDaily Images © NamGoong sun

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World’s largest CO2 sink stores 27,000 grams of carbon per square meter

January 16, 2017 by  
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Natural areas that capture and store carbon on Earth are becoming an increasingly precious resource, and researchers may have found the mother of all of these in an unlikely place – a small bay in Denmark they claim holds a world-record amount of carbon . According to Phys.org , seagrass and underwater meadows have the capacity to store large amounts of carbon dioxide that has garnered the attention of scientists looking to find ways to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. While meadows of this kind of seagrass are found throughout the world, scientists have pinpointed one meadow in Denmark, which they say is the most efficient. The meadow is located in a bay called Thurøbund on the island of Thurø in the South Funen Archipelago of Denmark , a place where Professor Mariann Holmer of the University of Southern Denmark says has special conditions that add to its carbon capturing capabilities. Related: Breakthrough technology turns coal plant CO2 into baking powder Many seagrass meadows around the world have been investigated. Recently, I was part of a study investigating and measuring carbon storing capabilities of 10 seagrass meadows in the Baltic Sea. No place comes even close to Thurøbund,” says Professor Holmer . “It is a very protected bay—and also very productive. So the seagrass thrives and when the plants die, they remain in the meadow. They are buried in the sediment, and in this process, their carbon content gets stored with them. In Finland, the seagrass grows in open coast areas, which means that the dead plants are much more often washed out to sea, taking the carbon with them. Once the carbon has been taken out to the sea, it is unclear what happens to it.” To put it into perspective with some numbers, Thurøbund stores 27,000 grams of carbon per square meter, and the highest numbers found in other locations around the world have never been more than 10,000 to 11,000 grams per meter squared. Via Phys.org Images via Arnaud Abadie and James St. John , Flickr Creative Commons

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World’s largest CO2 sink stores 27,000 grams of carbon per square meter

Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

January 1, 2017 by  
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On the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia rest the remarkable ruins of Nan Madol, the only ancient city ever constructed on top of a coral reef . Referred to as an ” engineering marvel ” by the Smithsonian and nicknamed the “Venice of the Pacific,” this series of over 90 artificial islets could have once housed around 1,000 people. Although the Saudeleur built the city around 1200 AD, it wasn’t until earlier this year Nan Madol was finally named a World Heritage Site . Nan Madol flourished sometime during the 13th to 17th centuries AD as a spiritual and political center for the Saudeleur. Little remains of the intriguing ancient civilization – no art or carvings – other than marvelous ruins atop the coral reef. Oral history says the Saudeleur came to Pohnpei as foreigners in 1100 and ended up ruling the island, with Nan Madol as their dynastic seat. The city also served as a temple for the god the nobility worshiped. Related: Lasers reveal ancient Cambodian cities hidden by jungle near Angkor Wat The Saudeleur utilized columnar basalt, a kind of volcanic rock, to build the impressive city on a foundation of coral – and as the building materials are so heavy, no one has yet figured out how they accomplished the feat. The heaviest pillars weigh around 100,000 pounds. The walls surrounding the island’s largest structure, a royal temple called Nandauwas, are 25 feet high. The enduring stability of the remains is also something of a mystery. According to the National Park Service , “The Pohnpeians, who had neither binding agents like concrete nor modern diving equipment, sank the heavy stones into the lagoon using an unknown method. The building remains and canals are stable enough that even after centuries of abandonment visitors can still tour Nan Madol by boat.” Earlier in 2016, the World Heritage Committee added Nan Madol to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, underlining the need to protect the fascinating site from unchecked mangrove growth and waterway siltation. Nan Madol is Micronesia’s first World Heritage Site. Via Smithsonian.com , Metropolitan Museum of Art , and National Park Service Images via Stephanie Batzer on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Stefan Krasowski on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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The top 7 WTF moments in fashion this year

December 31, 2016 by  
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Has there ever been a year in our lifetime that so many of us have been so eager to kiss good-bye? It seems like there wasn’t a single thing not touched by tragedy: music, art, fashion , (ahem) politics . Check out our roundup of the top 7 WTF moments of 2016 and tell us which was the worst of the worst.

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7 articles that made us laugh this year

December 31, 2016 by  
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2016 took us to a dark, dark place, and we needed humor more than ever this year to get us through the seemingly endless barrage of pain. From an “Election cycle” bike that repeatedly slaps you in the face to the tiny wall that was erected around Donald Trump’s Hollywood star to the Kardashians’ hilariously sad architecture mixup , read on for the comedic stories that kept us from completely breaking down and throwing in the towel this year. And voice your choice in our end-of-year poll to let us know which one made you LOL the most! [poll id=115]

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7 articles that made us laugh this year

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