A gorgeous eco hotel to open in the Dolomites

May 30, 2019 by  
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In June, the Adler Hotel Group will debut ADLER Lodge Ritten, a new eco hotel in Italy’s Dolomites mountain range. Sited on the Ritten plateau, the new hotel features views of some of the world’s most beautiful mountains and forests. The hotel group expects the ADLER Lodge Ritten to attract city dwellers wishing to get away from it all. The retreat was designed to blend into the surrounding forest rather than stand out. It is built from local timber and resembles other rural alpine structures. Related: A series of geometric, sustainable treehouses is imagined for the Italian Dolomites The ADLER Lodge Ritten meets Klimahaus ( Climate House ) standards, which means it adheres to strict environmental protection and energy conservation measures. In addition to the main structure, which houses the lobby, bar, restaurant and spa, two additional buildings each contain 10 junior suites. Twenty private one- and two-story chalets are also scattered around the property, with some built around a small lake. Each room has its own bio sauna. Billed as a gentler alternative to a Finnish sauna , bio saunas warm the body without getting as hot as a regular sauna nor as humid as a steam room. Guests who yearn for hotter temperatures can use the classic steam sauna in the main building or venture into one of two saunas set in the forest. “Under treetops, you can experience the feeling of untouched nature even better,” said spa director Emily Brugnoli. The hotel will work on an inclusive arrangement, meaning meals and drinks are included in the room rate. Chef Hannes Pignater’s menus will focus on local and regional products, and he’ll use organic ingredients whenever possible. “My cuisine is creative and authentic at the same time, an interaction of two culinary traditions — quality products from our committed local farmers in South Tyrol, and delicious specialties from other parts of Italy,” he said. Guests who want the most relaxing getaway don’t even need to drive themselves around the area. The Rittnerbahn, a historic narrow-gauge railway , stops 200 meters from the hotel. While visiting, guests can get around on bikes, skis or snowshoes, depending on the season. + Adler Lodge Ritten Images via Adler Resorts

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A gorgeous eco hotel to open in the Dolomites

NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change

March 19, 2019 by  
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On Thursday March 14, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City unveiled a $10 billion plan to prepare lower Manhattan for the inevitable invasion of sea level rise predicted with climate change. The plan was announced alongside the release of the Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study , which provides a complete assessment of predicted climate risks, including sea level rise, storm surge, extreme rainfall and heat waves. The plan includes extensive construction of permanent and smartly integrated “pop-up” barriers, as well as a proposal to extend the city’s footprint by 500 feet between the Brooklyn Bridge and the South Ferry Terminal. Lower Manhattan gets expanded According to the study, the buildings between the Brooklyn Bridge and South Ferry Terminal are too close to the coast and too densely concentrated with utility and subway lines for the integrated barriers planned for other neighborhoods. Space for additional infrastructure is highly limited. The proposed concept is to build out the land by approximately two blocks at a higher level, so as to act as a raised barrier (called a berm) that protects the Financial District from high tides. Related: Women are essential to climate resilience in the Caribbean — here’s why De Blasio’s plan to expand the city’s footprint into the East River is not unprecedented. In fact,  Gizmodo  reports that Ellis Island, Rikers Island, the FDR Drive, the World Financial Center and Battery Park City are all built on in-filled land. Before urbanization, Manhattan was a marshy island that served as a natural buffer, bearing the brunt of waves and protecting mainland – so it’s no wonder the city built on this land is vulnerable. New York City’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg had also proposed a similar land addition during his term. Other adaptation measures New York City’s new climate change plan also includes $500 million for resilience projects to protect other lower Manhattan neighborhoods, including some affordable housing projects. These resiliency projects include flip-up walls and barriers that can be deployed if a storm is approaching. The discrete, low-impact designs maximize recreational space – such as parks, coastal walkways and fitness areas — but can be flipped-up to provide a fortified wall during emergencies. Other planned adaptation measures include: -a five-mile sea wall around Staten Island – sand dunes around the Rockaways -$165 million to elevate the esplanade in the Battery (construction to begin in 2021) -a combination of flood barriers and deployable walls in Battery Park City -$3.5 million for water and sand-filled temporary barriers in Two Bridges and Financial Districts (to be installed in preparation for the 2019 hurricane season) Mayor de Blasio argues that some of the funding for this expansive project should come from federal funds. In an op-ed in New York Magazine , de Blasio argued that protective measures to address climate change-related risks, such as the invasion of the sea , should be just as important as any federal military equipment. “It will be one of the most complex environmental and engineering challenges our city has ever undertaken and it will, literally, alter the shape of the island of Manhattan,” de Blasio wrote. “The new land will be higher than the current coast, protecting the neighborhoods from future storms and the higher tides that will threaten its survival in the decades to come.” New York City at risk The Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study was funded in part by city and state funding from post-Hurricane Sandy recovery dollars. The hurricane that pummeled the city in 2012 was a wake-up call for city officials and demonstrated the imminent threat of sea level rise and storm surge. Sandy caused $19 billion dollars of damage and claimed 43 lives. Electrek reported  that 72,000 buildings in New York City, worth a combined $129 billion, are within a predicted flood zone. By other estimates , 37 percent of lower Manhattan is at risk of storm surge by 2050, and by 2100 the level of the ocean is expected to be 18-50 inches higher than its current level. Related: Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests Equitable and environmental concerns Environmentalists are concerned that the build-out will have negative impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems and point out that the Mayor’s plan lacks an in-depth assessment of the environmental repercussions and cost-benefit analysis. Still others argue that the plan focuses on the big banks and big business areas of lower Manhattan but ignores other economically vulnerable areas throughout the five boroughs. Given the magnitude of the build out and the expected permitting processes, the additional land may not be a reality for at least five years, during which time environmental impact assessments could be carried out. Most city officials, however,  argue that with “$60 billion of property, 75 percent of the city’s subway lines, 90,000 residents and 500,000 jobs,” the proposed lower Manhattan area is a clear, though perhaps not equitable, priority for the city and ideally for the nation. + NYC Economic Development Corporation Images via Shutterstock

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Green-roofed timber dwelling in Austria is built with recycled materials

March 19, 2019 by  
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In the historic Austrian village of Purkersdorf, Vienna-based architectural practice Juri Troy Architects has completed the L House, a timber home named after its L-shaped form integrated with sustainable design elements. Built with numerous recycled materials, the house forms a strong connection with nature from its green roof to its large windows that sweep views of the bucolic outdoors in. Nestled into a southern slope above the village of Purkersdorf, the 3,450-square-foot L House boasts striking views of the Vienna woods. Despite its corner lot location, the home’s elevated position affords it privacy; the lower level of the two-story home is obscured from view. As a result, most of the bedrooms are located on the ground floor, where they open up to a south-facing outdoor terrace . The cantilevered upper volume primarily consists of the living spaces, including an open-plan dining area, kitchen and living room that open up to a covered outdoor terrace. The parking pad and main entrance are also on this level as is a bedroom suite. To take advantage of views, floor-to-ceiling glazing opens the open-plan living areas up to the outdoors on two sides. To the south is the public-facing terrace, while the more private outdoor spaces—a courtyard and terrace with a natural pool—are tucked into the hillside. In addition to the use of white fir for cladding the upper volume, the architects also lined the interior walls and ceilings with white fir and built the doors and furnishings out of the same material. Related: A massive gabled roof protects this minimalist timber home from the snow As part of L House’s sustainability-focused design, the architects also used numerous recycled materials and topped part of the building with a green roof that buffers rainfall and improves roof insulation. Deep roof overhangs mitigate unwanted solar heat gain while large operable glazing lets in an abundance of natural light and natural ventilation. + Juri Troy Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Juri Troy

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Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests

March 8, 2019 by  
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Italy is facing a major climate change crisis as the country’s olive harvests continue to decline. Italy’s olive industry has witnessed a 57 percent decrease in olive production, and according to a leading climate scientist, extreme weather is at the forefront of the crop shortage. Olive tree farms across Italy have been devastated by weather-related events this past year, including heavy rainfalls, unpredictable frosts, droughts and powerful winds. All of these weather patterns coincide with what climate scientists have predicted would happen in the event of global warming . Related: Biodiversity decline puts food supply at risk “There are clear observational patterns that point to these types of weather extremes as the main drivers of [lower] food productivity,” Professor Riccardo Valentini explained. Valentini noted that below-zero temperatures are not common in Italy, and extremes like this were foretold through climate change models. Research from the United Nation’s climate change panel also predicted similar weather patterns and indicates that the worst is yet to come. When it comes to olive trees, any abrupt change in temperature can have a devastating effect on the harvest. Valentini explained how a day or two of freezing temperatures can harm the trees and hurt their development. After they have experienced extreme weather , the trees never fully recover and are more susceptible to disease and pest infestations. As a whole, temperatures in Italy and the surrounding Mediterranean have gone up by around 1.4C over the past century, while rainfall has decreased by a staggering 2.5 percent. The changes in weather have cost the country over 1 billion dollars in olive production. Government officials are scrambling to come up with a viable solution but have yet to offer any resources for farmers in the region. Italy is not the only country affected by the changes in weather. The European commission recently predicted that olive harvests in Portugal will decline by around 20 percent this coming year. Greece will take a much larger hit with a decline of around 42 percent. All signs point to a continually increasing problem for European countries, as putting a stop to climate change is proving to be an intricate issue. Via The Guardian Images via vpzotova

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Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests

TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste

March 8, 2019 by  
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If you’ve purchased a TV or other appliance in the past few decades, you’ve experienced the massive chunks of polystyrene foam that came with it. Plastic foam as it is known, also commonly called by the brand name Styrofoam , has dominated the packaging and insulation industries for many years and brought with it tons of waste. Taking an estimated 500 years to break down, the product leaves much to be desired from a sustainability standpoint. There is no doubt that plastic foam is one of the least sustainable products on the market, yet it is still prevalent because it works so well. A newcomer to the market, TemperPack, has developed an eco-friendly option that hopes to eliminate the need for plastic foam altogether. Obviously, TemperPack is not alone in its desire to bring the product to market, as they have sourced around $40 million in funding to further develop the technology . Related: Jamaica will ban plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam by 2019 Longtime friends and now co-founders Brian Powers and James McGoff developed a patent-pending product called ClimaCell that is aimed at sustainability from production through the waste cycle. The company claims that the manufacturing produces 97 percent less carbon emissions than plastic foam manufacturing. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the ClimaCell is the ability to add it to curbside recycling where available. The company has taken the steps to obtain OCC-E certification, ensuring the product meets recycling standards equal to basic cardboard, which has an extraordinarily high recycle rate. The new product is set to replace large hunks and sheets of plastic foam with its cushioning capabilities. In addition, ClimaCell offers an alternative for disposable food shipping coolers while ensuring perishables arrive safely and remain cold during transport. Several thicknesses are available to cater to the different needs of businesses throughout seasonal and product changes. Using the technology in a similar way, TemperPack also produces a completely recyclable alternative to packing peanuts and bubble wrap for full-spectrum packaging and packing options. TemperPack aims to offer complete solutions to businesses in order to make it easier for them to lessen their environmental impact. In the end, its hopes to achieve its mission of solving packaging problems through sustainable design. High consuming industries include pharmaceutical and food companies with a need to keep products cold. The company estimates the use of ClimaCell has diverted 10 million pounds of plastic foam from the waste stream. + TemperPack Via Forbes Images via TemperPack

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Maven Moment: Lucia the Seamstress

January 16, 2019 by  
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My mother was trained as a seamstress in Italy when … The post Maven Moment: Lucia the Seamstress appeared first on Earth911.com.

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A historic hotel is sustainably revamped into a charming alpine village getaway

December 17, 2018 by  
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Bolzano and Berlin-based design practice NOA (network of architecture) recently renovated and expanded the Zallinger Refuge, a holiday guesthouse in the Dolomites that prides itself on its eco-friendly features. Located in Seiser Alm at 2,200 meters with breathtaking mountain views, the updated hotel comprises a cluster of structures that reference the site’s history and South Tyrolean architecture. The project has been certified under Climahotel, a certification program by the Climate House Agency of the Province of Bolzano that recognizes eco-tourism development. The Zallinger Refuge traces its beginnings to the mid-nineteenth century. Seven barns once surrounded the structure, however were later replaced by a single large building near the turn of the century. In a nod to the early site history, the architects constructed seven new chalets arranged in pairs to “bring back the charm of an alpine village.” Crafted to reflect the structure of the ancient barns with a modern twist, the chalets are built using prefabrication methods with stacked wooden blocks and wood shingle roofs to achieve a contemporary “log cabin” appearance. “In this project we have also tried to bring out that strong relationship between architecture and context, which characterizes all our works,” said architect Stefan Rier. “We want to propose new models of life and hospitality that on the one hand recover traditional forms and materials, on the other hand express quality of design, high levels of comfort and sustainability. The alpine environment is a complex and fascinating system that must be understood and respected. We think it’s important to think of new spaces and ways to inhibit it: environments on a human scale, comfortable, welcoming, but above all unique and authentic.” Related: Luxury lakeside hotel promises a return to nature in Italy In addition to the original 13 rooms in the central guesthouse, the Zallinger Refuge has added 24 rooms in the new mini-chalets. Timber lines the interiors for a cozy feel, while an energy-efficient pallet boiler provides the heating and hot water supply. The historic lodge was redesigned to include the reception, the lobby, the lounge and the restaurant. A new metal-clad building introduced to the site houses the wellness area with a sauna overlooking stunning views. + NOA Photography by Alex Filz via NOA

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A historic hotel is sustainably revamped into a charming alpine village getaway

Your guide to natural holiday decorations

December 17, 2018 by  
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The holidays offer the perfect opportunity to gather with family and friends, enjoy good food and create lasting memories. Hosting the party can mean anything from sending a casual invite for game night to creating a 10-course dinner. Whether the season is filled with cozy nights at home watching seasonal movies or nightly entertaining to catch up with friends, a welcoming environment makes you and your guests feel right at home. Fortunately, creating a festive vibe doesn’t require a trip to the commercialized holiday aisle at your nearest department or home improvement store. Instead, look for natural elements that bring a bit of the outdoors in during the otherwise unwelcoming cold season. Here are some ideas to spruce up your space in a sustainable way. Wreaths Wreaths are easy to make and offer a ton of options depending on what you have available in your area. Grab those woody grape vines and form them into a circle. Use gardener’s wire to attach your favorite natural elements , such as berries or dried flowers. Even a single long sprig of eucalyptus makes a quick wreath with a pleasant scent. Evergreen branches are also useful in this endeavor. Attach them to a wire straw wreath frame and add poinsettia leaves and ribbon for a festive door decoration. Smaller wreaths can double as a centerpiece with a pillar candle in the center. Related: Simple DIY upcycled holiday decor Centerpieces Speaking of centerpieces, natural elements make the best appeal for the dining table. Select your favorite glass water pitcher or salad bowl and fill it with colorful citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes or grapefruit. Mix up the look with some added woody herb stems and leaves, such as lavender or mint. Alternately, pick a color theme such as red apples, currants, pomegranate and cranberries. Because candles are always a welcome addition to the table, hollow out apples or gourds and place tea lights inside. Surround them with vines or leaves to incorporate different heights into the look. Another classic centerpiece can be created out of a long piece of bark or driftwood. Simply balance other natural elements on top, such as nuts and colorful berries. Mantles and tabletops Large, flat surfaces naturally draw in the eye, so mantles, sofa tables and similar surfaces provide a great opportunity to introduce natural elements into a space. Begin with pine boughs trimmed from the tree. Add layers of color with holly berries and pinecones. Then, elevate the interest with varied glass bowls, vases or glasses. Fill each with your favorite combination of nuts, spices, herbs, flowers and fruits. For a particularly cozy appeal, weave LED lighting through the display. Scents Although adding visual elements to your decor makes an effective statement, remember to also invite the scents of nature into your home. While your Christmas tree may offer the smell of evergreen, there are many other opportunities to bring in the subtle essence of the outdoors. Go with an old-fashioned potpourri by leaving a combination of citrus, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon in some water to simmer on the stove. Simplicity When it comes to decorating for the holidays, less is more. Keep displays and centerpieces simple and streamlined. Nature is already elegant, so there is no need to overdress her. Instead, combine elements with small touches here and there. Even a simple bowl of walnuts or hazelnuts brings with it a connection to nature. Rather than blanketing a table with a variety of creations, use a colorful runner with a pinecone-filled wooden bowl instead. Take that lemon tree you brought inside for winter and add a few bulbs for a festive touch. Create subtle appeal with drink markers handmade from cork, seashells or pieces of bark. Natural fibers In your efforts to ring in the season with a touch of nature, remember that in addition to the living elements, there are textiles sourced from nature that can have the same effect. For example, natural burlap comes from jute, a plant fiber. The sight and feel of burlap transports the nature-lover to times in the barnyard feeding grain to the farm animals or out on the lake surrounded by the ropes on the sailboat. Use fibers like burlap to make a natural-looking wreath. Make small bags out of the material and use them as a planter for small cuttings or herbs. Hang them from the curtain rod or place them in the windowsill. Similarly, wrap rope around candle holders for a salty-skin, nautical feel. Related: A guide to the best holiday gifts for an eco-friendly home Materials from nature In addition to textiles and rope, other elements from nature bring harmony and calmness to indoor spaces. Clay is a natural element that makes a nice container for earthy additions like shells and colorful rocks. Moss and cork are two other examples that will make your space more inviting for the holidays. Mirroring nature Remember that nature offers seasons of color and flourish. Winter is a time of light growth and a feeling of calm. Bring that sense inside with basic elements and a few punches of color. Also remember other elements of nature, such as sunlight and water. Make a tabletop fountain from a large bowl with a basic pump and tiered rocks. Add moss for a softer effect. Alternately, feed water through a pump to a water feature of terracotta pots stacked on their sides, pouring into each other. Even though winter is a subtle time, plants and flowers still bloom throughout the season. Your holiday decor can be as simple as a single plant or as bold as a decorated live tree in your foyer. Images via Jez Timms , Couleur , Petra and Shutterstock

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nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee

November 20, 2018 by  
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Vegan sneakers? You bet! Most people know that the fashion industry is notorious for contributing to global waste, heavy water consumption and high electrical usage. The shoe industry is no exception with the traditional petroleum-based synthetic soles and a reliance on harsh chemicals. One company, nat-2 , has taken a stand against this rampant pollution with its new coffee sneakers, made from — you guessed it — recycled coffee. The unisex design incorporates natural materials from the top to the bottom, and there are two different styles to choose from, a high-top and a low-top. The leather-looking portion of the shoe comes from PET recycled water bottles, helping to remove post-consumer plastic waste from the landfills. Plus, by replacing leather, nat-2 refuses to subscribe to the environmental problems associated with raising beef and toxic tannery byproducts that pollute the planet. The rich chocolate-colored covering comes from up to 50 percent recycled coffee that provides the suede-like texture. The company reports that the shoes do exude a subtle coffee scent. Related: These sustainable sunglasses smell like coffee and decompose into fertilizer The outsole of the shoe features real rubber, rather than the non-sustainable synthetic rubber that many companies use. To avoid harsh chemicals that not only put workers in danger but also leach into the soil after hitting the landfill, the company uses a water-based glue that is free from animal ingredients. In addition, the insole is made from naturally antibacterial cork , and the upper portion features nat-2’s signature reflective glass for added style. Handmade in Italy in a family-owned, high-tech facility, the sneakers are made in a production process that cuts out much of the carbon dioxide pollution from traditional coal-burning facilities that mass produce the estimated 20 billion shoes flooding the market annually. nat-2 founder Sebastian Thies developed the shoe following the release of another eco-friendly shoe, the fungi sneaker, which is made from tree fungus. The first run of the coffee sneakers is sold out, but more shoes are in production. + nat-2 Images via nat-2

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Beer prices expected to soar as climate change challenges barley production

October 17, 2018 by  
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Shrinking barley yields caused by climate change will be disrupting the beer industry in the coming decades. The grain is central to beer production, and a new study published on Monday signals trouble for brewers who rely on the failing crop. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage worldwide, and consumers are equally as dismayed by the report, which will cause a surge in beer prices up to two times its current cost for some nations. The shortages in barley production are caused by extreme weather that has intensified because of global warming . Both heat waves and droughts are expected to decimate the beer industry in the second half of the century. These events, which are predicted to occur every two or three years, are directly linked to rising temperatures. At the current expected rates of temperature rise, experts say the production drop is inevitable. Related: A beer crisis is brewing in Germany as bottle recycling slows amid heatwaves The study, published by researchers at the University of East Anglia, said that brewery troubles are minor in comparison to other challenges the planet will face from climate change. Among these are food security, fresh water and storm damage. Even so, the 3 to 17 percent drop in barley yields is disheartening for beer fans who will face shortages and price spikes. China is set to face the most shortages this century, with the U.S. as a runner up. Beer production in Germany and Russia will also fall on hard times, but Ireland, Italy, Canada and Poland will see the largest price increases. In Ireland, which is home to a popular brew culture, the price for a 500ml bottle could rise from $2.50 to a whopping $5. “Climate change will affect all of us, not only people who are in India or African countries,” said Dabo Guan, professor of climate change economics and lead author of the study. Guan emphasized the importance of recognizing that climate change is not something that developed nations will be immune to. Ultimately, the answer lies in supporting policies that reduce the emissions causing this climate disruption, and many companies are moving forward and instating their own regulations. One such company is Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewing house, which is planning on cutting its emissions by 25 percent by 2025. The company is also working on a drought-resistant strain of barley that could offset shortages as well as strains that could be grown throughout the winter. Via Reuters Image via Raw Pixel

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