Stefano Boeri Architetti designs prefab COVID-19 vaccination centers for Italy

January 15, 2021 by  
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Stefano Boeri Architetti — the Milan-based architecture firm best known for the Vertical Forest skyscrapers — has partnered with a team of consultants to design and develop the architectural and communication concepts for Italy’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. All aspects of the project, which was completed free of charge, are united by a floral logo of a pink primrose and the motto “With a flower, Italy comes back to life.” The campaign also includes the design of solar-powered, prefabricated pavilions that are designed to pop up with speed across Italy’s squares and public spaces to serve as vaccination distribution centers.  The COVID-19 vaccination campaign was commissioned by Domenico Arcuri, the Italian Special Commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency. Arcuri unveiled the conceptual designs to the public in mid-December. In addition to the designs of a campaign logo and temporary prefabricated pavilions, the project also includes proposals for informational totems and communications strategies for combating vaccine skepticism. Related: Modular Emergency Hospital 19 pops up in Italy in just 3 months “With the image of a springtime flower, we wanted to create an architecture that would convey a symbol of serenity and regeneration,” Stefano Boeri said in a press release. “Getting vaccinated will be an act of civic responsibility, love for others and the rediscovery of life. If this virus has locked us up in hospitals and homes, the vaccine will bring us back into contact with life and the nature that surrounds us.” Circular, prefabricated pavilions would be set up in public places to administer the vaccine; these pavilions are designed for easy dismantling and reassembly. Each timber-framed structure would be wrapped in textiles made of different recyclable, naturally biodegradable and water-resistant materials. Self-supporting fabric partitions would also be used to organize the interior. The circular roof, which would feature a large-scale floral logo, would also be topped with enough photovoltaic panels to generate all of the building’s electricity needs. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Capris new electric power station replaces the islands diesel plant

December 31, 2020 by  
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On the island of Capri in Italy , the new Terna electric power station is an innovative example of sustainable architecture that merges into the unique landscape of the Italian island. Designed by Italian studio Frigerio Design Group, the new station replaces the island’s original diesel-run power plant in an effort to highlight the importance of renewable energy all while making the island a safer place to live. The project is built on a 2,700-square-meter site, and the overall design is based on a combination of geometry, greenery and light to integrate the structure with the steep Mediterranean landscape. The power station achieves an electrical connection between the island and the mainland, made possible through an investment of 150 million euros by Terna in order to provide Capri with renewable energy and reduce emissions to zero. Related: Renewable energy is the cheapest source of electricity A new power line lies completely underwater and underground, delivering more reliability, efficiency and quality to the local electrical service. Connecting Capri to the rest of Italy’s electric grid will save the island an estimated 20 million euros per year and reduce the carbon emissions by 130,000 tons. The building itself shares the same colors as the island’s landscape, while the materials take into account the aggressive environmental conditions of the area such as salty air, humidity and UV rays. The architectural finishing of the complex consists of geometric elements to create variable and vibrant compositions. The landscaping uses only native and local scrubs and plants that will achieve autonomous growth once the roots have had time to set, completely removing the need for landscape maintenance. In order to respect the natural surroundings, the building’s lighting design minimizes any light pollution . Lighting devices have cut-off parabolas and are positioned to hide their lighting sources, while LED technology is adopted to reduce consumption and waste. Between the building’s railings and walls, a stunning lighting design illuminates the perforated sheets upward and walls downward at night. + Frigerio Design Group Photography by Enrico Cano via Frigerio Design Group

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Capris new electric power station replaces the islands diesel plant

Crypto crowdfunding meets energy efficiency in Apple co-founder’s new venture

December 10, 2020 by  
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Crypto crowdfunding meets energy efficiency in Apple co-founder’s new venture Heather Clancy Thu, 12/10/2020 – 01:00 Did you know Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (aka Woz) has a cryptocurrency named after him? Here’s the backstory. A mere three years ago, my inbox was bloated with news about startups such as South Africa’s Sun Exchange or Estonia’s WePower or Australia’s Power Ledger focused on “democratizing” the ability of individual investors to back solar projects, often in emerging markets or communities off the grid or radar of traditional financers.  The common denominator underlying these ventures is blockchain, a digital ledger technology used for dozens of intriguing corporate applications intended to address climate change — from tracing ingredients across supply chains to verifying, purchasing and trading carbon credits.  And now you can add energy efficiency financing to the list of crypto-enabled crowdfunding opportunities, in the form of a new company co-founded by Wozniak.  The mission of Efforce , which has operations in Italy and Malta, is to raise capital for energy efficiency projects, one of the most potentially impactful ways for businesses to decarbonize their operations, if not quite as media-sexy as buying into solar or wind energy installations. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), more than $250 billion in financing went toward energy efficiency initiatives in 2019, but at least double that amount is needed by 2025 to keep the world progressing toward the mitigation goals of the Paris Agreement. This push can’t be a single person’s battle. It needs to come from all of us together to compound this effect in such a way that it becomes a reality over our lifespan. In most cases, the challenge is the upfront financing that energy services companies (ESCOs) typically need to get a project off the ground — the equipment alone to retrofit a building or industrial facility with power-sipping alternatives such as LED lighting, insulation or new manufacturing equipment easily can cost $200,000, according to Efforce’s estimates.  To help fund more projects, Efforce will use a web marketplace to verify and list proposals, and to create a performance contract used to track the results. Next, the opportunities will be listed and would-be backers can buy into them using Efforce’s currency, called the WOZX token. Over time, the project results will be measured through smart meters and project owners will receive energy credits (measured in megawatt-hours) that can be cashed out or traded. “This push can’t be a single person’s battle. It needs to come from all of us together to compound this effect in such a way that it becomes a reality over our lifespan,” says Woz in the marketing video on the Efforce website. “In these difficult times, many small companies are struggling,” said Efforce co-founder Jacopo Visetti, in a statement. “Efforce allows business owners to safely register their energy upgrade project on the web and secure funding from all types of investors around the world. The companies will then have more available cash to use for other critical projects such as infrastructure or hiring.” Visetti previously founded AitherCO2 , an energy services company in Italy, so I wasn’t really surprised to learn that Efforce plans to handle some of the initial projects itself before it opens things up to other partners.  Efforce’s official launch last week — the venture was rumored more than a year ago, but market turmoil delayed initial funding — created a stir: Even before listing a single project, the company’s tokens were trading at $1.55 Monday afternoons (up from 22 cents at its listing). The company has raised $18 million from private investors, at a valuation of $80 million. Given the relatively modest scale of this venture, it will take the creation of many, many more companies such as Efforce to address a gap of the size that the IEA has identified. What’s more, the appetite for investments of this nature in a COVID-19-ravaged economic climate with lots of empty commercial buildings is unclear. But the model it has set forth — sidestepping a massive upfront capital expense — is right for the times. Pull Quote This push can’t be a single person’s battle. It needs to come from all of us together to compound this effect in such a way that it becomes a reality over our lifespan. Topics Energy & Climate Information Technology Energy Efficiency Blockchain Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak with fellow Efforce co-founder Jacopo Visetti. Courtesy of Luca Rossetti Close Authorship

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Crypto crowdfunding meets energy efficiency in Apple co-founder’s new venture

What is the role of gas efficiency in the time of building electrification?

December 10, 2020 by  
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What is the role of gas efficiency in the time of building electrification? Alejandra Mejia Thu, 12/10/2020 – 00:30 Transitioning most of our energy uses to clean electricity in an equitable manner is necessary to meet our 2050 climate goals. But what is the role of gas energy efficiency programs as we move to electrify America’s buildings? The short answer is there are still plenty of economic, climate and energy benefits to pursue as long as utilities and their regulators adhere to a few simple guidelines: Prioritize improving the efficiency of building “envelopes”; addressing the pressing needs of under-resourced (low-income) communities and communities of color; and eliminating incentives for building new homes that use gas.  For years, energy efficiency has been one of the energy sector’s silver bullets . Investing in efficiency improvements has held America’s energy use constant over the last 15 years despite a 33 percent increase in GDP, saved households an average of $500 each year on utility bills and created 2.4 million U.S. jobs. As we reduce the use of fossil fuels directly in our homes and buildings by installing appliances that can run on 100 percent clean electricity, efficiency still will be an important tool for avoiding unnecessary electric system costs in the future. Efficiency’s role in equitable building electrification To stabilize our climate and successfully transition to a thriving clean energy economy, we need to eliminate virtually all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the buildings where we live and work. This likely means replacing nearly every fossil fuel-burning appliance with one that can run on electricity generated from clean sources such as wind and power. Given the magnitude of this challenge , we must ensure that none of our energy investments are at cross-purposes to this goal. For efficiency funding that is not tied to a specific fuel — programs that don’t care whether a home uses gas or electricity — this means focusing on and fully funding the transition to efficient, all-electric technologies that are key to meeting our climate goals. It also means prioritizing the smooth, equitable transition of under-resourced and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPoC) communities that have disproportionately higher energy burdens off the fossil fuel system. If we do not prioritize the people who are least able to afford new all-electric equipment in this transition, we risk leaving them holding the bag on a system with a decreasing customer base and increasing costs. As more people transition to all-electric buildings, the costs of maintaining the gas system will rise for those still dependent on it. If we do not prioritize the people who are least able to afford new all-electric equipment in this transition, we risk leaving them holding the bag on a system with a decreasing customer base and increasing costs.   Focus on building efficiency for long-term success Gas efficiency programs are funded by gas utility customers. They commonly offer rebates for new efficient gas appliances and fund weatherization and other building efficiency upgrades. A recent American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report makes several helpful recommendations for improving the efficacy and cost-benefit of those programs. In particular, we agree that “going forward, building shell improvements in existing buildings will be particularly important to reduce costs and emissions,” and that increased partnerships and cost-sharing between gas and electric utilities is necessary to fully realize the benefits of such an investment. However, the report does not suggest how to balance the short-term benefits of some efficient gas appliances with the reality that those appliances will operate — and produced GHG emissions — for 10 to 20 years. One way to strike this balance is to focus gas programs on improving the efficiency of the buildings, rather than on the appliances within them. That includes insulating buildings, reducing air infiltrations, improving ventilation and upgrading windows. Envelope efficiency helps homes and businesses stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, and improve indoor air quality while reducing energy costs, regardless of the type of energy. Envelope upgrades improve the quality of life of residents, especially those living in housing that is in disrepair due to historic underinvestment, and make it easier and cheaper to switch those buildings and residents to 100 percent clean electricity when the time is right. Because continuing to install long-lived gas appliances is incompatible with meeting our climate and equity goals, gas efficiency funds no longer should go toward any fossil gas equipment unless there is a clear social, health or equity concern or crisis that cannot be effectively addressed with efficient all-electric solutions. All-electric equipment should be the preferred solution and all available efforts (including envelope efficiency) should be leveraged to make those clean electric options work for residents. How to avoid locking people into a polluting gas system Gas efficiency programs, like all clean energy initiatives, should prioritize the BIPoC and low-income communities that historically have been underserved . With regards to appliance rebates, this means first and foremost doing everything possible to help these residents move off the fossil gas system while saving money. However, in some cases, largely depending on local weather and electricity costs, providing immediate relief from disproportionate energy burdens and unhealthy living conditions may involve installing new, highly efficient gas appliances. The decision to install gas or electric appliances should be weighed carefully and be based on the following three key factors: The short-term cost to residents of electrifying home energy uses in areas with high utility rates.  A full accounting of the long-term costs of maintaining a safe and reliable gas delivery system. The risk that a new gas appliance will lead to higher energy costs in the future for the customer receiving that appliance.  Continuing to install gas equipment at the same time we’re working to reduce our dependence on all fossil fuels risks leaving the most vulnerable customers to pay the rising costs of an underused gas system. To prevent this, California consumer advocates recently asked regulators to investigate when efficiency programs reserved for low-income customers should sunset their gas appliance incentives in favor of clean electric options. We should be asking these questions about every energy efficiency program in every state and ensuring that BIPoC leaders are helping set and adopt the solutions for their own communities. Building clean from the start is more important every day Finally, we should not be investing any more of our energy efficiency funds on helping new buildings pipe for and install gas appliances. Most buildings that will house us in 2050 already have been built — which is why how we operate and upgrade those buildings today is so important to securing a stable climate future. But we will continue to build new homes and offices in the meantime, and it is vital that those buildings do not continue to further our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. Building efficient, healthy, all-electric buildings will mean lower energy costs from the start . This will be particularly important for affordable housing for under-resourced households as it ensures their energy costs are minimized from the get-go and that they are insulated from having to finance the rising costs of the gas system as electrification of existing buildings takes hold. Pull Quote If we do not prioritize the people who are least able to afford new all-electric equipment in this transition, we risk leaving them holding the bag on a system with a decreasing customer base and increasing costs. Topics Energy & Climate Electrification Energy Efficiency NRDC Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Gas programs should focus on improving the efficiency of the buildings, rather than on the appliances within them. That includes insulating buildings, reducing air infiltrations and more. Photo by  Lisa-S  on Shutterstock.

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Why corporate partners are essential for Third Derivative, a new climate-tech support network

November 30, 2020 by  
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Why corporate partners are essential for Third Derivative, a new climate-tech support network Heather Clancy Mon, 11/30/2020 – 03:00 Climate tech is more important than ever, but the systemic challenges entrepreneurs face in shepherding these solutions to commercial success is formidable. Most have incredibly long R&D lead times, while the systems that typically support startups cater to ones promising shorter-term payoffs. That’s why earlier this year, clean economy nonprofits Rocky Mountain Institute — known for its thought leadership on climate change issues — and New Energy Nexus — with deep bottom-up resources for founders — combined forces to create a joint venture centered on finding and scaling climate-tech startups focused addressing climate change across the electric grid, transportation, buildings, manufacturing and agriculture. Their mission: create a network of financial, technical and market development resources — including credible and powerful corporate connections — that gets these critically important solutions to commercial scale more quickly. The thesis: The most successful climate-tech startups will be those with early access to economic analysis, policy resources, financing and technical support. This week, the venture, Third Derivative (D3), is launching with a portfolio of close to 50 startups (both early stage and those closer to commercial readiness) and the support of nine corporate partners and nine venture capital firms. D3 is particularly interested in accelerating solutions for “hard to abate sectors” where there aren’t currently good options for decarbonization, according to its website. It is incredibly hard for investors to source, vet and execute investments across the many varied climate solution sectors. Of the 50-ish startup companies announced this week — dubbed ” Cohort 417 ” (for the peak of 417.1 parts per million in atmospheric CO2 concentration recorded in May 2020 — more than two-thirds are led by founders who are women, veterans or people of color, said Third Derivative co-founder and CEO Bryan Hassin. “We went out to meet them where they are,” he said. Both RMI and New Energy Nexus have committed “hundreds” of their market experts to supporting the venture with research, technical expertise and commercialization advice. The organization seeks to bridge knowledge and funding gaps at multiple phases of a startup’s life cycle — moving from basic research into a spinout; product development; demonstrations and market validation efforts; and commercial deployment. RMI and New Energy Nexus are a powerful combo, but the corporate connections and venture resources make the initiative unique by providing that active perspective far earlier in the innovation process, Hassin said, pointing to his own past career as a climate-tech entrepreneur with a background in nanomaterials, off-grid solar energy and artificial intelligence. “We have a systems-level problem that we’re working on here,” he said. “I think we can all agree that more is necessary.” Corporate support equals path to commercialization D3 certainly packs a punch from day one, with nine corporations lined up as backers that have pledged to provide technical resources and financial support over the next three years. That initial group includes AT&T, BP Ventures, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Engie, Envision Energy, FedEx, Microsoft, Shell and Wells Fargo. Together, these big companies represent almost $3 trillion in market capitalization, although the energy company valuations are particularly subject to fluctuation at this time. These companies are “incredibly motivated and visionary,” Hassin said. They will play a hands-on role in startup mentorship and pilot projects, along with any other businesses that choose to join. But this isn’t just about money. “It doesn’t do any good for them to come in and just write a check,” Hassin said. Nine venture firms — representing more than $2 billion in funding and four continents — also have stepped up to support Third Derivative: Imperative Ventures, Skyview Ventures and Volo Earth Ventures from the U.S.; Chrysalix and Emerald Technology Partners from Europe; Factor[e] and Social Alpha from Africa/India; and Tsing Capital and CRCM from China. “It is incredibly hard for investors to source, vet and execute investments across the many varied climate solution sectors,” said Jan Van Dokkum, the former Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers partner who became chairman of Imperative in 2019, in a statement. “We see enormous value in Third Derivative applying RMI’s market knowledge and networks to cultivate a pipeline of game-changing climate-tech ventures validated by corporate partners. We are excited to make seed investments in those startups, and our ability to work with them over the duration of the program should dramatically increase their investability by the time they are ready for follow-on funding.” These are big ambitious goals for us, and we feel the sense of urgency to find scalable solutions that can help us meet both of them. AT&T, which has committed to carbon neutrality by 2035 for its own operations and is also interested in supporting technologies that help its customers work toward similar goals, was intrigued by the “rigor” that Third Derivative is using to evaluate potential portfolio companies and in allowing corporate partners to be part of that process. That was one reason it decided to shell out $900,000 for its first three years in the program, said John Schulz, director of sustainability integration for AT&T. The other motivator: the diversity of perspective the venture offers. “These are big ambitious goals for us, and we feel the sense of urgency to find scalable solutions that can help us meet both of them,” Schulz said. Aside from financial backing, AT&T is providing technical resources, especially those focused on how the various technologies being pioneered by D3 companies might be integrated with the internet of things — a major business development focus for the telecommunications company. “What are the connectivity solutions that could be the key to unlock success? That’s of particular interest,” Schulz said. A wide range of solutions D3 actually launched the application process for its first cohort in the spring and received more than 600 applications — many for what Schulz described as “mind-blowing” innovations. The corporate partners were actively involved with evaluating and recommending selections among the 200 finalists, which represent advances in hardware and business models and, to a lesser extent, software. They also represent countries including India, Indonesia, China and Italy, although the initial selections are weighted to companies from North America. “We were a little overwhelmed by the enthusiasm,” Schulz said. Some companies from the first cohort include: Antora Energy : A Stanford-born effort (also backed by Cyclotron Road) working on ultra-low-cost energy storage that could have applications as wind and solar farms. Blue Frontier : A startup supported by NREL, NYSERDA and others that is using saltwater energy-storage technology to create “hyper-efficient” air conditioners. Frost Methane :   An offsets market being created around methane flaring activities Kanin Energy : A venture focused on turning industrial waste heat into an emissions-free energy source. Membrion : A materials company developing environmentally friendly filtration membranes. Silvia Terra : A forest-mapping startup. TexPower : A small team working on cobalt-free batteries. Each D3 startup receives a $100,000 convertible note as well as the potential for $250 million in follow-on funding from the venture capital network that’s part of the program. Hassin said the mentorship process initially will last 16 months, but startups will be encouraged to remain connected. What’s more, companies will be added on an ongoing basis: applications will open up again in December. “We think there is value to working with a cohort for a while,” he said.  Pull Quote It is incredibly hard for investors to source, vet and execute investments across the many varied climate solution sectors. These are big ambitious goals for us, and we feel the sense of urgency to find scalable solutions that can help us meet both of them. Topics Innovation Climate Tech Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Antora Energy, one of the Third Derivative startups, in the lab (L. to R: Tarun Narayan, David Bierman, Andrew Ponec, Justin Briggs) Courtesy of Cyclotron Road Close Authorship

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Climate change is leading to increased winter drownings

November 24, 2020 by  
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A new study, published in the journal PLoS One , has revealed that there is a significant relationship between increased drownings in the winter and climate change. According to the study, regions that have experienced a sharp increase in average winter temperatures are also experiencing more drownings. The study, which was published last Wednesday, analyzed data collected in 10 countries in the Northern Hemisphere: U.S., Canada, Germany, Sweden, Japan, Italy, Russia, Finland, Latvia and Estonia. Many of the drownings that were studied happened when temperatures were just below freezing point. It was also observed that many increases in drownings occurred in Indigenous communities, where the people depend on the ice for their customs as well as for survival. Related: Danger looms as world’s largest iceberg heads toward a critical wildlife habitat The research showed that those affected by the drownings varied demographically. For instance, the most affected were children under 9 years old followed by teenagers and adults from ages 15 to 39. People who are accustomed to walking on icy landscapes may assume that the ice is stable enough without thinking about recent temperature fluctuations. One of the lead authors of the study, Sapna Sharma, explained that people may not think about how climate change is already impacting their everyday lives. Sharma, who is also an associate professor of biology at York University, said that we no longer have to just think about polar bears when we talk about climate change. The drownings are evidence enough that this crisis can affect anyone in any part of the world. “I think there’s a disconnect between climate change and the local, everyday impacts,” Sharma said. “If you think about climate change in winter, you’re thinking about polar bears and ice sheets, but not about these activities that are just ingrained in our culture.” According to Sharma, colder temperatures can be deceiving, especially at a time when the temperatures keep fluctuating. “It might be minus 20 Celsius today and tomorrow and the weekend, but last week it was 15 Celsius,” Sharma said. “Well, we might have forgotten as individuals that it was warm and sunny last week on a Tuesday, but the ice didn’t forget.” If the temperatures are milder than usual, the ice will not be as thick as one might expect. Robert McLeman, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier, explained, “Milder temperatures mean that the ice is not as thick, or not as solid as it would otherwise be. And so people are going out onto it and not realizing that the ice is rotten.” + PLoS One Via The New York Times Image via Pixabay

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Climate change is leading to increased winter drownings

Driving, flying expected to spike after COVID-19 pandemic

November 12, 2020 by  
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Amidst the everlasting pandemic, fewer people yearn to squeeze into closely spaced airline seats or pack into crowded buses. As such, a new survey reveals a seemingly contradictory conclusion that post-pandemic , people expect to drive private cars more, even though the majority of respondents believe humans are responsible for the climate crisis. In some countries, people also planned to fly more after the pandemic. The YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project polled about 26,000 people in 25 countries during July and August. It found that respondents held humans as the culprits of global warming by a ratio of more than three to one. This belief was most strongly held in Brazil, Spain, China, the U.K. and Japan. The countries with the largest number of doubters regarding human responsibility rely heavily on oil production, notably Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and the U.S. Related: Could a private car ban make NYC more livable? Air travel has long been an issue to climate campaigners, because it’s a huge source of emissions . People in the U.K., Italy, Germany and India all said they plan to fly less post-pandemic, although this could well be more for fear of contagion than love of the planet. But some respondents plan to fly more, especially those in Brazil and Nigeria. People in Brazil, Nigeria, Egypt and Sweden were more likely to be looking forward to holidays abroad. Meanwhile, those in Italy, the U.K., Germany, Thailand and China will be planning more domestic vacations in the future. Researchers were most alarmed by the fact that respondents in all 25 countries plan to drive more post-pandemic. Brazilians showed the most marked planned increase, with 62% saying yes to more driving and only 12% planning to drive less. South Africa was right behind, with 60% yay and 12% nay. More than 40% of Australians and Americans planned to spend more time behind the wheel, with only 10% anticipating leaving their cars in park more often. What do all these statistics mean? Human behavior is complicated and often contradictory, as our best intentions battle with fear and convenience. But if people begin to drive as much as predicted, they could undermine global efforts to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Via The Guardian Image via S. Hermann & F. Richter

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Rare dolphin species spotted in the Adriatic Sea

August 26, 2020 by  
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The Delphinus delphis , an uncommon dolphin species, has been repeatedly spotted in the Adriatic Sea. According to recent research led by marine scientists at the University of St Andrews, the rare dolphin has been observed multiple times off the coasts of Italy and Slovenia. The research was done in collaboration with Morigenos Slovenian Marine Mammal Society with a goal to determine the occurrence of common dolphins in the Gulf of Trieste and the Northern Adriatic Sea. The findings of the study, published in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems , came as a shock to many scientists, given that Delphinus delphis was considered regionally extinct in the Adriatic Sea. The decline in Delphinus delphis numbers in the Adriatic Sea can be traced back to misinformed policies put in place by Italy and former Yugoslavia in the mid-20th century. At the time, this species of dolphin was considered a pest to the fishing industry. The two countries encouraged people to kill these dolphins for monetary reward to reduce competition for fish. In the 1970s, the number of Delphinus delphis dropped significantly, leading to the species being listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. Besides the direct killing of the species, increased fishing activities have also led to a reduction in the number of dolphins in the Adriatic Sea. Related: Lapsed fishing moratorium endangers Amazon river dolphins Over the past 30 years, Delphinus delphis have been very rare in this area, leading to speculations that they might be regionally extinct . However, the recent findings show that Delphinus delphis are showing up more regularly, with four animals spotted repeatedly over a 4-year span. The research, conducted through photo-identification, also shows that some of the dolphins spotted in the Adriatic Sea had traveled as far as 1,000 kilometers. “Unfortunately, the species continues to be rare in the region. It is difficult to say if the species is likely to make a comeback to the Adriatic Sea,” said Tilen Genov, leader of the research team and member of the Sea Mammal Research Unit for University of St Andrews. “The chances for that are likely slim, as there is currently no evidence of any increase in common dolphin abundance or sightings anywhere in the Mediterranean Sea. But hopefully, this contribution can serve as a baseline and encourage potential future cases to be reported, in order to provide further insights into the occurrence of common dolphins in the region.” + Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems Image via University of St Andrews

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Rare dolphin species spotted in the Adriatic Sea

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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Beachfront villa is split into two units for brothers to share

July 16, 2020 by  
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The Jesolo Lido Beach Villa is a beachfront, dual-unit building that exudes luxury yet incorporates energy efficiency throughout. Located in the resort area of Jesolo Lido, Italy, the split villa is the passion project by two brothers seeking to provide a beachfront getaway for their young families. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-2-889×592.jpg" alt="long pool with cabanas on either side" class="wp-image-2275089" Like many other places, beachfront property isn’t easy to come by or to afford in this popular Italian area. So when the brothers found it, they jumped on the opportunity. But as it came time for construction, they had to get creative in order to share the limited, 11-meter buildable width of the property without sacrificing the personal space each family desired. To solve the problem, they sourced the expertise of the team at JM Architecture, a firm based out of Milan. Related: Beachfront hotel in Costa Rica pays tribute to the land and its inhabitants <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-3-889×592.jpg" alt="covered patio with gray furnishings" class="wp-image-2275088" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-4-889×592.jpg" alt="villa with glass walls and extended roof eaves" class="wp-image-2275087" The architects began by respecting the wishes of the family to keep both sides of the project equal in size and amenities, creating two separate buildings that share the same symmetrical, two-bedroom two-bathroom layout and are identically furnished. The units share a beachfront, 16-meter, zero-edge swimming pool , and they also feature identical covered, custom-designed aluminum cabanas for poolside lounging with protection from the sun. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-5-889×592.jpg" alt="small yard and long pool outside white and glass beach villa" class="wp-image-2275086" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-6-889×592.jpg" alt="white room with gray sofa and wood coffee table" class="wp-image-2275085" Integral to the overall design is the use of photovoltaic panels integrated into the roof of the cabanas, which grant power to all the electrical heating and cooling systems. Using solar energy enhances other already efficient building elements, such as natural shade provided by existing trees in the white rock entrance to the building. According to the architects, they also considered noise pollution and privacy. “A large portion of the building envelope is cladded with 5 mm full-height gres tiles on a ventilated facade, to provide the necessary privacy to bedrooms and bathrooms,” the firm explained. “The north facade is entirely opaque in order to provide an acoustic boundary from the entry courtyard and the street behind.” <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-7-889×592.jpg" alt="blue chairs on a covered patio" class="wp-image-2275084" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Jesolo-Lido-Beach-Villa-8-889×592.jpg" alt="two gray chairs in a cabana beside a pool" class="wp-image-2275083" With limited above-ground building space, the design took advantage of space underground with a basement level, where the families share a gym, sauna, hot tub, cold plunge pool, additional kitchen and laundry room. Large sunken patios clad with white glass mosaic tiles reflect light and offer natural cooling features in a space that is private to each unit. + JM Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Jacopo Mascheroni via JM Architecture

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Beachfront villa is split into two units for brothers to share

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