Japan considers adopting daylight savings time for 2020 Summer Olympics

August 7, 2018 by  
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This summer’s deadly heatwaves in Japan  have caused government and Olympic officials to consider the benefits of adopting daylight savings time for the  2020 Summer Olympics to ensure athlete safety. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered his ruling party to consider what impacts a two hour shift forward would have on the country after backlash on social media followed the announcement. Adopting daylight savings time would allow events such as the marathon to be scheduled in the cooler morning hours. Masa Takaya, spokesperson for the 2020 games, urged the time push, saying it would also “help protect the environment and realize a low-carbon society in Japan,” alongside other efforts to add more plant life and heat-inhibiting pavements in the city. Although the time shift would provide both energy-saving and safety measures in the face of climate change , many citizens are protesting that the change would result in longer working hours for them. This is not a light claim made by the Japanese labor force, as a 2017 report by BBC News revealed that most individuals in the nation clock in more than 80 hours of overtime each month. Related: Japan wants to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled smartphones Japan has not used the daylight savings system since the U.S. Occupation following World War II from 1948 until 1952. The event, a sour subject for many Japanese, also impeded initiatives during the 1970s and early 2000s to return to the system in the hopes of conserving energy in the country. The 2020 Summer Olympics are set to be held in Tokyo from July 24 until August 9, 2020, followed by the Paralympics from August 25 until September 6. As these are typically the hottest months of the year and likely to become hotter with global warming , the decision to enforce daylights savings time in Japan weighs very precariously in the balance for now. + 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Via Reuters and  The Japan Times Image via T-Mizo

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This 3D-printed device could help its users breathe underwater

August 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese designer and material scientist  Jun Kamei has invented an underwater breathing device constructed with 3D printing . Kamei foresees complications arising from higher sea levels, which he believes will affect up to three billion people globally. Thus, he has designed Amphibio , a 3D-printed garment that he hopes will help those people affected by rising seas to work with nature in submerged portions of the Earth. “By 2100, a temperature rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius is predicted to happen, causing a sea-level rise affecting between 500 million and three billion people, and submerging the mega-cities situated in the coastal areas,” Kamei explained. He believes Amphibio will become essential to our next generations, who will be forced to spend much more time in water as a result of a “flooded world.” Amphibio replicates the method that aquatic insects use to trap air, forming a gas-exchanging gill. The breathing apparatus’s microporous, hydrophobic material thus enables oxygen extraction from surrounding water while also removing carbon dioxide . Kamei, a graduate of the Royal College of Art , returned to his alma mater with a team from the RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab to construct the two-part accessory, which features a respiratory mask attached to the gill assembly. Related: MIT’s mind-reading AlterEgo headset can hear what you’re thinking The working prototype of Amphibio does not yet produce enough oxygen to sustain a human being. However, Kamei is optimistic. He developed the 3D-printable material filament himself, and, in the future, he hopes people can buy it themselves. As 3D printing becomes more common and readily available in society, he envisions a future in which people can print garments tailored to their own body shape – and in which Amphibio is one of their options. + Amphibio Via Design Milk and Dezeen Photography by Mikito Tateisi

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This kitchen in a box makes it easy to cook in micro-apartments and tiny homes

July 6, 2018 by  
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Young professionals living in micro-apartments and tiny homes can soon install a fully functioning kitchen in their residences, without the need for additional space or even complicated hardware. A recent graduate of Britain’s Royal College of Art has unveiled her capstone work titled Assembly – a single-package, flexible cooking set for millennials. The complete kit is about the same size as a toaster oven, but it contains everything an individual living in a micro-apartment  or a tiny home would need for a functional kitchen. Yu Li, the designer of Assembly, envisions the set as a “one-package solution that covers the whole cooking and dining process for one.” Related: Kenchikukagu: 3 tiny portable rooms from Japan that open like a suitcase Assembly contains a tablecloth, two pans designed to work with an included induction cooktop, a cutting board, cooking utensils and a single set of plates and flatware. When unpacked, the pieces work together as a full kitchen setup , ready to prepare and serve meals. The induction cooktop surface works with both pans and has fully-functioning temperature controls. The hotplate also has a timer feature, which gives aspiring chefs control over how long it stays powered. After dinnertime, the container that holds plates doubles as a drying rack. Between meals, everything is stored in this container, which can be put away for future use. Li says the “kitchen in a box” concept is designed for recent graduates and young people living in small urban apartments or competing for kitchen access with roommates. “The idea is to trim the original kitchen space down to a few minimal elements,” Li told Dezeen. “So space can be designed simpler , neater and transformed into other purposes to increase the space utilization.” Assembly was one of several designs on display during the 2018 Graduate Exhibition , which closed on July 1. More than 800 students showed off their work at four locations in London. Although the self-contained kit gathered plenty of attention, a manufacturer and distributor have yet to be announced, and the price for the Assembly set is still to be determined. + Royal College of Art Via Dezeen Images via Yu Li

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A former anti-aircraft platform is now a beautiful skywalk in Gibraltar

July 6, 2018 by  
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If you’re not afraid of heights, you can now experience the famed Rock of Gibraltar in a whole new way. Gibraltar-based architecture firm  Arc Designs has turned an old WWII military platform on the very top of the landmark into a gorgeous glass skywalk with stunning views of the Rock and the surrounding ocean. Located 340 meters above sea level, the Gibraltar Skywalk is comprised of four layers of glass and over 60,000 pounds of steel embedded into the rocky, steep terrain. The glass-enclosed viewing area is built in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, which contained a platform formerly used as an anti-aircraft base in WWII. The architects used the base as a starting point to extend a glazed walkway and balustrade over the rocky terrain. Related: This terrifying glass walkway in China ‘cracks’ as you step on it Visitors can access the viewing platform via stairs or a glass elevator. Once on the walkway, they can enjoy east and westward views that look out over the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In fact, according to Arc Designs, the extraordinary location drove the inspiration for the skywalk ‘s design: “The design aspiration of this project was to afford the visitor with new and unrivaled views in all directions including over the rocky cliff-face below, while at the same time ensuring a subtle intervention, which did not detract from the natural and historic nature of this unique setting.” Although the setting guarantees beautiful views, the perilous terrain did present quite a few challenges for the project. “Because vehicular access to this area is limited to very narrow and winding roads, the entire walkway structure had to be fabricated in smaller sections which could be transported and assembled together in-situ,” explain the architects. To ensure that the glass skywalk was secure enough to withstand the visitor load, as well as the typical wind speeds – which can reach over 93 miles hour – the structure had to be embedded into the ground with multiple rock anchors. The entire project used a steel skeleton made up of 18 separate pieces. To build out the walkway, over 8,000 square feet of glass panels were installed. + Arc Designs Via Dezeen Photographs by Stephen Ball, courtesy of Bovis-Koala JV

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Schemata Architects weaves modern design into a traditional Japanese house

July 5, 2018 by  
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Tokyo-based  Schemata Architects have renovated a traditional Japanese residence into a modern dwelling with an office, while keeping many of the 80-year-old building’s original features intact. Located in the seaside city of Kamakura an hour south of Tokyo , the Hojo Sanci is set in a quiet and lush residential area. To minimize changes to the original building structure and retain an open feel, the architects used varying floor heights and finishes to differentiate the programmatic areas. Built primarily from wood, the two-story Japanese home — which comprises a beautiful onsite garden and verdant greenery beyond — dates back to the early 20th century. Schemata Architects oriented the home’s rooms outward to keep the original emphasis on the outdoors. However, they removed the fusuma (wood-framed paper sliding doors) that had divided the rooms to create one large open space. To celebrate the building’s past, the architects also preserved existing finishes and partially exposed the substructure by removing sections of the ceiling and walls. Tatami mats were also laid down in certain rooms, where the floor was elevated above ground by 60 centimeters. “We decided to focus on floor heights and finishes and treat them as means to express different spatial characters and define spatial/functional zones,” explained Jo Nagasaka, the founder of Schemata Architects. “Firstly, we set a tatami floor area raised 40 cm above the earth floor at the entrance as a reference plane and determined the height, dimension and finish of respective floors in other areas. Each room was distinguished from others by different characteristics of furniture placed there. The floor height differences create a vibrant feeling as well as different viewpoints, allowing one to constantly feel nature and creative energy at any place and anytime in this space.” Related: Century-old Japanese townhouse reborn as Blue Bottle Coffee’s first Kyoto location The mix of modern and traditional becomes apparent in the various room designs. On the west side of the home, the architects inserted a Japanese-style room with tatami and an engawa (a type of covered veranda ) that connects to the garden, and OSB floors and gray geometric furnishings are used in the contemporary office addition. + Schemata Architects Images via Kenta Hasegawa

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The 1970s brick Upside-Down House gets an eco-friendly refresh

July 5, 2018 by  
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Melbourne-based Inbetween Architecture has breathed new life into a dark and tired 1970s double brick home in Kew, Australia. Nicknamed the Upside-Down House, the gut-renovation includes a dramatically transformed interior with a focus on natural daylight and energy efficiency . In addition to increased daylighting with skylights and adherence to passive solar principles, the remodeled home was fitted with energy-saving LED lighting, hydronic heating, improved insulation and solar-powered ventilators. When Inbetween Architecture was tapped for the project, the team debated between renovating and knocking the structure down to start anew. After weighing the environmental and cost benefits, however, the architects decided to retain the existing house, which was structurally sound but extremely dated and depressingly dark. As a result, they focused on bringing natural light into the home. Since the ground floor receives less access to daylight , the team decided to flip the ground floor and the first floor programming by placing the bedrooms on the ground floor and the communal living areas in the light-filled first floor — thus giving rise to the home’s nickname, the “Upside-Down House.” “The favorite part of our renovations is without question the soaring cathedral-like skylights that not only brought light in, but created space above without impacting on the roofline,” said the client, a young family of four. “Visually, our house flowed from room to room with the feature stair-case leading directly to the open tallow-wood living areas lit up by the northern sun. This flow continued to the outdoors with the clever relocation of an outdoor balcony to link to the previously isolated pool-area allowing for an expansive out-door entertaining area second to none.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia The architects replaced the home’s original seven “closet”-sized bedrooms with four spacious bedrooms. The interior design follows a minimalist aesthetic with hidden storage to avoid clutter. Created to meet a six-star energy rating, the home takes advantage of thermal mass from the existing concrete slabs on both floors and the externally insulated double brick walls. Long roof eaves and new dual shading help mitigate solar gain . + Inbetween Architecture Images by Tatjana Plitt and Nick Stephenson

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A 17th-century Spanish hospital gets transformed into a cozy library

July 5, 2018 by  
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When Madrid-based design practice Murado & Elvira Architects won a competition to turn the ancient Sancti Spiritus Hospital into the Public Library and Historic Archive for the Spanish city of Baiona, they wanted the renovation to focus on the concept of hospitality. In contrast to the historic stone and plaster facade that was left in place, the architects transformed the interior with maple wood volumes to create a sense of coziness and comfort. Eight years in the making, the 1.5-million Euro adaptive reuse project was completed in March of this year. Located in the historic city center, the 17th-century Sancti Spiritus Hospital is protected under Bien de Interés Cultural status; however, the building suffered major alterations over the years, including the destruction of its interior in the 1970s. Instead of merely renovating the structure, Murado & Elvira Architects also worked to return parts of the building back to their historic roots. The interior, though, was given an entirely new identity organized around a thick stone wall that recalls the building’s original construction. All the rooms are wrapped in warm maple plywood, which was also used for the furnishing. “When we first visited the old building we felt the need for our project to create a new interior identity, connecting and giving continuity to the old structures,” say Clara Murado and Juan Elvira of the two-story renovation . “The building could be understood as a solid stone plinth and a wooden fitment on top of it. The library becomes a furniture to be inhabited. We always had in mind the studio of Saint Jerome in Antonello da Messina’s painting where the whole studio seems to be built around the book.” Related: An old London chapel is reborn into a modern home and artist studio The library’s interior layout was also informed by the historical sequence of rooms. The Historic Archive, the children’s library, and the service rooms dominate the ground floor. The children’s library also opens up to a courtyard space. Three stairs lead up to the upper floor where the main reading room, individual study alcoves, bathrooms, offices and bench reading rooms are located. + Murado & Elvira Architects Images via Imagen Subliminal

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Should You Visit Animal Sanctuaries When You Travel?

May 23, 2018 by  
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Animal sanctuaries like Japan’s fox village, Sri Lanka’s elephant orphanage … The post Should You Visit Animal Sanctuaries When You Travel? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Nissan to debut its self-driving taxis in Japan

February 23, 2018 by  
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Nissan will begin testing its Easy Ride self-driving taxi service in Yokohama , Japan on March 5, 2018, with plans to launch the full service by the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In collaboration with Tokyo-based mobile app developer DeNA, Nissan will run the trial service on a 2.8 mile-route running from their headquarters to the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. While limited to start, the opening of Nissan’s Easy Ride service marks an significant step forward into the future of autonomous vehicles and urban transportation. The Easy Ride system is designed to incorporate user interests into its presentation, offering helpful information on points of interest, events, and shops. To build further ties between the self-driving taxi and local business, Easy Ride will offer coupons for recommended restaurants and businesses for users to exchange after they’ve departed their self-driving taxi. Easy Ride will also record feedback from users regarding their ride experience and their opinion on what a fair fare should be. Related: Dubai tests the world’s first autonomous mobility pods Nissan’s initial trial is planned to run for only a few weeks. However, the company plans to conduct further, more extensive tests. Recognizing the need to serve an Olympic -sized constituency as well as Japan’s aging population, the automaker plans to add more routes, implement a multi-lingual interface, and refine arrival and departure procedures over the next two years. To assuage any concerns regarding the safety of the self-driving taxis, Nissan will link each taxi to a remote monitoring center, where workers observe each ride and could take the wheel from afar if necessary. Via Engadget Images via Nissan and aotaro/Flickr

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Plants appear to lose consciousness when sedated

February 14, 2018 by  
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Are plants conscious? Based on a new study, our anesthetics work on flora – but just what are they working on? University of Bonn plant cell biologist Frantisek Baluska told The New York Times , “Plants are not just robotic, stimulus-response devices. They’re living organisms which have their own problems, maybe something like humans feeling pain or joy. In order to navigate this complex life, they must have some compass.” Plants can be frozen with anesthetics, researchers discovered, including the medicines used on humans during surgery. The researchers’ findings could help us learn more about anesthesia – and plants. A team of scientists from institutions in Germany, Japan, the Czech Republic, and Italy exposed several different plants to substances like ether and lidocaine. They found, for example, that pea plants exposed to diethyl ether vapor stop moving and their tendrils curl. A Venus flytrap didn’t respond to stimulus similar to an insect that moved across it – its cells actually stopped firing, according to The New York Times. Related: German forester says trees are social beings with friends and personalities The plants seemed to return to life when the anesthesia wore off – almost as if they had regained consciousness. Baluska told The New York Times, “How organisms are perceiving the environment or responding or adapting are based on some very similar principles.” Cell membranes change under anesthesia, growing more flexible. Membranes of some of the plant root cells under anesthesia had difficulty performing tasks they normally would. Membranes are also key for transferring messages from one cell to another via electricity , and some scientists think electrical activity across neurons contributes to consciousness in humans. But when asked if plants are indeed conscious or not, Baluska said, “No one can answer this because you cannot ask them.” The journal Annals of Botany published the research in December. Via The New York Times Images via Sushobhan Badhai on Unsplash and Jeffery Wong on Unsplash

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