3XN breaks ground on Aquabella, a LEED-certified building on Toronto’s waterfront

May 22, 2018 by  
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Toronto’s new buildings are quickly cementing the city’s status as an architectural icon, and its latest gorgeously green residential tower is no exception. The city has just broken ground on Aquabella, a LEED-certified building with multiple tiers of green roofs. Designed by Danish architecture firm  3XN , the residential building has multiple outdoor spaces integrated into the design to enhance the well-being of the residents. Looking to serve as an icon for the revitalized Bayside Toronto waterfront area, the multi-tiered design will house 174 residential units. Large balconies and terraces rise up in an “L” shape from the first floor, creating a strong connection to the outdoors. These spaces not only enable residents to enjoy fresh air and incredible views of the lake, but also illuminate the apartments’ interiors with natural light . Along with the private homes, the complex will include a community center, a basketball court, retail spaces, and plenty of restaurants and cafes. Related: Toronto’s waterfront to undergo major futuristic redesign thanks to Google’s Sidewalk Labs According to the architects, their vision of creating a “complex yet elegant sculptural form” inspired the final design of rising terraces. Like many of 3XN’s projects, Aquabella was based on Scandinavian design principles , which typically have a strong emphasis on providing outdoor spaces for healthy lifestyles. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Nielsen described his firm’s role in creating an architectural design that would foster a strong sense of community: “3XN is thrilled to be part of helping Toronto to reclaim its industrial waterfront and integrate it into the city. Inspired by the scale and intimacy of a family home, we envision this new project as a vertical neighborhood on the shores of Lake Ontario. The design puts people first, paying particular attention to the quality of views, space and lifestyle. The development will command extraordinary views of the water, neighboring parks, and the city skyline.” + 3XN Architects Images via 3XN Architects

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3XN breaks ground on Aquabella, a LEED-certified building on Toronto’s waterfront

Thoreau’s Walden Pond is under threat from human activities

April 6, 2018 by  
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In his book first published as  Walden; or, Life in the Woods , transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau reflected on living simply in green spaces while cultivating self-sufficiency and carefully observing the natural world. His reflections were informed by his experiences living in a cabin near the edge of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts . Today, Walden Pond remains a cherished local landmark, where people enjoy hiking and swimming. However, since Thoreau’s time, Walden Pond has suffered from climate change,  erosion  and even human pee. In the mid-1800s, Thoreau described the “crystalline purity” of the water in Walden Pond, a characteristic still observable today. However, that may soon change as the effects of climate change take hold. In  a recently published paper on the environmental health of Walden Pond , researchers concluded that major changes in the algal content of the lake began in the 20th century and continue to threaten it today. According to the paper, “The sediment darkening and high percentages of [ algae ] in the recent sediments of Walden Pond … indicate not only that the lake ecosystem is now quite different from that described by Thoreau but also that it may be primed for more severe reductions in water clarity in a warming future.” Related: Thresher sharks die in Massachusetts – likely due to cold shock As global temperatures continue to rise , more people looking for relief from the humid summer weather in Massachusetts may find their way into the pond for a refreshing dip. Researchers concluded that more than half of the phosphorous content in the pond “may now be attributable to urine released by swimmers.” The good news is that Walden Pond has seen its environmental health improve in recent decades. However, vigilance is necessary to preserve Walden for future generations. Via The Guardian Images via Ekabhishek , Terryballard and Cbaile19

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Thoreau’s Walden Pond is under threat from human activities

The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought

March 29, 2018 by  
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Scientists used to think Lake Hazen, located around 560 miles away from the North Pole in Canada , was beyond the reach of human impact. But new research led by geographer Igor Lehnherr of the University of Toronto Mississauga reveals the High Arctic lake is reacting to climate change . Lehnherr said in the university’s statement , “Even in a place so far north, it’s no longer cold enough to prevent the glaciers from shrinking. If this place is no longer conducive for glaciers to grow, there are not many other refuges left on the planet.” Lake Hazen park staff and visitors noticed the lake’s lack of ice in the summer; in the past, it was rare for the ice to melt completely during that time. Their reports sparked this new study, as did the realization that glaciers melted more in summer than they were growing in the winter, according to Lehnherr. Related: The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation Scientists drew on research dating back to the 1950s for a study that is “the first to aggregate and analyze massive data sets on Lake Hazen,” according to the university. Lehnherr said on his website , the Environmental and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory , “What our study shows is that even in the High Arctic, warming is now occurring to such an extent that it is no longer cold enough for glaciers to grow, and lake ice to persist year-round.” Since Lake Hazen is so big, theoretically it should show more resilience to climate change compared to smaller bodies of water or ponds, Lehnherr said in the university’s statement. His website said he and his team had hypothesized Lake Hazen would be “relatively resilient to the impacts of Arctic warming” and the “finding that this was not the case is alarming.” Lehnherr said in the university’s statement, “If this lake is exhibiting signs of climate change, it really shows how pervasive these changes are.” The journal Nature Communications published the research online this week; scientists from institutions in Canada, the United States, and Austria also contributed. + University of Toronto Mississauga + Environmental and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory + Nature Communications Images via Pieter Aukes and Igor Lehnherr

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The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought

26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

March 6, 2018 by  
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Located on the Arizona – Utah border, Lake Powell serves the drinking water needs of 40 million people in the Southwest while welcoming over 3 million recreational visitors every year. However, what lies beneath may give pause to those who depend on the lake. OZY reports that silt on the lake bed covers 26,000 tons of radioactive waste. A remnant from the mid-century uranium boom in the American West, the radioactive stockpile is not thought to be particularly dangerous. Still, even trace amounts can increase the risk of anemia, fractured teeth, cataracts and cancer, dangers which become potentially more active if Lake Powell suffers an extended drought. At the moment, Lake Powell seems safe. “The uranium mill tailings produce a sandy waste that contains heavy metals and radium, which is radioactive , but these tailings have been down there since around the 1950s, with several feet of sediment placed over top of them and the water used as a moderator, or a shield,” Phil Goble, uranium mill and radioactive materials section manager for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told OZY . However, the radioactive waste is not entirely benign, particularly if conditions change. “The tailings could potentially become a problem if Lake Powell gets to a very, very low water level or if the lake is drained, and the tailings are exposed,” Goble said. “In this case, if someone were to dig down and expose those tailings, or the wind blows them, or people use the spot for recreational use of off-road vehicles, then there could be a health hazard.” Related: Scientists puzzle over mysterious disappearance of mercury from Utah’s Great Salt Lake Lake Powell is a manmade lake carved from the surrounding red rock canyon and has not been completely full since the late 1990s. In the early years of the 2000s, it suffered a serious drought in which water levels dropped nearly 100 feet, or one-fifth of the lake’s full depth. Given the increased threat of climate change-related drought, it is not so difficult to imagine a situation in which Lake Powell’s water level drops enough to expose the radioactive waste to the surface environment. In the meantime, scientists are monitoring the lake while locals are encouraged to keep drinking from and playing in the beautiful body of water . Via OZY Images via Deposit Photos and Deposit Photos

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26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

March 6, 2018 by  
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The East Kolkata Wetlands in India processes almost 198 million gallons of wastewater and sewage produced by the region’s population everyday, relying on nothing but nature. What was once a mix of lowland salt marshes and silted rivers is now a sprawling complex of man-made wetlands framed by green space. With the help of local farmers and fishers, the wetlands are maintained in good health to organically clean sewage using sunlight, oxygen, and beneficial microbes. This process, known as bio-remediation, cleans wastewater within three weeks, a remarkably quick turnaround that highlights the great power of natural solutions. Wastewater from the city is directed into small inlets, each one controlled by a local fishery cooperative. The cooperative then separates the dense polluted water from clearer surface water, which flows into the large wetland while the wastewater decomposes and becomes fish food through organic processes. This water is then used to raise fish in ponds known as bheries or grow crops on the banks of the wetlands. In addition to its wastewater and agriculture services, the East Kolkata Wetlands also act as a flood control system, absorbing excess water from the nearby city. Related: Dakshineswar Skywalk could greatly improve pedestrian safety in Kolkata Former city sanitation engineer Dhrubajyoti Ghosh has served as the Wetland’s guardian for several decades. After realizing the enormous value of the wetland’s environmental services, he defined the formal limits of the area and successfully protected it from real estate developers. Today, Ghosh recognizes the challenges and opportunities facing the wetlands and others like it. “I am still learning how this delicate ecosystem works, how to further refine it, and why some places are better suited than others,” he told The Better India . “I am happy to give any advice or help absolutely free, this is the best system of its kind in the world and could be helping millions of people. If I have failed in one thing it is this; not enough people know about it or are benefiting from it.” Via The Better India Images via East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority and  The Better India

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Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

Dreamy cabin is the perfect lakeside escape for large families

February 16, 2018 by  
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Montreal-based YH2 Architecture has given the traditional lakeside cottage a modern refresh in Window on the Lake, a minimalist timber cabin that derives its name from its stunning glazed end wall. Located just steps away from the shores of Lac Plaisant in Quebec’s Mauricie region, the gabled dwelling features a clean and minimalist design so as not to detract from its surroundings. The spacious family cottage sleeps up to 12 across two floors. Built of timber inside and out, Window on the Lake was designed to “capture the essence of cottage life” by creating a sense of warmth and connection with nature. The gabled building is clad entirely in white cedar that will develop a patina as it weathers over time. “The balloon frame, with its exposed wooden studs and joists painted white, gives the building a unique rhythm of shadow and light,” wrote the architects. “This is the cottage as an expression of the art of living: a gentle, simple, pure way of life.” Related: Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact The south facade closest to the lake is fully transparent to provide the open-plan living area with stunning lake views. The glazed gabled wall lets in sunlight and warmth during the cold months, while an extended roof overhang and mature trees mitigate solar heat gain in summer. Three large vertically oriented glazed panels punctuate the east and west facades to strengthen the connection with nature throughout the home. The cottage also includes two ground-floor bedrooms and a large, open sleeping area on the second floor. + YH2 Architecture Photo credit: Francis Pelletier

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Dreamy cabin is the perfect lakeside escape for large families

Floating sauna with charred timber cladding boasts minimal site impact

October 27, 2017 by  
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When Milan-based Small Architecture Workshop was asked to design a tiny sauna for a bed and breakfast in Åmot, Sweden, they wanted to do so with minimal environmental impact. The result of their efforts is this dreamy floating sauna on a lake wrapped in blackened timber to blend in with its forested surroundings. The architects built the compact structure in the span of two weeks as the first in a series of new amenities for the nearby bed and breakfast set in the middle of the forest. Located a three-hour drive from Stockholm , the bed and breakfast and accompanying sauna are an idyllic nature retreat for city dwellers. To minimize site impact , Small Architecture Workshop built the sauna on an existing wooden pier that they fixed up, thus avoiding digging and damaging the shoreline. The traditional Japanese technique of Yakisugi—more popularly known as Shou Sugi Ban—was applied to the sauna’s exterior cladding to make the timber resistant to weather, rot, and bugs. Related: Gigantic golden egg sauna warms up residents of Sweden’s northernmost town In contrast to the dark facade, the sauna is lined with light-colored alder wood. Visitors access the sauna through a covered space that serves as a dressing room and firewood storage room. Full-height glazing fronts the sauna, which can comfortably accommodate eight, to frame unobstructed views of the lake. + Small Architecture Workshop Via Dezeen Images via Small Architecture Workshop

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Floating sauna with charred timber cladding boasts minimal site impact

Oil rig explodes in the middle of Lake Pontchartrain, injuring several near New Orleans

October 16, 2017 by  
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An oil rig on Lake Pontchartrain exploded on Sunday night in Kenner, Louisiana , home of the Louis Armstrong International Airport and only a few miles from New Orleans . Authorities began receiving calls about the explosion around 7:18 PM on Sunday; although no official explanation has been offered, authorities on the scene believe the explosion was caused by flammable cleaning chemicals on the oil rig’s surface. At least seven people were injured in the blast and, according to initial reporting, one person is missing. Many of the injuries were serious and authorities expected more to be reported in the near future. Lake Pontchartrain is a brackish body of water that is about 12-14 feet deep, though some shipping channels are dredged deeper, and covers 630 square miles to the north of New Orleans. The exploding rig in the Lake is owned by Clovelly Oil Co., which uses the structure for transferring oil . It is possible that oil is still leaking into Lake Pontchartrain, though this will not affect local drinking water, which is sourced from the Mississippi River. Local residents report having their homes rattled when the explosion occurred. “My house actually shook,” said Andrew Love, who lives in the area. “At first I thought it was a sonic boom or something, I had no idea what was happening.” No damage to homes has yet been reported. Related: New NASA study reveals just how fast New Orleans is sinking George Branigan was sitting at home with his wife and stepdaughter when the explosion happened. “We heard something blow up and it sounded like it was in my backyard ,” Branigan said. After going outside to investigate, Branigan heard what sounded to him to be small pebbles, likely debris from the explosion, falling on his home. Branigan was still watching the flames from his porch several hours after the explosion. Via the New Orleans Advocate and San Francisco Gate Images via  City of Kenner Government

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Oil rig explodes in the middle of Lake Pontchartrain, injuring several near New Orleans

Drought turns Chinas largest freshwater lake into a sprawling grassland

November 7, 2016 by  
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Many people are not aware that China has a freshwater lake that spans 1,737 square miles. Scratch that, China had a lake that size. Recent photos show that areas of Poyang Lake in Jiangxi province have dried up completely , turning into a vast grassland. Drought conditions in the province have resulted in an early dry season, causing much of the lake water to disappear. Now, visitors can walk on dry ground where water once measured between 28- and 82-feet-deep. The lake, formerly the largest freshwater body inside China’s borders, has shrunk and grown over the years in response to wet and dry seasons, but its current state is unprecedented. The problem started months ago, after the northern part of Jiangxi province experienced a rainfall shortage starting in September. Photos taken on November 2 in the city of Lushan reveal that much of the lake’s water has receded and been replaced by sprouting grassland. A large ship has been grounded, left stranded by the disappearing water. Luixingdun island was once surrounded by deep water and is now circled by grazing cattle. Related: NASA warns of 99% chance the US Southwest will suffer decades-long megadrought The startling images were circulated by China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua , and they tell a tale of one of the most drastic impacts  of climate change. Poyang Lake was once a thriving locale for the fishing and shrimping industry, and also provided water for irrigation of nearby rice fields as well as the local water utilities for area communities. Xingzi Hydrological Station, which monitors the lake, reports that the water level dropped to 34.8 feet on November 3, down from 39.4 foot on September 19, which marked the beginning of an early dry season. The drought so far as left many parts of the lake bed exposed like a grassy plain, and the remaining water continues to recede. Via DailyMail Images via Xinhua

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Drought turns Chinas largest freshwater lake into a sprawling grassland

Giant timber periscope tower offers lakeside views to everyone even those with disabilities

July 8, 2016 by  
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Commissioned by the City of Seinäjoki, the Periscope Tower was created in collaboration with SWECO Seinäjoki and constructed by students of the local vocational school SEDU. The observation tower is built entirely of wood and comprises three prefabricated modules stacked together vertically and topped with a roof. The large-scale periscope forms the inner core and is constructed with cross-laminated timber . Stairs made from larch circle around the periscope to reach the raised viewing platform. The external wooden frame, also made of larch, serves as the load-bearing structure. Related: Accessible sail-shaped viewing tower hovers over the edge of Denmark’s Aarhus harbor “The idea was to create a simple wooden structure of high quality in a way that supports learning and reflects a commitment to empowering and strengthening the local community,” write the architects, “One can either climb up the stairs to enjoy the view over the lake and into the surrounding landscape from the viewing deck, or simply stay on the ground and get the view through the periscope mirror.” The Periscope Tower was created as part of a larger landscape design project to revitalize the area around Lake Kyrösjärvi, a man-made lake that helps with flood control and generates energy for an electric power plant. The observation tower opened today to the public. + OOPEAA Via Dezeen Images via OOPEAA

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