One Large Pie, Extra Sustainability: Dispelling Pizza Box Recycling Myths

February 25, 2021 by  
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By Jeff Chalovich, chief commercial officer and president, Corrugated Packaging, … The post One Large Pie, Extra Sustainability: Dispelling Pizza Box Recycling Myths appeared first on Earth 911.

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One Large Pie, Extra Sustainability: Dispelling Pizza Box Recycling Myths

Rare large blue butterflies reintroduced in Gloucestershire

August 14, 2020 by  
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Rare large blue butterflies just experienced their most substantial reintroduction into the wild. About 750 of the globally endangered butterflies successfully hatched from larvae and flapped around Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire this summer. “Bringing such an important and rare species back to Rodborough Common is a testament to what collaborations between organisations and individuals can achieve,” said  conservation  officer Julian Bendle in a press release issued by National Trust. “Creating the right conditions has been vital to the programme and this doesn’t happen overnight.” Related: Migrating monarch butterflies get the right-of-way in new agreement Rodborough Common serves as both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. Officials selected this area for the butterfly release because it met the species’  habitat  requirements. The space houses several rare plants and insects, including the pasqueflower, duke of burgundy butterfly, rock rose pot beetle and fourteen different orchid species. Of Britain’s nine types of blue butterflies, the large blue, with a wingspan surpassing two inches, remains the biggest and rarest. With no large blue sightings at Rodborough Common logged for 150 years, in 1979 officials declared the species extinct in  Britain . Lepidopterologists began reintroducing the large blue from continental Europe nearly 40 years ago. The butterfly has now established populations at several sites across southern England. The campaign to bring the butterflies back to Rodborough Common took five years of planning and included changing the grazing patterns of local  cattle , ensuring the butterflies had plenty of marjoram and wild thyme to lay their eggs in and providing an abundance of delicious red ants. This project also required many human partners, including people at the National Trust, Butterfly Conservation, the Limestone’s Living Legacies Back from the Brink project, Natural England, Royal Entomological Society (RES) and the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Committees of Commoners. As David Simcox, research ecologist and co-author of the commons management plan, explained, cows help the butterflies by creating “keeping the grass down so sunlight can reach the soil which gently warms it creating perfect conditions for the ants.” Simcox continues, saying, “Then, in the summer when the ants are out  foraging , nature performs a very neat trick – the ants are deceived into thinking that the parasitic larva of the large blue is one of their own and carry it to their nest. It’s at this point that the caterpillar turns from herbivore to carnivore, feeding on ant grubs throughout the autumn and spring until it is ready to pupate and emerge the following summer.” Last August, conservation groups released 1,100 larvae on the 867-acre site. The 750 resulting adult  butterflies  demonstrate the program’s success. + National Trust Images via Sarah Meredith and David Simcox

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Rare large blue butterflies reintroduced in Gloucestershire

Earth Overshoot Day comes 3 weeks later this year

August 14, 2020 by  
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In more silver-lining news related to COVID-19 , humanity’s ecological footprint contracted this year more than any time since researchers started tracking it in the 1970s. Earth Overshoot Day will fall three weeks later this year than it did in 2019. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Earth Overshoot Day isn’t exactly a holiday. The date changes year to year and marks the time when humans’ use of ecological resources and services exceeds what our planet can regenerate in a year. This year, Earth Overshoot Day will fall on August 22, according to the Global Footprint Network. Last year, the grim day came three weeks earlier, on July 29. While this is a significant improvement, it still falls noticeably short, with humanity using a year’s worth of resources with more than four months of the year still to go. Related: Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish The Global Footprint Network calculates Earth Overshoot Day by dividing Earth’s biocapacity, or the amount of natural resources the planet can generate that year, by people’s demand for those resources. Then it multiplies the ratio by 365. We have COVID-19 to thank for this year’s 9.3% reduction of our ecological footprint. When you put humans on lockdown, carbon dioxide emissions suddenly drop. “This shift in the year-to-year date of Earth Overshoot Day represents the greatest ever single-year shift since the beginning of global overshoot in the early 1970s,” according to  the Earth Overshoot Calculation Report 2020. “In several instances the date was pushed back temporarily, such as in the aftermath of the post-2008 Great Recession, but the general trend remains that of a consistent upward trajectory.” Humanity is currently burning through natural resources 1.6 times faster than Earth can regenerate. So unless we can find an extra .6 planet, we will either have to change our ways ASAP or run short of resources. The Global Footprint Network’s ambitious goal is to move Earth Overshoot Day back five days per year, so that by 2050, we will be living within our ecological means. The group’s website suggests ways that people can move the date by focusing on five areas: cities, food , population, energy and planet. + Earth Overshoot Day Images via Earth Overshoot Day and Arek Socha

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What switching to satellite offices could mean for sustainability

August 10, 2020 by  
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What switching to satellite offices could mean for sustainability Jesse Klein Mon, 08/10/2020 – 01:45 When the coronavirus pandemic started in March, many of America’s major cities experienced a mass exodus of people in search of places with more living space for home offices and outdoor areas for easier social distancing. And as many tech companies extend their work from home policies indefinitely , such as Google , which recently announced it will allow employees to work from home until July 2021, this migration could become permanent.  “There is this phenomenon that we know is happening around people leaving the major cities and going to smaller places,” said Lindsay Baker , former first chief sustainability officer at WeWork and founder of space use software app company Comfy . “People sometimes don’t choose to live in cities. They live there because they work there.”   And as employees move away, many companies are starting to reevaluate the necessity of maintaining their large corporate offices or complexes in congested, expensive places with prestigious addresses. In June, a San Franciscan tweeted a photo of three moving trucks on the edge of the city’s financial district near Chinatown and commented that he has seen over 30 in the area. At least anecdotally, both people and companies are leaving town. They are moving out of office buildings because they don’t need them.  But even if remote work becomes the long-term norm for every company post-pandemic, humans still like to work together. There’s still a part of us that wants to physically come together to collaborate and connect. So real estate strategies may turn towards smaller neighborhood satellite offices in multiple suburban locations, instead of one massive complex that serves an entire region or, in some cases, an entire state.  These smaller satellite hubs could allow employees to come together a few times a week and supply high-speed internet and better backgrounds than a kitchen table for important meetings, while also being less crowded for social distancing concerns, giving employees shorter commutes and allowing for a quieter, more accessible outdoor environments than a typical bustling financial district location.  But what will this possible transition to smaller hubs mean for the sustainability of office buildings where building designers and office managers have spent the last decade making every last inch of a multistory building as energy- and waste-efficient as possible? Large complexes have sustainabilities of scale When an influential company builds an HQ, it becomes iconic and synonymous with the company’s brand and image. The most well-known ones become part of the pop culture ethos and get nicknames: The Apple Spaceship, The GooglePlex, The Salesforce Tower, The Amazon Biodomes, The Hearst Tower, The Bank of China Tower, Lloyd’s “Inside-Out Building.” That notoriety incentivizes the company to commit to sustainable designs, technologies and programs for the highly scrutinized building. But the tenants couldn’t heavily invest in those projects without the massive number of people each building serves. And the bigger buildings could have sustainability of scale that smaller offices can’t provide. “I think to an extent you could make a claim that a larger campus or a larger building would be more sustainable [than a smaller office] for the simple fact that you can implement different technologies that have a better ROI,” said Kyle Goehring, executive vice president of clean energy solutions at JLL.  Media Authorship Salesforce Close Authorship These technologies can be as mundane as better, more energy-efficient boilers, lights, heaters, filters and air conditioners or as radical as the Salesforce Tower’s in-building blackwater treatment equipment.  “When you’ve got big buildings, you’ve got more complex, robust mechanical systems,” said Sean McCrady, vice president of Healthy Buildings, recently acquired by UL. And larger, more complex buildings are usually staffed with teams of specialists to run them. They notice when something isn’t running efficiently and work to find solutions. Just having people around in charge of sustainability to notice when the lights on the sixth floor keep getting left on is important. There are other sustainabilities of scale that large campus’ offer that smaller ones can’t. The Google Cafeteria, for example, works on a scale that allows for extremely sustainable operations. It uses ugly fruit , has a food waste reduction program and can serve on and wash real plates instead of using disposable ones. “Even if I bought a Tupperware full of whatever food I had to my office, took it home and washed it in my residential dishwasher, it would have been more consumptive than what Google does,” Baker said. “Because it’s at scale.” According to Baker, tech perks aren’t going away. Even in the time of the pandemic, employees still expect some of the same benefits they enjoyed at their large complexes. But instead of a buffet-style with real plates and a full kitchen in the complex, companies will deliver servings in disposable containers to the smaller hub locations. And with the virus still on everyone’s mind, instead of bulk ordering trail mix, nuts and candy for a bin with scope, single-serving chip bags and cookie packages will feel necessary. Sustainable cafeterias might be replaced with high-waste food delivery services.  Another factor that contributes to more sustainability investment on large corporate campuses is that they are either owned by the company or are in long-term lease agreements, sometimes up to 20 years. Both these situations give the company much more control over building decisions.  “Real estate owners will often say that the stability of long term and big leases help them to be able to make some of these sustainability improvements,” Baker said.  Almost every building expert interviewed for this story mentioned that companies and landlords are more willing to make changes if they have a steady partner to help carry the costs. There’s no point making a bunch of sustainable changes if the company plans to abandon that location in two years. Shifting to a smaller corporate office model with many businesses in each building and each company dealing with many landlords could threaten a company’s ability to influence a sustainable agenda. Smaller satellites could shift incentives  If post-pandemic, companies decided that instead of 100,000 to 1 million square feet organized into a complex, they need 10,000 square feet in 10 separate hub locations, there are a lot more decision-makers at the table, and a lot more split incentives.  “In America, buildings are owned by one entity, managed by a different entity and occupied by another entity,” Baker said. “All of these things getting disrupted means that there’s a little bit of mayhem going on for most buildings.” Essentially, there are more renters, more landlords, more operators and less control for any individual party, making getting anything done more difficult.   Each entity has different incentives that affect the feasibility of sustainable improvements. For example, where a tenant might see a huge advantage in installing solar panels to decrease the utility bill, the owner of the building who passes the electricity bill onto the renter doesn’t have any reason to pay for the solar infrastructure.  “Oftentimes, it’s the owner who’s really in a position of power,” Baker said. “When you have more tenants and shorter terms, split incentives become a much bigger problem, and it’s harder to get an owner to spend the money.” Goehring agreed. “A larger site campus may be able to put in more technologies because you have greater control over that property,” he said. “Whereas if you’re in much smaller sites and you have multiple tenants, you may not be able to implement an on-site renewable or energy-efficient solution because you’re sharing the asset with multiple parties. You may not be able to get agreement.” Essentially, there are more renters, more landlords, more operators and less control for any individual party, making getting anything done more difficult. Adobe already has encountered this problem with its satellite offices across the globe.  “If we have a small office somewhere that we rent, we have no local control,” said Vince Digneo, sustainability strategist for Adobe. “We’re working on strategies for being able to work with landlords.” On the other hand, the fact that the satellite offices are not as tightly controlled also could help green initiatives get off the ground. According to Baker, there’s less bureaucracy, and it could be easier to get decisions made. Moreover, in a smaller office, the people in charge might be more willing to take a chance on a change at a smaller scale. Even overhauling something simple could be a massive undertaking at a huge headquarters.  “Sometimes the best sustainability performance actually happens in the satellite offices of these big companies,” Baker said. “They were able to break down more silos faster. That stuff is sort of the bread and butter of sustainability work.” Sustainability could thrive in a market of flexibility, pressure and competition As corporations need less space, they have more potential locations available to hold them. According to the commercial building experts, fewer constraints, along with the pandemic exodus has created a renter’s market, forcing landlords to be more flexible to compete. To attract companies with sustainability commitments, smaller landlords that didn’t have to think about solar or efficient heating before will hopefully start making changes.  “You can influence the people who own the assets to implement solutions because if they don’t, you are going to go lease a different property or you’re going to relocate elsewhere,” Goehring said.  Baker hopes that the changing market will develop a sense of competition between landlords to be the most sustainable and be in line with the sustainable values and goals of larger companies. That means there’s an opportunity for the massive companies that need space in many places to turn up the heat on more buildings, more regulators and more landlords in more places. With satellite offices, companies could influence sustainable policies and access to renewable energy in many areas, instead of just focusing on the one that is home to the large base.  With Adobe’s many satellite locations, it is able to put pressure on regulators in states outside of its headquarters in California. According to Digneo, Adobe was able to work with local utilities such as Portland General Electric to get renewable energy to its sites in Hillsboro, Oregon, and later in Utah.  We are still far from the end of this pandemic, and we don’t know what the long-term ramifications for our office lives will be. But the private sector is usually quick to adapt and take advantage of a changing market, and the hope is those adaptations will include more sustainable offices, whatever the size.  Pull Quote Essentially, there are more renters, more landlords, more operators and less control for any individual party, making getting anything done more difficult. Topics Buildings Built Environment Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A rendering of Apple’s spaceship-like headquarters in Cupertino.

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Architects propose produce markets designed for social distancing

April 9, 2020 by  
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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, making a trip to the grocery store has become a stressful experience for many people around the world. To help minimize risk, Rotterdam-based design studio Shift architecture urbanism has developed self-initiated designs for hyper-local micro markets to make shopping for food faster, safer and more accessible. Designed with a 16-square grid and three market stalls, the open-air proposal emphasizes flexibility and mobility as well as social distancing. The traditional open-air fresh produce markets have long been an important part of the Netherlands. However, their existence and the livelihoods of some fresh produce vendors have been threatened during the coronavirus outbreak; while some of the large weekly or semi-weekly street markets have stayed open in some parts of the country, the city of Rotterdam has closed all such markets. Related: Pop-up prefab hospitals proposed as healthcare centers during pandemics While Shift architecture urbanism acknowledges that supermarkets have not been closed and that some people have access to online shopping, it believes that the shutdown of street markets harms vulnerable, lower income groups by forcing them to congregate and shop at more expensive supermarkets. The architects’ hyper-local micro market proposal would preserve access to open-air markets for basic food needs while maintaining social distancing with a one-person-per-cell policy in the market’s 16-square grid setup. Constructed from flexible and mobile units, each market would have one entrance and two exits. To further limit time customers spend in the grid, the three market stalls — each selling a different kind of food, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products or meat — would offer a pre-packaged bundle of goods instead of separate products. “Shift’s proposal is to keep the vital function of the fresh produce markets fully intact, even strengthening it, while at the same time minimizing its potential role in spreading the virus,” the architects explained. “Its former model of concentration has to be replaced by a model of dispersion, both in space and time. This is done by breaking down the large markets into so-called micro markets that are spread over the city and opening them up for a longer time. Instead of you going to the market, the market is coming to your neighborhood. These hyper-local markets are open at least 5 days a week instead of twice a week to further reduce the concentration of people.” + Shift architecture urbanism Images via Shift architecture urbanism

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A beautiful brick home is embedded into the Brazilian countryside

March 25, 2019 by  
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Brazilian firm  Estúdio Penha has tucked a brick-clad home into the sloped landscapes of an expansive forest outside of São Paulo. Partially embedded into a grassy hill, the gorgeous Quinta da Baroneza House blends quietly into its natural setting thanks to an expansive green roof and muted brick cladding that matches the same color of the local soil. Located in an open patch of the Atlantic Forest, the nearly 7,000-square-foot home was designed to blend in with its surroundings while providing a relaxing retreat for the homeowners. According to the architects, they created the exterior cladding by using mainly broken bricks and brick residues in order to symbolically create “a direct connection to the large and small pieces that compose life.” Related: Victorian home’s painted facade is stripped to restore its original red brick glory The brick home is comprised of three main volumes that are separated by a smooth, concrete, L-shaped wall. This large wall crosses through the main volumes, creating a corridor that traverses the length of the building to an inner courtyard that connects the interior with the exterior. Further enhancing this connection to the natural surroundings is a large metal staircase that leads up to an expansive green roof  planted with native vegetation. Although underground, the living space in the first volume is illuminated with natural light thanks to a strategically placed skylight. Much of the interior features walls with rough cast plaster finish, concrete touches and exposed plumbing and electrical wiring, all of which give the living space a cool, industrial aesthetic. Flooring found throughout the home was made out of reforested wood. The largest area in the home is the main living room with a front facade comprised of massive sliding glass doors, which open out to the Hijau stone pool surrounded by a wooden deck. The pool was created with tiles in differing shades of green to create the sensation of being in a lake. Definitely the heart of the home, this area blends in nicely with the terrain with a rustic vine veranda that provides shade from the harsh summer sun. + Estúdio Penha Via ArchDaily Images via Estúdio Penha

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A beautiful brick home is embedded into the Brazilian countryside

Can Large Solar Farms Create Pollinator Habitat?

September 18, 2018 by  
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Pollinators play a crucial role in ecosystems. They are instrumental … The post Can Large Solar Farms Create Pollinator Habitat? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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4 reasons net-zero energy should start with schools

August 23, 2016 by  
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Considering their large electricity bills, could schools save money and improve children’s education by investing in net zero energy buildings?

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Scientists watch a planet being born for the first time in history

December 7, 2015 by  
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For the first time ever, scientists have been able to see planets as they are born. In photographs obtained by the Large Binocular Telescope and the Magellan Adaptive Optics System, astronomers watched as a ring of material formed into planets around a young star . This discovery could lead to the discovery of other forming exoplanets and give scientists answers to how planets are formed and then evolve into solar systems such as ours. Read the rest of Scientists watch a planet being born for the first time in history

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Eindhoven’s annual Glow Festival set the city aglow with hundreds of LED installations

December 7, 2015 by  
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