The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard

March 2, 2020 by  
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Pollination occurs when pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, feed on the sweet nectar from flowers. While they enjoy the buffet, powdery pollen sticks to them. As they move down the buffet line to other plants in the area, the pollen drops off into those plants, which then use it to create seeds, fruit and more plants. The process is essential to our food supply, with some estimates giving pollination credit for up to one-third of what we eat. Whether you want a robust garden full of produce, to help boost pollinator populations or both, focusing on the best plants for pollinators will help you reach your goal. Ideally, you will want to select native plants for your region. Talk to your local extension office, do some research online or grab a book from the library. Your local nursery or other garden supply store will likely have a great selection of the best plants for attracting pollinators to get you started. In the meantime, here are plenty of tips to help you know where to start when it comes to creating a beautiful, bountiful pollinator garden. Related: EU approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides Best plants for every kind of pollinator and climate Many plants are forgiving enough to succeed in a variety of climates and are commonly used for attracting pollinators in just about any area. Herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage, mint and oregano are great options. Other plants provide aesthetic appeal for your yard while also creating a feast for pollinators. Look into whether coneflower (purple is a favorite for butterflies), sunflower, redbud, catnip, penstemon, lab’s ears, verbena, aster, black-eyed Susan or yarrow are a good fit for your space. Butterfly gardens If your main draw is butterflies, try alyssum, aster, butterfly bush, cosmos, delphinium, and the easy-to-grow daylily. A few other butterfly favorites include fennel, globe thistle, goldenrod and liatris. Hollyhock makes butterflies happy, but be careful where you plant it, because hollyhock can become invasive after the first season. Plants to attract hummingbirds Hummingbirds like big, bright blooms they can stick their extraordinarily long tongues into for a drink. Test out bee balm, begonias, bleeding heart, canna, cardinal flower, columbine and coral bells (heuchera). Vary your plantings by season, and choose plants of different heights and colors. Include cleome, dahlia, foxglove, fuchsia, gladiolus, iris and lupine. Other plants known to draw in the fluttery birds include lantana, paintbrush, nicotiana, phlox and yucca. Bee-friendly plants As you probably know, bees are critical to the survival of our planet, but colony collapse has put them in crisis. Do your part with some bee-friendly plants like bee plant, bergamot, borage, cosmos, flax, giant hyssop, marjoram and poppies. Bees are usually satisfied feeding at any nectar-rich banquet, so most herbs, berries or flowers in your garden will likely make them happy. If you plan to try beekeeping, note that the resulting honey will pick up the key notes from what they feed on, so experiment with wildflowers, wild rose, thyme, verbena and blackberries for different flavors. Pollinators by region Weather trends in your area will affect the types of plants that will thrive, so again, it’s important to research plants native to your locale. However, here are some general ideas for the more extreme climates you might be dealing with. Arid mountains  If you live in a semi-desert region, try out catnip, clover, milkwort, morning glory, passion flowers and phacelia in your pollinator garden. Some other options that should thrive in arid regions include rose, potentilla, sorrel, violet and wild mustard. Coastal areas For areas that receive more rain, such as the misty coasts, add catalpa, cow parsley, goldenrod, impatiens, morning glory and willow catkins to your garden. Although we’ve mentioned a lot of flowers, remember that crops bloom too, providing an opportunity to feed the pollinators and yourself. Plant some almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, eggplants, gooseberries, legumes, watermelons, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes along with herbs to satisfy the pollinators and fill your plate. Additional pollinator garden tips There are a few more components to creating the perfect pollinator garden, where bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and more will all flock to for nectar. Proper plant care In addition to selecting the best plants for pollinators, you’ll want to make sure those plants and the pollinators are thriving. Follow watering guidelines for the plants you select and fertilize them when needed, but be sure to use only organic materials. Avoid chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides that can harm bees, moths and other pollinators. Especially during the hot, summer months, scatter water sources around your garden for pollinators to enjoy while they work. Also cluster plants together so pollinators have some protection. This gives them a place to hide from predators, heat and rain as well as to rear their young. If you grow crops on a large or small scale, consider throwing some seeds in the ground during the off season. You may not want the plants that are not at their peak, but pollinators will appreciate them nonetheless — your soil will likely thank you for some variety, too. You can also put wildflowers in unused areas for your pollinators to enjoy. Pollinators’ favorite colors Map out your garden with a variety of colors for attracting pollinators of all types.  Birds are naturally drawn to warm tones, like scarlet, red and orange. They also respond well to white blooms. Butterflies like bright colors and the deeper tones of red and purple. On the other end of the spectrum, moths prefer dull red, purple, pink and white. By planting a variety of colors that bloom throughout the seasons, you will provide the best environment to attract all types of pollinators. Images via Shutterstock

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The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard

LEED Gold-targeted Ottawa library will honor local history

February 13, 2020 by  
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After nearly a year of public input by Canadians from coast to coast, Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects has finally revealed renderings for the new Ottawa library and archives. Designed in collaboration with KWC Architects , the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada Joint Facility will be an innovative landmark representative of all Canadians. The building will target, at minimum, LEED Gold certification and will reflect the region’s rich history and natural beauty with its organic and dynamic design oriented for unparalleled views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills in Quebec. The recently unveiled designs for the Ottawa library are the result of an unprecedented public co-design process called the “Inspire555 Series” after the building’s address at 555 Albert Street, on the western edge of downtown Ottawa . The process, which began in February last year, asked residents, indigenous communities and Canadians from across the country to participate in a series of design workshops, pop-up events, expert lectures and online activities to shape the design and direction of the public institution. More than 4,000 people contributed to the library’s major design themes, which include accessibility, a sense of welcoming for diverse groups and needs, site-specific elements and a connection to nature.  Related: Henning Larsen’s energy-efficient Kiruna Town Hall opens to the public As a result, the final design takes cues from Ottawa’s environment with an undulating form that references the nearby Ottawa River. The stone and wood exterior grounds the building into the nearby escarpment landscape, while the top floors, rooftop and abundance of glazing frame views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills. The five-story building will be organized around a large town hall at its heart and will include exhibition and collections spaces, reading rooms, a creative center, a children’s area, a genealogy center and a cafe. “The location at a cultural crossroads of a route that traces the three founding peoples — French, English and Indigenous — underscores the spirit of confluence in the building’s design and the possibilities for these memory institutions in a modern facility to advance the Canadian story,” said Donald Schmitt, principal of Diamond Schmitt Architects. The joint facility has a CA $193 million ($145 million) budget and is scheduled to open in 2024. + Diamond Schmitt Architects Images via Diamond Schmitt Architects

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LEED Gold-targeted Ottawa library will honor local history

MASK Architects design a sustainable pavilion nestled in a German forest

July 19, 2019 by  
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Turkish architect Öznur P?nar Çer’s firm MASK Architects has designed a sustainably minded pavilion proposed for Waldspielpark Heinrich Kraft Park, the largest forest game park in Frankfurt, Germany. Created with a leaf-shaped structure, the building is designed to blend into the forest with its natural materials palette that mainly comprises locally sourced timber. Dubbed Leaf and Bean Co Pavilion, the building will house a coffee shop, a semi-open library, recreational areas and an events space. Shaped like an ovate leaf, the Leaf and Bean Co Pavilion will span an area of more than 2,000 square feet across two floors. The pavilion’s ground floor will be semi open and house exhibition space, while the upper level will include the coffee shop with the service areas placed inside a circular core at the heart of the building. Optimization of views of the surrounding forest informed the decisions for placing the programming. In addition to providing structural support, locally sourced timber will be used to give the pavilion a sculptural appeal. The architects propose crisscrossing long timber blocks around the building exterior for a nest-like appearance that evokes branches in a forest. Large amounts of glazing wrap around the building to create an immersive experience in nature. The roof of the pavilion directly above the coffee service areas will be planted with trees and greenery visible from the coffee shop below. Related: A modern reusable pavilion is sustainably designed to pop-up almost anywhere “We carried out a design in which people can provide unforgettable experience without disturbing the mathematics and physics of nature,” Öznur P?nar Çer said in a press statement. “This pavilion can be adapted to any kind of forest area, the development offers visitors an escape from the city with the celebration of fresh and organic dining. A hub educating and reestablishing gastronomy’s historic and appropriate connection with nature. Guests may enjoy the leisure and programmed resting on the terrace level while connected with the natural forest. By wandering in the forest, visitors not only discover co-creation programs but also meet with the people involved with the project and explore their creative process.” + MASK Architects Images via MASK Architects

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MASK Architects design a sustainable pavilion nestled in a German forest

Zara pledges 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025

July 19, 2019 by  
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This week, major fashion brand Zara announced a pledge to use 100 percent sustainable fabrics by 2025. The company also upped the ante for large-scale sustainable fashion by promising to use 80 percent renewable energy for its headquarters, factories and stores by the same deadline. “We need to be a force for change, not only in the company but in the whole sector,” said Pablo Isla, CEO of Inditex, the corporation that owns Zara. “We are the ones establishing these targets; the strength and impulse for change is coming from the commercial team, the people who are working with our suppliers, the people working with fabrics.” Related: H&M releases sustainable fashion line from fruit and algae Inditex is the third-largest apparel company in the world and promises that its other brands, including Massimo Dutti, will follow Zara’s example. Zara is by far the corporation’s largest brand, pulling in 70 percent of its sales, which totaled $29 billion USD last year. A major component of the sustainability plan involves increasing the offerings and sales from Zara’s eco-conscious line, Join Life. Zara also partners with the Red Cross to donate leftover stock and has an ongoing project with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to innovate new ways to recycle fabrics. The announcements come after increased pressure from consumers worldwide who seek sustainable fashion choices and critique the waste generated by the fast fashion industry. Zara claims it is not “ fast fashion ,” even though a documentary recently revealed that factory workers are judged by a woman holding a stopwatch and that the time between spotting a trend and having it hit Zara stores is only 2 to 4 weeks . Most fashion brands, by comparison, take 40 weeks. Critics and experts of the fashion industry noted that the new sustainability plan does not address concerns about the conditions for factory workers, despite recent controversies when disgruntled workers stitched S.O.S. notes into Zara clothing. + Zara Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Zara pledges 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025

Maven Moment: Dad’s Library

April 24, 2019 by  
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An article about the challenges of recycling hardcover books put … The post Maven Moment: Dad’s Library appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Dad’s Library

Why Is U.S. Drinking Water Dirty?

April 24, 2019 by  
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Clean water has long been a crisis in the developing … The post Why Is U.S. Drinking Water Dirty? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Why Is U.S. Drinking Water Dirty?

3GATTI hopes to land a ‘green spaceship’ in Madrid

April 15, 2019 by  
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3GATTI Architecture Studio has unveiled a spectacular design for a new public library in Madrid. The firm envisions an eye-catching “green spaceship” for the public space; it is a building almost entirely clad in lush Virginia creeper vines. As well as creating an attractive landmark for the community, the building’s expansive greenery will act as a passive feature that will help to insulate the structure in winter and cool the interior spaces in the hot summer months. The international firm has proposed landing the green spaceship in the Villaverde district in southern Madrid. According to the architects, the library’s unique design was inspired by the desire to create a recognizable landmark in the community, a vibrant public space that will attract local visitors and forge a strong bond between residents and the neighborhood. Related: This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops The base of the two-story building will be comprised of a simple concrete and brick construction clad in a dark plaster. The first floor of the building will be completely transparent with floor-to-ceiling glass facades. This bottom floor will house the public areas, which will contain the ‘noisy’ functions. On the top floor will be the quiet zones, where visitors will be able to study and read. From the outside, this level will be completely covered in Virginia creeper vines planted on the roof of the building. Contained with red tubes and metallic netting, the lush greenery will look like it is floating above the street, giving the library a surreal, spaceship vibe. However, in addition to being eye-catching, the concept is also very practical and optimized for the city’s climate. Green walls and rooftops always add an extra level of insulation. In this case, the vines will help cool the interior spaces during the hot summer months by shading them from direct sunlight. Adding to the building’s abundance of green spaces, the structure will house several courtyard spaces that let in air and light into the interior spaces. At the eastern side of the building will be enough space to plant an urban vegetable garden . Attached to the youth library rooms, these gardens will be used to teach children about the benefits of healthy living. Through the community gardens, workshops and various activities, the library will have a strong connection to the neighborhood. + 3GATTI Architecture Studio Images via 3GATTI Architecture Studio

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3GATTI hopes to land a ‘green spaceship’ in Madrid

Recycling can get kids free books in southern Italy

February 27, 2019 by  
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An Italian bookseller has come up with a novel way to promote recycling . Michele Gentile, who owns Ex Libris Cafe in southern Italy, is giving away free books to children in exchange for plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Michele Gentile said he thought of the recycling program, because he wanted to inspire children in the small town of Polla to read and pay attention to the environment. To that end, his book giveaway is offered to school kids who donate one aluminum can and a plastic bottle to his shop. Related: Bottle recycling in Oregon hits 90 percent record high “My goal is to spread the passion and love for books among those people in Italy who do not usually read while at the time helping the environment,” Gentile explained. The idea for the initiative came after Gentile collaborated with a nearby middle school on an aluminum recycling project. Working together, the schoolchildren and Gentile collected enough cans to purchase books for an entire classroom. His new program took off from there and has already spread into northern Italy . Gentile hopes his work will continue to make headlines and become a worldwide initiative. The free books come from customers in Gentile’s shop who have donated money to purchase a “suspended” book. The idea stems from a World War II practice in which customers would buy two coffees : one for themselves and another for the next person in line. Gentile has been using the extra books as part of his recycling initiative. While Gentile’s program is a great way to recycle and get kids to read, it also brings awareness to the growing problem of plastic waste. Single-use plastics make up around 26 percent of all the plastics in the world, only 14 percent of which are recycled. Plastics that end up in landfills take around 500 years to decompose, posing a major concern for environmentalists. Cutting down on plastic waste is important if we want to better the environment for future generations, and recycling programs like Gentile’s book giveaway are a great way to meet that goal. Via CNN Image via Public Domain Pictures

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Guide to sustainable winter activities

December 3, 2018 by  
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Just because the temperature plummets and the daylight runs short doesn’t mean your bustling days need to end. Instead of hibernating like a bear, wearing pajamas and watching Netflix day after day, put some fun on the schedule and look forward to a winter full of activities. Of course, consumption and waste are always a consideration here at Inhabitat so here’s our top choices for the best eco-friendly, sustainable activities for your winter calendar. Snow play Those who love winter often anticipate the arrival of snow. Even those who long for summer have to admit that there is much fun to be had in the snow. Besides the obvious snowboarding and skiing, think local. Drag a sled up and down a hill for the afternoon and follow it up with hot cocoa or cider back at home. Take those cross-country skis off the wall and head to a nearby field or back-country road. Make, rent, or purchase some snowshoes for an invigorating experience. No discussion of snow would be complete without recommending you build a snowman and enjoy the mandatory snowball fight that comes with it. Alternately, build an igloo or snow cave. If you’re really adventurous you could even camp out in it! Get into nature Many outdoor activities can roll over from fall into winter. If the weather is not too severe, keep up your nature hikes and monitor the changes in the landscape throughout the season. While you’re out, look for supplies that you could use in crafts, such as pine cones, leaves, rocks, curved bark, acorns, or colorful berries. In fact, make it a challenge with a scavenger hunt or look up geocaching in your area and see if you can find the prize. Have a picnic Yes, you can. Of course you can. Why not? Replace the summer Chablis with a thermos of heated goodness. Bring along some hearty favorites and a thick blanket or pop-up tent. Find cover at a nearby park and watch the river rush by or the birds forage for food. Have a war For those mild-weather regions or even those with snow on the ground, grab the kids or a group of friends and head to the woods for a paintball war. Just be sure to wear eye protection and choose eco-friendly paints for you guns. Of course, you can recreate the same fun at home with rubber band guns and they are even easy to make yourself with any shape of wood and a clothespin mounted on top to fire the rubber bands. Baking party As soon as the days begin to shorten, the baked goods are in high demand. Instead of spending hours alone in the kitchen, why not make it a party? Invite over a few friends and pool ingredients to maximize the eco-friendly advantages of bulk foods, reduced packaging, and minimal waste. At the end of the day you’ll each have a variety of baked goods to take to your family or give as gifts. Travel by train There’s something about traveling by train that is timeless and serene. Of course, it’s also nice that it’s one of the most earth-friendly forms of transport. So whether you’re traveling to reach a destination or simply to take a scenic tour, hop aboard the train as your first option. Local events Communities organize events during every season and winter is no exception. Check the local online pages and printed newspapers for sustainable events in your area. These might include taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or attending a tree lighting ceremony, fundraising event, or salmon education walk. Volunteer Wintertime is a rough season for the homeless and less fortunate. Take some time to help out at a soup kitchen or local food bank and feel good about your contribution. Craft party For an indoor activity, invite over some friends or plan a party for your kids. You can make any number of things as a group including wreaths, blankets, quilts, pick-me-up cards for seniors or veterans, etc. For the kids, make Play-doh, Flubber, fingerpaints, or paper snowflakes. Donate them if you like or use them as gifts during the holidays and beyond. Build a birdhouse Your feathered friends will enjoy a warm place to sleep too. Get together with friends and make birdhouses for your backyard sanctuary. Visit the library The library is a great place to spend a soggy winter afternoon. Learn something new or just enjoy some quiet time. Indoor herb garden Many plants will grow indoors, even during the winter. Take pleasure in planting an herb garden and watch it grow while you enjoy fresh herbs year round. Take an adventure There’s no need to wait for summer for your next adventure. Instead, hunt down eco-friendly winter options around you. Go ice skating on the lake, visit the local reindeer farm, or experience your first dog sled ride. Winter is waiting. Go get it! Images via Shutterstock, Andrew Ly , Ethan Hu , lukasbieri , rawpixel , skeeze , jill111 , Michael Mroczek , Susan Yin , pintando la luz

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Guide to sustainable winter activities

Calgary Central Library is wrapped in a striking, snowflake-like facade

November 7, 2018 by  
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Calgary’s new Central Library has just opened its doors to the public — and it’s a thing of elegant, energy-efficient beauty. International architecture firm Snøhetta teamed up with North America-based multidisciplinary design firm DIALOG to create the new main branch of the Calgary Public Library, one of the largest library systems on the continent. Wrapped in a dynamic, triple-glazed facade overlaid in an intricate, hexagonal pattern, the eye-catching library provides 240,000 square feet of expanded facilities in a contemporary and light-filled environment. Located in downtown Calgary and elevated above the Light Rail Transit Line, the $245 million CAD Calgary Central Library is the city’s largest public investment since the 1988 Olympics. Opened on Nov. 1, 2018, the library is expected to welcome over twice as many annual visitors and offer a strengthened role as a public gathering space with new areas dedicated to social interaction and exchange as well as sufficient spaces for studying and learning. The outdoor landscape has also been designed to facilitate public gatherings with outdoor amphitheaters and an entry plaza that unites the Downtown and East Village, two neighborhoods previously split by the Light Rail Transit Line. The outdoor planting plan references Calgary’s mountains and prairies with a palette of native flora. The crystalline geometry of the building facade dramatically stands out from the urban fabric while fritted glass cutouts provide views into the building from afar. “From these shapes emerge familiar forms: parts of the pattern might resemble an open book, snowflake-like linework or interlocking houses, anchoring the ideas of the collective and community,” the firm explained. “Most importantly, the entire building volume is enclosed in the same pattern, allowing all sides to function as the ‘front’ of the building. This visual vocabulary continues inside, expressed in the design of CPL’s new visual identity and wayfinding signage in the building, unifying the library’s goals of inclusivity.” Related: Snøhetta designs an energy-positive data center to fight climate change Inside, the library is spread out across six floors and lined with wood throughout. The floors are organized “on a spectrum of ‘fun’ to ‘serious’” with the more active programming, like the Children’s Library, placed on the lower floors and the quiet study areas and jewel box-like Great Reading Room on the upper floors. + Snøhetta + DIALOG Photography by Michael Grimm via Snøhetta

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Calgary Central Library is wrapped in a striking, snowflake-like facade

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