Historic Frank Lloyd Wright building to be destroyed in 5 days – unless it’s bought

January 5, 2018 by  
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For the first time in more than 40 years, we’re about to lose a Frank Lloyd Wright -designed building. The beautiful Lockridge Medical Clinic building in Whitefish, Montana was designed by Wright in 1958 and is one of his last designs before his death in 1958. The building was created as a medical clinic that was comfortable enough to feel like a home, complete with Wright’s iconic touches. Now, the owner wants to tear it down to make way for a three-story mixed-use development, unless someone pays $1.7 million in cash by the 10th to preserve it. Demolition preparations began on-site earlier this week. “This comes as a great shock to us,” said Barbara Gordon, executive director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy. “Fruitful discussions were still taking place to bring about a successful resolution to this case, which the Conservancy and our local partners have been working on for more than a year.” Related: Woman pays $100,000 for a home and then discovers it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright The Conservancy has plans to preserve the site, with demolition not slated until the end of 2018, giving the organization time to raise funds to save the building. The news that demolition was beginning early felt like a “gut punch” to those working to save the endangered building, which housed a law office until recently. At just 25 miles from Glacier National Park , the building is perfectly poised for tourism, but the Conservancy fears that unless a buyer saves the day at the last minute, the building will be lost. + Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy Images via Wikimedia and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy

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Historic Frank Lloyd Wright building to be destroyed in 5 days – unless it’s bought

Wind power supplied 43.6% of Denmark’s energy in 2017

January 5, 2018 by  
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Denmark set a new renewable energy record in 2017 by obtaining nearly half of its power from wind . The renewable source supplied 43.6 percent of electricity demand, beating the nation’s prior record of 42 percent in 2015 . In just a few years, the country could obtain 50 percent of its power from wind. Denmark’s wind turbines were particularly active in 2017, generating 14,700 gigawatt-hours in 12 months for a new production record, according to Renewables Now . Since 2001, installed wind energy capacity has doubled – even though there are around 20 percent fewer turbines. That’s because today’s turbines are larger and more efficient. The nation has installed 5.3 gigawatts of wind power on land and offshore – and most of the offshore turbines were installed after 2001. Related: Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week By 2020, Denmark could obtain around half of its electricity via wind. By then the nation should be able to generate 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources including biomass and solar power . One of the world’s biggest wind turbine companies, Vestas , is headquartered in Denmark, and Danish companies are selling their green technology around the world, according to prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s new year speech cited by Danish Energy. CEO Lars Aagaard said milestones like the 43.6 percent figure help put Danish solutions on the agenda. At the end of 2017, Vestas announced a 96 megawatt order for a wind farm in India. TreeHugger points out that as transportation is powered more by electricity, greener grids are good news. Electric cars and buses are traversing the streets, and electric planes could someday be flying the skies. According to TreeHugger, 52 percent of new car sales in nearby Norway were electric. And while Denmark has quite a ways to go before they hit that target, once they do, those electric cars could run on clean electricity from all the wind power generated in the country. Via Danish Energy , Renewables Now , and TreeHugger Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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Wind power supplied 43.6% of Denmark’s energy in 2017

Timber-clad stfold cabin embraces the Scandinavian coastline

November 21, 2017 by  
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Natural light and stunning coastal views fill the enviable Østfold cabin, a cedar-clad dwelling in southeastern Norway. Designed by Norwegian studio Lund+Slaatto Architects , the coast-hugging cabin is undoubtedly contemporary yet its pitched roof pays homage to the local traditional architecture and the former building onsite. Surrounded by pines and rocky terrain, the home features light-colored timber inside and out to help it blend into the landscape. The 60-square-meter Østfold cabin comprises two volumes: a main building and an annex connected via outdoor terrace that wraps around the larger structure. Glazed folding doors open up the southwest-facing open-plan living room, dining space, and kitchen to the terrace as well as views of the outdoors. Large windows and other glazed openings let in copious amounts of natural light, while the roof overhang and timber louvers help mitigate solar gain. Related: Meditative lakeside Prism Cabin reveals Bordeaux through stained-glass windows While the open-plan living area and its stunning vistas are the highlights of the home, the interior also steps up to a secondary sitting area, and leads up to a second-floor study tucked within an attic -like space. The annex contains a bedroom. “Inspired by the rocky coastal surroundings, different levels create natural divisions within the open interior space,” wrote the architects. “The timber cladding, alongside the slim pitched roof, gives the house an almost shelter-like appearance – a sensation of a light and sensible dwelling on the fragile coast.” + Lund+Slaatto Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Marte Garmann

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Timber-clad stfold cabin embraces the Scandinavian coastline

New smart grid solution heals itself amid central grid outages

November 1, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy may offer emissions-free electricity , but it isn’t always easy for electrical grids to integrate that energy. Dutch company Alfen is launching their answer to the dilemma. The Cellular Smart Grid Platform (CSGriP) allows a central grid to be divided into smaller cells that can operate independently, if necessary, and even self-heal . CSGriP provides energy from sources like biogas , solar power , or wind power for local consumers. It includes “a 0.5 megawatt energy storage system and complex algorithm used for local energy management.” Should the central grid go out, local cells would take over to restore power for local customers. According to Alfen, “Once the grid balance within a cell is restored, it automatically reconnects to other cells, and, as such, quickly rebuilds the larger power grid” to reduce the duration of central grid outages. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: How a smart electric grid could reduce emissions by 58 percent in the US Alfen energy storage specialist Evert Raaijen said in a statement, “Unique about this solution is that the local cells are intrinsically stable through self-adjustment of supply and demand based on the frequency of the electricity grid. This makes the grid truly self-healing in cases of central grid outages. The self-healing mechanism based on frequencies sets it apart from many IT-related smart grids that require relatively vulnerable data and ICT connections for balancing local grids.” In developed countries, the point of the platform is to decentralize the grid and make it more ready for renewables. But the platform could also be deployed in developing countries that still need to be electrified, allowing them to avoid constructing central grids obtaining power from large fossil fuel -burning plants in favor of these local cells with storage systems for renewable sources. Alfen has worked in countries from the United Kingdom to the Czech Republic to Nigeria, on projects for electric vehicle charging , transformer substations, energy storage, smart grids, and grid automation. They are currently field testing CSGriP at the Application Center for Renewable Resources in Lelystad, the Netherlands . + Alfen Via Alfen Images via Alfen on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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New smart grid solution heals itself amid central grid outages

This terrifying glass walkway in China cracks as you step on it

October 16, 2017 by  
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Would you trek across this “cracking” glass walkway? In China ‘s Taihang Mountains there’s a frosty glass walkway that gives visitors a heart-stopping experience. The skywalk is approximately 873-feet-long and it’s located 3871 feet off the ground. Somewhere in the middle, however, there is a high-tech panel that simulates the effect of breaking glass. It’s so realistic that it has caused more than one person to nearly lose themselves in fright. The floor of the skywalk is all glass, but it alternates between clear and frosted panels. Because of this, it is impossible to know which panel will simulate the near-death experience — and possibly spawn a heart attack in the process. As the video above reveals, even the bravest of the brave will likely find themselves crawling the remaining portion of the glass walkway . The “fake” cracking glass panel is actually a high-tech display with pressure sensors. The moment an unsuspecting tourist steps on it, it begins to crack — giving them the sense they are about to drop to their death. There are even matching sound effects to complete the experience. Related: Spiraling treetop walkway gives visitors a bird’s eye view of a Danish forest There has been quite an uproar about the cracking glass skywalk. As a result, the local government issued an apology. A promotion video was also created to inform trekkers about the “fake” danger. Because the skywalk is checked daily for actual cracking glass, the likelihood of a panel breaking is said to be small. Via SlashGear Images via YouTube

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This terrifying glass walkway in China cracks as you step on it

Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife

October 5, 2017 by  
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Seattle-based firm, Olson Kundig Architects  unveiled a brilliant T-shaped home called Rimrock whose elongated design ‘floats’ over a local wildlife trail. Located deep in the forest of Spokane, Washington, the 5,200-square-foot structure is supported by a platform that hovers over the path so local wildlife can easily make their way from the high woodland plateau on one side of the home to the Spokane River below. The home’s elongated form – which is clad in untreated steel – is partially supported by stilts embedded into a platform. This platform spans over a natural  animal trail , allowing for an unobstructed passage from the high forest plateau on the back side of the home to the river some 300 feet below. Entirely clad in floor-to-ceiling glass panels, the first floor living area is perfect for watching the animals make their way to the water. Related: Olson Kundig Architects’ Transforming Micro Cabin Folds Up to Protect Against the Elements Creating a strong connection between the house and its natural surroundings was central to the design. Not only was the layout carefully crafted with the local wildlife in mind, but also the area’s natural landscape. Located cliffside, the structure is only partially embedded into the landscape. Adding more volume to the top level allowed the architects to alleviate some of its ecological footprint . The glass-enclosed lower level, which includes the living room, kitchen, and dining area, lets in optimal natural light and provides 180 degree views of the spectacular surroundings, including the adjacent forest, the valley below, and even the city of Spokane in the distance. Equally as stunning is enjoying the views from the home’s open-air deck with reflecting pool. The bedrooms and personal spaces are found on the second floor, and were intentionally shielded from the outside elements in order to provide the occupants a cozy, interior space to spend time during inclement weather. + Olson Kundig Architects Via Yatzer Photography by Benjamin Benschneider and Kevin Scott

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Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife

Florida residents prohibited from using solar energy after Hurricane Irma

September 20, 2017 by  
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Millions of Florida residents lost power after Hurricane Irma raged through the state. But homeowners with solar energy installations couldn’t use them during the outage – or they’d be breaking the law. State code requires people to connect their homes to the local electric grid – and when parts of it were damaged after the hurricane , even those homeowners with backup solar power were legally obliged to sit in the dark. Florida Power and Light (FPL), which is one of the state’s major suppliers of electricity, has lobbied against letting people power their own houses with solar panels, according to Miami New Times. On their website , FPL says, “Operating your renewable system without the bi-directional meter can result in an inaccurate meter reading causing your bill to increase.” Related: Garbage from Hurricane Irma will now help power Florida Up to 40 percent of Floridians lost power after the hurricane. Residents were angered because under FPL’s rules, if its system goes down, solar power systems must be shut down as well. According to Miami New Times, state rules say customers must install a switch so their solar systems can be disconnected from FPL’s systems. But residents can’t flip the switch to power panels during a disaster. FPL can even disconnect solar panels from the grid without warning homeowners. Under FPL’s net metering guidelines, “Renewable generator systems connected to the grid without batteries are not a standby power source during an FPL outage. The system must shut down when FPL’s grid shuts down in order to prevent dangerous back feed on FPL’s grid. This is required to protect FPL employees who may be working on the grid.” Miami New Times says people have criticized FPL for spending money on lobbying rather than on hurricane-proofing grids. The Energy and Policy Institute found a FPL lobbyist drafting anti-solar laws for Republican state representative Ray Rodrigues this April. FPL contributed $15,000 to Rodrigues’ campaign. According to the Miami New Times, the Sunshine State trails behind other states in solar adoption due to power company influence. Via International Business Times and Miami New Times Images via The National Guard on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Florida residents prohibited from using solar energy after Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

August 29, 2017 by  
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After Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas last weekend, you probably didn’t think the situation could get any worse. Sadly, it did. On Tuesday, ExxonMobil acknowledged that two of its refineries were damaged during the natural disaster, causing hazardous pollutants to leak into the environment. The acknowledgment was made in a regulatory filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, following repeated complaints on social media of an “unbearable” chemical smell in parts of Houston. In the filing, ExxonMobil said that a floating roof covering a tank at ExxonMobil’s Baytown oil refinery sank due to heavy rain. This, in turn, caused it to dip below the surface of oil or other materials stored there, causing “unusually high emissions, especially of volatile organic compounds, a category of regulated chemicals,” reports the Washington Post. The Baytown Refinery is the second largest in the country. ExxonMobil is seeking a permit to empty the tank and make repairs. Reportedly, the company is planning to “conduct an assessment to determine the impact of the storm once it is safe to do so.” A spokesperson for ExxonMobil refused to say what was in the tank. The extent of Hurricane Harvey’s damage doesn’t end there. ExxonMobil’s Beaumont petrochemical refinery suffered damage to its sulfur thermal oxidizers, which capture and burn sulfur dioxide. As a result, the plant expelled 1,312.84 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere — well in excess of allowable emissions. The company said in a statement, “The unit was stabilized. No impact to the community has been reported. Actions were taken to minimize emissions and to restore the refinery to normal operations.” Related: CA communities sue Exxon, Shell and 35 other fossil fuel companies over climate change According to Luke Metzger, director of the group Environment Texas, “Most of the unauthorized emissions come from the process of shutting down, and then starting up, the various units of the plant, when pollution control devices can’t be operated properly and there’s lots of flaring.” Flaring is usually done when releasing chemicals without burning them is more hazardous for the local community and environment. The company admitted to flaring hazardous materials at its Baytown refinery both Sunday and Monday. ExxonMobil isn’t the only company responsible for environmental damage in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Washington Post reports that many facilities belonging to major companies filed notices with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The Cedar Bayou chemical plant, for instance, exceeded permitted limits for several kinds of hazardous pollutants, including 1,3-butadiene, benzene and ethylene, during shutdown procedures. Litigation may now follow, considering the release of carcinogens increases the risk of cancer for those living near the plants. Via Washington Post Images via ExxonMobil , Pixabay

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Hurricane Harvey damaged ExxonMobil refineries, causing hazardous pollutants to leak

Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

August 29, 2017 by  
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Seattle-based architects, Hoedemaker Pfeiffer  just unveiled a contemporary cabin-style home built on the banks of beautiful Lake Chelan. The architects used planks of reclaimed wood to build the stunning home, which sits overlooking incredibly scenic views. Think they have a guest room for us? The lake house design is a contemporary take on the traditional wooden cabin , with plenty of carefully cultivated rustic charm included throughout. The 3,300- square-foot structure – which is clad in reclaimed lumber and roofed with corrugated galvanized steel – sits on a heavily-wooded lot with front slope of natural stone. The interior is a bright and airy space with wooden flooring and exposed Doug Fir beams in the kitchen and living room. Related: Architect Jim Olson spent 55 years renovating this breathtaking Puget Sound cabin However, it’s clearly the lake view that inspired the beautiful home’s design. Large windows in virtually every room flood the interior with natural light as well as offer breathtaking views of the picturesque surroundings. The heart of the home is the open-air terrace that sits adjacent to the lake’s edge. Covered with a chunky wooden pergola , the outdoor area is complete with a glass-enclosed fire pit and plenty of comfy seating. + Hoedemaker Pfeiffer Photography by Thomas J. Story  

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Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets

How orange peels helped barren land in Costa Rica spring back to life

August 23, 2017 by  
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There’s more to oranges than juice! Back in the 1990’s, two ecologists suggested orange juice manufacturer Del Oro donate some of their land near a national park in Costa Rica ; in exchange, they’d be able to deposit agricultural waste for free on degraded land inside the park. Del Oro agreed and dumped 1,000 truckloads of orange pulp and peels on the land. Today, that area is a thriving forest . A Princeton University -led team of researchers journeyed to the forest to discover just how much that food trash transformed the forest – and how other businesses might do the same. Del Oro donated land to Área de Conservación Guanacaste at the suggestion of husband and wife ecologist team Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs, who’d worked as advisors at the park. The company unloaded around 12,000 metric tons of orange waste for biodegradation until rival company TicoFruit sued, saying Del Oro had defiled the park. TicoFruit won and the land went largely overlooked for over a decade. Related: 16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels Years later, environmental researchers decided to evaluate the site. They discovered a lush forest that had a 176 percent increase in aboveground biomass – what Princeton described as the trees’ wood – in the seven acres they studied. They also found a difference between areas where orange peels hadn’t been dumped and where they had – according to Princeton, the latter showed richer soil, greater tree-species richness, and more closure in the forest canopy. The researchers think regenerating forests with agricultural waste could help us sequester carbon . Princeton graduate student Timothy Treuer said in a statement, “This is one of the only instances I’ve ever heard of where you can have cost-negative carbon sequestration. It’s not just a win-win between the company and the local park – it’s a win for everyone.” Princeton University ecologist David Wilcove thinks more businesses could help the environment in similar ways. He said while companies do generate environmental problems, “…an awful lot of those problems can be alleviated if the private sector and the environmental community work together. I’m confident we’ll find many more opportunities to use the leftovers from industrial food production to bring back tropical forests. That’s recycling at its best.” University of Pennsylvania , Beloit College , and University of Minnesota scientists joined the Princeton researchers to write a study published by the journal Restoration Ecology this week. Via Princeton Environmental Institute Images via Pixabay and Princeton University

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How orange peels helped barren land in Costa Rica spring back to life

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