8,000 barrels of oil spill in the Peruvian Amazon

December 14, 2018 by  
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Approximately 8,000 barrels of crude oil have spilled into the Amazon, and the Peru State oil company Petroperu says its because local indigenous people severed the pipeline. According to a company statement , members of the Mayuriaga community in the Loreto region first damaged the pipeline and then interfered with the technicians trying to repair it. “The townspeople prevented us from securing the pipe to stop petroleum from spilling from the pipe,” said Beatriz Alva Hart, a Petroperu spokeswoman. The spill is one of the worst the region has seen in years, and it comes after the Mayuriaga community threatened to attack the pipeline in protest of recent district election results. Related: Crude oil spill off Newfoundland coast deemed impossible to clean up The pipeline transports the crude from the Peruvian Amazon oil fields to Petroperu’s refinery on the Pacific coast. And, during the past two years, local vandals have attacked it fifteen different times over issues that have nothing to do with the company. Data from OEFA, an environmental regulator, shows that the repeated attacks have caused over 20,000 barrels to spill from the critical pipeline , and over 5,000 barrels have sprung leaks thanks to corrosion or operative failures. The leader of Peru’s Wampis Nation — whose members make up the Mayuriaga community — has denied Petroperu’s accusations. Just days before the spill, the company received a handwritten letter from three individuals threatening to damage the Norperuano pipeline if the company didn’t declare recent election results invalid. They also claimed fraud and corruption in the local mayoral election. The letter’s authors identify as indigenous peoples of Morona, the district that contains the Wampis community of Mayuriaga, which sits about 500 yards from the spill site. Petroperu is not in charge of the local elections, but 20 of their employees were held hostage before the threatening letter arrived, a practice that the Mayuriaga community has been accused of in the past. Company officials have still not been able to assess the damage from the spill or do any cleanup work because the community will not allow them to enter the area safely. Via Reuters , Earther Image via Shutterstock

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8,000 barrels of oil spill in the Peruvian Amazon

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

Veteran carpenter builds gorgeous tiny home that boasts impressive wood working and screened-in porch

December 3, 2018 by  
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Working in woodworking since he was 15 years old, Maine native Vince Marzilli knows a thing or two about carpentry. The Maine-native has now parlayed his wood crafting talents into the tiny home construction business, and the results are stunning. Clad in cedar shingles with an all-wood interior and inviting screened-in porch, Marzilli’s first tiny home, the Cumberland, gives off a soothing cabin-in-the-woods feel. Built on a custom wheeled trailer , the Cumberland is 15 feet long, clad in a mix of cedar shingles and black siding. The home’s screened-in front entrance is perhaps the first thing to stand out among the beautiful tiny home’s design. A short three steps leads into the warm space, complete with a small dinette set to enjoy a morning cup of coffee or late night glass of wine with friends. Related: Enjoy a mint julep on this tiny farmhouse’s charming front porch On the interior, Marzilli’s wood working talents are evident at just about every angle. The wood-clad living space boast a variety of wooden hues and grains, emitting a warm, soothing aesthetic. Poplar was the wood of choice for much of the interior, including the ceilings, whose Poplar planks contrast nicely with White Ash rafters and beams. The wooden interior is flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of large windows. The living space includes the seating area of the screened in porch, and a large kitchen with custom-made cabinets, doors and drawer fronts. Adjacent to the kitchen is another seating/dining area with an expandable dining table with two removable leaves that allows space for up to four people. The bedroom is located on a sleeping loft , which is accessed by ladder. The space is large enough for a queen size bed and also features a large skylight for stargazing before drifting off to sleep. + Evergreen Tiny Homes and Custom Woodworking Via Tiny House Talk Images via Evergreen Tiny Homes and Custom Woodworking

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Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape

November 30, 2018 by  
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Named after the way light bounces off of its angled walls and ceilings, Dancing Light is an award-winning dwelling nestled in the desert town of Paradise Valley, Arizona. Local architecture practice Kendle Design Collaborative crafted the custom residence, giving it a sense of drama with pointy pavilion-like rooflines, yet grounded the design through indigenous materials and a desert-inspired color palette. Full-height walls of glass also embrace the landscape and the home is also set up to optimize indoor-outdoor living. Spread out across 6,200 square feet on a single story, the Dancing Light Home organizes the master suite, open-plan living spaces, and a four-car garage as seemingly separate structures around a central atrium—landscaped with rocks, succulents, and an ironwood tree—and linked with glass-walled corridors to allow daylight and cross-breezes to penetrate deep into the house. Key to the design is the dramatic floating roof canopy that lifts upwards at the outer edges of the home to draw the eye up and out towards panoramic mountain views. The angled, tectonic-like surfaces were inspired by the local geology and monsoon cloud formations; the “fissures” conceal the lighting and mechanical systems. “ Natural light brings this home to life, seeping in through carefully articulated crevices or reflecting off the strategically located pool, constantly transforming the mood of this home,” explains Kendle Design Collaborative in a project statement. “At times water-reflected light dances across the fractured planes of earth and wood while at other times it provides a Zen-like sense of calm.” Related: Rammed-Earth Quartz Mountain Residence Captures Beauty of Arizona Desert ` The cast-in-situ concrete walls and the rammed earth walls tie the building into the desert landscape and create a rustic feel. The materials also have the added benefit of absorbing heat during the day and dissipating it at night to reduce reliance on mechanical heating and cooling systems. + Kendle Design Collaborative Images by Alexander Vertikoff

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Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape

Magical rainbow swamp goes viral

November 30, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, Brent Rossen posted a photo on Reddit that his girlfriend took of a rainbow swamp, and within 24 hours the photo received more than 120,000 upvotes. The couple was enjoying a walk at First Landing State Park in Virginia when they came upon the unusual phenomenon. “Me and my girlfriend were walking in the woods the other week and saw a rainbow pool for the first time,” Rossen wrote in his post. Related: Magical artworks place lamps, books and chairs in the middle of nature So how does this happen? Jeff Ripple, a former Florida swamp walk leader, told the BBC that the rainbow effect occurs because of the natural oils released by decaying vegetation. The decomposing leaves in the water release tannic acid and a thin film forms on top of pooled water in swamps and marshes. When the sunlight hits it at a certain angle, you can see the gorgeous colors. However, if you look at the water in a shadow, it appears to be normal swamp water. But, on a sunny day, you can see the rainbow when you look at it from an angle. The water also needs to be still for a long period of time for the rainbows to appear. Ripple says that any movement from sheet flow, wind disturbances, or current will “destroy the fragile rainbow film.” This phenomenon reportedly happens at various swamps and marshes along the Eastern seaboard. Retired engineer Michael Hussey posted a pic on Facebook of a rainbow pool in Tallahassee, Florida. Swamp walk leader Sandra Friend has also blogged about her experience with rainbow swamps, and Annie from Not Just Abroad has also posted about a rainbow swamp in Caw Caw County Park in Charleston, South Carolina. Hussey says that he sees this happen every three to four years, and it is “beautiful to see.” Thomas Thornton, facility manager at Caw Caw swamp, says that it must be the result of some kind of perfect storm, and it seems like you have to be lucky to see it in person. Via BBC Images via Shutterstock

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Magical rainbow swamp goes viral

Organic Valley and Clif Bar are making clean energy part of their operational recipes

November 29, 2018 by  
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The projects they’re supporting aren’t necessarily huge, but their local impact shouldn’t be underestimated.

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Organic Valley and Clif Bar are making clean energy part of their operational recipes

Using product certification to win consumers’ hearts and minds

November 29, 2018 by  
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Toward increased authenticity and credibility in a crowded marketplace.

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Using product certification to win consumers’ hearts and minds

The U.S. can avoid tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of billions in damages annually

November 29, 2018 by  
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The Fourth National Climate Assessment Report gives us some bad news, but there’s a silver lining.

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The U.S. can avoid tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of billions in damages annually

A remote, off-grid cabin is elevated off the forest floor with log columns

November 15, 2018 by  
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Panama-based architect Jose Isturaín (JiA) has built a beautiful tiny cabin tucked into a remote, mountainous area in Panama. With the help of local builders as well as his own family, Isturaín constructed Cabin 192 atop pine columns to elevate the glass-enclosed structure off the landscape to reduce its environmental impact . Located in Altos del María, a mountainous region about two hours outside of Panama City, the cabin is the first structure of what will eventually be a family retreat consisting of a main house and three individual cabins. Tucked deep into a wooded forest, the idyllic area offers a serene respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Related: A cluster of wooden cabins create a serene weekend retreat in Norway Working with local builders, as well as his family and friends, Isturaín envisioned a cabin that would “transmit the peace and tranquility that simplicity offers, an elementary architecture.” Accordingly, he decided to forgo any type of ostentatious design, instead opting for an off-grid cabin  that would put preserving the natural landscape at the forefront of the project. The cabin’s frame was built from  reclaimed pine wood beams and columns felled on site. Pine trees are not native to the area, so the decision was made to use this wood for the cabins and a perimeter fence. The team reforested the surrounding area with native species that would help provide shade to the home and improve the local environment. Using the basics of tropical architecture, Isturaín designed the tiny cabin to not only be off-grid, but also resilient to the local climate . Raising the main living space off the ground certainly helped to preserve the natural landscape underneath. But by elevating the home off of the natural soil, it also helped keep the tropical humidity at bay. The roof is covered with a slanted metal mooring structure that juts out substantially over the cabin’s perimeter, a strategic feature that will help cool the interior space during the hot and humid summer months. The ground floor of the  cabin is actually an open, 226-square-foot space with no walls, just pine columns that mark the perimeter. The covered, open-air living area has a small kitchenette, dining table and ample seating, the perfect space for family gatherings. The bedroom and bathroom are located on the upper floor, which is a very compact 387 square feet. Large floor-to-ceiling windows illuminate the space with natural light . Facing out over the surrounding forest, large sliding doors open completely, further connecting the structure with its forested surroundings. + JiA Via Archdaily Photography by Alfredo Martiz and Nadine Sam via JiA

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A remote, off-grid cabin is elevated off the forest floor with log columns

The Nogal House saves energy with smart site-specific design

November 15, 2018 by  
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Mexican architecture practice BGP Arquitectura recently completed the Nogal House, a contemporary dwelling in San Pedro Garza García, Mexico that’s shaped by its environment in more ways than one. Named Nogal after the existing type of walnut trees on site, the building features a curved and asymmetrical layout informed by the locations of the trees and site preservation goals. The residence also adopts passive solar principles to minimize its energy footprint and uses insulated double glazing throughout. Spanning an area of 670 square meters over three floors, the Nogal House stretches east to west on a triangular site. Nature plays a central role in the design of the home, with its curvaceous, organic forms and natural materials palette . The boundary between indoor-outdoor living is blurred through full-height glazing and use of steel, rattan and wood-based furnishings, designed by the architects to match the colors and textures in the gardens. Multiple timber patios built around the walnut trees extend the living space to the outdoors. “The entrance to the house is through the middle level, where living, dining room and kitchen are located besides a home theater that, by opening and closing doors, could be an independent extra room for the house,” explained the architects of the layout. “A double-height space connects this level with the upper library, studio and pool area with a grill. In the ground level, in touch with the patios, are the bedrooms and the family room, in a more intimate atmosphere.” Related: Zigzagging green terraces make up a luxury residential block in Mexico City In addition to strengthening the dwelling’s connection with the outdoors, the operable walls of glass also flood the interiors with natural light to minimize dependence on artificial lighting while allowing for natural ventilation. Windows were minimized on the south facade to further reduce HVAC requirements. The home is also partly buried into the ground to take advantage of thermal mass ventilation and equipped with low-maintenance landscaping, low-flow fixtures and low-energy appliances. + BGP Arquitectura Photography by The Raws via BGP Arquitectura

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