First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

November 8, 2019 by  
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Milan-based architecture firm Stefano Boeri Architetti has unveiled innovative designs for a nature-infused smart city in Cancun, Mexico that will serve as a model for resilient and sustainable urban planning. Created for Honduras-based textile conglomerate and property developer Grupo Karim, ‘Smart Forest City – Cancun’ is a proposed alternative to plans for a shopping district in the area. The masterplan would reforest a 557-hectare site — currently used as a sand quarry for hotels — and create mixed-use development that would be completely food and energy self-sufficient. The proposed Smart Forest City – Cancun would house 130,000 residents as well as 7,500,000 plants of 400 different species selected by botanist and landscape architect Lauri Gatti. More than 200,000 trees would be planted to create a ratio of 2.3 trees per inhabitant, while the remainder of the vegetation would be mostly shrubs, bushes, green roofs and vertical gardens. “Thanks to the new public parks and private gardens, thanks to the green roofs and to the green facades, the areas actually occupied will be given back by nature through a perfect balance between the amount of green areas and building footprint,” the press release stated. Related: Stefano Boeri will revitalize Genoa with sustainable energy-producing urban design With help from the German company Transsolar, the mixed-use development would be surrounded by a ring of solar panels that provide enough renewable energy to meet the residents’ needs. The city would also include an agricultural field belt that wraps around the urban area. The fields would be irrigated by a water channel fed by an underwater maritime pipe and treated with a desalination tower. Parking for traditional vehicles would be located on the city periphery; a MIC (Mobility in Chain) system would provide internal electric and semi-automatic vehicles to transport residents and visitors throughout the development. As a testing hub for sustainable urbanism , the Smart Forest City – Cancun proposal includes a center for advanced research large enough to host international organizations, university departments and companies. The center would include research and development facilities dedicated to sustainability issues and green infrastructure. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti and The Big Picture

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First Smart Forest City in Mexico will be 100% food and energy self-sufficient

Small cruise line treats the whole world as one ocean

July 26, 2019 by  
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Cruising between ports in Canada’s Maritime Provinces, the passengers and crew gather in a bar for the fundraising auction. The crew members take turns playing auctioneer, spinning wildly exaggerated tales of the attributes of lighthouse-shaped magnets, a maple syrup cookbook and a bottle of whiskey. Passengers get into a bidding war over a maple leaf mug, with a winning price of $60. The One Ocean Expeditions’ flag that’s been flying on the ship goes for over $200. It’s a silly and fun event that raises almost $1,200 for the cruise line’s favorite ocean-related charities, including the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Scott Polar Research Institute and the penguin-tracking Oceanites. Over the past eight years, One Ocean’s passengers have contributed nearly half a million dollars toward conservation groups. This is just one way that the small, British Columbia-headquartered company balances business with social and environmental responsibility. As stated in One Ocean Expeditions’ philosophy on its website, “We view the world as one large ocean containing a series of large islands. So, it stands to reason that our actions in one part of the ocean will trickle down and have an effect in another part.” The company strives to give guests a fun and memorable travel experience while being a model of ecological sensitivity. Respectful port visits One Ocean Expeditions gives a lot of thought to partnering with its destinations, whether visiting wilderness or developed communities. Since the company began with polar expeditions, biosecurity has always been extremely important. To be sure that passengers aren’t bringing seeds and other contaminants ashore, guests must check their zippers and Velcro for debris and scrape out the treads of their shoes. Passengers line up to vacuum backpack pockets and closures on jackets. Everyone must also dip the soles of their shoes in a special chemical bath before visiting certain ports. Related: Meet Maya Ka’an — Mexico’s newest ecotourism destination On the Fins and Fiddles cruise of eastern Canada , the only stop that requires biosecurity measures is Sable Island. This long, narrow island southeast of Nova Scotia is famous for its wild horses and enormous gray seal colony. Bird life is also abundant. Ipswich sparrows nest here, and roseate terns will let you know you’re getting too close to their quarters by dive-bombing your head. “In Canada, Sable Island is really special to a lot of people,” Alannah Phillips, park manager of Sable Island National Park Reserve , told Inhabitat. “It has kind of a magic and mystery to it that people want to make sure it’s protected.” Only about 450 people per year manage to visit this remote island. Visiting requires special permits, and nobody but Parks Canada staff and a few qualified researchers are allowed to spend the night ashore. One Ocean Expeditions is one of the few small cruise lines to obtain a permit. The boot wash is the most important part of biosecurity, Phillips said, because the chemicals kill diseases that could be transported from horse farms. “You get a lot of horse people who want to go to Sable Island.” This is one of the most as-is beaches people will ever see. Seal skulls, shark vertebrae, plastics — all sorts of things litter the beach. What looks like kelp turns out to be long, unraveled seal intestines. “It’s an amazing platform to teach people,” Phillips said. “Even though it’s 175 kilometers from the mainland in middle of the Atlantic Ocean, what you drop in the water wherever you are can end up on Sable Island.” Helium balloons, coconuts and sneakers regularly wash up. The most exciting find Phillips remembers was a message in a bottle dropped from a Scottish ocean liner in the 1930s. Other Canadian stops feature low-impact activities, such as biking the Confederation Trail on Prince Edward Island, hiking in Highlands National Park on Cape Breton Island and taking a guided history walk of the ghost town island Ile aux Marins off Saint Pierre and Miquelon. A fleet of kayaks and stand-up paddle boards offer other planet-healthy options. Sustainable cruising One Ocean Expeditions is a tiny cruise line. At the moment, it’s only running one ship, the 146-passenger RCGS Resolute, which burns marine gas oil, a cleaner alternative than the cheaper heavy fuel oil. The ship avoids traveling at full speed, preferring a leisurely pace that reduces emissions while interfering less with the navigation and communication of marine animals. Cabin bathrooms feature fragrant biodegradable soap, shampoo and conditioner in refillable dispensers, made by an ethical producer on Salt Spring Island, Canada. Every guest gets a reusable water bottle. This is convenient, as there’s a water bottle filling station on every deck. Announcements over the loudspeaker remind passengers to bring their water bottles on expeditions, and One Ocean hauls a huge water dispenser ashore in case bottles run dry. Even the on-board gym offers a water dispenser but no cups. If you forget your water bottle, well, consider walking back to your cabin to retrieve it as part of your workout. One Oceans Expeditions has taken the #BePlasticWise pledge and is part of the United Nations Environment Programme’s “Clean Seas” working group, which aims to drastically reduce the consumption of single-use plastic . The cruise line regularly hosts scientists who do on-board research ranging from collecting meteorological data to tagging and tracking migrant whale populations to measuring plastic pollution in sea water. “OOE also takes part annually in the ‘Clean-up Svalbard’ program to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Norwegian Arctic,” according to Victoria Dowdeswell, part of One Ocean’s marketing and business development team. “Here, both staff and guests collect rubbish and assorted debris from fishing vessels, which are carried via the Gulf Stream to Svalbard’s shores each year. OOE know that there is only one ocean and that we all need to work to protect it.” + One Oceans Expeditions Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Small cruise line treats the whole world as one ocean

Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C.

July 26, 2019 by  
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In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized access to clean water as a human right. To raise awareness about the “questionable privatizations” and climate change threatening this human right, Spanish design collective Luzinterruptus created ‘Let’s Go Fetch Water!’, a temporary art installation made from recycled plastic. Located on the grounds of the Spanish Embassy and the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., the art installation features an eye-catching waterfall effect created by a series of angled buckets cascading water sourced from a closed-loop system. When designing Let’s Go Fetch Water!, Luzinterruptus wanted to reference the daily toils that many people — mostly women — around the world must go through to fetch water for their family’s basic supply. As a result, buckets that are used to draw and transport water became the main motif for the piece. “These buckets transport this precious liquid from fountains and wells and are even hoisted down to the depths of the Earth in order to get it,” the designers explained. “They later carry them through long perilous trails during grueling journeys, where not even a drop must be spilled.” Related: A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor To minimize the loss of water, Luzinterruptus used a slow-flowing current and closed-loop system for the waterfall effect. The designers were also adamant about using buckets made from recycled materials rather than take the easy route of purchasing cheap buckets made in China. The buckets were mounted onto a wooden frame, and all of the materials will be recycled after the installation is dismantled in September. The installation is on display from May 16 to September 27 and will be lit up and functional at night as well. “We all know water is scarce,” Luzinterruptus said. “ Climate change is one of the main reasons; however, questionable privatizations are also to be blamed. Governments lacking financial resources give up this resource to private companies in exchange for supply infrastructures. Other governments just sell their aquifers and springs to large food and beverage corporations, which exploit these and everything around dry, leaving local inhabitants in deep crisis. We have enjoyed this particular commission since we have, for a long time, been dealing with issues concerning the recycling of plastic material, and we have experienced firsthand how these companies that sell someone else’s water, and seem to be especially focused on launching awareness campaigns for a responsible use of plastic, only try to deviate attention from this uncomfortable privatization issue.” + Luzinterruptus Photography by David Keith via Luzinterruptus

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Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C.

Chic prefab home annex pops up with speed and efficiency in Mexico

July 1, 2019 by  
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When a client pressed for time approached SOA Soler Orozco Arquitectos to design his home annex, the Mexico City-based architectural firm decided that prefabrication would be the best way to abide by the tight construction timeframe. Built offsite in a factory and then transported to the client’s property for final assembly, the modular abode— named Casa Molina—proves that quick construction can translate to beautiful results. Completed in 2015, the chic and contemporary two-bedroom annex embraces a minimalist aesthetic and outdoor living in Mexico. Spanning approximately 1,800 square feet, Casa Molina comprises a set of modules with dimensions— nearly 24 feet by nearly 8 feet— determined by the transport vehicle. The building was prefabricated in an off-site workshop where all the lighting, electrical, plumbing, and finishes of the floors, walls and ceilings were fitted into place before the modules were shipped to the site. A foundation was prepared at the site and the modules were assembled over several days. Related: This prefab treehouse can be assembled in merely a few days Set within a steel structural frame and elevated off the ground, the modules are arranged in a roughly L-shaped layout that consists of the larger bedroom wing on the south side and the communal spaces on the north end, housed within three modules. The private and public wings are connected with a centrally located terrace with a wide set of stairs that lead up from the grass to the elevated building. In keeping with the quick construction timeframe, a minimalist material palette was used. The black steel framing was left exposed and paired with gray floor tiles throughout while engineered timber planks add a sense of warmth into the space. The timber furnishings and soft fabrics also soften the industrial feel of the boxy annex. The communal areas are fully exposed to the outdoors, while the bedrooms are enclosed for comfort. + SOA Soler Orozco Arquitectos Via Archdaily Images by Cesar Béjar

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Chic prefab home annex pops up with speed and efficiency in Mexico

Arsenic found in bottled water sold at major retailers

June 24, 2019 by  
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Multiple studies have found arsenic in bottled water sold around the country. Major companies Whole Foods and Keurig Dr. Pepper are under fire for their spring water brands Peñafiel and Starkey, which, according to the California Center for Environmental Health, exceed the federal limit for arsenic. Keurig Dr. Pepper has voluntarily withdrawn its unflavored mineral water from shelves at retail outlets like Target and Walmart and is offering a refund for customers that return the contaminated bottles. Related: Ragú pasta sauce pulled from shelves for possible plastic contamination A corroborating study by Consumer Reports also found that the waters exceeded the federal limits for arsenic by 10 parts per billion. Despite pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, Whole Foods has not issued a recall . According to Whole Foods, an internal study found that its water is within the federal safety limits. The Center for Environmental Health did not release the exact findings of its study, as it has launched a lawsuit against both companies. The specific results of the analysis are confidential until further notice. “Arsenic when present in the diet at very high levels, well above those detected in recent samples of Peñafiel, is associated with numerous chronic diseases ,” Keurig Dr Pepper said in a company press release. “Water quality tests of Peñafiel samples conducted by an independent laboratory on behalf of Keurig Dr Pepper detected arsenic at levels that exceeded the FDA’s bottled water standards for mineral water of 10 ppb.” Peñafiel is imported from Mexico, where bottling has halted until further investigation. Starkey is bottled from a spring source in Idaho that was recently lauded for its purity during the brand’s launch in 2016. By 2017, however, the Food and Drug Administration had already recalled the water for the first time. Bottled water is the top selling bottled beverage in the U.S., with most consumers assuming it is safer and more regulated than municipal tap water. Via Huffington Post Image via FotoBlend

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Arsenic found in bottled water sold at major retailers

Experimental timber prototype champions sustainable modular housing for the masses

June 20, 2019 by  
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Mexico City-based architectural firm Dellekamp Schleich designed a modular timber home as an inspiring prototype for affordable and eco-friendly housing in Mexico. Originally created as one of 84 experimental proposals for the 2017 “From the Territory to the Dweller” showcase in Morelos, Dellekamp Schleich’s housing prototype is currently on show at INFONAVIT’s Laboratorio de Vivienda (Housing Laboratory) in Apan. The Laboratorio de Vivienda is an exhibition of 32 housing prototypes that sensitively rethinks low-income dwellings in Mexico. Created for self-construction, the low-cost housing prototype was built with a modular system of timber parts. Both the “From the Territory to the Dweller” program and the Laboratorio de Vivienda exhibition are initiatives of Research Center for Sustainable Development, INFONAVIT, which invited national and international architecture firms to prototype affordable housing for different areas in Mexico. Related: Tatiana Bilbao’s $8,000 house could help solve Mexico’s social housing shortage At “From the Territory to the Dweller,” Dellekamp Schleich was asked to design a housing prototype for Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro, a small village in the Mexican state of Michoacán. The site-specific house is based on the local vernacular styles of the village. Because the timber industry is a major part of the town, Dellekamp Schleich’s housing prototype is built primarily of readily available pine and features construction techniques and styles traditional to that area. Built atop a raised foundation, the modular housing prototype is lined with unfinished wood inside and out. The building is topped with a gable roof painted red and hemmed in by a small fenced-in yard. Operable folding doors open up to a small deck and yard to expand the living areas to the outdoors. Inside, the interiors are dressed with timber furnishings and bathed in natural light from large windows. A compact living area occupies the ground floor, while the bedroom is located in a lofted area. In Laboratorio de Vivienda, Dellekamp Schleich’s housing prototype is one of 32 dwellings that incorporate traditional and locally sourced materials as well as concepts of scalability. The housing prototypes are located within a master plan designed by New York-based MOS Architects and include a Dellekamp Schleich-designed Materials Laboratory as well as a MOS Architects-designed Welcome Center. The exhibition is on show in Apan until June 23, 2019. + Dellekamp Schleich Photography by Jaime Navarro via Dellekamp Schleich

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Experimental timber prototype champions sustainable modular housing for the masses

Arctic permafrost already thawing at a rate not expected until 2090

June 20, 2019 by  
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Frozen ground — called permafrost — is thawing in the Arctic up to 70 years earlier than scientists originally predicted. The thawed landscapes were discovered during an expedition trip by a team of researchers from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The rock and soil in this area has been frozen for thousands of years, but a string of unusually warm summers was enough to drastically alter the temperature and ecosystem. “What we saw was amazing. It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years,” University professor Vladimir Romanovsky told Reuters . The scientists used a small propeller plane to collect data in the far reaches of the Canadian Arctic . Some locations are so remote that the closest human settlement is up to 186 miles away. To their amazement, the landscape looked remarkably different than it had the last time they flew over 10 years ago during a baseline data collection mission. Related: NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier Instead of frozen ground and solid ice, the team saw depressions in the ground indicating thawing and sinking, and ponds where ice had melted, called thermokarst. They also saw vegetation in these areas, which is highly unusual for such a frozen place. The thawing of the permafrost is not only alarming because of the changes to ecosystems; the ice in these areas also contains large quantities of greenhouse gases. As the ice melts, the gases are released into the atmosphere and contribute to the climate crisis . According to the researchers findings, published on June 10 in Geophysical Research Letters , the amount of gases released could undo progress to curb emissions through the Paris Agreement . Jennifer Morgan from Greenpeace International told The Guardian, “ Thawing permafrost is one of the tipping points for climate breakdown, and it’s happening before our very eyes. This premature thawing is another clear signal that we must decarbonize our economies, and immediately.” Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Bureau of Land Management

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Arctic permafrost already thawing at a rate not expected until 2090

The 2019 GreenBiz 30 Under 30

June 3, 2019 by  
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They work in technology and tires, finance and forestry, retail and recovery operations. They hail from Tokyo and Toronto, London and Lima, Mexico and Manhattan. Meet this year’s honorees.

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The 2019 GreenBiz 30 Under 30

Floating treehouse inside Mexican forest is a dreamy escape from city noise

May 7, 2019 by  
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In the heart of Mexico City, local architectural firm Talleresque has completed Casa Flotante (Floating House), a treehouse-like oasis in the forest. Elevated on nine stilts, the three-story home and work studio stands tall and narrow, mimicking the surrounding trees. As a celebration of indoor-outdoor living , the house is built of locally sourced materials and large glazed windows that pulls the outdoors in. Raised above sloped terrain, Casa Flotante floating house is anchored into the forest floor and spans a total area of 936 square feet. The base, which consists of nine pillars organized in a grid layout, supports a large timber platform above and has space for storage and a water cistern below. A short flight of stairs leads to the first floor, where nearly half the area is used as an outdoor living room edged in with planters. Inside is a compact living space with a workspace that faces the outdoors, a kitchenette and dedicated area for the drum set. An outdoor staircase wraps around the slender home to the second floor where the bathroom and shower is located, and then winds up once more to the final floor where the bedroom is found. Timber is the predominate material used in the project, from the exterior cladding and stair treads to the interior walls, floors, ceilings and furnishings. Floor-to-ceiling windows , large glazed openings and skylights illuminate every the floating house like a lantern, creating a constant connection with the outdoors. Related: This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views “Casa Flotante is much more than all its spaces,” says Juan De La Rosa of Talleresque. “It’s a bridge between nature and shelter, which invites all trees and plants inside. The behavior is not to dominate but to reflect. To give into the landscape… like a mirror. Made of light and reflections, the atmosphere multiplies its views and sensations. Size and proportion lets one ascend in a spiral, through the house between the studio and the bedroom: Between pleasure and creation; through thoughts and dreams.” + Talleresque Images by Studio Chirika

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Floating treehouse inside Mexican forest is a dreamy escape from city noise

Contemporary A-frame home soaks up lakeside views in Mexico

April 8, 2019 by  
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On the edge of Lake Avándaro in the Mexican town of Valle de Bravo is House A, a beautiful, contemporary home that’s designed by Mexico City-based architectural firm Metodo in collaboration with Ingeniería Orca to embrace views of the lake. Named after its sharply pitched A-frame construction, the three-story home is built with walls of glass and folding glazed doors to create a seamless connection with the outdoors. A palette of natural materials complement steel and glass elements to create a modern and warm ambiance. Spread out over three floors with an area of 3,523 square feet, House A was created with large gatherings and entertaining in mind. The ground level, which opens up through folding glazed doors to an outdoor patio and lawn, comprises an open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen; a TV room; service rooms; and a guest suite. The main entrance and parking pad are located on the second floor, where the first master suite and children’s room can be found. The small third floor features a second master suite, a yoga terrace and a secondary children’s room. “The intention of House A is precisely to be able to appropriate its surroundings and give its inhabitants a way to ‘live’ the lake,” the architects said in a project statement.” The ‘ A-frame ’ shape is used to its fullest potential to make this possible. Therefore, it was very important that the structure was present in every space of the house. Additionally, we wanted the structure to be a coherent element with the house’s functionality.” Related: Ruins of Sweden’s oldest church sheltered by a new A-frame building The architects built the dwelling with a contemporary steel structure along with local construction techniques and materials . The house is oriented toward the north for views of the lake while lateral balconies, inspired by boat decks, let in solar radiation in mornings and evenings. + Metodo + Ingeniería Orca Photography by Tatiana Mestre via Metodo

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