A 1905 home reborn as greenery-filled office in Mexico City

December 24, 2020 by  
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Mexican architecture firm  Gabriel Beas Arquitectura  has transformed a 1905 building in the historic  Mexico City  neighborhood of Colonia San Rafael into Corporativo BNS, a contemporary office space surrounded by lush landscaping. Completed in phases over four years, the adaptive reuse project recovered much of the carved stonework, iron windows, carpentry and tiled floors original to the 1905 construction while introducing a new contemporary aesthetic that welcomes the outdoors in.  Oriented east to west on a long and linear site, the 1,095-square-meter Corporativo BNS consists of office spaces, meeting rooms, storage and other service spaces. In remodeling the structure, the architects learned that the building was converted into an  office  in the 1970s. After this, a series of added extensions covered up the original patios. To reconnect the new office with the outdoors, the architects restored the original patios and — taking advantage of the building’s walkable location in the city center — removed the sheltered parking areas. Those spaces were replaced with lushly planted  courtyards  that serve as waiting and meeting areas as well as the main circulation pathways through the various parts of the building. The open patio is also connected to the ground-floor kitchen and dining room for employees.  Related: Midcentury warehouse becomes a community-building asset in Mexico City The original structure has also been reinforced with two new steel-framed extensions sympathetic to the architectural design of the ground floor and fitted with partition walls and floor-to-ceiling glass. Vegetation introduced on the upper levels and along the parapets, roofs and terraces appears to immerse the  adaptive reuse  building in a jungle-like environment. “The result is a homogeneous group of buildings in which the different times of construction coexist with the vegetation, generating a space of calm between the chaos of the city,” the architects noted in a project statement.  + Gabriel Beas Arquitectura Photographrapy by Onnis Luque

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CLAE launches vegan cactus leather sneakers

December 17, 2020 by  
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Independent footwear brand CLAE will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year with the release of its newest shoes made from vegan cactus leather. The Los Angeles-based company is committed to conscious and sustainable fashion, with some of its previous eco-minded sneakers made of materials like hemp and recycled mesh. The cactus leather shoes are a collaboration between CLAE and DESSERTO , highly sustainable, plant-based vegan leather creators who won the Green Product Award in 2020. According to the sneaker company, this will be the world’s first shoe made from a perennial cactus. Related: Oliver Co. makes vegan leather wallets from apple waste and wood The leather is made in Zacatecas, Mexico from the mature leaves of the nopal (also known as prickly pear) cactus without damaging the plant. Cultivated only with natural minerals and rainwater at 8,000-foot altitudes, Nopal is known for its low ecological footprint and is 100% organic . The leaves are harvested every six to eight weeks to give the plant ample time to regenerate and help preserve the local biodiversity. After the mature leaves are cut, they spend a few days drying under the sun before undergoing DESSERTO’s patented process that transforms the plant into a soft yet durable vegan leather. CLAE doesn’t stop there; the Bradley Cactus sneakers are also fitted with laces made of recycled nylon from plastic waste, while the sole is made using 100% natural rubber. This natural rubber comes from the latex sap of Hevea trees and is harvested on sustainably managed forests that help maintain the global balance of atmospheric carbon. The shoes also come packaged in environmentally friendly materials such as recycled cardboard . Bradley Cactus sneakers are currently available for pre-order at an exclusive rate of $130, which is $20 less than the original price. They are available in white, black and green, colors inspired by the Nopal cactus plant. + CLAE Images via CLAE

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CLAE launches vegan cactus leather sneakers

This Oaxacan oasis uses low-maintenance local materials

November 6, 2020 by  
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On a paradisal plot between the Pacific Ocean and the Oaxacan mountain range, Mexican architecture firm  anonimous  has completed Casa Cova, a two-family vacation home with spectacular views of the ocean. Located in the tourist destination of Puerto Escondido, Mexico, the holiday home comprises two linear compounds — one for each family — that flank a shared swimming pool, communal living area, dining space and bar in the center. A system of parallel concrete walls enclose the compounds and help frame views of the water, while a palette of locally-sourced natural materials helps tie the architecture to the landscape.  Casa Cova features a U-shaped layout, with the private bedrooms located in the “arms” of the home. Each arm comprises three pavilions: a master suite with framed views of the  Pacific Ocean , two kids’ bedrooms with private bathrooms, and a hammock area. Wooden shutters divided into three parts fold back to completely open up the interior to the outdoors. The indoor/outdoor connection is further enhanced with a series of interlocking open courtyards and breaks in the parallel concrete walls that promote natural ventilation from the ocean.  The two private wings flank a large volume in the center that contains a multipurpose area and a linear  swimming pool . The central volume also contains service spaces such as the kitchen, laundry room and a machine room that are all strategically tucked away so as not to detract from views of the Pacific Ocean. Also, the building is elevated five feet off the ground to mitigate flooding.  Related: This glamping hideout in Bali is made entirely out of bamboo To integrate the building into the landscape, the architects lined the walls and ceilings with  locally-sourced  dried palm tree leaves, used Parota wood for furnishings and chose regional low-maintenance vegetation for landscaping. Long ‘palapa’ — a regional cover made from dried palm tree leaves — tops the roofs to provide shade and natural cooling. + anonimous Images via anonimous

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Denmark to cull millions of minks to prevent spread of mutant coronavirus

November 6, 2020 by  
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The Danish government has announced plans to cull all of the minks in the country’s mink farms to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus to humans. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that the minks are transmitting a new form of the coronavirus to humans, a situation that could spiral out of control. According to Frederiksen, a coronavirus-mapping agency has detected a mutated virus in several patients. Twelve individuals in the northern part of the country were diagnosed with a mutant form of the coronavirus, which is believed to have been contracted from the minks. Related: 1 million minks culled in Spain, the Netherlands Denmark is among the leading countries in mink farming. Its minks are used to produce fur , which is supplied to other parts of the world. These animals have been found to be a cause for concern relating to the transmission of the virus. According to Health Minister Magnus Heunicke, about half of the 783 humans infected with the coronavirus in northern Denmark have links to the mink farms. “It is very, very serious,” Frederiksen said. “Thus, the mutated virus in minks can have devastating consequences worldwide.” The government is now estimating that about $785 million will be required to cull the 15 million minks in the country. According to Mogens Gensen, Denmark’s minister for food, 207 mink farms are now infected. This number is alarming, considering that by this time last month, 41 farms were infected . Further, the virus has began spreading throughout the western peninsula. To date, Denmark has registered 50,530 confirmed coronavirus cases and 729 deaths. It is feared that if the situation is not contained, the numbers may get worse. To avoid this, Denmark started culling millions of minks last month, and the same is expected to continue for some time. Via Huffington Post Image via Jo-Anne McArthur

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Lisa Jackson: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity

October 27, 2020 by  
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Lisa Jackson: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity Elsa Wenzel Tue, 10/27/2020 – 02:00 Apple’s Lisa Jackson is moving social justice to the top of the list for protecting the environment. Coming from one of Fortune’s “most powerful women in business ” at one of the world’s largest companies, she has views that could have a long-term global impact. Apple’s big-ticket sustainability goals released this year for 2030 include becoming carbon-neutral and achieving a net-zero impact in all operations. The company also recently embraced an outward-facing leadership role on its social impacts, with a $100 million investment to create a Racial and Equity Justice Initiative (REJI), which CEO Tim Cook asked Jackson to lead in June. How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? It’s not new for Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives to see racism and climate change as intertwined. She capped off her two-decade career with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as its chief under President Barack Obama. Jackson recalled a key lesson from her New Orleans childhood to GreenBiz co-founder Joel Makower during a VERGE 20 virtual event Monday. 1. Identifying intersections “I know what it means to be at the receiving end of our industrial society, whether it’s the air quality coming from petrochemical facilities, of wind, or the water quality coming down the Mississippi River, or the Gulf of Mexico’s health — and that ecosystem and diversity, all those issues, conflate to me around the place I call home,” the chemical engineer said. For example, she has seen the resources of the world flow upward to the people who make inequitable decisions around land use and then profit from them — but not flowing back to the people who become victims of flooding, fires or other consequences of poor planning. “Those are the questions we have to solve if we’re really going to solve the climate crisis,” Jackson said. Fighting for equality and justice for my community has driven my career as an environmentalist. I’ll continue the work leading Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/JKuaQP3I2r — Lisa P. Jackson (@lisapjackson) June 11, 2020 Jackson’s passion for addressing these problems deepened recently when she witnessed the combustive mix of poor air quality and high COVID-19 fatalities within historically underserved frontline communities. “It all comes together because we know that the co-pollutants of CO2 from fossil fuel, and from the fossil fuel-burning power sector and transportation sectors, are all part of that justice equation,” she said. 2. Empowering communities As part of its REJI initiative, which centers around representation, inclusion and accountability, Apple describes using its voice and cash to transform systemic disempowerment into empowerment. One way is to hire more coders of color and to build up wealth in underserved communities by doing more business with suppliers owned by people of color. “One of the things we did in the economic empowerment space is come up with this idea of an impact accelerator,” she said. “How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally?” Plus, Apple is also nurturing coding hubs at historically Black colleges and universities. Apple’s $100 million toward REJI is nine to 10 times the investment committed by Amazon, Google and Facebook each toward racial justice causes. 3. Making the human factor material It’s been two years since Apple planted the seeds to grow a circular economy by committing to make all of its devices from recycled or renewable materials eventually. Jackson described how the iPhone maker quickly found that its “moonshot” of shunning ingredients that need to be mined is not just about closing the loop on material resources, but on human resources as well. The tech giant prioritized eliminating conflict minerals and questionably sourced rare earths early on because of the labor and supply chain difficulties involved. In this area, Apple so far has created its own recycled aluminum alloy for devices including the Apple Watch, MacBookAir and iPad, and it uses recycled tin in solder in some logic boards. It has developed profiles of 45 materials in terms of their impacts on the environment, society and supply chains, singling out 14 for early action on recycled or renewable sourcing. The haptic engine, which enables a variety of vibrations in iPhone models 11 and up, uses recycled rare earths. The Daisy disassembly robot gained a cousin, Dave, which recovers rare earth elements, steel and tungsten from spent devices and scrap. Apple is still aiming to make all of its products and packaging from recycled and renewable materials. So far all paper materials are recycled, and plastics have been reduced by 58 percent in four years. The company is more quietly progressing on safer chemistry. Toward its goal of gathering data on all the chemicals that comprise its products, it has information from 900 suppliers on 45,000 parts and materials. “As much as we want to continue to engage in communities to try to lift up the standards and use our purchasing power to lift up, we also have to be honest with ourselves and say, there’s also a need for us to show an alternative path,” Jackson said. 4. Being first and bigger Where Apple leads, others in the market listen. For instance, so far it has nudged more than 70 of its suppliers to adopt clean energy, which Apple has fully implemented in its offices, data centers and stores without leaning on offsets. The company’s supply chain partners of all sizes are ripe for doing something differently, Jackson said.  Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally? “They’ve seen what COVID can do, or a crisis can do, to a business that hasn’t thought about resilience and sustainability,” Jackson said. “Apple can help by modeling and also taking a risk on technologies and ways of doing business, and quickly scaling them.” For example, Apple was able in a single year to embed 100-recycled rare earth elements in the magnets of its iPhone 12 series. “If we can come up with a cleaner alternative, then our belief is that these other places will have no alternative but to clean up as well so that they can be competitive not just on an economic level, but on a social and environmental level as well,” she said. “That’s going to be the exciting work for Apple … in the next few years is to not only do it first but to do it bigger, and to hopefully leave behind a supply chain that’s now economical and accessible for other people. Because those industries, those enterprises will say, ‘OK, there are probably more people who want to buy recycled material as well’ — and that’s the circular economy.” Pull Quote How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally? Topics Human Rights Equity & Inclusion Supply Chain VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apple’s Vice President, Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson. Apple Close Authorship

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Mature trees shape a leafy, light-filled home in Mexico

October 9, 2020 by  
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South of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, local architecture firm  Estudio Radillo Alba  has completed the Casa R.A., a family of five’s countryside home that takes its site-specific massing from the existing trees on site. Designed for a client who wanted a home that would make the most of the available land surface, the single-family dwelling embraces indoor/outdoor living with floor-to-ceiling windows and patios full of lush vegetation throughout the home.  Five mature trees shaped the design of Casa R.A., with designers arranging the building around the trees’ root systems. Two of the three trees, located at the front of the site, define the location of the garage, while another tree at the side of the home marks the main entrance. The remaining trees in the rear of the property provide shade and shelter to a back terrace. An  open-plan  living area, kitchen, dining space and small powder room reside on the ground floor. The second floor contains the master bedroom along with three secondary bedrooms and three baths. Sections of the home utilize cut-outs to make way for plant-filled patios, accesses and terraces. The home’s material palette stays light, using only mud-brick from a nearby region known for its mud-brick techniques. Related: Brick cladding conceals a family home’s sophisticated, zero-energy systems “The house was conceived as one single block which called for a single choice of material ,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Close to the plot, there is a region known for its production of mud-brick, a technique still practiced in some parts of the country. Its cultural value and its constructive heritage encouraged us to use it as a single material for the project’s envelope. The customized exposed brick covers and protects all structural elements, slabs, and mechanical installations while intending to reveal the constructive system and pay homage to the laborious process of the artisanal material.” + Estudio Radillo Alba Images via Ce?sar Belio

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How Avangard Innovative is working to scale post-consumer resin recycling

September 11, 2020 by  
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How Avangard Innovative is working to scale post-consumer resin recycling Since Avangard Innovative came onto the recycling scene 30 years ago, the company has expanded its presence to 11 countries. Its goal is to lower waste costs and what’s going into a landfill, said Rick Perez, chairman and CEO of the company.  Perez noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the work Avangard Innovative does. “At the end of the day, you have to pivot your business. You have to find a way to make it more valuable,” said Perez, adding that the demand for post-consumer resin is still present. Avangard Innovative has piloted and is now scaling its recycling work by building post-consumer resin facilities in Houston, New Mexico and Nevada. Heather Clancy, editorial director at GreenBiz, interviewed Rick Perez, chairman and CEO at Avangard Innovative, during Circularity 20, which took place on August 25-27, 2020. View archived videos from the conference here . Deonna Anderson Fri, 09/11/2020 – 15:16 Featured Off

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Applying rock dust to farms could boost carbon sequestration

July 10, 2020 by  
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A report in the journal Nature has revealed that enhanced rock weathering (ERW) could help slow climate change by sucking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This process involves spreading rock dust on farmland to help absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide. When rocks, such as basalt and other silicates, are crushed and added to the soil, they dissolve and react with carbon dioxide, forming carbonates and lock carbon dioxide. Although this is the first time that scientists are proposing this approach in dealing with carbon dioxide, it is not a new concept. Normally, farmers use limestone dust on the soil to reduce acidification. The use of limestone in agriculture helps enhance yield. If the proposed enhanced rock weathering technique is adopted, farmers could incorporate other types of rock dust on their land. Related: Eos Bioreactor uses AI and algae to combat climate change According to the study, this approach could help capture up to 2 billion metric tons of CO2 each year. This is equal to the combined emissions of Germany and Japan. Interestingly, this technique is much cheaper than conventional methods of carbon capturing. The scientists behind the study say that the cost of capturing a ton of CO2 could be as low as $55 in countries such as India, China, Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil. For the U.S., Canada and Europe, the cost of capturing one metric ton of CO2 with ERW would be about $160. The scientists propose using basalt as the optimal rock for ERW. Given that basalt is already produced in most mines as a byproduct, adding it to farmland soils can easily be instituted. Further, the countries that contribute the highest amounts of carbon dioxide are the best candidates for the ERW technique. Countries such as China, India and the U.S. have large farmlands that can be used to capture excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Given that carbon emissions are a big problem for the entire world, this technique might just be the light at the end of the tunnel. The enhanced rock weathering technique is affordable and practical, making it a win-win. + Nature Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Natural pink walls make up this eco-friendly hotel in Oaxaca

July 7, 2020 by  
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Designed by studios Taller Lu’um and At-te, the Monte Uzulu boutique hotel in Oaxaca, Mexico has doors made from  local wood  and walls crafted with a combination of concrete, earth and natural lime. The name comes from the word gusulú, meaning “beginning” in the region’s indigenous Zapotec language. As the hotel resides in the small fishing village of San Agustinillo, the designers wanted to honor the land surrounding the site by modeling the hotel to be close to nature. The  Pacific Ocean  can be found just a short walk away from the property, and construction kept as many trees as possible intact to make less of an environmental impact. According to the architectural team, a roughly 1,000-year-old jungle surrounds the hotel, so respecting the trees became a pivotal part of the design plan. Related: Ancient Mayan-inspired Casa Merida operates off the grid in Mexico Monte Uzulu’s balance with nature shows in its construction materials, which include natural elements such as locally-sourced wood,  soil  and dried palm leaves. A pink rendering of earth, lime and natural pigment covers the concrete walls, applied by hand and palette knife. The open-sided structure, moveable wood walls and thatched roof are modeled after the palapa design that is native to this part of western  Mexico . This design promotes natural ventilation and less sun exposure, making it perfect for the area’s hot weather. Six rectangular structures with gabled roofs connect with a series of stairs, making up 11 guest suites and about 7,782 square feet of total area. Each room has a terrace overlooking the jungle and ocean, with interior  concrete  walls left exposed to match the concrete floors and fixtures. Local artisans crafted the furniture, such as shelves and bed frames, using local wood. Sustainability measures, including a  rainwater collection system , water recycling system, natural water pools and a biodigester to convert organic waste, are implemented to reduce the hotel’s environmental impact even further. + Monte Uzulu Via Dezeen

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Natural pink walls make up this eco-friendly hotel in Oaxaca

Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

June 26, 2020 by  
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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact Jim Giles Fri, 06/26/2020 – 01:00 One of the most significant projects in sustainable food in 2020 was unveiled last week. The news is important partly because of the company involved: CPG behemoth Unilever, which reaches 2.5 billion consumers every day through 400 brands, which range from Ben & Jerry’s to Hellmann’s and appear on shelves in 190 countries.  The other reason is that the plan is genuinely ambitious . The company is committing to net-zero emissions from all products by 2039, spending $1 billion on climate and nature projects over 10 years, and planning on labeling each of its products with information about the carbon emitted in the product’s creation. This last point is particularly significant. Consumers, especially younger adults, consistently say that climate concerns influence their purchasing. Yet this influence is diluted because most people have little insight into the emissions linked to specific products. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. So will Unilever’s labeling decision change the way people shop? We can’t say for sure, because most consumers have never seen a carbon label. But there’s evidence for optimism. Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. There’s data on the impact of other kinds of labels, for instance. Over the past five years, several countries, including Chile, Mexico and Israel, have attached health warnings to sodas and other sugary beverages. A meta-analysis of 23 studies of these initiatives , released last month, showed the labels work: Consumers who see them are less likely to purchase high-sugar drinks. When carbon labels have been deployed, usually in small experiments, they also seem to work. Researchers at Chalmers Technological University in Sweden, for example, looked at the impact of emissions information on meal choices at their institution’s cafeteria. Sales of high-carbon meat dishes fell by almost 5 percent — a modest drop, but significant for an initial experiment based on a simple intervention.  A final reason for optimism is that while Unilever is by far the biggest food company to roll out carbon labels, it is not alone. Oatly and Quorn recently announced plans to start displaying carbon footprint data on products. Twelve food and beverage brands also have earned the new Climate Neutral certification and began displaying the associated label. Put all that together, and it looks like Unilever’s move could trigger structural change. But before I get carried away, let’s look at two factors that could undermine its impact. First up is the label itself. In an email, Rebecca Marmot, Unilever’s CSO, told me that her company is focusing on collecting footprint data and will turn to the labels once that’s in place. How Unilever eventually communicates carbon levels will be critical. How big will the label be? Where will it appear? Will consumers be able to make sense of it? It won’t be an easy challenge. Space on food packaging is extremely tight, and consumers are already exposed to multiple labels relating to sustainability. (457, by one count ). The second issue is cost. Of those 457 labels, organic is probably the most well known. Demand for organic food has shown double-digit growth in many recent years, yet it still accounts for around only 5 percent of U.S. food sales and less than 1 percent of planted acreage. Cost is critical here: Surveys show that organic food has a 7.5 percent premium, with some goods, including milk, eggs and bread, costing close to twice as much.  This is a reminder that for many consumers, cost trumps environmental concerns. In a way, though, that’s what makes the Unilever announcement so exciting. We’re talking here about the company behind Knorr, Lipton and Magnum. These are not niche brands targeted at affluent, sustainability-minded consumers willing to pay more. By introducing carbon labeling into everyday products found in the biggest chains and the smallest corner stores, Unilever is testing whether environmental concerns resonate with a much, much larger segment of consumers. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote Clearly communicating emissions on every product could leverage those concerns in a scalable way, boosting sales of low-carbon products and punishing emissions-heavy options. Topics Food & Agriculture Marketing & Communication Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Where Unilever’s product labeling initiative could have a huge impact

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