Architects design COVID-19 mobile testing labs for underserved communities

May 21, 2020 by  
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Perkins and Will’s New York studio has teamed up with Danish firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects and multidisciplinary design group Arup to create a proposal for retrofitting defunct school buses into mobile COVID-19 testing labs as a means of improving testing in underserved communities. Informed by the newly approved Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test, the design concept would outfit school buses with ID NOW rapid-testing instruments as well as sanitation infrastructure such as plexiglass shields, negative air pressure systems and gravity-based hand washing sinks. All elements of the mobile testing lab would be sourced off the shelf from vendors for easy replicability.  The health and economic ramifications of the pandemic have disproportionately affected lower-income and underserved populations. In an attempt to make testing more accessible, the interdisciplinary design team has created an open-source mobile testing lab to serve vulnerable and isolated groups. To follow social distancing guidelines, patients would be encouraged to make appointments through a mobile app; however, smartphone access would not be a prerequisite for access. Related: Studio Precht designs a fingerprint-like park for social distancing For safety, the public would not be allowed onto the bus ; a canopy and protective barrier would be installed on the side of the bus, and samples would be taken from behind a protective barrier. Samples would then be labeled and brought into the lab environment on the bus via a pass-through box. Each lab would host two technicians who analyze the samples with the ID NOW rapid-testing instruments, record and upload results to the federal government’s official database and then discard test samples and expended materials in biohazard waste bags for safe disposal. Results would either be verbally communicated or transmitted via the smartphone app to the individual. “We aim to bring together intuitive technology and service design into a unique mobile care space,” said Paul McConnell, Arup’s director of digital experience design. “Through rapid prototyping, we can better learn and refine how we get people through the process and give communities the confidence to return to normal.” The retrofitted buses would draw electricity from generators mounted on the roof. Perkins and Will is presently looking for more project partners to expand on the design concept. + Perkins and Will Images via Perkins and Will

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Architects design COVID-19 mobile testing labs for underserved communities

Skate the streets in style on these handmade wood skateboards

May 8, 2020 by  
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With limited traffic on the roads, cruising down abandoned streets on a slick new skateboard can be a dream come true for many skateboarders. Thanks to  Rustek ‘s new collection of wooden skateboards, handcrafted out of  sustainably sourced wood,  we can all dream of popping sweet 180-degree ollies while soaring down the street. Portland-based Rustek has long been the skateboard builder of choice for many ‘boarders, mainly because the Rustek team is made up of skaters themselves. They build their products by hand, always working with help from local craftsmen. Made in their mobile shop trailer, the quality of their  skateboards  and gliders are top-notch. Related: This cool electric skateboard is made from recycled plastic As part of their commitment to quality, the Rustek team offers only the best when it comes to using  natural materials  in their designs. The skateboard decks are built under the company’s strict eco-friendly ethos, using only FSC-certified, sustainably-sourced wood and responsibly-sourced textiles such as leather and wool that are sourced from cruelty and chemical-free sources. Using natural building materials not only adds to the  sustainability of the skateboards, but also gives them a unique identity. In fact, each deck design is one-of-its-kind, featuring varying shapes and tones. According to the designers, this is part of what makes their product stand out from the millions of skateboards that are on the market. “We believe that the organic variation in each material is in part what makes them beautiful and ensures that every product we make is naturally unique. You will feel the difference in our wood phone cases and boards because of our commitment to sourcing high quality material,” Rustek explains on its website. In addition to the high-quality materials used to craft their skateboard range, the company is also very active in  protecting the environment . For example, the company plants a tree for every order and donates 10% of all profits to the National Park Service. + Rustek Skateboards Via Yanko Design Images via Rustek Skateboards

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Skate the streets in style on these handmade wood skateboards

Solar-powered bubble shield focuses on physical distancing in public

May 8, 2020 by  
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As of May 5, more than 3.5 million people in 215 countries around the world have been infected with the novel coronavirus , according to the World Health Organization . While the world continues to socially distance, designers and creatives are beginning to imagine different ways to protect people from the virus; case in point, this futuristic bubble shield by DesignLibero. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Milan-based DesignLibero has imagined a product that brings a whole new meaning to personal space. The team has released a concept for the “bubble shield” to provide wearers with a private, protective barrier for public spaces. According to the designers, the clear, inflatable plastic dome will let users walk around in public without coming into contact with germ-filled droplets or pollution . Related: 6 ways to save energy while sheltering in place So how would this bubble shield work? The designers imagined a way to go in public without worrying about microparticles of the coronavirus or even air pollution. In addition to its anti-pollution and anti-virus properties, the shield would run on solar energy thanks to a built-in set of flower-shaped, flexible solar panels on top of the plastic dome. The solar energy would fuel a fan coil and air pump to maintain an air supply and cool the inside of the bubble. The conceptual barrier would be made using thermic-welded ETFE , a type of fluorine-based polymer material. The battery pack in the backpack is used to inflate the microstructure and acts as a power supply for the air pump compressor and fan coils. Interchangeable filters are designed to purify the air inside the bubble. There are two separate halves attached together with an easy-open zipper so that wearers can simply step in and out of the bubble to use it. + DesignLibero Images via DesignLibero

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Solar-powered bubble shield focuses on physical distancing in public

Interactive maps show top 10 states for off-grid lifestyles

April 9, 2020 by  
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Homesteading was a way of life for generations while the world developed industrialization and created cities of infrastructure. Over time, modern conveniences and the fast pace of business encouraged an increasing number of people to move into urban areas and/or reduce self-reliance in favor of easily accessible supermarkets and mail-order food. But in recent years, a resurgence of homesteading has shown that uncertain times have resulted in people returning to the basics of gardening , farming, food preservation and finding ways to be off-grid.  A recent data collection report by HomeAdvisor consolidated information from across Instagram to find out how many people are subscribing to a simpler way of life. Interestingly, the results show clusters of communities seemingly sharing common values in certain areas across the United States. Related: Do people in tiny houses live more sustainably? The information was gathered based on three commonly used hashtags (#homesteading, #tinyliving , and #offgridliving ), and then geolocation data identified the hot spots. Each of these lifestyles focuses on some level of self-sufficiency and cost savings. Homesteading is mainly about self-sufficiency. You’ll find homesteaders growing their own food, generating their own power and making their own clothes. Tiny living is a lifestyle that leaves a smaller footprint on the world. Tiny houses and tiny living are about simplification, a lower cost of living and using fewer resources. Living off-grid is a broad category that includes tiny living and homesteading. It also means disappearing from staples of society like the electric grid, schooling and the internet.  The reasons for heading towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle are varied, ranging from a fear of pandemics, an increase in surveillance infringing on privacy and concern for the environment. Regardless of the exact reasons, freedom,  lowering one’s carbon footprint  and a sense of independence seem to be at the core of the movement.  While there are abundant hashtags for any of these lifestyles, the study targeted these three as the best sources of information on the topic. The data was then consolidated and prepared for visual consumption by converting it into interactive maps and infographics . The method of collection eliminated Instagram posts without a location and those outside the United States. “To create these visualizations, we collected data by “scraping” it. Scraping is a technique that gathers large amounts of data from websites. In this case, we wrote a custom script in Python to get the data for each hashtag. The script collected information including the number of likes, number of comments, location, etc. for posts with each of the three lifestyle hashtags. The python script also collects data that human users can’t see, like specific location information about where the post was published from,” HomeAdvisor said on its website. When it comes to the United States and off-grid living as a whole, the interactive map gives a snapshot of the trend with the larger circles showing clusters. Moving into more specific information, homesteading may not be as rural as one might expect. In fact, large numbers of homesteaders are balancing backyard beehives , chickens and crops with a daily commute. One might also think homesteading is associated with life on the west coast. While that’s partly true, there are communities up and down the east coast squashing the idea that high populace and running your own farm don’t go hand-in-hand. As seen on the Top 10 States for #Homesteading map, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York all have active homesteading communities. Austin, Texas and Livermore, Colorado are Insta-proud of their homesteads too. On the west coast, the Seattle area in Washington and larger cities such as L.A. and San Diego in California top the list in the number of homesteaders posting their fresh eggs and veggies. For off-grid living, the map looks a little different. Here we find that numbers might be a bit skewed, considering off-grid technically means off social media, but the images are still there as a basis to understand the trends. By the Insta-numbers, Kimberly, Alabama comes in at the top of the off-grid areas, but since many of the posts are from the same Airbnb location, HomeAdvisor calculates that California takes the prize for the most off-gridders. This isn’t too surprising for a state that just mandated all new home constructions must include  solar panels . The four corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are all in the top 10 for off-grid living, in addition to New York, Florida, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska. The  tiny home movement  might be a bit hard to track for the mobile types, but on the road or not, Instagram is full of #tinyliving examples. The resulting map shows all three west coast states (California, Oregon and Washington) taking part in the trend. Florida, North Carolina and New York are active on the east coast, and Utah, Colorado and Arizona house the tiny movement too. Texas rounds out the #tinyliving top 10 list.  In conclusion, an increasing number of #homesteading Americans are going back to their roots of growing crops and raising cattle. Meanwhile, the #tinyliving community looks for ways to minimize their impact on the land, and #offgridliving continues to be difficult to accurately track, at least through the likes of Instagram. + HomeAdvisor  Images via HomeAdvisor

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Interactive maps show top 10 states for off-grid lifestyles

Snazzy garden shed doubles as rainwater runoff solution

April 9, 2020 by  
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When most people think of a garden shed, they more than likely conjure up simple images of utilitarian boxes stored with barely-used tools and oodles of clutter. However, when Maryland-based practice  Gardner Architects  was tasked with installing a small garden shed for homeowners in the community of Bethesda, they came up with a gorgeous  100-square-foot shed  that not only blends in harmoniously with the main home, but actively helps manage stormwater runoff to be re-used as irrigation for the native plants found on the property. Although the task of building a garden shed may seem pretty straightforward at first, in reality, the team from Gardner Architects came up against quite a few challenges before they could get to work on the design. First and foremost, the landscape surrounding the main home is comprised of dense woodland, which the homeowners wanted to protect at all costs, meaning that no trees could be removed to make space for the shed. The solution then was to build the shed just mere steps away from the home, preserving all of the trees  found on the property’s .34 acres. Related: Studio Sprout’s backyard greenhouse combines stylish form with fabulous function As part of a recent  renovation of the main house , the shed design would become part of a larger master plan for managing rainwater on the property. Working with  Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture , the resulting shed design was created to be respectful to the ecology of the home’s surroundings. To protect the natural vegetation, for example, the design team hired an arborist to help the construction process avoid damaging any underground tree roots. The structure is set into a small corner just steps away from the main home. Extremely compact at just 100 square feet, the shed is clad in tight-knot board-and-batten siding. Sliding doors made from  cedar boards  were set on metal tracks to open completely, making it easier to access. To embed the design with a proper  rainwater rerouting system , the roof was slightly slanted to allow water to slowly run down the hillside, where it would be re-routed into a drain made out of large stones. The system allows the water to slowly be absorbed into the planting beds located between the shed and the main house. In addition to its rainwater system, the project also centered around protecting the natural setting to attract healthy critters to the area. “Site maintenance is also a component of a natural habitat,” Honeyman said. “We have left tree snags onsite to attract insects and the birds attracted to them. Not clearing the underbrush and leaf litter provides environments for a multitude of insects to overwinter.” Now that the structure is completed, the homeowners will be working with the landscaping team to add a  pollinator garden  to the property. + Gardner Architects + Jordan Honeyman Landscape Architecture Via Houzz Photography by John Cole

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Snazzy garden shed doubles as rainwater runoff solution

Dairy farmers forced to dump milk

April 9, 2020 by  
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Dairy farmers are suffering from pandemic-related kinks in the supply chain. Even as consumers face limits on how many dairy products they can buy at their local stores, farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of milk, which can also contaminate groundwater. Dairy cooperatives have asked members to start dumping milk , and Wisconsin-based Foremost Farms USA even suggested that members cull their herds. The cooperatives will reimburse members for at least part of the cost of the milk. But that barely soothes farmers’ feelings as they watch hard work go down the drain. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative Since restaurants, schools and other wholesale food buyers have temporarily closed, processing plants have lost customers for their milk, cheese and butter. The dairy export market has tanked, and trucking companies have trouble finding enough drivers to get fresh milk to stores. Texas-based dairy food manufacturer Dean Foods Co. is offering new drivers $1,000 sign-on bonuses if they have experience hauling dairy, according to Reuters. As restaurant sales plummet, home cooking has soared. “About half of U.S. consumers’ food budget was spent on restaurants, and we’ve shut that spigot off,” said Matt Gould, editor at trade publication Dairy & Food Market Analyst. But dairy processing factories lack agility. Switching from manufacturing quantities of fast-food slices or bulk bags of shredded cheddar for commercial use to small bags for home use is too costly. Dairy isn’t the only industry to face supply chain problems. But because milk is highly perishable and raw milk needs to be processed before drinking, farmers can’t just donate it to food banks for later use. States expect farmers to follow certain guidelines to properly dispose of milk. In Ohio, “direct land application or transfer to on-site liquid manure storage structures” is allowed. Improper disposal of milk can contaminate groundwater. Milk has an even higher content of nutrients than manure, so dumping milk into bodies of water is even worse than discharging manure into it. Fish could be in danger if farmers fail to follow the proper protocols, and the smell of rotting milk won’t help lake recreation and tourism rebound when the coronavirus pandemic is finally over. Via ABC WISN 12 and Reuters Image via Pixabay

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Dairy farmers forced to dump milk

First home solar pavement installed on a driveway

April 6, 2020 by  
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Solar tiles aren’t just for roofs anymore. Platio, a Budapest, Hungary-based tech company, has just installed the first solar pavement for use on a residential driveway. “Roofs are not the only surfaces that can be used for solar energy production,” said Platio co-founder and engineer Imre Sziszák. “Paved areas absorb solar radiation all day long as well. The walkable solar panels of Platio can utilize this new source of clean energy.” Related: New recycled plastic sidewalk harvests energy from the sun The system consists of interlocking units called Platio solar pavers. Each paver is made from 400 recycled PET plastic bottles for a product more durable than concrete, according to the company’s product video . Pavement can be installed in sizes of 10 to 30 square meters and is suitable for driveways, terraces, balconies and patios. The energy generated by Platio tiles is fed back to the household’s power network. A 20-square-meter solar pavement can cover the yearly energy consumption of an average household, according to the video. The developers aimed for aesthetically pleasing tiles that would look good in a driveway and would increase a home’s energy efficiency. The solar pavers are available in black, red, blue and green. Hardened glass tiles protect the solar cells. They are anti-slip, so people can safely walk on them, and the tiles are designed to be able to bear the weight of a car occasionally driving over. Electric car drivers can also use the solar paving system to fuel their vehicles. Inhabitat previously reported on a 50-square-foot solar sidewalk Platio installed at an EV charging station in Budapest. Other uses include connecting a Platio solar paver system in an outdoor square to benches equipped with digital boxes, from which people can charge their mobile devices. Pavers could also fuel streetlights on nighttime walking paths. Unlike roof-mounted solar tile systems, paved areas with good sunlight access have a larger-scale potential for energy production. + Platio Images via Platio

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First home solar pavement installed on a driveway

Tips for Saving Energy With Your Mobile Phone

June 24, 2019 by  
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Many of us are addicted to our mobile phones. We … The post Tips for Saving Energy With Your Mobile Phone appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Tips for Saving Energy With Your Mobile Phone

Earth911 Quiz #54: Are You a Mobile Phone Recycling Expert?

March 21, 2019 by  
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The mobile phone has become an indispensable tool of modern … The post Earth911 Quiz #54: Are You a Mobile Phone Recycling Expert? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #54: Are You a Mobile Phone Recycling Expert?

Hydrade: A Generous Smart Bottle for Water Charity

March 21, 2019 by  
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Water is essential, but even when it is available most … The post Hydrade: A Generous Smart Bottle for Water Charity appeared first on Earth911.com.

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