Lessons from Schoonschip, Amsterdam’s floating eco-village

April 14, 2021 by  
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How can people live in harmony with global warming and rising water levels? In Amsterdam , a group of forward-thinking people decided to go with the flow. Schoonschip, a self-sustaining floating community of more than 100 residents, boasts innovative technology like 500 solar panels and a green roof on every house. This brave and fascinating experiment demonstrates how humans can adapt to the changing planet while forging stronger communities. TV director Marjan de Blok got the idea for the floating neighborhood after working on a documentary about a floating home . She and some friends began to brainstorm. “We are a bottom-up initiative built by the people that live here,” she told Inhabitat in an email. “Not owned / started / sold by a company / architect. For us this is important and it’s the biggest strength of the project.” Schoonschip has already received tons of press, not all of it accurate, de Blok said. “We don’t use grey water to water our plants, we don’t grow food on our roofs and we don’t use the jouliette to pay electricity with. These are just a couple of things that are not true but have been spread and copied.” Related: This home floats in a self-sufficient Amsterdam neighborhood Instead, graywater is used for showers, washing machines, drainage and dishwashers. “Black water,” i.e. human waste , will be fermented and transformed into energy at a biorefinery, in partnership with a water supplier called Waternet. For other accurate details of Schoonship design and technology, de Blok recommends this article from GB&D . Inhabitat talked to three residents to get an inside look at what it’s like to call a floating village home. Marjan de Blok, resident since May 2019 Inhabitat: How did you get the idea for Schoonship? It started when I was making a short documentary about a sustainable floating house about 11 years ago. I completely fell in love with the concept of living on the water, as sustainable as possible. It gave me a great feeling of freedom and it seemed like the answer to a lot of challenges we were facing and still are facing. At the same time, I realized that building a house like this, as sustainable as this, would take a lot of money and effort. That’s how the idea was born to start a group, build more houseboats , to make a bigger impact. I started to talk to some friends and every single one of them was so enthusiastic, that we said let’s go for it. At that time our plan was more simple than what it turned out to be today. The project grew and grew and the sustainable possibilities developed, so we just grew along and here we are with 46 households living in this sustainable neighborhood, inspiring people worldwide.  Schoonschip consists of 46 houses and one collective space that we realized with the group and that we use for all kinds of purposes. In total there are 30 water lots. So some of the lots you see are inhabited by two households. They have their own house, on a shared lot. One of the lots is even inhabited by three families. We were a foundation and now a homeowners association.  How has your life changed since moving to Schoonschip? For me personally my life changed completely. I moved from a top floor small apartment in the busy west of Amsterdam to the north. Living on the water means living with the weather. But the biggest change for me is the social part. Sharing a village or neighborhood with people that you know is a big change compared to living in a house in a street where you hardly know any neighbor. Now, in winter, especially now with the lockdown going on, it might seem a bit quiet, but in summertime it’s wild. Everybody is swimming and playing. Kids rule the jetty. What else should we know? The project didn’t finish when we moved here. Our goal is to inspire and inform people worldwide to try and play a role in a more sustainable way of living and to become part of development of the area that they live in. Hanneke Maas Geesteranus, resident  since June 2019 What have been the biggest adjustments to moving to Schoonschip? That we are responsible for our own house and all the technical things about the solar collectors, the warm heat pump, the charger, etc. This was rather new for me so I had to deepen my knowledge about sustainable techniques. What do you like the most about living there? I like our house and the feeling to live so close to the water. But most of all I like to live in a community like this. It is a little village. We know each other rather well. Everyone is friendly, helpful and supportive of each other. What do you miss about traditional on-land housing? The trees . Could you describe the qualities a person needs to thrive at Schoonschip? We have a lot of different people in the community. So the differences are very charming and needed. But in common, 1. Interest in sustainability, feel the importance of understanding, to share innovation and new ideas. 2. To be open to live with other people around you and willing to invest in the social aspects. Pieter Kool, resident since April 2019 What have been the biggest adjustments to moving to Schoonschip? We were living in a small downtown apartment with kids, so ever since we live here it feels like we’ve rented a super fancy holiday home — without having to leave! The comfort of living and the quality of light in the houseboat is incredible. It was quite easy to adjust to this actually… Practically, the biggest adjustment was getting rid of our car. Within Schoonschip, we’ve set up a car-sharing system with electric vehicles and most Schoonschippers joined the group. Prior to the switch, this felt like a big adjustment, but it wasn’t as much of a deal as we expected. It’s quite relaxed to not have the usual car ownership issues. Before we moved we did a CO2 footprint analysis of our household; we were already vegetarians and moving to an energy-neutral house, by far the biggest polluting aspect of our lives would be transportation. Realizing this, the choice to move to electric car-sharing was a no-brainer. What do you like best about living there? The environmental sustainability aspect of living at Schoonschip is great, but to me, the social sustainability is much more special and rewarding on a personal level. The project has run 13 years from initiation to completion and together we’ve worked very hard at achieving our goals. Everybody in the community participated and we’ve gotten to know each other really well. Some people left the project along the way, but many stayed. The people that are still in the project are all very different, but they also seem to share a mentality of resilience, openness and forgiveness toward each other. Nice people to be around with! What do you miss about traditional housing? We don’t have a shed, so DIY work is a bit of a hassle. We added a small floating garden to the boat which produces vegetables and even has a generous pear tree on it! + Schoonschip Images by Isabel Nabuurs, courtesy of Schoonschip

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Eco-friendly, affordable housing emphasizes walkability in Milan

April 14, 2021 by  
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International design firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel (ACPV) has unveiled designs for the Cascina Merlata Lot R7/2, a social housing complex that will function as a “city within the city” where residents can walk or ride their bicycles to everything they need for their daily lives. Created as part of the Cascina Merlata pedestrian-friendly masterplan that ACPV developed back in 2011, the new, 12,600-square-meter residential complex consists of two structures that have already obtained a ‘Class A’ rating from Italy’s Energy Performance Certification in recognition of their energy-efficient, low-impact design. The development is expected to welcome its first residents this month. Located on the outer edge of Milan within walking distance of the Fiera Milano grounds that host the annual Salone del Mobile furniture fair, Cascina Merlata Lot R7/2 is part of a masterplan that aims to improve livability in the city by providing access to essential services and retail destinations within a 15-minute walking radius for residents. Guided by principles of environmental sustainability and community-building, the architects have also integrated multiple parks, public spaces and a series of pedestrian and bicycle paths into the plan.  Related: A LEED Gold-targeted office will enhance worker wellbeing “The goal here is to foster a sense of community and belonging while also innovating the way we design residential buildings,” said architect Antonio Citterio, co-founder of ACPV. “The masterplan and architectural guidelines for Cascina Merlata play a crucial role in ensuring that the new residents feel at home and have access to all the services they need.” The development’s two new residential buildings are located between Via Daimler and Via Pier Paolo Pasolini and feature ground-floor retail to engage the public realm. A rooftop garden that tops the residential complex is also visible from street level. The project was designed with BIM and features a 10-story structure that overlooks Via Pier Paolo Pasolini as well as a second structure that consists of two volumes — a south-facing, 17-story volume and a north-facing, 25-story volume — connected with a single core. + Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel Photography by Giulio Boem via ACPV

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NOAA predicts drought in the west, flooding in the east

March 24, 2021 by  
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Prepare for more drought in the West and flooding in the East, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s spring outlook report. Most of the western half of the country is already in moderate to exceptional drought conditions, which, unfortunately, is likely to expand into the most significant spring drought since 2013. The  drought  could impact about 74 million people. “The Southwest U.S., which is already experiencing widespread severe to exceptional drought, will remain the hardest hit region in the U.S., and water supply will continue to be a concern this spring in these drought-affected areas,” said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service. “This is a major change from recent years where millions were impacted by severe flooding. Nonetheless, NOAA’s forecasts and outlooks will continue to serve as a resource for  emergency  managers and community decision-makers as they navigate all potential extreme seasonal weather and water events.” Related: New study predicts 6-month summers by 2100 Why so dry? The failed 2020 summer monsoon, low  soil  moisture and warmer than usual temperatures are all reasons cited by the NOAA. Southern Florida and the southern and central Great Plains will see increased drought conditions. If there’s not enough spring rain, the northern Plains could also see its existing drought worsen. As for flooding, the NOAA isn’t predicting major or prolonged flooding. But a lot of minor to moderate floods will likely hit the coastal plain of the Carolinas and the Lower Missouri and Lower Ohio River basins. Many Midwestern streams are swollen from late-winter rainfall.  NOAA  publishes seasonal outlooks to help people prepare for what’s in store.  “Our national hydrologic assessment helps to inform the nation where there will likely be too much or too little water. This spring, we anticipate a reduced risk for flooding , and forecast significantly below average water supply where impacts due to low flow contribute to the continued drought,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Via NOAA Lead image via Pixabay Additional images via NOAA

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NOAA predicts drought in the west, flooding in the east

NOAA predicts drought in the west, flooding in the east

March 24, 2021 by  
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Prepare for more drought in the West and flooding in the East, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s spring outlook report. Most of the western half of the country is already in moderate to exceptional drought conditions, which, unfortunately, is likely to expand into the most significant spring drought since 2013. The  drought  could impact about 74 million people. “The Southwest U.S., which is already experiencing widespread severe to exceptional drought, will remain the hardest hit region in the U.S., and water supply will continue to be a concern this spring in these drought-affected areas,” said Mary Erickson, deputy director of the National Weather Service. “This is a major change from recent years where millions were impacted by severe flooding. Nonetheless, NOAA’s forecasts and outlooks will continue to serve as a resource for  emergency  managers and community decision-makers as they navigate all potential extreme seasonal weather and water events.” Related: New study predicts 6-month summers by 2100 Why so dry? The failed 2020 summer monsoon, low  soil  moisture and warmer than usual temperatures are all reasons cited by the NOAA. Southern Florida and the southern and central Great Plains will see increased drought conditions. If there’s not enough spring rain, the northern Plains could also see its existing drought worsen. As for flooding, the NOAA isn’t predicting major or prolonged flooding. But a lot of minor to moderate floods will likely hit the coastal plain of the Carolinas and the Lower Missouri and Lower Ohio River basins. Many Midwestern streams are swollen from late-winter rainfall.  NOAA  publishes seasonal outlooks to help people prepare for what’s in store.  “Our national hydrologic assessment helps to inform the nation where there will likely be too much or too little water. This spring, we anticipate a reduced risk for flooding , and forecast significantly below average water supply where impacts due to low flow contribute to the continued drought,” said Ed Clark, director of NOAA’s National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Via NOAA Lead image via Pixabay Additional images via NOAA

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China’s new frontier for VOC regulations

March 23, 2021 by  
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China’s new frontier for VOC regulations Shuying Xu Tue, 03/23/2021 – 01:15 As the global economy reawakens after the COVID-19 shutdown, air emissions and VOC enforcement in China remain a hot topic. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) combine with nitrogen oxide to create ozone, a key precursor to smog. Over the past several decades, public health and environmental concerns have made controlling smog a top national policy goal in China and enforcement an increasingly critical issue for companies to navigate. Industries getting particular focus when it comes to VOC management in China include electronics, packaging and printing, pharmaceuticals, petrochemical, chemical, industrial coating, oil storage and transportation. In March 2020, for example, China’s State Council announced four national requirements for VOC content in adhesives, coatings, inks and cleaning agents widely used in the electronics and electrical industry; the stringency and implementation of these mandates may have a significant impact on production and business risk moving forward. Implementation of these standards is scheduled to start in April. For any company operating in or with significant supply chain exposure to China, building an understanding of the national and local regulatory landscape and best practices related to VOC mitigation recently has become a vital step to reducing the risk of business interruption arising from environmental enforcement that began in 2016 . Air emission reform in China More than a decade ago, national policies laid the groundwork for reducing air emissions in China. In 2010, the Central Government of China integrated the “Guideline on Strengthening Joint Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution to Improve Air Quality” into its 12th Five Year Plan. This enshrined into law China’s first air emissions management plan and formalized an approach to regional collaboration. The Law on Prevention and Control of Air Pollution, also known as the ” Air Law ,” was updated in 2015 (and again in 2018) to direct local governments in key regions to form emergency response plans for heavily polluting weather conditions. When energy use surges in the autumn and winter seasons, particulate matter and ozone increase to  dangerously high levels. Strategies include tackling large networks of smaller companies, which emit up to 60% of VOCs in China, and penalizing non-compliant companies by lowering their ‘social credit’ rating. The 2018 Three ? Year Action Plan for Winning the Blue Sky Defense Battle narrowed the scope of air emission management by focusing on the rectification of key regions and industries and establishing a goal of reducing 15 percent of emissions by 2020 (Chinese) , compared to 2015 levels. Strategies include tackling large networks of smaller companies, which emit up to 60 percent of VOCs in China , and penalizing non-compliant companies by lowering their “social credit” rating. For the past 15 years, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) has collected and analyzed publicly disclosed environmental quality and pollution source records from hundreds of local governments and corporations across China. IPE’s online data analysis tool shows that while the total number of regulatory violations in China decreased across industries between 2016 and 2020, the proportion of enterprises with air emission issues, including VOC violations, has increased year over year. The overall decline in total violations across industries has been attributed to increased transparency among local governments and a 2016 spike in factory inspections (and shutdowns) that took place across China: The 2016 wave of enforcement actions resulted in renewed effort by companies that hadn’t been shut down to take regulatory concerns more seriously since then. Targets for regulation The unique regulatory demands and opacity of local governments, which can insist on short-term, emergency action to reduce emissions, can be a challenge to navigate. Yet, a predictable pattern gradually has emerged in how authorities determine non-compliant behavior. First, industries that emit or consume large quantities of VOCs are prioritized. Companies from such key VOC-emitting industries will be honed in on regardless of specific processes, consumption rates or volume of emissions. Second, authorities focus on specific companies within these industries that are large emitters and key industrial processes (coating, painting, printing, etc.) at those companies. Third, regional and local governments adjust reduction measures according to a factory’s environmental performance level. For example, if a total emission reduction goal of a region or city can be achieved, the least polluting companies may take reduction measures voluntarily (and not necessarily fully in accordance with regional guidelines) — while all others will be required to strictly follow reduction requirements Local governments maintain and, in many cases, publish lists that rank factories according to their performance level. Factories with substandard performance are required to monitor emissions and make the results available to the public, not dissimilar to the U.S. The contents of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and National Pollution Discharge Permit (PDPs) also may be used to determine if and how many VOCs will be generated when a factory completes a construction project or when a factory is fully operational. In a PDP, the maximum volume of VOC emissions that a factory can emit is stated. This number is calculated based on EIA documents, periodic factory monitoring and online monitoring data of a factory. Environmental capacity Local authorities have the ability to not only implement emergency restrictions during heavily polluting weather conditions but also may apply controls if total annual emissions by factories surpass regional emission caps. The Joint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), a United Nations advisory body, describes the concept of environmental capacity as “a property of the environment and its ability to accommodate a particular activity or rate of an activity … without unacceptable impact.” Environmental capacity is widely used in China to define acceptable limits for the amount of pollutants produced or discharged into the atmosphere. Each region has its own capacity and local governments determine quotas for each factory. If no quota is available for a factory to construct, rebuild or expand the operation, they are generally prohibited from proceeding. Examples of best practices Once companies are identified and included in a governmental list, authorities can require industries and factories to set up online pollutant monitoring that is connected to the local authority’s supervisory system. Such systems are typically designed to capture instantaneous VOC emission data. While some multinationals with operations in China — such as Toyota and General Motors — have begun to establish VOC reduction goals comparable to their GHG emission reduction goals, efforts to address VOC emissions within industrial supply chains and operations remain varied and limited. Companies from key VOC-emitting industries will be honed in on regardless of specific processes, consumption rates or volume of emissions. Innovative practices often can be found at the local level. The municipality of Shanghai, China’s largest city, is often a leader in this regard. Shanghai offers an example of a municipal government that has established a long-term protocol for VOC emission management, aligning with the goals of the national Blue Sky Defense Battle. As part of its “One Factory, One Control Plan” (Chinese), Shanghai provides a comprehensive list of methods (and projected timelines) for reducing VOC emissions across 29 diverse industries, ranging from ink and adhesives to PVC and synthetic fiber production. Two industries that emit significant quantities of VOCs and have extensive supply chains in China are the electronics and cleaning agent industries. Shanghai outlines specific governance tasks for reducing VOC emissions along various stages of production. Selected examples of required and recommended actions include: For electronics production: Use powder or water-based coatings and UV curing processes. Use electrostatic spraying. Use automated and intelligent spraying equipment in place of manual application. Adopt processes in which coatings, thinners and cleaning agents are prepared, used and recycled within sealed storage and production spaces. Transport coatings, thinners and cleaning agents in closed pipelines or containers. Collect and treat wastewater in a closed process. For cleaning agent manufacturing: Specify limits on the use of chemicals such as methylene chloride, trichloromethane, formaldehyde, benzene and toluene and xylene, among others. Replace solvent-based cleaning agents with water-based and semi-aqueous alternatives. Reduce airflow around cleaning equipment; reduce the flow of liquid from items that are being cleaned. Designate rooms specifically for cleaning, exhaust air collection, and treating cleaning exhaust. Recycle cleaning solvents. Use activated carbon absorption; record the temperature, regeneration period and replacement amount of activated carbon. While this article provides select examples of steps being taken by companies and municipalities, corporate industry goals and action plans for VOC reduction remain unclear and inconsistent. The requirements and policies of VOC management in China are dynamic and growing more stringent both nationally and locally. Part of the challenge for global companies is understanding and interpreting requirements, identifying the potential for high-risk interruption and determining economical and environmentally responsible actions that can mitigate or avoid these risks. Furthermore, unique policy is being formulated according to the needs and specialties of different regions, industries and factory conditions. Companies that have responsibility for facilities and supply chains in China can benchmark against these to better understand their regulatory and business interruption risks. Pull Quote Strategies include tackling large networks of smaller companies, which emit up to 60% of VOCs in China, and penalizing non-compliant companies by lowering their ‘social credit’ rating. The 2016 wave of enforcement actions resulted in renewed effort by companies that hadn’t been shut down to take regulatory concerns more seriously since then. Companies from key VOC-emitting industries will be honed in on regardless of specific processes, consumption rates or volume of emissions. Contributors Christopher Hazen Topics Chemicals & Toxics Policy & Politics COVID-19 China Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A regenerative thermal oxidizer unit in China. Image courtesy of Greenment

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Turning food waste into aviation fuel could greatly reduce emissions

March 19, 2021 by  
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Food waste could be instrumental in producing sustainable aviation fuel, according to a recent study. Greenhouse gases from the aviation industry contribute 12% of transportation emissions and are bound to continue growing. It is projected that the industry’s emissions will double pre-pandemic levels by 2050. As such, researchers are working on finding viable biofuels for net-carbon-zero air travel. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , was conducted by scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in collaboration with the University of Dayton, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Yale University. Related: Researchers develop hydrogen paste that could fuel vehicles According to the study, using untapped energy in food waste to generate sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will provide an avenue to deal with two types of pollution at the same time. Plenty of food waste ends up in landfills, where it generates methane gas, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases. The researchers found that this biofuel has a 165% decrease in net carbon emissions compared to standard fuel. “Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) comprise a significant portion of the aviation sector’s strategy for CO2 reductions given the limited near-term prospects for electrification,” the authors wrote. “In addition, the low aromatic content of current SAF routes has been shown to reduce soot formation and aviation-related aerosol emissions by 50 to 70%, which can significantly impact the net global warming potential.” Some large aviation companies have already started investing in SAF with the hope of finding a solution that can be widely used. Southwest Airlines is collaborating with NREL and other organizations in a demonstration project that is moving closer to commercial viability, thanks to scientific research and publications like this one. “If our refining pathway is scaled up, it could take as little as a year or two for airlines like Southwest to get the fuel regulatory approvals they need to start using wet waste SAF in commercial flights,” said Derek Vardon, NREL scientist and co-author of the study. “That means net-zero-carbon flights are on the horizon earlier than some might have thought.” + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Via CleanTechnica Image via The PixelMan

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Turning food waste into aviation fuel could greatly reduce emissions

Himalayan glacier breaks off in India, causing a deadly avalanche

February 9, 2021 by  
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An intense rescue mission has been underway in India since Sunday morning, following the break of a Himalayan glacier. The glacial breakoff triggered an avalanche of mud, water and rock debris that swept away a hydroelectric dam. At the time of writing, 26 people had died with at least 171 more people still missing. The disaster started at about 10:45 a.m. local time, when part of the Nanda Devi glacier broke away from a fragile area of Uttarakhand, the northern India state that borders China and Nepal. The region is known to be prone to landslides and flooding , a situation that has caused environmentalists to warn against development there. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 Those who witnessed the event from across the valley say that it happened in a flash. “It came very fast. There was no time to alert anyone,” Sanjay Singh Rana, an eye witness, told Reuters . “I felt that even we would be swept away.” It is believed that of the nearly 200 missing individuals, most were workers at the dam. According to the Uttarakhand state chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, the number of those reported missing could rise as more information is gathered. Additionally, 180 sheep washed away in the avalanche. It is still not clear why the glacier broke, especially when northern India is still experiencing winter. Global warming has increased ice melt in the Himalayas, but the region is still typically quite cold this time of year. The split glacier was part of the Nanda Devi peak at an altitude of 25,643 feet. The mountain is revered in India, with its name translated to mean the blessed goddess. Some locals even worship the mountain. Currently, the national park surrounding the peak, Nanda Devi National Park, is listed as an  UNESCO  World Heritage Site. Via NPR and Reuters Image via Avalok Sastri

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Himalayan glacier breaks off in India, causing a deadly avalanche

Scotland to become first country to test 100% green hydrogen

December 4, 2020 by  
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The U.K. has moved one step closer towards its net-zero carbon target by unveiling a plan to test 100% green hydrogen for cooking and heating in 300 Scottish homes, making Scotland the first country to do so. Ofgem, the U.K.’s energy regulator, announced this plan on Monday. According to Ofgem, Scottish gas company SGN will be responsible for fitting houses with hydrogen heating systems. SGN plans to start fitting houses in Fife with free hydrogen systems that families will use over the next three to four years. The ambitious project is a trial begun by the U.K. government to monitor the viability of using carbon-free hydrogen generated through electrolysis. Ofgem funded the project with $24 million as part of an innovation competition aimed at finding new green energy sources. The group also chipped in $17 million for tests on using the available natural gas pipes to safely transport hydrogen gas over long distances. According to Antony Green, the head of the National Grid, the U.K. must embrace green alternatives such as this carbon-free hydrogen. “If we truly want to reach a net zero de-carbonized future, we need to replace methane with green alternatives like hydrogen,” Green said. “Sectors such as heat are difficult to de-carbonize, and the importance of the gas networks to the UK’s current energy supply means projects like this are crucial if we are to deliver low carbon energy, reliably and safely to all consumers.” While hydrogen is a safe gas, it comes with its fair share of challenges. For instance, electrolysis is only 80% effective. This means that the hydrogen generation process wastes about 20% of the energy used. Even so, the U.K. considers hydrogen a viable energy alternative for the 85% of the U.K. homes still using a gas furnace for heating. As the U.K. explores hydrogen-based energy, automobile and appliance industries are also testing this gas. For example, Toyota recently released news of the second generation Mirai, a car that runs on hydrogen. + Engadget Image via Pixabay

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Win a National Park tour for 2 from Inhabitat!

October 19, 2020 by  
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We’re all itching to get outdoors these days, and visiting National Parks is a safer travel option that allows you to take in the magnificent scenery that the U.S. has to offer. From the towering sequoia trees and granite cliffs of Yosemite to the snowy mountain peaks of Olympic followed by the rust-red canyons and Emerald Pools of Zion, there are many adventures that lie ahead. We’re giving away park passes to these three national parks plus $1,000 toward travel expenses to help you get to the great outdoors. Whether it’s your first trip to a national park or you’re a regular visitor to multiple parks across the country, the varying landscapes are enough to inspire awe in any explorer. On this trip, you can look up to the giant sequoias in Yosemite, then make your way to the dreamy Pacific Northwest for a visit to Olympic National Park. Round out the trip with a day at Zion National Park, where you can take in the otherworldly red cliffs as well as a hanging garden and waterfalls at Emerald Pools. If cabin fever is really setting in, this is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature all while staying socially distanced. If you’re ready for a breath of fresh air, you can check out our giveaway here . Enter by November 5, 2020 for a chance to win two park passes to Yosemite, Olympic and Zion National Parks plus $1,000 for travel expenses. Terms and conditions apply. The winner will be selected on November 7, 2020 and notified via email. So, what are you waiting for? Good luck, and happy exploring!

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Win a National Park tour for 2 from Inhabitat!

Iconic Farnsworth House gets a conceptual, sustainable redesign

October 19, 2020 by  
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As a design exercise, California-based architecture firm Jeff Barrett Studio has reimagined Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Farnsworth House for the modern times with a sustainable redesign that includes onsite renewable energy and modular construction. Conceived as a case study for sustainability that would still pay homage to the original architectural style, the proposed design follows the same building footprint while introducing a new materials palette and energy-saving features. Located in Plano, Illinois, about an hour west of Chicago, the Farnsworth House is recognized worldwide as a masterpiece of International Style of architecture. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed and constructed the 1,500-square-foot structure between 1945 and 1951 as a country retreat for his client, Dr. Edith Farnsworth. Built with two slabs, a series of steel columns and expansive floor-to-ceiling glass throughout, the minimalist home was created to usher the natural landscape indoors. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006 and currently operates as a historic house museum that welcomes over 10,000 guests from around the world annually. Related: Gorgeous Miesian-inspired glass pavilion floats above a natural dam Jeff Barrett Studios has revisited the structure with a conceptual redesign that features both low-tech and high-tech sustainable strategies. “How might this dwelling be reinvisioned [ sic ] today given current technologies, would the structure remain significant aesthetically, and how might it function as a case study for sustainability?” the architects said in a project statement. “The project has been developed with consideration to sustainable concepts and innovative technologies reaching high energy performance and constructability.” Instead of the original steel-and-glass palette, the architects propose building the structure with cross-laminated timber , more specifically acetylated wood (Accoya) for its durability and resistance to decay. The use of CLT would also allow for modular construction, which would reduce material waste. The iconic full-height windows would have low-E glazing, while operable skylights on the roof introduce an element of passive ventilation. The roof would be covered in photovoltaic panels and vegetation, and a natural swimming pool would round out the property.  + Jeff Barrett Studio Images via Jeff Barrett Studio

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