Cheap drainage nets keep water pollution at bay in Australia

November 30, 2018 by  
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Water pollution is a growing crisis around the world, but one city in Australia is doing its part to tackle the huge surges of waste that come from stormwater drains. By using a somewhat obvious, simple and cost-effective system of nets, or “trash traps,” the City of Kwinana is moving to prevent waste from entering its waters. In Spring 2018, the City of Kwinana collaborated with supplier Ecosol to install two drainage nets in the Henley Reserve. The netting was simply attached to concrete drain pipes, and these nets have since collected 370 kg (about 816 lb) of waste, including plastic food wrappers and bottles. Related: Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution The system, including manufacturing, installation and additional labor, cost the municipality about $20,000 — prior to the nets, city workers would collect debris in the water by hand. The new system is picked up and cleaned out using cranes when the nets become full of waste. Then, the waste is sorted in a designated facility. Here, green waste is transformed into mulch, and other materials are separated into recyclable /non-recyclable. The City of Kwinana has considered the drainage nets a huge success, with plans to install three more nets in the nature reserve area over the next two years. “We know that the Kwinana community is very passionate about environmental initiatives and rallies around actions with positive environmental impact, and if it was not for the drainage nets, 370 kg of debris would have ended up in our reserve,” Mayor Carol Adams said. “The nets are placed on the outlet of two drainage pipes, which are located between residential areas and natural areas … This ensures that the habitat of the local wildlife is protected and minimizes the risk of wildlife being caught in the nets. To date, no wildlife has been caught up in either of the City’s nets.” The system took off on social media, in a viral storm that Adams said shows the importance for all levels of government to focus on initiatives to save the environment . + City of Kwinana Image via Shutterstock

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Cheap drainage nets keep water pollution at bay in Australia

How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day)

November 26, 2018 by  
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This is the first of a series of Arctic ice … The post How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day) appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day)

Can Large Solar Farms Create Pollinator Habitat?

September 18, 2018 by  
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Pollinators play a crucial role in ecosystems. They are instrumental … The post Can Large Solar Farms Create Pollinator Habitat? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Can Large Solar Farms Create Pollinator Habitat?

Timber-clad modern home in New York takes a sensitive approach to the landscape

September 11, 2018 by  
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When an experimental modern dance choreographer tapped Anik Pearson Architects to design and build a legacy family compound in Upstate New York , the New York City-based firm took to the challenge by not only finding an appropriate site, but also designing the master plan, which includes the recently completed main house. Clad in timber and set on a steep slope, the spacious abode prioritizes low-maintenance care, sensitivity to the environment and energy-efficient design. In addition to the use of naturally resilient materials, the Hammersley Ridge Overlook, or House in Wingdale, uses a ventilated facade system to effectively seal the building envelope against water and air while maintaining an indoor-outdoor connection. When Anik Pearson was tasked with finding the site, she was bound by the requirements that the property be easily accessible from New York City via public transit and within easy reach of hiking trails. The answer came in a 68-acre lot in Upstate New York near the Appalachian Trail and the Hammersley Hill Nature Conservancy. The master plan, created in collaboration with a landscape architect, called for various site infrastructural improvements as well as a large family compound — including a main house, a guesthouse, a caretaker’s house and a dance studio — that would be completed in phases over the course of a few decades. Built for multi-generational use, the House in Wingdale is defined on one side by a three-story external ramp that connects the ground floor with the sleeping porches and a green rooftop terrace. The house is built from a combination of timbers with traditional materials that include whitewashed board paneling, white cedar , walnut and oak, as well as copper, granite and glazed encaustic tile. In contrast to the muted facade, the light-filled interiors feature bright pops of color inspired by the owner’s bright dinnerware. Large windows and a screened-in porch help bring the outdoors in. Related: Curvaceous Ex of In House is a solar-powered guest residence aligned with the natural world “The main house is designed to promote a connection to the land and to the outdoors through an external ramp linking balconies, porches and a terraced green roof ,” reads the project statement. “Sensitivity to the site is observed through water conservation, absorption and recapturing. On the structures, emphasis is given to energy efficiency and ease of maintenance through naturally resilient materials and assemblies.” + Anik Pearson Architects Images via Anik Pearson Architects

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Timber-clad modern home in New York takes a sensitive approach to the landscape

Lemurs are now the most endangered species of primate on the planet

August 3, 2018 by  
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Approximately 94% of the 111 species and subspecies of lemur are under threat of extinction in their native country of Madagascar – the only place they exist outside of captivity. Of the remaining lemur groups, only six do not face high risk of extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species . This retrogression was revealed by the Primate Specialist Group , a conservation organization that has been analyzing current threats to the survival of lemur populations and their habitats. Chair of the Primate Specialist Group and Chief Conservation Officer of  Global Wildlife Conservation  Russ Mittermeier indicated that the “very high extinction risk to Madagascar’s unique lemurs” would compound, generating “grave threats to Madagascar’s biodiversity as a whole.” Loss of habitat poses the single greatest threat the lemurs now face in the wild. Developments in illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture, as well as mining activities and charcoal production, are ultimately determining the fate of these endangered animals. Related: Conservationists sound the alarm to address ‘America’s wildlife crisis’ Lemurs also face threats from pet trading hobbyists or hunters who wish to turn them into food. Once a delicacy, lemur’s presence on menus has become more and more mainstream in Madagascar, according to Professor Christoph Schweitzer of the Bristol Zoological Society . In an interview with BBC News , Schwitzer commented, “More and more, we are seeing unsustainable levels of lemur poaching. We see commercial hunting as well – probably for local restaurants. And this is a new phenomenon for Madagascar – we didn’t see it at this scale 15 years ago” Although many would bow their heads at the unfortunate fate of the lemurs, Schwitzer is an optimist. People “need to shout about these problems and get the message out there” he remarked. “When we published the lemur action plan and the media picked up on it, suddenly we had people call offering to help – to donate money or other resources. That can really make a difference,” he remarked. The “lemur action plan” has already had an effect, protecting habitats that contain the densest numbers of lemur species while helping Madagascar boost its ecotourism in the hopes of tackling poverty. By helping the local people economically, the groups involved in the plan are deterring hunting and other activities destructive to the tropical forests that provide the lemurs with their natural habitat. + Global Wildlife Conservation + IUCN Via BBC News

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Lemurs are now the most endangered species of primate on the planet

6 Green Parenting Tips for Summer

July 30, 2018 by  
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Although your children may be thrilled to be out of … The post 6 Green Parenting Tips for Summer appeared first on Earth911.com.

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6 Green Parenting Tips for Summer

What You Can Do for Global Tiger Day

July 27, 2018 by  
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Protecting species that we can see in our own back yards, … The post What You Can Do for Global Tiger Day appeared first on Earth911.com.

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What You Can Do for Global Tiger Day

A former anti-aircraft platform is now a beautiful skywalk in Gibraltar

July 6, 2018 by  
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If you’re not afraid of heights, you can now experience the famed Rock of Gibraltar in a whole new way. Gibraltar-based architecture firm  Arc Designs has turned an old WWII military platform on the very top of the landmark into a gorgeous glass skywalk with stunning views of the Rock and the surrounding ocean. Located 340 meters above sea level, the Gibraltar Skywalk is comprised of four layers of glass and over 60,000 pounds of steel embedded into the rocky, steep terrain. The glass-enclosed viewing area is built in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, which contained a platform formerly used as an anti-aircraft base in WWII. The architects used the base as a starting point to extend a glazed walkway and balustrade over the rocky terrain. Related: This terrifying glass walkway in China ‘cracks’ as you step on it Visitors can access the viewing platform via stairs or a glass elevator. Once on the walkway, they can enjoy east and westward views that look out over the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In fact, according to Arc Designs, the extraordinary location drove the inspiration for the skywalk ‘s design: “The design aspiration of this project was to afford the visitor with new and unrivaled views in all directions including over the rocky cliff-face below, while at the same time ensuring a subtle intervention, which did not detract from the natural and historic nature of this unique setting.” Although the setting guarantees beautiful views, the perilous terrain did present quite a few challenges for the project. “Because vehicular access to this area is limited to very narrow and winding roads, the entire walkway structure had to be fabricated in smaller sections which could be transported and assembled together in-situ,” explain the architects. To ensure that the glass skywalk was secure enough to withstand the visitor load, as well as the typical wind speeds – which can reach over 93 miles hour – the structure had to be embedded into the ground with multiple rock anchors. The entire project used a steel skeleton made up of 18 separate pieces. To build out the walkway, over 8,000 square feet of glass panels were installed. + Arc Designs Via Dezeen Photographs by Stephen Ball, courtesy of Bovis-Koala JV

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A former anti-aircraft platform is now a beautiful skywalk in Gibraltar

This series of modular wood cabins form a rustic retreat in the Catskills

June 20, 2018 by  
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Paris-based firm  Corpus Studio  has created a rustic retreat tucked into the Catskills. A Craggy Cabin is a 2,200-square-foot haven made out of five smaller wooden cabins all connected with large sliding doors. The wooden exterior pays homage to the nature that surrounds the cabin, while the oak-clad interior offers an elegant and contemporary feel. Five interconnected modular cabins — all clad in wood siding and featuring roofs of distinct sizes and heights — create a unique layout. The asymmetrical volume on the exterior is reflected in the interior, as each of the individual cabins is equipped with extra-high ceilings. At the heart of the cross-shaped floor plan is the large kitchen, and the remaining four wings jut out from there to a bedroom, bathroom, dining room and a large living space. Related: 20-foot shipping container converted into off-grid oasis deep in the Catskills According to Corpus Studio’s co-founder Konrad Steffensen, the design was meant to create a serene nature retreat in the Catskills that could withstand the test of time. Steffensen said, “In the same way the space oscillates between a contemporary, open-plan and traditional, closed-format interior, the materials and textures chosen for the finishes and furniture intentionally juxtapose the old against the new; the rough against the smooth; the comfortable against the austere.” Inside, a tall suspended smoke canopy hangs over a fire pit built into the floor, giving the modern feature a bucolic look. Large floor-to-ceiling windows flood the central living spaces with natural light . The home is decorated with designer furnishings that, although quite contemporary, were chosen for their nature-inspired appearance. Aside from its uniquely sophisticated design, the architects designed the cabin with optimal flexibility for the years to come. Large sliding doors between the cabins can be closed to shut off access to the rest of the structures. Each cabin can be converted into an individual living space, which enables guests the option to stay in a tiny cabin space or a large family-style retreat. + Corpus Studio Via Dwell Images via Corpus Studio

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This series of modular wood cabins form a rustic retreat in the Catskills

Bio-inspired membrane captures 90% of CO2 in power plant emissions

May 8, 2018 by  
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Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a new biologically inspired membrane that can capture carbon dioxide from power plant smoke. Sandia fellow and University of New Mexico regents’ professor Jeff Brinker said, “Our inexpensive method follows nature’s lead in our use of a water-based membrane only 18 nanometers thick that incorporates natural enzymes to capture 90 percent of carbon dioxide released. This is almost 70 percent better than current commercial methods, and it’s done at a fraction of the cost.” Brinker said that, in the past, it has been prohibitively expensive to remove CO2 from coal smoke with available polymer membranes. However, his team’s membrane boasts a “relatively low cost of $40 per ton.” The researchers call the membrane a ‘memzyme’ because it operates like a filter but is near-saturated with carbonic anhydrase, an enzyme “developed by living cells over millions of years to help rid themselves of carbon dioxide efficiently and rapidly.” University of New Mexico professor Ying-Bing Jiang came up with the concept of employing watery membranes, inspired by processes in the human body that separate out CO2. Brinker said the arrangement of the membrane inside the flue of a generating station would be similar to a catalytic converter in a car. Related: 18-year-old invents cheaper CO2 capture tech to fight climate change The work is patented and energy companies have shown interest. In addition, the membranes have worked efficiently for months in laboratory settings. Nature Communications published the work online earlier this month; researchers from other institutions in the United States contributed. + Sandia National Laboratories + Nature Communications Images via Randy Montoya and courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories

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Bio-inspired membrane captures 90% of CO2 in power plant emissions

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