What does net zero mean?

May 2, 2019 by  
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What does ‘net zero’ mean and what are the challenges — from technological to moral — to achieve it?

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What does net zero mean?

With no upfront costs, this innovative financing tool makes energy efficiency affordable to all

May 2, 2019 by  
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By rolling upgrade costs into monthly bills, utilities are helping customers save energy and money at the same time

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With no upfront costs, this innovative financing tool makes energy efficiency affordable to all

Amazon plans to reach net-zero carbon use by 2030

February 22, 2019 by  
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Amazon is continuing its dedication to sustainability by aiming for  net-zero carbon use by the year 2030. The e-commerce behemoth plans to accomplish this ambitious task by adding more renewable energy programs that will be incorporated in its shipping and packaging departments. Amazon already has several carbon cutting initiatives in place. This includes programs like Ship In Own Container, Frustration-Free Packaging and the Closed Loop Fund. The company has also invested in both solar and wind farms as well as solar paneled rooftops. More than 200 engineers, scientists and designers supervise these programs and are committed to long-term sustainability. Related: Amazon’s incredible plant-filled biospheres open in Seattle According to Amazon , the company plans to take its eco-friendly programs a step further by reducing carbon use to zero over the next decade. To that end, Amazon has invested in biofuels, electric vehicles , renewable energy sources and reusable packaging, all of which will make it possible for the company to reach net-zero carbon in 50 percent of its online orders. Reaching net-zero carbon use is easier said than done. Fortunately, Amazon has a host of suppliers who are also dedicated to bettering the environment through renewable energy . Amazon also plans to use customer feedback to help encourage companies to cut down on carbon use through reusable packaging. This is similar to what the online seller has accomplished through its Frustration-Free Packaging and Ship In Own Container programs, which have greatly reduced its carbon footprint in recent years. When it comes to accountability, Amazon is currently tracking its carbon use and plans to share its findings at some point this year. This will help the company gauge its progress over the next few months. Scientists will also use the data to come up with better ways to incorporate sustainable energy practices into its shipping and packaging departments, which will hopefully result in a net-zero carbon footprint  for the company by 2030. + Amazon Image via Amazon

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Amazon plans to reach net-zero carbon use by 2030

Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape

January 11, 2019 by  
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Located adjacent to designated wetlands, the Tung House by Seoul-based firm Project Architecture  is a net-zero home that combines conscientious landscape design with energy efficiency. Along with a large photovoltaic array and solar water heater panels to provide power and heating, the home uses a number of passive features to achieve its  net-zero energy use . At 2,900 square feet, the Tung House is a fairly large structure but relatively small in comparison with other homes in the area. One of the reasons that the size was restrained is its location. The home is built in Lincoln, Massachusetts on a strictly preserved site adjacent to designated wetlands. The size limitations imposed by the local government presented a challenge to the architects, who met the restrictions head-on with a gorgeous angular design that aesthetically gives the home a unique character while simultaneously achieving net-zero energy use . Related: This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes At the heart of the design are the geometric features. The roof, which is comprised of various planes, was used to give the home ample space for the photovoltaic array and solar water heater panels . The rooftop solar panels provide sufficient power and heating to the house, and in the summer months, any additional energy is transferred back to the city’s local grid. In addition to making room for solar panels, the multiple roof planes provide several overhangs that shade the interior living space during the warmer months and help provide natural light and heat during the wintertime. Inside, the architects wanted to create an open layout that offered a seamless connection between the living space and the outdoors. From the front door to the upper level, multiple large windows offer views of the serene backyard. Naturally lit by sunlight , a loft-like living room and open kitchen are on the ground floor, which is connected to the upper floors through a mezzanine level. The interior design scheme of all-white provides a contemporary elegance throughout the home, enhanced by the various angular ceilings. + Project Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Project Architecture

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Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape

An adaptable timber house celebrates recycling in Ecuador

January 11, 2019 by  
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Ecuadorian architecture firm Natura Futura Arquitectura has teamed up with Frontera Sur Arquitectura to develop an inspiring example of social architecture in the town of Huaquillas, Ecuador. Dubbed La Comuna, the project is a double-story timber structure that not only provides a local family a place to live but also a safer work environment for them to continue their recycling business. The building was constructed with six easily replicable modules that take inspiration from the local vernacular with its “chazas”, or latticed screens. Commissioned by a foundation and private company, the architects were asked to create a live-work building that would also be held up as an inspirational landmark for the city, which suffers from a reputation of poor sanitation. To that end, the design studios created a two-story building with a community-facing ground floor that houses the recycling workspaces, while the upper level houses the private living spaces. The structural system is based on a 3-meter-by-4-meter module, with each floor made up of three modules. “’La Comuna’ becomes a milestone for the city, due to the transformation process it had, with a history of unhealthiness and contamination,” the team explained in a project statement. “The project communicates a discourse through its facade with a message, generating reflection between the private and the public through architecture and recycling. The wood is used by the tradition of the existing buildings in the area, the application of shafts or lattices contribute in the construction of the building.” Related: LOT-EK upcycles 140 shipping containers into an apartment complex in South Africa In contrast to the open workspace in the ground floor, the living quarters on the upper level are screened off for privacy. The operable timber latticed screens were also designed to spell out the word “RECICLA” (recycle) when closed. Inside, the home is engineered for flexibility with walls set on wheels and movable furniture that give the family freedom to reconfigure their living quarters as they please. + Natura Futura Arquitectura Via ArchDaily Images via Natura Futura Arquitectura

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An adaptable timber house celebrates recycling in Ecuador

7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths

January 11, 2019 by  
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When you decide to go green and adopt a sustainable lifestyle, you might think that some of the biggest steps you can take in the right direction are doing things like buying a hybrid car, dropping meat from your diet or using eco-friendly products. But over the years, we have been inundated with “green” messages that are easily taken for granted, and some of them are filled with misinformation. So to help you go green the right way, here is a list of seven of the biggest sustainable living myths that are easily busted. You need to buy a green car If you are considering buying a new vehicle, you would think that it makes sense for someone living a green lifestyle to opt for a small, efficient model with low CO2 emissions and killer gas mileage. The truth is, when a company makes a new car, it has to mine and process the necessary metals and assemble the components, and that takes a ton of energy. An expert at the Stockholm Environment Institute claimed that producing a modern car causes approximately 8 tons of CO2, which is the same as driving 23,000 miles. This means that the greener option might be to stick with your current car instead of buying a new one. To make your vehicle more fuel-efficient, get it regularly serviced, keep the tires properly inflated and consolidate your trips. A vegetarian diet is best for the planet Foods made from animal products usually have a higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods, so it’s easy to believe that switching to a vegetarian diet is good for the environment. However, if you are making up your calories by consuming dairy, you might be canceling out any gains you made by cutting out meat. Here’s why — some dairy products are more “carbon intensive” than meats. Things that take a lot of milk to produce — like hard cheese — can actually have a bigger carbon footprint per kilo than chicken. So if you really want your diet to reduce emissions, go vegan . A home should only have efficient appliances We are constantly told that we should buy energy-efficient appliances if we want to be environmentally friendly and keep our carbon footprint in check. What you may not know is that there are other ways you can lower your carbon footprint without dropping a ton of cash on new appliances. If you simply stop running your washer, dryer and dishwasher during the day — instead, turn them on before you go to bed — you can make a huge difference. The reason is that electricity consumption is at its highest in the daytime, and that means the dirtiest, least-efficient power stations are used to help meet demand. But at night, they can switch off those stations, and each unit of electricity has a lower carbon footprint. If buying energy-efficient appliances isn’t part of your budget, use your current ones at night to help spread the load on the electricity grid. Detergent is the most harmful part of the laundry cycle When it comes to doing laundry, choosing eco-friendly detergents that are rapidly biodegradable , have low toxicity and feature plant-based ingredients are definitely more favorable to the environment. But did you know that the biggest factor in your laundry footprint is the process of heating the water? This means that you can effectively cut your emissions by using low-temperature laundry cycles and using hot water sparingly when washing clothes. Incandescent bulbs are disappearing Over the past couple of decades, we have seen Light Emitting Diode ( LED ) and Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs revolutionize energy-efficient lighting. This led to the rumor that incandescent bulbs were going away and would disappear from the marketplace. This is simply not true. You don’t have to hoard incandescent bulbs, and you don’t have to buy the more expensive bulb options. Instead, manufacturers have been phasing out certain models and replacing them with more energy-efficient versions. The bulbs last longer, but the lighting stays the same. It’s impossible to avoid disposable plastic It’s no secret that single-use plastics are everywhere and a major contributor to climate change. It seems like everything we buy is packaged in single-use plastic, and then we tote all of those items home in plastic bags. But it’s not impossible to cut disposable plastic out of your life, you just have to plan ahead. Stock up on reusable bags, water bottles, coffee mugs, utensils and food containers, and before you leave your house, take what you need with you. Most restaurants are happy to fill up your reusable containers instead of using their packaging. When you hit the coffee shop or need to hydrate with water, you can use your reusable mugs and bottles instead of the single-use cups. Take your reusable bags with you to the grocery store, and stay on the lookout for items that aren’t packaged in plastic . You might not be able to cut plastics out completely, but you can make a big dent in your everyday use with a little bit of preparation. Green labels are always true Opting for eco-friendly products at the store might seem like an easy task. All you have to do is find something marked “eco-friendly,” “green,” “natural” or “biodegradable.” The truth is that those terms are not regulated and have no clearly defined standards. Just because a product has an eco-friendly label doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case. Images via Joenomias , Silviarita , Frank Habel , Pexels , Jasmine S.  and Shutterstock

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7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths

6 leading companies raising climate ambition

October 30, 2018 by  
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Global businesses are taking action, from net-zero

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6 leading companies raising climate ambition

Self-driving cars could cause more pollution without dramatic changes to the grid

October 30, 2018 by  
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But the growth in demand from EV versions should be welcome news for utilities.

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Self-driving cars could cause more pollution without dramatic changes to the grid

Solar-powered Technova College nearly hits net-zero energy in the Netherlands

October 29, 2018 by  
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Designed by Delft-based cepezed and cepezedinterior, the Technova College in Ede has recently opened its doors as the newest branch of the Regional Education Center ROC A12 with a strong focus on sustainability. Powered by energy from a biomass plant and on-site solar panels , the nearly energy-neutral building largely owes its eco-friendly design to an executive consortium (Team Technova) responsible for overseeing maintenance and the energy supply. The school’s highly transparent design fills the interiors with light and turns the building into a showcase for the neighborhood. Completed this fall, the Technova College began with the dismantlement of a couple of older buildings on the ROC campus as well as the seamless integration of a single existing structure into the new-build. The various classrooms are organized around a double-height space referred to as the “innovative workplace” that sits at the heart of the school, along with reception. A college theater is located adjacent to the central workshop. All areas are designed to promote collaboration and interaction for not only the students but the surrounding community as well. The glazed facade that surrounds the ground-floor work spaces allows direct views of the student activity inside. For the interiors, cepezedinterior used a material palette of wood and steel along with strong color accents to create a robust, industrial atmosphere to complement the departments of Technique & Technology, Media & ICT and Sound & Vision. “We wanted a building which empowers great education,” said Toine Schinkel, member of the board of directors of the Christelijke Onderwijs Groep (COG) that commissioned the building. “With this design, we will create an innovative and enjoyable learning environment for all our technical students. We aspire students to aim for the best, and this calls for an innovative and modern educational building.” Related: Weathered steel trees wrap around a solar-powered school building In addition to solar panels, the energy-efficient school building draws energy from a nearby biomass plant in Ede and is designed for natural ventilation that meets the standards of the ‘Frisse Scholen Klasse B’ (Fresh Schools, category B). “Join the Pipe” water fountains were installed throughout to deter the use of PET bottles. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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Solar-powered Technova College nearly hits net-zero energy in the Netherlands

The Micropolis custom net-zero home generates all its own energy

September 6, 2018 by  
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When Cheryl and Ken Serdar saw one of the homes belonging to Micropolis®, a collection of sustainable and contemporary house plans designed by architect Arielle Condoret Schechter , they knew they wanted a custom home based on the original 950-square-foot “Happy Family” plan. Taking into account the couple’s needs for extra space, Schechter designed a 2,222-square-foot dwelling that also offered all of the sustainable and modern design features defined in her Micropolis® line. Located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, the custom net-zero home is the most energy-efficient residence that the architect has designed to date. The clients were very clear with their expectations of their new three-bedroom house and asked for an abode that was “very modern, extremely green [and] almost industrial.” The modified Micropolis® meets all three targets with its predominate use of concrete for durability and sustainability measures as well as through passive solar principles. The home is oriented toward the south for maximum solar gain, while all the aluminum-framed windows and doors were sourced from Awilux and certified for Passive House construction. Ample glazing opens the home up to natural light, natural ventilation and a connection to the outdoors. To minimize unwanted solar gain, Schechter designed deep roof overhangs built with cypress soffit to visually soften the prefab concrete sandwich panels with built-in insulation. The home is also outfitted with space-saving solutions such as sliding interior barn doors, built-in closets, cabinets and shelving. An industrial feel is achieved with exposed ductwork, concrete elements, minimalist cabinetry and a large factory fan. A wall of glazed folding doors opens the home up to the outdoors to create a greater illusion of spaciousness. Related: The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views The net-zero energy house is powered by a small 6 kW solar array . An energy recovery ventilator paired with seals on all air gaps makes for an airtight envelope. Under-slab insulation was installed beneath the polished concrete floors, and the home has achieved a HERS rating of -13. + Arielle Condoret Schechter Images via Kim Weiss / Arielle Condoret Schechter

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