France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

August 14, 2018 by  
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Take that, plastic! France has announced that it plans to make bottles made with recycled plastic less expensive than those made from new plastic, part of a larger plan to intensify regulations on plastic use. Other aspects of the plan include increasing taxes on landfill and lowering the value-added tax on recycling activities. Related: Coca-Cola rewards recycling in the UK with half-priced theme park tickets According to Junior Environment Minister Brune Poirson, the French government will introduce further specific measures to address the problem of plastic pollution . “We need to transform the French economy,” she said. “We are launching a movement that will be scrutinized and followed by our European partners.” Part of this movement is a plan to reduce the price of products packaged in recycled containers by up to 10 percent. The discount-premium system encourages its consumers to recycle by making sustainability the more affordable option. “Tomorrow, when there is a choice between two bottles, one made with recycled plastic, the other not, the first one will be cheaper,” Poiron stated. Related: Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution Currently, France has the second-worst recycling rate in Europe, with just 25.5 percent of its plastic packaging waste recycled. By comparison, Germany and the Netherlands recycle about 50 percent of their plastic waste. Nevertheless, the French government plans to change its plastic recycling rate to 100% by the year 2025, with the recent announcement marking the first steps toward this goal. Veolia and Suez, recycling powerhouses in the French market, have long been calling for the regulation changes, which would provide a boost for business. Retailers have also joined the cause; for example, French company E.Leclerc has pledged to eliminate the sale of throwaway plastics and replace them with more eco-friendly alternatives, such as bamboo , and is testing a loyalty point system for customers who deposit plastic and glass bottles in some store outlets. + Eurostat + Le Journal de Dimanche Via Reuters

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France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

A massive pollution-fighting green wall engulfs this Dutch city hall

May 1, 2018 by  
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When the Dutch city of Venlo decided to become the world’s first region to fully adopt Cradle to Cradle (C2C) principles, it seemed only fitting that their city hall be a beacon for sustainability. Designed by Kraaijvanger Architects , Venlo’s City Hall features a striking transparent facade engulfed by a massive green wall. Made with more than 100 different plants, the 21,500-square-foot living wall is among the largest in the world and it absorbs 30 percent of airborne sulfur and nitrogen oxides — roughly equivalent to the particulate matter created by 32,300 square feet of motorway. Located on the east bank of the river Meuse, Venlo City Hall comprises offices, a plaza, a public hall, exhibition space, meeting rooms and a garage that includes bicycle parking. The new building, completed in 2016, consolidates services that had been previously spread out across the city. Access to natural light, greenery and a variety of adaptable work spaces aids in creating a healthy working environment. A central light-filled core floods the interior with daylight and allows for natural airflow, replacing the need for mechanical ventilation. Heat trapped by the greenhouse located on the top floor is recycled to provide heating for the building. Water use is minimized, and a wetland roof purifies gray water and rainwater for reuse in irrigating the green wall and flushing toilets. Related: INHABITAT INTERVIEW: Green Architect & Cradle to Cradle Founder William McDonough “The construction is future-proof; the interior is built independently of the supporting structure and thus leaves a possible change of function a future option,” the architects wrote. “On a smaller scale, there is room for unforeseen developments in the field of sustainability; all building-related systems can be replaced without major interventions.” + Kraaijvanger Architects Images via C2C Center

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A massive pollution-fighting green wall engulfs this Dutch city hall

Your shampoo and deodorant cause a daily pollution ‘rush hour’

May 1, 2018 by  
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You may not realize it, but your shampoo, deodorant, or lotion could be contributing nearly as much urban air pollution  as your daily commute. A new study discovered emissions from siloxane, a common ingredient in those personal care products , are similar to those from vehicles in rush-hour traffic. Are you leaving air pollution-contributing chemicals in your wake? Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) led a study published online this month in the journal Environmental Science and Technology that revealed people’s personal care items could be polluting the air. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: Demystifying “Natural” and “Organic” Labels on Personal Care Products The scientists were measuring VOCs from a mobile laboratory and the Earth System Research Laboratory roof, tracking concentrations of traffic-related compounds like benzene at rush hour. They saw a peak in the data and one scientist suggested siloxane. He was right. Siloxane emissions correlated with benzene emissions, so the team guessed siloxane might be found in vehicle exhaust. But tailpipe emission testing and roadside measurements revealed that wasn’t the case. Siloxane, a volatile organic compound (VOC), is added to lotions or shampoos to impart a silky feel. The VOC evaporates rapidly after being applied, and according to CIRES , “In the air, sunlight can trigger those VOCs to react with nitrogen oxides and other compounds to form ozone and particulate matter.” The scientists figured out both chemicals could be connected to commuting . In the morning, after people had applied personal care products and headed outside, siloxane emissions peaked, as did benzene emissions as people traveled in cars or buses. The emissions of both chemicals decreased in the day and then peaked once again at the evening commute, although the evening peak was lower for siloxane emissions as many personal care products had evaporated to a great extent. “We estimate for the city of Boulder, it’s about 3 to 5 kilograms per day of siloxane (D5), and benzene (from motor vehicles), we estimate is about 15 kilograms,” CIRES scientist and lead author Matthew Coggon said . “So it’s about three to five times lower (than vehicles) in terms of total mass. But the emissions that you see in the morning…they’re fairly close, which is the stunning piece. You driving your car, you’re emitting as much siloxane as your vehicle is emitting benzene. That’s the general gist.” “We all have a personal plume, from our cars and our personal care products,” Coggon added. “In this changing landscape, emissions from personal care products are becoming important.” + CIRES + Environmental Science and Technology Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and Kathy Bogan/CIRES

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Your shampoo and deodorant cause a daily pollution ‘rush hour’

World’s most powerful wind turbine installed off the coast of Scotland

April 10, 2018 by  
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The world’s most powerful wind turbine was just installed off the coast of Scotland. Developer Vattenfall announced this week it completed the installation of 11 turbines in Aberdeen Bay – two of which were upgraded with a record-setting capacity of 8.8 MW. In total, the installation generates 93.2 MW of energy – enough to power 70-percent of Aberdeen’s domestic needs. Vattenfall said that nine 8.4 MW turbines were installed off the coast, and two other turbines with an enhanced capacity of 8.8 MW were also put in place. These turbines are the most powerful in the world – and a major milestone for the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC). The company also announced that a few weeks ago it installed the industry’s first suction bucket jacket foundations, which will help make off-shore wind power installations more affordable. ? Related: The world’s first subsidy-free offshore wind farm is being built in the Netherlands All told, 134,128 tons of coal will be displaced by the installation. “The turbines for the EOWDC, Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility, help secure Vattenfall’s vision to be fossil fuel free within one generation,” said Gunnar Groebler, Vattenfall’s Head of Business Area Wind. + Vattenfall Via Business Green Images via Vattenfall

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World’s most powerful wind turbine installed off the coast of Scotland

This "boat" on wheels turns city dwellers into urban adventurers

April 3, 2018 by  
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Urban adventurers, prepare to set sail: A temporary installation in Utrecht, the Netherlands is transforming its site into an unknown land full of discoveries. When city dwellers engage with the project, they become “urbanauts,” contemporary adventurers that sail through the public space. Rome-based design collective  orizzontale  conceived the project as an LED-lit,  modular wooden structure that reimagines the concept of a boat, resulting in a flexible urban space that merges art, design and technology. The Urbanauts project forms part of RAUM, a workshop in Utrecht that hosts the Berlijnplein, a large public exhibition space . Together with local creators, international creators, and the public, RAUM will build a program of festivals, installations, events, and workshops in 2017 and 2018. Related: Dark highway underpass transformed into a brilliant tunnel of light The “urbanauts’ headquarters” includes different urban parcels that can be expanded and personalized. Elevated platforms and a small tower provide vantage points from which to observe the surrounding area. Thanks to the iron cage on top, which holds a red LED sign, the tower also works as an urban landmark. + orizzontale

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How floating solar panels are helping the Maldives ditch diesel fuel

March 29, 2018 by  
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Tropical islands might boast pure natural scenery, but their energy sources are often anything but pure. Many power-hungry resorts in the Maldives rely on diesel, a notorious pollutant, for their energy needs. Swimsol , a solar power company based in Austria, is working to change that. Because many of the islands in the Maldives are tiny — you can walk across some of them in under 10 minutes — there isn’t much space for solar power , but Swimsol has solved the problem by turning to the seas. Inhabitat caught up with founder and managing director Martin Putschek to find out more. Sunshine is plentiful in the Maldives; land, not so much. To make matters more challenging, rooftop solar has limited potential – tropical buildings often aren’t made for bearing heavy loads like buildings in colder locations that must withstand snow. “But what you have is huge atolls, around 10 to 20 kilometers wide, roughly. You’ve got the outer reef around this atoll and inside this outer reef, it’s a little like a lake,” Putschek told Inhabitat. After a business trip to the Maldives, the idea came to him while practicing the violin: what if he could install floating solar panels on that water? Related: The Netherlands plans 26,910-square-foot floating solar farm at sea Swimsol’s SolarSea systems are the result of that spark of inspiration – and their first commercial pilot has been operating for just over three years. Solar panels are mounted atop a patent-pending marine-grade aluminum alloy framework designed to let waves pass through. The system, which the company says will last 30 years or more, can withstand waves of around six and a half feet high and winds of around 75 miles per hour. Each platform, which is about 46 by 46 feet, can power around 25 households. Swimsol says the systems assemble much like IKEA furniture, and three people could build one platform on a beach in under a day — no heavy machinery or welding necessary. And it turns out solar panels drifting on the sea are actually more productive than those on land, thanks to water’s cooling effect. “We measured the temperature difference between solar panels on a roof and on a floating structure which were installed very close to each other, like 200 meters apart, and at lunch time you can see a temperature difference of 20 degrees,” Putschek told Inhabitat. He said they can obtain as much as 10 percent more power from floating panels, depending on the time of day. But do floating solar panels impact marine life? Putschek said they clearly need to keep systems away from coral reefs , which need sunlight. Fortunately, there are swaths of water with sandy seabeds where they can install solar. “Regarding the fish , they actually like it. They like the shade and places where they can hide. The whole thing serves as a fish-aggregating device, which is a term for floating platforms with no purpose other than just attracting fish. Ours are solar platforms, but that’s a side effect,” Putschek said. He said corals even grow on the platforms, turning them into artificial reefs. Right now, Swimsol is not selling the floating systems, but the electricity they produce — and they’re able to sell it cheaper than diesel, without a government-subsidized feed-in tariff. “We installed a little over a megawatt last year. This year we’re probably installing about three or so, and in terms of money that’s between $3 and $6 million,” Putschek said. They’re planning a crowdfunding campaign in Austria and Germany in a couple of months, and are looking for a strategic partner for further growth and to help them get access to more funding. “If you install one kilowatt of solar, so that’s four panels, you can save 400 liters of diesel a year. So 100 kilowatts would be 40,000 liters; one megawatt would be 400,000 liters. The point is, it makes sense to go big,” said Putschek. “The idea would be to install dozens of megawatts because the space is there, the need is there. In 2014, the Maldives spent one fifth of their gross domestic product on fuel. That means every hour you work, 12 minutes you only work for diesel. People talk about tidal energy or wind energy and that’s all fantastic but it doesn’t work in the tropics. In the Caribbean, yes; there you have wind. But in the Maldives or Singapore you don’t have enough wind, and you also don’t have big waves. The renewable energy of choice is solar. Because what they do have is a lot of sun. They also have a lot of sea. We’re just combining the two.” + Swimsol Images courtesy of Swimsol

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Check out this Amsterdam house created with trash and items from eBay

March 21, 2018 by  
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Garbage doesn’t need to simply be garbage; it can be used to build new things. At least, that’s what Frank Alsema has done. Profiled by Gizmodo, Alsema is a retired TV producer in the Netherlands who’s been fashioning his home out of garbage and other items he discovered on eBay. He calls the house Palais Récup, or Palace Recover, and he’s turned it into a laboratory for sustainable living. Alsema began his project in 2013, gathering materials he thought were beautiful and then asking an architect, John Zondag , to design a home around them. Over the years, Palais Récup has become a testing ground for urban green living. Alsema not only employs recycled materials  to construct the house, but also works to reuse energy , food scraps, and rainwater . (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Posted by Palais Récup on  Monday, May 15, 2017 Related: Colorful People’s Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials According to Gizmodo, Alsema estimates around 60 percent of the items in Palais Récup are from eBay, including a 19th-century cupboard. A large spiral staircase originally came from a secondhand car shop. Zondag’s website says the house also contains slate from a church roof, a curtain wall comprised of natural stone via a bankrupt estate, and antique interior doors. Solar panels , a central heating pellet stove, green roofs , a heat sink, and “very high insulation values” are also among the home’s features. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Posted by Palais Récup on  Thursday, February 2, 2017 Palais Récup is a work in progress: some rooms have yet to be finished. But this project is just one of Alsema’s and the nearby community’s efforts to foster circular living. Alsema is helping to create a complex of houses on a lot close by for people who aim to live sustainably. About a mile away, another community of people resides in an old shipyard, attempting to clean polluted soil in the area with plants. Alsema believes that “as we want to change the world…we have to do something, and we have to do it quick…And for that we need a lot of citizens who are going to hack the system, play with the system…If I can do it in Amsterdam North, you can do it. And we can do it together. And we need this system change to create a circular city and create a better world.” + Palais Récup Via Gizmodo Image via Palais Récup Facebook

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Check out this Amsterdam house created with trash and items from eBay

Researchers discover a completely new ocean zone swimming with new species

March 21, 2018 by  
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After six years of researching the uncharted depths of coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea, scientists have discovered an entirely new ocean zone called the rariphotic zone. This column of water sits 130 to 490 feet below the sea surface, where it is too dark for photosynthesis, but above the dark fathoms of the aphotic zone . Even though photosynthetic reef building isn’t happening here, the newly-designated zone is anything but barren – read on for a first glimpse at the life below. Scientists found 4,436 individual fish around Curacao Island over 80 dives – and so far they’ve named 30 new species and identified six new genera of rariphotic specialists. There will be plenty more to come, as a fifth of the fish that the researchers saw have never been identified before. The research indicates that life can exist in depths far lower than we ever thought before. Related: Scientists discover a 600-mile-long coral reef in the most unlikely place “Reef ecosystems just below the mesophotic are globally underexplored, and the conventional view based on the few studies that mention them was that mesophotic ecosystems transition directly into those of the deep sea,” said Carole Baldwin , lead researcher and director of the Smithsonian’s Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP). “Our study reveals a previously unrecognized zone comprising reef vs. deep-sea fishes that links mesophotic and deep-sea ecosystems.” The research was published this week in the journal Nature . + Nature Via IFLScience Images via Nature

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Gleaming copper-colored steel wraps a solar-powered Dutch sports campus

March 21, 2018 by  
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You don’t need to be a sports fanatic to be taken with Sportcampus Zuiderpark —a €50 million sports park designed to promote a healthier society in The Hague, Netherlands. Completed by British design studio Faulkner Browns Architects , the green-roofed recreational facility draws the eye with its copper-hued steel ribbon that changes color throughout the day and its sensitive approach to human scale. Completed June 2017, the 33,000-square-meter Sportcampus Zuiderpark comprises a gymnastics hall, beach sports hall, spectator area, a multipurpose sports hall , as well as a variety of sports science and education spaces. “With Sportcampus Zuiderpark we have an iconic building in the city. Our green lung, the Zuiderpark, has a new heart,” said The Hague Councillor Rabin Baldewsingh. In deference to its historic surroundings, the sports complex takes on an ovoid shape that the architects say “creates the perception that the building’s edges are retreating into the distance, minimising its visual scale.” The largest interior spaces were placed in the rear of the building so that the building height at the front could be reduced to provide a more comfortable human scale. Related: Breathtaking bamboo building withstands earthquakes and boasts a zero-carbon footprint Textured precast concrete panels make up the plinth on the ground level, while wraparound glazing on the upper level is partly shielded by a striking metallic ribbon. Near the entrance, the swooping roof opens up to frame a small courtyard. Three-quarters of the roof is covered in heat-regulating sedum , solar panels , and solar water heaters. Geothermal energy is used in the heating and cooling system. + Faulkner Browns Architects Via Dezeen Images via Faulkner Browns Architects

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Gleaming copper-colored steel wraps a solar-powered Dutch sports campus

Pre-industrial carbon found in Canadian Arctic waters

March 5, 2018 by  
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Old or possibly ancient carbon is being released from Arctic soils, according to new evidence cited by The Washington Post . The work is an indicator that permafrost thaw could be aggravating the issue of climate change — although the paper said scientists are debating how much ancient carbon Arctic soils would discharge normally. Study lead author Joshua Dean of Vrije University told The Washington Post, “I would say if you’re looking at anything pushing several hundred years old to a thousand years old, then you have to start wondering whether that should be coming out of this kind of system.” A team of researchers from institutions in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands utilized radiocarbon dating on the content of waters in the Northwest Territories of Canada and found what they described as abundant pre-industrial carbon in research published late February in the journal Environmental Research Letters . They hoped to establish a basic measurement, according to The Washington Post, of the amount of old carbon flowing into Northwest Territories waters. Further research will be necessary to pin down whether the amounts of old carbon are unusual or not. Related: Why Alaska’s vanishing permafrost worries researchers Anna Liljedahl, a University of Alaska at Fairbanks professor who wasn’t part of the study, told The Washington Post when it comes to this area of research, a smoking gun is elusive due to cryoturbation, which means, “a mixing of soil layers due to seasonal freeze and thaw process, brings old carbon up and young carbon down into the soil column.” She did say she thought these scientists were on to something, and more studies would bolster the evidence. Dean said the study can’t prove the Arctic has altered to put out more older carbon, but the results are still worrying. He told The Washington Post, “Clearly it’s a warning sign for the future.” + Environmental Research Letters Via The Washington Post Images via Depositphotos and Good Free Photos

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Pre-industrial carbon found in Canadian Arctic waters

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