Bronx community garden transformed with sustainable improvements

June 18, 2018 by  
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A newly renovated community garden has officially opened in the Bronx. Fannie’s Garden at Paradise on Earth , a venture of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), received a dramatic upgrade with sustainable features like permeable pavement , a rain garden , and a shade structure designed to support solar panels. The 13,000-square foot-garden offers space for urban residents to escape the city, get their hands dirty in 24 garden beds, and enjoy the colors of native plants. NYRP just celebrated the grand opening of the community garden last week. They renovated Paradise on Earth, founded in 1981, together with design firm Sawyer | Berson around what NYRP described as “simple, elegant geometry.” The garden includes 12 raised garden beds for kids, six raised beds for adults, and six raised beds that meet Americans with Disabilities Act height requirements. Related: Brooklyn Grange announces a new location — in a former WWII shipyard The garden also includes open space for children to run on natural turf, a multipurpose raised deck underneath a tree — a NYRP Instagram post shows students practicing yoga on the deck as one potential use — and a slatted shade structure that NYRP said has been “pre-fitted to support solar panels and an off-grid electrical system” at Paradise on Earth. A chicken coop, outdoor kitchen, drinking fountain, and a trellis and tool shed are also part of the renovation. The upgrades kept sustainability in mind with a rain garden meant to “capture, store, and infiltrate storm water before it reaches the sewer system” and a compost toilet . The community garden is located in the Morrisania neighborhood at 1106 Fox Street, Bronx, New York, 10459. If you’d like to volunteer at the garden, such as cultivating produce or helping with maintenance, you can find out more information at NYRP’s volunteer page . + Paradise on Earth + New York Restoration Project + Sawyer | Berson Images courtesy of New York Restoration Project

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

June 18, 2018 by  
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The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London , will soon switch to clean energy in a big way. Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid. Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world. Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change. In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools , social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space , at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement . “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.” Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement , even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy targets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

June 18, 2018 by  
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Don’t throw it out — throw it on. The Agraloop Bio-Refinery , a new technology developed by materials science company Circular Systems S.P.C. , is capable of turning food waste such as banana peels, pineapple leaves and hemp stalks into natural fiber that can be woven into clothing . “We want to enable food crops to become our primary fibers,” Circular Systems CEO and co-founder Isaac Nichelson told Fast Company . The waste materials mentioned, plus sugar cane and flax stalk, could generate up to 250 million tons of fiber each year if processed through the Agraloop, meeting the global demand for fiber two and a half times over. Farmers are encouraged to acquire their own Agraloop systems, so that they may earn extra income from creating natural, sustainable fiber from materials they would otherwise compost . While the Agraloop is a novel technology, its values are aligned with the clothing industry’s past. In 1960, 97 percent of the fibers used to produce clothing came from natural sources. Today, only 35 percent is naturally sourced. The return to natural form for the fashion industry is desperately needed in a moment where many acknowledge the need for reform within the industry, from its labor practices to its environmental impact. Related: Biotech company Nanollose could offer plant-free alternatives for the textile industry “Right now, it’s so extractive and so destructive, and we’re looking at these resources becoming more and more finite as the population grows,” Nichelson said. “If there’s not collective and very swift action, it’s going to be catastrophic for the industry from an economic standpoint.” Enter the Agraloop. “[It’s a] regenerative system that uses plant-based chemistry and plant-based energy to upgrade the fibres whilst enriching the local communities and creating a new economic system,” Nichelson explained. Ultimately, a move towards sustainability will be beneficial for both the environment and those seeking to make a profit. Nichelson said, “All of our industries need to be retrofitted for real sustainability and become regenerative by nature, and it will be better for business.” + Circular Systems Via EcoWatch and Fast Company Image via  Depositphotos

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The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

Noise pollution is the new ‘secondhand smoke’ according to experts

May 14, 2018 by  
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Noise pollution is “the new secondhand-smoke.” Researchers at New York University are conducting a five-year study of noise in the City  to better understand how the sounds that constantly surround us impact our health, which is important since a recent study showed that 97% of the population is subjected to manmade noise. Scientists generally agree that anything over 50 decibels increases stress, anxiety, hypertension, and heart attack risk – that’s the same level of sound as a quiet suburb. Now, experts are asking what we can do with this information to help change are sound landscape, or risk harming our collective health like we did for decades with secondhand smoke. There have been no definitive studies on change in city noise levels, which is what makes this study so vital. But while there is no official word, yet, there have been greater numbers of lawsuits over noise and more people with hearing problems, as well as short-term studies that point to the negative health effects of noise. “It took decades to educate people on the dangers of secondhand smoke. We may need decades to show the impact of secondhand noise, ”activist Bradley Vite told the Washington Post. Policymakers in the United States have some catching-up to do when it comes to noise pollution. “We’re in active denial,” Rick Neitzel, director of environmental health policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told the Washington Post. “We’re far, far behind what Europe is doing.” In 2009, the European Union (EU) approved regulations that set noise levels to 40 decibels at night to “protect human health,” while also limiting continuous day-time noise to 50 decibels. Related: The National Park System just got its first Dark Sky Sanctuary In the United States, 97 percent of the population must contend with human-caused noise. Even national parks are subject to loud human activity, with over two-thirds reporting significant levels of noise pollution, much of which is caused by airplanes and industrial activity such as drilling. So what can we do? To combat this rising threat, Texas is testing specially-grooved concrete that is capable of reducing highway sound levels by 5.8 decibels on average. In Phoenix, more than 200 highways have been repaved with a concrete-tire mix that uses recycled tires to create a more sound-absorbent roadway. Elkhart, Indiana recently approved high fines on “loud and raucous sounds,” such as caravans of motorcycles. “These biker gangs that roar through town can get up to 125 decibels,” Vite said. As a result of these fines, Elkhart has received $1.6 million in new revenue, which it has used to purchase four new police cars. Via the Washington Post Images via Depositphotos (1)

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NASA plans to send a helicopter to Mars

May 14, 2018 by  
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A small, autonomous helicopter could soon soar above the rusty rocks of Mars . Dubbed the Mars Helicopter, the rotorcraft is hitching a ride to the Red Planet as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission. The BBC said this could be the first test of “heavier-than-air aircraft on another planet.” “After the Wright Brothers proved 117 years ago that powered, sustained, and controlled flight was possible here on Earth, another group of American pioneers may prove the same can be done on another world,” NASA’s Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said . The technology demonstration has been many years in the making; it started in 2013 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The Mars Helicopter weighs just under four pounds, with a fuselage about as big as a softball. It has twin, counter-rotating blades that will slice the air at nearly 3,000 revolutions per minute (rpm), which, according to NASA , is “about 10 times the rate of a helicopter on Earth.” Related: NASA unveils plan to make oxygen on Mars Solar cells will help the Mars Helicopter charge its lithium-ion batteries , and it’s equipped with a heating mechanism to survive frigid Martian nights. NASA is planning as many as five flights over a 30-day test campaign. The first flight could see the Mars Helicopter fly up to 10 feet and hover there for around 30 seconds. As it flies farther and longer in following tests, it could travel “up to a few hundred meters” and soar for around 90 seconds. JPL Mars Helicopter project manager Mimi Aung said in NASA’s statement, “The altitude record for a helicopter flying here on Earth is about 40,000 feet. The atmosphere of Mars is only one percent that of Earth, so when our helicopter is on the Martian surface, it’s already at the Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet up. To make it fly at that low atmospheric density, we had to scrutinize everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and powerful as it can possibly be.” NASA describes the Mars Helicopter as a high-risk, high-reward project. The agency said in their statement if the technology demonstration doesn’t work, the Mars 2020 mission won’t be impacted — but if it does, “helicopters may have a real future as low-flying scouts and aerial vehicles to access locations not reachable by ground level.” + NASA Via the BBC Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech

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NASA plans to send a helicopter to Mars

Brooklyn SolarWorks can turn almost any rooftop into a sun-powered oasis

April 30, 2018 by  
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Brooklyn SolarWorks wants to help bring solar power  to  New Yorkers . Stunning new renderings of the company’s Solar Canopy envision how city dwellers might benefit from this innovative product. The Solar Canopy offers solar in spots where traditional  solar panels can’t go because of fire codes or obstacles. Beyond just generating clean energy , the canopy could create new living spaces and redefine urban solar. Brooklyn SolarWorks’ Solar Canopy, designed with SITU Studio , has been around for a while, popping up around New York City in Park Slope, Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy to name a few. The new renderings paint a picture of what urban solar power could look like; for example, a relaxing rooftop dining area. Related: Durable canvas cloth with embedded solar cells generates 120 watts per square meter The Brooklyn SolarWorks website  says the company is “capable of putting solar panels on almost anything. Whether you have ample roof space free of obstacles or your roof is littered with vent pipes, skylights, and hatches, we will likely be able to figure out a solar solution.” The Solar Canopy is one of those solutions. By raising solar panels nine feet above rooftops, the company can work around restrictive fire codes. Brooklyn SolarWorks uses different panels depending on the job at hand; two of the most popular are Silfab’s SLA-M 310 Wp Monocrystalline panels  that offer “100 percent maximum power density” and  LG NeON 2 355W panels , which use thinner wires for a more aesthetically-pleasing appearance. You don’t have to leave your couch to check out the Solar Canopy; Brooklyn SolarWorks offers an immersive 3D model  that you can explore with virtual reality goggles. Find out more about the company and its innovative products on the Brooklyn SolarWorks website . + Brooklyn SolarWorks Images courtesy of Brooklyn SolarWorks

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Studio Gangs 40 Tenth Avenue "Solar Carve" tower tops out near NYCs High Line

April 26, 2018 by  
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New images reveal  40 Tenth Avenue  — formerly called the Solar Carve Tower  — has officially topped out near New York City ‘s 1.45-mile-long High Line park. Designed by Studio Gang , 40 Tenth Avenue features a chiseled shape that works with the sun’s light angles to avoid casting unwanted shadows on its surroundings. With an abundance of outdoor space and large glass windows, this commercial building is designed to nurture the relationship between the building’s occupants and the natural world. The 10-story, LEED Gold -targeting 40 Tenth Avenue building topped out earlier this month in the Meatpacking District . Developed by Aurora Capital , the commercial tower draws on Studio Gang’s solar carving strategy: sculpting the building with the sun’s angles in mind to avoid casting shadows on the street or the High Line. Related: New renderings of Studio Gang’s Solar Carve building reveal a faceted jewel that hugs the High Line Studio Gang said, “The tower takes its form from the geometric relationships between the building’s allowable envelope and the sun’s path.” The designers kept efficiency in mind when choosing building materials and methods, and they worked with an Italy-based manufacturer to create custom curtain wall units to “efficiently and seamlessly maintain the mass of the glass carve.” High-performance glass with low reflectivity also minimizes the building’s impact on the surrounding environment . High ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows  — affording panoramic views for those working inside — allow natural light to reach every work space in the tower. Studio Gang said, “Large, diamond-shaped panels tilt downward to dramatically capture direct overhead light for corner work spaces.” 40 Tenth Avenue boasts more than 20,000 square feet of outdoor space, including a 10,000-square-foot shared roof deck, private outdoor spaces for eight floors and an 8,000-square-foot outside area on the second floor right next to the High Line. The building is slated for completion in March 2019. + 40 Tenth Avenue + Studio Gang Images courtesy of Max Touhey and Studio Gang

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Studio Gangs 40 Tenth Avenue "Solar Carve" tower tops out near NYCs High Line

New research links LED streetlights to increased risk of cancer

April 26, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Exeter and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have concluded that there is a “strong link” between exposure to LED lighting and increased risk of breast and prostate cancer . The “blue light” emitted by LED lights seems to affect circadian rhythms and sleeping patterns, which then impacts hormone levels. “Humans have evolved to need light during the day and darkness at night,” researcher Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel told The Telegraph . “As towns and cities replace older lighting, we’re all exposed to higher levels of ‘blue’ lights, which can disrupt our biological clocks.” Previous research has documented the carcinogenic risk of night-shift work and artificial light . “We know that depending on its intensity and wave length, artificial light, particularly in the blue spectrum, can decrease melatonin production and secretion,” study co-author Martin Aubé explained to EurekAlert . In addition to regulating sleep cycles, melatonin functions as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. Blue light, which is also emitted from tablet, phone , computer, and TV screens, is one of the shortest-wavelength, highest-energy forms of light. Related: A glowing glass “lantern” turns this energy-efficient office into a beacon This research comes as many cities are making the switch to LED streetlights, which are more energy-efficient and cheaper than traditional lighting. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives , the study included more than 4,000 people in 11 distinct regions of Spain in its analysis. It also incorporated images taken aboard the International Space Station to gain a fuller sense of blue light’s impact on a global scale. Public Health England has recommended further study of the impact of LED lighting before it is more widely adopted, while the American Medical Association has recommended that municipalities and businesses install the lowest-intensity LED lighting, with shading to provide additional protection. + Environmental Health Perspectives Via The Telegraph Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Michael Bloomberg pledges $4.5 million to fund the Paris climate agreement

April 23, 2018 by  
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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just pledged to personally cover the $4.5 million bill that the United States is obligated to contribute as part of the Paris climate agreement . In doing so, Bloomberg is picking up the slack for Donald Trump , who dramatically withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement in 2017. “America made a commitment and as an American, if the government’s not going to do it, we all have responsibility,” said the former Republican NYC mayor on CBS’s Face the Nation . Bloomberg, who has amassed a $50 billion fortune through his financial services, mass media, and software company Bloomberg L.P., has occasionally appeared on speculative lists of candidates for President of the United States. Still, the former mayor of the most populous city in the United States said that the likelihood of a Bloomberg 2020 campaign was “not very high.” When asked whether his actions served to fill a leadership gap in Washington , Bloomberg replied that he was simply serving the public interest “Well, I think that this is what the American public when you poll them say they want to do,” he explained. Related: Trump fails to evade climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youths Despite his apparent disinterest in presidential politics, Bloomberg did have a few words of wisdom for President Trump . “He should change his mind [on the Paris climate agreement] and say look there really is a problem here,” said Bloomberg. “America is part of the problem. America is a big part of the solution and we should go in and help the world stop a potential disaster.” Bloomberg has not committed to providing the funds necessary under Paris beyond 2018. He hopes that Trump will have changed his mind by then. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia and Face the Nation

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Michael Bloomberg pledges $4.5 million to fund the Paris climate agreement

The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs

April 23, 2018 by  
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This beautiful brownstone in Brooklyn  has been refurbished into the first Passive Plus House in the United States. Located in Carroll Gardens, 78 Third Place features an impressive array of cutting-edge renewable technologies wrapped in a thoughtful renovation that preserves the original home’s historic character. The house, remodeled by Baxt Ingui Architects , saves 80 to 90 percent of the energy needed to heat and cool the building and nearly reaches net-zero energy consumption. The Brooklyn townhouse was originally built in the early 1900s. Baxt Ingui Architects expanded the building to include a new third floor with a mansard and a modern rear addition that nearly doubles the brownstone’s original footprint. “The homeowners’ goal was to create a beautiful, open and inviting home suitable for everyday living and entertaining as well as respecting the historic character of the original house while incorporating high-performance construction,” the architects wrote. “They emphasized the need for abundant natural light throughout the home as well as an open flow when designing indoor/outdoor living spaces.” Related: Park Slope row home renovation marries historic charm with energy-conserving features The architects collaborated with a team of six contractors, three engineers, Passive House consultants and eco-conscious clients to make the upgrades. Baxt Ingui Architects installed low E and argon-filled triple-glazed windows, cellulose insulation and a 387-square-foot Brooklyn Solarworks solar canopy to help offset the home’s energy needs. The well-sealed townhouse is also equipped with a very quiet Energy Recovery Ventilation system, an air-to-air heat pump and an improved gas-condensing boiler. + Baxt Ingui Architects Via ArchDaily Images © John Muggenborg Photography

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