Germany is electrifying part of the autobahn to cut freight emissions

August 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

We rely on trucks to get the goods we need from one place to another, but all of those semi trucks spew a lot of pollution. So Siemens and the German state of Hesse teamed up to create a 6-mile stretch of electric highway on the autobahn . Hybrid trucks can connect to overhead charging cables to drive on pure electricity, and then switch back to diesel power once they leave the eHighway. The Siemens eHighway initiative could double the energy efficiency of big rigs, compared to running on gas. Even better, the highway design enables any truck to be retrofitted, and it is constructed over existing road, integrating easily with existing infrastructure. Combined with the autonomous and electric trucks in the works, it could make a significant dent in semi truck emissions. Related: Sweden opens one of the world’s first electric roads Global freight is expected to increase 200 percent in the next 30 years, so it is essential that we tackle freight emissions if we want to slow down global warming. According to Siemens, the eHighway is a smart way to do this, because it still allows other drivers to use the road. The first eHighway system opened in Stockholm last year and Siemens is currently testing another in California. Via Treehugger Images via Siemens

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Germany is electrifying part of the autobahn to cut freight emissions

White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks

August 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The Trump administration has put the kibosh on a six-year-old ban on selling bottled water at some national parks . The National Park Service announced on Wednesday that, effectively immediately, parks like the Grand Canyon will no longer be able to block the sale of plastic water bottles in a bid to reduce litter. In a statement, the National Park Service said it wanted to “expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks.” The decision serves as yet another rollback of one of President Barack Obama’s environmental policies. Since 2011, the Green Parks Plan has encouraged the use of refillable water bottles on park lands. While it didn’t prohibit the sale of bottled sweetened drinks, the policy allowed parks to prevent the sale of disposable water bottles in vending machines, stores, and hotels. Related: Big Water fights plans to ban plastic water bottles in national parks Besides the Grand Canyon, 22 of the 417 National Park Service sites implemented the policy, officials said. These included Bryce Canyon National Park, Mount Rushmore, and Zion National Park. The rollback is a win for the bottled water and beverage industry, which campaigned against the ban, noting that the Obama administration “removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks.” “Consumption of water in all forms, tap, filtered, and bottled, should always be encouraged,” said Jill Culora, a spokeswoman for the International Bottled Water Association , a trade group. “The rescinded policy was seriously flawed.” The move by the National Parks comes three weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt, according to the Washington Post , served as a lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented Nestlé Water , one of the largest water bottlers in the United States and the distributor of the Deer Park brand. Via Washington Post and Associated Press Lead image via Pixabay , others by National Park Service/Flickr

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White House kills ban on bottled water at National Parks

Woven bamboo pavilion offers shelter to passion fruit farmers in China

August 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A team of students at the University of Hong Kong is exploring the limitless potential of bamboo as a sustainable alternative to conventional building materials. After completing a glowing pavilion in their hometown, they designed another innovative bamboo structure– this time in China– using traditional weaving techniques and digital technologies. The 215-square-foot Sun Room pavilion is located in the village of Peitian, amidst a passion fruit plantation. The structure references the area’s cultural history, and it provides shelter from storms and sun while serving as a tea house where farmers can rest and relax. Related: Elegant bamboo bridge adds unexpected beauty to ancient Chinese town In an attempt to revive the ancient craft of bamboo weaving, the design team worked with the last remaining bamboo weaver in the village. They also used digital software and CNC machines to come up with an optimal wave-like form. The outer shell of the pavilion is made from woven bamboo, while the pine load-bearing structure was sourced regionally and cut by local carpenters. Related: Gorgeous bamboo gridshell combines Cambodian design with mathematical forms “Tools and jigs were developed and then digitally fabricated at HKU using the faculty CNC and robotic equipment,” said HKU architecture course leader Donn Holohan. “These elements along with the pattern maps allowed the villagers to achieve the complex form without a prior training in the craft of bamboo weaving ,” he added. + University of Hong Kong (HKU) Via Dezeen

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Woven bamboo pavilion offers shelter to passion fruit farmers in China

The devastating reason Mumbai dogs are turning blue

August 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Lately, blue stray dogs have been spotted running around Navi Mumbai, India , and it’s no laughing matter. Inadequate waste treatment at a local river has allowed dye to leach into the water, turning dogs who wade in a bright blue color. To add to the concern, the pollution is likely harming fish and birds who rely on the water resource. Residents began noticing blue dogs roaming the streets and were prompted to bring a complaint to the local authorities, asking that the water pollution be controlled. “It was shocking to see how the dog’s white fur had turned completely blue,” said Arati Chauhan , who runs the Navi Mumbai Animal Protection Cell. Related: What’s the deal with this green cat? According to the Hindustan Times , “the levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) — the concentration of oxygen required to sustain aquatic life — was 80 milligram a litre (mg/L). Levels of chloride, which is toxic, harms vegetation, aquatic life and wildlife, were also high. “Allowing the discharge of dye into any water body is illegal. We will take action against the polluters as they are destroying the environment,” said Anil Mohekar of MPCB in Navi Mumbai. According to Arati Chauhan, she and others have been working with local authorities to assure that the problem is cleaned up and prevented in the future. Via the Hindustan Times and Boing Boing Images via Arati Chauhan/ Deepak Gharat

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The devastating reason Mumbai dogs are turning blue

Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers

August 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Would you eat a burger made of mealworms? Coop , the second-largest supermarket chain in Switzerland , will start selling food made with insects . The country will be the first in Europe to allow sales of insect-based food for people, thanks to laws changed in May. Coop will sell insect burgers and balls from Switzerland-based startup Essento . Switzerland’s food safety laws allow sales of food made from mealworms, crickets , or grasshoppers. Coop will be selling Essento Insect Burgers and Essento Insect Balls, both made with mealworms. The burgers also contain rice, vegetables like leeks and celery, and spices like chili and oregano. The balls – which could be eaten inside pita bread, for example – are filled out with chickpeas, garlic, onions, parsley, and coriander. Related: BUG BUG cutlery set might just make you want to eat insects Coop Head of Category Management Silvio Baselgia said they’re Switzerland’s first retailer to sell Essento’s insect products, which the company has been developing for more than two years. Essento co-founder Christian Bärtsch said in a statement, “As food, insects are convincing in many respects: they have a high culinary potential, their production saves resources, and their nutritional profile is high quality. Thus insects are the perfect complement to a modern diet.” According to Essento’s website, mealworms don’t produce as many greenhouse gases as animal food sources like pigs or cows. 80 percent of insects are edible, as compared with 40 percent of cows, and raising insects requires less food and water. Insects are a good source of protein and also contain unsaturated fatty acids, the vitamins A, B, and B12, and minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, and iron. Essento’s products will be on sale on August 21 in seven Coop stores to start, including branches in Zurich and Geneva. + Essento Via The Guardian and Coop Images via Essento Facebook and Coop

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Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers

Spectacular ‘Dome of Visions’ greenhouse pushes the envelope for wood construction

August 16, 2017 by  
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Finnish company Metsä Wood is known for pushing the envelope when it comes to building with wood. Their latest greenhouse dome is the largest to date – and it showcases the company’s innovative use of laminated veneer lumber as a sustainable alternative to commonly used building materials. The structure, named Dome of Visions, was designed by Atelier Kristoffer Tejlgaard  as a way to explore green building. The Dome of Visions 3.0 is the third project in a series of experiments that explore the idea of creating sustainable spaces within dome-shaped structures. It has a new system of curved wooden beams , composed of 21 mm strips of Kerto LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber). This made it possible to minimize the amount of steel while achieving both a sleek and elegant grid construction. Related: Architect designs life-sized replica of Empire State Building made of wood Using curved wooden beams, the brackets for the dome’s supports were cut as stars in a five-millimeter steel plate. The custom-made Kerto beams made it possible to avoid the use of complicated and costly welded brackets used in previous versions. Related: Mobile Greenhouse Studio Boasts a Facade of CNC-Cut “Fish Scales” in Copenhagen “Wood as a building material has obvious advantages giving sustainability for the building industry. In principle, wood is a material that comes from a solar-powered factory,” said Kristoffer Tejlgaard, referring to the ability of trees to extract CO2 from the atmosphere and store it as carbon in their trunks, solely by means of solar energy . + Atelier Kristoffer Tejlgaard + Metsä Wood

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Spectacular ‘Dome of Visions’ greenhouse pushes the envelope for wood construction

‘Trump Forest’ plants trees to offset president’s climate ignorance

August 15, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is notorious for his ignorance on climate change . So instead of sitting by while his administration harms the planet, a British climate scientist, American PhD candidate, and French and Kiwi sustainable hat company founder decided to take action. They started Trump Forest to encourage people to plant trees , and have seen a huge response: so far hundreds of people around the world have pledged 130,999 trees . “Where ignorance grows trees” is the tagline of the Trump Forest project. Dan Price, Jeff Willis, and Adrien Taylor initiated the project in March of this year in New Zealand with a contribution of 1,000 native trees from Taylor’s company Offcut (which plants a tree for every cap sold). From there, hundreds of people in places as far-flung as Malawi, Japan, and the United States pledged to plant trees too. Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth Trump Forest isn’t after money, according to their website. Instead, they hope people will pay for and plant trees where they live in the name of America’s president, or donate to charity Eden Reforestation Projects . Taylor told the BBC of Trump, “Only a small percentage of the world voted him in, but we all have to deal with the consequences of his climate ignorance.” The organizers told the BBC they would need to plant a forest as big as Kentucky to offset Trump’s policies. They also estimated they’d need to offset 650 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025 to make up for the actions of America’s commander-in-chief – that’s over 100 billion new trees. They think it’s feasible. Wouldn’t a forest named after Trump just bolster his already large ego? The organizers say people have complained about that, but they’d prefer if the president got on board. Taylor told the BBC, “We kind of want him to love the forest; this is his forest after all. We would love it if he tweeted about it.” Price said, “All we’re trying to do is pick up the slack he created and do the work for him.” If you want to get involved, you can check out the project here . + Trump Forest Via BBC Images via Pixabay and Ozark Drones on Unsplash

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‘Trump Forest’ plants trees to offset president’s climate ignorance

Chinese researchers develop flexible salt-powered batteries

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

As the world rushes to transition to a new energy economy, researchers are uncovering novel methods to harvest energy from mundane, everyday sources. A research team in China has created a new battery that could be safely used in wearable or implantable devices, thanks to its use of salt-based electrolytes. This breakthrough could drastically improve the quality and safety of battery-dependent medical technology and may even pave the way for sweat-powered devices. In order to be effective, implantable or wearable batteries need to be flexible to allow functional bending on organic surfaces. In prior iterations, these batteries usually included a mix of toxic chemicals that serve as the electrolytes through which electrical charge can flow. This new battery uses non-harmful electrolytes such as sodium sulfate and saline. Because there is less of a concern regarding leakage of these chemicals, the battery’s design does not require extra material to protect humans from exposure and is significantly less bulky. Related: Inexpensive new battery generates power with just a drop of saliva One particularly interesting implication of a salt-based battery is the idea that the batteries could prove effective at harvesting sweat and other salty bodily fluids to power a workout assistant device. The researchers also noted that the batteries have a marked ability to convert dissolved oxygen into hydroxide ions, which could prove useful in medical applications.  “We can implant these fiber-shaped electrodes into the human body to consume essential oxygen, especially for areas that are difficult for injectable drugs to reach,” said researcher Yonggang Wang. “Deoxygenation might even wipe out cancerous cells or pathogenic bacteria since they are very sensitive to changes in living environment pH. Of course, this is hypothetical right now, but we hope to investigate further with biologists and medical scientists.” Via Engadget Images via Deposit Photos , Tim Simpson/Flickr  and Andy Armstrong/Flickr

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Chinese researchers develop flexible salt-powered batteries

Solar-powered Tesla Tiny House hits the road in Australia

August 14, 2017 by  
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Tesla’s taking to the streets to demonstrate their clean technology . A Model X is pulling around a tiny house showcasing a solar power system and Powerwall , giving the curious a way to check out their renewable technology in action. Electrek shared some stunning images of Tesla’s Tiny House , which is serving as a mobile design studio in major Australian cities. The Tesla Tiny House is incredibly eye-catching: clad in sustainable, locally-sourced chemical-free timber , the rolling design studio gives locals an up-close look at Tesla’s renewable wares. The Tiny House measuring 20x7x13 feet is outfitted with a 2 kW photovoltaic system with six panels. There’s also a Tesla Powerwall on the home’s exterior. Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof Naturally, the Tiny House is entirely powered by renewable energy , and people can step inside to use a configurator to design a solar system with storage for their own homes. A tour with staff provides detailed information; Electrek quoted the company as saying: “The tour is designed to provide a one-on-one educational experience on how to integrate Powerwall and solar to seamlessly power an entire home 24/7, allowing Australian consumers to gain control and understanding of their power use.” According to Electrek, Australia is a key market for Tesla’s products: 1.5 million households in the country have solar for the highest per capita penetration of rooftop solar power in the world. Tesla plans to take their tiny house to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane throughout August, September, and early October. But, the company says on their site that anyone in Australia can request a stop. They “want to bring the Tesla Tiny House to you, so you can fully experience what it means to be self-powered.” + Tesla Tiny House Via Electrek Images via Electrek/Tesla

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Solar-powered Tesla Tiny House hits the road in Australia

How the upcoming solar eclipse will affect 7 million homes and businesses

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

A total solar eclipse will block sunlight from reaching parts of the Earth for an estimated three hours on August 21. As a result, at least 7 million U.S. homes and businesses that rely on solar power will be directly affected. But there’s no reason to be nervous: electric grid and skilled operators are well-prepared. A total solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon which occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun . Though it will disrupt solar generation during times of peak generation, the event is not one to fear. According to Julia Prochnik , the Director of Western Renewable Grid Planning, people will not notice any change in their electrical service as electric grid operators across the country have made appropriate preparations. The last time citizens in the U.S. glimpsed a solar eclipse was in 1979, when solar energy was in its infancy. In the time that has passed, the energy system has changed significantly. Wind and solar energy are now the fastest-growing sources of renewable electricity in the U.S. Prochnik says that some states will see a larger drop in solar power than others; it all depends on how much the sun is blocked by the moon in their specific location. Fortunately, there are plenty of energy resources available to “fill the gap,” and they include geothermal , wind and hydropower. Related: Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say NASA reports that the solar eclipse will block a 70-mile-wide path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. The longest period of total darkening will be about two minutes and 40 seconds. Nationwide, the moon will still block at least a portion of the sun. At any one spot, the longest period of partial darkness may last three hours. Arizona can expect to experience a brief interruption in 70 percent of its rooftop solar generation. New York follows with 68 percent, Utah can expect a 39 percent, and Nevada a 24 percent interruption. California and North Carolina may experience the biggest impacts from the eclipse, as they are both major solar producers. The difference can be compensated by reducing energy use and/or by temporarily drawing electricity from the grid. A few things environmentally-conscious individuals can do to prepare for the eclipse is replace all light bulbs with LEDs , turn off lights, unplug chargers and appliances, and turn down their thermostats. All of these steps will help save energy and reduce load grid pressure. All in all, the celestial event is one to celebrate, as it is one few will likely witness again. Via NRDC Images via Pixabay

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