America’s largest urban farm to be planted in Pittsburgh

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Pittsburgh , once a site of heavy industry, could soon be home to the biggest urban farm in the United States. The 23-acre Hilltop Urban Farm will be located in the city’s Southside, an area underserved by supermarkets , where it could help supply nutritious, fresh produce to those who otherwise would have little access. Coal, steel, and manufacturing once boomed in Pittsburgh, until the city experienced an industrial decline in the 1950s. The healthcare industry has recently helped revive the city, but neighborhoods on Pittsburgh’s outer ring have yet to see a comeback. That’s where the Hilltop Alliance , the group behind the Hilltop Urban Farm, is working. The city is also home to the largest percentage of people living in areas with low-supermarket access for cities with 250,000 to 500,000 people, according to a 2012 report from the United States Department of the Treasury. Related: 20 kids transform a rough Pittsburgh neighborhood with solar art & charging station The Hilltop Urban Farm could offer an answer to the issues these Pittsburgh residents face. The farm will occupy space that was once filled with low-income housing – and according to Aaron Sukenik, Hilltop Alliance executive director, the land “was just kind of sitting there, fenced and looking very post-apocalyptic.” Soon it will be home to a farm where people will grow winter peas and other produce. There will be a fruit orchard, and an almost one-acre youth farm. There will be a 3.36-acre farmer incubation program, and a 57 plot community garden . There will also be a 3.31 community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Also part of the urban farm will be a 200-person events barn and a farm market building, where a seasonal farmer’s market will occur. According to the Hilltop Urban Farm Facebook page , green infrastructure, energy-efficient buildings, stormwater management , and native plants will be part of the design. Hilltop Urban Farm is slated to open in 2019. Via Reuters Images via Hilltop Urban Farm Facebook

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America’s largest urban farm to be planted in Pittsburgh

Dubai to expand massive solar park to include world’s tallest solar tower

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

There are 2.3 million photovoltaic panels at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park near Dubai . And now the massive solar farm is about to get a 700 megawatt (MW) extension, which will include the addition of an 853-foot solar tower , the world’s tallest. The first phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park became operational in 2013 with 13 MW. It now has a capacity of 200 MW, after the second phase was launched in March this year. But the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has big plans for the solar park : by 2020, they plan to increase capacity to 1,000 MW, with the aim to increase that number to 5,000 MW by 2030. The solar park is the world’s biggest single-site concentrated solar power (CSP) project. Related: Phase 3 of world’s largest solar park slated to begin this month DEWA recently awarded the 14.2 billion AED fourth phase of the solar park to a consortium including ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia and Shanghai Electric in China. They won the contract with a bid of 7.3 US cents per kilowatt-hour. DEWA CEO HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer said in a statement, “Our focus on renewable energy generation has led to a drop in prices worldwide and has lowered the price of solar power bids in Europe and the Middle East. This was evident today when we received the lowest CSP project cost in the world.” CSP has been more expensive than traditional solar power in the past, which is one of its downsides. But CSP projects also have the ability to store some of the power as heat for later use. In 2030, the solar park could cover 83 square miles, and slash carbon emissions by 6.5 million metric tons a year. Via New Atlas and Business Wire Images via AETOS Wire and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority – DEWA Facebook

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Dubai to expand massive solar park to include world’s tallest solar tower

Yves Bhar unveils new Smart Locks that make keyless entry a breeze

September 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

One of the worst feelings is wondering whether or not you left the front door unlocked. With Yves Behar ‘s new Smart Locks, you’ll never have to worry about that again. Behar just debuted three new products for August Home Inc. – including a Doorbell Cam and two Smart Locks equipped with the first integrated sensor that tells homeowners if their doors are opened or closed. August Home Inc. was co-founded by Yves Béhar and Jason Johnson. The company develops smart home products that use encrypted locking technology . This enables consumers to create virtual keys for their home and grant access to guests, house cleaners, dog walkers, delivery services, and friends and family members from their smartphones and computers. The latest August products are the August Smart Lock Pro, which is the most advanced smart lock on the market with support for HomeKit, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Z-Wave Plus ($279); the August Smart Lock, which is newly-designed and is for consumers “exploring the benefits of smart home access” ($149); and the Doorbell Cam Pro, which lets homeowners use a smartphone to see and speak with visitors at the front door. An important feature included in the Smart Locks is DoorSense, which the company says is “the first intelligent, integrated sensor that tells users if a door is open or closed.” When a homeowner is wondering if they locked the door, they can check their smartphone and be informed at the touch of a button. “Smart locks are playing an important role in the growth of the smart home,” said Jason Johnson, CEO of August Home. “With the Smart Lock Pro, we’ve created a lock that gives people total control over their front door in ways that aren’t possible with a traditional lock. Now people can make sure their door is closed and locked from anywhere. We’re also expanding our offering to include a more affordable lock so everyone can make their door safer and smarter.” Related: Yves Béhar’s shapeshifting Ori furniture transforms your home at the touch of a button Johnson continued, “The front door is the gateway to the home and our mission is to transform every home, by helping people manage access for themselves, guests, home services, and for secure package delivery.” + August Home Inc. Images via August Home Inc.

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Yves Bhar unveils new Smart Locks that make keyless entry a breeze

Australian researchers store light as sound for the first time

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Photonic computers could run 20 times quicker than today’s laptops if microchips could process data in speedy photons. Now, they might be able to. For the very first time, researchers from two Australian universities have found a way to store light waves as sound waves in a microchip – a breakthrough that brings us closer to the super-fast computers of the future. Light-based computers could revolutionize computing. They won’t generate heat , or use as much energy as today’s computers. Light-based information sent across cables today is converted into electrons, which are slow, but storing light waves as sound waves allows the information, which computer chips can still read, to travel more quickly. Normally, light would pass through a microchip in two to three nanoseconds, but when it’s stored as sound, it can remain on a chip for an additional 10 nanoseconds, allowing data to be processed. Related: Newly discovered form of spiralized light breaks everything quantum physics says about photons The animation above breaks down the process. Photonic data enters the microchip as a yellow light pulse, and interacts with what’s called a write pulse that’s blue. That generates an acoustic wave where the data is stored. Then, another light pulse, called the read pulse, accesses the data stored in the acoustic wave and transmits it as light. Project supervisor Birgit Stiller of the University of Sydney said in a statement, “The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain. It is like the difference between thunder and lightning.” Their system also works on a broad bandwidth, so Stiller said they can store and retrieve information at different wavelengths at the same time. The journal Nature Communications published the research online today. Two researchers from Australian National University joined three from the University of Sydney for the study. Via ScienceAlert and Phys.org Images via PublicDomainPictures.net and Louise Connor/University of Sydney

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Australian researchers store light as sound for the first time

New study shows a 1-in-20 chance climate change will cause a complete societal collapse

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Most of the world’s human population, and the health of ecosystems across the planet, could face an existential threat by the end of the century if rapid, forceful action is not taken to combat climate change . According to a new study published in  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , there is now a 1-in-20 chance that climate change will cause an “existential/unknown” warming effect, defined in the study as a global temperature rise of 5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, that would have a devastating impact on humanity while wiping out 20 percent of life on Earth. Even as climate change is apparent in the present, its worst impacts will be felt by future generations. “To put in perspective, how many of us would choose to buckle our grandchildren to an airplane seat if we knew there was as much as a 1 in 20 chance of the plane crashing?” said co-author Veerabhadran Ramanathan of University of California San Diego. “With climate change that can pose existential threats, we have already put them in that plane.” In addition to the 5 percent chance of complete societal, and perhaps species, collapse, the scientists estimate that, if action is not taken, there is a 50 percent chance of a 4 degree temperature rise by 2100, far surpassing the 2 degree goal set by the Paris accord. Related: Caltech scientists speed up carbon sequestration process by 500 times The study is not all doom and gloom. The scientists describe several actions that can and must be taken, including achieving peak global emissions by 2020 and carbon neutrality by 2050, ending the use of short-term climate pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons , and removing carbon and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through sequestration , reforestation and other methods. The study was utilized by 33 policy and science experts in crafting a related report which further details actions that can be taken now. Whether the advice will be taken remains to be seen. Via Scientific American Images via Christopher Michel and Ian D. Keating

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New study shows a 1-in-20 chance climate change will cause a complete societal collapse

This man has saved over 700 stray dogs in China over the last 8 years

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Zhou Yusong is a dog’s best friend. Over the last eight years, Yusong has rescued over 700 stray dogs and given them homes at his animal protection center China’s Henan Province. Though he didn’t intend on becoming the “Guardian of Dogs,” this is what he is called in his home city of Zhengzhou. It all started in 2008, when Zhou Yusong was walking down a road in Zhengzhou and noticed a stray dog that had clearly been hit by a car. It was fighting for its life, yet was ignored by those who passed by. Yusong was unable to ignore the frightened animal, so he picked it up and took it to a nearby dog shelter as he could never care for it in his tiny apartment. When the man reached the shelter, he was overwhelmed by the large number of stray dogs that had already been collected. To ease the shelter’s burden, he began donating 200 yuan ($30) every month to support the dogs’ food and medical treatments. Inspired to do more, Yusong later convinced his friend to invest 800,000 yuan ($122,000 USD) in a new animal shelter . It would be located on the banks of the Yellow River and care for the abundance of stray dogs. His friend agreed and allowed Yusong to be in charge of the facility. Within a short period of time, the animal lover quit his job and began managing the rescue center full-time. Related: South Korea’s President adopts rescue puppy, saving it from the dog meat trade To date, Yusong has rescued over 700 stray dogs, as well as a number of other small and medium-sized animals. Over the past eight years, he hasn’t taken a single vacation, as he is dedicated to ensuring all of the dogs are well taken care of. To reduce the shelter’s costs, Yusong also manages maintenance work, which includes fixing fences and trimming the bushes. He spends the remainder of his time feeding the dogs, cleaning up their kennels, and administering various medical treatments . Though Yusong wasn’t seeking recognition for his work, the world couldn’t help but give it to him after photographs of him and hundreds of dogs went viral on social media. Via Oddity Central ,  Xwtuotiao Images via  Xwtuotiao

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This man has saved over 700 stray dogs in China over the last 8 years

New Orleans golf course transformed into citys biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus

September 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

A former golf course in New Orleans’ City Park has been transformed into the city’s biggest urban farm— Grow Dat Youth Farm . The seven-acre sustainable farming nonprofit features a low-energy Eco-Campus built with seven recycled shipping containers and designed by Tulane University architecture students. The urban farming and leadership program teaches local youth how to sustainably grow fruits and veggies that are then sold to CSAs, local restaurants, and markets, as well as donated to neighborhoods lacking access to healthy, fresh food. Founded in 2012, Grow Dat Youth Farm wants to do much more than grow delicious chemical-free food. The nonprofit farm’s central mission is to bring local youth and adults from different backgrounds together in a safe collaborative environment where they can learn how to grow their own food and develop personal, social, and environmental change. Most of the educational workshops take place within the Eco-Campus, a simple low-energy structure with an open-air classroom, two climate-controlled offices, kitchen, bathroom with composting toilets , and storage. A bioswale under the front timber walkway prevents flooding and manages water sustainably. The City Park birding corridor runs along the side of farm and provides a more wild contrast to the farmed environment. Grow Dat Youth Farm has a long-term lease for seven acres of land in New Orlean’s City Park and is currently growing on two acres with plans for expansion. Formerly a golf course that had been uninhabited before Katrina, the site comprised very sandy or mostly clay soils—poor conditions for farming. The team remediated the soil with lots of organic matter—mainly a mixture of coffee grounds, processed dried sugar cane, and chicken manure—and use crop rotations to add minerals back into the earth. Today, the diversified farm grows over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables, from avocados and satsuma to beets and kale. “Food justice is a big part of who we are,” said Michael Kantor, Interim Director at Grow Dat Youth Farm, who stressed the program’s primary purpose to develop youth leadership skills. “Black farmers in particular have historically been marginalized so we create opportunities here to give young people of different races the chance to take control of food production, either here or in their neighborhoods, and increase access to fresh healthy produce—something many New Orleans neighborhoods do not have.” Grow Dat Youth Farm partners with nine local schools to recruit around 60 high school students annually. Starting January, these youth Crew Members participate in a paid, five-month leadership program held after school and on Saturday that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. The program time is evenly split between lessons on sustainable food , cooking, and farming, and team-building and leadership exercises. Graduates of the program are invited to enroll in the next tiered leadership position as Assistant Crew Leaders; a fellowship program brings in extra help around the year. Related: Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food “Our farm is pretty active from September to June,” said Michael. “That’s when we’re harvesting crops for the CSA , our main distribution channel that starts in October, or for the Crescent City Farmers Market or farm stand. We’ve also sold to restaurants and have been in Whole Foods too. We donate 30% of our food to households without access through our Shared Harvest program.” Grow Dat Youth Farm has donated over 26,000 pounds of food. In addition to funding from grants, donors, and market sales, Grow Dat Youth Farm raises funds through their seasonal farm dinners , where they invite celebrated local chefs to cook up locally focused, family-style meals on the farm. This year’s first farm dinner, on September 28, features chefs from Cochon and Peche, while the October 8th dinner features a chef from Shaya. Tickets are still available for these farm dinners. Learn more information about Grow Dat Youth Farm by following the link below. + Grow Dat Youth Farm Images © Lucy Wang

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New Orleans golf course transformed into citys biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus

Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

President Donald Trump doesn’t usually mention solar power , unless it’s talk of covering his beloved border wall in solar panels . But his Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a huge investment in concentrated solar power (CSP). Recently, the solar industry  reached the 2020 SunShot Initiative utility-scale solar cost goal, so the DOE is now looking into new priorities for investment. The DOE recently issued a press release stating they’ll invest up to $82 million in research: $62 million for CSP and $20 million in power electronics technologies, focusing on new technologies now that the average price for utility-scale solar is now six cents per kilowatt-hour. The MIT Technology Review suggested DOE officials think CSP could enhance grid stability more in the long term since CSP plants can store some power as heat, allowing them to keep producing electricity when there’s no sunshine. Related: Dubai to build the world’s biggest concentrated solar power plant But the energy CSP plants generate has been costlier than photovoltaics . And according to the MIT Technology Review, some people are suspicious the DOE may move to weaken support for photovoltaics. The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal slashed funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by almost 70 percent. That’s the same office that manages the SunShot Initiative. The DOE also announced a $50 million funding opportunity for large-scale pilot fossil fuel projects in late August. But CSP’s ability to store power is a strong advantage. Energy policy researcher David Victor of the University of California, San Diego did say investing in CSP makes sense, telling MIT Technology Review, “My general impression is that we have relatively over-invested in photovoltaics and under-invested in [concentrated solar].” Dan Reicher, executive director at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, told MIT Technology Review, “[Concentrated solar power] today hasn’t been able to compete with photovoltaics, but there are some promising research areas. Given the climate challenge, we need to put eggs in many, many zero-carbon baskets.” Via MIT Technology Review and the Department of Energy Images via Bureau of Land Management on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power

Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Traveling between Mexico City and Guadalajara takes over six hours by car today – but imagine making that trip in under 45 minutes. It could be possible in the future with a new Hyperloop system proposed by Mexloop , a Mexican consortium which includes names like Arup and Fernando Romero Enterprise , co-designers of Mexico City’s New International Airport. Their suggested Hyperloop network is a winner of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Mexloop’s Hyperloop network could connect four major metropolises in Central Mexico , including the country’s capital and two of its cities with the greatest populations, according to Mexloop. The resulting megalopolis would connect 42 million people – which could be 60 million people by 2050. Mexloop says the proposed Hyperloop corridor would boost the economy and ease traffic in what they described as the most congested city in the world. Related: Hyperloop One conducts first full-scale test of superfast transportation system In addition to Mexico City and Guadalajara, Santiago de Querétaro and León would also be on the Hyperloop route, which would span 330 miles. It would take around 38 minutes to travel the full route. And the project could be cost-effective; according to Mexloop, early estimates hint a Hyperloop system could be two thirds of the cost of a high speed rail project. And Hyperloop tickets would cost around the same amount as a car or bus trip, or the price of a low-cost flight. Mexloop is already looking to the future, saying Phase 2 of the project could involve extending the route to Manzanillo in the west and Veracruz in the east, and north to Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo on the Mexico-United States border. The Hyperloop One Global Challenge drew more than 2,600 entrants, and Mexloop was one of 10 winners . Other winning teams submitted proposals for the United States, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Hyperloop One now plans to work with the winning teams to further hone the proposals. + Mexloop + Hyperloop One Images courtesy of Mexloop

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Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis

Plastic-degrading fungus found in Pakistan trash dump

September 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

We’re filling up the world with plastic , and the material takes up to a millennium to break down in landfills . A group of scientists sought a solution to our plastic problem in nature – and they actually found one: a plastic-devouring soil fungus . Our current solutions for dealing with plastic aren’t working well. Not all of the material is recycled , and it’s polluting landfills and oceans . Sehroon Khan of the World Agroforestry Center said in a statement, “We wanted to identify solutions with already existed in nature, but finding microorganisms which can do the job isn’t easy.” Related: Plastic-eating caterpillar could revolutionize waste treatment Khan, lead author on a study published this year in Environmental Pollution , said they took samples from a dump in Islamabad, Pakistan “to see if anything was feeding on the plastic in the same way that other organisms feed on dead plant or animal matter.” Turns out, there was such an organism: the fungus Aspergillus tubingensis . Laboratory trials revealed the fungus can grow on the surface of plastic, where it secretes enzymes that break chemical bonds between polymers. The researchers even found A. tubingensis utilizes the strength of its mycelia to help break plastic apart. And the fungus does the job rapidly: the scientists said in weeks A. tubingensis can break down plastics that would otherwise linger in an environment for years. Factors like temperature and pH level may impact how well the fungus can degrade plastic, but the researchers say if we could pin down optimal conditions, perhaps we could deploy the fungus in waste treatment plants, for example. Khan said his team plans to determine those factors as their next goal. Khan is also affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Science, and eight other researchers from institutions in China and Pakistan contributed to the study. Via Agroforestry World Images via Alan Levine on Flickr and courtesy of Sehroon Khan

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Plastic-degrading fungus found in Pakistan trash dump

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