Hyperloop desert campus imagines futuristic solar-powered oasis

February 22, 2021 by  
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Begum Aydinoglu of  Pada Labs , Mariana Custodio Dos Santos and Juan Carlos Naranjo have been recognized among the 30 finalist teams for their Hyperloop Desert Campus design, a competition entry for a futuristic  Hyperloop  test center in last summer’s Young Architects Competitions (YAC). The competition brief challenged designers to create an eye-catching building in the Mojave Desert in Nevada that would not only help advance one of the most futuristic means of transit but also serve as a “sanctuary of science.” In response, the trio of designers created a visually striking proposal that focuses on resilience in terms of environmental sustainability, future-proofing and knowledge sharing.  In their Hyperloop Desert Campus proposal, the trio reimagined a seemingly inhospitable stretch of the Mojave Desert — North America’s driest  desert  that stretches across four states — into an oasis. Their curvaceous Hyperloop test center design is centered on four courtyards with water elements that support the growth of tall palm trees and other greenery.  “The symbiosis between the rough landscape and the iconic technology, helps The Hyperloop Desert Campus find its form,” the design team explained. “The building was designed to seamlessly rise from the desert ground of Nevada …the building’s design spirals up – inspired by the speed of traveling – large corridors loop around these Oasis, crossing and interchanging levels, resembling complex interchange high-ways in form and function.” Related: First passengers make history on BIG-designed Hyperloop Pegasus pod At the heart of the design is the concept of resilience. The looping building proposal is flanked by solar panel farms that generate renewable energy while the courtyards are engineered for rainwater collection and graywater recycling. The landscaped courtyards would also help promote airflow for natural cooling. Resiliency is further explored through inclusive knowledge sharing with educational tours, multiple technical cores that establish a fail-safe emergency system, and built-in expandability with adaptable interiors to allow for flexible future growth.  + PadaLabs Images via PadaLabs

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Hyperloop desert campus imagines futuristic solar-powered oasis

ZHA unveils solar-powered student residences for HKUST

February 18, 2021 by  
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In response to an urgent demand for more student housing at its Clear Water Bay campus, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has tapped Zaha Hadid Architects and local architecture firm Leigh & Orange to design the university’s new residence halls that will house more than 1,500 students once complete in 2023. The student housing buildings also incorporate sustainable design features in line with the university’s pledge to transition the Clear Water Bay campus to carbon-neutral operations. In addition to implementing rooftop solar and high-performance insulation, the architects will optimize the residential facilities’ energy-efficient operations with digital design tools, including Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D simulations. Inspired by the university’s mission to solve pressing global issues with technology and innovation, the architects have harnessed the power of digital design tools to optimize the design across multiple site parameters, including terrain, solar radiation, sight lines and soil considerations. As a result, the new residences will be strategically integrated into a steep, sloping site with a hexagonal configuration that embraces the natural landscape. The digital tools will also ensure passive solar considerations, proper material selection and efficient construction strategies to minimize time and waste. Related: ZHA’s sculptural “urban oasis” in Hong Kong to be LEED Platinum The 35,500-square-meter HKUST residence halls will comprise three differing clusters that all include communal living areas and rooms that face open spaces. The “Y” cluster apartments will accommodate 27 students; the “V” cluster will house 36 students; and the “Linear” cluster will offer collective housing for 18 students. The residences will be connected via a rooftop walkway — the main circulation route connecting to the academic blocks in the north — that will include shaded gathering spaces and photovoltaic arrays . To protect against Hong Kong’s intense sunlight, the buildings will be wrapped in high-performance, prefabricated facade units fitted with double-glazed windows and external solar shading fins. + Zaha Hadid Architects + Leigh & Orange Images via Visual Brick

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Climate change increases pollen and worsens allergies

February 11, 2021 by  
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If you feel like you’re going through hankies faster than ever, you’re not just imagining it. Climate change is making allergy season even worse, according to a new study. Researchers concluded that pollen and planetary warming are closely tied in a study published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Allergy season is both beginning sooner and generating more pollen overall, thanks to a sneeze-inducing mixture of warmer air and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The study’s authors found that pollen season in North America now starts about 20 days earlier than it did in 1990 and produces about 21% more pollen. Research predicts that this trend will accelerate. Related: Avoid allergies this spring with these 7 natural remedies The study used attribution science techniques to estimate the degree to which wildfires, rainfall during hurricanes, and other extreme weather events are worse than they’d be if the planet wasn’t getting toastier. “It’s a great piece of work,” Kristie Ebi of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington said of the study. “There has been very little research on the application of detection and attribution analysis to the health risks of a changing climate.” By examining data from 60 pollen-monitoring stations around the U.S., the researchers found the runniest noses and most watery eyes in Texas, the Southeast and the Midwest. Less pollen-driven mucous production was happening in the northern states. The greatest increase in pollen is coming from trees, not the more traditional culprits of grasses and weeds. While a runny nose is annoying enough, allergies can have serious effects on public health. Asthma and respiratory diseases are life-threatening and can increase the severity of respiratory viruses like COVID-19 . + PNAS Via The New York Times Image via Magda Pawluczuk

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Climate change increases pollen and worsens allergies

Mars, Cargill put nature regeneration goals alongside avoiding climate catastrophe

February 11, 2021 by  
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Mars, Cargill put nature regeneration goals alongside avoiding climate catastrophe Jesse Klein Thu, 02/11/2021 – 01:00 Over 1,000 companies have committed to science-based targets for climate change, but the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) thinks companies need to start making science-based commitments on nature as well as for climate. And they needed to start doing it yesterday. This has put sustainability departments of large companies in the position of having to build the plane while flying it.  “We feel like we need to start taking action today and start taking steps,” Heather Tansey, sustainability director at Cargill, said during a  GreenBiz 21  session this week on nature and regeneration. “We believe we can’t wait for consensus definitions to start making progress. So we’re doing those things in parallel.” To help, SBTN created corporate guidance that “sets a clear course of action to protect nature in line with science,” because companies want to take action.  “What we’re hearing from companies is: Tell me what to measure. How much is our fair share?” said Erin Billman, executive director of SBTN, during the session. You can’t stick an instrument in a bucket of palm oil and measure whether there was deforestation or forced labor in its supply chain. The guidance outlines best practices for conserving and regenerating healthy land, freshwater, oceans and biodiversity. During the session, with panelists from large agricultural companies Cargill and Mars, regenerative agriculture took center stage.  Tansey outlined Cargill’s BeefUp program, which concentrates on four pillars: reducing food waste; leaning on innovations; implementing regenerative agriculture such as no-tillage and crop rotation for feed sources; and sustainable cattle grazing methods.  “We, at our core, believe cattle can be a force for good when it comes to climate change,” she said. “Cattle can play a really critical role in North American contexts of helping to preserve nature and ecosystems in the west.” Kevin Rabinovitch, global vice president of sustainability at Mars, recognized regenerative agriculture is the new buzzword in sustainability . He emphasized that companies will have to carefully define what regenerative agriculture means while simultaneously creating programs that encourage regenerative ag practices that sequester carbon into the soil — practices such as no-till, crop rotation and biodiversity. Not all regenerative practices or ESG initiatives are created equal and not having an agreed-upon definition before starting will make determining the success difficult.  “Deforestation, or building carbon in the soil, or even social things like human rights and forced labor is not a product attribute,” Rabinovitch said. “You can’t stick an instrument in a bucket of palm oil and measure whether there was deforestation or forced labor in its supply chain. So they’re not product attributes, they’re process attributes. And frankly, that’s not the way commodity markets are designed and set up.” Billman’s solution is to focus on breaking down the silos among climate change, nature regeneration and social injustice and looking for co-benefits that tackle all the issues, not just climate ones. Without agreed-upon definitions, it makes it even harder for companies to prove they are making good on their commitments. According to all the panelists, the best way to make an impact and demonstrate to others that their programs are working is to create specific targets with specific timelines. There can be a visionary pathway in the longer term, but companies need tangible, measurable targets for the near term. “That’s where you should be having the really awkward, painful discussions about [having] a plan for how to reach that five-year target,” Rabinovitch said during the session.  Pull Quote You can’t stick an instrument in a bucket of palm oil and measure whether there was deforestation or forced labor in its supply chain. Topics Corporate Strategy GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Nature regeneration goals are the new climate targets for the sustainability departments of large companies.//Courtesy of Unsplash.

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Denmark’s artificial island for green energy to power 3M homes

February 8, 2021 by  
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The government of Denmark has approved plans for an artificial island in the North Sea to act as a clean energy hub for the country. The island, which will be built about 50 miles offshore, is expected to produce and store enough renewable energy to power 3 million homes along with multiple industries. The project is expected to cost about $34 billion, 51% of which will be funded by the Danish government. The other amount will be provided by the private sector. The project will happen in two phases. The initial phase will see the island producing 3 gigawatts of electricity. Upon completion, the facility is expected to produce 10 gigawatts. The island will be equipped with high walls on three sides, with one side remaining open for service docking. Related: 3XN unveils Denmark’s first climate-positive hotel for Bornholm island The proposed island will be the size of 18 football fields in its first phase and will link to offshore wind turbines. The facility will also generate green hydrogen , which will be used in the aviation, shipping and industrial sectors. Besides the proposed island, the Danish government is also exploring plans to build another artificial energy island in the Baltic Sea. “This is truly a great moment for Denmark and for the global green transition,” said Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s Energy Minister. “(The island) will make a big contribution to the realization of the enormous potential for European offshore wind .” The news comes shortly after Denmark announced it would stop its search for gas and oil in the North Sea. Denmark has a legal target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 70% below 1990s levels by 2030. To meet its targets, Denmark will need to implement new energy policies and investments. The project will not only help cut down carbon emissions but will provide the energy needed to sustainably power the country’s industries. + Danish Energy Agency Via Reuters and Yale Environment 360 Image via Danish Energy Agency

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CleanAirZone debuts a bio-based air purifier at CES 2021

February 8, 2021 by  
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At the virtual CES 2021, air purification R&D company CleanAirZone showcased its Bio-Based Air Purifier, a new product that it claims can even eliminate coronaviruses, including COVID-19, with natural biotics and enzymes derived from nature. The green technology uses the company’s proprietary BioCAZ solution to capture and neutralize a variety of indoor air contaminants without the need for filters. According to the firm, the product has been tested against an extensive list of viruses and does not produce harmful wastes or byproducts in the process. Marketed as the “only biotechnology capable of capturing and digesting 99.99% of contamination in the air,” the CleanAirZone system uses the same types of bacteria that have been used to clean the atmosphere for billions of years. The filter-free system first captures and stores pollutants within a grounded area inside the device using an electrical charge that attracts ultrafine particles of 0.00006u, after which the contaminants are “digested” by natural enzymes in the BioCAZ solution dissolved in water. The process of oxidation neutralizes the compounds without any harmful byproducts.  Related: IKEA’s new air purifying curtain will decrease indoor pollutants Designed for home and office use, the CleanAirZone Air Purifier has a minimalist appearance. The base Model 85 provides healthy air in spaces up to 700 square feet, while a proposed Model 300 purifies spaces up to 2,000 square feet. The cylindrical machine measures nearly 30 inches in height and a diameter of 15 inches and plugs into a standard 110/220 outlet at a consumption rate of 0.6 kW per day. Preserving the right level of solution in the machine — 6 ounces of BioCAZ Solution every four months — is the only maintenance needed. According to the company, the “living bio-system” purification technology has been tested by Assured Bio Labs in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to be highly effective against coronaviruses , mold spores, smoke-derived VOCs and other tested viruses and bacteria. The company currently has 300 Model 85 prototypes for pilot customers and has not yet revealed an official launch date. + CleanAirZone Images via CleanAirZone

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CleanAirZone debuts a bio-based air purifier at CES 2021

Trump administration reverses migratory bird protections

January 7, 2021 by  
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In a last-ditch effort to protect fossil fuel companies, the Trump administration has reversed a conservation law that prohibits such companies from killing migratory birds accidentally. Fossil fuel industries have long been seeking the reversal of the law, which is part of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The law has been protecting migratory birds from deaths caused by disasters like oil spills for over 100 years. The rollback now means that the federal government will not fine or prosecute companies that lead to the death of birds through their actions. Accidental environmental disasters such as oil spills and electrocutions could kill thousands of birds without any implications, as long as the cause of death was not intended to kill the birds, even if the company was conducting illegal activity. Related: Migratory birds triumph over Trump administration “This rule simply reaffirms the original meaning and intent of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by making it clear that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will not prosecute landowners, industry and other individuals for accidentally killing a migratory bird,” said David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior. However, environmentalists view the issue differently. Eric Glitzenstein, director of litigation at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the move is cruel and harmful to biodiversity .  “It’s horrendous,” Glitzenstein said. “It will just have a really overwhelming negative effect on our already dwindling bird populations.” The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was originally put in place to protect birds from poachers and hunters. The act made it illegal for any person to hunt, capture or kill birds or take their nests or eggs from certain listed species without a permit. Although the act did not clearly mention the accidental killing of birds, it has been instrumental in protecting birds from the actions of fossil fuel companies. The act was used under the Obama administration in prosecuting seven oil companies in North Dakota for killing 28 birds. The same act was instrumental in a $100 million settlement against BP for the killing of 1 million birds in the Deepwater Horizon Spill. Via The New York Times Image via NPS/Patrick Myers

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North Americas first mass timber hotel opens in Austin

January 6, 2021 by  
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Acclaimed Texan architecture firm Lake | Flato has teamed up with hospitality company Bunkhouse to create Hotel Magdalena , an 89-room establishment that is also the first mass timber hotel constructed in North America. Located on Music Lane in Austin’s popular South Congress neighborhood, Hotel Magdalena takes cues from its surroundings with its landscaping that evokes Barton Springs as well as with programming that celebrates the area’s history and live music. Large windows open up to patios, terraces and balconies, connecting the hotel with views of downtown while allowing natural light and ventilation to flow through the building. Opened in Fall 2020, Hotel Magdalena is Bunkhouse’s latest and largest hotel project to date. The hotel consists of four new buildings assembled in pieces with mass timber construction. Timber is deliberately left exposed in the ceilings and the exterior elevated walkways that link the four buildings. Inspired by the sloping topography of Barton Springs, the hotel sits at varying elevations and features a Ten Eyck Landscape Architects-designed landscape plan with native Texan species such as Bigtooth Maples, Redbuds, Meyer Lemon Trees and Little Gem Magnolia. Related: Hood River’s mixed-use Outpost achieves industrial chic with mass timber The 89 guest rooms and suites comprise a mix of types ranging from top-floor Treehouse Studios that include up to 50 square feet of outdoor space to spacious Sunset Suites that face west with balconies offering 65 square feet of outdoor space. In addition to leafy outdoor walkways and a variety of balconies and terraces that open the interiors to cooling cross-breezes and daylight, the hotel further strengthens its indoor-outdoor connection with its materials palette, from the custom walnut wood built-in beds and inlay desks to the poured concrete floors with exposed aggregate that mimic Texan river rocks. Amenities at Hotel Magdalena include community-driven experiences such as live music and nature walks, a guest-only pool bar next to a 900-square-foot sunken swimming pool , a full-service restaurant and an events space. Rates start at $275 a night. + Lake | Flato Photography by Nick Simonite via Lake | Flato

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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Trump administration disregards border wall’s environmental impact

December 30, 2020 by  
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An environmental row rages on as the Trump administration races against time to complete its target 450 miles of the border wall along the American-Mexico border. At the beginning of 2020, the Trump administration vowed to meet this goal within the year. In a last-ditch effort to deliver the promise, workers across 37 different construction sites along the border rush to meet the deadline. While workers erect the bollard steel wall, environmental conservationists and other groups voice frustration over how these reckless actions fail to consider nature. According to Kate Scott, Executive Director and President of the Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Centre, the construction disrupts the natural migration of wildlife and birds. “I feel great pain in my heart,” Scott said while speaking to CNN. “It’s like driving a stake through my heart because the river should be allowed to be, and not have this monstrosity. This wall of shame.” Like several other conservationists, Scott has been at the border watching and documenting the harm the process causes to wildlife . She watched as construction workers erected steel bollards at the San Pedro River, which flows from Mexico to the United States. Her frustration with the process is that it hampers the free migration of birds and other animals across the river and natural terrain. According to the  National Audubon Society of Arizona , about 40% of all bird species in North America spend some part of their lives on the San Pedro River. Due to the construction process, most of the birds and other animals have been pushed away from their natural habitat and travel pathway.  Despite the project’s effects on wildlife and nature, Customs and Border Protection insists the project meets environmental requirements. The organization claims the project has been analyzed and measures have been put in place to reduce environmental impacts. In contrast to these denials, conservationists have already collected enough evidence to show the project’s negative effects on wildlife. At the start of the construction in 2019, a non-profit organization, Wildlands Network, put up cameras in the San Bernardino Valley to monitor the project’s impact on wildlife migration. According to Myles Traphagen, Wildlands Network borderlands program coordinator, all  migrations across the border stopped dead  at the end of the second week of December. All hopes now rest on incoming President Joe Biden to put an end to the Trump administration’s reckless actions. Although Biden promised not to continue with wall construction , conservationists want the wall pulled down entirely, especially in areas where it affects wildlife. + CNN Image via Ted Eytan

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