Boards must put sustainability at the top of their agenda to thrive

April 27, 2020 by  
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Amidst the global COVID-19 crisis, there have also been glimmers of hope. A significant one is its impact on climate change. It’s estimated that global carbon emissions from the fossil fuel industry could fall by 2.5 billion tonnes in 2020. U.K. road travel has fallen to 1955 levels and the number of flights operating worldwide has fallen by about 40 percent.

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Boards must put sustainability at the top of their agenda to thrive

6 of the best corporate climate action announcements from the last week

April 27, 2020 by  
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From Google to North Face, companies used Earth Day to share big plans. Here are the ones that stood out.

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6 of the best corporate climate action announcements from the last week

Sea turtles thrive on empty beaches during COVID-19 lockdowns

April 21, 2020 by  
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As more people around the world stay inside, more animals are able to thrive in places that are typically crowded by humans. In the southeastern U.S., sea turtles are enjoying a peaceful nesting season without pesky sunbathers, fishermen or boats. “It’s going to be a very good year for our leatherbacks,” Sarah Hirsch, senior manager of research and data at Loggerhead Marinelife Center , told WPEC . “We’re excited to see our turtles thrive in this environment. Our world has changed, but these turtles have been doing this for millions of years and it’s just reassuring and gives us hope that the world is still going on.” Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s researchers have located 69 nests on the 9.5 miles of beach they study, which is significantly more than normal. Related: Baby turtles officially return to the beaches of Mumbai after largest beach cleanup in history All seven types of sea turtles are endangered or vulnerable. The odds are stacked against hatchlings; only one in 1,000 live to become adults. While hatchlings elude natural predators, such as dogs, seabirds, raccoons, ghost crabs and fish, turtles of all ages face many threats from humans. These include microplastics, fishing gear, coastal development, boat strikes, global warming and the illegal trade in eggs, meat and shells. David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy , said thousands of turtles are currently migrating to nesting beaches in the sotheastern U.S. and that “all of the potential positive impacts relate to changes in human behavior.” With fewer boats on the water, the number of boat strikes on turtles and other marine animals will also drop. “All of the reduced human presence on the beach also means that there will be less garbage and other plastics entering the marine environment,” Godfrey said. A 2016 University of Florida study concluded that removing trash and debris from beaches can increase the number of turtle nests by 200%. In 2019, Florida reported more than 395,700 sea turtle nests during hatching season. Because many beaches preferred by turtles are also prized by tourists, researchers will watch with concern as parts of Florida begin to open their beaches to humans again. Via CBS News Image via Pixabay

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Sea turtles thrive on empty beaches during COVID-19 lockdowns

How clean is your indoor air?

April 17, 2020 by  
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The 2020 Coronavirus /COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal for much of the population — a daily routine that now means moving from the bedroom to the living room instead of battling a commute and logging hours in an office building. With the kids tackling remote learning and you working from home, the carbon dioxide to oxygen ratio under your roof is likely different than it was just a few months ago. After all, there’s no doubt that an increase in the number of people at home affects the overall indoor air quality (IAQ) within the space. With that in mind, it’s important to give some consideration to the quality of the air you and your family are breathing in, both during the pandemic and in subsequent times. There is more to the equation than just making sure there is adequate oxygen in the building. Pollutants can float through your home, moving from one space to another. These pollutants can lead to allergic reactions and breathing difficulties. There might be other issues that go unnoticed too. Yet according to a study from Broan-NuTone, only 44% of Americans worry about their home’s indoor air quality. Related: Awair tracks 5 elements of air quality in your home In fact, there are many often overlooked clues that point to less than optimal IAQ. While you might recognize an increase in dust, most Americans don’t associate lingering food odors or allergy symptoms with poor IAQ. When evaluating IAQ, homeowners and renters should consider how effectively vent fans remove odors, smoke and moisture from the space. Lingering food scents, foggy mirrors and windows, and mold are all strong indicators that vent fans are not doing their job. Air filters, both stand-alone units and those inside the furnace’s forced-air system, are important tools in the battle for fresh indoor air.  This era of physical distancing has us spending more time indoors, and each activity, such as cleaning and cooking, can contribute to the toxins in your air. Then there is dust, dirt and pet dander thrown into the mix. Depending on the daily activities of your household, the number of people in the space, and the products you use, your IAQ might suffer more than you think. So it’s vital that you choose appliances and products carefully. Chemical pollution, for example, can be enough to exacerbate respiratory conditions. That means harsh cleaners can actually make you sick while you work to eliminate germs, especially if the fumes are left lingering around. It is imperative that filters in the furnace, air conditioner, air filter and grease filter above the stove are all washed or replaced frequently. In addition to cleaning filters, having effective exhaust fans is essential to maintaining healthy IAQ. To test exhaust fans, hold a ribbon of tissue near the fan while it is on. The appliance should suck the tissue inward. If it doesn’t, it is time for a replacement. In order for your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to benefit the air quality , they should be turned on before cooking or bathing and left on for at least 10 minutes afterward. The environmentalist in you might be screaming to turn off the vent, but the creation of mildew and other irritants isn’t a viable trade-off for the energy you’ll use running the fan a bit longer.  If you find that your home has excessive moisture in the form of damp towels, musty smells and foggy mirrors you may want to use absorption products such as Dri-Z-Air. The pellets are easy to refill and are versatile enough for the RV, garage or closet. A dehumidifier is another option to consider when moisture levels are high. While you know that dust is unsightly, it’s also a breeding ground for dust mites. Make sure to wipe or vacuum away dust often and clean linens in hot water frequently to keep allergens in commonly problematic areas low. To test your indoor air quality, you can buy an air quality monitor that ranges in price from $75 to around $800. You can also have your IAQ measured for you or purchase a VOC sensor or carbon dioxide meter to take your own readings. For safety, your home should also be equipped with a radon detector and a carbon monoxide detector. If any measure of IAQ shows the need for improvement, open windows and run fans to get air circulating. The recent indoor air quality study by Broan-Nutone highlights the need to spend a little time evaluating your indoor environment . According to the results, while the majority of people feel indoor air quality is exceptionally important since many of us spend more time inside than out, a fairly low number of respondents knew how to improve it by using appliances correctly. Remember that plants are another way to naturally filter pollutants out of the air. Outside of the standard household concerns, older homes should always be tested for asbestos, mold, lead -based paints and other toxic substances that could be lurking unnoticed. + Broan-NuTone Images via Broan-Nutone 

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How clean is your indoor air?

Giant wooden pavilion in Taiwan is a birdhouse for humans

April 17, 2020 by  
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Designed by the creative minds behind Taipei-based Phoebe Says Wow Architects , the Boolean Birdhouse is a massive pavilion built in the middle of a national park in Taiwan. Set up for an annual flower show, the wooden building features five individual pitched roofs that jut up into the sky to create a welcoming place for birds to perch, while humans can also find a bit of respite inside the birdhouse. Located in Taiwan’s Yangmingshan National Park, the wooden building gives visitors to an annual flower show a place to rest while enjoying the incredible views. In particular, the region is known for its feathered wildlife, which inspired the architects to create a pavilion that was geared toward giving native birds a place to perch while giving visitors a chance to be close to nature. Related: Dramatically twisted timber weaves together in the Steampunk pavilion Spanning almost 900 square feet, the building includes five separate volumes with soaring pitched roofs. Clad in cypress shingles, the natural timber exterior and bark finishes are reminiscent of small, ubiquitous birdhouses found in backyards around the world. In fact, there are several bird-sized openings found throughout the exterior facade to let birds come in and out with ease. Although the structure is “for the birds ,” it’s also designed to be a resting place for human visitors of the flower show. Guests who enter the wooden pavilion through one of the dual entrances will find a dark interior filled with oddly-shaped spaces. The interior features a public area for exhibitions, but there are also several private corner nooks and curved crannies where people can take a moment to meditate or just take a quiet break. + Phoebe Says Wow Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Hey!Cheese, OS Studio and Shihhwa Hung via Phoebe Says Wow Architects

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Giant wooden pavilion in Taiwan is a birdhouse for humans

These are the world’s top vegan cities

January 22, 2019 by  
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If traveling is a top priority for you in 2019 and you follow a vegan diet , there are some cities that are more vegan-friendly than others. Vegan website Happy Cow has compiled a list of the 10 most vegan-friendly cities in the world based on the number of fully-vegan restaurants, the number of vegan-option restaurants and their impression of overall vegan-friendliness. London At the top of the list is London, because the number of vegan restaurants in the city has exploded over the past year. It was the first city on the list to hit 100 completely vegan restaurants. A recent survey showed that more than a half million people are following the vegan diet in Great Britain. Related: Veganism on the rise, record number of sign-ups for Veganuary Berlin Because its vegan scene continues to grow, Berlin comes in at No. 2. There are now 65 vegan restaurants in the German city and 320 additional vegan options at restaurants within a 5-mile radius. New York City Many people consider the Big Apple to be the international food capital of the world, and its vegan scene is flourishing. There are now 64 vegan restaurants in NYC that range from fast food to upscale dining. Portland Veganism is a way of life in Portland , and that means the city has a wide variety of plant-based food options. You can easily find a vegan burger and a variety of vegan artisanal cheeses. There are also a number of vegan food carts and even a vegan bed and breakfast. Tel Aviv With an estimated 5 to 8 percent of the Israeli population being vegan, the country has the highest percentage of vegans in the world. The 31 vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv serve a variety of cuisines from Israel, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Some also have a Western influence. Rounding out the top 10 are Los Angeles, Warsaw, Toronto, Prague and Paris . + Happy Cow Image via 12019

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These are the world’s top vegan cities

Sustainability careers of the future require depth and breadth

September 26, 2018 by  
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As the idea of what makes an environmental career grows, so will the number of specialists and generalists.

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Sustainability careers of the future require depth and breadth

Getting your business ready for smart city partnership

September 26, 2018 by  
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As cities take the lead on digitization and emissions reductions, is your company ready to be a valuable partner?

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Getting your business ready for smart city partnership

How this app is providing community mobility solutions and personal parenting options

September 26, 2018 by  
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This mother had a carpooling problem — and so she created a new tool, and a business, to fix it.

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How this app is providing community mobility solutions and personal parenting options

University of Queensland scientists uncover an ‘explosion’ of new life forms

September 15, 2017 by  
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The Tree of Life just got bigger. University of Queensland scientists found thousands of organisms that don’t into any known phylum. They acquired 7,280 bacterial genomes and 623 archaeal genomes, raising the number of known genomes by nearly 10 percent. Scientist Gene Tyson, who was part of the effort, said, “The real value of these genomes is that many are evolutionarily distinct from previously recovered genomes.” There are some 80,000 genomes in genome repositories, according to the university. This new work, published online in September by Nature Microbiology , recovers almost 8,000 genomes – what the university called an explosion in the number of life forms we know about. Related: Tree of Life redesigned to reflect thousands of new species The scientists drew on the technique metagenomics, which is relatively new, according to Futurism. Researchers sequenced all the DNA in a sample – including water, feces, or dirt – to generate a metagenome. They were then able to reconstruct individual genomes of new bacteria and new archaea . Around a third of those microorganisms were distinct, allowing the researchers to create three archaeal phyla and 17 bacterial phyla. Microbes can be hard to scrutinize; scientists can only culture under one percent, according to Tyson. Utilizing metagenomics may offer a new method of studying microorganisms researchers can’t grow in a laboratory – and such research could be vital as microbes are opposing our life-saving antibiotics , and we face antibiotic resistance . According to Futurism, it’s possible some of these new species could be used in better antibiotics. And there could be more discoveries to come – study lead author Donovan Parks said in a statement, “We anticipate that processing of environmental samples deposited in other public repositories will add tens of thousands of additional microbial genomes to the tree of life.” Via Futurism and the University of Queensland Images via Pixabay and Parks, Donovan, et al.

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