Starbucks unveils store built from 29 recycled shipping containers in Taiwan

October 8, 2018 by  
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Starbucks Taiwan will debut its first Asia Pacific store that is built from recycled shipping containers in the Hualien Bay Mall. The mall has yet to be opened to the public, but it is situated in a touristic area of the city that is well known for its cuisine and features breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and neighboring mountains. The store spans two stories totaling 320 square meters (approximately 3,445 square feet) and features comfortable seating areas where guests are invited to congregate over a cup of Starbucks’ finest. Starbucks is the first retailer to claim space in the newly built mall. It does so using 29 shipping containers that have been refashioned by famous Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, who has his name signed to two Starbucks store designs already: the Fukuoka branch in Japan and the upcoming Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo. Related: Starbucks ditches plastic straws for the environment Inspired by a combination of Chinese architecture and nature, the Taiwan edition receives patrons under traditional bucket arches connoting the overhanging foliage of coffee trees . Inside, the store features warm decor and a comfortable seating area spanning two stories that Kuma decided to stack, creating a much taller space that allows for natural sunlight to enter through skylights installed throughout. These skylights illuminate a brightly illustrated mural at one end of the store, designed as a tribute to the vibrant Hualien culture. The wall mural tames the geometric roughness of the cargo containers, creating a sociable space alongside aboriginal Amis figures whose heritage run deep within the city’s culture. At the other end of the store, visitors are invited to enjoy the beautiful mountain landscape that forms a picturesque backdrop to the port city. Related: A disused railway will become a sustainable green corridor in Taiwan The project is part of Starbucks’ recently announced “Starbucks Greener Stores.” The initiative is aimed at building sustainable stores, which will be designed and operated using reclaimed materials . The Taiwan store joins a suite of locations also built from shipping containers, 45 of which can be found in the U.S. already. The Seattle coffee-chain prefabricates the models offsite before delivery, allowing the company to occupy spaces not necessarily designed for traditional stores. By avoiding the damaging environmental effects generally output on building sites, Starbucks is committed to minimizing its environmental footprint. + Starbucks Images via Starbucks

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Starbucks unveils store built from 29 recycled shipping containers in Taiwan

Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

October 3, 2018 by  
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Ben Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean back in 1998, is now attempting to be the first swimmer to traverse the Pacific Ocean . The record-setter is taking on the challenge not only for himself, but also to raise awareness about ocean pollution, health and conservation. Lecomte has now passed the 1,000 nautical mile marker from his starting point in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. “My eyes are not too much on the milestones,” Lecomte said of his headline distance. “But it’s important to have milestones to celebrate any progress.” The swimmer is nearly a fifth of the way through his 5,500-mile expedition. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution Despite six years of preparation, Lecomte and his crew aboard the research vessel dubbed ‘Seeker’ have had to overcome many obstacles since leaving Yokohama in June. The team has been forced back to port by typhoons , suffered sea sickness aboard the 65-foot (20-meter) sailboat and rerouted several times to avoid cargo ships. Aside from this, Lecomte attempts to swim an average of 30 miles a day, aided by North Pacific currents and a protein-based diet of approximately 8,000 calories. Throughout the roughly eight hours it takes him to swim this distance, he is also collecting ocean debris and plastic that his expedition team geotags for research. “Every single day we collect trash,” Lecomte said. “I’m truly shocked by the amount of plastic I find on my way every single day.” The team has collected more than 1,300 pieces of floating trash along its journey, scooping up to four samples each minute with a specially designed net. Related: Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change Even among the heart-rending stages of Lecomte’s journey, there have still been touching moments. “I am very surprised by the amount of amazing encounters I made in the middle of nowhere — birds, jellyfish, swordfishes, turtles , dolphins, whales and even a shark who followed me for two days,” he said. “As I swim everyday, I see this wild and beautiful environment being affected by the virus of plastic. Every stroke is dedicated to inspire people and find ways to rethink their plastic consumption on land.” Viewers can tune-in to top science publisher Seeker.com and its social channels to watch daily videos and live moments from the expedition, with weekly updates also airing on Discovery. Follow Ben’s journey at Seeker.com/TheSwim . Via Seeker Images via Seeker

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Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic

October 3, 2018 by  
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LEGO Group has just released a  LEGO Creator Expert set from the ‘vault’ that focuses on sustainable energy. The company announced its Vestas Wind Turbine creation at New York Climate Week in hopes of encouraging creativity while spreading the word about renewable and sustainable energy sources. The revamped wind turbine set will be the first LEGO set featuring the new plant-based plastic LEGOs, Plants from Plants. LEGO collaborated with Vestas, a leader in sustainable energy, to make the new and improved wind turbine set. Not only does the kit represent renewable energy, but some of the included plant elements are made from a plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane. This is the first time LEGO has issued a set including pieces from its Plants from Plants initiative, and customers will be able to purchase the wind turbine this coming Black Friday (November 23). Related: LEGO is rolling out its first plant-based plastic pieces The Vestas Wind Turbine set is comprised of 826 pieces and stands 3 feet tall. The wind turbine overlooks a wooded area complete with spruce trees — made in part from sugarcane — as well as a cottage with a working porch light. The set will be available for $200. The toy company plans on using only sustainable materials in core products and product packaging by 2030. In addition to this commitment, LEGO has also pledged to become eco-friendly in the production of its plastic bricks. To that end, LEGO incorporates wind power in the production process and generates as much power from sustainable sources as it does from traditional ones. “We strive to make a positive impact on the environment and are committed to climate action and to use sustainable materials in products and packaging,” said Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at LEGO. “This wind turbine celebrates our first steps in bringing these ambitions to life, and we hope it will inspire builders to learn about renewable energy.” + LEGO Images via LEGO

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LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic

State of emergency in effect as Hurricane Lane barrels toward Hawaiian coastline

August 23, 2018 by  
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Hurricane Lane is swiftly moving along its course toward Hawaii, where a hurricane warning is in effect for Maui and the Big Island. A hurricane watch has also been issued for Kauai and Oahu. According to the National Weather Service , the storm has now been downgraded to a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to make contact with the state later today. Related: After three months, Kilauea eruptions might be over The NWS reported that “the center of Lane will track dangerously close to the Hawaiian Islands from Thursday through Saturday.” In addition, the organization noted that, “regardless of the exact track of the storm center, life-threatening impacts are likely over some areas as this strong hurricane makes its closest approach.” Despite the storm’s demotion from a Category 5 to a Category 4, many locals are comparing Hurricane Lane to the devastating Hurricane Iniki, which hit Hawaii in 1992. Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation on Tuesday in case Hawaii needs relief for “disaster damages, losses and suffering.” In a news release from the Governor’s office , Ige said, “Hurricane Lane is not a well-behaved hurricane. I’ve not seen such dramatic changes in the forecast track as I’ve seen with this storm. I urge our residents and visitors to take this threat seriously and prepare for a significant impact.” Related: The Eye of the Storm dome home can withstand hurricanes — and it’s officially on the market Residents have already “rushed to stores to stock up on bottled water, ramen, toilet paper and other supplies,” according to an Associated Press report. With maximum sustained winds of 155 mph and rainfall accumulations of between 10-15 inches, the storm is expected to cause flash-flooding and landslides in Hawaii. In addition, the NWS has reported the possibility of “large and potentially damaging surf.” As the hurricane continues to approach the Hawaiian coastline, many residents are hoping Lane will show a little more mercy than 1992’s Iniki, which killed six people and caused $1.8 billion worth of damage. Numerous government buildings have closed as the state’s residents prepare for the storm. Via NPR Image via Shutterstock

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State of emergency in effect as Hurricane Lane barrels toward Hawaiian coastline

Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

April 20, 2018 by  
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Bottlenose dolphins typically reside in tropical or warm-temperate waters around the world — but researchers recently glimpsed a group of around 200 of the dolphins and around 70 false killer whales off northern Vancouver Island’s west coast in Canada. They said this sighting is “the only occurrence of common bottlenose dolphins recorded in Canadian Pacific waters” — and a warming trend could be to blame. In July 2017, Halpin Wildlife Research , working with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Department of Environment and Climate Change , documented the dolphins and whales. In research published this month in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records , the three researchers involved said the sighting “is the most northerly record” for common bottlenose dolphins “in the eastern North Pacific .” Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” Lead author Luke Halpin said in a statement , “The sighting is also the first offshore report of false killer whales in British Columbia. To see the two species traveling together and interacting was quite special and rare. It is known that common bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales seek each other out and interact, but the purpose of the interactions is unclear.” Warming in eastern North Pacific waters between 2013 and 2016 could be the reason for the presence of the dolphins and whales. Halpin said he’s documented warm-water species in British Columbia waters since 2014, including a loggerhead turtle and a swordfish . He said, “With marine waters increasingly warming up, we can expect to see more typically warm-water species in the northeastern Pacific.” + BioMed Central + Marine Biodiversity Records Images via Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith on Flickr and the National Park Service

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Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

Mice are eating nesting seabirds in the Pacific alive

March 28, 2018 by  
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On the Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, invasive mice are attacking nesting albatrosses , causing gruesome wounds that bleed profusely and can cause birds to abandon their nests or die. Why would mice do this? Scientists think it may be because they are drinking the birds’ blood. Non-native species cause a majority of seabird extinctions around the world, and mice have become a particularly bad problem on the island since 2015, attacking the birds from behind and causing open wounds on their heads and necks. The Midway Atoll is home to the world’s largest colonies of Black-footed and Laysan albatross. The common house mouse was introduced along with the black rat to the island about 75 years ago. While the rats have been eliminated on the island, mice have thrived without any competition. The mice have learned to sneak up behind the albatross while they nest, taking them by surprise. The mice may be causing these wounds to obtain hydration and sustenance from the birds’ blood. Related: New Zealand just eradicated 200,000 mice from a single island Nesting Albatross are particularly vulnerable because instead of leaving their nest, they refuse to abandon their eggs – so mice can easily attack them. The attacks began two years ago, and have since spread across the entire island. “Albatross did not evolve in contact with mice and they are defenseless against them. Albatrosses’ natural behavior – sitting on their egg for weeks at a time – leaves them particularly vulnerable to this emergent threat. In the first year, birds were killed (eaten alive) and nests abandoned in three areas on the island. The next year, the attacks, deaths, and nest abandonment spread across the entire island and increased exponentially,” said the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). USFWS wants to work to remove the mice – something that was just successfully accomplished in New Zealand – but debate continues on how to best do that. “The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to eradicate all mice from Midway Atoll using the rodenticide Brodifacoum 25D Conservation, a pelleted rodenticide bait intended for conservation purposes for the control or eradication of invasive rodents on islands or vessels.” Via IFLScience Images via USFWS

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Mice are eating nesting seabirds in the Pacific alive

Newly discovered Amazon structures change what we know about ancient civilization

March 28, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Exeter have discovered 81 earthworks known as geoglpyhs across 1,200 miles of Amazon Rainforest in Brazil . This evidence, outlined in the journal Nature Communications , indicates that the dense, difficult-to-navigate region was once home to up to ten million people prior to European colonization. “There is a common misconception that the Amazon is an untouched landscape, home to scattered, nomadic communities. This is not the case,” said study researcher Jonas Gregorio de Souza in a statement . “We have found that some populations away from the major rivers are much larger than previously thought, and these people had an impact on the environment which we can still find today.” Although scientists are not sure exactly what purpose the geoglyphs served, they believe that they may have been used for ceremonial purposes. Many of them were discovered in close proximity to the remains of villages, which were consistently inhabited by large groups of people between 1250 AD and 1500 AD. These population centers would also have been populated with a wide variety of ethnic groups speaking different languages across the 1,200 mile range. “Our research shows we need to re-evaluate the history of the Amazon,” explained study researcher Jose Irirte in a statement . “It certainly wasn’t an area populated only near the banks of large rivers , and the people who lived there did change the landscape. “The area we surveyed had a population of at least tens of thousands.” Related: Scientists uncover hidden Mayan city of 10M people in Guatemala Scientists believe that they have discovered only one-third of the geoglyphs and man-made structures within the Amazon, while 95% of the Amazon river valley region remains unexplored. By understanding how the Amazon was settled in the past, we may gain a better sense of how to approach sustainability policy today. “The Amazon is crucial to regulating the Earth’s climate and knowing more about its history will help everyone make informed decisions about how it should be cared for in the future,” said de Souza. + University of Exeter Via IFLScience Images via University of Exeter

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Scientists say mass extinction warning signs exist and they can be observed today

March 28, 2018 by  
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Is Earth staring down a mass extinction ? Recent research from an international team of scientists reveals warning signs for the biggest mass extinction in our planet’s history were apparent far earlier than experts had thought — and we can glimpse such indicators now. Around 250 million years ago, the Permian-Triassic mass extinction saw about 90 percent of animal species eradicated, according to the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany, which led the research team. Huge volcanic eruptions and resulting greenhouse gas emissions wiped out scores of creatures. And for decades, scientists thought this so-called mother of all disasters occurred without warning “when seen on a geological time-scale,” the university said. This new research challenges that opinion. Related: Sixth mass extinction on Earth is driven by industrial farming, says leading academic Fossils in Iran hint that the first indicators of the mass extinction appeared as early as 700,000 years before the event itself. Multiple species of ammonoids, an  extinct group of marine animals, died off and surviving ones “became increasingly smaller in size and less complex” as time marched towards the mass extinction event, according to the university. Factors that led to the event are reminiscent of conditions today, according to professor and lead author Wolfgang Kiessling, who said in the statement, “There is much evidence of severe global warming, ocean acidification , and a lack of oxygen. What separates us from the events of the past is the extent of these phenomena. For example, today’s increase in temperature is significantly lower than 250 million years ago.” Even so, warning signs that were present near the Permian Period’s end can be seen in modern times, according to the university. Kiessling said, “The increased rate of extinction in all habitats we are currently observing is attributable to the direct influence of humans, such as destruction of habitat, over-fishing, and pollution. However, the dwarfing of animal species in the oceans in particular can be quite clearly attributed to climate change . We should take these signs very seriously.” Geology published the work earlier this year; scientists from institutions in Germany, the United Kingdom, and Iran contributed. + University of Erlangen-Nürnberg + Geology Images via Dieter Korn

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Scientists say mass extinction warning signs exist and they can be observed today

Sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing

February 9, 2018 by  
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The Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has long been considered at great risk to sinking beneath the rising sea levels of climate change. However, scientists at the University of Auckland have learned that it is actually increasing in size, with the island’s total land area having grown 2.9 percent between 1971 and 2014. “We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise , but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing,” study co-author Paul Kench told Phys.org . “The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion.” Researchers used aerial photography and satellite imagery to study the geographical changes on Tuvalu’s nine atolls and 101 reef islands. They found that eight atolls and nearly three-fourths of the reef islands grew during the period studied, all while sea level at Tuvalu rose twice as quickly as the global average. Wave patterns and sediment deposits brought by storm activity seemed to have counteracted any “sinking” effects due to sea level rise. Related: 14 Pacific island nations considering world’s first ban on fossil fuels While climate change remains an existential threat to island nations like Tuvalu, this study could prompt a rethinking of how sea level rise will actually manifest in light of compounding factors that resulted in Tuvalu’s growth. “On the basis of this research we project a markedly different trajectory for Tuvalu’s islands over the next century than is commonly envisaged,” said Kench . “While we recognize that habitability rests on a number of factors, loss of land is unlikely to be a factor in forcing depopulation of Tuvalu.” The study authors recognize the need to make drastic changes while acknowledging that there is still time to adapt. “Embracing such new adaptation pathways will present considerable national scale challenges to planning, development goals and land tenure systems,” the authors said . “However, as the data on island change shows there is time (decades) to confront these challenges.” Via Phys.org Images via  Tomoaki INABA/Flickr (1)

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Sinking island nation of Tuvalu is actually growing

This amazing green office is covered with native plants that were rescued on-site

February 9, 2018 by  
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Ho Khue Architects has created a beautiful office space in Da Nang infused with lush native greenery . The Vietnam-based firm constructed the Modern Village Office on an old lot that was covered in native plants. Inspired by the plants’ resilience, the architects transplanted the greenery inside the building to create a soothing office that evokes the spirit of a family village. The architects built the concrete office space on an urban lot that contained some old structures, white pampas grass, and native plants like bamboo shrubs. The architects took the natural state of the lot into consideration and decided to infuse the existing vegetation into the office’s design. The banana trees, yellow bushes and native plants were carefully transplanted on the first floor, where they help create a soothing and welcoming entryway. Some of the plants were also harvested to be used in the ground floor’s water feature. Related: Translucent Ho Chi Minh City office tower infused with greenery helps combat urban pollution More native plants were transplanted on the building’s rooftop, creating a beautiful garden for employees to enjoy. The dense grass and other plants that cover the roof help cool the interior floors underneath. The greenery continues throughout the interior spaces, with long hanging vines and plants in virtually every corner. The 350-square-meter space is bright and airy thanks to the white brick walls and minimal furnishings found inside. The interior is naturally lit by an abundance of windows, and open terraces provide quiet areas for meetings or lounging. Decorative slats on the southwest facade block out the heat and provide natural ventilation. According to the architects, the green office building was designed to give modern workers a healthy environment that provides a relaxing atmosphere: “Working in this modern office evokes feelings reminiscent of childhood and a time when life was simpler. The air flow is fresh from the sea leading to comfortable temperature without being cold. Today’s younger generation may have had little or no time in the countryside. This office has brought the spirit and the heart of the rural areas to the workplace.” + Ho Khue Architects Via Archdaily Photography via Hiroyuki Oki

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This amazing green office is covered with native plants that were rescued on-site

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