The Great American Rail-Trail to offer bike access from coast to coast

January 6, 2021 by  
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People have turned toward outdoor exercise as a way to keep fit, lift spirits and fight the monotony of a pandemic. Now, new and veteran outdoor athletes have something exciting to train for: the cross-country Great American Rail-Trail, which will one day let people bike or hike from Washington state to Washington, D.C. The Great American Rail Trail is a project of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), which was founded in 1986. Back then, a few out-of-service railroad corridors had been converted into usable trails . Today, the U.S. has more than 24,000 miles of rail-trails. The Great American Rail-Trail project requires another 8,000 miles to connect existing trails. Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly The plan is for the trail to traverse Washington state, the top of Idaho and part of western Montana, then cross the whole of Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa. It will travel through the top of Illinois, then cross Indiana, Ohio and small sections of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland before ending in Washington, D.C. The route will cover more than 3,700 miles. With 50 million people living within 50 miles of the route, planners expect it to get a lot of use. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has raised more than $4 million in public and private funds to complete the massive trail. “This year has proven how vital projects like the Great American Rail-Trail are to the country. Millions of people have found their way outside on trails as a way to cope with the pandemic,” said Ryan Chao, president of RTC. “As the Great American Rail-Trail connects more towns, cities, states and regions, this infrastructure serves as the backbone of resilient communities, while uniting us around a bold, ambitious and impactful vision.” When complete, the Great American Rail-Trail will join other ambitious thoroughfares around the world. The EuroVelo 6 route travels 2,765 miles through 10 European countries between the Black Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Last year, the Great North Trail opened in the U.K. and allows hikers and bikers to travel from northern England’s Peak District to the northeastern tip of Scotland. + Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Image via Pam Patterson

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The Great American Rail-Trail to offer bike access from coast to coast

What 8 indoor farming companies plan for 2021

January 6, 2021 by  
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What 8 indoor farming companies plan for 2021 Jesse Klein Wed, 01/06/2021 – 01:30 When the pandemic exposed major issues with our lengthy food supply chain — in the form of shipment delays and inadequate demand forecasting — local vertical farms and indoor growing organizations were called upon to fill in the gaps in a way that was unprecedented. With 2020 in the history books and hopes for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic rising, these companies seek to build on their newfound momentum in 2021. With revenue for vertical farming alone estimated at just $212.4 million in 2019, one forecast calls for the industry to hit $1.38 billion by 2027, a compound annual growth rate of 26.2 percent from 2021 to 2027. Here are what eight indoor-growing leaders are planning in the year ahead. The list is presented alphabetically and represents a slice of the marketplace activity cropping up in late 2020. AeroFarms The Aerofarms facility in Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Aerofarms AeroFarms’ four New Jersey vertical farms produced 2 million pounds of produce in 2020. And this year that number likely will skyrocket with the company’s April announcement of construction on a 90,000-square-foot indoor vertical farm in Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest vertical farm. In 2021, Aerofarms is taking on the issue of food waste more explicitly. It invested in Precision Indoor Plants (PIP) to help understand and prevent lettuce discoloration, experiment with ways to increase lettuce yield and level up leaf quality. AppHarvest  AppHarvest’s farm in Morehead, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of AppHarvest Appalachian company AppHarvest has launched three indoor farms in Kentucky. It chose the state specifically because it’s within a day’s drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population. In early 2021, AppHarvest will harvest its first crop of tomatoes, a move meant to help reduce reliance and emissions from imported tomatoes. In 2019, 60 percent of America’s tomatoes were imported. The farms use a closed-loop system that runs entirely off recycled rainwater to eliminate agricultural runoff and reduce water usage. Bowery Farming Bowery Farming’s second farm in Kearny, New Jersey. Photo courtesy of Bowery Farming Bowery Farming, based in New York City, plans to invest its 600 percent increase in sales last year into a new vertical farm in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 2021. By working with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Governor’s Action Team, Bowery is turning an arid industrial site into 8.7 acres of modern farmland that also should help the economic recovery of the area. Bethlehem once was a thriving steel town with Bethlehem Steel Corporation once employing around 60 percent of the local workforce at its peak before shutting down in 1998 . Since then, the city has had to transition into different sectors. Bowery Farming hopes to be part of that evolution. Its farm will create 70 jobs and feature LED lighting, recapture water from the plants using a water transpiration system and collect data on a massive scale to inform future farming choices.  BrightFarms This BrightFarms greenhouse produces more than two million pounds of leafy salad greens per year. Photo courtesy of BrightFarms With $100 million in new funding raised in 2020, BrightFarms plans to construct indoor farms in every major market by 2025. This year marks the start of that journey with the construction of two new facilities in North Carolina and Massachusetts.  Both farms will be six to seven acres, or almost double the company’s current facilities in Ohio, Illinois and Virginia. In 2021, BrightFarm, which makes its headquarters in Irvington, New York, also plans to roll out its proprietary AI System, Bright OS, which will use machine learning and analytics to make operations from seed to shelf more efficient.   Gotham Greens Gotham Greens operates a network of greenhouses across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, New England, Mountain West and beyond. Photo courtesy of Gotham Greens Gotham Greens has been at the forefront of urban farming for over a decade. After starting in New York and expanding across the northeast, 2021 will be the year Gotham tries to take over the rest of the country. As the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered so many businesses, Gotham Greens was able to expand into Aurora, Colorado , just outside of Denver. The Colorado location is Gotham’s eighth indoor farm. It also expanded to Baltimore. Finally, in December, the company announced an $87 million funding round. The funding will support Gotham Greens products in Whole Foods Market, Albertsons Companies, Meijer, Target, King Soopers, Harris Teeter, ShopRite and Sprouts. Infarm An Infarm installation at French retailer, Metro. Photo courtesy of Infarm In 2021, Infarm is hopping on a hot industry trend — bringing the vertical farm to the grocery store. In late December, the Berlin-based company announced a partnership with Sumitomo, a Japanese company that owns Summit Store, one of Tokyo’s leading supermarket chains. The partnership will bring Infarm’s modular vertical farm directly to grocery stores. With this move, Infarm is expanding on its in-store strategy first experimented with Kroger in Berlin in 2020. Brick Street Farms also partnered last year with Publix to bring its vertical farms closer to the consumer. Infarm will install its first farm at Summit’s Gotanno location and products are scheduled to be ready for sale at the end of January. Kalera Kalera’s new farm in Houston will be the largest such facility in Texas. Photo courtesy of Kalera Kalera also plans a rapid expansion in 2021. The Orlando-based vertical farm company is pushing into Atlanta , Denver and Houston this year. This will be the company’s third, fourth and fifth farms and the first ones outside Florida. The Houston facilities will be the largest vertical farm in Texas while the Atlanta location will be the highest production volume vertical farm in the Southeast. The Atlanta one will be more than double the size of the company’s Orlando facilities — able to produce 11 million heads of lettuce. And in December Kalera announced it is expanding into the Pacific Northwest in Seattle. These new facilities will help Kalera support partnerships with grocers and restaurants in the area. Plenty Most vertical farms, including Plenty, have initially focused on leafy greens like kale. Photo courtesy of Plenty Plenty , based in San Francisco, had an eventful final quarter of 2020 and is riding that momentum into 2021. In August, the indoor farming company announced a partnership with Albertsons to expand into more than 430 stores in Southern California. It followed up that move in October with a $140 million funding round led by Softbank and a historic partnership with Driscoll’s to give consumers fresh sweet strawberries year round. This year, Plenty plans to begin construction on the world largest output vertical farm in Compton, California. Upon completion, the farm will be the size of a big box retail store and will grow over 700 acres of leafy green crops. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems 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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What 8 indoor farming companies plan for 2021

Pennsylvania scientists develop 100% leather waste fiber made from scraps

October 22, 2020 by  
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After five years and $3 million worth of research and development, two Pennsylvania scientists have developed a proprietary process to create a brand new, 100% leather waste fiber. The company, Sustainable Composites, is turning leather scraps into a new product called Enspire Leather to replicate the look, feel, performance and even smell of traditional tanned hide at a significantly lower financial and environmental cost. According to Sustainable Composites, producing ordinary leather typically wastes 25-60% of product in the tanning process because of the defects and limited dimensions of hide. Because of this, an estimated 3.5 billion pounds of leather scraps end up on the cutting room floor and eventually in incinerators or landfills each year. Instead, Enspire Leather reclaims those discarded scraps, grinds them up and presses them into sheets to process the material into a new fiber. The resulting fabric has the same pliability, durability, sew-ability, fold properties and abrasion- and stain-resistance as traditional leather. Related: Oliver Co. makes vegan leather wallets from apple waste and wood The material is then made into uniform rolls of 54 inches that are free from defects to help maximize yield and reduce cost. From a business standpoint, product manufacturers for items like furniture, footwear and handbags gain 40-60% material cost reductions. Footwear manufacturing company Timberland has already taken advantage of the new leather alternative for select products as part of its commitment to environmentally responsible development. Although the new material is made from scraps, Sustainable Composites can ensure a wide range of design options for color, texture, thickness and finish thanks to its unique composition and forming procedures. Because Enspire Leather is made using recycled materials , it reduces the amount of trash produced from more conventional methods. The patented process offers an exciting update to the leather product industry, combining the traditional art of leather-working with the contemporary technology of a new age. + Sustainable Composites LLC Images via Sustainable Composites LLC

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Pennsylvania scientists develop 100% leather waste fiber made from scraps

Charles Library boasts one of Pennsylvania’s largest green roofs

May 20, 2020 by  
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Contemporary, sustainable and welcoming, Temple University’s new Charles Library in Philadelphia raises the bar for research libraries around the world. Completed by  Snøhetta  for $135 million in 2019, the new LEED Gold-targeted Charles Library is not only a beacon of energy-efficient design, but also integrates a diversity of collaborative and social learning spaces that are typically left out of traditional research libraries. The new library also boasts a 47,300-square-foot green roof — one of the largest in Pennsylvania — that covers over 70% of the building’s roof surface and is part of a stormwater management system designed to manage all rainwater runoff on the approximately three-acre site, plus an additional acre of off-site impervious ground.  Built to replace the Paley Library, the Charles Library offers more than double the number of study spaces compared to its 1960s predecessor. The 220,000-square-foot  library  is located at the intersection of two major pedestrian pathways, Polett Walk and Liacouras Walk, and responds to its high-traffic location with an inviting public-facing design that includes generous plazas sloping up to the library entrances. Large expanses of glazing and grand wooden arched entrances cut into the split-faced granite facade help emphasize a welcoming atmosphere. Inside, the building is centered on a large domed atrium lobby that offers views of every corner of the building. Natural light is a key feature of the new library, particularly on the sun-filled fourth floor where visitors are encouraged to wander through stacks of the library’s browsable collection. The fourth floor also looks out on views of the lush  green roof  and gardens, which are planted with over 15 different species to provide a rich urban habitat for pollinators.  Related: LEED Gold-targeted library and community park has otherworldly appeal The 47,300-square-foot green roof is part of the library’s  stormwater management  system that also includes pervious paved plazas and paths as well as landscaped planting beds. Rainwater that infiltrates these permeable surfaces are directed into two underground catchment basins that can store and process nearly half a million gallons of water during storm events.  + Snøhetta Images © Michael Grimm

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Charles Library boasts one of Pennsylvania’s largest green roofs

Climate change has led to more temperature inversions and the rise of ‘super pollution events’

January 15, 2020 by  
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This is why the air was unsafe to breathe and reeked of “hospital waste” in a Pennsylvania community in late December.

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Climate change has led to more temperature inversions and the rise of ‘super pollution events’

Striking LEED Silver-targeted tower to rise in the heart of Philadelphia

August 29, 2019 by  
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The heart of Philadelphia will soon be transformed with Schuylkill Yards, a $3.5 billion masterplanned neighborhood in University City that will include two mixed-use towers, one of which will target LEED Silver certification. Developer Brandywine Realty Trust recently unveiled designs for the pair of towers — dubbed the East and West Towers — designed by global architecture firm Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) . The glass-enveloped buildings will combine modern design elements with historical references, from color palettes inspired by the traditional materials common in the area to the window typology of the old Pennsylvania Railroad rail cars. Set to transform 14 acres next to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, Schuylkill Yards will replace parking lots with a neighborhood comprising nearly 7 million square feet of offices, residences, retail shops, hotels, green space and life science and innovation space. The PAU-designed East and West Towers will also offer a mix of programming. Related: World’s first solar-powered, indoor vertical farm sprouts in Philadelphia Designed “as cousins,” the complementary towers will have distinct personalities — the West Tower will have a more neutral exterior facade with a simple monolithic form, and the LEED Silver -seeking East Tower will have eye-catching massing that splits the building into three staggered tiers with a bold red color palette. Both buildings will be elevated on fluted pedestals to create an engaging pedestrian thoroughfare. Towering at 512 feet tall, the East Tower will offer 34 floors of office space, 7,000 square feet of retail and a dedicated amenity level on the 14th floor. Its dynamic massing is engineered to maximize its building footprint and green space while mitigating wind concerns and improving sight lines of Philadelphia . The smaller and more demure West Tower will stand at around 360 feet and offer 9,000 square feet of retail, 219,000 square feet of residential, 200,000 square feet of office space and covered parking. Its designated luxury amenity floor will be located in the ninth floor. Construction on the East and West Towers is set to begin in 2020. + Practice for Architecture and Urbanism Images via PAU and Brandywine Realty Trust

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Striking LEED Silver-targeted tower to rise in the heart of Philadelphia

Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

August 2, 2019 by  
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On land, the world is tuning in for Shark Week celebrations, but out in the oceans, the reality for sharks is much more grim. A recent update of the digital database maintained by the Animal Welfare Institute indicates that almost 200 restaurants across the country offer shark fin soup and other shark products despite being banned in more than 12 states. Shark fins are festive delicacies, especially for East Asian communities, but the practice of removing fins from sharks is an abusive tradition condemned by conservationists and animal rights activists around the world. “The United States is a major producer, exporter and trade stop for shark fins,” said Cathy Liss, president of Animal Welfare Institute. “Clearly, the existing patchwork of state laws and uneven enforcement have failed to shut down a lucrative billion-dollar industry. When shark fin soup is on the menu, so is animal cruelty.” Related: Shark fins still being sold in US restaurants amid ban California has the highest number of restaurants offering shark dishes (59 restaurants) despite a full ban on shark fin possession, sale, trade or distribution in 2013. New York passed a similar ban in 2014 but still has 19 restaurants that offer shark products. Bans are also pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Approximately 73 million sharks are killed every year just to harvest their fins. The practice often includes the capture of sharks and the bloody removal of their fins while they are still alive. The sharks are then tossed back in the water, where their chances of survival are nearly impossible. This widespread method is considered inhumane and cruel because of the suffering that the sharks endure during and after the removal of their fins. Despite their reputation, sharks are absolutely essential for healthy marine ecosystems . According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, all species of warm-water flat sharks are considered critically endangered except for one. This year, Canada passed a national ban on shark imports and exports, but in the U.S., legislation is still on a limited state-by-state level. + Animal Welfare Institute Image via Alondav

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Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

Athlete and activist runs across the US to raise awareness of plastic pollution

July 30, 2019 by  
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Sam Bencheghib, a 22-year-old athlete and environmental activist, has kicked off his effort to become the first person to run across America — and he’s doing it all to raise awareness about plastic pollution . Bencheghib’s initiative is a collaboration with his nonprofit Make a Change World and Parley for the Oceans. He started out his journey last week after a ceremony that included remarks from the Assistant Secretary General of the U.N. Environment Program. He will run 20 miles a day, six days a week, for five months, stopping in 13 states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona and California. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution “In times of such environmental concern, we’re really on a countdown,” Bencheghib said. “I really believe that no idea is crazy enough and so I think that by running 3,000 miles, it’s definitely a crazy feat, but it’s a good metaphor to showcase the severity of the plastic problem in the ocean. It is also an incredible opportunity to engage with as many communities as possible to tell them about the effects of plastic.” Throughout his journey, Bencheghib will stop at schools and businesses to educate people about the plastic pollution crisis and encourage them to sign on to Parley’s pledge to take action. His advice is to avoid using plastic when possible, intercept plastic that is incorrectly heading to landfills or waterways and redesign plastic waste into recycled and upcycled materials. Bencheghib will be running in Adidas sneakers upcycled from ocean plastic in a marketing partnership with Parley. “Sam and his brother Gary have already proven with previous initiatives that the real superpower of change lies in courage and individual action,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder and CEO of Parley for the Oceans. “Everyone can change the world. Step by step. We need to include everyone in this conversation — fostering awareness and action to address these issues and drive solutions because they affect everyone, even those away from the coasts and major cities. This is an invitation to everyone who wants to rise up and have a role in the movement.” You can follow the Ocean2Ocean run via social media and watch video updates at www.makeachange.world . + Make A Change World + Parley for the Oceans Photography by Eric White and Charlie Rubin via Parley for the Oceans

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Athlete and activist runs across the US to raise awareness of plastic pollution

States across the country are trying to make it illegal to plan a pipeline protest

April 16, 2018 by  
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A new wave of bills being introduced in states such as Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota aim to criminalize the process of planning a protest against the construction of an oil or gas pipeline. If signed into law, the act of simply planning a protest that might break a law, such as trespassing or other forms of civil disobedience, would itself become illegal. Legal observers note that – wait for it – the three states that introduced these broadly defined anti-protest bills are also home to proposed controversial pipeline projects. While other states have introduced and passed similar anti-protest bills, such as those aimed at protests that block highways or involve trespassing on property that contains energy infrastructure , these new group of bills seem to take the targeting of protesters a step further. “I think these bills represent an escalation,” Alice Cherry, co-founder and staff attorney of the Climate Defense Project, told ThinkProgress . “The main motivation for these bills seems to be to deter would-be protesters and to make potential jail sentences and fines more draconian.” Related: Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land Activists view these bills as responses to the high-profile actions at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation , which brought thousands to encamp and protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Though the Pipeline is now operating thanks to an expedited review process under the Trump Administration, several pipeline projects in other states are facing a fierce backlash. The bill now being debated in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Minnesota was crafted by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group funded by pro-fossil fuels interests that creates and delivers legislative language to state lawmakers around the country to advance their agenda. The motive behind this move to place a legal spotlight on pipeline protests is evident to those in opposition. “These offenses are already criminalized in every state,” Elly Page, a legal advisor for the International Center for Not for-Profit Law, told ThinkProgress . “In a lot of cases, [lawmakers] will have amended the definition for critical infrastructure just to add the word pipeline. It’s making clear what the impetus for these bills is.” Via Think Progress Images via Mark Klotz ,  Depositphotos  and Emma Cassidy/Flickr

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States across the country are trying to make it illegal to plan a pipeline protest

PAU’s inclusive Penn Station revamp is a sustainable alternative to the current plan

August 1, 2017 by  
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Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU)’s  revamped Pennsylvania Station plan represents a more inclusive alternative to the government’s current concept for a new Amtrak station in the Farley Complex. PAU decided to reuse the superstructure and foundations of Madison Square Garden and create a civic space that reflects the historical complexity of the site and enhances capacity, safety, and user experience for all of Penn’s users, regardless of income or social status. Passively heated and cooled, the transport hub  aims to create a grand commuter pavilion at minimal public cost and disruption, at the same time complementing the Amtrak station in the east end of the Farley Complex, entrances and concourses to the north and west, and the tracks and platforms planned to become part of the Gateway tunnel project. Related: Governor Cuomo reveals updated renovation plans for NYC’s Penn Station Inspired by Philip Johnson’s circular New York State World’s Fair pavilion and Pan Am’s “Worldport” building at JFK, the architects proposed to reclad the structure of the Madison Square Garden– which will find its new home 800 feet away in the west end of the Farley building– in a double-skin glass wall which allows natural light to penetrate into the interior, but regulates solar gain for maximum comfort. A sawtooth pattern in the glass picks up changes in light through the day, acting as a sundial for travelers as they ascend from the platforms. The entire concept has not only environmental control in mind, but safety as well. The suggested oculus at the center of the circular building quickly purges smoke in the event of a fire and all of the glass is blast-proof. + Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) Via Architizer

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PAU’s inclusive Penn Station revamp is a sustainable alternative to the current plan

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