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 The glass-enveloped buildings will combine modern design elements with historical references, from color palettes inspired by the traditional materials common in the area to the window typology of the old Pennsylvania Railroad rail cars.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

Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say

August 1, 2017 by  
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In just three weeks, one of the “events of the century” will makes its way across the United States, inspiring awe, excitement and even fear. On August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse , and scientists are saying that it will be a once-in-a-lifetime event that is not to be missed. Educator at the American Museum of Natural History Joe Rao has been speaking to audiences about the coming eclipse. He told them a total eclipse is something you never forget and defies words. As the moon begins to block out the sun, the temperatures drops, the light changes and the birds begin to quiet. Related: Alaska Airlines is intentionally delaying a flight for the coolest reason Rao warned people not to look at the sun under any circumstances, even while it is covered by the moon. You can purchase eclipse glasses, though be sure to purchase them from a reputable company, since faulty eclipse glasses have been hitting the market. If you don’t have glasses, you can look at the trees, since leaves will show a crescent shadow.  You can also try one of the DIY methods . Viewers can check out NASA’s eclipse website for the 100-mile wide  path of totality , which will carve through South Carolina starting around 1:15 pm, up to Nebraska and will exit the US through Oregon at 9 am (local time). Hotel rooms in the path are already selling out and experts warn travelers to be aware that traffic will be difficult. Some airlines are selling tickets for eclipse-viewing flights. For those not lucky enough to be in the path, viewers will be able to see a partial eclipse as far away as South America and parts of Africa. Via Fox News Science Images via Deposit Photos and Pixabay

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Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say

Nuns build open-air chapel to protest natural gas pipeline on their land

July 10, 2017 by  
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Battles against fossil fuel pipelines aren’t limited to North Dakota. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania , a group of Catholic nuns is fighting against a natural gas pipeline that would run beneath land they own. They’re protesting the pipeline in a unique way by building an open-air chapel for people to visit and reflect on “just and holy uses of land.” The nuns, part of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ order, own land in West Hempfield Township that stands in the path of the Atlantic Sunrise Project, a pipeline for natural gas being pursued by Williams Partners to extend the Transco pipeline system that already runs from Texas to New York. Even though the nuns have not wanted their land used for the pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the pipeline, pointing to eminent domain. Related: Trump approves new pipeline that will go “right under” the US-Mexico wall The nuns are working against the pipeline, which they say goes against their land ethic, with the group Lancaster Against Pipelines . Protester Ann Neumann told CNN, “They see the pipeline as a violation of their faith,” saying 20 members of the order reside on the land. In a visible symbol of protest, the nuns allowed Lancaster Against Pipelines to construct this outdoor chapel, intended for people of all faith backgrounds. The nuns hope the chapel will draw people to come and pray at the location. They said in a statement they know the pipeline company might call for the chapel’s removal, but “believe that having this structure on their land, for however long, gives tangible witness to the sacredness of Earth.” The chapel was dedicated over the weekend, and according to Lancaster Online, around 300 people showed up for the ceremony. A Williams Partners spokesperson referred to the chapel as a “blatant attempt to impede pipeline construction.” Via CNN , Adorers of the Blood of Christ , and Lancaster Online Images via NoPipelinesLancaster on Twitter and Adorers of the Blood of Christ

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Fresh food prescriptions given to low-income patients to help combat disease

May 9, 2017 by  
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What if instead of prescribing medicine to treat a disease , doctors could prescribe fresh food to help prevent one? Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania is testing their food prescription idea with Fresh Food Pharmacy, a service that currently provides diabetic, food insecure patients with recipes and nutritious fare. It turns out giving away healthy food for free is not only socially beneficial, but could ultimately save the healthcare system a decent amount of money. The Fresh Food Pharmacy brims with whole grains, fresh produce, lean meats and fish, greens, and low-fat dairy products. Patients aren’t just handed food, but provided a one-on-one meeting with a dietitian, recipes , and instructions on how to make nutritious meals. They receive enough food for five days. Related: HUMAN Healthy Vending Machines Fight Childhood Obesity by Offering Healthy Snacks Some people thought handing out free food might rack up a hefty price tag. But diabetes costs are greater than $240 billion a year in the United States. In contrast, Geisinger Health System will pay around $1,000 a year for each diabetes patient in the food pharmacy program. The Geisinger team is tracking hemoglobin A1C levels to help see how much the Fresh Food Pharmacy could save them. CEO David Feinberg estimates each point of decrease in hemoglobin A1C could save them around $8,000, and many of the around 180 patients in the pilot program have seen a drop of three points. America’s health care system today is often termed a disease care system instead; physician Mitesh Patel of The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania said, “We wait until people get sick and then spend a lot of resources helping them get better.” But he says the Fresh Food Pharmacy offers social and financial incentives to actually help people make a change in their own health. The Fresh Food Pharmacy has made a huge difference for Type 2 diabetes patient Tom Shicowich. He said he used to stop at Burger King or McDonald’s for dinner, or heat up a frozen meal. Now he cooks meals at home with his girlfriend. He’s lost around 45 pounds. And his A1C level has changed significantly. The threshold for Type 2 diabetes is above 6.5. Shicowich’s A1C level was almost 11 a year ago; today it has plummeted to the high-six range. Via NPR Images via Peyri Herrera on Flickr and Geisinger Health System

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Fresh food prescriptions given to low-income patients to help combat disease

8 thoughtful Mother’s Day gift ideas for the eco mama in your life

May 9, 2017 by  
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Finding the perfect gift for the eco-conscious Mama in your life is a little more labor intensive than just running out for generic cards or super-market flowers at the last second. You want to find something that shows you really care – about her and about the planet. We’ve made your life a bit easier this year with a roundup of eight thoughtful gift ideas we think will appeal to the earth-loving mama in your world. 1. Ladies-only outdoor adventure Adventurous outdoor Moms will love REI/Outessa’s three-day retreats , where they can dabble in rock climbing, yoga , paddle boarding, and more while being treated to chef-prepared and locally-sourced meals. After a weekend spent with other nature -loving women, Mom will come back ready to tackle parenting and life with feeling connected and rejuvenated. 2. Jewelry Andrea Bonelli ’s gorgeous handmade jewelry (like the above pink sapphire necklace ) incorporates recycled and ethically mined stones and metals. Bonelli is also a member of Ethical Metalsmiths and gives back through the Toolbox Initiative, which provides jewelers in West Africa with tools and supplies to encourage their ability to work autonomously. If the sky’s the limit for the Earth Mama in your life, gift her with a premium piece from Monique Pean , beloved among the eco-celeb set for her sustainable and unique pieces, who counts former First Lady Michelle Obama as a fan. 3. Books Whether purchasing a physical book or the e-version, you have plenty of choices that will expand Mom’s reading horizons. A few of our hot picks: Phenomenal , which has readers join a new mother as she traipses across the planet in search of migrating butterflies in Mexico and lightening storms in Venezuela and  Lab Girl , the bestselling and intriguing memoir of geo-biologist Hope Jahren. Others may enjoy How To Read Water , which provides insightful instructions for forecasting the weather by looking at waves or using puddles to figure out directions. If the Mom you’re gifting these books to has little ones, earn bonus points by also gifting her some time and a quiet space to actually read them. RELATED: 11 Eco-tastic gifts for Mother’s Day 4. Ceramic breakfast bowl These hand-painted and hand-thrown Moroccan bowls  from Raven & Lily are wonderful mood boosters for Mom when she’s throwing down a bowl of cereal amidst the before school morning chaos or snacking on some dried fruits and nuts for a midday break. It’s no coincidence they are also perfectly sized for use as a chai or latte “mug”; the bowls also come in a mini size  and are pretty enough to corral rings, change, keys, or perhaps chocolate chips. 10 percent of sales goes towards an after-school program in Morocco that provides academic support, life skills mentoring, and leadership coaching. 5. S’Well water bottle We probably all have a reusable water bottle (or five) at home, but somehow they manage to migrate to kids’ backpacks or end up on spouse’s desks. S’Well ’s sleek BPA-free stainless steel water bottles are triple wall insulated to keep beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. The limited edition Terra bottle is decorated with lush flora and fauna; we’re also loving the Elements collection, inspired by natural beauties such as pearls and marbled stone. A portion of S’Well’s sales go towards supporting clean and safe water supplies in vulnerable communities. Staying hydrated, whether Mom’s adventures take her on a hike or to the carpool line, never looked so pretty. 6. Flowers No sad, tired, on-their-last-stem arrangements here: Bouqs partners with local artisan florists around the country and sustainable farmers around the world to provide vibrant custom bouquets. In certain areas of the country, a “bouq” can even be delivered on demand within hours, a lifesaver for spouses and children who perhaps procrastinated a bit too long. All the vendors in this “farm to table” arrangement approach practice sustainable farming that minimizes waste. Want to give Mom the gift that keeps on giving? Consider gifting a living plant that can provide beauty (and clean air) to her space for years. Any potted plant will do nicely, but if you’re looking for an easy, low-maintenance gift idea, moth orchids (phalaenopsis) , in particular, are beautiful, usually easy to find at your local market, extremely low-maintenance (you barely need to water them), and great indoor-air cleaners . RELATED: 7 indoor plants that purify the air naturally 7. Edible goodies INNA Jam ’s jams , shrubs, pickles, and salts are next-level delicious. With a focus on organically grown produce from a 150-mile radius of the company’s California kitchen and a strict seasonal sensibility, Moms and anyone who gives these treats a try will fall in love with the flavorful, jewel-toned, single-origin jams as well as the game-changing shrubs (basically a fruit/vinegar/sugar syrup). Other ideas? Try hand-crafted, non-GMO pickles in flavors including Maple Bourbon Whiskey Sour from Brooklyn Brine  or a 111-year-old dehydrated sourdough starter . 8. Art Adjusting to life with kids often means mamas have to modify their travel and adventure expectations. If she can’t lay her eyes on a far-flung island or peak in real life for the time being, playful and cheerful wall art that brings to mind her love of nature may be a temporary salve. Printed on FSC-certified or recycled paper,  options from Graphic Anthology  include abstract geometric trees or mountains , Scandinavian design-inspired fish , and a sweet reminder to all to Go Outside and Play  and would make also great additions to a nursery, kitchen, or family room. You can even pick up a gorgeous Mother’s Day card while you are browsing the site. Lead image © REI/Outessa

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8 thoughtful Mother’s Day gift ideas for the eco mama in your life

Uber launching self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this month

August 18, 2016 by  
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Uber has been quietly working on research and development for its own self-driving cars, and the first units in its autonomous fleet will tool around the streets of Pittsburgh before the end of this month, according to a new report. Bloomberg broke the exciting news today, backed up by an interview with John Bares, who heads Uber’s autonomous car project at the company’s Advanced Technologies Center. The company aims to eventually replace its human drivers with a self-driving fleet that passengers can summon on demand through the smartphone app, just like always, but different. Last spring, residents of Pittsburgh first spotted Uber’s research car , and the rideshare company finally  confirmed its self-driving car project a few months ago. Later this month, Uber’s self-driving test fleet will hit the road with humans in the driver seat (both for safety and legality) and passengers will be able to use their smartphones to summon a ride like usual, without knowing whether they will be picked up in one of the new cars. Although Google, Tesla, Ford, and other companies have all been testing self-driving cars on the road, this may be the first time any company has invited the public to participate in the testing process. Related: Uber’s self-driving test car spotted on the streets of Pittsburgh Right now, the self-driving cars are factory Volvo XC90 models that have been retrofitted with sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers to control the vehicle’s driving mechanisms. Bloomberg reports that Volvo has delivered just a few of these modified SUVs so far, but will reach 100 by the end of the year. Volvo and Uber have apparently agreed to invest $300 million in developing a fully autonomous car by 2021. Uber may source self-driving cars from other manufacturers, but little is known about whether the company has any deals in the works. For now, we’ll wait and see how the ridesharing company’s new self-driving prototypes perform in downtown Pittsburgh, and wonder which company will be next in line to put members of the public in the backseats of their own autonomous vehicles. Via Bloomberg Images via Uber

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Uber launching self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this month

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