Former railway yard to receive a green transformation in St. Petersburg

August 3, 2020 by  
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Dutch architectural firms KCAP and Orange Architects have teamed up with A.Len Architectural Bureau to redesign St. Petersburg’s former Tovarno-Vitebskaya railway yard into a new mixed-use district with extensive greenery. Created as a continuation of Glorax Development’s Ligovsky City neighborhood development project, the new adaptive reuse proposal will combine historic structures with contemporary architecture to inject new life into the area while paying homage to the site’s history. A variety of green space will be incorporated into the masterplan, from linear parks and landscaped boulevards that follow the historic railway tracks to more intimate courtyards and walkways interspersed between the new buildings. Located in the southeastern part of St. Petersburg’s “gray belt”, the adaptive reuse proposal would transform a former railway yard on Ligovsky Prospekt into a predominately residential district for 8,600 people. The 30-hectare site would also include restaurants, cafes, leisure facilities, street retail, service companies, sports facilities, four kindergartens, one primary and one secondary school and both underground and surface parking lots.  Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France The architects have inventoried the existing architectural structures and plan to reuse many historic elements — such as small buildings, blue cranes, tracks and poles — into the long and linear public parks that will be developed along the main railway tracks from north to south. The project’s main entrance will be located on the primarily mixed-use northern end where the new “Borovaya” metro station will stand and serve as the new urban center for Ligovsky. In contrast, the southern part of the site will feature taller buildings, three of which will create a strong building edge nicknamed “The Trio.” “We want to create an active and landscaped environment where you can feel the history of the railway and live with the people around you,” said Patrick Meijers, partner at Orange Architects. “An area that simultaneously is smoothly connected to the city of St. Petersburg.” + KCAP + Orange Architects Images via Orange Architects

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Former railway yard to receive a green transformation in St. Petersburg

Check out this handmade wood cabin in North Carolina

August 3, 2020 by  
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This 400-square-foot cabin, nicknamed The Nook, can be found in the charming, forested area of Swannanoa, North Carolina, just outside of Asheville. The project was a labor of love by owner and professional photographer Mike Belleme, who built the cabin himself along with a rotating crew of local community craftspeople. Even better, he used locally sourced materials in the construction, milling some of the wood himself from fallen trees on the property. The spacious cabin’s 18-foot ceilings help provide plenty of opportunity for natural light. This is only magnified by its large windows and open design, which was executed by local firm Shelter Design Studio. With a special breakfast alcove, a tea loft and dedicated lofts for entertainment and sleeping, it is easy to see how The Nook got its name. In an effort to take the cabin’s simple form and enhance it with as many distinct zones (or “nooks”) as possible, the Asheville-based studio has achieved a unique and thoughtful space with lots of room for lounging and storage. Related: Work from home in this minimalist, modular 15-sided cabin A network of talented local artisans and craftspeople including woodworkers, weavers and metalworkers were involved in the building process, so the result is both custom and high-quality. A selection of the materials used in the furnishings was foraged by the owner himself, such as a handmade ladder made from found ash wood . Locally sourced cypress wood makes up the exterior siding, and the entryway is made of reclaimed oak treated with the Japanese wood charring technique of shou sugi ban. There is a modern kitchen, bathroom and a set of sliding glass doors that open to an outdoor back porch. To add a touch of whimsy, an indoor swing is installed in front of one of the massive windows. The Nook is available to rent now through Airbnb . + Shelter Design Studio Images via Mike Belleme

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Check out this handmade wood cabin in North Carolina

Safari Condo’s Alto travel trailer can be pulled by electric cars

July 24, 2020 by  
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Travel in a recreational vehicle is not necessarily an Earth-friendly activity. Big rigs hauling big toys expel large quantities of emissions and guzzle gas at an inefficient average of 4 to 8 miles per gallon. So a Canadian travel trailer manufacturer, Safari Condo, decided to focus on a streamlined design that will allow those who want to go off the beaten path to leave behind a smaller footprint.  The Alto series by Safari Condo is an assortment of lightweight and aerodynamic trailers that reduce drag while towing. Not only does that improve towing efficiency and require less gas, but the ultralight design means they can be pulled with smaller, less polluting vehicles. Hook an Alto series trailer up to a small SUV, Jeep, Subaru or even an electric car , like the Tesla Model X, which was used to test out the towability of this model.  Related: These ultra-cool, vintage-style travel trailers can go off the grid for a week “The newest Safari Condo seems perfect for anyone who wants to bring the comfort of home to the outside world while spewing fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in the process,” the company said. “The wedge-shaped trailer uses 15% less energy while being towed than the company’s earlier models, in spite of being roughly 900 pounds heavier than the latter trailer.” The lighter weight is achieved by both material selection and clever design. The frame is made up of aluminum to offer support without the bulky weight. A honeycomb building structure adds additional strength. Inside, the furniture also consists largely of aluminium and composite materials with rigid and ultralight sandwich panels integrated into the bed cushions and bed structures made of aluminium extrusions. The materials are not only lightweight but, for the most part, are also recyclable. Each travel trailer model varies slightly, with one offering a retractable roof that raises and lowers in order to fit inside the garage. All models sleep three to four people and come complete with a dining area, kitchen, shower, toilet, wardrobe and plenty of storage to ensure your more environmentally friendly adventures don’t require you to sacrifice comfort. + Safari Condo Via Yanko Design Images via Safari Condo

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Safari Condo’s Alto travel trailer can be pulled by electric cars

What makes Al Gore hopeful: Tech innovation, science-based targets and the racial ‘awakening’

July 22, 2020 by  
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What makes Al Gore hopeful: Tech innovation, science-based targets and the racial ‘awakening’ Heather Clancy Wed, 07/22/2020 – 02:00 Who is responsible for emissions? Where did they originate? How can we be sure? A global coalition fronted by former Vice President Al Gore promises granular insights and data into those sources — down to individual power plants, ships or factories. Climate TRACE (short for Tracking Real-time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions) intends to use a massive worldwide network of satellite images, land- and sea-based sensors and advanced artificial intelligence to generate what it’s describing as the “most thorough and reliable data on emissions the world has ever seen.” The long lag it takes to calculate this information today is untenable if countries and the corporate sector hope to act quickly, the group wrote  in a blog about the initiative, co-authored by Gore and Gavin McCormick, founder and executive director of coalition member WattTime. “From companies looking to select cleaner manufacturing suppliers, to investors seeking to divest from polluting industries, to consumers making choices about which businesses to patronize, one thing is clear: a reliable way to measure where emissions are coming from is necessary,” they wrote. “Climate TRACE will empower all of these actors.”  Some of the innovation around new materials has been particularly impressive to me, materials like silicon carbide. Climate TRACE is just the latest example of the former vice president’s decades-long commitment to educating the world about the climate crisis, through The Climate Reality Project, and to investing in technologies and solutions that could address it, through Generation Investment Manager.  Emissions monitoring using advanced technologies is something all members of the coalition have been working on for some time, but breakthroughs in software and processing technologies — as well as the will to take action more quickly than mid-decade — prompted the coalition members to step forward with the goal of making its first report before the United Nations COP26 conference in 2021. Candidly, Gore is the reason I’m on the corporate climate beat, so I was inspired by the invitation to interview him as a virtual keynote session for SEMICON West , a conference focused on members of the semiconductor industry. “There are real indications that this COVID-19 pandemic has actually accelerated the shift toward more sustainable technologies and as much as anything else, I would say there has been a very dramatic change in attitudes,” Gore told me at the beginning of our chat, prerecorded before the Climate TRACE announcement.   To be clear, the data isn’t encouraging. As Gore related during our conversation, 19 of the 20 hottest years “ever measured with instruments” have been in the last 20 years — and 2020 is on pace to dethrone the current record holder for hottest year on record. What’s more, Gore observes that we’re still emitting 152 million tons of heat-trapping pollution into the atmosphere every 24 hours. The consequences of that imbalance are felt in water cycle disruptions, sea-level rises, far stronger storms and the spread of tropical diseases northward, he noted. “It’s a real horror story and since our civilization has been built up almost entirely during this climate envelope, if you will, that has persisted since the end of the last ice age, the fact that we’re changing those conditions so radically poses an existential threat to the survival of human civilization as we know it.” But advances in processing, communications and data analysis technologies give Gore hope that humans still can take meaningful action, especially with new resolve and urgency borne out of the COVID-19 crisis, Gore told me. “This can be the stimulus we need for sustainable prosperity in the wake of the pandemic as we finally come out of it, so it’s so important that this tremendous industry has awakened to this challenge and is providing tremendous leadership,” he said.   Following is a partial transcript of our conversation, which picks up after Gore’s opening remarks. The comments were edited for clarity and length.  Heather Clancy: Do you see any long-term changes emanating from the COVD-19 crisis that could help the world deliver a zero-carbon future? Are there nuggets of hope in the response that you can point to specifically? Gore:   Well, you have to go country by country, and I don’t want to dwell too much on the response here in the United States right now. I’m a recovering politician, and I don’t want to stray back into that field. The longer I go without a relapse, the less likely one becomes. But you can find examples of hope and optimism in many country’s response to the pandemic and their success should be emulated elsewhere. I’ll leave it at that. But there are many realizations that are coming from this. We now know that the burning of fossil fuels is a precondition for higher mortality rates under COVID-19. There was a study of 324 cities in China showing a linear correlation between the infection rate and the death rate from COVID-19 compared to the amount of fossil fuels burned in those locations. A Harvard study showed the same thing here in the U.S. and even if you go back to the 1918-1919 [flu] pandemic, there was a very thorough study just 18 months ago showing that the amount of coal burned in cities throughout the U.S., again, was correlated precisely with the death rate from the great flu pandemic a little over 100 years ago. There is a lot of scholarship on how diversity in crowds, if it’s properly appreciated and tapped into, can make any group and any company way smarter than the smartest person in that company. Now we’ve already also seen with COVID-19 a rapid reduction in travel and an increase in working from home and I’m sure many of the people listening to us, Heather, have had the same experience I know you and I have had. That is thinking, “Wow, this stuff works pretty well. Maybe we don’t have to make all of those airplane flights that we have been chained to for all this time,’” and there are many other examples. There are real indications that this COVID-19 pandemic has actually accelerated the shift toward more sustainable technologies and as much as anything else, I would say there has been a very dramatic change in attitudes. I don’t want to sound Pollyannish, but I really believe there has been a kind of a general awakening.  The gains from the LGBTQ community of the last several years are being consolidated. The gains demanded in gender equity over the last several years are also being consolidated, and I think, again, the shocking new awareness on the part of so many of the inequities and injustices that communities of color have been experiencing for a lot of reasons. I mean, they are much more likely to be downwind from the smokestacks and downstream from the hazardous waste flows, but they also have much less access to quality healthcare. Their housing, by and large, is not the same. They don’t have the Zoom-able jobs like we do right now on average. Incomes, I mean, it takes 11.5 typical Black families, average Black families to make up the net worth of one white family, average white family in the U.S. and these statistics have remained unchanged for 50 years. We’ve got to change that, and I think there is a general increase in awareness, an awakening if you will. One jokester called it The Great Awokening. I don’t think I’ll use that phrase as my own, but I do think there is something to it. I think that the rising generation is demanding a better future, and if they knew all that you have planned and underway in this industry, they would feel so good about it. I’m going to do my part to make sure they do find out about it. Clancy: What foundational technologies do you see coming out of this moment of destruction that could really make an impact? And let’s go to the semiconductor industry. What positive developments do you see happening where they could really make a difference? Gore: Some of the innovation around new materials has been particularly impressive to me, materials like silicon carbide … These have been already essential in, well, take increasing the range of Tesla’s electric vehicles and actually that’s another mark of the change. Tesla just became the most valuable automobile company in the world, surpassing Toyota. That’s pretty impressive.  I’ll mention one more: Innovations around how semiconductors are packaged, that’s also been a prominent trend and essential in enabling the next generation of algorithms which power things like drug discovery, which has got our attention right now, and smart electricity grids which are much more power efficient. Environmental leader Al Gore. Clancy: What could get in the way of these advances? What concerns should the industry have from an environmental standpoint as they take these to the mainstream? Gore: Well, we are seeing a challenge to the efficacy of self-government. I don’t want to sound too highfalutin on this, but really here in the U.S., we have seen what can stand in our way when we pretty much know what to do and we just have to get our act together and think and act collectively to do it and when we let partisanship get out of bounds and when we don’t accept the authority of knowledge, when we tolerate an assault on reason and when we allow powerful players in the economy to embark on information strategies that are intended to put out wrong facts. I started to say alternative facts but, again, I don’t want to trip over all of those controversies. But it is a problem, seriously, and we have seen that spread to some other countries like Brazil and the Philippines and Hungary, not to mention Russia. Democracy itself is the most efficient way of making collective decisions because it allows us to harvest the wisdom of crowds. There is a lot of scholarship on how diversity in crowds, if it’s properly appreciated and tapped into, can make any group and any company way smarter than the smartest person in that company. So I do believe that we are seeing a number of positive developments, and I do have a lot of confidence in this rising generation that is insisting that we get on with these solutions. Clancy: You referenced data centers and cloud computing services earlier, particularly for enabling things like artificial intelligence — which we need for drug discovery, we need for so many things, so many applications related to conservation and climate change. But these things use a lot of electricity. How can the tech industry address this? Gore:  New technologies, innovation efficiency — including some of the new developments that I’ve already mentioned — will help, but we’ve got to go into this with our eyes wide open. Applied Materials has told us that, has told the world that their studies indicate that we could actually see a very large increase in the amount of energy used for information processing and that makes this challenge even more urgent. But I do continue to be optimistic, very optimistic on the ability of this industry to rise to the challenge and there are some things the industry could do, and I know some of these have been discussed.  First of all, collaborate across the industry from semiconductor equipment makers to software companies with academia to think about how to deliver a step change in the efficiency of data center semiconductors. It’s been encouraging already to see cutting-edge applications of artificial intelligence to effectively reduce data server energy use by significant amounts without any changes to hardware. I’ve been following for a few years now Google’s use of its DeepMind Division to dramatically reduce energy use in server farms, again, without any new hardware. That’s awfully impressive… Now they had the advantage of a lot of structured data to work with. They’re Google, after all, so they got a lot of structured data but there are thousands of use cases where that same approach can also be used.  Secondly, reduce the electricity required to manufacture semiconductors. I’ve been amazed at the increasing amount of power required to manufacture these ever-smaller chips, and I would join with others in encouraging all of the equipment manufacturers to work together to reduce carbon emissions in the manufacturing of these advanced semiconductors and finally continue decarbonizing the power supply on which the data centers operate… Clancy: I want to go back to something you referenced in your opening remarks, which is the environmental justice issue. It’s well-documented that climate change has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. How can the tech industry act internally and externally to change this to get rid of that digital divide that prevents progress? Gore: Well, I think first of all, this awakening that I talked about has affected people in the semiconductor industry. You look at these protest marches around the U.S. The vast majority of those marching are white and two-thirds of the American people now say they support the Black Lives Matter movement, a dramatic change compared to just two months ago. And, of course, George Floyd’s murder was a turning point but it’s also reflective of the changes that we have seen more broadly in our society. I mentioned already the fact that the communities of color are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19, and there are many reasons for it. But it’s wise for every industry, particularly a cutting-edge industry like this one, to respond very effectively to the rising demands from two groups.  First, younger employees who want their work to have meaning. Many of the executives listening to us have already long since learned that when they interview the best and brightest to join their firms, they find that the job applicants are interviewing them. They want to know whether or not the company shares their views on sustainability and shares their views on diversity. I think that the Science Based Targets initiative is a particularly important initiative that can make a tremendous difference, and I want to commend the leaders in this industry who have taken that step. And, by the way, I mentioned the wisdom of crowds earlier. I don’t want to emphasize it too much, but we’ve studied that a lot at Generation, and the scholars tell us and the evidence proves that you benefit tremendously in your collective thinking from as much diversity as possible on every matrix except one.  You don’t want any diversity on values. But then if you have different life experiences, different points of view, different religious traditions, different ethnicities and all of the rest orientations, that adds to the ability of any company to make better collective decisions. And so for the tech industry, specifically, it’s long been known that this industry has work to do in order to deal with the struggle to become more racially and culturally diverse. We’ve seen software companies make some very encouraging efforts to broaden their hiring funnels through apprenticeships and scholarships, but that could probably be increased in the semiconductor industry also. Clancy: Speed is of the essence in the fight against the climate crisis. How can the tech industry and the government work together maybe like in the area of research and development but also more broadly to make the most of this moment? Gore: Well, I think that the Science Based Targets initiative is a particularly important initiative that can make a tremendous difference, and I want to commend the leaders in this industry who have taken that step. I want to encourage others to adopt and embrace a science-based target to make sure that their activities and their emissions reductions plans are in keeping with what the global scientific community, the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] says is necessary to stay below a 1.5-degree Celsius increase in temperatures. Look, this is an existential threat to our society, and I know I’ve used that phrase, but we’ve got to accept that and we have got to take leadership and make sure that we’re doing everything we can. It’s just unbearable to imagine a future generation living with the kinds of consequences the scientists tell us would ensue if we don’t solve this crisis. And imagine them looking back at us in the year 2020 and asking, “Why in the hell didn’t you do something about it? Didn’t you hear the scientists? Couldn’t you hear Mother Nature screaming at you?”  Every night on the TV news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation, practically. We’re appropriately focused on the pandemic now, but even now we’re seeing these extreme weather events and the increasingly dire forecasts from the scientists. So I’m encouraged by this industry, and I think that the science-based targets approach is a really great step, and I’d encourage everybody to adopt them. Pull Quote Some of the innovation around new materials has been particularly impressive to me, materials like silicon carbide. I think that the Science Based Targets initiative is a particularly important initiative that can make a tremendous difference, and I want to commend the leaders in this industry who have taken that step. There is a lot of scholarship on how diversity in crowds, if it’s properly appreciated and tapped into, can make any group and any company way smarter than the smartest person in that company. Topics Climate Change Innovation Social Justice Technology Racial Justice Collective Insight The GreenBiz Interview Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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What makes Al Gore hopeful: Tech innovation, science-based targets and the racial ‘awakening’

Apple embeds racial justice into new supply-chain carbon neutrality pledge

July 21, 2020 by  
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Apple embeds racial justice into new supply-chain carbon neutrality pledge Heather Clancy Tue, 07/21/2020 – 04:13 Apple already has ventured far beyond most other companies when it comes to pushing for climate action within its supply chain.  Consider that it has convinced more than 70 Apple suppliers to use renewable energy to produce products on its behalf , an effort funded in part by close to $5 billion in green bonds issued by the technology giant as well as a dedicated pool of money in China.  Now, it’s wandering farther into uncharted territory. With its latest set of combined sustainability commitments, Apple is pushing for carbon neutrality across its entire business by the end of this decade, including its supply chain and the life cycle for its products. Its own operations have been carbon neutral for some time, thanks in large part to its extensive investments in renewable energy projects. While every large company focuses to some extent on motivating suppliers to embrace sustainability principles such as reduced emissions or zero waste, few have aggressively and officially extended their corporate carbon neutrality pledges into the Scope 3 realm and into to their entire value chain. IKEA, L’Oreal, Microsoft and Unilever stand out as the notable recent exceptions in my sphere of knowledge. (I’d love to hear about more.) “By driving this scale of climate ambition through its supply chain, Apple is making a big, global contribution to the move to clean energy, transport and manufacturing. It will have a particularly big impact in some of the most critical markets for tackling greenhouse gases. The 2030 timing is as important as the scale of this move. By then, the whole world needs to halve carbon emissions,” said Sam Kimmins, head of the RE100 initiative at the Climate Group, in a statement. As of this update — and thanks to new projects in Arizon, Oregon, and Illinois — Apple has supported the development of more than 1 gigawatt of clean energy to support its own corporate campus footprint. Apple’s new carbon neutrality strategy will be supported by a number of investments, including a carbon solutions fund to protect and restore forests (something that Microsoft and Amazon are also prioritizing). Its first projects, in partnership with Conservation International, include a unique focus on restoring mangroves — which can store up to 10 times more carbon than forests on land. The overall aim of this nature-based carbon solutions fund is to remove 1 million to 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, with the aim of scaling over time. “This approach is more than buying carbon credits — it is an investment in nature that provides meaningful returns for both the planet and the people who invest in it,” Apple notes in 2020 annual environmental progress report . Speaking of investments in people, Apple has created an Impact Accelerator meant specifically to invest in minority-owned businesses focused on “positive outcomes” in its supply chain or addressing communities disproportionately affected by environmental hazards. “Systemic racism and climate change are not separate issues, and they will not abide separate solutions,” said Lisa Jackson, vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives for Apple, in a statement. “We have a generational opportunity to help build a greener and more just economy, one where we develop whole new industries in the pursuit of giving the next generation a planet worth calling home.” Apple hasn’t said how much the accelerator will allocate in funding toward addressing the climate crisis, but the effort is part of Apple’s larger $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative announced in June. We’ll be watching this initiative closely. Plenty of other updates are included in Apple’s progress report. I’ll leave you with a few highlights:  7 gigawatts and counting. That’s how much clean energy companies within Apple supply chain have committed to using. In China and Japan, Apple also has stepped in to help facilitate the development of close to 500 megawatts of solar and wind projects. Incidentally, while many of these initiatives are international, close to a dozen involve facilities in the United States. A new materials diet. Apple is using the first batch of the low-carbon aluminum it has been developing in production related to the 16-inch MacBook Pro notebook computer. Liam and Daisy, meet Dave. The company has added another disassembly robot within its materials recovering and circular production lab in Austin, Texas. This one takes out the Taptic Engine from iPhones, which is the haptics technology component. (You can catch a video here .) Recycled and rare. All rare elements included in the aforementioned Taptic Engine were reclaimed from recycling. 35 percent. That’s how much Apple reduced its actual carbon footprint since it peaked in 2015. This story was updated at noon EDT July 21 to remove the Greenpeace USA comment, as it did not properly reflect certain publicly stated elements of Apple’s strategy. Topics Information Technology Corporate Strategy Supply Chain Social Justice Energy Efficiency Racial Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apple partnered with Conservation International and regional partners in 2018 to protect and restore a 27,000-acre mangrove forest in Colombia. It will apply those learnings to addition projects. Courtesy of Apple Close Authorship

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Apple embeds racial justice into new supply-chain carbon neutrality pledge

Proposed BREATHE Act seeks environmental justice

July 13, 2020 by  
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Environmental justice is one of the important topics that the BREATHE Act addresses. The Movement for Black Lives introduced the bill, which would make enormous changes to the justice system, as well as education, healthcare and many other aspects of Americans’ daily lives. “We crafted this bill to be big,” said Gina Clayton Johnson, executive director of Essie Justice Group and a co-creator of the act, as reported by New York Magazine’s The Cut . “We know the solution has to be as big as the 400-year-old problem itself.” Related: How to support environmental justice The proposal is divided into four sections. The third section, entitled “Allocating New Money to Build Healthy, Sustainable & Equitable Communities for All People,” calls for creating a clear plan to ensure all communities can access safe, clean water; bringing air standards within EPA safety limits; and making a plan to meet 100% of power demand with renewable and zero-emission energy . Other proposed environmental policy changes include funding preparedness efforts for climate change-related disasters, subsidizing community-owned sustainable energy solutions and funding for returning and preserving sacred sites to Indigenous communities. The other three sections of the BREATHE Act address divesting federal resources from incarceration and policing, investing in new approaches to community safety, holding officials accountable and enhancing self-determination of Black communities. The Movement for Black Lives is a nationwide coalition composed of Black organizations. Since forming in 2014, they’ve adopted an anti-capitalist, abolitionist stance calling for axing prisons, police forces and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The organization’s political champions include Ayanna Pressley, Democratic Representative of Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District and the first Black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib, Democratic Representative of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District and the first Muslim woman to serve in the Michigan legislature. “The BREATHE Act is bold…. It pushes us to reimagine power structures and what community investment really looks like,” Tlaib said. “We can start to envision through this bill a new vision for public safety. One that protects and affirms Black lives.” + BREATHE Act Via Grist Image via S. Hermann & F. Richter

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Proposed BREATHE Act seeks environmental justice

Hood Rivers mixed-use Outpost achieves industrial chic with mass timber

July 13, 2020 by  
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About an hour west of Portland, Oregon, a stretch of post-industrial waterfront along the Hood River has been revitalized as Outpost, a dynamic new destination for making, co-working and play. Designed by local studio Skylab Architecture , the first completed mass timber building in the mixed-use development pays homage to the industrial roots of the area — the site was formerly home to an industrial wastewater treatment and processing facility. The project champions eco-friendly construction that includes locally sourced and sustainably harvested wood. The phased project is part of the city’s ongoing Waterfront Masterplan to reconnect residents with Hood River.  <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-1-889×592.jpg" alt="light and charred wood building with large windows" class="wp-image-2274542" Completed in 2018, phase one of Outpost comprises a 30,000-square-foot complex, which consists of a pair of three-story buildings that function as one large structure with a long bar shape. A partially covered, shared open area occupies the heart of the complex at the junction of the two buildings and houses the elevators and stairs as well as informal lounge spaces oriented toward Hood River. The industrial-scaled ground level across both buildings contain maker spaces, a brewery and a distillery. The second level supports retail and restaurants — public-facing spaces that are traditionally located on the street level — in order to take advantage of views of the waterfront, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood. The third floor houses a variety of creative office spaces. Related: Wedge-shaped Sideyard champions CLT construction <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-3-889×592.jpg" alt="people looking out from a loft over a brewery" class="wp-image-2274544" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-4-889×592.jpeg" alt="dark wood tables with light wood benches in wood-lined room" class="wp-image-2274545" The structural framing is exposed throughout the interior to celebrate the selection of locally sourced and sustainably harvested timber beams. Tall ceiling heights, oversized windows and black metal accents emphasize the project’s industrial aesthetic. For energy efficiency, the architects optimized access to natural light and installed thermally broken windows. <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-7-889×592.jpg" alt="people seated at large, U-shaped table with fire pit on an outdoor patio" class="wp-image-2274548" <img src="//inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2020/07/Outpost-Skylab-Architecture-11-889×592.jpeg" alt="elongated dark wood building in front of mountainous landscape" class="wp-image-2274552" “Outpost puts the mixed in mixed-use commercial by merging traditionally exclusive industrial uses with commercial, mixed-use maker spaces that can be shared and experienced,” the firm explained. “Outpost represents a new prototype, a wood structure redefining industrial commercial buildings beyond storage and manufacturing.” Outpost will eventually become part of a 60,000-square-foot mixed-use development to better connect the city with the Columbia River waterfront. + Skylab Architecture Photography by Stephen Miller via Skylab Architecture

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Hood Rivers mixed-use Outpost achieves industrial chic with mass timber

Victory at Standing Rock as Dakota Access pipeline shut down

July 8, 2020 by  
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The Standing Rock Sioux tribe won a reprieve after the Monday decision by a U.S. District Court judge to suspend the Dakota Access pipeline pending further environmental review. The highly controversial  pipeline  has operated for three years. Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered both sides to submit briefs on whether the pipeline should continue operations. In March, Boasberg ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it permitted the pipeline and failed to acknowledge the devastating consequences of potential oil spills in the area. Related: Dakota Access Pipeline placed under environmental review The 1,172-mile pipeline transports oil underground from North Dakota to Illinois, passing through South Dakota and Iowa on its way. Standing Rock Reservation straddles the Dakotas’ state line and draws its water from the Missouri River. The tribe alleges the pipeline, which crosses beneath the river, pollutes their water . Energy Transfer, a Texas-based gas and oil company that owns the biggest share in the project, disagrees and claims the pipeline is safe. The $3.8 billion pipeline brought trouble from the start. During its construction in 2016-2017, tribal members began a protest campaign that drew international support. Activists from around the country stood with Standing Rock. Some clashes at the site grew violent, with police and security officers using attack dogs, water cannons and military equipment to clear protesters and their encampments. Political action persisted, with David Archambault II, then-Chairman for Standing Rock , addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2016. Senator and former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders also supported the protests, and then-President Barack Obama spoke with tribal leaders.  In December 2016, before leaving office, the Obama administration ordered a full environmental review of the project, including analysis of the tribe’s treaty rights, and denied permits allowing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River. President Donald  Trump  signed an executive order expediting construction during his first week in office. But for now, the tribal  water  supply is safe. “Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” Mike Faith, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman, said in a statement. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.” + The Guardian Via Earth Justice Images via Indrid Cold , Fibonacci Blue and John Duffy

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Victory at Standing Rock as Dakota Access pipeline shut down

How ESG issues can become even more relevant in times of market crisis

July 8, 2020 by  
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How ESG issues can become even more relevant in times of market crisis Shannon Houde Wed, 07/08/2020 – 00:40 As a Brit based in Santa Monica, California, Daniel E. Ingram is the chair of investment advisory company Wilshire’s ESG and Diversity Committee. Wilshire, which has more than $8.6 billion in assets under management and $168 billion in assets under advisement, recruited Ingram in 2017 as part of an effort to expand its ESG and socially responsible investing capabilities. Previously, Ingram was head of responsible investing for BT Pension Scheme, the United Kingdom’s largest corporate retirement plan. Ingram is also a member of the CFA Institute’s ESG working group responsible for defining an industry standard, along with representatives from the International Monetary Fund, BlackRock, the Principles for Responsible Investment and other prominent players in the responsible investment arena.  Ingram helps advise institutional asset owners on how to protect and grow long-term capital by integrating ESG risks and opportunities into investment decisions. We recently spoke about the expansion of ESG analysis in investment strategies, the end of shareholder primacy and why investors may be better off preparing for the next potential crisis sooner than later. Shannon Houde: Tell me about your role in ESG and how you ended up in this space. Daniel E. Ingram: My role mainly involves delivering educational workshops to trustees and investment staff from public and private retirement plans, foundations and endowments on the investment case for ESG. As discussions move from why ESG to how, I help to design ESG policies, source high-performing investment products and conduct impact analysis on investment portfolios.  I’ve been working in the ESG space since before the term was coined. My interest in issues like climate change stems from my early career in public service on the graduate program at Her Majesty’s Treasury. I worked as chief of staff for — now Lord, then Sir — Nick Stern on his landmark review on the economics of climate change. Even though it was published 14 years ago, much of the findings of that seminal report are relevant today, namely that the benefits of addressing climate change, sooner than later, far outweighs the costs. Houde: What’s the investor outlook for ESG? Ingram: Investor interest in ESG issues continues to grow, and it’s becoming increasingly self-evident that the management of ESG risks and opportunities, such as resource efficiency and board skills/independence, can have a material impact on asset values. As a result, there’s been a show of confidence in ESG strategies, with Q1 2020 seeing inflows to some ESG funds.  In terms of performance, some ESG funds have posted relatively positive returns due to lower exposure to conventional energy and balance sheet leverage, and higher exposure to quality growth factors and technology. Governance is king. It tends to lead to better environmental and social performance. Houde: What’s the role of corporate governance and investor stewardship in crisis? Ingram: Governance is king, and it tends to lead to better environmental and social performance. In times of crisis, like the 2009 financial crisis or COVID-19, investors are compelled to take a closer look at corporate governance practices like disaster contingency plans, cybersecurity risk management and decisions about capital structure — [such as] share buybacks & M&A activity.  Investors may also be compelled to become better stewards of financial capital by holding companies to account for their leadership actions, incentive structures and strategic decisions. For example, the San Francisco Employee Retirement System issued a statement calling for corporations to find innovative ways to reorganize their manufacturing, distribution, resources and service capabilities to address COVID-19. Houde: Is this a moment of reckoning for the S in ESG? Ingram: Yes, I believe so. The S — for social — relates to issues around human capital management such as labor practices, employee health and safety, and employee engagement, diversity and inclusion. These issues are becoming increasingly financially material, particularly for the extractives and services sectors.  In recognition of this fundamental shift, the U.S. Business Roundtable issued a new statement in 2019 that redefined the purpose of a corporation away from its previously held position that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders to its new position that corporations should serve for the benefit of all stakeholders — customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.  The S — for social — relates to issues around human capital management such as labor practices, employee health and safety, and employee engagement, diversity and inclusion. Houde: What’s next for how investors approach ESG? Ingram: In the same way epidemiologists have been warning of a deadly coronavirus outbreak for years, climate scientists have been warning us for decades about the social and economic risks from rising sea levels, droughts, wildfires and air pollution. While there’s no way we could have predicted the devastating scale or exact timing from the coronavirus pandemic, many of us would readily admit we could have been much better prepared and responded more rapidly.  Investors require high-quality advice to help them prepare and position their investment portfolios for climate change and potential future lower-carbon investment opportunities. These preparations may include: measuring portfolio exposure to different transition and physical risks; developing an ESG policy; evaluating how active investment managers take climate risks into account in valuations; or investing in a lower-carbon passive index fund. Houde: What advice do you have for someone wanting to work in ESG? Ingram: There are so many great ESG opportunities right now — if you’re not working in the space and want to get in, maybe find yourself a coach to help present yourself in the best possible light. The ESG community tends to be relatively close-knit and highly approachable.  If you can participate in an ESG conference or reach out to ESG professionals via LinkedIn, most of us will gladly offer our 10 cents of advice and tell you how incredibly rewarding it can be to work in this increasingly important and fast-growing industry. Pull Quote Governance is king. It tends to lead to better environmental and social performance. The S — for social — relates to issues around human capital management such as labor practices, employee health and safety, and employee engagement, diversity and inclusion. Topics Finance & Investing ESG Featured Column Purpose and People 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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How ESG issues can become even more relevant in times of market crisis

Hydropower demand is damaging Indigenous lands

June 23, 2020 by  
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Many U.S. states are setting renewable energy goals, turning to hydropower as a cheap source of cleaner energy. But for Inuit hunters in far eastern Canada , Americans’ demand for cheap, renewable energy, particularly in the form of hydropower, is ruining traditional hunting grounds. The remote community of Rigolet on the northern coast of Labrador is downstream from Muskrat Falls, a dam on the Churchill River and an important drainage point for the province’s biggest watershed. The state-owned company Nalcor built the dam and has another — which would produce thrice the electricity — in the works. Most of the energy is exported to the U.S. Related: Fish-friendly whirlpool turbine makes hydropower green again But the Nunatsiavut government, which represents the area’s 2,700 Inuit people, said the dams disrupt ecosystems and expose residents to increased amounts of naturally occurring mercury. Flooding land unlocks mercury from the ground. Once it gets into the water, bacteria transforms it into methylmercury, a neurotoxin that gets into fish, waterbirds and seals as well as the people who eat these animals. The Inuit community living in Labrador already have higher methylmercury concentrations than non-Indigenous Canadians. “When they poison the water , they poison us,” said David Wolfrey, Rigolet conservation officer. These issues are all too common among First Nations people in Canada. A 2016 survey found that of 22 planned Canadian hydropower projects, all were within 60 miles of one or more Indigenous communities. Many U.S. states have announced ambitious energy goals in the last few years, including Maine, Vermont, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island and California. Lacking ways to generate this much energy locally, they’ve turned their gaze toward Canada. The northern neighbor of the U.S. is second only to China in hydropower production. Canada already has 900 large-scale dams which supply about 60% of Canada’s domestic energy needs, and the country has big plans for tripling output and damming the last wild rivers. Nalcor and other dam-building companies have offered Indigenous populations money and support for local community initiatives. But residents are divided, and many will never be won over, such as Alex Saunders, an Inuit citizen who has been treated for methylmercury poisoning. “Think about what you’re buying here,” he said, as reported in The Guardian. “You’re buying the misery from the local people of northern Canada. That’s not a good thing.” Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Hydropower demand is damaging Indigenous lands

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