Thinking Huts and Studio Mortazavi plan a 3D-printed school in Madagascar

March 16, 2021 by  
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International architectural firm Studio Mortazavi has teamed up with Colorado-based nonprofit Thinking Huts to propose designs for the world’s first 3D-printed school to be located in southern Madagascar . Developed to improve access to education in remote and impoverished areas, the modular concept taps into 3D printing for its low-carbon benefits and ability to shorten construction time from months to a matter of days. The design team, which has also partnered with Finland-based 3D technology company Hyperion Robotics and local Madagascar university EMIT, hopes to break ground on the pilot project in 2021. According to UNESCO, over 260 million children around the world lack access to education — a staggering number that includes over half of Madagascar’s 1.3 million primary-age children, who are not enrolled in school due to classroom overcrowding. As a result, Thinking Huts and Studio Mortazavi chose southern Madagascar for the pilot site, not only because of the pressing need for more educational infrastructure but also because of the country’s economic growth potential, political stability and optimal conditions for solar harvesting. Related: BIG unveils sustainable, 3D-printed lunar igloos for Moon exploration The 3D-printed pilot school will follow a low-cost modular design for scalability and adaptability. Inspired by a beehive, each wedge-shaped module will be printed from clay with natural pigments from the local landscape, then joined together with other units into a variety of configurations. Each module can be used as a standalone classroom that accommodates 20 children with space for a library, reading area, whiteboard desks and chairs, two individual toilets, a shared sink and storage. The modules can also be easily adapted for other uses such as a dance studio, woodworking shop and even housing. The eco-minded prototype project is expected to feature a vertical garden on the outside of its 3D-printed walls as well as rooftop solar panels and a rainwater harvesting system. “We are thrilled to be working with Studio Mortazavi who is at the forefront of design and innovation, forming a strong partnership that values sustainability within the construction industry as we seek to increase access to education via 3D-printed schools,” said Maggie Grout, founder of Thinking Huts. “We believe education is the vital catalyst to solving global issues ranging from gender inequality to poverty; achievable through local partnerships, we are building a future where communities have the necessary infrastructure to ensure that education is accessible to all.” Once the prototype project is complete, Thinking Huts hopes to build three additional schools with its materials partner LafargeHolcim in Madagascar’s Ibity. + Thinking Huts Images via Thinking Huts

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Thinking Huts and Studio Mortazavi plan a 3D-printed school in Madagascar

General Mills, Danone pilots provide proof for regenerative agriculture success

February 23, 2021 by  
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General Mills, Danone pilots provide proof for regenerative agriculture success Jesse Klein Tue, 02/23/2021 – 01:30 A few years into Danone’s and General Mills’ regenerative agriculture pilots, one thing has become clear: It’s about data collection. Holistically changing our agriculture system to become more sustainable comes later.  “We really don’t have a great understanding of what happens when farmers make these transitions to regenerative systems,” said Steven Rosenzweig, senior soil scientist at General Mills. “This represents a way to get a better understanding of what’s really happening with these landscapes.” Danone recently completed a three-year pilot program for regenerative agriculture on 82,000 acres of farmland. According to Nicholas Camu, vice president of agriculture at Danone North America, the biggest reward of this pilot is the data and subsequent analysis to understand what’s going on in the fields.  The company’s project provided funding — through government grants and fund matching initiatives — to help farmers transition to no-till agriculture and crop rotation, plant cover crops and other regenerative practices. By the end of the pilot, Danone’s farmers planted cover crops on 64 percent of the total acreage and practiced no-till on 77 percent. The national average is 5 percent and 33 percent respectively. They also doubled the number of crop species to 32. By switching to these regenerative practices, Danone hoped farms would restore the soil, foster biodiversity, protect water systems, reduce greenhouse gases and sequester more carbon. But doing so in a significant way to combat climate change will take much more than three years, and probably closer to a generation. So getting the data on what worked and how well it worked is almost more important at this early stage. Danone worked with third-party verification organization EcoPractices to measure the decrease in emissions, decrease in erosion and increase in carbon soil sequestration on each farm. But the reports are not public and data has remained the property of each individual farm, so we don’t really know how the shift to regenerative agriculture practices performed.  But Danone did share that across the 82,000 acres in the pilot, 39,035 acres grew cover crops and 46,378 acres reduced till or practiced no-till. In aggregate, according to Danone, practicing regenerative agriculture in this program reduced more than 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent and sequestered more than 20,000 tons of carbon into the soil.  Now with that data, Danone can use its “return on investment” tool to model what happens when farmers implement regenerative agriculture techniques and can use that to convince other farms it is worth the investment.  These pilots are about finding what actually works, and not every method works for every farm. “With this tool that we developed, we can say ‘OK, you need to buy a new tractor to reduce tillage. And we now know that at this farm, it will pay itself back in four years, which gives us the right arguments to talk to the farmers and convince them that this is the right investment and we will help you cover those costs for four years,” said Camu. “That’s all thanks to this data gathering that we can really make specific solutions for specific farms.” General Mills is only one year into its three-year program but it already has laid the groundwork for a massive data dump. The program involves 24 wheat growers in Kansas, 45 grain and oat farmers in Canada and three dairy farms in Michigan. The company took baseline samples in 2019 of the birds, insects and soil carbon levels at each farm and plans to come back each year to see progress. Its overarching sustainability goal is to expand regenerative agriculture practices to 1 million acres by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent by 2025.  “Farmers want to learn from the scientists,” said Rosenzweig. “Showing them how they’re collecting the data and what they’re finding. There’s a huge educational opportunity to transfer that knowledge from the scientists to the farmers and vice versa. The farmers are also seeing lots of things that scientists might not necessarily catch.”  These pilots are about finding what actually works, and not every method works for every farm.  Through the program, General Mills learned that the best science-based intentions can fall flat when they bump up against reality. According to Rosenzweig, the weather is the biggest unexpected challenge faced by any farmer and last year there was a record-breaking dry climate in the summer and fall in Canada followed by a wet spring. The perfect breeding ground for grasshoppers. The increase in grasshoppers created huge yield reductions as the pests ate crops.  According to Rosenzweig, even though the farmers were trying to spray fewer pesticides as part of their regenerative agriculture plan, they had to give in to control the massive grasshopper influx.  “So while [the farmers] are working towards establishing a healthy ecosystem with predator populations and general insect diversity to control against these pest outbreaks, until you have a system that’s really humming, you are still vulnerable to a lot of these pest outbreaks,” he said. During its pilot, Danone also learned that no-till agriculture didn’t work for farms where the ground is tough and full of clay. According to Camu, it compacts too fast and makes it impossible to plant anything without tillage, so they had to dial back up the tillage at those specific farms. Regenerative agriculture isn’t a light switch. Danone’s and General Mills’ pilots and subsequent data gathering are to help farmers slowly start to turn the wheel and break the high barrier of entry to regenerative agriculture. Armed with good data and anecdotal evidence, Danone plans to expand its regenerative agriculture to 100,000 acres over the next two years. “It’s best to let your farmers do the talking for you to the other farmers,” Camu said. “You have to have the right arguments and some proof. Some take the leap of faith a little bit faster than others. But then when you have those, you always have farmers that follow.” Pull Quote These pilots are about finding what actually works, and not every method works for every farm. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Farmers Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The main take away from General Mills’ and Danone’s programs is testing the theories of carbon sequestration. //Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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General Mills, Danone pilots provide proof for regenerative agriculture success

The World Bank bids on environmental markets

March 8, 2018 by  
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Its successful Pilot Auction Facility model lowers the risk for conservation projects. Here’s what the U.S. market can learn.

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The World Bank bids on environmental markets

How 4 billion years of diversity can help us surpass our ‘clone-drone’ workstyles

March 8, 2018 by  
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Although we are “apes, not ants,” we nevertheless can learn from superorganisms to evolve for the greater group.

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How 4 billion years of diversity can help us surpass our ‘clone-drone’ workstyles

Every home in this UK neighborhood is its own power plant

August 29, 2017 by  
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An experimental neighborhood in the U.K. is on a mission to show that smart design can make a big difference when it comes to energy efficiency . 16 homes in Neath, Wales will be outfitted with cutting-edge technology that enables them to generate and store enough clean energy for 100% of their electricity needs. The entire neighborhood will be connected to serve as one autonomous unit of clean energy production. The “buildings as power stations” program is a collaboration between Specific , a U.K. energy innovation center based at Swansea University in Wales and the Pobl Group , which provides social housing. The project will test the feasibility of replacing local power plants with autonomous energy-producing neighborhoods . Related: Amazing solar house generates enough energy to share with its neighbors The innovative project will scale existing clean energy technologies to create a large, cost-effective energy-producing community. The new development will have 16 homes, including two- and three-bedroom houses as well as one-bedroom apartments. The layout will maximize the amount of solar power that can be generated by solar roofs and collectors, which will be shared between the homes. Shared battery storage will hold excess electricity to be distributed in the homes or used for charging electric cars. Various technologies will make the homes ultra-efficient . For example, each building will be wrapped in a perforated steel skin that generates a pocket of hot air when heated by the sun. This air will be distributed through the homes for heat. Elfed Roberts, head of projects at Pobl Group, hailed the pilot as an affordable option for providing energy efficient housing to meet urban housing demands, “The project would enable us for the first time to demonstrate the benefits that the latest technologies can bring to affordable housing developments, and to drastically reduce fuel poverty and carbon emissions. We are aiming to achieve homes that feel homely and pleasant to live in, but that also generate most of their energy needs from the roof and wall coverings, thus dramatically reducing the bills for our tenants.” If the pilot program is successful, the next step is to build another 1,200 energy-positive houses in the Swansea Bay City Deal area. + Specific + Pobl Group Via Fast Company

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Every home in this UK neighborhood is its own power plant

Harvey forces National Weather Service to add new color to its rainfall map

August 29, 2017 by  
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By now everyone knows that Texas is still suffering from the aftermath of the potent Category 4 Hurricane Harvey that swept into the region over the weekend. After the natural disaster dumped more than 30 inches on the state and unleashed winds as strong as 130 mph, causing widespread destruction, weather forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) had no choice but to add another color to their rainfall map. Lavender now represents “unfathomable” amounts of rain. In some Texan cities, rainfall is predicted to exceed 50 inches. This is the heaviest rainfall to result from a landfalling tropical storm or hurricane on record in U.S. history, reports Mashable . The NWS warns that catastrophic flooding is likely to continue and recommends that residents of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana stay off the roads. #Harvey in perspective. So much rain has fallen, we've had to update the color charts on our graphics in order to effectively map it. pic.twitter.com/Su7x2K1uuz — NWS (@NWS) August 28, 2017 Experts claim that it is more than likely climate change exacerbated Hurricane Harvey. The Guardian reports that rising sea levels attributable to global warming likely caused the storm to surge half a foot higher than it would have been just a few decades ago. Warming ocean waters also play a role in the uptick of such fierce storms. Sea surface temperatures in the region have risen about 0.5 degrees Celsius (close to 1 degrees F) over the past decade; according to the Clausius-Clapeyron equation , there is a roughly 3 percent increase in average atmospheric moisture content for each 0.5 degrees C of warming. As a result of sea surface temperatures being warmer in the location where Harvey intensified, there was 3-5 percent more moisture in the atmosphere. This, too, intensified the storm. Related: Trump’s USDA staff told to use ‘weather extremes’ instead of ‘climate change’ Though scientists have warned that unsustainable habits would propel climate change and result in worsening  natural disasters , few have heeded the advice and implemented change. It isn’t too late for humanity to invest in renewable technologies and reduce the collective carbon footprint but there isn’t much time before a “tipping point” is reached. Learn more here . Via Mashable , The Guardian Images via Pixabay , National Weather Services

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Harvey forces National Weather Service to add new color to its rainfall map

How to make a color changing solar lantern

October 18, 2011 by  
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Akshata Hegde: Solar lantern Color changing solar lantern. With the rising crisis like situation developed for non renewable sources, everyone is looking to explore the power on renewable energy. There are several products that make use of solar power. You can add one more to the list of eco-friendly equipment. With festivals seasons coming, especially Diwali, the festival of lights, you will first start looking out for colorful lanterns to light up your house. This would end you up will high electricity bills. Worried!! Wondering how to tackle with the money saving issue? Why not take an eco friendly way of celebrating Diwali. Still confused! It is simple why not get a solar lantern this Diwali. You can make a solar lantern for yourself that too at a reasonable cost. Difficulty Level The project is moderately challenging and may require expertise in few areas. Time required A week approximately, you can even make it in a lesser time. Resources required 1. Wood Dowels of 3/16 inch Diameter 2. Blank Wood Coasters of 4 inchx4 inch 3.Thin Fabric 4. A wire cutter 5. 200 Grit Sandpaper 6. 2 Garden Creations Color Changing Solar Yard Lights 7. Sewing Machine 8. An electric Drill 9. Wood Glue 10. A Pencil 11. Flat Black Spray Paint Estimate Cost It depends on the materials you use. Not very expensive though. Instructions 1. Preparing the Solar Light First get the part of a yard light which you might need for this project. To make a solar lantern , you would just need the top part to be a solar one, which will be attached to LED. Now, place the solar top counter by twisting it in a clockwise direction to unlock from the bottom piece. You can also buy the solar yard lights, which are available in the market. Check whether these lights are in working condition before placing them in the box. 2. Preparing the Base Now, start with the base of the lantern. Use the 4?x4? blank wooden coasters as the base of the lantern. Sand these coasters to have a smooth finish using a sand paper. Redo if required. Once the surface becomes smooth, outline the shape of the solar top using a pencil on to the coaster. Make marking where you need to drill the pilot holes, which will be used to slide the wooden dowels. Go ahead to drill straight down on the marking made on the coaster. 3. Preparing the Dowels After that cut the wooden dowels to the correct length required. For instance , take it as 5 inch, you can change the measurements as well. Using wire cutter to cut these dowels, you can also use dremel for this process. 4. Getting The Dowels in Place Once cut in the desired shape, push the dowels through the pilot holes till they start to emerge from the bottom of the base. Now, turn this whole thing upside down in a way that the base is on top. Allow dowels work like table legs. Add few drops of wood glue to each hole on top of the dowel and allow it to dry overnight. If the glue dries earlier then you can go to the next step. 5. Preparing the Fabric Wrap This part will need some sewing work to be done. The circumference of the wrap should be of 13 ½ inch and the height depends on the length of your dowel. Just keep in mind that, only ¼ inch of dowel should be left sticking up above the wrap once it is properly put in place. Seam the top as well as the bottom part of the wrap to make it look neat and nice. 6. Put it all together Now, you are done with the sewing. So, slide this wrap over the dowels ensuring that all sides are accurately pushed all the way down till the base. Now, push the protruding dowels from the top of the wrap into the solar housing’s corners. 7. Paint it! Before finally fixing it all together you need to paint it. So, remove the solar top and the fabric wrap. Ensure that all the wooden parts are smooth. If not then sand it again to make it smooth. Next, place the piece base down on some newspaper and spray an even coat over the exposed wood, including the dowels. Allow the paint to dry for a whole day. If required you can apply an additional coat of paint. Once the paint dries you can fix all the parts back to place. Now your solar lantern is ready to be used. Frequently asked questions: How does this lantern change colors? You can buy a color changing solar part from the store and fix it to the lantern. This will make your work lot easier. Quick tips 1.Wire cutters help you cut the dowels to size required very quickly. At the same time they pinch the ends a bit making it easier to push the dowels into the pilot holes. 2.Keep in mind that the length of the fabric used should be similar to the length of the dowel so that the wrap stays in place properly. Things to watch out for Be careful when you use power tools. Have a safe work area and ensure to wear proper eye protection.

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How to make a color changing solar lantern

ULE 880 Sustainability Certification Opens for Pilot Testing Phase

January 12, 2011 by  
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 A new version of the first sustainability standard for businesses, tweaked after garnering over 1,500 comments, was released today.

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ULE 880 Sustainability Certification Opens for Pilot Testing Phase

The Solar Powered Plane : It Flies!

December 7, 2009 by  
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This is it: solar powered aviation has happened .  Take a deep breath and say it quick and say it fast: “The world’s first solar powered aeroplane has taken off and cruised for 350 meters before landing again.  Its payload was the pilot Markus Scherdel, making it the first ever manned solar powered flight ever.

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The Solar Powered Plane : It Flies!

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