EEA reports poor air quality caused premature deaths of 400,000 Europeans in 2016

October 17, 2019 by  
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Coal-fired power plants, vehicle-clogged highways and fossil-fuel spewing factories have contributed to the growing European air pollution dilemma. Industries, households and vehicles all emit dangerous pollutants that are harmful to human health. Indeed, the European Environment Agency (EEA) highlighted the issue when reporting that over 400,000 Europeans met their untimely demise in 2016 due to poor air quality. Air pollution is detrimental to society, harms human health and ultimately increases health care costs. An air quality expert at the EEA and author of the study, Alberto Gonzales Ortiz, warned that air pollution is “currently the most important environmental risk to human health.” Related: Climate change is a public health issue amounting to billions in medical costs According to the World Health Organization (WHO) , “Pollutants with the strongest evidence for public health concerns include particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2).” The presence of air pollutants produced by fuel combustion – whether from mobile sources like vehicles or from stationery sources such as power plants, biomass use, industry or households – above European skies means the continent is in serious need of more effective air quality plans. Current European Union (EU) legislation requires air quality evaluations to assess whether dangerous particulates have exceeded certain thresholds.  As early as 2017, the EU set limits on certain air pollutants to tackle the scourge that is prematurely claiming hundreds of thousands of European lives each year. In fact, this past July, the European Commission asked the EU’s Court of Justice to reprimand Spain and Portugal for their poor air quality practices. More recently, the British government proposed a new environment bill that legally targets the reduction of fine particulate pollution by requiring automakers to recall vehicles with sub-par emission standards. The WHO has repeatedly said that air pollution is to blame for high percentages of global mortality linked to lung cancer (29%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (43%), acute respiratory infection (17%), ischemic heart disease (25%), stroke (24%) and other cardiovascular ailments. Low-and middle-income countries are disproportionately more vulnerable to the particulate pollution burden, especially poor and marginalized populations. Interestingly, air pollution is also the main driver of climate change . Emissions have been among the largest contributors to global warming , accelerating glacial snow melt as well as causing extreme weather conditions that affect agriculture and food security. Ortiz added, “When we fight pollution, we also fight climate change as well as promote more healthy behavior. It’s a win-win.” Via Reuters Image via dan19878

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EEA reports poor air quality caused premature deaths of 400,000 Europeans in 2016

The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

June 27, 2019 by  
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The World Surf League (WSL)  is known for being the authority for all things surfing, famous for showcasing the most talented professional surfers to the rest of the world. Now, they’ve decided to use that powerful platform to set an example for sports organizations everywhere by committing to substantial environmental initiatives. Earlier in June, the WSL announced a series of pledges that will apply to all WSL Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour events. They include becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2019, eliminating single-serve plastics by the end of 2019 and leaving each place better than they found it. The WSL runs more than 230 global surfing events each year. Considering the WSL’s millions of passionate fans, and the organization’s plan to hold competitions throughout Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Tahiti, France, Portugal, California and Hawaii in 2019 alone, these public commitments are bound to inspire others to address critical issues about the state of our environment. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Along with the announcement came an expansion of the WSL’s already-active ocean conservation efforts by their launch of a global campaign to “ Stop Trashing Waves ” with its non-profit arm, WSL PURE (“Protecting Understanding and Respecting the Environment”). WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt spoke of breaking new ground in the world of sports when it comes to the “urgent battle against climate change and ocean pollution,” saying, “We believe it’s our responsibility to be ‘all in’ with our efforts to protect the ocean and beaches amid the devastating climate crisis we all face. We invite everyone who cares about the ocean to join us.” So how does the WSL plan on carrying out these goals? For starters, the organization is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in REDD+ and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified carbon offset projects. These projects are focused on restoring and protecting natural and renewable energy ecosystems based in each of the WSL’s operating regions. The WSL will also be making an effort to limit non-essential travel and implement policies to reduce carbon emissions within its offices. 11-time WSL Champion and surfing legend, Kelly Slater, spoke of the announcement with enthusiasm. “I think it’s a great stance and an important message to send to people around the world. The ocean is vital to everyone, for food, for oxygen and especially to us surfers. I think everyone should make it their priority to care about this issue and make changes in their lives to help.” + World Surf League Images via World Surf League

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The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

Treehouses made from shipping containers offer the ultimate glamping getaway in Portugal

May 31, 2019 by  
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Looking for respite from the noise and stress of the big city? Check out these gorgeous shipping container treehouses located in Portugal. Tucked into a dense forest in the northern coastal region of Viana do Castelo, the unique glamping accommodations are comprised of two repurposed shipping containers that have been renovated to provide a truly serene retreat. Located in the northern coastal region of Portugal , Viana do Castelo is known for its amazing beaches as well as its mountainous landscape farther inland. Related: Harbor town in Germany unveils urban-chic hostel made out of repurposed shipping containers The shipping container treehouses have been tucked into a pristine hillside facing a large river that cuts through the forestscape. To minimize their impact on the environment, the architects placed the structures on large metal supports. Guests at the shipping container lodgings can choose from two accommodations. Bungalow T1 is the smallest container, with one bedroom with a double bed, along with a kitchenette, bathroom and a small living area. The largest treehouse also has one bedroom, but offers more sleeping options thanks to a pull-out sofa in the living room. Both accommodations have spacious, suspended balconies with all-glass facades offering stunning views of the natural landscape. The complex also has an on-site restaurant and bar as well as a designated barbecue area and playground for children. For active adventures, guests can enjoy long walks or rent bicycles to explore the nearby village. + Glamping Hub Images via Glamping Hub

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Treehouses made from shipping containers offer the ultimate glamping getaway in Portugal

Korvaa is the worlds first headphones grown from bio-based materials

May 31, 2019 by  
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Move over plastic and aluminum — the headphones of the future may be built from fungus and biosynthetic spider silk. Helsinki-based multidisciplinary design studio Aivan recently unveiled Korvaa, the world’s first headphones made exclusively from microbially grown materials. Created using synbio (short for “synthetic biology,” an interdisciplinary branch of biology and engineering), Korvaa is the first physical implementation of the technology and marks a potential shift away from a fossil fuel-based economy and toward a more sustainable, circular “bioeconomy.” Aivan designers created the Korvaa in collaboration with synbio scientists, industrial designers, artists and filmmakers. The team chose headphones as their first physical implementation of synbio technology because of its compact form and incorporation of different material properties, from hard surfaces to mesh fabric. The name Korvaa originates from Finnish, in which the noun “Korva” means ear and the verb “Korvaa” means to substitute, compensate or replace. ”We’re looking at these different materials and their properties, trying to figure out how to use them, and what to make out of them — as opposed to designing an item and then figuring out what materials we want to use,” said Aivan product designers Saku Sysiö and Thomas Tallqvist. “Process-wise, it’s almost like something out of the stone age. It sets this particular project apart from any other contemporary, wearable-tech project.” Related: These sustainable headphones debuted just in time for Earth Day Two versions of the Korvaa headsets have been created. Each headset consists of six microbe-grown components with different properties: enzymatically produced, lignin-free cellulose; 3D-printed biodegradable microbial bioplastic PLA for the rigid headset frame; a leather-like fungal mycelium for the soft foam material inside the headset; biosynthetic spider silk for the mesh-like material inside the earphone; a composite of fungal mycelium and bacteria cellulose; and protein foam with plant cellulose. The documentation of the processes for creating both headphones will be displayed at the Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale 2019 from now until September 19 as well as at Helsinki Design Week 2019 from September 5 to September 15. + Aivan Via Dezeen Images via Aivan

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Korvaa is the worlds first headphones grown from bio-based materials

Solar-powered eco hotel in Portugal offers surfers ocean views from green-roofed bungalows

March 29, 2019 by  
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The surf is always up at this gorgeous eco hotel along Portugal’s Silver Coast. Just steps away from the beach, Noah Surf House  has everything you need for a rad surf getaway. The boutique hotel, which is partially made out of reclaimed materials, was designed on some serious sustainable principles , boasting solar panels, energy-efficient systems and appliances, a rainwater harvesting system and even an organic garden that provides delicious meals to guests. Located in the area of Santa Cruz in northwest Portugal, the eco hotel is tucked into a rising hill just a short stroll from the beach. The project is made up of various buildings, but the most popular part of the complex is a restaurant that overlooks the ocean. Guests can enjoy a wonderful meal of organic fruits and veggies grown in the hotel’s garden, which operates on a “closed feeding cycle” with a little help from the hotel’s 12 chickens. Related: The Truck Surf Hotel is a traveling retreat that hits the best surf spots in Europe and Africa The guests rooms are comprised of various boho-style bungalows, most offering stunning ocean views through private decks. The rooms range in size, offering everything from dorm-style with bunk beds to private luxury bungalows that boast fireplaces and private terraces with outdoor showers. Although the setting itself is quite impressive, guests can rest assured that they are also staying in a very eco-conscious retreat. The hotel’s construction used quite a bit of reclaimed materials , such as old bricks recovered from industrial coal furnaces to clad the walls. Additionally, the buildings are filled with discarded items that have been given new life as decoration for the hotel. Plumbing pipes are incorporated into lamps, lockers from an old summer camp are available for storage and an old water deposit is now a fireplace in the reception area. The construction of the hotel implemented various sustainable materials as well, such as cork as thermic insulation. The bungalows are also topped with native plants . For energy, solar panels generate almost enough energy for the all of the hotel’s hot water needs. When there is an abundance of energy, it is used to heat the pool as well as the radiant flooring in the guest rooms in winter. LED lighting throughout the hotel and energy-efficient appliances help reduce the building’s energy use. Noah Surf House also has a rain water collection system that redirects water to a well to be used in toilet flushing, garden watering and linen laundering. + Noah Surf House Via Uncrate Images via Noah Surf House

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Solar-powered eco hotel in Portugal offers surfers ocean views from green-roofed bungalows

Art-inspired home sits as an ‘abstract sculpture’ in seaside town in Portugal

February 25, 2019 by  
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Located in the seaside town of Afife, Portugal, a beautiful, minimalist house was designed to pay homage to the traditional type of construction found in the region. Designed by Portuguese firm  Guilherme Machado Vaz , the geometric Afife House is a cube-like volume clad in bright white with golden-hued shutters that, when closed completely, transform the home into a modern “abstract sculpture” surrounded by greenery. Tucked into a green landscape that rolls out to the sea, the home’s design is quite modern. According to the architects, although the bright white facade of the geometric home is certainly eye-catching, the inspiration behind the design was to blend the structure into its tranquil surroundings. Related: A modern vacation retreat is embedded into the rolling hills of southern Portugal Using the local environment to inspire the design, the architects also took into consideration a beloved chapel that is separated from the home by a stone walkway. Not wanting to infringe on the religious site, the designers respectfully restrained the width of the building area to a mere 28 feet. “The chapel stands on a base of granite walls, and it imposes itself in that area. Its presence had an influence on the project, particularly as regards the design of the volume,” explained the Portuguese architects. “The house sought not to disturb the harmony of this religious space, but at the same time it did not want to be submissive to its presence.” The white volume is broken up by a series of square windows in various sizes and covered in flat shutters. The shutters on the south elevation are painted in a glossy gold color, a nod to religious triptych paintings. When open, the windows bring plenty of natural light indoors. The crisp color of the exterior continues throughout the interior living space. The unique layout was inspired by Austrian and Czech architect Adolf Loos’ Raumplan concept, which sees various multi-level spaces being connected by one long staircase that runs through the center of the home. This system helped take the design vertical to make up for its restricted width. The home also has plenty of exterior spaces, including a flat roof that pulls double duty as an open-air terrace. A circular swimming pool also sits in a square, all-white deck, again adding to the strong character of the design. + Guilherme Machado Vaz Via Dezeen Photography by José Campos via Guilherme Machado Vaz

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Art-inspired home sits as an ‘abstract sculpture’ in seaside town in Portugal

This light-filled home and office in Portugal blurs indoors and out

February 5, 2019 by  
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On the outskirts of Ílhavo, Portugal, architect Maria Fradinho of the firm FRARI – architecture network recently designed and built her own industrial-inspired home and office using a modern and playful house-within-a-house concept. Sandwiched between two red-shingled homes, the contemporary abode stands in stark contrast to its more traditional neighbors. Dubbed the Arch House, the dwelling was named after the “theatricality” of its facade, a simple gabled shape with strong geometric lines and massive walls of glass. The Vista Alegre Porcelain Factory, one of the region’s most important industries, inspired the Arch House design. As a result, the home features a sleek, black, metal-clad exterior. In contrast, the interior is dominated by white surfaces and filled with natural light and strategic views that give the rooms a sense of expansiveness without sacrificing privacy. Full-height glazing also pulls the outdoors in, while indoor-outdoor living is emphasized with a covered patio that spills out to the backyard. A house-within-a-house concept is explored with the insertion of shipping container-inspired stacked volumes, each faced with windows, which overlook the indoor living room on the ground floor. “It was important for the architect to guarantee this process of transition from the public to the private, as well as ensuring adequate privacy in the interior, because of the maximum exposure desired,” according to the a project statement. “Inspired by ship containers , the volume set with which the interior is developed, creates a total height in some areas, recreating the great industrial environment of a main ship. This set of different roof heights widens the spaces and makes them more comprehensive, providing a visual relation between the various places in the house.” Related: A house within a house in Slovakia unfolds in layers Spanning an area of 300 square meters, the Arch House occupies a little less than a third of its long and narrow lot. The home is spread out across three floors and includes a basement. The open-plan ground floor houses the primary communal spaces, including the living room, kitchen and dining space, while the private areas are located above. + FRARI – architecture network Via ArchDaily Images by ITS – Ivo Tavares Studio via FRARI – architecture network

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This light-filled home and office in Portugal blurs indoors and out

Australia will not reach its carbon reduction targets by 2030, claims new study

February 5, 2019 by  
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An international group called the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a damaging report on Australia’s energy policies, placing doubts that the government will reach its carbon reduction targets by 2030. Australia previously agreed to cut carbon emissions by around 26 percent by the year 2030. Although the country will likely reach the carbon goals it set by 2020, the OECD claims they will not hit their target in 2030. “The country will fall short of its 2030 emissions target without a major effort to move to a low-carbon model,” the report explained. “Australia should consider pricing carbon emissions more effectively and doing more to integrate renewables into the electricity sector.” The OECD is an international organization comprised of 36 countries that aims to encourage sustainable economic growth. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the group’s climate study contends that Australia is unique in that its greenhouse gases have actually increased over the past 10 years. Related: Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline The group also contends that Australia is far from reaching any of its emissions goals by the target date of 2030. The report suggested that Australia should price emissions better and incorporate more renewable energy sources into its long-term plans. Although Australia has an uphill battle if it wants to meet its goals by 2030, it has made some progress over the past few years. This includes using more natural gas instead of coal and relying more on renewable energy sources for electricity. Unfortunately, these efforts have done little to curb the rise in carbon emissions . Despite lowering its reliance on coal, Australia still uses non-renewable energy sources for most of its electricity. The government also supports the consumption of certain fossil fuels, which contribute greatly to carbon emissions throughout the country. That said, use of renewable energy sources is on the rise, which is definitely a good sign. In response to the negative report, Australia’s Environment Minister, Melissa Price, claims that the country is on pace to meet its carbon goals by the year 2030. Even if the current policies are not enough to reduce carbon by 26 percent, the fact that they are scalable has Price convinced that the goal will eventually be met. Via Sydney Morning Herald Image via Shutterstock

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Australia will not reach its carbon reduction targets by 2030, claims new study

A minimalist home in Portugal emphasizes stunning valley views

August 8, 2018 by  
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Architects and their clients are often surprised when their visions don’t quite align after the initial ideas are transformed into renderings, specs and floor plans. But when MJARC Arquitectos met with a couple who wanted a house in Douro Valley in Marco de Canaveses,  Portugal , it was a euphoric meeting of minds. All parties shared the same vision — a pristine and absolute articulation of minimalist architecture. With a setting as picturesque as this one, highlighted by sweeping views of the rolling curves of vineyard -covered valleys and the mesmerizing Douro River, the goal was to leave the undulating landscape unscathed. The house was constructed as close to the terrain as possible, with the upper levels providing more encompassing vistas. The “crouching building” concept drove the choices for the size, design and exterior accouterments of the home. Related: Derelict property transformed into a vibrant, sunny hostel in Portugal The interior is warm and inviting, with an open floor plan that gracefully flows from room to room, clad in a combination of deep wood shades, rustic stones, concrete and stark, black accents. The pool is designed to give the illusion of it flowing directly into the river. The views from every level focus on the surrounding forest and foliage and achieves the symbiosis with nature desired by all parties. To accommodate the tastes of the homeowners’ visitors throughout the year, MJARC Arquitectos incorporated sustainable construction and energy sources as well as clever spaces that could easily be adapted for multiple uses. The roof is even topped with lush greenery, a welcome addition to the home. The combined efforts on this project not only thrilled the architects and clients — the house was recently nominated for an award in the Home category by the World Architecture Festival , where it is one of 18 finalists. The winner will be announced at ceremonies scheduled for November 28-30 in Amsterdam. + MJARC Arquitectos Images via João Ferrand

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A minimalist home in Portugal emphasizes stunning valley views

A prefab chapels sculptural form amplifies the Spanish landscape

July 23, 2018 by  
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Perched on a hilltop in a bucolic rural landscape in southern Spain, the Sacromonte Chapel is a minimalist, prefabricated structure designed to coexist with nature in harmony. Designed by Uruguay-and Brazil-based architecture firm MAPA , this sculptural place of worship is set on one of the highest peaks in the traditional Andalusian neighborhood Sacromonte and overlooks unobstructed, panoramic views of its surroundings. The building was mainly constructed from cross-laminated timber panels and steel and was assembled onsite in just one day. Crafted as a “landscape amplifier,” the Sacromonte Chapel takes cues from its surroundings — a rolling landscape of vineyards, lagoons, hills and shelters — and features a relatively simple shape that complements the environment. The chapel comprises two cross-laminated timber panels — measuring nearly 20 by 30 feet in size — angled toward one another, like a pair of hands in prayer, without actually touching. The semi-enclosed structure simultaneously creates a defined interior while remaining open to the environment. “How should the sacred spaces of the 21st century be? The chapel ponders possible interpretations of this and other questions through its ambiguous relationship with matter, space and time,” MAPA said in a project statement. “A peaceful tension reigns when in contact with it. A tension between weight and lightness, presence and disappearance, technology and nature . Enigmatic and mystifying, it leaves its visitors with more questions than answers.” Related: Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown The Sacromonte Chapel was prefabricated in a factory in Portugal and then transported to the site for assembly. The architects strived to use as few resources as possible to make a simple and austere design statement. A black metal box faced with a sheet of translucent onyx punctuates one of the timber planes and houses a statue of the Virgin of “La Carrodilla.” A slender timber cross was installed in front of the chapel. + MAPA Images by Tali Kimelman

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A prefab chapels sculptural form amplifies the Spanish landscape

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