How marketers and advertisers can prioritize climate change

September 23, 2019 by  
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Brands have the power to make an impact.

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How marketers and advertisers can prioritize climate change

How business can affect human rights: 4 lessons from peacebuilding and development

September 3, 2019 by  
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We can do more to proactively protect the well-being of people in communities where businesses operate — with the power of the private sector.

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How business can affect human rights: 4 lessons from peacebuilding and development

Innovative window solar charger is designed for apartment dwellers

June 13, 2019 by  
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Just months ago, the innovative team at Grouphug revealed the adorable Solar Cat that made the world go “Aww.” Now, the New-York based tech company has just released a very practical Window Solar Charger designed to let apartment dwellers generate their own solar energy in order to power their devices. Recently launched on Kickstarter , the Window Solar Charger was conceived from the idea that everyone should be able to generate their own clean energy. While homeowners have much more control over their power sources, renters and people on the go often have very little options to live a truly sustainable lifestyle. Related: Meet Solar Cat, a cute and creative take on renewable energy After years of being frustrated with how hard it is to adapt solar energy in her own NYC apartment, Grouphug’s founder and lead product designer, Krystal Persaud, decided to invent a personal solar-powered charger geared toward those apartment dwellers who want to be more sustainable. Essentially, the charger is a 13-inch-by-10-inch bamboo frame with four thin solar panels. The charger can be hung in any window to soak up direct sunlight into the battery that is built into the frame. After approximately eight to 10 hours of sunlight, phones and other small devices can be plugged directly into the frame’s USB port. Devices can be charged day or night, and on average, a full battery can charge iPhones two times and Android phones one to one-and-a-half times. + Grouphug + Window Solar Charger Kickstarter Images via Grouphug

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Innovative window solar charger is designed for apartment dwellers

Self-shaping Urbach Tower twists itself into a unique, curvaceous shape

May 29, 2019 by  
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Wood warping typically creates unwanted and undesirable effects, yet the creators behind a unique new landmark in Urbach, Germany have found a way to harness the naturally occurring deformity into an unexpected architectural possibility. The University of Stuttgart completed a nearly 47-foot-tall timber structure that gets its curvaceous form from the “self-shaping process” of its curved wood components. Constructed from spruce wood cross-laminated panels, the Urbach Tower is the first wood structure made from self-shaped components and offers a more sustainable alternative to energy-intensive, mechanically formed structures. Created as one of 16 architecture-designed installations for the Remstal Gartenschau 2019, the Urbach Tower offers high performance and strength with low environmental impact . The landmark building’s prefabricated, self-shaping components are made from spruce wood CLT sourced regionally from Switzerland and CNC cut into 12 flat panels that deform autonomously into predicted curved shapes when dried. Computational models were developed to design, predict and optimize the material arrangement that would achieve the desired look through moisture-induced swelling and shrinking. “The Urbach Tower is the very first implementation of this technology on building-scale, load-bearing timber parts,” the designers said in a press release. “The distinctive form of the tower constitutes a truly contemporary architectural expression of the traditional construction material wood. It celebrates the innate and natural characteristics of self-shaped wood in its upward spiraling shape.” Related: Playful gable-roofed home in Atlanta champions the power of CLT The design team also clad the tower in a custom-made protective layer of glue-laminated larch with a titanium oxide surface treatment to protect the wood from UV radiation and pests. Four craftsmen assembled the tower in a single working day without the need for extensive scaffolding or formwork. The Urbach Tower, which is a permanent installation, serves as shelter, a landscape overlook and a showcase for efficient, economical and expressive wood architecture. + University of Stuttgart Images via University of Stuttgart

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Self-shaping Urbach Tower twists itself into a unique, curvaceous shape

Meet Solar Cat, a cute and creative take on renewable energy

May 24, 2019 by  
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Solar power just got an adorable new makeover. New York-based technology company Grouphug opened Solar Cat at the New York Hall of Science on Earth Day 2019 as an exhibit to demonstrate the fun and creative side of renewable energy. While conducting preliminary research for the project, Grouphug founder Krystal Persaud interviewed 100 New Yorkers and found that many of them had misconceptions about solar power. Wanting to erase the stigmas about solar panels being an eyesore and only available to people with a certain type of home, Persaud set out to integrate more industrial design into solar technology. Related: Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen “At Grouphug, our mission is to change the perception that renewable energy is a boring utility purchased by the most privileged,” Persaud explained on the company blog . “The technology itself can be designed to be more relatable, have a personality and be fun.” With a team of NYSCI “Explainers,” students and an electrical engineer, the Solar Cat project was brought to life. The 140-watt cat-shaped solar panel is mounted to the window at the New York Hall of Science, harnessing the sun’s rays to power an adjacent interactive pedestal with educational facts about sustainable power . Flipping a switch on the solar panel can send real energy into a model home, and a pair of USB ports can be used to charge a visitor’s phone, all using the power harnessed by Solar Cat. Adding an extra educational aspect, the cells that make up the cat are made of transparent plastic, meaning that visitors can see the different components inside unobstructed. Grouphug isn’t stopping with Solar Cat. The company has even more plans for projects focused on sustainable design . Combining solar panels with a consumer’s personal interests (such as cats) will hopefully inspire more citizens, in New York and otherwise, that renewable energy isn’t just for the affluent or tech-savvy. The company also hopes to show that solar technology doesn’t just have the power to harvest the sun’s energy but also the power to make people smile. + Grouphug Images via Grouphug

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Meet Solar Cat, a cute and creative take on renewable energy

An apartment complex in Amsterdam follows biophilic design principals

May 24, 2019 by  
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Dutch architecture firm  GG Loop has wrapped an apartment building in Amsterdam with a beautiful facade of timber slats. According to the architects, the design for the Freebooter Apartments incorporates a number of biophilic design principals in an attempt to connect the building’s residents with nature. In addition to its light-filtering timber screen, the building also includes a number of materials that pay homage to the city’s maritime traditions. The four-story apartment block is a prefabricated structure that was manufactured offsite using steel and cross-laminated timber. The prefabrication process not only reduced the cost and environmental footprint of the project but the construction time as well. In fact, the entire construction process only took six months from start to finish. Related: Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume According to architect and founder of GG Loop Giacomo Garziano, the design for the Freebooter Apartments was inspired by the principles of biophilic design, which aims to connect architecture with natural elements. “We are part of nature in a deep and fundamental way, but in our modern lives, we’ve lost that connection,” Garziano said. “Freebooter is a response to that; as I see biophilic design as the key to truly innovative design, balancing the technical aspects of environmentally conscious construction with the qualitative, lived-in experience of an organic and natural space.” The sustainable design was focused primarily on natural materials and natural light. Before the project broke ground, the architects conducted a study of the sun’s movement over the course of the year. This analysis was instrumental in the positioning the building and placing the timber louvers at certain angles so that the interior spaces were properly lit by diffused natural light. The long vertical planks of timber cover the entire building, including the terraces. Cutouts in the timber screen allow more light to stream into certain spots of the complex. As a nod to the city’s long history of shipbuilding, the design also features various elements of marine architecture, such as the red cedar planks, pine wood, steel and glass. These aspects are found throughout the interior, where natural light , pine-clad walls and curved stairways and corridors create an atmosphere of being in a ship’s cabin. The two-story units all feature open-plan living spaces on the ground floor with the bedrooms on the second floor. Throughout the space, minimalist design features and large glass facades that open up to spacious terraces shaded by the tops of the louvers enhance the feeling of being close to nature. + GG Loop Via Wallpaper Photography by Francisco Nogueira

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An apartment complex in Amsterdam follows biophilic design principals

A modern reusable pavilion is sustainably designed to pop-up almost anywhere

May 24, 2019 by  
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Combining art, architecture and technology, Los Angeles-based architectural firm Montalba Architects recently completed a temporary pop-up pavilion for the annual Bex & Arts sculpture triennial that’s designed to be easily disassembled and reused for future events. Set on a movable foundation that allows for minimal site impact , the Bex & Arts pavilion briefly served as a fabrication studio, exhibition space and information center on a clearing surrounded by the dramatic Swiss mountains. The lightweight structure was prefabricated in about ten days and installed with a crane on site in less than a week. Measuring just 430 square feet in size, the Bex & Arts Pavilion is one of several small-scale projects of Montalba Architects, which was recently recognized as Los Angeles’ Best Contemporary Architecture Firm in 2019 by Angeleno magazine. “ Small structures and compact spaces present an unparalleled opportunity to exquisitely, and rigorously, realize the interplay between form and substance, and intersect architecture with art,” the firm says. Montalba Architects’ Bex & Arts pavilion was prefabricated with high-performance Kerto wood panels made from peeled spruce, a custom perforated panel facade— comprising narrow, black vertical panels with voids— that lets natural light in while adding visual interest, and mineral-based Swisspearl floor panels selected for their lightweight qualities, durability, fire resistance and sustainability. The lightweight structural wood panels have also been applied to the floor and open shelving, which not only provide exhibition space but also help support the structure. Related: This minimalist timber writer’s studio in Switzerland is suspended in mid-air For the 2017 Bex & Arts sculpture triennial, the pavilion served as a visitor’s center, exhibition space for the work of invited designers and working fabrication studio where FabLab, a small-scale workshop , was open to the public for rapid prototyping. The pavilion received awards from the AIA California Council and American MasterPrize. + Montalba Architects Images by Delphine Burtin

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A modern reusable pavilion is sustainably designed to pop-up almost anywhere

What Intel and VMware know about your data center

May 16, 2019 by  
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New technological advancements are helping companies with their power loads, as collaboration between engineering and sustainability teams expands.

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What Intel and VMware know about your data center

Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882

May 9, 2019 by  
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England has officially gone seven days without using any coal-powered source of electricity for the first time in centuries. Britain was the cradle of the industrial revolution, opening the world’s first coal powered plant in 1882. In an attempt to transition to renewable energy , the country removed its last coal generator from the power grid on May 1 and has effectively survived a week without needing to tap into coal resources. According to the National Grid Electricity System Operator, which runs the electricity network serving England, Scotland and Wales, Britain still maintains backup coal-powered plants when high energy demands are needed. Otherwise, cleaner energy sources, including wind, solar and natural gas have been able to meet energy needs for the first week in May. Related: Renewable energy surpasses coal for first time in US history Coal plants emit nearly twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas plants. In the 1950s, Britain moved the last coal plant out of major cities in order to improve air quality, however the damage to the environment continued. In 2015, Britain closed its last coal mine, an industry that used to employ 1.2 million people nationally. Now, the country relies on coal imports. Due to rising prices, the coal industry is no longer a lucrative competitor to renewable energy . High international prices have led to investment and interest in solar and wind technology. The U.K. government has pledged to phase out all coal powered plants by 2025. In 2017, the country celebrated its first coal-free day, proving that government commitments and investments in technology can make meaningful progress in a matter of years. “Just a few years ago we were told Britain couldn’t possibly keep the lights on without burning coal,” said Doug Parr of Greenpeace told Reuters. “Now coal is quickly becoming an irrelevance, much to the benefit of our climate and air quality, and we barely notice it.” Some British environmental advocates believe a more ambitious plan to achieve zero-carbon operation of the national grid through investments in offshore wind farms and household scale solar facilities is also possible by 2050. Via The Guardian , Reuters Image via  jwvein

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Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882

This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

May 9, 2019 by  
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There’s a good reason why this beautiful, natural wood treehouse blends in perfectly to its surroundings on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica — the entire structure was built using the trees from the property site. Nestled in the jungle and complete with ocean views, the house, designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig , was inspired by the owners’ love for surfing and environmentalism. There are three floors to the treehouse , with the top floor visible from above the tree canopy, and the bottom two levels hidden among the dense trees. Occupants are able to check the surf at nearby Playa Hermosa Beach from the comfort of the top floor. Related: A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach Wood has the power to be a green, renewable resource when used with sustainability in mind. Nowadays, there are plenty of companies that offer certifiably sustainable wood that comes from forests that are responsibly managed to avoid things like erosion, pollutants and habitat loss. Locally harvested trees, like the ones used to build this surfer’s treehouse, can reduce the environmental impact of construction projects. Apart from contributing to social aspects of sustainability by utilizing local employment, green construction using locally harvested trees also helps to minimize carbon emissions from transportation. The designers took advantage of the natural sea breezes and tropic environment through the passive , open-air design of the structure. The lush vegetation is accessible from the bottom floor, which opens to a courtyard that helps blend the house into its setting. A double-screen shutter system, also made of teak wood, allows the two bottom floors to either open up to the elements, ventilation and natural light, or close to provide privacy. The treehouse is powered using a 3.5 kW solar array, and a rainwater collection system helps reduce the house’s  carbon footprint . In the evenings, the lights shine through the slatted walls to create an ethereal glow that shimmers through the thick leaves and trees that surround the property, making this unique treehouse an even more beautiful addition to the area. + Tom Kundig Photography by Nic Lehoux via Olson Kundig

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This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

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