A former Czech distillery is transformed into a vibrant co-working space

July 31, 2018 by  
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Czech architecture practice KOGAA Studio has transformed a former distillery into the Social Reactor, a new co-working space in the heart of Brno, Czech Republic. The redesign preserves the 19th-century building’s post-industrial charms while inserting a bright and modern aesthetic. The formerly vacant building now serves as an active gathering space with the power to regenerate a post-industrial area. Completed this year, the four-story property was originally part of a distillate factory founded by a Jewish family more than 200 years ago. The adaptive reuse project is accessed via an arched entryway that connects the street to a spacious outdoor entertaining space. This area, called The Yard, is complete with a pop-up bar integrated into a historic elevator — the cabin has been repurposed into a prep area, and the elevator shaft serves as the installation duct — and casual seating. The Yard also connects to a variety of indoor areas that include co-working spaces , offices, a dining area and a multipurpose events space. An upper floor houses a studio and workshop. “One of the latest and most impactive structural interventions was carried out at the second and third level of the building, where the central beam system was removed to create a double height hall and two balconies facing the central space,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The former is meant for presentations, lectures and workshops , while the upper balconies are dedicated to designers’ ateliers and offices. The new program is distributed across all three levels of the building, and the multiple functions are spread out across different spaces, creating a dynamic and challenging working environment.” Related: A former leather tannery is transformed into an apartment trio in Lisbon One of the most recent additions is a two-story timber volume — built from recycled materials and clad in polycarbonate and corrugated plastic — that houses a shared meeting room, kitchenette, library and extra co-working spaces. + KOGAA Studio Via ArchDaily Images © BoysPlayNice

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A former Czech distillery is transformed into a vibrant co-working space

IKEA and Little Sun team up to design sustainable, off-grid tools

June 13, 2018 by  
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Little Sun , a social business from artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, creates products to put “the power of the sun in the palm of your hand” — think portable solar lamps and solar chargers . Now, the company is teaming up with furniture giant IKEA to raise awareness for people living without electricity  by creating a series of sustainable, off-grid tools for everyday living. We are teaming up with social business Little Sun to explore new off-the-grid solutions to make everyday life more sustainable for the many people. Read more on www.IKEA.today #IKEAtoday A post shared by IKEA Today (@ikeatoday) on Jun 7, 2018 at 8:35am PDT IKEA x Little Sun will explore new ways to capture the sun’s power through design . The collaboration wants to create portable solar lighting and other off-grid solutions for IKEA customers as the two companies raise awareness for more than one billion people who lack access to electricity. “By democratizing great things, we can give many people access to products that make everyday life better, supporting and encouraging independent living,” said IKEA Range and Supply head of design Marcus Engman. “If we can create good, democratic design solutions, then living off the grid can become sustainable, low-cost and provide independence.” Related: Olafur Eliasson unveils his first building, a sculptural stunner in Denmark Both companies said the new tools will be functional and beautiful and will serve as an introduction to renewable energy . “Little Sun makes solar energy tangible and your world a little bit more sustainable,” Eliasson said in a press release . “We are excited to collaborate with IKEA, raising awareness for energy access and the need for global togetherness. Together, we want to connect the world by sharing the power of the sun with everyone.” Little Sun says it has brought solar power to more than 10 African countries, and as of December 2017, it has distributed 661,578 Little Suns around the world — and over 377,637 lamps have gone to places lacking electricity. Little Sun said it would also like to explore solutions in off-grid communications and water in addition to energy. + IKEA x Little Sun + Little Sun + IKEA Images via ©Studio Olafur Eliasson, ©Tomas Gislason and ©Little Sun

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IKEA and Little Sun team up to design sustainable, off-grid tools

Reinventing the US Power Grid

June 11, 2018 by  
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We have an energy challenge in the United States — … The post Reinventing the US Power Grid appeared first on Earth911.com.

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8 Ways Your Business Can Help Save the Environment

June 11, 2018 by  
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The workforce is getting younger as Millennials take over jobs … The post 8 Ways Your Business Can Help Save the Environment appeared first on Earth911.com.

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8 Ways Your Business Can Help Save the Environment

Trump orders Perry to take steps to curb coal plant shutdowns

June 4, 2018 by  
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It seems President Donald Trump doesn’t want to let coal die. Bloomberg reported he ordered Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to take steps to stem closures of nuclear and coal power plants. An emailed statement from White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders read, “Impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation’s energy mix and impacting the resilience of our power grid .” Coal and nuclear plants are losing money as cheaper renewable energies and natural gas gain steam. Trump’s administration alleges that declines in nuclear and coal power jeopardize America’s security. According to the White House statement, the president told Perry “to prepare immediate steps to stop the loss of these resources and looks forward to his recommendations.” The Department of Energy’s strategy, as detailed in a memo Bloomberg obtained , could be to draw on power given by federal laws to create a “strategic electric generation reserve” and compel grid operators to purchase power from plants that are at risk. The National Security Council was to meet last week to talk over the idea. Related: Biggest grid operator in US attacks Perry’s proposal to prop up coal One purpose of this draft plan, Bloomberg reported, is to buy time for a two-year study probing vulnerabilities in the country’s energy delivery system. Administration officials have already used up a year of this time. Following an Energy Department grid reliability study, Perry suggested a rule that would have compensated nuclear and coal plants — and federal regulators killed the proposal. Major grid operator PJM Interconnection said in a statement its grid “is more reliable than ever” and “there is no such need for any such drastic action.” The company said it has analyzed planned deactivations of nuclear stations and found no immediate threat to reliability. PJM said, “Any federal intervention in the market to order customers to buy electricity from specific power plants would be damaging to the markets and therefore costly to consumers.” Electric Power Supply Association president John Shelk said, “National security is being invoked by people who once favored markets. Everybody loses in a fuels war.” Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Trump orders Perry to take steps to curb coal plant shutdowns

London considers car-free days to fight air pollution

May 16, 2018 by  
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London officials met at City Hall this week to discuss the best way to move forward with a ban on cars in certain areas of the city on specific days of the year. If the initial trials are successful, the city will consider “more ambitious plans” for 2019. These moves are a response to the public health threat of air pollution, which prematurely kills thousands of people each year. London City Hall is reportedly planning to inaugurate car-free days unique to each borough of the city and will build upon the previous car-free days set for special events. This policy is one of several intended to improve public health by reducing air pollution in London. A spokesperson for the mayor told the Guardian,  “Tackling toxic emissions from the most polluting vehicles is a core part of the hard-hitting measures the mayor has introduced to help clean up London’s air, from delivering the Toxicity-Charge (T-Charge) in central London, to the early introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and transforming the bus fleet.” Related: UPS declares the “beginning of the end” for combustion engines by making its London fleet entirely electric The city is taking action in the wake of a joint inquiry by four committees in Parliament, which described air pollution as a “national health emergency” that causes the premature death of 40,000 people every year in the United Kingdom . The committees’ report highlights the inadequacy of the British government’s clean air policy plan, which has already been rejected by the high court three times. To compensate for the lack of a national movement against pollution, cities such as London are taking action. A spokesperson said, “[London Mayor Sadiq Khan] is determined to do everything in his power to protect the health of Londoners and prioritise walking, cycling and public transport and reduce Londoners’ dependency on polluting cars.” Via The Guardian Images via  Pedro Szekely/Flickr and  Martin Hesketh/Flickr

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London considers car-free days to fight air pollution

Trump fills his wildlife protection board with big-game trophy hunters

March 16, 2018 by  
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A new federal advisory board commissioned to rewrite rules governing the import of hunted animal trophies has been packed by President Trump with big-game trophy hunters. Many of them maintain close relations to President Trump and his family and are most likely to support Interior Secretary Zinke’s agenda, which is guided by the belief that the most effective way to protect endangered animals is to facilitate their killing by American hunters. The Associated Press conducted a social media and background review of the board’s 16 members and found that their governing philosophy will echo Zinke’s. The assembly of Trump’s wildlife protection board follows news of recent rules changes that would have banned the import of big-game trophies from certain African countries, including Zimbabwe. Although Trump initially claimed he would carry out the Obama-era ban on a practice he called “a horror show,” he quietly reversed this decision in early March . The rule reversal is particularly concerning given reports of corruption in Zimbabwe that indicate that little of the money spent by big-game hunters in the country has actually gone to conservation efforts. Related: Ryan Zinke claims wind energy contributes to global warming Despite the questionable current policies, Trump’s hunter-packed advisory board has some historical precedent. President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter, brought conservation to the forefront of American life through his enthusiastic advocacy for wildlife and public access to wild spaces as well as the bills he signed into law, including the Antiquities Act of 1906. It was through this law that presidents were granted the power to create national monuments through executive action. President Obama harnessed this law to create several significant national monuments , including the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine and the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. President Trump is now attempting to use the same power to dismantle Bears Ears. The Trump Administration’s policies raise concerns that the current president will fail to live up to his Republican predecessor Roosevelt’s legacy and will instead threaten the survival of all kinds of life on this planet. Via The New York Times Images via Depositphotos and Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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Trump fills his wildlife protection board with big-game trophy hunters

The companies storing energy in cold air

March 16, 2018 by  
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Renewable sources of energy are getting more efficient by the day – yet energy storage remains an obstacle standing in the way of wide adoption. To fill this gap, some companies are thinking outside the box and investing in developing energy storage that relies on cold air. “Compressed air is an interesting technology,” Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage at Greentech Media told the BBC . “It can be a form of bulk storage.” Alacaes in Switzerland is one company that has explored cold air energy storage by drilling a hole in the side of the mountain, in which compressed cold air is stored until needed to drive a turbine. Read on to learn more about this and other efforts to hold energy in cold air. Alcaes’s mountain drilling technique may prove effective, though it is limited in its applications. “The downside is it has to rely on specific geological formations… It needs underground caverns which in itself is a limitation,” said Manghani. The United Kingdom-based Highview Power Storage is pioneering an alternative method for cold air energy storage by using refrigeration to cool air to -196 degrees Celsius, at which point air becomes liquid. This liquid air is then held in low pressure environments until it is needed. Related: New rooftop cooling tech beams excess heat into outer space Highview has constructed a facility near Manchester that uses heat generated by burning waste gas from a landfill to expand liquid nitrogen in the stored air. The expanded air is then channeled through a turbine, which generates electricity. Highview expects this facility to be connected to the UK energy grid in spring 2018. Highview hopes their facility will serve as a model for a planet that desperately needs clean energy storage solutions. “Globally the world is realizing that true grid scale, long duration storage is a requirement if we’re to go for a decarbonised future,” Stuart Nelmes, Highview’s engineering director, told the BBC , “and this tech will play a key part in that.” Via BBC Images via Gasworld and Highview Power Storage

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The Indian city of Diu is 100% powered by the sun

March 13, 2018 by  
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The city of Diu has become India ‘s first and only municipality that receives all of its energy needs from solar power. Located in the southern region of the Indian state of Gujarat, Diu is governed directly by the Indian federal government, which has prioritized the growth of solar energy throughout the country. In only three years of focused development, Diu has installed enough solar capacity to serve the energy needs of the city’s nearly 22,000 residents. It is also in competition to be selected as a finalist in Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘s Smart Cities Mission initiative, in which 100 cities across India will receive funding and support to become more sustainable and livable. In previous years, residents of Diu received their power from the Gujarat state grid system, through which electricity was lost. Today, the locally-owned and operated power systems transport energy much more efficiently. Despite a land area of only 42 square kilometers, Diu is taking full advantage of its limited land resources. Solar power plants have been built on 50 acres throughout the city, which produces a capacity of 13 megawatts, 10 of which are from ground-based systems while 3 megawatts are sourced from rooftop systems . This is more than enough to meet Diu’s peak power demand of 7 megawatts. Related: Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals The switch to solar has also proven to be economically advantageous for consumers in Diu, as monthly electric bills have fallen by around twelve percent since the new energy system has been operating. To cope with nighttime power needs, Diu may transfer surplus energy to the larger grid, then source energy as needed when the sun is not shining. Diu is only one example of India’s solar push. Much further south, the Kochi International Airport holds the distinct honor of being the world’s first solar-powered airport . Via Clean Technica and Times of India Images via Depositphotos and  Flickr/poida.smith  

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The Indian city of Diu is 100% powered by the sun

MIT’s thermal resonator generates power "out of what seems like nothing"

February 27, 2018 by  
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A brand new power-generating system from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers creates energy “out of what seems like nothing,” according to chemical engineering professor Michael Strano in a statement . Their system, which they’re calling a thermal resonator, harnesses daily swings in ambient temperature , potentially enabling remote sensing systems to operate for years — no batteries or other power sources required. Nine MIT scientists from the chemical engineering department envisioned a new way to transform temperature changes into electric power. Their system doesn’t need two different temperature inputs simultaneously; it simply draws on fluctuations in the temperature of the air. Strano said, “We basically invented this concept out of whole cloth. We’ve built the first thermal resonator. It’s something that can sit on a desk and generate energy out of what seems like nothing. We are surrounded by temperature fluctuations of all different frequencies all of the time. These are an untapped source of energy.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT said the power levels the thermal resonator can generate are modest at this point, but the system’s advantage is that it isn’t affected at all by short-term changes in environmental conditions, and doesn’t require direct sunlight. It could generate energy in oft-unused spaces like underneath solar panels . The researchers say their thermal resonator could even help solar panels be more efficient as it could draw away waste heat . The thermal resonator was tested in ambient air, but MIT said if the researchers tuned the properties of the material used, the system could harvest other temperature cycles, such as those of machinery in industrial facilities or even the on and off cycling of refrigerator motors. The scientists created what MIT described as a “carefully tailored combination of materials” for their work, including metal foam, graphene , and the phase-change material octadecane. MIT said, “A sample of the material made to test the concept showed that, simply in response to a 10-degree-Celsius temperature difference between night and day, the tiny sample of material produced 350 millivolts of potential and 1.2 milliwatts of power — enough to power simple, small environmental sensors or communications systems.” The journal Nature Communications published the work online in February. + MIT News + Nature Communications Images via Melanie Gonick and Justin Raymond

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