Biden unveils $2 trillion infrastructure and green economy plan

April 2, 2021 by  
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President Joe Biden has unveiled a $2.2 trillion masterplan that will see investments in infrastructure and job creation for Americans. The plan is designed to reshape the economy by investing in infrastructure and social support. If the plan is fully implemented, it will be the largest U.S. domestic investment in many years. The investment will have far-reaching effects in reshaping energy policy and turning away from greenhouse gases to green energy. The plan seeks to repair roads and bridges, boost public transit projects, replace all lead pipes to improve water systems, expand electric vehicles and invest in other renewable energy infrastructure. Related: Study finds US tap water is contaminated with dangerous chemicals While unveiling the plan, President Biden has tried to remain focused on the economic positives while still introducing the climatic aspects of the project. Besides infrastructure development, the plan will work to to slash greenhouse gases , address racial inequalities and generate well-paying jobs. The biggest concern over this ambitious climate plan has been the cost of the entire project. Opponents of the green economy have been adamant that if such a plan is implemented, it will come at a painful economic cost. However, President Biden and climate experts argue that global warming would be more costly in the long run. Several studies have indicated that climate change will cost nations more in the future. A 2018 Federal Climate Report disclosed that the U.S. would lose 10% of its GDP to climate change if things continue as usual. “If we act now, in 50 years people are going to look back and say, this was the moment that America won the future,” President Biden said. The Biden administration plans to raise the corporate tax rate to 28% in a bid to raise funds for the project. Other funding sources that the government is considering include increasing tax on U.S. multinational corporations and eliminating the no-tax rule for U.S. companies on their first 10% of returns when locating investments in other countries. Via USA Today and Axios Image via Maarten van den Heuvel

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LEED-Platinum Knight Cancer Research Building champions team science

April 2, 2021 by  
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In Portland’s South Waterfront, the Knight Cancer Research Building at Oregon Health & Science University is using a “team science” approach to help scientists and researchers find cures to cancer. Designed by Seattle-based design firm SRG Partnership , the cancer research facility features wellness-focused workspaces that encourage collaboration and innovation across different disciplines. As a beacon of sustainability, the building has also been certified LEED Platinum for its use of non-toxic, Red List-free materials and for achieving 38% greater energy efficiency and 68% reduced water use as compared to standard lab buildings.  Home to over 600 employees from different scientific disciplines, the 320,000-square-foot Knight Cancer Research Building includes seven stories of wet labs, computational biology facilities, research core services, a 300-seat auditorium, a conference center, ground-floor retail and underground parking for 77 cars. Two floors of the building are also occupied by the Center for Early Detection Research, the first large-scale early cancer detection program of its kind. The research facility is strategically located at the heart of a pedestrian-oriented hub easily accessible by multi-modal transit. Related: A LEED Gold-targeted office will enhance worker wellbeing To promote cross-disciplinary research, the building’s research floors follow an open neighborhood concept where team spaces are shared, visibility and collegiality is enhanced with glass partitions, laboratories follow non-hierarchical design and wet and dry labs are placed side by side. The architects have also inserted diverse gathering spaces throughout the building for spontaneous interactions that include a central kitchen, an auditorium , a social lounge and a rooftop terrace as well as other informal seating areas and social hubs. Floor-to-ceiling glazing floods the building with natural light while a sawtooth-shaped configuration of windows along the south elevation frames views of the Willamette River and Tilikum Bridge. Balconies and outdoor terraces further the building’s indoor-to-outdoor connections. The Knight Cancer Research Building was designed entirely with BIM to optimize energy-efficient operations.  + SRG Partnership Photography by Brad Feinknop Photography and Christian Columbres Photography via SRG Partnership

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This will be the largest CLT affordable housing complex in the Netherlands

April 2, 2021 by  
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Rotterdam-based architecture office Powerhouse Company has unveiled designs for Valckensteyn, a circular and sustainable building expected to become the largest timber-built affordable housing complex in the Netherlands. Commissioned by housing corporation Woonstad Rotterdam, the pioneering, 12-story project will feature 11 stories built of cross-laminated timber without the use of adhesives to allow the building to be demounted and reassembled elsewhere as needed. Proposed for the post-war Rotterdam neighborhood of Pendrecht, the 40-meter-tall Valckensteyn will occupy the site of a residential complex that was demolished a decade ago. Due to Valckensteyn’s relatively lightweight timber build as compared to steel-and-concrete construction, the architects will be able to repurpose the old building’s foundations — a sustainable design decision that helps to significantly reduce the project’s carbon footprint . Related: Self-sufficient floating office building for GCA will take anchor in Rotterdam For stability, the affordable housing complex will comprise a concrete ground floor and core. The ground-floor lobby will be clad in travertine — a post-war material with strong ties to the neighborhood — and house a large, inviting space with what the architects hope will be “the most beautiful bicycle storage in Rotterdam.” Cross-laminated timber construction will be exposed in the above floors, where all 82 homes will enjoy connections to the outdoors via floor-to-ceiling windows and timber-clad, west-facing balconies. A lush landscaping plan designed by LAP Landscape & Urban Design will surround the building and stimulate biodiversity. The carpark will also integrate cement-free paving stones and water filtration systems to take on the appearance of a “green carpet.” “With project Valckensteyn, Woonstad set out the challenge to develop a responsible and sustainable housing supply for middle-income families,” said Robbert Groeneveld, senior project manager at Woonstad Rotterdam. “The desire of Woonstad for a wooden building has been developed into an integrated design where sustainability, housing comfort and nature inclusivity come together.” Construction on Valckensteyn is expected to start in January 2022. + Powerhouse Company Images via Powerhouse Company

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This will be the largest CLT affordable housing complex in the Netherlands

Biden pushes to expand offshore wind energy

March 31, 2021 by  
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On Monday, President  Biden  announced that he intends for the U.S. electricity sector to be carbon neutral by 2035. His sights are set on lots of wind energy and lots of jobs. Later this year, the Interior Department intends to begin selling leases for a new wind energy area between the Jersey coast and Long Island. These relatively shallow waters are known as the New York Bight. The project is called Ocean Wind. A 2020 study by the Wood Mackenzie research firm predicted that constructing wind  turbines  in the bight could support approximately 32,000 jobs over the next decade. About 6,000 of these jobs would be permanent. Related: Reindeer herders in Norway take a wind farm to court “President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of  climate change , but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery,” White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy said in a statement. Eventually, the Biden administration envisions the  offshore wind industry  operating all along the east and west coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. By 2030, they aim to deploy 30 gigawatts of turbines — enough to fuel 10 million US homes. “In areas like the Gulf Coast, you will find steel fabricators, heavy lift vessel operators, subsea construction companies, helicopter service providers and more who built their experience in the  oil  and gas industry but will be vital in building offshore wind,” National Ocean Industries Association president Erik Milito said in a statement. But not everybody is stoked about massive wind farms operating off coasts. Local opposition, such as  Save Our Shoreline NJ , say the new wind energy would hurt recreation, tourism and the commercial fishing industry. The Biden administration has promised $1 million in grants to assess wind energy’s impact on fishing. The U.S. is partnering with other countries that are already deep in the wind business. The  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  agreed to share ocean mapping and other environmental data with Ocean Wind’s Danish developer Ørsted. Via NPR Lead image via Pixabay

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Biden to issue new directives on climate change

January 27, 2021 by  
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President Joe Biden is expected to issue additional executive orders by end of the day today that will kickstart the process of combating climate change . Part of the directives will be an executive order requiring federal agencies to determine how expansive a ban on new oil and gas leasing on federal land should be. Others include preserving 30% of federal lands and waters and making the climate crisis an issue of national security. President Biden campaigned on the promise of turning around the climate situation in the country. The directives to be issued today will mark the beginning of the process. However, even as the president and his team implement measures to combat climate change, experts say that executive orders can only do so much. Related: Biden signs executive order to rejoin Paris Agreement According to Jonathan H. Adler , a law professor at the Case Western Reserve University, the administration will need the goodwill of Congress to get any significant environmental policies in motion. The president has previously said that he has a $2 trillion climate change agenda , which he intends to implement over his tenure. At the moment, Congress is only slightly tilted toward Democrats; however, some of the issues within his agenda may still prove hard to pass. Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, was among the group that delivered Biden’s climate policy blueprint. Profeta said, “The Biden administration can do quite a bit to start to put the country on the right trajectory with its own authorities.” On his first day in office, President Biden signed several executive orders, including ending the Keystone XL pipeline project based on environmental concerns. The new executive directives will now call on agencies to consider how much federal land and waters should be reserved from mining and other economic activities. The president is also expected to sign an order to preserve 30% of federal land by 2030. He could also create a task force focused on reducing emissions nationally, and he is likely to sign an order to make climate change an issue of national security. Via The New York Times Image via Will Myers

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Sneci houseboat leaves no footprint while floating on Lake Tisza

January 27, 2021 by  
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Sneci isn’t your typical summer home, considering it doesn’t even come with a foundation. Then again, a foundation isn’t needed for this floating escape located on Lake Tisza in Hungary. The clients, Réka and Balázs, live in a small apartment in Budapest where they enjoy an active social and professional calendar. But when they went looking for a place to get away from the hum of busy days, they sought out a unique summer experience. That launched the idea of a small houseboat where they could fully immerse themselves into a region they love. The couple took their idea to Hungarian architect Tamás Bene, who said, “As an architect, I found it highly interesting to conceptualise and design a living space that has no tangible groundwork or foundations.” In order to match the houseboat with the area, Bene considered the massive, humanmade lake, which also acts as a nature reserve housing copious wildlife , including over 100 species of birds. With this in mind, Bene said, “We aimed to design a boat capable of assimilating into these surroundings, one that may become part of this scenery.” Related: Rental houseboat in India celebrates fire, water, air and earth elements The design is heavily inspired by traditional fishing boats in the area. Structurally, Sneci is composed of aluminum, which extends to the exterior of the structure with aluminum cladding surrounding the vessel. Complementing this material choice is the heat-treated thermowood that adorns the roof, decking and rear wall. Inside, the comforts of home include a kitchenette with seating that folds down to create a double bed. Natural light flows into the space through a panoramic window, large porthole windows and a sliding door that provides access to the back deck. In a marriage of coziness and natural elements, the interior walls are clad with a combination of redwood and thermowood. The tiny, floating home is powered by two solar panels mounted to the roof. These solar panels provide sufficient off-grid electricity to power the front and rear headlights, interior lighting and a small fridge. + Tamás Bene Via Dezeen Images via Balázs Máté

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Biden and the future of clean energy politics

January 22, 2021 by  
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Biden and the future of clean energy politics Sarah Golden Fri, 01/22/2021 – 01:00 Have you heard about the clean energy triangle?  The theory goes that in order to rapidly deploy clean energy, you need three elements: technology; policy; and finance. When these components are integrated, we’re able to thoughtfully accelerate the speed and scale of clean technologies. The technology is there and is getting better. The finance is following as investors see there’s money to be made. The only missing piece, before this week, has been policy.  The inauguration of Joe Biden as president is the dawn of a new political era; for the first time, the stars are aligning for the clean energy sector to unleash its full potential.  Biden’s position on clean energy is as diametrically opposed to his predecessor as this analyst can fathom. On his first day, the new president signed executive orders killing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and recommitting the United States to the Paris climate accord. As a candidate, Biden called for 100 percent clean energy in the U.S. by 2035. He’s integrating climate experts across all departments in “the largest team ever assembled inside the White House to tackle global warming.” The political sea change is larger than the whims of a single politician. It’s a reflection of the growing, influential force of the clean energy sector itself that will be difficult for serious politicians to ignore forevermore.  How clean energy pros helped POTUS land his new job Biden didn’t always make clean energy his issue. He responded to the public’s growing concerns about climate change and listened to experts about its immense economic potential.  That didn’t happen by accident. The clean energy sector has been growing and maturing for years, and in this election cycle, it helped Biden land his dream job thanks in part to the all-volunteer organization Clean Energy for Biden (CE4B) .  “I’m not just hopeful, I’m pretty convinced [clean energy professionals were politically influential],” Dan Reicher, CE4B co-chair and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, told me in a phone conversation. “They’ve shown themselves to be very capable in President Biden’s victory and made a real difference.” CE4B brought together more than 13,000 individuals in all 50 states, including 40 regional affinity groups in key locations across the county. It raised $3.2 million through more than 100 fundraisers and held hundreds of phone banks to get out the vote. The effort brought together impressive, diverse and passionate professionals  excited about leaders who understand clean energy. (Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer for CE4B.) The success of the CE4B’s organizing and campaign efforts inspired organizers to spin out a newly formed nonprofit, Clean Energy for America, which will support candidates and policies that will accelerate the clean energy transition at the state and national levels.  “Clean Energy for America is a recognition that the transformation that we need to address our clean energy challenges and opportunities needs to happen up and down the ballot,” Reicher said. “It’s not enough to work on a presidential campaign and then close up shop. We’ve got to continue on a variety of races on the national level, but we have to get really focused on state and local races as well.” It’s also a recognition that clean energy professionals are realizing their power and are here to stay. As clean energy continues to disrupt dirty energy incumbents, the sector will grow in numbers and power. It also means those in power today will decide the policy levers that shape our energy future; who benefits and in what way.  Clean Energy for America is continuing with the key tenets of CE4B, organizing around the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion to ensure that the clean energy transition is a just transition for all. The long road to Clean Energy for America  Before Clean Energy for Biden, there was CleanTech for Hillary. Before that, there was CleanTech for Obama.  The evolution of the name — from cleantech to clean energy — is a reflection of the industry itself.  “We treated it as a technology play, not ready for prime time,” said Reicher, who was involved in each organization. “We now call it clean energy. We had decided we had become mainstream; we were no longer a large tech sector backed by venture capital communities. It is a large, mainstream energy sector backed by large investment firms around the U.S. and world.” Today, millions work in clean energy (about  3.4 million before the start of the pandemic), and those numbers translated into a larger network.  “We still marvel today at how fast [CE4B] grew to 13,000 people,” Reicher said. “We never saw that level of growth in the other organizations.” With the birth of Clean Energy for America, the group is poised to continue to mobilize in races quickly. That, combined with the virtuous cycle that promises millions more Americans will be employed by clean energy in the coming decades, plants a clean energy flag in the sand.  Topics Renewable Energy Energy & Climate Jobs & Careers Wind Power Solar Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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