How orange peels helped barren land in Costa Rica spring back to life

August 23, 2017 by  
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There’s more to oranges than juice! Back in the 1990’s, two ecologists suggested orange juice manufacturer Del Oro donate some of their land near a national park in Costa Rica ; in exchange, they’d be able to deposit agricultural waste for free on degraded land inside the park. Del Oro agreed and dumped 1,000 truckloads of orange pulp and peels on the land. Today, that area is a thriving forest . A Princeton University -led team of researchers journeyed to the forest to discover just how much that food trash transformed the forest – and how other businesses might do the same. Del Oro donated land to Área de Conservación Guanacaste at the suggestion of husband and wife ecologist team Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs, who’d worked as advisors at the park. The company unloaded around 12,000 metric tons of orange waste for biodegradation until rival company TicoFruit sued, saying Del Oro had defiled the park. TicoFruit won and the land went largely overlooked for over a decade. Related: 16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels Years later, environmental researchers decided to evaluate the site. They discovered a lush forest that had a 176 percent increase in aboveground biomass – what Princeton described as the trees’ wood – in the seven acres they studied. They also found a difference between areas where orange peels hadn’t been dumped and where they had – according to Princeton, the latter showed richer soil, greater tree-species richness, and more closure in the forest canopy. The researchers think regenerating forests with agricultural waste could help us sequester carbon . Princeton graduate student Timothy Treuer said in a statement, “This is one of the only instances I’ve ever heard of where you can have cost-negative carbon sequestration. It’s not just a win-win between the company and the local park – it’s a win for everyone.” Princeton University ecologist David Wilcove thinks more businesses could help the environment in similar ways. He said while companies do generate environmental problems, “…an awful lot of those problems can be alleviated if the private sector and the environmental community work together. I’m confident we’ll find many more opportunities to use the leftovers from industrial food production to bring back tropical forests. That’s recycling at its best.” University of Pennsylvania , Beloit College , and University of Minnesota scientists joined the Princeton researchers to write a study published by the journal Restoration Ecology this week. Via Princeton Environmental Institute Images via Pixabay and Princeton University

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How orange peels helped barren land in Costa Rica spring back to life

JZA+D transforms a defunct Princeton gas station into a pumping pizza joint

November 9, 2016 by  
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Nomad Pizza is a popular restaurant located near a shopping center in Princeton, New Jersey. Elements of the original modernist structure are still present both in the interior and exterior of the building. However, its current appearance and organization lend themselves to the food industry venue, making the new structure appear as though it was built with its current function in mind. Related: Tulsa Architecture Firm Turns Route 66 Gas Station Into Their Office Before conversion The main challenge that JZA+D, experienced in revitalizing the older structure was adapting the existing drive-through service bays and garage doors to the building’s new use. The team closed off the bays and portals at the rear with cedar and storefront glazing , and installed specialized doors on the front to best utilize the large garage openings. This also facilitated a connection between the dining area and the exterior spaces, creating an awning-covered patio area used when the weather is warm. + JZA+D

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JZA+D transforms a defunct Princeton gas station into a pumping pizza joint

What Trump’s victory means for the environment (it’s not good)

November 9, 2016 by  
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In a shocking upset that has warped our perception of reality, climate change denier Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential race. The newly elected 45th President of the United States has indicated he’ll work to reverse the progress made in the battle against climate change. From pulling out of the Paris climate agreement to promoting fossil fuels to limiting the power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to undoing President Obama’s work on the Clean Power Plan , Donald Trump’s proposed energy policies may gravely impact the environment. Mere days after the Paris climate agreement went into force, the United States elected an individual who has been on a rampage to jerk the United States out of the historic agreement. The Paris climate agreement was 20 years in the making, and offers a starting point for nations to attempt to alleviate the effects of climate change as people from island nations to Florida are already grappling with climate change-caused sea level rise . Trump has said he’ll yank America out of the agreement, but French environment minister Ségolène Royale said it won’t be so easy for Trump to follow through. She told The Guardian the Paris agreement “prohibits any exit for a period of three years, plus a year-long notice period, so there will be four stable years.” Related: Would a Trump presidency undo the UN climate change agreement? While that statement may provide a sigh of relief for many Americans, Trump will likely also work against progress at home. He said during his campaign he will cancel ” billions in climate change spending ,” putting that money towards “clean water, clean air, and safety.” But his proposed appointment of fellow climate change denier Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute to head an EPA ” transition team ” signals Trump likely wants to undo many of President Obama’s climate policies. For example, under his new limited EPA, government might not strongly enforce Clean Air Act regulations. In terms of energy, Trump’s plans are dirty. He has said we need ” much more than wind and solar ,” pointing instead to something called clean coal. He’s said he wants to tap into American shale gas and even build the Keystone XL pipeline . He supports fracking and regular old coal. As so many of the lines that come from Trump’s mouth are lies, will he follow through on his threats or will he actually work to move the country forward? Either way, he is likely to have the support of a Republican-dominated House and Senate. President Obama was able to pass many clean energy measures by utilizing executive powers, but now Trump will obtain those powers. Time will show how he chooses to use them. Via Grist and The Guardian Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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What Trump’s victory means for the environment (it’s not good)

Princeton experimental fusion reactor breaks after $94 million upgrade

October 3, 2016 by  
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After a $94 million upgrade that took around four years to complete, a Princeton experimental fusion reactor recently broke. Scientists shut down the National Spherical Torus Experiment Upgrade (NSTX-U) after they discovered a malfunctioning coil. Since the NSTX-U shut down, only one fusion reactor is currently working in the United States. Fusion power could be a source of clean energy that ” could power the world indefinitely .” But US fusion researchers are struggling after the upgraded reactor at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) broke. As one other Department of Energy-funded fusion reactor at MIT was scheduled for safe shutdown at the end of September, as of now only a San Diego facility is operating. Related: Germany’s Wendelstein 7-X stellarator passes new test, bringing us closer to nuclear fusion energy NSTX-U began operating last December at low power, and provided ” high quality data ” for 10 weeks before scientists realized they’d need to shut the reactor down. At first PPPL told Nature they were investigating the faulty coil, but later said even as the coil was being made there were questions “about the strength of the copper ” in the coil. They said they investigated those questions at that time. Non-profit research foundation Fusion Power Associates President Stephen Dean told Nature , “Mistakes like this do sometimes get made, but with all of the experience the fusion program has, it should not have happened this way.” He says it’s possible the problem could have been prevented through more analysis when questions over the copper’s strength were first raised. Although scientists shut down the fusion reactor in July, the fact of the shutdown became known the end of September after the resignation of PPPL director Stewart Prager, who said he had considered leaving before the shutdown and will now step down so new leadership can fix the fusion reactor. Jonathan Menard, program director of NSTX-U, said the faulty coil satisfied specifications of the laboratory and that a similar coil made with copper of the same grade functioned properly. The faulty coil could have malfunctioned through a flaw in the design or manufacturing process, but the scientists don’t yet know which explanation led to the malfunction. It’s not yet known how much it will cost to fix the fusion reactor but it will likely be around a year before it will work again. Via Nature Images via PPPL Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Princeton experimental fusion reactor breaks after $94 million upgrade

Earth’s oxygen levels are declining – and scientists aren’t sure why

September 30, 2016 by  
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Scientists led by Daniel Stolper at Princeton University studied samples of ancient air trapped in ice in Antarctica and Greenland and made a startling discovery – for the past 800,000 years, the Earth’s oxygen levels have steadily decreased. So far no one knows exactly why oxygen levels are declining, but there are a few prominent hypotheses. The ancient ice-trapped air reveals oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere have gone down by 0.7 percent over 800,000 years, which fortunately isn’t dire. That decrease is about the amount of decrease experienced when someone moves from sea level up to 100 meters, or around 328 feet, higher than sea level. But oxygen levels are still going down – and scientists aren’t sure why. Related: The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut One hypothesis is that erosion rates have increased globally, and rocks that are being weathered pull oxygen out of the atmosphere, much like iron binds to oxygen as it rusts. Carbon and pyrite are two substances that may be behind oxygen levels declining. Scientists think that fluctuations in the Earth’s temperature could lead to retreating and growing ice, spurring increased rates of global erosion. A second hypothesis is that over the last 56 million years, Earth has generally experienced global cooling, which has cooled the oceans. Colder oceans can hold more dissolved gases, including dissolved oxygen. Writing for Forbes, geologist Trevor Nace compared the phenomenon to the amount of carbonation in a soda. When soda goes flat it gets warmer, as dissolved carbon dioxide escapes. Colder soda contains that carbon dioxide, and perhaps the cool oceans are now holding more dissolved oxygen in a similar manner. It’s difficult for scientists to know just which hypothesis is correct, since oxygen levels are connected to other processes such as volcanic activity and even the biodiversity present on Earth. The study was published this month in the journal Science . + Science Via Forbes Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Earth’s oxygen levels are declining – and scientists aren’t sure why

Prefab energy-smart home pops up in just one day

September 5, 2016 by  
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“The house was an experiment in providing high quality sustainable residential development affordably,” says Rubina. “It was fabricated at a modular factory in less than a month, installed on site in one day, finished completely in about a third of the time it would take to build on-site.” Completed in 2012, the modular two-story home has an L-shaped plan that spans 2,000 square feet and connects to a 500-square-foot studio. Related: Net-zero Unity home is a solar-powered prefab that pops up in just 3 days Off-site prefabrication helped minimize construction waste and ensure an airtight energy-efficient envelope. A high-efficiency HVAC system , long cantilevered roofs, and solar shading reduce cooling costs, while large glazed openings let in natural light to minimize reliance on artificial lighting. The ground floor comprises the main communal areas including the living, dining, and kitchen spaces, as well as a small office. The bedrooms and a play loft for children are located upstairs. The attached studio suite is set up as a small office that can be converted into a guest suite. + Marina Rubina Via Dezeen Images via Marina Rubina , by Halkin Mason Photography

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Prefab energy-smart home pops up in just one day

Greenpeace exposes academics willing to take oil company money to cast doubts on climate science

December 9, 2015 by  
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Greenpeace revealed today that undercover work isn’t just for detectives. In an effort to illustrate how easily fossil fuel interests can buy off academics to create doubt about the effects of climate change, Greenpeace reporters asked professors from Princeton and Penn State to pen reports touting the benefits of carbon dioxide and bolstering support for coal burning in developing nations. As it turns out, it’s not difficult to get academic ‘research’ published that says whatever you’d like it to say, provided you have the dollars to back up the request. Read the rest of Greenpeace exposes academics willing to take oil company money to cast doubts on climate science

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Greenpeace exposes academics willing to take oil company money to cast doubts on climate science

Climate Change Could Make Fall Foliage Last Longer – But That’s Not a Good Thing

October 2, 2014 by  
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Fall foliage watchers can rejoice in the news that climate change may make the incredible autumn colors found in the Northeast and Midwest last a bit longer – but it spells bad news for the planet. New research from Princeton University shows that global warming will cause tree leaves to respond in wildly unpredictable ways come autumn. According to Modern Farmer , the research shows that leaves will start changing color later in the year and will keep their bright colors for longer. Read the rest of Climate Change Could Make Fall Foliage Last Longer – But That’s Not a Good Thing Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: autumn , Climate Change , colors , delayed , fall , foliage , midwest , New England , princeton , tourism , Trees , university

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Climate Change Could Make Fall Foliage Last Longer – But That’s Not a Good Thing

London’s New Footbridge Rises Like a Fan Over Grand Union Canal

October 2, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of London’s New Footbridge Rises Like a Fan Over Grand Union Canal Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: AKT II , bridge design , footbridge , hydraulic systems , kinetic bridge , Knight Architects , LED lights , London bridges , pedestrian bridge , transforming architecture , transforming bridge

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London’s New Footbridge Rises Like a Fan Over Grand Union Canal

New Jersey Ranch Home Marketed As “Tear-Down” is Eco-Renovated Instead

March 21, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of New Jersey Ranch Home Marketed As “Tear-Down” is Eco-Renovated Instead Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: dowling studios , eco design , eco home , green architecture , Green Building , green design , green home , green renovation , home renovation , new jersey , onehouse , princeton , retrofit , Sustainable Building , sustainable design

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