Villa in Vietnam prioritizes natural light and green space

July 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Step into K-Villa+, located in C?n Th?, Vietnam. Finished in 2020, this villa maximizes open spaces for natural light and prioritizes environmentally-inclusive design with a  green roof  and tropical-style garden. The villa is located near the Mekong River in the center of H?ng Phú, a newly-established residential area close to public transportation. Designed by Space + Architecture, the roughly 19,375-square-foot villa boasts a low building density, a green roof and a rainwater collection system. K-Villa+ is one of few private residences in the country to be certified by the Vietnam Green Building Council. The garden space incorporates a variety of  trees  native to the local area, including mango, palm, milkfruit, bougainvillea and plumeria. An ecological fish pond on the property features aquatic plants such as lotus, water lily and centella. Related: A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam Going with the overall eco-friendly theme, the designers paid specific attention to  natural ventilation  for the project. This area of Vietnam experiences a typical monsoon season with natural circulating air, which the designers worked with, using wide-open spaces, breeze block walls and a specific door layout to maximize airflow. Controlled air flows into the building to help keep the interior cool, and the green roof helps reduce thermal radiation. Additionally, the tropical weather in the region presents excellent opportunities for  natural light . Large windows and openings work harmoniously for regulated airflow and light, along with an indoor garden and skylight. An artfully-designed spiral staircase exposes the interior to even more light, while the property fence is made of a combination of cut out steel and glass. At nighttime, occupants can switch to an automatic lighting system and energy-efficient LED lights. The villa employs a  rain reuse system  to help irrigate its many plants, with plans to turn the system into a drinking water source. The gardens are landscaped with grasscrete brick to reduce concrete surfaces, increase natural plant composition and help to drain rainwater. Eco-friendly materials such as un-baked brick and certified-sustainable wood were painted with non-VOC paint to avoid harmful emissions. + Space + Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Space + Architecture

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Villa in Vietnam prioritizes natural light and green space

Taming plastic waste with silica plastic blocks

June 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

In a bid to curb plastic waste pollution, India-based company Rhino Machines has invented a way of using plastic to make construction blocks. The silica plastic blocks (SPBs) are strong enough to build a house and can be useful in reducing world pollution problems. As the company behind this new technology, Rhino Machines experimented to determine the viability of making construction bricks from waste plastic and foundry dust. According to the company, they conducted experiments in collaboration with R+D Labs to prove that SPBs can be used to replace traditional construction blocks. Why recycle plastic waste? This experiment came from the need to find a permanent solution to India’s growing plastic waste problem. According to 2012 estimations by the Central Pollution Control Board of India (CPCB), India generates close to 26,000 tons of plastic a day. Additionally, as  The Economic Times  reports, over 10,000 tons of plastic waste go uncollected each day. This plastic waste litters streets, landfills and the seas. Furthermore, as non-biodegradable waste, the plastic ends up polluting rivers, agricultural land and even estates. The plastic waste pollution problem is not limited to India. According to a 2017  National Geographic  publication, over 91% of the plastic waste produced globally is not recycled. The same publication points out that as of 2018, the world has generated over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic since plastic began being mass-produced. About 6.3 billion metric tons of this waste ends up as waste in landfills , oceans and rivers. National Geographic also points out that if the global community doesn’t contain the current trend of plastic waste pollution, landfills will house 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste by 2050. All the problems caused by plastic waste are now pushing scientists and innovators to look for solutions that will create a sustainable world. Although some countries have banned single-use plastics , the current amount of plastic waste still takes an enormous toll on the environment. Technologies such as SPBs can help significantly reduce this waste. The convergence of plastic waste pollution problems and a need for urban housing developments also presents a unique opportunity for SPBs. According to the United Nations,  55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas . In urban areas, high population density leads to exacerbated plastic waste problems. The U.N. further estimates that about 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. By using available plastic waste to build housing for the growing urban population, SPBs could help reduce world plastic pollution.  How are SPBs made? When Rhino Machines started the SPB project, its objective was to attain zero waste through the reclamation of foundry waste . Initially, the experiment tested using foundry dust with cement to make bricks. This experiment resulted in 7-10% waste recycled for cement bricks and 15% waste recycled for clay bricks. The company realized the experiment required using resources such as cement , soil and water, which was not justified by the waste recycled. Further research led the team to use foundry dust with plastic waste to boost the project’s sustainability. Using plastic waste as a bonding agent eliminated the need for water and cement during mixing. Why SPBs? Building with SPBs contributes to the environment in two ways. Producing the blocks requires a mixture of about 80% foundry dust with about 20% plastic. Consequently, the project does not need water or cement. This means that the blocks use less natural resources while also reducing inorganic waste. The experiment to produce SPBs also uncovered additional positive revelations. Apart from the fact that these blocks are sustainable, they also offer the construction industry a strong building alternative. According to  Technology Times , SPBs are 2.5 times stronger than normal red clay blocks. Additionally, as SPBs are made from waste, “the cost of production can easily compete with the commonly available red clay brick or the CMU (concrete masonry unit).” Rhino Machines approached several organizations including hospitals, schools and local municipal corporations to collect clean plastic for the project. In about four months, the company collected over six tons of plastic waste and 15 tons of foundry dust. This collection helps demonstrate just how much plastic waste is available to be used in the production of SPBs. Furthermore, the company is “preparing to come up with an ecosystem solution so that the foundries across the country can develop and distribute” SPBs. As described in a statement from Rhino Machines, this is part of an effort to bring SPBs to impact zones that are part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), “a Government of India initiative for businesses to undertake philanthropic causes and give back to the community.” As the research and experimentation shows, SPBs have the potential to relieve plastic waste concerns not only in India but all over the world. If industries can adopt this new building technology , we may have hope for a future with less plastic pollution. Images via R+D Studio

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Arrivals zero-emissions buses are designed for social distancing

June 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

U.K. startup Arrival has unveiled the Arrival Bus, an eye-catching electric bus crafted to not only improve public perception of public transportation but to also respond to health concerns in the coronavirus era. Engineered for flexibility and worldwide adoption, the Arrival Bus features wraparound digital screens for easy identification and flexible seating so that passenger capacity can be controlled to follow social distancing rules. The sleek design concept also allows for the installation of plexiglass dividers between passengers and no-touch stop requests via a smartphone app. Founded in 2015, Arrival champions itself as a producer of electric commercial vehicles designed to help cities meet their net-zero emissions targets worldwide. In addition to the new Arrival Bus design, the startup recently unveiled designs for its electric delivery vans. Although there are no Arrival products currently on the road yet, the company plans to deploy 1,000 Microfactories — low-footprint automotive production facilities with Arrival assembly technology — around the world by 2026 to build all of the electric vehicles in its portfolio.  Related: Designers propose sustainable housing in response to COVID-19 lifestyle changes “We are very excited to bring the Arrival Bus to markets around the world and make the passenger experience of bus travel a positive one,” said Ben Jardine, chief of product for Arrival Bus. “By working in partnership with businesses to develop the entire ecosystem around our vehicles, we are supporting their goals of making public transport appealing whilst achieving carbon neutrality.” Arrival plans to create an integrated public transportation ecosystem that not only includes buses but also cars for sharing, taxis, delivery robots and charging infrastructure. Arrival expects to deploy the Arrival Bus in upcoming months. The electric vehicles will be built in local Microfactories using modular construction for flexibility. The use of an aluminum chassis with integrated mechanical parts will also streamline the production process, while the minimalist interior design will make the vehicle easy to clean. + Arrival Images via Arrival

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Arrivals zero-emissions buses are designed for social distancing

Finally, a one-stop shop for researching food systems data

June 19, 2020 by  
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Finally, a one-stop shop for researching food systems data Jim Giles Fri, 06/19/2020 – 00:15 Parts of our food systems are so bewilderingly complex that attempts to answer even basic questions can result in hours of frustrated searching. If you can relate to this, I have some good news for you — not quite a fully-fledged solution, but certainly a step toward one. The genesis of this solution dates to around six years ago, when Lawrence Haddad, who leads the nonprofit Global Alliance on Improved Nutrition , was editing an article on nutrition. “The authors had so little data to go on they had to make crazy assumptions about food systems,” he recalled when we spoke this week.  Haddad and his co-editor, Jessica Fanzo of Johns Hopkins University, set about assembling the people and funding needed to fix that. Earlier this month, they unveiled the Food Systems Dashboard . “It’s very much something we built in our garages in evenings and weekends,” Haddad said. “Much to our surprise, it has gathered momentum. We now see the potential is huge.” The dashboard is a data smorgasbord that covers everything from food waste and greenhouse gas emissions to food security and agricultural productivity. In total, there are more than 170 indicators, culled from 35 sources and covering nearly every country. There are gaps in the coverage, which Haddad says the team is working to fix, but the dashboard looks likely to become a first point of call for questions about food systems.  It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions. Poking around it this week, for instance, I found it easy to check something I had been curious about: Are young people in the United States eating more vegetables? Sadly not. Consumption hasn’t changed much in a decade. Presumably, this is related to other data I came across in the dashboard: The quantity of vegetables available per person in the U.S. food supply has been trending slowly down over the past 20 years. Businesses also can benefit from exploratory analyses such as these, suggested Haddad. There’s data on food infrastructure, government regulations and the amount of money that families have available to spend on food, all factors that guide decisions about whether to move into an emerging market. “If this is only for researchers, we’ve failed,” Haddad said. “It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions.” To make the dashboard more useful, the team is working on adding subnational data for large countries and developing guides for specific types of users. The dashboard also likely will be used by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization as part of its 2021 Food Systems Summit .  If your organization has thoughts on data you’d like to see added to the dashboard, Haddad and the dashboard team invite you to drop them a line via the site’s contact form . As always, I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this project and other issues you’d like to see covered in Food Weekly. You can reach me at jg@greenbiz.com . This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote It’s for governments and businesses — the people who make decisions about actions. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Systems Technology Data Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Finally, a one-stop shop for researching food systems data

Vibrant office building in India is made of recycled shipping containers

June 15, 2020 by  
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Sustainability and cost-effectiveness were top requirements when a green concrete manufacturing company in Bangalore, India approached Balan and Nambisan Architects. The clients were looking to keep an element of eco-friendliness and recycling at the center of the design. As such, the architects found shipping containers to be the obvious choice for construction. Shipping containers presented a versatile, cost-effective option that still had the potential to make a statement both in the local community and in the sustainable design world. The result was a compact, 1,500-square-foot office space made of four separate recycled containers, aptly named Colorfully Contained Experiences. The building includes a workstation, an experience center, a dining area, an outdoor deck and bathrooms. A ramp connects the separate containers, and a glass-encased staircase interconnects all of the floors. Related: Recycled shipping container cafe utilizes passive cooling in India Bright primary colors intentionally provide a sharp contrast to the uniformed buildings and factories in the surrounding area as a way to draw attention from potential customers. The bright red, blue and yellow colors also contrast the abundance of gray concrete that the company manufactures onsite. Meanwhile, the shipping containers maintain the same industrial style of the other buildings in the area while still boasting individuality. Because some shipping container structures tend to overheat in the summer months, and especially given the extreme temperatures that India experiences, insulation was a main focus for the project. The designers included passive cooling elements and insulation using rock wool and strand board paneling for the ceiling and walls. The containers were arranged around a water feature to provide a cooling effect in the courtyard, while windows and openings were placed strategically to allow for natural ventilation. Balan and Nambisan Architects paid special attention to drainage as well to ensure that the exterior surfaces stayed clear of rust in the event of heavy rain. + Balan and Nambisan Architects Images via Balan and Nambisan Architects

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Vibrant office building in India is made of recycled shipping containers

How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

June 8, 2020 by  
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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food Anna Zhang Mon, 06/08/2020 – 02:00 The COVID-19 crisis has affected most aspects of daily life, including how we get our food. Because the COVID-19 response has restricted restaurants to pick-up and delivery orders in many areas, business for on-demand food delivery apps such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Seamless and Uber Eats has increased dramatically.  Uber Eats claims to have experienced a tenfold increase in new restaurant signups, and some local restaurants say the percentage of orders placed through third-party apps has risen from around 20 percent to roughly 75 percent .  Even before the COVID era, food order and delivery apps were growing rapidly, and the sector was on track to more than double in value by 2025 — from $82 billion in 2018 to $200 billion by 2025. Projections showed that by 2023 about one-quarter of smartphone users , or 14 million Americans, will use these apps.  For the environmentally minded, the increased adoption of app-based food delivery services presents a unique opportunity to affect carbon emissions in the food supply chain. One of the leading climate change solutions is the widespread adoption of a plant-rich diet, particularly in countries with a more “Western” diet. Adopting these habits has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 66 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent, according to Project Drawdown. Compared to business as usual, choosing vegan options could reduce emissions by as much as 70 percent . Third-party food delivery apps offer a valuable opportunity to connect consumers to the knowledge they need to adopt a climate-friendly diet.  We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. While systematic change in food production at all levels is necessary to achieve goals for carbon emission reductions, influencing consumer behavior to shift towards low-carbon food options has the power to simultaneously encourage food producers up the supply chain to reduce the carbon impact of their offerings, while also empowering consumers to reduce their own personal carbon footprints. A recent study in Science magazine noted that “dietary change can deliver environmental benefits on a scale not achievable by producers.” However, a major roadblock is the lack of transparency surrounding the carbon impacts of food.  Many consumers recognize that animal products have some negative impact on the planet, yet most don’t truly know the extent to which meat consumption can drastically increase carbon emissions.  Indeed, according to a recent study by the Yale Center on Climate Change Communications, about half of surveyed Americans (51 percent) would be willing to eat a more plant-based, low-carbon diet if they had more information about how their food choices affected the environment. Through a six-week climate innovation program at Yale , we envisioned two ways that on-demand food delivery apps could empower their users to make more climate-friendly food choices. We based our idea off a successful project at Yale demonstrating the effectiveness of environmental impact ratings on consumers — in this case, students at Yale’s dining halls. Rate the Plate is an initiative designed by current Yale students through which dining halls display posters containing the calculated range estimates for the amount of carbon emissions from each available entree. After running both a small-scale pilot and then expanding to all Yale residential colleges, the organizers had students complete a survey to analyze the effectiveness of the posters and ratings. The results show that 62 percent of students had a positive response when asked if they reconsidered their food choices after seeing the ratings.  Additionally, when asked if they would like to continue seeing the environmental impact posters in the dining halls, more than 86 percent of students said yes.  The results of this project inspired us to consider other ways to empower consumers to make climate-friendly food choices. We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices.  First, food order and delivery companies can create short monthly quizzes for users to test their knowledge about the carbon impacts of various food options. An interactive, visually appealing quiz can inform consumers about how their own food choices can affect the planet as a whole. Positive messaging alongside discounts or other incentives can encourage users to take the quizzes and act on the information they learn.  For example, online consignment retailer ThredUp already runs an online quiz that consumers can take to determine their environmental impacts in the apparel sector. Additionally, companies could implement carbon labeling within their order menu interface. There are various existing methods to estimate and label the carbon emissions associated with food dishes, but a simple number or range of carbon equivalents would allow consumers to compare meal options within the app.  Using color coding or symbols such as trees to indicate high- and low-carbon footprint items also would be a non-obtrusive way to represent the information. The methodology could be explained in one of the quizzes released each month so consumers feel that they have both easy-to-read and accurate data. Order and delivery apps could include discounts for consumers opting into low-carbon food selections. What’s in it for companies such as DoorDash and Snackpass?  Companies would be able to analyze the data on these strategies to fulfill internal corporate sustainability metrics on reducing GHG emissions, and such information could be advertised to demonstrate the company’s drive and success in sustainability compared to competing apps.  There is growing demand for sustainable business practices and purchasing options, especially among younger consumers . Being known as a climate-friendly option in the food-delivery ecosystem likely will be a selling point for many companies. If food delivery apps implemented these various features, tracking the environmental impact would be relatively straightforward because it relies on digital technology and data collection. By looking at the number of people taking the carbon-impact quiz every month, companies could get a sense of the reach of these efforts among their customers. Eventually, they also could use the consumer order data to look for significant shifts in the carbon impacts of dishes people order.  What’s the role for restaurants?  While the relationships between restaurants and food delivery apps sometimes can be contentious , restaurants could benefit from advertising themselves as a climate-friendly option.  Restaurants would provide information about the ingredients lists of their dishes, allowing food delivery apps to calculate carbon impacts. As previously mentioned, discounts are offered to consumers who take the food carbon quizzes, which can help restaurants draw in new customers as well as highlight some of their vegan and vegetarian options. Ideally, there would be a shift towards vegetable-based options and away from meat-heavy dishes after the carbon ratings and quizzes are implemented, which would demonstrate a positive impact on consumer decisions in terms of carbon emissions. This data from before and after the intervention also could be used to create a baseline to calculate how many kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided due to lower demand for meat-heavy dishes.  As food-delivery apps continue to gain popularity over the next decade, integrating information about the climate impact of food options has the potential to address the large impact the food-supply chain has on carbon emissions. This information gives consumers power in their food choices and allows food-delivery apps to demonstrate climate-friendly values. Pull Quote We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. Contributors Tracy Zhou Luke Browne Abbey Warner Topics Food Systems Innovation Technology E-commerce Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

June 8, 2020 by  
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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food Anna Zhang Mon, 06/08/2020 – 02:00 The COVID-19 crisis has affected most aspects of daily life, including how we get our food. Because the COVID-19 response has restricted restaurants to pick-up and delivery orders in many areas, business for on-demand food delivery apps such as DoorDash, Grubhub, Seamless and Uber Eats has increased dramatically.  Uber Eats claims to have experienced a tenfold increase in new restaurant signups, and some local restaurants say the percentage of orders placed through third-party apps has risen from around 20 percent to roughly 75 percent .  Even before the COVID era, food order and delivery apps were growing rapidly, and the sector was on track to more than double in value by 2025 — from $82 billion in 2018 to $200 billion by 2025. Projections showed that by 2023 about one-quarter of smartphone users , or 14 million Americans, will use these apps.  For the environmentally minded, the increased adoption of app-based food delivery services presents a unique opportunity to affect carbon emissions in the food supply chain. One of the leading climate change solutions is the widespread adoption of a plant-rich diet, particularly in countries with a more “Western” diet. Adopting these habits has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 66 gigatonnes CO2-equivalent, according to Project Drawdown. Compared to business as usual, choosing vegan options could reduce emissions by as much as 70 percent . Third-party food delivery apps offer a valuable opportunity to connect consumers to the knowledge they need to adopt a climate-friendly diet.  We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. While systematic change in food production at all levels is necessary to achieve goals for carbon emission reductions, influencing consumer behavior to shift towards low-carbon food options has the power to simultaneously encourage food producers up the supply chain to reduce the carbon impact of their offerings, while also empowering consumers to reduce their own personal carbon footprints. A recent study in Science magazine noted that “dietary change can deliver environmental benefits on a scale not achievable by producers.” However, a major roadblock is the lack of transparency surrounding the carbon impacts of food.  Many consumers recognize that animal products have some negative impact on the planet, yet most don’t truly know the extent to which meat consumption can drastically increase carbon emissions.  Indeed, according to a recent study by the Yale Center on Climate Change Communications, about half of surveyed Americans (51 percent) would be willing to eat a more plant-based, low-carbon diet if they had more information about how their food choices affected the environment. Through a six-week climate innovation program at Yale , we envisioned two ways that on-demand food delivery apps could empower their users to make more climate-friendly food choices. We based our idea off a successful project at Yale demonstrating the effectiveness of environmental impact ratings on consumers — in this case, students at Yale’s dining halls. Rate the Plate is an initiative designed by current Yale students through which dining halls display posters containing the calculated range estimates for the amount of carbon emissions from each available entree. After running both a small-scale pilot and then expanding to all Yale residential colleges, the organizers had students complete a survey to analyze the effectiveness of the posters and ratings. The results show that 62 percent of students had a positive response when asked if they reconsidered their food choices after seeing the ratings.  Additionally, when asked if they would like to continue seeing the environmental impact posters in the dining halls, more than 86 percent of students said yes.  The results of this project inspired us to consider other ways to empower consumers to make climate-friendly food choices. We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices.  First, food order and delivery companies can create short monthly quizzes for users to test their knowledge about the carbon impacts of various food options. An interactive, visually appealing quiz can inform consumers about how their own food choices can affect the planet as a whole. Positive messaging alongside discounts or other incentives can encourage users to take the quizzes and act on the information they learn.  For example, online consignment retailer ThredUp already runs an online quiz that consumers can take to determine their environmental impacts in the apparel sector. Additionally, companies could implement carbon labeling within their order menu interface. There are various existing methods to estimate and label the carbon emissions associated with food dishes, but a simple number or range of carbon equivalents would allow consumers to compare meal options within the app.  Using color coding or symbols such as trees to indicate high- and low-carbon footprint items also would be a non-obtrusive way to represent the information. The methodology could be explained in one of the quizzes released each month so consumers feel that they have both easy-to-read and accurate data. Order and delivery apps could include discounts for consumers opting into low-carbon food selections. What’s in it for companies such as DoorDash and Snackpass?  Companies would be able to analyze the data on these strategies to fulfill internal corporate sustainability metrics on reducing GHG emissions, and such information could be advertised to demonstrate the company’s drive and success in sustainability compared to competing apps.  There is growing demand for sustainable business practices and purchasing options, especially among younger consumers . Being known as a climate-friendly option in the food-delivery ecosystem likely will be a selling point for many companies. If food delivery apps implemented these various features, tracking the environmental impact would be relatively straightforward because it relies on digital technology and data collection. By looking at the number of people taking the carbon-impact quiz every month, companies could get a sense of the reach of these efforts among their customers. Eventually, they also could use the consumer order data to look for significant shifts in the carbon impacts of dishes people order.  What’s the role for restaurants?  While the relationships between restaurants and food delivery apps sometimes can be contentious , restaurants could benefit from advertising themselves as a climate-friendly option.  Restaurants would provide information about the ingredients lists of their dishes, allowing food delivery apps to calculate carbon impacts. As previously mentioned, discounts are offered to consumers who take the food carbon quizzes, which can help restaurants draw in new customers as well as highlight some of their vegan and vegetarian options. Ideally, there would be a shift towards vegetable-based options and away from meat-heavy dishes after the carbon ratings and quizzes are implemented, which would demonstrate a positive impact on consumer decisions in terms of carbon emissions. This data from before and after the intervention also could be used to create a baseline to calculate how many kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided due to lower demand for meat-heavy dishes.  As food-delivery apps continue to gain popularity over the next decade, integrating information about the climate impact of food options has the potential to address the large impact the food-supply chain has on carbon emissions. This information gives consumers power in their food choices and allows food-delivery apps to demonstrate climate-friendly values. Pull Quote We believe that food delivery apps can implement some basic features to help consumers be more aware of the environmental impact of their food choices. Contributors Tracy Zhou Luke Browne Abbey Warner Topics Food Systems Innovation Technology E-commerce Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How on-demand food delivery apps could encourage low-carbon food

How Stripe’s ‘negative emissions’ team picked its first four carbon removal projects

May 28, 2020 by  
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How Stripe’s ‘negative emissions’ team picked its first four carbon removal projects Heather Clancy Thu, 05/28/2020 – 01:14 Among the many notes to myself about potential follow-up stories lies my scribbled reminder to check in on online payment tech company Stripe’s pledge last year to put at least $1 million annually toward carbon removal activities. Last week, the company knocked that item off my checklist. After a “rigorous” search, Stripe disclosed that it will support four “high potential” carbon capture and storage projects — picked from 24 applications. The action was detailed in a blog by Ryan Orbuch, a member of the internal climate strategy team leading the push. “Our initial priority was working out how we could use our funds to have the biggest impact … Next, we want to make it ‘much’ easier for businesses to make these kinds of purchases, which, we hope, will begin to grow the market for carbon removal far beyond Stripe’s contribution,” Orbuch wrote in response to questions I submitted for this article. We want to make it ‘much’ easier for businesses to make these kinds of purchases. Here’s a rundown of the organizations that Stripe plans to support (presented alphabetically). If you do the math, you’ll see these projects (in aggregate) account for all of the company’s annual commitment. CarbonCure : The Canadian firm is using mineralized CO2 — aka calcium carbonate — in concrete. The CO2 is captured from industrial processes at plants creating things such as ethanol, fertilizer or cement. Stripe is supporting 2,500 tons at a price of $100 per ton. Charm Industrial : The San Francisco-based startup is working on an approach that injects bio-oil captured from biomass into geologic storage. Stripe is the company’s first customer; the project will support the capture of 416 tons at $600 per ton. Climeworks : The Swiss company, which uses renewable energy to capture carbon dioxide from the air, offers a sequestration approach called Carbfix that injects concentrated CO2 into basaltic rock formations. Stripe’s commitment is 322.5 tons, for which it will pay a price of $775 per ton. Ultimately, though, Climeworks has said it is working toward a long-term price of $100 to $200 per ton. Project Vesta : This organization, which hails from San Francisco, is focused on capturing CO2 within the ocean and storing it using olivine, a natural mineral. The idea is to embed the captured carbon dioxide with limestone on the seafloor. This is an extremely early-stage approach, and the company needs to test it for both safety and viability. Stripe’s commitment to help it capture 3,333.33 tons at $75 per ton will help it with both lab experiments and pilot beach projects. The criteria that Stripe used to assess its various options were pretty specific — they’re summarized below in the graphic.  In response to my question about which were the most important considerations, Orbuch said no project was a perfect match nor did the Stripe team expect any to be. It didn’t specifically set out to pick four (although the math worked out well, with roughly $250,000 committed to each.) What stood out was the projects’ particularly high potential as well as the fact that they work toward closing the gap of what’s available for companies to use as part of their carbon removal strategy. He wrote: “One thing that really stood out to us was how few existing projects even attempt to sequester carbon outside of the biosphere. There’s a particularly large gap in non-biospheric solutions (such a large gap, in fact, that we decided that we’d also support R&D for these kinds of projects going forward — to help increase ‘top of funnel’). While sequestration beyond the biosphere certainly wasn’t the only criteria we considered, this one became increasingly important to us.” We’ve been encouraged by how many businesses, including many Stripe users, have expressed interest in purchasing alongside us. Stripe didn’t make the decision about which projects to choose on its own. It consulted a number of advisers from academia (including scholars from Worcester Polytechnic, Heriot-Watt, Harvard and the University of Utah) and NGOs (Environmental Defense Fund and Carbon180).  One thing that intrigues me about Stripe’s interest in funding carbon removal is its potential to help other companies act. How cool would it be, for example, if Stripe could include an option in its online payment service that allows businesses to fund these sorts of projects directly, perhaps as a percentage of a transaction or as a flat rate that customers could add to a purchase? Shopify, another e-commerce merchant platform, has said that it eventually will allow its business customers to do this although it hasn’t offered much detail. When I asked Orbuch how Stripe customers might benefit from the projects announced last week, he basically said to stay tuned. “We’ve been encouraged by how many businesses, including many Stripe users, have expressed interest in purchasing alongside us, and we want to make it as frictionless as possible for them to do so,” he wrote. “More details to come at a later time.” In the call to action in its blog, Orbuch indicated that Stripe would like to create an ecosystem of “funders and founders” that can help it create an ecosystem of carbon removal opportunities to support that vision. Pull Quote We want to make it ‘much’ easier for businesses to make these kinds of purchases. We’ve been encouraged by how many businesses, including many Stripe users, have expressed interest in purchasing alongside us. Topics Carbon Removal Carbon Removal Carbon Capture Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Project Vesta is focused on capturing CO2 within the ocean. Courtesy of Project Vesta Close Authorship

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How Stripe’s ‘negative emissions’ team picked its first four carbon removal projects

Using waste carbon feedstocks to produce chemicals

May 27, 2020 by  
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Using waste carbon feedstocks to produce chemicals Elizabeth R. Nesbitt Wed, 05/27/2020 – 14:36 Emerging carbon capture utilization (CCU) technologies potentially allow chemical companies and other manufacturers such as steel companies to convert waste carbon from industrial emissions — in the form of carbon monoxide (CO) and/or carbon dioxide (CO2) — into sustainable, value-added biofuels and chemicals. Using CCU technologies to consume waste feedstocks reportedly can cut production costs; monetize industrial emissions; allow companies to meet CO2 emissions goals; and foster continued development of a circular economy. Moreover, using waste carbon to make chemicals also can reduce manufacturers’ reliance on fossil fuels such as crude petroleum and natural gas, an important factor, particularly for the European Union and China, given the volatility in sourcing and pricing of fossil fuels. Factors driving adoption Technology providers such as LanzaTech (United States) and Avantium (Netherlands), among others, have developed novel CCU processes. The new processes, which reflect scientific advancements in industrial biotechnology and electrolysis, range from fermentation (using proprietary microorganisms) to electrocatalysis and are at varying stages of development (research scale to full commercialization). The extent to which new CCU technologies become commercially successful is based on multiple factors, including proximity of the consuming entity to the source of the waste carbon, and production and energy costs (including the availability and costs of renewable energy; companies predict that increased supplies of low-cost renewable energy will be needed). Government policies also play an important role in the evolving expansion of CCU projects. The extent to which new CCU technologies become commercially successful is based on multiple factors, including proximity of the consuming entity to the source of the waste carbon… Stakeholders and business models Large multinational chemical companies and steel companies are participating in CCU projects (a list showing examples of such projects is provided in the working paper ). Industry sources note that the new production capacity is generally in the form of modular “bolt-on” units that can be added to existing production facilities — such as steel plants, chemical plants, and refineries — that are major sources of CO/CO2 emissions. LanzaTech, one of the first companies to start commercial production of bioethanol using waste emissions, notes that steel mills worldwide produce about 30 billion gallons of waste gas per year and says its process can be used on about 65 percent of global steel mills, potentially producing 30 billion gallons of ethanol annually. The business models used along the value chain vary. Industry sources note that whereas the technology providers likely will license their technologies, the industrial emitters (such as steel companies) likely will use licensing and establish joint ventures (JVs) with the consuming/marketing entities. Many CCU projects underway to date are in China and Europe. Industry sources cite several reasons for this geographical concentration, including the magnitude of available waste emissions; industrial efforts to reduce emissions to meet national targets; funding; and government policies. One source, speaking of the European chemical industry, notes that CCU would allow the industry to both reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and enhance its competitiveness. Another source states that European leadership in development and deployment of clean-energy technologies translates to a global competitive advantage. But the speed of U.S. adoption of such technology may be tempered by several factors, including the relative cost of fossil fuels in the United States. The outlook Using waste carbon from industrial emissions as a feedstock for chemical manufacture appears to be a viable complement to industrial emitters’ ongoing abatement efforts. Many things are in flux: technologies are still being developed and scaled up; government policies are being implemented; business models are being established; funding is still being sought; the costs of installing the new technologies; and the supply and pricing of fossil fuels remain volatile. But steel companies, refineries and chemical companies are increasingly starting to use waste carbon emissions as feedstocks for chemicals and there are significant supplies of waste carbon from global industrial emissions worldwide for companies to use. These CCU technologies are promoting a paradigm shift that has the potential to increase firm-level competitiveness for manufacturers that adopt these processes, while also reducing the environmental impact of these manufacturers. On a sectoral basis, some sources estimate that the market potential for chemical production from waste carbon in industrial emissions, or even reduction of waste emissions in general, could be valued in the billions of dollars. Moreover, given estimates of potential reductions in production costs of about 20 to 50 percent (largely resulting from the feedstocks), chemical producers appear to be able to derive a competitive advantage regarding the pricing of many end products and, to the extent that they are partners in JVs with industrial emitters, they also may be able to increase market share and/or market coverage. Use of waste carbon feedstocks is also likely to allow companies to respond to carbon pricing programs and renewable energy mandates. Steel companies that can gain revenues from byproduct sales derived from their industrial emissions and offset emissions taxes and/or reduce other obligations under new mandates may be able to avoid reducing production in an increasingly competitive and oversupplied global market for steel with thin profit margins. Steel industries that adopt these sustainable technologies might be able to better survive oversupply conditions, carbon pricing programs, and renewable energy mandates than those that do not. These CCU technologies are promoting a paradigm shift that has the potential to increase firm-level competitiveness for manufacturers that adopt these processes, while also reducing the environmental impact of these manufacturers. To the extent that these technologies become widely adopted, they could result in substantial increases in supply of such chemicals globally, with potential disruptive impacts on trade and prices. Disclaimer: Office of Industries working papers are the result of the ongoing professional research of USITC staff and solely represent the opinions and professional research of individual authors. This article does not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. International Trade Commission or any of its individual commissioners. Pull Quote The extent to which new CCU technologies become commercially successful is based on multiple factors, including proximity of the consuming entity to the source of the waste carbon… These CCU technologies are promoting a paradigm shift that has the potential to increase firm-level competitiveness for manufacturers that adopt these processes, while also reducing the environmental impact of these manufacturers. Topics Carbon Removal Chemicals & Toxics Carbon Capture Chemical Recycling Technology Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock tonton Close Authorship

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Using waste carbon feedstocks to produce chemicals

Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

May 26, 2020 by  
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Paris-based design studio Rescubika has unveiled a fantastical proposal for the Babylon Bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge over the river Seine. Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the proposed bridge would be covered with greenery on multiple levels, from trees that line the length of the bridge to the hanging planters that surround a central waterfall feature. The new public park would also be connected to the riverbanks, which could be turned into urban agriculture plots for local use. The Babylon Bridge proposal spans the Seine to connect the Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet on the left bank with the 14-hectare Parc de Bercy on the right. Rescubika designed the proposal in response to the revitalization of Avenue de France — most notably with the ongoing development of architect Jean Nouvel’s Tour Duo project — and its desire to provide urban beautification that can be seen by a greater number of residents and visitors. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor “This project aims to study the possibility of a strong city entrance in the form of a hanging landscape,” the firm explained. “The Babylon Bridge is a positive vision of the city of tomorrow, less chaotic and annihilating than that of yesterday. The bridge is an urban tool allowing the passage of flows over areas that are impossible to cross, here we also want to allow the user to stroll and relax. It is a participative and positive architecture.” As an antidote to city living, the Babylon Bridge will shield visitors from urban noise and pollution with its hanging gardens and the noise buffer created by the central waterfall. A large, landscaped canopy would stretch over the bridge to provide shade and support for thousands of hanging potted plants. Seating areas would be integrated along the path to encourage visitors to take their lunch out on the bridge, which would be accessible from street level and the riverbanks below. + Rescubika Images via Rescubika

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Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

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