Coming soon: NYC’s first community solar project

March 21, 2017 by  
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A company based in Toronto is bringing New York City its first community solar project. UGE International , one of the world’s leading renewable-energy contractors, will be partnering with Gotham Community Solar to develop a new array at a multi-tenant commercial facility between the Park Slope and Boerum Hill neighborhoods in Brooklyn. The project, which is scheduled to be completed in early summer, will have a rated peak capacity of roughly 100 kilowatts, according to UGE. The building abuts another UGE project: the Whole Foods Market at 214 3rd Street, colloquially known as “3rd and 3rd” by locals. “It’s been a privilege to work with ConEd , the Department of Buildings, and the project’s ownership group on developing this landmark project” Tim Woodcock, UGE’s Regional Director, said in a statement. Related: UGE is building a massive rooftop solar array atop this popular Brooklyn church Woodcock anticipates selling any surplus power to nearby residents at rates lower than those offered by their utility companies. The benefits would be twofold: cheaper electricity that also comes from a sustainable source. “The solar power generated by the project will be credited to numerous residential accounts, offering access to the benefits and low cost of solar energy to those previously excluded due to their housing situation,” he added. + UGE International

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Coming soon: NYC’s first community solar project

New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80%

March 20, 2017 by  
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An innovative new project called LIFE+ Methamorphosis is pioneering a new sustainable biofuel for cars . Car company SEAT and water management company Aqualia have transformed wastewater into the alternative fuel . Powered with this biofuel produced during one year at a treatment plant in Spain, a vehicle could circumnavigate the globe 100 times. SEAT and Aqualia came up with a creative answer to the issues of pollution from traditional car fuels – which have led to traffic restrictions in cities like Madrid – and reusing water , a scarce resource. To make their biomethane , wastewater is separated from sludge in treatment plants, and then becomes gas after a fermentation treatment. Following a purification and enrichment process, the biogas can be utilized as fuel. Compared against petrol, production and consumption of the biofuel releases 80 percent less carbon dioxide, according to SEAT . The new biofuel works in compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled cars. Related: Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees The project aims to show feasibility at industrial scales through two waste treatment systems. The UMBRELLA prototype will be set up in a municipal waste treatment plant serving Barcelona. The METHARGO prototype will create biomethane at a plant handling animal manure. The biogas made with the second prototype can be utilized directly in cars or could be added to the natural gas distribution network, according to the project’s website . A mid-sized treatment plant can handle around 353,000 cubic feet of wastewater every day, which could yield 35,000 cubic feet of biomethane, according to companies involved with the project. All that biomethane could power 150 vehicles driving around 62 miles a day. SEAT will supply vehicles to test the biofuel over around 74,500 miles. The European Commission is funding the project. Other companies participating include Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas , Gas Natural , the Catalan Institute for Energy , and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area . Via New Atlas Images via SEAT and LIFE+ Methamorphosis

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New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80%

Staten Island is seeking proposals for a High Line park of its own

March 1, 2017 by  
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Why should Manhattan hog all the fun? Staten Island may soon get a “High Line”  of its own. Much like the OG linear park in Chelsea, which was constructed on an elevated section of a historic freight rail line, the proposed North Shore High Line could sprout from a similarly abandoned set of tracks in Port Richmond. The Staten Island Economic Development Corporation , a nonprofit group that advocates for the borough’s economic development, has issued an open call for ideas. “Realizing we have this long abandoned North Shore Rail Line, I wanted to look into how we could replicate what they did in Manhattan,” Cesar Claro, president and CEO of the SIEDC, told SILive . “We met with Friends of the High Line in Manhattan … and came up with a plan using the Manhattan High Line as the roadmap, and it will start with a design competition.” Photo: Screenshot from video by Russ Ott A North Shore High Line along the half-mile stretch between Richmond Terrace at Heberton Avenue to Nicholas Avenue would not only rehabilitate what is currently an illegal dumping ground, but it could also pose an “unprecedented economic and recreational opportunity,” according to Salvatore Calcagno, Jr., SIEDC’s ambassador for the project. “Based on the success of the High Line on the West Side of Manhattan, we believe that activating the dormant line in a similar fashion can be a transformative project for the area. We hope this leads to an active public space along the line,” Calcagno said. A 2014 University of California, San Diego study showed that Manhattan’s High Line boosted the prices of adjacent homes by as much as 10 percent. “If our high line is half as successful as Manhattan’s, it will be a major boon to the community,” Calcagno added. Related: Proposed Staten Island vineyard would produce local wine for New Yorkers Designers who want a shot at $10,000 in prize money have until April 7 to submit a proposal to the SIEDC, which will put the entries to a public vote before announcing the winner at its annual conference on April 27. Claro, the president of the SIEDC, says he hopes to be able to work with local officials to fund the project, which could run up to some $30 million. But even if greenlit, such a scheme would take years, perhaps even decades, to come to fruition. “Keep in mind Manhattan’s High Line took 20 years from idea to creation,” Claro said. + North Shore High Line competition + Staten Island Economic Development Corporation Via SILive and DNAinfo Photos: Screenshots from video by Russ Ott and Wikipedia

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Staten Island is seeking proposals for a High Line park of its own

Standing Rock protesters evicted by police at gunpoint

February 24, 2017 by  
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Yesterday police in riot gear evicted Standing Rock protesters after an evacuation deadline passed. Though the majority of demonstrators left the Oceti Sakowin camp before the February 22nd deadline, about 50 Dakota Access Pipeline protesters remained. Most of these passive resistors – including veterans and tribal elders – were arrested at gunpoint by officers clad in full riot gear. The raid was livestreamed on Facebook over the course of 4 hours throughout the day. The initial evacuation was ordered on the pretext of protecting demonstrators from seasonal floods, which could potentially affect the area. While this is certainly a legitimate concern, the fact that over 200 police officers were sent to clear the area, armed with rifles and military-style equipment, makes it clear that the protesters’ safety isn’t Governor Doug Burgam’s main priority. Related: Judge throws out request to halt Dakota Access Pipeline construction Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier told ABC News in a statement, “I am very happy to say that we finally introduced rule of law in the Oceti camp. I am hopeful that this announcement brings us closer to finality in what has been an incredibly challenging time for our citizens and law enforcement professionals. Having dealt with riots, violence, trespassing and property crimes, the people of Morton County are looking forward to getting back to their normal lives.” For many of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe members, there is no “normal life” to get back to. Now that the pipeline construction is slated to go forward , they live in fear that a catastrophic oil spill could put their community’s access to clean water at peril. The “violence, trespassing, and property crimes” they’ve been subject to at the hands of police in the past year include being attacked by security dogs , blasted with water cannons at hypothermia-inducing temperatures, and having land they claim was granted to them as part of a 1851 treaty given away to oil companies by the federal government. Related: Trump claims he received no calls about the Keystone and Dakota pipelines Though the protests are Standing Rock have been ended by force, the movement to force banks to stop supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline continues. Oakland , Los Angeles , and New York City are just a few of the local governments urged to divest from the pipeline. Seattle has already voted to end all financial support of the project by moving $3 billion of the city’s funds from Wells Fargo. Via ABC News Images via Kelly Hayes , Unicorn Riot , Jamil Dakwar , Standing Rock Rising

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Standing Rock protesters evicted by police at gunpoint

See how banana trees are recycled into vegan leather wallets in Micronesia

February 24, 2017 by  
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Forget plastic and leather, your next wallet could be made from a more ethical and eco-friendly alternative—banana fiber. Kosrae, Micronesia-based startup Green Banana Paper tapped into banana tree waste, upcycling the unlikely material into stylish and sturdy vegan leather wallets. Green Banana Paper launched a Kickstarter to bring these eco friendly wallets to the global market and help improve the lives of local farmers. Bananas may be easy to eat, but the trees they grow on need a surprising amount of work. There are approximately 200,000 banana trees spread across the island and after harvesting, local farmers must cut down the plant every year to promote fruit production. The mass amounts of banana fiber waste are typically left on the ground to biodegrade, but Green Banana Paper saw an entrepreneurial opportunity with environmental and social benefits. Founded by New England native Matt Simpson, the social enterprise produces strong and water-resistant wallets with designs inspired by the coconut palms, ocean life, and people of Micronesia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSM_TYaT5Kg Related: Thai Building Facade Handmade From Natural Banana Fiber “Green Banana Paper wallets are not only ecofriendly; they are helping to provide a living wage to Kosraean families,” says the company. “Matt hopes to continue to scale up production, and get even more people on the island involved in this truly community-oriented business.” Green Banana Paper has launched a Kickstarter to raise funds for hiring more people and improving the quality of their products. Supporters of the project can also receive their own banana fiber wallet, which can be shipped around the world. + Green Banana Paper Kickstarter

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See how banana trees are recycled into vegan leather wallets in Micronesia

London’s ‘smallest house’ uses flexible plywood furniture to maximize space

February 23, 2017 by  
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Danish design firm Studiomama is known for their talent of creating comfy living space out of virtually nothing. However, designers Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama recently put their skills to the test by buying a vacant 140-square-foot structure in Northern London just to convert the tiny space into “London’s smallest house”. Taking a cue from space-efficient interiors of caravans and boats, the designers focused on making use out of every corner of the compact space by creating flexible furniture . “A tiny space like this has to be designed like one would design the interior of a caravan or boat,” Studiomama co-founder Nina Tolstrup explained, “Everything has to be custom designed as there is not room for any off the shelf furniture, which was a great challenge.” Related: Space-saving furniture transforms to make the most of a Hong Kong micro-apartment https://youtu.be/gIfNhakS_PY Using plywood as the main material, they equipped the home with custom-made, adjustable furniture to divide it into distinct functions. The foldout bed , standing desk, and extendable dining benches add utility without occupying permanent space. Mirrors placed on either side of the home were create a feeling of amplitude, and two large windows allow for optimal natural light . To create a nice lounge area, a medium-size bench and a foldout footrest were installed into the main wall, which is covered in sliding pastel-hued panels. These panels cover use-specific storage cabinets such as a designated office space with a foldout desk, a sewing machine table, shelving for books, and even a wine rack. The designers used plywood for the furniture, as well as the ceilings and flooring, because of its versatility. “The use of one dominant material has made the space seamless – where floor, walls and ceiling comes together as one,” they said. “It is also a very warm material that makes the space feel cosy and cabin like.” The design layout for the tiny home was originally an installation for the 2016 London Design festival. The designers wanted to show how compact living can be comfortable. “We see the issues of how to live in a compact living space to be of growing importance, especially given the trends towards urbanisation and rise of megacities,” they said. “We wanted to use the project to pose a question about what are the things that we really need to live comfortably.” + Studiomama Via Dezeen Photography by Rei Moon, Director/Photographer MOON RAY Studio. Video by Suzie Joyce.

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London’s ‘smallest house’ uses flexible plywood furniture to maximize space

Missouri community is building 50 tiny homes for homeless veterans

February 17, 2017 by  
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The epidemic of homeless veterans has hit numerous communities across the country, but one Missouri town is about to tackle the large problem with a tiny solution. Working with the non-profit Veterans Community Project (VCP), a Kansas City neighborhood is in the process of creating the Veterans Village, a neighborhood of 50 tiny homes built by fellow veterans in order to house their homeless brothers and sisters. As reported by Fox 4 KC , land for the new neighborhood has already been cleared. Working in collaboration with the Veterans Community Project, several local organizations are helping put the tiny home community together. The building team is made up of fellow veterans who are currently constructing 50, 20-foot-long and 240-square-foot tiny homes that will make up the new community. The process is currently on going, but they are shooting for a move in date in late 2017. Related: Tiny House Nation’s Zack Giffin will teach veterans to build their own homes VCP founder and Marine Corps veteran Kevin Jamison explained the inspiration for the initiative to Fox4, “These are my brothers and sisters out there on the streets. We didn’t want to see any veteran suffering. We want to give them something they can stay in, call it their own and then socialize and re-integrate at their own pace.” + Veterans Community Project Via Country Living Images via Veterans Community Project

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Missouri community is building 50 tiny homes for homeless veterans

Zaha Hadid Architects designs Beijing tower with worlds tallest atrium

February 17, 2017 by  
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Beijing is one step closer to completing the world’s tallest atrium. The 190-meter-tall atrium is part of the Leeza Soho, a 46-story mixed-use tower currently under construction that recently reached level 20. Zaha Hadid Architects designed the striking light-filled building integrated with energy-efficient systems and engineered to meet LEED Gold standards. Shaped like a slim barrel, the 172,800-square-meter Leeza Soho is set within the Lize Financial District and will be well connected with the city thanks to its position above a subway interchange station and proximity to the city’s bus routes. Zaha Hadid Architects used the subway lines that run beneath the site as the basis for a diagonal axis that splits the tower into two halves connected via the central atrium . The architects write: “As the tower rises, the diagonal axis through the site defined by the subway tunnel is re-aligned by ‘twisting’ the atrium through 45 degrees to orientate the atrium’s higher floors with the east-west axis of Lize Road, one of west Beijing’s primary avenues.” Related: Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Infinitus Plaza focuses on environmental sustainability The twist in the atrium allows natural light to penetrate into the center of all the floors and allows for a diversity of views into the city from all directions. To maximize energy efficiency, the glass curtainwall system is constructed with double-insulated low-e glazing units. High-tech insulation, self-shading and use of an advanced 3D BIM energy management system with real-time monitoring will help create a comfortable indoor environment year-round. The tower will target LEED Gold certification and also includes heat-recovery from exhaust air, high-efficiency pumps and fans, chillers and boilers, low-flow rate fixtures, gray water flushing, high-efficient air purifiers, and low VOC materials. Leeza Soho will reach its full height of 207 meters in September this year. The tower is slated for completion in late 2018. + Zaha Hadid Architects

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Zaha Hadid Architects designs Beijing tower with worlds tallest atrium

The UAE joins race to build first city on Mars

February 16, 2017 by  
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The race to colonize Mars first is in full swing, with everyone from Mars One to Elon Musk angling for the prize. Now the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced their intention to build Mars’ first city within 100 years. Their plan, called Mars 2117, aims to inspire, and act as a seed for future generations to grow. Mars 2117 was launched on February 14 , on the sideline of World Government Summit in Dubai, where a Mars 2117 virtual reality experience was offered. UAE Prime Minister and vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum announced the plan : “We aspire to great things, so my brother Mohammed bin Zayed and I today decided the UAE will join the global effort to send humans to Mars. Mars 2117 is a seed we are sowing today to reap the fruit of new generations led by a passion for science and advancing human knowledge.” Related: Elon Musk reveals his big plan for colonizing Mars Mars 2117 isn’t just a dream for the UAE. In a statement Al Maktoum said, “The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality.” The UAE government plans to create an international scientific consortium to pursue research for the project. Thus far only the United States has been able to land a craft on Mars – Europe and Russia have both failed. And the UAE just started their space agency in 2014, but they already plan to send a spacecraft, Hope, to orbit the red planet in 2021. Popular Science notes although the country lacks rockets, they have plenty of money and have shown they can move swiftly to achieve large goals, such as transforming Dubai from the pearl-fishing village it was around 40 years ago to the architectural wonder it is today, boasting the world’s tallest structure in the Burj Khalifa . Via International Business Times , Popular Science , and Government of Dubai Media Office Images via Dubai Media Office on Twitter

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The UAE joins race to build first city on Mars

Frank Lloyd Wright’s unbuilt Trinity Chapel brought to life in vivid renderings

February 9, 2017 by  
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It goes without saying that Frank Lloyd Wright has a large and loyal following, but Spanish architect David Romero has taken his admiration for the famed architect to new, visual levels. Romero became enamored with Wright’s design for the unbuilt Trinity Chapel, and took it upon himself to create detailed color renderings of how the building might have looked today if the project had been realized. Frank Lloyd Wright designed Trinity Chapel in 1958 for the University of Oklahoma, but due to a misunderstanding with his client, the project was never built. Almost 60 years later, Romero used Wright’s original designs as a guide to imagine how the project would have looked if it had been finished. Thanks to modeling programs AutoCad, 3ds Max, and Vray, he was able to create the vivid renderings of the church design , complete with all of its complicated angles and dimensions. Related: Frank Lloyd Wright beach house listed on Airbnb for under $150 per night Romero’s version of the chapel features red zigzag walkways leading up to the building, which has a green shingle spire and a central window of stained-glass panels. Just outside the entrance comprises a soothing water pond with floating greenery. On the interior, Romero’s amazing work captures the color reflected by the stained glass windows. He even went so far as to furnish the chapel with wooden pews and blue cushions around the central wooden pulpit. Romero says he fell in love with this chapel because of its “suggestive design” and tried to stay true Wright’s style as much as possible,”I have had to speculate in some details that were not yet designed by Wright as the design of the stained glass, the pulpit or the large pond, but always thinking of what Wright would have done if he had had the opportunity to continue his assignment.” + David Romero Via Curbed Images via David Romero

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s unbuilt Trinity Chapel brought to life in vivid renderings

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