Nebraska grants TransCanada approval to build the Keystone XL pipeline

November 20, 2017 by  
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Nebraska just gave the go-ahead for Keystone XL , allowing TransCanada to clear the last regulatory hurdle for the hotly contested oil pipeline . After a nine-year battle, TransCanada can move forward with the project against which thousands have protested. However Nebraska’s Public Service Commission didn’t approve the company’s preferred route – but an alternative route TransCanada portrayed in the past as unworkable. Nebraska approved a permit for the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline in a three to two vote. But the state approved an alternative route that would move the oil pipeline east – which would avoid more of Nebraska’s Sandhills region. It would still cross parts of the Ogallala aquifer, the primary source of drinking water for Nebraska and a large part of the Great Plains. The pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil every day from the Alberta tar sands to Texas refineries. Related: Keystone 1 oil pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons days ahead of Keystone XL permit decision This decision could complicate the process for TransCanada, as they may have to arrange easements from landowners, according to The Washington Post . Environmental activists are vowing to continue the fight. CREDO Action Deputy Political Director Josh Nelson said in a statement, “This shortsighted and dangerous decision is a slap in the face to the people of Nebraska and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who weighed in this year urging the Public Service Commission to stop the pipeline. But the nearly decade-long fight to stop Keystone XL does not end today. Pipeline fighters have been told time and time again that this pipeline is a done deal. We did not stop fighting when Trump tried to force the pipeline’s approval earlier this year and we will not stop now.” The approval comes mere days after TransCanada’s Keystone 1 pipeline spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota. Via The Washington Post and CREDO Action Images via chesapeakeclimate on Flickr and Depositphotos

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Nebraska grants TransCanada approval to build the Keystone XL pipeline

Keystone 1 oil pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons days ahead of Keystone XL permit decision

November 17, 2017 by  
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210,000 gallons of crude oil seeped out of the TransCanada -owned Keystone 1 pipeline this week – mere days before Nebraska’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is set to make a decision on whether or not to grant a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The first Keystone pipeline, running from Canada through the Great Plains, leaked oil southeast of Amherst, South Dakota. According to The Washington Post , this spill is just the most recent in a series. The first Keystone pipeline leaked in 2011 and 2016. This new spill was detected early in the morning, and happened in “either a grass or an agricultural field,” according to South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources environmental science manager Brian Walsh, and that, based on what they know, “the spill has not impacted a surface water body.” Related: Nebraska landowners install solar panels in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline Image of Amherst incident taken earlier today by aerial patrol as part of our initial response. For more updates, visit https://t.co/8yWI1Oq2EM pic.twitter.com/uRNtYUdVjL — TransCanada (@TransCanada) November 16, 2017 TransCanada said the leak was completely isolated in 15 minutes. They said they got permission from the landowner to assess the spill and start planning for cleanup. Next week on Monday, the PSC will decide whether or not to grant a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, also to be owned by TransCanada. Critics and activists say the company shouldn’t receive one, especially after the recent spill. 350.org executive director May Boeve said in a statement, “This is exactly the kind of disaster we can expect more of if Keystone XL is approved. No matter what TransCanada says, there’s no such thing as a safe fossil fuel pipeline.” President Donald Trump gave TransCanada a federal permit in March, and other states have approved Keystone XL’s path. According to Reuters, PSC isn’t allowed to consider the potential of spills from Keystone XL as the venture has an environmental permit. Their decision will be on whether or not the pipeline’s route would be in the best interest of the state’s residents, but a rejection would be a setback for the controversial project. Boeve said, “ Indigenous peoples , farmers, and ranchers along Keystone XL’s proposed route have been holding the line against this project for years. Whatever Nebraska commissioners decide on Monday, we’ll be ready for the work ahead to stop this and all new fossil fuel projects that threaten our communities and climate .” Via The Washington Post and Reuters Images via shannonpatrick17 on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Keystone 1 oil pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons days ahead of Keystone XL permit decision

Hyperloop-inspired company promises 200 mph travel without the vacuum tubes

November 15, 2017 by  
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Arrivo, a high-speed transportation company founded by former SpaceX and Hyperloop One engineer Brogan BamBrogan, has announced a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation to construct a “ hyperloop-inspired ” track through Denver . Unlike the hyperloop design, which depends on new infrastructure, Arrivo’s system involves building open tracks on existing roadways and uses magnets to pull pods, which would hold cars, trucks, or buses, along a track at speeds of up to 200 mph. “People will tell you that a well-functioning freeway can move 2,000 to 2,500 vehicles an hour,” said BamBrogan said at a news conference. “The Arrivo system — because it’s a dedicated roadway with 21st century technology — can move 20,000 vehicles an hour.” Arrivo is distinct from Hyperloop in that it is designed for local travel rather than long, inter-city travel. For example, an Arrivo route from Denver Airport to the city’s downtown, a 32 mile journey that can take up to an hour in traffic, might instead take 8 minutes and cost as much as a toll road. Next year, Arrivo will invest $10 to $15 million into its research facility and test track in Colorado and plans to hire 40 to 50 engineers, with up to 200 engineers working on the project by 2020. Related: Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis The State of Colorado is enthusiastic about the project, but the partnership with Arrivo remains in its early stages. “As they prove out the technology and we prove the feasibility, then in a couple of years, we’ll talk about whether there is an infrastructure investment here,” said Shailen Bhatt in an interview with the Denver Post . “There’s no commitment by the state to say we’re going to definitely build one here, but we’re pretty confident that they’ll deliver a product that will move people quickly and safely.” Via The Denver Post and the Verge Images via Arrivo and Depositphotos

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Hyperloop-inspired company promises 200 mph travel without the vacuum tubes

A "giant leap backward for humankind" as CO2 levels rise after years of stability

November 13, 2017 by  
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Researchers had hoped global carbon emissions had peaked after three stable years – but a new projection shatters those hopes. The Global Carbon Project and University of East Anglia (UEA) revealed carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could grow by two percent in 2017. Future Earth executive director Amy Luers described the news as a “giant leap backward for humankind.” Researchers presented the information at COP23 in Bonn, Germany. They’re pointing to China’s activities as the main cause – CO2 emissions there are projected to grow by around 3.5 percent. Coal use is expected to increase in China and the United States in 2017 – after decreases since 2013. Related: Almost 200 countries gather at COP23 to accelerate climate action CO2 emissions are projected to go down in America and the European Union, by 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent respectively – both smaller declines than during the prior 10 years. India’s emissions are projected to increase by around two percent – but that’s down from more than six percent a year in the last decade. UEA’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research director Corinne Le Quéré said in a statement, “With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius. This year we have seen how climate change can amplify the impacts of hurricanes with more intense rainfall, higher sea levels, and warmer ocean conditions favoring more powerful storms. This is a window into the future.” The researchers said there are uncertainties in our ability to estimate emissions changes – Glen Peters of the CICERO Center for International Climate Research and lead author on a study said it could take up to 10 years to independently verify a change in emissions based on measurements of CO2 atmospheric concentrations. The research was published simultaneously in the journals Environmental Research Letters , Nature Climate Change , and Earth System Science Data Discussions , with scientists from around the world contributing to the studies. Via Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research , the University of East Anglia , and the AFP Images via Dirk Duckhorn on Flickr , © Robert Castillo/ Dreamstime.com via the Global Carbon Project , and the Global Carbon Project

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A "giant leap backward for humankind" as CO2 levels rise after years of stability

Tower of Winds embraces impermanence with a striking kinetic facade

November 8, 2017 by  
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The Tower of Winds reimagines common water reservoirs as structures in constant evolution. Designed as a competition proposal in 2015 by architect Tram-Anh Nyugen, Markus Von Dellinghausen, Midori Hasuike, and Andreas Nordstrom, the project demonstrates how modular elements and local resources can be used to build state-of-the-art sustainable facilities with low construction costs. The project is part of an interdisciplinary design research platform founded by architect Tram-Anh Nyugen. Called Impermanent Devices , the project focuses on one the three characteristics of existence in Buddhism “Antiya”, the belief that all that exists is transient. Related: Temporary Story Tower Made With Recycled Materials Offers Free Book Exchange in Latvia The theoretical foundation of the project rests on the idea that design can be transformed to fit different contexts, scales and functions. Structures should be able to appear, disappear and evolve in order to facilitate continual change and fluidity of space. The architect’s work has been applied to several research projects, including an urban planning project in Paris on the Pe?riphe?rique, a major ring road that separates the inner city from the suburbs in Paris . Another recent live project is a commission from the BHD Star Cineplex to design a cinema in the center of Hanoi, Vietnam. This project gives the cinema a new interactive façade that references Vietnamese elements. + Impermanent Devices

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Tower of Winds embraces impermanence with a striking kinetic facade

Living solar panel wallpaper harvests energy thanks to photosynthesis

November 7, 2017 by  
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Researchers created an incredible  energy-harvesting wallpaper by inkjet-printing circuitry and cyanobacteria on paper. The cyanobacteria lived through the printing process, and then performed photosynthesis to harvest power. Imperial College London described the product as a two-in-one solar bio-battery and solar panel , and said an iPad-sized piece of the wallpaper could energize a digital clock or LED light bulb. Imperial College London, University of Cambridge , and Central Saint Martins researchers worked together on the project. They utilized cyanobacteria as ink, printing the bacteria with an inkjet printer onto electrically conductive carbon nanotubes , which had also been inkjet-printed on the paper, according to Imperial College London . The cyanobacteria – still alive – performed photosynthesis, allowing the bio-solar panel to harvest electrical energy. Related: Brilliant conductive wallpaper shows the energy running through your walls The researchers think there could be several applications for their living wallpaper. Marin Sawa of Imperial College London said in a statement, “Imagine a paper-based, disposable environmental sensor disguised as wallpaper, which could monitor air quality in the home. When it has done its job it could be removed and left to biodegrade in the garden without any impact on the environment.” The research offers a development in microbial biophotovoltaics (BPV) technology , exploiting “the ability of cyanobacteria and other algae that use photosynthesis to convert light energy into an electrical current using water as the source of electrons,” according to Imperial College London. Cyanobacteria can not only generate electricity during the day, but at night as well, from molecules they produced in daylight. BPVs can be difficult to scale up – two obstacles being expense and lifespan – but the team’s use of an off-the-shelf inkjet printer could allow them to scale up the technology easily. Andrea Fantuzzi, also of Imperial College London, said paper-based BPVs wouldn’t be used to produce solar power on a large scale, “but instead could be used to construct power supplies that are both disposable and biodegradable. Their low power output means they are more suited to devices and applications that require a small and finite amount of energy, such as environmental sensing and biosensors .” The journal Nature Communications published the research online yesterday. Via Imperial College London Images courtesy of Imperial College London

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Living solar panel wallpaper harvests energy thanks to photosynthesis

Gangnams answer to Central Park will pop up in the heart of Seoul

November 2, 2017 by  
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Dominique Perrault Architecture has been tapped to design the Gangnam International Transit Center, a gargantuan and nature-filled transit terminal that aims to alleviate congestion in the heart of Seoul . The $1.15 billion project will span 160,000 square meters with six underground floors topped by a 30,000-square-meter public plaza described by the architects as a response to New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park. A crystalline glass roof will bring natural light and air deep into the subterranean levels, and gives rise to the project’s name, Lightwalk. Introducing a mammoth complex into the heart of the capital is no easy task. In hopes of advancing Seoul’s agenda toward pedestrian friendly development, the architects created a subterranean transit terminal with the upper two levels dedicated to public and commercial purposes including an exhibition hall, a museum, a library, and a shopping mall. The remaining four floors will be used as parking lots and as bus, subway (for lines 2 and 9), train transit and transfer centers. Over 600,000 transit passengers are expected to use the underground terminal daily—roughly twice the number of visitors to Seoul Station. Aboveground, the landscaped plaza, called The Green Land, will be ringed by a double line of high canopy trees, while pocket parks and large grassy areas allow for a wide variety of activities, from private picnics to food festivals. A wide glass roof, called the Light Beam, runs the length of the plaza to bring natural light to the underground floors and will be supplemented by solar light pipes. The transit terminal will also house an underground park covered in greenery and illuminated by natural light from the light beam. Related: MVRDV wins bid to design Seoul’s High Line-inspired park “It is a minimalistic, yet incredibly powerful gesture, which marks the presence of a new major integrated public transportation station for the city of Seoul,” write the architects. “Spanning between the two main road of the Gangnam district, Bongeunsaro and Teheranro, the Lightwalk creates a landscape intervention linking the two axis and acts as an orientation mark from all sides. Rooted in the ground, it is the symbol of a renewed Seoul, which aims to become more pedestrian friendly, a landmark for all underground infrastructures worldwide, where users can experience natural light and air, deep into the ground, in the Groundscape.” Construction is expected to begin in 2019 with a tentative completion date in 2023. + Dominique Perrault Architecture Via ArchDaily

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Gangnams answer to Central Park will pop up in the heart of Seoul

Melbourne architects upcycle 1960s warehouse into stunning energy-efficient home

October 25, 2017 by  
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Melbourne-based Zen Architects  converted a rundown 1960s warehouse into a gorgeous, energy-efficient home . The green-centric architects focused the ethos of the project on retaining and reusing as much of the warehouse’s original materials as possible while simultaneously creating an ultra-efficient, light-filled family home. The architects focused the project on using whatever they could from the almost 60-year-old space to create a contemporary home. The original frame and open layout of the 2,583-square-foot warehouse was kept as it was in order to start with an open slate. To begin the project, the design team carefully stripped various original features from the warehouse such as light fixtures, sprinkler pipes, doors, cladding, and roof sheeting – all to be repurposed into the new home, which has a 6.1 star energy rating. Related: Perkins + Will overhauls a boring concrete warehouse into beautiful LEED Gold offices The existing concrete floor of the warehouse was kept in tact for two reasons: to retain the industrial character of the building and for the energy-efficient benefits that come along with a concrete base. The living space was carefully crafted into the open layout to create a comfy living area down below with the bedrooms on a newly created “floating” mezzanine level installed in the roof’s volume between the existing trusses. Plywood pods were used to create spaces for the bedrooms and en suite bathrooms, which are reached by a wooden staircase. A continual sense of light and space was achieved by strategically placing windows and glazed panels that provide a seamless connection between the interior living space the outdoor areas. To add open-air space within the living area, the architects created a north-facing interior courtyard, which in addition to flooding the interior with natural light , provides natural heat to the interior during the wintertime. To waterproof the space, the architects laid a new ground level slab that drains rain water to a storm water pit. The slab is hidden under a timber deck made of recycled wood that runs through the interior and exterior spaces. + Zen Architects Via Dwell

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Melbourne architects upcycle 1960s warehouse into stunning energy-efficient home

Melbourne architects upcycle 1960s warehouse into stunning energy-efficient home

October 25, 2017 by  
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Melbourne-based Zen Architects  converted a rundown 1960s warehouse into a gorgeous, energy-efficient home . The green-centric architects focused the ethos of the project on retaining and reusing as much of the warehouse’s original materials as possible while simultaneously creating an ultra-efficient, light-filled family home. The architects focused the project on using whatever they could from the almost 60-year-old space to create a contemporary home. The original frame and open layout of the 2,583-square-foot warehouse was kept as it was in order to start with an open slate. To begin the project, the design team carefully stripped various original features from the warehouse such as light fixtures, sprinkler pipes, doors, cladding, and roof sheeting – all to be repurposed into the new home, which has a 6.1 star energy rating. Related: Perkins + Will overhauls a boring concrete warehouse into beautiful LEED Gold offices The existing concrete floor of the warehouse was kept in tact for two reasons: to retain the industrial character of the building and for the energy-efficient benefits that come along with a concrete base. The living space was carefully crafted into the open layout to create a comfy living area down below with the bedrooms on a newly created “floating” mezzanine level installed in the roof’s volume between the existing trusses. Plywood pods were used to create spaces for the bedrooms and en suite bathrooms, which are reached by a wooden staircase. A continual sense of light and space was achieved by strategically placing windows and glazed panels that provide a seamless connection between the interior living space the outdoor areas. To add open-air space within the living area, the architects created a north-facing interior courtyard, which in addition to flooding the interior with natural light , provides natural heat to the interior during the wintertime. To waterproof the space, the architects laid a new ground level slab that drains rain water to a storm water pit. The slab is hidden under a timber deck made of recycled wood that runs through the interior and exterior spaces. + Zen Architects Via Dwell

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Melbourne architects upcycle 1960s warehouse into stunning energy-efficient home

Italy seeks to phase out coal power plants by 2025

October 25, 2017 by  
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Nation by nation, Europe is going green. The latest country to prove its commitment to sustainable solutions is Italy . On Tuesday, the Italian Industry Minister announced that by 2025, the country plans to phase out coal power plants. Additionally, the country plans to meet 27 percent of “gross overall energy consumption” with renewable sources by the year 2030. During a parliamentary hearing, Minister Carlo Calenda asked the national grid company to identify the infrastructure needed to make the transition. Shortly after, the country’s biggest utility, Enel, said it will not invest in new coal-fired power plants. Unlike other countries in Europe, Italy’s renewable sector is constantly growing. In 2015, for instance, renewable energy sources generated just under 38 percent of the country’s electricity. Hydro-electrical plants remain the biggest contributor (15.5 percent), and solar and wind sources have reached nearly 13 percent, according to ZME Science. The country has no nuclear plants, as they were banned through a referendum in 1987 . Related: Supervolcano in Italy is “becoming more dangerous” as magma builds beneath the surface Chris Littlecott, who heads a fossil fuel transition program at think tank E3G , applauded the development. “Italy’s positive commitment to phase out coal by 2025 demonstrates real international leadership as it completes its year holding the G7 Presidency,” he said in a statement. “Italy now joins its G7 peers in Canada, France, and the UK in taking action to phase out coal power generation over the next decade. Together, they can lead a growing coalition of countries and regions that are now acting on coal,” he said. Though this development is commendable, nothing has been confirmed just yet. The strategy should receive governmental and parliamentary approval at the beginning of November. If it passes, the measure will also speed up the introduction of vehicles powered by alternative fuels , and it will raise the number of EV charging stations to 19,000 by 2020. Via ZME Science Images via Public Domain Pictures, Pixabay

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Italy seeks to phase out coal power plants by 2025

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