El Yunque Visitor’s Center restored and redesigned by Marvel

February 16, 2022 by  
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The El Yunque Visitor’s Center in Puerto Rico has been renovated and redesigned after damage from Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Now restored, the center will serve as a gateway to Puerto Rico’s natural treasure, El Portal, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. park system. The center was closed in 2017 and only just reopened after a redesign by Marvel, an architecture, landscape design and urban planning practice with offices in New York and San Juan. The renovation cost $18.1 million and added a host of new sustainable features to the center. New features of the El Yunque El Portal Visitor Center include a new entry plaza, gardens , a cafe, exhibition and meeting areas, a kitchen, pavilions and a walking trail. Related: Brutalist home in Puerto Rico is resistant to weather “Our challenge for this project was to envision a refreshed design, that would respect and harmonize with the beautiful natural surroundings of El Yunque, integrate environmental sustainability factors and build upon the previous structure,” said Jonathan Marvel, principal of Marvel. “El Portal is an integral part of one of Puerto Rico’s biggest tourist attractions and, as such, it is an iconic destination.” Passive ventilation was integrated into the exhibit, cafe and pavilion spaces via new roof structures with clerestory windows and new shading structures. To achieve LEED Silver certification for El Portal, Marvel implemented solar-ready infrastructure and water harvesting. Marvel also designed the only accessible trail in the entire National Forest, developed within El Portal’s site. Interpretative exhibits were designed by Split Rock Studios. The reception desk and interior signs at El Portal were designed and built by Puerto Rico Hardwoods with recycled local mahogany boards. Elements of the original design include the main hall, the upper courtyard and a water feature, but these were also modified to fit the new design vision and to meet new building and sustainability standards. “Marvel seeks to promote initiatives and tackle construction projects that favor sustainability and resilience. The renovation of El Portal exemplifies our philosophy, and we are proud to be a part of this historic and significant project for Puerto Rico,” said Edna Echandi Guzmán, AIA, Director at Marvel’s Puerto Rico office. + Marvel Designs Images via Joe Colon

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El Yunque Visitor’s Center restored and redesigned by Marvel

Low-E glass helps Frost Bank Tower reach LEED Platinum

February 16, 2022 by  
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Frost Bank Tower by Duda|Paine Architects is the fifth tallest building in Austin , Texas, with 33 floors and 515 feet in height. Recertified from LEED Gold to Platinum, the over 500,000-square-foot facility reaches new milestones for sustainable office spaces. Frost Bank Tower features low-E glass that creates a distinctive profile, adding to Austin’s city skyline at a desirable address on Congress Avenue. Frost Bank Tower is considered one of the most recognizable buildings in Austin due to its unusual shape. It rises from a limestone base into a low-E glass skin that peaks in a glass crown that looks like shards of ice at the top. According to  Emporis , Frost Bank Tower is one of only two buildings in the world with a blue-colored low-E glass skin. Related: Schemata Architects renovate a Japanese eyewear shop with low-e glass The color creates a unique, almost art-deco facade that can shade against extra heat during the day and shows unique designs on the exterior. The building features a lit glass top that changes colors for special occasions and an 11-story parking garage for 1,400 vehicles at the base. The Frost Bank Tower contains conference facilities, a building concierge, 24-hour cardkey access, gym, tenant-controlled HVAC , restaurants, a coffee shop and a dry cleaner. There are 13 passenger elevators and one freight elevator from the lobby, which continues the art-deco-like inlaid geometric floor patterns. Floor sizes on each level vary from 18,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet. It’s an enormous building to be rated LEED Platinum or Gold. Every system, from HVAC to electricity and heat, has been meticulously designed for sustainability. First certified as LEED Gold in October 2015, Frost Bank Tower’s recertification in 2019 saw it earn 80 points toward Platinum certification. As Duda|Paine Architects explains on its website, “Frost Bank Tower balances the iconic dynamics of the cityscape with the pedestrian experience of the streetscape. From a distance, the profile of Frost Bank Tower’s multi-layered glass crown adds a complementary yet defining landmark to Austin’s skyline.” + Duda|Paine Architects Images by Atelier Wong Photogaphy

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Low-E glass helps Frost Bank Tower reach LEED Platinum

This Puerto Rican farm-to-fork app is creating a sustainable food system on the island

January 20, 2022 by  
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Puerto Rico imports 85 percent of its food. This app helps people buy the other 15.

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This Puerto Rican farm-to-fork app is creating a sustainable food system on the island

RE100 calls for better clean energy support for business

January 20, 2022 by  
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Nearing 350 members, RE100 warns of forces hampering corporate clean power ambitions.

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RE100 calls for better clean energy support for business

A 21st-century reinvention of the electric grid is crucial for solving the climate crisis

January 20, 2022 by  
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Early projections suggest the world just wrapped up a record year of renewable electricity growth in 2021. We still need more.

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A 21st-century reinvention of the electric grid is crucial for solving the climate crisis

Puerto Rico’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to build a clean energy grid

November 24, 2021 by  
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Puerto Rico adopted laws that called for generating 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050. But FEMA’s fossil fuel plans might stymie that progress.

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Puerto Rico’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to build a clean energy grid

Richard Branson’s plan to help rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy

November 3, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy could help islands in the Caribbean be more resilient in the face of future hurricanes – and billionaire Richard Branson wants to make that happen. He’s spearheading a plan for recovery centering on renewable energy. Replacing fossil fuel power grids with clean energy sources like solar and wind could also promote economic development. Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Caribbean islands. Now, Branson aims to help them rebuild. He has spoken with lenders and foundations about a fund to pay for a Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan, a name that nods to the Marshall Plan to rebuild Western Europe following World War 2. His efforts, which focus on renewable energy, could also include debt relief negotiations in which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) might be involved – Branson met with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and said she was willing to facilitate meetings between creditors and Caribbean nations. He also said in a blog post he met recently with over 50 representatives from Caribbean governments and utility companies. Related: Puerto Rico electricity crisis sparks interest in renewable energy He told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “We want to move the Caribbean countries into clean energy and make them more sustainable, which will make dealing with hurricanes much easier. The Caribbean heads of state agree with one voice that this is a good idea.” Branson rode out Hurricane Irma in a cellar on Necker, his private island in the British Virgin Islands. The island’s solar-powered microgrid weathered the storm well, he said, with the solar panels running again just 24 hours after the hurricane. In a blog post, Branson said people interested in helping could donate to the BVI Community Support Appeal , which aims “to raise money for the long term reconstruction” of the British Virgin Islands. Via the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Richard Branson Images via Caribbean Buzz Helicopters/Virgin and Ricardo Rossello on Twitter

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Richard Branson’s plan to help rebuild the Caribbean with clean energy

Colorful Peoples Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials

November 3, 2017 by  
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All the materials needed to build this temporary pavilion in the Netherlands are borrowed. bureau SLA and Overtreders W built the People’s Pavilion – a centerpiece of the Dutch Design Week (DDW) taking place in Eindhoven – using materials from suppliers and Eindhoven residents which will be returned after the event closes. The only exception is the faceted upper façade, which is made of plastic household waste materials collected by Eindhoven residents. The People’s Pavilion will function as the main pavilion of the World Design Event in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which provides a platform for future makers from all over the world. It will also be used as a meeting place and hang-out for visitors and serves as a venue for music and theater. Related: Spectacular origami pavilion made of recycled plastic pops up in Columbus, Indiana The 269-square-foot (25-square-meter) building can accommodate 200 seated or 600 standing people. Its structure is based on 12 concrete foundation piles and 19 wooden frames, designed in collaboration with Arup. Steel straps hold together wooden beams , while concrete piles and frames are connected with 350 tensioning straps. The glass roof resembles those used in the greenhouse industry. Related: The Folkets House is an inclusive space where refugees can learn skills and find jobs Colorful plastic tiles cover the upper façade of the building and are made from recycled plastic household waste . Leftovers from a refurbishment of BOL.com’s headquarters were used for the glass portion of the façade on the ground floor and will be reused for a new office space after the Dutch Design Week concludes. All the materials, including concrete slabs used for the podium, lighting, heating and bar are borrowed. + bureau SLA + Overtreders W + Dutch Design Week 

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Colorful Peoples Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials

Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

November 3, 2017 by  
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The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most beloved national parks , attracting over four million visitors annually — but President Donald Trump’s administration doesn’t seem to care about that. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed lifting a ban on new uranium mining near the national park, as part of a broader effort, according to Reuters, to do away with regulations hindering development after a March executive order from the president. The Forest Service , which is under the USDA and manages the land that could be re-opened to uranium mining , prepared a report in response to Trump’s Executive Order 13783 titled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.” They proposed lifting the mining ban, put in place in 2012 to protect the watershed around the Grand Canyon. Related: Big Oil celebrates Trump’s goal to open up drilling in national parks Uranium mining pollutes water, and impacts animals and plants as it removes water sources, according to Earthjustice . The Center for Biological Diversity reports past uranium mining in the Grand Canyon area “has polluted soils, washes, aquifers, and drinking water.” They said that according to nonpartisan polls, 80 percent of Americans and 80 percent of Arizona voters back permanent protection in the Grand Canyon region from new uranium mining. According to Reuters, global demand and prices for uranium are weak. The new report even says uranium mining doesn’t generate revenue for America, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. Havasupai Tribal Chairman Don Watahomigie said in a statement, “This is a dangerous industry that is motivated by profit and greed with a long history of significantly damaging lands and waters. They are now seeking new mines when this industry has yet to clean up the hundreds of existing mines all over the landscape that continue to damage our home. We should learn from the past, not ignore it.” Via Reuters , the Associated Press , Earthjustice , and the Center for Biological Diversity Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Trump administration wants to end uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon

Here’s your once-in-a-lifetime chance to stay in a life-size LEGO House

November 3, 2017 by  
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Get ready to live out your childhood dream! The LEGO House in Billund, Denmark has partnered with Airbnb to offer one family the chance to spend the night in a home made of 25 million bricks . This is an incredible opportunity, and the two-story residence has some amazing features – check them out after the break! The home is well-suited for children, as nearly everything inside is made from LEGO bricks – from the bed in the middle of a LEGO-filled pool to a pixellated “waterfall” and even a giant teddy bear. Other quirky objects on display include a brick newspaper and a breakfast tray for the morning. There’s even a brick-built alarm clock! If guests do feel as if they are missing something, there are plenty more bricks to build with – patrons can use the LEGO molding machine in the lobby to build extra amenities. Other attractions a family might enjoy include the “Tree of Creativity” (which is built from over 6 million bricks) and “Experience Zones” that allow you to direct your own movie , create robotic cars and even design entire cities. LEGO also showcases fan-made masterpieces from all around the world in the Masterpiece Gallery. Related: LEGO relaunches its beloved Taj Mahal model with almost 6,000 bricks Though the LEGO House is a popular tourist attraction in the Danish town, visitors aren’t normally allowed to stay the night. To enter the competition, a family needs to share the one thing they would build if they had an unlimited supply of LEGO bricks. The winners will get the opportunity to bring the object to life, thanks to the help of Master Builder Jamie Berard. Said Berard, the Design Manager Specialist at the LEGO Group: “I am so intrigued to see what people will imagine . We have unlimited bricks here, and in some ways it can be a bit challenging but it also liberates you to imagine something that is truly meaningful and expressive. The uniqueness of the opportunity to stay in the home of the LEGO brick should hopefully inspire everyone. That’s how I feel when I come here.” Added James McClure, Airbnb’s General Manager for the UK and Nordic countries, “This really is a dream come true for any family with a passion for LEGO and I doubt there will be much sleeping as there is so much to enjoy in this incredible space.” + LEGO House + Airbnb Via Mirror UK Images via Airbnb/LEGO Home

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Here’s your once-in-a-lifetime chance to stay in a life-size LEGO House

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