How Maine and Oregon seek to make manufacturers pay for packaging waste

September 24, 2021 by  
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Less than half of consumer packaging ultimately gets recycled.

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How Maine and Oregon seek to make manufacturers pay for packaging waste

Google’s first retail location earns LEED Platinum certification

September 14, 2021 by  
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This summer, Google opened its first retail storefront in New York City. The landmark event is notable for a variety of reasons, perhaps the most noteworthy being that the location was planned, designed and built with sustainability in mind. In fact, its sustainability measures earned the space a LEED Platinum rating, the highest certification possible from the U.S. Green Building Council. Google has made headlines multiple times for its efforts to lean into environmentally-friendly practices. As a company, Google claims to be carbon neutral since 2007 and has set a goal to be carbon-free by 2030. That may seem like a long timeline, but achieving that goal within a decade for a company that size will require a clear vision and consistent change. In the short term, more immediate goals that will stair step to the larger achievement include earning zero waste to landfill certification in 2022, setting a 2025 deadline to be plastic-free in all packaging and incorporating recyclable or renewable materials into products. Related: Google’s San José Downtown West Mixed-Use Plan approved by city council The development team built a full-scale version of the retail space inside its Mountain View hangar; this allowed developers to physically evaluate the layout’s flow, look and customer experience. Architect Reddymade helped the team achieve its vision of an interactive, warm,  naturally lit  and approachable space. With a blueprint established, the project focused on energy efficiency and material selection to help Google meet its sustainability goals. Inside the space, responsibly sourced hickory veneer dresses the walls while highly sustainable cork and wood furniture was custom made by a local craftsman. Carpet made from recycled materials and  energy-efficient  lighting illuminate the focus on eco-friendly interior design.  More than just a space to display the range of Pixel phones, Nest products and other devices, the retail store stands as an example of LEED Platinum design that is rare amongst retail stores anywhere in the world.  According to a press release, Google is, “Honored to have worked with the U.S. Green Building Council in this process, and we now can share that the Google Store Chelsea is one of fewer than 215 retail spaces in the world to have achieved a LEED Platinum rating — the highest certification possible within the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system.” + Google Via Environmental Leader Photography courtesy of Google and Paul Warchol

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Google’s first retail location earns LEED Platinum certification

This collapsible cooler is insulated with upcycled coconut fiber

September 9, 2021 by  
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Fortuna Cools recently announced the launch of the Nutshell Cooler, a collapsible cooler made using upcycled coconut fiber sourced from the  Philippines  and designed to outperform plastic. The company worked with local coconut farmers from a fishing village on Lubang Island to create the innovative, insulating material. Each cooler is insulated with 24 coconut husks and manufactured close to the farms, meaning more income for those small-scale coconut  farmers  and the creation of advanced jobs in their local agricultural communities. Since the liners use recycled PET, there are no virgin plastic components to the coolers either. Related: Coconut oil production is a danger to vulnerable species The cooler is the product of a collaboration between Tamara Mekler, a Behavioral Biologist with an M.S. from Stanford in Sustainable Development who previously worked in community-based conservation and environmental education, and David Cutler, a Stanford-educated designer who worked in development and consulting for startups and  NGOs  across Asia. The pair started working on coolers in the Philippines back in 2018 as university graduate students.  While studying with NGO Rare and the local community on Lubang Island in the Philippines, Mekler and Cutler discovered a way to turn coconut husk fiber (a leftover byproduct of the coconut meat industry that is typically burned as waste) into a material to replace plastic foam. Together with award-winning industrial engineers at Box Clever, they released the first coconut coolers in 2019 and created a Kickstarter for the Nutshell Cooler for an Early Bird price of $169 (MSRP $249). Through the 1% for the Planet program, the company donates at least 1% of sales to its  conservation  NGO partners in the Philippines. The cooler’s structure is inspired by origami, specifically the convenient feature of folding into itself to collapse and save space while not in use. Once open, it holds 19 liters (or enough for 18 cans and 14 pounds of ice) and weighs just eight pounds empty. Both the polyester shell and liner are 100%  recycled . Controlled tests promise to keep ice frozen as long as the Yeti Hopper Two and 10-40% longer than the Coleman Excursion, the REI Pack-Away and the popular Expanded Polystyrene ice chests. + Nutshell Coolers Via Core 77 Images courtesy of Nutshell Coolers

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This collapsible cooler is insulated with upcycled coconut fiber

NOMA Collectives Joshua Tree Edit highlights global artisans

September 8, 2021 by  
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California-based NOMA Collective, the brainchild of  interior designer  and creative director Rebecca Haskins, partners with craftspeople from places like Guatemala, Mexico, India and Sub-Saharan Africa to connect lesser-known global artisans with conscious consumers. Seeking out women’s cooperatives, small family-run businesses and individual artists, the company can provide unique pieces that are not only made using traditional, generations-long crafting techniques but also made one at a time by hand. All products are  fair trade  through ethical work environments and crafted using locally sourced materials, many of which are natural or recycled. Already the collective features gifts and home decor such as baskets, blankets and throws, pillows, rugs, napkins and hand towels, amongst others. Related: GlobeIn offers unique, handmade items from around the globe NOMA’s latest collection is inspired by the shapes, textures and colors of the desert — specifically  Joshua Tree National Park  in southeastern California. This area is known for its pastel sunsets and vast stretches of arid desert landscape, dotted with a variety of cacti, succulents and spikey Joshua “trees” (which aren’t really trees but rather plants more closely related to the yucca family). Dubbed the Joshua Tree Edit, the collection features pops of greens, blues and light pinks akin to that of the West Coast desert setting. Among the collection are the Santiago Blankets in both navy and grey colors and a pair of thick wool throws that come from the mountain region of Momostenango, Guatemala. The  wool  is locally sourced and spun by hand on an antique wooden spinning wheel before being dyed using non-toxic dyes, a process that can take up to four days to complete. The collection also includes several baskets, like the Abaco Hamper, which is hand weaved using reduced strips of  recycled plastic  in the West African nation of Senegal. There are also decorative bowls, like the Ivy Wooden Bowl carved by artisans in remote Rwanda. + NOMA Collective Photographs courtesy of Charlotte Lea

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NOMA Collectives Joshua Tree Edit highlights global artisans

Designing sustainable habitats at the San Diego Zoo

September 8, 2021 by  
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What’s more amazing, a tiny nectar-drinking  bird  that weighs less than a nickel and can fly backward, or a giant carnivorous lizard that can smell a dying animal up to six miles away? They’re both impressive, and now visitors to the San Diego Zoo can experience both hummingbirds and Komodo dragons in brand new habitats just steps away from each other. The two new  habitats  have been carefully designed, both from an eco-materials standpoint and considering what will make these creatures feel most at home. The hummingbirds can bathe in their choice of three water ponds, each using recycled water, or nest in green walls. Visitor benches are made from recycled plastic lumber. Komodo Kingdom features three distinct environments that wild dragons would enjoy — mountain highland, woodland and beach. The habitat also features heated caves and logs, pools and misters to replicate the hot and steamy environment of their native Indonesia. Related: San Diego Zoo successfully clones an endangered Przewalski’s horse There’s also an area of deep, soft sand for egg-laying. Zookeepers hope that Ratu, the female, and Satu, the male, will like each other enough to make baby lizards. Satu only arrived a few months ago, in time for the opening of Komodo Kingdom in June. The two haven’t met yet, and are currently being kept in separate parts of the enclosure. So what’s it like designing habitats for such diverse creatures as Komodo dragons and hummingbirds? Inhabitat talked to San Diego Zoo  architect  Vanessa Nevers to find out. Inhabitat: How did you go about researching the lifestyle and preferences of Komodo dragons? Nevers: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Architecture and Planning department worked closely with our  wildlife  care experts to determine not only the needs of the Komodo dragon but also the ways that the habitat design would encourage natural behaviors such as digging, soaking in shallow waters and basking, to name a few. Inhabitat: What factors did you take into consideration when designing Komodo Kingdom from a materials standpoint? Nevers: For the Komodo habitats, getting enough UV  light  into the space is critical, as is maintaining the hot, humid environments that Komodo dragons thrive in. The roof and clerestory at the two indoor habitats consist of an ETFE [Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a recyclable plastic that’s 100 times lighter than glass] system that facilitates appropriate levels of UV transmission and climate control. Other factors to take into account for habitat design are soils and plantings that are safe for the Komodo dragons and allow for natural behaviors. Also, the ability to create sheltered areas and pools that are just the right size, heated rocks and elevated areas for basking is very important and is usually executed with shotcrete rockwork. Inhabitat: What are the main features of the hummingbird enclosure? Nevers: Interestingly, the features that make the Hummingbird Habitat great for birds also make it very pleasant for people. The central spatial feature is a semicircular cenote-themed shotcrete structure with fly-through openings and vertical plantings. This structure breaks up the experience into three spaces which also helps define territories for the birds. The flowing ponds and streams, as well as a built-in misting system, add ambiance but also provide ample bird bathing opportunities. And of course, the tropical  plantings  with big broad leaves and the nectar-producing plants are also essential and enjoyable for both birds and people. Inhabitat: How did sustainability affect your choice of building materials? Nevers:  Sustainability  is an important consideration in the selection of all building materials. For example, the ceilings at Komodo Kingdom and Hummingbird Habitat are clad with Accoya wood, and the interior and exterior walls at Hummingbird Habitat are clad with Moso [a type of bamboo]. Both Accoya wood and Moso are Forest Stewardship Council-certified products. The ETFE system, which has been awarded the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), is used at both Komodo Kingdom and Hummingbird Habitat. It has low levels of embodied energy and can be recycled at the end of its useful life into components used in the manufacture of new ETFE systems. Inhabitat: Did anything surprise you during the process? Nevers: Komodo dragons like it hot, really hot! Their native habitat in the islands of  Indonesia  is usually about 95 degrees Fahrenheit with 70% humidity. This doesn’t sound surprising on paper, but stepping into the indoor habitats in Komodo Kingdom shortly before the dragons moved in was like walking into a sauna. The Komodo dragons love it, but I felt like I was melting! Inhabitat: How does it feel to design habitats for rare and endangered creatures? Nevers: Amazing! Being part of a team that creates habitats that allow these  animals  to thrive is one of the two most rewarding aspects of my work. The other is creating opportunities for people to really appreciate how incredible all life is and the importance of sustaining healthy habitats around the world. Inhabitat: What would you like people to know about the work that you do? Nevers: Zoo architecture is so much more than the design and construction of buildings; it truly is the architecture of experience. From the range of habitat experiences for the animals to the experiences in the guest landscape, these are all part of a larger effort to foster relationships with nature in support of  conservation  for a healthy planet. + San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Images courtesy of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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We Earthlings: For Every Million Cellphones Recycled

September 7, 2021 by  
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It’s important to recycle electronics to ensure that toxic materials are properly disposed of and… The post We Earthlings: For Every Million Cellphones Recycled appeared first on Earth911.

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We Earthlings: For Every Million Cellphones Recycled

Dash Linear turns cardboard into high-performance lighting

September 6, 2021 by  
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As part of  interior design , lighting serves a greater purpose than illumination alone. Fixtures set the tone of a room and work as a central element in the theme. Graypants Studio, with offices in Seattle and Amsterdam, takes the look of its lighting products seriously while placing a focus on producing them sustainably. The studio’s newest release, Dash Linear, is a high-performance lighting option for newly-created home-work spaces, home additions or upgraded kitchens. Dash Linear is the latest installment in Graypants’ Scraplight series, an appropriate name considering they are made out of recycled and virgin cardboard. Related: Serif + Sero modular furniture is made of 100% upcycled cardboard It may seem counterintuitive to make lighting out of paper, but the team at Graypants is dedicated to marrying modern and  minimalist  designs with technical function while maintaining a low carbon footprint. To this end, Dash Linear is handmade using a low-impact manufacturing process that includes zero-VOC adhesive and limited material waste.  Dash Linear is currently available across North America and offered in three finishes — natural, white and blonde.  Recycled  cardboard is used for the natural Dash, while virgin corrugated cardboard is used for the white and blonde options. There are height and length options, as well as differing brightness levels for a custom feel over a desk or other workstation. Available lengths are 48 or 93 inches. Height options range from 4 to 12 inches. While lit, Dash Linear relies on  energy-efficient  LED modules and can offer direct or uniform lighting. The flagship Scraplight line also includes table lamp options made from recycled materials and mounted on a brass base. Graypants Studio also creates pendant lamps in a variety of shapes and finishes.  Graypants explains that the studio “was founded as an opportunity to apply an architectural mindset to product design and art —enhancing space and enriching experiences. Graypants’ work, rooted in light-minded design, includes architecture, product design, art installation and exhibition, and fixture design.”  + Graypants Images via Graypants

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Dash Linear turns cardboard into high-performance lighting

Off Grid House takes remote sustainability to new heights

September 6, 2021 by  
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Nestled in the forests of Australia’s Blue Mountains, Anderson Architecture’s Off Grid House is an experimental dwelling that pushes the limits of sustainable living in remote regions. The house is split into two cabins with steep skillion roofs, slanting in opposite directions to feed 30,000-liter water tanks. The first volume houses the sleeping quarters and is oriented towards the sun to maximize comfort at night through passive solar performance during the day. The other volume contains the open plan kitchen, living space and dining area. Its roof is angled towards the north, ideal for supporting the solar panels that power the house. The solar system is so robust that it provides enough energy for the home without needing a backup generator. Related: Cottage Rock tiny home nurtures healthy living and nature The living space’s glass doors open to blur the boundary between the interior and the veranda overlooking the cliff’s edge. The porch decking is made from low carbon magnesium oxide board and clad with 60% post-consumer recycled content. The site was a pivotal factor in determining the design of several details. Stringybark timber sourced from the site is used for the internal structure, as well as for furniture and joinery. The fireproof cement shell and low carbon cement decking can withstand bushfire attacks and are pest-resistant. Motorized screens over the windows also serve as fire protection, and the large metal screen above the porch can act as both a shading device and flame zone barrier when pulled down to vertically seal off the house. Thermal comfort was another factor that drove the implementation of eco-friendly systems. The house employs double glazing , a black oxide concrete floor with hydronic in-slab heating, and high levels of insulation. Stale exhaust air heats fresh air, which the heat recovery system ducts to the home’s public and private zones. These are all supplemented by a small fireplace with wood sourced from the site for additional heating. The home’s impressive thermal performance has earned it an 8.2 out of 10-star rating on Australia’s Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). With its enticing modern style and sustainable systems, the Off Grid House has also been shortlisted for several awards, including the 2021 Houses Awards under the New House and Sustainability categories. + Anderson Architecture Photography by Nick Bowers

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Walk to work at this eco-friendly office tower in India

September 1, 2021 by  
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Commuting got you down? New Delhi-based architectural practice Design Forum International (DFI) takes traffic jams out of the morning routine with a plan for a “walk to work” office tower dubbed Amtron. Proposed for development in Bongora’s Tech City in Assam, India, the project blends pedestrian-friendly design with sustainability features. In an attempt to move away from what DFI describes as “the conventional closed work environment,” the design incorporates a landscaped plaza and co-working spaces to foster an open atmosphere. Meanwhile, drop-off and pick-up points at opposite ends of the building prevent traffic jams. This combination of easy movement and an open environment helps the tower achieve DFI’s pedestrian-friendly goal. Related: Live, work and shop at this green building in France Speaking on the inspiration behind this design, a statement from DFI explains, “In accordance with DFI’s ethos of people-first design , [Amtron] is an experience that promotes meaningful interactions and pauses that awes, inspires and stays in the memory of its users.” Sustainability features such as solar panels , rainwater harvesting and green terraces show that this project keeps the environment in mind. In addition to mutual shading and sun-tracking louvers that minimize heat gain and reduce the need for artificial air conditioning, solar-reflective glazing helps regulate temperature while still allowing in natural light. Solar panels on the roof help address the tower’s energy needs. To address water needs, harvested rainwater and recycled wastewater fuel a drip-irrigation system for the landscaping full of native, climate-adaptive vegetation. Green terraces on the facade round out Amtron’s sustainable features and help prevent the heat island effect. ??As for the project’s material palette, DFI wanted to balance the modern and traditional. A reinforced cement concrete (RCC) core supports the tower, while recycled wood panels used for roofing and ceilings help “infuse regional identity.” For the cladding, zinc and aluminum protect the structure from weathering. Amtron’s predicted completion time is 18-21 months after its mid-2021 targeted construction start date. + Design Forum International Images via Design Forum International

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Walk to work at this eco-friendly office tower in India

The Cup Hero separates coffee pods for recycling and composting

August 31, 2021 by  
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We’ve written about the  problems with single-use coffee pods  before — a majority of these little capsules end up in landfills and contribute to the world’s growing plastic pollution issues. There are plenty of alternatives, from  biodegradable  and compostable pods to refillable pods, but for coffee lovers reluctant to switch to sustainable alternatives, there’s the Cup Hero. Inventor Connor Feeney got the idea while watching his family make their morning cups of coffee using popular disposable coffee pods, and upon taking one apart discovered that the components were all either recyclable or compostable. At the same time, the process of separating the plastic , foil, and organic materials by hand was too difficult and messy to do on a regular basis. Armed with a masters degree in engineering from Northwestern University, Feeney designed the Cup Hero himself, later performing the marketing, intellectual property, distribution, and finance, as well.  Related: Xoma Superfoods delivers coffee options in single-serve, plant-based pods The Cup Hero uses one simple tool to separate the plastic cup, aluminum foil lid, paper filter, coffee grounds, and internal plastic ring in under 10 seconds. Simply insert the tool to the top of the pod, twist, and detach the different parts. That way, every component of the single-use pod can be sorted, processed and recycled (the plastic and aluminum going into the recycle, and the coffee ground and paper filter into the compost). According to the company, its primary objectives are “to reduce the amount of single-use, disposable plastic that enters our landfills, empower individuals to adopt sustainable practices, and spotlight a significant environmental issue that millions of people contribute to each day – often without realizing the larger impact.” The Cup Hero will be available through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter in the fall. + The Cup Hero Images courtesy of Connor Feeney

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The Cup Hero separates coffee pods for recycling and composting

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