Apple announces plans to make all products from recycled materials

April 20, 2017 by  
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Apple just announced plans to close the loop and make all of its products from recycled materials. We tend not to realize how damaging our electronics are for the environment – from mining materials to the toxic effects when we dump them . Apple starting tackling these problems last year with its  recycling robot , and now the electronics giant wants to only use recycled materials in its devices. Apple recently released its latest environmental report, and in it, the company claims that it is working towards using recycled materials to create its next generation of products. This will happen, in part, by reclaiming and re-using old Apple devices. Obviously they aren’t there yet, but Apple has never been shy when setting goals. Related: Apple just unveiled a blazing fast iPhone recycling robot Apple has been steadily shifting towards renewable resources. Its data centers all run on renewable energy , and it has partnered with or built its own solar and wind farms to generate the energy it needs. The company has also been recycling old devices, which saved Apple over $40 million in gold re-use alone. Via Engadget

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Apple announces plans to make all products from recycled materials

Sweden opens an entire mall full of reclaimed goods

April 7, 2017 by  
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You’re familiar with thrift stores – maybe you shop at one from time to time. But have you ever seen an entire mall of reclaimed goods? Such a thrifter’s paradise exists in Sweden , about 1.5 hours west of central Stockholm. ReTuna Återbruksgalleria , or ReTuna Recycling Galleria, peddles reused or upcycled goods, pioneering the climate -friendly future of the shopping mall. How does ReTuna work? People can submit items worthy of reclaiming or restoring to the Return. Staff from the city of Eskilstuna’s Activity, Motivation, and Work unit sort the donated items, which are then fixed up, repaired, or transformed to be sold in the mall. The goods are assigned to the mall shops based on each one’s business plan. There are 14 shops inside ReTuna, along with a restaurant serving organic food . Related: 6 Places You Can Find Trash to Transform into Treasure The purpose of the creative mall is to explore a new way of shopping resulting in less harm to the environment . All businesses in the mall must operate in an environmentally friendly way, and if they must purchase new goods – such as the cafe – the items must be organic or climate-friendly. According to the mall’s website, “ Sustainability is not about holding back and living less – but achieving more with the resources we already have.” Mall manager Anna Bergström says on the website they envision customers stopping by to donate old furniture or clothing, and then entering the mall to find maybe a new jacket or a new lamp, and having a bite in the organic restaurant. She said, “When you leave here, you should feel that you did something good for the environment.” The ReTuna website says it is “perhaps the world’s first shopping mall that will take advantage of things that need new homes.” The recycling mall will host an information meeting on April 20, 2017. + ReTuna Återbruksgalleria Images via ReTuna Återbruksgalleria and ReTuna Återbruksgalleria Facebook

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Sweden opens an entire mall full of reclaimed goods

8 universities given three years to develop a self-driving Chevy Bolt

April 7, 2017 by  
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We’re getting closer to the year many automakers predicted would see self-driving vehicles on the road. While Ford has made great advances lately, General Motors isn’t yet ready to stand on the side line with other automakers in 2020. In order to help bridge that gap, GM has announced it is giving eight American universities a Chevy Bolt as part of the new autonomous vehicle design competition called AutoDrive Challenge. The AutoDrive Challenge includes teams from Kettering University, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech, North Carolina A&T University, Texas A&M University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and Virginia Tech. Each school will be given three years to to develop and demonstrate a fully autonomous Chevy Bolt. Related: The new Nissan Leaf will be able to drive autonomously on the highway While three years may seem like a long time, the AutoDrive Challenge will be quite tough. At the end of the three years, each team will have to complete the development of a Chevy Bolt that will be able to navigate an urban driving course, autonomously and without any human interaction. In addition to receiving the Bolt, GM has also tapped strategic partners and suppliers to aid the students in their technology development by providing vehicle parts and software. Additionally, throughout the competition, students and faculty will be invited to attend technology-specific workshops to help them in their concept refinement and overall autonomous technical understanding. “GM is very excited to work closely with these eight universities over the next three years,” said Ken Kelzer, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems. “The students and faculty at these schools bring deep knowledge and technical skills to the competition. We are proud to help offer these students the hands-on experience necessary for them to make an immediate impact on the automotive world when they graduate.” The AutoDrive Challenge kicks off this fall. Images @GM + General Motors

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8 universities given three years to develop a self-driving Chevy Bolt

Pavilion made from 300 pairs of blue jeans just popped up in Milan

April 5, 2017 by  
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Here’s something we’ve never seen before: a structure made entirely of pants! Starchitects Diller Scofidio+ Renfro just unveiled a sprawling pavilion made from 300 pairs of blue jeans in Milan. The installation is called Linking Minds , and it re-interprets the idea of using ready-made modules (in this case pants) in architecture. The surreal jean canopy soars over the historic Palazzo Litta in Milan. While the individual pairs of pants represent the human scale of urban life, the meshed twisted structure points to a sense of community and the collective nature of architecture. Liz Diller engaged with the historical Palazzo Litta in 5VIE during Milan Design Week 2017 to reinterpret one of the most basic architectural elements: the roof. Formally, Diller’s suspended structure resembles the 3D-printed twisted mesh typically used for festivals. However, in this case the structure is realized with an unexpected, simple but iconic material: denim. Jeans are one of the most ubiquitous garments around the world, however they’re also very private and intimate items that we wear in direct contact with our skin. Related: 14 conversation-starting chairs that push the boundaries of design Jeans are also a curious object in terms of structure. Having two legs and one waist, it has an implicit structural logic that allows various combinations and spatial patterns. Connected waist-to-waist and cuff-to-cuff, and filled with air, the Linking Minds installation is a visually dynamic work of art and architecture that is one of the main landmarks of Milan Design Week 2017 . Diller Scofidio+ Renfro + Milan Design Week

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Pavilion made from 300 pairs of blue jeans just popped up in Milan

This library shows how beautiful sustainable design builds community

April 5, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous new library just an hour’s drive from downtown Toronto is a true civic center with its welcoming light-filled spaces nestled into a hillside. Canadian design firm RDHA recently completed the green-roofed Waterdown Library in Hamilton, built to replace a smaller municipal building and designed with a strong focus on sustainability. The new 23,500-square-foot building houses the traditional library functions as well as several other civic spaces including two community multipurpose rooms, the Waterdown Public Archive, a satellite municipal services outlet, a community information office, and police services. The Waterdown Library’s cantilevered form draws inspiration from its surrounding landscape of the Niagara Escarpment, a massive rock ridge that overlooks Lake Ontario. RDHA writes: “The design process for this 23,500 square foot facility began with an acknowledgement of its dramatic site on the Niagara escarpment. Taking advantage of the topography to provide expression and access to the different programmatic elements in the building, the scheme engages and responds to the site by creating an architectural promenade that culminates in elevated south-facing views to Dundas street, the escarpment and Lake Ontario beyond.” By nestling the library into the hillside, the architects disguise the library’s bulk and create a building that looks one-story from the exterior but actually contains six levels. The slab-like building cantilevers over ten feet towards the southwest to mimic the escarpment’s rocky outcrop. Floor-to-ceiling glazing wraps around the building to lessen the library’s monolithic appearance. The building is also clad in four-inch-thick locally quarried limestone panels and sixteen-foot-high solar fins. Related: Golden Gate Valley Library is a Solar-Powered LEED Gold Renovation in San Francisco The library’s focus on energy efficiency begins with reliance on natural lighting thanks to the full-height glazing and sawtooth-style skylights. Solar heat gain is mitigated by the ceramic frit pattern on the double-glazed, argon-filled, low E-glass. Douglas fir used for solar shading and for interior cladding and furnishing was sourced from the demolished Hamilton Central Library. Recycled, low-VOC , and local materials are used throughout the building. A sloping green roof tops the library, while bioswales filter and funnel stormwater runoff into an underground rainwater collection system. The Waterdown Library has become a major gathering place for the Hamilton community and the greater region, and has seen a 150 percent increase in visitor numbers compared to the old library it replaced. + RDHA Via Architectural Record Images via Tom Arban

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This library shows how beautiful sustainable design builds community

Historic Missouri church rises from the ashes with an eco-friendly twist

April 3, 2017 by  
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When the 2011 catastrophic fire ravaged the historic Westport Presbyterian Church in Kansas City , much of the church’s structure and finishes were completely destroyed. Fortunately, however, the original limestone facade survived in good condition. Rather than knock down the building and start anew, Kansas City-based design firm BNIM reconstructed the iconic church, from the painstaking restoration of sacred components to the creation of a new addition that features modern and eco-friendly elements. Built in 1905, the 27,000-square-foot multi-story Westport Presbyterian Church is one of the most iconic buildings in Kansas City’s historic Westport community. BNIM and the community came together to rebuild the church and tackle the challenges of preserving original elements while crafting a space that was also dynamic and progressive. Parts of the church considered not sacred were deconstructed and large amounts of salvaged material —from the reclamation of 40,000 feet of pinewood framing material to the reuse of original limestone—were used in reconstruction. The restored and renovated church features a new addition with a 150-seat sanctuary, 40-seat chapel , gathering space, fellowship room, 3,000-square-foot multipurpose room, a 1,000-square-foot street-facing “community room”, administrative offices and office space that will be leased to a Westport area nonprofit. The renovation includes energy saving elements such as LEDs and contemporary stormwater management practices. All stained glass was restored and reinstalled in contemporary mounting. The project won an AIA Kansas Merit Award and an AIA Kansas City Citation Award. Related: Stunning see-through church is made from stacked weathered steel “This is one that put a smile on all our faces,” said an AIA Kansas City jury member. “There was a fire, and it destroyed just about everything on this church except for the stone walls. For the community to come together and rebuild this, and do it in such a thoughtful, elegant, and modern way, was something the jury really applauded.” Another jury member added: “It wasn’t just a restoration, it was a repositioning of the whole church itself. It made for a better building, and we think more connected to the community.” + BNIM Images via BNIM

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Historic Missouri church rises from the ashes with an eco-friendly twist

This stunning hotel in the Dolomites brings nature inside

April 3, 2017 by  
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Design studio noa* transformed an early 20th century hotel into a beautiful mountain-inspired building that brings nature indoors. Surrounded by the snow-capped Dolomites, the Tofana Hotel ‘Explorer’s Home’ enjoys a quiet location near the woods and a ski lift. The building’s asymmetrical shape draws inspiration from the Dolomite landscape, featuring zigzagging balconies with densely planted coniferous trees that give the building depth and a mountain-like appearance. Located in Italy’s Badia Valley, the newly refurbished Tofana Hotel captures the concept of an “Explorer’s Home.” Founded in 1933, the establishment has been passed down for three generations and is currently owned by Günther and Verena Frena, who share an enthusiasm for outdoor recreation. Inspired by the clients’ athletic lifestyles, the architects created a hotel in the image of a mountain with zigzagging terraces that look like climbing routes, while numerous trees and plants on the terraces help blend the building into the landscape. Stunning views of the Dolomites can be enjoyed from numerous angles. Related: Norwegian Mountaineering Centre mimics a dramatic snow-covered mountain “From building to landscape: the design celebrates the evolutionary transformation of an originally compact building – into a layered structural landscape that sustainably reflects its surroundings… the house brings nature into the house,” said architect Lukas Rungger. Large windows and spacious terraces allow natural light to penetrate deep into the building. The interior color scheme, materials palette, and spatial layout also draw inspiration from nature. The use of larch, linen, and natural stone paired with blue, green, and brown tones are suggestive of alpine meadows, biotopes, moss forests, and rock caves of the Badia Valley. The reception is likened to a “Base Station” with its gondola and visitors ascend to their “hut cabins,” or hotel suites. + noa* Images via noa*

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This stunning hotel in the Dolomites brings nature inside

Nature-inspired gallery celebrates Taiwans aboriginal cultures with cargotecture

March 31, 2017 by  
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A shimmering wave-like roof mirroring the Pacific Ocean tops this stunning new structure that celebrates Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures with eco-friendly construction. Bio-architecture Formosana recently completed the Taitung Aboriginal Gallery, a 1,921-square-meter exhibition center that draws inspiration from nature just as the architects of Austronesian culture did for centuries. With Taitung’s rich and varied landscapes as well as its seven different aboriginal tribes, the architects drew on a wealth of cultural and environmental resources for their design. The Taitung Aboriginal Gallery was created to celebrate the artistic and nature-inspired architectural elements of Austronesian culture. Thus, the architects created a large steel-framed roof with an undulating shape that mimics the topography and ocean, and is decorated with diamond shapes that symbolize the eyes of the ancestral spirits. The shape allows for access to natural light and ventilation throughout the building while providing much needed shade and cooling from the tropical sun. The sloped sides also facilitate collection of rainwater , which is stored in five small ponds in the plaza. Related: Mecanoo wins competition to design the Tainan Public Library with natural materials As an island with several major ports, Taiwan collects approximately 10,000 shipping containers from the ocean every year. The architects recycled a number of the containers into rooms within the Taitung Aboriginal Gallery. The repurposed and repainted shipping containers are individually air-conditioned and serve as aboriginal handicraft shops. “In Taitung’s tropical climate, individualized air conditioning reduces the refrigerating ton by 50%, and the electricity use by 60%,” write the architects. + Bio-architecture Formosana Via ArchDaily Images by Lucas K. Doolan

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Antique farm equipment reborn as delicate works of art

March 16, 2017 by  
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These stunning nature-inspired sculptures are so beautiful you might not notice at first glance what they’re carved from—old farm equipment. Self-taught artist Dan Rawlings recycles these discarded tools into canvases and sculptures . By giving these forgotten tools new life, he hopes to remind others to appreciate the value of our existing possessions and the environment rather than succumb to the never-ending excesses of commercialism. Based in Gloucestershire, UK, Rawlings is drawn to the fun challenge of working with old found objects that still have sentimental value even if they’re damaged beyond use. Using a variety of tools including a handheld plasma torch, welders , and scalpels, the artist reshapes and carves intricate nature-inspired scenes. He writes: “I try to create images that remind people of the moments when everything seems possible and free; times when climbing a tree, or sitting admiring the way its branches twist and curl means nothing, but means everything.” Related: Artist Nikki Ella Whitlock recycles wine bottle fragments into ethereal mosaics Although Rawlings works with many different materials, he’s most well known for metal carvings . His manipulation of metals can be seen in his reworking of old saws to the walls of vans. + Dan Rawlings

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Antique farm equipment reborn as delicate works of art

The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?

March 16, 2017 by  
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What exactly is biomimicry ? I think of it as a way of unlocking a whole world of super-powers for humanity. It is literally the next stage of human evolution. Leonardo DaVinci himself said, “Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are laboring in vain.” Maybe we’ve been studying the wrong master, trying to make a living on this planet in ways that will ultimately deplete us all. That’s certainly the case with humans and honeybees . Yes, humans love honey, and the busy hum of bees in the garden is a sound that gives us peace on a warm day. But we have much more to learn from them. Find out the lessons they have to teach in today’s entry of The Biomimicry Manual ! Great designers know that people feel good when they are surrounded by plants and other living things. Gardens are good for the soul. That’s ‘biophilia.’ Nature makes us happy. We love using ‘organic’ raw materials, like honey and beeswax, because they are useful and renewable, pleasing and non-toxic. They won’t sit in a landfill for the next thousand years like yesterday’s plastic. The Earth will recycle them. That’s ‘bio-utilization,’ using nature because it’s just good stuff. Our herds of goats and sheep, the crop varieties we’ve grown and selected for millennia because they taste the way we want, and even the family dog are ‘bio-assistants.’ They help us make and do the things we need. Honeybees, for instance, are not ‘wild animals,’ but domestic helpers. We have shaped their evolution to suit ourselves. Biomimicry is a little different. It only “uses” life’s ideas. It’s when you have a problem, and you ask, “how other living creatures solving it?” Instead of harvesting that creature or its by-products, you copy the idea itself and make it anew, make it human. Every plant and animal , fungus, and bacteria has a whole genome worth of time-tested, sustainable ideas to inspire us. That’s a lot of superpowers. Myself, I like bioinspiration of all kinds. John Todd ‘s ‘ Living Machines ‘, for instance, do a little of everything: biophilia, bio-utilization, bio-assistance, and biomimicry. He uses a pleasing array of living plants and bacteria (both domestic and wild) to imitate the way a natural wetland ecosystems works, filtering and treating sewage in the process. Believe it or not, a bee has to eat eight pounds of honey to make a single pound of wax to safely store her honey and larvae in. It’s an expensive proposition, and it has to be done efficiently. The ancient Greeks understood that modular hexagonal honeycomb makes the most storage possible with the least amount of material. Architects and designers are tapping this for all sorts of applications. Panelite , in New York, offers hexagonal ClearShade insulating glass. It passively regulates heat, while still letting in lots of light. The Sinosteel skyscraper in Tianjin, China uses honeycomb windows the same way. Our honeybee has other brilliant design ideas as well. For instance, her 300 degree field of vision literally gives her eyes in the back of her head. Nissan Motors is working on a laser range finder inspired by these curved, compound eyes, which will detect and avert potential collisions. German researchers are designing a honeybee-inspired wide-angle lens for aerial drones, while other researchers are using their navigation tricks to optimize GPS and tracking systems. We know that it’s physically impossible for bumblebees to fly. And yet they do, with incredible efficiency and maneuverability. So what are we missing? We aren’t completely sure, but one thing they have is the ability to zip and unzip their two-part wings for flight and landing. What if our airplanes could do that? Wouldn’t that save space on aircraft carriers and in busy airports? And when we say something is “the bees’ knees,” it’s even better than we thought. Insect joints contain ‘resilin,’ a springy protein. Turns out to be the most efficient elastic known, dramatically better than natural or synthetic rubber. With it, bees can flap their wings a thousand times a minute, and fleas can jump one hundred times their body length. An Australian government research group has mimicked this “near-perfect” rubber, creating 98% bounce back. That’s practically a perpetual-motion machine! These examples are taken from Jay Harman’s new book, The Shark’s Paintbrush: Biomimicry and how Nature is Inspiring Innovation . There are so many good ideas in nature, it boggles the mind, And that’s just the bees! There is literally an infinite world of time-tested, sustainable ideas to learn from. And if we get “buzz-y” studying them, we can unlock a whole new set of super-powers to take us into the future. + The Biomimicry Manual  An evolutionary biologist, writer, sustainability expert, and passionate biomimicry professional in the  Biomimicry 3.8 BPro certification program , Dr. Tamsin Woolley-Barker blogs at  BioInspired Ink  and serves as Content Developer for the  California Association of Museums ‘ Green Museums Initiative. She is working on a book about organizational transformation inspired by nature.

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The Biomimicry Manual: What can the honeybee teach a designer?

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