The CrossWater is a solar-powered mode of public water transportation

August 27, 2020 by  
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You know those chugging, air-polluting boats that take an hour to load, an hour to make their way across the river and another 45 minutes just to unload? Forget them. The CrossWater is here, and it could revolutionize the way people travel on the water. This is an invention you have to see to believe. And once you do see it, you’re going to be looking for it to come to a waterway near you. The makers of CrossWater hope to make water transportation cheap, accessible, fast and safe for everyone. That includes making water travel safer for the environment, too. After all, that’s something that is truly shared by everyone. Related: Cool retro boats restored with electric motors Think of the CrossWater like a horizontal elevator, moving side to side instead of up and down. Specifically, the CrossWater is made to… cross water. It floats, glides and skims right across water , moving rapidly to get users where they need to be as quickly as possible. The CrossWater is fully self-driving and all-electric . Forget about harmful fumes that you have to breathe in while you travel on the water with a motorized boat. The CrossWater is carbon-neutral and extremely simple. In fact, you don’t have to do anything at all. There are no oars to move and no sails to turn. You just step inside and let the CrossWater quickly carry you exactly where you need to go. Each CrossWater vessel holds 15 people at a time and is programmed to travel between platforms quickly. The interior includes a 32- or 49-inch touchscreen with a selection of apps including YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Netflix and Google Maps. The sound system has 19 speakers, and each CrossWater is fully climate controlled. Not a bad way to get across the water, right? The CrossWater has been designed to work effortlessly on lakes, canals and rivers. Water vehicles like this can help reduce the number of vehicles on the road. CrossWater hopes to get 1 million vehicles on the waterways by 2025. Soon, it may start replacing ferry services around the world. + CrossWater Images via CrossWater

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The CrossWater is a solar-powered mode of public water transportation

Introducing Klima: the app on a mission to reduce carbon footprints

August 27, 2020 by  
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Released this month, Klima allows its users to take direct action against climate change with a simple and beautiful app. The user-friendly app quickly calculates your personal carbon footprint and finds ways to offset your emissions through an affordable monthly subscription that goes straight to carbon offsetting charities. Your carbon footprint is calculated through tailored lifestyle questions, including how many short or long flights you take per year, whether or not your home uses renewable energy, your eating habits and more. You can then see how your footprint compares to the national and global average. According to Klima, the national average is 16.5 tons of annual carbon emissions and the global average is 4.5 tons. Related: 14 apps to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle After the calculation is complete (it only takes a few seconds), Klima presents different subscription options that support nonprofit carbon offsetting programs based on your personal carbon footprint. Typically, this amount is less than $20 per month for the average American lifestyle. Causes range from reforestation programs in vulnerable places like Madagascar, Panama and Tanzania to solar power technology and research companies. Causes are fully transparent, with detailed project information and real-time impact data included. Klima only includes solutions that rank among the top 10 most effective ways to fight climate change worldwide, benefit the local communities and meet the highest international quality standards for certified carbon offsetting. Everything is verified through either the Verified Carbon Standard or the Gold Standard developed by WWF and similar NGOs. This way, users can support the nonprofits that they are most passionate about while creating their own carbon-neutral lifestyle, ensuring that their funds are going toward good causes. Best of all, Klima suggests specific tips that outline how much CO2 reduction a certain lifestyle change will result in, such as switching to green energy or going pescatarian. With every change you make to reduce your carbon footprint, the cost of your subscription decreases. The app itself has stunning graphics and contains a wealth of valuable information on carbon neutrality. The app and carbon calculator are both free to download, too, so you can still get started on your sustainable journey even if you’re not ready for a carbon offsetting commitment. + Klima Images via Klima

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Introducing Klima: the app on a mission to reduce carbon footprints

Rental houseboat in India celebrates fire, water, air and earth elements

August 26, 2020 by  
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Talk about getting back to nature! This rental houseboat brings all of the elements of nature — fire, water, air and earth — onboard for an immersive experience. The client, Lyndon Alves, is with a vacation rental company called Sunset Getaway. This vacation rental comes in the form of a 100-foot-long river boat that can be reserved for a private experience. Located on the Chapora River in north Goa, India (near Morjim), the Kerala Rice Boat was constructed using bamboo and wood throughout the 1,600-square-foot space. Related: Prefab houseboat in Prague features a spacious rooftop lounge The traditional Kettuvallam is common throughout the Kerala region for promoting tourism in the area. Distinctive with its thatched roof and wooden hull, this houseboat architecture was a welcome challenge for FADD Studio, who was hired for the rental houseboat’s interior design . The lacquered interior walls do not lend themselves to paint, wallpaper or any adhesive, but they do offer protection from all types of weather as well as easy maintenance. However, the material means the design team needed to focus on fabrics and art for the theme. Each of the three bedrooms represents an element of nature . The water room features shades of blue, green and yellow with a striking ripple effect in the duvet as well as wall art that focuses on the water theme. In the fire room, reds and oranges dominate the space with a striped, richly-colored bedspread and two-tone curtains that soften the fiery space. In contrast, the earth room is neutral with a duvet that is pleated to emulate sand piles. Small green flowers are stitched into the material to bring Earth’s living elements into the room. In the main dining area, the element of air matches the breezes that filter through as the boat floats down the river. Lavender and gray hues reflect the calming vibe of gentle winds. Throughout the three bedrooms and the sunset deck, where guests can schedule a private massage, accessories precisely match the vibe of each natural element. Light fixtures, lamps, towel rods and even robe hooks bring the elements to life inside while nature drifts by outside the boat. + FADD Studio Images via FADD Design

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Rental houseboat in India celebrates fire, water, air and earth elements

Environmental racism in America

June 22, 2020 by  
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The stretch of land along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is riddled with petrochemical plants spewing smoke into the air. Huge pipes pump chemicals above and below the highway to load boats in the river. This former plantation land’s modern nicknames are Cancer Alley and Death Alley because of the pollution-induced illness rife in the riverside communities. People familiar with environmental racism won’t be surprised to learn that Saint James Parish, in the heart of this area, is predominately Black. This is some of America’s most polluted air, with eight major industrial plants in 103 square miles and a new, enormous plastic project on the horizon. The cancer rate here is 700 times the national average. All around the country — and, in fact, the world — toxic plants are placed by the least affluent and most vulnerable populations, most of whom are people of color. These low-income communities tend to have the least political power to keep pollution generators out of their backyards. The term environmental racism Environmental racism is not a new concept. But with the Black Lives Matter movement thrusting all forms of racial inequity into the public eye, it’s time to take a look at what it means and how we can create change. Related: Low-income housing in flood zones traps families in harm’s way Benjamin F. Chavis, Junior, former president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), defined the term in his 1983 work, “ Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States .” The NNPA is an association for Black-owned newspaper publishers. Chavis described environmental racism as deliberately targeting communities of color for siting toxic waste facilities that expose people to life-threatening pollutants and poisons. Chavis acknowledged different types of racism, but noted, “environmental racism is a particularly insidious and intentional form of racism that negatively affects millions of Black, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans, as well as people of color around the world.” Environmental racism means that people of color feel a disproportionate impact from things like toxic waste dumps, pollution and chemical plants that expose them to pollutants, known carcinogens and contaminated water at a much higher rate than more affluent White neighborhoods. The problem is intensified by officials failing to enforce environmental laws, for example, the thousands of Black children exposed to lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan in the last decade while officials assured everybody the water was safe. Types of environmental threats that communities of color face Whether they are threats to the water , air or land, people of color face them all. According to a 2012 NAACP study , communities of color breathe in 40% more polluted air than White neighborhoods. Much of this is from coal plants. While only 13% of the U.S. population is Black, 68% live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. That’s 12% higher than for White people. Associated problems include higher risks of birth defects, heart attacks and asthma. Black communities suffer from unusually high levels of asthma. Black women are 20% likelier to have asthma than non-Hispanic White people, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health website. In 2014, Black people were almost three times more likely to die from asthma-related causes than White people. Children are hit especially hard, with a much higher rate of asthma-related hospitalization and death. In addition to coal plants, low-income Black communities are disproportionately located near other types of toxic sites. In rural areas, this could be farm runoff. “Swine CAFOs are disproportionately located in black and brown communities and regions of poverty,” stated a study by researchers at School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, are an innocuous-sounding euphemism for animals packed tightly together, living sad and squalid lives around enormous manure lagoons. People who live near these air- and water-polluting operations often suffer from eye, nose and throat irritation, depression, stress and decreased quality of life. In North Carolina, CAFOs center on pigs. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, dairy farm waste, including pesticides , has upped the asthma rates in Black and Brown communities. Environmental racism and COVID-19 The novel coronavirus has preyed especially hard on people of color. Patients with underlying conditions are up to 12 times as likely to die of COVID-19 than those that were healthy before contracting the novel coronavirus. A CDC report released June 15 cited heart disease, diabetes and chronic lung disease as the most common underlying conditions contributing to COVID-19 deaths. Black communities have a much higher rate of many conditions that predispose people to dying of COVID-19. These include diabetes, asthma, tobacco exposure, strokes, high blood pressure and cancer. Racism leads to and aggravates all of these conditions, from breathing in more pollution and experiencing more stress in the first place, to having less access to healthcare for early diagnosis and treatment of illness. Via Food is Power and The Guardian Images via Pixabay

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Environmental racism in America

Green design and history meld at unique Delas Frres Winery

May 29, 2020 by  
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A recent passion project with a dedication to earth-friendly practices resulted in the conversion of a historical landscape into the Delas Frères Winery in the Rhone Valley, France. Farming in the area is almost as old as the land itself. In fact, the terraced hills above Tain l’Hermitage have been cultivated since Roman times. However, the modern setting is more urban than rustic, making it an unlikely choice for a winery. But architect Carl Fredrik Svenstedt rose above the challenges, melding the old with new. The result is a renovated manor house and surrounding walled garden. The main house, now called the guest house, offers overnight visitors bedrooms, a restaurant and a tasting room. A new wine cellar and shop were thoughtfully constructed to frame the existing building. Ramps connect areas of the winery, allowing visitors to enjoy expansive views from the upper level or observe the wine-making process. Using solid structural stone leaves a lower carbon footprint compared to steel or concrete, and the materials were locally sourced from a nearby quarry so transport emissions were low. Although sustainability was at the forefront of the design, the stone also marries well with the needs of the facility by providing thermal cooling to moderate the temperatures for the wine during production and storage. Controlling the natural light is another aspect of the architecture that effectively lowers lighting costs. Skylights stream sunlight into common visitor areas while the placement of the stone walls reflects light that would be detrimental to the wine tanks and barrels. A high groundwater level means the building can only be partly sunk below grade, but provides for the geothermal system that aids in the buildings’ climate control. The walls of the winery invite touch. They speak of the history of the area with Estaillade stone from down the river. The main wall measures 80 meters long and 7 meters high and is made from blocks individually carved by a robot. According to a statement from the winery and Svenstedt Architects, “Intelligent machining reduces waste, while the resulting gravel is reused to pave the garden. Despite the unique technicity of the wall, the blocks are mounted traditionally by a two-man father and son team of stonemasons.” Delas Frères Winery was the winner of the AMP award for sustainability in 2019. Images by Dan Glasser

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Green design and history meld at unique Delas Frres Winery

Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

May 26, 2020 by  
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Paris-based design studio Rescubika has unveiled a fantastical proposal for the Babylon Bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge over the river Seine. Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the proposed bridge would be covered with greenery on multiple levels, from trees that line the length of the bridge to the hanging planters that surround a central waterfall feature. The new public park would also be connected to the riverbanks, which could be turned into urban agriculture plots for local use. The Babylon Bridge proposal spans the Seine to connect the Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet on the left bank with the 14-hectare Parc de Bercy on the right. Rescubika designed the proposal in response to the revitalization of Avenue de France — most notably with the ongoing development of architect Jean Nouvel’s Tour Duo project — and its desire to provide urban beautification that can be seen by a greater number of residents and visitors. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor “This project aims to study the possibility of a strong city entrance in the form of a hanging landscape,” the firm explained. “The Babylon Bridge is a positive vision of the city of tomorrow, less chaotic and annihilating than that of yesterday. The bridge is an urban tool allowing the passage of flows over areas that are impossible to cross, here we also want to allow the user to stroll and relax. It is a participative and positive architecture.” As an antidote to city living, the Babylon Bridge will shield visitors from urban noise and pollution with its hanging gardens and the noise buffer created by the central waterfall. A large, landscaped canopy would stretch over the bridge to provide shade and support for thousands of hanging potted plants. Seating areas would be integrated along the path to encourage visitors to take their lunch out on the bridge, which would be accessible from street level and the riverbanks below. + Rescubika Images via Rescubika

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Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

Distinctly modern net-zero home sits in harmony with its woodland surroundings

May 5, 2020 by  
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Chapel Hill-based firm Arielle Condoret Schechter is known for its commitment to building sustainable homes that don’t sacrifice elegance or comfort. The company’s latest work includes the spacious Haw River House, which was built with several efficient features to create a net-zero energy home that is seamlessly linked with its natural surroundings. Tucked into a pristine woodland overlooking the Haw River, which runs through central North Carolina, the beautiful Haw River House sits in harmony with the landscape. Using this natural setting as inspiration, the 2,600-square-foot house is outfitted with several energy-efficient features that make it completely energy-neutral. Related: Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape According to the architects, the thick forest of towering deciduous and evergreen trees that soar out of the rocky landscape inspired the unique volume of the home . To mimic the dreamy, natural silhouettes, the home has a butterfly roof and various outdoor spaces. First, a cantilevered screen porch that nearly stretches the length of the home allows the family to enjoy a seamless connection to the outdoors. There is another deck off of the main volume and a private outdoor deck cantilevered off of the master bedroom. To achieve its net-zero energy status, the home includes many sustainable features, such as a 13 KW solar panel system and a geothermal heating and cooling system. To maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, Haw River House has an air-tight envelope and triple-glazed windows and doors, including a 20-foot-wide sliding glass door that looks out over the beautiful river rapids. The abundance of glazing provides the entire living space with optimal natural light, air circulation and, of course, views. Despite all of that glass, the extended roof overhangs shelter the interiors from harsh sunlight. Additionally, the roof has an integral water collection system . The strategically designed gutter system leads to downspouts on each end of the home, funneling all rainwater into two 5,000-gallon above-ground cisterns. The water is then processed into clean drinking water via a triple-filtering system that includes a state-of-the-art UV method that kills 99.9% of bacteria. + Arielle Condoret Schechter Photography by Tzu Chen via Arielle Condoret Schechter

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Distinctly modern net-zero home sits in harmony with its woodland surroundings

While humans are away, Yosemite bears come out to play

April 20, 2020 by  
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It’s been nearly a month since the spreading coronavirus prompted Yosemite National Park’s closure on March 20, and resident black bears are making the most of it. Last year, 4.42 million people visited Yosemite. This year, it’s a bear’s world. “For the most part, I think [the bears] are having a party,” said wildlife biologist Katie Patrick, according to EcoWatch . “This time of year is difficult for the animals here. There can be literally walls of cars, stop-and-go traffic, or people in the park .” Related: Tour 5 national parks from home Patrick, better known as Ranger Katie, works in Yosemite’s human-bear management program, which aims to mitigate interspecies conflict. She recently hosted a Facebook Live talk about her work as a bear biologist. “You would think that with Yosemite being the size of Rhode Island, there would be enough elbow room for everybody, bears and humans alike,” she said in the Facebook video . “But actually, visitation tends to be concentrated in specific areas of the park that tend to be really good habitat for bears, too.” Humans prize the waterfalls, the river and the beautiful vistas of Yosemite Valley. Bears prefer the same landscape for different reasons, many of them food-related, such as the fruits and berries that grow by the river in the summer and the oak woodlands that become heavy with fall acorns. Yosemite black bear climbing a tree Yosemite National Park is home to about 300-500 black bears. Though there hasn't been an increase in their population since the park closure, bears have been seen more frequently than usual, likely due to the absence of visitors in Yosemite Valley.If you tuned into our livestream yesterday, wildlife biologist Ranger Katie showed us how Yosemite's bear team uses radio collars to track some of the park's bears, and we picked up the signal of a large male bear in the meadow nearby! Shortly afterward, that same bear was caught on camera by one of our volunteers, who watched from the window of the Rangers' Club as it climbed up a nearby tree. The bear sat high on a branch for a little while and then struggled to decide how to safely get back down, making this one of the more entertaining wildlife sightings we've had this spring!Check out yesterday's livestream to learn more about Yosemite's black bears and how we can all help to keep them wild: https://www.facebook.com/YosemiteNPS/videos/664884761011559/You can also find information about protecting Yosemite's iconic bears at www.KeepBearsWild.org Posted by Yosemite National Park on Monday, April 13, 2020 “So really, it’s paradise for humans and bears,” Ranger Katie said. For now, bears and other wildlife have the park mostly to themselves. Adult male black bears usually weigh about 250 pounds, while females weigh 150. Confusingly, black bears are usually brown and sometimes even blond. Approximately 300 to 500 bears live in Yosemite. A worker at Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel told the Los Angeles Times that in addition to seeing far more bears since the park’s closure, coyotes and bobcats are also coming closer to staff living quarters. While it’s nice for the bears to have such a relaxed springtime with few humans and cars, Ranger Katie doesn’t want them to get too comfortable. It could be a problem when humans return post-pandemic and the two species have to divvy up paradise again. Via EcoWatch and Los Angeles Times Image via Hillary H.

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While humans are away, Yosemite bears come out to play

Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

February 28, 2020 by  
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Once known as one of Uganda’s most popular hotels, the Nile Safari Lodge had fallen into disrepair over the years. When it was tasked to breathe new life into the property, Kampala-based studio Localworks decided to pay homage to the building’s history by respectfully and carefully rebuilding the existing facilities instead of tearing them down and starting from scratch. Now, the fully refurbished accommodation is an incredible, solar-powered eco-retreat offering guests a direct connection to the nature surrounding the property. Located on the southern bank of the Nile River, the Nile River Lodge is enveloped in wilderness. Looking over the famed river, the lodge offers guests a chance to recharge their batteries while taking in the views. This calm atmosphere became the focal point of the green renovation process. Related: Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco-retreat Starting with the main building, the architects wanted to break open the communal spaces as much as possible. They did this by covering the existing building with a series of thick, grass-thatched roofs . The design strategy also aimed to implement new openings around the property to allow for indoor-outdoor living. The Ugandan climate is typically very hot and humid, so passive cooling strategies , such as natural light and ventilation, were used whenever possible. The wide, triangular openings and curved walkways found throughout the hotel allow guests to enjoy framed views of the river and surrounding Murchison Falls National Park from nearly anywhere onsite. At the heart of the eco-retreat is a soothing infinity pool that looks out over the river. A covered pavilion opens up to the pool and serves as the perfect spot to take in both the sunrise and the sunset. Guests will be able to enjoy down time in one of the eight cottages, all of which face the river. Although distinct in size and amenities, the cottages, referred to as bandas , are raised on stilts to reduce their impact on the landscape and generate air flow under the buildings. Made of natural materials such as wood, grass and stone, the buildings were all positioned to protect the interiors from the harsh equatorial sunlight. While passive strategies were used throughout the eco-resort, several modern features were also implemented to reduce the project’s environmental impact. Completely free of mechanical cooling systems, the lodge runs solely on solar power . + Localworks + Nile Safari Lodge Via ArchDaily Photography by Will Boase via Localworks

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Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

Craft beer waste saves Montana town $1M for wastewater treatment

February 18, 2020 by  
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A Montana town has found a money-saving solution to its sewage and wastewater treatment expenses, thanks to a nearby craft brewery. The innovation caught the eye of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provided the town and its water reclamation facility an Honorable Mention accolade in one of the federal agency’s annual awards. Havre, Montana has a population of 10,000. Its 40-year-old water reclamation facility, as the EPA has described, “needed upgrades to help meet their final ammonia and residual chlorine limits,” while processing more than 6 million gallons of water . Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected Unfortunately, with more than 10 breweries nearby, the wastewater generated further increased because beer waste is “rich in yeast, hops and sugar.” These contents are known to skew the microbial activity process that removes both nitrogen and phosphorus from the water as it is being treated. In short, if nitrogen and phosphorus are not removed before the treated water enters the drain-off into estuaries, then bacterial and algal blooms will arise. These unwanted blooms would disturb an estuary’s water chemistry enough to adversely affect the ecosystem. Engineering consultant Coralyn Revis offered a paradigm shift to solve the issue. “If we can use [brewery waste] correctly and put it in the right spot, it’s very beneficial to the process,” Revis said. “This is super-simplified, but like, if they’re eating their french fries, they need a little ketchup with it. So to get the nitrate out, you dose a little carbon, and the bugs are happier.” Havre’s wastewater plant manager, Drue Newfield, sought Michael Garrity, Triple Dog Brewing Company’s owner, to source leftover barley for feeding the water treatment microbes. The spent barley was used as a substitute for the chemical alum, an aluminum-sulfate solution. The joint endeavor saved the community from investing an additional $1 million in upgrades to the water treatment plant. “To further enhance the biological phosphorus removal process, 10 gallons of waste barley mash from a local brewery gets added daily as an external source of carbon and volatile fatty acid supplement,” the EPA explained. “These improvements have allowed the facility to continuously meet all permit effluent limits and has significantly improved the operability, reliability and treatment capability of the facility. These upgrades have greatly improved the quality of wastewater effluent discharged to the Milk River, particularly with respect to nutrient levels and ammonia toxicity.” The endeavor has been federally acknowledged as a creative and successful example for integrating community involvement at solving water quality infrastructure challenges in four key areas: public health, economy, sustainability and innovation. Via NPR , Core77 and EPA Image via Manfred Richter

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Craft beer waste saves Montana town $1M for wastewater treatment

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