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

Your essential guide to eco-wellness in Tampa, Florida

December 23, 2019 by  
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Tampa is a big city that loves to live outside. The city of almost 400,000 has gone from old-time Florida to explosive modern growth, surprising some long-time residents to find that their city is suddenly hip. Tampa’s setting on Tampa Bay lends itself to water sports. Thanks to recent development along the Hillsborough River, including a 2.6-mile Riverwalk, Tampa is very pedestrian-friendly. It’s a winning combination of sunshine, beaches and big-city amenities. Outdoors Tampa The Riverwalk is probably Tampa’s most popular place to run, bike, or walk your dog. It’s even well-lit at night, with locals and visitors strolling until late. You can also rent a kayak or stand up paddle (SUP) board from several shops along the Riverwalk. “You get a different perspective from the water,” said Aida Perez, manager of paddle rental outfit Urban Kai . “You get that feel of a really live and active city when you’re paddle boarding on the river.” Urban Kai also offers lessons and guided expeditions. It’s fun to SUP under bridges and get your photo taken with Tampa’s tallest buildings in the background. Just north of Tampa, Thonotosassa offers a completely different view of the Hillsborough River. Rent a canoe from Canoe Escape and you’ll see alligators. A lot of alligators. Plus roseate spoonbills, herons, snakes and birds I’d never heard of, like anhingas and limpkins. “We always tell people you’re visiting their home,” said Mike Cole, general manager of Canoe Escape, as he calmly paddles by 6-foot gators drowsing on logs. Wellness Tampa’s warm weather lends itself to outdoor fitness classes. It seems like every night of the week offers free or low-cost group exercise, from Zumba in parks to weekly yoga sessions in the courtyard of Armature Works, a converted streetcar barn which is now a lively public market.  Kodawari Studios offers lots of wellness under one roof, including chiropractic care, energy work, a float tank, sauna , cold plunge and a robust yoga schedule spanning styles from power to yin. Yoga Loft Tampa has locations in downtown and Ybor, and offers aerial as well as lots of flow classes. Spa Evangeline gives facials and massages. For a specialty couples experience, soak in a two-person Jacuzzi , followed by side-by-side massages with agave rubbed into your scalps while drinking champagne. Eating out in Tampa Tampa has lots of healthy eating options. Both bowl specialist Fresh Kitchen and Taco Dirty work on the customizable plan. Pick a combo of bases, protein, veggies, and sauces. Vegans might choose kale slaw or braised lentils at Fresh Kitchen, or lime jalapeno sour cream and vegan cauli queso at Taco Dirty. Plant-based Dixie Dharma debuted in Tampa in 2019. Top vegan takes on Southern classics include Carolina jackfruit, chili dogs, and the orange bird — a sloppy joe with orange barbecue sauce and house slaw served on a toasted potato bun. Vietnamese restaurant Bamboozle has vegan pho, vegan tofu lemongrass banh mi sandwiches and three types of vegan fresh rolls — avocado , veggie and tofu. They make each roll fresh as you wait and also craft three different vegan dipping sauces. Sweet Soul SoHo is a can’t miss for vegan dessert lovers. The brownie sundae is a big bowl of soft serve topped with chocolate granola, cacao nibs, brownie chunks and your choice of drizzle. “Everything here has a nutritional benefit,” says owner and Tampa native Taylor Winter. The gray vanilla ice cream takes a little getting used to, but the charcoal adds a detox benefit without altering the flavor, Winter says. Same with the Blue Majik algae that makes the coconut soft serve a glacial blue. Public transit If you’d rather not fly to Tampa, check out the Amtrak timetable. Tampa is right on the New York-Miami Silver Star line, with two passenger trains daily. You can also take Amtrak trains or buses to many points within Florida. Tampa must have the most beautiful streetcars in the country. Streetcars were a common way to get around the city from the 1890s until just after World War Two, when cars took over. But Tampa brought back electric streetcar service in 2002. Now about ten historic replica streetcars carry folks around, plus one refurbished original that plied Tampa’s tracks from 1923 to 1946. All have gorgeous wood interiors. Take the streetcar from downtown to Ybor City, a historically Cuban neighborhood once famous for cigar manufacturing, and now known for nightlife and colorful chickens in yards. Tampa also has an extensive bus network. You can also download the Coast Bike Share app and cruise around town on one of the program’s ubiquitous blue bikes . Eco-hotels The Tampa Marriott Water Street is the top wellness hotel in town. Its Stay Well rooms, located on the 15th floor, have spectacular river views, comfy Stay Well mattresses and an air purification system. The circadian lighting system is fun to play with. You can set it to modes like “energize,” “relax,” and “play,” which makes lights cycle through shades from light pink to magenta. There’s even a special shower infuser which promises softer skin and hair. Embassy Suites by Hilton earned a 2-palm rating from Green Lodging Florida, which means they pay attention to things like waste reduction, recycling , water conservation, indoor air quality and energy efficiency. For a funkier, more communal experience, stay at Gram’s Place . This independent hostel is in a residential neighborhood, a short walk or bike ride from downtown. Dedicated to the late musician Gram Parsons, the hostel has two fully equipped kitchens, a sundeck, clothing-optional hot tub, small backyard bar, dorms and private rooms. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Your essential guide to eco-wellness in Tampa, Florida

Kuehn Malvezzi tops a brick office building in Germany with an energy-efficient greenhouse

December 23, 2019 by  
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In the historic center of Oberhausen, Berlin-based architectural firm Kuehn Malvezzi has created a job center topped with a greenhouse in an unprecedented example of “building-integrated agriculture” in Germany. Named Altmarktgarten Oberhausen, the mixed-use facility symbolizes old and new: the brick-and-steel material palette references the area’s historic architecture, while the greenhouse serves as a place for innovative urban farming research. For a reduced environmental footprint, the architects installed systems for recycling rainwater, gray water and waste heat from the building operations. Created in collaboration with landscape architects atelier le balto and awarded the winner in a 2016 architecture competition, the mixed-use facility was constructed on the site of an old market hall at Oberhausen’s Altmarkt. The first five stories of the building function as a job center, while the top floor and rooftop greenhouse are used by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT). An interior courtyard with a vertical garden helps visually connect the sawtooth-roofed greenhouse with the brick building below. The vertical garden — which comprises hardy climbing plants, like the crimson glory vine and common hop, on a galvanized steel structure — are complemented with a bed of small shrubs and ground cover plantings. Related: A “floating” greenhouse is inserted behind a renovated Belgian home “The building, designed by Kuehn Malvezzi, blends confidently but calmly into the historical city,” the architects said. “The specificity of this important urban location results from the tension between the physicality of the brick building and the filigree lightness of the rooftop greenhouse planned in cooperation with Haas Architekten. From the regularity of its structure, the greenhouse on each of the three sides of the street forms its own conclusion, which responds sensitively to each context.” To access the greenhouse, visitors are led from a lime tree-lined market square, past the courtyard with the vertical garden and up a steel staircase to the roof. Operated by the municipality, the publicly accessible greenhouse overlooks views of Oberhausen’s historic center and the city beyond. + Kuehn Malvezzi Photography by Hiepler Brunier via Kuehn Malvezzi

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Kuehn Malvezzi tops a brick office building in Germany with an energy-efficient greenhouse

The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers

October 29, 2019 by  
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After recently announcing its first success at collecting plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch , The Ocean Cleanup team is widening efforts by addressing the main entry point of litter — rivers. To tackle the 1,000 rivers responsible for about 80 percent of global ocean plastic pollution, the nonprofit has deployed a new invention, the Interceptor. The Interceptor catches and collects plastic junk, preventing its flow from rivers into oceans. “To truly rid the oceans of plastic, what we need to do is two things. One, we need to clean up the legacy pollution , the stuff that has been accumulating for decades and doesn’t go away by itself. But, two, we need to close the tap, which means preventing more plastic from reaching the oceans in the first place,” shared Boyan Slat, CEO and founder of The Ocean Cleanup. “Rivers are the arteries that carry the trash from land to sea.” Related: The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch Development of the Interceptor began in 2015. As the company’s first scalable solution to stop the river rush of plastic entering oceans, the device is shaped like a catamaran and houses an anchor, conveyor belt, barge and dumpsters. It operates autonomously and can extract 50,000 kilograms of trash per day before needing to be emptied. The Interceptor is 100 percent solar-powered and operates 24/7 without noise or exhaust fumes. It is positioned where it does not interfere with vessel traffic nor harm the safety and movement of wildlife. How does it work? The Interceptor is anchored to the riverbed at the mouth of a river flowing to the ocean. With an on-board computer connected to the internet, it continually monitors performance, energy usage and component health. Guided by the Interceptor’s barrier, plastic waste flowing downstream is directed into the device’s aperture, where a conveyor belt delivers the debris to the shuttle. The shuttle then distributes the refuse across six dumpsters that are equally filled to capacity via sensor data. When capacity is almost full, the Interceptor automatically sends a text message alert to local operators to remove the barge and empty the dumpsters. The plastic pollution will be transported to local waste management facilities, and the barge will be returned to the Interceptor for another cycle. To date, three Interceptors are already operational in Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Dominican Republic will receive the next Interceptor in the pipeline, while other countries are on the waitlist. In the United States, Los Angeles is finalizing agreements for an Interceptor of its own in the near future. A single Interceptor is currently priced at 700,000 euros (about $777,000). As production increases, Slat has said the cost will drop over time. Of course, the benefits of removing plastic far outweigh the cost of creating the devices. Slat explained, “Deploying Interceptors is even cheaper than deploying nothing at all.” + The Ocean Cleanup Image via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers

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