3,000 new solar-powered homes in Arizona to be equipped with Sonnen batteries

October 19, 2017 by  
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Prescott, Arizona sees around 277 days of sunshine every year. Arizona-based house builder Mandalay Homes plans to take advantage of all that sunlight in 3,000 new homes to be built in the city, all equipped with rooftop solar panels and batteries from German company Sonnen GmbH . The price of the batteries will be included in the sale price of the homes. Mandalay Homes and Sonnen have partnered to allow homeowners to store extra solar power in Sonnen batteries that cost between $10,000 and $20,000 on their own. Sonnen and Mandalay Homes hope they can work out an arrangement so utilities will pay homeowners to use power stored in their batteries. According to Reuters, the 3,000 batteries, offering eight megawatt-hours of electricity , basically create a virtual power plant that could power around 5,000 homes for a day. Related: Wind and solar-powered Thunder Valley Regenerative Community rises in South Dakota Sonnen senior vice president Blake Richetta said even if utilities don’t purchase the energy, homeowners would save money since they won’t have to purchase as much power – if any – from the grid . There’s no firm agreement as of yet, although Mandalay and Sonnen have reportedly been in talks for a few months with Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project . A Salt River Project spokesperson told Reuters there aren’t any agreements in the works; Arizona Public Service declined to comment but did say batteries “can provide benefit to both our customers and the grid.” The Prescott community will be the first one like it in America, according to Sonnen and Mandalay. Reuters said in Germany, Sonnen has many such communities, but the idea is still fairly new in the United States. Mandalay Homes is a certified United States Department of Energy (DOE) ZERO Energy Ready Home builder, according to their website, and have earned multiple awards from the DOE for energy efficiency . There are around 1,000 Sonnen batteries in America right now, although the company hopes to increase that number to at least 20,000 by 2020, and deals such as the one with Mandalay Homes should help. + Mandalay Homes + Sonnen Via Reuters Images via Mandalay Homes Facebook and Sonnen GmbH

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3,000 new solar-powered homes in Arizona to be equipped with Sonnen batteries

Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio spruce up Shanghais waterfront

October 13, 2017 by  
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Shanghai’s most famous street, the Bund, is undergoing the “starchitect” treatment. Foster + Partners teamed up with Heatherwick Studio to design the Bund Financial Center as the “end point” to the city’s iconic waterfront. The 420,000-square-meter masterplan recently saw the completion of a pair of 180-meter-tall skyscrapers as well as an arts and culture center with a kinetic curtain-like facade. Shanghai is a city of contrasts. The Bund, renowned for its old colonial-era buildings along the waterfront , sits next to the city’s Old Town and looks out towards Pudong’s futuristic skyline of skyscrapers. The objective of the Bund Financial Center is to connect the old town with the new financial district, while staying sensitive to the scale of waterfront as well as the old and new surrounding architecture. “The opportunity to make something new in this prominent location that had formerly been the river gateway to Shanghai’s Old Town was extraordinary,” said Thomas Heatherwick , Founder of Heatherwick Studio. “With a project that would create 420,000 square metres of space, we felt a great duty to look for fresh ways to connect with China’s amazing built heritage and make a meaningful public place for thousands of people to work and come together.” Related: Drone video reveals progress on Heatherwick’s “tree-covered mountain” in Shanghai The Bund Financial Center is bookended in the south by two recently completed landmark towers. The arts and cultural center, which houses the Fosun Foundation and was completed earlier this summer, is located at the heart. Once complete, the mixed-use development will comprise office spaces, a boutique hotel, cultural center, retail, and restaurants. + Foster + Partners + Heatherwick Studio Images via Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio spruce up Shanghais waterfront

Thomas Heatherwick’s London Garden Bridge officially scrapped

August 16, 2017 by  
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Plans to build Thomas Heatherwick ‘s controversial Garden Bridge in London have been officially scrapped. The Garden Bridge Trust charity – created to build and run the bridge  – just announced the end of the project due to the lack of support by London mayor Sadiq Khan. Khan’s reasoning, according to his earlier statement, was led by the project’s spiraling construction and maintenance costs. A financial inquiry into the Garden Bridge project found that the initial estimated costs escalated from £60 million ($77 million) to over £200 million ($259 million). This was determined to be too large of a financial risk to London taxpayers. Related: Architects and artists sling harsh criticism at Heatherwick’s Garden Bridge project Khan withdrew his support for the project following the recommendations of the report which also raised concerns about the fairness of the process of choosing the architects– it was said that Heatherwick Studio and Arup were favored by the procurement system. Heatherwick first unveiled the design for the Garden Bridge in 2013 as a verdant structure that would span the River Thames between Temple and South Bank. “The Garden Bridge has not found its right moment, but I hope one day it will and that London continues to be open to ideas that make life here better,” said a statement from Thomas Heatherwick. + Heatherwick Studio Via Dezeen

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Thomas Heatherwick’s London Garden Bridge officially scrapped

700 Indian villagers waded through their filthy, dying river and brought it back to life

August 8, 2017 by  
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“Don’t waste your time,” doubters reportedly told a self-organized group of villagers in South Kerala who wanted to resurrect their once-teeming river. According to local Indian press, years of industrial seepage transformed the Kuttemperoor River into a giant cesspool that produced nothing but disease and devastation. Located in Alappuzha district, the river’s width reportedly shrunk from 120 feet to 20 feet, and all traces of aquatic biodiversity vanished. But earlier this year, 700 people felt they simply had to try. They had to try to bring their river back to life. “When water scarcity turned unbearable, we decided to revive the river. Initially many discouraged us saying it was a mere waste of money and energy. But we proved them all wrong,” Budhanoor panchayat president P Viswambhara Panicker told Hindustan Timees. The panchayat, a self-organized group of locals, planned the mammoth cleanup effort, which involved wading through the filthy water and dislodging weeds, plastic and other debris from the river bed. It took more than two months to ply the river’s 7-mile length, often at great risk to volunteers’ personal health. One woman, P Geetha, told the paper she fell ill during cleanup operations. “I was down with dengue for two weeks but I returned to digging the day I was out of my bed,” she said. Related: The Ocean Cleanup finds 1.15 to 2.41 million metric tons of plastic enter oceans from rivers And their hard work paid off. “Once we removed all waste river started recharging on its own and on 45th day flow started. For women folk, it was not just a work for money but it was gargantuan task to revive a lifeline,” Sanal Kumar, a volunteer with the National Rural Jobs Guarantee Scheme, told Hindustan Times . After 70 days of cleaning the river, full flow was reportedly restored. Via Hindustan Times Images via YouTube screengrab

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700 Indian villagers waded through their filthy, dying river and brought it back to life

Kengo Kuma unveils nature-filled Eco-Luxury Hotel for Paris

June 29, 2017 by  
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Travelers to Paris can soon immerse themselves in a paradise of luxury and greenery at the Kengo Kuma -designed Eco-Luxury Hotel. Located on the banks of the River Seine in the Rive Gauche neighborhood, the plant-covered Eco-Luxury Hotel will deliver a breath of fresh air to Paris’ dense urban fabric. The building will be built of timber—a favorite material of Kuma—and punctuated with greenery that grows along the balconies, rooftops, interior, and ground level. Set along the Avenue de France, the Eco-Luxury Hotel was conceived as a green reprieve from the bustling city streets. An intimate public garden is placed at the heart of the project between the main U-shaped 1Hotel and Slo Living youth hostel. Long and folded timber fins clad the building facades, creating space for planters and balconies. The overlapping fins’ long and narrow profiles and abundant greenery give the hotel the illusion of a dense forest. Related: Kengo Kuma unveils “blossoming” glass and timber villas for Bali “As particles, dispersed facade panels together with the volumetric decomposition come to blur the shape of the building,” said Kengo Kuma & Associates to Dezeen . “The warm materiality of the wood is combined with the soften reflection and aerial touch of the metal panels. The building will come alive with the light.” The lower floors of the building surrounding the central garden feature full-height glazing and a series of public spaces including sport facilities, business incubators, restaurant, co-working space, and roof terrace. The hotel interior will be filled with natural light and also feature a predominately timber materials palette. + Kengo Kuma & Associates Via Dezeen Images by Luxigon / Mir

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Kengo Kuma unveils nature-filled Eco-Luxury Hotel for Paris

Federal court rules Trump’s Dakota Access Pipeline approval violated the law

June 16, 2017 by  
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Injustice has been a common theme of the Standing Rock Sioux’s battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline , as they faced fines , water cannons in sub-zero temperatures , and eviction at gunpoint . But the tribe said this week they just won a ‘ significant victory ‘ in court that could be a game-changer. A federal judge said the United States Army Corps of Engineers did not conduct an adequate study of the environmental risks associated with the controversial oil pipeline  when the Trump administration rushed through its completion. Embed from Getty Images District Judge James Boasberg, who sits on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, said in a 91-page decision the Corps “did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice .” It’s an important step that could set a precedent – but the judge did not order the pipeline to be turned off. Instead Boasberg asked for additional briefing, requesting attorneys appear again next week for a status conference. Related: Dakota Access Pipeline springs first oil leak – before completion According to The Atlantic , the case isn’t about the potential harm to the tribe, but whether the Corps adequately researched and reported on the risks before they approved the pipeline. The Corps reportedly did not study whether a spill would kill most of the fish in the river, or if the chemicals that might be used to clean up after a spill would poison animals. Many members of the tribe source their food from the fish or animals that could potentially be impacted if a spill were to occur. Embed from Getty Images Even though the pipeline hasn’t been shut off, the tribe is still celebrating victory. Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement, “This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing. The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests . We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.” Via Stand With Standing Rock and The Atlantic Images via Wikimedia Commons and Becker1999 on Flickr

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Federal court rules Trump’s Dakota Access Pipeline approval violated the law

Solar-powered safari lodge is a gorgeous green retreat in Botswana

April 12, 2017 by  
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Elevated on stilts, the sustainable and cocoon-like lodge takes its inspiration from the pangolin, an endangered scaly animal native to the African bush. The architects clad the curvaceous facade with natural and locally sourced shingles and woven saplings in a bid to minimize the building’s environmental footprint. The building is entirely concrete-free and a solar panel farm powers the electricity. Related: Photographer Zack Seckler Snaps Rare and Beautiful Aerial Photographs of Botswana Wildlife Curved shapes find their way into the interior of the lodge as well, where the 12 suites take on the appearance of suspended weaverbird nests and large timber arches evoke a cathedral-like character. The building opens up towards the river to allow for natural ventilation and lighting, as well as wildlife views. The interior has minimalist décor to keep the focus on the landscape. + Sandibe Okavango + Michaelis Boyd + Nick Plewman Via Contemporist

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BIGs looping station design in Paris turns bridge into public space

March 24, 2017 by  
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Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group and French studio Silvio D’ascia Architecture unveiled new renderings of their competition-winning designs for a loop-shaped metro station in Paris. Created as part of Société du Grand París’ Grand Paris Express project, the Pont de Bondy station is one of 68 new stations planned for the redevelopment that will expand the existing metro system by 200 kilometers. The sculptural station will include a bridge and tunnel wrapped around a giant atrium next to the riverbank.

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BIGs looping station design in Paris turns bridge into public space

New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal staus as a person

March 16, 2017 by  
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A river in New Zealand now has legal status similar to a human being, marking a historic victory for indigenous people. For over 100 years, the Whanganui Iwi have fought over the rights of the Whanganui River, the country’s longest navigable river . Now the New Zealand Parliament has recently passed the Te Awa Tupua Bill , or Whanganui River Claims Settlement Bill, acknowledging past wrongs and declaring the river “an indivisible and living whole.” The Whanganui River can now be represented through two human representatives, one appointed by the New Zealand government and the other by the Whanganui Iwi. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson told Newshub, “I know some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality, but it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies, or incorporated societies.” A $56 million financial redress payment is also part of the significant legislation. Related: Indonesian president gives forest management back to indigenous communities It’s been a long battle for the Whanganui Iwi. According to the bill, “Since 1873, Whanganui Iwi have sought recognition of their authority over the River, including by pursuing one of New Zealand’s longest-running court cases.” Whanganui Iwi spokesperson Gerrard Albert said the people have challenged the government’s impact on the river’s health since the mid-1850’s, and sought recognition of their rights over the river. In a statement he said, “We have always believed that the Whanganui River is an indivisible and living whole – Te Awa Tupua – which includes all its physical and spiritual elements from the mountains of the central North Island to the sea.” A government website adds, “The tribes of Whanganui take their name, their spirit, and their strength from the great river…The people say, ‘Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au’ (I am the river. The river is me).” Over 200 Whanganui Iwi descendants were present in Parliament as the bill passed, and sang songs after the third and final bill reading. Via EcoWatch Images via Alex Indigo on Flickr and eyeintim on Flickr

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New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal staus as a person

Large section of Arctic Ocean is six times more acidic than 20 years ago

March 16, 2017 by  
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Ocean acidification is increasing rapidly in the Arctic Ocean . New research from an international team reveals between the 1990’s and 2010, the area of acidified water expanded northward by around 300 nautical miles from near Alaska nearly up to the North Pole . The depth of acidified waters hiked up too, from around 325 feet to more than 800 feet. 13 scientists from institutions in China, Sweden, and the United States scrutinized data from the 1990’s up through 2010 to see how acidification has escalated in the Arctic Ocean, and they found both area and depth of acidified waters spread. Acidity in the area is six times greater than it was 20 years ago. Paper co-author Wei-Jun Cai of the University of Delaware said in a statement, “The Arctic Ocean is the first ocean where we see such a rapid and large-scale increase in acidification, at least twice as fast as that observed in the Pacific or Atlantic oceans.” The journal Nature Climate Change published their research online in late February. Related: Melting Arctic Seas are Turning into Giant Pools of Acid, Researchers Warn There are a few possible reasons for such rapid acidification. One is the lack of summer sea ice ; water is exposed to the atmosphere for lengthier periods of time now and therefore has more time to absorb acidifying gas like carbon dioxide . Currents in the atmosphere have also sent Pacific Ocean water, which tends to be more acidic, into the Canada Basin. Co-author Richard Feely of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the combination of those two phenomenon likely led to the speedy acidification. Naturally the news isn’t great for marine life. Feely said mussels, clams, and small sea snails may have a hard time maintaining or building their shells in acidified waters. As sea snails in particular are an important source of food in the Arctic food web, sustaining herring and salmon, their decline could impact the rest of the marine ecosystem . Via the University of Delaware and the Toronto Star Images via Pixabay and Tammy Beeson/University of Delaware

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