Nonprofit plants 80,000 trees in Kenya and Rwanda

March 30, 2020 by  
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The name of global environmental charity One Tree Planted seems excessively modest now, as they’ve just finished planting 80,000 trees in Africa.  Rwanda  got 60,000 new trees, and Kenya got 20,000. In Rwanda, One Tree Planted aimed to boost local farmers’ harvests and incomes by planting coffee seedlings in the Kayonza and Gakenke districts. One Tree partnered with Kula Project to train local farmers in agronomy, technical skills and sustainable practices. Once the  coffee  Arabica seedlings mature, they should provide a sustainable income for up to three decades. This program fits in with a country-led effort to restore 100 million hectares of land in Africa by 2030. One Tree’s work in Kenya aimed to restore part of the Kijabe Forest, which suffers from overgrazing, fires and illegal harvesting. Trees native to this highland mosaic forest, also called Afro-alpine forest, include the African olive and the East African pencil-cedar. Charcoal burning and logging have damaged the forest, eroding soil and frightening people with impending mudslides. Nearly 200,000 people living in the surrounding areas depend on the forest for  water , grazing and wood. Resident wildlife includes leopards, monkeys, dik-diks and buffalo. This work in  Kenya  is part of an ongoing project which uses enrichment planting, avoided  deforestation  and assisted natural regeneration. Enrichment planting means introducing valuable species to degraded forests while retaining existing valuable species and is commonly used in forest management. Avoided deforestation is when “countries receive funding in exchange for literally avoiding and preventing deforestation.” Assisted natural regeneration happens when humans speed up natural processes by planting seedlings and protecting them as they grow. Since its founding in 2014, One Tree Planted has worked in Africa, Asia, North America and South America to restore forests, create jobs and protect  biodiversity . In 2018, the nonprofit planted 1.3 million trees. + One Tree Planted Images via One Tree Planted

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Nonprofit plants 80,000 trees in Kenya and Rwanda

Three prefab modules make up this contemporary rural home

March 30, 2020 by  
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On a 190-hectare working farm near the NSW city of Orange, Australian modular design company Modscape has completed a new prefab home that takes in dramatic landscape views in all directions. An exercise in efficiency, the 225-square-meter residence was constructed in a controlled factory environment and comprises just three modules. Dubbed Project Kangaroobie, the contemporary home combines floor-to-ceiling glazing, a neutral palette of natural materials and a minimalist design to keep focus on the outdoors.  When the Sydney-based clients of Project Kangaroobie approached Modscape, prefabrication was already at the top of their minds. Because their rural property was a four-hour drive from their primary residence, the clients wanted the home to be built in a controlled environment to eliminate weather-related delays and any difficulties in coordinating multiple trades. Related: A prefab home in Sydney celebrates indoor-outdoor living The three-bedroom, two-bedroom home that Modscape designed and built perfectly complements the clients’ rural land both visually and physically. The new modular home stretches across a ridge to follow the natural topography. Vertical Silvertop Ash timber cladding will develop a silvery patina over time and blend the home into its surrounding landscape. The light-filled interior features a neutral palette of warm timber , Scyon-lined walls and ceramic tiles. Project Kangaroobie’s T-shaped plan creates separate wings for living, sleeping and utilities and opens up to outdoor terraces to the west, south and east. The spatial layout also ensures that the living spaces remain clutter-free to preserve sight lines across the home and toward the landscape. The architects noted, “Windows and doors have been positioned to maximize their effect as frames to the landscape: the low wide window which, when seated, frames a view toward the tree line; the enclosed porch (complete with outdoor fireplace and hammock-hanging hooks) is a perfect vantage point for watching the weather roll up the valley; and the window in the living area perfectly captures the spectacular sunsets.” + Modscape Photography by John Madden via Modscape

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Three prefab modules make up this contemporary rural home

Is almond milk bad for the environment?

March 30, 2020 by  
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Almonds are a nutritious and satisfying food source. Not only are the munchable nuts a popular snack , but they are also used in a variety of other consumable products, such as almond butter and almond flour, and can be used in a milk alternative for people with dairy allergies or vegan preferences. Almond milk, a supermarket staple, is used in everything from coffee to baking. But like many other crops, the spotlight has been on whether almonds and the increased demand for almond milk are damaging the environment. How is almond milk produced? It’s important to first understand that almond production is a regional issue. In the United States, California grows nearly every almond in the country and also provides more than 80% of almonds shipped around the world. Needless to say, that level of production affects a significant part of the state’s land, economy and resources. The result is an industry criticized for extreme water consumption and pesticide use. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative Water use in the almond industry The main headline on almonds echoes fears regarding excessive water use. The truth is that farming uses water and a lot of it; almonds are no exception. In fact, a single almond takes about 1.1 gallons of water to produce. However, to put this in perspective, a single pound of beef requires a whopping 1,800 gallons of water , proving that raising cattle is much more resource-intensive than growing almonds. Collectively, meat and dairy production in California uses more water than that of all homes, businesses and government buildings in the entire state. Those figures make choosing almond milk over dairy milk much easier. Farmers realize water is a precious resource, and it’s been a topic of conversation for decades. As a result, California almond producers have spent two decades reducing the amount of water it takes to grow one pound of almonds by 33%. Additionally, they are dedicated to further cutting water usage by another 20% by 2025. Farmers achieve this by targeting water usage where it is needed rather than spraying large areas. Technology is helping, too, with computer-programmed water probes that measure moisture levels in the soil and respond accordingly. Pesticides for growing almonds Another concern centers around the use of pesticides in almond production, as pesticides then end up in the soil and water supply. The answer to this problem is a basic one; simply buy organic . Although the transition has been gradual, an increasing number of almond farmers in California are converting to organic growing methods.  Is our obsession with almond milk killing bees? Then there are the claims that almond milk is killing bees , but almonds are important to bees. Not only is almond nectar the first feast bees have early in the year, but the almond groves support roughly 2 million hives from across the country, making it the world’s largest managed pollination event. With the good comes the bad — pesticides are indeed credited with contributing to colony collapse, enforcing the need to grow and buy organic almonds along with other nuts, fruits and vegetables. Almonds and the economy While California remains cognitive of the potential negative impacts of almond production, the benefits appear to outpace those concerns. As far as the economy goes, The California Agricultural Issues Center says the California almond community delivers significant economic value to the state, including providing 104,000 jobs in the state and boosting GDP by $11 billion. Almond milk’s overall impact on the environment While the discussion of almond production is important to whether almond milk is bad for the environment or not, it’s also critical to realize that most almond milk uses very few almonds. Most almond milks are high in added ingredients, like sugars, artificial flavors and thickeners. Almond milk packaging and transport both have a negative impact, and all of the added ingredients make the nutrition benefits of almond milk questionable at best. You can curb the environmental impact of prepackaged almond milk by making your own at home. There are recipes all over the internet that explain how to do so and even offer twists on the traditional almond flavor by using spices and natural flavorings. So to address the question, “Is almond milk bad for the environment?” the answer is somewhat, but the benefits of a healthy snack producing a healthy economy and a healthy bee population outweigh the water consumption issues. Also remember that almonds offer the same environmental benefits of any other tree, cleaning the air by removing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Plus, the branches offer shade to the soil allowing for better water retention and less evaporation. When the leaves drop, they add nutrients to the soil through natural composting. In all, the carbon footprint is somewhat small, especially compared to conventional dairy, while the economic, nutritional and environmental rewards are high. Images via Pixabay

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Is almond milk bad for the environment?

Compact OffGridBox provides clean drinking water and power where it’s needed most

August 18, 2017 by  
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An Italian company has developed a compact solution for communities that lack access to clean drinking water and electricity – the OffGridBox . Measuring 6x6x6 feet, the container cube features everything necessary to generate, convert and store solar energy , as well as collect, treat and distribute clean drinking water . But the system does have drawbacks – including a $15,000 price point that’s hard to justify in certain corners of the world. Read on to learn how the founders are trying to scale their innovative solution for maximum impact. According to Fast Company, “Founder and CEO Emiliano Cecchini has sold a few of the units, but he worries he’s not yet found the formula to take his invention to scale.” “We’re looking for the next system to scale,” Cecchini told FastCo. “The idea came three years ago and, yeah, we’re kind of struggling to make it bigger. Back in Italy, it’s not easy to find the right financing strategy, mentors, and accelerator programs.” Related: Desert Twins produce drinking water in the driest place on Earth It’s a pity, because OffGridBox has the capability to serve up to 1,500 people per unit, the company says, and that’s without any upgrades. The basic model comes equipped with 12 solar modules, an inverter and battery storage. This system provides enough power to charge 300 battery packs that can each charge three LED lights for four hours and two cell phones, according to FastCo. OffGridBox also has a built-in water filtration system that produces food-quality drinking water, and a built-in storage tank that holds up to 396 gallons. That’s potentially life-changing for communities that lack good infrastructure. The company is persevering with a new model that will charge end users a nominal fee to use the station. “The new model is pay-as-you-go micro-payments, local contractors, and local empowerment,” Cecchini told FastCo. A family of four will pay 12 US cents per day for water, and the battery packs are subsidized by the company. They’re testing this new tactic in Rwanda , where the company plans to install units in 18 villages. Eventually they hope to equip the boxes with Wi-Fi. Head over to FastCo for the full story . + OffGridBox

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Compact OffGridBox provides clean drinking water and power where it’s needed most

Huge circular windows flood Melbourne’s Cirqua Apartments with natural light

August 18, 2017 by  
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Huge circular windows flood the interior of this funky apartment block in Melbourne with natural light. BKK Architects designed the Cirqua Apartments as a series of staggered volumes that reference the region’s historical housing while reinterpreting it in a modern way. The block occupies a steeply sloping site in a residential neighborhood in Melbourne. Its exterior is dominated by huge porthole windows that span almost the full height of the six cubes. The openings bring natural light into the interior and maximize the connection of the project to the surrounding garden. Related: 6,000 Circular Windows Flood Japan’s Kanazawa Library With Light The open-plan interiors feature a lot of natural materials and warm colors, with circular light fittings echoing the circular windows. White walls, marble and wood create a delicate visual balance. Beside its remarkable design features, the project also creates a precedent in the area’s multi-residential market. It was built to appeal to owner-occupiers rather than buy-to-let investors. + BKK Architects Via Dezeen Lead photo by Peter Bennetts

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Huge circular windows flood Melbourne’s Cirqua Apartments with natural light

Africa’s fastest solar power project was built in one year

November 25, 2015 by  
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Rwanda, perhaps best known as a once war-torn nation in the middle of Africa, has garnered the attention of clean energy advocates around the globe for constructing the fastest solar power project on the continent . The solar farm, situated in the famous green hills 37 miles east of the capital, Kigali, has a capacity of 8.5 megawatts (MW), That’s enough energy to power nearly 1,400 homes in the United States. For a rural nation like Rwanda, the same amount of energy has a much broader impact. But it’s not the size of the project that has wowed critics as much as the speed. The entire $24 million solar field went from contracts to connection in just one year. Read the rest of Africa’s fastest solar power project was built in one year

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Africa’s fastest solar power project was built in one year

Rwanda’s capital city has gone completely and permanently car-free

October 5, 2015 by  
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Cities all over the world have been working hard to tackle congestion problems in their central districts. Singapore, London, and Stockholm have instituted congestion charges for cars coming into the city center, while hundreds of cities around the world are experimenting with car-free days. But one month ago, Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, declared its Central Business District a permanently car-free zone. What was once a traffic-choked stretch of roadway is now a tranquil empty space, filled only with pedestrians. Read the rest of Rwanda’s capital city has gone completely and permanently car-free

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Foster + Partners unveils Droneport proposal to help save lives in East Africa

September 16, 2015 by  
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GA Collaborative’s Masoro Village Project Builds Community (and Earthbag Homes) in Rwanda

July 18, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of GA Collaborative’s Masoro Village Project Builds Community (and Earthbag Homes) in Rwanda Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: earthbags , GA Collaborative , humanitarian design , Masaro , research , rwanda , Sustainable Building , University of Rwanda

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GA Collaborative’s Masoro Village Project Builds Community (and Earthbag Homes) in Rwanda

Chicago Approves Plan for Urban Agriculture Eco-District to Revitalize Southside Neighborhoods

July 18, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Chicago Approves Plan for Urban Agriculture Eco-District to Revitalize Southside Neighborhoods Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “solar energy” , “sustainable architecture” , alternative transportation , Architecture , bike trail , chicago , eco design , green design , green transportation , mixed-use , pedestrian oriented , rail trail , sustainable businesses , urban agriculture , urban blight , Urban design , urban revitalization

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Chicago Approves Plan for Urban Agriculture Eco-District to Revitalize Southside Neighborhoods

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