Some of the oldest and largest baobab trees are dying

June 12, 2018 by  
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A new survey of baobab trees throughout southern Africa has shown that most of the two dozen largest and oldest trees in the region have died in the past decade or are currently very ill. While human-caused physical damage to individual trees may explain specific die-offs, researchers believe that climate change, which is occurring faster in southern Africa than many places on Earth, may be the most significant factor in the trees’ poor health. “Such a disastrous decline is very unexpected,” chemist and survey organizer Adrian Patrut told NPR . “It’s a strange feeling, because these are trees which may live for 2,000 years or more, and we see that they’re dying one after another during our lifetime. It’s statistically very unlikely.” The iconic baobab are culturally important for many communities. A common myth explains the baobab’s unique shape as a result of gods punishing the tree for its vanity in its extraordinary size, with the baobab being uprooted and flipped upside down with its “roots” facing upwards. Baobabs can be cultivated for their nutritious leaves and fruit and may prove to be a source of economic development . The trees are also ecologically significant, providing habitat and food for a wide variety of mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. Related: Can this tree provide financial security for 10 million people in Africa? Because of their unique shape and growth patterns that distort their tree rings, accurate dating of a baobab is difficult. Despite some questioning of Patrut’s methods, researchers nonetheless recognize that baobab die-offs is an unsettling trend that deserves more study. As southern Africa likely faces intense temperature increases and drought , the urgency to understand and better protect the baobabs is clear. “The decline and death of so many large baobabs in recent years is so tragic,” ecologist David Baum told NPR . “It is heartbreaking that any should die — but even worse that we might be seeing the beginning of the end of all the giant baobabs on the planet.” Via NPR Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Some of the oldest and largest baobab trees are dying

Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects wins bid for carbon-neutral Solvay HQ in Brussels

June 12, 2018 by  
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Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects has won an international competition for the design of global chemical company Solvay’s new sustainable headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Created in collaboration with local firm Modulo Architects and VK Engineers, the winning proposal beat out designs from top firms including the likes of OMA, Valode & Pistre and Henning Larsen. The green campus is expected to be certified BREEAM Excellent and will be powered with a mix of renewable energy resources, including geothermal energy and solar energy, to reach carbon-neutral status. The new headquarters represents a shift for Solvay as it transitions towards a more open and sustainable business culture. Placed in a single compact structure, the zero-carbon and near zero-energy building will prioritize collaborative spaces and the outdoors. The new campus is located on a 22-hectare site, which has housed many of Solvay’s facilities since 1953. The property will be transformed to include a new dedicated forest, a reintroduced 18th-century stream connected to the Senne, and an open-air amphitheater. Rainwater across the campus will be harvested and reused wherever possible. “In the earliest stages, it became clear that one compact building with one common entrance into a sweeping atrium would allow everyone who passes through the headquarters to share the same unique experience of the building, and create a strong sense of belonging,” said Tiago Pereira, Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “We translated Solvay’s desire for a welcoming, innovative, sustainable headquarters into an architecturally bold statement that reflects its core values and creates a new identity.” Related: Henning Larsen to revitalize Brussels region with rooftop farming and co-housing The light-filled building will be wrapped in glazing and punctuated with a large atrium with a social staircase that visually connects the various floors and departments. The two lower levels will consist of laboratories and workshops, while the upper floors house offices. In between those floors will be the Meeting Center, which includes relaxing gathering spaces and terraces with panoramic views of the campus green. Geothermal and solar energy will power the Solvay headquarters. + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Images via Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects wins bid for carbon-neutral Solvay HQ in Brussels

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