Hong Kongs greenest school champions environmental stewardship

October 22, 2018 by  
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Copenhagen-based Henning Larsen Architects has unveiled images of its recently completed French International School of Hong Kong – Tseung Kwan O, a colorful and energy-efficient development that the firm has declared as the city’s “greenest school.” Designed to promote sustainability, the new primary and secondary school serves as a green oasis in the city. Boasting significant water savings and sewage reduction, the school is designed to meet Building Environmental Assessment Method (BEAM) Plus Gold standards, a Hong Kong rating tool for green construction. Completed in September, the new campus of the French International School serves 1,100 students in a multicultural learning environment — the student body represents 40 nationalities — that champions collaboration and sustainability. Its distinctive facade speaks to the diverse campus vision and features a grid of 627 multicolored ceramic tiles. In addition to the primary and secondary classrooms, the campus includes a library, a canteen, a gymnasium, a swimming pool, an auditorium with a multifunctional arena, multiple gardens and a 400-meter-long track called “The Loop” that connects the campus playgrounds and gardens. A healthy environment is promoted through ample green space, which improves urban air quality, provides natural shading and creates a green refuge in an urban environment where access to nature is limited. A total of 42 native trees grow within the campus, and the Native Garden offers educational opportunities. The interior is dressed in eco-friendly surface materials including natural rubber floors, bamboo ceilings, non-toxic paints and fabrics made from pure wool. The buildings are oriented to optimize access to natural daylight and seaborne winds to minimize the need for air conditioning and artificial lighting. Low-flow fixtures offer up to 30 percent water savings. Related: Henning Larsen unveils green, mountain-inspired buildings for Shanghai The learning environment is further enhanced with improved room acoustics, reduced background noise and a layout that encourages team building. “We dissolved the traditional classrooms,” said Claude Godefroy, design director and partner at Henning Larsen Hong Kong. “We pushed boundaries on how learning spaces can allow teachers and classes to work together in a more collaborative, open space.” + Henning Larsen Photos by Philippe Ruault

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Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US

October 22, 2018 by  
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At the beginning of the century, refillable bottles were the only option when you purchased a beer or soda from the local merchant. With the invention of the steel can in 1938, however, that practice began to change. Within 10 years, the 100 percent refillable glass usage for beer had dropped to 84 percent. When non-refillable glass started taking over mainstream production, that number dropped to 8 percent by 1986 and, according to the Container Recycling Institute , refillable beer bottles now account for less than 4 percent of the total containers used. Today, Oregon is getting back to the basics by revitalizing the use of refillable beer bottles. The World Counts reported, “The world’s beer and soda consumption uses about 200 billion aluminium cans every year. This is 6,700 cans every second — enough to go around the planet every 17 hours.” While recycling is an important piece of the puzzle, a large percentage of cans and bottles are tossed into the landfill. Those that do make it to the recycling plant require massive amounts of water and energy to recycle into clean, usable material. With all of this in mind, Oregon recently initiated a statewide recycling program that cuts out the need to break down materials and turn them into something new. Instead, they’ve gone old school by bringing back refillable bottles. Related: Eco-minded Melbourne brewery breaks the mold for sustainable beer production The process works the same as any other bottle deposit system. The consumer pays a deposit upfront when buying a beverage. Upon returning the empty container, they receive the deposit back. The bottle return machines identify the refillable bottles by a unique barcode and automatically separate them from the recyclable glass options. The bottles themselves are slightly different in other ways, too. Noticeably thicker and marked with a “refillable” stamp, the bottles can be reused up to 40 times, which sharply dials back the carbon footprint for the industry. Oregon has been poised to reintroduce refillable bottles into the market because of an existing statewide program that collects and recycles bottles and cans. With that efficient infrastructure in place, adding refillable bottles to the mix is a natural step in the progression of responsible resource management within the state. It’s no surprise that Oregon is an early adopter of the program, as it has a long history of innovation in the beverage recycling industry. In fact, Oregon was the first state to pass a bottle refund law in 1971. In order for the program to be cost-effective, there are some stipulations in place. For example, bottles leaving the state and not being returned for refill drives up costs. To protect against this, bottlers who commit to using the refillable bottles are only allowed to export 20 percent of those bottles out of state. Although Oregon hopes to be a leader in the refillable bottle movement, the program is still going through some growing pains. Bottles are currently being shipped to Montana for cleaning until Oregon can complete its own facility to do the work. While the state’s Department of Environmental Quality hasn’t put an exact measurement on the impact of these efforts, most agree that even with temporary transport to another state, refillable bottles cut the carbon footprint at every post-production phase of the life cycle. The real measure of the program’s success will come with the deposit return rates. If people don’t return the bottles, the system won’t work. This is a struggle that Double Mountain Brewery founder Matt Swihart knows all too well as the original provider of refillable bottles within the Oregon brewing industry. He’s fought an uphill battle in his efforts to successfully introduce refillable bottles to his Hood River bottling plant. With an initial return rate of only 15-20 percent, he’s hoping an organized state system will help facilitate his goals. “Anything we get back and clean saves us money down the road, and of course is a more responsible environmental package,” Swihart told OPB . “Frankly, it’s just the right thing to do.” Currently, seven breweries in Oregon have stepped up to the program. Widmer Brothers Brewing is one such optimistic leader of change. It has always been transparent in its efforts to maintain sustainability wherever possible in the beer-making process, with actions like donating spent grains to local farms and providing reusable to-go containers for employees to cut back on waste. For a company that looks to repurpose and recycle everything down to the crayons and corks, moving to refillable bottles is a natural progression. The company stated, “In 2016, we completed our first Life Cycle Analysis on a bottle of beer produced at our brewery to understand the biggest opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint, learning that one bottle generates 392 grams of carbon dioxide emissions. We are partnering with suppliers to improve!” And now, the brewery is doing just that. Buoy Beer, Double Mountain, GoodLife, Gigantic, Wild Ride and Rock Bottom breweries have also signed on with hopes of many others joining as the program gains credibility. Although breweries are in the spotlight right now, there is hope that the soda industry will also jump on the refillable bottle bandwagon. Who knows — maybe it’s just a few short years before we make the full circle back to refillable milk bottles. Via  OPB ,  The World Counts and  Container Recycling Institute Images via Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative and Thomas Picauly

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Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US

Bold incisions grant new life to historic New Hampshire school

February 1, 2017 by  
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A meeting of art and architecture can have energizing results. Rather than demolishing two unusable upper floors of a historic building in New Hampshire, Joseph Cincotta of LineSync Architecture proposed a different approach to the school’s renovation , borrowing inspiration from the work of artist Gordon Matta Clark. And then, in order to further celebrate the building’s rich history, cinematographers Chibi Moku captured the renovation process in a video – check it out after the jump. https://youtu.be/xEgDrH7ZMCE The building has a long and complicated history: it was built as a residence in the late 19th century and altered several times before it became the Hampshire Country School for gifted students with learning differences. Its upper floors were condemned by unsafe stairways while the lower floors lacked organization and natural lighting . Related: New solar-powered Massachusetts college center is as green as a building can be The architects, taking cues from Gordon Matta Clark’s “building cuts”, strategically placed two-storey incisions into the building, adding safe stairs, natural light, and ending clutter in one deft swoop. The modern section of the house references the original design, and the building is now heated with locally-produced wood pellets that lowers its energy consumption. Newly introduced windows infuse the interior with natural light. LineSync Architecture’s interventions granted new life to this beautiful example of historic New England architecture and made it more compatible with its current use. + LineSync Architecture Photos and video by Chibi Moku

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Bold incisions grant new life to historic New Hampshire school

1,700 Flint residents sue the EPA over tainted water

February 1, 2017 by  
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More than 1,700 residents of Flint, Michigan are seeking class action status for a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it mismanaged the water crisis in the city. The suit was filed in a U.S. District court in Michigan on Monday, and alleges that the agency failed to warn them of the dangers of the tainted water , and did nothing to pressure state or local authorities to address the issue. The plaintiffs are seeking a collective $722 million in damages. According to Reuters , part of the 30-page lawsuit reads, “This case involves a major failure on all levels of government to protect the health and safety of the public. Local, state and federal agencies and employees, working individually and at times in concert with each other, mismanaged this environmental catastrophe.” The EPA had not yet issued a comment on the court action at the time of publication. The water crisis resulted in thousands of children being exposed to water laced with lead , which is known to stunt cognitive development and cause a number of chronic health issues. Researchers believe there is no safe lower limit for lead exposure. Related: EPA regional head steps down after agency rules response to Flint water crisis “inadequate” While the city has switched back to a safe water source as of October 2015, it’s been a struggle for residents to access clean water in the meantime. The previous water system caused irreparable damage to the city’s pipes, and replacing them has been a very slow and expensive process. Though filters are available for residential taps, many are still limiting themselves to bottled water out of fear that contamination may still seep through. Via Reuters Images via Steve Johnson and Wikipedia

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1,700 Flint residents sue the EPA over tainted water

Corridor-free high school in the Netherlands bathes students in natural light

February 11, 2016 by  
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Japan’s Hanazono Kindergarten was designed to keep kids safe during typhoons

May 29, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Japan’s Hanazono Kindergarten was designed to keep kids safe during typhoons Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: architecture for kids , children’s architecture , Japan , japanese architecture , school architecture , school design , Taiwan , typhoons , weather architecture , weather-related design

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Japan’s Hanazono Kindergarten was designed to keep kids safe during typhoons

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