A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun

March 10, 2020 by  
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The French city of Nîmes recently welcomed the Ada Lovelace Secondary School, Occitania’s first-ever clean-energy school that’s earned both BEPOS energy level certification and a sustainability rating of Silver-level BDM (Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens). Opened in the fall of last year, the eco-friendly school is the work of French design firm A+ Architecture . In addition to its energy-saving and -producing features, the Ada Lovelace Secondary School features a bold and contemporary design to help boost the neighborhood’s ongoing urban revitalization efforts. Crowned winners of a 2015 design competition for the project, A+ Architecture was tasked to reconstruct the 400-student secondary school to a new site that would also include space for housing for half of the student population, sports facilities, a race track and three staff houses. The 5,898-square-meter school also needed to be held up as a positive sign of urban renewal in the Mas de Mingue district. Related: New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels “Beyond the environmental basics, we have produced a contemporary, bold, powerful and dynamic architectural structure,” the architects explained. “We wanted people to be drawn to this place of education in this difficult neighborhood. Shapes collide, as stainless-steel panels make it seem as though the facades are empty, which are broken up by rows of windows.” Topped with 800 square meters of solar panels, the Ada Lovelace Secondary School is clad in locally sourced stones that vary in size for visual interest and to help give the volume a more human scale. For stable indoor temperatures, the architects insulated the walls with wood and hemp and installed wood boilers for supplemental heating. Students have also been invited to learn about the school’s energy-saving systems through a digital building model accessible through a game and website managed by Citae. + A+ Architecture Photography by Benoit Wehrle via A+ Architecture

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A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun

Researchers convert durian and jackfruit biowaste into ultracapacitors

March 10, 2020 by  
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Durian fruit is notable for its funky stench, making it a rather malodorous waste when it is discarded. But a new study from Australia’s University of Sydney, published in the Journal of Energy Storage , focused on recycling durian waste into an affordable, sustainable source of energy storage to counteract global warming. How? The researchers have discovered a way to create ultracapacitors from durian and its related jackfruit cousin. Who knew that putrid-smelling biowaste could pack an electrical punch? “Super-capacitors are like energy reservoirs that dole out energy smoothly. They can quickly store large amounts of energy within a small battery-sized device and then supply energy to charge electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, within a few seconds,” explained associate professor Vincent Gomes. “Using durian and jackfruit purchased from a market, we converted the fruits’ waste portions (biomass) into super-capacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently.” Related: New technological process transforms everyday trash into graphene As TreeHugger reported, the waste biomass of durian and jackfruit are “converted into a carbon aerogel using non-toxic methods.” These aerogels are then leveraged and converted into electrodes, “which are tested for their energy storage properties.” Interestingly, these durian- and jackfruit-derived electrodes “demonstrate outstanding performance, making them a green, low-cost energy solution for charging phones, laptops and tablets.” When compared to what’s currently on the market, the electrodes developed from durian and jackfruit have proven to be a more energy-efficient alternative to traditional ultracapacitors derived from activated carbon. “The durian and jackfruit super-capacitors perform much better than the materials currently in use and are comparable, if not better, than the expensive and exotic graphene -based materials,” Gomes said. “We have reached a point where we must urgently discover and produce ways to create and store energy using sustainably sourced materials that do not contribute to global warming.” + Journal of Energy Storage Via TreeHugger Image via Jonny Clow

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New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels

January 29, 2020 by  
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To advance a Climate Action Plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2040, Boston University has recently broken ground on the Center for Computing & Data Sciences, a 19-floor complex expected to become the “University’s and Boston’s biggest and most sustainable, energy-efficient building” once built. Toronto-based firm KPMB Architects led the design of the 345,000-square-foot project, which will house BU’s mathematics, statistics and computer science departments under one roof. The tower, which will be the tallest building on campus , will feature a suite of energy-saving and energy-generating technologies, including geothermal wells, state-of-the-art shading systems and triple-glazed windows. Located at the heart of the campus, the Center for Computing & Data Sciences will be the university’s first major teaching center in half a century and is slated for completion in 2022. Key to the design of the tower is the “vertical campus” concept that encourages a sense of community over 19 floors. In addition to maximizing transparency and accessibility, the architects have strategically configured the building to house the most-trafficked areas — such as the classrooms, learning labs and functional spaces — on the lower levels, while the upper floors contain the university departments. The rooftop hosts quiet lunch and meeting spaces optimized for concentration. Collaborative spaces will be woven throughout, including expansive whiteboard walls and a series of terraced platforms for small-group interactions. Related: The new Center for Student Services is a sustainable gateway for Boston University “The new Center for Computing & Data Sciences building makes a dynamic urban place that is a crossroads and a beacon for Boston University’s central campus,” the architects explained in a project statement. “The design maximizes opportunities for mixing, interaction and interconnectivity. The building serves as a platform for innovation formatted as a vertical campus. Every element is integrated to establish Data Sciences as Boston University’s new iconic heart.” To meet net-zero energy standards, the Center will depend on a ground-source heat exchange system with 31 1,500-foot-deep geothermal wells for heating and cooling. Energy loss will be minimized with external sun shading devices, triple-glazed windows, enhanced heating and ventilation systems and LED lighting . The tower will also be built 5 feet above the city for Boston’s suggested level for sea level rise. + KPMB Architects Images via KPMB Architects

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A nearly century-old Copenhagen school gets an eco-friendly makeover

January 14, 2020 by  
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Danish architectural practice JJW Architects has used recycled bricks and Cradle-to-Cradle certified mortar to renovate Copenhagen’s Grøndalsvængets School. Originally built in 1929, the building had long been hidden away from the surrounding neighborhood; this comprehensive transformation, completed in 2019, has now integrated the structure into the urban fabric. The school has also been expanded to support modern principles of learning and a larger educational program.  The Grøndalsvængets School renovation project targeted three main objectives: an improved connection with the neighborhood, new differentiated learning environments and sustainable building practices. To better integrate the school with its surroundings, the architects first took down the tall hedge that had visually separated the school from the city. The pair of two-story buildings that were added on the outer corners of the site are topped with gabled roofs in a nod to the pitched rooflines of the area. Related: A massive pollution-fighting green wall engulfs this Dutch city hall The two new buildings were built for teaching, sports and music and are part of a greater plan to cultivate a campus-like environment within the school. In addition to the renovation of the main building, the Grøndalsvængets School’s expansion focuses on creating a flexible and differentiated learning environment that can support the needs of its students. The two new buildings were built with recycled bricks from a nearby hospital and assembled with Cradle-to-Cradle certified mortar to ensure that those bricks can be reused again in the future as part of a long-term circular economy strategy. “The old school building becomes new and the new school buildings carry on an old story from the beginning,” the architects explained in a project statement. “ New and old meet each other in respect and create a school that is cohesive and interlinked with the surrounding neighborhood.” + JJW Architects Photography by Torben Eskerod via JJW Architects

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A nearly century-old Copenhagen school gets an eco-friendly makeover

Historic schoolhouse is reborn into a contemporary hotel in the Columbia River Gorge

December 4, 2019 by  
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Historic preservation meets modern hospitality design in The Society Hotel in the Columbia River Gorge, a new 20,000-square-foot lodging and recreation destination in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Following in the footsteps of the first Society Hotel, the boutique hotel is an adaptive reuse project with a minimalist aesthetic and one-of-a-kind amenities. Portland-based architectural firm Waechter Architecture led the design of the hotel, which includes a retrofitted former schoolhouse, 20 individual hotel cabins , a covered pathway, a spa and bathhouse building and a subterranean sanctuary. Set near the riverfront, The Society Hotel Bingen is named after the adaptive reuse of the 80-year-old Bingen Schoolhouse, which anchors the 2.57-acre hotel campus. The renovated schoolhouse building is now home to 10 private, standard rooms and two 24-bed hostels as well as a library in the reception area, lockers in the hallway and a refurbished gym for guests. Portland-based design firm BLOSSOM led the interior and landscape design. Related: These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses On the school’s former playfields, the architects inserted 20 individual cabins that form a ring. At the center of the ring is a new spa and bathhouse building with a shared saltwater soaking pool, sauna , hot tub, cold plunge pool and a cafe. On the corner of the property, the architects have placed the Sanctuary, a unique, subterranean building specially built for events and retreats. “One of our primary goals was to design a hotel that not only felt connected to the Gorge but amplified people’s experience of it,” Ben Waechter, firm principal, said. “It’s exciting to stand within the hotel and cabins today and feel the complementary dialogue between the two.” Strategically framed views emphasize that connection to the Gorge as does the material palette, which includes premature aged cedar cladding on the exterior and 8-inch tongue and groove knotty pine for the cabin interior headboard walls. + Waechter Architecture Photography by Lara Swimmer via Waechter Architecture

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Historic schoolhouse is reborn into a contemporary hotel in the Columbia River Gorge

LAVA designs carbon-neutral LIFE Hamburg with an edible green roof

November 12, 2019 by  
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LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) has teamed up with urban agricultural collective Cityplot to design LIFE Hamburg, a new energy self-sufficient educational campus that will “reinvent learning” for 1,600 students. Created in the shape of an infinity loop, the nature-inspired learning landscape encapsulates the educational paradigms of Learnlife (purpose-inspired and personal learning) as well as the spatial typology concepts of American futurist David Thornburg. Slated to open 2023, the solar-powered sustainable building will feature a carbon dioxide-absorbing green facade and an organic rooftop garden. Proposed for Hamburg , Germany, LAVA’s design of the LIFE Hamburg was crowned the winner of a 2019 invited competition earlier this year. The project will span an area of 12,000 square meters and will use natural materials and greenery to knit together the built environment and the surroundings into one continuous landscape. The organic architecture is inspired by five elements in nature — waves, spirals, cells, branches and nests — which can be seen throughout the building from the wave-shaped balconies and spiral terrace layouts to the branching structural systems and honeycomb ceilings. Related: Sustainable Central Park with energy-producing trees unveiled for Ho Chi Minh City LIFE Hamburg will cater to 800 children and 800 adults with a variety of spaces designed to stimulate creative learning for all ages. “We combined the differentiated learning spaces of Thornburg with our nature-inspired design approach,” the architects explained. “Instead of homogeneous rooms, there are spaces with different levels of brightness, openness, plantings and connections to the exterior. Based on Thornburg’s concepts, they include expressive spaces (mountain top) for groups; open communicative environments (watering hole) for conversations with peers; hands-on spaces (sandpit) for workshops and manual experiments; group spaces (campfire) meeting areas and lectures; introverted spaces (cave) for individual quiet reflection.” For energy efficiency, the architects have designed the three-story building with a load-bearing wood structure and a highly insulated glazed shell that will bring natural light inside. The accessible roof will be partly covered with enough solar panels to meet all of the building’s energy needs as well as outdoor learning spaces and edible gardens. + LAVA Images via LAVA

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LAVA designs carbon-neutral LIFE Hamburg with an edible green roof

Maven Moment: School Uniforms

September 11, 2019 by  
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Early September always makes me remember the first day of … The post Maven Moment: School Uniforms appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Encourage Your School To Offer More Meat-Free Options

September 3, 2019 by  
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Students at some schools are loading their plates with fresh … The post Encourage Your School To Offer More Meat-Free Options appeared first on Earth911.com.

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As ocean temperatures rise, so does mercury exposure in seafood

August 12, 2019 by  
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In case there weren’t already enough reasons to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, a new study released in Nature reveals that even a 1 degree increase in ocean temperatures leads to a significant increase in mercury exposure among fish — and the people that consume them. The joint study was published by Harvard’s School of Public Health and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and used a variety of simulation models to examine and predict how environmental factors affect the levels of mercury in cod and dogfish. Their models use historical data, as far back as 1970, when cod had approximately 6 to 20 percent less mercury in their diets. Yet researchers also found that dogfish had 33 to 61 percent higher mercury in their diets in 1970, because overfishing at the time led them to eat squid that are high in mercury. Related: These fish and meat options are the most environmentally costly In the last four decades, policies that regulate and limit mercury emissions have made a dent in mercury exposure, but the researchers concluded that rising ocean temperatures are reversing this progress. “This research is a major advance in understanding how and why ocean predators, such as tuna and swordfish, are accumulating mercury,” said Elsie Sunderland, senior author and a Harvard professor in environmental chemistry. According to the researchers, unusually warmer water makes it harder for fish to breathe and swim; therefore, it forces fish to consume more energy . The more they eat, the higher their levels of mercury exposure are. Warmer temperatures might also alter the availability of their preferred diet, forcing fish like the dogfish to eat high-mercury options such as squid. For every 1 degree the ocean warms, dogfish are exposed to 70 percent more mercury . Cod, which also live in the researchers’ study area off the coast of Maine, are exposed to approximately 32 percent more mercury for every single degree the ocean warms. “Climate change is going to exacerbate human exposure to methylmercury through seafood,” Sunderland said. “So to protect ecosystems and human health , we need to regulate both mercury emissions and greenhouse gases.” + Nature Via Harvard Gazette Image via Pixabay

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As ocean temperatures rise, so does mercury exposure in seafood

Celebrate inclusivity and sustainability with these outdoor Pride activities

June 10, 2019 by  
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June is Pride month, and there are celebrations happening in major city centers all over the world. A small but growing number of activities is also happening throughout the most wild and natural corners of the U.S. and beyond. LGBTQ+-focused outdoor activities and safe spaces are increasing in number and visibility, and though there are more this month than ever, they are all part of a movement to promote inclusivity and representation among those who love the outdoors — and those who don’t know they love it yet. Where to find outdoor Pride activities The Venture Out Project This LGBTQ+-owned company has hosted queer-specific trips since 2014. This June, it is offering a Queer & Trans, Indigenous, People of Color Backpacking Trip in Vermont and a Queer Arctic Adventure in Canada. It also offers more low-key day hikes , family trips and youth service projects. Related: The ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Canyons River Company Based in Idaho, this company offers a River Pride Trip, a six-day rafting trip on the Salmon River that includes wine tasting . National Outdoor Leadership School This organization has an LGBTQ+ backpacking trip in Utah, which takes place over nine days and is led by queer instructors. Outdoor adventures for LGBTQ+ youth Learning in the outdoors has proven benefits for kids, including building skills and self-esteem as well as increasing performance in the classroom. A limited number of LGBTQ+-focused youth trips and activities allow youth to explore their identities and the outdoors in a safe, inclusive space. Out There Adventures is a Seattle-based company that offers trips led by queer instructors for LGBTQ+ youth. It is offering two Pride-focused events this summer: a rafting and service trip for teenagers in Oregon and a Yosemite trip in July. According to one young participant of an Out There Adventures trip, “I would get these overwhelming feelings of being at home and knowing that those were some of the only moments in my life where I was 100 percent sure that I was in the right place and 100 percent sure that it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I would be willing to do things to keep myself in good health and motivated and educated in order to achieve those feelings over and over and over.” Events in your own backyard If you don’t have the interest or ability to attend a far-flung trip to celebrate Pride, you can focus locally on ways to get outside and active. Many cities have 5K runs, walks or dance events as part of their Pride festivities. This can be a great way to get fresh air and exercise , especially for people who get their motivation from community members or a loud bass line instead of a babbling brook. Research your local gym and see if it is hosting any Pride events, like Homoclimbtastic in West Virginia. If the gyms near you are not hosting an event, speak up and ask why not. The more interest they hear, the more likely they are to consider adding something to the calendar next year. Check out MeetUp.com to find groups of like-minded people in your area. There might already be an LGBTQ+-focused outdoor group near you. If not, create one yourself! How to be eco-friendly at Pride parades The Seattle-based organization OUT For Sustainability aims to make Pride events around the country carbon-neutral and zero waste . Follow the organization’s Greener Pride tips for a more sustainable celebration: • Bring your own water bottle to the parade. • Bring a reusable bag to collect promotional items. • Make a colorful outfit from items you already own instead of buying a new outfit. Better yet, make a costume out of recycled materials.• Avoid balloons, glitter and beads. These plastic items are toxic for the environment and detrimental to marine species. Celebrate without them. Instead, try natural body paint, flowers and recycled art. • As a vendor, remove all trash at the end of the day. Do not serve food in plastic foam containers, and offer water for people with refillable bottles. • Reduce or refuse handouts and promotional items, especially plastic items. • Avoid handing out or taking cheap T-shirts that support the unsustainable and unethical fashion industry.• Run your Pride float with electric vehicles or human power instead of diesel fuel. Tips for outdoor companies to be more inclusive Visibility and representation matter LGBTQ+ folks often do not see themselves represented in outdoor brands or websites. Consider your staff and models , and come up with a specific plan about how you will incorporate more identities. Don’t promote people just for the sake of diversity — promote and hire LGBTQ+ staff, models and managers because they are qualified and will inspire a broader audience. “We need to put people from these communities out in the forefront, not because they represent diversity but because they’re great at what they do,” said Elyse Rylander , founder of Out There Adventures. “We don’t have enough roundtables with people who are not white, cisgender dudes talking about their badass outdoor experiences. But we should.” Host LGBTQ+ events If you host trips or events, consider adding LGBTQ+-focused activities. You might take for granted feeling safe and included on hiking trips, but discrimination excludes many people from participating. It’s great to host an event during Pride month, but this is something that matters year-round. Participate in a Pride parade Walk the route or make a float . It can be a great way to show that you care about and serve all types of customers and clients. Manufacture gender-neutral gear Active gear for all genders should come in all color palettes and target all body types. LGBTQ+ outdoor advocates to follow on social media There are many advocates and activists focusing on bridging the gaps between queer folks and the great outdoors. Here are a few amazing leaders to follow on social media : Pattie Gonia A play on the “Patagonia” brand name, @PattieGonia is the self-proclaimed first nature drag queen. Pattie advocates for a more inclusive outdoor industry and takes fabulous photos that combine drag fashion with outdoor gear and awe-inspiring locations. Pattie is also offering LGBTQ+ hikes in a few cities around the U.S. during the month of June. Queer Nature A non-binary duo in Colorado founded @queernature to educate people about deeper connections to nature using both queer and indigenous philosophy and leadership. Unlikely Hikers Jenny Bruso set out to change the stereotype of what an “outdoorsy” person looks like. @unlikelyhikers ’s posts promote diversity and inclusivity in all forms, focusing primarily on body diversity and queerness. Via New York Times Images via Yannis Papanastasopoulos , Nic , Levi Saunders , Pineapple Supply Co. and NeonBrand

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Celebrate inclusivity and sustainability with these outdoor Pride activities

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