Luminia connects projects to clean energy and sustainability

March 2, 2022 by  
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California -based clean energy company Luminia has launched novel financing solutions and advanced technology to support commercial properties adopting sustainable improvements. Luminia has created a suite of solutions to foster sustainable development and transform existing commercial properties. Formerly known as SD Renewables, Luminia is a leader in providing sustainable technology and financing solutions. The company has a long-standing history of developing renewable infrastructure and real estate assets. Now, the brand wants to use its skills and leadership to help businesses overcome obstacles to meet sustainability goals. Carondelet High School in Concord, California, is one example of how Luminia’s solutions can work. Currently, the school operates exclusively on solar power . In partnership with Sun Light and Power, the school now enjoys a reduced carbon footprint and lower energy bills. “Luminia provided us with a financing solution under a very short timeframe, and it turned out to be a better option than what others were providing. Luminia viewed us as a partner and wanted to serve us properly, treat us well and make us a priority – which was extremely important to us,” said Noah Galabow, CFO of Carondelet High School. Luminia’s team of professionals helps guide the company. For example, Luminia co-managing partner David Field has worked with a platform that executed over 8,000 residential solar transactions worth over $350 million. Jim Kelly, another co-managing partner, has over three decades of experience in commercial real estate . “Over the last three decades I have grown acutely aware of the challenges in financing sustainability improvements for the commercial real estate industry. This experience guided our approach to inventing new ways for commercial property owners to achieve their ESG targets,” Kelly said. The solutions offered by Luminia come at a time of increased interest in eco-friendly properties. Businesses pushed to innovate are seeking sustainable technology for their projects. By addressing financing obstacles, Luminia can encourage companies to embrace clean energy and other sustainability features. + Luminia Via BusinessWire Lead image via Pexels

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Playground in Quebec used to be a historic monastery

February 11, 2022 by  
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EVOQ Architecture’s Landscape and Urban Design Team took the yard of an old monastery in Quebec and turned it into a green playground for children. In fact, the Ursuline Monastery in Old Quebec is one of the few large conventual complexes, dating from the establishment of the French colony founded in the 17th century. It is now a National Historic Site, devoted to education since the arrival of Ursuline missionary nuns in 1639. As a result, the design team took its history and created landscape components to reflect on the various stages through its time. To start off, the Ursulines donated part of their garden to create a larger playground for the school. It is a project that began in fall 2020. Recently, it finished with a new playground, soccer field, basketball hoops and green space. Related: Nike playground is made of 20,000 upcycled sneakers Because the monastery is located on uneven terrain of the steep promontory of Cap Diamant in Old Quebec, they took utmost care to avoid disturbing the soil . The monastery is housed within old fortifications and went through urban densification in recent years. The designers wanted to protect this unique character of the space. However, they also wanted to avoid damaging the roots of mature established trees, some of which date back to the 17th century. Additionally, excavation for the playground was severely limited. Designers worked with structural engineers to anchor playground equipment to bedrock at the surface. It avoided extra digging. Archaeologists also supervised during excavation to preserve any artifacts found. The area has been known to give up treasures in previous digs. A new running track was placed around nine apple trees of the old orchard, providing shade for children while reflecting the site’s rich landscape heritage. Because the land is so steep, the design team was able to spread the play areas over five levels. The slopes are equipped with rainwater catch basins to minimize runoff into the sewer. On top of all of this is the beautiful views of Old Quebec from every angle. The play area includes a synthetic soccer lawn, turnstile games, ball games and multisport surfaces. Stone steps connect spaces along the natural slope of the field, which creates a space for outdoor educational activities. “It is now possible for students to run circling the heritage orchard, or climb ropes that bring them closer to the copper roofs of adjacent buildings , making their play and laughter an integral part of the richness of this exceptional site,” said EVOQ Architecture. + EVOQ Architecture Images via Deve Média

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Scientists develop biodegradable, antimicrobial food packaging

December 29, 2021 by  
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Scientists have developed biodegradable food packaging material that kills microbes that contaminate foods. The waterproof packaging uses a type of corn protein called zein, plus starch and other natural compounds. A team of scientists from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, U.S. developed the material. According to a study published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, the new packaging material could help increase fresh foods’ shelf life by days. Lab experiments with the packaging showed its resilience when exposed to increased humidity or enzymes from harmful bacteria . The packaging releases natural antimicrobial compounds that can kill common fungi and bacteria such as E. Coli. Related: Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps Professor Philip Demokritou, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard Chan School, says that the new material could be instrumental in resolving the current food safety and waste problems. “Food safety and waste have become a major societal challenge of our times with immense public health and economic impact which compromises food security. One of the most efficient ways to enhance food safety and reduce spoilage and waste is to develop efficient biodegradable non-toxic food packaging materials,” said Demokritou. The material is designed to release the exact required amounts of antimicrobial to deal with any bacteria or humidity that may occur in the food. This ensures that the packaging can endure exposure to different environments . It also takes away the risk of the antimicrobials being ingested and affecting the normal digestion process. In one experiment conducted by the researchers, strawberries wrapped in the newly developed packaging stayed fresh for seven days before developing mold . On the other hand, fresh strawberries packaged in regular plastic boxes only lasted four days before developing mold. The researchers say that the material’s ability to extend shelf life can help prevent food waste. The material is also being championed as an alternative to plastic packaging, which is known to cause pollution issues. Professor Mary Chan, Director of NTU’s Centre of Antimicrobial Bioengineering and the lead author of the study, said, “This invention would serve as a better option for packaging in the food industry, as it has demonstrated superior antimicrobial qualities in combatting a myriad of food-related bacteria and fungi that could be harmful to humans.” + NTU Lead image via NTU and Harvard University

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AICT shows off 3D printing technology’s power for the construction industry

November 22, 2021 by  
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Advanced Intelligent Construction Technology (AICT) has just announced the founding of a robotics-based intelligent construction technology company in the United States. AICT used 3D printing to create a public park to demonstrate the possibilities of the technology this company will employ in the construction industry. Xu Weiguo, a professor at the Tsinghua University School of Architecture, led the technical support team and said of the project, “As a form of intelligent construction, 3D printing concrete construction technology boasts great advantages.” Related: Self-sustaining 3D-printed house harnesses the power of nature One of the unique benefits of 3D-printed concrete is that it doesn’t require formwork, which is time-consuming to set up and usually made from wood, which is wasted after use. AICT’s 3D method prints concrete in the required places calculated by an algorithm, which saves on concrete overage waste . Sand for concrete can be locally sourced to reduce carbon emissions from transport. Here’s how it works. AICT’s 3D printing technology uses a lighter, modular six-axis robotic arm rather than a heavy, conventional three-axis, large-scale gantry. The system uses proprietary building concrete, which can outperform traditional concrete with a wide variety of shapes at no additional cost to save money on planning, design and materials. With the robotic arm doing the heavy lifting, workers on-site can enjoy a safer and easier job. The plan is to create homes and buildings with this new construction method. The technology can also be made available to create more public works and parks. “Compared with reinforced concrete, 3D printing is relatively cheap, since the building simulation stage will solve technical problems in advance and come up with the optimum construction method,” Xu said. Look for solutions like 3D printing to come to multiple industries over the next decade, including parks, public plazas, industrial applications, and home construction. There may even be some small-scale applications in health tech. + AICT Build Images via AICT

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How To Start a Green Team in Your Child’s School

October 29, 2021 by  
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Young people care deeply about the environment. You can see this even in young children…. The post How To Start a Green Team in Your Child’s School appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Inspiration: Love the World as Your Own Self

October 29, 2021 by  
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Today’s quote is attributed to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (also known as Laozi or Lao-Tze), who… The post Earth911 Inspiration: Love the World as Your Own Self appeared first on Earth911.

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MHTN shifts focus towards carbon-reducing building elements

October 25, 2021 by  
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The construction industry bears a heavy responsibility in reversing the ongoing environmental impact caused by materials and transport emissions during construction and operational carbon once the building is complete. MHTN Architects take the responsibility seriously, placing sustainable solutions on the company’s list of core values.  The Salt Lake City-based firm prioritizes ongoing education and keeping up with sustainable building trends. MHTN has been involved in several projects that bring this dedication to green design solutions into focus, including its own studio, which is housed in an existing building. This decision was based on the knowledge that renovating an existing building produces a fragment of the embodied energy required for a new build. Plus, the location met other goals, such as providing a walkable neighborhood with surrounding amenities and close proximity to public transit, as well as a public green space.  Related: Innovative biophilic design planned for new village in Portugal To compensate for the lack of passive design in a building that is oriented east to west instead of the preferred north to south, the team developed ultra-efficient lighting strategies throughout the space, including placing the most-commonly used spaces in the path of the natural light .  In addition to lighting, the team used efficient materials to enhance the acoustics and mechanical systems for air quality and temperature control to optimize employees’ opportunity for creative and collaborative thinking. Since wellness is also a core value of the company, the studio’s layout creates a flow of movement and provides ergonomic options such as sit-to-stand workstations. The company also promotes a flexible dress code and personal heating and cooling options with the goal of making employees comfortable so they can reach their peak productivity and personal satisfaction. To further this concept, the building features biophilic elements that encourage a connection with nature. The company offers quiet nooks, a nap space and a flexible work policy that encourages employees to rest and recharge with a focus on stress management. These efforts combined to inspire MHTN to pursue WELL Building Certification for the space.  The architectural studio is now open in the Historic Ford Building. The process of designing the space overflowed into a refreshed company mindset around sustainability . The team explained, “The world-shifting events of 2020 have certainly added another layer and put into perspective what sustainability means to MHTN. Input was cultivated through a series of workshops and surveys that ultimately led MHTN to adopt a more holistic, three-pronged approach to sustainability that addresses energy performance, human health and wellness and organizational resilience.” In alignment with its goals to remain earth-centered and promote a positive human impact, the company has signed the Architecture 2030 Commitment, which is oriented towards eliminating carbon emissions from buildings by 2030. The company developed an internal research and development team to develop and monitor actions the team makes on each project. For example, the new building is equipped with energy monitoring equipment that measures energy efficiency and provides feedback for the team as they plan and design spaces for clients.  “As we integrate sustainability into our firm culture, creating high-performing, healthy buildings becomes more and more seamless,” said Darrah Jakab, AIA, NCARB, CPHC, Associate Principal of Sustainable Design. “When the client embraces this, it can take projects to the next level. There is always an opportunity for every project to be sustainable in some way, and we seek to find that.” In addition to their own office, MHTN’s environmental focus is seen in a range of new projects, such as the redesign of the West Bountiful Elementary School in Utah to place a focus on elements that engage creativity and imagination for the students and staff. Along with the benefits to the inhabitants, the design resulted in a zero-energy status through the use of solar panels , a tight building envelope, a ground-source heat loop and efficient LED lighting.  “When it comes to sustainability, it truly does take a village ,” Jakab said. “We at MHTN are motivated by opportunities we have to contribute to sustainable solutions and take the impact that architecture has on climate change seriously.” This dedication is seen in another project, the University of Utah Carolyn and Kem Gardner Commons, which showcases innovative design as the first building at the University of Utah to use ground source wells to provide 96% of the heating and 60% of the cooling energy requirements. This efficient energy system offers substantial savings, estimated at $70,000 annually.  For the Utah State University Moab Academic Building, MHTN supported the campus’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by year 2030 by implementing passive design strategies that reduce energy use. Design elements include optimum building orientation, shaded roof overhangs, high-performance glazing and above-code insulating values. It has led the project towards qualification for both LEED Silver Certification and ILFI Zero Energy Certification. + MHTN Images via MHTN 

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African urbanization is being transformed by 3D printing

October 19, 2021 by  
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Every day, over 40,000 Africans move from rural regions to vibrant, growing cities to access improved facilities and economic growth. However, throughout the continent, countries are facing infrastructure shortages. In light of this, the U.K.-based CDC Group and the multinational materials distributor LafargeHolcim, have formed a joint venture called 14Trees to help meet increasing demands via sustainable building solutions. The project utilizes 3D printing technology to provide rapidly-built yet sturdy infrastructure that reduces construction costs, building time and carbon emissions. Through the use of 3D printers, the walls and vertical structures are extruded. Meanwhile, the local building team can focus its efforts on the installation of doors and windows, as well as interior finishes. 14Trees has already printed a house and a school in Malawi and has plans to expand its reach into other East African countries, beginning with Kenya and Zimbabwe. Related: Habitat for Humanity develops its first 3D-printed home in US 14Trees’ 3D printed prototype house is located in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, and cost less than $10,000 to build. The walls were fabricated within 12 hours, a fraction of the time of traditional construction , which could take up to four days for a house of the same size. Besides the lowered costs and assembly time of these 3D-printed buildings, the use of optimized materials reduces carbon emissions by up to 70%. Since over 50% of Africa’s population lives in urban agglomerations, this construction method could be used as an eco-friendly, more affordable alternative for densely populated pockets in a city’s urban fabric. While houses are high in demand, the need for schools is also increasing. In Malawi alone, UNICEF estimates a shortage of 36,000 classrooms. While this could take 70 years to build using conventional construction methods, 14Trees estimates that 3D printing could complete this in 10 years, saving time, resources and energy. 14Trees’ new 3D-printed school in Malawi’s Salima district took a mere 18 hours to construct. The school is operational as of late June 2021 and provides a durable, sheltered environment that the community was lacking. The space allows for teaching to occur both inside and outside the classroom. Its unique design can also attract students who had previously dropped out of school to rejoin for better facilities. In addition to environmental benefits and cost-efficiency, the 3D printing construction process also provides economic opportunities for communities. Alongside jobs for carpenters, electricians, painters and other builders, local engineers can train to become material specialists and operate 3D extruding technology . By adopting 3D printing construction systems, NGOs and contractors throughout Africa can make use of multi-level sustainable solutions to combat infrastructure challenges brought about by urbanization. +14Trees Via CDC Group and World Economic Forum Images from 14Trees/Homeline media

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French school is a model for clean-air learning environment

October 1, 2021 by  
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Completed in summer 2020, the Simone de Beauvoir School in Drancy, France placed an architectural focus on spatial aspects, function and sustainability. Architects from Bond Society and Daudré-Vignier & Associés collaborated on a brand new elementary school, including 10 classrooms, gathering spaces, a restaurant and playground. The design placed an emphasis on natural lighting and a continual flow throughout the spaces. This open concept includes fixed furnishings, storage and benches, but eliminates narrow passages or copious walls to confine the space .  Related: New Day School by MMXVI makes use of existing residential building Architects prioritized the health of the students and the planet through careful material selections. They used the RT 2012 thermal and environmental objectives as their guide. With this in mind, they used wood as the primary building material, which is not only a natural material, but reduces the need for concrete and supports the local forestry industry. Wood is also a renewable resource and acts as a sponge for CO2. In the areas where stone was used, materials were sourced nearby from the Vassens quarries in the Aisne. Located in a dense residential neighborhood, the Simone de Beauvoir elementary school shares commonalities with the nearby Jacqueline Quatremaire kindergarten and the municipal La Farandole nursery school. Although nearby, Simone de Beauvoir creates a natural and manmade separation from the adjacent schools through fencing and plants . The building itself is oriented towards the inner courtyard to create an isolation from the surrounding distractions. However, the courtyard also loosely connects to the kindergarten to form a familiarity for children transitioning from one school to the other while keeping the areas separate.  Inside there is a reception hall, administrative center, food service area and teaching facilities. Another of the four hubs in the design is made up of the leisure center, which acts as a dividing line and simultaneously a connection point to the existing nursery school. The space also incorporates a multi-purpose room, storage room and an open-air garden used as a tool for education and for a healthy, clean-air learning environment.   + Bond Society and Daudré-Vignier & Associés Photography by Charly Broyez 

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Wildfire smoke linked to almost 20,000 COVID-19 cases last year

August 17, 2021 by  
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The coronavirus  pandemic  and raging wildfires were two heinous events of 2020. And in one of life’s unfair twists of evil synergy, a new study from Harvard says that smoke from West Coast wildfires increased the cases of COVID illnesses and deaths. The study, published in the journal  Science Advances , attributed 19,742 additional COVID cases — and 748 deaths — to last year’s heavy blanket of wildfire smoke in  Oregon , California and Washington. Tiny particulate matter, aka PM 2.5, was the culprit. Wildfire smoke carries small pieces of ash full of zinc, nickel, iron and other stuff you don’t want to breathe in. Once these particles lodge in your lungs, you become more susceptible to all kinds of respiratory diseases, including the infamous star of 2020, COVID-19. And when these particles worm their way into your bloodstream, you might also suffer neurological and cardiovascular problems. Related: Siberian wildfires send smoke to North Pole in historical first “We weren’t terribly surprised by the results as  scientists ,” said study co-author Kevin Josey, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “But as humans, we are dismayed about the impacts.” The study authors examined air quality records and satellite images from 92 counties in California, Washington and Oregon. They focused on the nine-month period from March 15 to December 16, 2020, calculating  wildfire -related PM 2.5 exposure in each county. They then correlated increased PM 2.5 exposure with increased COVID-19 cases and deaths. The authors linked wildfire smoke with an 11.7% increase in cases. Deaths also went up by 8.4%. The relationship was more striking in some places than others. For example, Whitman County, Washington and San Bernardino, California , saw an enormous increase of COVID-19 cases and deaths related to excessive PM 2.5 exposure. And now it’s wildfire season again, and the Delta variant of  COVID-19  is raging. The best defense? Get vaccinated. Minimize your smoke inhalation. Stay inside on the smokiest days. And prepare for more. By mid-century, we’ll likely be facing annual “smoke waves,” or periods of at least 48 hours where wildfires push PM 2.5 concentrations past the range of safely breathable air. Via EcoWatch , Grist Lead image via Pixabay

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