The seven groups extractives companies must engage

October 17, 2017 by  
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From employees and business partners to small-scale miners, engaging with these groups means the difference between a successful project and failure.

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The seven groups extractives companies must engage

Imagining a regenerative economy in California’s Central Valley

October 17, 2017 by  
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Hubs of innovation can bring about a new era of agriculture and diversify beyond ag tech.

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Imagining a regenerative economy in California’s Central Valley

Alphabet X to beam wireless service to Puerto Rico with a fleet of balloons

October 10, 2017 by  
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Help is coming to Puerto Rico in the form of balloons. Alphabet X’s Project Loon — a former Google enterprise — recently received an emergency license from the FCC to equip the island with mobile data via high-altitude weather balloons. According to the FCC, 83 percent of Puerto Rico’s cell sites remain inoperable since Hurricane Maria — a category 4 storm — devastated the island. The US Virgin Islands hit by the same storm will also receive assistance. The next step for Alphabet X is to partner with a telecommunications service to bring the experimental service directly to the region, reports Engadget . A similar arrangement in March was tested in Peru earlier this year after extreme rains and flooding hit the nation. “We’re grateful for the support of the FCC and the Puerto Rican authorities as we work hard to see if it’s possible to use Loon balloons to bring emergency connectivity to the island during this time of need,” said Libby Leahy, a spokesperson for Alphabet X. “To deliver signal to people’s devices, Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner’s network—the balloons can’t do it alone. We’ve been making solid progress on this next step and would like to thank everyone who’s been lending a hand. “ Related: Project Loon: Google to Test Balloon-Powered Internet in California’s Central Valley Gizmodo reports that Caribbean deployment is expected to take more time than the successful run in Peru. This is because X was already testing in Peru when the flooding struck. The company has until April 4, 2018 to fly the balloons. It is unknown how many territories will be covered by the experiment. Via Gizmodo , Engadget Images via Project Loon

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Alphabet X to beam wireless service to Puerto Rico with a fleet of balloons

This brilliant floating farm actually heals the world’s oceans

September 6, 2017 by  
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85% of the world’s fisheries have been pushed beyond their limits – and the future of ocean life looks grim. Fortunately, GreenWave has developed a revolutionary floating farm that actually regenerates our oceans while providing jobs and a sustainable source of food. The vertical aquaculture farm yields bountiful crops of shellfish and seaweed – species specifically selected to absorb greenhouse gas and filter out harmful chemicals. Founded by commercial fisherman Bren Smith and Emily Stengal, an expert in sustainable food systems, the revolutionary GreenWave vertical farming system cultivates an underwater ecosystem comprised of seaweed and shellfish. The farm requires zero input, and it actually restores ocean ecosystems by sequestering carbon and fixing excess nitrogen (which leads to algae blooms and oceanic dead zones). Related: 5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award The open-source farming system enables anyone with a boat and around $20,000 to set up their own restorative ocean farm within a year. The Greenwave system won the Fuller Challenge in 2015 and it was recently honored with the 2017 INDEX: Award , which recognizes innovative designs that improve life. + Greenwave + INDEX: AWARD 2017

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This brilliant floating farm actually heals the world’s oceans

UK government to install solar on 800,000 low-income houses

September 6, 2017 by  
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Investing in solar doesn’t just benefit the environment, it can also add some cushion to your wallet through energy savings. For this reason, the UK government has teamed up with renewable energy provider Solarplicity to install solar panels on 800,000 low-income households over the next five years. The panels will be free to the tenants and will lower their energy bills by hundreds of pounds, according to the BBC. Roughly 1,000 jobs will also be created in the process, the majority of which will be given to military veterans . Thanks to a £160 million investment by the Dutch firm Maas Capital, some of the poorest households in the UK will benefit from the scheme. International Trade Minister Greg Hands said, “As well as creating 1,000 jobs and delivering cheaper energy bills for up to 800,000 homes, it shows yet another vote of confidence in the UK as a place to invest and do business.” Solarplicity has already begun working with more than 40 landlords, including local authorities across Wales and England . The company will profit from the payments received under the feed-in tariff scheme, as well as from payments for energy and from social housing customers. Reportedly, the feed-in tariff scheme will ensure cash payments to households that produce their own electricity using clean energy technologies, such as solar. Related: UK solar smashes record, supplying 25% of electricity demand Hands also said military veterans will be targeted during the recruitment process. “Armed forces veterans are very good at doing this, actually,” he said. “They understand how to put the panels on efficiently and well.” Hopefully some of the 7,000 homeless veterans in the UK will be considered for employment. According to David Elbourne, the chief executive of Solarplicity, the price of solar panels has dropped so fast in the past couple of years, government subsidies are no longer essential. “In the past, the feed-in tariff meant that people who could afford to have solar, benefitted from solar. But now people who can’t afford to have solar [can]- we’ll put it on the roof for free – and they will get a reduced energy bill,” he said. While the overall response to the scheme has been positive, some remain skeptical. David Hunter, the director of market studies at energy management firm Schneider Electric, is cautious about the initiative. “Obviously any kind of investment in the transition to low carbon energy supply can be a positive thing and with any of these developments it’s always best to consider whether it’s best value for money,” he said. “But certainly the idea of upgrading our social housing stock to make it more energy efficient and lower carbon is a worthwhile aim.” + Solarplicity Via BBC Images via  Pixabay,   Simple Wikipedia

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UK government to install solar on 800,000 low-income houses

A rooftop urban oasis springs to life in a polluted NYC neighborhood

August 24, 2017 by  
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Parks and public plazas are typically urban escapes you’d expect to find at street level, but when your neighborhood hosts a league of industrial warehouses, wastewater treatment plants, and sits along one of the most polluted estuaries in the country, it’s time to look up. While environmental groups toil to clean up the Newton Creek river, community leaders decided to create the Newton Creek Wildflower Roof as a luscious green space that helps support local wildlife and brings nature back to the area. Newtown Creek hardly flows, but rather rests between New York City’s boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens with a toxic combo of spilled oil, city sewage and other sludge. Thankfully, community groups are fighting to clean up the mess below and others are beautifying the spaces above. The seeds for the Newtown Creek Wildflower Roof were first planted in 2015 when Marni Majorelle and her landscape design company Alive Structures , the Newtown Creek Alliance , and the New York City Audubon applied for funding from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund. Their goal: to cultivate native flora that will support birds and insects in the neighborhood. “I have lived and worked in Greenpoint since 2002 and have been involved in local environmental issues while also running Alive Structures with my husband,” Majorelle said. “We had often imagined one day working on a landscaping project in Greenpoint that would help reduce the pollution in this industrial neighborhood, and create open green space for people and pollinators to use.” The group’s funding request was approved for a 22,000-square-foot green roof atop Broadway Stage’s building on 520 Kingsland Avenue along Newtown Creek and in 2016, the first 10,000 square feet of green roof were installed. Today, the wildflower roof is covered with Prairie Dropseed grass and over twenty different native flowers species, including Orange Butterfly Weed, Tall Tickseed, Purple Coneflower, and Bee Balm. Busy bees can be seen pollinating the garden, buzzing from one bloom to the next while the massive silver “digester eggs” of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant loom in the distance. A spherical water fountain sculpture, the Aqualens by British artist Allison Armour , was installed this spring and serves as the center piece for the wildflower roof. Related: The Brooklyn Children’s Museum’s new green roof lets kids explore the wilderness in the middle of the city “I saw her work in a British garden design magazine and thought it would be perfect on our roof,” Majorelle said. “One of the main environmental benefits of green roofs is reducing water pollution. So I thought that Ms. Armour’s piece was a simple but powerful statement, which would help visitors reflect on the importance of water and our local environment.” Alive Structures is also working with Broadway Stages to introduce green roofs on its other buildings and using its funding to host workshops, festivals and educational lectures that get community members involved in the neighborhood’s revitalization. The upcoming Kingsland Wildflowers Sensorium (August 19 1pm–7pm) will be a celebration of the Greenpoint community and expose residents to ecology preservation through sensory stimulation, crafts and more. The 2nd Annual Kingsland Wildflowers Festival (September 23 12pm–4pm) invites all to explore the green roof and hopefully spark environmental activism in North Brooklyn. The Newtown Creek Wildflower Roof is still a project in progress with another 10,000 square feet currently being installed, but what currently exists is already a mini neighborhood oasis in a neglected pocket of industrial sites and gritty corners. + Alive Structures All images by Dorkys Ramos for Inhabitat

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A rooftop urban oasis springs to life in a polluted NYC neighborhood

Why diversity is the key to unlocking sustainability

August 24, 2017 by  
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If it’s not up to purpose-driven professionals to cultivate a more inclusive, equitable world for all, then who?

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Why diversity is the key to unlocking sustainability

To avoid collapse, humanity needs a new narrative

August 19, 2017 by  
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A vision of the shift in which humanity pulls itself from the brink of massive disruption. From here, the future looks bright.

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To avoid collapse, humanity needs a new narrative

The Netherlands is converting prisons into homes for refugees

June 22, 2017 by  
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Unlike the United States of America, the prison population and crime rate in the Netherlands has been steadily decreasing for years. As a result, the country’s government is repurposing correctional facilities into housing for refugees who are waiting to be granted asylum status — a process that usually takes a minimum of six months. Not only will the refugees not be required to work, they will be supplied with educational materials to learn Dutch, ride bicycles and build connections within the local community. After the number of migrants exceeded 50,000 in one year alone in the Netherlands, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) proposed a solution for the overflow of refugees: transform empty prisons into temporary housing for families and individuals escaping war. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and photographer Muhammed Muheisen captured the scoop by dedicating the past two years to photographing the refugee crisis as people traversed across continents. After hearing rumors that penitentiaries were being converted to house migrants in the Netherlands, his interest was piqued. He told National Geographic , “I didn’t exactly understand. I thought they feel like they are in prisons.” Related: Green roof with bee hotel tops energy-neutral fair trade building in the Netherlands After waiting six months to get permission to visit the prison and take photos, Muheisen spent 40 days touring three different facilities, meeting residents and documenting their lives. “We’re talking about dozens of nationalities,” he said. “Dozens. The whole world is under this dome.” The refugees will be able to live in the centers for a minimum of six months and are free to come and go as they please. Additionally, they are supplied with resources needed to acclimate to the new country, learn Dutch and even ride bicycles. According to one Syrian man, the prison gives him hope for his future. The refugee told Muheisen, “If a country has no prisoners to put in jail, it means this is the safest country that I want to be living in.” Via National Geographic Images via Wikipedia , Wikimedia

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The Netherlands is converting prisons into homes for refugees

INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

June 22, 2017 by  
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Eric Lundgren, the founder and CEO of e-waste recycling company ITAP , recently beat the electric vehicle driving range of a Tesla with a car made from trash and powered by repurposed Nintendo batteries. (Well, technically not just Nintendo batteries but Lenovo laptop and Time Warner cable box batteries too.) But how did he accomplish the seemingly impossible? Read on for our exclusive interview. “It’s not magic. We just put a larger battery in a lighter frame. It’s that simple,” Lundgren explained in a recent interview with Inhabitat. “We basically put a 130 kilowatt hours battery pack in a car that weighs a little bit less than a Tesla.” Related: ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars Lundgren is a pioneer in hybrid recycling — reusing the components in broken electronics or outdated electronics so that they don’t end up in toxic landfills. His trash car — the Phoenix — broke the world record for longest EV range last month, outlasting a Tesla Model S P100D on a round-trip from L.A. to San Diego. His team had already set the EV range record but Guinness didn’t accept the results because of missing film footage of the event so they gave it another go with cameras on for the entire race. They built the Phoenix in 35 days at a cost of $13,000 using 88 percent consumer waste. The $150,000 Tesla died at 318 miles while the trash car set the new world record — 382.3 miles on a single charge. Related: Electric cars could reach cost parity with conventional cars by next year In our interview (edited for clarity), Lundgren talks about how despite his success with electric vehicle range, his passion lies in making hybrid recycling widely accepted in society. Inhabitat: What motivated you to build the Phoenix and beat the EV world range record? Eric Lundgren: I’m all about hybrid recycling. The Phoenix was a way to demonstrate hybrid recycling. That was the purpose. I don’t want to become a car manufacturer. I want to do hybrid recycling and the Phoenix was a great demonstration. Inhabitat: What materials did you use to build the Phoenix? Lundgren: It is the most environmental car ever built with the lowest carbon footprint. The chassis of the car came from a scrap yard. It was about to get crushed and we dragged it out of the scrap yard. It didn’t even have wheels on it. We put wheels on it. We took out everything. Converted it to an EV. And we put used batteries – basically trash batteries – in it. The controller came off of a forklift. The blinker came off of a bicycle. The car itself is two 1997 BMW 528is that we frankensteined together to make one car. Inhabitat: What is the connection to hybrid recycling? Lundgren: We used garbage. We used all garbage, all old technology. All things that our consumer world said were trash and have zero value. And we built something that is the most valuable because it just beat a world record. So we’re demonstrating the value in garbage and trying to educate the public and corporations to start practicing hybrid recycling, which is a way of saving that value rather than destroying it. Inhabitat: It is amazing how badly you beat the Tesla. Lundgren: We took 35 days to build it. Tesla took a year-and-a-half to build their car. Tesla’s research and development cost was $1.4 billion. Our R&D cost: I paid my engineers in Keystone Light beer. Our car has one-tenth the carbon footprint ratio of a Tesla. Inhabitat: The number one issue with EVs is range anxiety. You would think that Tesla would want to increase their range. Lundgren: If Tesla increased their range, are you willing to pay an extra $30,000 for an extra hundred miles? My guess is they did some sort of marketing survey and realized that at 300 miles people are not willing to pay more money for longer range so they stopped there and the world says ‘oh, they must have stopped there because that’s the best that a car can do.’ Well I just proved that that’s not true. I just proved that cars can do more. Inhabitat: What are your objectives regarding the EV industry and hybrid recycling? Lundgren: My goal is to push the EV industry to produce cars that people want to buy so that we can get off of fossil fuel. My other goal is to demonstrate hybrid recycling so that companies like Tesla send dead battery packs to a hybrid recycler that can actually salvage the good parts out of them to build something new – rather than what they currently do, which is send them to a company in Canada, which smelts the battery pack for its commodity value. That’s bringing all the value in a pack down to its lowest common denominator. Inhabitat: What are you working on next? Lundgren: We’re going to build the largest repurposed battery pack for my facilities. All the power from my recycling is going to come from solar panels that go to a giant solar power array that runs my entire factory that produces batteries from trash. So in other words, my processing facility is going to be run from the sun to garbage batteries. That’s what is going to power my entire processing facility within the next six weeks. Inhabitat: You are building an electric semi truck to compete with Elon Musk’s Tesla Semi? Lundgren: In September Elon Musk releases his electric semi . In November, I’m releasing an electric semi that costs a fraction of the price of his, goes 55 miles further and is built from basically consumer waste. I don’t know what his semi is going to cost. My guess is it is going to cost around $300,000 or $400,000. My semi is going to cost $60,000 – and it will go farther than his. Inhabitat: Any thoughts on the era of affordable electric vehicles about to begin with the upcoming release of the Tesla Model 3 ? Lundgren: I truly believe that the world is going to go EV . I truly believe that the world is going to utilize lithium to get away from burning coal and to get away from all of these other primitive ways that we produce and use power, and transport ourselves today. We need to evolve as a society – and electric vehicles are a way to do that – but the recycling of those vehicles is just as important as the manufacturing. It doesn’t get enough attention. People don’t realize what happens to things when they just discard them. We need to start worrying about efficiency on the back end so we can become more efficient on the front end. Inhabitat: And where do you see hybrid recycling going? Lundgren: In the future, electronics of any type – whether it be an electric car or a laptop or tablet or cell phone or server router, you name it – all of that product is going to be reused very similar to how a chop shop in the auto industry works. If your car has a flat tire, you don’t throw away your car. And if you do, then they salvage every other working part. Let’s say you blow an engine — the chop shop salvages the catalytic converter and the exhaust and the windshield and the transmission and all the other parts. But in electronics today we throw it all away. We’re at a point where hybrid recycling is going to kick off. It’s going to become huge. Nobody understands it, so this car [the Phoenix] is a great demonstration for it. + ITAP Images via Jehu Garcia [Editor’s note: Lundgren was sentenced after we completed this interview to serve 15 months in federal prison for distributing free software (computer restore Freeware) in order to divert computers from landfills and empower consumers to fix their property. He is currently appealing the sentence.]

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INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

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