Indonesian eco village features rammed earth domes and ocean views

November 20, 2020 by  
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Located in the southeastern part of Lombok, Indonesia, the Dome Lombok eco resort enjoys stunning views of the ocean, permaculture gardens, a farm-to-table restaurant, an organic juice bar, an outdoor cinema and a swimming pool. Each luxurious, rammed earth dome is made using the adobe earthbag building technique, in which stacks of bags containing sustainably sourced earth are finished in natural plaster to create the structure. While there are currently nine self-contained rammed earth domes in the initial stages of production on property, future development plans include adding another nine domes, a yoga shala, an artist studio and expansion of the coworking space. They also plan to install bio-septic tanks, solar power and recycle graywater for use on the permaculture gardens that will supply the onsite restaurant, promoting off-grid living. Related: Natural materials make up this energy-saving Jakarta home According to the project’s creative director, Lombok has seen a boom in eco tourism , and the dome village has become the most advanced sustainable project in the area in response to the green development movement. Dome Lombok also offers sustainably minded investors to purchase a dome to use as an eco-friendly rental home that doesn’t sacrifice design, quality or comfort. At the time of writing, all but one of the initial nine domes is already sold. The floor area for each dome ranges from 15 square meters to 100 square meters and prices start at 49,000 euros (about $58,000). The white sand beach of Tanjun Aan is just within walking distance from the domes , which also overlook a 6,000-square-meter lush hillside only 30 minutes from the Zainuddin Abdul Madjid International Airport. The island boasts clean coral coastlines, making it a popular destination for diving and surfing. The project is also located within the island’s Mandalika Special Economic Zone, a designation of a local program identifying the government’s five super-priority destinations aimed at driving Indonesia’s economic growth through tourism. + Dome Lombok Images via Dome Lombok

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Indonesian eco village features rammed earth domes and ocean views

Architects envision a lush, solar-powered oasis to cool Abu Dhabi

November 13, 2020 by  
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Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) has named European architecture firm Mask Architects’ palm tree-inspired Oasys proposal one of the 10 winners in ‘Cool Abu Dhabi’ . This global design competition sought sustainable solutions for mitigating the urban heat island effect . The winning design calls for a solar-powered refuge with modular, palm tree-like structures that would provide protection from the elements and respite from the heat with solar-powered misters and lush landscaping. The multipurpose, pop-up spaces could also be used for a variety of functions, from cafes and and retail stands to exhibition spaces. Mask Architect’s Oasys proposal draws the eye with its massive palm tree-inspired structures that the architects said would be topped with solar panels and integrated with lights and nozzles that spray a cooling mist into the air. Dubbed the Artificial Breathing Palm modular structure system, the design includes a “foundation base” that conceals all of the technical equipment — including water and electric lines as well as solar batteries — as well as five triangular module types of varying sizes. The modules can connect together in different configurations to fit a variety of settings, while lush landscaping would be planted around the modules to give the space more of an oasis-like feel. Related: Abu Dhabi Flamingo Visitor Center blends into the landscape “The ‘Oasis’ design concept has been influenced by the need to create a greener city as well as creating a real oasis in the middle of the city,” Mask Architects explained. “Besides the the flexible and replaceable design line, any outdoor functions are adapted easily into ‘Oasys’ conceptA mechanism that can be replicated easily to form a network of hubs and centre points in which they act as islands of rest places, socialising and sociable communal for the collective and community.” The ‘Cool Abu Dhabi ’ global design competition concluded earlier this year and received over 300 entries from nearly 70 countries. The 10 winning entries were announced online and each received $10,000 each in prize money.  + Mask Architects Images via Mask Architects

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Will gene editing and cloning create super cows that resist global warming?

November 13, 2020 by  
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Livestock emit about 14.5% of all greenhouse gases , and now their gassy ways are coming back to haunt them. Dairy cattle are increasingly suffering from debilitating heat stress due to global warming. While vegan activists might suggest this would be a good time to lessen our dependence on animal products, scientists have another solution — use gene editing and cloning to produce a heat-resistant race of super calves. Heat-stressed cows eat less, produce less milk and find it hard to conceive. Sometimes, they can even die because of the heat. Heat stress costs the U.S. dairy industry alone at least $900 million a year. On many small farms in the developing world, families don’t have cows to spare. Related: Impossible Foods is testing revolutionary plant-based milk “ Rising temperatures and predicted longer and more intense periods of warm weather can only mean that the problems with heat stress and fertility will increase,” Goetz Laible, PhD, an animal scientist at New Zealand’s AgResearch, told Future Human . Because darker colors absorb more light and heat, Laible and a group of other scientists used genetic engineering to lighten the coats of Holstein-Friesian cattle. These are the iconic white cows with big black spots. The scientists used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to alter a pigmentation gene in cattle embryos. Then, they cloned the embryos and implanted them in 22 normal cows. Only two cows managed to carry their super calves to term. Unfortunately, one died almost immediately and the other lived to be only four weeks old. Laible attributed the deaths to common complications of cloning rather than to the gene editing. Acceligen, a Minnesota-based company, is experimenting with gene editing to give cows a “slick” trait. This is a genetic variant for a sleek, short coat which cools down cows in subtropical heat. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has helped fund this work, hoping to someday introduce these cows to farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Scientists are aware of the possibility of editing mistakes and what they call “off-target” effects of CRISPR. But one wonders exactly how much they’ve learned from the past, as documented in popular entertainment. Film classics like Them!, Night of the Lepus and The Killer Shrews all clearly demonstrate the potentially deadly off-target effects of science on ants, rabbits and shrews, respectively. While we wait for the technology to be perfected, it’s not a bad idea to stock up on oat milk . Via Future Human Image via Michael Pujals

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Renewable energy grows in 2020 despite pandemic

November 11, 2020 by  
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A report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed that renewable energy has defied the coronavirus pandemic to hit new records. Worldwide, renewable electricity installations have reached an all-time high. According to the report, about 90% of all new electricity generation in 2020 is renewable. If the IEA report is anything to go by, the world will see a record increase of 200 gigawatts in renewable energy capacity in 2020 compared to last year. This report is a sign of hope for a future dominated by renewable energy. If the trend is maintained, renewable energy sources could overtake fossil fuels and become the largest power source by 2025. As renewable energy takes center stage, the focus will be shifted to the U.S. and China, as they are the front-runners in the sector. The IEA anticipates that if the U.S. President-elect Joe Biden implements his energy policies, the transition to green energy could be much faster than anticipated. Related: Renewable energy is the cheapest source of electricity “Renewable power is defying the difficulties caused by the pandemic , showing robust growth while others fuels struggle,” said Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director. “The resilience and positive prospects of the sector are clearly reflected by continued strong appetite from investors.” While fossil fuels have dwindled, wind power and solar have increased in capacity significantly. Solar has increased 18 times since 2010, while wind energy has increased about four times in the same period. According to Birol, solar power is projected to become the king of clean energy in the future. According to the report, hydropower dominated the renewable energy sector in 2010, taking about 77% of the market share. However, that has reduced to just about 45% in 2020. Although renewables are doing well in 2020, it is not time to celebrate yet. IEA warns that to continue the positive trend, countries must adopt policy changes that govern the energy sector. + IEA Via The Guardian Image via Karsten W.

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Cold Spring Residence, a family’s low-impact weekend retreat

October 2, 2020 by  
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Developed by architect and artist couple Jared and Carolina Della Valle, this stunning family  retreat  in the Hudson River Valley is driven by high sustainability standards. Located on 11 acres in Cold Spring, New York near where Carolina grew up, the house functions as a weekend escape for the family. Wary of the environmental effect that a second home could present, the designer set out to create a building with minimal impact on its natural surroundings. While planning and building the home, the designer made every effort to lessen the environmental impact. Jared’s company, Alloy, prides itself on being guided by professionals seeking to positively contribute to the built environment with sustainability at the forefront. The firm developed New York’s first two  passive house  schools and Brooklyn’s first all-electric skyscraper. Related: Contemporary Camp O communes with nature in the Catskills Cold Spring Residence, standing at 4,500 square feet and built to passive house standards, features a full  solar  array providing year-round energy to the home. All of the site’s natural resources are preserved, and a newly-planted meadow fills the remaining landscape with native plants that thrive all year long. The majority of the house uses raw  concrete  and pine finished with a natural tar resistant to bugs and woodpeckers, with bleached oak for the interior. Bedrooms reside on the cantilevered upper floor, allowing sunlight into the living spaces. Meanwhile, a two-story deep skylight shines into the kitchen. Inside, the concrete walls use old forms to create intentional imperfections and inconsistencies to produce a more organic look. Jared found and restored a steel pipeline to construct the outdoor shower, and an indoor-outdoor terrace promotes uninterrupted views of the valley. A sense of  minimalism  remains apparent in the home’s design and construction, making it conducive to a low maintenance lifestyle. This style gives the family more time to relax while enjoying the property’s natural environment. + Alloy Development Via Wallpaper

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Cold Spring Residence, a family’s low-impact weekend retreat

Greenland ice sheet melting faster than in last 12 millennia

October 2, 2020 by  
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Greenland’s massive ice sheet is melting at a rate faster than experienced in the past 12,000 years, according to a new study in  Nature . Published on Wednesday, the study, dubbed “Greenland Ice Sheet Will Exceed Holocene Values this Century,” revealed that Greenland is already losing ice at a rate four times faster than any period in the past 11,700 years.  Earlier studies showed that the fast rate of ice melt will lead to rising sea levels and disruption in ocean currents. According to these predictions, Greenland’s ice contributes the most to sea-level rise, with advanced models showing it raising sea levels by 0.7 millimeters each year. Estimations predicted the rate of sea-level rise to increase an additional four times by the end of the century. However, the new study explains that the actual impact of Greenland’s ice sheet melting could prove even worse than earlier predicted.  The new paper offers a revised prediction, showing that increased greenhouse gas emissions may worsen the state of affairs. If nothing changes regarding the current state of global warming, sea levels may rise between 2 to 10 centimeters per year by the century’s end. According to Jason Briner, a geologist at the University of Buffalo and the study’s lead author, the changes humans have made to the planet are already affecting Greenland ice melting rates. “We have altered our planet so much that the rates of ice sheet melt this century are on pace to be greater than anything we have seen under natural variability of the ice sheet over the past 12,000 years,” Briner said. Briner adds that the current ice melting state is not caused by natural variability as it has been historically. Instead, the current state is purely caused by humans. Andy Aschwanden from the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks wrote commentary on the research , saying that the only stopping greenhouse gas emissions can stop Greenland’s mass wasting. “Thanks to the work of Briner and colleagues, we are now one step closer to the goal of accurately and confidently predicting mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet. However, we are also increasingly certain that we are about to experience unprecedented rates of ice loss from Greenland, unless greenhouse-gas emissions are substantially reduced,” Aschwanden said.  + Nature Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Greenland ice sheet melting faster than in last 12 millennia

You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch

October 2, 2020 by  
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While many people around the world worry about deforestation in the Amazon rainforest , to most of us, it’s still remote. Most people have never visited the Amazon, and many have no idea what they can do about deforestation. But a new online tracking system relies on citizen scientists to help monitor the Amazon via satellite. “You don’t have to be a climate scientist, you don’t have to be a data scientist, you just have to be a citizen that is concerned about the issue of deforestation,” said Elliot Inman, a researcher at systems analysis company SAS, as reported in Huffington Post . SAS worked with Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis to create an app that depends on humans to look at images and help train artificial intelligence to spot deforestation. Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife World Resources Institute oversees the resulting Global Forest Watch tracking system. First, a computer algorithm scans incoming images. When it identifies a place where trees have recently disappeared, it flags that image. Human eyes are needed to help discern what might have caused those missing trees. Volunteers scan the images for signs of human impact, such as roads, farm plots or tree lines that are suspiciously straight. This human input helps train the artificial intelligence , so that eventually the system will be able to digest images more quickly on its own. The system relies on consensus from multiple users. Sometimes it’s tricky to determine whether a brown patch on an image is due to humans burning trees to clear land for agriculture versus a natural forest fire . With a bit of training, citizen scientists are better able to notice small things that the computer might miss, such as a thin line that indicates a primitive road leading to the burned clearing. Data gathered by the system will help conservation organizations and governments identify when they should intervene to protect ecosystems. In the future, Global Forest Watch may even help predict where deforestation will happen next. All you need to help is an internet connection and a little bit of free time. + Global Forest Watch Via Huffington Post Image via Sentinel Hub

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Biomimicry Institute reveals 2020 Global Design Challenge finalists

September 3, 2020 by  
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The Biomimicry Institute has revealed this year’s 10 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge finalist teams, which have created innovative solutions for sustainably tackling global issues. The proposals, which all take inspiration from nature, address one or more of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The 10 finalists were selected from over 81 student teams as well as 26 teams of professionals from 17 countries in total. Of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, half of the 2020 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge submissions addressed “Sustainable Cities and Communities”, and over one-quarter addressed either “Good Health and Well-being”, “Climate Action”, “Life Below Water” and “Clean Water and Sanitation.” This year’s 10 finalist teams are from five different countries — including Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Taiwan and the United States — with the majority focused on Good Health and Well-being, Sustainable Cities and Communities and Climate Action. Related: NexLoop unveils water management system inspired by spiders, fungi, bees and plants The first five finalists in alphabetical order include A Sensitive Wall, a proposal for a dynamic green noise barrier for reducing the urban heat island effect and traffic noise. It takes inspiration from concave-eared torrent frogs, mimosa leaves and desert snails. BottleBricks is an interlocking bottle system for insulating refugee housing that mimics the air-trapping qualities found in the triangular, corrugated shape of Saharan silver ant hairs and the structure of silk cocoons. ELIGHTRA is a solar -powered lighting system for temporary settlements with hard outer shells like a ladybug’s elytra (wing cases). Methanolite is a methanotroph-inspired method for converting methane into methanol without carbon dioxide emissions. MyOak Public Market is an online platform to increase food access for vulnerable populations during times of crisis; the project takes cues from the Chesapeake Forest. Additional finalists include nutriBarrier, a woven barrier for reducing nutrient runoff inspired by the protective strategies of hagfish and frogs. The floral stamen-shaped air filtration system Pranavayu features the electrical and structural properties of a spiderweb. An air filter called RICOCHET mimics mantas. The SINC (Sustainable Ice Nucleation Contraption) outdoor water collection system improves access to clean drinking water with methods similar to the countercurrent heat exchange system found in trout. Tubes, Blades, Mesh, Oh My! is a seawall retrofit proposal that takes cues from seagrass and mangroves for greater coastal resiliency. + The Biomimicry Institute Images via The Biomimicry Institute

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Biomimicry Institute reveals 2020 Global Design Challenge finalists

Renewable energy lab glows like a lantern in Germany

September 2, 2020 by  
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On a site formerly used for experiments on solar energy , Stuttgart-based architectural practice Behnisch Architekten has completed Building 668 (KIT Energy Lab 2.0), a massive testing lab for new energy systems as part of a scheme to move Germany toward greater adoption of renewable energy. Located at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) campus near Stuttgart, the KIT Energy Lab 2.0 is also remarkable for its eye-catching design — the timber-framed structure is wrapped in translucent polycarbonate cladding and topped with a dramatic sawtooth roof as a nod to the industrial character of the neighboring buildings. Its polycarbonate exterior allows a consistent amount of light into the simple, low-carbon building, which lights up like a lantern at night. Related: Sustainable RAUM Pavilion can be continually reused or recycled in Utrecht Completed over the course of four years, the KIT Energy Lab 2.0 spans an area of 18,621 square feet over two floors with simple layouts conducive for flexibility. The ground floor is centered on a large, double-height test hall with work areas — including the test hall and an office, meeting and IT/server room — lining the north side of the building, while the transformer rooms and control station are located on the southern end. A central stairway and elevator lead up to the second floor, which consists of additional office space, a small staff kitchen, a meeting room, lab room, control station, test preparation room and a bridge over the column-free test hall that connects to large gallery spaces. The interiors echo the simple and industrial look of the exterior. Exposed timber trusses, unpainted wooden surfaces, lofty ceiling heights and oversized lighting fixtures emphasize the industrial motif. Natural light floods the test hall, which accommodates the areas “Power-Hardware in the Loop” (PHIL) and “Smart Energy System Control Laboratory” (SESCL) as well as assembly areas for tests. The KIT Energy Lab 2.0 was created in partnership with the Helmholtz Centres, the National Aeronautics and Space Research Center of the Federal Republic of Germany (DLR) and Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ). + Behnisch Architekten Photography by David Matthiessen via Behnisch Architekten

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Renewable energy lab glows like a lantern in Germany

Modern passive house is carbon-negative and energy-positive

August 26, 2020 by  
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Designed by McLean Quinlan Architects, the Devon Passivhaus combines contemporary architecture with a rustic outdoor setting. The modern passive house uses a minimalist-yet-elegant brick wall as its facade, with a discreet doorway carved into the front and a simple oriel glass window to peek inside at the stunning interiors. The brick design is modeled after an existing garden wall that connects the property, while the front door mimics the style of an old gate that would have accompanied such a wall in the past. The original garden and footprint inspired the design of the home, while the historic brick paths leading up to the property were restored as well. The house is certified Passive and includes eco-friendly features such as air source heating, MVHR, solar power , battery storage, super-insulation and triple-glazing in order to sustain over 100% of its required energy. Related: Local earth bricks form this inspiring co-working space in Ouagadougou Past the initial brick and into the interior of the home, a glass roofed courtyard with a winter garden is located in the center, helping to channel natural light to the inside. Natural and repurposed materials, including reclaimed terracotta, sawn oak wood and clay plaster, are found throughout the home in order to connect it with the outdoors. The clients are also avid art collectors, so the designers were sure to include spaces to display and curate their many pieces of pottery and paintings. The project leaders decided to aim toward passive capability after achieving planning under the open countryside house route. “We’d always aimed to make the house high performing, but having a benchmark to aim for and test against enabled the whole project team to get behind the ambition,” said Fiona McLean of McLean and Quinlan Architects. “The wall panels, 4Wall fromTribus, were an innovative product. A ‘hyperSIP’ panel constructed using steel framing and magnesium oxide boards sandwiching PIR insulation. Their benefits were excellent airtightness, waterproof, minimal thermal bridging, good core strength and low U-Values.” According to the clients, they’ve become carbon-negative and energy-positive by 40% thanks to the clever design. In the sunny summer months, the house generates 3,500kwh of electricity while only using 60kwh, with remaining power stored in the grid. + McLean and Quinlan Photography by Jim Stephenson via McLean and Quinlan

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