The Cantilever House combats a hot climate with sustainable design

July 13, 2021 by  
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Located in the National Capital Region of Delhi, India , the Cantilever House by Zero Energy Design (ZED) Lab features a geometric design that focuses on energy efficiency and traditional architectural elements in response to the harsh North Indian climate. The client is an outdoor-lover who wanted to take advantage of the natural surroundings without jeopardizing the environmental elements with high-impact construction methods. Related: Ekodome’s Geodesic Dome Kits turn into popup shelters or greenhouses “The primary challenge was to design the frame with judicious use of steel for economic viability, given that the cantilevers form a dominant part of the design scheme and a typical one demands adequate steel reinforcement to generate structural integrity,” the designers explained. “Additionally, the design received skepticism from the client, and workers on the site had to be trained to execute the construction with precision.” The design consists of passive cooling techniques and renewable energy resources to combat the hot and dry climate of the region. Designers placed the living areas in the north and east to bring in natural light but included private areas in the west and south for minimal heat gain throughout the day. There is also a pergola outside of the south windows to provide shade. A double-height lobby is protected by the summer court to the north and a winter court to the south, in order to accomplish stack ventilation, while the north face of the home is double glazed with low-E coating for thermal resistance to avoid glare and subsequent heat gain. To the south, designers included a smaller number of windows to further prevent heat gain. A variety of plants and vertical gardens , as well as a water court on the north side, create a cooler microclimate and add air-purifying elements for the residents. A solar hot water system installed on the rooftop provides hot water for the home, and a rainwater harvesting system is used to irrigate the front and rear lawns. + ZED Lab Photography by Andre J. Fanthome via ZED Lab

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The Cantilever House combats a hot climate with sustainable design

Heat waves are damaging bird eggs during incubation

June 29, 2021 by  
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The latest heat waves are concerning for birds, whose eggs could be damaged from the skyrocketing temperatures. When extremely higher-than-normal temperatures occur in a region and prevail for several days, there is a possibility that bird eggs may not be able to incubate. Scientists are warning that such instances may drive vulnerable bird species out of existence. According to a study, a heat wave during the peak of Australia’s summer in February 2017 saw almost all zebra finch eggs fail to incubate. The maximum air temperature stayed above 40°C (104°F) for eight days straight. Ideally, zebra finches incubate their eggs at about 36°C to 38°C. Related: Record-breaking heat waves ravaging the West are not normal, scientists warn “The temperatures that killed these embryos, they are obviously just too much for the embryos to take,” Simon Griffith, professor and researcher at Macquarie University in Australia, told EcoWatch reporter Richa Malhotra. Griffith, who was part of a larger study group, said that his team visited hundreds of nests to monitor the status of the eggs before, during and after the heatwave. They tested the eggs to feel the heartbeat of the embryos. “Before the heatwave, we could still see the heartbeat and then after these two or three days of heat when we checked the eggs, the heartbeat had stopped,” Griffith said. Tragically, only 23 out of 25 egg clutches managed to hatch. This resulted in just two egg hatchings out of 100. Even more alarming is the fact that the hatched chicks also died a few days later. According to Griffith, zebra finches are well-adapted birds that can survive in extremely harsh climates. Further, they can lay eggs frequently and at any time of the year. But he warns that the same scenario could be replicated for other bird species , particularly as temperatures continue to climb. Andrew McKechnie of the South African National Biodiversity Institute said, “Widespread heat-related mortality of eggs, similar to that documented here, should be of particular concern for threatened species .” In 2020, McKechnie documented the deaths of more than 100 birds and bats in South Africa following a single day of extreme heat . The majority of the birds that died were songbirds, despite their tolerance to high temperatures. Griffith explained things are likely to get worse as the globe becomes hotter . However, he also believes that birds may adapt and be able to tolerate higher temperatures where water is available. The problem is that the high temperatures are threatening existing water sources. “Where there will be problems is where there is no water,” Griffith said. Via EcoWatch Image via William Warby

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Heat waves are damaging bird eggs during incubation

One of the world’s most remote islands is also the most polluted

May 16, 2017 by  
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There’s a lonely island in the Pacific Ocean that has no human inhabitants, yet it’s completely covered in trash. Henderson Island is so remote, humans only visit it for research every five to 10 years. But the island is also home to the highest density of plastic debris found anywhere on Earth, according to the University of Tasmania . Scientists found the island’s beaches are polluted with around 671 pieces of trash per 10 square feet. No humans live on Henderson Island, part of the Pitcairn Islands that are British territories in the southern Pacific Ocean. Henderson Island is 3,106 miles away from the closest major population center. But it’s located near the middle of the South Pacific Gyre ocean current, and waste from South America rolls up on its shores. Jennifer Lavers of the university and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds , with colleague Alexander Bond, recently found an estimated 37.7 pieces of plastic on the remote island. Related: Plankton Pundit video shows exact moment plastic enters the food chain Lavers said, “What’s happened on Henderson Island shows there’s no escaping plastic pollution even in the most distant parts of our oceans .” The research was published online yesterday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America . The amount of trash shocked Lavers, who told The Guardian she’s seen plastic pollution around the world but still expected Henderson’s remote location to provide it some protection. Instead, she found a staggering amount of garbage and hundreds of crabs dwelling in our trash. She told The Guardian, “This plastic is old, it’s brittle, it’s sharp, it’s toxic. It was really quite tragic seeing these gorgeous crabs scuttling about, living in our waste.” She estimates 3,570 new pieces of trash wash up on Henderson Island every single day on just one of the island’s beaches. Around 17 metric tons of plastic has likely been deposited on the island, based on sampling at five different sites. She said 55 percent of the seabirds in the world are at risk – two of the species at risk live on Henderson. Via the University of Tasmania and The Guardian Images via Jennifer Lavers/University of Tasmania and Wikimedia Commons

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One of the world’s most remote islands is also the most polluted

Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers

May 16, 2017 by  
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If President Donald Trump is waging a war on local farmworkers in California , he’s winning. His Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened up the use of a pesticide called chlorpyrifos to agriculture in March, and then this month when at least 50 laborers were exposed to the pesticide Vulcan, of which chlorpyrifos is an active ingredient, some of them vomited or fainted; one person had to go to the hospital. Chlorpyrifos was scheduled to be banned under Barack Obama’s administration. But at the end of March , EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt denied a petition that called for the ban. Then in Bakersfield, California a Sun Pacific farm sprayed Vulcan on their mandarin trees, and it drifted over to Dan Andrews Farms where workers harvesting cabbage began to feel sick. Grist said Kern County officials have not yet determined if chlorpyrifos was indeed present in the Vulcan sprayed, but both Grist and Kern Golden Empire described chlorpyrifos as an active ingredient in Vulcan. EPA documents from February 2017 also listed chlorpyrifos as the active ingredient in Vulcan. Related: Trump’s EPA chief lifts ban on pesticide that poisons children 12 workers reported symptoms of nausea or vomiting. One person fainted and another went to the hospital. Kern Golden Empire reported 12 other laborers didn’t show systems, but that over half the workers had left before medical aid could arrive. Officials described Vulcan as highly toxic, and the Kern County Fire Department and Kern Country Environmental Health and Hazmat came to do a mass contamination of the area. Kern County Public Health Public Relations Officer Michelle Corson called for anyone exposed to seek out medical attention right away. So why, exactly, was chlorpyrifos not banned? Touting a return to sound science, Pruitt apparently didn’t think there was enough evidence to ban the pesticide, even though, according to Grist, multiple studies link exposure to the harmful chemical with lowered IQ in kids and neurological defects. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Pest Management Policy director Sheryl Kunickis welcomed Pruitt’s decision. She said it was good news for consumers, meaning they’d have access to fruits and vegetables. Guess she forgot to mention chlorpyrifos could also send people to the hospital. Via Grist and Kern Golden Empire Images via Wikimedia Commons and Austin Valley on Flickr

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Trump saved a toxic pesticide – and then it poisoned a bunch of farmworkers

Integrated $1B solar farm in South Australia includes world’s largest battery

March 30, 2017 by  
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South Australia is about to get a huge clean energy boost with a $1 billion solar farm . The farm will pump and store 300MW and 100MW of clean energy respectively with 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries . It is expected to start running later this year. The Lyon Group , a partnership of three companies, is building the massive solar farm in the Riverland region of South Australia. Construction should commence within months. The Riverland initiative will allow for 330 megawatts (MW) of power generation and at minimum 100 MW of battery storage . In a video Lyon Group partner David Green said it will be the largest integrated project and the largest single battery on Earth. The solar system will be built on privately owned land and paid for by investors. Green said the solar farm will be a significant stimulus for the region. Related: South Australia Projected to Reach 50 Percent Renewable Energy Within the Next Decade Green told The Guardian, “We see the inevitability of the need to have large-scale solar and integrated batteries as part of any move to decarbonize. Any short-term decisions are only what I would call noise in the process.” Lyon Group plans to build a similar system near Roxby Downs as well. Greens said the battery and solar combination will greatly enhance South Australia’s capacity. Jay Weatherill, premier of South Australia, praised the effort, saying, “Projects of this sort, renewable energy projects, represent the future.” The South Australia government recently announced a power plan that will be bankrolled by a $150 million renewable technology fund. They will consider bidders for a 100 MW battery in upcoming weeks; Weatherill said Lyon Group is among the companies interested in constructing the battery. But the Riverland farm will be constructed no matter the results of the government’s tender for the large battery, according to Lyon Group. Via The Guardian Images via Australian Renewable Energy Agency Facebook and screenshot

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South Korea considers shutting down aging coal-fired power plants

June 15, 2016 by  
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South Korea is considering a plan to shut down aging coal-fired power plants in an attempt to address air pollution and fine dust emissions. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is drafting the initiative which could see the oldest and most polluting plants phased out. According to Korea Times, out of 53 coal-fired power plants in the country, 11 are over 30-years-old and three have been in operation for more than 40 years. “The government has decided to close down aged coal-powered power plants accused of air pollution and fine dust emissions,” South Korea’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Joo Hyung-Hwan said in his keynote speech at the Future Energy Forum in Seoul. He said that natural gas facilities would generate more electricity to avoid any possible electricity shortages. Related: South Korea races to create the world’s first carbon-free island While the South Korean government blames China for up to half of the fine dust floating in the air over the Korean Peninsula, Greenpeace says that 50 to 70 percent of particle-laden smog (PM2.5) comes from South Korea’s coal-fired power plants. South Korea scrapped plans for four new coal-fired power plants as part of its commitment to the Paris climate agreement signed by nearly 200 nations this past December. However, 20 new plants are still planned by 2021. Via Climate Action News Images via Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia

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Siberia’s "gateway to the underworld" crater is rapidly growing due to climate change

June 15, 2016 by  
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In a remote area of Siberia, outside the small town of Batagaiin the Sakha Republic, the ground suddenly opened up between 25 and 50 years ago, and it never stopped. The crater now measures a mile long and is almost 400 feet deep. Geological surveys suggest that the crater has been growing over 60 feet each year but, despite its size and rapid growth rate, most people outside of the immediate area don’t even know it exists, let alone how climate change is making it worse. The chasm is dubbed the Batagaika Crater, and locals refer to it as a “gateway to the underworld.” Its location, in the middle of a vast boreal forest, is no accident. The catastrophic chasm probably wouldn’t exist if not for the surrounding trees, because it’s presumed that the crater was inadvertently created when a swath of forest land was cleared . The Siberian Times reports that happened in the 1960s, while other outlets have reported it as being in the 1980s or 1990s. Regardless, the deforestation caused the land to begin sinking, and the crater was formed. Related: The Gates of Hell: Gas crater in Turkmenistan has been ablaze for 41 years Recent warmer temperatures brought on by climate change have continued to melt the permafrost, accelerating the sinkage of the crater, which is shaped like an incredibly giant tadpole. Major flooding in the region in 2008 also contributed to the crater’s growth. Similar craters have been reported in northern Canada, but none come close to the vast size of the Batagaika Crater, also known as the Batagaika ‘megaslump.’ The geologic event in Siberia is two to three times the size of the next largest crater with a similar origin story. “I expect that the Batagaika megaslump will continue to grow until it runs out of ice or becomes buried by slumped sediment. It’s quite likely that other megaslumps will develop in Siberia if the climate continues to warm or get wetter,” Dr. Julian Murton, a geology professor at the University of Sussex said in an interview with Motherboard. He is one of few researchers investigating the site, alongside a team from the Institute of Applied Ecology of the North at the North-East Federal University in Yakutsk. Via Motherboard Images via Research Institute of Applied Ecology of the North

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Siberia’s "gateway to the underworld" crater is rapidly growing due to climate change

Rombaut makes cruelty-free leather shoes from discarded pineapple leaves

May 22, 2016 by  
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A creative Parisian company is making shoes out of a surprising material: pineapples. Rombaut, an experimental label that eschews animal hide, has created a line of unisex sneakers made from Piñatex, a vegan textile that feels like leather and is woven from discarded pineapple leaves. The cruelty-free shoe also includes other plant-based alternatives like fig tree bark from Uganda, tapa from the South Pacific, wild Amazonian rubber, coconut fiber, and potato starch. READ MORE>

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Rombaut makes cruelty-free leather shoes from discarded pineapple leaves

Farmer wanted to grow food on the world’s most remote inhabited island

February 19, 2016 by  
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Tristan da Cunha is a remote island that most people have never heard about, but that might change thanks to a recent job posting. The world’s most remote inhabited island , situated in the South Atlantic, is in need of an Agriculture Advisor. If your dream job involves orchard planning, crop rotation, and animal husbandry, this could be the gig for you. Read the rest of Farmer wanted to grow food on the world’s most remote inhabited island

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Farmer wanted to grow food on the world’s most remote inhabited island

Getting Schooled In Recycling

February 9, 2016 by  
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There’s no such thing as recycling school, but one recycling center in Brooklyn, N.Y., comes pretty close. Situated on a pier in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, Sims Municipal Recycling’s 11-acre Sunset Park materials recovery facility…

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