COVID-19 lockdowns lead to decreasing light pollution

April 7, 2021 by  
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Earth’s skies have grown increasingly brighter over the years, as humans accelerate their love of electricity . Then came 2020, the year of lockdowns. One welcome side effect has been reduced light pollution. A recent U.K. star count organized by a charity called CPRE found that light pollution continues to drop, with a 10% reduction since last year. Between February 6 and 14, 2021, CPRE collected nearly 8,000 star counts. If a person could only see 10 or fewer stars , that was considered severe light pollution. The group concluded that U.K. skies are the darkest they’ve been since 2013. Related: New study reveals main sources of light pollution “Looking up at a starry night sky is a magical sight and one that we believe everyone should be able to experience, wherever they live,” said Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE. “And the great thing is, light pollution is one of the easiest kinds of pollution to reverse.” Bright lights at night are more than just an annoyance. Many animals suffer when they get confused between day and night. “The introduction of artificial light probably represents the most drastic change human beings have made to their environment,” research scientist Christopher Kyba said of nocturnal animals. Cities are hundreds, if not thousands, of times brighter than they were 200 years ago. This messes up the cover that prey species rely upon, disrupts the nighttime croaking of frogs trying to attract a mate, confuses baby sea turtles who follow artificial lights away from the ocean and lures migratory birds off course. So how do we reverse light pollution? The easiest way is to turn lights off when they’re not needed. Instead of leaving outdoor security lights on at night, install motion sensors so they only turn on when needed. Encourage your local government to use only covered streetlights with the bulbs pointing down. Colored lights, such as red, yellow and amber, cause less light pollution than white light . Consider lining your pathways with glow stones for nighttime lighting. Their ambient glow doesn’t contribute to light pollution. Dan Monk, an astronomer in the U.K., said, “People often do get emotional when they sit under this amazing dark sky and they realize how small they are in the universe.” If we all do our part, we can share this experience. Via BBC , International Dark Sky Association and Conserve Energy Future Image via Felix Mittermeier

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COVID-19 lockdowns lead to decreasing light pollution

MEAN* proposes 3D-printed concrete majlis for Emirati homes

March 22, 2021 by  
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As part of a design exercise, MEAN* (Middle East Architecture Network) has created three 3D-printed proposals for contemporary majlis, an Arabic architecture term that typically refers to the detached area of a home used as a front parlor for receiving and entertaining guests. Created to push the boundaries of 3D printing in concrete, MEAN*’s three majlis designs — the Capsule Pod, the Fluid Space and the Folded Walls — each explore different construction methods and architectural styles in response to the differing lifestyle needs of contemporary Emiratis. Each 3D-printed majlis design emphasizes access to natural light, curvaceous forms and a fluid, open-plan interior with a foyer, a washroom, a small kitchenette and an open living area to accommodate anywhere from 18 to 25 seated guests. The majlis can also be developed as a freestanding structure or an attached annex to the existing home. Related: 3D-printed concrete “forest” pavilion proposed for Dubai’s Expo 2020 “With the advent of concrete 3D printing technologies, new modular strategies can be envisioned in-line with the challenges and potentials of these technologies to allow for faster, more spatially fluid inhabitations at an ecological and affordable rate,” the designers explained in a press statement. “MEAN* reimagines the spatial qualities of this typology with 3 options for the space depending on the requirements and lifestyle of its inhabitants.” The 25-seat, minimalist Capsule Pod majlis proposal would be constructed with prefabricated concrete sections that would be hoisted into place with glazed gaps in between to allow natural light to filter through. In contrast, the 22-seat Fluid Space is an annex to the existing home and would include a 3D-printed shell and roof, each constructed separately. The interior is centered on an organically inspired, recessed seating area beneath a large roof skylight. The third majlis proposal, dubbed Folded Walls, features a variety of smooth and textured trapezoidal walls individually printed on-site. + MEAN* (Middle East Architecture Network) Images via MEAN*

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MEAN* proposes 3D-printed concrete majlis for Emirati homes

YEZO is a nature retreat perched on a Japanese hillside

February 23, 2021 by  
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Anyone passionate about design knows the fun is in the possibilities. Looking for low site impact , a focus on nature or a retreat? YEZO is all of that and more. This design concept comes from Hong Kong-based Laboratory for Explorative Architecture and Design Ltd. (LEAD) and team leaders Kristof Crolla and Julien Klisz. YEZO is a small retreat, designed with a spot in the northern mountain range of Hokkaido, Japan in mind. The idea spawned from a request from private clients who were looking for “a private retreat on a spectacular site,” according to a brief provided by LEAD. The limitations of the site put the focus on immersing the home into the surrounding landscape along with natural elements of wood , stone, water and light. Related: Tiny mobile dwelling celebrates local Shinshu larch in Japan Basically a studio apartment, the YEZO concept is tucked into a mountainside, allowing for 360-views. The striking architecture centers around a distinctive wooden shell roof. Glue-laminated ( glulam ) timber beams replace traditionally harvested timber for a more sustainable option. The curved elements of these beams provide tension from side to side that supports the structure while requiring up to 90% less materials than blueprints with traditional straight wood beams. This opportunity to use architectural innovations to reduce environmental impact was at the core of the design. Because these beams can be made from a single mold, they also reduce cost and transport requirements. A massive, centralized concrete fireplace offers warmth and ambiance, along with support for the roof and a separation from the bathroom and storage area. A staircase tucked behind the fireplace provides access to a balcony that looks down on the slate-covered roof and the hills beyond. Natural light seeps into the stairway via frosted and stained glass windows. The balcony itself is open yet tucked within the curving roofline. An additional patio area rests outside the main-level living space, carefully perched on a rocky hillside. Inside, the space is enclosed in floor-to-ceiling windows for views in every direction. + LEAD Images via LEAD

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YEZO is a nature retreat perched on a Japanese hillside

Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals

February 16, 2021 by  
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Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals Joel Makower Tue, 02/16/2021 – 02:11 Last week, during GreenBiz 21, Jarami Bond — a new colleague but an old friend — announced the launch of a new nonprofit “that exists solely to nurture and empower BIPOC professionals to accelerate a just transition to a clean economy,” as he described it. It was a moment of deep pride for all of us. The nonprofit, spun out of the for-profit GreenBiz Group as an independent entity, was born of our longstanding efforts to counter the overwhelming whiteness of the sustainable business profession — and sustainability overall — but was energized by the events of last summer, as the topic of racial justice burst from the margins to the mainstream across the United States and beyond. GreenBiz.org is the response to a range of confounding challenges so many of us have voiced in both public and private settings. Among them: Why aren’t there more Black, Indigenous and people of color — BIPOC, in today’s argot — working in sustainability? Speaking on behalf of the predominantly white corporate sustainability movement, how can we, individually and collectively, better engage, serve and learn from communities of color, the tens of millions of our fellow humans who may not look like us? Where are the opportunities to lift BIPOC voices, to elevate and amplify the ideas and proven solutions from communities outside our sphere? Perhaps we need to create a bigger sphere. I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities. I’ll let Bond describe the purpose of this new organization, pulling from his moving and passionate presentation at GreenBiz 21. (You can watch his entire 10-minute talk here . Click on the Tuesday keynote, starting at 41:00 on the video.) Bond began by sharing his own story, as his childhood love for the environment turned into a career path, starting at Interface, the iconic flooring company. Along the way, he said: I recognized that something huge was missing, something that I felt was integral to our field accomplishing the big, bold goals it was chasing after. And that missing link was people that looked like me, Black- and Brown-melanated souls. Throughout his time in both college and Corporate America, Bond said, “I grew used to being the only Black person in my class or on my team — the face of the race, navigating microaggressions and flagrant assumptions, wrestling with double consciousness, challenging those who wanted me to conform to majority culture, and trying to posture myself constantly to defy the stereotypes, even challenging those who tried to suppress my blackness to make themselves more comfortable, or make a caricature of it for their own entertainment.” Jarami Bond speaking to the GreenBiz 21 audience. Amid his personal struggles, Bond saw an opportunity to align his profession with his passion: I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities, with the stakeholders at the front of the march advocating for equity and justice. We need all hands on deck. In parallel, as my colleagues and I at GreenBiz Group began to sketch out the vision for a new nonprofit, I knew exactly who to enlist to help. As a strategic adviser to GreenBiz.org, Bond is leading the efforts to stand up this organization and to articulate its purpose, as he did so eloquently last week: We envision a vibrant ecosystem of individuals, organizations and communities working symbiotically to transform our field culturally and dismantle environmental injustice. We will convene companies, nonprofits, activists and community stakeholders to bolster the resilience of disadvantaged and marginalized communities. We will foster belonging and support the career development of BIPOC sustainability professionals. We will help fund BIPOC social entrepreneurs spearheading startups and small businesses focused on innovating toward a clean economy through an intersectional lens. We will support creators of color telling stories about the emerging clean economy through that same intersectional lens. We will also create spaces for BIPOC sustainability professionals to build community fostering deeper connection and support. He concluded, as he began, on a personal note: “I am over-the-moon excited because I’ve been working to create what I and so many in our space have been dreaming of for so long. … I truly believe that our field will be different because this nonprofit exists.” We are over-the-moon excited, too — about the potential for this new organization to open the sustainability tent far wider than before to include voices and faces not traditionally heard and seen within the mainstream business community. And to — finally — harness a far broader swath of knowledge, wisdom and experience about what it means to live in a sustainable world. And how we can all get there together. Much more to come as GreenBiz.org takes wing. For now, we welcome interested parties: funders; strategic partners; and professionals excited about the new entity’s vision and goals. Sign up for updates here , or email Bond directly: jarami@greenbiz.org . I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities. Topics Social Justice State of the Profession Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals

Bill Gates wants you to step up on climate

February 16, 2021 by  
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Bill Gates wants you to step up on climate Elsa Wenzel Tue, 02/16/2021 – 00:00 When you’re one of the world’s richest people, it’s hard not to make a global impact. Fortunately for the climate cause, Bill Gates for the last half-decade has invested considerably toward innovations to push the planet toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “Getting to zero is one of the most difficult challenges people have ever taken on,” he said in a keynote address broadcast at the GreenBiz 21 virtual event Tuesday. “We’re going to have to change the way we make and consume basically everything, and we’re going to have to do it many times faster than energy transitions have happened in the past.” Weaning the world from its annual release of 51 billion tons of planet-changing emissions is the subject of Gates’ latest book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” being released this month. “It’s going to take significant investment and bold innovation,” he told the GreenBiz virtual crowd. “So we cannot only invent new solutions but commercialize them and then scale them up quickly.” What does it mean for you? It means thinking about climate breakthroughs across every area of your business. To that end, Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition, launched in 2015 with its billion-dollar venture arm a year later, has backed some 30 startups in a variety of low-carbon plays, including in greener metal, energy storage and even cultured breastmilk. In January, the star-studded fund — with the likes of Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Jack Ma onboard — said it will double to $2 billion and target 40 more emissions-slashing startups. As one of the world’s foremost techno-optimists, Gates was central to the improbable advances of the personal computer and the recent rollout of COVID-19 vaccines . In his view of a global climate revolution being bigger than the moon landing or eradicating smallpox, cooperation from the business world is pivotal. “It’s about the future we leave for our grandchildren, it’s about the future success of your business,” Gates said in the GreenBiz 21 address. “To meet this challenge, we need your business to join in, and you can be the champion inside your business to create these breakthroughs. Make no mistake, the challenge ahead of us is unprecedented. But I believe we can come up with a plan to overcome it.” What does that mean for your company? Here are clues, gleaned from Gates’ GreenBiz 21 address and other recent statements. Eliminate the green premium Fantastic innovations alone can’t lead to zero emissions unless they reach mass affordability. So Gates seeks to rally people behind wiping out the “green premium,” the high cost of sustainable products and services over polluting ones. Electric vehicles are driving in this direction, marked last month by General Motors’ disclosure that it will stop selling internal combustion passenger cars by 2035; and solar energy is already cheaper than burning coal in many places. Yet a long path is ahead before the green premium disappears across other systems, notably for steel, cement, air travel and buildings. Gates recently noted, for instance, the Swiss firm Climeworks ‘ success with direct-air carbon capture to improve cement-making, but its processes are 10 times more expensive than needed to erase the green premium of traditional cement-making. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition names five “grand challenges” representing an outsize share of the global emissions pie: manufacturing; electricity; agriculture; transportation; and buildings. Elevate the developing world Gates has shared on his podcast how a personal urgency about the climate crisis built over time as he flew to developing nations for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s global health and poverty-reduction efforts. As he landed over bustling Lagos, Nigeria, the ubiquitous nighttime fires illuminated to him the need to address how 1 billion people live without electric power . It’s the duty of the developed world not only to develop innovations but also to fine-tune them in such a way that they become affordable to the poorer regions of the world, the philanthropist has said. “We need to be at the point where we can call up India and say, ‘Hey, we have green cement now; don’t use the dirty stuff,'” Gates said in a December episode of the podcast “Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions.” Support climate-smart policies Gates recently praised President Joe Biden for re-joining the Paris Agreement: “Now the United States can build on that step by adopting a concrete plan that checks several boxes at once: eliminating emissions while adapting to the warming that is already happening, spurring innovative industries, creating jobs for the post-pandemic recovery, and ensuring that everyone benefits from the transition to a green economy,” he wrote on the Gates Notes blog recently. In December, Gates called for the U.S. to create a National Institutes of Energy Innovation to centralize efforts that are spread out across the National Aeronautics and Space Agency as well as the Energy, Defense and Transportation departments. When it comes to research, clean energy only receives about a quarter of the federal funding as medicine does. Gates would like that to change, too.  Think about climate breakthroughs across every area of your business, and invest in clean energy research and development that aligns with your goals As already mentioned, manufacturing, electricity, agriculture, transportation and buildings are the five major areas Gates repeatedly has identified as needing rapid innovation now. They represent the major sources of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.  There are opportunities in most of these categories for every company to reduce emissions from the top office to the farthest reaches of a supply chain. The Google X “moonshot factory” tinkers with renewable energy and more. Nestlé’s labs cook up plant-based proteins. It’s up to each business to customize and commit to the opportunities for innovation. Support accelerators and incubators by being willing to pilot and demonstrate new technology Breakthrough Energy Ventures, for one, seeks to invest in “neglected areas and enterprises we believe are critical to explore,” according to its website. In addition: “We will only invest in technologies with the potential, at scale, to reduce greenhouse gases by at least half a gigaton every year, about 1 percent of global emissions.” In that spirit: Back innovations that go big. Set a target to become net-zero enterprise, reimagining procurement and supply chains Microsoft, which Gates co-founded, is a best-in-class example. Thirteen months ago, the tech giant set forth the goal of net-zero emissions by 2030 . The icing on that cake: removing by 2050 the equivalent of all emissions it has released. As the tech giant reported last month , so far it has purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of CO2 from 26 projects around the world, representing diverse solutions. Companies hoping to reach a meaningful net-zero commitment should proceed with caution and make sure to invest in significant and measurable improvements, not relying heavily on hard-to-verify, potentially low-quality offsets. Develop innovative financial vehicles to scale green technologies “Because energy research can take years — even decades — to come to fruition, companies need patient investors who are willing to work with them over the long term,” Gates wrote in 2018 . Beyond traditional venture capital, creative tools to accelerate sustainability are gaining hold, including green bonds and special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACS . (There’s a whole new GreenBiz event in April for the emerging green finance space .) “Most of all, it’s going to take courage to see beyond the way things have been done for decades, to identify new opportunities and to build creative partnerships to take advantage of them,” Gates told the GreenBiz 21 audience.  Illustration of the green premium. Pull Quote What does it mean for you? It means thinking about climate breakthroughs across every area of your business. Topics Leadership Cleantech Finance & Investing GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Bill Gates addressing GreenBiz 21

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Old military buildings converted into living spaces at The Hinge

February 15, 2021 by  
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In the spirit of making what’s old new again, Dutch architect Niels Olivier led a team to transform a disheveled military compound into modern, functional spaces. Located in Arnhem, The Netherlands , the project known as The Hinge, or De Scharnier, included a master plan drawn up by MVRDV and Buro Harro. Two interconnected buildings formerly housed a theater on one side and a restaurant on the other. Following the conversion, the same structure now houses a living space, workshop and office for a well-known artist and his family. Related: A clever, garden-filled facelift revives a derelict building in Denmark The buildings on the site date back to the 1960s and 70s and were in bad disrepair. Yet, rather than demolish them and build from the ground up, it was important to Olivier from a sustainability perspective to  salvage  as much of the original structures as possible.  On this topic, Olivier told Inhabitat, “My passion is to bring new life to outdated, abandoned buildings. Make something out of what is considered to be nothing! A fast route to sustainability is to re-use as much as possible, this should in particular count for the re-use of the main structure of buildings, saving tons of concrete, wood and steel.” Some portions were just too dilapidated to save, such as the entire facade, which fell apart and was replaced with aluminum frames and wooden cladding. During the same portion of the project, a large folding door was added to accommodate the transport of large art pieces or a van if needed. In another space, formerly a kitchen, office and technical room, the construction of a few walls and the removal of others created two apartments and an artist’s office. In addition to using natural materials and employing methods to salvage the original architecture, the team incorporated  energy-saving  systems into the plan. Pellet heating provides comfort for the entire complex. Additional energy needs are met using solar panels placed on the roof. Although there is a pool on-site, it is unheated for the sake of energy savings and is filtered using a natural system that includes  plants  and gravel. According to a press release, this makes the house “almost energy neutral.” + Niels Olivier Architect Via ArchDaily   Images via Arne Olivier Fotografie

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Old military buildings converted into living spaces at The Hinge

A three-handed robot quickly and efficiently sorts recycling

February 15, 2021 by  
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Robots contribute to efficiency and productivity in businesses around the globe daily. So when Matanya Horowitz, founder of AMP Robotics, discovered how inefficient the recycling business had become, he put his company to work to develop a solution. The result is a three-handed robot that views, makes decisions and sorts recycling on the line. Industry studies have shown a huge amount of recycling waste. Although education and improvements in curbside recycling availability have increased the amount of recycling at the business and consumer levels, a huge portion of that is pulled off the recycling conveyor belt and ends up in the trash anyway. Additionally, the stricter purity specifications from international buyers, such as China, have created more of a waste stream. Related: Oil and plastic industry spent millions to mislead the public about plastic recycling “There’s a tremendous amount of value captured in paper, and plastic, and metal, that right now is lost at the landfill” Horowitz explained in a video. “The trouble is that the value of this material is really eroded by the cost of sorting it out in these recycling centers.” This tedious manual sorting can now be done by a robot that analyzes and sorts 80 plastic , metal and paper items of recycling per minute, which is estimated to be twice the rate of human sorters performing the same task. Plus, accuracy is rated at 99%; the company reported, “We can recognize and recover material as small as a bottlecap and as unique as a Keurig coffee pod or Starbucks cup that may require secondary processing to ensure they are recycled.” The robot uses the same “seeing” vision as self-driving cars, which allows it to analyze and make decisions about materials as they approach. It then either tells its suction cup ‘hands’ to pick an item up or allows it to float by. The system is also equipped with artificial intelligence that allows it to continuously improve accuracy, including the ability to identify squished or faded containers. With the improved speed and efficiency, this innovation could dramatically increase the amount of recycled and reused materials. In turn, this means a reduction in waste and carbon emissions at the landfill. “Globally, more than $200 billion worth of recyclable materials goes unrecovered annually,” Horowitz told Inverse. “A.I.-driven automation enables the efficient recovery of more material, which increases recycling rates and reduces human impact on the environment.” While the entire system is high-tech and sounds a bit sci-fi, the installation is easily mounted over conveyor belts in as little as 48 hours. Following a weekend installation, recycling centers can implement the robot for $6,000 a month for an estimated cost savings of 70%. However, AMP Robotics recognizes the cost of human job loss and encourages employee retraining programs. In the spring of 2020, AMP Robotics reported robot installations in more than 20 states, estimating a reduction of half a million tons of greenhouse gases . The company claims to have processed more than one billion individual items in the waste stream over a 12-month period. Robots are here to stay in nearly every aspect of our lives, from cars to vacuums to food delivery, an idea further supported by the fact that the company entered into a contract with one of the largest waste management companies in the country, Waste Connections, to install 24 robots on recycling lines last year alone. + AMP Robotics Via Inverse Images via AMP Robotics

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The River School places classrooms around a central courtyard

February 1, 2021 by  
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Great design means different things to different people, but the best architectural design incorporates history, culture and functionality. In addition to these paramount foundational elements, L’École du Fleuve (The River School) also presents a plan that relies on locally sourced, sustainable and recycled materials. The River School won second place in the international Archstorming competition , which called for designs for a school in Senegal. The designers, Tina Gao and Prathyusha Viddam with research support from Amy Zhang, aimed their finished project at honoring the history of the local area, where making and using buckets and baskets is standard. They also drew inspiration from the rivers around the Casamance region; these rivers are central to the culture and economy of the area, as is education. Related: Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably The competition was organized in conjunction with NGO Let’s Build My School (LBMS), a U.K.-based charity with a focus on building schools in developing countries, especially in remote areas with limited access. The brief for the competition outlined the need for using local, renewable materials and easy, affordable construction techniques. The idea is for community members to be able to use the design elements to build homes and other buildings by replicating the process. L’École du Fleuve is situated to curve around an existing tree that provides a gathering space in the shade. Like a bend in a river, the building arcs with all classrooms facing the central courtyard. The doors for each classroom are composed of bamboo screens that can fully extend to open the classroom to the outdoors. Outside of the classrooms, gardens provide vegetables, which are then served from a small kitchen. Sustainable building requires attention to water usage. The River School harvests water through a terraced rainwater channel in the courtyard. The water is then funneled into two percolation ponds. A PVC pipe inserted into each pond then disperses the water into the ground and back to the well. In addition, a collection tank in the restroom is filled with water collected from gutters along the roof. Going back to the process of bucket making, the outer facade is made up of adobe bricks formed using plastic buckets as molds. The bricks are stacked in a pattern that resembles traditional baskets, paying tribute to the way Senegal’s women balance baskets on their heads. The process for laying the bricks allows for sunlight and ventilation within the space. Primary walls are composed of easy-to-source natural materials , such as clay, sand and straw. A small amount of cement speeds up the process and stabilizes the structure. The roof trusses are made from locally grown bamboo in a process that the community can replicate in other buildings.  + Essential Design Images via Essential Design

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GM pledges carbon neutrality by 2040, expands electric fleet

February 1, 2021 by  
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General Motors has announced an ambitious plan to be carbon-neutral by 2040. The largest U.S. auto maker also aims to eliminate tailpipe emissions from light-duty vehicles by 2035. “General Motors is joining governments and companies around the globe working to establish a safer, greener and better world,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO, in a press release. “We encourage others to follow suit and make a significant impact on our industry and on the economy as a whole.” Related: Biden to replace entire federal fleet with electric vehicles GM is working with the Environmental Defense Fund on envisioning an all-electric future. Currently an electric vehicle costs approximately $19,000 more than a gas-powered model, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. GM is promising “vehicles across a range of price points,” although it hasn’t yet said how low that range will go. The company said that globally, it will offer 30 all-electric models by mid-decade. U.S. consumers can look forward to 40% of available models being battery electric by the end of 2025. This all requires big money. GM has pledged a $27 billion investment in electric and autonomous vehicles over the next five years. GM will continue to develop its Ultium battery technology. Product use accounts for 75% of GM’s carbon emissions , while production facilities generate the other 25%. GM plans to use 100% renewable energy to power its operations at U.S. sites by 2030 and globally by 2035. “With this extraordinary step forward, GM is making it crystal clear that taking action to eliminate pollution from all new light-duty vehicles by 2035 is an essential element of any automaker’s business plan,” said Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp. “EDF and GM have had some important differences in the past, but this is a new day in America — one where serious collaboration to achieve transportation electrification, science-based climate progress and equitably shared economic opportunity can move our nation forward.” + General Motors Via NPR Image via General Motors

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MIA Architecture’s office blends into the landscape with a mirrored facade

January 21, 2021 by  
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If ever there is a building type to emphasize dynamic appeal and make a statement, it should belong to an architectural firm. Standing true to this idea is the new office building for MIA Architecture, a firm located in Beaufays, Belgium. To articulate, MIA Architecture’s offices are actually an extension of an existing building, a home built in the 1970s. Expanding on the footprint of the home, the new addition honors the established height and also works with the same base of painted bricks and masonry heads. The project added an office as well as a meeting space and technical premises. Related: Bangkok’s Mega Park reimagines mega-malls as green community hubs If you approach the building from the front, you would barely notice it’s there, thanks to an ultimate harmonization with the heavily wooded environment. The exterior is framed in a “ mirror box ” that reflects the surrounding landscape, effectively cloaking the building from view. This ability to nearly disappear allows the unique office building to stand out while simultaneously blending into its environment. Windows are hidden behind the translucent skin (SGG Mirastar glass) and are only visible after dark, adding to the sci-fi effect. The design is remarkably discrete while making the entryway obvious with a metal grate walkway that seems to float above the ground. A wooden door materializes as visitors come closer toward the northwest corner of the building. Once inside, the oversized window provides views of the landscape, drawing the outside in and immersing the workspace into the gardens. The décor is minimalist with a streamlined black-and-white color palette. Beyond the look is the function, and MIA Architecture’s offices are constructed with efficiency in mind. The wood frame is filled with energy-saving insulation. Perhaps even more impressive than a nearly invisible facade is the technique used to construct the space in around three month’s time with low site-impact . + MIA Architecture Images via MIA Architecture

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