An idea for solving the plastics crisis

September 15, 2020 by  
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An idea for solving the plastics crisis Sara Kingman Tue, 09/15/2020 – 01:30 A major problem with behavior-change programs in the waste industry is that they rely on consumers being taught to feel the guilt of plastic in the ocean, and the harm to turtles and whales. They’ve tried to condition people to believe that if we buy so-called “zero waste kits,” choose zucchini and cucumbers without plastic shrink-wrap and champion our favorite reusable metal straws, these choices alone somehow will drive a reduction in single-use plastics. While these steps can provide some benefit — and the strategy of creating consumer guilt shouldn’t be entirely discredited — this narrative is misguided. Ultimately, it never will address the root of the issue. Instead, savvy leaders in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) are focusing more attention on the plastics industry — and by extension, the oil industry. First, those producers and their trade groups for decades have driven misleading, consumer-centric campaigns that redirect societal blame and attention away from the pollution they create. The classic examples include “sustainability” statements made by plastics industry leaders promoting recycling . These campaigns insinuate: “If consumers recycle correctly, the waste problem will be solved and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will disappear.” This is plainly false propaganda, evident first by the astounding fact that a mere 8.4 percent of America’s plastic waste is actually recycled . Regardless whether designers of the built environment are involved in the policies of overseas plastics recycling, we create structures in which plastics are fixed in place and the spaces that plastics move through. As a society and as AEC professionals, we can’t continue allowing the plastics industry and oil producers to govern our approach to sustainability. Plastics are the problem — and recycling is not the solution. So how can more professionals in building design and construction make a difference? First, admit that recycling is broken. For the past decade, American consumers and businesses have relied on China to accept our immeasurable wave of plastic waste. The U.S. was not sending clean, recyclable material but rather plastics covered in food remains, which turned into mold in the transportation process and became excessively difficult to process upon arrival. Inevitably, by 2018 China instituted a strict contamination allowance under the National Sword policy, which effectively meant Americans no longer could export plastic waste to China. No one blames China for this decision — U.S. leaders should have had the foresight and environmental consciousness to realize the process relied on for the previous decade was not only unsustainable, it also wasn’t even a cost-effective solution for the long term. Now is the time to look domestically and reframe U.S. waste management — and quickly, because in the meantime America’s plastic waste is being landfilled and burned at an alarming rate, both domestically and abroad. Second, consider the AEC industry’s potentially powerful role in this. Regardless whether designers of the built environment are involved in the policies of overseas plastics recycling, we create structures in which plastics are fixed in place and the spaces that plastics move through. Clearly, we can have a significant impact. For example, building designers should: Create sustainable purchasing policies for clients, to be enforced throughout the lifetime of a building’s operations, governing the behaviors of all tenants. These would ensure single-use materials, and especially single-use plastic purchases, are minimized throughout the building’s lifetime. The policy facilitates the best opportunities to allow occupants to act in an environmentally conscious manner. Specify Red List -free building materials . This eliminates all toxic and socially harmful materials, simultaneously decreasing reliance on petrochemicals. Keep in mind, even if plastic building products are retained in situ for 60 years, at end-of-life they are still being landfilled. It’s unhealthy, and we don’t need and shouldn’t foster use of these materials in any buildings. Advocate for improvements to building materials and assemblies. More AEC leaders need to ask vendors and manufacturers to improve their products by decoupling from petrochemical-based ingredients. Many would be glad to comply. It’s time to face down this challenge. It is the responsibility of designers of the built environment to operate beyond our traditionally defined boundaries and insist our buildings meet the highest standards possible. It is also our responsibility to be educators and help show those around us how to ensure a healthy and sustainable world for future generations. The problem is not consumer choices or their commitment to recycling correctly — the problem is plastics, period. Without doubt or hesitation, we need action today by the AEC industry to stop the cycle of pollution from this endemic industry. Pull Quote Regardless whether designers of the built environment are involved in the policies of overseas plastics recycling, we create structures in which plastics are fixed in place and the spaces that plastics move through. Topics Circular Economy Buildings Plastic Procurement 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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An idea for solving the plastics crisis

Office building uses 112 ‘smart’ chimneys to regulate light, air and energy

April 10, 2020 by  
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Mario Cucinella Architects has created a sustainable public building that uses several active and passive elements to lower its environmental footprint. Specifically, the new timber-clad headquarters for the Regional Agency for Prevention, Environment and Energy (ARPAE) uses a soaring rooftop made up of 112 smart chimneys to regulate its air, light and energy so that the building relies on minimal technical systems. At more than 53,000 square feet, the immense public works building features a central courtyard. Its cladding is made up of thin timber panels that top a ground floor with floor-to-ceiling glass panels, creating a natural harmony with its woodland surroundings in the small city of Ferrara, in northern Italy. Related: 3D-printed home inspired by a wasp’s nest is made of local clay The architect chose the building’s materials based on their ability to help the structure reach a “maximum level of environmental sustainability.” Mario Cucinella explained, “The building in Ferrara explores the relationship between form and performance, that makes it the first hybrid public building in Italy.” The stand-out characteristic in the design is, without a doubt, its eye-catching rooftop, which is comprised of 112 chimneys. An essential element in regulating the building’s energy use, each chimney features a skylight that lets natural light and air filter down into the spaces below. Some of the chimneys feature solar panels that generate ample energy for the building. The passive building system also acts differently in the summer and winter months. During the hotter months, the chimneys constantly move air through the interior, creating a healthy working space for employees and visitors. In the winter months, they operate more like a greenhouse, where they accumulate solar heat to keep the spaces warm. All in all, the unique system helps the building enjoy a comfortable temperate year-round all while reducing energy demand. + Mario Cucinella Architects Images via Mario Cucinella Architects

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Office building uses 112 ‘smart’ chimneys to regulate light, air and energy

INFOGRAPHIC: How to Create Community Through Quality Public Spaces

March 14, 2014 by  
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Here at Inhabitat we often focus on specific buildings – but the urban fabric that connects people and places is equally important. Well thought-out public spaces can create a sense of community, raise land values, and improve the health and longevity of a city’s residents. Crescent Communities recently launched a new infographic that explores the health benefits of community spaces and the design elements that go into a great public park – check it out after the break! Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: How to Create Community Through Quality Public Spaces Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: community focused design , community spaces , Green Building , green design , infographic , infrastructure , park , parks , public space , public spaces , social design , sustainable design , Urban design , urban fabric , urban planning        

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INFOGRAPHIC: How to Create Community Through Quality Public Spaces

Mind-Blowing Balloon Installations Transform Everyday Spaces Into Alien Worlds

March 13, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Mind-Blowing Balloon Installations Transform Everyday Spaces Into Alien Worlds Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: balloon installations , barcelona art , eco-art , green art , Penique Productions , sustainable artwork , temporary artwork        

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Mind-Blowing Balloon Installations Transform Everyday Spaces Into Alien Worlds

Zendome: Gorgeous Geodesic Domes Create Flexible Green Spaces

March 5, 2010 by  
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Read the rest of Zendome: Gorgeous Geodesic Domes Create Flexible Green Spaces Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “prefabricated housing” , “sustainable architecture” , geodesic domes , Green Building , green design , prefab architecture , sustainable design , zendome

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Zendome: Gorgeous Geodesic Domes Create Flexible Green Spaces

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