New study finds eco-glitter just as damaging as ordinary glitter

October 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Bad news for those of us who love sparkly stuff. Even though you thought you were saving the world one reflective particle at a time, that orange eco-glitter you sprinkled on your Halloween craft project isn’t any easier on rivers and lakes than conventional glitter. Despite the promises and inflated price tag, biodegradable glitter ends up the same way as old-school glitter — wreaking havoc on aquatic ecosystems. Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge, U.K. ran tests to compare ordinary glitter with “eco” glitter. “Glitter is a ready-made microplastic that is commonly found in our homes and, particularly through cosmetics, is washed off in our sinks and into the water system,” said Dannielle Green , a senior lecturer in biology at ARU. “Our study is the first to look at the effects of glitter in a freshwater environment and we found that both conventional and alternative glitters can have a serious ecological impact on aquatic ecosystems within a short period of time.” Related: Scientists call for a worldwide ban on the global hazard of glitter Regular glitter is made from PET plastic. Eco-glitter comes in a couple of varieties. One type is made from eucalyptus-sourced modified regenerated cellulose (MRC) with a reflective aluminum coating and thin plastic layer. The other main type of eco-glitter is made from mica, that shiny mineral often used in cosmetics. In the ARU study, researchers spent 5 weeks observing how traditional, MRC and mica glitters affected an aquatic ecosystem. They were especially interested in how glitter influenced chlorophyll and root levels of plants . All three types of glitter yielded similarly negative results. Worse, the eco-glitter attracted New Zealand mud snails, an invasive species that steals food from local species. Sixty U.K. festivals had already announced a switch to biodegradable glitter by 2021. But this new research threatens to steal the sparkle from eco-conscious party people and render an already bleak 2020 even drabber. The U.K. supermarket chain Morrisons is axing glitter from its own brand before Christmas. So don’t expect any sparkle on your holiday cards, ornaments and present bags. If you just can’t handle ditching glitter entirely, try making your own with sugar or salt and non-toxic, natural food coloring. Via The Guardian Image via Sharon McCutcheon

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New study finds eco-glitter just as damaging as ordinary glitter

LEED Gold office in Austin offers wearables to promote employee wellness

October 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The Texas Mutual Insurance Company’s new headquarters in Austin, Texas’s Mueller Development has earned both LEED Gold and Austin Energy Green Building 4-Star certifications in recognition of the building’s energy-efficient design and focus on occupant wellness. Designed by Texan architecture firm  Studio8 Architects , the four-story office building is notable for its adherence to the “Design for Active Occupants” LEED innovation strategy to prioritize a healthy and active workplace as opposed to the traditionally sedentary office environment. Texas Mutual also provides occupants with wearable devices to track activity and employee access to an online portal for evaluating individual health scores and biometric data.  As one of the first members of the Austin Green Business Leaders group, Texas Mutual has used its headquarters as an inspiring example of the firm’s sustainable objectives. The four-story headquarters is strategically located in the LEED ND Gold-certified Mueller neighborhood, a  mixed-use  and mixed-income area that’s pedestrian and bicycle-friendly. The offices sit above ground-floor retail space — currently occupied by a restaurant and daycare facility — and a parking garage. To meet  LEED Gold  standards, architects wrapped the building with a highly insulating envelope punctuated with full-height windows and wove biophilic design elements throughout the interior. Daylight responsive LEDs and an HVAC system that draws chilled water from Austin Energy’s Mueller District Energy System help to further reduce the building’s energy footprint.  Related: SUNY New Paltz Engineering Innovation Hub achieves LEED Gold Natural materials, daylighting and greenery indoors further promote a healthy work environment. Occupant health is also targeted with ergonomic workstations with adjustable sit/stand desks, an on-site gym and a Green Housekeeping program to maintain a clean and non-toxic space. “Social spaces were sporadically placed to encourage movement across floors, a multi-story  green wall , and a courtyard and rooftop terrace with Wi-Fi connection encouraged employees to be connected to each other and to nature,” the architects said. + Studio8 Architects Images by Lars Frazer

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LEED Gold office in Austin offers wearables to promote employee wellness

Dream of an escape to the off-grid cabins in Kogelberg Nature Reserve

October 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

When the team at KLG Architects, a South Africa-based company that specializes in contemporary design, was asked to design a retreat deep inside a nature reserve, the result is architecture that respects nature while providing a safe, comfortable and off-grid space for humans in it. Located in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, 1.5 hours outside of Cape Town, the retreat’s purpose is to accommodate the environmental staff who work on the reserve as well as provide guest amenities, which include a natural swimming pool and several cabins . Related: Nimmo Bay offers a remote, eco-friendly spa experience The challenges were significant with the remote location, including an inability to get large equipment into the region, so the team began by studying the landscape to understand the topography and vegetation. Careful consideration in protecting the fynbos region was a primary goal. With this central focus, the team selected a location for the structures that would have the lowest impact and began sketching designs on paper. In the end, the architects created five two-person cabins and three six-person cabins set in place with minimal site impact , including small concrete supports. Each cabin is raised off the ground, allowing animals to cross and water to flow beneath. A network of floating boardwalks connects the cabins while preserving the natural environment. Pine was selected as the primary building material due to its availability and natural gray fading that allows it to blend into the landscape. Each cabin is situated to highlight the views and comes complete with an outdoor deck with a private pergola for protection from the sun and heat. Inside, small wood-burning stoves warm the cabins at night while strategically placed vents provide cooling cross-ventilation . High specification insulation throughout the cabins further contributes to energy savings. The designers also incorporated off-grid technology such as waterless Enviro-loos. This form of dry sanitation relies on heat from the sun to convert sewage into compost without the use of water, chemicals or electricity. The water that is needed in the retreat is sourced from the nearby Palmiet River, which is treated at a new water purification plant. Full solar geyser systems were used throughout. In addition, green roofs are planted with carefully chosen endemic grasses, which help cool the space. As described by KLG Architects, “The resultant design sits harmoniously in the environment and connects the user to the natural landscape, providing a perfect retreat experience.” + KLG Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by David Southwood via KLG Architects

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Dream of an escape to the off-grid cabins in Kogelberg Nature Reserve

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