Save energy and money with these eco-friendly tips for winter

December 30, 2020 by  
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Whether winter conjures thoughts of cozy fires and hot cocoa or trudging through snow and ice on the way to work, it’s essential to have a plan for coping with the season in a sustainable way. Here are some tips to saving energy, water and money while staying toasty and warm all winter long. Heat and electricity bills Not only will the bills add up as you bump up the heat, but so does energy consumption. Create a more Earth-friendly indoor environment by keeping your heating and electrical costs down. Remember the basics, like unplugging chargers and small appliances when not in use. Put your holiday and winter lights on a timer. Turn out the lights when you leave the room. Related: 7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home Add layers of clothing before heading to the thermostat. Bundling up can save you a bundle in heating costs. Also invest in a digital thermostat and set it to a lower temperature at night and while you’re away during the day. A simple way to spin more warm air into the living space is to flip the switch on the side of your ceiling fans. When they spin clockwise, they push warm air from the top of the room to the bottom. To really improve energy efficiency in your space, consider additional insulation around door and window openings, such rolled towels or a draft snake under door cracks, and an added layer of eco-friendly insulation in the attic, walls or basement. Maintain your furnace. Regular maintenance results in better efficiency and longevity for your home’s heat source. It’s always important to regularly replace your furnace filter, but make it a priority during the winter when the appliance is blowing more often. Snow and ice Depending on where you live, snow and ice may be part of your daily routine or only appear on occasion. When they do, avoid the chemical-laden deicers; use natural kitty litter or sand instead. Skip the gas-powered and polluting snow blowers. Instead, use an electric snow blower. Better yet, get the family out for a good old-fashioned snow removal with shovels and brooms. Water Many people focus on water savings during the summer, but few emphasize it during the winter when we’re not watering lawns. However, winter brings bulkier clothing that results in more laundry, the temptation for long showers or baths on cold days and the potential for broken pipes.  Check your water consumption by setting a timer for the shower and only run the washing machine and dishwasher when they are full. Turn off the water supply and winterize the automatic sprinklers, AC units and RV plumbing. Recycle the water you do use by cooling the pot of water after cooking pasta or by collecting water in the shower. Use this to water indoor plants. For an added layer of efficiency, add a water recycling system to your house where the laundry or shower can provide water for the toilet. Take advantage of rainy weather by having those rain barrels ready to collect and store water you’ll be using in a few months. Compost By the time gardening season rolls around, the compost from last summer will be ready to use. But you can continue to build your compost pile throughout the winter, too. It won’t break down as quickly as it does in the hotter months, but there’s no reason to trash tree trimmings, leaves or food scraps. If your compost pile is inaccessible, you can at least collect food scraps in a container in the freezer to add to the pile later. Transportation Slick roads and dangerous driving conditions make winter the perfect time to rely on public transportation. Dust off the bus pass or start using the subway and let someone else do the driving while reducing air pollution from carbon emissions.  If public transportation isn’t an option, do your part by ensuring your car is maintained. Change your oil along with cabin and engine air filters. Replace spark plugs, hoses and fuel filters at recommended intervals. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated. The more efficiently your car functions, the less gas it will require and the less emissions it will release. Waste When you’re ready to warm up with a hot cup of coffee or tea, opt to make your drinks at home in your reusable mugs. When you head for the store or if you shop online, be mindful of packaging. Find retailers that offer sustainable packaging options instead of plastic foam (like Styrofoam) and plastic . Remember your reusable produce and shopping bags when you head to the store or garden stand, so you can buy fresh fruits and veggies without the plastic waste . Efficient kitchens Keep your refrigerator running efficiently by vacuuming out the vents along the bottom. Deice your freezer if it doesn’t have an auto-defrost option. Keep the blender, coffee maker and toaster unplugged when not in use, and leave the oven door open after use to release the warm air into your home. Create a more sustainable coffee station by ditching the single-use plastic coffee pods in favor of a reusable version. Better yet, convert to a ceramic drip or French press, skipping the waste and composting the leftover coffee grounds. Winter is soup season , meaning it is the perfect time to use up a variety of vegetables and incorporate a meat-free dinner at least once each week. Stay cozy! Images via Pixabay and Unsplash

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Save energy and money with these eco-friendly tips for winter

Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world

August 10, 2020 by  
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Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world Joel Makower Mon, 08/10/2020 – 02:11 And now for some serious fun. Last week, I had the opportunity to facilitate an  online conversation with  Terreform ONE , a Brooklyn, New York-based nonprofit architecture and urban design research group whose humble mission is “to combat the extinction of planetary species through pioneering acts of design.” It was a refreshing jolt of inspiration and hopefulness during this otherwise dreary moment. The conversation was hosted by the San Francisco-based Museum of Craft and Design , which recently housed an exhibition titled  “Survival Architecture and the Art of Resilience,” in which visionary architects and artists were asked to create artistically interpretative solutions and prototypes for survival shelter in a warming world. (My wife, Randy Rosenberg, executive director of the nonprofit  Art Works for Change , created the exhibition, which has traveled North America the past few years.) As part of the exhibition, Art Works for Change commissioned Terreform ONE (for Open Network Ecology) to create  Cricket Shelter Farm , an innovative living space that addresses both sustainable food systems and modular compact architecture. Essentially, it is housing that also serves as a cricket farm and, hence, a source of food for its human residents. Each of the hundreds of off-the-shelf plastic containers that form the main structure house a self-contained colony of crickets, which can be turned into high-protein flour. A typical shelter might have 300 such units, each producing a bag of “chirp chips,” or the ingredients for making such things as bagels or pasta, every few weeks. “They live happy lives and they reproduce,” explained Mitchell Joachim, Terreform ONE’s co-founder, of the tiny, six-legged critters. In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. That may sound fanciful — and, for some, less than appetizing — but insect consumption is hardly a novel concept, according to a 2013 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report . “From ants to beetle larvae — eaten by tribes in Africa and Australia as part of their subsistence diets — to the popular, crispy-fried locusts and beetles enjoyed in Thailand, it is estimated that insect-eating is practiced regularly by at least 2 billion people worldwide,” FAO said. Some 80 percent of the world’s nations eat insects in some form. And because you can produce a gram of cricket protein using a tiny fraction of the land, water and other resources it takes to produce a gram of animal protein, it represents a vast ecological improvement compared to eating meat from cows, chickens, lambs and pigs. In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. Bikes, buildings and butterflies Cricket Shelter Farm is just one of Terreform ONE’s  innovative solutions . There’s  Gen2Seat , ”the first full-scale synthetic biological chair,” created by fusing mycelium — the vegetative part of a fungus, and the foundation for mushrooms — with bacteria to create a  biobased polymer. “It’s designed for kindergartens, and she’s supposed to go home and tell mommy and daddy that she can eat her chair and that it’s okay,” said Joachim, a Harvard- and MIT-educated architect, Fulbright Scholar and TED Fellow, whose daughter is pictured here, modeling the chair. Another is the  Plug-In Ecology: Urban Farm Pod , a habitat “for individuals and urban nuclear families to grow and provide for their daily vegetable needs.” As Joachim explained: “Instead of a green wall, it’s a green ball for your home or your rooftop or your urban balcony or an urban park. You make food on the outside and the inside. It’s on wheels, so it can rotate to get the most amount of solar income.” An app tells you when the veggies are ready to pick. And then there’s the  Monarch Sanctuary , a prototype building façade that serves as a habitat for the butterfly of that name, an iconic pollinator species that is considered endangered. It’s a regular building on the inside but the skin of the building doubles as a “vertical butterfly meadow.” Terreform ONE teamed with BASF to launch a Monarch Sanctuary  installation at the Morris Museum. A  planned eight-story building in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood will be the first full-scale version. In addition to BASF, Terreform has also worked with Intel and GE. “These big partners are very much interested in sharing these concepts so they can move on their side of things to make some of them happen,” said Terreform Executive Director Vivian Kuan, an architect with an interdisciplinary background in art, entrepreneurial marketing and startups. Quotidian, everyday folks One of the things I truly appreciate about Terreform’s approach is its attention to the social aspect of these innovative designs. “I think a lot of the future depends on creating access and implementing these programs and making them rely on the collaboration of many different stakeholders — public-private partnerships, where cities and corporations really jump in and help the funding; and where inventors and entrepreneurs develop the technology and pilot,” Kuan said. Joachim pointed to a shared-bicycle concept being incubated at Terreform —”a super accessible bike-sharing program along with a biodiversity program,” as he described it. “This is essentially meant for people who can’t even afford something like Citi Bike” — the privately-owned public bicycle sharing system serving New York City. “It gives them access and they can use it to solve what we call the last-mile problem, which is a very difficult thing in cities. You can get buses and subways to a certain area, but then you can’t get that bag of groceries from that last stop on the subway to your home.” The low-cost cargo bikes are designed to carry up to 400 pounds. “We are working deeply to think about mobility justice in every possible form,” Joachim added. “So, none of this is imagined for the 1 percent or the super-elite. It’s imagined for the quotidian folks and the everyday people in cities, especially dense, intense urban environments.” In this topsy-turvy time, even the most fanciful ideas suddenly seem possible as we rethink cities, suburbs, buildings, work, home, shopping and practically everything else. Joachim and Kuan believe the pandemic could cause a massive shift in how people think about living in dense urban environments — or, instead, move to the ‘burbs. Either way, the times will require new designs for buildings, infrastructure and ways of moving about. Indeed, Joachim said, this may be Terreform’s moment. “We were waiting for a crisis, because we thought that was the only way we’re going to get any kind of change happening.” 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 In a world with more than a billion undernourished souls, not to mention as many as 1.6 billion homeless, solutions like this can be global game-changers. Topics Cities Buildings Eco-Design Innovation 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 Terreform ONE’s fanciful vision of 42nd Street in New York city, with riparian corridors teeming with aqueous life, lighting systems with vertical-axis wind turbines and photovoltaic cells, and lots of green walls. All images courtesy of Terreform ONE. 

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Terreform ONE’s plans to upend cities and suburbs in a post-pandemic world

These Adidas sneakers double as subway passes in Berlin

January 17, 2018 by  
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No ticket? No problem. If you’re wearing Adidas’s limited-edition EQT Support 93 sneaker , you’ll be able to hitch a free ride on Berlin’s metro through most of 2018. To satisfy the conductor, simply kick up your heels. An unlikely partnership between the footwear giant and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe —a.k.a. BVG, the German capital’s main public transport operator—each shoe incorporates an annual pass that’s been rendered in fabric and stitched into the tongue. Such passes typically go for €730 ($895), which means that the shoe itself, at €180 ($220), is a comparative steal. Unsurprisingly, some newspapers noted that hundreds of people camped outside shoe stores in the snow (a few of them over the weekend) for a chance to snap up one of just 500 pairs. As far as train-hopping is concerned, the shoe is certainly dressed for the occasion. It features camouflage-like squiggles that recall the design of the subway system’s upholstered seats, plus black-and-yellow sneakers that echo the colors of the trains’ facades. Related: San Francisco’s rapid transit to run on 100% renewable energy And BVG, which is ringing in its 90th year, demonstrates that you’re never to old to be a fashion icon. “How cool is that? Now we have an exclusive sneaker with our popular BVG seat pattern. We are sure that this shoe is a very special highlight for Berlin,” Sigrid Evelyn Nikutta, CEO of BVG, said in a statement. “It’s great that the BVG, which is celebrating its 90th birthday this year, is now becoming a cult object itself.” + Adidas Photos by Overkill

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These Adidas sneakers double as subway passes in Berlin

Taipeis gorgeous Daan Park MRT raises the bar for metro stations everywhere

May 20, 2016 by  
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Located in the verdant and sprawling Daan Forest Park, the Daan Park MRT Station was completed in November 2013 as part of the Red Line extension. Rather than install another boring and common “matchbox”-like subway entrance, the government commissioned Che Fu Chang Architects to design a station that blends the built environment into nature and serves as a transitional space between the underground subway and the aboveground park. Wrapped in full-height glazing and punctuated by greenery both inside and out, the light-filled station has turned into a vibrant civic hub with a sunken garden that’s also helped to increase foot traffic to Daan Forest Park. Related: Beautiful Mashrabiya-Like Metal Facade Transforms Metro Station into a Glowing Lantern in Amsterdam Curved forms dominate the design, from the tall, arched ceilings and curved glass curtain walls to the sunken semi-circular courtyard and garden that extends the footprint of the underground platform to the outdoors. A raised plaza and beautiful water features, including a pool, fountain, and waterfall that dampen traffic noise, ring the courtyard. “While travelers alight at the station, they will be driven by their biological instinct, seeking sunlight and breeze to lead their way to the park,” write the architects. “The transition between inside and outside brings the joy of nature and ultimately, turning the daily commute into a wonderful journey.” + Che Fu Chang Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Che Fu Chang Architects

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Taipeis gorgeous Daan Park MRT raises the bar for metro stations everywhere

Solar-powered KontererART city in Poland is made of reused shipping containers

May 20, 2016 by  
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Instead of designing several freestanding pavilions , the architects created a single big building with interconnected containers housing different activities and spaces. The Bar and Carbo Gallery, which was left over from last year’s event, was converted into a base. The surrounding containers house the music workshop, Aktywator office, scene, food, toilets and warehouses . These were attached to the bar and gallery at a 90-degree angle, creating a U-shaped composition. The exterior of the north and south facades was painted orange to mark the entrances and the make the structure stand out. Related: Cargotecture transforms a San Francisco parking lot into a lively village The complex shelters a sandy beach with deck chairs and a big island made of pallets . Located near the river, the project includes a terrace and a rooftop bar that provides views of the surroundings. In order to provide clean energy for the project, the architects placed solar collectors on the rooftops and designed a green wall that supplies the bar and catering with fresh herbs. + Adam Wiercinski + Borys Wrzeszcz + Agnieszka Owsiany + KontenerART Photos by Przemys?aw Turlej , Skyphoto.pro

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Solar-powered KontererART city in Poland is made of reused shipping containers

Beautiful Mashrabiya-Like Metal Facade Transforms Metro Station into a Glowing Lantern in Amsterdam

April 11, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Beautiful Mashrabiya-Like Metal Facade Transforms Metro Station into a Glowing Lantern in Amsterdam Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Amsterdam , Bijlmermeer , filigree facade , Kraaiennest , laser cut , light box , Maccreanor Lavington , mashrabiya , Metro station , metro station upgrade , natural light , Netherlands , public transportation , stainless steel , subway , Subway station , urban renewal

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Beautiful Mashrabiya-Like Metal Facade Transforms Metro Station into a Glowing Lantern in Amsterdam

BMW Designs Ritzy Subway Trains for Kuala Lumpur’s New Transit System

April 3, 2014 by  
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BMW subsidiary Designworks USA is helping the bustling city of Kuala Lumpur move into the 21st century with 58 ritzy trains for the city’s new subway system. The new three-line metro system is expected to be up and running by 2017 and looks like it could take top honors for most stylish and energy-efficient subway ride. From LED lighting to recyclable stainless steel cars, Malaysia’s new transportation system is expected to comprise an aesthetically-pleasing mix of futuristic and energy efficient design. Read the rest of BMW Designs Ritzy Subway Trains for Kuala Lumpur’s New Transit System Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: BMW , Designworks USA , energy efficient transport , Kuala Lumpur Subway Trains , LED lighting , Malaysia , public transportation , subway design , subway train design , transit design , transportation design , Urban design        

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BMW Designs Ritzy Subway Trains for Kuala Lumpur’s New Transit System

New Report Reveals Rubberizing “Yoga Mat” Chemical Present in 500 Everyday Foods

March 3, 2014 by  
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 Photo ©  Shutterstock Until Subway announced it was pulling azodicarbonamide (ADA) out of its bread last week, few people had ever heard of this food additive found in many baked goods. As it turns out, it’s more than just a way to make bread softer and more elastic — it’s also an industrial chemical used in plastic and rubber products like yoga mats and flip flops. And while you’ll no longer be eating a heaping dose of ADA with your Subway sandwich, if you buy bread, bagels, tortillas, or hamburger buns at your local grocery store, chances are you’re still being exposed. In fact, a recent report by the Environmental Working Group reveals that ADA is present in about 500 common supermarket products made by 130 different companies, even brands that pride themselves on being “natural” and “healthy.” Read the rest of New Report Reveals Rubberizing “Yoga Mat” Chemical Present in 500 Everyday Foods Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ADA , allergies , asthma , azodicarbonamide , bread conditioner , dough conditioner , fast food , fast food bread , fda , food additives , Food and Drug Administration , industrial additive , industrial chemical , packaged foods , plastic chemical , subway , supermarket bread , yoga mat chemical        

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New Report Reveals Rubberizing “Yoga Mat” Chemical Present in 500 Everyday Foods

Thomas Heatherwick Tapped to Design as Many as 20 Beijing Subway Stations

October 16, 2013 by  
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Beijing Subway photo from Shutterstock Beijing is planning to add 125 miles to its underground rail network – and the city just appointed Thomas Heatherwick  to design at least two brand new stations. If all goes well, the British designer could go on to design up to 20 stations, which is the equivalent of an entire metro line. Heatherwick is currently traveling with London Mayor Boris Johnson on a trade mission to China, and has still managed to find the time to bid for the development of two new stations on the London Underground. Read the rest of Thomas Heatherwick Tapped to Design as Many as 20 Beijing Subway Stations Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Beijing , Beijing Metro , Beijing Subway , Beijing Underground , Boris Johnson , Design , London Underground , Subway station , tfl , thomas heatherwick , Trade Mission        

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Thomas Heatherwick Tapped to Design as Many as 20 Beijing Subway Stations

Pirate Ninja Full-Size Bike Is Fast, Light and Folds to Half its Size In Just 10 Seconds

February 18, 2013 by  
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Pirates are known as the booty-seeking swashbucklers of the high seas. Ninjas are the stealthy warriors, lurking in the shadows until the time is right. Traits of both these larger-than-life characters become part of reality in the Tern Eclipse X20 , also known as the Pirate Ninja folding bike . Designed as a full-size bicycle, the Eclipse X20 sheds the awkward configuration of most folding bikes for a sleek, nimble frame that will turn heads when cruising, and blow minds when folded. Read the rest of Pirate Ninja Full-Size Bike Is Fast, Light and Folds to Half its Size In Just 10 Seconds Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bicycles , bikes , Design , eclipse X20 , folding bikes , green transportation , Ninja , Pirate , subway , Tern , urban living

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