Cameron Sinclair joins Airbnb to provide housing for 100,000 displaced people

April 25, 2017 by  
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Airbnb wants to provide temporary housing for 100,000 displaced people, and to help reach that goal, the home-sharing service has put together a team lead by designer and Architecture for Humanity co-founder  Cameron Sinclair . Sinclair heads architecture firm Small Works , which focuses on building for communities in need, making him the perfect fit for Airbnb’s temporary housing project. Sinclair has been working with Airbnb over the past year on various pilot projects, with the official project launching this summer. The ultimate goal is for one million Airbnb users to register as “hosts for good,” signaling that they will provide housing for people impacted by natural disasters or otherwise displaced. Related: INTERVIEW: We Talk with Architecture for Humanity Founder Cameron Sinclair Airbnb announced its ambition to host displaced people during this year’s Super Bowl with a commercial tagged #weaccept. In addition to working on the commercial, Sinclair also worked on Airbnb’s Yoshino Cedar House . via Dezeen images via Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Cameron Sinclair joins Airbnb to provide housing for 100,000 displaced people

Mercedes takes on the Tesla Powerwall with a new battery for buildings

April 25, 2017 by  
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Tesla’s Powerwall has reigned supreme in home energy storage , but now they’ve got some competition from Mercedes-Benz . Last year, Daimler , parent company of Mercedes-Benz, announced that they had started developing their own brand of home energy storage units. Now the company confirmed they are beginning to deliver the units to businesses and homes in Germany . Mercedes incorporated the same lithium-ion battery technology from their hybrid cars in the new home energy storage units. Each unit has an energy content of 2.5 kilowatt-hours (kWh), and a system can be scaled up to include eight modules for a total of 20 kWh. The units come with a 10-year warranty , the same as the Tesla Powerwall , though Powerwalls come with the option to store more energy with a capacity of 13.5 kWh. Related: BMW, Daimler, Ford, and VW are planning an electric vehicle superhighway in Europe Similar to a Powerwall, Mercedes’ battery storage units store excess energy gathered by solar panels for use during peak hours or at night. According to Daimler , homeowners using their system can increase renewable energy use by as much as 65 percent. Daimler aims to expand throughout Europe and start selling the units in the United States this year. Mercedes is already developing three industrial-scale projects to provide reliability to the grid in Germany; one project includes 29 megawatt-hours of storage capacity. Mercedes is also offering a package for homeowners that comes with the battery storage unit, solar panels, an inverter, and an energy management system. The whole package, including installation, costs around $10,000. One 14 kWh Tesla Powerwall costs $5,500 ; with supporting hardware the total estimate is $6,200. Installation costs between $800 and $2,000. That doesn’t include a solar power system. Head of Development Electrics/Electronics and E-Drive for Mercedes-Benz Harald Kröger said in a statement, “We are convinced we can offer our customers an attractive product at a competitive price.” Via Treehugger Images via Mercedes-Benz and Daimler

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Mercedes takes on the Tesla Powerwall with a new battery for buildings

World’s first mobile recycling plant turns trash into tiles

April 25, 2017 by  
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Waste management is a pressing problem all over the world, but it’s especially hard for isolated communities that lack access to recycling facilities. Taiwan-based architecture studio Miniwiz has come up with an environmentally friendly solution: TRASHPRESSO, a traveling solar-powered recycling plant that turns trash into tiles. Wherever it goes, TRASHPRESSO takes local waste and recycles it into tiles for use in architecture. The mobile recycling plant is in a 40-foot container platform that a trailer truck can transport, and Miniwiz says the plant opens up similar to how a satellite unpacks in orbit. It can recycle plastic and fabric waste, running on solar power . Garbage is “washed, shredded, melted, and molded” into architectural tiles, and the water to clean the trash is reused in the process. Related: Verti-Cult: Miniwiz Unveils Glowing Green Wall Made From Recycled Bottles The off-grid plant can pump out 10 square meters, or over 107 square feet, of the architectural tiles every 40 minutes. Each tile contains the equivalent of five plastic PET bottles . They can be utilized for exterior or interior floor finishes, according to Miniwiz, “or sold as raw material for further upcycling manufacturing processes like yarning, injection, and extrusion.” Miniwiz CEO and co-founder Arthur Huang said in a statement, “Until now, industrial grade recycling was limited to plants. The TRASHPRESSO overcomes the distance and energy barriers by showing that recycling is possible everywhere. Not only does it serve to transform trash on-site, it also serves as an educational tool in isolated communities.” The TRASHPRESSO will be deployed for the first time this summer to NianBao Yuze on the Tibetan Plateau. The natural beauty of the glacier region has been trashed by tourists who leave behind litter. From there TRASHPRESSO will travel to other remote areas where garbage gathers, such as beaches, lakes, reservoirs, or rivers. Miniwiz showed off the TRASHPRESSO recently in Shanghai to celebrate Earth Day . They’ll bring the recycling plant to NianBao Yuze in partnership with Jackie Chan’s Green Heroes documentary series on National Geographic . + Miniwiz Images courtesy of Miniwiz

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World’s first mobile recycling plant turns trash into tiles

Studio Gang designs massive paper tube Hive for the National Building Museum

April 19, 2017 by  
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The National Building Museum has welcomed giant ball pits , mazes , and icebergs into its historic Great Hall, and this year the Washington, D.C. museum will welcome yet another imaginative creation: the Hive. Architecture firm Studio Gang designed the latest installation for the Museum’s Summer Block Party series that commissions larger-than-life temporary structures. The massive Hive will be built from thousands of recyclable paper tubes stacked to reach 60 feet in height. Built with over 2,700 wound paper tubes , the Hive will soar to the uppermost reaches of the museum and take on a curved form reminiscent of Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis and even a spider’s web. The tubes, which vary in size, are interlocked to create three interconnected domed chambers, the largest of which has an oculus over 10 feet in diameter. The tubes will have a reflective silver exterior and a bright magenta interior. “When you enter the Great Hall you almost feel like you’re in an outside space because of the distance sound travels before it is reflected back and made audible,” said Studio Gang founding principal Jeanne Gang. “We’ve designed a series of chambers shaped by sound that are ideally suited for intimate conversations and gatherings as well as performances and acoustic experimentation. Using wound paper tubes, a common building material with unique sonic properties, and interlocking them to form a catenary dome, we create a hive for these activities, bringing people together to explore and engage the senses.” Related: ICEBERGS immerse visitors in a beautiful underwater world in Washington, D.C. The Hive will open to the public July 4 until September 4, 2017. A full schedule of concerts, tours, talks, and programs will be hosted alongside the installation . + Studio Gang Images via National Building Museum

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Studio Gang designs massive paper tube Hive for the National Building Museum

Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels

April 10, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk’s solar roof tiles won’t fit the bill for every home. Some homeowners won’t want to replace their entire roofs , but Tesla , of course, already has a solution. They’re now marketing sleek, low-profile solar panels that are easy to install and better blend in with roofs than traditional panels. Leave it to Tesla to offer an elegant alternative to traditional solar panels. They updated the Energy section of their website over the weekend to include new images of their solar panels. The seamless look of the new technology is thanks to “integrated front skirts and no visible mounting hardware” according to Tesla’s website. Electrek said these features come from Zep Solar , a mounting equipment company SolarCity acquired before Tesla’s acquisition . Zep Solar engineers designed the rail-less system Solar City employed to slash solar installation times in half. Related: Elon Musk says Tesla’s solar roof will be cheaper than ordinary roofs Tesla says their panels “exceed industry standards for durability and lifespan” on their website. Panasonic will be manufacturing the exclusive panels at the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York. There aren’t many specifics available for the new solar panels yet, but Electrek said they will be 325-watt panels. They noted Panasonic sells other 325 watt panels, and those have a 25-year power output warranty and a 21.76 percent module efficiency. Tesla and before that SolarCity used to install solar panels from multiple suppliers as many solar companies do, but told Electrek once these new panels go into production, Tesla will use them for all residential projects in the future. It seems Elon Musk aims at offering solar solutions with better aesthetics for those who have been hesitant to go solar in the past with the bulky rooftop options. Anyone interested right now can request a custom quote on Tesla’s website . The company told Electrek production should begin this summer. Via Electrek and Engadget Images via Tesla

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Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels

Flying water taxis are hitting the rivers of Paris this summer

March 31, 2017 by  
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Parisians will soon have the opportunity to glide down rivers  in flying water taxis to get around the city.   SeaBubbles , a company creating flying water taxis, will debut their innovative mode of green transportation in Paris this summer on the River Seine. Instead of riding in polluting road vehicles, up to five people can hop aboard a SeaBubble and pay rather low fares – think Uber , but for rivers. SeaBubbles is pioneering the environmentally friendly transportation of the future with their flying water taxis, which are equipped with a battery driven propulsion system. Wings submerged below a waterway’s surface allow the vehicle, designed by Alain Thébault and Anders Bringdal, to appear as if it’s flying – and even at full speed the company says a SeaBubble doesn’t generate waves. The water taxis are silent, with around a 50 to 62 mile range, and can glide atop the Seine at speeds of almost 20 miles per hour. Related: Cal Craven’s CAT Aquatic Car Is the Water Taxi of the Future People will be able to climb aboard a SeaBubble via special docks along the river, and four people plus a driver will be able to travel inside. Prices comparable to Uber could make this eco-friendly option an affordable one as well. SeaBubbles also sees their creative vehicles as an answer to the trend of more people moving to cities . On their website they say by 2050 there could be around 10 billion people on Earth, and more than 75 percent could dwell in urban areas. To cut pollution generated by that amount of people residing in cities, and offer a clean, rapid form of transportation accessible for more people, SeaBubble taxis could offer a solution to a few issues at once. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is all for SeaBubbles. She said, “I really believe in the development of river transport. Most of the world’s big cities were built on riverbanks, an advantage we have to use to reduce our reliance on polluting cars.” . @SeaBubbles wants to be the Uber of water taxis, and we have the exclusive footage https://t.co/d9W7tZKsh0 pic.twitter.com/0w5rAk6vsx — Andrew J. Hawkins (@andyjayhawk) March 30, 2017 Watch for SeaBubbles this summer. + SeaBubbles Via My Modern Met Images via SeaBubbles

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Flying water taxis are hitting the rivers of Paris this summer

Officials declare world’s first famine in six years

February 21, 2017 by  
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Officials have declared the first official famine in six years – in South Sudan. And it is entirely manmade. The United Nations and South Sudanese government said 100,000 people are already suffering, and one million more are expected to face starvation soon. Food and Agriculture Organization representative Serge Tissot said, “Our worst fears have been realized.” The United Nations said war and economic troubles are to blame for the famine, which has been officially declared in some areas of the Unity state but also threatens other parts of South Sudan. High food prices also make it harder for hungry people to obtain sufficient sustenance. Head of the World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan, Joyce Luma, said the famine is man-made – three years of strife has affected farmers and impacted crop production. Tissot said, “Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive.” Related: Severe drought and El Niño have put 32 million southern Africans in peril According to the WFP and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 4.9 million people desperately need food in South Sudan – that’s over 40 percent of the entire population. But that number could rise to 5.5 million people, or 47 percent of the population, by the summer, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). IPC’s report said acute malnutrition is a public health emergency in the country, as 14 out of 23 counties show Global Acute Malnutrition around or greater than 15 percent. UNICEF representative Jeremy Hopkins said they estimate over one million children are acutely malnourished in South Sudan. The report called for assistance, saying humanitarian help in 2016 was able to bolster and even improve food security in some areas. “It is of paramount importance that assistance not only continues in 2017, but scales up in the face of mounting food insecurity across the country,” the report states. But Luma warned there’s only so much assistance can do without peace in South Sudan. Via the BBC and the United Nations Images via European Commission DG ECHO on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Officials declare world’s first famine in six years

FBI investigates claims Russia has information compromising Trump

January 11, 2017 by  
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating allegations that Russian agents possess compromising financial and personal information about President-elect Donald Trump , reports CNN . The news organization said memos providing the classified information haven’t been “independently corroborated,” but it appears the FBI was at least aware of such damaging allegations before the United States election. Trump, President Obama , and eight members of Congress reportedly received a two-page summary on the allegations that also included claims Trump surrogates exchanged information with Russian government intermediaries during Trump’s campaign. The two-page summary was compiled mainly from memos prepared by a former British intelligence agent. U.S. intelligence officials believe past work from this agent is credible. The FBI will now delve into the accuracy and credibility of the allegations from the memos, which contain information coming from Russian sources, but CNN notes “many essential details” in the memos have not yet been confirmed. Although Buzzfeed published the memos, CNN did not. Related: Trump calls for more nuclear weapons in alarming new tweet The former British agent, who during the 1990’s was posted to Russia, now operates his own private intelligence firm. CNN reports donors and groups backing Republican opposition to Trump initially funded the former agent’s investigations into the President-elect. After Trump nabbed the Republication nomination, donors and groups backing Hillary Clinton funded further investigations. It appears the FBI knew about the compromising memos during the summer; the former British agent gave memos to an FBI official in August 2016 in Rome, reports CNN. The news organization also said Senator John McCain delivered memos dated from June to December 2016 to FBI Director James Comey on December 9. FBI and Director of National Intelligence spokespersons did not comment. CNN said officials they talked with spoke off the record as the information is classified. Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Late Night with Seth Meyers that the memos are untrue. And predictably, Trump ranted on Twitter about “fake news.” Via CNN Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Former industrial district in Finland to be transformed into an eco-friendly innovation hub

January 11, 2017 by  
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The Finnish city of Tampere just declared Schauman & Norgren Architects and Mandaworks the winners of an international competition for the redesign of Hiedanranta, a former industrial district. The 250-hectare masterplan, named Hiedanranta Innovation Bay, prescribes carbon neutral development to deal with the rapidly growing population. The design will be sensitive to the site’s industrial heritage and the natural lakeshore environment. Located northwest of the city of Tampere, Hiedanranta Innovation Bay will house 25,000 new residents and 10,000 new jobs created around a circular economy . Schauman & Norgren Architects and Mandaworks organized the area around two urban grids and divided the land into six diverse and productive neighborhoods. The neighborhoods will be connected by two major corridors—a north-south “innovation corridor” and an east-west “recreation corridor”—complemented with a cohesive landscape design integrated with passive stormwater management and habitat cultivation. Major civic buildings as well as manufacturing facilities and the innovation campus will line the innovation corridor, whereas the recreation corridor is defined by water elements such as the harbor and a grand canal. Related: Reykjavik announces plans to be carbon neutral by 2040 Public transportation and non-vehicular transport are prioritized in the masterplan. Two tram lines will crisscross the development, while cycle and pedestrian routes will make it easy for residents to move between neighborhoods. The masterplan will be installed in three phases, from 2025 to 2045. “Embracing the circular economy and creative potential of Tampere, the masterplan catalyses innovation, embraces the future of smart manufacturing and creates a robust platform for public life. Hiedanranta Innovation Bay embraces the site’s industrial character and builds upon its foundation to create an urban district that supports new technologies, emerging business trends and local energy production ,” says Patrick Verhoeven, partner in charge of Mandaworks. + Schauman & Norgren Architects + Mandaworks Images via Schauman & Norgren Architects

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Former industrial district in Finland to be transformed into an eco-friendly innovation hub

German government votes to ban new combustion engine cars by 2030

October 10, 2016 by  
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Germany’s Federal Council (Bundesrat) voted to approve a ban on new combustion engine vehicles beginning in 2030. This move solidifies the opinion outlined earlier this summer to slash emissions in privately owned passenger cars. The Federal Council, which represents the nation’s federal states, approved the measure in order to cut emissions in accordance with the goals set forth in the Paris climate agreement, which Germany ratified just weeks ago. The Council has also asked the European Commission to consider implementing a ban like this across the European Union; given the long history of German policy influence, it could happen. While German lawmakers aren’t considering any proposal that would take combustion engines off the roads, the bill would govern all new vehicle registrations from 2030 forward. This will effectively force car buyers to choose an electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in order to drive legally. A host of complementary proposals are under consideration to support the effort, and the Federal Council has asked the European Commission to review its taxation policies and their role in the “stimulation of emission-free mobility.” Related: All new cars in Germany must be emissions free after 2030 That could lead to additional tax breaks for buyers of green cars, or an end to tax credits for diesel cars. New registrations of diesel vehicles have already dropped in the EU as of August, according to a Forbes report , which some take as an early indication that the push toward emissions-free vehicles has more public support than realized. In order to meet the terms of the Paris agreement, Germany must cut carbon dioxide emissions nationwide by 95 percent by 2050. Targeting the transportation industry will put a huge dent in that figure, but it’s clear much more work will be necessary in other areas (hello, energy sector) to get the job done on time. Via Engadget Images via ceiling/Flickr and Wikipedia

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German government votes to ban new combustion engine cars by 2030

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