8 surprising uses for hemp that could make the world a greener place

January 30, 2017 by  
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Hemp isn’t just for hackin’ the sack at Phish shows or making rope. This amazing plant, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis grown specifically for industrial purposes, has a vast number of applications for a greener planet. Cultivated hemp grows quickly in a wide variety of climates and does not degrade the soil in which it is grown. Tune in, turn on, and read this feature to learn the latest developments in the magical (yet still illegal in most countries) world of hemp. Housing Hemp can processed into a durable material that was once used by Henry Ford to construct a car that was lighter, less expensive and consumed less power than traditional metal cars. These principles have also been applied to housing throughout the world. In the United Kingdom, farmer Nick Voase turned his own grown hemp into an amazing eco-house, held together by lime, that is cool in summer, warm in winter, and even features a walk-in fridge made out of hemp. In South Africa, hemp advocate Tony Budden is working hard to demonstrate the value of the wonder plant; he and his partner built the country’s first hemp home. Northern Ireland’s Bevan Architects  used hemp to construct a simple low-impact cottage on a riverside apple orchard for an environmentally friendly retreat from urban living. Lastly, in Australia, Mihaus Studio built a prefabricated hemp-based modular space that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes. Plastic Traditional plastic is derived from non-renewable resources and is non-biodegradable, which means that disposed plastic usually ends up in ever expanding landfills. Enter our hero, hemp, a renewable resource which can be used to produce biodegradable plastic. A shift to the greener hemp would not require a sacrifice of quality . Hemp plastic may be up to 5 times stiffer and 2.5 stronger than traditional plastic made from polypropylene and unlike glass fibers, hemp plastic would not pose safety and health risks. Designers, such as  Studio Aisslinger , have incorporated this fine bioplastic into its products, such as the chair shown above. Pet Toys Hemp isn’t only for humans. Dogs, cats, and other furry, feathered, or scaly friends can also benefit from the plant. Honest Pet Products has created a line of pet toys made from sustainable hemp and organic wool. The method by which these toys are produced is also beneficial for the environment and community. The toys are manufactured by adults with developmental disabilities in Wisconsin and women living in the Gobi Desert and Nepal, who simultaneously support their family with their work and vow to protect the local snow leopards as a condition for their employment. Energy Storage Graphene  has received a great deal of attention for its superstrength and its astounding ability as a superconductor of electricity. Lost in this storm is the fact that hemp may be able to replicate graphene’s function as a supercapacitor, a revolutionary energy storage device, at a radically lower cost . David Mitlin of Clarkson University , New York discovered hemp’s superconductive properties by “cooking” plant material in a process. “Once you dissolve the lignin and the semicellulose, it leaves these carbon nanosheets – a pseudo-graphene structure,” said Mitlin. These nanosheets are then fabricated into electrodes, infused with an ionic liquid as an electrolyte, and function as supercapacitors that work in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Mitlin founded a small company, Alta Supercaps , with the goal of producing hemp-based supercapacitors on a small scale. Insulation Not only is hemp a durable material for housing structure, it also is an excellent insulator. In Belgium,  Martens Van Caimere Architecten  renovated a local home with a sustainable hemp-based insulation material known as hempcrete . Hempcrete is a mixture of lime, hemp, and water that is superior to concrete in its sustainability and cost while also offering better insulation. “In our projects we try finding solutions to lower the building costs,” said architect Nikolaas Martens. “In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Belgians were building houses that were badly or not insulated. So renovating these houses in a sustainable way tends to be expensive. Hempcrete combines the insulation and finishing in one layer, reducing building costs. Plus it is durable and sustainable, because it is made from a waste product.” Airplanes Fly high in the sky with hemp! In 2014, Canada-based Hempearth  contracted with a Florida-based plane manufacturer to build an airplane almost entirely out of hemp material . The plane will seat four people and have a wingspan of 36 feet. Approximately 75 percent of the plane will be constructed of industrial hemp. Originally scheduled for its first flight (appropriately out of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina) in 2015, the plane has yet to fly. Hempearth is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their project. Biofuel Not satisfied with simply being made from hemp, the designers at Hempearth also plan for their plane to be powered entirely by hemp-based biofuel . While hemp biodiesel has great potential, there are currently legal and economic barriers to widespread adoption . “That particularly, is very much an issue of economies of scale,” said Arthur Hanks, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance. “We are still very much a specialty crop.”  The limited production of hemp is primarily geared towards the health food market, in which hemp provides the greatest return to farmers. “Every pound that’s being produced goes into the food chain,” Paul Bobbee, a Canadian hemp grower. While hemp production is legal in Canada, the continued haziness surrounding hemp policy in the United States suppresses the market.  If hemp production were legalized nationwide, “it would help regularize hemp in America, and help to increase markets,” said Hanks. Food Bring on the munchies. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, sprouted, or ground up while the iconic hemp leaf can be thrown into a salad. Hemp seeds are high in protein and have a similar amino acid profile to meat, milk, and eggs. Often cold-pressed into oil form, hemp seeds are a rich source of Vitamin B, iron, dietary fiber, magnesium and zinc. Although illegal to produce in most American states, hemp can be imported as a food product. As of 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products. Images via  The Event Chronicle , vhcmor/Flickr , Christina Griffin ,  Cedric Verhelst , Hempearth , FluffyMuppet/Flickr , Wikimedia Commons   (2) , Don Goofy/Flickr , Studio Aisslinger   and Bob Doran/Flickr

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8 surprising uses for hemp that could make the world a greener place

Elon Musk stands up for refugees, wants to rewrite Trump’s immigration ban

January 30, 2017 by  
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In the wake of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, which targets Syrian refugees and people from six other countries, numerous Silicon Valley leaders came out in support of immigrants. One notable objector was Tesla CEO Elon Musk , who tweeted the ban is “not the best way to address the country’s challenges.” And Musk won’t just be tweeting, but said he will gather recommended modifications to the executive order that he plans to present to Trump . https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/825502618680045568 People from the predominantly Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya will temporarily be barred from entering America, according to Trump’s executive order, which reads “I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.” Trump claimed the order was not about religion, but about terrorism. Related: Artist covers two houses in bright pink crochet as a symbol of hope for refugees Silicon Valley leaders were quick to stand against Trump’s executive order. Google co-founder Sergey Brin joined a protest at the San Francisco International Airport, telling one reporter he was a refugee, Airbnb promised to provide housing for stranded refugees, and Elon Musk tweeted , “Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They’ve done right, not wrong & don’t deserve to be rejected.” https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/825809205244223488 Musk provided a link to the text of the executive order on the Wall Street Journal so people can read it for themselves. He said he will “seek advisory council consensus & present to President.” Born in South Africa , Musk came to the United States in 1992 to attend the University of Pennsylvania. He sits on an economic advisory board for Trump and more recently agreed to be part of a Manufacturing Jobs Initiative started by the president. Let’s hope Trump is willing to listen to his recommendations. Via The Verge ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via OnInnovation on Flickr and Lorie Shaull on Flickr

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Elon Musk stands up for refugees, wants to rewrite Trump’s immigration ban

Haiti renovation project boosts community using local labor and materials

January 27, 2017 by  
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Nothing warms our design-loving hearts like a project built by and for communities, and with local resources to boot. Working pro bono, Thrive Architecture teamed with nonprofit organization Building Goodness Foundation and local workers to expand an existing Center of Hope Haiti school and orphanage just outside of Hinche. Not only is the project socially meaningful, but environmentally-conscious as well. The project, which was completed in October, 2016, included a series of new facilities for an existing school and orphanage run by The Center of Hope Haiti (COHH). As the funding allowed, the construction team was able to build four new buildings to create much-needed space for the educational complex. Related: Earthquake-resistant orphanage is a welcoming ray of hope in Haiti The entire project followed BGF’s construction scheme, which includes using a team of skilled craftsmen and trade professionals along with local unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. The entire group works on the project from start to finish, from site planning and concept design to construction, allowing the communities to create a capable, self-sustaining labor force. The layout for the school included a new “sheltering landscape” built on the highest elevation possible in order to offer additional protection during the storm seasons . The team was also careful to protect two existing Mango trees that offer shade from the tropical heat. Related: Architectural Association School of Architecture bamboo workshops in Haiti teach post-disaster construction techniques From the beginning of the project, the construction plan consisted of using conventional Haitian construction techniques, including the use of traditional Haitian “parging”, which was left unpainted. Locally-sourced materials made up a good part of the project, including quarried stone that wraps around each of the buildings’ exteriors. Additionally, locally-sourced steel pipes were used as the tie-downs for the roofs, offering solid protection from strong winds. To reduce the school’s energy usage and costs, the buildings mainly depend on natural daylight, but LED lighting is installed throughout the buildings. All of the buildings were constructed with an extended roof, which double as shade and shelter from the harsh summers. As for the project’s energy conservation strategy , the exterior walls have low operable windows on the courtyard side of the buildings designed to optimize natural air ventilation. For insulation, the walls were built with lightweight Ubuntublox made from repurposed Styrofoam trays that were cleaned, shredded and sewn into rice bags by women in Port-au-Prince. + Thrive Architecture + Building Goodness Foundation + Center of Hope Haiti Images via Thrive Architecture and Tom Cogill

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Haiti renovation project boosts community using local labor and materials

One third of Americans will be unable to afford water bills in 5 years

January 27, 2017 by  
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The world has wrestled with the issue of clean water access for centuries, but what happens when it’s available, but too expensive to buy? That’s the very situation one third of Americans will soon face, according to a new study from Michigan State University researchers published this month by PLOS , which reveals water bills could skyrocket from 11.9 percent to 35.6 percent in five years just as World War II-era water infrastructure is expected to break down. The water affordability issue doesn’t just affect those who can’t pay, but those who can. The latter group could find themselves absorbing increased costs of water utilities , making bill prices soar even higher. At the same time, water costs are already up 41 percent since 2010, and could keep climbing. These two factors could leave an even larger group of people without enough money to afford water. On top of all that, old water infrastructure will need to be updated too, which, according to the study, could cost $1 trillion over the upcoming 25 years. Related: Cape Town has just 100 days of water left The issue already impacts people around the U.S. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wastewater and water services should only cost at most 4.5 percent of a household’s income. But many families in Mississippi make under $32,000 a year, and according to EPA standards likely won’t be able to afford water bills soon. There are 227,000 customers in Philadelphia, but half are already past due on their water bills. In Detroit, since 2014 service has been terminated for 50,000 people. Private water companies haven’t been able to solve the issue either – in Atlanta people pay a private company $325.52 every month. There are no easy answers to the growing dilemma. Lead author Elizabeth Mack said consumers, utilities, and governments will have to work together, but the lessons we’ve learned from Flint , Michigan – where as of last month residents still didn’t have access to drinking water from their taps – don’t bode well for the future. Via Fast Company’s Co.Exist Images via Steve Johnson on Flickr and Pixnio

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One third of Americans will be unable to afford water bills in 5 years

Take refuge in this off-grid bungalow tucked into the lush Mexican forest

January 23, 2017 by  
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If you’re looking for a stunning off-grid escape, Cadaval & Solà-Morales architects are creating a lovely remote paradise in the quiet town of Tepoztlán, about 50 km outside of Mexico City. The international firm has just unveiled LMM Bungalow, a compact hut strategically tucked into the lush forest overlooking the valley. Visitors to the minimalistic refuge will be able to enjoy the serene environment along with a relaxing lounge area and pool, also designed by the Spanish architects. The modernistic hut is designed to be a relaxing sojourn for anyone wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Mexico DF.  The small structure is built into a concrete base tucked into the steep slope of the terrain. Open air platforms extend from the interior space through floor-to-ceiling glass doors, creating a seamless connection from the interior to the exterior. The structure is painted a matte black to minimize its visual impact on the surrounding green landscape. Related: Rescued 1927 Austin bungalow gets new life as a sweet new solar-powered home To create a division between the interior spaces, the architects choose to break the rectangular volume by “folding” the exterior glass wall inwards. This technique physically separates the living area from the master bedroom, without forsaking the natural light that floods both of spaces. Along with creating extra privacy, vegetation is allowed to grow in the open space, further fusing the natural surroundings into the interior. + Cadaval & Solà-Morales Via Architonic Photography by Diego Berruecos  

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Take refuge in this off-grid bungalow tucked into the lush Mexican forest

Italian farmhouse transformed into exquisitely sustainable summer retreat

January 17, 2017 by  
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Minimalist sophistication may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Italian farm houses, but designer Andrew Trotter’s first architectural project, Masseria Moroseta, is full of surprises. Renovated with locally-sourced materials, the contemporary Italian summer retreat, located on the coast of Puglia, is a stunning example of how to infuse sustainable elements into historic structures without forsaking the original character. Tucked into five idyllic acres of olive groves, the renovation process spanned three years. Using local materials and guided by traditional techniques, Trotter focused on retaining the masserie’s (‘farm’ in Italian) original character as much as possible. A subtle contemporary aesthetic was carefully infused into the home’s open layout. Using the central courtyard as the heart of the retreat, the process naturally geared towards building a “kinship of community” through open communal spaces such as the rooftop terrace and sea-facing veranda. Of course, there are plenty of quiet nooks for those seeking solitude. Related: 700-Year Old Italian Farmhouse Renovated with Delicate Filigree Screens The relaxing retreat now consists of six guest rooms, some with private gardens. As for the project’s energy needs , the renovation called for enhancing the natural efficient nature of the original structure and the implementation of modern technology. Vaulted ceilings and stone floors were used to keep the interior cool on hot days and cross ventilation windows help with natural air circulation. Thick walls were installed with recycled insulation to reduce the dependence on artificial cooling and heating. Solar panels provide the building’s energy and heating needs. Going local was also part of the guest amenity strategy; 100 percent of the food and drink served at the retreat are either produced on site or sourced from the local community of farmers, artisans, and manufacturers. Guests can enjoy over 40 types of fruits and vegetables from the organic garden, roasted on a 200 year-old stone oven and drizzled with the retreat’s own stone-pressed olive oil. + Andrew Trotter Via Ignant Photography by Salva Lopez Andrew Trotter, masseria moroseta, solar power, green design, italian farmhouse renovation, summer retreat puglia, sustainable renovation, sustainable design, organic farms, recycled insulation, reclaimed materials, locally-sourced materials, eco-friendly designs, beach retreats

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Italian farmhouse transformed into exquisitely sustainable summer retreat

World’s first floating city one step closer to reality in French Polynesia

January 16, 2017 by  
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San Francisco’s Seasteading Institute has signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Polynesian government that brings the world’s first floating city closer to reality. The Seasteading Institute first established in 2008 has long sought to implement their vision of self-sustaining communities that can withstand rising sea levels, partnering with DeltaSync in 2013 to build a pilot project in The Netherlands . The new agreement could see construction on a full-blown city begin in the South Pacific as early as 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDqtOPNLwMs The Seasteading Institute’s executive director Randolph Hencken told Pacific Beat the recent agreement with the French Polynesian government comprises a major turning point for their organization. The memorandum of understanding ensures all due diligence regarding the economic and environmental impact of such a project will be undertaken. Also, over the next two years, a new legal framework will be created to protect the pioneering initiative. “Mr Hencken said the detail of political autonomy needed to be negotiated and considered under the sovereignty of French Polynesia and France, of which French Polynesia is a territory,” Pacific Beat wrote. Mr Hencken said the Pacific islands appealed to the institute because of its sheltered waters. Building in the open ocean would be possible, he said, but not economically feasible. Related: 5 Pacific islands have already disappeared because of climate change “If we can be behind a reef break,” he said, “then we can design floating platforms that are sufficient for those waters at an affordable cost.” If by the end of 2018 the floating island city remains appealing to the French Polynesian government and construction proceeds in 2019, Hencken hopes eventually hundreds of thousands of people will move there. As melting ice makes seas swell, threatening a wave of climate refugees from low-lying areas, Hencken said floating cities can provide sovereignty and resilience. “So much of the world — places like Kiribati and many of the islands of French Polynesia — are threatened by rising sea levels,” Mr Hencken told the paper . “We are planning to spin off a new industry of floating islands that will allow people to stay tethered to their sovereignty as opposed to having to flee to other countries. + The Seasteading Institute Via ABC Images via The Seasteading Institute

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World’s first floating city one step closer to reality in French Polynesia

French schools create extra classrooms with Lego-style PopUp Houses

January 11, 2017 by  
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Two savvy private schools have just upped their learning space by almost 4,000 square feet with Multipod Studio ‘s incredible prefab Pop-Up Houses that snap together like LEGO bricks. Located in Indre-et-Loire, France, both schools went with the low-cost option not only due to budget restrictions, but also because of the structures’ sustainable materials and optimal energy performance. Low-cost and energy efficient pop ups are becoming the go-to solution for those with limited budgets in need of additional space. The PopUp House system is easy to assemble, lightweight and made with breathable materials. Constructed with insulating blocks and wooden panels, the design is a very practical system that provides optimal thermal insulation, reducing dependence on additional heating and cooling. Related: Multipod Studio’s Affordable Pop-Up House Snaps Together Like LEGO Bricks The staff at Rollinat High School and Alfred de Vigny High School worked with Multipod Studio to design the most efficient version of the structures to meet their needs. The popup building for Rollinat High School is 1614 square feet and includes two connected classrooms, while the three classrooms at Alfred de Vigny total about 2422 square feet. Once the materials were on site, the actual construction process happened (with just a screwdriver as the only required tool) in about two weeks. The final building was completed in December, 2016 and students began using their new classrooms in early January, 2017. + Multipod Studio + Arc A3 Sud Touraine Via Business Insider

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French schools create extra classrooms with Lego-style PopUp Houses

Screens made out of raw concrete pipes provide privacy for this chic modern home

January 10, 2017 by  
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Cyprus-based architects Varda Studio are proving that industrial chic can be sustainable . The designers have just unveiled an amazing home complete with an exterior made out of hundreds of stacked concrete tube pipes . The AB Residence uses the massive concrete wall to provide privacy as well as diffuse natural light and ventilation to the elongated home, which also features a wraparound veranda and water corridor. The 190-square-meter home is comprised of a load-bearing metal structure, topped with a corrugated metal sheet. On the interior, exposed beams and columns complement the concrete pipe tubes which envelope the interior base. The pipes are purposely visible from the interior, but are separated from the living space by a wooden exterior walkway that doubles as an outdoor sitting deck. The interior space is a linear layout that has living area, dining area and sitting area making up one side of the home. Three bedrooms and an office are located further along a hallway that runs the length of the house. Related: Totally Tubular TubeHotel In Mexico Offers Up Accommodations In Recycled Concrete Pipes Large glass doors slide open on a single 76-meter continuous track onto the wooden veranda that runs north to south, integrating the exterior into the interior. Intimate garden pockets and a water corridor further brings the surrounding nature into the man-made design. Although the home certainly emits an industrial chic vibe, there is a method to its madness. More than just a whimsical focal point of the home’s aesthetic, the concrete tubes actually provide a sturdy barrier from the strong winds that are common in the area. They also pull double duty as a privacy feature, simultaneously hiding the interior from the outside while diffusing natural light and air circulation throughout the interior. The interior design actually benefits from the openness thanks to the strategic Envelope 3D system. For temperature control, the design implements a number of passive strategies, making use of passive solar gains in the witner and using an awning installed above the glass windows and doors to provide shade in the hot summer months. As part of the strategic insulative system , the walls contain polystryrene and fiberglass thermal insulation, which reduces the need for artificial temperature control. + Varda Studio Via Archdaily Photographs by Creative Photo Room

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Screens made out of raw concrete pipes provide privacy for this chic modern home

Chemical-free community swimming pool is filled with recycled rainwater filtered through plants

January 9, 2017 by  
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This isn’t your run-of-the-mill neighborhood swimming pool. Instead of harsh chemicals and bland concrete, this elegant pool, designed by Philippe Barriere Collective is filled with naturally-filtered , recycled water and built out of local rocks, gravel and stone. To keep the partially-open space warm in the cooler months, recycled steam from the hamman in the complex is distributed throughout the space, giving the lucky residents who get to use it an organic experience closer to romping around in a natural spring than slogging through another boring session of laps in an antiseptic gym. The aquatic complex, called Lilu for the Berber term for rainwater, comprises a health club, cafe (organic, of course), a hamman and the pool. The complex has flexible hours to encourage neighborhood residents to socialize and relax after a healthy session in the fitness spaces. Just don’t call it “going to the gym” – this is a much more natural and all encompassing experience. Related: The UK’s first natural public swimming pool will use plants, not chemicals, to stay clean The water is filtered into the pool by allowing rainwater to run down an olive orchard hill, through the complex pavilions, through filtering and finally purified by running through plants (water lily, water hyacinth, phragmites australis, caltha palustris, menthe aquatic for purification and hippuris vulgaris, waterweed for oxygenation). There is no chlorine required to keep things clean. This eco-system, filled with biodiversity, ensures a low-maintenance, self-sustaining system that can be enjoyed by the whole community. The vaults enclosing the pool are made out of local materials . These vaults cover the top space, but the sides are left semi-open and the main level partially submerged below ground. This allows the space to be filled with natural light and air. To keep the space warm in the cooler months, steam from the hamman is recycled and redistributed through the complex. + Philippe Barriere Collective Via V2com

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Chemical-free community swimming pool is filled with recycled rainwater filtered through plants

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