Bicycle highway in the Netherlands built using recycled toilet paper

October 3, 2017 by  
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People in the Netherlands use an estimated 180,000 tons of toilet paper every year. Because this amounts to a lot of trees, last Fall the Dutch province of Friesland repurposed the product to make a bicycle highway . The stretch of roadway, about 0.6-miles-long, connects the Frisian capital of Leeuwarden to the town of Stiens. It is the first bicycle lane in the world to be paved with toilet paper — but few can tell the difference. In the Netherlands , roads are typically paved with blacktop. Specifically, open-graded asphalt friction course (OGFC) is used because it is porous and water permeable. “When roads get wet, [they get] slippery, so we use this asphalt because it takes water away from the road surface quicker,” said Ernst Worrell, Professor of energy, resources, and technological change at Utrecht University. The country sees an annual rainfall of 27 to 35 inches per year, so this safety measure is important. While the method is effective, it isn’t the only way to build safe asphalt-type roads, as the province of Friesland recently proved. Last fall, a bicycle highway was built using tertiary cellulose extracted from waste streams. CirTec and KNN Cellulose developed the technology for extracting and cleaning the cellulose fibers. The process entailed sifting paper fibers out of wastewater with a 0.35-millimeter industrial sieve. The fibers were then run through a series of machines, which cleaned, sterilized, bleached and dried them. This produced a fluffy, grayish material. According to Chris Reijken, wastewater treatment advisor at Waternet, “If you look at it, you would not expect it to have originated from wastewater.” Technically, the uses for the reclaimed cellulose are endless. The product could be used in building insulation, biofuel , textiles, pulp and paper, filters — and more. But due to sanitization concerns, it cannot legally be used in products that come into direct contact with people. Related: London Unveils $1.51 Billion Bicycle Master Plan With 15-Mile Bike Highway As a result, the recycled toilet paper was used to construct a bike highway. And so far, officials are reportedly pleased with the investment said to have held up well so far. The success of the project resulted in the same mixture being used to reinforce a dyke on the West Frisian Island of Ameland and to repave a parking lot of a children’s petting zoo in Groningen. CityLab says the city of Amsterdam is now interested in using cellulose from wastewater in its roadways. “It’s a strange idea for people that there’s [toilet paper] in the road,” says Michiel Schrier, provincial governor of Friesland. “But when they cycle on it or feel it, they can see that it’s normal asphalt.” It’s still too early to say whether products from recycled toilet paper will become mainstream, but, in the Netherlands, at least, they’re off to a good start. To repair all roadways in the Netherlands, 15,000 tons of fiber would be needed. From toilet paper alone, this wouldn’t be possible. But using tertiary cellulose from other waste sources, such as diapers and beverage cartons, two million tons could be created. Greener roads are just around the bend. Via CityLab Images via Pixabay , KNN Cellulose

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Bicycle highway in the Netherlands built using recycled toilet paper

The world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant just popped up in the middle of London

September 28, 2017 by  
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The mobile recycling factory of the future just landed in the 19th century courtyard of the historic Somerset House in Central London. Trashpresso is a giant solar-powered recycling plant that transforms discarded plastic bottles into architectural tiles. The machine is the brainchild of Pentatonic , a furniture and design company based in Berlin and London committed to using only post-consumer waste in their products – from chairs made from “felted” plastic to glassware made from smartphone screens. Trashpresso is the world’s first off-grid, industrial grade recycling solution designed to be mobile and functional in isolated locations where traditional recycling plants aren’t a feasible option. “Our non-negotiable commitment to the consumer is that we make our products using single materials. That means no toxic additives and no hybridized materials which are prohibitive of recyclability,” explains co-founder Johann Bodecker. Trashpresso made its global debut this week at the Design Frontiers exhibition during the London Design Festival . Visitors to Design Frontiers were invited to contribute their trash and watch the Trashpresso process from start to finish – from the sorting of plastic bottles to the compression of shredded PET into solid hexagonal tiles. Enormous black spheres made of recycled plastic were also installed in the courtyard, lending an imposing presence to the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. Throughout the week, the black spheres were gradually covered in the architectural tiles created by Trashpresso, with the public taking part in the installation. Large spheres made of metal mesh contained more plastic bottles, calling attention to the ongoing problem of tons of plastic a year entering our oceans. Starbucks UK recently announced a partnership with Pentatonic to turn their coffee shop waste into furniture, with their Starbucks Bean Chair reinterpreted with upcycled textiles and a frame made from plastic bottles and plastic cups. The Trashpresso machine debuting at Design Frontiers boasts upgraded engineering designed for global transportation. An earlier version of Trashpresso was previewed in Shanghai for World Earth Day by Pentatonic collaborator and investor Miniwiz , which is based in Taiwan and specializes in upcycling. Trashpresso was the featured installation at Design Frontiers, a new exhibition featuring more than 30 designers showcasing projects and products pushing the frontiers of innovation and material use. + Pentatonic + Design Frontiers + London Design Festival Coverage

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The world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant just popped up in the middle of London

US and Russia are teaming up to build a lunar spaceport

September 28, 2017 by  
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The space agencies of Russia and the United States just signed a joint statement to develop projects to further explore outer space. One could be the Deep Space Gateway , a lunar spaceport that could act as a launching point for missions to the Moon and Mars . NASA and Roscosmos signed the statement Wednesday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Australia. According to Roscosmos’ press release, the two agencies agreed to use the International Space Station as a base for more space exploration. They also agreed to cooperate on a moon program by building the Deep Space Gateway, creating international technical standards, and carrying out scientific missions on and orbiting the moon. Related: Lockheed to turn shuttle-era module into a space habitat for NASA Why the focus on the moon? One reason, according to a March statement from NASA , is that astronauts can gain experience in a deep space environment near the moon, but can return to Earth quickly if necessary. They can also conduct robotic missions on the moon surface. NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said, “NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration. Statements such as this one signed with Roscosmos show the gateway concept as an enabler to the kind of exploration architecture that is affordable and sustainable.” NASA has already been working on the gateway concept with industry partners. For example, Lockheed Martin is building a habitation , repurposing a historic piece of flight hardware to do so. Roscosmos will also start working with industry partners on gateway concepts studies. Roscosmos said other space powers are also thinking about getting in on the moon project. The main work on the lunar station should commence in the mid-2020’s. Via Roscosmos , NASA , and The Telegraph Images via NASA and Boeing

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US and Russia are teaming up to build a lunar spaceport

Man builds ultra-efficient green home as a love letter to the environment

September 26, 2017 by  
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Many people may be in love with our beautiful earth, but Maryland resident, Ed Gaddy is straight up infatuated. Recently featured in the Baltimore Sun , the eco-warrior has spent seven years fulfilling his dream of building an ultra-efficient home. Designed in collaboration with friend and architect Miche Booz , the home’s many sustainable features were hand picked by Gaddy to reflect his fervent commitment to environmental preservation , creating an architectural “love letter to the environment” in the process. Gaddy first purchased the 1.22-acre lot located in Clarksville, Maryland in 2010. The property is just a mere 10-minute walk to his office, eliminating the need for a car. Gaddy told the Baltimore Sun that his initial objective was to build a beautiful three-bedroom home that was self-sustaining . Before breaking ground however, he and Booz decided to shoot for the impressive goal of achieving all three of the major sustainability certifications: LEED , Living Building Challenge , and Passive House . Related: This stunning passive home in Seattle is 51% more energy-efficient than its neighbors “The three certifications reflects his commitment and passion for this particular subject,” Booz said. “I would say it bordered on a fixation, and a good one. It’s his way of contributing to what he considers a crisis on the planet. He was all in — financially, emotionally and intellectually.” To start the project, the home had to be orientated to take advantage of optimal sunlight during the day, warming the interior in the winter months and shading the interior during the summer heat. High-efficiency windows were installed throughout the home to avoid air loss. All of the construction materials in the design were selected for their zero or low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Additional finishings like paint and tiles, along with the flooring, were chosen for their durability or potential for future recycling such as the kitchen’s stainless steel countertops. The appliances in the kitchen and bathroom are the highest rated in terms of efficiency. For water conservation , the bathrooms were equipped with toilets that use less than a gallon per flush and waterless urinals were also installed. Point-of-use water heaters in both the bathrooms and the kitchen reduce the time it takes to run hot water to the faucets. As far as energy generation, the home is equipped with a solar array and there’s a heat recovery ventilator that transfers heat and cold throughout. According to Gaddy, they also installed top-of-the-line heat pumps, but the structure’s 18-inch thick, three-layer insulation ensures they are rarely necessary. Outside, almost as much detail was put into landscaping as was the home design itself. The lot was landscaped to reduce runoff and a collection system directs rain to a large underground cistern for greywater use . Native plants were planted in the raised garden beds, and they put in a vegetable garden, along with cherry, apple, walnut and peach trees. Thanks to this amazing sustainable profile , Gaddy’s dream home has achieved two of the three green certifications so far. It has been certified as LEED Platinum, as well as a Net Zero Energy Building by the International Living Future Institute. They expect to receive the Living Building Challenge certification soon. The Passive House classification has been denied to Gaddy due to a small hitch concerning a failed airtightness test. Gaddy is currently working on fixing the issue and will hopefully achieve that certification soon. So, what is your love letter to the environment? + Miche Booz Via Baltimore Sun Photography by Algerina Perna via Baltimore Sun  

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Birds that escape from captivity teach wild birds how to speak (and swear) in English

September 26, 2017 by  
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If you listen carefully, you might hear a variety of nonsensical conversations emerging from the treetops of certain regions of Australia . The voices don’t belong to a mysterious, hidden tribe, however. Rather, they belong to birds. According to Australian Geographic, pet birds like parrots and cockatoos that have escaped from captivity are inadvertently teaching wild birds the words they learned in their human homes. And some of them are rather naughty. According to Jaynia Sladek, an ornithologist from the Australian Museum , some birds are natural mimickers. When they hear words in repetition or are surrounded by an assortment of noises, they will begin picking up on the cues. Because many (but not all) species of birds perceive a correlation between genetic fitness and mimicking ability, it is likely the pet birds flaunted their new vocabulary upon being released to the wild. “It’s a part of their language ,” said Sladek. For some species, it’s like advertising ‘I am very fit because I can learn a lot of different birds’ [calls]’.” Wild birds are able to quickly learn from the chatty ex-pets and as a result, start picking up new words and sounds. The remnants of the language are often passed down to offspring. “There’s no reason why, if one comes into the flock with words, [then] another member of the flock wouldn’t pick it up as well,” Sladek told  Australian Geographic . Related: 98-year-old man donates $2 million in stock for 395-acre wildlife refuge The aforementioned phenomenon has been previously witnessed with the lyebird. Found in Victoria, Australia, lyebirds have the uncanny ability to recreate the sounds of saws, axes, and old-fashioned cameras  — tools that haven’t been used in the region for years. When the best singers have their photos taken by the photographers, they quickly learn the sounds of the camera noises. Those same noises are then taught to their offspring. The report says the most common word the wild birds have picked up is “Hello, cockie.” The birds have also added a wide range of expletives to their vocabulary. Via Australian Geographic , TreeHugger Images via Pixabay

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Plasma Rock is a new material made from 100% recycled landfill waste

September 25, 2017 by  
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Could our overflowing landfills be converted into gold mines? Designer Inge Sluijs has found an way to turn landfill waste into “Plasma Rock” – an innovative material that can be used to create eco-friendly consumer goods. The durable rock is the result of plasma gasification – a process that heats landfill materials at extremely high temperatures. Although plasma gasification technology is not necessarily new, Sluijs’ process of using Plasma Rock to create usable products is unique. The rock is quite durable and completely non-toxic – and Sluijs imagines that a worldwide circular economy could turn landfill junk into environmentally-friendly consumer goods. According to the designer, 20 kg of Plasma Rock can be created out of 100 kg of landfill waste. Related: Artist recycles leaf waste into biodegradable Beleaf chair Sluijs has focused her efforts on coastal landfill sites, starting at the East Tilbury landfill located in Essex, England. Scientists consider coastal landfills to be ticking time bombs, considering that the land is being quickly eroded by rising sea levels . Transforming waste into Plasma Rock would reduce landfill volume while diverting dangerous materials that would otherwise pollute the water. Plasma Rock starts as a powder, which can be formed and sculpted into different objects. Sluijs recently used the material to create Tilbury Tiles, which are distinctively decorated and marketed as souvenirs from the East Tilbury area. She has also developed glass vases decorated with specks of the rock. Through her designs, Luijs hopes to demonstrate not only the potential of Plasma Rock, but also the possibility of using landfill waste to the benefit of the environment. + Inge Suijs

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Plasma Rock is a new material made from 100% recycled landfill waste

Go way off-grid in this beautiful bamboo hut in tucked into Bali’s lush mountains

September 25, 2017 by  
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Adventurous travelers looking to go way, way off grid will love this beautiful bamboo haven located deep in Bali’s mountainous region of Gunung Agung. The Hideout Bali Hut , designed by Jarmil Lhoták and Alena Fibichová, sits adjacent to a peaceful riverbank and is just steps away from picturesque rice fields, letting guests experience the Balinese countryside. The Hideout Bali Hut is made completely out of locally-sourced bamboo. Jarmil Lhoták and Alena Fibichová used this sustainable material to create an incredibly durable structure with a low construction footprint. The bamboo used in Hideout’s construction is from the nearby Karangasem Mountains and it’s considered to be one of the best types of bamboo for building. Thanks to its growing height – usually about 800 meters above sea level – the flesh of the bamboo stalks have lower sugar levels, which results in a greater density and durability. Before construction, the stalks were treated with smoke and non-toxic products to increase their longevity. Related: Beautiful bamboo building withstands floods and storms in Vietnam The A-frame hut is supported by six pillars and topped with a thatched roof . The triangular shape of the house led the architects to install large triangular windows on the upper level, which provide stellar views while flooding the interior with natural light . The rest of the house is closely connected to its natural surroundings, and the garden features an outdoor shower surrounded by overhanging trees. + Hideout Bali Via Archdaily

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Go way off-grid in this beautiful bamboo hut in tucked into Bali’s lush mountains

Nouvelle AOM wins competition to give Paris’ Tour Montparnasse a massive green makeover

September 22, 2017 by  
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Nouvelle AOM has just been chosen to transform Paris’ historic Tour Montparnasse into beacon of sustainability for the City of Light. The winning design envisions a contemporary green makeover for the 40-year-old skyscraper – including a new transparent shell cladding and forests in the sky that will improve air quality in and around the tower. The 689-foot Tour Montparnasse was completed in 1973, and it was France’s tallest skyscraper until 2011. There is a lot of history (and controversy) behind the tower, so its redesign had to pay respect to its revered past while re-establish its position as a modern landmark in the city. Related: Holland’s first Vertical Forest to rise with 10,000 air-purifying plant s “This was a huge challenge, as the Tower isn’t like any other,” the jury explained. “Nouvelle AOM’s project perfectly captures the spirit of the 21st century, giving the Tower a multifaceted identity revolving around attractive, innovative new uses. The Tower will breathe new life into the Montparnasse neighbourhood.” The winning design, which beat out submissions from OMA, MAD and Studio Gang, was a collaboration between three Paris-based firms: Franklin Azzi Architecture , Chartier Dalix Architectes and Hardel et le Behan Architectes . The old opaque cladding will be replaced by a transparent facade that will “glow” at night. Multiple floors throughout the tower – including the large conservatory rooftop – will be planted with lush vegetated forests and hanging gardens that will improve air quality both within and outside the skyscraper. The architects explain that the design concept was inspired by the need to create a contemporary skyscraper that will become a beacon of the city’s commitment to sustainability . “When we took up the challenge of this exciting competition, our focus was on revealing the beauty of the Tour Montparnasse from the inside out. We achieved this by incorporating radically new uses and crafting a complete sustainable ‘green’ makeover of the facade. The aim is to make the Tower an icon of the 21st century energy revolution,” explains Nouvelle AOM. Construction on the €300 million project is expected to begin in 2019 and it’s slated for completion in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. + Nouvelle AOM Via Archdaily Images via Nouvelle AOM

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Nouvelle AOM wins competition to give Paris’ Tour Montparnasse a massive green makeover

The cost of solar power has dropped over 25% in one year

September 22, 2017 by  
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The clean energy revolution continues and solar is leading the charge. In a recently published report, the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories documented that the cost of utility-scale solar, generated from large plants rather than residential rooftops, has decreased by 30 percent within the past year. This happy news aligns with another recent announcement by the SunShot Initiative , a parallel effort within the US Department of Energy , which declared that their cost targets set for solar energy had been met years before their 2020 deadline. All of this serves as a reminder that, despite the politics of the moment, solar energy continues to rapidly become more cost effective and accessible, paving the way for a cleaner energy future. Although China has frequently been cited by the US President as a dangerous competitor, the solar renaissance in the United States has been made possible because of the pioneering work in solar energy being done in the People’s Republic. More solar modules are being produced in China than there is demand, which has enabled US importers to purchase this technology at low prices. As a result, the average price per watt is now only $1.03 for fixed-tilt systems and $1.11 for those that move to track the sun’s movement. Related: Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power While rooftop and residential solar system may represent the most visible manifestation of solar’s growth and reach, it is utility-scale solar systems, which feed into the grid , which have the most potential to change the game. Taking note of the ever-decreasing price of solar and demand from consumers for cleaner forms of energy, utility companies have invested funds to increase the share of solar in their portfolio. For example, Duke Energy Florida recently announced plans to spend $6 billion on solar infrastructure, scrapping its previous plans to invest in nuclear power . If trends continue, it is estimated that 139 countries , including the United States and China, could switch to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, with solar contributing the lion’s share. Via Futurism Images via Michael Mees and Kate Ausburn

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The cost of solar power has dropped over 25% in one year

Grow your own mushroom lamp with this brilliant DIY kit

September 21, 2017 by  
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Ever wanted to grow your own lamp? Now you can, thanks to a brilliant collaboration between eco-designer Danielle Trofe and Ecovative . Recently launched on Kickstarter, the Grow-It-Yourself Lamp Kit lets you grow a beautiful lampshade by combining a mushroom substrate with a small amount of water and flour. The Grow-It-Yourself lamp kit includes one bag of mushroom mycelium substrate, a lampshade mold, a UL-certified pendant lamp set, and growing instructions. Using Ecovative’s patented Mushroom Material technology, the  mushroom mycelium – the root of the mushroom – is guaranteed to grow, making this a perfect project for those without any green thumb whatsoever. Related: Danielle Trofe’s Brilliant Mush-Lume Lamp is Grown From Fungi! Once the substrate is placed in the mold, you’ll just have to add tap water and a bit of flour. After a few more simple steps, including baking it in the oven for a bit, your new eco-positive lampshade is ready to go. The kit comes with basic hanging pendant set, but can be updated to include a table lamp stand made from sustainable wood . + Grow Kickstarter + Ecovative Design + Danielle Trofe Images via Kickstarter

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Grow your own mushroom lamp with this brilliant DIY kit

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