Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

June 24, 2017 by  
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The following is an edited excerpt from “Emerge: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community” by Kathleen O’Brien (New Hope Press, 2016).An introduction from the author:

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Principles of emergent leadership for the green building community

Dropping costs in renewable tech spurs rapid shift to clean energy

April 7, 2017 by  
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Welcome to the clean energy revolution – with or without Trump. A new report from the United Nations Environment Programme , Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), and Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance reveals plunging costs in renewable technology have generated a whole new world of power. Unsubsidized renewables in more countries are now the cheapest new form of energy . Renewable energy detractors love to claim it’s too expensive, but that criticism simply doesn’t hold up anymore, according to the new report. Per megawatt, the average dollar capital expenditure fell by more than 10 percent for wind and solar . The report also revealed worldwide solar generation costs fell by an average of 17 percent in one year. Onshore wind dropped by 18 percent, and offshore wind plummeted by 28 percent. Related: Average cost of solar and wind energy could fall by 59% in the next decade BNEF advisory board chairman Michael Liebreich said in the report, “The question always used to be, ‘Will renewables ever be grid competitive?’ Well, after the dramatic cost reductions of the past few years, unsubsidized wind and solar can provide the lowest cost new electrical power in an increasing number of countries, even in the developing world – sometimes by a factor of two. It’s a whole new world…instead of having to subsidize renewables, now authorities may have to subsidize natural gas plants to help them provide grid reliability.” 138.5 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity came online in 2016, greater than 2015’s 127.5 GW, but the 2016 GW were built with investment 23 percent lower than 2015. Investors now get more bang for their buck, according to the report’s foreword. “Moving from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as solar and wind is key to achieving social, economic, and environmental development,” according to the report. Renewable energy creates jobs, provides electricity for people who didn’t have it before, and reduces air pollution , all at an increasingly low cost. Via ThinkProgress Images via TAFE SA TONSLEY on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Dropping costs in renewable tech spurs rapid shift to clean energy

Arctic Ocean undergoes ‘massive shift,’ becoming more like Atlantic

April 7, 2017 by  
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Increasing temperatures aren’t the only factor to blame for dramatic Arctic sea ice loss. An international team of 16 scientists led by the International Arctic Research Center in Alaska discovered warm currents from the Atlantic Ocean are snaking up to the Arctic and melting ice from below. They call this phenomenon the Atlantification of the Arctic. Scientists placed sensors in the Arctic seas in 2002, and the information they’ve gathered isn’t good. The Arctic Ocean’s behavior has undergone a massive shift, according to physical oceanographer Finlo Cottier of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, who was not part of the study. Related: Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic Warm Atlantic currents have a lot to do with this change, according to research published online by Science yesterday. The scientists looked at the Eurasian basin, or one of two basins in the Arctic Ocean divided by a ridge far beneath the surface. The Eurasian basin is north of Europe and Asia. Scientists have long known warm Atlantic currents prevent ice formation on the western side of the Eurasian basin north of Scandinavia . But now it seems those currents are working against ice on the eastern side north of Siberia too. Atlantic currents stream into the Arctic at depths of around 656 to 820 feet, with temperatures around four degrees Celsius higher than surface water. When they mix with surface water, which cools and falls in winter, the mixed water is a little warmer overall so the ocean has little sea ice. On the Eurasian basin’s eastern side a barrier known as the cold halocline layer (CHL) used to prevent much of that mixing. But now the eastern side is becoming more like the western side. Summer sea ice once helped form the CHL, but without that ice the ocean mixes more – and then not as much ice forms. Study lead author Igor Polyakov of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks told Science , “Previously this monster, Atlantic warm water, was well covered from the surface” by the CHL. “The new data show this layer has disappeared in winter.” Cottier told Science , “Here we’re seeing an ocean basin changing on a generational timescale – or less.” Via Inverse and Science Images via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Arctic Ocean undergoes ‘massive shift,’ becoming more like Atlantic

Tiny indoor vertical garden grows micro-veggies on its own in 10 days

March 23, 2017 by  
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You don’t need green thumbs to grow microgreens with this EcoQube Frame. The tiny indoor vertical garden grows micro-veggies in 10 days with only fertilized water, doing all the work for you. Compact and low-maintenance, the design is suited for apartments, homes and offices of all sizes, and allows you to grow nutritious food sources quickly, without worrying about watering and feeding your plants . Aqua Design Innovations (ADI) launched EcoQube Frame on Kickstarter , and it has been a smashing success. The group tripled their goal and raised over $30,000 in the first 40 minutes of crowdfunding. Learn more about this amazing design after the break. The EcoQube Frame contains two sections with one plant pad for each section; each plant pad has hundreds of small pockets that hold seeds in place so that plants can sprout evenly. The reservoir below contains fertilized water that provides all the necessary nutrients for successful germination. “It’s really the simplest, easiest and most compact way to grow indoor plants vertically without soil,” said the designers. “It’s also great for those who don’t feel like they have a green thumb. Since the reservoir waters the plants automatically, you don’t have to worry about over watering or root rot – which is a common problem when growing plants or micro-veggies.” Related: Smart Taiga Tower is like having an 80 square foot garden right inside your home EcoQube’s seed pads are all made from natural, 100 percent compostable fibers, and provide just enough water to allow the plants to grow. The designers claim that EcoQube can grow up to $25 worth of micro-veggies in a little over a week, and pays for itself after only one month of growing. + EcoQube Frame Kickstarter + Aqua Design Innovations (ADI)

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Tiny indoor vertical garden grows micro-veggies on its own in 10 days

The SDGs: How can we sustain our optimism?

March 2, 2017 by  
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The email came from an 82-year-old activist in Vermont. She was hoping for answers to questions she was hearing from others, about the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. She wanted to write an article — not for The New York Times or even for a local newspaper, but for her friends, neighbors and the various experts she meets and talks to.She wanted to be able to explain some basic things about the SDGs, to people who often seem skeptical.

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The SDGs: How can we sustain our optimism?

On Harmony and Hope

February 23, 2017 by  
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The universal adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by all the world’s nations marked a huge global milestone, something that many thousands of people had been working to achieve, over many years. This momentous breakthrough sparked AtKisson President and CEO Alan AtKisson to pen a song and spark a global movement, imbuing music, dance and simple human happiness into sustainable development and create our best hope for a bright future.

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On Harmony and Hope

Inside the Climate Justice Movement

February 23, 2017 by  
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Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune addresses the importance of climate action at every scale in the public and private sector, from global agreements to city pilot programs, from startups to multinational corporations.

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Inside the Climate Justice Movement

SPACE10 creates an open-source Growroom you can build at home

February 17, 2017 by  
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SPACE10, a future-living lab and exhibition space in Copenhagen, wants to change the modern food industry. In September, we shared news of the group’s Growroom – a spherical farm pod that lets you grow food just about anywhere. Now SPACE10 wants people to build their own Growroom right at home with open-source plans for the ingenious design. Grab some plywood and a rubber hammer and get ready to grow. The Growroom spherical garden helps to “empower people to grow their own food much more locally in a beautiful and sustainable way,” according to SPACE10. Last year, people across the globe, from Taipei to Helsinki, expressed interest in getting their own Growroom, but the group didn’t want to create a new way to grow local food just to manufacture and ship the pod across entire oceans. So they decided to make the concept completely free for people to build on their own. Related: The Growroom is a spherical farm pod that brings agriculture to city streets Although the Growroom has a tiny footprint, it is capable of growing substantial quantities of food in a small space. It is open in the center, so you can step inside and immerse yourself in nature even in the middle of the city. Not to mention food is more nutritious and tasty when picked and eaten fresh . The design was created by architects Mads-Ulrik Husum and Sine Lindholm. It requires 17 steps, 17 pieces of plywood, a rubber hammer, and some screws; you will also need access to a CNC milling machine or laser cutter – your local fab lab or maker space should be able to get you up and running. If you decide to make one of your own, be sure to let us know , and give a shoutout to @space10_journal on Instagram – we can’t wait to see what you come up with. + Growroom plans + Space10 Images via Alona Vibe , Rasmus Hjortshøj , Niklas Vindelev and Space10

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SPACE10 creates an open-source Growroom you can build at home

Architects of France’s first passive house unveil latest extraordinary design

February 13, 2017 by  
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From the architects who created France’s first passive house comes another wonder of green design located just outside of Paris. Karawitz Architects have just finished work on the Marly House, a large family passive home designed to “live openly” within the community. The unique aesthetic of the structure is meant to “awaken the curiosity of the passers-by”. The extreme gabled roof pays homage to the traditional vernacular of the French community, but its pre-greyed larch cladding (CLT prefabricated) gives the home a strong contemporary feel. Related One of France’s First Passivhaus is a Wonder of Green Design The home was built on an incline, which from a certain angle, gives off the impression that the structure is levitating above ground. A perforated galvanized-steel fence allows for some privacy without closing off communication entirely with the community. On the interior, the architects went with a minimalist touch for the large 145-square-meter space. Raw materials such as steel and concrete were left exposed to create a sense of airiness. A large central fireplace is at the heart of the interior and is the only active heating system in the passive home . The bedrooms on the top floor have large windows that were installed almost at ceiling height, protecting the privacy of the homeowners while providing natural light into the interior. Although the interior may seem a bit cold at first glance, warm touches like colorful furniture and a playful childrens room with a climbing ladder add a sense of whimsy to the design + Karawitz Architects Photographs by Schnepp Renou  

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Architects of France’s first passive house unveil latest extraordinary design

Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree

February 1, 2017 by  
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The Japanese reverence for nature has been well established, especially in the world of design. However, if anyone still has doubts, they should take a stroll through the Kayashima train station in Neyagawa, a northeastern suburb of Osaka. The train station was carefully constructed around a massive camphor tree that has stood on the site for 700 years. The Kayashima Station opened in 1910 and was built next to the large tree , whose exact age goes back before local records. As the local population began to grow, it became clear that the station would need to be upgraded. In 1972, plans were approved to expand the site and, according to Spoon and Tamago , those plans called for the tree to be cut down to make space. Related: Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung Although the history of the train station’s upgrades is a matter of records, there are multiple stories behind the tree’s intact presence today. Some say that it was indeed the Japanese respect for nature that saved the tree from being chopped down . Yet, others say it was nothing more than pure superstition. Apparently, the tree had long been associated with a local shrine and deity, and its impending demise caused quite the uproar by the local community. Stories began to swirl that the tree was also angry and would curse anyone that dared to cut it down with bad luck. Whatever the case, station officials were persuaded to keep the tree, and ended up incorporating it into a new elevated platform . The construction was completed in 1980, and features a large hole cut into the roof of the platform where the tree majestically sticks out over the roof. Just to be on the safe side, the officials surrounded the base of the tree with a small shrine. Via Oddity Central Lead photo via Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei . Additional photography via Studio Ohana.

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Japanese train station built around massive 700 year-old camphor tree

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