Climate change is leading to increased winter drownings

November 24, 2020 by  
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A new study, published in the journal PLoS One , has revealed that there is a significant relationship between increased drownings in the winter and climate change. According to the study, regions that have experienced a sharp increase in average winter temperatures are also experiencing more drownings. The study, which was published last Wednesday, analyzed data collected in 10 countries in the Northern Hemisphere: U.S., Canada, Germany, Sweden, Japan, Italy, Russia, Finland, Latvia and Estonia. Many of the drownings that were studied happened when temperatures were just below freezing point. It was also observed that many increases in drownings occurred in Indigenous communities, where the people depend on the ice for their customs as well as for survival. Related: Danger looms as world’s largest iceberg heads toward a critical wildlife habitat The research showed that those affected by the drownings varied demographically. For instance, the most affected were children under 9 years old followed by teenagers and adults from ages 15 to 39. People who are accustomed to walking on icy landscapes may assume that the ice is stable enough without thinking about recent temperature fluctuations. One of the lead authors of the study, Sapna Sharma, explained that people may not think about how climate change is already impacting their everyday lives. Sharma, who is also an associate professor of biology at York University, said that we no longer have to just think about polar bears when we talk about climate change. The drownings are evidence enough that this crisis can affect anyone in any part of the world. “I think there’s a disconnect between climate change and the local, everyday impacts,” Sharma said. “If you think about climate change in winter, you’re thinking about polar bears and ice sheets, but not about these activities that are just ingrained in our culture.” According to Sharma, colder temperatures can be deceiving, especially at a time when the temperatures keep fluctuating. “It might be minus 20 Celsius today and tomorrow and the weekend, but last week it was 15 Celsius,” Sharma said. “Well, we might have forgotten as individuals that it was warm and sunny last week on a Tuesday, but the ice didn’t forget.” If the temperatures are milder than usual, the ice will not be as thick as one might expect. Robert McLeman, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier, explained, “Milder temperatures mean that the ice is not as thick, or not as solid as it would otherwise be. And so people are going out onto it and not realizing that the ice is rotten.” + PLoS One Via The New York Times Image via Pixabay

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1% of global population causes 50% of all carbon pollution emitted by the aviation industry

November 20, 2020 by  
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Recent research published in  Global Environmental Change  has revealed that only 1% of people cause half of all aviation pollution globally. According to the study, regular “super emitters” are polluting the environment at the expense of millions of people who do not fly.  The study, conducted through analysis of aviation data, revealed that large populations across all countries did not fly at all in the years observed. For instance, about 53% of Americans did not fly in 2018, yet the U.S. ranked as the leading aviation emission contributor globally. In Germany, 65% of people did not fly, in Taiwan 66%, and in the U.K. about 48% of the population did not fly abroad in the same period.  These findings suggest that the bulk of pollution caused by the aviation industry comes from the actions of very few people. Further supporting this point, the study revealed that only 11% of the global population flew in 2018, while only 4% flew abroad. Comparing these numbers to the level of emission aviation causes indicates that the rich few in society fuel this pollution the most. Meanwhile, marginalized communities will likely face the harshest consequences of this pollution . In 2018, airlines produced a billion tons of CO2. Even worse, the same airlines benefited from a $100 billion subsidy by not paying for the climate change caused. The U.S. tops the list of leading aviation emitter countries, contributing more CO2 to the environment than the next 10 countries on the list. This means that the U.S. alone contributes more aviation-based CO2 than the U.K., Germany, Japan and Australia combined.  Research also indicates that global aviation’s contribution to the climate crisis continues to increase. Before the coronavirus pandemic, emissions caused by flights had grown by 32% between 2013 and 2018. If there are no measures put in place to curb the pollution, these rates will likely continue skyrocketing post-pandemic.  Stefan Gössling of Linnaeus University in Sweden, the study’s lead author, says that the only way of dealing with the issue is by redesigning the aviation industry. “If you want to resolve climate change and we need to redesign [aviation], then we should start at the top, where a few ‘super emitters’ contribute massively to global warming ,” said Gössling. “The rich have had far too much freedom to design the planet according to their wishes. We should see the crisis as an opportunity to slim the air transport system.” + The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Renowned landscape architects unveil designs to save the Tidal Basin

November 20, 2020 by  
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The National Mall Tidal Basin — also known as “America’s front yard” — is home to some of the nation’s most iconic landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. But the beloved Washington, D.C. public space is under threat from daily flooding and is in urgent need of critical repairs and improvements. In a bid to save the celebrated landscape, five prestigious landscape architecture firms — DLANDstudio, GGN, Hood Design Studio, James Corner Field Operations and Reed Hilderbrand — have been tapped to reimagine the future of the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Keep reading for a preview of all the designs. In 2019, the National Trust for Historic Preservation banded together with the Trust for the National Mall, the National Parks Service, Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) and American Express to launch the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab , an initiative seeking proposals to save the 107-acre Tidal Basin site in Washington, D.C. After months of preparation, the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab recently unveiled visionary proposals from five award-winning landscape architecture firms including New York City-based DLANDstudio, Seattle-based GGN, Oakland-based Hood Design Studio, New York City-based James Corner Field Operations and Cambridge-based Reed Hilderbrand. Each proposal not only responds to the pressing issues plaguing the area’s infrastructure but also examines ways to heighten the visitor experience through improved environmental and cultural considerations. Due to the pandemic, the proposals are presented in an online-only, museum-quality exhibition co-curated by New York City curator of design Donald Albrecht and Thomas Mellins, an architectural historian and independent curator. The public is invited to learn about the Tidal Basin’s history, which was completed in 1887 as a major hydrological feat as well as the ongoing challenges and comprehensive proposals. The public will also be able to give feedback and offer ideas on saving the Tidal Basin. “As part of ‘America’s front yard’, the Tidal Basin is home to some of the most iconic landmarks and traditions in the nation’s capital,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Yet current conditions do not do justice to a landscape of such significance. With this new digital exhibition, we are excited to share and engage the public with creative thinking from five of the best landscape architecture firms in the world. These ideas explore ways to sustain this cultural landscape and its richly layered meanings for generations to come. This isn’t preservation as usual: this is preservation as innovation.” Related: BIG unveils sweeping overhaul to Smithsonian Campus Master Plan True to its name, the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab will be focused on cultivating bold ideas and promoting dialogue between designers, stakeholders and the public rather than choosing a single winner as is typical in design competitions. The exhibition will supplement the National Park Service’s mandated environmental review of the Tidal Basin as well as master planning and detailed design, which have not yet been completed but are integral to securing funding for construction and implementation. All five creative concepts, revealed late last month, celebrate and raise awareness of the Tidal Basin’s long history and have reimagined the cultural landscape to better meet modern safety and accessibility needs while addressing critical infrastructure repairs and improvements. DLANDstudio’s proposal makes bold steps of introducing extensions to the landscape in both the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River to reorient circulation. A long land bridge would connect the Jefferson Memorial and the White House, while a new jetty to the west would branch off of the Lincoln Memorial to house the relocated memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr. Flooding would be mitigated with sponge park wetlands , a reflective weir and a green security wall. GGN’s vision is an adaptive plan phased across three stages to conclude in 2090. The design uses ecological solutions to protect the landscape from forecasted sea level changes and also the potential adaptation and relocation of existing monuments. James Corner Field Operations has proposed three ideas for combating rising sea levels : Protect & Preserve, a scheme to keep the existing landscape intact with improved maintenance and engineering; Island Archipelago, in which flooding would be accepted as an inevitable reality and monuments would be elevated and treated as islands within the Tidal Basin; and Curate Entropy, another design where the site is allowed to flood and a careful balance is maintained between the Tidal Basin’s existing layout and the new landscape. Hood Design Studio focuses on reshaping the Tidal Basin with underrepresented narratives, from the stories of how wetlands were valued by Indigenous and enslaved peoples to promoting dialogue on rebuilding urban ecologies. Reed Hilderbrand’s design draws on the 1902 McMillan Plan, a comprehensive planning document that strongly influenced the urban planning and design of Washington, D.C., particularly with its proposal for a “Washington Commons,” a diverse and connected regional park system. The plan also encourages new interactions with the landscape with an uplands Cherry Walk, a Memorial Walk, a Marsh Walk and a new landform called Independence Rise that would accommodate rising water levels and connect back to the city with a pedestrian bridge. + Tidal Basin Ideas Lab Images via Tidal Basin Ideas Lab

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

November 17, 2020 by  
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The Gare Maritime railway station in Brussels has seen a huge transformation. The building, formerly one of Europe’s largest railway stations for goods, has been renovated into a new city district shopping and event development made of cross-laminated timber. Reimagined as a multi-purpose public space for companies and events, the building is covered entirely in  wood  and highlights sustainable architectural practices such as solar energy and rainwater collection systems. According to the architects at Neutelings Riedijk, the structure is the largest  cross-laminated timber  project in Europe. Architects added a series of 12 new building volumes to accommodate a new program of 45,000 square meters. Along with the existing halls, roofs and side aisles, the new design creates a structure that mimics a small city with streets and parks. Related: Sweden’s tallest timber building could save 550 tons of CO2 The choice of wood came down to sustainability and weight, as a concrete construction would have been five times heavier. Cross-laminated timber with a facade finishing in oak offered the perfect solution to create a prefabricated and dry construction method with shorter building time. As a result, the design features demountable connections and modular wooden building elements to promote sustainability. The central space is reserved for public events and contains a green walking boulevard on both sides. Routes measure 16 meters wide, giving pedestrians plenty of room to enjoy the spacious inner garden complete with a hundred trees. Overall, the space includes a total of 10 gardens based on four themes: woodland, flowers, grass and fragrance. As Brussels enjoys a Mediterranean climate, designers chose plants that adapt to the specific growing conditions. The Gare Maritime also remains completely energy neutral and fossil-free thanks to glass facades and solar cells, with a total area of 17,000 square meters of roof space dedicated to  solar panels . The building uses geothermal energy and a rainwater collection system to water the massive gardens. + Neutelings Riedijk Architects Via ArchDaily Photo: Filip Dujardin/Sarah Blee/Tim Fisher | © Neutelings Riedijk Architects

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A small Swedish town becomes home to urban development experiments

September 18, 2020 by  
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Stockholm-based architecture firm Anders Berensson Architects has unveiled designs for the Tibro Train Tracks , an ongoing urban development project to transform an abandoned track area in the Swedish town of Tibro into an innovative hub for urban planning experiments. Commissioned by the municipality of Tibro with support from the ArkDes Swedish Center for Architecture and Design, the practice-based research project explores the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which calls for sustainable cities and communities. Under the direction of SDG 11, the Tibro research project aims to find new ways of sustainably revitalizing small, rural towns. Located in southern Sweden, the small town of Tibro is best known for its furniture industry and local manufacturing. As a result, the architects opted to highlight the town’s history by taking an inventory of the machines and industrial features that could be adapted into site-specific projects and interventions. Related: A forgotten railway takes on new life as a new cultural destination in France The project has created 60 fast photomontages, 16 inventories of local producers, 17 urban projects and proposals and one urban planning proposal for the abandoned train track in the heart of the town. The one-year project comprised three phases. Phase 1 consisted of community meetings that began with 60 fast photomontages to stimulate discussion among locals, who have created over 300 proposals. In Phase 2, the architects visited 16 local companies, schools and associations to figure out what elements in their site-specific projects could be locally produced. For Phase 3, the discussions and inventories were combined to create a “smorgasbord” of 17 proposals, prototypes and projects for the abandoned train track area. The 17 proposals span small and large interventions, from increasing tree coverage by the train tracks to the creation of the Tibro Market Hall. “The site itself as an abandoned yet central site with a small interest to invest and develop fast can be seen as a disadvantage but with a focused strategy over a long time it can be turned into the opposite,” the architects explained. “With more time experiments can be done, tested and evaluated. Small projects, tests and prototypes can be built and removed or kept. Things can grow organically in a focused plan with a resilient strategy.” + Anders Berensson Architects Images via Anders Berensson Architects

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Amazon hands Mercedes-Benz its biggest electric vehicle order to date

August 28, 2020 by  
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Amazon hands Mercedes-Benz its biggest electric vehicle order to date Katie Fehrenbacher Fri, 08/28/2020 – 00:00 German auto giant Mercedes-Benz announced its largest order of electric vehicles to date Friday: 1,800 electric delivery vans for retail giant Amazon to use across Europe. The deal shows how companies are increasingly paying attention to ways to decarbonize transportation including buying more zero-emission commercial vehicles. In particular, the market for electric last-mile delivery vehicles is starting to grow quickly as logistics companies such as FedEx and Amazon, as well as retailers such as IKEA, set and strive to hit climate goals.  Mercedes-Benz, a subsidiary of Daimler, has been a longtime partner of Amazon, as well as global shipping companies. Two years ago, Amazon bought 20,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans to launch its local franchised shipping program in the United States. However, those were internal combustion vehicles. The world’s largest automakers have been relatively slow to build and market electric trucks and buses, citing a lack of demand from customers and technology that isn’t ready for prime time. That’s left an opening for startups such as Rivian, which has a deal to sell Amazon 100,000 electric trucks.  But Mercedes-Benz appears to be making up for lost time. The automaker also announced Friday that it’s joining the Climate Pledge, an initiative coordinated by Amazon and firm Global Optimism that commits signatories to achieving the objectives laid out in the Paris Climate Agreement by 2040, a decade earlier than the agreement’s 2050 goal. Mercedes-Benz says it will become net carbon-neutral by 2040.  Amazon plans to use the 1,800 electric delivery vans — 1,200 e-Sprinter vans and 600 e-Vito vans — to deliver goods in countries in Europe. European countries including England, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Sweden are acting aggressively to decarbonize transportation emissions and are more swiftly adopting electric trucks compared to the U.S. Mercedes-Benz says by the end of the year it will offer five electric vehicle models and 20 plug-in hybrid vehicle editions. Its vehicle and battery production also will be carbon-neutral, using clean energy. Amazon is adding 1,800 electric delivery vehicles from Mercedes-Benz as part of our journey to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world, and we will be moving fast to get these vans on the road this year. Transitioning to electric vehicles after decades of making gas and diesel-powered ones won’t be easy. The German auto industry is losing jobs and profits as it refashions its factories to make electric vehicle drive trains, and reduces production of the traditional engine and gas tank.  At the same time, big companies such as Amazon increasingly are making global climate commitments in an effort to stay competitive, protect their brands, meet mandates and retain employees. Amazon plans eventually to have all of its shipments to customers become net-zero carbon, with 50 percent of all shipments net-zero by 2030. Electrification of its fleet will play a large role in those goals. In the release, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that Amazon is buying the electric vans from Mercedes-Benz in an effort “to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world.” Pull Quote Amazon is adding 1,800 electric delivery vehicles from Mercedes-Benz as part of our journey to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world, and we will be moving fast to get these vans on the road this year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Daimler Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Amazon Close Authorship

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Digital technology, green finance in vogue among fashion’s sustainability trendsetters

August 5, 2020 by  
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Digital technology, green finance in vogue among fashion’s sustainability trendsetters Phylicia Wu Wed, 08/05/2020 – 01:00 The key to long-term success in the fashion industry is to start trends and continually push the envelope — a philosophy that also applies to its ESG priorities. The $2.5 trillion industry accounts for about 8 percent of the world’s carbon emissions when considering the entire value chain — higher than the entire iron and steel manufacturing industry combined, for comparison. Without any intervention, that figure is projected to increase more than 60 percent by 2030. However, there is a growing and collective awareness of environmental impact across the industry. Companies are discovering sustainability is not just a fad, but a new standard that is here to stay.  A proliferation of greening initiatives from industry players has emerged with public announcements of policies to tackle this issue, measures to address their supply chain footprints, promotion of circular economy practices and encouragement for sustainable brands growing increasingly popular. However, despite these various green initiatives from several early trendsetters in the fashion industry, formidable challenges lay ahead on the path to scaling up sustainability — especially when it comes to supply chain strategies. The lack of environmental impact information and outdated technology are two ubiquitous issues plaguing industrial supply chains in general, but they are especially significant in the context of the fashion industry.  Due to highly price-competitive environments, upstream supply chain participants have little motivation to invest in improvements. Downstream supply chain participants that rarely have a personal stake, such as powerful brands and retailers, hardly encourage prioritization of sustainability upstream. These dynamics have led to the development of stagnant supply chains largely unable to respond to the urgency of the fashion industry’s significant carbon footprint.  Given that most emissions are produced along the supply chain, companies’ inability to monitor and track this data means that there is not a starting point to begin improving their environmental footprints. In particular, inadequate data collection infrastructure along the supply chain has resulted in a shortage of environmental data and information transparency. According to the 2020 Fashion Transparency Index survey, while 78 percent of brands have policies on energy and carbon emissions, only 16 percent publish data on the annual carbon footprints of their supply chain. Given that most emissions are produced along the supply chain, companies’ inability to monitor and track this data means that there is not a starting point to begin improving their environmental footprints.  The reluctance to upgrade to new technology can be partly attributed to thin operating margins of fashion supply chains leading to inefficiencies along the entire chain. One of the most candid illustrations of inefficiencies caused by antiquated technology is in the manufacturing process, where conventional practices still take 2,700 liters — or three years’ worth of drinking water — to make a typical cotton T-shirt.  Traditional manufacturers abide by the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage, while the ultimate retailer of the shirt has no direct ties to the manufacturer. Thus even if the manufacturer had a sustainability policy, it would be difficult to enforce. When both upstream and downstream participants of the supply chain are at odds with modernization, it prevents the changes needed to respond to the climate impact of the industry.  But it is not all doom and gloom. This is where green finance and technology come in. Their dual adoption can begin to address the environmental data gaps and also boost efficiency for production processes in the supply chain that would usher along a much-needed evolution of the fashion industry towards greater sustainability.  Digital technology will play a pivotal role in addressing information transparency and environmental reporting in the fashion industry by facilitating data collection along the supply chain. Using blockchain and cloud-based technology, a number of startups are already laying the groundwork.  For example, blockchain platform Provenance helps trace and certify supply chains to enable ethical procurement decisions. Another startup, Galaxius, offers a cloud-based system that tracks supply chain activity from fabric orders to garment delivery. Beyond startups, fashion luxury giant Kering Group launched an app called My EP&L that tracks carbon emissions, water consumption and air and water pollution along its supply chain to educate designers and students on sustainable design principles. Recently, Stella McCartney and Google Cloud announced a partnership to determine the environmental impact of various types of raw materials. All of these efforts contribute to advancing data collection at different points along the supply chain and have the potential to provide unprecedented levels of transparency for the industry. Dated technology in the production phase of the supply chain creates significant challenges in two ways. The first is in more eco-friendly product material innovation. New textiles, alternative raw materials and sustainable dyeing methods are made possible through scientific and technological ingenuity.  For example, Tencel, a super-absorbent fiber made from wood pulp, offers a great alternative to synthetic activewear. Lenzing Group, producer of Tencel, also uses a closed-loop production process and sustainable dyeing technology in which solvents needed to make the fiber are recycled over and over again to produce new fibers. But the higher costs associated with upgrading machinery to produce more eco-friendly materials typically associated with such innovations hinders their wider acceptance.  The second challenge relates to upgrades and updates to the supply chain that boost efficiency, promote better resource allocation, identify potential cost savings, predict demand and provide other benefits that mitigate the industry’s environmental impact.  Startups such as Optoro and ShareCloth use artificial intelligence, machine learning and other emerging technologies to digitize processes to lower excess inventory and reduce textile waste. However, similar to the cost barriers that impede wider adoption of eco-friendly materials, these new technologies depend on customized machinery or entirely new production facilities, which may be more capital-intensive and require considerable new capital expenditures when compared to traditional manufacturing processes.  Just digital technology for supply chain improvements will not be enough. Fashion will need green finance to drive large-scale transformation. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that commercializing and scaling these innovations will require $20 billion to $30 billion of financing per year.  The Boston Consulting Group estimates that commercializing and scaling these innovations will require $20 billion to $30 billion of financing per year. Promising green finance developments in the fashion industry already are underway. Traditional lenders have begun to ink green bonds and sustainability-linked loans. In November, Prada became the first fashion company to sign a $59 million sustainability-linked loan with Crédit Agricole.  Under the terms of the loan, Prada can pay a reduced interest rate if it achieves targets related to the number of LEED Gold or Platinum-certified stores, the number of training hours employees receive, and the use of Prada Re-Nylon (regenerated nylon) in the production of goods. In February, VF Corporation closed its $591 million green bond, marking the first green bond issued in the industry.  Private equity investors are also paying attention to startup fashion brands. Just last year, The Carlyle Group made its first foray into the industry by acquiring a stake in Jeanologia, and Permira acquired a majority stake in the ethical fashion brand Reformation. In September 2019, the $30 million Good Fashion Fund launched, representing the first investment fund focused solely on driving the implementation of innovative solutions in the fashion industry.  Brands also have started to form corporate venture capital arms to create opportunities for green finance. Examples include Patagonia’s Tin Shed Ventures, launched as a $20 million fund in 2013, and H&M’s CO:LAB, which has made investments ranging from $1 million to $20 million in sustainable fashion.  Prada, by scaling and incentivizing its regenerated nylon technology through its green finance partnership with Credit Agricole, serves as a pioneer for the industry. However, the solutions offered by advancements in technology and green finance admittedly will need more buy-in from companies across the fashion world.  Some ideas that can move fashion in a greener direction include establishing long-term business strategies that incorporate plans for sustainable solutions, employing creative approaches to applying sustainability across supply chains and developing best practices for environmental data monitoring and reporting.  A recent press release from Google and WWF Sweden announcing plans to create an environmental data platform, the latest green financing deal by Moncler for up to $472 million that is tied to its environmental impact reduction targets and a similar arrangement by Salvatore Ferragamo for up to $295 million are welcome steps in the right direction, even in the midst of a global pandemic.  The future is indeed hopeful as sustainability continues to be championed across the industry and its supply chain. Green finance and digital technology will be increasingly critical drivers for the development of greener and more sustainable supply chains. The fashion industry always has been creative, innovative and bold in its designs; now is the time to channel these qualities to secure a fashionable future that is green and sustainable. This article was adapted from the Paulson Institute’s three-part series on sustainability in the fashion industry. Pull Quote Given that most emissions are produced along the supply chain, companies’ inability to monitor and track this data means that there is not a starting point to begin improving their environmental footprints. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that commercializing and scaling these innovations will require $20 billion to $30 billion of financing per year. Topics Corporate Strategy Supply Chain Fashion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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3XN unveils LEED Platinum-seeking Forskaren innovation center in Stockholm

May 12, 2020 by  
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Danish architecture firm 3XN has won a design competition for Forskaren, a new mixed-use innovation center for health and life science companies in Stockholm. Designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the rounded 24,000-square-meter building will draw power from renewable sources. Forskaren will also promote sustainable principles among its tenants with the inclusion of light-filled collaborative spaces and restaurants with eco-friendly fare. Forskaren was designed as part of Hagastaden, a 96-hectare district that is one of the city’s largest and most important urban development projects. The new building will be located between the Karolinska University Hospital and the old Stockholm city hospital to cement the district’s reputation as a world-class destination for research in health, life science and treatment. Hagastaden, which is slated for completion in 2025, also encompasses new housing, a subway station and green spaces. Related: Sculptural, energy-saving office boasts the “smartest building advances in Germany” Forskaren reflects the ambitions of the new district with an open and inviting design built largely of natural materials both inside and out. The building will comprise office space for both established companies and startups as well as restaurants, cafes and an exhibition area showcasing cutting-edge life science research. The light-filled building will be centered on an airy atrium with a distinctive spiral staircase. Along with its surrounding square, Forskaren’s amenities will be publicly accessible as part of a plan to make the building a natural gathering point in Hagastaden. To meet LEED Platinum standards, Forskaren will be equipped with rooftop solar panels and geothermal heat pumps. Graywater collected from rainwater harvesting systems will be used for irrigation and watering plants. Expansive glazing, timber solar shades and a series of other energy-efficient building systems will help keep energy use to a minimum. Forskaren is slated for completion in 2024. + 3XN Images via 3XN

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Best practices for outdoor exercise during COVID-19

May 12, 2020 by  
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Now that states are starting to ease their lockdowns, outdoorsy and active people are eager to hit the trails or pick up their tennis rackets and golf clubs. But what do you need to know before getting active amidst COVID-19 ? Here are tips to stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors during a pandemic. Picking the safest activities The virus is still out there. So as you venture out of your home, remember to keep your guard up. The safest activities are those that let you maintain physical distance and congregate with as few people as possible — it’s still safest to stick with members of your own household. Related: COVID-19 and its effects on the environment If you must recreate with the population beyond your quarantine-mates, singles tennis is going to be safer than doubles, because there’s only one person on each side of the net and only one other person touching your tennis balls. You can probably golf safely, but a post-golf hang out in the clubhouse is a bad idea. For now, you’re better off avoiding sports that require close contact and lots of hands on the same equipment, such as soccer, basketball and volleyball. Hiking At first thought, hiking seems like the perfect pandemic activity. What could be more socially distanced than trekking through the wilderness? Well, nothing. Except that, depending where you live, half of your neighbors probably had the same idea. Plus, hiking trails are narrow. So what happens when one hiker wants to pass another? Choose your hiking trails carefully. Depending on where you live, trailheads might be blocked and parking lots could be closed. Try to check your local ordinances before you head out. This can be tricky, since websites may not be up to date and conditions can change rapidly. In Oregon, official guidelines currently say, “Be prepared for last minute changes to ensure the safety and health of others.” In other words, rangers may close trailheads or parking lots at any minute if folks fail to behave responsibly. Pick the less popular trails, go early and abort the mission if there are too many cars parked near the trailhead. Have a face mask handy so you can cover up and protect fellow hikers if you need to pass them. Avoid narrow trails on cliff edges, where there’s nowhere to step aside. If your dog wants to come along, plan to hike on a wide trail or in a remote area. If the trails are too crowded, and/or you can’t resist those puppy-dog eyes, consider looking for quiet country roads and going for a ramble rather than a hike. Running Since the gyms closed, the number of outdoor runners seems to have multiplied. It can be tricky to navigate your path as you stay 6 feet away from other humans. This might mean zig-zagging from one side of the street to the other, coming to a dead stop when a group of kids go by on trikes and being highly alert to avoid cars and bikes. You’ll need your wits about you. Either skip the headphones or only wear one. With regular routes suddenly too crowded for physical distancing, it’s also important to be vigilant when navigating less familiar terrain. Distance runners might need to plan their routes more carefully. Being 4 miles from home on city streets and suddenly realizing all the public restrooms are closed — well, that’s not a fun predicament. This isn’t a great time for public drinking fountains, either. So carry a reusable water bottle or plan your route so that you can stop by your house for a mid-run comfort break. Water sports As spring turns into summer , water lovers’ thoughts turn to their local beaches, rivers and lakes. Many water sports are a good option during COVID-19, but this isn’t a good time to take up anything extreme. You really don’t want to have to seek medical attention or be hospitalized right now. Instead, try activities like kayaking or paddle boarding on calm waters. But because even the calmest water can be dangerous, go with your household or a buddy. You can stay in close proximity with the people you live with, but if you meet up with a friend, you do need to continue to practice social distancing. Some outfitters are opening up now for contactless rentals and physically distanced group outings with well-sanitized kayaks. This is a good option if you don’t own the gear. Swimming and surfing can also be done while adhering to physical distancing guidelines. Adhere to local ordinances and, again, go with your household or a friend. Other outdoor exercise tips and etiquette As you venture outdoors, keep your safety and that of others in mind by following local ordinances and official guidelines. If you live in a place where face masks are optional, bring one along in case conditions turn out to be more crowded than expected. Stick a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket in case you have to touch something. If you’re exerting yourself, watch where you are huffing and puffing. People going on a socially distant walk with family or housemates should go single-file if others are trying to pass. If other people fail to observe proper pandemic etiquette, stay calm. Move away from people breathing in your space. Also, remember why you’re going outdoors: fresh air, exercise and the uplifting effects of nature . This is a time to prioritize physical health and sanity, not athletic achievement or personal best race times. So get outside, be safe and try to be kind to yourself and others. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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ReGen Villages plans smart, circular communities in Sweden

April 22, 2020 by  
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Silicon Valley-based  ReGen Villages  has teamed up with Swedish architecture firm  White Arkitekter  to develop ReGen Villages Sweden, a vision for smart, self-sufficient communities throughout the Scandinavian country. Developed to meet the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the proposal combines a wide variety of high- and low-tech environmentally friendly systems from organic gardens for local food production to the integration of artificial intelligence on a community-wide scale. The two firms hope to break ground on a ReGen Villages Sweden pilot project in 2020.  The ReGen Villages concept is based on five core principles: high-yield organic and ecological food production, mixed renewable energy and storage systems, water and waste recycling,  energy-positive  architecture and the empowerment of local communities. Each ReGen Village would measure approximately 250,000 square meters with only a quarter of the site occupied by buildings, including around 250 to 300 houses. The rest of the area will be used for farming and food production, energy production and water management.  Key to the design of ReGen Villages is the integration of Village OS, a ReGen Villages Holding-developed system based on AI technology and machine learning. Like the technology used in “ smart homes ,” Village OS will use computer systems to monitor all aspects of the community, from farming and recycling to residents’ energy and water usage. The local housing cooperative can use Village OS from a central hub to run the community’s daily operations, which will be optimized over time through collected data. Related: This train station which doubles as city hall in Sweden will function as an “urban living room” “Scalable, innovative solutions are the answers to the challenges of the future,” said James Ehrlich, founder of ReGen Villages Holding. “The collaboration with White will give  Sweden  and the Nordics the world’s first economically, ecologically and socially sustainable communities for ordinary people.” ReGen Villages has spent the past four years meeting with Swedish municipalities, landowners, property developers and stakeholders to push the project forward. White Arkitekter will handle the overall site planning and design of the community’s energy-positive architecture. + White Arkitekter Images via White Arkitekter

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ReGen Villages plans smart, circular communities in Sweden

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