New sensor precisely measures air pollution

June 21, 2019 by  
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Scientists agree that air pollution shortens the lives of many Europeans every year, but they have a hard time accurately measuring it. Now, thanks to new sensor technology developed at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology , pinpointing air pollution and calculating its effects may become much easier. This new optical nano-sensor detects nitrogen dioxide concentrations down to the parts-per-billion level. The underlying concept is an optimal phenomenon called a plasmon, which has to do with plasma oscillation in physics. Scientists use the sensors to detect illuminated metal nanoparticles absorbing certain wavelengths of light— by which they can measure pollution. Related: Earliest human air pollution detected in glaciers The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution causes 550,000 premature deaths in Europe annually and 7 million worldwide. “Air pollution is a global health problem,” says Chalmers researcher Irem Tanyeli, who helped develop the sensors. “To be able to contribute to increased knowledge and a better environment feels great. With the help of these small, portable sensors, it can become both simpler and cheaper to measure dangerous emissions extremely accurately.” The university research team worked with the Gothenburg-based company Insplorion— co-founded by Christoph Langhammer, a Chalmers physics professor— to bring the sensors out of the lab and onto the streets of Gothenburg. “This is a great example of how a university and a company can collaborate. Both parties contribute with their expertise to create a new product, contributing to a more sustainable society,” said Langhammer. Sensors are already installed on the roof of a huge Gothenburg shopping mall and will soon be placed along a local railway tunnel construction project. The sensors can also be calibrated to measure other gases. “Nitrogen dioxide is just one of the many substances which can be detected with the help of optical nanosensors. There are great opportunities for this type of technology ,” said Langhammer. Companies and universities inside and outside Sweden have already been in contact to see if the nano-sensors could help their aims. Via mynewsdesk Images via Chalmers University of Technology

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New sensor precisely measures air pollution

McDonalds creates McHives to raise awareness of the world’s decreasing bee populations

May 28, 2019 by  
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Although McDonald’s restaurants are ubiquitous around the world, the popular fast food eateries in Sweden are currently expanding to meet the needs of tiny little clients that have an immeasurable impact on our world — honey bees. As part of a country-wide initiative to raise awareness about the world’s dwindling bee population , various franchises in Sweden are installing fully-functional beehives, known as McHives, on their rooftops. Brainchild of creative agency NORD DDB , the McHive initiative started last year when one McDonald’s franchise owner, Christina Richter, decided to place a small beehive on the restaurant’s rooftop. Now, in collaboration with McDonald’s sustainability office in Sweden, additional franchise owners have decided to follow Richter’s lead and install the 16-inch hives on their own roofs. Related: IKEA teams up with London artists to upcycle old furniture into funky abodes for birds, bees and bats The innovative beehives were designed and built by award winning set designer Nicklas Nilsson. Built to scale, the beekeeping box hives are remarkable in their realistic appearance, complete with the restaurant’s signature Golden Arches. Bees enter the structure through the main entrance and can even enjoy outdoor seating, or if they’re really in a hurry, they can swing by the mini drive-thru. Although there are currently five franchises with McHives on their roofs throughout the country, the first hive was recently auctioned for charity , raising more than $10,000 dollars for the Ronald McDonald House. Christoffer Rönnblad, Marketing director of McDonald’s Sweden, explained that the company was thrilled to join forces with the individual franchises in the name of sustainability . “We have a lot of really devoted franchisees who contribute to our sustainability work, and it feels good that we can use our size to amplify such a great idea as beehives on the rooftops,” Rönnblad said. “This miniature McDonald’s is a tribute to franchisee Christina Richter’s initiative.” + Nord DDB Via Adweek Images via McDonald’s

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McDonalds creates McHives to raise awareness of the world’s decreasing bee populations

Contemporary A-frame home soaks up lakeside views in Mexico

April 8, 2019 by  
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On the edge of Lake Avándaro in the Mexican town of Valle de Bravo is House A, a beautiful, contemporary home that’s designed by Mexico City-based architectural firm Metodo in collaboration with Ingeniería Orca to embrace views of the lake. Named after its sharply pitched A-frame construction, the three-story home is built with walls of glass and folding glazed doors to create a seamless connection with the outdoors. A palette of natural materials complement steel and glass elements to create a modern and warm ambiance. Spread out over three floors with an area of 3,523 square feet, House A was created with large gatherings and entertaining in mind. The ground level, which opens up through folding glazed doors to an outdoor patio and lawn, comprises an open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen; a TV room; service rooms; and a guest suite. The main entrance and parking pad are located on the second floor, where the first master suite and children’s room can be found. The small third floor features a second master suite, a yoga terrace and a secondary children’s room. “The intention of House A is precisely to be able to appropriate its surroundings and give its inhabitants a way to ‘live’ the lake,” the architects said in a project statement.” The ‘ A-frame ’ shape is used to its fullest potential to make this possible. Therefore, it was very important that the structure was present in every space of the house. Additionally, we wanted the structure to be a coherent element with the house’s functionality.” Related: Ruins of Sweden’s oldest church sheltered by a new A-frame building The architects built the dwelling with a contemporary steel structure along with local construction techniques and materials . The house is oriented toward the north for views of the lake while lateral balconies, inspired by boat decks, let in solar radiation in mornings and evenings. + Metodo + Ingeniería Orca Photography by Tatiana Mestre via Metodo

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Old Swedish farm is reborn as a cozy woodland cabin holiday home

March 19, 2019 by  
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Swedish architectural practice Wingårdh Arkitektkontor converted a large old farm in the south of Sweden into a holiday home with a cozy woodland cabin atmosphere. Commissioned by a family who reside in the nearby city of Malmö, the countryside retreat was fashioned as a luxurious escape into nature built predominately with timber and designed to embrace views of the lush forest through floor-to-ceiling glazing. The adaptive reuse project—dubbed Kvarnhuset (The Mill House)—has respected the farm’s traditional gabled forms, while imbuing the interiors with new contemporary flourish. The original farm buildings included a cowshed, stables, hayloft and barn. Wingårdh Arkitektkontor transformed those structures into sleeping quarters, a kitchen, a gym and other additional rooms, while adding a new freestanding wing to the late 19th-century house. The annex consists of a guest bedroom as well as a sauna with a dressing room and bathroom. Since the existing creek onsite was too small for bathing, the architects also built a small bathing pool next to the sauna so that the family can engage in the “Swedish ritual of sauna and bathing.” “The detailing of the annex surpasses all of Wingårdh’s prior work,” the architects explain in their project statement. “The entire building is crafted with the precision of fine cabinetry and the craftsmanship and materials – oak and limestone – infuse the atmosphere with warmth and authenticity. The heavily detailed architecture of the interior is more than a mere background for its contents. By contrast, the simple exterior gives no indication of the care lavished on the inside, particularly the façade towards the courtyard.” Related: Tham & Videgård Arkitekter designs Swedish “vertical village” built from CLT The architects also reference Japan’s traditional teahouse architecture as a major inspiration. However, unlike the straightforward simplicity and austerity of those teahouses, the Mill House offers a more luxurious experience. + Wingårdh Arkitektkontor Images by Åke Eson Lindman

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Old Swedish farm is reborn as a cozy woodland cabin holiday home

Global warming makes 2018 the 4th hottest year ever

February 13, 2019 by  
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U.S. officials have confirmed that 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA just revealed that temperatures were 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the worldwide average, which includes temperatures between 1951 and 1980. Temperatures in 2018 were the fourth warmest of any year since 1880. That places 2018 slightly behind the top three average temperatures on record: 2016, 2017 and 2015, respectively. According to The Guardian , the rise in temperatures affects more than just the heat index. Global warming also raises sea levels and spawns increasingly extreme weather patterns. In 2018, for example, the U.S. witnessed two of the worst hurricanes on record, while wildfires devastated California. Elsewhere around the globe, India experienced massive flooding, while a disastrous typhoon hit the Philippines. Greece and Sweden also suffered deadly wildfires , and the Arctic had one of the warmest years ever. In fact, scientists warn that the Arctic is experiencing double the warming rate of any other region on Earth. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 “2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” NASA’s Gavin Schmidt explained. “The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding , heatwaves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change.” With global warming not showing any signs of slowing down, scientists believe hotter temperatures are the new norm. This year has already begun with El Niño in the forecast, which means it could be even hotter than last year. Unless carbon emissions are drastically cut within the next decade, it is possible that we see another record setting year between now and 2023. Even if governments around the world exceed expectations in cutting  carbon emissions, slowing global warming will be difficult. Even more disturbing is the fact that we have seen 18 of the 19 hottest years since 2001. For reference, children who are now graduating from high school have only experienced record-setting temperatures. Last year was the fourth hottest year on record, but it may turn out to be a mild one for future generations. Via The Guardian Image via Pixel2013

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Global warming makes 2018 the 4th hottest year ever

Introducing ReTuna, the world’s first secondhand shopping mall

November 29, 2018 by  
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The reusing and upcycling trend continues to gain steam in countries all over the globe. Now, there is a shopping mall that is full of secondhand stores only. ReTuna, a two-story complex in Eskilstuna, Sweden, is located about 70 miles west of Stockholm and offers a wide selection of shops with upcycled, reused and recycled goods. Sales at the mall have  quadrupled in its first three years . ReTuna has  been around since 2015 , and it was designed to tackle Sweden’s problem of rising consumption. It is the first mall in the world that focuses on sustainable shopping, and the company wants to make it easier for people to find valuable, pre-loved goods by putting secondhand stores under one roof instead of consumers having to search for thrift stores throughout the city. “I think it’s fun to find something that people have used, and we can use further,” said Cato Limas, a ReTuna customer. “If you look at the things they’re selling here, they’re almost new. So actually, why bother buying new stuff?” During their first visit to the secondhand mall, Limas and his girlfriend spent about $7 and came away with a bag full of toys and keepsakes for their newborn baby. Nearly every item on sale is from public donations, which are dropped off at the mall’s drive-thru depot. The mall’s 11 stores include a vintage furniture outlet, a bookstore and a bicycle shop. Stores that sign a contract with ReTuna must also commit to zero-waste . More than 50 people work at the complex, and it has played a role in generating employment for immigrants in the area. Many of the stores take part in a Swedish national program that subsidizes salaries of new residents for up to two years. ReTuna also offers adult education courses that focus on design-based recycling . Sweden has been a longtime leader when it comes to sustainability. More than 99 percent of the country’s ordinary household waste is recycled, and separating trash for recycling has been a common practice for Swedes since the 1980s. The country has also passed legislation to reach its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. + ReTuna Via Huffington Post Images via ReTuna

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Introducing ReTuna, the world’s first secondhand shopping mall

Coop launches fragrance that smells of old milk to combat food waste

September 19, 2018 by  
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Food waste is a major issue all around the world, but one Swedish company is doing something about it. Coop has officially launched an ‘Old Milk’ fragrance — which, yes, smells like spoiled milk — to urge citizens to rely on their sense of taste and smell rather than expiration dates when deciding whether to throw away outdated food. A study by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency shows that 30 percent of food waste in Sweden is still edible. It is estimated that most food waste in the world is from dairy products, tea and coffee. To combat wasting this amount of food, Coop, a popular grocery chain in the country, developed a spray that smells like spoiled milk. The hope is that the fragrance will encourage people to smell and taste food before tossing it out. Related: Mobile app Karma tackles food waste with discounted meals “With the fragrance Old Milk, we want to make people decrease their food waste at home by helping them understand the difference between drinkable and undrinkable milk,”  Anneli Bylund, the head of Coop’s sustainability division, explained. “Don’t be afraid to smell, taste and look at the food before you throw it out.” Another goal of the new fragrance is to teach Swedes not to rely solely on expiration dates. Coop hopes its product will educate citizens on how spoiled milk actually smells and encourage them to test all of the food in their households before tossing it in the bin. This is not the first time Coop has combated food waste. In previous years, the company has collaborated with organizations to extend food past the manufacturer’s recommended date. This includes working with organizations like Allwin and Whywaste to help distribute old food to nonprofits. Coop is also working with celebrity chef Paul Svensson to create better-tasting recipes for leftovers. Coop has taken home several awards for its contribution to sustainability in Sweden. This includes being named the most sustainable brand and the greenest company in 2018. The company is releasing free samples of the Old Milk fragrance on its official website . + Coop Images via Coop

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Coop launches fragrance that smells of old milk to combat food waste

Wooden skyscraper city proposed for Stockholms most eco-friendly neighborhood

September 5, 2018 by  
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When Anders Berensson Architects was tapped by the Stockholm Center Party to design a new Stockholm neighborhood that would be the densest, tallest and most environmentally friendly in the city, the Swedish architecture firm responded with Masthamnen, a skinny timber “skyscraper city” elevated atop traditional city blocks. The mixed-use proposal includes a combination of residential, office and retail spaces in a pedestrian-friendly environment integrated with public parkland that connects the new district with the surrounding hilly landscape and urban fabric. Located in a valley between three hills, Masthamnen is organized into three main parts: a lower block city on the same level as today’s dock levels; an elevated timber “ skyscraper city” on top; and a series of landscaped roofs and bridges that link the development to the hilly terrain. The lower section would comprise 19 new city blocks ranging from six to 10 floors. In total, these blocks would contain 2,500 apartments, 60,000 square meters of office space and nearly 100 shops and restaurants. The wooden skyscraper city elevated atop these blocks would consist of 31 new skinny wooden skyscrapers ranging between 25 and 35 floors to include approximately 3,000 apartments with an estimated 30 shops and restaurants. Views are prioritized in the design and layout, and each skyscraper is given sufficient clearance to avoid obstructing views. Cross-laminated timber would be used as the primarily building material. Related: Nation’s first large-scale mass timber residence hall breaks ground in Arkansas “When entering the new city area you will often be at the same height as the roofs of the new district,” Anders Berensson Architects added. “Therefore we have chosen to propose a Public Park on all roofs of the lower block city and connect them with bridges. The roofs and bridges form a large public landscape that binds together all beautiful high situated promenade trails that already exist on eastern Södermalm. This way, we also make eastern Södermalm easier and more beautiful to have a stroll on.” + Anders Berensson Architects Images via Anders Berensson Architects

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Wooden skyscraper city proposed for Stockholms most eco-friendly neighborhood

Students compete to design energy-efficient, battery-powered rail vehicles

June 7, 2018 by  
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Students in Sweden showed off creative designs for energy efficient , battery-powered rail vehicles at the Delsbo Electric competition in late May. One team set a new record, for the “lowest energy consumption per person-kilometer ever for a man-made engine driven vehicle.” According to an emailed statement, the winning vehicle could transport a person around 1,640 feet with the energy of a single Google search. Dalarna University students won the Delsbo Electric 2018 competition with the Eximus III, which transported six people from Delsbo to Fredriksfors and back on a track around two miles long. The average weight of the passengers was over 110 pounds, and the vehicle speed was more than six miles per hour. Eximus III’s energy consumption was 0.63 watt-hours (Wh) per person-kilometer, the lowest ever recorded for a man-made vehicle powered by an engine. Related: Swedish students design one of the world’s most energy-efficient rail-bound vehicles Students also competed for the HHK Innovation Award, given by experts from company Hudiksvalls Hydraulikkluster (HHK). Linköping University students nabbed that prize for Helios, which boasted a vehicle body and wheels comprised almost entirely of wood  and a windshield made from recycled plastic . Solar panels atop the roof provided clean power. Emil Fernlund, a member of the team, said in a video , “Our whole approach is based on sustainable design . We want to show that you can build energy efficiently and use renewable materials .” Chairman of the HHK Innovation Award jury and HHK Cluster Manager Paul Bogatir said in a statement, “Helios is a beautiful concept and it inspires the industry and the world to think about energy efficiency during the whole product life cycle — not just when the product is in use.” One team, from the Chalmers University of Technology , showed off a prototype for a Maglev train that could travel on existing tracks. While it’s not ready to be implemented yet, the students hope people will be able to ride it in a few years. + Delsbo Electric + Linköping University Images courtesy of Hudiksvalls Hydraulikkluster / Delsbo Electric

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Students compete to design energy-efficient, battery-powered rail vehicles

Trump’s nuclear bailout could cost consumers up to $17 billion each year

June 7, 2018 by  
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The Trump Administration is taking unprecedented steps to bail out failing nuclear and coal power plants, effectively nationalizing the American energy market with potentially drastic consequences for the renewable energy industry and the American consumer. According to an updated report from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), the Trump Administration’s plan could result in artificially high electricity prices. The planned subsidies for nuclear power plants alone could increase the overall cost of electricity in the U.S. by up to $17 billion each year; the subsidies for coal plants would add even more. This skewing of the American energy market, which has recently seen significant progress made by wind and solar energy, could also result in the decline of renewable energy in the U.S. “By pushing for a nationwide bailout for nuclear power and coal, the Trump administration is rushing headlong into an energy buzz saw, and they don’t even seem to know it,” NIRS executive director Tim Judson said in a statement. It should come as no surprise to those who have followed President Trump that he would take steps to support coal and nuclear power at the expense of renewable energy. What is surprising is the heavy-handedness with which his administration is attempting to directly subsidize failing businesses, thereby ignoring the Republican Party’s long-held belief in the supremacy of a market free from government intrusion. By doing so, Trump could decimate the renewable energy industry, which employs more American workers than coal and nuclear combined. Related: Trump orders Perry to take steps to curb coal plant shutdowns The administration claims that it must act to save failing coal and nuclear plants in the interest of national security. Not everyone is buying that excuse. “The Administration’s warnings of dire effects from power shortages caused by shortages of reliable and resilient generation are contradicted by all of the bodies with actual responsibility for assuring adequate supplies,” said former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Peter A. Bradford. “There are no state or federal energy regulators petitioning DOE for these measures. Indeed, those who have spoken clearly have said that such steps are unnecessary. … As was said in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq , the facts are being fixed around the desired end result.” In order to enact its bailout policies, the Trump Administration has three options: Congressional action, review and approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or a formal National Security Council assessment. While the bailouts are likely to be delayed for the foreseeable future, if they even occur, the Trump Administration’s decision to subsidize failing power plants at the expense of American industry and consumer well-being makes its priorities quite clear. + Nuclear Information & Resource Service Images via GorissM and Ron Reiring

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