Volvo is going fully electric by 2030

March 3, 2021 by  
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This was a big week for Volvo , which made two bold and forward-looking announcements and debuted the C40 Recharge. The Swedish automaker, which is owned by the Chinese conglomerate Geely, will only sell electric cars by 2030. It’s also closing all show rooms and only selling cars online. The company will be phasing out leather interiors as well to meet its sustainability goals. “To remain successful, we need profitable growth. So instead of investing in a shrinking business, we choose to invest in the future — electric and online,” said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo’s chief executive, in a statement. “We are fully focused on becoming a leader in the fast-growing premium electric segment.” Related: Volvo creates the living seawall in Sydney to help with plastic pollution Volvo had previously decreed that half of its cars sales would be electric by 2025. Now the company is accelerating its goal by completely phasing out gas, diesel and hybrid options as part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions . On Tuesday, Volvo unveiled the new 2022 C40 Recharge four-door coupe, which has an estimated 210-mile range. Volvo had previously released only one fully electric vehicle, 2020’s XC40 Recharge. This SUV has a range of about 200 miles. Both the SUV and the coupe need 40 minutes of plug-in time to charge their batteries to 80%. It’s going to be a pretty big change for people in large countries like the U.S. who are used to going on long road trips to have to stop every few hours and find a charging station. But Volvo is forging resolutely ahead. “I am totally convinced there will no customers who really want to stay with a petrol engine,” Samuelsson said at a press conference. “We are convinced that an electric car is more attractive for customers.” Volvo has said there’s “no long-term future” for autos relying on internal combustion engines. By 2025, Volvo aims to be selling half hybrid models and half fully electric cars. Over the next few years, a whole new set of Volvo cars will debut to be sold online only. Other car makers are starting to agree. In the U.K., Bentley is also aiming to be all-electric by 2030, and Jaguar has announced a 2025 deadline to make the switch. + Volvo Via The Verge , CNET and Reuters Image via Volvo

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Volvo is going fully electric by 2030

Monarch butterfly population declines due to climate change and logging

March 3, 2021 by  
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A new  report by the World Wildlife Fund  in association with the government of Mexico shows that there is a drastic decline in the number of monarch butterflies hibernating in Mexico. The report indicates that the number of butterflies had reduced by 26% in December 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. Monarch butterflies are among the most beautiful migratory insects in the world. Every fall, they treat people in the U.S. and Mexico to a stunning show as they migrate to Mexico to hibernate for the winter. Unfortunately, logging in Mexico and some climate factors have dealt a blow to their population. Related: What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations The report shows that the butterflies occupied nearly 7 acres in their hibernation ground in Mexico in 2019. In 2020, the monarchs only occupied about 5.1 acres of forested land. According to Jorge Rickards, Director-General of WWF Mexico, the migration of the butterflies across two countries shows how collaboration is necessary for their conservation . “Monarch butterflies show us how individual work, in this case, migration, can become an exceptional collaborative exercise, when all these migrants gather in the forests to hibernate together and buffer the climate,” Rickards said. The report has linked the decline in numbers of monarch butterflies with deforestation . The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which is the major hibernation area, lost four times more trees in 2020 than it did in 2019. While natural events, such as wind and drought, have contributed to tree loss, the decline in trees is also attributed to logging and pest-control activities. The report indicates that such tree losses have hindered monarch butterflies’ reproduction and have also interfered with their migration patterns. “This limited the reproduction of the Monarch population, with an impact on the migrant generation, reducing the population of this insect throughout North America and leading to a smaller population occupying the Mexican forests during its hibernation,” the report says. In the U.S., monarch butterflies are on the brink of being classified as an endangered species . If the species is not protected, the world is likely to lose the only known two-way migration butterflies. According to WWF, they travel up to  2,800 miles  in a year to spend winter months in Mexico. + WWF Via CBS Image via Ulrike Leone

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Monarch butterfly population declines due to climate change and logging

Three prefab modules make up this contemporary rural home

March 30, 2020 by  
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On a 190-hectare working farm near the NSW city of Orange, Australian modular design company Modscape has completed a new prefab home that takes in dramatic landscape views in all directions. An exercise in efficiency, the 225-square-meter residence was constructed in a controlled factory environment and comprises just three modules. Dubbed Project Kangaroobie, the contemporary home combines floor-to-ceiling glazing, a neutral palette of natural materials and a minimalist design to keep focus on the outdoors.  When the Sydney-based clients of Project Kangaroobie approached Modscape, prefabrication was already at the top of their minds. Because their rural property was a four-hour drive from their primary residence, the clients wanted the home to be built in a controlled environment to eliminate weather-related delays and any difficulties in coordinating multiple trades. Related: A prefab home in Sydney celebrates indoor-outdoor living The three-bedroom, two-bedroom home that Modscape designed and built perfectly complements the clients’ rural land both visually and physically. The new modular home stretches across a ridge to follow the natural topography. Vertical Silvertop Ash timber cladding will develop a silvery patina over time and blend the home into its surrounding landscape. The light-filled interior features a neutral palette of warm timber , Scyon-lined walls and ceramic tiles. Project Kangaroobie’s T-shaped plan creates separate wings for living, sleeping and utilities and opens up to outdoor terraces to the west, south and east. The spatial layout also ensures that the living spaces remain clutter-free to preserve sight lines across the home and toward the landscape. The architects noted, “Windows and doors have been positioned to maximize their effect as frames to the landscape: the low wide window which, when seated, frames a view toward the tree line; the enclosed porch (complete with outdoor fireplace and hammock-hanging hooks) is a perfect vantage point for watching the weather roll up the valley; and the window in the living area perfectly captures the spectacular sunsets.” + Modscape Photography by John Madden via Modscape

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Three prefab modules make up this contemporary rural home

Sculptural, energy-saving office boasts the smartest building advances in Germany

February 25, 2020 by  
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In the heart of Berlin, Danish architecture firm 3XN has recently completed Cube Berlin, a striking new office showcasing the latest advances in sustainability, digitization and design. Opened this month, Cube Berlin also serves as a new city landmark with its sculptural, reflective facade designed to engage the pedestrian realm at the historically significant site of Washingtonplatz. The building is expected to achieve DNGB Gold certification and is engineered with smart office technologies that learn and adapt to user behavior to optimize comfort and energy efficiency. Designed as a prismatic reinterpretation of the cube, the sculptural Cube Berlin measures 4.25 meters in all directions. Reflective glazing wraps around the exterior to mirror the surroundings and engage passersby while allowing natural light into the building without compromising privacy. The floor-to-ceiling windows frame stunning views of Berlin landmarks, and select operable openings let in natural ventilation. Solar coatings to the facade, described by the architects as an “osmotic skin,” along with external solar shading mitigate unwanted solar gain and ensure high energy savings. Related: 3XN unveils new, sustainable building for UNSW Sydney In addition to providing visual interest, the reflective prismatic facade also provides opportunities for outdoor terraces on all levels. Outdoor space has also been created on the roof — the “fifth facade” — that features a spacious rooftop terrace shared by office tenants. The office building comprises 10 floors of flexible, multi-tenant office space as well as a ground-floor food market and office lobby, underground parking, plant rooms, conference areas and a rooftop terrace.  As a “next generation smart building,” Cube Berlin allows for greater interactivity between users and the building operations. Building operational information is stored in a “digital brain” server that collects data on energy flow and consumption. Users can use an app to interact with the system by remotely controlling features such as access control, indoor heating and cooling, maintenance, energy supply, room and parking reservations, charging of electric cars and bicycles and more. “In this way, the building and its users enter into an interplay where both are learning from each other,” the architects explained. “The building learns to adjust to the preferences of its users, while the users can control and adapt the building’s settings according to their desires and needs.” + 3XN Photography by Adam Mørk via 3XN

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Sculptural, energy-saving office boasts the smartest building advances in Germany

A homey, floating cabin makes for the ultimate romantic getaway in South Australia

November 21, 2019 by  
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Nothing says romance like whisking your loved one off for a remote getaway in South Australia . Located on the mighty Murray River, this amazing floating cabin has just about everything you need for a relaxing time away, including plenty of open-air seating to watch the sunset over the idyllic horizon. For anyone planning a trip near beautiful Adelaide, this gorgeous floating cabin is a perfect place to get off the beaten path. Starting in the Australian Alps, the Murray River stretches about 1,558 miles into Southwest Australia. The scenery is incredible, and seeing it first-hand from your own floating home is an unforgettable experience. Related: Sail your cares away in this incredible floating villa near Sydney The floating cabin sleeps up to two people and comes with all of the amenities needed for a romantic yet adventurous getaway. The interior is comprised of a comfy living room and a beautifully decorated bedroom that comes with a queen-sized bed. There is a spacious bathroom with a walk-in shower, and it comes complete with luxury linens and towels. Although small, the cabin’s compact kitchenette comes equipped with all of the basics, such as a stovetop and microwave, to whip up a tasty meal. For breakfast, guests will find everything they need to prepare a delicious spread of bacon, eggs, avocado, tomatoes, coffee, juice and more. Although the interior is cozy and inviting, the exterior of the boat is the best place to be. The outdoor deck includes plenty of seating, from two hanging basket seats to a couple of loungers arranged perfectly for soaking up the Australian sunshine. The area also has a barbecue area and a fire pit, which is just the spot to enjoy the late-evening views. The cabin is designed to offer guests a complete respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life. However, guests looking for a bit of outdoor adventure will be able to enjoy the river up-close thanks to a two-person kayak. Other activities can also be arranged. + Glamping Hub Images via Glamping Hub

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A homey, floating cabin makes for the ultimate romantic getaway in South Australia

Passive solar home makes the most of a difficult, triangular site in Sydney

July 17, 2019 by  
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When asked to renovate and expand a home on a challenging triangular lot in Sydney, local architectural practice studioplusthree decided to build upward to make the most of the awkward site. By elevating the home’s new addition into the canopy of a large existing fig tree, the architects maximized access to natural light and city views while taking advantage of the tree’s shade. Dubbed the Platform House after its “new living platform,” the updated house also boasts increased energy efficiency thanks to the use of passive solar strategies as well as the installation of solar hot water panels and a rainwater collection system. Completed over the span of 36 months on a tight budget, the Platform House has been enlarged to cover an area of 2,131 square feet with a 753-square-foot basement. The existing ground floor was retained but reconfigured to house four bedrooms, a sitting room and an outdoor courtyard, while most of the attention was given to the new elevated extension. In contrast to the all-white ground floor volume, the new “platform” is clad in blackened timber and cantilevers out to provide shelter to the courtyard below. Related: A prefab home in Sydney celebrates indoor-outdoor living “Responding to the triangular site, the diagonal cut of the first floor volume is manifested in elements throughout from window reveals to planter boxes and outdoor seating,” the architects explained in the press release. “Acting as both cladding and screen, the upstairs volume is wrapped in a charred cypress , all of which was undertaken by hand, on-site. The design aims to integrate functionality into the details to enrich family living — such as the northern edge of the elevated deck, expressed in a continuous element that incorporates planting, outdoor seating, privacy screen, benchtop and storage.” For added privacy, the new living platform is partially sheathed in a series of sliding perforated bronze screens that protect against solar heat gain yet still let in natural light when closed. Deep eaves and recessed blinds shelter glass openings, while the fig tree provides additional protection against the western sun. The open-plan living spaces also open up to a north-facing outdoor terrace. + studioplusthree Photography by Brett Boardman via studioplusthree

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Passive solar home makes the most of a difficult, triangular site in Sydney

EPA lifts ban on pesticide proven to be toxic to honeybees

July 17, 2019 by  
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has re-approved a pesticide for use throughout the country despite its known toxicity to honeybee populations. The chemical , sulfoxaflor, is produced by DowDupont, a major chemical company that contributed $1 million to President Trump’s campaign. Sulfoxaflor was originally approved for use by the EPA in 2013, but the approval was adamantly opposed and challenged by beekeepers and environmentalists. In 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to discontinue the chemical’s approval since DowDupont could not provide enough evidence proving their product is not harmful to bee populations. Despite this ruling, the government continued to offer “emergency approvals” of its use and now has officially re-approved its use on over 190 million acres of crops. Their product is now approved for use on corn, strawberries, citrus, pumpkins, pineapples and soybeans. Related: Native bees are going extinct without much buzz Although the EPA’s own studies provide evidence that the substance is “highly toxic to honeybees at all life stages” and similarly toxic to native bee populations, the EPA announced it was thrilled to lift the ban on such a highly effective agricultural product. “Scientists have long said pesticides like sulfoxaflor are the cause of the unprecedented colony collapse. Letting sulfoxaflor back on the market is dangerous for our food system, economy and environment, ” says a legal representative from Earthjustice. Both honey bees and native bees have seen a rapid decline in their numbers over the past few decades. This winter, beekeepers reportedly lost over 35 percent of their colonies. Since 1947, the population of honeybees has dropped from 6 million to under 2.4 million. “The Trump EPA’s reckless approval of this bee-killing pesticide across 200 million acres of crops like strawberries and watermelon without any public process is a terrible blow to imperiled pollinators,” says the director of the Center for Biological Diversity. Via Huff Post Image via Johann Piber

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EPA lifts ban on pesticide proven to be toxic to honeybees

Green-roofed infill rental fills a gap in Vancouvers housing crisis

May 28, 2019 by  
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In light of Vancouver’s housing crisis , local architectural firm Haeccity Studio Architecture has transformed a 1950s bungalow in the city’s West End neighborhood into Comox Infill, a contemporary multi-family development with six dedicated rental units. Described by the firm as the “missing” piece from Vancouver’s urban fabric, this small-scale multi-family project is a case study for much-needed densification that doesn’t compromise on livability. Sandwiched between two heritage properties, the modern infill project thoughtfully references its traditional neighbors while considering key issues including walkability, car sharing, accessibility and aging in place. Located on a standard 33-foot-by-122-foot single-family lot in downtown Vancouver, Comox Infill is a three-story walk-up that includes six dedicated rental units for tenancy, a green roof  and a shared courtyard with a preserved, mature Cypress tree. The decidedly contemporary development relates to its urban context through its sloped roof, separate exterior dwelling entrances and human-scaled circulation. “Not quite a single-family home, and yet not a soaring condo tower, the missing middle typology offers something in between,” explained the firm. “In rethinking the possibilities for urban dwelling, it’s a solution that calls for incremental densification without drastically disrupting the character and community of existing neighborhoods. Comox Street embodies the desirable qualities of a missing middle typology, including walkable urban living, accessibility to a middle-income household and housing diversity, which are all essential to the continued fostering of a city’s social and cultural vibrancy.” Related: This space-saving tiny home offers sustainable housing atop garages in Sydney The Comox Infill consists of six rental suites of varying sizes. The ground level comprises a one-bedroom suite facing Comox Street, courtyard access, service rooms, bicycle storage and a two-bedroom suite in the rear that opens up to the lane. Above are a one-bedroom suite, a double-story two-bedroom suite and a double-story three-bedroom suite; all units overlook a long green roof. The third level includes an additional one-bedroom suite while the double-story units enjoy access to a shared rooftop courtyard . + Haeccity Studio Architecture Images via Haeccity Studio Architecture

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Green-roofed infill rental fills a gap in Vancouvers housing crisis

Sydneys vibrant Green Square Library and Plaza collects and reuses rainwater

February 7, 2019 by  
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Former marshland in Sydney has been transformed into the new Green Square Library and Plaza, a striking project that’s not only revitalizing one of the city’s oldest industrial areas but is also a shining beacon for sustainability. Designed by Sydney-based architecture and urban design practice Stewart Hollenstein in association with Stewart Architecture , the Green Square project features a semi-submerged underground library with a plaza on top. Energy efficiency drove the design as well, from the numerous skylights that let in natural light to the library’s low-energy displacement ventilation system engineered by Arup. Created as a central gathering space for the growing Green Square neighborhood, the Green Square Library and Plaza draws the eye with its playful geometric cutouts and pavilions that punctuate the 8,000-square-meter plaza. The triangular-shaped glass pavilion on one end marks the entrance to the 3,000-square-meter underground library , while the large circular opening next to it brings light into the circular sunken garden at the heart of the library. Also on the plaza is a six-story glazed rectangular volume that includes a double-height reading room, computer lab, black-box theater, music room and community space. An outdoor amphitheater is found on the other end of the plaza. The four areas are visually connected with a series of 49 circular skylights that funnel light into the library, while the rest of the plaza is left open for other activities, from pop-up events on the lawn to a water play zone. Underground, the open-plan library is centered on a sunken garden with a children’s circle and “story tree.” Placing the library underground was no easy feat; because the project sits on former marshland, the area came with a permanent water table above excavation level. Waterproofing with four layers of defense was crucial to protecting the library from damage. The feat of engineering allowed for ample green space above — a key detail that earned the design first place in the global design competition for the public library. Related: This canopy walkway elevates Shenzhen library-goers into the treetops Daylight floods the library thanks to the weatherproof skylights that have been engineered to be walked on and to limit external heat gain. At night, the skylights are illuminated to bring visual interest and safety to the plaza. Reduced energy usage is also achieved with Arup’s bookshelf-integrated displacement ventilation system that brings improved indoor air quality and greater cooling efficiency. The landscaping on the plaza was designed to manage stormwater runoff and capture rainwater for reuse in the library. + Stewart Hollenstein Images by Tom Roe and Julien Lanoo via Stewart Hollenstein

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Sydneys vibrant Green Square Library and Plaza collects and reuses rainwater

Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode

December 7, 2018 by  
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When Sydney-based design studio Anderson Architecture was asked to improve the livability of an old heritage home in the inner western Sydney suburb of Lewisham, the house suffered from a cold and dark indoor environment. Drawing on their experience on sustainable design, the architects rearranged the home in accordance to passive solar design in a light-filled transformation that earned the project its name, Suntrap. The contemporary renovation has even doubled the thermal efficiency of the living quarters from 3.2 to 6.4 stars. With a growing family and a dog, the clients not only sought more living space, but also improved comfort and a stronger connection with the backyard. To bring much-needed natural light and an indoor/ outdoor living experience to the home, the architects tore down an existing old addition and replaced it with a new extension optimized to meet the clients’ requests. Located on a long and skinny lot, the house is mainly organized along a central corridor that connects to three bedrooms, while the open-plan living spaces are located in the rear where they connect seamlessly with the backyard. The new extension also features an expansive master bedroom suite on the upper floor. “But our key move was to introduce an internal courtyard ,” say the architects. “We opened the heart of the home to the sun, where strategically placed eco-friendly concrete walls and hydronic heated flooring brought much-needed heat gain to cold zones. New awnings let in winter sun and we specified heavily insulated prefabricated wall and roof panels, and double-glazed windows, to help maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.” Related: 76-year-old Funkis home in Norway gets a Passive House makeover To keep costs low and reduce waste, the architects repurposed the spotted gum flooring reclaimed from the old addition into cupboard faces and the timber-lined ceiling above the kitchen. The bricks from the old kitchen were also repurposed into a strategic thermal mass wall in the backyard that doubles as a screen for a 1,400-liter rainwater tank used to irrigate the native landscaping. + Anderson Architecture Via ArchDaily Images by Nic Bower

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Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode

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