World’s largest solar plant in a refugee camp opens in Jordan

November 14, 2017 by  
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The world’s largest solar plant found in a refugee camp has begun operations at the Za’atari Refugee Camp in north Jordan , near the Syrian border. The project, which cost $17.5 million, was funded by the German government and will provide power for up to 14 hours per day. The newly available solar energy at Za’atari will be used by more than 80,000 residents to charge phones, contact families outside of the camp, and power refrigeration, lights, fans and televisions. With this power comes greater security for the residents of the camp. “That allows the children to continue their studies, and also (for) the safety of women and young girls to go about. Camp life will be made much easier,” said Stefano Severe, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Jordan, according to Reuters . The new solar plant , which consists of 40,000 solar panels, will reduce carbon emissions of the camp by 13,000 tons per year and will save $5.5 million annually, which will then be reinvested back into the refugee community. Access to electricity, taken for granted in many countries, has a transformative power in the daily life of residents at a refugee camp. “When we have electricity during the day, our children can stay home, they don’t go out in this weather and play in the dust and mud,” said Anwar Hussein, a Syrian refugee who fled Damascus five years ago and has been living in Za’atari ever since. Related: SOLARKIOSK E-HUBBs put goods, services, and power back into Africa’s hands Although Za’atari may boast the world’s largest solar plant at a refugee camp , it is certainly not a unique feature. Solar energy is increasingly being used to provide power to displaced communities across the globe. For example, in nearby Azraq, an area of Jordan that once hosted magnificent wetlands that have since largely dried up, a 2-megawatt solar plant provides the electricity needs for two villages of 20,000 Syrian refugees. The Azraq plant opened in May as the world’s first solar plant in a refugee camp. Via Thomas Reuters Foundation / UNHCR Images via UNHCR/Yousef Al Hariri

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World’s largest solar plant in a refugee camp opens in Jordan

The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

November 7, 2017 by  
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Today the war-torn country of Syria officially signed the Paris Climate Agreement , leaving the United States as the only country to refuse the landmark climate deal. Though Barack Obama entered the US into the deal during his time as president, Donald Trump quickly withdrew the nation after his inauguration. The Middle East nation made the announcement in Bonn, Germany, at the COP 23 UN climate summit. Even though Syria is facing its sixth year of a brutal civil conflict, it agreed to limit its carbon emissions in an effort to prevent climate change from worsening. It’s not clear what has changed, and Syria has yet to submit its targets for cutting greenhouse gases . In December 2015, nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Accord . Until last month, Nicaragua was also a holdout nation. However, that was because the Central American country did not think the deal went far enough in putting limits on emissions and helping lower-income nations adapt to an already-changing planet. One of Nicaragua’s complaints was that top polluters — like the US, EU, China, and India — were not keeping their emissions levels low enough to prevent sea levels from rising and global warming under 2 degrees Celsius — let alone the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Eventually, parties to the deal signed – as the global climate change agreement was better than none at all. Now the US is the last country to sign. In the past, President Trump said that American workers (particularly coal miners) were being put at an “economic disadvantage” by the deal. And even though the US is the second largest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the world (second to China ), Trump remains committed to the idea that investing in coal — not renewable energy — is the way forward. Related: Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” Paula Caballero , director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute, told the New York Times . “The US’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change .” The countries that have signed the Paris Agreement now seek to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Via The Independent , The Verge , BBC Images via Pixabay

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

Nicaragua joins Paris Accord, leaving the US and Syria as lone dissenters

September 22, 2017 by  
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Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has announced plans to sign the Paris Accord, leaving President Trump alone with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as the two remaining national heads refusing to support the international agreement. In December of 2015, the leaders of nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce global greenhouse emissions and prevent climate change from worsening – including former president Barack Obama. But Trump refused has reneged on that commitment, formerly claiming climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese. According to a report by Managua-based television station 100% Noticias, Ortega said on September 18, “We will soon adhere, we will sign the Paris Agreement. We have already had meetings addressing the issue and we have already programmed the accession.” The Central American nation originally opposed signing the Paris Accord because the goals in the text “did not go far enough.” To elaborate, it had been confirmed by scientists that emissions levels from some of the top polluters — including the US, EU, China, and India — were not low enough to prevent sea levels from rising or to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. As a result, Nicaragua abstained. President Trump has said he will withdraw the US from the historic accord. Despite receiving an environmental encyclical from the Pope himself and being informed by a variety of scientists about the dangers of climate change , he said the action for the US by an executive order which Obama signed while in office puts American workers in the steel, coal and other manufacturing industries at an “economic disadvantage.” Related: Hundreds of Dead Sea Turtles Wash Up on Nicaragua’s West Coast Nicaragua has been a haven for renewable energy . More than half of the country’s energy is sourced from geothermic, wind, solar and wave energy. Nicaragua plans to increase that to 90 percent by 2020. The World Bank referred to the country as “a renewable energy paradise” four years ago. Because the agreement will not go into effect until 2020, Nicaragua has until then to draft a required national action plan and to formalize it into law. No date has yet been set for the signing. Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria

August 29, 2017 by  
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As the civil war continues into its sixth year, millions of Syrians remain in the divided, war-torn country. To meet basic needs and provide young people with a healthy place to play and learn, schoolyards across the country are being reborn as vegetable gardens . At these edible playgrounds, children learn how to grow tasty, nutritious treats, like peppers, eggplants, and cabbages. Then, when the time is right, they are able to harvest and eat what they have grown. This transformative experience offers students and their families an empowering experience of caring for one’s self and others. Young people, whose bodies and minds are rapidly developing, are particularly vulnerable to food scarcity and malnutrition . “Good nutrition is a child’s first defense against common diseases and important for children to be able to lead an active and healthy life,” said Adam Yao, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) acting representative in Syria. FAO provides funding and logistical support for 17 primary schools to plant 500 square meter fruit and vegetable gardens. These gardens are being installed in both government and opposition-controlled territory, so that young people will be able to access healthy food regardless of the politics and violence that surrounds them. Another 35 schools are scheduled to receive an edible playground in the near future. Related: Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms Many Syrians now depend on bread and food aid from relief organizations to meet their nutritional needs. This sparse diet is far from traditional Syrian cuisine, which includes dishes such as hummus, minced lamb with spices and pine nuts, vibrant salads, stuffed cabbage leaves, and vegetable stews. These dishes are more are well served by the edible schoolyards , which provide some of the rich vegetables that have become scarce during the civil war. Further investments in agriculture could help to secure the population for years to come. “ Agriculture has become a hope for (many) because they can grow their own food and survive – even in the besieged areas,” said Yao. The seeds planted in the minds of these young children may someday yield a brighter, healthier Syria at peace. Via Reuters Foundation, FAO Lead image via FAO / Zaki Khozam , eggplants via Deposit Photos , others via Celine Nadeau/Flickr and DFID/Flickr

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sCarabane: a self-sufficient collapsible caravan powered by sun and wind

August 29, 2017 by  
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Green camping is about to get a lot more glamorous. Green Cat Technologies from France -has designed the sCarabane, a self-sufficient caravan with several fancy clean technologies: you’ll find solar cells but also a solar concentrator to generate hot water, and a telescopic wind turbine . The foldable caravan can rotate 360 degrees to follow the sun – and provide incredible views. The sCarabane folds up for easy travel, and one person can do the job in around half an hour. It can then be towed as a standard caravan. Once in place, it unfolds into a futuristic getaway that rests on a circular stand so it’s able to rotate and make the most of the renewable technologies on board. Related: Live off the grid and rent-free in the charming Wohnwagon mobile caravan A parabolic mirror atop the sCarabane tracks the sun. A telescopic vertical axis wind turbine can generate 500 watts of clean power. Solar cells supplement the renewable energy generation, providing another 500 watts. The bright space includes fold-out components to connect the indoors and outdoors. A hatch can open to connect the kitchen with a full-length deck outside. There’s a 77.5 square foot master bedroom, with a 59 square foot children’s bedroom next door. Each of these opens to the outdoors with a full-size door. The dining area in the kitchen also doubles as an extra bed. A bathroom area includes a toilet, sink, shower, and compact washing machine. A rotating bubble window offers a fun way to look outside, and rose windows on the bedroom roofs let those beneath control the sunlight’s intensity inside. Green Cat Technologies notes the sCarabane may not be completely self-sufficient anywhere a person could travel – that depends on weather and geographical location. They said right now, users still need a bottle of propane to cook. They are still developing the caravan – including rainwater harvesting and water filtration systems – so don’t yet have a date for when it will be on the market (or what it will cost). + Green Cat Technologies Via New Atlas Images via screenshot

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sCarabane: a self-sufficient collapsible caravan powered by sun and wind

BMW releases a sportier i3 electric car

August 29, 2017 by  
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The words “sport” and “electric car” are rarely used in the same sentence – with the exception of cars like the Tesla Model S, BMW i8 and even the Acura NSX. Now BMW wants to change that with the 2018 BMW i3s, a sexier, sportier version of the i3 electric car. Last year the BMW i3 received a nice battery upgrade for the 2017 model year and this year, part of the upgrades include the introduction of the i3s. For starters, the i3s isn’t going to speed past a Tesla Model S , but it does have a more powerful electric motor, which now generates 184 horsepower and 199 lb-ft. of torque. That’s 14 more horsepower and 15 more lb-ft. of torque than the standard i3. Related: BMW just unveiled the sleek electric motorcycle of the future Some of the other upgrades include an 11 millimeter lower ride height, a wider track and 20-inch wheels that are a half-inch wider. The BMW i3s also has a new sports suspension with specially developed springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. If you want to amp up the “sport” factor even more, there is a new Sport mode that improves the accelerator response and tightens up the steering. The upgrades to the i3s give it a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds, compared to 7.2 seconds for the standard i3 . The rest of the i3 lineup also gets some updates for the 2018 model year, including updated front and rear fascias, which emphasize the i3’s width. There aren’t any battery upgrades to the 2018 i3, which means that the standard i3 can travel 114 miles, while the Range Extender with its two-cylinder gas engine gives it a range of 180 miles. A new BMW TurboCord charger is now part of the options list that features a 20-ft charging cord, and provides two chargers in one. Level 1 charging is available when plugged into any 120 V outlet and it also lets you charge up-to 3.6 kW, nearly three-times faster than the standard occasional use cable when used with a 240 V outlet. + BMW Images @BMW

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BMW releases a sportier i3 electric car

This gorgeous ‘Tree House Tower’ was built using repurposed timber and old ship materials

August 29, 2017 by  
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When architect Jason McLennan isn’t busying working on Leonardo DiCaprio’s new eco resort off the coast of Belize, the talented designer is enjoying some amazing views from his five-story “tree house tower” on Seattle’s beautiful Bainbridge Island. The home, which was built in 1978, was constructed out of reclaimed timber and outfitted with various repurposed ship materials. The three-bedroom, four-bathroom house is located on a secluded lot surrounded by a wall of 200-foot cedar trees on one side and the Puget Sound on the other. The home was built in 1978 by an unknown architect, who used salvaged wooden posts – which reportedly date back more than 100 years – in the construction. Related: Delightful treehouse residence weaves through a forest in Thailand The bohemian-inspired interior, which is well-lit by an abundance of large windows and skylights, is filled with repurposed trinkets taken from an old ship. Many of the windows were made out of old portholes and the home’s various brass doorknobs were repurposed from an old sailing boat. McLennan’s architectural studio is on the top floor where he has used the lush natural setting of the island as inspiration for his building designs, “It’s just nature’s paradise,” he said. “Everything is nestled in the trees, so the trees are intact and the ecosystem is intact. You do feel like you’re in a special place when you’re there.” Although the interior of the house is undeniably incredible, the outdoor space is definitely the heart of the home. Perennial gardens surround the outdoor areas, which include a massive outdoor chimney, covered dining area and lounge, Koi pond, fruit orchard, and even a basketball court. Of course, there are plenty of secluded nooks located on the grounds for solitude amongst the beautiful lush foliage. + Jason McLennan Via Dwell Photography by Eric Hecht  

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This gorgeous ‘Tree House Tower’ was built using repurposed timber and old ship materials

Iowa grocery grows 10-15 lbs of produce on outdoor vertical garden – every week

August 29, 2017 by  
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It doesn’t get much more local than this. In Davenport, Iowa, Hy-Vee grocery store commissioned Friday’s Fresh Market (FFM) to install and maintain two eight-tower Grow Walls , or hydroponic vertical gardens, on the outside of their store – which they then sell inside. Owner Andrew Freitag told Inhabitat they can obtain between 10 and 15 pounds of fresh produce every week, depending on the crop. Basil, lettuce, and mint flourish on the outdoor Grow Walls at Hy-Vee, installed by FFM in May this year. There’s no soil needed here: the plants are suspended in a growing medium made from recycled plastic bottles and grow in the sunlight. FFM also installed a smaller Grow Wall inside the grocery store in the produce section. They maintain both systems, germinating seeds, transplanting, supplying nutrients and water, harvesting, and packaging the produce for sale in the store. Related: Berlin grocery with vertical micro-farm reimagines the future of produce departments (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10″; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); We are at the HyVee in Davenport, Iowa checking out a Grow Wall from Friday's Fresh Market! Posted by Inhabitat on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 FFM manager Chen Freitag told Inhabitat, “We see this disruptive technology becoming more and more popular in our future farming industry. It will help to improve the fresh food desert situation here in the Midwest tremendously and stimulate the local economy.” The Grow Walls aren’t the only aspect of FFM’s business. They also cultivate indoor farms in shipping containers , using the same towers and irrigation system as a Grow Wall. Freitag said these farms consume around 90 percent less water than traditional methods, and since FFM can control the environment, produce grown inside the shipping container farms is more colorful and flavorful, with a higher nutrient content. She said FFM started pursuing hydroponics as a more efficient, sustainable way to grow fresh food, no matter the weather outside. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life in our local communities,” Freitag told Inhabitat. “People here deserve to eat better, live better. We believe we are capable of being self-sufficient when it comes to fresh, local food year-round.” One small Iowa company may not be able to change the entire agriculture industry right away; instead, Freitag said they focus on changing people’s daily lives with better food, and hope the industry evolves from there. “The earth is the resource account we cannot afford to overdraw,” she told Inhabitat. “We need to think about future generations: what we leave them to live with.” + Friday’s Fresh Market Images via Lacy Cooke for Inhabitat

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Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms

August 10, 2017 by  
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Mushrooms are not a common crop in Syria . With government blockades creating food shortages, however, Syrians in embattled rebel strongholds like Douma are increasingly turning to mushrooms as a substitute for meat. As years of drawn-out sieges place meat and other staples of Syrian cuisine beyond most people’s reach, The Adala Foundation, a local nonprofit, began brainstorming alternatives. “We turned to cultivating mushrooms because they’re a food that has high nutritional value, similar to meat, and can be grown inside houses and basements,” Abu Nabil, an engineer who is project director of the group, told AFP . Mushrooms have proven to be a good source of protein and mineral salts, according to Muayad Mohieddin, Adala’s director. In addition, mushroom farming requires neither copious space nor deep pockets. Related: These amazing zero-waste buildings were grown from mushrooms There was just one problem: “This type of cultivation was totally unknown in Ghouta before the war,” said Mohieddin. Growing bags of mushrooms in a climate-controlled room known as the incubator, Adala has managed to distribute 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) of mushrooms a week to 500 people across Douma and other parts of Eastern Ghota at no cost. “The distribution is free for the poorest families, and for those suffering malnutrition or spinal cord injuries that need lots of nutrients,” Abu Nabil said. Many of the project’s recipients were unfamiliar with mushrooms and had never eaten them before. One psychosocial center organized a workshop to teach people how to cook with mushrooms. Others turned to the Internet for tips. “On the first day, I fried them up with some onions, and on the second day I cooked them in a yoghurt sauce,” said Abu Adnan al-Sidawi, who received mushrooms through Adala. “Mushrooms are delicious cooked and we liked them in the yogurt sauce.” Via AFP Photos by Harshal Hirve and Jade Wulfraat on Unsplash

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Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms

Brilliant Tesla solar cell roof rotates to naturally cool proposed desert home in Iran

August 10, 2017 by  
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Tesla appears to be taking aim at revolutionizing homeownership and architects are taking note. Hot on the heels of Tesla’s eagerly awaited solar roof, Tehran-based BMDesign Studios created Alavi House, a home in Isfahan, Iran that’s to be finished with Tesla’s new and seemingly invisible solar cells. Optimized for solar, the Alavi House will produce more energy than it needs and feature a smart and operable double-skin to promote natural heating and cooling of the home. Named after its clients, the 550-square-meter Alavi House is proposed for a site at the foothills of the Zagros Mountain range at the edge of a desert . Due to the arid climate, the architects used the prevailing winds from the south and southwest to inform the roof’s sloped shape and direction. “With a roof tilted toward East, we can create effective zones of negative pressure at the climax of the roof helping to ventilate the building naturally through most of the year,” wrote the architects. “Controllable vents, at the climax of the roof have a sucking effect, together with the large openings to the south of the building. Air filters by flowing through a broken line of evergreen trees (Cedrus deodara) and over a pool in the outdoors and then by passing over an indoor garden of Snake Plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) which is known to be a great air purifier (NASA Clean Air Study) and over a pond.” Related: Tesla’s new Solar Roof is actually cheaper than a normal roof The home is finished in concrete save for the double skin on the sloped roof that would be clad in the nearly imperceptible Tesla solar cells installed 30 centimeters above the roof. The operable double skin roof can rotate open to allow the sun to heat the concrete roof and warm the interior. Alternatively on colder days, the roof rotates close to provide shade from the sun, while simultaneously optimizing conditions for generating solar energy. The 194-square-meter solar roof would feature 104 solar modules capable of meeting a minimum of 29,000 kWh a year, far exceeding the average electricity consumption of an Iranian household. Insulated glazing wraps the building on the south side to let in natural light and frame views of the cherry orchard and mountains. Communal areas are placed on the ground floor and include a tv room, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom that are connected to an indoor landscaped area and pool next to the outdoor pool. The upper level contains two master bedrooms and library. + BMDesign Studios Via highsnobiety Images via BMDesign Studios

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Brilliant Tesla solar cell roof rotates to naturally cool proposed desert home in Iran

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