Solar-powered Technova College nearly hits net-zero energy in the Netherlands

October 29, 2018 by  
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Designed by Delft-based cepezed and cepezedinterior, the Technova College in Ede has recently opened its doors as the newest branch of the Regional Education Center ROC A12 with a strong focus on sustainability. Powered by energy from a biomass plant and on-site solar panels , the nearly energy-neutral building largely owes its eco-friendly design to an executive consortium (Team Technova) responsible for overseeing maintenance and the energy supply. The school’s highly transparent design fills the interiors with light and turns the building into a showcase for the neighborhood. Completed this fall, the Technova College began with the dismantlement of a couple of older buildings on the ROC campus as well as the seamless integration of a single existing structure into the new-build. The various classrooms are organized around a double-height space referred to as the “innovative workplace” that sits at the heart of the school, along with reception. A college theater is located adjacent to the central workshop. All areas are designed to promote collaboration and interaction for not only the students but the surrounding community as well. The glazed facade that surrounds the ground-floor work spaces allows direct views of the student activity inside. For the interiors, cepezedinterior used a material palette of wood and steel along with strong color accents to create a robust, industrial atmosphere to complement the departments of Technique & Technology, Media & ICT and Sound & Vision. “We wanted a building which empowers great education,” said Toine Schinkel, member of the board of directors of the Christelijke Onderwijs Groep (COG) that commissioned the building. “With this design, we will create an innovative and enjoyable learning environment for all our technical students. We aspire students to aim for the best, and this calls for an innovative and modern educational building.” Related: Weathered steel trees wrap around a solar-powered school building In addition to solar panels, the energy-efficient school building draws energy from a nearby biomass plant in Ede and is designed for natural ventilation that meets the standards of the ‘Frisse Scholen Klasse B’ (Fresh Schools, category B). “Join the Pipe” water fountains were installed throughout to deter the use of PET bottles. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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Solar-powered Technova College nearly hits net-zero energy in the Netherlands

SodaStream deploys an ocean-sweeper to clean up plastic waste in the Caribbean Sea

October 25, 2018 by  
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SodaStream has announced the launch of its massive ocean-sweeper, a contraption designed to dismantle booming plastic waste patches in marine waters.  The “Holy Turtle” has already started cleaning up plastic in the Caribbean Sea; the specially designed model is stationed off the shores of Roatán, Honduras for its pilot project. Enlisting the aid of local youth and government, as well as environmental NGOs, experts and artists, SodaStream’s multifaceted mission is a four-day feat with a hopefully long-term impact. SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum heads the ambitious assignment alongside a formation of international executives who have refocused their energies into acquiring the technology and partnerships they need for the bold initiative. Seven local schools in Honduras have also teamed up with the nearly 150 company execs. While the students are charged with providing a helping hand with the clean-up, their longstanding potential is even more significant. The kids will participate in educational courses alongside their clean-up duties, learning about the environment from international experts. Birnbaum and collaborating NGO Plastic Soup Foundation hope that the students’ involvement will influence them to become environmental ambassadors for their communities in the future. Related: Only 13% of Earth’s oceans remain untouched by humans — for now Having spent his life side-by-side with water , Birnbaum is no stranger to how influential interacting with nature can be. Before leading SodaStream, the philanthropist was a naval officer and an experienced skipper. Birnbaum’s project was inspired by a 2017 BBC feature that brought to light the devastating stretch of synthetic trash floating off the Honduran coastline through the lens of videographer Caroline Powers. More than a clean-up job, Birnbaum became determined to dismantle the marine decay, regarding the plastic waste as both a somber byproduct of human consumption as well as an invasive force in its own right. “More than 8 million tons of plastic goes into the ocean every year. This plastic doesn’t disappear. It breaks up into tiny particles, floats in the ocean, endangers marine life and ends up in our food chain,” he explained. “We must all put our hands together to reduce the use of single-use plastic and commit ourselves to changing our habits and go reusable. It’s in our hands.” Related: Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the ocean, is plagued with plastic The company is the first known commercial entity to attempt a marine clean-up project, at least with this rank of potential and — true to its cause — the recovered debris won’t simply be trashed. The waste, gathered by the 1,000-foot-long “Holy Turtle” contraption, will be transformed into an exhibition aimed at raising awareness about single-use plastics and educating people on why adopting reusable cups, straws, bags and bottles is paramount in saving the environment. The one-of-a-kind vessel was developed by Florida-based company ABBCO, specialists in oil spill containment. Two marine vessels tow the extensive gathering unit that is able to cover vast portions of open water. Most remarkably, the “Holy Turtle” features specially engineered vent holes to protect wildlife while still gathering up significant amounts waste. “We can’t clean up all the plastic waste on the planet, but we each need to do whatever we can,” Birnbaum said. “The most important thing is to commit ourselves to stop using single-use plastic.” + Roatan 2018 Via Nasdaq Image via SodaStream

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SodaStream deploys an ocean-sweeper to clean up plastic waste in the Caribbean Sea

This year, dish out these eco-friendly Halloween treats

October 25, 2018 by  
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October kicks off the holiday season with Halloween decor and candy lining the shelves of every store. While porches fill up with carved pumpkins, spiders and cobwebs, parents and children across the country begin planning their Halloween costumes. The tradition of neighborhood trick-or-treating holds strong in nearly every area of the country. With an estimated 40 million trick-or-treaters hitting the streets, the potential environmental impact is huge. If you are looking for ways to make Halloween more sustainable, there are several steps you can take. Trick-or-treat close to home to minimize transportation emissions. Avoid single-use plastic in decor and costumes, and invest in long-lasting options or shop secondhand to extend the life of products already in the consumption stream. Perhaps the biggest impact you can have is to carefully consider eco-friendly options when it comes to the Halloween treats you’ll hand out to Little Red Riding Hood and the superheroes that appear at your door. Provide nutrition bars Protein and granola bars are a healthier option than candy laden with sugar . Plus, there is more product per package over individually-wrapped candies, which results in less waste. Look for organic ingredients and rely on companies like Clif, winner of the 2017 Climate Leader award by the EPA, for its efforts in promoting climate action and implementing green power up and down the supply chain. Related: 6 tips for crafting an eco-friendly Halloween costume Offer natural candies There is no dispute that candy isn’t notable for its health benefits. However, not all ingredients are created equal. When reading the ingredient labels for your Halloween treats, see if you can even pronounce them all. Probably not. Instead of handing out artificial candies made in a lab, reach for a more natural option. Choose candies made with original recipes that date back to a time when foods weren’t made by someone wearing a lab coat. Natural candies are made using natural sweeteners such as sugar cane, agave and honey. Instead of coloring that has a number, natural candy is dyed using beet, cabbage and carrot juices. Check out your local market or jump online to order from the Natural Candy Store . Choose fair trade chocolate The fair trade movement guarantees certain rights across industries. From clothing, to coffee, to chocolate, products certified as fair trade ensure that workers are given a voice. Other fair trade practices include attention to working hours, equal gender pay, child labor laws and safe working conditions. With this in mind, look for chocolate made with fair trade cocoa when choosing your Halloween candy. One example is Justin’s brand of peanut butter cups, which are made with fair trade chocolate, plus the company donates a percentage of its profits toward ending world hunger. Look for sustainable manufacturing Take a look at companies like Mars, which is working toward sustainability through renewable energy at nine of its factories, water conservation practices and conscientious sourcing of ingredients. Most companies practicing sustainability in the material acquisition, manufacturing, packaging and transport segments of their businesses are quite transparent about their efforts, so hit up Google for more information. Take, for example, Equal Exchange’s fair trade, organic chocolate, which lists its certifications and ingredients right on the website. Consider packaging Tens of millions of trick-or-treaters, each scoring a bucket- or pillowcase-full of individually-wrapped candies, creates massive waste. With this in mind, think about the packaging of your chosen treat. Choose paper or cardboard packaging over plastic . Look for companies that package in biodegradable or recyclable materials. Go Organic fruit chews reportedly come in compostable bags. Alternatively, Yum Earth fruit snacks’ packaging is produced in a facility powered 100 percent by wind energy . Yum Earth also makes an organic lollipop that comes in a reusable and resealable bag. Consider Glee gum, made without artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. The packaging is recyclable, so you can feel good about avoiding the individual plastic surrounding most Halloween treats. Related: 10 sustainable Halloween decorations for your green home Another option is to hit up the bulk section at your favorite store. Because individual packaging is an unavoidable side effect of generously handing out treats, look for foil-wrapped chocolate balls and similar items that allow the packaging to be recycled . Of course, you could also go with cardboard boxes that can be recycled or will biodegrade 1,000 years sooner than plastic bags. Some candies (think Nerds) are packaged this way, along with things like raisins. If you want to take the natural route, fresh fruit comes in its own packaging, so small apples and mandarin oranges are an option, too. Understand the teal pumpkin Not long ago, families with children who have  food allergies had few options for traditional trick-or-treating. Instead of finding other activities or hunkering down to a movie with the porch light off, parents passionate about being able to celebrate the Halloween holiday like other families have come up with a solution called the teal pumpkin. Any family that puts a teal pumpkin on their porch on Halloween night is announcing that they offer food-free options for trick-or-treaters. In fact, there is a even a website where you can register your house or find participants in your area. To participate, keep non-food options available, such as Play-Doh, soap bombs, face paint, craft paint, tattoos, stickers, puzzles, markers (especially Crayola, which offers a recycling program), pencils, paper bookmarks, bubbles, playing cards, spinning tops, wooden yo-yos, small word games or puzzle books. Don’t forget to put a teal pumpkin on your porch as well. Holidays are full of opportunities to spend time with loved ones and create special memories. When it comes to providing treats for the little ghosts and goblins in your neighborhood, you can enjoy the holiday vibe and still feel good about helping create a cleaner planet that they will inherit. Via Yoga Journal , TreeHugger and Going Zero Waste Images via Marco Verch , Photo AC , Charisse Kenion , Mars , Incase and Shutterstock

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This year, dish out these eco-friendly Halloween treats

Organic farming with gene editing: an oxymoron or a tool for sustainable agriculture?

October 19, 2018 by  
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Many farmers cultivating organic crops believe that genetically modified crops pose threats to human health. It’s not that simple.

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Organic farming with gene editing: an oxymoron or a tool for sustainable agriculture?

Study finds 90 percent of table salt contains microplastics

October 18, 2018 by  
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According to a new study that observed sea, rock and lake salts, 90 percent of the table salt brands sold around the world contain microplastics. Several years ago, researchers discovered that microplastics were in sea salt, but no one was certain just how extensive the problem was until now. National Geographic reported that researchers in South Korea and at Greenpeace East Asia tested 39 salt brands, and 36 of them contained microplastics. This study — published in this month’s journal of Environmental Science & Technology — is the first of its kind to look at the correlation between microplastics in table salt and where we find plastic pollution in the environment. Related: Study suggests the average person consumes 70,000 microplastic bits every year “The findings suggest that human ingestion of microplastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region,” said Seung-Kyu Kim, a marine science professor at Incheon National University in South Korea. The salt samples came from 21 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. The three brands that did not contain microplastics were refined sea salt from Taiwan, refined rock salt from China and unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation in France. The density of microplastics in salt varied among the different brands. The study found that the tested Asian brands of salt contained the highest amounts, especially in the salt sold in Indonesia. An unrelated 2015 study found that Indonesia suffered from the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world. Researchers found that  microplastic levels were highest in sea salt, followed by lake salt and rock salt. This latest study estimates that the average adult consumes about 2,000 microplastics each year through salt. But how harmful that is remains a mystery. Because of knowledge gaps and a mismatch of data in more than 300 microplastic studies, there is limited evidence to suggest that microplastics have a significant negative impact. Microplastics could be detrimental to our health and the planet, or the focus on microplastic could be diverting attention from worse environmental problems. + Environmental Science & Technology Via National Geographic Image via Bruno

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Why we can’t reverse climate change with ‘negative emissions’ technologies

October 12, 2018 by  
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Why we can’t reverse climate change with ‘negative emissions’ technologies

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Why we can’t reverse climate change with ‘negative emissions’ technologies

Elzelinde van Doleweerd transforms food waste into beautiful, 3D-printed snacks

October 5, 2018 by  
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Around a third of the world’s food is lost or thrown away every year — that’s approximately 1.6 billion tons of food annually, a statistic that’s projected to rise to over 2 billion tons by 2030. In a bid to fight the global food waste crisis, Eindhoven University of Technology graduate Elzelinde van Doleweerd teamed up with the China-based technology firm 3D Food Company to turn commonly wasted food products in China into beautiful and tasty 3D-printed snacks. Van Doleweerd recently unveiled her latest 3D-printed recipes in her Upprinting Food exhibition at 2018 Beijing Design Week (BJDW), which ran from Sept. 26 to Oct. 5, 2018. Elzelinde van Doleweerd began studying ways to sustainably upcycle food waste in the Netherlands while studying for her Industrial Design degree at Eindhoven University of Technology. In teaming up with the 3D Food Company founders Leandro Rolon and David Doepel, van Doleweerd developed two new sustainable food concepts that use leftover unspoiled food that was discarded due to excess volume, appearance or undesired texture. Because rice is a staple in China, van Doleweerd decided to base her printable food paste at BJDW off of leftover boiled rice rather than bread, which she would have used in the Netherlands. The paste was mixed with wasted fruits and vegetables, such as purple sweet potatoes, to take on vibrant colors. The colored paste is fed into a 3D printer to create 3D ramekin-like containers or flat geometric shapes reminiscent of the ancient Chinese folk art of paper cutting. The 3D-printed paste is baked and completely dehydrated to protect against bacterial activity and to meet food safety standards. Related: Fight food waste with these 11 ways to use leftover greens before they spoil Made from over 75 percent food waste , the crunchy baked treats have a cracker-like consistency and can be flavored with different herbs and spices to take on a sweet, savory or spicy flavor profile. In addition to developing new flavors, van Doleweerd is also in the process of developing a vegan version of her 3D-printed food waste snacks devoid of butter and egg. + Elzelinde van Doleweerd Via Dezeen Images via Elzelinde van Doleweerd

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Elzelinde van Doleweerd transforms food waste into beautiful, 3D-printed snacks

Can big data hold the key to unlocking sustainable smallholder farms?

October 3, 2018 by  
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A cooperative network of data sets could spur innovation and drive resilience in the agricultural sector.

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Can big data hold the key to unlocking sustainable smallholder farms?

VERGE Hawaii highlighted how ‘resilience’ is changing the narrative

October 3, 2018 by  
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Sponsored: Recent hurricanes highlight the importance of perseverance and collaboration in creating a more resilient Hawaii.

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VERGE Hawaii highlighted how ‘resilience’ is changing the narrative

Google Street View cars will map air pollution in cities worldwide

September 13, 2018 by  
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Air quality sensors are coming to a Google Street View car near you. The tech giant just announced plans to introduce sensors from a San Francisco company called Aclima that test air quality in cities and towns all across the globe. The Google Street View cars take photographs and incorporate them into Google Maps. Aclima is installing the air quality sensors in Google vehicles based in Mexico City, Houston and Sydney. The sensors will detect amounts of carbon dioxide , nitric oxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide wherever the cars go. The goal is to map out where pollution is becoming a problem and inform users about which areas of towns and cities have the poorest air quality. Related: Google hits its incredible 100% renewable energy goal A few months ago, Aclima installed some air quality sensors in London to test whether or not they would work with Google’s vehicles. All of the company’s hard work paid off and directly led to the partnership and expansion. This is not the first time Aclima has worked with Google and its Street View division. In 2015, Aclima helped Google determine the air quality on the company’s campus in California . Aclima has also used the cars to test air quality around the Bay Area. Since collaborating with Aclima three years ago, Google’s cars have traveled about 100,000 miles in California. So far, the sensors have generated more than a billion points of data, a lot of which can be used to plan future urban development projects. For example, developers can use the data to pinpoint where pollution problems exist and build neighborhoods in places where the air quality is higher. Google plans to have the sensors installed in its fleet by the end of this fall. Google Earth Outreach manager Karin Bettman said, “These measurements can provide cities with new neighborhood-level insights to help accelerate efforts in their transition to smarter, healthier cities .” + Aclima + Google Via Tech Crunch , Fast Company Image via Aclima

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