Children hurt after Delta jet dumps fuel on schools

January 16, 2020 by  
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On January 14, a Delta jet malfunctioned and dumped jet fuel over Los Angeles-area schools. The incident injured more than 50 people, including students from Park Avenue Elementary, San Gabriel Elementary, Graham Elementary, Tweedy Elementary, 93rd Street Elementary and Jordan High School. Currently, injuries such as skin and eye irritation and breathing problems have been reported. As the Los Angeles Unified School District said, “Students and staff were on the playground at the time and may have been sprayed by fuel or inhaled fumes.” Several people affected by the fuel were treated on-site. A “reverse 911” text message was sent out to locals, informing them of the event, noting affected areas and advising residents on how to proceed. The L.A. County Fire Department also updated its Twitter with the number of patients affected at each school site. As of Tuesday evening, the patient count included 31 patients from Park Avenue Elementary, six patients from Tweedy Elementary, one patient from Graham Elementary and six patients from San Gabriel Elementary. The Delta flight in question was Flight 89 to Shanghai , which apparently experienced an engine malfunction after takeoff. According to Delta, safe landing procedures following such a malfunction required fuel release — though the Federal Aviation Administration commented that fuel-dumping procedures “call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground.” This event isn’t the first environmental issue Park Avenue Elementary has faced, either. For an eight-month period between 1989 and 1990, the school was closed due to a mysterious ooze appearing. Investigation then discovered that the school was formerly the site of a city dump . As Elizabeth Alcantar, recently appointed mayor of Cudahy, said, “The very same playground experienced another environmental injustice. For our residents, they’re rightfully upset, and there is concern over when this will truly be over.” Via L.A. Times and CNN Image via Pixabay

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Children hurt after Delta jet dumps fuel on schools

A green lung brings sunlight and air into a narrow Vietnamese home

January 7, 2020 by  
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In the tightly packed cities of Vietnam, residential houses are often placed close together on long, narrow plots of land — a setup that can make it hard for residents to get access to natural light and ventilation. When VRA Design was tapped to design a home on a plot tightly sandwiched between two others, the Hoi An-based architecture firm inserted a large courtyard to bring fresh air and light deep into the house. Built to the edges of its narrow and long plot, the HH Green Lung house spans three floors over 270 square meters. The main communal rooms, including the living room and kitchen, are located on the ground floor while two bedrooms, a prayer room and a relaxation room are placed above. Rather than install a courtyard that spans all three floors of the home, the architects instead designed a double-height courtyard located on the second floor — “if the courtyard is too deep, it would have made people who stand in it feel uncomfortable,” according to the architects — and cut out nine holes on the courtyard floor to let light and views into the living room below. Related: A rich vegetable garden grows atop a unique home in Vietnam “These holes are created not only to allow the light that can penetrate the ground floor, but we also want to look [at it] as a symbolic representation of the fusion between the sky and the earth of the eastern notion,” the team explained. “This space is like a buffer space between outdoor space and indoor space .” Filled with plants and open to the sky, the interior courtyard serves as a “green lung” that brings natural ventilation and sunlight into the rooms through operable glazing. To protect the home from heavy rain or high winds, the architects have also installed an operable roof cover that can be programmed to open or close depending on the time of day and weather conditions. + VRA Design Photography by Ha Phong DANG via VRA Design

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A green lung brings sunlight and air into a narrow Vietnamese home

An eco-travel guide to Bend, Oregon

January 7, 2020 by  
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Bend, Oregon is a sunny spot in a state known for rain. This area of central Oregon is the fourth fastest growing region in the country. About nine people move there daily, often because they want a healthy outdoor lifestyle and a smaller town. Tourists love this town of 81,000, too. If you’re venturing that way, leash up Fido; Dog Fancy magazine once nicknamed it Dog Town, USA. Bend outdoors Start your Bend adventure with an easy walk around downtown. Incorporated in 1905, Bend has many attractive, century-old buildings that now serve as cafes and boutiques. Crow’s Feet Commons is a must-visit for outdoorsy types who stop in for ski boot fitting, bike shopping and Oregon craft beers. If you’re ready to pick up the pace, check out Bend’s 51 miles of in-town trails. For a short run, the 3-mile Deschutes River Trail loop is very pretty, and you don’t even have to leave town to enjoy it. Visiting runners can pick up trail maps and connect with locals at FootZone , a running shoe store that sponsors running events. Bend is probably best known as a magnet for rock climbers. About 25 minutes outside of Bend, the 651-acre Smith Rock State Park attracts climbers from around the world. It offers challenges for all levels, from newbies taking their first lessons with local climbing schools to pros ready to tackle the 500-foot volcanic rock walls. If you prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on a trail, the park also offers a lovely, flat trail along Crooked River and a steep climb to the tops of cliffs. Seventy miles southeast of Bend, the Fort Rock State Natural Area makes for a geologically intriguing day trip. Fort Rock is a volcanic tuff ring that rises 325 feet above the surrounding high desert plain. This is a magical, quiet place, with soft, sandy trails, scrubby bushes and orange and chartreuse lichen coating the rocks. The nearby Homestead Village Museum is an interesting collection of old buildings, including a small church and a one-room schoolhouse. Did you bring Fido? After a day of exploring Bend and environs, stop by Pine Nursery Park so he can cool off on the seasonal splash pad. Join a canine-friendly canoe adventure with local outfitter Wanderlust Tours . Don’t forget a doggy life jacket made by the Bend-based company Ruff Wear. Bend wellness Jinsei Spa is a local favorite for facials, massages and body treatments using natural and organic ingredients. Namaspa Yoga Community offers public yoga classes in the Baptiste power and yin styles, as well as yoga for groups such as seniors, people in recovery and inmates at the local jail. They also provide Reiki, massage, cupping and energetic healing. Those who like to drink while doing yoga will enjoy Bend Beer Yoga . While these teachers usually hold classes in craft breweries, they may also add the odd cocktail, cider or glass of wine . Plant-based restaurants in Bend For vegan burgers, milkshakes and fries, visit the original location of the Bend-based chain Next Level Burger . Its house-made burger patties feature combinations of quinoa, mushrooms, beans, chia seeds and other nutritious ingredients. Taj Palace has an excellent lunch buffet with several vegan dishes. In addition to curries, Taj Palace also serves South Indian specialties like idlis, vadas and dosas. The cheery interior and friendly staff make it an extra nice place for a meal. Bethlyn’s Global Fusion is a cute cafe with a wide-ranging menu. Vegan choices include a Thai coconut curry bowl or a Vietnamese lettuce wrap. Lots of menu items can be made vegan upon request. For a fancier night out, Joolz is a Mediterranean-themed restaurant that uses the tag line “where the Middle East meets the Wild West.” Delicious menu items include dukkah nuts, an appetizer of toasted bread, olive oil and crushed mixed nuts flavored with coriander and cumin. The vegetarian platter provides a good variety of Mediterranean foods, such as tiny stuffed grape leaves, garbanzo beans and roasted cauliflower. Ice cream-lovers flock to Bonta Natural Artisan Gelato . The shop crafts inventive flavors, including a few sorbets and coconut-based ice creams for those avoiding dairy. Bend’s public transit While a car is very convenient for traveling outside Bend to places like Smith Rock, it’s possible to fly into Bend and get around town without driving. Cascades East Transit provides bus service in Bend and to nearby towns. It also operates recreation-based shuttles, including the Ride the River bus during the summer for folks floating the Deschutes River and the Mt. Bachelor shuttle in winter for skiers . The Ride Bend shuttle cruises around downtown and the Old Mill District during summer. There’s also a bike share program run by Oregon State University – Cascades. It’s open to the public as well as students. Uber and Lyft operate in Bend, too. Sustainable hotels in Bend The Oxford Hotel in downtown Bend is especially known as a chic, boutique eco-hotel. It was built with sustainable materials and operates on 100 percent renewable energy . The Riverhouse on the Deschutes is Oregon’s only LEED Silver hotel and convention center, featuring high-efficiency HVAC and renewable energy. If you want to go for LEED Gold, the Helios Eco-House is available as a vacation rental. The McMenamins Old Saint Francis School is a 1936 schoolhouse that was turned into a hotel . Highlights include a movie theater and an extensive collection of works by local artists . Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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An eco-travel guide to Bend, Oregon

Ice rink alternatives and their environmental impact

January 3, 2020 by  
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Ice rinks are an important fixture of winter sports, whether for ice hockey, speed skating, curling, ice dancing or figure skating. But with growing concerns about global warming , water scarcity and our planet’s climate crisis , even the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the National Hockey League (NHL) have been considering the environmental issues related to coordinating ice sports events and ensuring energy consumption and rink-operating costs are feasible. As a result, there is now a movement towards utilizing synthetic ice on ice rinks. The first historical mention of a skating club’s founding was in 1642 in Edinburgh, Scotland. As skating clubs grew, they inspired inventors to create artificial ice surfaces, so the rink would not be at the whim of the weather. By 1843, a Punch magazine article featured the first artificial ice rink, “not of frozen water but of a slush of chemicals including hog’s lard and melted sulphur, which smelled abominably.” That was followed by the growing popularity of ice hockey from the 1880s onward, which increased the demand for more rink construction. When the 1890s rolled around, the rush to patent ice rink surfaces began and has not abated since. Related: 5 sustainable activities to make the most of a winter wonderland Rinks have long required both ice-making technical equipment and ice maintenance measures. Unfortunately, contemporary ice-making and maintenance technologies consume large amounts of energy and produce refrigerant gases that cause pollution , making them environmentally harmful. During the most recent determination of the NHL’s total carbon footprint , it was estimated to emit 530,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases , an amount rivaling the yearly emissions from 110,000 cars, says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Which refrigerant gases are linked to present-day ice rinks? The main refrigerants associated with most ice-making equipment include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrocarbons, ammonia and carbon dioxide. CFCs and HCFCs are synthetic gases attributed to ozone layer destruction. HFCs heighten the greenhouse effect, while carbon dioxide similarly intensifies global warming. Plus, ammonia, when inhaled, aggressively causes irreversible respiratory damage. And hydrocarbons, like propane and isobutane, are highly combustible, often exacerbating smog formation. Hence, each of these gases adversely affects the environment.  Of course, as ice rink technology advances, many refrigerants are under a phase-out schedule, especially in Canada, due to the Montreal Protocol terms. Additionally, Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine reported: “Since 2010, no new HCFCs equipment have been manufactured in Canada or imported,” though extant ones are still in use today. Even with ammonia and carbon dioxide as the main refrigerants of choice for the majority of today’s ice rinks, they still have their attendant issues as well. For example, whereas ammonia may be a primary refrigerant, it is often utilized concurrently with brine to keep the rinks cold. The brine entails that this secondary fluid is high in salinity, having had salt added to boost its cooling properties. This highly saline secondary fluid, if leaked, can pose serious environmental damage. Meanwhile, despite “some rinks add[ing] ordinary salt to the water to keep them from freezing,” Wondergy documents, “most modern rinks now add ethylene glycol.” Ethylene glycol is a type of antifreeze, and it is highly toxic . Again, its leakage would be harmful to the environment, poisoning living organisms, their habitats and ecosystems . Other negative impacts of ice rinks include greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide. For instance, CO2Meter reported that to shift away from coolants like HFCs and other fluorinated gases, some ice rinks have been using carbon dioxide-based refrigeration systems as their primary refrigerant. Carbon dioxide is a better alternative, though its use still contributes to global warming. Likewise, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cataloged that other noxious emissions, such as high nitrogen dioxide levels and carbon monoxide, are being released by indoor ice rinks due to ice resurfacers, such as Zamboni rink vehicles. The EPA website states, “In enclosed ice arenas, a primary source of indoor air concerns is the release of combustion pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) into the indoor air from the exhaust of fuel-fired ice resurfacers.” This assertion is supported by an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) study , which shares that “nearly 40% of the rinks surveyed worldwide could be exceeding the World Health Organization’s 1-hour exposure guideline value for nitrogen dioxide in indoor air, with higher percentages of rinks exceeding this value in the US (55%) and Canada (46%). High nitrogen dioxide levels have been associated with respiratory problems such as severe coughs, chest pain and pulmonary edema.” Additionally, the same EDF study addresses carbon monoxide risks from ice rinks, citing that “High carbon monoxide levels can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and impaired performance. At the levels of carbon monoxide typically found in indoor rinks, fast breathing from skating or hockey can produce adverse health effects.” The combination of ice-making, ice-maintenance and ice-resurfacing factors pose harmful health consequences for those who frequent ice arenas and rinks. For these reasons, ice arenas and rinks are turning to synthetic ice as an alternative. Xtraice, a company known for building and distributing synthetic ice for rinks, says that synthetic ice’s significant advantages are that it doesn’t use water and thus doesn’t waste energy on ice-making or ice-maintenance. Rather, it eliminates the cost of water and electricity that traditional ice rinks contend with. Besides, a synthetic ice rink can be used 24/7 without having to be re-surfaced in the same way real ice does. Xtraice explains further that synthetic ice rinks “are cleaner and do not require big noisy generators and best of all, they do not emit CO2 into the atmosphere.” What’s the catch? Synthetic ice is mainly composed of high-density polyethylene panels. Polyethylene is the most common plastic on the market. Critics of plastic ice worry about the environmental implications of the microplastics that could be released as skates erode the synthetic ice surface and create shavings and abrasions, which, when brushed or cleaned off of the rink, would likely be dumped in the refuse bin. From there, they could find their way into waterways and oceans , polluting the environment. Accordingly, ice rinks can be viewed as a sustainability conundrum, at least for the time being. Traditional ice rinks have noise, energy waste and pollution costs. And their alternative, the synthetic ice rink, while resolving those issues, still generate other environmental concerns surrounding microplastic and plastic detriments. Only time will tell how the ice rink will evolve to become more eco-friendly. Via Xtraice and New York Times Images via Jimmy Chan , Suzy Hazelwood , Pixabay , and Lina Kivaka

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Greta Thunberg is Time magazines 2019 Person of the Year

December 13, 2019 by  
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Time magazine has just announced its 2019 Person of the Year, and it is Greta Thunberg. So far, the 16-year-old is the youngest individual to receive the recognition, thanks to her youthful activism that has brought global attention to the planet’s climate crisis . It all began when she skipped school back in August 2018 to hold a strike in front of the Swedish Parliament. As Time magazine described it, “In the 16 months since, she has addressed heads of state at the United Nations, met with the Pope, sparred with the President of the United States and inspired 4 million people to join the global climate strike on September 20, 2019, in what was the largest climate demonstration in human history.” Even the Collins Dictionary lexicographers selected ‘climate strike’ as the word of the year, in honor of Thunberg’s idea. Related: New York allows students to miss class for the climate strike Time’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, elaborated, “Thunberg has become the biggest voice in the biggest issue facing the planet,” namely climate change and its environmental repercussions. While climate action and its attendant politics are not entirely new, Thunberg’s difference, according to Time magazine, is that “she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change.” In 1927, Time Magazine inaugurated the annual accolade, first calling it the Man of the Year award, which has since evolved into the Person of the Year award. The recipient is often the most influential person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year,” in other words, a newsmaker honored for shaping or defining the year. Earlier this year, Thunberg was nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize but did not win it. Another honor, an environmental award held by the Nordic Council, was instead given to Thunberg, but she declined it, saying “The climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start to listen to the current, best available science.” + Time Via BBC Image via Shutterstock

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Greta Thunberg is Time magazines 2019 Person of the Year

Ark tiny home blends off-grid capability with elevated design

December 13, 2019 by  
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These days, designing an off-grid tiny home doesn’t have to mean forgoing attractive design. Built by Willowbee Tiny Homes , the Ark was designed to go completely off the grid thanks to a full solar package, a fresh water holding tank, a gray water holding tank and a composting toilet. Furthermore, all of these incredible sustainable design elements are wrapped up in a breathtakingly gorgeous living space. Built on a 26-foot-long wheeled trailer, the Ark is ready to move into virtually any landscape. Constructed with durable materials, the tiny home is capable of withstanding nearly any type of climate. The cedar-clad home has a tight envelope comprised of high-quality insulation that keeps the interior warm and cozy, even in cold weather. Related: This tiny farmhouse features a quaint reading nook The Ark was also designed to be a powerhouse of off-grid living . The pitched roof is equipped with a solar array on each side, which allows the tiny home to generate all of the clean energy it needs to operate. Additionally, the house is installed with both a fresh water holding tank and a gray water holding tank to reduce water waste. Besides its impressive green design elements, the Ark is one of the most attractive tiny homes that we’ve ever seen. With bright white walls and even brighter blue accents, the interior space is unique and contemporary. There’s also no shortage of natural light streaming in from a bounty of windows and skylights. The off-grid tiny home features a roomy living area with storage built into the L-shaped couch, which can be folded out into various configurations . Just steps away, home cooks can whip up impressive meals in the kitchen that includes full-size appliances and electric-blue cabinetry. There are two sleeping lofts on either side of the small building. The master bedroom is accessible via a floating staircase, while the second loft is reachable by a ladder. Downstairs, the bathroom features an enviable, full-size bathtub, a washer and dryer combo and a composting toilet to round out the list of sustainable amenities. + Willowbee Tiny Homes Images via Willowbee Tiny Homes

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Ark tiny home blends off-grid capability with elevated design

Tech-free hobbies that benefit you and the planet

November 12, 2019 by  
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Technology has become an integral part of our everyday life. From smartphones to smart appliances, the advancements continue to make our lives easier while simultaneous distracting us from traditional hobbies and interests. How we spend our time has changed so much over the past few decades that those seeking to reconnect with non-techy hobbies sometimes struggle to think of ways to spend their time that doesn’t involve a screen of some sort. So we’ve put together a list of eco-friendly hobbies that don’t require electricity and produce little to no waste.  Art Art takes many forms and all of them make great hobbies. Take a class to learn the basics of painting, ceramics or photography. You can even start with a paint by number kit to create your own wall art. Crafting There’s something innately satisfying about creating something creative, and crafting offers the opportunity to make gifts, cozy items for the home or products to sell. Take up sewing, jewelry making or needlework such as crocheting, knitting, counted cross-stitch or embroidery. For papercrafts, gather up the family photos and study your genealogy. Then organize your history through scrapbooking. Related: Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween Puzzles Working puzzles snuggled next to the fire is a mind-expanding pleasure. If you’re looking for more physical activity, you can make your own puzzles from the print to the cutout or complete puzzles and frame them for decor. Reading and Writing Pen and paper bring the opportunity for endless hours of creativity. Practice poetry, jot down life lessons, produce creative pieces of fiction, start an autobiography or complete a manuscript. Sharpen the charcoal pencils and take up drawing — whether it be in the human form of portraits or natural landscapes . Keep the craft of calligraphy alive for the next generation with traditional feather and ink. Of course, reading is a fabulous non-tech activity that offers stress release, the ability to virtual travel to other lands and endless opportunities for deeper knowledge. Just be sure to put the e-reader and audio books aside and pick up a real, old-fashioned paper book. Gardening Gardening provides fresh air, fresh food and fresh flowers. How can that not be a winning combination? Growing your own produce is good for you and the environment. Add in oxygen-producing trees, root systems that filter and absorb water and plants that naturally provide shade to your home and you’ve got a perfectly-contoured hobby. Remember to opt for natural insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers, and skip the lawn tools that require gas or electricity whenever possible. Woodworking Hands on activities are therapeutic for the mind and healthy for the body. Woodworking allows you to express creativity and acquire skills in a variety of ways. Create yard decor with bird/bat/butterfly houses, arbors, lattices and garden boxes . Or accent the inside of the home with furniture and shelves. Further use your skills in combination with crafting by making wooden picture frames, signs and wood-cutouts for wreath-making. Music Take up an instrument or join the choir. Music brings joy to your soul and the spirit of others so experiment. For a unique experience take up an uncommon instrument like an alphorn or hydrolauphone. Heck, you can even make your own instruments from just about anything including fruits and vegetables, household items and jars of water. Knife making Another age-old art that you can master is knife making. Create hunting knives or kitchen knives. Build a small forge and use propane to fire the metal once you grind it into shape. Select, contour, sand and finish wood for handles and personalize with wood burning or carving techniques. Baking and Cooking Baking and cooking might be the ultimately satisfying hobby experience. Not only do you get to enjoy the fruits of your labors, but you can create endless combinations of yumminess. Enhance your craft with a class on cake decorating or expand into beer/wine/cider making. Models Set up a classic train set and give it battery or solar power. Build miniature replicas or paint unfinished buildings, railcars and landscaping. Similarly, you can take up model building in the form of cars, motorcycles or boats. Sports and games There is a nearly endless list of ways to spend time exercising that require no electronics, produce nearly zero waste and are good for you. Here are some ideas to get you started: Mountain or street biking, running, hiking, training for a marathon, Ironman competition, swimming, tennis, racquetball, basketball, golf, dance, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, scuba diving, kayaking and baseball/softball. If you want to include lawn games, master croquet, cornhole or horseshoes. Bring the games inside with bowling, pool, ping pong and darts. Metal working Working with metal gives you opportunities to make and repair myriad gifts, decor and household items. Learning how to weld also allows you to repair cars and broken items around home. Another fun craft is making colorful designs by grinding layers off of sheet metals. Enjoy nature From day hikes to the vagabond lifestyle, nature provides endless opportunities to improve your health through activity, breathe in the fresh air and imprint images of Earth’s beauty. Take up backpacking, camping or even bird watching and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer.  Images via AndreasGramer , LubosHouska , Foundry , rawpixel , Skitterphoto , naive_eye , Pexels, Skitterphoto

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Minimalist hotel gym made out of locally-sourced stone features one of the largest glass panels in the world

November 5, 2019 by  
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UK architecture firm  Invisible Studio has become known for its ground-breaking low-impact designs , but this time the innovative architects have just unveiled a beautiful structure that manages to combine sustainability with elegant minimalism. To put it simply, “Room in a Productive Garden” is a small hotel gymnasium made out of natural stone with a large window that looks out over a vegetable garden. However, even though it may just appear to be a big window, it is, in fact, one of the largest glass panels in the world! The new project is part of an expansion of a hotel in Somerset. Located on  the grounds of Hadspen House, the single-story 1,600-square-feet room is a bright and airy gymnasium where guests can enjoy a nice workout while taking in the serene view of the vegetable garden out front. Related: This tiny timber cabin was built from construction waste for under $30K The small gym was strategically designed to blend into its natural surroundings. It’s minimalist volume was intentional to reduce the project’s impact on the landscape. Additionally, the designers used natural stone sourced on site to create the exterior cladding. The stone was crushed and rammed into the walls to add an earthy tone to the facade. According to the architectural studio, the eco-friendly building was “conceived in a manner as ‘no building’ – more, a window on to a mature productive garden with as few distractions from the garden as possible,” they explain. “The garden provides food for the hotel, and is an important part of the arrival experience into the gymnasium. At the heart of the design is the massive glass window , which not only lets in optimal light into the workout space, but also provides serene views of the surrounding nature. At 50 feet wide and 10 foot tall, the continous glass panel is one of the largest in the world. The interior of the building is also an example of sophisticated minimalism . The gym walls are lined entirely in beech wood, with slats concealing the lighting and ventilation systems. At the base of the glass panel, there is a long continuous bench for those who would like to take in the unobstructed views calmly versus running on the treadmill. + Invisible Studio Via World Architecture Images via Invisible Studio

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Minimalist hotel gym made out of locally-sourced stone features one of the largest glass panels in the world

Clear targets for a clean ocean

October 30, 2019 by  
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Creating a healthier ocean is one of the biggest challenges of our time — and all sectors of society need to play a role.

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Clear targets for a clean ocean

Lessons from Phoenix on water management and equity

October 30, 2019 by  
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This article originally appeared on MeetingoftheMinds.org.

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