Study shows denim microfibers are polluting our waters

September 9, 2020 by  
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A new study shows that jeans are releasing up to 56,000 denim microfibers per wash into lakes and oceans. The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters found that denim microfibers have infiltrated waters all the way from the Great Lakes to the Arctic Ocean. The study was conducted to show the extent of human-caused pollution . “It’s not an indictment of jeans — I want to be really clear that we’re not coming down on jeans,” said Miriam Diamond, environmental scientist at the University of Toronto and one of the authors of the study. Related: Wear jeans on your eyes with these funky sunglasses made of upcycled denim Scientists and environmentalists have known for some time that microplastics from synthetic clothing find their way into the oceans. One study estimates that about two trucks’ worth of microplastics drain into waters around Europe via wastewater from washing machines every day. Scientists have found microfibers in the stomachs of marine creatures, although the impact of these tiny plastic particles is still unknown. Much of the world is wearing denim at any given moment. To determine the effect of this popular garment, scientists carried out research on lake and ocean waters. The research looked at samples of water collected from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, suburban lakes around Toronto and the Great Lakes. According to the American Chemical Society, the samples tested revealed that the lakes near Toronto had the lowest percentage of denim microfibers at 12%. The Arctic waters had 20% denim microfiber pollution, while the Great Lakes had 23%. The researchers also found that new jeans release more microfibers — up to 56,000 denim microfibers — per wash than used jeans. “They’re called ‘natural’ textile fibers,” Sam Athey, coauthor of the study, explained. “I’m doing air quotes around ‘natural’ because they contain these chemical additives. They also pick up chemicals from the environment, when you’re wearing your clothes, when they’re in the closet.” The impact of denim microfibers on the environment requires more research, but the study authors recommend buying used jeans, installing a filter on your washer and washing denim less frequently to cut back on the amount of microfibers released into waterways. + Environmental Science and Technology Letters Via EcoWatch Image via Stux

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Study shows denim microfibers are polluting our waters

Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge winners want to bring a forest to NYC

September 9, 2020 by  
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The Van Alen Institute and the New York City Council have announced the winners of Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge . The international design competition intended to spark public dialogue about the Brooklyn Bridge, which has become one of New York’s most recognizable landmarks since its opening in 1883. However, the bridge’s iconic status has also led to major pedestrian and cyclist traffic jams on the promenade as commuters and tourists jostle for space. Participants in the competition were asked to rethink the walkway by redesigning for greater accessibility, sustainability and safety for both New Yorkers and visitors alike. The Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge competition had two finalists categories: a Professionals category for participants 22 years of age and older and a Young Adults category for those 21 years of age and younger. An interdisciplinary jury with a wide-ranging set of perspectives evaluated proposals based on team composition, accessibility, safety, environmental benefit, security, respect for the bridge’s landmark status, feasibility and potential for sparking delight and wonder for users. The competition garnered over 200 submissions from 37 countries; each winner was chosen by a combination of public vote and scores from the competition’s jury. Related: Architects want to transform an old Dutch bridge into zero-energy apartments Pilot Projects Design Collective along with Cities4Forests, Wildlife Conservation Society and Grimshaw Silman were crowned the winners of the Professional category with their ‘ Brooklyn Bridge Forest ’ proposal, a design that reimagines the bridge as “an icon of climate action and social equity.” To make the bridge safer and to accommodate higher flows of traffic, the multidisciplinary team proposes expanding the historic walkway with planks sustainably sourced from a forest community partner in Guatemala. A separated and dedicated bike lane would be installed as well to avoid cyclist-pedestrian conflicts on the bridge. “Microforests” would bookend the bridge to provide additional green space while boosting biodiversity.  The winning proposal in the Young Adult category was created by Shannon Hui, Hwans Kim and Yujim Kim. Titled ‘Do Look Down,’ the design envisions a glass surface floor above the bridge’s girders to create a new pedestrian space activated by seasonal programming and art installations. Kinetic paving would power an LED and projection system that depicts the city’s cultures, histories and identities. + Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge Images via Van Alen Institute

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Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge winners want to bring a forest to NYC

Celebrate National Pollinator Week from June 22-28

June 23, 2020 by  
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Thirteen years ago, Pollinator Partnership initiated the annual designation of a week in June to help address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Backed by unanimous approval from the U.S. Senate, Pollinator Week has grown into an international celebration of the fragile ecosystem of bees , birds, butterflies, bats and beetles that help contribute to about 75% of all flowering plant species that require animal pollinators for reproduction. So, what are some of the best ways to help out our planet’s little pollinators? If you have access to a backyard, a window box, a garden or some kind of green space, plant some flowers that are pollinator-friendly. The types of plants that attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators vary by region, so use an Ecoregional Planting Guide to learn which ones will make the pollinators in your area the happiest. Knowing your soil type, planting flowers in clusters for pollinators to target and planting for continuous bloom will help. Related: The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard Try to reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides whenever possible. Pollinator Partnership offers a digitized training module for farmers and certified pesticide applicators to help increase awareness and skill in minimizing the effects of pesticide applications. Register as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge to connect with other gardeners and pollinator-enthusiasts for free, and upload photos or videos of your pollinator site, view profiles of pollinator-friendly plants, measure pollinator progress and highlight areas in need of pollinator action. If you don’t have a green thumb, support your local bees and beekeepers by buying local honey (buying locally sourced products keeps transportation-based carbon emissions low, as well). Because bees, butterflies and other pollinators are drastically affected by climate change , any effort to conserve resources, use less and reduce your carbon footprint is a huge win for everyone. Check out the Pollinator Partnership’s online toolkit for resources and activity ideas for all ages, from webinars on monarch butterfly habitat restoration and pollinator-themed crossword puzzles to school gardening kits and instructions for building a bee box. Each year, local establishments and buildings light up yellow and orange in support of pollinators during Pollinator Week. Participating destinations have included the Empire State Building in New York City, CN Tower in Toronto, City Hall in San Francisco and Niagara Falls in the past. Add lightings, activities and “My Pollinators, My Story” registered gardens to the website’s map . You can also check for local public events in your own neighborhood to participate in and view governor proclamations from all 50 states. + Pollinator Partnership Images via Cole Keister , Mpho Hlakudi and John Duncan

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Celebrate National Pollinator Week from June 22-28

Story book of timber designed for University of Arkansas

April 2, 2020 by  
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Dublin-based Grafton Architects and Fayetteville-based Modus Studio have won an international design competition for the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation at the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design. Developed to bolster the university’s role as a leader in mass timber advocacy, the $16 million applied research center will be a “story book of timber ” promoting timber and wood design initiatives. The architecture of the Anthony Timberlands Center will also be used as a teaching tool and showcase the versatility and beauty of various timbers to the public. Crowned the competition winner after a months-long process that included a total of 69 firms, Grafton Architects also made recent headlines when its co-founders, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, were named the 2020 recipients of the Pritzker Architecture Prize . The Anthony Timberlands Center will be the firm’s first building in the United States and will be located in Fayetteville, Arkansas on the northeast corner of the University of Arkansas’ Windgate Art and Design District. The new applied research center will house the Fay Jones School’s existing and expanding design/build program and fabrication technologies labs as well as the school’s emerging graduate program in timber and wood design. Created with the public in mind, the Anthony Timberlands Center will draw the eye of passersby with its dramatic cascading roof that responds to the local climate while capturing natural light . Inside, soaring ceiling heights and rhythmical open spaces evoke a forest setting. Related: Canada’s first net-zero carbon, mass-timber college building to rise in Toronto “The basic idea of this new Anthony Timberlands Center is that the building itself is a Story Book of Timber,” said Farrell in a University of Arkansas press release. “We want people to experience the versatility of timber , both as the structural ‘bones’ and the enclosing ‘skin’ of this new building. The building itself is a teaching tool, displaying the strength, color, grain, texture and beauty of the various timbers used.” + Grafton Architects Images via Grafton Architects

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Story book of timber designed for University of Arkansas

These adorable fish lamps raise awareness of plastic pollution

April 2, 2020 by  
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Single-use plastics are everywhere. No matter how small they are, these plastics often end up in either landfills or the oceans , taking hundreds of years to decompose. When Heliograf designers Jeffrey Simpson and Angus Ware realized just how many single-use soy sauce packets went into a single sushi meal, the idea for Light Soy lamps was born. In Japan, a packet containing one single serving of soy sauce often comes in the shape of a small fish made of polyethylene. Similar to plastic straws and other single-use plastics, the packets are too small to be easily recycled . The irony that these single-use plastic containers created to look like fish would later become ocean pollution with the potential to harm marine life was not lost on the designers. Related: This lamp is a work of art that cleans the air Heliograf decided to find a fun way to highlight this issue, creating something both beautiful and functional. The resulting design took about three years to develop, including two years that the designers spent learning how to perfect the glass-blowing technique. Light Soy is a borosilicate glass lamp in the same shape as the iconic, fish-shaped soy sauce packets that have been used in Japan since the 1950s. It features an energy-efficient LED light and powder-coated aluminium accessories, with a frosted glass design that creates a soft glow when illuminated. There are two models available: The Light Soy Table Lamp and the Light Soy Pendant Light. The table lamp is portable and USB-C rechargeable with an aluminum base and a touch-controlled dimming feature, and the pendant version comes with a bespoke aluminium ceiling canopy. The modular components in the lamp make it simple to either repair or replace individual parts as needed.  The lamp packaging is free of plastics; it is made using a recyclable and biodegradable bagasse sugarcane pulp and cardboard. To negate the need for a plastic carrying bag, the packaging also comes equipped with a cotton cord as a handle. Heliograf is a member of 1% For the Planet, with 1% of the Sydney-based design studio’s revenue going toward nonprofits aimed at preventing plastic pollution from entering our oceans. + Heliograf Photography by Daniel Hermann-Zoll via Heliograf

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These adorable fish lamps raise awareness of plastic pollution

York Universitys new green-roofed student center celebrates inclusivity

March 2, 2020 by  
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After overwhelmingly voting in favor of a second campus building devoted solely to student space, students at Toronto’s York University have welcomed a new student center with an inspiring emphasis on inclusivity and sustainability. Designed by global architecture firm CannonDesign , the student center was created not only as a hub of student life but to also improve mental health by creating a welcoming and safe space for students of all backgrounds. Centrally located at the north end of a major campus green space, the new student center is easily accessible to the university’s 50,000 students. The architects took cues from safety design principles to create a building with an abundance of natural light and maximized sight lines. The high-performance glazing that wraps around the building gives the student center a level of transparency reflective of its objective to be open and welcoming to all. Related: New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels In addition to serving as a “living room” for student life, the 126,000-square-foot student center also includes a large multi-faith prayer space on the top floor; a food pantry on the lower level to serve students facing food insecurity; a wellness clinic that provides mental health counseling recommendations and more; bustling club spaces; and gender-neutral bathrooms. As part of the school’s commitment to sustainability, the new building also features bicycle parking, showers, green roofs and extensive use of natural lighting to minimize energy use. “This project excels at creating a campus destination where all students can feel welcome, safe, engaged and motivated to excel,” said Brad Lukanic, CEO of CannonDesign and a member of the York U Student Centre project team. “York University made an inclusive design part of this project’s mission from day one. The Second Student Centre stands as a paragon of how design can make measurable positive differences in both campus culture and students’ lives.” + CannonDesign Photography by Tom Arban, Connie Tsang and Lisa Logan via CannonDesign

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York Universitys new green-roofed student center celebrates inclusivity

The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard

March 2, 2020 by  
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Pollination occurs when pollinators, like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, feed on the sweet nectar from flowers. While they enjoy the buffet, powdery pollen sticks to them. As they move down the buffet line to other plants in the area, the pollen drops off into those plants, which then use it to create seeds, fruit and more plants. The process is essential to our food supply, with some estimates giving pollination credit for up to one-third of what we eat. Whether you want a robust garden full of produce, to help boost pollinator populations or both, focusing on the best plants for pollinators will help you reach your goal. Ideally, you will want to select native plants for your region. Talk to your local extension office, do some research online or grab a book from the library. Your local nursery or other garden supply store will likely have a great selection of the best plants for attracting pollinators to get you started. In the meantime, here are plenty of tips to help you know where to start when it comes to creating a beautiful, bountiful pollinator garden. Related: EU approves complete ban on bee-killing insecticides Best plants for every kind of pollinator and climate Many plants are forgiving enough to succeed in a variety of climates and are commonly used for attracting pollinators in just about any area. Herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage, mint and oregano are great options. Other plants provide aesthetic appeal for your yard while also creating a feast for pollinators. Look into whether coneflower (purple is a favorite for butterflies), sunflower, redbud, catnip, penstemon, lab’s ears, verbena, aster, black-eyed Susan or yarrow are a good fit for your space. Butterfly gardens If your main draw is butterflies, try alyssum, aster, butterfly bush, cosmos, delphinium, and the easy-to-grow daylily. A few other butterfly favorites include fennel, globe thistle, goldenrod and liatris. Hollyhock makes butterflies happy, but be careful where you plant it, because hollyhock can become invasive after the first season. Plants to attract hummingbirds Hummingbirds like big, bright blooms they can stick their extraordinarily long tongues into for a drink. Test out bee balm, begonias, bleeding heart, canna, cardinal flower, columbine and coral bells (heuchera). Vary your plantings by season, and choose plants of different heights and colors. Include cleome, dahlia, foxglove, fuchsia, gladiolus, iris and lupine. Other plants known to draw in the fluttery birds include lantana, paintbrush, nicotiana, phlox and yucca. Bee-friendly plants As you probably know, bees are critical to the survival of our planet, but colony collapse has put them in crisis. Do your part with some bee-friendly plants like bee plant, bergamot, borage, cosmos, flax, giant hyssop, marjoram and poppies. Bees are usually satisfied feeding at any nectar-rich banquet, so most herbs, berries or flowers in your garden will likely make them happy. If you plan to try beekeeping, note that the resulting honey will pick up the key notes from what they feed on, so experiment with wildflowers, wild rose, thyme, verbena and blackberries for different flavors. Pollinators by region Weather trends in your area will affect the types of plants that will thrive, so again, it’s important to research plants native to your locale. However, here are some general ideas for the more extreme climates you might be dealing with. Arid mountains  If you live in a semi-desert region, try out catnip, clover, milkwort, morning glory, passion flowers and phacelia in your pollinator garden. Some other options that should thrive in arid regions include rose, potentilla, sorrel, violet and wild mustard. Coastal areas For areas that receive more rain, such as the misty coasts, add catalpa, cow parsley, goldenrod, impatiens, morning glory and willow catkins to your garden. Although we’ve mentioned a lot of flowers, remember that crops bloom too, providing an opportunity to feed the pollinators and yourself. Plant some almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, eggplants, gooseberries, legumes, watermelons, squash, pumpkins and tomatoes along with herbs to satisfy the pollinators and fill your plate. Additional pollinator garden tips There are a few more components to creating the perfect pollinator garden, where bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and more will all flock to for nectar. Proper plant care In addition to selecting the best plants for pollinators, you’ll want to make sure those plants and the pollinators are thriving. Follow watering guidelines for the plants you select and fertilize them when needed, but be sure to use only organic materials. Avoid chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides that can harm bees, moths and other pollinators. Especially during the hot, summer months, scatter water sources around your garden for pollinators to enjoy while they work. Also cluster plants together so pollinators have some protection. This gives them a place to hide from predators, heat and rain as well as to rear their young. If you grow crops on a large or small scale, consider throwing some seeds in the ground during the off season. You may not want the plants that are not at their peak, but pollinators will appreciate them nonetheless — your soil will likely thank you for some variety, too. You can also put wildflowers in unused areas for your pollinators to enjoy. Pollinators’ favorite colors Map out your garden with a variety of colors for attracting pollinators of all types.  Birds are naturally drawn to warm tones, like scarlet, red and orange. They also respond well to white blooms. Butterflies like bright colors and the deeper tones of red and purple. On the other end of the spectrum, moths prefer dull red, purple, pink and white. By planting a variety of colors that bloom throughout the seasons, you will provide the best environment to attract all types of pollinators. Images via Shutterstock

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The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard

Green Roof Policies Are a Growing Trend

December 27, 2019 by  
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In 2009, the Canadian city of Toronto, Ontario passed the … The post Green Roof Policies Are a Growing Trend appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Green Roof Policies Are a Growing Trend

30 of world’s largest cities have hit peak greenhouse gas emissions milestone, C40 analysis shows

October 9, 2019 by  
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The international community has collaboratively crusaded to quickly reach peak global greenhouse gas emissions . By doing so, they hope to alleviate worldwide temperature rise and related climate disasters. A recent report confirms that 30 of the world’s largest cities — all members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group — have completed their peak greenhouse gas emission milestones. What does it mean when a country or city “peaks” its greenhouse gas emissions? As part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement , first enacted in 2016, countries across the globe — and their respective cities, some of which are members of the C40 — have agreed to decrease global warming by keeping the collective planet-wide temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. To ensure this, the countries that have signed the Paris Agreement have set goals to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. When a country’s emissions levels have reversed substantially, they are described as having “peaked” at last, so they are now capable of industrially operating at emissions levels far below their “peak” point. Related: Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future According to the World Resources Institute (WRI) , “peaking” really began even before the Paris Agreement was established. For instance, by 1990, 19 countries were documented to have peaked their greenhouse gas emission levels . By 2000, an additional 14 countries reached their critical milestones. A decade later, in 2010, 16 more countries joined the list of countries that have peaked, including the United States and Canada, which both peaked in 2007. Meanwhile, in 2005, the multinational organization now known as C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, or C40 for short, was founded when representatives from 18 mega-cities cooperatively forged an agreement to address widespread pollution and climate change. The group began with 18 cities and has grown significantly since then. Interestingly, the C40, on its 10th anniversary back in 2015, was instrumental in shaping the Paris Agreement prior to its 2016 ratification. Now, ahead of the C40 World Mayors Summit, a new analysis just revealed that 30 of the world’s largest and most influential cities — all members of C40 — have each achieved their respective peak greenhouse gas emissions goals. The 30 cities include Athens, Austin, Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, Lisbon, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Montreal, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Venice, Warsaw and Washington, D.C. The C40 analysis further disclosed that these 30 influential cities have helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 22 percent, which is encouraging. “The C40 cities that have reached peak emissions are raising the bar for climate ambition, and, at the same time, exemplifying how climate action creates healthier, more equitable and resilient communities,” said Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities.  To further its endeavors, C40 has launched the C40 Knowledge Hub . It is an online platform dedicated to informing and inspiring policies to ramp up global climate initiatives that can encourage even more sustainable changes to protect the planet. + C40 Image via Anne Hogdal

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30 of world’s largest cities have hit peak greenhouse gas emissions milestone, C40 analysis shows

This unique eco home was designed to reduce energy use

July 12, 2019 by  
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Located in Toronto, Canada, this eco home by Craig Race Architecture was built entirely with sustainability in mind. The 1,800-square-foot house was a passion project for the architect, who wanted to use the space to test high-performing methods for the outer elements that facilitate climate control within the house. The highlight of the home is its high-quality insulation . Superior insulation in a structure design can maintain a dry, hot or cold temperature inside by creating a barrier between exterior and interior environments. In the Curvy Eco Home’s case, a majority of the insulation was installed as a continuous, unbroken layer on the outside of the building, which greatly reduced the number of localized areas with low thermal resistance. Related: This family-friendly home is a beacon of modern energy-efficient design in Calgary In combination with the insulation, the home is also almost completely airtight. According to the architects’ energy modeling, they were able to reduce the heating energy in the home by 40 percent by using $1,500 worth of tape to ensure exceptional airtightness. Not only will this dramatically reduce the owner’s electricity bill, but the home itself will be much more comfortable no matter the season. A large amount of glass on the south side of the home allows for passive heating. To reduce energy needs, an in-floor radiant system was installed with separate thermostats for either side of the home. This way, when the passive heating is being utilized on the south side, the owner can turn off half the electric heat, maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout. There is an air conditioner in the house for the hottest days of summer; however, it rarely needs to be used thanks to the skylight purposely placed to move air in and out of the house for natural ventilation. The curvature in the exterior design of the home was intended to follow the same pattern as the street and to maximize space. All of the materials used for cladding are either recycled and/or sustainable, including the cedar shingles. The roof, side walls and south wall were made with standing-seam galvalume panels, which are long-lasting and maintenance-free. The panels are also untreated — meaning no toxic paint or coating — and can be recycled in the future. Inside, the eco home features a rather minimalist design. Each room benefits from a bright, airy atmosphere thanks to natural light, white walls and light wood accents. The kitchen boasts marble countertops and backsplash, while the bedrooms earn extra charm from exposed wood ceiling beams. + Craig Race Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography via Robert Watson via Craig Race Architecture

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This unique eco home was designed to reduce energy use

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