Wisconsin’s hidden eco-wellness hotspot

March 24, 2020 by  
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Madison,  Wisconsin  is defined by water. It’s only one of two cities in the US built on an isthmus (the other is Seattle), and it has five lakes. The population of just over a quarter million is overwhelmingly young and educated, thanks to the massive University of Wisconsin. Mad City is one of the Midwest’s more progressive places and regularly features on “best of” lists. But you have to be tough to live here. Winter temperatures regularly dive below freezing, while summer temperatures often top 90 degrees. Outdoor activities in Madison Madison’s outdoor recreation revolves around its lakes. If you like kayaking , stand up paddleboarding or water skiing, you’re in luck. This is also a place to try more extreme water sports, such as wakeboarding, kiteboarding and flyboarding (where water can propel you almost 50 feet in the air). Those who are looking for something more contemplative will enjoy a trip to  Olbrich Botanical Garden . The 16 acres look their best in spring and summer, but even in winter you can enjoy orchids blooming in the sun-filled glass Bolz Conservatory. The garden’s 30-foot high Thai pavilion was a gift from the Thai royal family. The red lacquer and gold leaf structure was built in  Thailand , shipped by sea, rail and truck to Madison, then reassembled by Thai artisans without using screws or nails. At the  UW Madison Arboretum , you can meander through woodlands, wetlands, savannas and restored prairies on more than 17 miles of  trails . You can also see rare effigy mounds built more than 1,000 years ago. The arboretum features events like fungi workshops and expert-led nature walks. In the winter, it’s a popular place to snowshoe and cross-country ski. Wellness in Madison The Garver Feed Mill building is the latest wellness star in the Madison scene. After the US  Sugar  Company constructed this brick behemoth in 1906 for beet sugar processing, it became known as the Sugar Castle because of its dramatic arched gothic windows. Later it was a factory for formulating livestock feed, before sitting derelict for a couple of decades. But just last November, it reopened as a spectacularly popular event space, site of the farmers’ market during winter, and home of wellness providers and artisan food makers. The whole building is gorgeous, with lots of exposed brick walls, big windows and chandeliers. For the perfect wellness-focused day at Garver, take a class at  Perennial Yoga , eat a healthy meal at plant-based Surya Café, then visit  Kosa Wellness Spa & Retreat  to relax in the steam room and sauna or to get an Ayurvedic treatment.  “Something society doesn’t afford us is quiet and space,” said owner Shilpa Sankaran, who aspires to provide Madison with just that. “Where do you hear your own voice? That’s where the remedy lives, in our own knowing.” She sources most of her spa products from Wisconsin and has a special interest in supporting women in business. Women in  India  who have escaped sex trafficking manufacture the spa’s robes. I especially liked how they left some of the more attractive graffiti in place on the treatment room walls from the years that squatters filled the building. If art uplifts you, the  Chazen Museum of Art  on the UW campus houses lots of work by famous artists, including Miro, Picasso, and Louise Nevelson, plus interesting installations by UW art faculty. This big  museum  is free and well worth visiting. Dining out in Madison Madison is an easy town for vegetarians and  vegans . The  Green Owl Café , Madison’s first all-veg restaurant, is a cheerful and comfortable hangout spot for bowls, veggie burgers, vegan wings and vegan desserts like lava cake and coconut cream pie.  Surya Cafe , in the Garver Feed Mill, features more adventurous — some might say startling — combinations, such as a curried cauliflower waffle with maple-cumin kale and mango jalapeno sauce. Himal Chuli serves Nepali food, with several veggie and tofu-based options. The roti is so excellent I ordered a second serving.  Ian’s Pizza has several locations and is one of my favorite Madison eateries. You can custom order a gigantic salad with more than 40 mix-in options, and they often have vegan slices. For vegan dessert, don’t miss  Bloom Bake Shop . This bakery has a whole case of vegan cupcakes. Public transit Since Madison is largely a college town, you’ll find lots of public transportation and  bikes . It’s known as an extremely bikable city, so if you like biking, check out Madison  BCycle , the local bike share program. This program is designed for short trips of under an hour. If you want a bike for longer-term use, the  Budget Bicycle Center  rents various kinds of bikes. Metro Transit  is Madison’s bus company, serving the greater Madison area. Eco-wellness lodging The white dome of the Capitol filled my window at the  Madison Concourse Hotel . In addition to this stunning view and a convenient downtown location, the Concourse has been refining its eco measures for a decade. The  hotel uses energy-efficient lighting, offers reusable glass cups instead of plastic in guest rooms and is a member of REAP Food Group, which works on shortening the distance from farm to table. The Concourse’s Ozone laundry system and high-efficiency water heaters save an estimated 400,000 gallons of water per year. For an out-of-town sojourn, the  Holy Wisdom Monastery  in nearby Middleton has private rooms in its retreat house and two additional secluded hermitages.  Holy Wisdom offers the choice of a communal spiritual experience or lots of solitude as you hike trails through its prairies or read in the  library . You can even wear a silence tag if you want to take a silent retreat, and people won’t talk to you. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Wisconsin’s hidden eco-wellness hotspot

Kansas City approves free public transportation for all

December 12, 2019 by  
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Last week, the city council of Kansas City unanimously voted for free public transportation via the Zero Fare Transit proposal. The program will boost ridership of city transit systems, allaying concerns about equity and the challenges of global greenhouse gas emissions and the climate crisis . Kansas City’s streetcar service is already free, and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) likewise provides free services to veterans. But approval of the resolution is a historic move allowing for free bus and streetcar services to all. Related: When in Rome, recycle more to earn free metro and bus travel tickets “The City Council just took a monumental, unanimous step toward #ZeroFareTransit — setting Kansas City up to soon become the first major metropolitan city with free public bus service,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted. “This is going to improve the lives of so many and help fuel the local economy.” According to a 6-month study by the Citizens for Modern Transit group, which was commissioned by the Missouri Public Transit Association in partnership with AARP, Missouri’s public transportation sector in 2019 provides “an annual average of 60.1 million rides, which is equivalent to 9.8 rides per year, per Missouri resident.” That number is expected to rise with this new Zero Fare Transit program, especially in Kansas City. The rise in public transportation use can help confront the planet’s current environmental challenges. With less vehicles on the road, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced, thus improving air quality . With ride sharing through public transportation, there will be less need for many individual trips by private vehicles in dense urban areas. Plus, traffic congestion will be relieved, saving the fuel that might have been wasted in traffic gridlocks. As to concerns about the fuel use of public transportation, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the United States Department of Energy have both documented that modern buses use alternative fuels rather than diesel and gas, unlike a decade ago. Again, this emphasizes how Kansas City’s new legislation promises a smaller carbon footprint for the city. The new legislation has already garnered attention and praise outside of Missouri, with advocates in Nashville, Portland and Toronto seeking similar measures in their respective cities. Via ArchDaily Image via David Wilson

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Kansas City approves free public transportation for all

Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands

May 6, 2019 by  
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Delft-based architectural firm cepezed has completed the Netherlands’ first self-sufficient bus station in the southern city of Tilburg. Designed to generate all of its own energy, the new transit facility features a massive solar panel -topped awning that provides shade and gives the bus station its modern and sculptural appearance. The Tilburg bus station was completed as part of the large-scale revitalization of the city’s public transit hub and offers easy access to the neighboring train station and bicycle parking in the railway zone. The new bus station at the west side of the Tilburg train station was designed to prioritize user comfort and safety. To that end, the architects topped the structure with a spacious awning that not only fully covers the bus platforms but also part of the buses, so travelers can be protected from the rain while boarding and deboarding. The steel-framed awning is fitted with lights and covered with ETFE-foil so as to let in filtered sunlight during the day and illuminate the space at night. For inclusivity, the station is equipped with wheelchair-accessible ramps and handrails with braille signing. As a symbol of smart development, the station adopts a contemporary and minimalist design with highly efficient detailing. Built of steel plates and strips, the thin columns that support the large awning also contain water drainage and electric cabling. The S.O.S. button and intercom have also been integrated into one of the columns. In addition to the raised black concrete sitting edges, the architects included backed seating made with strip steel with heating. Related: Architects want to transform an old Dutch bridge into zero-energy apartments Solar panels spanning 2,691 square feet top the awning and power all of the bus station’s needs, from the lighting and digital information signs to the staff canteen and public transport service point. Certain solar-powered lights are triggered by energy-saving motion sensors integrated into the steel edge of the awning. For greater sustainability, the architects ensured the longevity of the structure with a low-maintenance material palette and minimized the edges and corners to reduce costs and resources for cleaning. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands

The hidden vulnerability in our transportation infrastructure

November 28, 2018 by  
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The latest government report on climate change gives new insight into the state of our transit system.

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The hidden vulnerability in our transportation infrastructure

Zaha Hadid Architects breaks ground on Mexicos City tallest residential tower

November 10, 2017 by  
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Construction has begun on the Bora Residential Tower, a high-rise designed by Zaha Hadid Architects that, when completed, will be the tallest residential tower in Mexico City . Located in the Santa Fe business district in the west of the capital, the luxury complex features Zaha Hadid’s recognizable tapered shape at its base, where the building curves inward before flaring out into “swirling” canopies. The site-specific building optimizes access to natural light and views, while mitigating seismic conditions. Commissioned in 2015 by Nemesis Capital , the Bora Residential Tower occupies prime real estate within walking distance to schools, theaters, cafes, restaurants, and the new Santa Fe Transit Hub that will connect to the city’s metro network next year. The 28-hectare La Mexicana park lies adjacent as well as three universities and the regional offices of Fortune 500 firms including the likes of Apple , Microsoft, and Amazon. Boasting over 50 floors, the record-breaking Bora will comprise over 220 apartments of one, two, and three bedrooms designed for diverse clientele from first-time homeowners and families to retirees. To maximize access to natural light and panoramic views, each apartment features private balconies that extrude vertically. The building’s base tapers inward and then flares out into canopies to shade street-level civic spaces with restaurants and shops. Related: Beautiful co-working space takes over a former industrial factory in Mexico City “The tower’s structure has also been designed for optimum flexibility and ductility, as well as an overall reduction in its weight, to best respond in seismic conditions, with the ten-storey canopies at its base providing additional lateral stability,” wrote Zaha Hadid Architects. + Zaha Hadid Architects Images via Zaha Hadid Architects and LabTop

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Zaha Hadid Architects breaks ground on Mexicos City tallest residential tower

San Franciscos rapid transit to run on 100% renewable energy

May 9, 2017 by  
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Commuters in the San Francisco area can feel even better about taking public transport to lower their carbon footprints , as the Bay Area’s Rapid Transit (BART) system will soon be powered by 100 percent renewable energy . Days ago, the BART board of directors passed an electrical portfolio policy that requires 50 percent of the organization’s power to be sourced from renewables by 2025. By 2045, the electric train system is expected to run on 100 percent renewable energy . As Digital Trends reports , this move has far-reaching implications for the entire region since BART consumes roughly 400,000 megawatt-hours annually – the equivalent of a small city like Alameda. “Every day, BART takes cars off the road and helps drive down our greenhouse gas emissions,” said BART Director Nick Josefowitz. “But especially now, BART and the Bay Area must shoulder even more responsibility to combat climate change. Even though BART is not required to comply with the state’s renewable energy standards, we have committed to purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity and taking a leadership role in decarbonizing our transportation sector.” Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike The train system already runs on a variety of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind and small hydroelectric facilities. Additionally, carbon emissions have been cut by lowering the number of single occupant automobiles sitting in traffic on the Bay Bridge each morning. Sustainability Director Holly Gordon said of the progressive initiative, “We’re doing this to advance clean energy, but we’re also doing this because we think it is cost effective. We feel as though we can purchase clean energy while maintaining low and stable costs for the district as well.” BART may very well be the first electrified public transit system to commit to running on 100 percent renewable energy – at least in the US.  Via Digital Trends

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San Franciscos rapid transit to run on 100% renewable energy

Helsinki Builds 9 Million Gallon Underground Water Tank to Cool Local Buildings

September 9, 2014 by  
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Just when you thought Scandinavia couldn’t get any more eco-friendly, Helsinki ups the ante . The Finnish capital recently announced some major environmental initiatives aimed at making the city smarter and greener. The coolest of these may be the installation of a giant underwater reservoir tank built 100 yards below the city center to store 9 million gallons of cold lake water that will be used to cool homes connected to the city’s rapidly-expanding district cooling network . After the water circulates through the cooling system during the day, it’s cooled in the tank overnight using heat exchangers to prepare for its next run the following day. According to a City of Helsinki press release , this latest addition to the city’s smart cooling system means it now emits 80 percent less greenhouse gasses from cooling, compared to conventional cooling systems. Read the rest of Helsinki Builds 9 Million Gallon Underground Water Tank to Cool Local Buildings Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: conservation , Eco , efficiency , environmental , Finland , friendly , gasses , green , greenhouse , Helsinki , Kalasatama , kutsuplus , public , renewable energy , tank , transit , water issues

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Helsinki Builds 9 Million Gallon Underground Water Tank to Cool Local Buildings

Tessellated Tree-Like Transportation Shelters Offer Unique Shade for Local College Students

February 25, 2014 by  
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When architects from Public: Architecture + Communication visited the University of British Columbia, they noticed a slight flaw in the campus’ urban design plan. Although the main university avenue was lined with beautiful trees, the bus stops were left as cold, barren concrete zones. They felt that these public spaces deserved to be equipped with functional nature-influenced transit shelters in order to give the campus a cohesively green urban aesthetic . Read the rest of Tessellated Tree-Like Transportation Shelters Offer Unique Shade for Local College Students Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bus shelter canopies , bus stop design , educational design , GLULAM Canopy , Public Architecture and Communication , transport design , Tree-Like Transit Shelters for UBC , University of British Columbia , Urban design , urban green space        

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Tessellated Tree-Like Transportation Shelters Offer Unique Shade for Local College Students

MVRDV + ABOUTBLANK Design Expansive New Transit Hub and Archeo-Park for Yenikap? in Istanbul

May 8, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of MVRDV + ABOUTBLANK Design Expansive New Transit Hub and Archeo-Park for Yenikap? in Istanbul Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: about:blank , Archeo-Park , archeological site , bus station , green space , MVRDV , neolitic dig , pedestrian plaza , rail terminal , rainwater collection , Solar Power , transit hub , Yenikapi Istanbul

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MVRDV + ABOUTBLANK Design Expansive New Transit Hub and Archeo-Park for Yenikap? in Istanbul

PRODUCT REVIEW: Thumb-Lite is a Stick-on LED That Turns Anything into a Flashlight

May 8, 2012 by  
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Totally wireless, incredibly lightweight and smaller than a quarter, the Thumb-Lite is a stick-on LED that turns anything into a flashlight. If you’ve ever felt the frustration of searching for something inside your dark purse or fumbling with your keys because you couldn’t see the keyhole, this seemingly simple little gadget offers an easy solution. We recently had the chance to review the Thumb-Lite to see how it stacked up to its title as the world’s smallest and brightest stick-on LED . Read on to see what we thought. Read the rest of PRODUCT REVIEW: Thumb-Lite is a Stick-on LED That Turns Anything into a Flashlight Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eco design , eco lighting , energy saving lights , green design , green light bulb , green lighting , LED , LED lighting , LED lights , LED thumb Light , LEDs , light emitting diode , smallest stick on led , stick on LED , thumb LED light , thumb light

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Thumb-Lite is a Stick-on LED That Turns Anything into a Flashlight

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