Airy Santa Monica Canyon home embraces views of nature and art

May 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Reclaimed materials, a world-class art collection and an indoor/outdoor lifestyle combine in this recently completed Los Angeles residence designed by Santa Monica-based firm  Conner + Perry Architects . Built for  Los Angeles natives, this luxurious four-bedroom family home with large windows and a natural material palette was thoughtfully inserted into a wooded Santa Monica Canyon. Salvaged materials taken from the old existing home on-site and felled wood found on the property have been repurposed into beautiful focal elements for the house, such as the grand entry doors and outdoor furniture.  Designed to embrace the “quintessential California indoor/outdoor experience,” the two-story Santa Monica Canyon home opens up with fully pocketing glass exterior walls to a central courtyard with a pool and outdoor shower. Extended canopy-like cantilevered eaves protect from the sun. The charred wood ( Shou Sugi Ban ) siding, copper, exposed steel and concrete materials that wrap the home’s exterior were selected for their organic nature and their low-maintenance, climate-compatible qualities.  To pay homage to the history of the site, which was used as a Forestry Service test station for Eucalyptus tree testing in the 1910s and 1920s, the architects  salvaged  much of the original 1940s cabin that once occupied the property. Related: New Santa Monica City Services Building will produce more energy than it uses The home interior takes cues from nature and includes a mix of massangis gray  limestone  and French oak used for the floors, weathered brass, blackened steel elements and a variety of marble and tiles. The warm yet restrained palette also provides a neutral backdrop for the clients’ world-class art collection; the interior floor plan was designed to frame views of either the art pieces or landscape views. “Each of them has described the house as having a magical or mystical quality, allowing light in at the right moments, as well as the shadows of the trees , and a calming mirroring effect,” Kristopher Conner, Conner + Perry Architects co-founder, said. + Conner + Perry Architects Images by Taiyo Watanabe

See original here:
Airy Santa Monica Canyon home embraces views of nature and art

Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

May 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Italy has been hit hard by COVID-19 and is attempting to jump-start its economy through the Relaunch Decree, a revitalization package of 55 billion euros ($60 billion) that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his cabinet passed earlier this month. The stimulus includes tax breaks for clean energy projects and renovations; Italian homeowners are offered free rooftop installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems through the Relaunch Decree. To help Italy recover from the coronavirus-induced recession, incentives — like tax credits for homeowners pivoting toward energy efficient home improvement projects — are offered. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Tax News , “Individuals can offset 110% of qualified building renovation and energy efficiency costs incurred between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2021 against their tax liabilities in five equal installments (up to certain thresholds).” Related: First home solar pavement installed on a driveway PV Magazine explained that the bonus is “for building-renovation projects from 65% to 110% and a jump in support for PV installations and storage systems associated with such renovation projects, from 50% of costs to 110%.” Any solar photovoltaic installations for the next year-and-a-half will be subsidized. Only a few weeks ago, Green Tech Media warned that Italy’s subsidy-free solar sector had stalled due to the pandemic, placing many projects on hold. While the solar industry is no stranger to vicissitude cycles, the pandemic added unexpected variables. “For the sector, the Relaunch Decree is certainly a great opportunity for the spread of photovoltaics on the roofs of Italian homes,” said Paolo Rocco Viscontini, president of PV association Italia Solare. Italy’s investment incentives for solar should come as no surprise, since Statista describes Italy as “the leading country worldwide for electricity consumption covered by solar PV.” Since the early 2000s, Italy has been a strong proponent of solar installations. In 2017, it unveiled its National Energy Strategy — a 10-year plan to decarbonize, expand renewable energy and promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. As of early 2020, Italy is second only to Germany in the photovoltaic sector, with solar power as the country’s preferred renewable energy source. In 2019, Italy had a 69% increase in solar photovoltaic installations compared to 2018. That growth was deemed “the most substantial recorded in Italy” by PV Europe with a grand total of 56,590 new solar power system installations in 2019, of which 50,653 were residential. While COVID-19 dampened photovoltaic growth for Italy’s first quarter of 2020, many nonetheless hope that the Relaunch Decree’s incentives can support a swift restart of the solar PV sector. Tom Heggarty, principal solar analyst for global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said , “Solar [projects are] pretty quick to develop and construct. So once we start to see restrictions lifted, the industry should, theoretically, be in a good place to bounce back quite quickly.” Via EY Global Tax News , PV Magazine , Green Tech Media , Statista and PV Europe Image via Giorgio Trovato

Go here to see the original:
Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

May 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Italy has been hit hard by COVID-19 and is attempting to jump-start its economy through the Relaunch Decree, a revitalization package of 55 billion euros ($60 billion) that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his cabinet passed earlier this month. The stimulus includes tax breaks for clean energy projects and renovations; Italian homeowners are offered free rooftop installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems through the Relaunch Decree. To help Italy recover from the coronavirus-induced recession, incentives — like tax credits for homeowners pivoting toward energy efficient home improvement projects — are offered. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Tax News , “Individuals can offset 110% of qualified building renovation and energy efficiency costs incurred between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2021 against their tax liabilities in five equal installments (up to certain thresholds).” Related: First home solar pavement installed on a driveway PV Magazine explained that the bonus is “for building-renovation projects from 65% to 110% and a jump in support for PV installations and storage systems associated with such renovation projects, from 50% of costs to 110%.” Any solar photovoltaic installations for the next year-and-a-half will be subsidized. Only a few weeks ago, Green Tech Media warned that Italy’s subsidy-free solar sector had stalled due to the pandemic, placing many projects on hold. While the solar industry is no stranger to vicissitude cycles, the pandemic added unexpected variables. “For the sector, the Relaunch Decree is certainly a great opportunity for the spread of photovoltaics on the roofs of Italian homes,” said Paolo Rocco Viscontini, president of PV association Italia Solare. Italy’s investment incentives for solar should come as no surprise, since Statista describes Italy as “the leading country worldwide for electricity consumption covered by solar PV.” Since the early 2000s, Italy has been a strong proponent of solar installations. In 2017, it unveiled its National Energy Strategy — a 10-year plan to decarbonize, expand renewable energy and promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. As of early 2020, Italy is second only to Germany in the photovoltaic sector, with solar power as the country’s preferred renewable energy source. In 2019, Italy had a 69% increase in solar photovoltaic installations compared to 2018. That growth was deemed “the most substantial recorded in Italy” by PV Europe with a grand total of 56,590 new solar power system installations in 2019, of which 50,653 were residential. While COVID-19 dampened photovoltaic growth for Italy’s first quarter of 2020, many nonetheless hope that the Relaunch Decree’s incentives can support a swift restart of the solar PV sector. Tom Heggarty, principal solar analyst for global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said , “Solar [projects are] pretty quick to develop and construct. So once we start to see restrictions lifted, the industry should, theoretically, be in a good place to bounce back quite quickly.” Via EY Global Tax News , PV Magazine , Green Tech Media , Statista and PV Europe Image via Giorgio Trovato

View original post here:
Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

An abandoned Chinese village is reborn as an interactive art destination

May 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

With 1 billion people estimated to be living in Chinese cities in 2050, China is seeing hundreds of thousands of its rural villages abandoned. In a bid to bring renewed life to one of its 102 abandoned villages, the Government of Jinxi tapped Dutch firm NEXT Architects to sustainably revitalize the ancient village of Dafang. Created in collaboration with IVEM (Dutch Institute for Cultural Heritage and Marketing), Smartland (landscape design), Total Design (graphic design) and numerous Dutch and Chinese artists, the recently completed Holland-Dafang Creative Village transformed a dilapidated village into a new hub for the arts. Spanning an area of 43,000 square meters, the Holland-Dafang Creative Village serves as an inspiring model of rural revitalization achieved by a multidisciplinary team of Chinese and Dutch architects. Led by the design strategy “adapt to newness,” the entire village of Dafang has been renewed with three main strategies: thoughtful restoration of the architecture and landscape; the construction of new public facilities; and the re-programming of spaces through art and activity. Related: MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art Although Dafang has over 900 years of history, years of neglect has led to its deterioration. The architects restored the historical architecture with new materials, such as the use of glass roof tiles on the roofs of old houses and the resurrection of an ancient irrigation system with a new, natural helophyte filter for water purification . New construction was also added, including a sculptural watchtower — a throwback to the defense structure popularly used in ancient times — with a twisting form loosely resembling a giant Chinese “dragon column”. The team also included a new camphor tree-inspired public hall set on the former site of a courtyard building that had been destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. The designers also gave the restored landscape and architecture new purposes, from rehabbing old buildings into a new village museum to the creation of a library and artist studios. “Rural revitalization is one of China’s key future developments,” said John van de Water, partner of NEXT Architects in Beijing. “We believe this asks for the design of balance between old and new, living and visiting, history and future.”  + NEXT Architects Images via NEXT Architects

See original here:
An abandoned Chinese village is reborn as an interactive art destination

Kibardin shares creative recycled paper furniture designs

May 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Kibardin shares creative recycled paper furniture designs

Creating furniture is an age-old art form that has incorporated standard materials such as aluminum, wood and rattan. However, one artist has perfected a way to use another prolific material, cardboard, into furniture designs, and he’ll show you how to use it too. Vadim Kibardin, based out of KIBARDIN design studio in the Czech Republic, wants to encourage the kids, journalists and architects in all of us to think progressively and sustainably by getting hands-on with paper furniture design. Kibardin sees a world of opportunity between citizens who want sustainably made products and the wasteland of available cardboard readily available. With this combination in mind, he set out to develop and share furniture designs that can work as a family art project in any home.  Related: Designer Sophie Rowley creates marbled furniture from denim scraps On his website, you’ll find a black furniture collection with a sampling of furniture pieces he’s lovingly hand-contoured. Some are complete and ready for purchase, while others offer a design that can be made by request. Each piece is unique, as materials and the handmade approach vary. He doesn’t use a mold to replicate a design. The process involves adhering stacks of flattened cardboard  into thicknesses that add strength, then shaping them into chairs of varying designs.  Over his 25 years in the business, Kibardin has been commissioned to create unique pieces for private clients, galleries and museums. But his vision goes beyond creating art and building usable furniture while saving trees , to inspiring others to do the same. His Totem collection represents a creative art form that can be replicated in homes around the world.  As Kibardin explained, “Take a look at my Totem furniture collection. It is essentially a condensed version of my vision, which transcends trends by being functional as a serial product and handmade piece of art. I focus on construction and delivering key looks, without the styling and theatrics of a show. I can bring you modern solutions at affordable prices, just collect paper and cardboard packaging , download patterns and manuals, and produce it with your kids.” The basics are provided with an outline for decoupage-style stools, chairs and hourglass-shaped tables, but the idea is to inspire your own works of art. Kibardin encourages his site’s visitors to create their own paper art and then share images, instructions and a link for others to use. With this foundational support, Kibardin hopes everyone becomes part of this sustainable movement. + Kibardin Studios Images via Palisander Gallery and Vova Pomortzeff

Read the original: 
Kibardin shares creative recycled paper furniture designs

Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis

March 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis

According to the World Air Quality Index of 2019, the city of Bangkok suffers from unhealthy levels of air pollution most of the year. In a bid to raise awareness about air quality and the urban heat island effect, Thai design collective Shma Company created Safezone Shelter, an ephemeral pavilion filled with air purifying plants and technology to create a welcoming gathering space for passersby. Shaped like a cloud, the sculptural intervention was briefly installed in front of the Grand Postal Building during Bangkok Design Week 2020.  In contrast to the brutalist architecture of the Grand Postal Building, the 150-square-meter Safezone Shelter features a futuristic, organic shape with a white nylon covering to evoke the appearance of a cloud. The white textile allows light to diffuse through while hiding the interior from outside views. Inside, the designers created an unexpected oasis filled with tropical plants, informational signage and seating, which also includes part of the postal building’s steps.  Related: Architects design giant air purifying towers to fight Delhi’s air pollution To create a cooling microclimate, the designers engineered the pavilion to pull in hot, polluted air with fans and pass it through dense vegetation to capture dust particles. This “pre-filtered wind” is then passed through a dust filter plate and a cooling plate to purify the air . In addition to the cool air flow generated by fans, the trees, shrubs and ground cover help keep the pavilion’s interior temperatures to between 72 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. A humidifier maintains humidity levels of 50% to 70%. Recorded nature sounds, such as the sounds of water and birds, are also played inside the space. “All of these inventive methods could further be applied to solve air pollution in other kinds of design,” the designers explained. “Looking wider at an urban scale, bus stops, recreational space under expressways and skywalks also have a potential to be revitalized with such purification systems. At the end, even high-rise buildings might become old-fashioned when a better choice like an air purifier tower could be constructed.” Safezone Shelter was put on display from December 2019 to February 2020.  + Shma Company Images via Shma

Originally posted here:
Futuristic Safezone Shelter battles air pollution in Thailand with a green oasis

Why should the Scottish woodlands be protected?

February 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Why should the Scottish woodlands be protected?

Although Scotland is more heavily forested than England or Wales, much of its woodlands have been lost to logging, urban sprawl and climate change. Initiatives to reverse  deforestation  have been underway to contribute more trees, protect woodlands and ensure the  ecology , sustainability and longevity of Scotland’s forest resources. Why has reforestation become important in recent years? Last summer, a  YouGov  poll found that the environment is now viewed as the third most critical public issue, given our planet’s burgeoning  climate crisis . Reforestation has thereby become an important tool in combatting Earth’s climate emergency. Related:  More than half of Europe’s native trees face extinction Essentially, trees fight climate change and offer a solution. How?  Planting trees  encourages the absorption of carbon dioxide, one of the key greenhouse gases  responsible for  global warming . The more trees planted, the better they are at making a positive impact. According to the British nonprofit  Woodland Trust , the harnessing of tree  power significantly counteracts climate change: “Each year an estimated 20 million tonnes of CO2 are absorbed and locked away by the UK’s existing trees and woods.” And, in the face of a planetwide environmental emergency, the increase of forest  cover in Scotland, and by extension the United Kingdom, can help towards achieving Britain’s  carbon zero  target of 2050. Thus, implementing a sustainable cycle of replanting immediately after harvesting ensures the healthy renewal of both the supply of wood and the reduction of atmospheric carbon. “There is also a huge environmental significance to the increase in tree planting,” Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary, explained further. “In Scotland alone, around 9.5 million tonnes of CO2 each year are removed from the atmosphere by our forests – this is a clear example of why an increase in tree planting is so important in the fight against climate change.” In 2019, the  Independent  reported on Scotland planting 22 million trees. England, by contrast, “is falling significantly short of its targets” with “just 1,420 hectares of woodland was planted, despite a target of 5,000 hectares being set.” In other words, England “missed its annual target by seven million trees.” Therefore, as of last year, the UK’s amount of woodland cover remains at 13%, with Northern Ireland at 8%, England at 10%, Wales at 15% and Scotland at 19%. Indeed, Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, “a membership organisation for sustainable forestry and wood-using businesses,” said: “Scotland is leading the way in the UK, with 84% of all new planting happening in Scotland.” Meanwhile, The Woodland Trust encourages the turning of a new leaf for another reason. Besides helping to tackle our planet’s climate crisis, planting trees and increasing tree cover also resets  nature , improving ecosystem equilibrium for the protection of fragile habitats in Scotland and across the UK. Woodlands, at the heart of it all, support pollinators and endangered flora and fauna species. Restoring forests, then, would mean more protection for native wildlife, nurturing local biodiversity and the overall stewardship of the  environment . Reforestation  delivers yet other environmental public goods beyond improving habitats. Flood risks are alleviated. Soil quality and quantity are maintained.  Wildfires  are reduced, and the land can recover faster. Landscapes are also preserved, made more versatile and resilient. These benefits are far-reaching for land managers, not just of farms but also of landed estates. Besides conserving the forest, its  wildlife , soil and landscape, trees are imperative for the maintenance of local water resources.  Scottish Forestry has documented that a healthy forest “is also fundamental to good  water quality .” Understandably, a healthy forest ensures resilient catchment, especially for groundwater, indicating that a good forest will help restore underground water reservoirs. But trees can also hold water and maintain the water vapor in the air, thus encouraging precipitation so that the water cycle for an area remains robust. Interestingly, creating new woodland also helps protect existing ones that hold high  conservation  value, especially where ancient trees live and where wildlife struggles to thrive. As such, these ancient or established woodlands are irreplaceable as habitats, becoming strongholds for vulnerable flora and fauna. One such paragon is Scotland’s rainforest, more commonly known as the Atlantic woodland or Celtic rainforest, situated along the west coast and the inner isles, says the  BBC .  “Scotland’s rainforest is just as lush and just as important as tropical rainforest, but is even rarer,” Adam Harrison of Woodland Trust Scotland shared. This rainforest “is a unique habitat of ancient native oak, birch, ash, pine and hazel woodlands and includes open glades and river gorges. Our rainforest relies on mild, wet and clean air coming in off the Atlantic, and is garlanded with a spectacular array of lichens, fungi, mosses, liverworts and ferns. Many are nationally and globally rare and some are found nowhere else in the world.” Gordon Gray Stephens, of the  Community Woodlands Association , which was established as a representative body of Scotland’s community woodlands groups, said, “Our vision for regenerating Scotland’s rainforest is clear. We need to make it larger, in better condition, and with improved connections between people and woods.” Unfortunately, development sprawl and human activity (logging, overgrazing, mismanagement, invasive species introductions) threaten Scottish woodlands, both ancient and new, unique and common. Vegetation is cleared, and native  animals  are evicted. In the UK, the term is called ‘habitat fragmentation’ — which the Woodland Trust describes as “when parts of a habitat are destroyed, leaving behind smaller unconnected areas. This can occur naturally, as a result of fire or volcanic eruptions, but is normally due to human activity.” Fragmentation adversely impacts wildlife because it creates environmental “loss of total habitat area,” “reduction in habitat quality” and “increased  extinction  risk.” And so, while there have been proposals and legislation seeking to overcome status quo shortcomings, more work needs to be done to bridge the extensive environmental governance gap. Conservation efforts through woodland restoration, the planting of trees and advocacy for environmentally-friendly legislation all help as starting points.  One Scottish charity invested in rewilding the Scottish Highlands,  Trees for Life , advocates for more trees by informing the public of why trees are positively transformative, even beyond fighting climate change, preserving native trees and securing wildlife habitats for  species  survival. The additional benefits from woodlands include providing the natural environs for people to decompress for restorative wellness and absorbing pollutants (ammonia, nitrogen oxides, ozone, sulfur dioxide) to clean the air. Only by offsetting the poor management, curtailed budgets and neglect of years past can Scottish woodland heritage be safeguarded to ensure a healthy, resilient and  sustainable  future.  Images via Pixabay

Read more here:
Why should the Scottish woodlands be protected?

This aluminum water bottle is a reusable alternative to single-use plastic

February 25, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on This aluminum water bottle is a reusable alternative to single-use plastic

Pathwater, based out of northern California, began with a Christmas Eve run to a grocery store, where three friends lamented about the lack of truly sustainable water bottle options. So they rented a space, added two like-minded partners and got down to the business of providing water in something other than plastic . The result is a sleek, aluminum water bottle that keeps you hydrated, even when you are on the go. The team knew there were already alternatives to single-use plastic on the market, such as paper-based products. But even though paper is a more eco-friendly option to petroleum-based plastic, it is still resource-intensive and ends up in the landfill or littering beaches. Related: Coca-Cola to offer Dasani water in aluminum cans and bottles to reduce plastic waste The team brainstormed around the idea of widely popular, refillable metal water bottles. From there, they settled on a sturdy, aluminum bottle with a wide-mouth, twist-off lid that is easy to refill. The bottle is filled with locally sourced water purified through a seven-step reverse-osmosis process.  Pathwater is readily available in the northern California region and is continuing to grow in popularity. It can be found online through Amazon and in a growing number of stores and hotel snack centers — more than 4,000 to date. When you find a bottle of Pathwater, you will also discover it is fairly priced at $2.19 for a 25-ounce bottle that is both reusable and recyclable. It makes it easy to use sustainable options, even if you might be traveling and forgot to pack a reusable vessel. The future could see Pathwater bottles in vending machines and on store shelves instead of plastic bottles. In addition to taking the steps to create a viable alternative to single-use plastic, the team is dedicated to fighting plastic pollution by regularly volunteering for and partnering with beach clean-up organizations. The company has launched the PATHWATER Student Ambassador Program (PSA) to inspire and educate youth. The BAN Single-Use Plastic Bottles at Schools initiative also inspires the next generation to carry the torch in the fight against single-use plastic. + Pathwater Images via Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat

Read the rest here: 
This aluminum water bottle is a reusable alternative to single-use plastic

12 tips for a vibrant spring garden

February 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on 12 tips for a vibrant spring garden

When the frost begins to thaw and the first signs of spring appear, it’s time to start thinking about your garden. While it’s true that many of your plants won’t fully come to life for another six months, the more you can knock off your list before spring, the better off your plants , lawn, and schedule will be. So even if you’re still enjoying cozy time in front of the fire, consider tackling, or even preparing for, some outdoor chores during breaks in the weather. Weeding If you live in a snow-covered area, this task will have to wait, but if the thaw is on it’s the perfect time to tackle the first round of seasonal weeds. Since the soil is soft before the heat of summer cements it in, pull weeds and invasive grass for a jump start to the  spring weeding. The earlier and more frequently you pull them, the easier they are to control throughout the season. Related: 11 unique edible plants for your garden Building  If the weather outside is still too severe to work the ground, there are still ways to prep your garden from within the cover of your workshop. Plan and build trellises, arbors and raised beds in preparation for the planting season. Fencing If the heavy frost is past, dig into that fence-building project. Your post hole digger will glide through the soil much easier early in the year than it will if you wait until August. Plus, your garden space will be protected from wildlife and domestic animals before you even get the seeds in the ground. Transplanting It’s important to get your plants established before the growing season begins so they are ready to accept nutrients and thrive. Deciduous trees and shrubs still in their dormant season can be moved as long as the ground isn’t too frozen or too wet. Evergreen flowering shrubs such as rhododendrons, myrtles, azaleas and camellias can be moved once the threat of frost has passed. Organizing Even if you can’t check weeding or planting off your list, late winter is the ideal time to care for your lawn and garden supplies. Choose a reasonably agreeable weather day and empty the garden shed or supplies from the garage. Wash planting pots and allow them to dry. Clean and add protectants to tools. Also, sharpen blades and take an inventory of trimmer string and similar supplies that need replacing. Reorganize tools and supplies and donate unneeded or duplicate items to your local Habitat for Humanity reStore. Also, create a planting calendar so you have an idea of the workload in the upcoming months. Organize your seeds in a box in order of when they need planting — whether you’re using indoor starts, a greenhouse, or direct planting. This is also the perfect time to order seeds or plants. Make sure to check out your local extension office for garden plant sales nearby. While you’re in planning mode, make a list of desired projects for the year and create a workable timeline for each, complete with a budget. Edging Lawn edging is another task that is much easier in soft soil so tidy up the edges around all lawns and add a border if it’s in your plans. It will make mowing and other maintenance much easier throughout the season. Deadheading As your plants begin to rise from their winter slumber, deadhead last year’s growth as appropriate for each plant. Trim off spent blooms you may have missed in the fall, including the foliage from  ornamental grasses . Also, remove the faded flowers from winter pansies and other current bloomers to extend their blooming season. Caring for fruit February and March (if this is winter in your area) are the time to get root plants in the ground. This includes blueberries and raspberries. For fruit trees, protect them from the birds by adding netting before the fruit begins to develop. It’s much easier to cover plants and trees before they fill out with a full bloom. If you already have established berries, go ahead and cut them back now as the growing season begins. Pruning trees While we’re discussing trees, late winter is still a dormant time where trees respond well to pruning. It’s also easier to see the growth pattern of the branches so you can select which of them needs to be trimmed back. Avoid pruning spring-blooming trees  until after they have completed their bloom season. Pruning shrubs and climbers Now is also the time to trim back ivy, wisteria and other climbers as well as hearty shrubs like boxwood. Creating a shape now drops care down to a maintenance level for the season , meaning you will just need to monitor its growth, feeding, and watering. Feed the birds Even though the temperatures may be starting to level out or rise, the birds are still foraging for food so give them a handout. Clean and fill bird feeders with quality food to keep them coming back for more. Dig a pond If you have set a goal of putting in a pond or other feature, dust off the design and get digging now. Again, you’ll find it much easier to create a hole in soft soil than rock hard tundra . If it will be a while before you finish the task, make sure the hole is properly covered to avoid accidents. Via Thompson and Morgan Images via Pexels and Pixabay

See original here: 
12 tips for a vibrant spring garden

Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

February 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

Since 1974, Taylor Guitars has been a champion guitar brand, renowned for its signature sound and instrument-manufacturing innovations. In this feature, Inhabitat goes behind-the-scenes at the company’s headquarters and factory in El Cajon, California, where tour guide Ryan Merrill shares the Taylor Guitars approach to  sustainability , sourcing  wood  and making guitars.   Inhabitat:  What can you share about the process of making a Taylor Guitar? Merrill:  The very first step of building our guitars is housing them in this outdoor tent when the wood arrives. What we’re seeing here is mostly mahogany. When we bring in wood from around the world, they’re accustomed to other types of climates, places that are generally a lot more humid – Cameroon, India, Hawaii. When it gets here, we therefore need to make sure that wood acclimates to our  weather , temperature and  humidity . If we don’t, then as that wood is drying out in the factory, and we’re working on the guitar, it’s going to start bending and warping in different ways. We want all that bending and warping to happen here outside rather than during the process when we are building guitars because we have some tools in there that have high accuracy. And with that level of accuracy in cutting, if the wood is warping, it’s going to cause some problems. So we leave this wood outside here to acclimate. Water that’s sitting inside the grain of the wood, you want to bring down to about 10%. Sometimes that takes two weeks, sometimes that takes a month. Related: YouTube stars partner up in #TeamTrees campaign to plant 20 million trees Inhabitat:  What does Taylor Guitars do with any leftover wood cuttings? Merrill:  The first measure of our sustainability endeavors is that after we’ve cut wood for our guitars, the scrap wood — instead of us throwing them into the trash bin — we actually utilize it by giving them to other companies that need them, like toymakers, people who make birdhouses, even companies that turn the wood into  mulch . Inhabitat:  Forest management,  reforestation  and the sourcing of ethically harvested tonewoods — the wood used to build acoustic guitars — are important values to Taylor Guitars. Tell us more about that. Merrill: We understand that in order to make our products, we have to cut down trees. But we make sure to plant more trees  than we are taking out of forests every year, and we’ve continued to be dedicated to that goal. A pipe dream Taylor Guitars has is to plant all of the trees we use for all of our guitars on the land we own. That way, we won’t have to source our wood anywhere else in the world, but just focus on effectively using that one piece of land that is ours with all our trees on it. Of course, that’s still what we are working toward. For now, the two places we are focused on are in Cameroon, where we have our ebony, and in Hawaii, where we have our koa. Out in Hawaii, for instance, we own over 570 acres on the Big Island, where we are planting koa trees. Now, koa trees take about 40 to 60 years to grow — that’s a long wait for us to be able to use those trees for guitars. Ebony is even longer, taking 100 to 200 years to fully mature. Inhabitat:  Now, on display here in the corporate headquarters gallery are an array of signature Taylor Guitars, made from various types of wood. What’s the importance of wood type, or tonewood? And, why are certain ones chosen over others for guitar-making? Merrill:  The type of wood affects the instrument sound. First, it’s important to know that woods flavor the sounds. And, historically, there’s hundreds of years’ worth of experimentation on what types of woods are best for what is now the modern guitar . And the main ones that have been settled on are rosewood and mahogany, which are the hardest woods.  So, in a mahogany guitar, you’re going to hear a lot of mid-range sounds, not a lot of bass, not a lot of treble. In rosewood, you’re going to get a lot of bass, you’re going to get a lot of treble, but not as much of the mid-range. You’ll probably notice we’ll get more deep tones and more sparkle with rosewood. Inhabitat:  These are some exotic-sounding names of tonewoods lining this guitar gallery wall. Tell us more about them. Merrill:  Cocobolo is a South American rosewood, so it has a very similar tone to a rosewood guitar. Ovangkol is an African relative of the rosewood. Sapele is an African relative of mahogany. Most tonewoods are going to fall within those two very broad categories. There are some exceptions — we have  maple , which is a very bright wood. It’s the only wood that’s distinct from mahogany and rosewood. We have something like koa as well, which has the mid-range of mahogany and the sparkle of rosewood, but it doesn’t have the bass of rosewood.  Koa guitars have become increasingly popular amongst guitarists. And that’s because as koa wood ages, it gets more dense, which means it will start to produce a better low-end sound. So, if you buy a koa, it might sound one way, but then five years down the line, someone might pick up that same guitar and go, “Wow! This has way more bass than I ever heard out of this instrument!” And that’s one of the very unique things about koa — just the amount that it opens up over time. Inhabitat:  Taylor Guitars has been recognized as a leading guitar-making pioneer. What are some things you can share about what makes you stand out from other guitar manufacturers ? Merrill:  We’re the only company making sapele guitars. We’re the only company making ebony bodies. And we’re the pioneers of the V-bracing, whereas all other guitars elsewhere are still employing the X-bracing. Inhabitat:  What’s the difference between your V-bracing and the conventional X-bracing in guitars out there? Merrill:  One of the beautiful things about the V-brace is that it’s very forgiving of notes that aren’t quite in tune. With an X-brace, the notes start to warble — you can hear the notes bouncing back and forth. You can kind of hear the decay there — decay is just the note fading out. When you compare that with something like a V-brace, the notes just keep ringing — we call it bloom, where it almost grows into a larger chord after you first strum it. You can hear the difference, it sounds fuller, and a lot of that comes down to the sustaining, and that’s the V-bracing being a little more forgiving with those notes. It was fitting for Merrill to say the word “sustaining” to describe the V-brace and what it does to guitar notes, because it circularly tied into Taylor Guitars’ sustainability initiatives. As the tour winded down, a large plaque — entitled “Taylor’s Commitment to Sustainability” — was visible on the way out, reminding everyone of the quality the company stands for in the soundness of its products and  supply chain . Images via Mariecor Agravante

More here:
Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 1873 access attempts in the last 7 days.