This British caf is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste

July 5, 2018 by  
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A coffee shop northeast of London wants to serve its customers coffee in a mug from your home.  La Tour Cycle Café has a novel idea to stop its reliance on disposable coffee cups: pour everything into reusable ceramic mugs, even if the order is to-go. A 2017 report from Britain’s House of Commons discovered as many as 2.5 billion coffee cups are disposed across the United Kingdom every year. This equates to more than 6.8 million cups per day. To cut down the amount of waste from hot beverages, the La Tour Cycle Café has started serving everything — including to-go beverages — in  reusable mugs . Although customers sometimes choose to take their beverages with them, supplying more mugs for the next customer isn’t a problem for the café. Every day, the business puts out a collection basket for coffee drinkers to return their cups . While many choose to come back with their glassware, even more use the opportunity to clean out their cabinets and donate their unused mugs to the café. “We’ve all got mugs languishing in our cupboards that we no longer need,” Anna Matthews, the owner of La Tour Cycle Café, told the BBC . “Why not donate them to your local coffee shop and allow people to actually have a hot drink in a china cup while they walk around?” Related: German city offers ingenious alternative to single-use coffee cups The unique program allows people to reduce the amount of waste destined for landfills  while still enjoying their favorite beverages. But reusing and recycling isn’t a new concept for Matthews and La Tour Cycle. Earlier in 2018, Matthews worked with a contractor team to transform a vacated building. Matthews was able to move her business into the bigger space, which features better wheelchair accessibility and public art displays. The café — and its eclectic collection of coffee mugs — only plans to be in the new space for two years;  Matthews has aspirations to move and give new life to another abandoned building by then. + La Tour Cycle Café Via BBC , The East Anglican Daily Times  and  Treehugger

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This British caf is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste

UK’s first energy positive classroom produces 1.5x the energy it uses

June 29, 2018 by  
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After one year in operation, the numbers are in: the United Kingdom ‘s first energy-positive classroom is capable of producing 1.5 times the amount of energy it needs to operate. Known as the Active Classroom, the energy-producing classroom stands as a shining example of what is possible as the U.K. and other nations attempt to transform their energy systems in response to climate change. The building was designed by experts at SPECIFIC, a U.K. Innovation and Knowledge Center led by Swansea University, whose “research focuses on developing solar technologies and the processing techniques that take them from the lab to full-scale buildings,” according to its research director Dave Worsley . Currently, 40 percent of British energy is consumed by buildings. The Active Classroom incorporates several different technologies and design features to achieve its net positive energy status. The roof is curved and lined with laminated photovoltaic panels , while a thermal photovoltaic system is installed on the southern facing wall of the building, capable of producing heat and energy from its sun -exposed location. To store this energy, the classroom harnesses lithium ion batteries and a 2,000 liter water tank specifically for storing solar heat. Related: Magical new classroom reconnects children with nature in the UK The Active Classroom stands next to the Active Office, a similar structure built by SPECIFIC. “The Active Office and Classroom will be linked together and able to share energy with each other and electric vehicles , demonstrating how the concept could be applied in an energy-resilient solar-powered community,” Worsley said. These buildings are designed to be simple and quick to assemble, taking only about a week to set up. “It’s difficult to overstate the potential of developing a building that powers itself,” explained Innovate U.K. executive chair Ian Campbell . “The concept could genuinely revolutionize not only the construction sector but completely change how we create and use energy.” + SPECIFIC Via ScienceDaily Images via SPECIFIC

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UK’s first energy positive classroom produces 1.5x the energy it uses

The LEED Gold-seeking Edible Academy teaches urban farming in NYC

June 29, 2018 by  
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New York-based architecture firm Cooper Robertson recently completed the latest addition to the New York Botanical Garden  in the Bronx — the Edible Academy, a new LEED Gold -seeking facility that will teach the greater community about sustainable agriculture, healthy eating and the environment. Created as an expansion of the New York Botanical Garden’s Children’s Gardening Program founded in 1956, the $28 million state-of-the-art development covers three acres on the grounds of the existing Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden. The facilities offer a wide array of programming as well as many sustainable features such as vegetated green roofs, composting toilets and geothermal heating and cooling. Opened earlier this month, the Edible Academy serves as a year-round teaching center that celebrates New York’s native landscapes. The campus comprises a collection of gabled structures that blur the distinction between indoors and out. The structures are positioned to frame views from the city’s largest uncut expanse of old growth forest to the Bronx River and its waterfall. The buildings were placed around the teaching and display gardens with the re-imagined Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden taking up a sizable portion of the campus. New gardens include the Meadow Garden with native perennial shrubs and herbaceous plants experienced through winding paths as well as the Barnsley Beds, a formal vegetable garden with ornament plantings, arranged around the Event Lawn. The 5,300-square-foot green-roofed Classroom Building serves as the heart of the Edible Academy and boasts a child-friendly demonstration kitchen and technology lab. A connecting greenhouse doubles as a teaching space and a potting and propagation area. Outdoor lessons can be held in the shade under the Solar Pavilion, named after its rooftop solar panels, as well as in the 350-seat outdoor amphitheater carved from the site’s natural topography. Related: Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food “With its combination of inventive and flexible spaces for gardening programs, classes and outdoor events, the Edible Academy offers a strong design framework for addressing the 21st-century needs and interests of schools, families and the public,” said Bruce Davis, AIA, LEED AP, a partner with Cooper Robertson. “With this dedicated three-acre facility, the Edible Academy also provides an innovative national model for other institutions and schools expanding their garden -based education programs.” + Cooper Robertson Images by Marlon Co / The New York Botanical Garden and Robert Benson Photography

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The LEED Gold-seeking Edible Academy teaches urban farming in NYC

The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

June 18, 2018 by  
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The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London , will soon switch to clean energy in a big way. Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid. Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world. Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change. In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools , social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space , at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement . “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.” Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement , even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy targets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

Ben & Jerry’s backs onshore wind farms with gusty ice cream names

June 13, 2018 by  
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Cherry Gale-cia, anyone? How about some Strawberry Breeze-cake or Caramel Blew Blew? Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s  has tweaked the names of some popular flavors with a gusty twist to rally support for onshore wind power in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported . The company isn’t just changing flavor names, though; it’s also promoting a petition requesting that the government reconsider its opposition to onshore wind. Would you be surprised to hear that the vast majority of Brits support onshore wind? New government figures show 76% of us love it! Find out more & join us by signing the petition! https://t.co/5oANc1YOrL #windpower pic.twitter.com/5UtCUpyEg4 — Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) June 13, 2018 76 percent of Brits support onshore wind farms , according to the findings of a UK government poll released in April. Despite that, construction on the farms has mostly ceased since the government stopped subsidies and put planning reforms in place. Ben & Jerry’s is supporting 10:10 Climate Action ‘s Blown Away campaign; the group’s petition calls on Minister for Housing, Communities, and Local Government James Brokenshire to remove additional planning requirements introduced in 2015, with the ultimate goal of unlocking onshore wind power in England. Over 26,000 people have signed the petition — you can sign it on 10:10’s website . The #UK needs onshore #windpower ! 25965 people have already signed the petition. Join us! https://t.co/Wf98ZlujDF pic.twitter.com/u1qPWviyhV — Ben & Jerry's UK (@benandjerrysUK) June 9, 2018 Related: Ben & Jerry’s launches vegan ice cream flavors Ben & Jerry’s, owned by Unilever, will sell renamed flavors at half price on what they’re calling windy Wednesdays. UK social mission manager Rebecca Baron told The Guardian, “If we want to move away from polluting fossil fuels and build a future based on clean energy , then wind power is a vital ingredient.” People could save around £1.6 billion, or $2.1 billion, on household power bills between 2019 and 2025 with new onshore wind, according to a report  from renewable energy consultants BVG Associates . This isn’t the first time Ben & Jerry’s has gotten involved in environmental or social issues; they launched a new flavor for climate action in 2015. They describe backing 10:10’s Blown Away campaign as the latest installment in their ongoing climate activism . + 10:10 Blown Away + 10:10 Climate Action Petition Via The Guardian Images courtesy of Ben & Jerry’s

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Ben & Jerry’s backs onshore wind farms with gusty ice cream names

United Kingdom moves to ban most of its ivory trade

May 30, 2018 by  
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United Kingdom Secretary of the Environment Michael Gove has introduced a bill to Parliament that would ban the purchase, sale, possession for sale and international trade of ivory . Though the bill contains several exceptions for ivory found in museums, musical instruments and some antiques, it would be one of the most comprehensive ivory bans of any country. The United Kingdom is the largest legal ivory exporter and the bill, if passed into law, would certainly put a dent in this lucrative trade. While environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have praised the bill , they also have identified weak points within it, such as the potential for the exemptions clause to become a widely-used loophole. The NRDC also urges the bill to require those who benefit from the exemption to provide more detailed documentation. The bill will be submitted again on June 6th for what is known as the “second reading,” during which members of Parliament will be able to make amendments to the bill. Then, the bill will be sent to committee, then return to the floor of the House of Commons for a final vote. The NRDC and other organizations are expected to engage with the crafting of the bill as it moves through the process. Related: The world’s largest ivory market just banned ivory According to the BBC , Gove said that the successful adoption of the bill would “reaffirm the U.K.’s global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past.” He continued, “Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.” Those who break the law could face jail time of up to five years or an unlimited fine. This is not the first instance of British leadership on curbing the ivory trade. “Since the U.K. government held the Illegal Wildlife Conference in 2014, the U.S. and China have both enacted bans on their domestic ivory trade, so the U.K. doing this now is extraordinarily important,” Stop Ivory founder Alexander Rhodes told the BBC . “The EU on the other hand has been very resistant — I am hopeful that the U.K.’s strong position will lead to change.” Via NRDC and BBC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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"Once-in-a-1000-years" flood batters Maryland town for the second time in two years

May 30, 2018 by  
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Ellicott City, Maryland was devastated in 2016 by a flash flood — the type of event that many people said happens only once in a lifetime. But now, disastrous flooding is happening again. More than 300 residents have been evacuated, and on Sunday afternoon, there were over 1,000 calls to 911. This is a second video from my sister on #EllicotCity Main Street. This is as high, if not higher than 2 years ago. She is safe for now, no idea if everyone made it out of the 1st floors. @WJZDevin @wjz @FOXBaltimore @CairnsKcairns @wbaltv11 @weatherchannel : video via Kali Harris pic.twitter.com/KOQUH0aBwp — Jeremy Harris (@JeremyHarrisTV) May 27, 2018 Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and said, “They say this is a once-every-thousand-years flood, and we’ve had two of them in two years.” Seven to nine inches of rain poured down on Ellicott City, about 10 miles west of Baltimore. Main Street transformed into a rushing, muddy river. Cars were swept down the street like toys.  Army National Guardsman Eddison Hermond died after trying to help a woman and her cat. pic.twitter.com/9XifLkyTK6 — Zachary Landow (@zrlandow) May 27, 2018 Related: California’s wild extremes of flooding and drought will only get worse as the planet warms Slate reported Ellicott City is a 250-year-old river town that’s been hit with flooding in the past. But the 2016 flash flood and this recent one have been different than previous floods. Typically, the Patapsco River rises and causes flooding. With these flash floods, the Tiber and Hudson tributaries — one of which runs beneath Main Street — overflowed, according to a 2016 Baltimore Sun investigation . Water is back up, and more rain coming our way. pic.twitter.com/RCMjcIkPFn — Libby Solomon (@libsolomon) May 27, 2018 University of Maryland Baltimore County geography professor Jeffrey Halverson told NPR  that the rain storms in this region have been getting more intense recently, and the flooding is connected to changes in the area’s land surface. Halverson said, “[Ellicott City] is heavily paved, there’s lots of narrow streets that act as very rapid conduits of water — so the [2016] flood was as much about the nature of the underlying land surface as it was the large amount of rain falling from the sky.” This is partly how Ellicott City flooding gets so bad. The water takes cars, dumpsters and other pieces of debris, smashes them into storm culverts, the culverts get blocked, and the water coming behind has no where to go and overflows in all directions. pic.twitter.com/N2WwJeyFzA — Kevin Rector (@RectorSun) May 28, 2018 “There are a lot of people whose lives are going to be devastated again, and they’ve been working so hard to come back,” Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said. “I couldn’t imagine what they went through two years ago, and now it’s even worse.” Via Slate , NPR , The Baltimore Sun ( 1 ,  2 ) and CNN Image via MarylandGov Pics and Preservation Maryland

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"Once-in-a-1000-years" flood batters Maryland town for the second time in two years

The United Kingdom might soon create new national parks

May 29, 2018 by  
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In an op-ed for The Telegraph , United Kingdom Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced a new review process which could result in creating new national parks in England. Nearly 70 years after the creation of the first British national parks , Gove wrote that “the time is right” to consider creating new protected areas in the United Kingdom. As the human population grows and natural habitats decline, he wrote that the British people should “look afresh at these landscapes” and determine how best to preserve them for future generations. Aware of concerns amidst an ongoing national policy of austerity , Gove emphasized that the review’s mission was not to cut the conservation of nature but to “strengthen it in the face of present-day challenges.” The first national parks in the U.K., the Peak District, Lake District, Snowdonia and Dartmoor, were founded in 1951. England currently has 10 national parks while Wales and Scotland host three and two, respectively. “The creation of national parks almost 70 years ago changed the way we view our precious landscapes — helping us all access and enjoy our natural world,” Gove wrote. “We want to make sure they are not only conserved, but enhanced for the next generation.” Related: General Electric to debut world’s largest wind turbine in UK Gove has appointed former governor aide and journalist Julian Glover to lead the review process. “I want Julian explicitly to consider how we can extend and improve the protection we give to other precious landscapes,” Gove wrote. “Are we properly supporting all those who live in, work in, or want to visit these magnificent places? Should we indeed be extending our areas of designated land ?” Conservationists have praised Gove’s decision, though they say that more must be done. WWF campaigns director Tony Juniper told the BBC , “ Nature will continue to be at risk unless we have a plan for its recovery enshrined in law — through a new Environment Act that’s backed by a strong watchdog with real power to enforce.” + The Telegraph Via BBC Images via Paul Morris and Klim Levene

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RBS will cease financing new coal stations, Arctic oil, or oil sands projects

May 29, 2018 by  
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Several oil and gas projects will no longer receive financing from Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Reuters reported . The bank said it won’t offer project-specific finance for Arctic oil and oil sands projects, new coal -fired power stations, new thermal coal mines, or unsustainable peatland or vegetation clearance projects. RBS Director of Sustainable Banking Kirsty Britz said, “The RBS of 2018 is very different to the bank we were a few years ago. If we’re going to support our customers in the long run, then it means addressing the challenge of climate change and the risks and opportunities it presents.” The changes are part of RBS’s tighter restrictions on finance and general lending for what Reuters described as “high-carbon energy projects.” In addition to the projects listed above, RBS said it won’t provide finance for “ mining companies generating more than 40 percent of their revenues from thermal coal” and “ power companies generating more than 40 percent of their electricity from coal.” In the past, the threshold for both types of companies was 65 percent. Related: The World Bank will stop funding oil and gas projects after 2019 RBS quoted Sonia Hierzig of ShareAction , a responsible investment charity, as saying the energy financing policies “make RBS the bank with the strongest energy sector policies out of the top five UK banks…RBS would now rank 8th in our climate ranking of the 15 largest European banks, up from 11th previously.” The bank said they’ve funded “more British renewable energy projects than any other UK bank for the last six years running.” They also said they obtain 90 percent of electricity in the UK and Ireland via renewable energy and, since 2014, have seen a 39 percent drop in their carbon dioxide emissions . + Royal Bank of Scotland Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1)

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RBS will cease financing new coal stations, Arctic oil, or oil sands projects

In the UK, wind energy provides more power than nuclear for the first time

May 18, 2018 by  
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For the first time, wind energy provided more power than nuclear energy to the United Kingdom grid. In the first three months of 2018, wind provided 18.8 percent of all power; only  natural gas was a larger energy source. This milestone may herald the arrival of an energy economy in which renewable energy is the most cost effective option. During the first three months of the year, there was even one point — the night of March 17 — when wind energy provided nearly half of the electricity used in the U.K. Even during extremely cold weather, the wind farms continued to provide energy. Meanwhile, two of the U.K.’s eight nuclear plants were nonoperational due to maintenance, while another was offline because seaweed was stuck in its cooling system. In the last three months of 2017, wind and solar combined had contributed more to the U.K. power supply than nuclear did. Now, wind is capable of outperforming nuclear all on its own. “There’s no sign of a limit to what we’re able to do with wind in the near future,” Dr. Rob Gross, co-author of a report on wind power’s recent success, told The Guardian . Wind energy received a major boost last December when a power cable between Scotland and northern Wales came online, allowing energy produced by Scotland’s wind farms to be shared across a wider range. “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy,” RenewableUK executive director Emma Pinchbeck told The Guardian. Related: UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling “as easy as building a garden wall” Even as the U.K. reaches new heights in its renewable energy production, it has faced a steep decline in renewable energy funding in recent years. Investment in renewable energy suffered a 56 percent decrease in 2017. “Billions of pounds of investment is needed in clean energy, transport, heating and industry to meet our carbon targets,” Mary Creagh, Labour Member of Parliament and chair of the environmental audit committee, said. “But a dramatic fall in investment is threatening the government’s ability to meet legally binding climate change targets.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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