These new electric trucks from Volvo could soon be collecting your garbage

May 17, 2018 by  
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Swedish multinational manufacturing company Volvo has revealed its two new electric truck models, designed with tasks such as delivery and refuse collection in mind. These electric trucks could replace those currently on the road for these services, vehicles that are a major source of diesel emissions in urban areas worldwide. “This opens the door to new forms of cooperation with cities that target to improve air quality, reduce traffic noise, and cut congestion during peak hours since commercial operations can instead be carried out quietly and without tale-pipe exhaust emissions early in the morning or late at night,” Volvo Trucks President Claes Nilsson said in a statement . Volvo’s new electric trucks seem well suited to European cities, many of which are moving towards reducing or even eliminating the use of internal combustion vehicles in the coming years. The newly revealed models also recognize the rising consumer demand for cleaner air, thus cleaner vehicles. “We believe that the technology today is mature when it comes to performance, range and weight in these type of applications in city use,” said Nilsson. Volvo plans to continue to develop new models of electric trucks going forward. Related: Volvo will only sell electric cars starting in 2019 One of the trucks, the Volvo FL Electric, is smaller than other models so as to better serve the needs of dense urban areas. “Today, each of our 300 conventional refuse vehicles emits approximately 31,300 kg carbon dioxide every year,”  Rüdiger Siechau, CEO of Stadtreinigung Hamburg,  said in a statement. “An electrically powered refuse truck with battery that stands a full shift of eight to ten hours is a breakthrough in technology.” Because of its electric engine, the Volvo FL Electric is able to deliver cargo inside a building without producing health-harming emissions. The silent engine also opens up new possibilities for serving cities. Volvo’s electric trucks follow its previous production of more than four thousand electric buses and their ongoing reconfiguration of its battery supply chain, which would ensure a more positive environmental impact. Via CleanTechnica Images via Volvo Trucks

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These new electric trucks from Volvo could soon be collecting your garbage

Cube Haus seeks to solve the housing crisis with affordable prefab homes

May 9, 2018 by  
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Many large cities are struggling with severe housing issues, and one new startup is proposing an architectural solution. Developer Cube Haus – founded by Philip Bueno de Mesquita and Paul Tully – has commissioned four architects to design affordable, modular houses that can be configured to fit into empty urban areas of varying sizes. Working with different designers and architects, Cube Haus aims provide affordable housing in urban areas such as London. The architects’ proposals include a number of styles and designs, but all of the houses are based on a modular construction model , which enables them to adapt to the square footage limits of each site. Related: Largest-ever modular Gomos building to be completed in just a few months International architecture firm Adjaye Associates submitted a beautiful multi-story timber structure that can be adapted to fit on a typical London terrace. The interior has an open floor plan that offers the ultimate in flexibility, and a large patio area provides natural light. The structure could be built as high as adjacent buildings to blend in with the existing architecture. London-based designer Faye Toogood ‘s concept envisions a simple single-unit volume with dual-pitched roofs, clad either in galvanized steel or charred timber. A light wood interior with an open floor plan would be illuminated with natural light thanks to large vertical windows. London firm Carl Turner Architects submitted two designs for the project. The first is a one-story, extended bungalow with bright yellow skylights that flood the interior space with natural light. The second design is a two-story townhouse, clad in brick and timber and topped with two separate pitched roofs that face two different directions. An open-air terrace between the roofs can serve as a rooftop garden or social space. Lastly, Skene Catling de la Peña ‘s proposal includes a stone-clad home with a timber interior . At the heart of the interior design is a vertical, green-tiled chimney with a cast-iron fireplace. The Cube Haus project is committed to using these five innovative prototypes to create a portfolio of varied building types that can be scaled to size for larger, multi-family spaces or single-unit use. All of the buildings will be constructed with cross-laminated timber with components manufactured off-site in the UK. + Cube Haus + Adjaye Associates + Faye Toogood + Skene Catling de la Peña + Carl Turner Architects Via Dezeen Images via Cube Haus

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Cube Haus seeks to solve the housing crisis with affordable prefab homes

New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo

May 9, 2018 by  
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The deadly virus Ebola has returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A new outbreak of Ebola stuck the northwest town of Bikoro with 21 suspected cases of the virus. Out of five samples sent to the DRC’s National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) , only two were positive for Ebola. In 1976, the first case of Ebola was documented in the DRC, and there has been nine outbreaks of the virus since then. The unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 infected 28,000, killed 11,000 and shocked the world. However, the virus ‘s latest reemergence in the DRC is no reason to panic. Previous outbreaks in the DRC have been contained thanks in part to the country’s vast, largely inaccessible land area, which inhibits travel and trade between towns. The DRC’s last Ebola outbreak occurred in the village of Likati in 2017, however the virus was contained within forty-two days. Related: Ebola mutated to become even deadlier during recent outbreak Led by Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, the first scientist to document Ebola, the INRB is experienced in responding to Ebola outbreaks. “We’re advanced in public health ,” an epidemiologist at the INRB told the Atlantic . “If you compare us with Europe or the U.S., eh, but here in Africa, we are high. We have experience.” Early monitoring and reporting is key to success. “We have a surveillance system that works,” Kinshasa School of Public Health leader Emile Okitolonda said. “Here, nurses know that if they see a suspected case, they report it.” The INRB will also receive expert assistance from the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières in responding to Ebola. The primary challenge in the DRC is a lack of resources – a problem that may be exacerbated by President Trump ‘s recent request to cut $252 million in funding for international Ebola relief. Congress must decide within 45 days whether to act on Trump’s request. If they do nothing, as they are wont to do, the funding will remain in place. + INRB Via The Atlantic Images via Wikimedia Commons and Depositphotos

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New Ebola outbreak strikes the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Virtual reality helps scientists plot the ideal urban green space

April 16, 2018 by  
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Green spaces offer urban residents the chance to escape the concrete jungle and experience nature’s restorative benefits — if those spaces are well-designed. North Carolina State University researchers found vegetation density can impact a person’s feeling of safety, depending on where green space is located, and immersive virtual reality helped them test perceptions. Virtual reality doesn’t only offer an escape into fantastical images. NC State University researchers employed VR to explore different types of urban green spaces . Researchers captured 360-degree, high-resolution images of a city park and downtown plaza in Raleigh with a robot , and manipulated vegetation to create multiple environments. Related: How virtual reality can help paraplegic patients learn to walk again They discovered virtual visitors to the downtown plaza wanted vegetation to surround them. Doctoral student and landscape architect Payam Tabrizian said in the university’s statement , “In an urban setting, being enclosed by vegetation feels restorative. It can serve as a shield from the urban environment and create a kind of refuge where people can sit and relax for a while. People preferred urban environments that were very green and being enclosed in vegetation didn’t seem to bother them that much.” But the opposite was true in the park . Tabrizian said, “In the neighborhood park setting, people preferred the opposite in terms of vegetation density and arrangement. It seems that people have enough green surrounding them and want to know what’s happening around them. When you enclose them with vegetation, they don’t like it. They feel unsafe.” Immersive virtual reality could assist landscape designers in testing new designs or exploring how they might improve urban green spaces. “As landscape designers, the instinct is to want to make changes, but sometimes leaving things as they are may be the best,” Tabrizian said. “This technology allows us to design a true experiment in which we control the variables, without ever planting or moving a tree .” The Journal of Environmental Psychology published the research online earlier this year. + North Carolina State University + Journal of Environmental Psychology Images via North Carolina State University

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Virtual reality helps scientists plot the ideal urban green space

Episode 120: Google’s power play, Uber’s bike bet, underground gardens

April 13, 2018 by  
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In this episode, we unpack the evolution of corporate renewable energy procurement and ponder how ride-sharing services will disrupt the future of urban design.

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Episode 120: Google’s power play, Uber’s bike bet, underground gardens

$300M live-work campus gets green light to replace former juvenile jail in NYC

March 29, 2018 by  
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Green spaces, affordable housing , and over 300 jobs are coming to the south Bronx. The Peninsula, a mixed-use development designed by WXY architecture + urban design and Body Lawson Associates , just received the City Council go-ahead. Located in the Hunts Points peninsula, the $300 million initiative will transform the former Spofford Juvenile Detention Center into a greenery-filled live-work campus spread out across five acres. First unveiled in 2016, The Peninsula aims to transform the neighborhood with a projected 740 units of 100% affordable housing, 52,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, and over 300 permanent new jobs. “It’s a big day for justice in the Bronx . As we move to build more than 700 affordable homes, open space and small businesses in Hunts Point on the site of the old Spofford facility, we are seeing a community rising and the righting of old wrongs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. Related: Former juvenile justice center to become a greenery-filled affordable housing complex in the Bronx As a mixed-use destination, The Peninsula will also offer 15,000 square feet of commercial space, 50,000 square feet of light industrial space, and 53,500 square feet of community facility space, a quarter of which will be dedicated artist workspaces. Anchored by local businesses, the five-acre campus will comprise five buildings featuring solar panels and green roofs as indicated by renderings. The Peninsula will be constructed in three phases with phase I expected for completion in 2021, phase II to be completed in 2022, and overall completion slated for 2024. + WXY architecture + urban design + Body Lawson Associates Images via WXY architecture + urban design and Body Lawson Associates

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$300M live-work campus gets green light to replace former juvenile jail in NYC

The ‘Dutch Mountains’ will be the world’s largest wooden building

March 16, 2018 by  
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The Netherlands is famously flat—but a massive green mountain is rising up in the Dutch city of Veldhoven. The Dutch Mountains project will be the world’s largest wooden building, combining natural materials with high-tech design to create a state-of-the-art, self-sustaining development. The ambitious project will include several offices and work spaces, as well as various conference centers. It will also feature a hotel located on site and short-stay facilities for out-of-town visitors. The main building will be constructed of solid wood and, once completed, will be the largest wooden building in the world. Related: Eindhoven unveils plans for a solar-powered city block with living roofs and urban farms The Dutch Mountains master plan envisions an entirely self-sufficient complex, with closed cycles for energy, water, waste and materials. The architects chose timber as the principal building material in order to create system that reduces CO2 emissions. Additionally, they plan to integrate the building’s facade with a smart technology that reduces energy usage. The project envisions a future where the building can be updated with greener materials that help improve the building’s sustainability. For example, the building’s temperature-regulating facade will be one of the most innovative on the market, but if a smarter facade is created in the future that produces more energy, it can easily replace the old version, which will be recycled or repurposed. Built with optimal flexibility in mind, the structure’s individual spaces will be adaptable to future uses. For example, if more office space is needed, the conference spaces can be converted, or vice versa. The complex will not only use sustainable building materials, but also provide an abundance of green space to create a vibrant, healthy atmosphere. From green roofs and a large park to an artificial marshland, the complex will be virtually covered in vegetation. + Dutch Mountains project + Studio Marco Vermeulen Images via Studio Marco Vermeulen

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The Indian city of Diu is 100% powered by the sun

March 13, 2018 by  
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The city of Diu has become India ‘s first and only municipality that receives all of its energy needs from solar power. Located in the southern region of the Indian state of Gujarat, Diu is governed directly by the Indian federal government, which has prioritized the growth of solar energy throughout the country. In only three years of focused development, Diu has installed enough solar capacity to serve the energy needs of the city’s nearly 22,000 residents. It is also in competition to be selected as a finalist in Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘s Smart Cities Mission initiative, in which 100 cities across India will receive funding and support to become more sustainable and livable. In previous years, residents of Diu received their power from the Gujarat state grid system, through which electricity was lost. Today, the locally-owned and operated power systems transport energy much more efficiently. Despite a land area of only 42 square kilometers, Diu is taking full advantage of its limited land resources. Solar power plants have been built on 50 acres throughout the city, which produces a capacity of 13 megawatts, 10 of which are from ground-based systems while 3 megawatts are sourced from rooftop systems . This is more than enough to meet Diu’s peak power demand of 7 megawatts. Related: Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals The switch to solar has also proven to be economically advantageous for consumers in Diu, as monthly electric bills have fallen by around twelve percent since the new energy system has been operating. To cope with nighttime power needs, Diu may transfer surplus energy to the larger grid, then source energy as needed when the sun is not shining. Diu is only one example of India’s solar push. Much further south, the Kochi International Airport holds the distinct honor of being the world’s first solar-powered airport . Via Clean Technica and Times of India Images via Depositphotos and  Flickr/poida.smith  

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The Indian city of Diu is 100% powered by the sun

Soaring wooden watchtower hovers over 17th century Dutch fortress

March 9, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm RO&AD Architecten recently built a massive timber tower that looks out from the historic Fort De Roovere in Halsteren, Netherlands. The Pompejus watchtower and open-air theater rises 100 feet off the ground, providing beautiful views of up to 13 miles in any direction. Named after the first commander of the fortress, Pompejus de Roovere, the tower hovers over the West Brabant Water Defense Line. The area has a lot of significance in local history. The West Brabantes Water Defense Line, which was built in 1627, was an important shipping routes that faced attacks from Spanish and French forces. Fort de Roovere was one of the very first fortifications that used flooding as a defense strategy. Since the area’s battle days, the community has restored the forts and canals and introduced fresh green space . Related: Sunken Pedestrian Bridge in the Netherlands Parts Moat Waters Like Moses! Today, the area is a very popular recreation area. The tower will be used by locals and tourists as a viewing platform and open-air theater , as well as an information point on the history of the fortress. Pompejus stands on the edge of the fortress, towering over the moat and slanted in to direction of the “enemy”. The tower itself stands over 80 feet, but because the fortress landscape is 30 feet off the ground, the wooden landmark rises over 100 feet and provides expansive views. The tower’s leaning frame is made out of steel, but its facade is comprised of a series of asymmetrical timber panels interspersed with various openings. The large cutouts allow natural ventilation and light to enter the wide wooden stairwell that leads to the top of the tower. Interestingly, Pompejus was a social project developed with lots of community participation. Crowdfunding allowed locals to sponsor the tower’s construction and many local companies funded parts of the construction process such as materials and transportation. Interns from local schools and volunteers from the surrounding community were brought on to assist with the project. + RO&AD Architecten Via Archdaily Photography by Katja Effting

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Soaring wooden watchtower hovers over 17th century Dutch fortress

Translucent ‘hugging’ towers could help clean Hong Kong’s air pollution

February 20, 2018 by  
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Architect Suraksha Acharya from Midori Architects has proposed a pair of ultra-green translucent towers for the Hong Kong skyline. The futuristic Aero Hive skyscrapers are clad in an organic facade interspersed with greenery that leads up to the towers’ expansive open-air rooftop gardens . The concept is based on creating an iconic symbol of sustainable design for the city – a unique highrise designed to adapt to the challenges of the local climate and reduce CO2 emissions in the area. Acharya’s design, which recently won the Skyhive Skyscraper Challenge , is meant to provide the bustling Hong Kong skyline with an icon of sustainability. Although aesthetically apt for Hong Kong’s profile of soaring skyscrapers, the Aero Hive is also strategically designed to withstand the local climate. The shape and size of the two towers, as well as the materials, were all chosen to adapt to the city’s subtropical weather and extreme winds. Related: Futuristic floating skyscraper ‘heals’ the effects of climate change According to the architect, the design is meant to change ideas when it comes to green skyscrapers, “Aero Hive aims to challenge the common belief that contemporary tall buildings cannot be ventilated naturally due to their ultra-heights and offers pause from typical hermetically sealed glass-boxes, serving as a model of sustainability” The curvaceous form of the towers is designed to be self-shading, meaning that the angles of the buildings are precisely aligned to allow them to mutually shade each other throughout different times of the day. Additionally, the porous cladding allows optimal air circulation throughout the building. The double glazed windows that make up the cladding are also optimized to bring in diffuses natural light to the interior while restricting direct solar radiation. Topping the twisty towers are two flared rooftops, which will be open to the public as city gardens. The greenery is two-fold – helping preserve the city’s public green space, but also address the “urban heat island” effect common in Hong Kong’s tropical climate. The lush rooftop gardens will help create a natural habitat for local birds, as well as filter pollutants and reduce CO2. + Midori Architects + Midori Architects on Facebook + Midori Architects on Instagram + Midori Architects on Twitter + Midori Architects on G+ Images courtesy Midori Architects

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