On this week’s podcast: Inside Al Gore’s Climate Reality training, and a digest of our World Water Day stories.
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Episode 69: An inconvenient podcast; Bechtel engineers green infrastructure
Immersive experiences bring people face-to-face with our impact on marine ecosystems.
9 VR videos that dive deep into water issues
For an industry that relies heavily on natural resources such as clean air, soil and water, becoming more environmentally friendly is not just a marketing ploy — it is a necessity.
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Five changes agri-businesses need to make if they want to survive
If you missed it the last time around, Swale New York’s “floating food forest” will be giving visitors another chance to check out its vegetative bounty starting next month. Housed on an 80-foot-long barge, the 130-by-40-foot community garden will be making calls at Hudson River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the Bronx’s Concrete Plant Park from April 20 through November 15. The garden is free to tour—and free to harvest. Guests will be able to help themselves to a share of the mini farm’s crops, which in past iterations have included perennial favorites like cauliflower, broccoli, squash, peppers, kale, bok choy, ramps, zucchini, radicchio, and scallions. You may even find boughs laden with persimmons, bushes plump with blueberries, or trees hanging with bananas. Part farm, part art project, Swale is a response to laws that prohibit foraging for food on public lands. By taking to the water, however, the garden is bound by a different set of rules. Related: Come eat free food from this floating edible forest before it sets sail again 70 percent of the plants grown on the barge are edible. The others are to attract pollinators—including the bees that live in a repurposed piano—or keep pests away. Mary Mattingly, the artist who spearheaded the project, says that Swale brings us “one step closer to transforming our city from dependence on large-scale supply chains with little accountability.” Related: NYC’s first floating food forest to hit the Hudson River this summer She describes Swale as a “call to action” and a vision of New York City’s potential future. “By bringing together groups from varying backgrounds, we will create an environment that works together to find new ideas and answers to food security,” she said. Visitors are welcome to contribute to the garden with their own plants and seeds. It’s a joint effort, after all. “Together, we are re-imagining our city,” Mattingly added. + Swale New York
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New York City’s "floating food forest" returns next month
Can architects design attractive homes for developing areas that won’t feed into gentrification ? That’s what Interface Studio Architects (ISA) set off to achieve with Folsom Powerhouse, a LEED Platinum -certified development in Philadelphia. Located in the city’s rapidly developing Francisville neighborhood, the Powerhouse scheme combines environmentally friendly features with community-minded design that encourages diversity, density, and social spaces. Made up of 31 units, Folsom Powerhouse provides single-family town homes , duplexes, and two small apartment buildings at a range of prices. Although all the living options are modern in construction, Folsom Powerhouse took inspiration from an old community feature—the stoop. To create attractive street-level social spaces, ISA created “super stoops,” a sequence of entry platforms in front of the homes large enough for impromptu gatherings with steps that double as seating. Artist Jenny Sabin was commissioned to create beautiful fabricated metal handrail panels to make the stoops even more attractive. Related: Energy-positive townhouses power Boston’s grid with renewable energy The Folsom Powerhouse’s facades are made up of a patchwork of corrugated metal, timber cladding, and energy-efficient windows. Green roofs that top the buildings manage stormwater, as do the rain gardens on the street level. The corner buildings are topped with solar panels that generate electricity for the development. + Interface Studio Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Sam Oberter
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LEED Platinum housing development helps fight gentrification in Philadelphia
In the face of shortages, water recycling and reuse strategies may be necessary to ensure business continuity.
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Compelling new data on why we shouldn’t waste wastewater
Apana, Shell and Veolia use circular principles to retain and recycle water used in farming, fracking and washing machines.
Zero Mass Water is just one of the innovators providing access to safe, drinking water off the grid.
Entrepreneurs can help in the quest for safe drinking water
An innovative new project called LIFE+ Methamorphosis is pioneering a new sustainable biofuel for cars . Car company SEAT and water management company Aqualia have transformed wastewater into the alternative fuel . Powered with this biofuel produced during one year at a treatment plant in Spain, a vehicle could circumnavigate the globe 100 times. SEAT and Aqualia came up with a creative answer to the issues of pollution from traditional car fuels – which have led to traffic restrictions in cities like Madrid – and reusing water , a scarce resource. To make their biomethane , wastewater is separated from sludge in treatment plants, and then becomes gas after a fermentation treatment. Following a purification and enrichment process, the biogas can be utilized as fuel. Compared against petrol, production and consumption of the biofuel releases 80 percent less carbon dioxide, according to SEAT . The new biofuel works in compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled cars. Related: Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees The project aims to show feasibility at industrial scales through two waste treatment systems. The UMBRELLA prototype will be set up in a municipal waste treatment plant serving Barcelona. The METHARGO prototype will create biomethane at a plant handling animal manure. The biogas made with the second prototype can be utilized directly in cars or could be added to the natural gas distribution network, according to the project’s website . A mid-sized treatment plant can handle around 353,000 cubic feet of wastewater every day, which could yield 35,000 cubic feet of biomethane, according to companies involved with the project. All that biomethane could power 150 vehicles driving around 62 miles a day. SEAT will supply vehicles to test the biofuel over around 74,500 miles. The European Commission is funding the project. Other companies participating include Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas , Gas Natural , the Catalan Institute for Energy , and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area . Via New Atlas Images via SEAT and LIFE+ Methamorphosis
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New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80%
San Diego is aiming to to become the most environmentally sustainable city in the United States. As part of its ambitious Climate Action Plan , last year the city council unanimously approved a $3 billion initiative to recycle wastewater for drinking. Now the city is demonstrating that the pure water program can be used for just about anything, even a cold beer, by partnering with Encinitas-based craft beer maker Stone Brewery to unveil Stone Full Circle Pale Ale — a beer made with 100 percent recycled wastewater from the city’s pure water program. “Just a great example of what this is gonna be like in terms of the future and Stone who’s a huge driver of not just the craft beer industry but sustainability, that’s what our pure water program is all about,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at Stone’s Point Loma location last week, where city leaders gathered to sample the beer and talk up the pure water program. Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy The wastewater recycling plan puts purified water treated at the Point Loma Water Treatment Plant back into the freshwater system rather than the ocean — providing a steady source of potable water to protect the water supply from drought and disruptions to water imports. The pure water program is expected to deliver 30 million gallons of recycled water a day within five years and 83 million gallons of drinking water per day when fully implemented in 2035 — providing one-third of the city’s freshwater supply. Stone, the largest brewery in San Diego and ninth largest in the country, produced five barrels of the beer using water trucked in from the city’s pure water demonstration plant in Miramar. “We like trial and we like testing and if we can help others jump on the same bandwagon, we would love to do that because it’s a great thing for the City of San Diego,” said Stone Chief Operating Officer Pat Tiernan. + Stone Brewery + San Diego Water Sustainability Program Via UPI Images via Wikimedia and Twitter