This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

October 16, 2018 by  
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Compact, energy-efficient and built with locally sourced materials, this hillside home takes a low-impact approach to its wetland surroundings in the city of Valparaiso in northern Indiana. Local design firm Bamesberger Architecture completed the home for a client who wanted a relatively small dwelling overlooking a pristine 400,000-square-foot wetland site. Named The Box after its boxy appearance, the home boasts low-energy needs and does not rely on air conditioning, even in the summer Completed in 2013, The Box spans an area of 960 square feet and consists of a main house, a screened porch and a small storage building. All three structures are slightly offset from one another to offer varied views of the landscape and are connected with two square timber decks. In response to the client’s wishes for a “very affordable” house with wetland views, the architects selected a budget-friendly yet attractive natural materials palette — including blackened steel, stone, concrete and birch plywood — to complement the property’s native trees and grasslands. “To set the house into the site, the main living space was built into the hillside,” the architecture firm explained. “Excavated rocks were reused as a base for the steel encased fireplace as well as a stepping stone inside the front door. The front door was built from a walnut tree found dead on the site.” Related: Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree The main dwelling includes an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living area on the ground floor. Above, a small loft offers space for sleeping and a home office. A two-story shower takes advantage of the double-height volume, adding what the architects call “a spatial surprise in the otherwise small space.” To minimize energy needs, The Box is wrapped in high-performance insulation and built into the side of the north-facing hill. Radiant underfloor heating and natural ventilation also help keep the home at comfortable temperatures year-round with minimal utility bills. + Bamesberger Architecture Images via Fred Bamesberger

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This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

Valuable wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests, new study warns

September 28, 2018 by  
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Wetlands around the world are disappearing at an alarming rate. New research shows that these valuable ecosystems are vanishing at a rate three times that of forests . Unless significant changes are made, the disappearance of wetlands could cause severe damage around the globe. The Global Wetland Outlook , which was completed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, found that more than a third of the wetlands on Earth have disappeared over a 45-year period. The pace that wetlands are vanishing jumped significantly after the year 2000, and regions all over the planet were impacted equally. Unfortunately, there is a handful of reasons why wetlands are diminishing around the world. This includes climate change , urbanization, human population growth and variable consumption patterns, all of which have contributed to the way land is used. Related: Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals There are several different types of wetlands found on Earth, including marshes, lakes, peatlands and rivers. Lagoons, coral reefs , mangroves and estuaries also fall into the wetland category. In total, wetlands take up more than 12.1 million square kilometers, an area larger than Greenland. Wetlands are crucial, because they provide almost all of the world’s access to freshwater — something that is key to survival. Humans also use wetlands for hydropower and medicines. From an environmental perspective, wetlands help retain carbon and regulate global warming . They also serve as the ecosystems for 40 percent of living species on Earth, providing food, water, breeding spaces and raw materials for these animals to live. If the wetlands keep vanishing at the current rate, many species will go as well. “The Global Wetland Outlook is a wake-up call — not only on the steep rate of loss of the world’s wetlands but also on the critical services they provide. Without them, the global agenda on sustainable development will not be achieved,” said Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. “We need urgent collective action to reverse trends on wetland loss and degradation and secure both the future of wetlands and our own survival at the same time.” With wetlands in danger of disappearing, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has pledged to make saving these regions a top priority. The parties involved with the group have targeted 2,300 sites for protection and hope to expand that to include more wetlands around the globe. + Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Image via Jeanethe Falvey / EPA

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Valuable wetlands are disappearing 3 times faster than forests, new study warns

Earth911 Podcast, Sep. 3, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Land Restoration with Adam Sachs

September 3, 2018 by  
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Adam Sachs, Executive Director of Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, … The post Earth911 Podcast, Sep. 3, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Land Restoration with Adam Sachs appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Sep. 3, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Land Restoration with Adam Sachs

9 Environmentally Friendly Dog Foods

September 3, 2018 by  
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It’s bad enough that man’s best friend is exposed to … The post 9 Environmentally Friendly Dog Foods appeared first on Earth911.com.

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9 Environmentally Friendly Dog Foods

New resilient waterfront park helps protect NYC from storm surges

June 28, 2018 by  
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Waterfront parks have been springing up all over New York City, including in Long Island City, where Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park just completed its second phase this week. Designed by SWA/Balsley in collaboration with Weiss/Manfredi , this resilient stretch of parkland replaces 11 acres of abandoned industrial sites and boasts spectacular views of Manhattan’s skyline. In addition to a wide array of recreational facilities and equipment, the park was also integrated with salt marshes and native plantings that serve as a natural line of defense against extreme weather and storm surges. As New York City moves full-speed ahead on reclaiming the waterfront for the public, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park joins an impressive lineup of post-industrial parks including the recently completed Domino Park in Brooklyn . Crafted to feel like New York City’s newest “island,” the new park features lush habitat as well as recreational and cultural features, like New York-based artist Nobuho Nagasawa’s ‘Luminescence’ land art installation. The landscape was sculpted in response to projected flooding patterns and rising water levels of the East River. “It’s a new kind of park,” said lead landscape architect Tom Balsley of SWA/Balsley, for whom the $100 million park project has been 25 years in the making. “Hunter’s Point South is at once resilient infrastructure and contemplative retreat — a dynamic, living platform with extraordinary power to touch the daily lives of so many people.” Related: 10 landscape design projects that turned neglected spaces into incredible parks The first phase, located closer to the ferry terminal, was completed in 2013 and serves as the more active half of the park with bicycle pathways, basketball courts, a playground, fitness equipment and a turf field. The second 5.5-acre phase added more walking trails, a kayak launch, picnicking areas and a  promenade that leads to the Overlook, a 30-foot-tall cantilevered platform with sweeping views of Manhattan skyline and East River. The park officially opened to the public this week. + SWA/Balsley + Weiss/Manfredi Images by Albert Vecerka Esto and Bill Tatham

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New resilient waterfront park helps protect NYC from storm surges

Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

March 6, 2018 by  
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The East Kolkata Wetlands in India processes almost 198 million gallons of wastewater and sewage produced by the region’s population everyday, relying on nothing but nature. What was once a mix of lowland salt marshes and silted rivers is now a sprawling complex of man-made wetlands framed by green space. With the help of local farmers and fishers, the wetlands are maintained in good health to organically clean sewage using sunlight, oxygen, and beneficial microbes. This process, known as bio-remediation, cleans wastewater within three weeks, a remarkably quick turnaround that highlights the great power of natural solutions. Wastewater from the city is directed into small inlets, each one controlled by a local fishery cooperative. The cooperative then separates the dense polluted water from clearer surface water, which flows into the large wetland while the wastewater decomposes and becomes fish food through organic processes. This water is then used to raise fish in ponds known as bheries or grow crops on the banks of the wetlands. In addition to its wastewater and agriculture services, the East Kolkata Wetlands also act as a flood control system, absorbing excess water from the nearby city. Related: Dakshineswar Skywalk could greatly improve pedestrian safety in Kolkata Former city sanitation engineer Dhrubajyoti Ghosh has served as the Wetland’s guardian for several decades. After realizing the enormous value of the wetland’s environmental services, he defined the formal limits of the area and successfully protected it from real estate developers. Today, Ghosh recognizes the challenges and opportunities facing the wetlands and others like it. “I am still learning how this delicate ecosystem works, how to further refine it, and why some places are better suited than others,” he told The Better India . “I am happy to give any advice or help absolutely free, this is the best system of its kind in the world and could be helping millions of people. If I have failed in one thing it is this; not enough people know about it or are benefiting from it.” Via The Better India Images via East Kolkata Wetlands Management Authority and  The Better India

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Natural wetland in India filters 198 million gallons of wastewater a day with zero chemicals

98-year-old man donates $2 million in stock for 395-acre wildlife refuge

June 8, 2017 by  
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98-year-old Russ Gremel purchased $1,000 of stock in a pharmacy chain around 70 years ago. That chain was Walgreens, and Gremel’s small investment made him rich. But instead of using that money for himself, he decided to donate all of his stock to the Illinois Audubon Society , and they’re putting it to good use in the 395-acre Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary to protect wetlands in Amboy, Illinois . Decades ago Gremel bought $1,007 of stock in Walgreens on his brother’s advice to invest in drugstores, as people would always need medicine and women would always buy makeup. Then Walgreens exploded, and Gremel could have cashed out for millions of dollars. But he didn’t want to keep the money, telling the Chicago Tribune he’s a simple man who likes to eat stew and oatmeal and last drove a 25-year-old Dodge. Related: Colorful Hawai’i Wildlife Center Protects and Rehabilitates Endangered Species on the Big Island The Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary is home to around 200 bird species, rare turtles , and over 400 plant species. The Illinois Audubon Society was able to purchase the land with money from Gremel and a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, as well as their own funds. Gremel had planned to leave his stock to the Illinois Audubon Society, but then decided to give it away while he was still living so he could see the property they’d buy with it. That property doubles the area of wetlands protected in Amboy. Gremel said in a video he wanted to use the money to do good in the world. “That’s what money is for,” he said. “If you can’t do good with it, don’t have it.” He considers nature to be incredibly important; he grew up hiking and camping and then was a scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts of America for over 60 years. Illinois Audubon Society Executive Director Jim Herkert told the Chicago Tribune of Gremel’s donation, “It’s allowing us to protect a really valuable and important piece of property and fulfill one of Russ’ wishes that we could find a place where people could come out and experience and enjoy nature the way he did as a kid.” Via the Chicago Tribune , SaukValley.com , and EcoWatch Images via screenshot

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98-year-old man donates $2 million in stock for 395-acre wildlife refuge

10 landscape design projects that turned neglected spaces into incredible parks

January 16, 2017 by  
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Landscape architects frequently work to transform areas that contain industrial and toxic waste, infrastructure no longer in use, or land affected by war , natural disaster or disuse. These neglected places, while often having a negative impact on the environment and surrounding community, are simultaneously part of our cultural heritage. To highlight the significance of these spaces, and the potential that they hold to become something more than a blight, we’ve gathered up a series of projects that illuminate how designers use unlikely opportunities to transform landscapes into spectacular spaces—all while preserving their historic and cultural meaning. These 10 case studies showcase the creative approaches global city governments, preservationists, developers and the design community have taken to transform marginalized places into healthy and meaningful environments for everyone to enjoy.

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Seattle embraces urban farming at ten acre Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands

June 17, 2016 by  
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What was once a tree nursery is now home to Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands (RBUFW) , Seattle’s largest urban farm and home to a host of community programs run by Seattle Tilth . Through a community design process, the ten-acre former tree nursery was reshaped into the largest urban agriculture project in the Northwest. The farm is a successful effort in bringing community members of all ages together to volunteer, learn to grow food organically, and supply fresh food via Good Food Bags: Community Supported Agriculture and weekly market. Related: Nation’s first K-8 urban farm school teaches kids how to grow their own food The farm’s education center houses a multi-purpose assembly space, commercial kitchen for community meals and cooking demonstrations, restrooms, and storage. A translucent canopy covers the primary assembly space and creates a 500 square foot outdoor gathering area out of the persistent Seattle rain. The design, by CAST Architecture and The Berger Partnership landscape architects, also includes substantial wetland restoration , aquaponics , permaculture , 11,295 square feet of greenhouse, 30,000 square feet of in-ground farming, a market stand, solar power, composting, administration, produce wash/pack areas, and farm storage. Currently the Farm produces 20,000 pounds of fresh food per year, makes 5000 meals, and provide training to 3,600 Rainier Valley residents. + Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands + CAST Architecture + The Berger Partnership Images via Seattle Tilth Facebook page The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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Seattle embraces urban farming at ten acre Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands

Water-purifying park could save the heart of Helsinki from turning into a swamp

November 19, 2015 by  
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