Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution

July 31, 2018 by  
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Dhruv Boruah, a former management consultant turned environmental hero is cleaning up the Thames River in London on a floating bicycle. The endeavor, named The Thames Project , is more about striking up conversations with passersby and raising awareness than it is about removing all of the plastic waste from the canals — an impossible feat for the one man show that is Boruah. The self-constructed rig, made up of a bamboo bicycle with yellow floats on either side, a rudder and a pedal-powered propeller in the front, has retrieved thousands of kilograms of plastic waste since beginning the project in 2017. “It’s a great conversation starter, and then I can tell them about my work, the plastic and how it all starts here in the canals,” he told CNN while on one of his “off-road cycling” missions. Related: A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal The 35-year-old philanthropist was impassioned by a yacht racing expedition from London to Rio de Janiero that left him thinking a lot about the dangers of plastic pollution . It was on this undertaking that Boruah had learned of the fortunate rescue of two turtles who were tangled in plastic in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. “Plastic is now in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat,” he explained. “You have to care because it’s about you, your health and the health of your children. Why are we destroying this planet for them?” Boruah’s bicycle nets are often filled with single-use plastic items such as styrofoam containers and water bottles. These get broken down into tiny microplastics over time that not only pollute the oceans, but also affect our air and food. When he is not striking up conversations with curious onlookers, Boruah is working with councils, businesses and communities to educate and encourage them to take action against plastic pollution. + The Thames Project Via CNN Images and video via Dhruv Boruah

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Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution

This gabled home wraps around an existing pine tree in Mexico

July 31, 2018 by  
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The magnificent pines of Mazamitla, Mexico are more than just scenic background for this single-family home—one of the trees has been integrated into the architectural design itself. Architects Alessandra Cireddu and Carlos M. Hernández of Barcelona-based design practice Espacio Multicultural (de) Arquitectura (EMA) crafted the ‘House Around a Tree,’ a single-story abode punctuated by a mature pine tree. The house further embraces the landscape with its use of natural materials and an outdoor, cantilevered terrace that opens up to northwest-facing views of the village below and forest and mountains beyond. Set on a steeply sloped site, the House Around a Tree matches its narrow and linear plot with its rectangular mass. Measuring over 65 feet in length and nearly 20 feet in width, the home has an introverted appearance at first glance—a thick, nearly 10-foot-tall wooden door marks the entrance and, along with the opaque stone side wall , insulates the home from outside street views. The home interior, however, is an entirely different story. Stepping past the entrance takes visitors into an airy void punctuated by the mature pine tree, while large glazing on the southwest side of the home brings sweeping landscape views into the living spaces and bedroom. Related: A cypress tree grows through this hillside home in Los Angeles “The gable roof evokes the geometry of the traditional houses of the region, which is trimmed by a void which contains the pine,” explain the architects. “The natural location of the pine divides the house into 2 areas: the first one on the east side where the main room with bathroom and dressing room is located and separated from the rest of the house; the second one on the west side where we find the public areas, two bedrooms and a wooden volume containing the wet areas (laundry, half bath and full bathroom) that breaks with the constant linearity of the project both inside and outside.” + EMA Images by Patricia Hernandez Fotografia

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This gabled home wraps around an existing pine tree in Mexico

Couple convert a 20-year-old bus into a solar-powered tiny home on wheels

June 25, 2018 by  
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After buying a gutted 1998 Thomas Vista 3600 on Craigslist, couple Nicholas and Heather spent the next year renovating it into their dream tiny home on wheels, lovingly named the Vicaribus . Doing all of the work themselves, the ambitious DIY-ers managed to create ample living space, a dining room, an office, a guest bed and storage in just 120 square feet of space, which runs on solar power . After deciding to move out of their conventional “sticks-and-bricks apartment” and into a converted bus , Nicholas and Heather knew that strategic planning was the key to creating a comfortable tiny home. The couple bought the old Thomas Vista bus with the seats already ripped out, so the first step to their DIY bus conversion was to outline a building plan that used every inch efficiently. Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel To create ample living space that would be flexible for years to come, the couple built a modular furniture unit with movable pieces. The couch’s two armrests double as shelving systems and additional storage is located within the seating. The most ingenious component is found in the middle of the sofa, which is a rolling ottoman that turns into a fold-out table. The ottoman moves and can be used as a desk, additional seating or a footrest. The result is space saving furniture that can be converted from a couch into a dining or working space in a matter of seconds. The couple’s enviable DIY powers did not stop with the impressive multi-use couch. Moving on to the kitchen, they used an unfinished solid wood door to build their kitchen countertop. Heather used a dry brushing technique to create a sophisticated, marble-esque look. The rest of the tiny house’s interior is a bright space, flooded with natural light thanks to the decision to keep the vehicle’s original windows. Although the couple managed to work within a tight budget, they knew that the tiny home’s energy system was no place to cut corners. From the beginning, Nicholas and Heather wanted to live off the grid, so they chose to install two 165W solar panels with custom-made brackets next to the rooftop deck. Working with a smart battery, the array is enough to meet their energy needs. + Vicaribus Images via Vicaribus

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Couple convert a 20-year-old bus into a solar-powered tiny home on wheels

This super-insulated concrete "cabin" hides a surprisingly cozy interior

May 15, 2018 by  
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Brutalist-inspired architecture is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when imagining cozy countryside cabins, but two daring designers have created a 900-square-foot house — made primarily of concrete blocks — in the Catskills. The homeowners, architect Jason Shannon and designer Paola Yañez of J_spy Architecture , created the contemporary home with a cluster of three cubic volumes and a white metal box for the roof. The result is a high-end, modern and eco-friendly retreat that sits on six acres of beautiful grassy landscape. The house was designed to be a serene getaway, a place to escape the city and return to nature. While many people choose to “nestle” their country homes into natural surroundings, this design stands out among the expansive fields thanks to its modern, bold aesthetic. The three cubist volumes made of concrete blocks and large white top floor create a fun juxtaposition to the flourishing, organic background. Related: Prefab Pyrenees cabin minimizes site impact and building costs The interior of the home is contemporary with a welcoming feel. Large windows and doors framed in mahogany provide an abundance of natural light and stunning views. Although the concrete walls were left unfinished on the exterior, the interior blocks feature a polished facade. The main living space has a beautiful 14′ ceiling clad in birch plywood that is interlaced with fabric to help absorb noise. With concrete as the primary building material, the home is extremely energy efficient . A geothermal heat pump is connected to the home’s concrete radiant floor, which emits both hot and cool air. The upper floor, which is clad in white metal, hangs over the dimension of the house for two reasons: to provide passive solar heating and to create high ceilings. In addition to the concrete blocks and radiant heating, the home also has a tankless hot water system and a condenser clothes dryer. To create a tight envelope that reduces energy loss, the house was insulated with a spray foam in the walls and ceilings. According to the architects, the efficient home is not only a reflection of how they live their personal lives, but also depicts their work ethos. Shannon explained, “This was our chance to say, ‘Let’s design the house as modern as we think we would like to be in the rest of our work.’” + J_spy Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Amanda Kirkpatrick

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This super-insulated concrete "cabin" hides a surprisingly cozy interior

Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

May 15, 2018 by  
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Inhabitat is thrilled to announce that New York City urban farming group Brooklyn Grange is launching its first location outside the city — at Kearny Point in New Jersey. The location holds its own storied past: a former World War I and World War II shipbuilding yard in an industrial area that’s spiraled downhill, Kearny Point is undergoing redevelopment under recycling corporation Hugo Neu . Inhabitat caught up with Brooklyn Grange COO and co-founder Gwen Schantz and Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Neu to learn about the project’s emphasis on not only economic revitalization but also the restoration of local ecology . At Kearny Point in New Jersey, Brooklyn Grange will help with  landscaping , converting just under three acres of sod into a native meadow. In addition, the group will help transform about an acre of former parking lot space into a demonstration garden, complete with a vegetable patch and children’s play area, as well as host plant sales and educational workshops. Although none of these gardens will be on rooftops, Brooklyn Grange does plan to host green roof workshops using a Kearny Point roof. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Schantz told Inhabitat, “We know what these industrial spaces can become and how they can be reinvented. We’ve seen the evolution of the Navy Yard. When we talked to the people at Hugo Neu about their vision about Kearny Point, we really got it. It resonated with us.” Neu is one of the people behind that vision. She told Inhabitat that Kearny Point, which is between the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, was once a main economic driver for the area as “one of the most productive shipbuilding facilities in the world.” During World War II, 35,000 people worked on the 130-acre site. But after the war, the shipbuilding industry died in the United States. Hugo Neu acquired Kearny Point in the 1960s and dismantled ships, but that operation shut down around 1985. Until recently, Kearny Point was an industrial warehouse distribution facility. “ Hurricane Sandy was a defining moment for us because we were approximately four feet underwater. We’d never had any kind of issue with flooding. My late husband and I know climate change is coming and the environment is changing dramatically, and we had to think about what we were going to do with this site,” Neu told Inhabitat. After her husband passed away suddenly, Neu joined forces with Steve Nislick, former Edison Properties CEO, with the goal of doing “something transformative.” The new vision for Kearny Point includes offices for startups, coworking spaces, and a waterfront opened to the public. “The opportunity to take a heavy industrial site like this and integrate all the new technology – wind, solar, stormwater – and be able to show we can have people growing businesses without having to harm the environment but also actually improve it at the same time is, to me, a very compelling opportunity,” Neu said. Brooklyn Grange is “an indication of just what the possibilities are.” The project’s native meadow serves as a prime example. According to Schantz, when people try to convert land into meadows or gardens, they sometimes kill what’s growing there with pesticides . Brooklyn Grange is taking a more natural approach: they’re suffocating grass and enriching the soil with the help of recycled materials , such as leftover cardboard from a nearby shipping company and wood mulch from a local tree service, both of which the urban farming group inoculated with blue oyster mushrooms. Once this process is complete, they’ll plant native flowers and grasses. “Our approach is, let’s take this strip of land which has had a rough history along a railroad track, it has not been loved the way it could be, and give it a new lease on life and make it a place where insects and birds can feed and nest, and restore it the way it might have looked before there was a shipyard here,” said Schantz. How will Kearny Point handle natural disasters in the future? Neu said that not only are they raising the site up two feet, they’re creating at least 25 acres of open space and putting in bioswales to boost the site’s resiliency. “We’ll have underground parking that will serve as reservoirs for water that comes onto the site. We’ll remove as many impervious surfaces as possible, which is huge in terms of the amount that gets discharged into the Hackensack, and we’re going to do everything to improve the quality of what gets discharged,” said Neu. “I want to minimize our impact as much as possible. We have to be able to figure out how to have people prosper without destroying the environment and further degrading it.” Brooklyn Grange’s first plant sale will be Sunday, May 20, from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. “We’re really excited to be reaching out to our neighbors across the river,” Schantz said. “We know there’s already a culture of gardening here in the Garden State, and so we’re excited to bring some of our urban farming techniques and our general mindset of sustainable, organic gardening to the local community and hopefully get people excited about growing their own food .” + Brooklyn Grange + Hugo Neu + Kearny Point Images courtesy of Valery Rizzo

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Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

The bitter better place

April 25, 2018 by  
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There is no need to apologize for being relentless in our work, or vociferously clear about the consequences of inaction.

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The bitter better place

Why ARPA-E is essential for U.S. energy innovation

April 25, 2018 by  
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The federal agency has a mission of overcoming long-term, high-risk barriers to developing energy technologies.

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Why ARPA-E is essential for U.S. energy innovation

Teen replants hundreds of mangroves that were destroyed by Hurricane Irma

April 11, 2018 by  
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18-year-old Theo Quenee saw Hurricane Irma’s impact in Florida firsthand and realized that the devastated  mangroves might not be able to make a comeback. So the local teen started growing the plants — 524 of them — from seeds he collected around his home for replanting, Mother Nature Network (MNN) reported . After around seven months, he began transplanting the mangroves to a sandbar and mud flat in Miami . My amazing little brother has been growing over 400 red mangrove shoots he collected after Hurricane Irma. Today, 7 months later, he planted over half of the seedlings in a coastal area that had been badly affected by the storm, and I really couldn’t be prouder. from r/pics Mangrove forests “stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides,” according to the National Ocean Service . But the 2017 hurricane wasn’t kind to Florida’s mangroves. Quenee told MNN, “After the hurricane there was a massive amount of [mangrove] seedlings mixed within the seaweed/debris mixture. Everything was then going to be gathered and thrown in a truck to dump at a landfill. I realized that all of South Florida would ultimately kill thousands of mangroves in the clean-up process.” Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth Quenee had grown mangroves in the past, and had learned about the plants in marine science classes in high school. He began to rescue mangroves, collecting ones in parking lots and streets the hurricane had damaged. He placed the plants in recycled yogurt bins. He told MNN, “I live in an area with a lot of trees , so the roof of my house was the only place that got the sunlight. I started with all 524 of them all at once…I knew that they grew best with humidity, so I designed a simple greenhouse with a big platter and a five-gallon bucket.” I've taken a little Instagram break in the last two weeks. Time to hop back on the creating game! New content on the way! Comment what you would like to want to see more of in 2018! ?- @mindmeetscamera / @michaelrodiles A post shared by T H E O Q U E N E E (@theo_quenee) on Jan 5, 2018 at 12:42pm PST After seven months of cultivation, the plants were ready to return to the wild. Some friends helped him move the mangroves to the Miami sandbar. He told MNN he’s working to obtain any additional permits required, although he said some officials passed by as he was planting the mangroves and they were happy to see his work. A Florida International University freshman, Quenee aims to pursue videography and photography as a career (check out his work on his Instagram ). But conservation will still be one of his priorities; he told MNN, “…in the future I also want to change the way we consume single-use plastics and teach younger generations and communities how to properly conserve our environments .” Via Mother Nature Network Image via Depositphotos

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Teen replants hundreds of mangroves that were destroyed by Hurricane Irma

The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

March 20, 2018 by  
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Devastating news for wildlife enthusiasts: Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino , has died. Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dv?r Králové Zoo announced the 45-year-old rhino was euthanized at the 90,000-acre non-profit wildlife facility Kenya on March 19 after being unable to overcome age-related muscle and bone degeneration or debilitating skin wounds. “His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal,” Ol Pejeta wrote on their Facebook page . Ol Pejeta says Sudan escaped extinction of his kind when he was first moved to the zoo in the 1970s, and then sired two females, significantly contributing to the survival of his species. Before he was euthanized, they collected his genetic material in anticipation of advanced cellular technologies they might be able to use in future reproductive efforts. Related: The last male northern white rhino suffers declining health “We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO. “One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide.” With Sudan’s death, the only remaining northern white rhinos are Sudan’s daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, according to Ol Pejeta. In their statement, the conservancy said, “The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.” While Sudan died of old age, it’s worth noting that humanity is a main driver of the sixth mass extinction, which, according to a news report released last year, is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal . + Ol Pejeta Conservancy All images via Ol Pejeta

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The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

It’s time to rethink sustainability goals and targets

March 1, 2018 by  
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Your work is not an add-on to the rest of the company, so stop treating it that way.

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It’s time to rethink sustainability goals and targets

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