Is a solar desalination breakthrough coming to the desert?

April 1, 2020 by  
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The output of desalination plants is a mere fraction of what it the world could use. Using the sun to convert seawater into drinking water could be key.

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Is a solar desalination breakthrough coming to the desert?

New Santa Monica City Services Building will produce more energy than it uses

March 23, 2020 by  
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The City of Santa Monica will soon welcome a new civic building that will not only bring the various municipal departments scattered throughout the city under one roof but will also fulfill the Living Building Challenge — making it the largest civic building of its kind to meet the world’s most rigorous and comprehensive green building standards. Designed by Frederick Fisher and Partners , the building will be a model for self-sufficiency and ecological resilience by producing more energy than it uses. Scheduled to open to the public in April 2020, the 50,200-square-foot Santa Monica Services Building was designed to surpass “even the highest LEED certification requirements,” according to its press release. To meet those ambitious standards, the civic building follows passive solar principles and is equipped with numerous energy-saving and -producing systems, such as a series of photovoltaic arrays throughout the structure that total nearly 15,000 square feet, composting facilities and a rainwater recycling system. The building is the first structure in California to be granted the rights to convert rain to potable water onsite. Related: The net-zero Frick Environmental Center is officially one of the world’s greenest buildings The glass that surrounds the building aids in natural daylighting while also symbolizing its civic commitment toward government transparency. Its simple, rectilinear form also complements the original Art Deco design of the historic Santa Monica City Hall, which is connected to the new building via a courtyard. In addition to serving as a landmark structure for environmental sustainability, the Santa Monica City Services Building also champions financial sustainability. The building, which is planned to have a 100-year lifespan, is expected to cost less than the projected cost of the private commercial lease agreements that had previously housed the disjointed city agencies around Santa Monica within 30 years. The building was created in collaboration with BuroHappold Engineering and general contractor Hathaway Dinwiddie Construction Company. + Frederick Fisher and Partners Photography by Takashige Ikawa, renderings by Frederick Fisher and Partners

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New Santa Monica City Services Building will produce more energy than it uses

Costa Rican surf hotel gets stunning new athletic center

March 10, 2020 by  
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Costa Rica-based architectural firm Studio Saxe has just completed work on a beautiful, light-filled athletic center for a hotel located in the coastal town of Nosara. However, unlike most gymnasium designs, which are known more for functionality than aesthetic, this low-impact gym was carefully crafted to mimic a “small village amongst the trees” so that visitors would feel connected to the trees and wildlife that surround the site during their workout. Located on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, the Gilded Iguana hotel is known for its stunning beachfront location, and it offers a unique blend of wellness programs and active adventures. Specifically, the off-the-beaten-path hotel caters to flocks of amateur and professional surfers that come from around the world to enjoy the region’s beaches. The hotel reached out to local firm Studio Saxe to build an athletic center that offers guests a wider variety of activity options in addition to surfing. Related: Minimalist hotel gym made out of locally sourced stone features one of the largest glass panels in the world The athletic center is comprised of multiple cubed volumes with a lightweight steel frame, all connected via interior and exterior walkways. Using this system enabled the architects to slightly elevate the structures off the landscape. Within the framework, massive floor-to-ceiling glass panels were strategic in connecting the building to the ample vegetation that surrounds the center. Each rooftop juts out significantly from the core of the building to shade the interior spaces from Costa Rica’s intense sunlight and accompanying heat. The overhangs were also built with rainwater collection systems that reroute rainwater to be used for the building’s mechanical systems and landscaping irrigation. The resulting low-impact design allows visitors to feel a strong connection to nature, even while partaking in the various activities held inside. Guests to the hotel can enjoy taking a yoga, Jiu Jitsu or meditation class or rent surfboards and bikes onsite to make the most of the breathtaking coastal landscape. + Studio Saxe Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe

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Costa Rican surf hotel gets stunning new athletic center

Pressure is on for companies to rapidly address climate change

March 9, 2020 by  
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Experts around the world agree that there will be financial repercussions for companies that don’t adequately address climate change, according to a new global study.

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Pressure is on for companies to rapidly address climate change

Powerbarn is a bioenergy plant offering power to 84,000 families

March 3, 2020 by  
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In the rural commune of Russi in northeast Italy, Italian architecture firm Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti has converted an industrial zone once used for sugar production into the new grounds for the Powerbarn, a bioenergy production plant with a sculptural appearance. Inspired by eco-friendly principles, the architects crafted a masterplan that integrated the architecture into the farming landscape and restored and re-naturalized approximately 280,000 square meters — including three wetlands — for the benefit of the local ecosystem and community. Surrounded by human-made dunes to soften its appearance, the Powerbarn uses biomass, biogas and solar systems to generate an output of approximately 222 GWh a year — enough to satisfy the energy needs of 84,000 families. Once the site for the Eridania sugar factory, the former industrial property has long felt at odds with its agricultural surroundings. That’s why Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti paid special attention to the edges of the property, which the team has redefined with human-made dunes — rather than an industrial fence — constructed only from earth used from the construction site excavation. The vegetated dunes help soften the Powerbarn’s size; the main building that comprises the furnace and smoke line measures about 100 meters in length and over 30 meters in height. Related: Ski atop the world’s cleanest waste-to-energy plant in Copenhagen “Our intention was to create something similar to a natural bastion, almost a dune, along the edge of the area now converted into the pole for energy production — hence an element closely linked to the ecological functions of an environment,” Giovanni Vaccarini explained. “Not a barrier, but a functional element that would express our design intentions: to create a permeable, accessible and living element.” Inspired by the “razzle dazzle” camouflage technique, Vaccarini clad the Powerbarn in large triangular panels of timber and steel that also evoke the art of weaving and nomadic architecture. The masterplan also includes a building for offices, an electric substation and an area for wastewater collection. In addition to solar, the Powerbarn is fueled with wood chips and organic materials sourced within a 70-kilometer radius of the site along with livestock sewage that’s fed into the biogas plant. + Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti Photography by Massimo Crivellari via Giovanni Vaccarini Architetti

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Powerbarn is a bioenergy plant offering power to 84,000 families

Will Mexico City’s massive new park be a climate adaptation paragon for other cities?

March 2, 2020 by  
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An architect and officials are hoping that a huge park in Mexico City can restore the water systems of the region and serve as a model for others around the world.

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Will Mexico City’s massive new park be a climate adaptation paragon for other cities?

Trend: Commercial buildings go all-electric

March 2, 2020 by  
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All signs point to the next generation of commercial buildings becoming all-electric.

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Trend: Commercial buildings go all-electric

4 things you should know about sustainability reporting practices

March 2, 2020 by  
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While disclosure is generally on the rise, this greater transparency does not always produce significant changes in practice. At least not yet.

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4 things you should know about sustainability reporting practices

Copia CEO Komal Ahmad: Waste less, feed more

February 21, 2020 by  
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Copia Founder & CEO, Komal Ahmad speaks about the company’s efforts to solve “the world’s dumbest problem,” and the link between food waste and hunger.

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Copia CEO Komal Ahmad: Waste less, feed more

Cargill’s Ruth Kimmelshue on resilience and regeneration in our food system

February 20, 2020 by  
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Cargill’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of Business Operations & Supply Chain, Ruth Kimmelshue, discusses the integration of sustainability and supply chain at one of the largest agricultural companies in the world.

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Cargill’s Ruth Kimmelshue on resilience and regeneration in our food system

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