The top 10 stories to catch you up on the hottest sustainability news in 2019 — so far

August 9, 2019 by  
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Find out what the GreenBiz community has been reading this year with our roundup of 10 most-read stories.

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The top 10 stories to catch you up on the hottest sustainability news in 2019 — so far

Natures silent soldiers aiding in the fight against air pollution

July 19, 2019 by  
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Cities should be planting more trees, but the reasons why may be more complicated than you think. As it turns out, trees provide so much more than aesthetics and a way for humans to connect with nature. More and more research is emerging about how the proper implementation of tree planting in urban areas and cities could help solve growing environmental issues. We already know that nature can improve mental health . It can inspire positive engagement with community and provide the kind of groundedness one needs to live in the moment. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology examined the emotional effects of taking time to notice nature versus human-built objects by dividing participants into three different groups. The group instructed to pay more attention to nature had significantly higher levels of elevating experiences, a sense of connectedness and intent to help others. That means you don’t necessarily have to plan an epic week-long camping trip (though that sounds great!) to reap nature’s benefits. Something as simple as walking through a park on your morning commute or stopping to admire a tree at the bus stop can create positive effects. Related: The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills A report published by the Nature Conservatory in 2016 found that investing $100 million annually in tree planting in cities could provide cooler temperatures for 77 million people and cleaner air for 68 million people. That’s a pretty important statistic, considering that a “vast majority” of humanity will be living in cities, towns and other urban areas by the year 2050. When it comes to pollution , the bulk of cities are most greatly affected by particulate matter, AKA the consequence of burning fossil fuels from cars and factories. Fine particulate matter inhalation into the lungs alone causes an estimated 3.2 million deaths per year from complications such as stroke, heart disease and respiratory illness. According to the report, by the year 2050 this number could almost double if something isn’t done. The good news is, the leaves of trees act as an absorber of these pesky pollutants, and the matter itself can get caught or retained on the tree surfaces. Fortunately, we already have some of the answers to these pressing problems. The Nature Conservatory studied 245 cities in 2016 to find that trees are already providing humans with benefits such as reductions in fine particulate matter and reduction in summer maximum temperatures , and that was just the trees that were already there. Significant tree cover in cities can also help reduce the need for air conditioning, reducing utility costs and lowering energy usage. Tree planting, when combined with other strategies, appears to be a cost-effective, simple way to improve the environment and soak up air pollution, all while beautifying the neighborhood. In order to make this approach most effective, the types of trees planted must be considered as well. Trees with larger leaves provide more sufficient shade and are more productive in absorbing pollutants. Species that are less susceptible to drought may also be considered in areas where water is more scarce. Maintenance is another factor to consider, as it may not cost much to plant the trees in the first place, but watering, pruning and protecting against diseases all require added costs and labor for city trees. Trees aren’t the only air purifiers in the natural world. Certain types of moss can produce oxygen while binding environmental toxins such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, which at high levels can damage the ozone layer and human lungs. Berlin-based company Green City Solutions is creating irrigated city park benches made of condensed moss. The benches have the ability to absorb air pollutants and use installed fans to create large area-covering air flow. In 2018, Goodyear released a tire design made with living moss that helps improve air quality as you drive. Air pollution was the theme for the 2019 World Environmental Day , held on June 5. Thousands of people took to social media to show their support with the hashtag  #BeatAirPollution and pledging to make lifestyle choices to support the fight for cleaner air. Officials from different countries made big announcements involving environmental issues such as Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, revealing a ban on single-use plastics in national parks. Other politicians who joined were Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s who pledged to phase out coal-use in Canada by 2030 and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera’s plan for Chile to go carbon neutral by the year 2050. UN Secretary-General António Guterres was quoted saying, “My message to governments is clear: tax pollution; end fossil fuel subsidies; and stop building new coal plants. People everywhere are demanding action. On World Environment Day, let us heed their call.” Via UN Environment Images via Shutterstock

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Natures silent soldiers aiding in the fight against air pollution

Four U.S. states scoring under-the-radar clean energy wins

June 12, 2019 by  
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And they’re not the only ones advancing renewables in creative ways this year.

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Four U.S. states scoring under-the-radar clean energy wins

Earth Day 2019 wants to inspire you to protect endangered species

March 29, 2019 by  
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This year’s Earth Day theme is all about protecting the millions of species that call our planet home. The diversity of life on Earth is being increasingly threatened by human activity, which is causing the biggest extinction event since the dinosaurs died out around 60 million years ago. The global crisis in the animal kingdom is directly connected to causes largely created by human pursuits. This includes activities like deforestation, poaching, trafficking, agriculture, pesticides and pollution — all of which are leading to massive habitat loss. If something is not done quickly, the extinction of species across the globe will be our biggest legacy. Related: 10 awesome eco-activities to do this Earth Day Fortunately, there is a solution to prevent many species from going extinct in the near future. By working together, people around the world can get legislators, scientists, religious leaders, politicians and educators to act quickly to stop habitat loss and start protecting Earth’s many creatures. To that end, Earth Day has several goals in mind for this year’s worldwide campaign to protect the planet’s most endangered species . The Earth Day Network is encouraging educators to heighten awareness of the extinction issues facing our planet. The campaigners also want governments to enact policies that protect both animals and habitats. Related: How Earth Day began and how it helps the planet On a smaller scale, Earth Day hopes to get people around the world to start eating more plants and stop using herbicides and pesticides . If these goals are met on Earth Day, which is officially on April 22, then we can make great strides in protecting endangered species and habitats across the planet. This includes species like bees , elephants, insects, whales, giraffes and coral reefs. If you are interested in making a difference by participating in Earth Day, help spread the word by telling people about this year’s theme and how they can help make the planet a better place for all its inhabitants. + Earth Day Network Image via Sue Ashwill

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Earth Day 2019 wants to inspire you to protect endangered species

Rammed earth addition brings light and energy savings to a Melbourne home

March 29, 2019 by  
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When a growing family needed extra living space, they turned to Australian design studio Steffen Welsch Architects to create an eco-friendly extension for their California Bungalow home. For the main construction material, the architects used rammed earth  — a material with low embodied energy and high thermal mass — and created an arced extension that curves to capture warmth and light from the sun. Passive solar principles also largely dictated all parts of the design process, from the zoning and layout to the material selection and building form. Located in Melbourne , the family home and extension — nicknamed ‘Down to Earth’ after its rammed earth walls — was created for a young family who enjoy entertaining and hosting guests. As a result, the brief called for low-cost operation, evolving privacy needs and future accessibility. Spanning an area of nearly 2,100 square feet, the single-story home is organized into four zones: an area for children and guests, a master suite for the parents, communal rooms and transitional areas. Each “zone” opens up to its own outdoor space. To ensure long-term sustainability and to minimize embodied and operational energy, the architects let passive solar principles guide the design of the building and chose materials with low embodied energy, such as rammed earth, and energy-saving properties, such as insulated glass. Operable windows allow for natural ventilation while the rammed earth walls and timber posts are left exposed to create a connection with the outdoors. Related: Modern rammed earth home embraces the desert landscape “A well performing house extension facing south on a small inner city block built in rammed earth is not easy to achieve,” the architects noted. “The building uses the formal language of a Californian Bungalow with the combination of heavy and light materials and generous roofs without copying it. Rammed earth walls appear free standing and separated from a floating roof with wide overhangs providing shade in summer but letting winter sun inside. The house (including the old) achieves an energy rating 3 stars (6) above target.” + Steffen Welsch Architects Photography by Rhiannon Slatter via Steffen Welsch Architects

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Rammed earth addition brings light and energy savings to a Melbourne home

Electric buses and trucks charge ahead

March 25, 2019 by  
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China is ahead with electrification, but the year ahead could be a tipping point elsewhere.

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Electric buses and trucks charge ahead

Electric buses and trucks charge ahead

March 25, 2019 by  
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China is ahead with electrification, but the year ahead could be a tipping point elsewhere.

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Electric buses and trucks charge ahead

Maven Moment: Spring Fashion!

March 20, 2019 by  
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Around this time of the year, when we are getting … The post Maven Moment: Spring Fashion! appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Spring Fashion!

6 themes for scaling corporate action on the SDGs

February 6, 2019 by  
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This year will be pivotal for businesses to make progress on the UN’s blueprint for peace and prosperity.

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6 themes for scaling corporate action on the SDGs

Earth911 Podcast, Jan. 21, 2019: Brrr! It’s Cold Outside

January 21, 2019 by  
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It’s the deepest cold of the year in the Northern … The post Earth911 Podcast, Jan. 21, 2019: Brrr! It’s Cold Outside appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Jan. 21, 2019: Brrr! It’s Cold Outside

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