Swallows Nest: Vincent Callebaut unveils glittering zero-carbon Möbius strip cultural center for Taiwan
The Swallows Nest cultural center has a system of moats in the basement level between the floors and walls that stabilizes the building in case of earthquakes. Glass overhangs provide further protection against typhoons. Three vertical gardens climb up the pillars in the vegetated entrance area called the “Endless Patio.” These pillars are separated by slabs with glass-covered joints that allow visitors to see the cores from the ground floor to the roof, which is crowned with a solar array.
All of the interior galleries and reading rooms are oriented either towards the Endless Patio or the surrounding city, so there is a constant interaction between the indoors and outdoors. At the same time, the half opaque facade helps to protect the cultural relics housed inside. A host of other state-of-the art renewable communication and information technologies have been incorporated into this complex design, which aspires to be a zero carbon emission structure that will transform Taichung.
Sydney has recently become home to the biggest green wall installation in Australia, amid a wider campaign to green the cityscape.
Currently 15.5 per cent of Sydney is blanketed in green canopy, but the city council wants to increase coverage to 23.5 per cent by 2030.
There are similar campaigns in other Australian capitals and an even wider global trend to boost the number of green spaces in urban centres.
Green roofs and walls project officer at City of Sydney council, Lucy Sharman, says the city is on track to reach its green canopy target, but more green roofs and walls need to be installed.
UK increased recycling rates fastest in Europe over past decade
Recycling rates in the UK rose faster in the first decade of the millennium than any other country in Europe, according to official statistics published on Tuesday.
Although the UK started from a low base in 2001 – recycling rates were just 12% for all municipal waste – it increased by the greatest amount by 2010, reaching 39%, on a par with the average for the EU.
But the European Environment Agency, which released the figures, warned that many countries will fail to meet a European directive of recycling 50% of waste by 2020. Some countries, such as Germany, Austria and Belgium, already recycle more than half of their waste.
Township based recycling business receives huge donation
A township based recycling business is increasingly gaining recognition for its services and impact on the community, prompting a leading waste management NPO to donate them a state-of-the-art recycling machine, as part of their strategy to assist capable new entrants in the sector to grow.
K1 Recycling, a plastic collection (buy back centre) company based in Katlehong, a sprawling township east of Johannesburg received a baling machine, an industrial machine that is used to compress recyclables like plastic, metal scraps and paper into bales from PETCO as part of their drive to support budding recycling businesses.
K1 Recycling is fast becoming one of the most successful township-based waste management and recycling companies in the region. Established in 2011 by husband and wife, Tshepo and Thando Mazibuko, Managing member and CEO respectively, the company was created with the intention of contributing to the national economy as a whole.
According to the founders, the company is firmly committed to community development, in a sense that it teaches the community about the importance of waste collection and separation for a healthy environment, and additionally helps the community to use this as an opportunity to generate income for themselves. The community members collect plastic recyclables from bins and dump sites and sell them to K1 Recycling at an agreed cost per kilogram.
(Reuters) - Oil-rich Kazakhstan will spend 1 percent of annual output every year until 2050 to increase power generation from greener sources, a senior official said, cutting its dependence on coal far faster than some of the world’s big polluters.
Young designer gives diseased trees new lease of life
Wood from diseased trees that would otherwise go to waste is being put to good use by a designer from Brighton.
It may be ash trees making the headlines in recent times with the outbreak of ash dieback across the UK in 2012, but Dutch elm disease, which killed 25 million mature trees in Britain during the 1970s and 80s, is still having an impact today.
Recent 3D design graduate Sheldon Stansfield has been working with diseased elm wood for the past year, making unique pieces of furniture. She lives and works in Brighton, home to the national elm collection, the largest collection of elms in the UK, which currently stands at over 17,000 trees.
“The arboricultural service of Brighton & Hove City Council monitor trees very carefully to ensure that diseases don’t spread,” says Stansfield. “They do what they can to keep the disease at bay, like selectively pruning the trees when they spot signs of infection, but unfortunately they also have to be regularly felled.”
Once felled, the trees are sent to be burned or chipped. “It’s a huge waste of wood,” said Stansfield. “But it’s important that they do fell them – if it didn’t happen, the disease would spread and be more rife.
“Through researching this area I learned how the elm is going to waste and thought ‘Why not put it to good use?’. The UK imports a lot of wood and I’m trying to make people more aware that there’s an abundance of resources right on our doorstep.
“I’ve always been interested in native materials and industries and these are often really important in shaping the physical and cultural make-up of our land. However, lots of them are overlooked and because of that, they end up lacking value. My work is about the importance of being resourceful, using what is locally available and about appreciating and celebrating the natural resources that we have.”
Stansfield’s collection of diseased wood furniture, called Native Provenance, features a bench carved from a single trunk of an elm tree and a chair that has been scorched to represent the practice of burning diseased elms.
Google is investing in the next hotspot for renewable energy: South Africa
There’s a place where a developer can propose, finance and build a big solar power project in a matter of months. That place is not California, Germany or China. It’s South Africa. And the country’s embrace of renewable energy has attracted investors like Google, which today said it is helping finance a 96 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power plant in the Northern Cape province.
South Africa had “the highest growth in clean energy investment in the world last year,” Rick Needham, Google’s director of energy and sustainability, noted in a blog post about the Jasper Power Project. Google has put more than $1 billion into renewable energy, but this is only its second overseas venture. (The company put $5 million into a German photovoltaic power plant in 2011.) The search giant’s stake in Jasper is relatively small—103 million rand, or $12 million of the $260 million total cost—but the solar power station will be one of Africa’s largest, supplying enough electricity to power 30,000 homes.
Satun Province to Be Developed as a Leading Eco-Tourism City in ASEAN
The southernmost province of Thailand on the Andaman Sea, Satun is located 973 kilometers from Bangkok bordering Perlis and Kedah in Malaysia. With its unique location, this southern province is an attractive destination for tourists, adventurers, and businesspeople, as well as nature lovers.
It is famous for pristine nature spreading over jungles, mountains, and beaches, and is suitable for development into an eco-tourism center, with great potential for an increase in cross-border trade with Malaysia, as well.
The province has set its vision as “a leading eco-tourism city in ASEAN, an agricultural standard city, and a happy city.” The name “Satun” comes from the Malay word satoye, meaning “santol,” a kind of fruit known in Thai as kraton, grown everywhere in Satun. Santol is round and green, and when ripe, and it turns yellow. The skin of the fruit is covered with soft velvet-like fuzz, and the meat is white, thick, soft, and sweet, with a slightly astringent taste. The town of Satun was later named “Negeri Setoi Mumbang Segara,” also in the Malay language, meaning the “Ocean God,” which has become the symbol of this province.
Uruguay launches first BYD battery-electric buses; projecting 500 by 2015
Buquebus and CTS Auto S.A., in partnership with Chinese automaker BYD Ltd, introduced the first battery-electric 12-meter rapid transit bus in Uruguay and the region.
The BYD electric bus, powered by two in-wheel electric motors capable of a cruising speed of more than 88 km/h (55 mph) and a Li-ion battery pack has a range of more than 250 km (155 miles)—nearly 24 hours of service daily for most transit applications. The BYD battery technology also allows for a full charge in less than 5 hours. The bus can be charged overnight, while the electricity pricing is lower.
By 2015 it is expected that more than 500 BYD electric buses will be running on the streets and roads of Uruguay.
Buquebus is the largest tourism transportation company in Uruguay, connecting more than 2 million passengers in Argentina and Uruguay per year by boat and by bus. Buquebus is also the largest Tourist Agent in South America, selling more than 300,000 hotel beds and 400,000 city tours per year.
Cleaner, greener transport, door to door
The government’s plan to make seamless, convenient journeys using greener modes of transport an everyday reality was unveiled by Transport Minister Norman Baker today (14 March 2013).
Speaking at the launch of the door to door strategy, the coalition government’s vision for a flourishing, joined-up, sustainable transport system, Norman Baker said:
Helping people use greener modes of transport will help create growth and cut carbon, easing congestion on our roads and encouraging people to opt for greener, healthier options. But to make that happen we need low carbon travel to become as easy as jumping into the car. This strategy pulls together, for the first time, a whole range of different areas of work aimed at making sustainable transport a viable option for everybody.
When people are thinking about their journey, they naturally think about the cost and complexity of the entire trip, door to door, not just the ride on the train or bus. So as well as cutting out the hassle of travelling by bike, by foot and by public transport, we need to make it simpler and more reliable to combine different ways of travelling to get the whole way from A to B. A sustainable journey is only as attractive as its weakest link.
BYD’s electric taxis hit Hong Kong roads with big ambitions
Warren Buffett-backed Chinese carmaker BYD Co Ltd rolled out Hong Kong’s first electric taxi fleet on Wednesday, marking a milestone for its all-electric battery car that highlights its promise and its limitations.
“We expect to increase the number of e6 taxis in Hong Kong to 5,000 in three years,” said Liu Xueliang, general manager of BYD Asia Pacific sales, after the company announced it is making a push in the former British colony to encourage the use of its all-electric e6 taxi.
Indonesia extends forest-clearing ban for 2 years
Indonesia has extended a landmark ban on clearing primary rainforests and peatlands for another two years, a move greeted by environmentalists with praise and skepticism.
Presidential environment adviser Pungki Agus Purnomo said Thursday that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (soo-SEE’-loh BAHM’-bahng yoo-doh-YOH’-noh) signed the decree to continue the 2011 moratorium, which barred new logging and palm oil plantation permits under a $1 billion deal with Norway.
Purnomo said the ban will preserve 64 million hectares (158 million acres). It will not affect areas where concessions were granted before the moratorium.
Environmentalists argue the government is not doing enough to fight corruption and protect areas from illegal fires and logging.
Indonesia has become one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters as it supplies the world with palm oil, pulp and paper.
United Nations Permanent Forum is Going Paperless
Tables piled high with multi-paged documents, brochures, announcements for side events, programs, agendas and reports in teetering stacks that overflow onto the floor – a forest’s worth of paper – are the usual sight at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
Eco-friendly housing complex keeps down bills
Residents living on the most eco-friendly social housing development in the UK are reporting massive reductions in energy bills.
Sinclair Meadows was launched six months ago and already, the average costs have been cut by seventy five per cent. Fiona Trott visited the complex in South Shields to find out how they do it.