AZC Unveils Plans for a Giant Inflatable Trampoline Bridge in Paris

There are plenty of beautiful bridges that carry cars and pedestrians across the Seine River in Paris, so awesome design firm AZC has another idea in store. Why not create a bridge dedicated to fun? Their inflatable crosswalk features enormous trampolines in the center of each of the three rings for people to bounce and flip their way over the water. With their eyes set on a strip near the Bir-Hakeim bridge, AZCwants their blow-up bridge to be a place where anyone can engage with their surroundings, and experience Paris like never before.

Read more: AZC Unveils Plans for a Giant Inflatable Trampoline Bridge in Paris | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Singapore’s Spectacular Solar Supertrees open this month at the Gardens by the Bay

Solar Supertree in Singapore
These amazing towers, which reach up to 164 feet 50 meters in height, bring together the best of solar technology and vertical gardening. The Bay South Garden will showcase 18 Supertrees, which will also function as air ventilation ducts for nearby conservatories and collect rain water during Singapore’s frequent storms.

via Singapore’s Spectacular Solar Supertrees Open this Month at the Gardens by the Bay! | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Empire State Building cuts energy use 20%

Empire State Building cuts energy use 20% - May. 7, 2012

By Steve Hargreaves (CNN) The Empire State Building is on an energy diet.The hulking building, a symbol of American power and, to some, excess, has cut its energy use by 20%.And thats just due to changes to the buildings exterior. Once retrofits are made to tenant spaces on the inside, the second tallest building in Manhattan will be nearly 40% more efficient.

The retrofits will cost $20 million once theyre complete, and are expected to save the owners $4.4 million in annual energy costs.”After one year, we have proven that investing in energy efficiency gives building owners a dollars-and-cents advantage,” said Dave Myers, a president at Johnson Controls, which conducted the retrofit.

The changes to the Empire State include:

  • Filling the existing windows with an energy saving gas and adding an additional plastic pane.
  • Upgrading the buildings cooling system.
  • Using computerized “smart” energy management technology that can adjust temperatures floor by floor.
  • Provide tenants with detailed energy use in their space.
  • Automatically shut off lights in unused areas.

via Empire State Building cuts energy use 20% – May. 7, 2012.

‘Biosphere 2,’ human terrarium, comes back to life

Biosphere 2, Oracle, Ariz., comes back to life

Biosphere 2, Oracle, Ariz., comes back to life

By Allen G. Breed (AP ) Jane Poynter and seven compatriots agreed to spend two years sealed inside a 3-acre terrarium in the Sonoran Desert. Their mission back in the 1990s: To see whether humans might someday be able to create self-sustaining colonies in outer space.

Two decades later, the only creatures inhabiting Biosphere 2 are cockroaches, nematodes, snails, crazy ants and assorted fish. Scientists are still using the 7.2-million-square-foot facility, only now the focus is figuring out how we’ll survive on our own warming planet.

Next month, workers will begin a new chapter for “B2″ – building the first of three enclosed soil slopes in what was once the “intensive agricultural biome,” the space where Poynter and the other original “biospherians” grew the rice, sorghum, peanuts, bananas, papayas, sweet potatoes and lablab beans that supplied 90 percent of their nutritional needs.

The new “Land Evolution Observatory” – a 10-year, $5 million project – will help scientists learn how vegetation, topography and other factors affect rainwater’s journey through a watershed and into our drinking supplies.

via ‘Biosphere 2,’ Human Terrarium, Enters New Phase Of Research 20 Years Later VIDEO.

‘Bee Roads’: UK creating network of wildflowers to boost declining bees

By Meera Selva (HuffingtonPost) Farmers and landowners are being asked to plant rows of wildflowers along the edges of England’s fields to create a network of “bee roads” to boost declining numbers.

Conservationists said Tuesday they hope the wildflowers will provide food and shelter for wild bees, honeybees and butterflies, which play a crucial role in pollinating crops.

As part of the initiative, wildlife charity Buglife and The Co-operative grocery store chain are donating seeds, such as knapweed and red clover, to farmers and landowners in the Northern English county of Yorkshire, and asking them to plant them in rows along the edge of their fields.

Britain has 250 species of bees, but – as in other countries – most are in decline. Scientists say pesticides, disappearing habitat, wet weather and a parasite called the varroa mite are among the culprits.

via ‘Bee Roads’: UK Creating Network Of Wildflowers To Boost Declining Bee Population.

History of air pollution found in old book paper

By Viva Sarah Press (Israel21C) A Weizmann Institute scientist says clues to the history of pollution can be found in old books – - but not in the written word, rather in the paper itself.

Prof. Dan Yakir of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Energy Research in the Faculty of Chemistry found the paper in library collections of old books and newspapers contains a record of atmospheric conditions at the time the trees that went into making the paper were growing. Yakir says he has traced the effects of atmospheric pollution from burning fossil fuel going back to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution.

via History of pollution found in old books | briefs.

At last, an environmentally sensible pizza box

Environmentally Conscious Organization (e.c.o.), Inc. is a design and licensing firm, dedicated to improving outmoded, outdated and wasteful food packaging. e.c.o. is marketing its first product, the ‘Green Box’ (US Patent 7,051,919), a pizza box manufactured from 100% recycled material. The top of the ‘Green Box’ breaks down into convenient serving plates, eliminating the need for disposable plates. The remainder of the box converts easily into a handy storage container, eliminating the need for plastic wrap, tin foil or plastic bags. The perforations and scores that create this functionality allow for easy disposal into a standard-sized recycling bin. Made from a standard pizza blank, the ‘Green Box’ requires no additional material or major redesign and can therefore be produced at no additional manufacturing cost. e.c.o. owns the utility patent on the ‘Green Box.’

Our website at ecoincorporated.com

In Portland, Going Green and Growing Vertical in a Bid for Energy Savings

PORTLAND, Ore. — Urban gardening used to seem subversive. People planted tomatoes in public parks, strung their hops to rooftops to make homebrew and reclaimed empty lots as community farms, never mind the property owner.

Yet here in one of the more thoroughly tilled cities in America, subversive has come full circle: the federal government plans to plant its own bold garden directly above a downtown plaza. As part of a $133 million renovation, the General Services Administration is planning to cultivate “vegetated fins” that will grow more than 200 feet high on the western facade of the main federal building here, a vertical garden that changes with the seasons and nurtures plants that yield energy savings.

“They will bloom in the spring and summer when you want the shade, and then they will go away in the winter when you want to let the light in,” said Bob Peck, commissioner of public buildings for the G.S.A. “Don’t ask me how you get them irrigated.”

To read complete article by William Yardley go to NYTimes.com

Down on the Farm, an Endless Cycle of Waste

GUSTINE, Tex. — Day and night, a huge contraption prowls the grounds at Frank Volleman’s dairy in Central Texas. It has a 3,000-gallon tank, a heavy-duty vacuum pump and hoses and, underneath, adjustable blades that scrape the surface as it passes along.

In function it is something like a Zamboni, but one that has crossed over to the dark side. This is no hockey rink, and it’s not loose ice being scraped up. It’s cow manure.

Lots of cow manure. A typical lactating Holstein produces about 150 pounds of waste — by weight, about two-thirds wet feces, one-third urine — each day. Mr. Volleman has 3,000 lactating Holsteins and another 1,000 that are temporarily “dry.” Do the math: his Wildcat Dairy produces about 200 million pounds of manure every year.

Proper handling of this material is one of the most important tasks faced by a dairy operator, or by a cattle feedlot owner, hog producer or other farmer with large numbers of livestock. Manure has to be handled in an environmentally acceptable way and at an acceptable cost. In most cases, that means using it, fresh or composted, as fertilizer. “It’s a great resource, if used properly,” said Saqib Mukhtar, an associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A & M University and an expert on what is politely called manure management.

To read complete article article by Henry Fountain go to NYTimes.com

A crop from the ocean floor

Paul Dobbins is co-owner of Ocean Approved, what is believed to be the nation's only kelp farm. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Paul Dobbins is co-owner of Ocean Approved, what is believed to be the nation's only kelp farm. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Two kelp farmers in Maine hope to get a piece of a $7-billion global seaweed industry.

Reporting from Falmouth, Maine – Paul Dobbins and Tollef Olson admit they still have a kink in their scheme to use seaweed to revolutionize American eating habits, clean the environment, lower the federal trade deficit and make themselves fabulously rich.

Call it the yuck factor.

“It tastes better than it looks,” said Olson, holding a shimmering frond of brown horsetail kelp he had just plucked from the cold gray waters of Casco Bay. “Really.”

Dobbins and Olson run what is believed to be America’s only commercial kelp farm. Inspired by mega-aquaculture sites in Asia, and a $7-billion global seaweed industry, the two entrepreneurs started cultivating kelp here last year and have begun marketing it as an exotic frozen vegetable.

“It’s a giant brown algae in the water, but it turns bright green when it’s cooked,” Olson said. “Think kelp noodles. And kelp salad. And kelp slaw.”

To read full article by Bob Drogin go to LATimes.com