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.

Organic strawberries better pollinated

(PhysOrg) Organic cultivation methods not only benefit biodiversity; they also appear to have a positive effect on the ecosystem service pollination. In a study of strawberry plants in Skåne, the proportion of fully pollinated flowers was significantly higher on organic farms. This is shown in new research from Lund University in Sweden.

The study is based on studies of strawberry plants on twelve farms in the county of Skåne, Sweden. On the farms with KRAV organic certification, where neither pesticides nor non-organic fertiliser are used, 45 per cent of the strawberry flowers were fully pollinated. On the conventional farms, the corresponding figure was 17 per cent.

“The results show that the pollination service is benefited by organic cultivation methods, which is an important factor in the development of sustainable agriculture”, says Georg Andersson, a doctoral student in environmental science at Lund University.

The research also shows that the positive effects of organic cultivation are evident within 2-4 years of the farm receiving KRAV certification.The research results have been published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031599

via Organic strawberries better pollinated.

Indigenous Alaskans struggle to cope with climate change

(USGS) Personal interviews with Alaska Natives in the Yukon River Basin provide unique insights on climate change and its impacts, helping develop adaptation strategies for these local communities.

The Village of St. Mary’s, Alaska

The village of St. Mary’s, Alaska where USGS scientists conducted interviews with hunters and elders to document their observations of climate change. The village lies in the Yukon River Basin on the banks of the Andreafsky River, a tributary of the Yukon River.

Photo Credit: School District of St. Mary’s, Alaska. (High resolution image)

The USGS coordinated interviews with Yup’ik hunters and elders in the villages of St. Mary’s and Pitka’s Point, Alaska, to document their observations of climate change. They expressed concerns ranging from safety, such as unpredictable weather patterns and dangerous ice conditions, to changes in plants and animals as well as decreased availability of firewood.

“Many climate change studies are conducted on a large scale, and there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding how climate change will impact specific regions,” said USGS social scientist Nicole Herman-Mercer. “This study helps address that uncertainty and really understand climate change as a socioeconomic issue by talking directly to those with traditional and personal environmental knowledge.”

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Electronics recycling for cash

By Matt Hickman (MNN)  Here are a few things to keep in mind when you want to make a quick buck off your old gadgets. Don’t bother unloading your e-waste at a pawn shop, where you’ll be left wondering if you’ve gotten a fair deal or not. Companies such as Gazelle, Nextworth and YouRenew will gladly take a variety of old electronics off your hands and offer cash in return — or in some cases gift cards or charitable contributions — based on market data and the condition of whatever you’re trying to part with. If the item in question is in rough shape and cash isn’t an option, they’ll still help you recycle it.

Read the rest Electronics recycling for cash | MNN – Mother Nature Network.

NASA’s eco-friendly ‘Sustainability Base’ generates more electricity than it uses

NASA

NASA's eco-friendly 'Sustainability Base' generates more electricity than it uses

By Tiffany Hsu (Los Angeles Times) Instead of sending its employees to space, NASA is building them an office of the future closer to home.

The curvy, space-age building at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley incorporates technology used by astronauts and will be one of a few structures in the state that can generate more electricity than it consumes. Construction won’t be complete until mid-July, but the federal government has already chosen the $20-million facility its green building of the year.

It has a name only government officials could love — the Sustainability Base — but it is generating a lot of buzz among businesses and government agencies trying to be more green. The structure, near San Jose, was designed to be a model of eco-friendly architecture.

“Buildings of the future could actually produce more energy than they use and reverse the trend of being a big, sucking drain without compromising anything,” said Steven Zornetzer, Ames’ associate center director.

Compared to other office buildings of similar size, the Sustainability Base will be about 6% more expensive to construct, he said. But NASA expects to recoup the expense within a decade because the building will cost less to operate.

via NASA Sustainability Base green building: NASA’s Sustainability Base generates buzz for its eco-friendly architecture – latimes.com.

Researchers substitute feathers for petroleum in biodegradable flower pots

(AP) Researchers have developed ways to substitute chicken feathers for petroleum in some plastic products, and at least two companies are working to bring items ranging from biodegradable flower pots to office furniture to market.

The substitution would allow the U.S. to cut back on its oil use, however slightly, and give poultry producers another market for the more than 3 billion pounds of chicken feathers they have leftover each year, the developers and others said. The challenge, they added, is coming up with products that manufacturers and consumers want at a price that’s right.

“What works in the lab and what works commercially are two different things,” said Sonny Meyerhoeffer, whose company began selling flower pots made partially from feathers last fall.

His company has patented a process for removing keratin resin from feathers for use in making plastics. Keratin, a tough protein fiber also found in fingernails, hair and horns, can replace petroleum in some cases. Right now, Meyerhoeffer’s company sells flower pots that contain 40 percent bioresins, although it has been able to make ones that are completely biodegradable and made from feathers.

via Researchers sub feathers for petroleum in biodegradable flower pots; other products in works – The Washington Post.

‘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.

German company sells ‘liquid wood’ made from lignin

By Stefan Nicola

(UPI) German scientists Juergen Pfitzer and Helmut Naegele invented “liquid wood,” which has the potential to save significant fossil fuel and natural resources.

Lignin, combined with resins, flax and other natural fibers forms a mass that can be processed like any other thermoplastic material. The bio-plastic can be molded via injection machines, is durable and forms super-precise when it’s cast.

Arboform degrades like wood (into water, humus and carbon dioxide), so no more fume-emitting burning of plastics, and its inventors say no tree needs to be cut down to produce Arboform.

Lignin is a byproduct of the paper-making process. The paper and pulp industry produces some 130 million pounds of lignin each year.

“By just using lignin, we could technically replace a quarter of the world’s plastic production,” Pfitzer said.

via German company sells ‘liquid wood’.

Coca-Cola Unveils Plant-Based ‘Bottle of the Future’

New

New 'PlantBottle' from Coca-Cola will use up to 30% plant-based materials and will be 100% recyclable.

By Timothy B. Hurst

(earthandindustry.com) PlantBottle made with 30% plant-waste to be in North American markets by January. Coca-Cola execs says they are working towards plastic bottles that will be made entirely out of plant material.

It is only a matter of time before Coca-Cola products in North America will be packaged entirely in plant-based containers. Mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) derived from sugarcane and molasses has already started popping up in Coca-Cola bottles in Europe and company officials say the new PlantBottle will be ready for a North American debut by the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

And if Coca-Cola is able to carry out its strategic vision of finding other sources of waste-plant material to make MEG from, it may not be long before most Coke products are packaged entirely in 100% plant-based, 100% recyclable bottles.

Read the rest:  Coca-Cola Unveils Plant-Based ‘Bottle of the Future’ | Earth and Industry.