Libeskind Wins $20B Seoul Master Plan Competition

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Studio Daniel Libeskind Wins International Master Plan Competition to Create 34 Million Square Foot, $20 Billion New Riverfront Development District in Seoul, South Korea

Landscape Deflation Exercises

[Image: A stunning and very nearly unbelievable glimpse of land subsidence in California’s agricultural heartland; image courtesy of the U.S. Geological Service. “Signs show approximate land levels over the years,” we read at the New York Times. “Groundwater pumping has caused some areas to sink 50 feet.” Now do this as a landscape design exercise: selective deflation of the earth’s surface. Create domes and valleys, sunken gardens that dimple the earth from below.]

The Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi by Asymptote Architecture Nears Completion

New York-based Asymptote Architecture nears completion of The Yas Hotel project in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The Yas Hotel is a 500-room, 85,000-square-meter complex now under construction by Aldar Properties PJSC. Asymptote was awarded the commission to design the buildings and environs from a closed competition two years ago targeting an opening date of October 30, 2009 to coincide with the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Gyprock delivers interactive website – Selector.com (press release)

Gyprock delivers interactive website
Selector.com (press release), Australia
The Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) Green Star Rating Tools encourages product suppliers, designers and specifiers to use low VOC emitting materials. The level of VOC for a product specified in the VOC certificate can affect Green Star

Eye Candy: Borja Bonaque

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Unfortunately I know literally nothing about the work of Borja Bonaque, other than it’s pretty dope. Enjoy.
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.:all info + images via -> Borja Bonaque

The First Battery Swap Station for Electric Cars

Electric cars are a great idea until you need to drive beyond the range of your battery. What then? A company named Better Place unveiled their solution to the problem, a battery swap station.

Living in a Sci-Fi World with Futuristic Megastructures

Here’s a look at what our worlds might look like if we lived amongst futuristic megastructures, including modernised Arcosanti ruins, Blade Runner’s Off-world, or even EPA/Simpsons-esque domes in the middle of Manhattan.

Neo-Colonial Land Grab Threatens Small Scale Farmers in Africa

Tractor in Africa

Rich countries and firms are currently purchasing massive amounts of land in developing African nations to be used for the production of food and biofuel.

Many of the agricultural dealings are being called “murky”, as small scale, local farmers and native pastoralists are increasingly being pushed aside to make room for large agri-industrial estates connected to far off markets.

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Japan Loans Peru $120 Million to Conserve Amazon Rainforest

Japan has agreed to supply Peru with a $120 million loan to help protect approximately 136 million acres of the Amazon Rainforest from deforestation.

The loan will have an annual interest rate of 0.1% and won’t need to be repaid for 40 years. It is part of a plan to help Peru reach a rate of zero deforestation in the next 10 years. Peru’s Minister of the Environment says that the amount of forest that will be protected help store 20 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, aiding in efforts to combat global climate change.

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BP brings ‘green era’ to a close

Environmental groups accuse BP of dropping its pledge to be “green” and replacing it with a commitment to be “responsible”

Vancouver vertical farm looks like a futuristic resort, but for plants and animals

Vancouver vertical farm looks like a futuristic resort, but for plants and animalsWhat is this, a center for plants? Indeed it is — it’s a multi-tiered skyscraper that houses farming and livestock spaces to grow food efficiently in an urban environment. The Harvest Green Tower is a winning design by Romses Architects for Vancouver’s 2030 Challenge, and it’d make it possible for cows, chickens and fish to all be raised in a city alongside fresh veggies and fruit. That, and it’d look good doing it to boot.

vertical farm such as the Harvest Green Tower would also have other benefits beyond greening a skyline. Power generated from methane emissions, collected rainwater and wind turbines could also be given back to the grid if it produces more than it uses. Harvest could also provide space for agriculture students and scientists to study animals and seeds.

San Francisco Reaches Highest Recycling Rate in U.S. at 72%

Editor’s Note: See Mayor Gavin Newsom’s post on this announcement at CleanTechnica.com.

San Francisco is well on its way to reaching the lofty goal of a 75% recycling rate by 2010. Today Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office announced that the city has attained the title of US recycling king by keeping 72% of ALLrecyclable material out of landfills.

And we’re not talking simply cans and bottles here either; in 2006 Mayor Newsom instituted a Mandatory Construction and Demolition Debris Recovery Ordinance, which means that 72% number includes all waste generated on construction sites too.

“By requiring builders to recycle debris from construction projects, we were able to divert tens of thousands of new tons of material away from the landfill,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Clearly, mandatory recycling measures pay off; if we’re going to reach a recycling rate of 75 percent in 2010 and zero waste by 2020, we need to make sure that residents and businesses are taking full advantage of our composting and recycling programs.”

The San Francisco Department of the Environment said that in 2007 the city generated 2,100,943 tons of waste, of which only 617,833 tons went to landfills. This represents the city’s lowest tonnage sent to landfills in over 30 years.

Although 72% is an impressive number, the city sees an opportunity to go even higher.

“If we captured everything going to landfill that could have been recycled or composted, we’d have a 90% recycling rate” said San Franciso Department of the Environment Director Jared Blumenfeld. “The Board of Supervisors will soon be considering an ordinance that will require residents and businesses to sign up and use the recycling and composting programs, which we need to make our goals.”

Image Credit: Rick’s Flickr photostream under a Creative Commons License.

Is NYC The Greenest Building City Today?

Whenever I see my friend James D’Addio, the architectural photographer, I ask him about which new green buildings he’s been shooting. Not surprisingly, in a city with dedicated green building blogs and the NYC Department of Design & Construction’s award-winning programs, NYC may be the greenest city in the United States.  Here two projects in NYC that exemplify where green building is going.

It seems like if a building is going up, its just as likely as not to be green. McGraw-Hill research tells us that 53% of building professionals expect to be dedicated to green on over 60% of their projects in the next five years. It seems like there is ample opportunity for innovation in the building industries despite a downturn in overall building. I guess NYC is as good a place as any to lead the charge.

Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower, which sits atop a 1928 landmark building in Manhattan is engineered to use 25% less energy than required by code and boasts the world’s largest “air conditioner.” The two-story, stepped waterfall is also a huge radiant cooling system that along with other measures saves 1.7 million gallons of water every year. Other interesting facts about the building include:

  • 90% of the structural steel used came from recycled materials
  • More than 80% of the orginal structure was recycled for future use
  • 26% less energy was used during construction
  • Light sensors and controls throughout the building
  • It has a 14,000 gallon water reclamation system in the basement
  • Read more of this story »

    Robotic taxi is sleek, small, seats two — but are our streets ready?

    Robotic taxi is sleek, small, seats two — but are our streets ready?The idea of a car that drives itself has been kicking around for a while — especially as an automated urban people-mover — and that’s exactly what designer Kubik Petr’s robo-taxi is designed for. Looking a little bit like a Segway with a chassis, it seats two, is powered by electric motors and has space for luggage. While that low passenger limit is a concern, ideally there’d be a lot of these things on the streets and several could come to ferry large groups around, with passengers selecting where they want to go by way of a touchscreen in the cabin.

    Of course, a design like this — as awesome as it is — sets off a few red flags. It doesn’t look like it’d do well in a crash, for one, and its low clearance wouldn’t accommodate anything but the most well-cared for, pristine street. And do we really have the infrastructure for something like this? Maybe if a city was built from the ground up for it — either way this wouldn’t be good news for cabbies

    One Step Closer to a Compostable Car, Thanks to Bioplastics

    Is a compostable bioplastic car in your future?Some time in the sparkling green future, the global food giant Archer Daniels Midland might have a hand in developing the world’s first compostable car.  And we might have to thank the Belgians for that, too.  Sounds far-fetched, right?  Not when you throw in the U.S. military and a small Massachusetts  company that specializes in bioplastics.

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    David Brower Center – Green to the bones

    Even in a Greencentric city like Berkeley, locals and Bay Area visitors would be Green with envy when they see the just opened David Brower Center. It feels healthy just to walk through the Green down-to-the-bones building which combines advanced technology along with simple recycled materials.

    When entering for their housewarming party we had a difficult time not noticing the soaring concrete walls which made us think more dot com than gallery. The fact that in creating a building with an oh- so-feathery carbon footprint (when compared to most structures) Principal Architect, Daniel Solomon included up to 70 percent slagin those walls.

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    The Biofuel Industry – No Money, No Respect

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    For the moment, the price at the pump is reasonable. A spike in demand or a terrorist disruption, however, will quickly remind us that we are desperately dependent on oil as we continue to consume 140 billion gallons of gasoline per year. Even in these recessionary times of moderate demand, we are running out of easy to extract oil from dessert sands. We are turning to sources of unconventional oil, such as tar sands in Canada, to produce oil with ever increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

    For a while, corn ethanol was viewed by some as a step in the right direction. Now we are like the character in a Woody Allen comedy who explains, “I used to be a heroin addict; now I’m a methadone addict.” At a time when a billion people go hungry, many as a result of disappearing water on this heating planet, fuel from food is not the answer.

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    Singapore Scrapers With Gardens In The Sky

    Singapore Scrapers With Gardens In The Sky May 7, Singapore

    Work is underway on a rather large project for downtown Singapore by Foster and Partners in May 2009. The project named Beach Road will occupy an entire city block and is located between the Marina Centre and the Civic District of the city. The project, which is the work of world renowned company and will create what will be known as an eco-quarter in the city which is in keeping with Singapore’s desire to become a ‘city in a garden’…more

    Harvest Green Project

    Harvest Green Project May 6, Vancouver

    The ‘Harvest Green Project’ by Romses Architects was a winning entry in a recent competition held by the city of vancouver ‘the 2030 challenge’ to address climate change plans and to guide greener and denser development, reducing carbon emissions for the future. The concept of ‘harvest’ is explored in the project through the vertical farming of vegetables, herbs, fruits, fish, egg laying chickens, and a boutique goat and sheep dairy facility…more

    Brisbane building tops green-star rating – Queensland Business Review


    Brisbane building tops green-star rating
    Queensland Business Review, Australia
    South Brisbane’s 154 Melbourne office precinct will receive the coveted five-star ‘Green Star‘ rating upon its completion in June. It is among only seven Queensland buildings to receive the five-star rating for office design from the Green Building ..

    Life cycle emissions of a computer

    Life cycle emissions of a computerDisplaying average composition of a desktop computer, average CO2 emissions from component manufacturing, life-cycle stages, inputs and greenhouse gas emissions.

    Toronto One Step Closer to an EXPANDED Green Roof Law

    The City of Toronto’s Planning and Growth Committee met earlier this week to discuss the proposed and highly controversial ‘Green Roof’ by-law. A green roof is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil that has been planted over a waterproof layer. The benefits of these roofs include reduced energy use, reduced storm water runoff, and increased longevity of the roof by protecting it from natural elements.

    The original version of the by-law would have made green roofs mandatory in new construction of condos higher than 7 storeys and office or retail complexes greater than 54,000 square feet beginning in 2010. The law was to require 30-60% of subjected buildings’ roofs to be green (depending on the size of the building) and violators would be subject to fines up to $100,000.

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    Selgas Cano Capsule Office Looks Great in the Forest, Would Look Better on the Moon

    Ever wonder what kind of office a cutting-edge architect actually works in? If you’re employed at the Selgas Cano architectural firm near Madrid, it looks something like this.

    Houses move off grid, into mainstream – Denver Post

    Houses move off grid, into mainstream
    Denver Post, CO
    Australian development firm Lend Lease aspires for its $2 billion project to be a net-zero carbon, energy and waste community with multifamily and single-family homes beginning in the low $100000s. The project is still going through the planning 
    No more ‘crappy homes,’ green developer says Colorado Springs Gazette
    all 19 news articles

    Ledalite’s Ergolight Office Lighting Reduces Energy Consumption by up to 80%

    Building managers and environmental passers-by always scream when they see office lights on in the middle of the night, illuminating someone’s cubicle for hours when they’re not there. Ledalite’s Ergolight Controls System has been designed to take care of that problem, as well as increase office energy efficiency. It’s such a good solution, that it was recognized by the David Suzuki Foundation as one of their climate change solution case studies. Designed to help building designers and architects achieve LEED certification, depending on the set-up, customers can decrease their energy consumption by up to 80%.

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    Fuel-cell car rally opens Norway’s hydrogen highway – Reuters

    Fuel-cell car rally opens Norway’s hydrogen highway
    Reuters
    These zero-emission vehicles have short ranges but promising results, and in the longer-term, Statoil may link the road to a hydrogen autobahn in northern Germany. Japan and California already have hydrogen highways. “The torque in an electric car is 

    Is zero carbon building agenda setting expectations too high? – Environmental Data Interactive


    Environmental Data Interactive

    Is zero carbon building agenda setting expectations too high?
    Environmental Data Interactive, UK
    The chief executive of a leading consultancy has told edie that the quest for zero carbonbuildings is good for political grandstanding and headlines – but little else. Dr David Strong, who heads up Inbuilt, will be delivering a presentation on Zero

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