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This solar-powered floating farm combines agriculture and dining under one roof

As urban farming becomes increasingly popular, people are finding new, unexpected ways of incorporating agriculture into cities. From rooftops and community gardens, urban farming has descended to waterways and lakes – as in this solar-powered floating farm that doubles as a restaurant. Lotus is designed to grow fresh produce with a vertical hydroponic garden and then serve it in indoor and outdoor dining areas where visitors can enjoy waterside views and learn more about the production of the food.

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Lotus is a future-oriented farming system that aims to solve problems relating to the production, sale and distribution of crops and produce in urban areas. Its design also addresses the issue of global warming exacerbated by increased emissions of methane and carbon dioxide.

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Related: Could solar-powered floating farms provide enough food for the entire world?

Designers Taeung Kim, Sunae Shin, Sungho An, Seungjun Lee & Mirae Park conceived the structure for client HYDROKOREA, and they were recognized by this year’s K-Design Award – an international design contest held by DESIGNSORI.

Via Yanko Design

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http://ift.tt/2jyLToQ Source: https://inhabitat.com



Tesla surprises the crowd with a new $250k Roadster

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Tesla surprised the crowd last night at the debut of the Tesla Semi by unveiling a new Roadster, which is expected to arrive by 2020. Although lately Tesla has been focused on more mass market electric cars, it hasn’t forgotten where it started.

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While the Tesla Model 3 focuses on the entry-level electric segment, the new Roadster will focus on the high end of the segment with a $250,000 price tag. What does that get you? For starters, the Tesla Roadster will feature a 200 kWh battery pack that will give it a driving range of 620 miles. Three electric motors, one in the front and two in the rear, power the new Roadster. Even more exciting, Tesla says the new Roadster will be the “fastest production car ever made” with a 0-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds. It will also reach the quarter mile in only 8.9 seconds.

Related: Revolutionary Tesla Semi Truck arrives with a whopping 500 mile driving range

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The Tesla Roadster isn’t a convertible like the original, but features a removable targa top. There’s also room for up to four passengers.

Tesla hopes to have the new Roadster ready by 2020, but you can already place your reservation for only $50,000.

+ Tesla

All images ©Tesla

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Worlds first solar panel mural unveiled in San Antonio

In a world where solar farms are shaped like giant pandas, there’s certainly room for some solar butterflies. Determined to beautify our cities by converting solar panels into creative works of public art, the Seattle-based Land Art Generator Initiative just unveiled the world’s first solar mural installation, called La Monarca, by San Antonio artist Cruz Ortiz.

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La Mariposa solar mural – recently unveiled at the San Antonio Arts Festival, Luminaria – was created through advanced PV Film technology that lets light easily pass through the printed film that adheres to the panels. The beautiful mural is just the first step in the Land Art Generator’s plan to combine sustainable energy infrastructures with public art. Working with local artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers and scientists, the organization hopes to provide more collaborative platforms that enable cities to put a new artsy spin on their clean energy generation.

Related: World’s cutest solar farm in China is shaped like a panda

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According to the artist, La Monarca was inspired by San Antonio’s status as the National Wildlife Federation’s first Monarch Butterfly Champion City. A fitting symbol to be put on a clean energy installation, the monarch butterfly represents the threat that wildlife faces due to global warming and climate change.

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After the festival, the solar art mural will be moved to its permanent home inside a pollinator garden on the EPICenter campus in San Antonio where it will be used to generate solar energy directly into the building.

+ Land Art Generator Initiative

Images by Land Art Generator Initiative

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http://ift.tt/2zaE4Nj Source: https://inhabitat.com



Durable canvas cloth with embedded solar cells generates 120 watts per square meter

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Tents, sun shades, and canopies could generate renewable energy with Norway-based company Tarpon Solar’s solar canvas. They created flexible tarpaulins, integrated with bendy solar cells from Swedish company Midsummer. Instead of simply finding shade from the sun, with Tarpon Solar’s product people could obtain clean power from the sunlight striking a canopy or tent.

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Tarpon Solar laminated solar cells onto a flexible canvas to create a product with numerous potential applications – shade for a restaurant patio, a swimming pool covering, or canopies in refugee camps are just a few of the possibilities. The company says the canvas can also be included in a passive home design. The product could even open up the possibility of solar power generation in places where traditional solar panels couldn’t easily be deployed, according to Tarpon Solar’s website.

Related: New solar canopy provides both shade and clean energy

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Tarpon Solar utilized Midsummer’s solar cells in a product that recently won first place in the MTI Technology Award competition. The CIGS cells, or copper-indium-gallium-selenium, are made without cadmium, a toxic material Midsummer says is often used in CIGS or thin film solar cells. They listed the benefits of CIGS cells as having high efficiency, low weight, durability, and flexibility.

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The solar cells generate around 120 watts per square meter. Tarpon Solar technical manager Marius Borg-Heggedal said in a statement each canvas is custom made, so the type of fiber and amount of fabric varies among products. The company’s website says the laminated cloth is that utilized in the sailing industry. Borg-Heggedal said solar cells are integrated during production and “become part of the material.” Midsummer described the canvases as very light, saying in a statement with the solar cells integrated “the weight becomes almost the same as with conventional PVC material and the canvas is also stronger and more durable.”

+ Tarpon Solar

+ Midsummer

Images courtesy of Tarpon Solar and Midsummer

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http://ift.tt/2zMITLR Source: https://inhabitat.com



Son builds modern dream cabin from recycled materials for his aging father

Retiring to a cozy cabin in the woods is a dream of many, and one that Josh Wynne helped his father fulfill when he built and designed Mike’s Hammock, a compact dwelling located on his property in Nokomis, Florida. Designed for handicap accessibility, the modern one-room was crafted for aging in place and prioritizes sustainability in its use of recycled materials and low-energy footprint.

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Stylish and sustainable, the 604-square-meter cabin was constructed with mostly local and recycled materials, including the Southern yellow pine salvaged from a nearby construction site. The careful use of resources resulted in less than one dumpster of waste for the project. To minimize site impact, Josh cantilevered the home above its foundation and planted three trees in place of the one he needed to remove. A custom-made central cooling and heating system helps reduce energy costs to an average of only $25 per month, even in summer, Wynne told New Atlas.

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Related: This cozy off-grid cabin shows beauty on a budget in upstate New York

The facade is clad in vertically oriented corrugated metal siding to match the neighboring barn, while the interior is lined with Southern Yellow Pine that runs horizontally through the structure. The timber’s seamless lines, coupled with the large glazed sliding doors that frame outdoor views, gives the illusion of spaciousness. The small size of the home, as well as the layout and wheel-chair accessible features, cater to his father’s limited mobility without compromising aesthetics.

+ Josh Wynne Construction

Via New Atlas

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http://ift.tt/2ANS8II Source: https://inhabitat.com



Recycled materials make up this quirky solar-powered hotel in West Africa

A beautiful sun-soaked retreat on Cape Verde’s island of Sao Vicente prides itself on sustainability. Ramos Castellano Arquitectos designed the Terra Lodge Hotel using recycled and found materials, water recycling systems, and a rooftop solar array. The hotel draws the eye with its gridded timber frame, constructed from unfinished African wood, that partially encloses private verandas.

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Built predominately from lime-plastered concrete, the Terra Lodge Hotel’s five structures are rotated to optimize views and cross breezes. The hotel includes 12 rooms and a suite, a breakfast room, a lap pool, and a large outdoor terrace on the roof of an old green colonial house that now houses the owner’s tourist agency. The architects used found materials in construction, such as the recycled metals from petroleum barrels for the gate and the locally sourced rocks for the walls.

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Related: Hotel Shabby Shabby: Pop-Up Hotel Offers Recycled Rooms Built for Under €250

“Every solution is simplified adapting to the island lack of material and resources, simple and essential for satisfying basic needings, not for ephemeral fashion,” wrote the architects. “Almost everything is handmade, employing people from the neighborhood, from the floor finishing to the furniture, trying to distribute the economy of the building construction in the social environment.” The architects also designed the furnishings and light systems with locally handcrafted and recycled wood.

+ Ramos Castellano Arquitectos

Via ArchDaily

Images © Sergio Pirrone

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http://ift.tt/2j19pXC Source: https://inhabitat.com



Revolutionary Tesla Semi Truck arrives with a whopping 500 mile driving range

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It’s here: the semi truck that we’ve all been waiting for. Tesla just unveiled its new electric 500-mile-range Semi Truck, which could revolutionize the transportation world. Semi trailer trucks move goods all over the country, and without them we’d never get our stuff as fast as we do now, but they come with one big disadvantage – emissions. Today’s trucks are powered by dirty diesel engines that emit a large portion of the harmful pollutants in our air, but that could soon change.

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Not only does the Tesla Semi have a driving range of 500 miles, but it can also reach 60 mph in five seconds without a trailer, which is a fraction of the time that it takes for a comparable diesel truck. With an 80,000 pound load, Tesla estimates that the truck will reach 60 mph in 20 seconds, which normally takes a diesel truck about a minute. The Tesla Semi requires no shifting or clutching for smooth acceleration and deceleration, and its regenerative braking recovers 98% of kinetic energy to the battery, giving it a basically infinite brake life.

Even with a 500 mile driving range, drivers will need to find a place to recharge their Tesla Semi, so Tesla has announced new Megachargers that will add about 400 miles in 30 minutes.

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Inside the Tesla Semi’s cabin is designed specifically around the driver, with full standing room inside, and a centered driver position for better visibility. The driver also has two touchscreen displays positioned symmetrically on both sides that provide access to navigation, blind spot monitoring and electronic data logging. The Tesla Semi can also travel in a convoy, where one or several Semi trucks will be able to autonomously follow a lead Semi, making it even easier for the driver to travel long distances.

Related: Cummins beats Tesla with a fully-electric semi truck

The truck is also much safer than traditional semi trucks. According to Elon Musk, jackknifing is impossible thanks to independent motors on each will that can adjust torque as needed, and the roll risk is greatly reduced. It can even function of two of the motors fail for some reason. They are also more reliable, because Tesla guarantees them for a million miles, and the brake pads don’t need replacing. There is also no transmission to worry about. Best of all, according to Musk, is his favorite feature: thermonuclear explosion-proof glass.

Tesla changed the auto industry when it debuted the Model S, but can it do the same thing with its Semi Truck? When the Model S debuted, Tesla didn’t really have any big rivals, but the Tesla Semi Truck already has a growing list of competitors, including Bosch, Cummins, and Daimler. There are even a few start ups that are trying to get into the segment.

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At the event, Musk also revealed that Tesla is releasing an updated Roadster. It will be the fastest production car ever made and will have a top speed of 250 miles per hour with a range of 620 miles.

You can reserve the Tesla Semi for $5,000 and production is expected to start in 2019.

Images @Tesla

+ Tesla

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RT @dicapriofdn: Trump’s decision to reverse the ban on elephant trophies in the U.S. is reprehensible. In this policy change, the U.S. loses its global leadership position in putting an end to the ivory crisis. https://t.co/vwdWIzrL9E



It’s OK that Democrats don’t have a national climate policy

More than a year after the election of Donald Trump, the opposition Democratic Party still hasn’t found its voice on climate change.

That’s according to an essential overview of the situation from the Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer. Taken at face value, it’s not good news: Despite consistent rhetoric that climate change is among the most important challenges of the century, the Democratic Party has no large-scale cohesive plan to tackle it.

OK, that fact is worrying.

However, while Meyer is correct in his assessment of national politics, he makes one glaring omission: Climate action at the local and state level around the United States is, if anything, healthier and more ambitious than ever before. And it’s more often than not driven by Democrats. After a two decade-long quixotic quest for a unified federal climate policy, party members are finally willing to admit that their climate strategy can’t rest on economy-wide national legislation alone.

“We need to do everything we can to fight climate change,” says Keith Ellison, a congressman from Minnesota and deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee. “That means having a bill ready for passage when we take power, and it also means pushing for more immediate wins to lower carbon emissions at the state and local levels by building upon the work of aggressive climate policy in states like Minnesota, California, and New York.”

In city halls, boardrooms, and statehouses across America, what’s (not) happening on climate in today’s Washington is mostly a sideshow. The science is clear, climate-related disasters are happening now, and in most cases, it makes economic sense to take action immediately. So on the front lines of climate change, from San Juan to San Francisco, Minneapolis to Miami, the message is clear: This problem is too important to wait for Congress and the president to get their act together.

Since President Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement back in June, more than 2,500 local leaders from all 50 states have signed a pledge saying, “We are still in.” In aggregate, those leaders — mayors, governors, CEOs, university presidents, etc. — represent more than half of all Americans. As an independent nation, they’d rank third in the world in terms of share of total emissions—nearly 10 percent of the global total. But this collective is pushing some of the most ambitious climate policy anywhere on Earth.

And contrary to what you might hear in Washington, pro-climate efforts don’t come at the expense of the economy. In New York City, emissions are down 15 percent since 2005. In the same timeframe, the economy has grown by 19 percent. In Minneapolis, emissions are down 18 percent while the economy is up 30 percent.

Even in red states like Kansas and Texas, bipartisan coalitions are emerging to take advantage of tremendous renewable energy resources in wind and solar. In 2005, Kansas sourced less than 1 percent of its electricity from wind. Now, it’s at 25 percent and, like California, is on pace to get 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources in the next few years. There is now a nationwide job boom in construction and installation of renewable energy.

If you ask Democrats and advocates directly, this kind of progress has changed the prevailing wisdom of what effective U.S. climate policy looks like.

“We know it’s possible because we’re doing it,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement from Bonn, Germany. “The West Coast offers a blueprint: This is how you build a thriving, innovative economy that combats climate change and embraces a zero-emission future.”

Inslee is helping lead a sizeable, but unofficial, U.S. delegation at the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn. Dan Firger of Bloomberg Philanthropies, whose boss, Michael Bloomberg serves as an outspoken U. N. special envoy for cities and climate action, calls it a “shadow climate government.”

“We’re less concerned about a silver bullet bill in Congress than we are about how best to get near-term carbon reductions done,” Firger told Grist, adding that the former New York City mayor believes in “bottom-up climate action.”

Lou Leonard, a senior vice president at the World Wildlife Fund, points to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a market-based approach to reducing carbon emissions among several northeastern U.S. states. Already, one of the largest carbon schemes in the world, it stands to expand after this month’s elections resulted in Democratic victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governor races. Those states are now set to join the initiative.

“We cannot put all our chips in a federal solution,” says Leonard from Bonn, where his organization is helping support the We Are Still In delegation. “That’s not the way the U.S. economy works, that’s not the way politics works, and it’s certainly not the most obvious path to success.”

Still, The Atlantic’s Meyer has a point: Democrats need to be able to combine all these local policy victories into a national and global win. After all, worldwide carbon emissions are on pace for a new record high in 2017. But this inside-out approach has precedents for yielding real results.

Climate change inherently is a problem that requires local action. And increasingly, those working for climate policy have shifted their efforts to support local early adopters. It’s a strategy specifically designed to build an eventual national consensus.

“There’s more happening than many people are aware of,” says Steve Valk, the communications director for Citizens Climate Lobby. “City and state initiatives — as happened with gay marriage — can drive a national policy.”

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline It’s OK that Democrats don’t have a national climate policy on Nov 16, 2017.

http://ift.tt/2mxzmDn Source: http://grist.org



Washington state gets another shot at the nation’s first carbon tax

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Last November, some environmentalists in Washington state went to the polls hoping voters would back an initiative creating the nation’s first tax on carbon pollution.

Initiative 732 went down to defeat as the country’s attention focused on Donald Trump’s shocking electoral college win. But now, one year later and buoyed by the Democrats’ pick up of a state Senate seat in last week’s elections, Washington will get another chance to pass meaningful climate policy.

The victory not only gave the party control of the State Senate, it will, along with an already Democratic governor’s mansion and House of Representatives, turn Washington solidly blue. That clears the way for a “full-scale effort in the next session of the Legislature” on climate, as Governor Jay Inslee said before the election.

“2018 is the year we’re going to push for something big in Washington,” says Nick Abraham, communications director of the Washington Conservation Voters. “Whether that goes through the legislature or the ballot is still on the table.”

The coalition of groups spearheading the climate campaign, called the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, expects to make a more formal announcement about its plans before the end of the year. They are looking at a policy that reduces greenhouse gas pollution, but also redirects investment into a suite of programs to promote clean energy, electrifying the transportation sector, clean water, and communities of color. Their plan, similar to one that is under discussion by Democratic leadership, likely will include a tax on carbon.

Before climate advocates can see a carbon tax through, they will have to overcome the internal rifts in the progressive community that sunk the 2016 inititiave, which split environmentalists into two camps.

A small group called Carbon Washington sponsored the defeated initiative, which gained support from the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Washington’s Audubon Society. Despite the high-profile backing, many Washington chapters of national environmental groups, like the Sierra Club and Washington Conservation Voters, declined to support the initiative, and activists Van Jones and Naomi Klein publicly campaigned against it. Their claim: The proposal didn’t generate funds to fight climate change, and was developed without the input of communities of color, and as a result, left those communities behind.

What the 732 initiative was designed to do, in essence, was return the money from its carbon tax through cuts in sales and manufacturing taxes and with tax rebates to low-income households. Carbon Washington boasted the plan was revenue-neutral; its founder, an economist who left the state for Utah after the 2016 election, argued the approach would appeal across party lines. But it angered environmental justice advocates and other local activists who favored steering the revenue into environmental initiatives and community reinvestment programs. After polluters and some environmentalists lined up against it, nearly 60 percent of voters opposed the initiative.

Washington environmentalists have regrouped and, while neither Democratic lawmakers nor members of the Alliance have the details hammered out, are gearing up to push a package of climate and energy efficiency measures next year. Having learned some hard lessons from the 2016 election, they might even put another carbon tax initiative on the ballot in 2018.

“If we figured out the exact formula in Washington State, we would have a bill by now,” says Kyle Murphy, executive director of Carbon Washington.

Instead of a revenue-neutral tax like the one proposed in I-732, the state’s Democrats are now considering plans that would generate revenue for climate related projects.

State Senator Reuven Carlyle is a Democrat who is poised to chair of the Senate’s energy and environment committee. While he’s not certain that any legislation will include a carbon tax, he tells Mother Jones that interest in one remains high. There’s “more enthusiasm for a responsible investment package” that would reinvest potential carbon tax revenue, Carlyle says, than in revenue-neutral proposals like the one that split environmentalists last year.

“There’s strong momentum around some element of carbon pricing in order to invest in clean energy,” Carlyle says. “We just need a little time to work in our governor and work in our House and Senate to determine what’s achievable.”

Environmentalists hoping to help the lawmakers draft a plan say that the idea of a revenue-neutral carbon tax is now off the table.

“No, we’re not talking about a revenue-neutral carbon tax, let’s just say that,” says Aiko Schaefer, a coordinator with Front and Centered, a coalition of communities of color that are part of the Alliance. “We’re looking at strategies and approaches and policies that will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas pollution while also investing in solutions.”

There are other challenges to navigate: Democrats have slim majorities in the state legislature, meaning absent bipartisan support, a handful of defections could imperil any bill before it reaches the governor’s desk. Next year’s legislative session year is only 60 days, and climate will have compete with other priorities of the newly empowered Democrats. “There’s a backlog of a destructive trail,” warns Carlyle. “It’s a serious challenge to clean up some of the issues.”

And the same divisions that plagued I-732 could resurface again, as Democrats decide whose input to consider. Last year, Democrats introduced multiple bills to enact a carbon tax in the Republican-controlled chamber. One of them was from then-freshman State Senator Guy Palumbo, who now hopes to produce a bill that could attract colleagues from across the aisle.

“Republican leadership wouldn’t advance the policy over the last 5 years while they were in control,” he explained to Mother Jones. “Now that they are in the minority, the handful of Republican Senators who want to act on climate change are free to vote their conscience.”

Palumbo pointed to the carbon tax bill he introduced in 2017 as a proposal that might garner Republican support. His proposal includes a “Carbon Reduction Fund” to reinvest the tax’s revenue into grants boosting forest health and resiliency to drought and flooding, and as tax rebates for low-income people.

The plan, which carves out exemptions for fossil fuel exporters and some manufacturers, might not satisfy everyone in the environmental community. Palumbo’s bill would start the tax at $15 per ton and eventually rise to $30. Carbon Washington’s 2016 ballot initiative started higher at $25 and would have eventually risen to $100.

If the legislature doesn’t produce a bill, or introduces one that doesn’t go far enough to satisfy environmentalists, Front and Centered and other activists are eyeing a new ballot initiative in 2018. It’s early yet, but there are already signs of another split: Native American tribes who feel the Alliance’s new framework does not go far enough and that their input wasn’t considered warned in September that they may offer a competing carbon tax ballot initiative.

Climate activists argue that that Trump era voters in Washington are more likely to back a ballot measure to fight climate change, especially because its local impact has grown clearer over the past year. In 2017, Seattle’s air quality suffered from the ash and smoke from especially bad Pacific Northwest wildfires. Many parts of the state faced an unprecedented heatwave. “This is really visceral for people right now,” Abraham says.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Washington state gets another shot at the nation’s first carbon tax on Nov 16, 2017.

http://ift.tt/2AOr5wO Source: http://grist.org




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