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Does your company need a Corporate Social Responsibility report?
In 2017, study completed by Cone Communications in the US has revealed that nearly 60% of Americans are hopeful that businesses will be the driving force behind social and environmental change in absence of government regulation. 87% of the respondents said that they would purchase from a company that supports a cause that’s close to their heart. We hear more and more about “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) ” – but why do we only hear about it in relation to big corporations? After all, 99% of all businesses fall into the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) category. So why not use that power to fulfil expectations and help incite socially responsible change?SuperGreen Solutions  is a company that wants to help SMEs do just that. They have partnered up with United Nations to “identify and remove the barriers preventing SMEs from pursuing sustainable business practices”. Leading businesses into a greener future A true expert in their field, SuperGreen Solutions knows all about the challenges and concerns that SMEs face. One of such concerns is naturally the cost of going green – many companies believe that being environmentally responsible would cost them a lot of money and generate little return on investment. However, according to SuperGreen Solutions’ website their Green Compass Sustainability Award program allows businesses to increase their sales and margins by 20%, reduce their employee turnover by 50% and significantly increase employee morale and loyalty (by 55% and 38% respectively). These impressive numbers indicate that our awareness of sustainability overall has not only increased, but has become a major factor affecting our purchasing decisions. Now, what if your business is already using sustainable practices? Well, then there is one important thing you need to do: let everyone know!If you got it, flaunt it If you don’t talk about it, nobody will know. It’s a basic principle, but it’s something that small and medium businesses often forget about when it comes to socially responsible policies and their contribution to the environment. However, many companies have been accused of “greenwashing” – falsely advertising that an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly. So how can one distinguish companies that are “the real deal” from the “greenwashers”? Luckily for consumers, more and more companies are embracing transparency and publishing their CSR reports and including a separate “Environmental responsibility” section on their websites. There are also third-party certifications that will indicate just how sincere a business is about their sustainable practices. The companies that issue these certifications are constantly reviewing the company’s practices to ensure that they are keeping to their environmental policies, so if a company holds such certification this can help build a lot of trust with the consumers. Make your small business the force behind a big change The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) offers a simple guideline  for companies that would like to start communicating their sustainability performance, but don’t know where to start. The process consists of just 5 phases: Prepare, Connect, Define, Monitor and Report. Your report could become the first step towards a big change and put you on the forefront of the green movement. Does your company have a corporate social responsibility program? Do you actively communicate it to all of your stakeholders? Let us know in the comment section down below! By: Ariana Murzina http://www.conecomm.com/research-blog/2017-csr-studyhttps://supergreensolutions.com/https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/Ready-to-Report-SME-booklet-online.pdf
In 2017, study completed by Cone Communications in the US has revealed that nearly 60% of Americans are hopeful that businesses will be the driving force behind social and environmental change in absence of government regulation. 87% of the respondents said that they would purchase from a company that supports a cause that’s close to their heart. We hear more and more about “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) ” – but why do we only hear about it in relation to big corporations? After all, 99% of all businesses fall into the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) category. So why not use that power to fulfil expectations and help incite socially responsible change?SuperGreen Solutions  is a company that wants to help SMEs do just that. They have partnered up with United Nations to “identify and remove the barriers preventing SMEs from pursuing sustainable business practices”. Leading businesses into a greener future A true expert in their field, SuperGreen Solutions knows all about the challenges and concerns that SMEs face. One of such concerns is naturally the cost of going green – many companies believe that being environmentally responsible would cost them a lot of money and generate little return on investment. However, according to SuperGreen Solutions’ website their Green Compass Sustainability Award program allows businesses to increase their sales and margins by 20%, reduce their employee turnover by 50% and significantly increase employee morale and loyalty (by 55% and 38% respectively). These impressive numbers indicate that our awareness of sustainability overall has not only increased, but has become a major factor affecting our purchasing decisions. Now, what if your business is already using sustainable practices? Well, then there is one important thing you need to do: let everyone know!If you got it, flaunt it If you don’t talk about it, nobody will know. It’s a basic principle, but it’s something that small and medium businesses often forget about when it comes to socially responsible policies and their contribution to the environment. However, many companies have been accused of “greenwashing” – falsely advertising that an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly. So how can one distinguish companies that are “the real deal” from the “greenwashers”? Luckily for consumers, more and more companies are embracing transparency and publishing their CSR reports and including a separate “Environmental responsibility” section on their websites. There are also third-party certifications that will indicate just how sincere a business is about their sustainable practices. The companies that issue these certifications are constantly reviewing the company’s practices to ensure that they are keeping to their environmental policies, so if a company holds such certification this can help build a lot of trust with the consumers. Make your small business the force behind a big change The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) offers a simple guideline  for companies that would like to start communicating their sustainability performance, but don’t know where to start. The process consists of just 5 phases: Prepare, Connect, Define, Monitor and Report. Your report could become the first step towards a big change and put you on the forefront of the green movement. Does your company have a corporate social responsibility program? Do you actively communicate it to all of your stakeholders? Let us know in the comment section down below! By: Ariana Murzina http://www.conecomm.com/research-blog/2017-csr-studyhttps://supergreensolutions.com/https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/Ready-to-Report-SME-booklet-online.pdf
Does your company need a Corporate Social Responsibility report?
Does your company need a Corporate Social Responsibility report?
The sun is strong enough to let solar panels shine
The Dutch sun is strong enough for roofs to generate electricityThe Netherlands might be known for wooden shoes and beautiful flowers yet Michiel Mensink went a different direction. His start-up Exasun will make the nation known for its sunlight based panels. Since Michiel and Jan Jaap van Os established Exasun in 2012, they've created solar panels that are no less than twice as strong as customary sun powered panels, produce more electricity for less money and they look better. Made in the Netherlands. Sustainability has always been a passion for us," says Michiel, who has known Jan Jaap since meeting him in college more than 20 years ago. "Our objective was to make panels that make solar panels less expensive than the use of coal. The considerable thing is that we're near that goal now." Presently Exasun will have the capacity to step up its production five-fold on account of a multi-million-euro investment from 2 Dutch banks and a Dutch government innovation fund . Panels, tiles and rooftops Photo by: Jonathan Mast "Exasun offers a stylishly and monetarily appealing answer for putting homes and structures in the Netherlands and Europe on more sustainable footing." Other than solar panels, Exasun makes solar rooftop tiles. These come in dark and orange-red and can be introduced between existing rooftop tiles, which is normal for Dutch homes.  Another item is a whole sunlight based board rooftop, utilized as a part of recently fabricated homes. These are both more proficient and more pleasant looking options for customary solar panels. The whole rooftop is comprised of Exasun's sun based panels. "Current sunlight based modules are regularly somewhat ugly," said Michiel. "Our items have a greatly improved appearance, you don't see they're sunlight based modules. They additionally last longer than some other modules, as they're more robust against flame and hail." It took four to five years of innovative work to get this head begin, said Michiel. Presently, Exasun will utilize the venture to present a completely mechanized production line in the not so distant future, with a five-fold increased production capacity. The capacity will be scaled up more in 2019. "I trust Exasun will turn into a commonly recognized name in Europe for individuals who need the best answer for sun oriented on their rooftop or building." https://www.ing.com/Newsroom/All-news/Tulips-windmills-and...-solar-panels.htm Cover photo by: Aquiles Carattino
The Dutch sun is strong enough for roofs to generate electricityThe Netherlands might be known for wooden shoes and beautiful flowers yet Michiel Mensink went a different direction. His start-up Exasun will make the nation known for its sunlight based panels. Since Michiel and Jan Jaap van Os established Exasun in 2012, they've created solar panels that are no less than twice as strong as customary sun powered panels, produce more electricity for less money and they look better. Made in the Netherlands. Sustainability has always been a passion for us," says Michiel, who has known Jan Jaap since meeting him in college more than 20 years ago. "Our objective was to make panels that make solar panels less expensive than the use of coal. The considerable thing is that we're near that goal now." Presently Exasun will have the capacity to step up its production five-fold on account of a multi-million-euro investment from 2 Dutch banks and a Dutch government innovation fund . Panels, tiles and rooftops Photo by: Jonathan Mast "Exasun offers a stylishly and monetarily appealing answer for putting homes and structures in the Netherlands and Europe on more sustainable footing." Other than solar panels, Exasun makes solar rooftop tiles. These come in dark and orange-red and can be introduced between existing rooftop tiles, which is normal for Dutch homes.  Another item is a whole sunlight based board rooftop, utilized as a part of recently fabricated homes. These are both more proficient and more pleasant looking options for customary solar panels. The whole rooftop is comprised of Exasun's sun based panels. "Current sunlight based modules are regularly somewhat ugly," said Michiel. "Our items have a greatly improved appearance, you don't see they're sunlight based modules. They additionally last longer than some other modules, as they're more robust against flame and hail." It took four to five years of innovative work to get this head begin, said Michiel. Presently, Exasun will utilize the venture to present a completely mechanized production line in the not so distant future, with a five-fold increased production capacity. The capacity will be scaled up more in 2019. "I trust Exasun will turn into a commonly recognized name in Europe for individuals who need the best answer for sun oriented on their rooftop or building." https://www.ing.com/Newsroom/All-news/Tulips-windmills-and...-solar-panels.htm Cover photo by: Aquiles Carattino
The sun is strong enough to let solar panels shine
The sun is strong enough to let solar panels shine
On June 15th we celebrate Global Wind Day. Organised by European Wind Energy Association and Global Wind Energy Council, this is the day to learn all about wind energy, one of the most promising sustainable energy sources, and discover its true potential. So please allow us to take you on a tour through history of wind energy from ancient times to present day and even take a sneak peek into the future!How and when did we start using wind energy? Wind is a very powerful force of nature. It can uproot trees, blow off roofs and, given enough time, it can build and destroy mountains. So it is only natural that humans have been looking for ways to harness this energy and use it to their advantage. The first use of wind energy came in form of sailing. Scientists have discovered ceramics from the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in Eastern Europe that depicted sailboats as early as 6000 BC. Ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians and proto-Austronesian people have also been known to actively use sailboats in the ancient times. Then came along Heron of Alexandria, ‘the greatest experimentalist of antiquity’. He invented the first wind wheel in 1st century AD to operate an organ – this was the earliest known example of a wind-powered machine. While archaeologists cannot yet say when or where the first windmills were built, there is evidence of the Persians using windmills around 500-900 AD. Windmills were used to pump seawater for salt making by year 1000 AD in both China and Sicily. Heron's Wind Wheel In Europe windmills started to appear around 12th century. They were used extensively for food production as their operation was not disrupted by winter in the way water mills’ was. The Dutch have later taken existing windmill designs and adapted them for draining lakes and marshes. If not for wind-powered mills, the Netherlands would’ve looked very different today – it is estimated that a whopping 17% of the country is land that was reclaimed from the sea and lakes! First wind turbine was built by Professor James Blyth in Scotland in July 1887. It was used to charge accumulators that provided electricity to light Blyth’s cottage, effectively making his cottage the first house in the world to have its electricity come from this green source. First wind turbine was built by Professor James Blyth in Scotland in July 1887 A favourite on the rise Naturally, many improvements were made to Professor’s design over the last 130 years. Sleek, horizontal axis turbines with are a far cry from Blyth’s vertical axis construction that looks like something from a sci-fi movie (even though it was made way before those even existed!). Wind energy is currently one of the most important sources of renewable energy. More than 90 countries use wind energy and with wind power being the fastest growing energy source in the world more countries are expected to adopt it in the coming years. China is world leader in wind energy adoption rate, and while wind power currently accounts only for 4% of nation’s total energy consumption this is likely to rapidly change in the upcoming years. On the other hand Denmark and Portugal have more than 40% of their electricity supplied by wind power – in fact, in March 2018 Portugal’s renewable energy sources generated 103,6% of mainland electricity consumption! The US is also adopting wind energy at a fast pace. So why is wind energy becoming so popular? It all has to do with our favourite word here at WhatsOrb – Sustainability.  Wind isn’t a resource the world can ever run out of and this fact alone already gives makes it much more advantageous from both environmental and economic perspectives compared to the more traditional energy sources like oil, natural gas and coal. But that isn’t the only benefit of switching over to wind power. Air pollution is the fourth largest threat to human health globally and energy production is the biggest source of it by far. Wind turbines, on the other hand, do not produce any emissions that can cause pollution and are thus much better for the environment. They also don’t require any water for cooling, which allows them to be used in water-stressed regions without causing further harm. All of these factors make wind energy very attractive and with costs getting lower and lower as technology gets perfected we can only expect it to become more popular in the years to come. What the future holds Wind energy offers a lot of benefits and with more and more plants being built every year it is clear that it will play a significant role in world’s power supply. Naturally, this means we will see more exciting developments in the technology and, hopefully, more uses for it. One of such developments was unveiled by GE this March. It is called Haliade-X and it promises to become the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine to date. It will be 260m(853ft) tall, which is as tall as San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid! Haliade-X also promises to be able to generate energy even at lower wind speeds and its simplified design will allow for easier repairs, allowing it to provide green energy at a lower cost. The Halliade-X, promises to become the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine to date Another project to watch is SUMR (Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor) Wind, a collaboration between leading industry experts and universities that is even more ambitious than that of GE. Their goal is to perfect existing turbine design in every aspect and allow for creation of massive turbines that will be taller than the Eiffel Tower. These turbines are expected to reduce costs of offshore energy by as much as 50% by 2025. While GE’s and SUMR Wind’s projects are all about improving the existing tech, Makani Power is a company that is looking to introduce a new way of harvesting wind energy. Their energy kites can soar to 300m(984ft) and fly autonomously in loops, which allows it to generate high amounts of power in a very efficient manner. They are going to do flight tests in Hawaii this year and we are looking forward to seeing the results! Are there any cool wind power-related projects you’ve seen lately? Share them with us in the comments – we are ready to be blown away! https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy By: Ariana Murzina
On June 15th we celebrate Global Wind Day. Organised by European Wind Energy Association and Global Wind Energy Council, this is the day to learn all about wind energy, one of the most promising sustainable energy sources, and discover its true potential. So please allow us to take you on a tour through history of wind energy from ancient times to present day and even take a sneak peek into the future!How and when did we start using wind energy? Wind is a very powerful force of nature. It can uproot trees, blow off roofs and, given enough time, it can build and destroy mountains. So it is only natural that humans have been looking for ways to harness this energy and use it to their advantage. The first use of wind energy came in form of sailing. Scientists have discovered ceramics from the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in Eastern Europe that depicted sailboats as early as 6000 BC. Ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians and proto-Austronesian people have also been known to actively use sailboats in the ancient times. Then came along Heron of Alexandria, ‘the greatest experimentalist of antiquity’. He invented the first wind wheel in 1st century AD to operate an organ – this was the earliest known example of a wind-powered machine. While archaeologists cannot yet say when or where the first windmills were built, there is evidence of the Persians using windmills around 500-900 AD. Windmills were used to pump seawater for salt making by year 1000 AD in both China and Sicily. Heron's Wind Wheel In Europe windmills started to appear around 12th century. They were used extensively for food production as their operation was not disrupted by winter in the way water mills’ was. The Dutch have later taken existing windmill designs and adapted them for draining lakes and marshes. If not for wind-powered mills, the Netherlands would’ve looked very different today – it is estimated that a whopping 17% of the country is land that was reclaimed from the sea and lakes! First wind turbine was built by Professor James Blyth in Scotland in July 1887. It was used to charge accumulators that provided electricity to light Blyth’s cottage, effectively making his cottage the first house in the world to have its electricity come from this green source. First wind turbine was built by Professor James Blyth in Scotland in July 1887 A favourite on the rise Naturally, many improvements were made to Professor’s design over the last 130 years. Sleek, horizontal axis turbines with are a far cry from Blyth’s vertical axis construction that looks like something from a sci-fi movie (even though it was made way before those even existed!). Wind energy is currently one of the most important sources of renewable energy. More than 90 countries use wind energy and with wind power being the fastest growing energy source in the world more countries are expected to adopt it in the coming years. China is world leader in wind energy adoption rate, and while wind power currently accounts only for 4% of nation’s total energy consumption this is likely to rapidly change in the upcoming years. On the other hand Denmark and Portugal have more than 40% of their electricity supplied by wind power – in fact, in March 2018 Portugal’s renewable energy sources generated 103,6% of mainland electricity consumption! The US is also adopting wind energy at a fast pace. So why is wind energy becoming so popular? It all has to do with our favourite word here at WhatsOrb – Sustainability.  Wind isn’t a resource the world can ever run out of and this fact alone already gives makes it much more advantageous from both environmental and economic perspectives compared to the more traditional energy sources like oil, natural gas and coal. But that isn’t the only benefit of switching over to wind power. Air pollution is the fourth largest threat to human health globally and energy production is the biggest source of it by far. Wind turbines, on the other hand, do not produce any emissions that can cause pollution and are thus much better for the environment. They also don’t require any water for cooling, which allows them to be used in water-stressed regions without causing further harm. All of these factors make wind energy very attractive and with costs getting lower and lower as technology gets perfected we can only expect it to become more popular in the years to come. What the future holds Wind energy offers a lot of benefits and with more and more plants being built every year it is clear that it will play a significant role in world’s power supply. Naturally, this means we will see more exciting developments in the technology and, hopefully, more uses for it. One of such developments was unveiled by GE this March. It is called Haliade-X and it promises to become the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine to date. It will be 260m(853ft) tall, which is as tall as San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid! Haliade-X also promises to be able to generate energy even at lower wind speeds and its simplified design will allow for easier repairs, allowing it to provide green energy at a lower cost. The Halliade-X, promises to become the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbine to date Another project to watch is SUMR (Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor) Wind, a collaboration between leading industry experts and universities that is even more ambitious than that of GE. Their goal is to perfect existing turbine design in every aspect and allow for creation of massive turbines that will be taller than the Eiffel Tower. These turbines are expected to reduce costs of offshore energy by as much as 50% by 2025. While GE’s and SUMR Wind’s projects are all about improving the existing tech, Makani Power is a company that is looking to introduce a new way of harvesting wind energy. Their energy kites can soar to 300m(984ft) and fly autonomously in loops, which allows it to generate high amounts of power in a very efficient manner. They are going to do flight tests in Hawaii this year and we are looking forward to seeing the results! Are there any cool wind power-related projects you’ve seen lately? Share them with us in the comments – we are ready to be blown away! https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy By: Ariana Murzina
'Do you celebrate Global Wind Day on June 15th?'
Sustainable architecture 2018. How does it feel for you?
In architecture, sustainability is no longer just about the choice of materials. These surprisingly innovative construction projects have us looking forward in 2018.The first wooden skyscraper Wooden high-rise: Pendas Timber Tower. Image: Penda Most cities still resemble deserts of concrete and steel. The architects at Penda aim to change all that. Take their Toronto-based Timber Tower, planned together with the consultants at Tmber. Spanning an impressive 18 levels, the entirely wooden structure relies on a high-tech wood blend called CLT and a special, modular construction approach. To achieve the supremely resilient, 62-meter-high result, Penda will stack wood panel boxes in a particular pattern. The finished apartment building will pay proud homage to its roots by resembling a huge tree.The building in Toronto consists entirely of wood. Image: Penda The green hill Sometimes, architects can actually let their imagination roam and realize their wildest dreams. Thomas Heatherwick is one of the lucky few who gets to build his ambitious vision with the 100 Trees Complex in Shanghai. The immense project will not only cover more than 300,000 square meters, but also transcend the mere notion of being just another skyscraper block in the Chinese metropolis. 100 Trees is an entire district with schools, kindergartens, shopping centres, offices, and apartments, brought together in Heatherwick’s nature-inspired, hill-like complex covered in plenty of luscious greenery. Each pillar is topped by a tree, surrounded by more than 400 planted terraces. Liveable landscape – in the heart of Shanghai. Image: Mir Inside/outside hybrid For his latest project in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnamese star architect Vo Tronh Nghia decided to turn the planning process upside down: He started with the plants and trees, only turning to the actual living space once the landscaping had been finalized. Vo Tronh Nghia built this house around its trees. Image: Hiroyuki Oki As a result, the buildings residences are massively influenced and shaped by nature: Rooms are structured around enclosed gardens; concrete walls double as trellises for climbers. Many roofs leave deliberate gaps for growing trees or incoming daylight, infusing indoor areas with a distinct outdoor feel and appeal. Lots of daylight and lofty rooms.Image: Hiroyuki Oki Innovative exterior Anyone who automatically associates sustainable architecture with natural materials like bamboo is in for a big surprise. Architect Francois Perrin favours an innovative textile woven from aluminium threads. Francois Perrins Air Houses are made of a metallic mesh fabric. Image: Steve Hall For the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, he spun this futuristic fabric into distinctive Air Houses: pyramid-shaped, treehouse-like structures based on a lightweight steel frame and an exterior skin fashioned from the aluminium material. The result is reflective, wind- and waterproof, and easily cools the interior without any additional input. Who needs air conditioning? Like a mountain range A desert range in Amsterdam might be the most accurate description of the Valley designed by the MVRDV architecture studio. The sizeable project, comprising three towers, 200 apartments, several public institutions, shops and restaurants, is set to revive Amsterdams Zuidas office district sometime after 2021. Individual segments are stacked like the striations of a mountain range, then connected across several levels via paths and strips of green. Natural stone facades, roof gardens, and water reservoirs are designed to make Valley dwellers feel far-removed from everyday life – towering high above the rest of the city. Natural stone, green terraces, and water reservoirs in Amsterdam Image: Vero Visuals, Rotterdam Inspired by the shapes of nature Its quite a lofty goal: If Henning Larsen Architects get their way, the Icone Tower will become a new landmark of Manila and possibly the entire Philippines. For their radical design, the Danish firm took inspiration from the countrys Mount Mayon volcano, basing the Icone Towers distinctive silhouette on the volcanos characteristic cone shape. Inside, a clever mix and match of public and private areas awaits: The net-style glass/steel facade lets in a maximum of daylight while affording great views of the surrounding park. And at night, the illuminated panorama platform on the buildings top promises to serve as a stylized beacon for progress and things to come. The Icone Tower will be visible for all of Manila. Image: Henning LarsenThe building was inspired by the volcano Mount Mayon. Image: Henning Larsen Saving space Shanghai is as flat as the Netherlands but much more densely populated. To solve the booming republics lack of living space, the Chinese mega metropolis has increasingly upped the ante by building skywards. Buildings like a hilly landscape in Shanghai. Image: MVRDV This vertical, multi-level approach and principle is also reflected in the latest ambitious project by Rotterdam-based architectural firm MWRDV. All buildings of their Zhangjiang future park (including a library, an event space, a theater, and a sports center) will be embedded at different depths, resulting in a landscape and skyline of rolling hills with walkable roofs. The latter, planted with plenty of greenery, double as welcome insulation, coolant, and water filters. The future park an idea of Dutch studio MVRDV. Vertical forest France has swathes of vast woodlands, but not a single vertical forest. Italian architect aims to change this with his Fort Blanche on the outskirts of Paris, a 50-meter tower fashioned from stacked wood and glass cubes with thickly planted edges. The towers sustainable architecture not only boasts more than 2,000 plants (equivalent to an entire hectare of forest), but also a wooden facade, daylight wells, and a unique construction that favors natural ventilation. Stefano Boeri is bringing his green facades to Paris. Image: Compagnie De Phalsbourg ArchitectesStacked glas cubes dominate the aesthetics of Boeris Fort Blanche. Image: Compagnie De Phalsbourg Architectes Floating university It almost sounds like a fairy-tale: Contaminated swampland becomes a sustainable utopia. Yet this fiction might soon become fact in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The Floating University planned by Woha Architects recently won the worlds most prestigious award for sustainable architecture. The LafargeHolcim Awards jury praised the projects idea to place the classrooms on pontoons in the wetlands. Vertical gardens lower the buildings cooling requirements while photovoltaic panels and a rainwater recovery system add to the universitys overall sustainability. Wohas sustainable university campus within a formerly contaminated swamp. Image: WOHA Natural high The lower levels aim to convey the look and feel of the brightly green rice terraces of Vietnam. Yet the higher you move up the Empire City Towers, the more incredible the illusion: The mega project’s 333-meter-high spiralling towers include mezzanine floors with tropical gardens, lakes, and even waterfalls. Planned highlight of Ho Chi Minh City: the Empire City Towers. Image: Ole Scheeren Verdant all the way, the Ho Chi Minh City-based brainchild of Ole Scheeren definitely takes a leaf or three out of Vietnams stunning nature. Organic shapes and energy-neutral construction complete the harmonious picture, yet its up to each visitor to decide what ultimately takes their breath away: the view or the inspiration behind it all. Like rice fields high above the city. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/architecture By: Janina Temmen Header image: Paris Smart City 2050 with 8 Plus-Energy Towers | Vincent Callebaut
In architecture, sustainability is no longer just about the choice of materials. These surprisingly innovative construction projects have us looking forward in 2018.The first wooden skyscraper Wooden high-rise: Pendas Timber Tower. Image: Penda Most cities still resemble deserts of concrete and steel. The architects at Penda aim to change all that. Take their Toronto-based Timber Tower, planned together with the consultants at Tmber. Spanning an impressive 18 levels, the entirely wooden structure relies on a high-tech wood blend called CLT and a special, modular construction approach. To achieve the supremely resilient, 62-meter-high result, Penda will stack wood panel boxes in a particular pattern. The finished apartment building will pay proud homage to its roots by resembling a huge tree.The building in Toronto consists entirely of wood. Image: Penda The green hill Sometimes, architects can actually let their imagination roam and realize their wildest dreams. Thomas Heatherwick is one of the lucky few who gets to build his ambitious vision with the 100 Trees Complex in Shanghai. The immense project will not only cover more than 300,000 square meters, but also transcend the mere notion of being just another skyscraper block in the Chinese metropolis. 100 Trees is an entire district with schools, kindergartens, shopping centres, offices, and apartments, brought together in Heatherwick’s nature-inspired, hill-like complex covered in plenty of luscious greenery. Each pillar is topped by a tree, surrounded by more than 400 planted terraces. Liveable landscape – in the heart of Shanghai. Image: Mir Inside/outside hybrid For his latest project in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnamese star architect Vo Tronh Nghia decided to turn the planning process upside down: He started with the plants and trees, only turning to the actual living space once the landscaping had been finalized. Vo Tronh Nghia built this house around its trees. Image: Hiroyuki Oki As a result, the buildings residences are massively influenced and shaped by nature: Rooms are structured around enclosed gardens; concrete walls double as trellises for climbers. Many roofs leave deliberate gaps for growing trees or incoming daylight, infusing indoor areas with a distinct outdoor feel and appeal. Lots of daylight and lofty rooms.Image: Hiroyuki Oki Innovative exterior Anyone who automatically associates sustainable architecture with natural materials like bamboo is in for a big surprise. Architect Francois Perrin favours an innovative textile woven from aluminium threads. Francois Perrins Air Houses are made of a metallic mesh fabric. Image: Steve Hall For the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, he spun this futuristic fabric into distinctive Air Houses: pyramid-shaped, treehouse-like structures based on a lightweight steel frame and an exterior skin fashioned from the aluminium material. The result is reflective, wind- and waterproof, and easily cools the interior without any additional input. Who needs air conditioning? Like a mountain range A desert range in Amsterdam might be the most accurate description of the Valley designed by the MVRDV architecture studio. The sizeable project, comprising three towers, 200 apartments, several public institutions, shops and restaurants, is set to revive Amsterdams Zuidas office district sometime after 2021. Individual segments are stacked like the striations of a mountain range, then connected across several levels via paths and strips of green. Natural stone facades, roof gardens, and water reservoirs are designed to make Valley dwellers feel far-removed from everyday life – towering high above the rest of the city. Natural stone, green terraces, and water reservoirs in Amsterdam Image: Vero Visuals, Rotterdam Inspired by the shapes of nature Its quite a lofty goal: If Henning Larsen Architects get their way, the Icone Tower will become a new landmark of Manila and possibly the entire Philippines. For their radical design, the Danish firm took inspiration from the countrys Mount Mayon volcano, basing the Icone Towers distinctive silhouette on the volcanos characteristic cone shape. Inside, a clever mix and match of public and private areas awaits: The net-style glass/steel facade lets in a maximum of daylight while affording great views of the surrounding park. And at night, the illuminated panorama platform on the buildings top promises to serve as a stylized beacon for progress and things to come. The Icone Tower will be visible for all of Manila. Image: Henning LarsenThe building was inspired by the volcano Mount Mayon. Image: Henning Larsen Saving space Shanghai is as flat as the Netherlands but much more densely populated. To solve the booming republics lack of living space, the Chinese mega metropolis has increasingly upped the ante by building skywards. Buildings like a hilly landscape in Shanghai. Image: MVRDV This vertical, multi-level approach and principle is also reflected in the latest ambitious project by Rotterdam-based architectural firm MWRDV. All buildings of their Zhangjiang future park (including a library, an event space, a theater, and a sports center) will be embedded at different depths, resulting in a landscape and skyline of rolling hills with walkable roofs. The latter, planted with plenty of greenery, double as welcome insulation, coolant, and water filters. The future park an idea of Dutch studio MVRDV. Vertical forest France has swathes of vast woodlands, but not a single vertical forest. Italian architect aims to change this with his Fort Blanche on the outskirts of Paris, a 50-meter tower fashioned from stacked wood and glass cubes with thickly planted edges. The towers sustainable architecture not only boasts more than 2,000 plants (equivalent to an entire hectare of forest), but also a wooden facade, daylight wells, and a unique construction that favors natural ventilation. Stefano Boeri is bringing his green facades to Paris. Image: Compagnie De Phalsbourg ArchitectesStacked glas cubes dominate the aesthetics of Boeris Fort Blanche. Image: Compagnie De Phalsbourg Architectes Floating university It almost sounds like a fairy-tale: Contaminated swampland becomes a sustainable utopia. Yet this fiction might soon become fact in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The Floating University planned by Woha Architects recently won the worlds most prestigious award for sustainable architecture. The LafargeHolcim Awards jury praised the projects idea to place the classrooms on pontoons in the wetlands. Vertical gardens lower the buildings cooling requirements while photovoltaic panels and a rainwater recovery system add to the universitys overall sustainability. Wohas sustainable university campus within a formerly contaminated swamp. Image: WOHA Natural high The lower levels aim to convey the look and feel of the brightly green rice terraces of Vietnam. Yet the higher you move up the Empire City Towers, the more incredible the illusion: The mega project’s 333-meter-high spiralling towers include mezzanine floors with tropical gardens, lakes, and even waterfalls. Planned highlight of Ho Chi Minh City: the Empire City Towers. Image: Ole Scheeren Verdant all the way, the Ho Chi Minh City-based brainchild of Ole Scheeren definitely takes a leaf or three out of Vietnams stunning nature. Organic shapes and energy-neutral construction complete the harmonious picture, yet its up to each visitor to decide what ultimately takes their breath away: the view or the inspiration behind it all. Like rice fields high above the city. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/architecture By: Janina Temmen Header image: Paris Smart City 2050 with 8 Plus-Energy Towers | Vincent Callebaut
Sustainable architecture 2018. How does it feel for you?
Sustainable architecture 2018. How does it feel for you?
Summer tourists cause a 40% spike in plastic marine litter
Tourists to Mediterranean told to ditch plastic to avoid huge rise in beach litter Tourists are being urged to refuse plastic straws and avoid buying inflatable pool toys as new figures reveal holidaymakers cause a 40% spike in marine litter in the Mediterranean each summer. Nearly all the waste created by the surge in tourism over the summer months in countries like Italy, France and Turkey is plastic litter, says WWF in a new report. In a matter of weeks over the holiday season the rise in plastic marine pollution contributes to the estimated 150m tonnes of plastic in the ocean.  Why is plastic being demonised?  Rubbish Beach, Spain Since the 1950s, 8.3bn tonnes of plastic has been produced. Plastic is seen as a versatile, indispensable product, but the environmental impact is becoming more stark. Plastic is now so pervasive that recycling systems cannot keep up and the leakage into the environment is such that by 2050 plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish. Last year scientists found plastic fibers in tap water, and plastic has been found in the stomachs of sea creatures in the deepest part of the ocean. Most plastic waste ends up in landfill sites or leaks into the natural environment, where it is causing huge damage to eco-systems on land and sea, creating near permanent contamination. According to academics in the United States, by 2015, of all the plastic waste generated since the 1950s, only 9% has been recycled, with 12% incinerated and 79% accumulated in landfill sites or the environment.  Why are the supermarkets under fire?  Producers of plastic include retailers, drinks companies and supermarkets. The Guardian revealed that supermarkets create more than half of the plastic waste in the household stream in the UK. But they refuse to reveal how much they put on to the streets and how much they pay towards recycling it. Supermarkets are under pressure to reduce their plastic packaging and campaigners argue they have the power to turn off the tap. Much of the packaging they sell to consumers is not recyclable: plastic film, black plastic trays, sleeves on drinks bottles and some colored plastic. The Recycling Association and other experts believe supermarkets could do much more to make packaging 100% recyclable and reduce the use of plastic.  Who pays to clean up the waste?  The taxpayer, overwhelmingly. Producers and retailers pay the lowest towards recycling and dealing with their waste in Europe. In other countries, the “polluter” is forced to pay much more. In France, a sliding system of charges means those who put more non- recyclable material on the market pay more.  What can shoppers do to help? Supermarkets are under pressure, not least from the prime minister, to create plastic-free aisles. A growing number of zero-waste shops are springing up and consumers are being encouraged to ask for products to be sold without plastic.  WWF said in its report the majority of plastic waste polluting the Mediterranean Sea comes from Turkey and Spain, followed by Italy, Egypt and France – countries to which more than 34 million British holidaymakers are preparing to travel this year. Tanya Steele, chief executive of WWF, said holidaymakers were leaving behind a toxic legacy of plastic waste. “The birds, fish and turtles of the Mediterranean are choking on plastic … plastic is ending up in the fish and seafood we eat on holiday. A Loggerhead Turtle trapped in a abandonend fishing net Mediterranean. Photo by: Jordi Chias, NPL, WWF “We’re asking people to think about how they can cut down on the amount of single-use plastic they use and throw away on holiday,” she said. Steele urges holidaymakers to drink tap water where it is safe to do so, refuse plastic straws and skip the purchase of inflatable pool toys. “We can all be part of the solution and not the problem,” she said. Recent pictures of Bournemouth beach after the Bank Holiday weekend in the UK showed mountains of plastic waste littered across the sand. In Europe plastics account for 95% of the waste in the open sea, posing a major threat to marine life, says WWF.   Bournemouth beach after the Bank Holiday weekend in the UK. Photo by: rspb.org.uk Europe is the second largest producer of plastic in the world after China  After China, Europe is the second largest producer of plastic in the world, producing 27m tonnes of plastic waste. The continent dumps up to an estimated 500,000 tonnes of macroplastics and 130,000 tonnes of microplastics in the sea every year, the report says.  But delays and gaps in plastic waste management in most Mediterranean countries mean only a third of the 60m tonnes of plastic produced is recycled. Half of all plastic waste in Italy, France and Spain ends up in landfills. Home to almost 25,000 plant and animal species – of which 60% are unique to the region – the Mediterranean holds only 1% of the world’s water but contains 7% of all of the world’s microplastic waste. Plastics have also been found in oysters and mussels, while crisp packets and cigarettes have been found in large fish, WWF says. Plastic waste remains in the environment for hundreds of years. Every plastic cup left by a tourist on a beach takes 50 years to break down, every plastic bag takes 20 years, and a fishing line can remain in the sea for up to 600 years, the report said. The Mediterranean, semi-enclosed by three continents and home to intense human activity, creates a trap for plastics which today account for 95% of marine litter in the sea. But Europe is in danger of being left behind on action against single-use plastic by emerging economies. In the most ambitious global action yet to curb plastic waste, India this week announced it was banning all single use plastics by 2022. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/travel   By: Sandra Laville, TheGuardian
Tourists to Mediterranean told to ditch plastic to avoid huge rise in beach litter Tourists are being urged to refuse plastic straws and avoid buying inflatable pool toys as new figures reveal holidaymakers cause a 40% spike in marine litter in the Mediterranean each summer. Nearly all the waste created by the surge in tourism over the summer months in countries like Italy, France and Turkey is plastic litter, says WWF in a new report. In a matter of weeks over the holiday season the rise in plastic marine pollution contributes to the estimated 150m tonnes of plastic in the ocean.  Why is plastic being demonised?  Rubbish Beach, Spain Since the 1950s, 8.3bn tonnes of plastic has been produced. Plastic is seen as a versatile, indispensable product, but the environmental impact is becoming more stark. Plastic is now so pervasive that recycling systems cannot keep up and the leakage into the environment is such that by 2050 plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish. Last year scientists found plastic fibers in tap water, and plastic has been found in the stomachs of sea creatures in the deepest part of the ocean. Most plastic waste ends up in landfill sites or leaks into the natural environment, where it is causing huge damage to eco-systems on land and sea, creating near permanent contamination. According to academics in the United States, by 2015, of all the plastic waste generated since the 1950s, only 9% has been recycled, with 12% incinerated and 79% accumulated in landfill sites or the environment.  Why are the supermarkets under fire?  Producers of plastic include retailers, drinks companies and supermarkets. The Guardian revealed that supermarkets create more than half of the plastic waste in the household stream in the UK. But they refuse to reveal how much they put on to the streets and how much they pay towards recycling it. Supermarkets are under pressure to reduce their plastic packaging and campaigners argue they have the power to turn off the tap. Much of the packaging they sell to consumers is not recyclable: plastic film, black plastic trays, sleeves on drinks bottles and some colored plastic. The Recycling Association and other experts believe supermarkets could do much more to make packaging 100% recyclable and reduce the use of plastic.  Who pays to clean up the waste?  The taxpayer, overwhelmingly. Producers and retailers pay the lowest towards recycling and dealing with their waste in Europe. In other countries, the “polluter” is forced to pay much more. In France, a sliding system of charges means those who put more non- recyclable material on the market pay more.  What can shoppers do to help? Supermarkets are under pressure, not least from the prime minister, to create plastic-free aisles. A growing number of zero-waste shops are springing up and consumers are being encouraged to ask for products to be sold without plastic.  WWF said in its report the majority of plastic waste polluting the Mediterranean Sea comes from Turkey and Spain, followed by Italy, Egypt and France – countries to which more than 34 million British holidaymakers are preparing to travel this year. Tanya Steele, chief executive of WWF, said holidaymakers were leaving behind a toxic legacy of plastic waste. “The birds, fish and turtles of the Mediterranean are choking on plastic … plastic is ending up in the fish and seafood we eat on holiday. A Loggerhead Turtle trapped in a abandonend fishing net Mediterranean. Photo by: Jordi Chias, NPL, WWF “We’re asking people to think about how they can cut down on the amount of single-use plastic they use and throw away on holiday,” she said. Steele urges holidaymakers to drink tap water where it is safe to do so, refuse plastic straws and skip the purchase of inflatable pool toys. “We can all be part of the solution and not the problem,” she said. Recent pictures of Bournemouth beach after the Bank Holiday weekend in the UK showed mountains of plastic waste littered across the sand. In Europe plastics account for 95% of the waste in the open sea, posing a major threat to marine life, says WWF.   Bournemouth beach after the Bank Holiday weekend in the UK. Photo by: rspb.org.uk Europe is the second largest producer of plastic in the world after China  After China, Europe is the second largest producer of plastic in the world, producing 27m tonnes of plastic waste. The continent dumps up to an estimated 500,000 tonnes of macroplastics and 130,000 tonnes of microplastics in the sea every year, the report says.  But delays and gaps in plastic waste management in most Mediterranean countries mean only a third of the 60m tonnes of plastic produced is recycled. Half of all plastic waste in Italy, France and Spain ends up in landfills. Home to almost 25,000 plant and animal species – of which 60% are unique to the region – the Mediterranean holds only 1% of the world’s water but contains 7% of all of the world’s microplastic waste. Plastics have also been found in oysters and mussels, while crisp packets and cigarettes have been found in large fish, WWF says. Plastic waste remains in the environment for hundreds of years. Every plastic cup left by a tourist on a beach takes 50 years to break down, every plastic bag takes 20 years, and a fishing line can remain in the sea for up to 600 years, the report said. The Mediterranean, semi-enclosed by three continents and home to intense human activity, creates a trap for plastics which today account for 95% of marine litter in the sea. But Europe is in danger of being left behind on action against single-use plastic by emerging economies. In the most ambitious global action yet to curb plastic waste, India this week announced it was banning all single use plastics by 2022. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/travel   By: Sandra Laville, TheGuardian
Summer tourists cause a 40% spike in plastic marine litter
Summer tourists cause a 40% spike in plastic marine litter
Smart agriculture will be data (AI) driven agriculture
Data farming for agricultural activities could be very benificial Scandal and headlines about data farming abound today, thanks to the alleged irresponsibility of the world’s biggest media platforms regarding consumer data. But new applications for AI in the industrial space prove that there’s a positive role yet for data farmers – although, perhaps not the kind you’re thinking of. As businesspeople grapple with the challenges of minimal infrastructure and effective use of data, the hunt for valuable use cases for AI and IoT technology continues – and finding the right answers to their business problems could lead them to some unusual places. Modern agriculture has long been technology-driven, but many of the challenges associated with farming in the 21st century fall against the backdrop of growing food insecurity and a booming population outgrowing the rate of agricultural efficiency. By 2050, increases of 70% in global food production is the bare minimum required to feed the world’s population – a challenge even more severe if that population is to be fully nourished. One of the most promising approaches to solve this global issue is data-driven agriculture – and FarmBeats is an end-to-end IoT platform for agriculture which puts AI and machine learning at its core.  Intelligent agriculture is sustainable agriculture  “If we could augment the farmer with insights, then this could drive techniques such as precision agriculture, which has been shown to reduce costs, improve yields, and help with sustainable agriculture,” argues Ranveer Chandra, Principal Researcher for FarmBeats. Chandra headed a small project team of nine people, who were tasked with trying to find a way to boost yields and farm efficiency AI. That’s easier said than done, especially in a sector that remains mostly undigitized at the point of production. “The need for AI is significant in agriculture. However, in most agricultural settings – especially in the developing world – farmers don’t have the same IT expertise as someone working in an industrial IoT settings,” Chandra says. “Hence, we need to take additional steps, and apply the AI techniques to provide actionable insights on top of the raw data and imagery that we collect from the farms. Based on these models, we can predict what is likely to happen in the future with some degree of confidence.”  Faced with little to no Internet coverage out on rural farms, Chandra’s team were challenged to develop low-cost connectivity solutions on which IoT sensors and AI hardware could operate. “We designed a system that used new technologies, such as TV white spaces, to gather data from the farms at a very low cost,” Chandra says. “This technology allows several Mbps connection over a few miles, which we are able to use to collect data not only from sensors, but also from drones and cameras.”  An effective case study for AI and the IIoT  By applying machine vision algorithms to drone footage, FarmBeats is able to provide farmers with a digital heatmap of crop health and ground moisture  Photo by: VeryDrone The end result is an incredibly sophisticated Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution which provides farmers with real-time data, insights, and actionable recommendations using AI and sensor technology. Ground sensors measure inputs such as soil moisture and nutrients; temperature and humidity are monitored in food storage and livestock shelters; while drones are used to help farmers map their fields, monitor crop canopy remotely, and check for anomalies. “IoT is a way to capture enormous amounts of data that was previously just not available to us. However, this deluge of data can be hard to parse. The key challenge here is how to transform data from IoT systems and satellites into actionable insights, and this is really where AI and machine learning come in,” Chandra explains.  Photo by: GeoSpatialWorldFarm Beats uses AI techniques to fuse aerial imagery from drones with ground sensor data, while also leveraging deep learning and machine vision on video streams to identify pests, diseases, and nutritional deficiencies in crops. Here, edge computing became necessary to overcome any connectivity barriers of working in the cloud.   A PC running Microsoft Azure IoT Edge on Windows 10 uses computer vision algorithms to stitch together drone images into a panoramic image, perform machine learning on images from drones and cameras, and is also able to run offline – syncing data to the cloud so that the farmer can access the data remotely.   Learning from FarmBeats: AI and IoT for industry  Chandra believes that the FarmBeats system is a unique showcase for how IoT and AI can be used in a challenging scenario to solve some of the world’s hardest problems. The core principles of connectivity, IoT, and AI at the edge involves innovations which he believes can help drive digital transformation of several other challenging verticals, including mining, construction, and forestry. So how can legacy businesses look to start implementing AI and the Industrial IoT into their industrial processes?  “Never start with the technology angle, i.e. asking how you can use AI and IoT,” Chandra argues. “Go back to the drawing board, think about your business processes and challenges, and identify areas of improvement – and don’t have your technology teams in the room while you do this. They’re going to hate me for saying that, but we have a tendency to limit ourselves within the boundaries of existing technologies. There’s no silver bullet – you need to first identify your business challenges and future aspirations in a technology agnostic way.” “Secondly, get some data on Azure – data is the new oil, and cross-industry studies show that on average, less than half of an organization’s structured data is actively used in maing decisions, and less than 1% of unstructured data is analyzed or used at all. Data consolidation, cleansing, standardization would be the right starting point – we call this building the data infrastructure for digital transformation. Next steps would be providing a data governance platform, where we provide the right search mechanisms to make the data findable, monitor the usage and store in immutable ledgers, build a billing mechanism where you can charge internal and external users, build a secure datasharing mechanism with external untrusted parties, and finally, develop a security and privacy platform. This is what we at MS call a Trusted Data Platform.”  From there, businesses should look at turning this data into actionable information for use by AI. Here, MS recommend tapping into your organization’s unique IP, where you are able to apply deep knowledge optimization of business processes to developing artificial intelligence assets. “Providing connected by utilizing the digital feedback loops possible with the introduction of IoT and cloud-based capabilities could bring new revenue streams. One of the fastest growing areas we see is connected field services where this continuous dataflow, combined with internal inforamtion assets, makes new service models possible – leading to higher margins with special service contracts.”   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/gardening---agriculture   By Ciarán Daly
Data farming for agricultural activities could be very benificial Scandal and headlines about data farming abound today, thanks to the alleged irresponsibility of the world’s biggest media platforms regarding consumer data. But new applications for AI in the industrial space prove that there’s a positive role yet for data farmers – although, perhaps not the kind you’re thinking of. As businesspeople grapple with the challenges of minimal infrastructure and effective use of data, the hunt for valuable use cases for AI and IoT technology continues – and finding the right answers to their business problems could lead them to some unusual places. Modern agriculture has long been technology-driven, but many of the challenges associated with farming in the 21st century fall against the backdrop of growing food insecurity and a booming population outgrowing the rate of agricultural efficiency. By 2050, increases of 70% in global food production is the bare minimum required to feed the world’s population – a challenge even more severe if that population is to be fully nourished. One of the most promising approaches to solve this global issue is data-driven agriculture – and FarmBeats is an end-to-end IoT platform for agriculture which puts AI and machine learning at its core.  Intelligent agriculture is sustainable agriculture  “If we could augment the farmer with insights, then this could drive techniques such as precision agriculture, which has been shown to reduce costs, improve yields, and help with sustainable agriculture,” argues Ranveer Chandra, Principal Researcher for FarmBeats. Chandra headed a small project team of nine people, who were tasked with trying to find a way to boost yields and farm efficiency AI. That’s easier said than done, especially in a sector that remains mostly undigitized at the point of production. “The need for AI is significant in agriculture. However, in most agricultural settings – especially in the developing world – farmers don’t have the same IT expertise as someone working in an industrial IoT settings,” Chandra says. “Hence, we need to take additional steps, and apply the AI techniques to provide actionable insights on top of the raw data and imagery that we collect from the farms. Based on these models, we can predict what is likely to happen in the future with some degree of confidence.”  Faced with little to no Internet coverage out on rural farms, Chandra’s team were challenged to develop low-cost connectivity solutions on which IoT sensors and AI hardware could operate. “We designed a system that used new technologies, such as TV white spaces, to gather data from the farms at a very low cost,” Chandra says. “This technology allows several Mbps connection over a few miles, which we are able to use to collect data not only from sensors, but also from drones and cameras.”  An effective case study for AI and the IIoT  By applying machine vision algorithms to drone footage, FarmBeats is able to provide farmers with a digital heatmap of crop health and ground moisture  Photo by: VeryDrone The end result is an incredibly sophisticated Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution which provides farmers with real-time data, insights, and actionable recommendations using AI and sensor technology. Ground sensors measure inputs such as soil moisture and nutrients; temperature and humidity are monitored in food storage and livestock shelters; while drones are used to help farmers map their fields, monitor crop canopy remotely, and check for anomalies. “IoT is a way to capture enormous amounts of data that was previously just not available to us. However, this deluge of data can be hard to parse. The key challenge here is how to transform data from IoT systems and satellites into actionable insights, and this is really where AI and machine learning come in,” Chandra explains.  Photo by: GeoSpatialWorldFarm Beats uses AI techniques to fuse aerial imagery from drones with ground sensor data, while also leveraging deep learning and machine vision on video streams to identify pests, diseases, and nutritional deficiencies in crops. Here, edge computing became necessary to overcome any connectivity barriers of working in the cloud.   A PC running Microsoft Azure IoT Edge on Windows 10 uses computer vision algorithms to stitch together drone images into a panoramic image, perform machine learning on images from drones and cameras, and is also able to run offline – syncing data to the cloud so that the farmer can access the data remotely.   Learning from FarmBeats: AI and IoT for industry  Chandra believes that the FarmBeats system is a unique showcase for how IoT and AI can be used in a challenging scenario to solve some of the world’s hardest problems. The core principles of connectivity, IoT, and AI at the edge involves innovations which he believes can help drive digital transformation of several other challenging verticals, including mining, construction, and forestry. So how can legacy businesses look to start implementing AI and the Industrial IoT into their industrial processes?  “Never start with the technology angle, i.e. asking how you can use AI and IoT,” Chandra argues. “Go back to the drawing board, think about your business processes and challenges, and identify areas of improvement – and don’t have your technology teams in the room while you do this. They’re going to hate me for saying that, but we have a tendency to limit ourselves within the boundaries of existing technologies. There’s no silver bullet – you need to first identify your business challenges and future aspirations in a technology agnostic way.” “Secondly, get some data on Azure – data is the new oil, and cross-industry studies show that on average, less than half of an organization’s structured data is actively used in maing decisions, and less than 1% of unstructured data is analyzed or used at all. Data consolidation, cleansing, standardization would be the right starting point – we call this building the data infrastructure for digital transformation. Next steps would be providing a data governance platform, where we provide the right search mechanisms to make the data findable, monitor the usage and store in immutable ledgers, build a billing mechanism where you can charge internal and external users, build a secure datasharing mechanism with external untrusted parties, and finally, develop a security and privacy platform. This is what we at MS call a Trusted Data Platform.”  From there, businesses should look at turning this data into actionable information for use by AI. Here, MS recommend tapping into your organization’s unique IP, where you are able to apply deep knowledge optimization of business processes to developing artificial intelligence assets. “Providing connected by utilizing the digital feedback loops possible with the introduction of IoT and cloud-based capabilities could bring new revenue streams. One of the fastest growing areas we see is connected field services where this continuous dataflow, combined with internal inforamtion assets, makes new service models possible – leading to higher margins with special service contracts.”   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/gardening---agriculture   By Ciarán Daly
Smart agriculture will be data (AI) driven agriculture
Smart agriculture will be data (AI) driven agriculture
Artificial Intelligence A game changer for climate change and the environment
AI is continually improving climate models. Photo by: National Science Foundation As the planet continues to warm, climate change impacts are worsening. In 2016, there were 772 weather and disaster events, triple the number that occurred in 1980. Twenty percent of species currently face extinction, and that number could rise to 50 percent by 2100. And even if all countries keep their Paris climate pledges, by 2100, it’s likely that average global temperatures will be 3˚C higher than in pre-industrial times. But we have a new tool to help us better manage the impacts of climate change and protect the planet: artificial intelligence (AI). AI refers to computer systems that “can sense their environment, think, learn, and act in response to what they sense and their programmed objectives,” according to a World Economic Forum report, Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for the Earth.In India, AI has helped farmers get 30 percent higher groundnut yields per hectare by providing information on preparing the land, applying fertilizer and choosing sowing dates. In Norway, AI helped create a flexible and autonomous electric grid, integrating more renewable energy.An atmospheric river over California. Photo by the University of Winconsin And AI has helped researchers achieve 89 to 99 percent accuracy in identifying tropical cyclones, weather fronts and atmospheric rivers, the latter of which can cause heavy precipitation and are often hard for humans to identify on their own. By improving weather forecasts, these types of programs can help keep people safe. What are artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning? Artificial intelligence has been around since the late 1950s, but today, AI’s capacities are rapidly improving thanks to several factors: the vast amounts of data being collected by sensors (in appliances, vehicles, clothing, etc.), satellites and the Internet; the development of more powerful and faster computers; the availability of open source software and data; and the increase in abundant, cheap storage. AI can now quickly discern patterns that humans cannot, make predictions more efficiently and recommend better policies. The holy grail of artificial intelligence research is artificial general intelligence, when computers will be able to reason, abstract, understand and communicate like humans. But we are still far from that—it takes 83,000 processors 40 minutes to compute what one percent of the human brain can calculate in one second. What exists today is narrow AI, which is task-oriented and capable of doing some things, sometimes better than humans can do, such as recognizing speech or images and forecasting weather. Playing chess and classifying images, as in the tagging of people on Facebook, are examples of narrow AI.AI considers its next move in chess. Photo: viegas When Netflix and Amazon recommend shows and products based on our purchasing history, they’re using machine learning. Machine learning, which developed out of earlier AI, involves the use of algorithms (sets of rules to follow to solve a problem) that can learn from data. The more data the system analyzes, the more accurate it becomes as the system develops its own rules and the software evolves to achieve its goal.Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, involves neural networks made up of multiple layers of connections or neurons, much like the human brain. Each layer has a separate task and as information passes through, the neurons give it a weight based on its accuracy vis a vis the assigned task. The final result is determined by the total of the weights.Art created by deep learning. Photo: Gene Kogan Deep learning enabled a computer system to figure out how to identify a cat—without any human input about cat features— after “seeing” 10 million random images from YouTube. Because deep learning essentially takes place in a “black box” through self-learning and evolving algorithms, however, scientists often don’t know how a system arrives at its results. Artificial intelligence is a game changer Microsoft believes that artificial intelligence, often encompassing machine learning and deep learning, is a “game changer” for climate change and environmental issues. The company’s AI for Earth program has committed $50 million over five years to create and test new applications for AI. Eventually it will help scale up and commercialize the most promising projects.Columbia University’s Maria Uriarte, a professor of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, and Tian Zheng, a statistics professor at the Data Science Institute, received a Microsoft grant to study the effects of Hurricane Maria on the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. Uriarte and her colleagues want to know how tropical storms, which may worsen with climate change, affect the distribution of tree species in Puerto Rico.Hurricane Maria’s winds damaged thousands of acres of rainforest. Photo: Inhabitat Hurricane Maria’s winds damaged thousands of acres of rainforest, however the only way to determine which tree species were destroyed and which withstood the hurricane at such a large scale is through the use of images. In 2017, a NASA flyover of Puerto Rico yielded very high-resolution photographs of the tree canopies. But how is it possible to tell one species from another by looking at a green mass from above over such a large area? The human eye could theoretically do it, but it would take forever to process the thousands of images. The team is using artificial intelligence to analyze the high-resolution photographs and match them with Uriarte’s data—she has mapped and identified every single tree in given plots. Using the ground information from these specific plots, AI can figure out what the various species of trees look like from above in the flyover images. “Then we can use that information to extrapolate to a larger area,” explained Uriarte. “We use the plot data both to learn (i.e. to train the algorithm) and to validate (how well the algorithm is performing).” Understanding how the distribution and composition of forests change in response to hurricanes is important because when forests are damaged, vegetation decomposes and emits more CO2 into the atmosphere. As trees grow back, since they are smaller, they store less carbon. If climate change results in more extreme storms, some forests will not recover, less carbon will be stored, and more carbon will remain in the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming. Uriarte says her work could not be done without artificial intelligence. “AI is going to revolutionize this field,” she said. “It’s becoming more and more important for everything that we do. It allows us to ask questions at a scale that we could not ask from below. There’s only so much that one can do [on the ground] … and then there are areas that are simply not accessible. The flyovers and the AI tools are going to allow us to study hurricanes in a whole different way. It’s super exciting.” Another project, named Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS) from the University of Southern California, is using machine learning to predict where poaching may occur in the future. Currently the algorithm analyzes past ranger patrols and poachers’ behavior from crime data; a Microsoft grant will help train it to incorporate real-time data to enable rangers to improve their patrols. In Washington State, Long Live the Kings is trying to restore declining steelhead and salmon populations. With a grant from Microsoft, the organization will improve an ecosystem model that gathers data about salmon and steelhead growth, tracks fish and marine mammal movements, and monitors marine conditions. The model will help improve hatchery, harvest, and ecosystem management, and support habitat protection and restoration efforts. How AI is used for energy AI is increasingly used to manage the intermittency of renewable energy so that more can be incorporated into the grid; it can handle power fluctuations and improve energy storage as well.Photo by: WindEurope The Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory operated by Stanford University will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify vulnerabilities in the grid, strengthen them in advance of failures, and restore power more quickly when failures occur. The system will first study part of the grid in California, analyzing data from renewable power sources, battery storage, and satellite imagery that can show where trees growing over power lines might cause problems in a storm. The goal is to develop a grid that can automatically manage renewable energy without interruption and recover from system failures with little human involvement. Wind companies are using AI to get each turbine’s propeller to produce more electricity per rotation by incorporating real time weather and operational data. On large wind farms, the front row’s propellers create a wake that decreases the efficiency of those behind them. AI will enable each individual propeller to determine the wind speed and direction coming from other propellers, and adjust accordingly. Researchers at the Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are using AI to better understand atmospheric conditions in order to more accurately project the energy output of wind farms. Artificial intelligence can enhance energy efficiency, too. Google used machine learning to help predict when its data centers’ energy was most in demand. The system analyzed and predicted when users were most likely to watch data-sucking Youtube videos, for example, and could then optimize the cooling needed. As a result, Google reduced its energy use by 40 percent. Making cities more livable and sustainable AI can also improve energy efficiency on the city scale by incorporating data from smart meters and the Internet of Things (the internet of computing devices that are embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data) to forecast energy demand. In addition, artificial intelligence systems can simulate potential zoning laws, building ordinances, and flood plains to help with urban planning and disaster preparedness. One vision for a sustainable city is to create an “urban dashboard” consisting of real-time data on energy and water use and availability, traffic and weather to make cities more energy efficient and livable.Beijing air pollution. Photo by Huffington Post In China, IBM’s Green Horizon project is using an AI system that can forecast air pollution, track pollution sources and produce potential strategies to deal with it. It can determine if, for example, it would be more effective to restrict the number of drivers or close certain power plants in order to reduce pollution in a particular area. Another IBM system in development could help cities plan for future heat waves. AI would simulate the climate at the urban scale and explore different strategies to test how well they ease heat waves. For example, if a city wanted to plant new trees, machine learning models could determine the best places to plant them to get optimal tree cover and reduce heat from pavement. Smart agriculture Hotter temperatures will have significant impacts on agriculture as well.Moisture sensors monitor soil water content for irrigation management. Photo By: Agric.WA.Gov.Au Data from sensors in the field that monitor crop moisture, soil composition and temperature help AI improve production and know when crops need watering. Incorporating this information with that from drones, which are also used to monitor conditions, can help increasingly automatic AI systems know the best times to plant, spray and harvest crops, and when to head off diseases and other problems. This will result in increased efficiency, enhanced yields, and lower use of water, fertilizer and pesticides. Protecting the oceans The Ocean Data Alliance is working with machine learning to provide data from satellites and ocean exploration so that decision-makers can monitor shipping, ocean mining, fishing, coral bleaching or the outbreak of a marine disease. With almost real time data, decision-makers and authorities will be able to respond to problems more quickly. Artificial intelligence can also help predict the spread of invasive species, follow marine litter, monitor ocean currents, keep track of dead zones and measure pollution levels.A Taiwanese ship suspected of illegal fishing. Photo: US Coast Guard The Nature Conservancy is partnering with Microsoft on using AI to map ocean wealth. Evaluating the economic value of ocean ecosystem services—such as seafood harvesting, carbon storage, tourism and more—will make better conservation and planning decisions possible. The data will be used to build models that consider food security, job creation and fishing yields to show the value of ecosystem services under differing conditions. This can help decision-makers determine the most important areas for fish productivity and conservation efforts, as well as the tradeoffs of potential decisions. The project already has maps and models for Micronesia, the Caribbean, Florida, and is expanding to Australia, Haiti, and Jamaica. More sustainable transport on land As vehicles become able to communicate with each other and with the infrastructure, artificial intelligence will help drivers avoid hazards and traffic jams. In Pittsburgh, an artificial intelligence system incorporating sensors and cameras that monitors traffic flow adjusts traffic lights when needed. The systems are functioning at 50 intersections with plans for 150 more, and have already reduced travel time by 25 percent and idling by more than 40 percent. Less idling, of course, means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Eventually, autonomous AI-driven shared transportation systems may replace personal vehicles. Better climate predictions As the climate changes, accurate projections are increasingly important. However, climate models often produce very different predictions, largely because of how data is broken down into discrete parts, how processes and systems are paired, and because of the large variety of spatial and temporal scales. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are based on many climate models and show the range of predictions, which are then averaged out.Averaging them out, however, means that each climate model is given equal weight. AI is helping to determine which models are more reliable by giving added weight to those whose predictions eventually prove to be more accurate, and less weight to those performing poorly. This will help improve the accuracy of climate change projections.AI and deep learning are also improving weather forecasting and the prediction of extreme events. That’s because they can incorporate much more of the real-world complexity of the climate system, such as atmospheric and ocean dynamics and ocean and atmospheric chemistry, into their calculations. This sharpens the precision of weather and climate modelling, making simulations more useful for decision-makers. AI has many other uses AI can help to monitor ecosystems and wildlife and their interactions. Its fast processing speeds can offer almost real-time satellite data to track illegal logging in forests. AI can monitor drinking water quality, manage residential water use, detect underground leaks in drinking water supply systems, and predict when water plants need maintenance. It can also simulate weather events and natural disasters to find vulnerabilities in disaster planning, determine which strategies for disaster response are most effective, and provide real-time disaster response coordination. What are the risks of artificial intelligence? While AI enables us to better manage the impacts of climate change and protect the environment in addition to transforming the fields of business, finance, health care, medicine, law, education and more, it is not without risks. Some prominent individuals such as the late physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have warned of the existential dangers of uncontrolled artificial intelligence. The World Economic Forum report identified six categories of AI risk: Performance. The black box conclusions of AI may not be understandable to humans and thus it may be impossible to determine if they are accurate or desirable. Deep learning could be risky for applications such as early warning systems for natural disasters where more certainty is needed. Security. AI could potentially be hacked, enabling bad actors to interfere with energy, transportation, early warning or other crucial systems. Control risks. Since AI systems interact autonomously, they can produce unpredictable outcomes. For example, two systems came up with a language of their own that humans couldn’t understand. Economic risks. Companies that are slower to adopt AI may suffer economic consequences as their AI-based competition advances. We are already seeing how brick and mortar stores are closing as the economy becomes increasingly digitized. Social risk. AI is resulting in more automation, which will eliminate jobs in almost every field. Autonomous weapon systems could also hasten and exacerbate global conflicts. Ethical risks. Since AI uses inferred assumptions about groups and communities in making decisions, it could lead to increased bias. The collection of data also raises privacy issues. To deal with these risks, the World Economic Forum states that government and industry “must ensure the safety, explainability, transparency and validity of AI application.” More interaction among public and private entities, technologists, policy-makers and even philosophers, and more investments in research are needed to avert the potential risks of artificial intelligence—and to realize its potential benefits to the environment and humanity. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/artificial-intel- By: Renee Cho, Cover Photo by: Shutterstock
AI is continually improving climate models. Photo by: National Science Foundation As the planet continues to warm, climate change impacts are worsening. In 2016, there were 772 weather and disaster events, triple the number that occurred in 1980. Twenty percent of species currently face extinction, and that number could rise to 50 percent by 2100. And even if all countries keep their Paris climate pledges, by 2100, it’s likely that average global temperatures will be 3˚C higher than in pre-industrial times. But we have a new tool to help us better manage the impacts of climate change and protect the planet: artificial intelligence (AI). AI refers to computer systems that “can sense their environment, think, learn, and act in response to what they sense and their programmed objectives,” according to a World Economic Forum report, Harnessing Artificial Intelligence for the Earth.In India, AI has helped farmers get 30 percent higher groundnut yields per hectare by providing information on preparing the land, applying fertilizer and choosing sowing dates. In Norway, AI helped create a flexible and autonomous electric grid, integrating more renewable energy.An atmospheric river over California. Photo by the University of Winconsin And AI has helped researchers achieve 89 to 99 percent accuracy in identifying tropical cyclones, weather fronts and atmospheric rivers, the latter of which can cause heavy precipitation and are often hard for humans to identify on their own. By improving weather forecasts, these types of programs can help keep people safe. What are artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning? Artificial intelligence has been around since the late 1950s, but today, AI’s capacities are rapidly improving thanks to several factors: the vast amounts of data being collected by sensors (in appliances, vehicles, clothing, etc.), satellites and the Internet; the development of more powerful and faster computers; the availability of open source software and data; and the increase in abundant, cheap storage. AI can now quickly discern patterns that humans cannot, make predictions more efficiently and recommend better policies. The holy grail of artificial intelligence research is artificial general intelligence, when computers will be able to reason, abstract, understand and communicate like humans. But we are still far from that—it takes 83,000 processors 40 minutes to compute what one percent of the human brain can calculate in one second. What exists today is narrow AI, which is task-oriented and capable of doing some things, sometimes better than humans can do, such as recognizing speech or images and forecasting weather. Playing chess and classifying images, as in the tagging of people on Facebook, are examples of narrow AI.AI considers its next move in chess. Photo: viegas When Netflix and Amazon recommend shows and products based on our purchasing history, they’re using machine learning. Machine learning, which developed out of earlier AI, involves the use of algorithms (sets of rules to follow to solve a problem) that can learn from data. The more data the system analyzes, the more accurate it becomes as the system develops its own rules and the software evolves to achieve its goal.Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, involves neural networks made up of multiple layers of connections or neurons, much like the human brain. Each layer has a separate task and as information passes through, the neurons give it a weight based on its accuracy vis a vis the assigned task. The final result is determined by the total of the weights.Art created by deep learning. Photo: Gene Kogan Deep learning enabled a computer system to figure out how to identify a cat—without any human input about cat features— after “seeing” 10 million random images from YouTube. Because deep learning essentially takes place in a “black box” through self-learning and evolving algorithms, however, scientists often don’t know how a system arrives at its results. Artificial intelligence is a game changer Microsoft believes that artificial intelligence, often encompassing machine learning and deep learning, is a “game changer” for climate change and environmental issues. The company’s AI for Earth program has committed $50 million over five years to create and test new applications for AI. Eventually it will help scale up and commercialize the most promising projects.Columbia University’s Maria Uriarte, a professor of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, and Tian Zheng, a statistics professor at the Data Science Institute, received a Microsoft grant to study the effects of Hurricane Maria on the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. Uriarte and her colleagues want to know how tropical storms, which may worsen with climate change, affect the distribution of tree species in Puerto Rico.Hurricane Maria’s winds damaged thousands of acres of rainforest. Photo: Inhabitat Hurricane Maria’s winds damaged thousands of acres of rainforest, however the only way to determine which tree species were destroyed and which withstood the hurricane at such a large scale is through the use of images. In 2017, a NASA flyover of Puerto Rico yielded very high-resolution photographs of the tree canopies. But how is it possible to tell one species from another by looking at a green mass from above over such a large area? The human eye could theoretically do it, but it would take forever to process the thousands of images. The team is using artificial intelligence to analyze the high-resolution photographs and match them with Uriarte’s data—she has mapped and identified every single tree in given plots. Using the ground information from these specific plots, AI can figure out what the various species of trees look like from above in the flyover images. “Then we can use that information to extrapolate to a larger area,” explained Uriarte. “We use the plot data both to learn (i.e. to train the algorithm) and to validate (how well the algorithm is performing).” Understanding how the distribution and composition of forests change in response to hurricanes is important because when forests are damaged, vegetation decomposes and emits more CO2 into the atmosphere. As trees grow back, since they are smaller, they store less carbon. If climate change results in more extreme storms, some forests will not recover, less carbon will be stored, and more carbon will remain in the atmosphere, exacerbating global warming. Uriarte says her work could not be done without artificial intelligence. “AI is going to revolutionize this field,” she said. “It’s becoming more and more important for everything that we do. It allows us to ask questions at a scale that we could not ask from below. There’s only so much that one can do [on the ground] … and then there are areas that are simply not accessible. The flyovers and the AI tools are going to allow us to study hurricanes in a whole different way. It’s super exciting.” Another project, named Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS) from the University of Southern California, is using machine learning to predict where poaching may occur in the future. Currently the algorithm analyzes past ranger patrols and poachers’ behavior from crime data; a Microsoft grant will help train it to incorporate real-time data to enable rangers to improve their patrols. In Washington State, Long Live the Kings is trying to restore declining steelhead and salmon populations. With a grant from Microsoft, the organization will improve an ecosystem model that gathers data about salmon and steelhead growth, tracks fish and marine mammal movements, and monitors marine conditions. The model will help improve hatchery, harvest, and ecosystem management, and support habitat protection and restoration efforts. How AI is used for energy AI is increasingly used to manage the intermittency of renewable energy so that more can be incorporated into the grid; it can handle power fluctuations and improve energy storage as well.Photo by: WindEurope The Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory operated by Stanford University will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify vulnerabilities in the grid, strengthen them in advance of failures, and restore power more quickly when failures occur. The system will first study part of the grid in California, analyzing data from renewable power sources, battery storage, and satellite imagery that can show where trees growing over power lines might cause problems in a storm. The goal is to develop a grid that can automatically manage renewable energy without interruption and recover from system failures with little human involvement. Wind companies are using AI to get each turbine’s propeller to produce more electricity per rotation by incorporating real time weather and operational data. On large wind farms, the front row’s propellers create a wake that decreases the efficiency of those behind them. AI will enable each individual propeller to determine the wind speed and direction coming from other propellers, and adjust accordingly. Researchers at the Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are using AI to better understand atmospheric conditions in order to more accurately project the energy output of wind farms. Artificial intelligence can enhance energy efficiency, too. Google used machine learning to help predict when its data centers’ energy was most in demand. The system analyzed and predicted when users were most likely to watch data-sucking Youtube videos, for example, and could then optimize the cooling needed. As a result, Google reduced its energy use by 40 percent. Making cities more livable and sustainable AI can also improve energy efficiency on the city scale by incorporating data from smart meters and the Internet of Things (the internet of computing devices that are embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data) to forecast energy demand. In addition, artificial intelligence systems can simulate potential zoning laws, building ordinances, and flood plains to help with urban planning and disaster preparedness. One vision for a sustainable city is to create an “urban dashboard” consisting of real-time data on energy and water use and availability, traffic and weather to make cities more energy efficient and livable.Beijing air pollution. Photo by Huffington Post In China, IBM’s Green Horizon project is using an AI system that can forecast air pollution, track pollution sources and produce potential strategies to deal with it. It can determine if, for example, it would be more effective to restrict the number of drivers or close certain power plants in order to reduce pollution in a particular area. Another IBM system in development could help cities plan for future heat waves. AI would simulate the climate at the urban scale and explore different strategies to test how well they ease heat waves. For example, if a city wanted to plant new trees, machine learning models could determine the best places to plant them to get optimal tree cover and reduce heat from pavement. Smart agriculture Hotter temperatures will have significant impacts on agriculture as well.Moisture sensors monitor soil water content for irrigation management. Photo By: Agric.WA.Gov.Au Data from sensors in the field that monitor crop moisture, soil composition and temperature help AI improve production and know when crops need watering. Incorporating this information with that from drones, which are also used to monitor conditions, can help increasingly automatic AI systems know the best times to plant, spray and harvest crops, and when to head off diseases and other problems. This will result in increased efficiency, enhanced yields, and lower use of water, fertilizer and pesticides. Protecting the oceans The Ocean Data Alliance is working with machine learning to provide data from satellites and ocean exploration so that decision-makers can monitor shipping, ocean mining, fishing, coral bleaching or the outbreak of a marine disease. With almost real time data, decision-makers and authorities will be able to respond to problems more quickly. Artificial intelligence can also help predict the spread of invasive species, follow marine litter, monitor ocean currents, keep track of dead zones and measure pollution levels.A Taiwanese ship suspected of illegal fishing. Photo: US Coast Guard The Nature Conservancy is partnering with Microsoft on using AI to map ocean wealth. Evaluating the economic value of ocean ecosystem services—such as seafood harvesting, carbon storage, tourism and more—will make better conservation and planning decisions possible. The data will be used to build models that consider food security, job creation and fishing yields to show the value of ecosystem services under differing conditions. This can help decision-makers determine the most important areas for fish productivity and conservation efforts, as well as the tradeoffs of potential decisions. The project already has maps and models for Micronesia, the Caribbean, Florida, and is expanding to Australia, Haiti, and Jamaica. More sustainable transport on land As vehicles become able to communicate with each other and with the infrastructure, artificial intelligence will help drivers avoid hazards and traffic jams. In Pittsburgh, an artificial intelligence system incorporating sensors and cameras that monitors traffic flow adjusts traffic lights when needed. The systems are functioning at 50 intersections with plans for 150 more, and have already reduced travel time by 25 percent and idling by more than 40 percent. Less idling, of course, means fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Eventually, autonomous AI-driven shared transportation systems may replace personal vehicles. Better climate predictions As the climate changes, accurate projections are increasingly important. However, climate models often produce very different predictions, largely because of how data is broken down into discrete parts, how processes and systems are paired, and because of the large variety of spatial and temporal scales. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are based on many climate models and show the range of predictions, which are then averaged out.Averaging them out, however, means that each climate model is given equal weight. AI is helping to determine which models are more reliable by giving added weight to those whose predictions eventually prove to be more accurate, and less weight to those performing poorly. This will help improve the accuracy of climate change projections.AI and deep learning are also improving weather forecasting and the prediction of extreme events. That’s because they can incorporate much more of the real-world complexity of the climate system, such as atmospheric and ocean dynamics and ocean and atmospheric chemistry, into their calculations. This sharpens the precision of weather and climate modelling, making simulations more useful for decision-makers. AI has many other uses AI can help to monitor ecosystems and wildlife and their interactions. Its fast processing speeds can offer almost real-time satellite data to track illegal logging in forests. AI can monitor drinking water quality, manage residential water use, detect underground leaks in drinking water supply systems, and predict when water plants need maintenance. It can also simulate weather events and natural disasters to find vulnerabilities in disaster planning, determine which strategies for disaster response are most effective, and provide real-time disaster response coordination. What are the risks of artificial intelligence? While AI enables us to better manage the impacts of climate change and protect the environment in addition to transforming the fields of business, finance, health care, medicine, law, education and more, it is not without risks. Some prominent individuals such as the late physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have warned of the existential dangers of uncontrolled artificial intelligence. The World Economic Forum report identified six categories of AI risk: Performance. The black box conclusions of AI may not be understandable to humans and thus it may be impossible to determine if they are accurate or desirable. Deep learning could be risky for applications such as early warning systems for natural disasters where more certainty is needed. Security. AI could potentially be hacked, enabling bad actors to interfere with energy, transportation, early warning or other crucial systems. Control risks. Since AI systems interact autonomously, they can produce unpredictable outcomes. For example, two systems came up with a language of their own that humans couldn’t understand. Economic risks. Companies that are slower to adopt AI may suffer economic consequences as their AI-based competition advances. We are already seeing how brick and mortar stores are closing as the economy becomes increasingly digitized. Social risk. AI is resulting in more automation, which will eliminate jobs in almost every field. Autonomous weapon systems could also hasten and exacerbate global conflicts. Ethical risks. Since AI uses inferred assumptions about groups and communities in making decisions, it could lead to increased bias. The collection of data also raises privacy issues. To deal with these risks, the World Economic Forum states that government and industry “must ensure the safety, explainability, transparency and validity of AI application.” More interaction among public and private entities, technologists, policy-makers and even philosophers, and more investments in research are needed to avert the potential risks of artificial intelligence—and to realize its potential benefits to the environment and humanity. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/artificial-intel- By: Renee Cho, Cover Photo by: Shutterstock
Artificial Intelligence A game changer for climate change and the environment
Artificial Intelligence A game changer for climate change and the environment
World Environment Day. The way in which our natural capital is currently consumed is looting
A liberal ethics for the consumption of non-renewable resources and energy sourcesThe current consumption of non-renewable raw materials and energy sources means that future generations no longer have them at their disposal, but that they are stuck with the negative consequences of their use: pollution, deforestation, climate change, desertification, summarized as an ecological crisis. How could we account for this consumption towards future generations? Which arguments would future generations consider acceptable? Which arguments for the use of, for example, plastic - which has increased exponentially in recent decades - can we give to future generations living in a world in which plastic has negatively affected the ecosystems of planet Earth? The argument 'plastic is a convenient and cheap packaging material' will most likely not be recognized as sufficient justification. Natural capitalIf raw materials and non-renewable energy sources are used to create a sustainable society, the consumption of natural capital can be seen as an investment for the long term. And by long term I mean the next 200,000 years. The resources of planet Earth can be seen as the natural capital. People can live off the interest of that capital, that is to say, the benefits that nature produces and regenerates. Another option is to enter the natural capital. Take a bongard as an example. The fruit trees yields fruit. When people grow that fruit, the ecosystem remains intact. However, in the short term, besides the fruit, the wood of the fruit trees could also be used and the land of the bongard could be sold to build houses. This yields more economically than just the use of the fruit, but there is a reduction in the natural capital. The short term prevails over the long term when it comes to natural capital. Looting Fossil fuels are finite. Even if there is still oil available for 1,000 years, it is still the question what its use justifies when future generations, after 1,000 years, are without sitting and are also dealing with a warmed up planet. According BP one of worlds largest oil producers, the world has 53.3 years left to find an alternative to oil before current proved reserves run dry. Of course, nations are finding new oil – meaning that number is rising – but new extraction methods are costly and can pose environmental threats. Any use of non-renewable resources must be morally justified. If part of the non-renewable resources, the natural capital, are used for the transition to a sustainable economy and society that will benefit future generations, then this is a convincing moral argument. The consumption of a part of the natural capital does not harm future generations (at least not fundamentally), but it is beneficial for future generations.The way in which natural capital is consumed now is looting: natural capital is used for the short-term self-interest and the interests of future generations are harmed. This goes against the liberal non-harmful principle. Waste bin capacity Of whom is the natural capital actually? The legal definitions of property, as commodities are owned by the inhabitants of nations, are short-sighted. The natural capital belongs to all earthlings, now and in the future. We know that man has been scurrying around on this planet for about 200,000 years. Let us assume for the sake of convenience that man will last another 200,000 years. That means that the natural capital of planet Earth must also last 200,000 years. The natural capital of planet Earth consists not only of the amount of raw materials that people consume (minerals, fossil fuels), but also the amount of waste that the Earth can absorb, or the waste bin capacity. There is a limited amount of waste that the earth can absorb, but it is quickly exceeded. The quantities of plastic, pesticides, fertilizers and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere disrupt the planet Earth's ecosystem, which naturally invades capital. If, for example, deltas, where millions of people live, are under water due to climate change, it is clear that this is causing damage. MegafaunaHow can you justify to your grandchildren your consumption of natural capital that has contributed to the bankruptcy of system earth? The consumption of natural capital requires moral reflection. However, in the current political-economic system there is no reflection on the justification of natural capital. However different the political-economic systems may be, they all prioritize contemporary self-interest at the expense of future generations and at the expense of the common good. When few people lived on planet Earth and humans did not yet have technology, there was no need to reflect on the issue of the justification of the consumption of natural capital. Yet people have very early on the natural capital. For example, the disappearance of the megafauna, such as the mammoth, is largely due to man being overrun. However, since the industrial revolution, the use of natural capital has increased exponentially as a result of the technology and the problem has therefore become urgent. Wasting natural capital The ecological crisis is the impending bankruptcy of planet Earth. When the natural capital becomes depleted, there will be a tipping point in the ecosystem of planet Earth, as a result of which the living environment for, among others, the animal species will become unfavorable. However, as long as the capital is not up, it seems like life is a party. Optimists see the party that is financed by the slurping of natural capital. Pessimists see the long term, the mess that remains when the party is over. The ethics of consumption of natural capital is a moral blind spot. It is not a question that is addressed in the political-economic paradigm. The reasons why the natural capital is widely disassembled is that it is possible and that we also have a legal system in which it is legal to do. Technology is making more and more possible, but in practice this leads to ever more intensive looting of natural capital. The bankrupt of system earthThe extent to which looted can be measured with the ecological footprint. The average ecological footprint of the Dutch person today is 3.7 planet Earths. This means that if everyone would live on Earth if the average Dutch person would need 3.7 planet Earths. Since we have to live on 1 planet Earth, this means that we commit suicide and we attack the natural capital. We rob us of future generations. Shell and Friesland Campina are examples of companies that deprive future generations of the opportunity to enjoy the proceeds of the natural capital because they participate in the plunder of the planet. Individuals can also ask themselves the question: what justifies my consumption of natural capital? The richer people become, the greater their ecological footprint. Although the rich may have acquired their money within legal frameworks, not everything has been said about the moral justification of an exorbitant lifestyle with a large consumption of energy from non-renewable resources and raw materials (or a large ecological footprint). How can you justify to your grandchildren your consumption of natural capital that has contributed to the bankruptcy of system earth? https://www.whatsorb.com/category/community By: Floris van den Berg. Photo Cover: Bigstock
A liberal ethics for the consumption of non-renewable resources and energy sourcesThe current consumption of non-renewable raw materials and energy sources means that future generations no longer have them at their disposal, but that they are stuck with the negative consequences of their use: pollution, deforestation, climate change, desertification, summarized as an ecological crisis. How could we account for this consumption towards future generations? Which arguments would future generations consider acceptable? Which arguments for the use of, for example, plastic - which has increased exponentially in recent decades - can we give to future generations living in a world in which plastic has negatively affected the ecosystems of planet Earth? The argument 'plastic is a convenient and cheap packaging material' will most likely not be recognized as sufficient justification. Natural capitalIf raw materials and non-renewable energy sources are used to create a sustainable society, the consumption of natural capital can be seen as an investment for the long term. And by long term I mean the next 200,000 years. The resources of planet Earth can be seen as the natural capital. People can live off the interest of that capital, that is to say, the benefits that nature produces and regenerates. Another option is to enter the natural capital. Take a bongard as an example. The fruit trees yields fruit. When people grow that fruit, the ecosystem remains intact. However, in the short term, besides the fruit, the wood of the fruit trees could also be used and the land of the bongard could be sold to build houses. This yields more economically than just the use of the fruit, but there is a reduction in the natural capital. The short term prevails over the long term when it comes to natural capital. Looting Fossil fuels are finite. Even if there is still oil available for 1,000 years, it is still the question what its use justifies when future generations, after 1,000 years, are without sitting and are also dealing with a warmed up planet. According BP one of worlds largest oil producers, the world has 53.3 years left to find an alternative to oil before current proved reserves run dry. Of course, nations are finding new oil – meaning that number is rising – but new extraction methods are costly and can pose environmental threats. Any use of non-renewable resources must be morally justified. If part of the non-renewable resources, the natural capital, are used for the transition to a sustainable economy and society that will benefit future generations, then this is a convincing moral argument. The consumption of a part of the natural capital does not harm future generations (at least not fundamentally), but it is beneficial for future generations.The way in which natural capital is consumed now is looting: natural capital is used for the short-term self-interest and the interests of future generations are harmed. This goes against the liberal non-harmful principle. Waste bin capacity Of whom is the natural capital actually? The legal definitions of property, as commodities are owned by the inhabitants of nations, are short-sighted. The natural capital belongs to all earthlings, now and in the future. We know that man has been scurrying around on this planet for about 200,000 years. Let us assume for the sake of convenience that man will last another 200,000 years. That means that the natural capital of planet Earth must also last 200,000 years. The natural capital of planet Earth consists not only of the amount of raw materials that people consume (minerals, fossil fuels), but also the amount of waste that the Earth can absorb, or the waste bin capacity. There is a limited amount of waste that the earth can absorb, but it is quickly exceeded. The quantities of plastic, pesticides, fertilizers and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere disrupt the planet Earth's ecosystem, which naturally invades capital. If, for example, deltas, where millions of people live, are under water due to climate change, it is clear that this is causing damage. MegafaunaHow can you justify to your grandchildren your consumption of natural capital that has contributed to the bankruptcy of system earth? The consumption of natural capital requires moral reflection. However, in the current political-economic system there is no reflection on the justification of natural capital. However different the political-economic systems may be, they all prioritize contemporary self-interest at the expense of future generations and at the expense of the common good. When few people lived on planet Earth and humans did not yet have technology, there was no need to reflect on the issue of the justification of the consumption of natural capital. Yet people have very early on the natural capital. For example, the disappearance of the megafauna, such as the mammoth, is largely due to man being overrun. However, since the industrial revolution, the use of natural capital has increased exponentially as a result of the technology and the problem has therefore become urgent. Wasting natural capital The ecological crisis is the impending bankruptcy of planet Earth. When the natural capital becomes depleted, there will be a tipping point in the ecosystem of planet Earth, as a result of which the living environment for, among others, the animal species will become unfavorable. However, as long as the capital is not up, it seems like life is a party. Optimists see the party that is financed by the slurping of natural capital. Pessimists see the long term, the mess that remains when the party is over. The ethics of consumption of natural capital is a moral blind spot. It is not a question that is addressed in the political-economic paradigm. The reasons why the natural capital is widely disassembled is that it is possible and that we also have a legal system in which it is legal to do. Technology is making more and more possible, but in practice this leads to ever more intensive looting of natural capital. The bankrupt of system earthThe extent to which looted can be measured with the ecological footprint. The average ecological footprint of the Dutch person today is 3.7 planet Earths. This means that if everyone would live on Earth if the average Dutch person would need 3.7 planet Earths. Since we have to live on 1 planet Earth, this means that we commit suicide and we attack the natural capital. We rob us of future generations. Shell and Friesland Campina are examples of companies that deprive future generations of the opportunity to enjoy the proceeds of the natural capital because they participate in the plunder of the planet. Individuals can also ask themselves the question: what justifies my consumption of natural capital? The richer people become, the greater their ecological footprint. Although the rich may have acquired their money within legal frameworks, not everything has been said about the moral justification of an exorbitant lifestyle with a large consumption of energy from non-renewable resources and raw materials (or a large ecological footprint). How can you justify to your grandchildren your consumption of natural capital that has contributed to the bankruptcy of system earth? https://www.whatsorb.com/category/community By: Floris van den Berg. Photo Cover: Bigstock
World Environment Day. The way in which our natural capital is currently consumed is looting
World Environment Day. The way in which our natural capital is currently consumed is looting
The best #green innovations of the week
Hydrogen dustcarts and light-up trees: The best green innovations of the week A number of eye-catching and potentially transformational innovations have emerged that could help businesses and nations deliver on resource efficiency, low-carbon transitions and combat climate change.  With the European Commission presenting its long-awaited marine-litter-busting proposal on banning single-use plastics on Monday (28 May), sustainability has once again been pushed to the forefront of media attention.With this in mind, this week’s round-up covers a variety of ideas, concepts, products and systems that could help nations and businesses accelerate sustainability commitments. Turning trees into street lightsCities across the globe have looked at ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their streetlight network through smart solutions this year, with The City of London Corporation confirming in February that “state-of-the-art” technology will coat urban spaces in various lighting types and colours at different times of the night.But Copenhagen-based startup Allumen is studying a way to go one step further than LED lighting and turn trees into natural lamps. Researchers at its labs are trying to isolate the genes that make bioluminescent microalgae glow, so they can tweak them and add them to trees, genetically engineering the plants to emit light. This could, in theory, eliminate the need for electricity and cut the carbon emissions usually related to building street lamps.Scientists believe the relevant genes can be located fairly quickly but could face challenges with getting the gene to perform in a tree – or with ensuring the plants shine brightly enough to replace LEDs. However, it cannot be denied that the prospect of street lights which actually absorb CO2 rather than contributing to emissions is an attractive one. Self-healing cablesFluid-filled cables were deployed across 8,000km of the UK’s electricity network in the 1960s and 70s in a move to ensure electric cables were better insulated and had fewer voids– but over time, they have started to leak and impact the surrounding environment.Northern Powergrid, alongside the Energy Innovation Centre and system developer Gnosys, has this week announced it has been successful in creating a self-healing alternative to tackle the leaking problems. The new liquid, called self-healing fluid, contains a mixture of tung oil and metal soaps which cause it to react and form a strong cohesive mass when it is exposed to air. This will seal the leaks in a similar way to blood concealing into a scab on a wound.The electricity network will start incorporating the new fluid in its network of 930km of cables before the end of 2018 and anticipates the switch will save the firm up to £20m over the next five years. This summer, up to 20,000 litres of the self-healing fluid will be deployed throughout its cable network. Heavy on the hydrogenAs carmakers push to electrify their models and businesses strive to cut fleet emissions, the EV revolution has just begun within the heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) sector, with Volvo last month unveiling its first electric truck designed for heavy-duty roles.This week saw UK waste management firm Grundon launch a low-emission hydrogen and diesel dual-fuel waste collection vehicle, which it claims is the first to be used in Britain’s commercial waste industry. The DAF HGV was retrofitted with a 10kg hydrogen unit in a move which cost £177,000 and was described by Grundon group logistics manager John Stephens as “a significant investment”, but one the firm has been keen to make.The truck is fully operational and is collecting waste from homes in London as part of a trial of the dual-fuel technology. If the trial produces adequate carbon reductions, Grundon will look to invest further and retrofit more of its fleet. Rocking the boatSelf-driving cars continue to be a hot topic after the Government launched the first phase of a £100m investment in the development of driverless vehicles earlier this year, but researchers are now turning to boats in a bid to cut congestion and pollution on city canals.Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have this week unveiled 3D-printed autonomous boats which are fitted with environmental sensors to monitor water pollution and pH levels.Researchers hope the small vessels, which are also equipped with microcontrollers and GPS modules, can be scaled up and used to transport goods and passengers in cities such as Amsterdam, Bangkok and Venice. They have been tested along pre-planned paths in a swimming pool and in the Charles River in Massachusetts, with the inventors now attempting to adapt the model to account for wave disturbances and stronger currents before scaling it up. Coffee cup shake-upIn the current market, takeaway paper coffee cups can only be recycled in select infrastructure. They are commonly sealed with a plastic lining to make them waterproof and, although plastic and paper are recyclable, the lining cannot be handled by most recycling facilities.As public awareness around single-use plastics and disposable cups grows, packaging engineering firm Smart Planet Technologies has created a new coating to replace the plastic inside your venti triple-shot latte. Cups lined with the resin-based substance, called EarthCoating, can be widely recycled within existing infrastructure, alongside uncoated paper. Smart Planet Technologies estimates that incorporating the EarthCoating cup results in a cup that contains 43% less plastic than one with standard polyethylene liners, and claims that cups with the substance built in can be recycled up to seven times. The firm has supplied more than seven million of the cups to European clients since launching them last October, and is now looking to expand into the US market. No porky piesWith the alternative protein sector set to be worth $5.2bn by 2020, several companies are investing in creating non-meat alternatives to popular dishes. For example, Impossible Foods unveiled a meat-free burger which cost $80m to produce, that uses 95% less land and around 75% less water than traditional burgers.Plant-based food tech startup Beyond Meat has followed suit and turned to breakfast, launching a breakfast sausage patty which is made from pea, mung bean, rice and sunflower protein and designed to look and taste the same as pork. The firm hopes that by mimicking the taste and texture of meat, it can encourage the switch to alternative protein sources and help to slash the estimated 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions currently accounted for by meat and fish supply chains.The patty is currently available to US-based restaurants only, but the Californian firm is planning to launch its product range in Europe, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Israel, Korea, Taiwan and South Africa this year after finding success in Hong Kong and Germany as well as at home. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy By: Sarah George, Eddies, photo cover: Earthbuddies
Hydrogen dustcarts and light-up trees: The best green innovations of the week A number of eye-catching and potentially transformational innovations have emerged that could help businesses and nations deliver on resource efficiency, low-carbon transitions and combat climate change.  With the European Commission presenting its long-awaited marine-litter-busting proposal on banning single-use plastics on Monday (28 May), sustainability has once again been pushed to the forefront of media attention.With this in mind, this week’s round-up covers a variety of ideas, concepts, products and systems that could help nations and businesses accelerate sustainability commitments. Turning trees into street lightsCities across the globe have looked at ways to reduce the carbon footprint of their streetlight network through smart solutions this year, with The City of London Corporation confirming in February that “state-of-the-art” technology will coat urban spaces in various lighting types and colours at different times of the night.But Copenhagen-based startup Allumen is studying a way to go one step further than LED lighting and turn trees into natural lamps. Researchers at its labs are trying to isolate the genes that make bioluminescent microalgae glow, so they can tweak them and add them to trees, genetically engineering the plants to emit light. This could, in theory, eliminate the need for electricity and cut the carbon emissions usually related to building street lamps.Scientists believe the relevant genes can be located fairly quickly but could face challenges with getting the gene to perform in a tree – or with ensuring the plants shine brightly enough to replace LEDs. However, it cannot be denied that the prospect of street lights which actually absorb CO2 rather than contributing to emissions is an attractive one. Self-healing cablesFluid-filled cables were deployed across 8,000km of the UK’s electricity network in the 1960s and 70s in a move to ensure electric cables were better insulated and had fewer voids– but over time, they have started to leak and impact the surrounding environment.Northern Powergrid, alongside the Energy Innovation Centre and system developer Gnosys, has this week announced it has been successful in creating a self-healing alternative to tackle the leaking problems. The new liquid, called self-healing fluid, contains a mixture of tung oil and metal soaps which cause it to react and form a strong cohesive mass when it is exposed to air. This will seal the leaks in a similar way to blood concealing into a scab on a wound.The electricity network will start incorporating the new fluid in its network of 930km of cables before the end of 2018 and anticipates the switch will save the firm up to £20m over the next five years. This summer, up to 20,000 litres of the self-healing fluid will be deployed throughout its cable network. Heavy on the hydrogenAs carmakers push to electrify their models and businesses strive to cut fleet emissions, the EV revolution has just begun within the heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) sector, with Volvo last month unveiling its first electric truck designed for heavy-duty roles.This week saw UK waste management firm Grundon launch a low-emission hydrogen and diesel dual-fuel waste collection vehicle, which it claims is the first to be used in Britain’s commercial waste industry. The DAF HGV was retrofitted with a 10kg hydrogen unit in a move which cost £177,000 and was described by Grundon group logistics manager John Stephens as “a significant investment”, but one the firm has been keen to make.The truck is fully operational and is collecting waste from homes in London as part of a trial of the dual-fuel technology. If the trial produces adequate carbon reductions, Grundon will look to invest further and retrofit more of its fleet. Rocking the boatSelf-driving cars continue to be a hot topic after the Government launched the first phase of a £100m investment in the development of driverless vehicles earlier this year, but researchers are now turning to boats in a bid to cut congestion and pollution on city canals.Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have this week unveiled 3D-printed autonomous boats which are fitted with environmental sensors to monitor water pollution and pH levels.Researchers hope the small vessels, which are also equipped with microcontrollers and GPS modules, can be scaled up and used to transport goods and passengers in cities such as Amsterdam, Bangkok and Venice. They have been tested along pre-planned paths in a swimming pool and in the Charles River in Massachusetts, with the inventors now attempting to adapt the model to account for wave disturbances and stronger currents before scaling it up. Coffee cup shake-upIn the current market, takeaway paper coffee cups can only be recycled in select infrastructure. They are commonly sealed with a plastic lining to make them waterproof and, although plastic and paper are recyclable, the lining cannot be handled by most recycling facilities.As public awareness around single-use plastics and disposable cups grows, packaging engineering firm Smart Planet Technologies has created a new coating to replace the plastic inside your venti triple-shot latte. Cups lined with the resin-based substance, called EarthCoating, can be widely recycled within existing infrastructure, alongside uncoated paper. Smart Planet Technologies estimates that incorporating the EarthCoating cup results in a cup that contains 43% less plastic than one with standard polyethylene liners, and claims that cups with the substance built in can be recycled up to seven times. The firm has supplied more than seven million of the cups to European clients since launching them last October, and is now looking to expand into the US market. No porky piesWith the alternative protein sector set to be worth $5.2bn by 2020, several companies are investing in creating non-meat alternatives to popular dishes. For example, Impossible Foods unveiled a meat-free burger which cost $80m to produce, that uses 95% less land and around 75% less water than traditional burgers.Plant-based food tech startup Beyond Meat has followed suit and turned to breakfast, launching a breakfast sausage patty which is made from pea, mung bean, rice and sunflower protein and designed to look and taste the same as pork. The firm hopes that by mimicking the taste and texture of meat, it can encourage the switch to alternative protein sources and help to slash the estimated 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions currently accounted for by meat and fish supply chains.The patty is currently available to US-based restaurants only, but the Californian firm is planning to launch its product range in Europe, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Israel, Korea, Taiwan and South Africa this year after finding success in Hong Kong and Germany as well as at home. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy By: Sarah George, Eddies, photo cover: Earthbuddies
The best #green innovations of the week
The best #green innovations of the week
It
Ecocapsule: off-grid charging your car Nice Architects participated in the ideas competition of Andres Sprout Society in 2008. "Design a small living unit for an artist." They sent in a round building so that the energy loss would be limited. Moreover, the cottage could collect water itself and was easy to transport. Unfortunately, the technology for a completely off-grid building on this small scale was not yet available. Now, ten years later, Nice Architects proudly presents the 100% off-grid eco-capsule. You can even charge your electric car with it.Photos: Tomas Manina, Ecocapsule Holding With the development of new techniques they completed the Ecocapsule version 2. Equipped with all installations that you need to live independently for a longer period of time. "Something like a Swiss army knife, you incorporate everything in your design that you need," says Matej Gyárfáš of Ecocapsule. "Long-term off-grid living and working always suffered from a lack of resources and supplies. This required a constant flow of material and supply of fuel, time-consuming and bad for the environment. Because the capsule is provide with everything you need, you give a great service to the environment." Bulb shape has several advantagesPhotos: Tomas Manina, Ecocapsule Holding Ecocapsule is a smart house that can run entirely on solar and wind energy. Matej: "The capsule enables people to reach the whole world with the luxury of a hotel room." In order to be able to respond to periods of low energy production, a large battery capacity is provided. Excess energy is stored and can be used later. The spherical shape of the Ecocapsule is also carefully shaped to optimize the collection of rainwater and morning dew. Membrane water filters are designed to purify 99.999% of the bacteria, creating a natural water source and making the water suitable for drinking. The spherical shape of the Ecocapsule is intentionally designed to minimize energy loss. After all, this shape has the lowest outer surface in relation to the content. Hollow walls filled with high-performance thermal insulation protect the inhabitants and provide almost passive house performance. Low consumption systems and energy recovery help to further reduce energy consumption. For naturalists, emergency teams and high-rent areas.Graphic: Tomas Manina, Ecocapsule Holding This is a housing unit for people who need a long-term stay in nature, for example scientists, photographers, rangers or extreme tourists. Matej adds: "Smooth mobility, containerization and energy independence open new ways to use the capsule's potential." The capsule can be shipped quickly and used as emergency housing for teams in situations where the infrastructure is damaged. Teams can immediately take up their duties without the need to first build their base and facilities. 'The capsule can even serve as a small power plant and water filtration unit.' Furthermore, the cottage can be used as a home in an urban environment, for example for singles in the high-rent sector, such as New York. 'It can be placed on the roof or an empty parking space and can be easily loaded on a low-loader, by helicopter or on its own undercarriage.'Photos: Tomas Manina, Ecocapsule Holding A promising future These are exciting times for Ecocapsule. Recently the first series construction module was presented on the roof of the UNIQ building in Bratislava. This is the forerunner of a series of 50 pieces. Then the goal is to switch to mass production, which will also have a favorable effect on price formation. What can we learn from Ecocapsule? In 2008, the idea for Ecocapsule was already born. Only the technique for a 100% off-grid model was not yet available. That technique is now available and the egg functions completely self-supporting. Sometimes the time is ripe, but the technology is not yet. Then patience and development is the only option. Nice Architects proudly presents her renewed egg ten years later. By: BouwTotaal, Text: Ir. Marcel van Mierlo
Ecocapsule: off-grid charging your car Nice Architects participated in the ideas competition of Andres Sprout Society in 2008. "Design a small living unit for an artist." They sent in a round building so that the energy loss would be limited. Moreover, the cottage could collect water itself and was easy to transport. Unfortunately, the technology for a completely off-grid building on this small scale was not yet available. Now, ten years later, Nice Architects proudly presents the 100% off-grid eco-capsule. You can even charge your electric car with it.Photos: Tomas Manina, Ecocapsule Holding With the development of new techniques they completed the Ecocapsule version 2. Equipped with all installations that you need to live independently for a longer period of time. "Something like a Swiss army knife, you incorporate everything in your design that you need," says Matej Gyárfáš of Ecocapsule. "Long-term off-grid living and working always suffered from a lack of resources and supplies. This required a constant flow of material and supply of fuel, time-consuming and bad for the environment. Because the capsule is provide with everything you need, you give a great service to the environment." Bulb shape has several advantagesPhotos: Tomas Manina, Ecocapsule Holding Ecocapsule is a smart house that can run entirely on solar and wind energy. Matej: "The capsule enables people to reach the whole world with the luxury of a hotel room." In order to be able to respond to periods of low energy production, a large battery capacity is provided. Excess energy is stored and can be used later. The spherical shape of the Ecocapsule is also carefully shaped to optimize the collection of rainwater and morning dew. Membrane water filters are designed to purify 99.999% of the bacteria, creating a natural water source and making the water suitable for drinking. The spherical shape of the Ecocapsule is intentionally designed to minimize energy loss. After all, this shape has the lowest outer surface in relation to the content. Hollow walls filled with high-performance thermal insulation protect the inhabitants and provide almost passive house performance. Low consumption systems and energy recovery help to further reduce energy consumption. For naturalists, emergency teams and high-rent areas.Graphic: Tomas Manina, Ecocapsule Holding This is a housing unit for people who need a long-term stay in nature, for example scientists, photographers, rangers or extreme tourists. Matej adds: "Smooth mobility, containerization and energy independence open new ways to use the capsule's potential." The capsule can be shipped quickly and used as emergency housing for teams in situations where the infrastructure is damaged. Teams can immediately take up their duties without the need to first build their base and facilities. 'The capsule can even serve as a small power plant and water filtration unit.' Furthermore, the cottage can be used as a home in an urban environment, for example for singles in the high-rent sector, such as New York. 'It can be placed on the roof or an empty parking space and can be easily loaded on a low-loader, by helicopter or on its own undercarriage.'Photos: Tomas Manina, Ecocapsule Holding A promising future These are exciting times for Ecocapsule. Recently the first series construction module was presented on the roof of the UNIQ building in Bratislava. This is the forerunner of a series of 50 pieces. Then the goal is to switch to mass production, which will also have a favorable effect on price formation. What can we learn from Ecocapsule? In 2008, the idea for Ecocapsule was already born. Only the technique for a 100% off-grid model was not yet available. That technique is now available and the egg functions completely self-supporting. Sometimes the time is ripe, but the technology is not yet. Then patience and development is the only option. Nice Architects proudly presents her renewed egg ten years later. By: BouwTotaal, Text: Ir. Marcel van Mierlo
It
It's great to live in an off-grid Egg
Straw Wars! The EU sends you an invitation
You've almost certainly heard noise about banning plastic straws, but have you heard of "Straw Wars"? That's what the local media is calling a war of words between UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, over who can ban single-use plastics first: the "slow moving" behemoth European Union or the United Kingdom, which is making its own laws in anticipation of the pending "Brexit" from the EU.Yesterday, the EU Commission fired the first volley by publishing draft legislation targeting the ten worst single-use plastic (SUP) waste offenders, as well as plastic fishing gear. Together, these represent 70% of the SUP items counted in a survey of marine litter on European beaches. This is an exciting front in the war on plastics, for which the call to arms is going out across the globe. While many locations are acting to ban plastic bags or plastic straws, the EU Commission's proposed restrictions are wide-ranging. They ban single-use plastics in all the cases for which a reasonable substitute is already available, which includes: Cotton bud sticks (with exception for medical purposes) Cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks) Plates Straws (with exception for medical purposes) Beverage stirrers Sticks and mechanisms to support balloons (with certain exceptions). The regulation doesn't stop there either. For SUP items that don't have available replacements, various measures will reduce the waste and discourage inappropriate disposal, as well as ensuring that the costs of such wastes fall on the producers of the single-use plastic items, in line with the EU's strong "polluter pays" principle. Consumption reduction targets will be required for plastic food containers and drinking cups and EU member states will be obligated to collect (and recycle) 90% of SUP drink bottles by 2025.Special labels will advise consumers of the plastics in sanitary napkins, wet wipes, and balloons. Awareness-raising measures will inform citizens of the urgency of reducing plastic litter, and remind them of the available re-use and waste management options.The EU Commission is optimistic that the EU Parliament and Council will prioritize this draft and turn it into law before the European elections a year from now. In the press conference announcing the proposed regulations, Timmermans called out Gove by name and invited others to join in "a race to the top" in #PlasticsStrategy. Timmermans really threw down the gauntlet with the challenge: "Let's see who does best at this." The backers of this legislation also recognize that the winner of this race will be a leader in supplying solutions to the rest of the globe as other countries come to realize that action must be taken to prevent plastics from strangling our oceans, and will be saving future generations money that would otherwise be spent on cleaning up the mess. That's certainly a prize worth striving for. So the race is on and all are invited: May the best country win! By: Christine Lepisto
You've almost certainly heard noise about banning plastic straws, but have you heard of "Straw Wars"? That's what the local media is calling a war of words between UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, over who can ban single-use plastics first: the "slow moving" behemoth European Union or the United Kingdom, which is making its own laws in anticipation of the pending "Brexit" from the EU.Yesterday, the EU Commission fired the first volley by publishing draft legislation targeting the ten worst single-use plastic (SUP) waste offenders, as well as plastic fishing gear. Together, these represent 70% of the SUP items counted in a survey of marine litter on European beaches. This is an exciting front in the war on plastics, for which the call to arms is going out across the globe. While many locations are acting to ban plastic bags or plastic straws, the EU Commission's proposed restrictions are wide-ranging. They ban single-use plastics in all the cases for which a reasonable substitute is already available, which includes: Cotton bud sticks (with exception for medical purposes) Cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks) Plates Straws (with exception for medical purposes) Beverage stirrers Sticks and mechanisms to support balloons (with certain exceptions). The regulation doesn't stop there either. For SUP items that don't have available replacements, various measures will reduce the waste and discourage inappropriate disposal, as well as ensuring that the costs of such wastes fall on the producers of the single-use plastic items, in line with the EU's strong "polluter pays" principle. Consumption reduction targets will be required for plastic food containers and drinking cups and EU member states will be obligated to collect (and recycle) 90% of SUP drink bottles by 2025.Special labels will advise consumers of the plastics in sanitary napkins, wet wipes, and balloons. Awareness-raising measures will inform citizens of the urgency of reducing plastic litter, and remind them of the available re-use and waste management options.The EU Commission is optimistic that the EU Parliament and Council will prioritize this draft and turn it into law before the European elections a year from now. In the press conference announcing the proposed regulations, Timmermans called out Gove by name and invited others to join in "a race to the top" in #PlasticsStrategy. Timmermans really threw down the gauntlet with the challenge: "Let's see who does best at this." The backers of this legislation also recognize that the winner of this race will be a leader in supplying solutions to the rest of the globe as other countries come to realize that action must be taken to prevent plastics from strangling our oceans, and will be saving future generations money that would otherwise be spent on cleaning up the mess. That's certainly a prize worth striving for. So the race is on and all are invited: May the best country win! By: Christine Lepisto
Straw Wars! The EU sends you an invitation
Straw Wars! The EU sends you an invitation
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