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Smart cities, safe and efficient, but are we being watched?
Information from a library, hospital or public transport exposed? More sustainability , improved mobility, efficiency and safety? Where can you find all of the above in one place? The answer is a smart city. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life by making the town more efficient and by reducing the distance between the citizens and the government. In this article you will read more about the smart city and what it means for our privacy.  Improved technologies Technology is moving forward, devices are becoming smarter, so it is inevitable that in the future we will use electronic devices much more than we do now. To keep the city up and running, the existing technologies need to be upgraded. Otherwise, they cannot meet the specifications and demands of the current system. But what do we want? Investigation shows that we wish for smart transportation, where machines and devices communicate with each other. We want smart buildings, where the windows can open automatically, where there is always a connection with the Internet. That is our future. Are we being watched? Cameras are hanging everywhere to guarantee our safety. But do we feel safe by it? We could get the feeling that we are being watched, every step we take is registered by authorities. Besides cameras, all data is collected. This way, authorities know for example the number of visitors at a certain event or they possess information about citizens for commercial purposes. They may sell this information to third parties. Privacy in a smart city Like mentioned before, cameras are everywhere, and data is collected. What does that mean for our privacy? Who is the gatekeeper to our data? And what if the information is hacked? The more internet data there is, the more fragile we become. Fortunately, with the arrival of the GDPR in May 2018, the rules on the subject are becoming more strict. The citizen must be informed in understandable language, especially when it comes to data traffic in a smart city. Costs savings or costs loss? All these new technologies cost money. To upgrade the existing technologies, we (governments, state or country) need to invest vast amounts of money. However, due to these smart cities, there could be economic benefits coming from the transition towards a smart city, for example when it comes to real estate. Buildings have to deal with endless energy, such as heating and cooling installations, lighting, electrical wiring, communication, lifts, electrical appliances, etcetera. A computer-controlled system regulates, monitors and controls all of this. But this can be done by automated systems. Automated systems can be used for this purpose, and therefore energy consumption can be reduced. For example, the light is turned off at a fixed time, or when nobody is present in the room, ventilation can be regulated on the number of people in the room. This can improve air quality, and will lead to user satisfaction. So yes, at first it will cost money, but in the end, it will save a lot as well. Reducing damages in case of a disaster Smart cities use sensors that are suitable for detecting abnormalities in a town or during an event. In this way, the sensors can inform the authorities if a measurement differs from the limited safety features in a city. This helps the city effectively track everything, and if there is a discrepancy, the authorities are able to act quickly and put an end to the situation so that it does not escalate. Better sustainability in a smart city Smart cities pay extra attention to sustainability, and this is reflected in the fact that they focus on renewable energy sources . If everyone uses a solar-powered system, carbon emissions will be reduced. We can recycle garbage and use the thrown away materials again. Or we may use free rainwater to flush our toilets. We can also apply durability to traffic by using smart transport. For example, to see where there is congestion and possibly change to a better route. We could also use smart traffic lights. All of this will contribute to a better quality of life. That is the ultimate purpose of a smart city: the best possible living circumstances for everybody, to provide a way of life that is the best combination of technology and comfort. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/community  
Information from a library, hospital or public transport exposed? More sustainability , improved mobility, efficiency and safety? Where can you find all of the above in one place? The answer is a smart city. Its purpose is to improve the quality of life by making the town more efficient and by reducing the distance between the citizens and the government. In this article you will read more about the smart city and what it means for our privacy.  Improved technologies Technology is moving forward, devices are becoming smarter, so it is inevitable that in the future we will use electronic devices much more than we do now. To keep the city up and running, the existing technologies need to be upgraded. Otherwise, they cannot meet the specifications and demands of the current system. But what do we want? Investigation shows that we wish for smart transportation, where machines and devices communicate with each other. We want smart buildings, where the windows can open automatically, where there is always a connection with the Internet. That is our future. Are we being watched? Cameras are hanging everywhere to guarantee our safety. But do we feel safe by it? We could get the feeling that we are being watched, every step we take is registered by authorities. Besides cameras, all data is collected. This way, authorities know for example the number of visitors at a certain event or they possess information about citizens for commercial purposes. They may sell this information to third parties. Privacy in a smart city Like mentioned before, cameras are everywhere, and data is collected. What does that mean for our privacy? Who is the gatekeeper to our data? And what if the information is hacked? The more internet data there is, the more fragile we become. Fortunately, with the arrival of the GDPR in May 2018, the rules on the subject are becoming more strict. The citizen must be informed in understandable language, especially when it comes to data traffic in a smart city. Costs savings or costs loss? All these new technologies cost money. To upgrade the existing technologies, we (governments, state or country) need to invest vast amounts of money. However, due to these smart cities, there could be economic benefits coming from the transition towards a smart city, for example when it comes to real estate. Buildings have to deal with endless energy, such as heating and cooling installations, lighting, electrical wiring, communication, lifts, electrical appliances, etcetera. A computer-controlled system regulates, monitors and controls all of this. But this can be done by automated systems. Automated systems can be used for this purpose, and therefore energy consumption can be reduced. For example, the light is turned off at a fixed time, or when nobody is present in the room, ventilation can be regulated on the number of people in the room. This can improve air quality, and will lead to user satisfaction. So yes, at first it will cost money, but in the end, it will save a lot as well. Reducing damages in case of a disaster Smart cities use sensors that are suitable for detecting abnormalities in a town or during an event. In this way, the sensors can inform the authorities if a measurement differs from the limited safety features in a city. This helps the city effectively track everything, and if there is a discrepancy, the authorities are able to act quickly and put an end to the situation so that it does not escalate. Better sustainability in a smart city Smart cities pay extra attention to sustainability, and this is reflected in the fact that they focus on renewable energy sources . If everyone uses a solar-powered system, carbon emissions will be reduced. We can recycle garbage and use the thrown away materials again. Or we may use free rainwater to flush our toilets. We can also apply durability to traffic by using smart transport. For example, to see where there is congestion and possibly change to a better route. We could also use smart traffic lights. All of this will contribute to a better quality of life. That is the ultimate purpose of a smart city: the best possible living circumstances for everybody, to provide a way of life that is the best combination of technology and comfort. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/community  
Smart cities, safe and efficient, but are we being watched?
Smart cities, safe and efficient, but are we being watched?
A world without oil fueled by renewables.  Are we on track?
Just sit back and enjoy that thought for a minute. What if, suddenly, from one day to the next, there would be no more oil? Not a tank, not a gallon, not even a single drop? Aside from the obvious negative implications for those economies that are driven by the black gold, there will be plenty of other side-effects, both positive and negative.   Electric cars fueled by renewable energy sources I’m going to allow myself to indulge in the fantasy and explore ways of how the world will change because of it. Starting with the obvious one: we will no longer be able to fuel up our cars at the gas station down the street. So that will be a shame, leaving that big ol’ Chevy in the garage. Although there are plenty of alternatives.   Sustainable transport will be our go-to means of getting around. Most of us will own an electric car, fuelled by renewable energy sources - perhaps even of the self-driving variety, allowing us to sit back and relax as we are whisked from A to B. Alternatively, you can hop on the electric trains or metros, departing from fully sustainable and hyper-modern stations.   Drones, electric trucks and sustainable freight trains Goods are transported by drones, electric trucks, on sustainable freight trains, and smart container ships. All of which are obviously fitted with state-of-the-art tracking software and sensors, allowing for real-time analysis. Would you want to go on a long journey? There will be electric planes, ready to transport passengers to tropical destinations all around the world. Or you could opt for a sustainable cruise ship or yacht, sailing all the oceans of the world. No matter your destination, no matter your purpose - there will be a suitable means of transportation.   Sounds good? Well, yes. But let’s not ignore the reality of today: most of the mentioned forms of transportation are not even available yet, let alone a feasible option for the short term. The number of gas-guzzling cars far outweighs the number of electric vehicles, meaning that a sudden oil-stop would quite literally have society grinding to a halt. Perhaps we still have an electric scooter or an old-fashioned bike in the garage, although this will not be sufficient to cover large distances.   The unavoidable crash The entire aviation industry will crash - excuse the pun -, leaving those who frequently travel internationally hanging out to dry. As it stands, very few oil-free alternatives are available, quite possibly forcing the big airlines to scramble in their race to find an oil-free passenger plane. Just as it would be for the majority of the cruise- and yachting industry, in fact.   So, while the picture-perfect Jetsons-like vision of the future might sound appealing and admittedly become reality a whole lot sooner if oil were to suddenly disappear, the image for the foreseeable future would be far from rosy. International travel will become extremely difficult, whilst most of us will find ourselves limited in our mobility, having been robbed of our cars and buses. The trains and cars that remain will be far and few between - and most certainly incapable of handling the increased flow of passengers that are still hoping to retain their jobs or pursue an education.   The same goes for a gazillion other aspects of our life, all of which rely on oil. Deny all you want, but it is a painful fact that oil serves as the backbone of our society. Taking it all away would quite literally undermine all that we have built up, which could be disastrous for the world’s economy and set us back decades.   Nuclear power is relatively foolproof To illustrate this, just take a look at the energy needs of the world. Without oil, there is only one real alternative that would be able to meet the needs of the world - nuclear energy. All of the renewable energy sources that are currently available - hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and wave energy - are nowhere near sufficient to power all of today’s society. Nuclear power is relatively foolproof, extremely clean, and very safe.   So that sounds great - who needs oil for energy generation anyway? Unfortunately, the matter is once again not as easy and smooth as it may seem. While the costs of building nuclear facilities and the lengthy timeline associated with it may have been historical bottlenecks, the major problem is public perception. Spurred on by organisations like Greenpeace, a large proportion of the general population is not in favour of nuclear energy, to say the least, or absolutely frightened by it, at its most extreme. Events like Chernobyl and Fukushima are ingrained within our collective memory, making the general acceptance of nuclear energy a hurdle that will be tricky to overcome. Not to mention the time that it would cost us to actually build enough nuclear power plants to deliver sufficient energy, once again leaving us in a grim, dark place for the first years after having lost our oil overnight. Our lives without oil After all, figuring out how to live our lives without oil will entail even more than 'just' the way we move and generate energy. It will change the way we eat, we live, the way that we dress. Our homes will have to become much greener, as we cannot use as much energy to heat it: insulation and ventilation are the key words, while our home appliances will have to be super efficient. Low-flush toilets, water saving dishwashers, and low-draw lightbulbs will become the new norm.   Our food will be produced locally, changing each season, depending on what is available in our vegetable gardens. The same applies for clothing: fabrics that are available locally will set the norm for our garments, quite possibly including some new innovative techniques to keep us warm (remember the need to save energy in our homes?). Wait, I once again described the ideal situation. Would it really be as simple as making an instant switch to a local economy, where we all live in sustainable homes and only eat the food and wear the clothes that are available at a given time? Without putting up much of a fight? Sustainable alternatives Well, probably not. Chances are that, as the result of an oil crisis, we will turn into cavemen instead - and definitely not in the good way. Instead of resorting to outfits made out of hides and skins of animals and hunting deers and gathering fruits and nuts, we will take our figurative spears and head off to loot the supermarkets. The prospect of food shortages will fuel our primal instincts, leading to chaotic, end-of-world-like situations were people panic and riot, stopping at nothing to get their hands on some food. Similarly, we will try to take our money out of the bank as quickly as possible, foreseeing the imminent crisis that will render our bank credit worthless. Quite useless, actually, as money will quickly lose its value in the world of a plummeting economy anyhow. The rest of this scenario plays out like an apocalyptic movie: our homes, bereft of any sort of energy, will become useless shells as we are no longer able to flush our toilets, watch our tv, heat our rooms, connect to the internet, and cook our food. As our lights quite literally go out, authorities will stand by helplessly as all of their crucial systems are flat on their behind as well, including police, hospitals and armies. Riots will break out and the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ will be given a whole other meaning. All because of one silly, little, seemingly insignificant resource. Do not despair yet, though. You will be happy to hear that most governments have plans in place to prevent the last scenario from ever happening, starting by reducing their country’s reliance on oil. And although I may have attempted to paint a picture of oil being indispensable, there is evidence to the contrary. Entire countries are going ‘oil-free’, instead opting for a variety of renewable sources of energy to fuel their economies. In particular those countries who do not have much oil of their own are rapidly adjusting, fuelling innovations that can, in turn, be adapted and implemented by other countries as well. The main point? We cannot do it alone. We must do it together, with other countries. Together, we can find ways to live without oil. We can innovate, we can re-new, we can learn. That is, and has always been, the greatest strength of us, human beings.   But in order to avert the doom-scenario I briefly described above, and have a shot at making the dreamy ideal-world scenario I painted before that come true at some point in the future, we have got to take action. Today. Oil is ending - and the sooner we accept this, the earlier we can start looking for sustainable alternatives. This way, we can prevent a situation where we will suddenly find ourselves out of oil tomorrow - and give ourselves the opportunity to have a much smoother, calmer transition to a cleaner world. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy
Just sit back and enjoy that thought for a minute. What if, suddenly, from one day to the next, there would be no more oil? Not a tank, not a gallon, not even a single drop? Aside from the obvious negative implications for those economies that are driven by the black gold, there will be plenty of other side-effects, both positive and negative.   Electric cars fueled by renewable energy sources I’m going to allow myself to indulge in the fantasy and explore ways of how the world will change because of it. Starting with the obvious one: we will no longer be able to fuel up our cars at the gas station down the street. So that will be a shame, leaving that big ol’ Chevy in the garage. Although there are plenty of alternatives.   Sustainable transport will be our go-to means of getting around. Most of us will own an electric car, fuelled by renewable energy sources - perhaps even of the self-driving variety, allowing us to sit back and relax as we are whisked from A to B. Alternatively, you can hop on the electric trains or metros, departing from fully sustainable and hyper-modern stations.   Drones, electric trucks and sustainable freight trains Goods are transported by drones, electric trucks, on sustainable freight trains, and smart container ships. All of which are obviously fitted with state-of-the-art tracking software and sensors, allowing for real-time analysis. Would you want to go on a long journey? There will be electric planes, ready to transport passengers to tropical destinations all around the world. Or you could opt for a sustainable cruise ship or yacht, sailing all the oceans of the world. No matter your destination, no matter your purpose - there will be a suitable means of transportation.   Sounds good? Well, yes. But let’s not ignore the reality of today: most of the mentioned forms of transportation are not even available yet, let alone a feasible option for the short term. The number of gas-guzzling cars far outweighs the number of electric vehicles, meaning that a sudden oil-stop would quite literally have society grinding to a halt. Perhaps we still have an electric scooter or an old-fashioned bike in the garage, although this will not be sufficient to cover large distances.   The unavoidable crash The entire aviation industry will crash - excuse the pun -, leaving those who frequently travel internationally hanging out to dry. As it stands, very few oil-free alternatives are available, quite possibly forcing the big airlines to scramble in their race to find an oil-free passenger plane. Just as it would be for the majority of the cruise- and yachting industry, in fact.   So, while the picture-perfect Jetsons-like vision of the future might sound appealing and admittedly become reality a whole lot sooner if oil were to suddenly disappear, the image for the foreseeable future would be far from rosy. International travel will become extremely difficult, whilst most of us will find ourselves limited in our mobility, having been robbed of our cars and buses. The trains and cars that remain will be far and few between - and most certainly incapable of handling the increased flow of passengers that are still hoping to retain their jobs or pursue an education.   The same goes for a gazillion other aspects of our life, all of which rely on oil. Deny all you want, but it is a painful fact that oil serves as the backbone of our society. Taking it all away would quite literally undermine all that we have built up, which could be disastrous for the world’s economy and set us back decades.   Nuclear power is relatively foolproof To illustrate this, just take a look at the energy needs of the world. Without oil, there is only one real alternative that would be able to meet the needs of the world - nuclear energy. All of the renewable energy sources that are currently available - hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, and wave energy - are nowhere near sufficient to power all of today’s society. Nuclear power is relatively foolproof, extremely clean, and very safe.   So that sounds great - who needs oil for energy generation anyway? Unfortunately, the matter is once again not as easy and smooth as it may seem. While the costs of building nuclear facilities and the lengthy timeline associated with it may have been historical bottlenecks, the major problem is public perception. Spurred on by organisations like Greenpeace, a large proportion of the general population is not in favour of nuclear energy, to say the least, or absolutely frightened by it, at its most extreme. Events like Chernobyl and Fukushima are ingrained within our collective memory, making the general acceptance of nuclear energy a hurdle that will be tricky to overcome. Not to mention the time that it would cost us to actually build enough nuclear power plants to deliver sufficient energy, once again leaving us in a grim, dark place for the first years after having lost our oil overnight. Our lives without oil After all, figuring out how to live our lives without oil will entail even more than 'just' the way we move and generate energy. It will change the way we eat, we live, the way that we dress. Our homes will have to become much greener, as we cannot use as much energy to heat it: insulation and ventilation are the key words, while our home appliances will have to be super efficient. Low-flush toilets, water saving dishwashers, and low-draw lightbulbs will become the new norm.   Our food will be produced locally, changing each season, depending on what is available in our vegetable gardens. The same applies for clothing: fabrics that are available locally will set the norm for our garments, quite possibly including some new innovative techniques to keep us warm (remember the need to save energy in our homes?). Wait, I once again described the ideal situation. Would it really be as simple as making an instant switch to a local economy, where we all live in sustainable homes and only eat the food and wear the clothes that are available at a given time? Without putting up much of a fight? Sustainable alternatives Well, probably not. Chances are that, as the result of an oil crisis, we will turn into cavemen instead - and definitely not in the good way. Instead of resorting to outfits made out of hides and skins of animals and hunting deers and gathering fruits and nuts, we will take our figurative spears and head off to loot the supermarkets. The prospect of food shortages will fuel our primal instincts, leading to chaotic, end-of-world-like situations were people panic and riot, stopping at nothing to get their hands on some food. Similarly, we will try to take our money out of the bank as quickly as possible, foreseeing the imminent crisis that will render our bank credit worthless. Quite useless, actually, as money will quickly lose its value in the world of a plummeting economy anyhow. The rest of this scenario plays out like an apocalyptic movie: our homes, bereft of any sort of energy, will become useless shells as we are no longer able to flush our toilets, watch our tv, heat our rooms, connect to the internet, and cook our food. As our lights quite literally go out, authorities will stand by helplessly as all of their crucial systems are flat on their behind as well, including police, hospitals and armies. Riots will break out and the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ will be given a whole other meaning. All because of one silly, little, seemingly insignificant resource. Do not despair yet, though. You will be happy to hear that most governments have plans in place to prevent the last scenario from ever happening, starting by reducing their country’s reliance on oil. And although I may have attempted to paint a picture of oil being indispensable, there is evidence to the contrary. Entire countries are going ‘oil-free’, instead opting for a variety of renewable sources of energy to fuel their economies. In particular those countries who do not have much oil of their own are rapidly adjusting, fuelling innovations that can, in turn, be adapted and implemented by other countries as well. The main point? We cannot do it alone. We must do it together, with other countries. Together, we can find ways to live without oil. We can innovate, we can re-new, we can learn. That is, and has always been, the greatest strength of us, human beings.   But in order to avert the doom-scenario I briefly described above, and have a shot at making the dreamy ideal-world scenario I painted before that come true at some point in the future, we have got to take action. Today. Oil is ending - and the sooner we accept this, the earlier we can start looking for sustainable alternatives. This way, we can prevent a situation where we will suddenly find ourselves out of oil tomorrow - and give ourselves the opportunity to have a much smoother, calmer transition to a cleaner world. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/energy
A world without oil fueled by renewables.  Are we on track?
A world without oil fueled by renewables. Are we on track?
Australian hype: carbon-neutral houses made of recycled materials
The other week, a new Australian project caught our attention. A self-proclaimed feminist architecture studio called Whispering Smith came up with the very first prototype of their brainchild. This House A, as the first of its kind is lovingly called, is built as a hybrid between an apartment and a house. With its 753 square feet, it is definitely making the most of the land on which it is situated. Increasing popularity of small and  tiny houses It is only the latest fad on a wave of small and tiny house projects. The obsession with creating small(er) living spaces has swept the globe, with people from Austria to Australia coming up with innovative, cutting-edge designs for their own version of a small home. Not only are they much more sustainable and cost-effective, they also have significantly lower heating and water bills. Another argument for downsizing could be that it forces people to cut back on its possessions and only keep those items that they really need - which should, according to popular theories, allow them to live happier and fuller lives as there is less clutter in their lives holding them down. Apartment-house made of recycled materials As for House A, which was built to accommodate the directors of the architecture studio developing it, a focus on recycling seemed to be the main focus. Its small size is optimised for building on small lots, while using various recycled materials to constructing the house - including whitewashed brick, timber, cabinetry and 65-percent-recycled-slag and concrete tilt-up panels.   A location near Perth, Australia was carefully chosen for this project. The house was built in a neighbourhood that is known for its dedication to sustainability: House A was the first of three carbon-neutral residences that were to be built here. And even though it only measures 70 square meters, it feels remarkably comfortable: its three compact levels include a full-sized garage underground and two living floors.   Simple and basic interior Even the interior fits the mentality of scaling down and recycling. Its palette is monochromatic and industrious in its execution, meaning that small flaws and imperfections are still visible rather than hidden away. At the same time, the building is constructed in an open space kind of setting, with minimal use of walls and doors to separate spaces.   This gives the interior an effortless flow, in which spaces blend together effortlessly. This includes the outdoor space, which can easily be added to the house through moveable walls and sliding doors. Perth normally has a climate that allows for this luxurious blending of indoor and outdoor living, which only adds to the spacious feel of the home.   The appeal of House A and other tiny houses Even though the advantages of living small are obvious, there are quite a few who wonder what the actual appeal of such a lifestyle is. Yet the developers are convinced that this movement in small living is going to make a huge difference in the lives of the new generation: “ House A embodies our desire to build something relevant for our generation. A lot of younger people and downsizers don't have a lot of stuff or are having children much later and we are using our homes for all kinds of things, from starting businesses or hosting a long table dinner for 20. We wanted to build a prototype house that did all of these things, while being affordable, sustainable and made from really beautiful, long lasting materials, and we thought the best way was just to design and build it ourselves. ” Other sustainable measures Apart from mostly using recycled materials for its construction and attention paid to the way in which spaces interact with themselves and the outdoors, more measures have been implemented in House A that serve a greater purpose. For instance, an underground rainwater-collecting tank provides water for most of the house. Solar panels offset the electricity needs, and an indoor clothes-drying line provides a natural way of drying laundry - removing the need for mechanical solutions, such as an actual dryer.   All of these measures add up to a carbon neutral way of living, while the home’s garden might even elevate its status to being carbon negative. The garden space is a sanctuary for native plant species to grown and blossom, allowing local bird species to thrive. This makes it a great outdoor space that respects its environment while being a great space to relax for the human inhabitants. House A is definitely ranking up there with other small and tiny house projects. It is innovative, yet nifty and very sustainable. Plus, it definitely pleases the eye - if you are into bare and minimalistic living, that is. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/architecture/tinyhouses
The other week, a new Australian project caught our attention. A self-proclaimed feminist architecture studio called Whispering Smith came up with the very first prototype of their brainchild. This House A, as the first of its kind is lovingly called, is built as a hybrid between an apartment and a house. With its 753 square feet, it is definitely making the most of the land on which it is situated. Increasing popularity of small and  tiny houses It is only the latest fad on a wave of small and tiny house projects. The obsession with creating small(er) living spaces has swept the globe, with people from Austria to Australia coming up with innovative, cutting-edge designs for their own version of a small home. Not only are they much more sustainable and cost-effective, they also have significantly lower heating and water bills. Another argument for downsizing could be that it forces people to cut back on its possessions and only keep those items that they really need - which should, according to popular theories, allow them to live happier and fuller lives as there is less clutter in their lives holding them down. Apartment-house made of recycled materials As for House A, which was built to accommodate the directors of the architecture studio developing it, a focus on recycling seemed to be the main focus. Its small size is optimised for building on small lots, while using various recycled materials to constructing the house - including whitewashed brick, timber, cabinetry and 65-percent-recycled-slag and concrete tilt-up panels.   A location near Perth, Australia was carefully chosen for this project. The house was built in a neighbourhood that is known for its dedication to sustainability: House A was the first of three carbon-neutral residences that were to be built here. And even though it only measures 70 square meters, it feels remarkably comfortable: its three compact levels include a full-sized garage underground and two living floors.   Simple and basic interior Even the interior fits the mentality of scaling down and recycling. Its palette is monochromatic and industrious in its execution, meaning that small flaws and imperfections are still visible rather than hidden away. At the same time, the building is constructed in an open space kind of setting, with minimal use of walls and doors to separate spaces.   This gives the interior an effortless flow, in which spaces blend together effortlessly. This includes the outdoor space, which can easily be added to the house through moveable walls and sliding doors. Perth normally has a climate that allows for this luxurious blending of indoor and outdoor living, which only adds to the spacious feel of the home.   The appeal of House A and other tiny houses Even though the advantages of living small are obvious, there are quite a few who wonder what the actual appeal of such a lifestyle is. Yet the developers are convinced that this movement in small living is going to make a huge difference in the lives of the new generation: “ House A embodies our desire to build something relevant for our generation. A lot of younger people and downsizers don't have a lot of stuff or are having children much later and we are using our homes for all kinds of things, from starting businesses or hosting a long table dinner for 20. We wanted to build a prototype house that did all of these things, while being affordable, sustainable and made from really beautiful, long lasting materials, and we thought the best way was just to design and build it ourselves. ” Other sustainable measures Apart from mostly using recycled materials for its construction and attention paid to the way in which spaces interact with themselves and the outdoors, more measures have been implemented in House A that serve a greater purpose. For instance, an underground rainwater-collecting tank provides water for most of the house. Solar panels offset the electricity needs, and an indoor clothes-drying line provides a natural way of drying laundry - removing the need for mechanical solutions, such as an actual dryer.   All of these measures add up to a carbon neutral way of living, while the home’s garden might even elevate its status to being carbon negative. The garden space is a sanctuary for native plant species to grown and blossom, allowing local bird species to thrive. This makes it a great outdoor space that respects its environment while being a great space to relax for the human inhabitants. House A is definitely ranking up there with other small and tiny house projects. It is innovative, yet nifty and very sustainable. Plus, it definitely pleases the eye - if you are into bare and minimalistic living, that is. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/architecture/tinyhouses
Australian hype: carbon-neutral houses made of recycled materials
Australian hype: carbon-neutral houses made of recycled materials
How to make your company carbon neutral: let your business make the world a better place
Although most CEO’s and business owners will agree that they are actually trying to leave their footprints on the world, as this will be a testament to the value that their company adds to the life of customers, there is one footprint that they’d like to get rid of. This would be their carbon footprint, or the impact that running their operations has on the environment at large.   It seems as if customers have developed a rather significant soft spot for companies who are - or who claim to be - committed to ‘doing the right thing’. Greening up their activities, making their supply chain more transparant and printing their business cards on recycled paper: as long as it can be sold as a ‘sustainable practice’, it will be employed, and promoted heavily to boot. For a very good reason, too. Companies who give back are generally enjoying a higher stock price and higher profits than those who usually forgo investments in their corporate social responsibility. Thus, it is hardly surprising that a growing number of businesses have announced their ambitions to become carbon neutral.   A real-life company that has already wiped out its carbon footprint Yet becoming carbon neutral is something that is much easier said than done, as most who have attempted to do so will wholeheartedly agree on. There are, however, some who have already managed to do so. Take the architect practice of Luigi Rosselli Architects, based in Sydney, Australia. Not only have they designed their practice to take full advantage of carbon neutrality, they are definitely walking the talk.   The company has made a business out of designing energy-efficient buildings for its customers, who are eager to jump on the carbon neutral bandwagon as well. Its portfolio includes elegant residential places that usually focus on off-form concrete, that appear to seamlessly blend in to the landscape - being completely in tune with its environment. But even more importantly, the company has dedicated itself to being fully carbon neutral. The entire practice micromanages all of its employees’ behaviours and activities. This ranges from the way that the employees travel to and from work, to the amount of paper that is used and wasted.   How does it work, a  carbon neutral company? The company’s founder Luigi Rosselli recently gave an interview to Archinect Features, in which he highlighted the ways in which the company has managed to achieve carbon neutrality. He explains how the company first focused on the energy that was used on a day-to-day basis. All of this is generated by solar panels.   At the same time, the amount of energy needed is reduced drastically by the smart office design, where the building houses all kind of passive cooling measures: including a terracotta tile rise soleil that reflects the hot sun, and large windows that can be opened for cross ventilation. Another huge issue that was tackled upfront is that of waste reduction. Printing is restricted and only done when there is no other option, and even then still done on recycled paper (double sided, obviously). Besides paper, single use plastics and disposable coffee cups are also largely banned. Instead, workers are using paper crockery and reusable containers for their lunches, whether they bring it from home or pick it up from one of the local, organic cafes in the area. Packaging and other soft plastic materials are diligently recycled, while  food leftovers and coffee grounds are used as fertiliser for the gorgeous roof terrace garden and street level planting. Some more ways of achieving a carbon neutral status A large share of most companies’ carbon footprint is made up of transportation - in particular, that of its employees travelling to and from work. Rosselli introduced a system that heavily encourages its workers to use public transportation or to go to work on foot or by bike. For this purpose, the office is conveniently located close to a major transport hub and boasts various easily accessible facilities for storing bikes. Any air travel required is offset directly when booking, through the airline. And at the end of each year, a complete inventory is made: how much energy was consumed, how much waste was generated, and what was the impact of transportation and travelling? The remainder is usually offset through carbon credits. Or, according to Rosselli: “We are always innovating and looking for proactive ways to reduce our carbon footprint so that we can eventually almost eliminate this stage of the process.” This is a great effort that should be applauded. Even if other companies would only take on a fraction of this attitude, perhaps only focusing on reducing the transportation needs of its employees, it could already make a big difference. It never is a zero-sum game, and it definitely is not now: companies should, if anything, consider the positive example it will set for others to follow. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/community/circular-econ-
Although most CEO’s and business owners will agree that they are actually trying to leave their footprints on the world, as this will be a testament to the value that their company adds to the life of customers, there is one footprint that they’d like to get rid of. This would be their carbon footprint, or the impact that running their operations has on the environment at large.   It seems as if customers have developed a rather significant soft spot for companies who are - or who claim to be - committed to ‘doing the right thing’. Greening up their activities, making their supply chain more transparant and printing their business cards on recycled paper: as long as it can be sold as a ‘sustainable practice’, it will be employed, and promoted heavily to boot. For a very good reason, too. Companies who give back are generally enjoying a higher stock price and higher profits than those who usually forgo investments in their corporate social responsibility. Thus, it is hardly surprising that a growing number of businesses have announced their ambitions to become carbon neutral.   A real-life company that has already wiped out its carbon footprint Yet becoming carbon neutral is something that is much easier said than done, as most who have attempted to do so will wholeheartedly agree on. There are, however, some who have already managed to do so. Take the architect practice of Luigi Rosselli Architects, based in Sydney, Australia. Not only have they designed their practice to take full advantage of carbon neutrality, they are definitely walking the talk.   The company has made a business out of designing energy-efficient buildings for its customers, who are eager to jump on the carbon neutral bandwagon as well. Its portfolio includes elegant residential places that usually focus on off-form concrete, that appear to seamlessly blend in to the landscape - being completely in tune with its environment. But even more importantly, the company has dedicated itself to being fully carbon neutral. The entire practice micromanages all of its employees’ behaviours and activities. This ranges from the way that the employees travel to and from work, to the amount of paper that is used and wasted.   How does it work, a  carbon neutral company? The company’s founder Luigi Rosselli recently gave an interview to Archinect Features, in which he highlighted the ways in which the company has managed to achieve carbon neutrality. He explains how the company first focused on the energy that was used on a day-to-day basis. All of this is generated by solar panels.   At the same time, the amount of energy needed is reduced drastically by the smart office design, where the building houses all kind of passive cooling measures: including a terracotta tile rise soleil that reflects the hot sun, and large windows that can be opened for cross ventilation. Another huge issue that was tackled upfront is that of waste reduction. Printing is restricted and only done when there is no other option, and even then still done on recycled paper (double sided, obviously). Besides paper, single use plastics and disposable coffee cups are also largely banned. Instead, workers are using paper crockery and reusable containers for their lunches, whether they bring it from home or pick it up from one of the local, organic cafes in the area. Packaging and other soft plastic materials are diligently recycled, while  food leftovers and coffee grounds are used as fertiliser for the gorgeous roof terrace garden and street level planting. Some more ways of achieving a carbon neutral status A large share of most companies’ carbon footprint is made up of transportation - in particular, that of its employees travelling to and from work. Rosselli introduced a system that heavily encourages its workers to use public transportation or to go to work on foot or by bike. For this purpose, the office is conveniently located close to a major transport hub and boasts various easily accessible facilities for storing bikes. Any air travel required is offset directly when booking, through the airline. And at the end of each year, a complete inventory is made: how much energy was consumed, how much waste was generated, and what was the impact of transportation and travelling? The remainder is usually offset through carbon credits. Or, according to Rosselli: “We are always innovating and looking for proactive ways to reduce our carbon footprint so that we can eventually almost eliminate this stage of the process.” This is a great effort that should be applauded. Even if other companies would only take on a fraction of this attitude, perhaps only focusing on reducing the transportation needs of its employees, it could already make a big difference. It never is a zero-sum game, and it definitely is not now: companies should, if anything, consider the positive example it will set for others to follow. https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/community/circular-econ-
How to make your company carbon neutral: let your business make the world a better place
How to make your company carbon neutral: let your business make the world a better place
Hurting the environment: the palm oil paradox
At the beginning of the 2010s, big companies such as Dove, Mars and Nestlé were publicly shamed for their continued use of palm oil. Not because it is a product that harms our health directly, or because it contains hidden substances - but rather because its production really hurts our environment. And while they pledged at the time to stop their purchase of “dirty” palm oil and make serious efforts to alleviate the damage that they caused; a story recently hit the news that most of them are allegedly ignoring these promises made and continue to use protected land for the growth of palm oil. According to the whistleblower, these companies have largely set aside the plans in favour of gearing up their production. “ For too many years, Nestlé, Mars and Hershey have cherry-picked their [palm oil] targets and then moved the goalposts when they don’t achieve them. There’s just no further room for error to prevent the extinction of tigers, orang-utans and elephants .” Why is palm oil so important to those companies? Clearly there must be something rather important to this illustrious substance, for these large multinationals to risk seriously damaging their reputation. And sure enough, it is. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil harvested from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm. It is one of the world’s most adaptable and frequently used commodities.   Besides, it is quite cheap - while posing unique characteristics that make it desirable for its lubricating, cleansing and vitamin-rich nature. This combination of low costs and high effectiveness make it very appealing for those companies who want to keep their costs down while maintaining their product quality. Despite the negative attention that it may draw to them. Who uses palm oil and what are the alternatives? In large areas of the world, palm oil is used as a common cooking ingredient - not only as an ingredient, but also as oil. Large parts of Africa and Brazil and the whole of Southeast Asia heavily rely on it for their daily diet. This appeal largely comes from the low cost and high saturation when used for frying. Thus, a huge portion of products that they use on a daily basis will contain palm oil in one form or the other. This ranges from chips, chocolate and instant noodles to toothpaste, lipstick and body lotions.   India is one of those countries where it is still frequently used. Latest estimates put the number of Indians that use palm oil on a daily basis at a staggering 50%. And this is still growing: the rapidly developing country is only just now moving on from other sources, such as oils based on groundnut and coconut. And with the country growing rapidly and becoming richer (consumption has doubled in recent decades), palm oil has become indispensable in feeding its 1.3 million population. The country is facing a huge challenge in finding ways of bringing cheap sources of  food to their rapidly expanding population, while facing an alarmingly high poverty rate and very limited use of land. At the same time, India really wants to boost its domestic production and reduce its reliance on imports. For this, palm oil seems to be the only solution that ticks all the boxes, and as such, the Asian country is working hard to ramp up its domestic production, freeing up huge amounts of land for this purpose. App to discover palm oil in products. Why is palm oil getting so much negative attention? So far, so good: it looks as if this raw material can solve a stringent issue. However, there is a flip side; and a reason why there has been such a public outcry against the use of palm oil. Its production causes severe environmental damage ( deforestation, habitat, degradation, climate change, animal cruelty ) and often violates human rights. Sustainability is something that most producers are not concerned with, nor about traceability.   The production has singlehandedly endangered species, such as the orang-utan and Sumatran tiger, and pushed those to the brink of extinction. And while some might say that India freeing up available land will lead to a more sustainable way of production, this could not be further from the truth. The harsh reality is that India does - and will - only produce a fraction of the palm oil needed to meet the growing demand.   The remainder is - and will be - imported from other countries, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia. And these rising imports will put more pressure on those countries, which in turn leads to worse circumstances; once again encouraging “dirty palm oil” producers to benefit - without due cause for the damage done to the environment. There you have it, a doubled-edged sword. In order to feed the growing population of India, they will have to import significant amounts of palm oil - the core component of their people’s diet. The strain that this puts on our environment is tremendous and causing irreparable damage.   Feeding ànd saving the planet simultaneously appears to be a trickier issue than most will think, although it will be a crucial one to solve if we are to even take a remote shot at saving our world. https://www.whatsorb.com/gardening---agriculture/the-environment-is-our-economy  
At the beginning of the 2010s, big companies such as Dove, Mars and Nestlé were publicly shamed for their continued use of palm oil. Not because it is a product that harms our health directly, or because it contains hidden substances - but rather because its production really hurts our environment. And while they pledged at the time to stop their purchase of “dirty” palm oil and make serious efforts to alleviate the damage that they caused; a story recently hit the news that most of them are allegedly ignoring these promises made and continue to use protected land for the growth of palm oil. According to the whistleblower, these companies have largely set aside the plans in favour of gearing up their production. “ For too many years, Nestlé, Mars and Hershey have cherry-picked their [palm oil] targets and then moved the goalposts when they don’t achieve them. There’s just no further room for error to prevent the extinction of tigers, orang-utans and elephants .” Why is palm oil so important to those companies? Clearly there must be something rather important to this illustrious substance, for these large multinationals to risk seriously damaging their reputation. And sure enough, it is. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil harvested from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm. It is one of the world’s most adaptable and frequently used commodities.   Besides, it is quite cheap - while posing unique characteristics that make it desirable for its lubricating, cleansing and vitamin-rich nature. This combination of low costs and high effectiveness make it very appealing for those companies who want to keep their costs down while maintaining their product quality. Despite the negative attention that it may draw to them. Who uses palm oil and what are the alternatives? In large areas of the world, palm oil is used as a common cooking ingredient - not only as an ingredient, but also as oil. Large parts of Africa and Brazil and the whole of Southeast Asia heavily rely on it for their daily diet. This appeal largely comes from the low cost and high saturation when used for frying. Thus, a huge portion of products that they use on a daily basis will contain palm oil in one form or the other. This ranges from chips, chocolate and instant noodles to toothpaste, lipstick and body lotions.   India is one of those countries where it is still frequently used. Latest estimates put the number of Indians that use palm oil on a daily basis at a staggering 50%. And this is still growing: the rapidly developing country is only just now moving on from other sources, such as oils based on groundnut and coconut. And with the country growing rapidly and becoming richer (consumption has doubled in recent decades), palm oil has become indispensable in feeding its 1.3 million population. The country is facing a huge challenge in finding ways of bringing cheap sources of  food to their rapidly expanding population, while facing an alarmingly high poverty rate and very limited use of land. At the same time, India really wants to boost its domestic production and reduce its reliance on imports. For this, palm oil seems to be the only solution that ticks all the boxes, and as such, the Asian country is working hard to ramp up its domestic production, freeing up huge amounts of land for this purpose. App to discover palm oil in products. Why is palm oil getting so much negative attention? So far, so good: it looks as if this raw material can solve a stringent issue. However, there is a flip side; and a reason why there has been such a public outcry against the use of palm oil. Its production causes severe environmental damage ( deforestation, habitat, degradation, climate change, animal cruelty ) and often violates human rights. Sustainability is something that most producers are not concerned with, nor about traceability.   The production has singlehandedly endangered species, such as the orang-utan and Sumatran tiger, and pushed those to the brink of extinction. And while some might say that India freeing up available land will lead to a more sustainable way of production, this could not be further from the truth. The harsh reality is that India does - and will - only produce a fraction of the palm oil needed to meet the growing demand.   The remainder is - and will be - imported from other countries, particularly Malaysia and Indonesia. And these rising imports will put more pressure on those countries, which in turn leads to worse circumstances; once again encouraging “dirty palm oil” producers to benefit - without due cause for the damage done to the environment. There you have it, a doubled-edged sword. In order to feed the growing population of India, they will have to import significant amounts of palm oil - the core component of their people’s diet. The strain that this puts on our environment is tremendous and causing irreparable damage.   Feeding ànd saving the planet simultaneously appears to be a trickier issue than most will think, although it will be a crucial one to solve if we are to even take a remote shot at saving our world. https://www.whatsorb.com/gardening---agriculture/the-environment-is-our-economy  
Hurting the environment: the palm oil paradox
Hurting the environment: the palm oil paradox
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