Archive for the ‘Lifecycle’ Category

  • The ultra-innovative Government Services Building in San Francisco might not qualify for any LEED rating because its innovations aren’t accounted for the in the points system – is LEED a victim of its own success? via archinect.com
  • Two scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory maintain that carbon dioxide can be removed from the air and converted into gasoline for fueling automobiles. Other scientists have proposed similar concepts, but the process would require a lot of energy.
  • A description of several extensive efforts around the world to incorporate sustainable design into large-scale development.
  • Not only is ethanol not necessarily better for the environment from an oil consumed for production standpoint, it also requires a lot more water to create ethanol as well. As does most energy forms other than oil.
  • Treehugger has the basics on ways to calculate your personal carbon footprint.
  • Gothamist interviews Ed Begley, Jr. while he’s on his book tour for Living with Ed
  • Forgot which fish are safe? Text message Blue Ocean at 30644 with the message FISH and the name of the fish you’re thinking about and they will tell you if its safe, as well as some sustainable alternatives.
  • China’s EPA admits that water quality is not improving around the Three Gorges Dam
  • Some designers in Amsterdam are proposing building an underwater city, in the layer of clay that sits below the city.

Photo of an almost completed Three Gorges Dam from Wikipedia


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Conference Opening

Conference co-chairs Marc Alt and Jill Fehrenbacher opened the Greener Gadgets Conference by asking how many people in the audience were electronics industry members, designers, students or press. As hands went up for each group, it quickly became apparent that the attendees for the conference were a diverse group.

Jill noted that they deigned to name the conference the ‘Greener Gadgets’ conference rather than the ‘Green Gadgets’ Conference because it’s difficult to make an entirely green gadget at this point. With over 400 million gadgets scrapped each year, often inappropriately, it isn’t difficult to agree with her.

With the $15 billion consumer electronic industry growing rapidly, the co-chairs sought to make a change by focusing not only affecting the design of future products, but by affecting the business of consumer electronics as well.

With the three subjects of Materials & Lifecycle, Energy and Social Sustainability headlining the day’s sessions, The Greener Gadgets Conference should be an enlightening and illuminating event.

About the Co-Chairs

Jill Fehrenbacher is the founder and editor-in-chief of Inhabitat.com, as well as a journalist, designer, and green design consultant. She launched Inhabitat in the spring of 2005 as a way to search for ways to improve the world through forward-thinking, high-tech, and environmentally conscious design. Jill is actively involved in the green design community and has helped organize events ranging from HauteGREEN, a sustainable furniture exhibit, to Postopolis, a conference on architecture and new media. Jill’s writing has appeared in Wired, Innovative Home, Archinect and Metropolis Magazine, as well on Inhabitat.

Marc Alt is president of Marc Alt + Partners, a design and marketing agency specializing in environmental brand strategy. Marc speaks frequently to a wide variety of audiences and companies about green design, sustainable innovation and creating value by aligning corporate strategy with environmental and social benefit. As an advocate of sustainability, Marc develops environmental conferences, including Grow , the first conference dedicated to the intersection of design, sustainability and business in New York City. Marc is co-chair the AIGA Center for Sustainable Design, an initiative of AIGA, The Professional Association for Design.


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Listen to designer Tom Dixon talk about why he gave away 500 chairs in Trafalgar Square, what designers can learn from Google’s business model, and the amazing properties of Bamboo and old furniture.

Look forward to more news briefs, video clips, and other cool stuff from our friends at ScribeMedia.org: Intelligent Debate. Passionate Media.

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  • Italian public health officials discovered that the residents in a small Italian village, Castiglione di Cervia, were suffering this past August from a tropical disease spread by tiger mosquito that is normally prevalent in the Indian Ocean region.
  • Britain’s Chief Science Adviser thinks that the UK can convert the country’s nuclear waste into fuel, enough to supply close to 60% of the UK’s energy needs until 2060.
  • European Union environmental commissioner proposed last month to ban the planting of a genetically-modified corn strain, despite the fact that the EU scientific advisory body concluded that the corn strain was unlikely to pose environmental risks.
  • Underwater coral forest off the coast of Florida’s destruction by trawlers has been documented by photographs over the last 30 years, but that hasn’t seemed to help save them.
  • Greensburg, Kansas, hopes to take advantage of a tornado that destroyed much of the town to start from scratch and build the greenest town in the US.  There is hope that this might now just make a more sustainable future for the town from an environmental standpoint, but also from a population standpoint – children might be more likely to stick around after graduating high school.  New schools and houses are achieving LEED certification, with the goal of having multiple LEED platinum buildings in the town within a few years, and a large wind farm is located near town.  And in this Republican stronghold, there is huge support for this movement.
  • The Department of Defense is teaming up with the island nation of Palau to create a test satellite for testing feasibility of harnessing solar energy from space.
  • Many scientists are concerned that after Fidel Castro leaves office in Cuba, the economic influence of the U.S. government and other foreign powers (and subsequent development) will degrade the nation’s rich biodiversity and conservation efforts.
  • Habitat for Humanity once again proves that it is posible to build green, LEED certified, low income housing. The most recent one to earn LEED certification cost approximately $5,000 extra to build, with an estimated 5-year payback period in lower heating costs.
  • Kiwi populations in New Zealand are declining, and a Save the Kiwi campaign is being carried out to try and help preserve those Kiwis that are still around.
  • The NFL is hoping to make this year’s Super Bowl carbon neutral by using measures such as reforestation projects in northern Arizona and requiring all people associated with the Super Bowl to use businesses from a list of local suppliers for all their needs.

Photos of an oculina coral reef off Cape Canaveral, Fl, taken a few decades apart, from NPR

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Last week, Marketplace, along with other arms of American Public Media, featured a great series on consumer culture and all of its implications in their Consumed series.  If you have some time in front of your computer, its well worth a listen.  Pieces I found particularly interesting were a look at the real life Simpsons, an average family in California, the freegan movement on the streets of NYC, the marketing revolution behind Crisco, an interview with Lee Scott, CEO of Walmart, and the greening of Las Vegas.

Image of the distribution of goods entering Long Beach/Los Angeles port to their eventual desitnations from Marketplace

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Photo from The New York Times

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Adventures in Office Greening, Vol 1, Issue 7

We go through a ton of paper at our office, and a lot of it ends up in the recycling bin.

Mike H. took our waste reduction one step further and set up a scrap paper bin by the plotters. He decided that we should start collecting it for re-use at a nearby elementary school. A lot of the paper we were recycling included large, clean trimmings, which are perfect for arts and crafts.

It filled up pretty quickly, so it looks like we’ll be providing a pretty constant supply. Nice idea!

Click here for previous “Adventures in Office Greening”

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