Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Interlace by OMA

The Interlace is an interesting new residential project in Singapore designed by OMA. The project is located on a green belt outside the capital city, and consists on 31 stacked apartment blocks, each six-stories tall and identical in length, resulting in 170,000sqm of gross floor area for 1,040 apartments.

What is interesting about the project is how these stacked volumes achieve a high density, while still maintaining privacy and long-range views as you can see on the renderings.

The second result of this “stacked” strategy, are the common spaces filled with tropical green. By looking at the plan view of the complex, a series of inner courtyards appear on the empty spaces between the blocks. The project turns then into a rich vertical community, apart from the single tower projects seen in the area. Extensive residential amenities and facilities are interwoven into the lush vegetation and offer opportunities for social interaction, leisure, and recreation.

Above-ground vehicular circulation is minimized, liberating large green areas within the development. The Interlace incorporates sustainability features through careful environmental analysis of sun, wind, and micro-climate conditions on site and the integration of low-impact passive energy strategies.

Some pictures are available below. This information was gathered from Arch Daily.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The relationship of psychology and climate change

The threat posed by climate change is all too real, but some of the solutions are all in the mind. That's the message from work in the field known as conservation psychology, which is beginning to show how people can be encouraged to change their lifestyles to cut greenhouse gas emissions (see "How psychology can curb climate change").

As well as showing what does work, this research also tells us what does not. And in that regard, groups trying to promote action to fight global warming could pay closer attention to what the psychologists are saying. Environmental groups have already learned some obvious lessons: no one likes to be hectored, and preachiness is not a winning tactic. Positive campaigns like "We can solve the climate crisis", run by Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection, are a better idea. Meanwhile, other research suggests that human nature need not be as rapacious and short-sighted as it sometimes appears: we are surprisingly ready to act in the interests of others and the natural world (see "Triumph of the commons").

But other tricks are still being missed. The website of the "We can solve the climate crisis" campaign features a video by Will.i.am of the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas. As a backdrop to his song Take Our Planet Back, it shows images of environmental degradation coupled with statements like "Every American generates 2000 pounds of trash each year".

Approaches like this can be counterproductive, reinforcing the idea that heavy consumption is the societal norm and promoting a sense of helplessness in the face of an apparently insurmountable problem. Like it or not, most of us go with the herd. Show people this video and they will find little motivation not to carry on generating trash and burning oil like there's no tomorrow. But tell them about the steps their peers are taking to make things better, and they may just follow suit.

Over at the Earth Day Network site, it gets worse. There you can find out how many planets it would take to support your lifestyle if everyone on Earth lived the same way. It's hard to find any positive messages: a vegan who doesn't own a car, never flies, takes public transport to work and shares a tiny apartment in a US city would still be told that their lifestyle requires 3.3 Earths. It is hard to see what this is going to achieve, other than disillusioning people who are already doing their bit and telling everyone else that it isn't worth the bother.Psychology, often denigrated as a "soft science", has a vital role to play as humankind grapples with a truly vexing problem. Better to employ its findings now than to turn to psychologists only when we need help in dealing with the distress of occupying a world that has passed some dangerous climate tipping points.

The full report is available from http://www.apa.org/releases/climate-change.pdf

The clear inference is that positive messages tend to work whilst negative ones tend to fail yet most environmental climate change campaigning relies on reinforcing entirely negative messages about forthcoming catastrophe. Therefore, we might want to consider changing our tactic.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Global Warming Has Caused Weather Shifts in Indonesia

The rainfall intensity in Banggai, Central Sulawesi, has changed from its 20 year cycle. This situation has disturbed the activities of farmers, fishermen, and other people whose work depends on the weather.

The shift has started since 2005 and the biggest shift happened in 2008. The local head of meteorological station, Jasirin, informed that for 20 years before 2005, the peak of rainfall always happens between March and May. After 2005, however, the peak happens only in May for 24 days with intensity reaching 188mm.

An extreme condition happened in 2008 where the peak happened in July for 27 days with 466mm rainfall that created floods in many locations. Jasirin said that the shift may be attributed to global warming. Furthermore, he stated that deforestation and air pollution are other factors that create high rainfall intensity.

This news was taken from Kompas.com.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Biomass is One of Green Energy Sources

Experts consider biomass as one of green energy sources. Biomass is one of the three main areas of bioenergy, a process where organic materials like animal waste, plants, and wood are used to produce electricity, heat, and help produce biofuels.

When it comes to biomass, hot air or water is used to generate electricity. The process is done through direct combustion, which is considered as the simplest and most common method of generating energy from biomass.

Generating electricity is not the only purpose of biomass because it also can be used to produce hot air and keep a place warm. In this case, biomass needs to be combusted in a furnace to heat water or air. When it comes to heating water, you will have warm water for taking a shower. Basically biomass can be used in a small scale as a kind of heating system for your house.

If you want to compare the amount of electricity generated by biomass and solar energy for instance, you will find that biomass actually produces more energy. This is because energy in plants has already been captured and stored. Solar and wind energy need to be collected first if you want to use them. Biomass on the other hand is readily available while solar and wind energy completely depend on the weather.

It is a good think if you can use organic waste to produce electricity. This is the key that makes biomass different than other green energy sources. When biomass is used extensively, the government can save a considerable amount of money for reduction in waste disposal. Furthermore, they can reduce their dependency toward foreign oil to power their plants.

However, biomass also has a downside that should be considered carefully. In order to produce biomass, you need to burn waste and organic materials to produce energy. This process will add to the pollution that has already been in atmosphere. One way to offset this downside is by planting more crops which will be a great help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. You will also need some initial investments for labors, transportation of materials, and storing purposes.

One thing for sure, biomass is a green energy source because it uses renewable resources to produce energy. This means that we will have an endless supply of biomass just like the sun and the wind. The biggest challenge is perhaps to find a suitable land with a sufficient water supply to make the system work. When water is not abundant, it is very difficult to rely on biomass technology to generate energy.

In conclusion, biomass is only one example of green energy sources. There are many ways that we can do to save the environment. We have the capability and we have the technology to make a different. We just need to have a willingness to do it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Can We Live without Sustainable Energy?

You should imagine what will happen when oil prices become very expensive in the future. How if we use all of our fossil fuel supply? You should know that right now around 20% of our electricity supply come from fossil fuel. What will happen if they run out? These are questions that you should consider to appreciate the importance of sustainable power. They are not things that we should consider in the future, but they are important now.

Sustainable energy has aroused debates among government officials, NGOs, and oppositions. Some say that sustainability is critical while others consider it as mumbo jumbo. Firstly we need to understand the definition of sustainability. Sustain means to support, uphold, and to keep something from falling. When it comes to sustainable energy, it means energy with unending resources. Sustainable energy is endless resources that can produce energy without destroying the environment and the earth where we live in.

If we scrutinize those debates, we will see that sustainable energy is not the source of conflicts. The alternate source of energy is the thing that has created those conflicts. Some argue that alternate energy resources are new and nobody has investigated whether they are safe or not. Others say that they are not enough to accommodate the demands of this world. No matter what the arguments are, we need to consider that sustainability is important for the future of human beings. It is a must if we want to continue living on this earth. The future is our main reason to fight and to be better.

If we look back way into the past, we can see that alternate energy resources have been used since the ancient time. They are everywhere from the richest countries to the poorest nations. Wind farms are abundant in northwestern Europe while geothermal plants are available in the Philippines, New Zealand, Kenya, Germany, Mexico, Turkey, and the US. People in China have used hydropower to generate electricity to power small towns. Hydropower has also been used in US to power a big city like Las Vegas.

It is important now

You might think that now the earth is polluted and in peril. Then you should think what will happen if our ancestors have used all the fossil fuels. We cannot let this fate to happen for our future generations. Human beings have survived many catastrophes on this planet and together we can achieve something that will slow down the pollution and global warming that threaten our earth.

Think about the great smog in London that killed more than 8000 people. At that time they experienced unusually cold weather and they consumed and lit up more coals which fogged the air with excessive amount of smog. If we never used alternate energy resources, it is likely that we would not be here today. Therefore be a supporter of sustainable energy and start taking action to make this world a better place for us and our future generations. Save this earth, this is a beautiful place to live in.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Simple Tips on Increasing Your Car Fuel Efficiency

Did you know that more than 67% of US total oil consumption goes to transportation? This number is not surprising since an average American consumes 500 gallons of gas every year. Therefore, one of the simplest ways to show our commitment to the environment is to become a better driver and maintain your car regularly. This article offers some simple tips to improve your fuel efficiency, thus save energy and contribute to the environment.

Drive properly

You should lighten up your car by removing unnecessary things. It is obvious that extra weight consumes more fuel.

Stop that idling habit of preheating your engine. Even if you drive 0 mile per hour, your car still consume fuel once it is started. Just directly drive once you start your engine.

If you are stuck on traffic, you should consider turning off your engine. Hybrid cars are so efficient because they shut off their engine automatically when at full stop. Basically they eliminate fuel consumption due to idling.

Instead of going to a drive thru, why don’t you park your car, turn off the engine, and eat in the restaurant.

Turn on the cruise control feature of your car (if available). Cruise control will help you keep at a constant speed and thus save on gas.

Sensible driving is very essential. You will lower your fuel efficiency by up to 33% in the highway and 5% in the city when you drive aggressively, accelerate abruptly, and do hard braking continuously.

If you are using manual transmission, shift to higher gear while maintaining drivability. Low gear at high speed requires more pressure on the gas pedal as compared to high gear at low speed.

Smart driving and calculate your breaking distance. For instance, if you know that you have to stop at a short distance, do not accelerate excessively. Excessive acceleration and breaking waste your fuel considerably.

It is estimated that air-conditioning system can increase fuel consumption by 15%. Turn it off whenever possible or at least reduce the thermostat.

If feasible, do not use roof rack. Use the available space in the trunk or back of your car. Your rack and items on it will create drag that can potentially reduce fuel efficiency by 5%.

Check your tire pressure and maintain the pressure recommended by the manufacturer.

If you have enough budget, switch to hybrid cars. They are much more fuel efficient than common gasoline-engine cars. Hybrid cars also have low emission capability that will reduce carbon dioxide emission that creates global warming.

You will maximize fuel efficiency when the car is light, aerodynamic, and has a small engine. Therefore, you should consider these three factors when you plan to buy a car. Small cars are preferable that those big SUVs.

Maintaining your car

Clean or replace the air filters regularly because clogged filters cause poor car performance which will lead to more fuel consumption.

Keep the wheels aligned properly is another secret of efficient fuel consumption.

Give overall maintenance to your car periodically. Dragging brakes, transmission issues, low transmission fluids, and worn spark plug are things that can reduce fuel efficiency. Choose the right type of oil for your car.

Arrange carpooling, telecommuting, and use public transport will reduce fuel consumption and maintenance cost.

These simple habits will help you save cash, prolong the serviceability of your car, and more importantly save the environment.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Solar Powered Speaker for Some Outdoor Music

Recently I found an interesting post from ecofriend. Designed by Pekka Salokannel, the Gramo Speakers are just what you need to green your musical life. The speakers are powered by three layers of photovoltaic panels that are incorporated onto their surface. The solar panels charge the built-in battery pack, allowing the user to use the speakers even after sunset.

If you want some digital entertainment when outdoors, the speakers can be bent flat and carried in a pocket. The volume can be adjusted using the soft touch-sensitive control that the speaker is equipped with. The Gramo is designed to be compatible with most DAPs, including the iPod and iPhone.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Saving Energy While Working from Home

There are many benefits that you can enjoy when you are working from home. You do not need to dress up and you do not waste your time for traveling. You also control your time and you can work on your most convenient hours. The bad thing about working from home is that it can increase your energy bills. Therefore, you need to be careful when choosing your equipment and do some simple energy saving measures.

If you need some office equipment, consider buying the energy efficient one. Computers, fax machines, scanners, printers, monitors, and other electrical appliances can increase your energy bills significantly. Buy ENERGY STAR office equipments which normally consume 50% less energy than the conventional ones. Sometimes you can save up to 90% of standard energy consumption. Some ENERGY STAR equipments also have better performances. They reduce electromagnetic field emissions, air conditioning loads, and noise from transformers and fans.

An ENERGY STAR computer uses 30% less energy than other computers without this designation. Furthermore, this computer will shift into a low-power mode that only uses 15 watts of power when inactive. When you are having a short break, turn off the computer monitor. If you are leaving your desk for more than half an hour, it is better to turn off your computer completely.

Do not use screensavers because they actually consume the same amount of energy as normal computer usage. It is better to activate the computer’s sleep mode instead rather than screensavers. Some people say that office equipments should always be turned on to make it last longer. This is only a myth. If you keep doing this, you will have to pay higher electric bills.

If you have enough budget, it is better to replace your desktop with a laptop because of its energy efficiency. Another strategy to save energy is to turn off all office equipments when they are not in used. They also need to be unplugged because they still use power when turned off. To save energy even further, unplugging electronic devises should not be limited to office equipments only. You also need to unplug your TV, stereo, VCR, microwave oven, and other appliances that are not in use.

Use natural light as much as possible to minimize the use of lamps and room lights. Arrange your room strategically to harness this natural light. If you tend to work at night, use task lights that use less energy instead of using room lights. You should close drapes and shades of the windows to keep the cold air out, thus you will save energy on heating the room.

Set the thermostat to a comfortable level. In general, a digital thermostat provides better electricity savings than the conventional one. Choose a suitable room for working that uses less heating or cooling system and lights. For instance, it is better to work in a small room rather than work in a huge living room area. Keep you air conditioning clean for better performance.

Other energy saving improvements that you can use are proper insulation, repairing cracks and holes, and changing incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs. These improvements are beneficial when you plan to sell your home because you will get better price for your home.