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HouseZero: Renovating a 1920’s house to make it energy net positive

A 1920’s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts is currently being refitted in a way which could transform the building industry. The headquarters of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities has been equipped with a number of contemporary technologies, as part of an attempt to prove that ordinary houses can be renovated to a point where they are almost entirely self-reliant from an energy perspective, all while cutting costs in the process.

Using innovative design and careful planning, the HouseZero project has created a building which is self-sufficient. The building alleviates the need for external energy by providing its own. What’s more it has been designed to be as accessible as possible, utilising mostly commonplace technologies.

Adele Peters, writing for Fast Company, reports that their plans include fitting solar panels on the roof to provide enough electricity for the house, as well as making sure that it natural light is maximised reducing demand on artificial lighting. This has been made possible by a collaboration on the design with Snøhetta, an architecture firm. An array of features will enable the building to self-regulate its own temperature, including an intelligent ventilation system.

Ali Malkawi, professor of architectural technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and director of the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities explains:

“If you want to open the window yourself, you can, but at the same time, the building by itself knows its need for ventilation…if there’s a need for ventilating the building, it will automatically open the windows.”

The designers have been thorough, adding concrete floor slabs to increase the mass of the wooden building, a clever way of ensuring that the structure retains heat more effectively in the winter, while fostering a cooler environment in the summer. The windows are triple-glazed to ensure that the maximum heat is retained when the cold bites and a geothermal heat pump next to the building is there in case of extreme cold. A multitude of factors ensures that a significant percentage of the building’s energy and electricity is provided without connection to an external power supply.

At the end of 2016, Arup Group unveiled their ‘Circular House’ concept, which asked the question, what would a home look like (conceptually) if designed with the principles of the circular economy in mind from the very start. Of course, it isn’t practical to entirely dismantle and rebuild all architectural infrastructure from scratch, which is what makes positive renovation stories like this one so interesting. In this case, energy self-sufficiency was the principle goal of the rebuild, but it may hint towards some of the other exciting possibilities for innovation towards a more regenerative economy in the construction sector.

Source: This Super-Efficient Renovation Is A Model For Lowering A House’s Energy Footprint

Lead image: Pixabay

The post HouseZero: Renovating a 1920’s house to make it energy net positive appeared first on Circulate.

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Firm behind Dakota Access pipeline faces intense scrutiny for series of leaks

Documents suggest that a major spill from the Rover pipeline in Ohio described as 2m gallons of ‘drilling fluids’ might now be more than twice as large

The oil company behind the Dakota Access pipeline is facing intense scrutiny from regulators and activists over a series of recent leaks across the country, including a major spill now believed to be significantly bigger than initially reported.

Documents obtained by the Guardian suggest that a spill from the Rover pipeline that Ohio regulators originally described as 2m gallons might now be more than twice as large. The revelation was included in a legal challenge activists filed on Wednesday to block the natural gas pipeline run by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the corporation that operates the controversial Dakota Access pipeline and is now facing numerous government fines and violations.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Global climate projections help civil engineers plan | John Abraham

A new study helps civil engineers account for ongoing climate change in infrastructure design

People who work on building infrastructure understand the risks of climate change. As the Earth warms, new stresses are applied to our buildings, bridges, roads, houses, and other structures. Some of the obvious threats to infrastructure are from extreme weather including heat waves, storms, and intense rainfalls. There are some other less obvious threats, and many of the threats vary by location.

Regardless, the planning for infrastructure relies upon a reasonable estimation of future climate changes. To help quantify such an estimate for the civil engineering community, a recent paper was published by the Institution of Civil Engineering Journal of Forensic Engineering (I was fortunate to be a coauthor). The article was prepared with the collaboration of Dr. Michael Mann from Penn State University and Dr. Lijing Cheng from the Chinese Institute of Atmospheric Physics.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Most Queensland voters oppose taxpayer support for Adani coalmine – poll

59% give thumbs down to state or federal assistance for Carmichael mine as state government faces factional fight over whether to give project a royalties holiday

Queensland voters have given the thumbs down to taxpayer support for the controversial Adani coalmine, with 59% saying they were opposed to state or federal assistance.

A new poll of 1,618 Queenslanders taken by ReachTel indicates 57% of the sample objected to a loan for a rail link between the mine and Abbot point, which is championed by the federal resources minister Matt Canavan.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Great Barrier Reef 2050 plan no longer achievable due to climate change, experts say

Environmental lawyers say advice means reef might finally be listed as a ‘world heritage site in danger’

The central aim of the government’s plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef is no longer achievable due to the dramatic impacts of climate change, experts have told the government’s advisory committees for the plan.

Environmental lawyers said the revelation could mean the Great Barrier Reef might finally be listed as a “world heritage site in danger”, a move the federal and Queensland governments have strenuously fought.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Ineos buys Dong Energy's oil and gas business

Anglo-Swiss chemicals firm hails £1bn acquisition as ‘very logical’ as Danish firm makes progress in switch to renewables

Anglo-Swiss chemicals firm Ineos has bought the oil and gas business of Dong Energy for £1bn, a major milestone in the Danish company’s switch from hydrocarbons to renewable energy.

The acquisition is the latest in a buying spree by Ineos, which recently bought a significant North Sea oil pipeline for £200m from BP, and takes it from 28th biggest oil and gas producer in the region to the top 10.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Tesco to trial a phase-out of single-use 5p plastic bags

Select Tesco stores will sell only reusable bags in a 10-week trial that could lead to the single-use bags being phased out in all of its stores

Shoppers at a handful of Tesco stores in the UK will no longer be able to buy 5p “single-use” plastic carrier bags, in the first such trial by a supermarket.

If successful, it could lead to the bags being phased out completely, less than two years after the law was changed in England to force larger stores to charge for them.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

Doggers, drugs and sheep attacks – why Britain’s naughtiest wood is closed

If you go down to Uffmoor Wood today, you’re sure of a big surprise – you won’t be able to get in. Has the Woodland Trust made the right decision to temporarily padlock the Worcestershire woodland?

It’s Britain’s baddest woodland. Two hundred acres of bluebell-infested forest so naughty that the Woodland Trust has taken the rare step of shutting it down until it improves.

Uffmoor Wood, near Halesowen in the West Midlands, is padlocked as of today, after becoming a focal point for sheep-worrying, dirt bike scrambling, dog fouling, drug peddling and sex dogging.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

EU declared Monsanto weedkiller safe after intervention from controversial US official

Exclusive: European Food Safety Authority dismissed a study linking glyphosate to cancer following counsel with an EPA official allegedly linked to the company and who figures in more than 20 lawsuits

The European Food Safety Authority dismissed a study linking a Monsanto weedkiller to cancer after counsel from a US Environmental Protection Agency officer allegedly linked to the company.

Jess Rowlands, the former head of the EPA’s cancer assessment review committee (CARC), who figures in more than 20 lawsuits and had previously told Monsanto he would try to block a US government inquiry into the issue, according to court documents.

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Source: Guardian Climate Change

We all love bagged salads – but they’re the tip of the food waste iceberg | Aine Carlin

Each year in the UK we throw away 178m bags of these prepared salads. Consumers and retailers must rethink shopping to stop unnecessary waste

I can’t deny I continue to give in to the lure of the humble bagged salad. Shameful as it is for a two-time cookbook author to admit, I do genuinely find them rather handy … even if all that plastic does make me cringe. Luckily for me, my husband is a bit gung ho when it comes to his greens, so nothing ever gets tossed, but I do often wonder about their shelf life and what becomes of all that waste. About 40% of the bagged salad we in Britain buy every year is thrown out: 178m bags.

Related: Salad days soon over: consumers throw away 40% of bagged leaves

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Source: Guardian Climate Change