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Sustainable classrooms: mud walls, rainwater and visits from lizards

‘It’s learning-by-living rather than chalk-and-talk’ – Matthew Jenkin explores the schools at the cutting edge of sustainability

Nestled among the swaying palms and lush jungle of Bali is an international school where children learn in bamboo pavilions and read from whiteboards made out of recycled car windows. The classrooms, which have no walls, are designed to help pupils feel more connected to their natural surroundings while studying a curriculum with an environmental twist. It has been hailed as the greenest school on Earth, but it is actually one of many adapting to the changing climate.

Green school Bali is the brainchild of John and Cynthia Hardy, who moved from North America to the Indonesian paradise in the 1970s. They sold their successful jewellery business in 2007 and used the profits to start a school that would pioneer sustainability in education. The couple had the idea after searching for a school for their children but being put off by the unimaginatively designed spaces and curriculums on offer.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Russian intelligence accused of silencing Norwegian newspaper editor

Anonymous source says Thomas Nilsen, who had extensively covered oil drilling in the Arctic, was sacked at the behest of the Russian intelligence

A Norwegian Arctic newspaper editor who has extensively covered oil drilling in the region was sacked at the behest of the Russian intelligence service, according to Norway’s public service broadcaster.

Thomas Nilsen told the Guardian he had no reason to disbelieve the report from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), and that it would be awful if it were true that the FSB, Russia’s security agency, was involved.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Afterlife: how hip replacements can end up in jet engines

OrthoMetals is working with more than half of the UK’s crematoriums to melt down and sell on replacement hips and knee joints

Our bodies might not live forever, but the prospect of an afterlife beckons for the metal hips or knees we might be carrying. The recycling of prosthetics such as titanium hip replacements and cobalt chrome knee joints from crematoriums is a growing trend across the UK and in some parts of Europe where cremation rates are high.

Nobody wants their garden of remembrance to be listed as a landfill site.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Business should be backing renewables – fossil fuels don't make economic sense

George Osborne needs to stop pushing 20th-century fuels as the solution for 21st-century energy problems

The Conservative leadership once advocated powering 21st-century Britain with a green industrial revolution based on the smart, internet-linked, decentralised technologies being invested in by Silicon Valley, China, and others.

Now, unified in majority government, they seem intent on the reverse: exploiting shale gas, building new nuclear facilities, and actively undermining clean-energy competition. It is the new Labour leader who offers the vision of a renewable-powered UK economy today, one maximally efficient and optimally wired, allowing avoidance of both shale and new nuclear.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Bill Shorten says Labor's 50% renewable energy goal is a 'declaration of intent'

Labor leader says Australia can have a ‘battle of ideas’ over which party has the best climate change policies, but is yet to detail the ALP’s alternative plans

Bill Shorten says his goal to source 50% of Australia’s power from renewables by 2030 is a “declaration of intent”, to be achieved by Labor’s yet-to-be-detailed policies including an emissions trading scheme, as well as increased consumer demand for clean energy.

Related: ETS would be more cost-effective than higher renewables target, analyst says

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Source: Guardian Environment

How to make your own laundry detergent – and help save the planet

Detergents contain dozens of potentially harmful ingredients but with just three simple ingredients you can make a cheap, environmentally friendly alternative

My daughter just turned three. She loves being naked and disrobes at every opportunity, including in the middle of her recent dinosaur-themed birthday party.

I get it – who doesn’t love to be in the buff? But bar those of us lucky enough to live alone in the woods, pesky social norms dictate that we wear clothing. So we wear fabric. And even if you enjoy the thrill of sleeping nude, you’re still nestled into pillowcases and snuggled up to soft sheets.
The point? You presumably wash these textiles at least occasionally, and it’s worth thinking about the ingredients in your detergents.

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Source: Guardian Environment

Whales alongside paddleboarder off Western Australia coast – drone video footage

Amateur drone operator Jamien Hudson captured this footage of two whales swimming next to a paddleboarder off the coast of Esperance in Western Australia last month. When Hudson heard there were whales off the beach, he rushed down with his drone equipment. At the same time, local Dave Price was paddleboarding out to take a look at the marine mammals, believed to be southern right whales

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Source: Guardian Environment

New Book Finds $4.5 Trillion Benefit From Circular Economy By 2030

The latest research conducted by global management consultants Accenture has found that the circular economy could generate $4.5 trillion in additional economic benefit by 2030. The research is unveiled in a new book, Waste to Wealth, identifies and analyses the impact of circular economy based business models.

Accenture’s research looks into the issue of volatile commodity prices and scarce resources, taking into account the benefits of decoupling growth from the consumption of finite materials and energy. It also takes into account the opportunities to maximise usage and profit from assets and products offered by emerging digital strategies, including combinations of mobile, machine-to-machine and data analytics.

Source: Waste to Wealth: Creating advantage in a circular economy

Lead image licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: franzconde

The post New Book Finds $4.5 Trillion Benefit From Circular Economy By 2030 appeared first on Circulate.

Source: Circulate News RSS

Glassceramic: Innovating With Discarded Glass

A key principle identified in Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, the successful book written by Michael Braungart and William McDonough, is that waste in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. They use the example of the cherry tree, which produces huge amounts of blossom, the majority of which ends up only metres away from its source. However, it is not wasted, instead ecosystems exist around the cherry tree using the vast amounts of nutrients provided by the fallen blossom. What is excess for the tree, is a valuable feedstock for other organisms. As they describe it, “waste equals food”.

That is very much the spirit in which a new innovative sheet material, called Glassceramic, has been born out of, which is produced exclusively using the waste material from glass production processes.

GlassGlass is generally considered to be a “clean material” – durable and relatively easy to reuse and recycle. However, during the production process, 5% of glass ends up as waste.

One way of approaching that problem is to attempt to make the process more efficient. How low can that percentile get? Another way of thinking views that waste as an opportunity, how can that excess glass be better utilised?

That’s where Glassceramic and its Decoran® glass sheets come in. The material is manufactured by MAGNA Glaskeramik in Teutschenthal, Saxony. The company takes waste glass from the surrounding area (their plant is based close to a number of large glass producers) and uses a combination of gentle heating and slow cooling to make a material that has potential functionality as a replacement for both glass and stone.

Re-processing that glass waste would normally require manufacturers to put it back through temperatures of 1200 degC, the advantage that the Glassceramic production process has is it is sintered at 700 degC. The process also doesn’t require the use of resin bonds, which makes full recycling achievable.

The potential of the new material has already been identified by architects and interior designers as something that has more life and durability than clear glass, while being more even and control than natural stone. One striking example, shown below, is the Glassceramic being used for the entirety of the outside of Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany.

Credit: Low-Impact Ltd
Credit: Low-Impact Ltd

Despite positive early achievements, there’s room for rapid improvement  according to Low Impact Ltd director Andrew Savile, an agency that sells Glassceramic in the UK. Savile told Circulate that the marketplace can expect larger panel sizes soon. There is also the potential to take advantage of new feedstock opportunities, the product is currently mostly produced using glass waste from solar panels and float glass, but it has the technical potential to move into the larger bottle market. Savile and other proponents of the product are convinced of its scalability, and it’s easy to see why.

The post Glassceramic: Innovating With Discarded Glass appeared first on Circulate.

Source: Circulate News RSS

ANZ 'will not finance' dirty coal plants and pledges $10bn for clean energy

Bank rules out funding ‘conventional coal-fired power plants’ that do not use proven technologies to significantly reduce emissions

ANZ bank has pledged not to finance traditional coalmining projects and to provide at least $10bn in funding for renewable energy, reforestation and energy efficiency.

In the most significant steps yet by one of Australia’s big four banks on climate change, ANZ said its new policies would help a “gradual and orderly transition” from fossil fuels to clean energy such as solar and wind.

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Source: Guardian Environment