“Triple Zero” Stores: Sainsbury’s in the UK minimizes footprint of its supermarkets

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Sainsbury’s new supermarket is its most environmentally friendly store to date. and has many environmentally friendly features including ‘Triple Zero’ – zero carbon emissions from all operational energy used; zero waste goes to landfill; and the store has zero impact on the water usage of the local catchment area because of its ‘Water Neutral’ status.

One hundred per cent of the store’s electricity and heating will be provided by an onsite generator, meaning all operational energy used will be zero carbon. The combined heat and power system will use natural gas from the national gas grid — the equivalent amount of zero carbon gas will be imported into the network, thus creating a closed loop.

Also, like all Sainsbury’s stores, none of its waste goes to landfill. Any surplus food is donated to local charities or made into animal feed, and when it’s not suitable for consumption it’s used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion. And, all general waste is recycled or turned into fuel.

Additionally, the water required for this ‘Water Neutral’ store will be met through water efficient measures and infrastructure, as well as an offsetting partnership in the local community. This means the total water used within the local catchment area will not increase as a result of this new store. 70% of the water demand will come from rainwater harvesting and other water efficient initiatives. The remaining 30% will be offset by sponsoring water saving initiatives at a partner site in the local community.  In a year this approach will save enough water to meet the average needs of around 50 homes.

The new store’s sustainable features also include: 

  • A timber structural frame, creating a lower carbon footprint than a standard steel frame
  • Natural CO2 refrigeration to run the chillers and freezers, reducing the carbon footprint by 33%
  • Energy efficient LED lighting, saving enough energy for 13 million cups of tea each year
  • Over 120 prismatic roof lights to maximize natural light, which alone will save enough electricity to light more than 95 homes
  • Outside there are electric vehicle charging points
  • A comprehensive recycling center for customers to recycle packaging and donate clothing and other items to Oxfam
  • 100% of the waste produced during the construction of the store has been reused or recycled
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James Dyson is making a vacuum cleaner to sweep our rivers

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Considering the amount of pollution that Man excreted into our oceans and rivers (think of the Great Garbage Patch of plastic in the Pacific Ocean), isn’t it amazing that we still enjoy so many its fruits, including seafood to eat, beaches to swim, corral reefs to gaze at, etc.)?  But these benefits will not be around much longer unless we act to clean up after ourselves.

James Dyson (an entrepreneur/inventor responsible for creating the vacuum cleaner industry) now wants to build a floating vacuum barge that will clean up debris in our rivers, before it washes out to sea.

Read the article here

Will we have renewable batteries (made from rhubarb?) in our basement in the future?

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What do you think about a battery made from rhubarb or some other plant that can grow in your garden?  Such metal-free flow batteries have the capability to transform grid-scale energy storage.

Researchers have been searching for a flow battery that relies on electro-chemistry of naturally abundant, organic molecules — to solve the problem of renewable energy storage.

Based on this paper, quinones, which are found in green plants, seem to be the leading candidates for the job.  They act as eletrocatalysts, dissolve in water, and are found in green plants.  The day when the average basement will have its own renewable energy storage tank is getting closer.

To read more about it, see this article about the Harvard School of Engineering.

What if water pipes can self-grow to accommodate flash storm run-off?

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MIT is investing in the future of making things through a process called “Self-Assembly”.   Consider that in the world of natural systems, DNA with three billion base pairs that can replicate in roughly an hour — with far more efficiency than anything we can build, and with virtually no mistakes.

Think of the implications!  What if regular geologic phenomena like volcano eruptions, minor earthquake tremors, flash storms, or even falling trees could cause a “Self-assembly” chain reaction to make something useful that is completely natural?  Like water pipes that can grow to accommodate more storm run-off, or dynamic sensor networks that acquire the intelligence to respond to a tsunami without human intervention?

Find out more about the MIT Self-Assembly Lab

How to tackle the lawless oceans?

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When it comes to fishing, most of the ocean is lawless. Fish in the high seas — the half of the world’s oceans which do not fall under the boundaries of any nation — are being plundered relentlessly by fishing fleets that observe virtually no fish conservation rules.

The World Ocean Council (WOC) will convene a Business Forum on Ocean Policy and Planning to address the need for the ocean business community to be more informed and proactively involved in marine policy and planning activities affecting ocean economic activity.

The WOC Business Forum on Ocean Policy and Planning (28-30 September, 2014, New York City) will bring together representatives of oil and gas, shipping, seafood, fisheries, aquaculture, mining, renewable energy, ocean science and technology, maritime law, marine environmental services and other sectors of the diverse ocean business community.

Critical ocean policy arenas in debate include UN negotiations on a new “Implementing Agreement” for the Law of the Sea, the UN Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) discussions, the UN Sustainable Development Goals development, and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

For more information:

Rosalind Franklin should be remembered as the mother of the DNA discovery

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In January 1953, James Watson (father of the DNA discovery) traveled to King’s College carrying a preprint of an incorrect proposal for the DNA structure. Watson went to Rosalind Franklin’s lab with his urgent message that they should collaborate before more eminent scientists like Linus Pauling pieced together the unsolved puzzle. The unimpressed Franklin became angry when Watson suggested she did not know how to interpret her own data. Watson hastily retreated, backing into Franklin’s boss, Maurice Wilkins, who had been attracted by the commotion. Wilkins commiserated with Watson and then changed the course of DNA history with the following disclosure. Without Franklin’s permission or knowledge, Wilkins showed Watson the famous crystallographic photograph made by Franklin of the helix-shaped DNA. Watson immediately recognized the significance, and this event eventually helped him and Francis Crick to put together the correct structural model of the DNA double helix.

Rosalind Franklin was never nominated for the Nobel Prize, and died in 1958.  James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962, and since the Nobel Committee does not present awards posthumously, Franklin was never properly recognized for her huge contribution to chemistry and molecular biology.

KIOST designs “The Crabster” ocean rover

To truly see the ocean, scientists must be one with the ocean. The oceanic researchers from South Korea are certainly putting this to practice.

Taking a cue from crustaceans that scurry along the ocean floor, researchers from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology have built and tested a car-sized robotic crab to explore the seafloor. The six-legged robot is named the “Crabster CR200”.

The Crabster’s design doesn’t just mimic Mother Nature, it also helps the team from Korea literally see the ocean. Typically, underwater vehicles deployed by researchers utilize propulsion to troll the ocean’s depths, but that method of locomotion stirs up vision-impairing clouds of sediment. The Crabster crawls along the seabed without kicking up pesky sea sediment.  Perhaps one day, the Crabster will help us unlock the mysteries of nature that will be a key to the survival of the species…

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The importance of the carbon cycle

Researchers from USC and Nanjing University in China have documented evidence suggesting that part of the reason that Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric carbon dioxide regulator — the geologic cycles that churn up the planet’s rocky surface.

Scientists have long known that “fresh” rock pushed to the surface via mountain formation effectively acts as a kind of sponge, soaking up the greenhouse gas CO2. Left unchecked, however, that process would simply deplete atmospheric CO2 levels to a point that would plunge Earth into an eternal winter within a few million years during the formation of large mountain ranges like the Himalayas — which has clearly not happened.

“Our presence on Earth is dependent upon this carbon cycle. This is why life is able to survive,” said Mark Torres, lead author of a study disclosing the findings that appears in Nature. Torres and his colleagues studied rocks taken from the Andes mountain range in Peru, and found that weathering processes affecting rocks released far more carbon than previously estimated — motivating them to consider the global implications of CO2 release during mountain formation.

Using marine records of the long-term carbon cycle, the researchers reconstructed the balance between CO2 release and uptake caused by the uplift of large mountain ranges and found that the release of CO2 release by rock weathering may have played a large, but thus far unrecognized, role in regulating the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last roughly 60 million years.

Isn’t there a better way than giving hand-wipes to customers at restaurants?

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Is the advertising on the plastic hand-wipe really paying off for this service provider?  Is this a service that is absolutely required at restaurants?  Well, all of us should wipe our hands before we eat… it is good etiquette, after all.  We teach our children to clean their hands before eating – should we not follow our own directions?

But is there no better way than providing a wet tissue and plastic wrap that is going into the municipal incinerator after only seconds of use (sometimes totally unused and unopened)?  Would it not be possible to provide an alternative?  Perhaps a biodegradable hand-pump that shoots sterilized, skin-sensitized spray in front of the condiments counter for self-service?  Perhaps a re-usable “branded” hand towel that a customer can bring in for quick sterilization, and get a small discount on the bill to boot (for reducing waste)?

Here is an idea from a creative agency designing products for medical facilities:

A Hospital Door Handle That Sanitizes Hands With a Touch

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Climate activists march to resolve the climate crisis

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On March 1, 2014, hundreds of climate patriots will set out from Los Angeles, CA, walking 3,000 miles across America to Washington, DC, inspiring action to resolve the climate crisis. This will be one of the largest coast-to-coast marches in American history.  The March seeks to build the broadest possible public consensus and is focused strictly on the climate crisis.

Please check out — http://climatemarch.org/

Similar events like this are happening across the world, as activists take to their feet to fight the climate crisis.  In Australia, a group has been sponsoring a race in which competitors have numerous challenges (such as getting signatures or lobbying politicians) in order to take meaningful action on climate change.

Please check out — http://www.racetosavetheworld.net/