Hydroponic Farm Slashes Water Use by 99%

This hydroponic farm in Japan cuts water usage by 99%! The farm occupies an abandoned Sony chip manufacturing facility in Miyagi prefecture, near where the earthquake and tsunami struck the country in 2011. It is the brainchild of Shigeharu Shimamura, a plant physiologist who was inspired by a vegetable factory he saw at the Expo ’85 World’s Fair in Tsukuba, Japan. Shimamura used his passion to start his own aquaculture company called Mirai in 2005. The name means “future” in Japanese. Shimamura’s newest…

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Solar Panels Offer Learning Opportunity for Students

165 solar panels installed on the roof of the Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island, New York were placed in service October 15. The array is expected to meet most of the electricity needs of the school and will reduce carbon emissions in the Grymes Hill neighborhood where the school is located by 36,00 tons a year. The new solar array will do more than just help meet the energy needs of the school and its 700 students. The system…

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NYC’s Next Car Free Zone: Central Park Loop

In the coming weeks, there will be a vote on a bill that will see the city of New York close the Central Park Loop to all automotive traffic for three months in a bid to determine the impact a car-free Central Park would have on NYC’s car, bike, and foot traffic. “Currently, the Central Park loop is packed with cars, cyclists, and runners all vying for limited space; removing cars from the loop will dramatically reduce the risk of…

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Liquid Metal Batteries Promise to Transform the Grid

MIT Professor of Materials and Chemistry Donald R. Sadoway believes that a massive shift in the world of energy is coming, and it’s not a new, massive grid. Instead, Sadoway believes that sustainable energy sources like wind and solar can work together with advanced, liquid-metal batteries to reliably, dependably deliver power to local energy grids at a price point that- soon- will be lower than fossil fuels. Made from common-Earth elements (as opposed to rare-Earth elements), Sadoway’s liquid metal batteries…

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chicago light poles big data

Chicago Turns Light Poles into Data Mines

They may look like ornate bits of sculpture, but the curled metal bits at the top of the street lights on Chicago‘s Michigan Ave. are actually a system of advanced sensors that will measure the city’s air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation and wind. That’s all good- but the sensors will also count people, measure wireless signals, and probably not in any way be a “Big Brother” type of intrusion into personal privacy. That’s the promise- but let’s…

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vertical garden sydney

Vertical Gardening Gets Real in Australia

When news broke two years ago that Sydney, Australia would be home to the world’s tallest and largest urban/vertical gardening project, I had some doubts- and I would have bet money that it was vaporware. It was a scam, I was sure- a thing that was so awesome that it was not ever going to happen. Thankfully, I was wrong: it’s real, and it’s spectacular. The One Central Park residential tower in Sydney was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel,…

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Helsinki Has a High-tech Plan to Ban Cars by 2025

The city of Helsinki wants to completely remove privately owned and driven cars from its roads by 2025, replacing them with a high tech system that combines mobile phone apps, ride sharing, bike rentals, and public transit on a level that hasn’t yet been seen in the Western world. If it works, it could establish a precedent that would, eventually, be adopted in Spain, the UK, and other European countries. What do you think, readers? Is a city planning to…

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benches collective - more public benches enhance communities

More Benches = More Closely Knit Communities

A movement calling itself the Benches Collective (Bankjes Collectief, actually- but you get the idea) believes that more outdoor benches help to create stronger, more closely knit communities, and their efforts are helping to turn the streets of Amsterdam into, what the group calls, the largest outdoor café in the world. That big, street side cafe is now a monthly happening- which is alright by event organizers. “A (shared) bench on the sidewalk invites spontaneous conversations with neighbors and makes…

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cermak chicago greenest street in america

Cermak to Become Greenest Road in America

The city of Chicago is many things to many people, but it doesn’t have the “green” mental associations that, say, San Francisco or Portland have. That’s starting to change, however, and the plan to introduce smog-eating pavement to Chicago’s famous Cermak Rd. (which began back in 2012) could a big difference in the way people think of the Windy City. From storefront to street, the city of Chicago is installing light-colored pavement (which reduces the energy use of the street’s…

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madrid old city

Madrid City Planners Hope to be Car Free by 2020

Despite what cartoons like the Jetsons would have you believe, the future isn’t about flying cars- it’s about getting around with no cars at all. At least, that’s the message I’m getting from reading the tea leaves in places as far apart as the Binhai Eco City in China and Spain. Especially Spain, in fact, where city planners in Madrid plan to make the city center 100% car-free by 2020. Madrid’s plan, called “2020 Mobility Plan”, is set to kick…

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Binhai Eco City Plan Transforms Chinese Coast

Founded in 2010 by Danish architect Jens Holm, the New York-based HAO design firm has developed a comprehensive, eco-conscious city planning scheme that would transform the Chinese coastal town of Binhai, Tianjin into one of the world’s most sustainable cities. The 49.2 acre project was designed as part of features a museum campus, an exhibition center and fairgrounds, a sports center/arena, hotels, libraries, and a state-of-the-art financial district that blends perfectly with the area’s natural shore line park. As you…

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Vermicomposting Saves Prison Systems Money

Starting in 2010, a prison guard and a few inmates began a vermicomposting program at Washington State Reformatory. Vermicomposting is a process that takes left over food and table scraps and turns them into compost with the aid of earth worms. Vermicast compost contains water-soluble nutrients and is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. The Washington State prison system is a leader in training inmates for jobs in the green economy after their release. Gardening and prairie restoration have long been part…

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infographic - what if everyone rode bikes

Infographic: What if Everyone Rode Bikes?

As bicycles become a bigger and bigger part of life in American cities, questions about cyclist and pedestrian safety – even the way we design our roads – are getting asked more and more frequently. One question that isn’t often asked, however, is a much more theoretical one: what would happen if EVERYONE rode bikes? That’s the question British money experts at Pounds to Pocket tried to find out, and they came up with some staggering numbers. For starters, if…

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Fukushima Factory Becomes Aquaponic Farm

Superconductors and microchips have to be produced in a sterile environment. But what happens when a former microchip factory becomes obsolete? That’s a question facing many of Japan’s chip-makers these days, but Fujitsu has an answer to that question: If you are Fujitsu Electronics, you convert one of your excess chip factories’ sterile spaces into an indoor hydroponic growing area that is free from environmental contaminants and crop-destroying pests. That “clean room”, as it’s called, also happens to be insulated…

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