An Indian architect has developed a revolutionary new way to serve the housing needs of a population, while also fighting air pollution.
Tejas Sidnal is the mastermind behind Carbon Craft Design: a Mumbai-based startup that specializes in capturing carbon emissions from the air and turning it into stylish tile.
Using a device called the AIR-INK, the company is able to draw CO2 out of the polluted city air, combine it with a mixture of marble chips and powder, and then press it into elegantly-designed tiles.
Since Sidnal says that India is in need of maintaining the world’s third largest housing industry, his sustainable tile recipe can help meet the industry demand for building materials in an eco-friendly way.
When a category 5 hurricane makes landfall, few things borne of our civilization can resist the power of the winds and surging, violent waves.
Yet the tiny nation of Dominica—which is even smaller than its neighbor Dominican Republic—is on course to hurricane-proof its country after being devastated by Hurricane Maria.
The cat. 5 that struck the island two years ago, destroyed 226% of the country’s GDP and 90% of the structures.
Describing the project as creating the first “climate resilient” nation, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the UN general assembly in the aftermath of Maria’s landfall, asking for the funds to create such a nation—one that cannot only resist powerful storms physically, but also economically and spiritually.
“In the past, we would prepare for one heavy storm a year. Now, thousands of storms form on a breeze in the mid-Atlantic and line up to pound us with maximum force and fury,” he said to the UN.
Skerrit’s plan is to create cities of hurricane-proof structures that won’t leave mountains of debris behind after storms.
“The challenges are not just related to infrastructure. Resilience in our view is how vulnerable you are in the first place,” Pepe Bardouille told National Geographic.
That’s why they are starting with the building codes.
A CREAD to live by
Bardouille is CEO of the government’s Climate Resilience Execution Agency of Dominica (CREAD), and he believes that building a climate-resilient nation starts with every person considering how the planning decisions they make will hold up under winds higher than 150 mph.
CREAD has been charged with establishing uniform building codes, geothermal energy plants, a hurricane-proof hospital and healthcare system, and improving public transit.
“How to keep a society and economy in a small country with a limited tax base and a huge number of climactic challenges running on a shoestring. Those are the challenges,” Bardouille says.
But the Prime Minister’s vision also includes a prosperous ecotourism industry that could replenish the state’s coffers before and after storms deplete them.
There is one landfill on Dominica, and it’s nearly full. Cleaning up plastic waste and switching to biodegradable items like bottles, food packaging, and more will be key to CREAD’s strategy of helping the country look nicer for travelers. Plastic trash is whipped around in powerful storms and scattered hither and yon, despoiling the natural beauty of the country.
In 2018, GNN reported that Skerrit had enacted a ban on plastic and other debris such as single-use straws, and Styrofoam food items to try and aid in creating the image of a pristine Caribbean island that will attract tourists with deeper pockets. The following year, the Climate Resilience Act went into full force, and gave birth to CREAD.
The economy has since grown by 9 percent. Tourists are back on the beaches, and children are back in the classrooms. A new state-of-the-art hospital opened in August of 2019, while construction around the island has created five hundred new homes with another 1,000 on the way.
Described as “The Nature Island”, tropical rainforests filled with colorful birds encircle volcanoes looming above coral reefs and beaches of white, brown, and even black sands—things which typify Dominica as not just a place for margaritas and sunny days in a resort, but adventure and exploration.
An American architect has put his own money and years of struggle on the line to begin building a modern neighborhood that would generate its own power using a closed loop system that would also recycle all the waste and generate all the food.
Officials in the Netherlands have given James Ehrlich an initial green light to construct at least one eco-village 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam, and he hopes to break ground on the project sometime this year.
Ehrlich founded ReGen Villages in 2016 as a startup company intending to disrupt the way the world thinks about housing, development and transportation, and how these CO2-heavy sectors can be overhauled to create a green, self-sustaining lifestyle.
The master plan is for 200-300 homes in the town of Almere where infrastructure permits were approved in 2018.
The vision is a grand one: While incorporating entirely self-sustainable systems for waste management, water treatment, and food production, electricity would be generated through solar, biogas from food and animal waste, and geothermal sources.
Special aquaponic gardens would combine fish farming with aquatic agriculture that allow residents to cultivate a sustainable micro-ecosystem to produce fish and produce.
Rendering by ReGen Villages
Human waste would be composted to feed the ecosystems, with the fish waste providing a critical source of fertilizer for the gardens.
But there are two bigger issues for ReGen Villages: “The two greatest challenges we face are financial support and political will,” the founder told the New York Times.
The company is trying to wrap up a funding round of €16 million in private equity investment for operating expenses needed for the first village and for “master planning the next couple of concurrent developments.”
The homes, to be situated on at least 61 acres of land in the Oosterwold District, would cost according to DutchReview magazine between €200,000 to €850,000 ($216,000–$918,000) depending on the size and luxury of the house.
Continuing the closed-loop ecosystem model, each family home will have a greenhouse attached to it for growing personal crops, and rainwater catch-and-filter systems. The energy and food systems would be managed by ReGen’s staff, but residents could also work in the communal farming systems to reduce the monthly cost of their food and energy fees, which would be charged along with their mortgages.
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