Underground the city of London are eight massive bomb shelters like the one pictured above that have been empty or used as document storage for more than 50 years. Now, one of them is being transformed into a subterranean farm. The farming group, called Zero Carbon Food, based their system on hydroponics and LED light powered by wind-generated electricity.
"When I first met these guys I thought they were absolutely crazy, but when I visited the tunnels and sampled the delicious produce they are already growing down there I was blown away," says two Michelin star chef Michel Roux Jr.
"Would You Eat a Salad Grown in a Bomb Shelter?" (Smithsonian)
IKEA has now started selling solar panels in the UK. According the Associated Press
, "a standard, all-black 3.36 kilowatt system for a semi-detached home will cost 5,700 British pounds ($9,200) and will include an in-store consultation and design service as well as installation, maintenance and energy monitoring service." Feel free to suggest funny faux-Swedish product names in the comments.
Old-school bOING bOING pal Jim Leftwich says:
The Sun Hive is a hanging honeybee hive designed by Günther Mancke and which is growing in popularity in the UK and elsewhere. It was designed around the needs of pollinating bees and colony health and preferences, and not around prioritizing honey production. As such, it's thought to be much better for sustaining bee populations. It's also quite beautiful.
There's also a Sun Hive book, that you can read or download (4.5Mb), and which gives the background on natural beekeeping and instructions on how to construct one.
Architect/developer Sebastian Mariscal designed and is expecting to build a 44-unit apartment building in densely-populated Boston where most of the space you'd expect to be used for parking spots is instead given over to a variety of gardens. There's a 7,000 public garden on the ground level and a roof that's 70 percent dedicated to community gardening. Meanwhile, each living unit includes a 144 square foot "outdoor room… full of vegetation."
"The Apartment Complex of Tomorrow—0 Parking Spots, 46 Personal Garden Spaces" (TakePart)
While Mariscal's original design only had six parking spaces, meant for rentals, and he only planned to rent to tenants who didn't own cars, the community was concerned that tenants would own cars anyway and park them on the street. So the architect added 35 spots to his plans and has apparently received preliminary approval to build from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. (Universal Hub, thanks Lis Riba!)
The brilliant popular engineering Sustainable Materials - with Both Eyes Open: Future Buildings, Vehicles, Products and Equipment - Made Efficiently and Made with Less New Material has just been released in the USA. I reviewed this book last November, when it came out in the UK. Here's a brief excerpt from then:
We review a lot of popular science books around here, but Sustainable Materials (like Sustainable Energy) is a popular engineering text, a rare and wonderful kind of book. Sustainable Materials is an engineer's audit of the materials that our world is made of, the processes by which those materials are extracted, refined, used, recycled and disposed of, and the theoretical and practical efficiencies that we could, as a society, realize.
Allwood and Cullen write about engineering with the elegance of the best pop-science writers -- say, James Gleick or Rebecca Skloot -- but while science is never far from their work, their focus is on engineering. They render lucid and comprehensible the processes and calculations needed to make things and improve things, touching on chemistry, physics, materials science, economics and logistics without slowing down or losing the reader.
The authors quickly demonstrate that any effort to improve the sustainability of our materials usage must focus on steel and aluminum, first because of the prominence of these materials in our construction and fabrication, and second because they are characteristic microcosms of our other material usage, and what works for them will be generalizable to other materials.
From there, the book progresses to a fascinating primer on the processes associated with these metals, from ore to finished product and back through recycling, and the history of efficiency gains in these processes, and the theoretical limits on efficiency at each stage. Lavishly illustrated and superbly organized, this section and the ones that follow it are a crash course in the invisible energy embodied in the bones of our built up world.
But the primary work of the book is to look at how small (and large) changes in our society and business could make important gains in the sustainability of our material use, an important subject as developing nations start to copy the rich world's insatiable appetite for material goods and titanic cities.
Sustainable Materials - with Both Eyes Open: Future Buildings, Vehicles, Products and Equipment - Made Efficiently and Made with Less New Material
Ikea has announced a new cardboard shipping pallet
, which uses fiendishly clever folding to give a loading capacity of 1,650 lbs: "As Ikea uses some 10 million pallets a year, if the experiment is a success it's a good bet that other retail giants will take notice. But the thing that has analysts skeptical is that the pallets can only be used once."
It's time again for Boing Boing's guide the charities we support in our annual giving. As always, please add the causes and charities you give to in the comments below!
Electronic Frontier Foundation
The EFF's mission has never been more important: as laws like SOPA are rammed through Congress, as bloggers around the world are arrested and tortured with the collusion of American network-surveillance companies, and as the FBI's unconstitutional, warrantless use of surveillance technology like GPS bugs comes to light, EFF is poised to be center-stage in the fight for a free and open world with a free and open Internet. —CD
Creative Commons has permeated my life in a thousand ways -- on Boing
Boing and in my writing, Creative Commons is responsible for how I get
the job done and how I get paid for it. CC's advocacy of a nuanced,
intelligent position on creativity and sharing changes the lives of
creators, educators, scientists, scholars, and kids, all over the world. —CD
Read the rest
The way we use and make energy is going to change, one way or another. Tomorrow afternoon, you can join me, along with The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal, author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology
, and Science magazine's Eli Kintisch, author of Hack the Planet: Science's Best Hope - or Worst Nightmare - for Averting Climate Catastrophe
, for a live web chat as we talk about how Americans created the energy systems we live with today, and how we might build better ones for the future. "Green Energy's Forgotten Past, Uncertain Future" starts at 3:00 Eastern on ScienceLive
. We'll be taking questions from the audience and talking about our respective books, including my upcoming book "Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before it Conquers Us," which is due out next March.
I recently spotted this Seedbombs vending machine in Marin. Each bomb -- a little nugget of clay, compost, and seeds -- was 50 cents. It led me to look into the interesting history of "seed bombing." From Wikipedia:
The term "seed grenade" was first used by Liz Christy in 1973 when she started the "Green Guerrillas". The first seed grenades were made from condoms filled with local wildflower seeds, water and fertilizer. They were tossed over fences onto empty lots in New York City in order to make the neighborhoods look better. It was the start of the guerrilla gardening movement...
Seedbombs by Greenaid
The earliest records of aerial reforestation date back from 1930. In this period, planes were used to distribute seeds over certain inaccessible mountains in Honolulu after forest fires.
Seed bombing is also widely used in Africa; where they are put in barren or simply grassy areas. With technology expanding, it is now placed in a biodegradable container and "bombed" grenade-style onto the land. As the sprout grows, the container biodegrades and the plant grows. It is usually done as a large-scale project with hundreds dropped in a single area at any one time. Therefore, a barren land can be turned into a garden in a little over a month.
Seed bombing (Wikipedia)
"On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening Without Boundaries" by Richard Reynolds (Amazon)
"How to Make a Seed Bomb" (Instructables)
I spotted this wonderful display of eggshell planters at the mighty Dynamo Donuts
in San Francisco's Mission District. (Note the fresh-from-the-fryer bacon maple apple donuts in the upper left.) Instructables has a how-to on making your own "eggshell seed starters
Just wanted to showcase this marvelous comic
by Stuart McMillen (the cover of which you see above and is a nice nod to Hergé). It's called "St. Matthew Island" and asks: "What happens when you introduce 29 reindeer to an isolated island of untouched natural resources?"
As a parable (humans being humans, and reindeer being reindeer), it does a great job of gently and effectively illustrating the issue of over consumption .
St Matthew Island by Stuart McMillen
Earlier this year, Los Angeles hosted it's first CicLAvia (blogged here previously
)— an event which closed off 7.5 miles of city streets
to cars for a full day allowing cyclists and pedestrians full use of the roadways. It was a huge success with over 100,000 residents showing up on 2 wheels rather than 4. Yes, this happened in Los Angeles, dare I say one of the most "car-positive" cities in the world. The organizers are working on plans for the next CicLAvia for 2011 and have teamed up with Kickstarter to help raise some funds
. They are hoping to bring in $5K, and have a bit over $1K right now. I just donated because I think it's a super worthwhile cause, and because I ride my bike in LA on the streets all the time anyway and being able to do it every once and a while without worrying about getting run over is awesome.
[Top photo by Alex Thompson, bottom by Waltarrrrr]
Katie Dougherty of MAKE says:
Do you have an innovative project that you think is "green" or one you've been thinking about starting? That word green gets tossed around a lot. Do you think others would find your project "environmentally-friendly," a worthwhile solution to today's environmental problems? Does it promote conservation? Appropriate use of technology? Let's find out. MAKE is running a Green Project Contest, as part of GE's ecomagination. Enter your project now for a chance to win a trip for two to a Maker Faire of your choice (Bay Area, Detroit, New York) in 2011!
How it works:
1. Post your green-worthy DIY project to the Green Project Contest website on MAKE.
2. Encourage your readers, family and friends, and your social network to vote for your project!
3. Posts that get lots of votes, besides be eligible for prizes, will also draw the attention of MAKE editors. We’ll start doing blog posts, and maybe even articles in the magazine, about some of the more popular projects.
To help inspire you, we're putting together a series of videos on Maker Pioneers who are doing work we think is worth of the tag "green". The first video is with Saul Griffith, talking about his Onya Cycles business.
As the Chilean Miner telenovela continues today, with mining company execs and politicians now transforming a barely-averted catastrophe into a publicity stunt: here's timely look back at some mid-century American mining industry propaganda in the form of a weird comic book unearthed by Ethan Persoff.
"With an environmental message!," says Ethan— "Specifically how strip mines are good for clearing landscape of pesky earth to make way for park benches and manufactured fishing (check out the very funny Sportsman's paradise joke on page 11).
Comics with Problems #41: "New Uses for Good Earth" (or, Ethan's title,
"Gee Dad, can they flatten our mountaintop, TOO?")
If you'd told me a year ago that the City of Los Angeles would close off almost 8 miles of primary city streets to let cyclists have free rein for a day I never would have believed it. If I hadn't seen it actually happen with my own eyes yesterday, I'd still be suspicious. But it's true: thanks to the amazing efforts of the die-hard volunteers
behind the project, yesterday the first ever CycLAvia
(a riff on the South American Ciclovía
idea) took place and some 100,000 residents
took to their bikes and got a glimpse of what the city might be like if at least some parts of it were car-free.
As an avid cyclist living in LA, I've long said this is an amazing city to bike in and that it takes on a whole new life when you see it from a bicycle. But most often the reaction I get from non-cyclists is that I must be crazy to ride a bike in LA. I'm not, and judging by the photos on flickr
and reactions on twitter
a ton of people now see the city a little differently. With any luck this is just the first of many upcoming bike-friendly events in the city. I know I can't wait to see where this leads! (Follow @Cyclavia
for future details)
Photos by Tara Brown and Jory Felice