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Dawn Danby
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The Green Electronics Challenge winners are out! Most projects manage to upcycle functioning e-waste - not a small feat. We ran two parallel +Instructables Challenges, in Chinese and in English. The winners include a low-cost atomic force microscope; an upcycled wifi router for the #IoT; a solar-powered device to prevent mosquito breeding; and a DIY touchscreen tablet. Electronics have a huge environmental impact. Designers should be given the opportunity to make the best use of electronics by creating products that can easily be repurposed, repaired or upgraded.

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wonders. (via +Ericson de Jesus)

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Biomimicry was incorrectly applied on the famous Eastgate Centre, due to a misunderstanding about the organism, but the building still performed:

"Though it was partially inspired by a flawed understanding of termite mounds, Pearce’s biomimetic design for Eastgate Centre had ironically worked so well because it unintentionally mimicked the termites’ true temperature-regulating solution, which was the mound’s permeable outer surface paired with the simple thermal capacity of surrounding soil. In addition to its duct-laced atriums and soaring chimneys, the building relied on massive foundational concrete slabs as heat sinks to store thermal energy during warmer daylight hours before releasing it during the cooler nights. “Eastgate Centre succeeded because Pearce was a very good architect rather than a crude imitator of nature,” Turner says. “And being so, he managed to converge on a lot of the same functionality the mounds actually have. It’s really pretty remarkable.” (...) The Eastgate Centre is one of many stories of people looking to nature for both inspiration and justification—and getting it wrong. But getting it right is no easy task. The more we try to draw inspiration from natural architecture, the more we understand that even the simplest structure is deeply entangled with the character and identity of its builder, making it difficult to interpret." 

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Electricity use dominates the environmental impacts of 3D printing, but there are also ways to do it better, writes +Jeremy Faludi on our Sustainability Workshop blog. His team at UC Berkeley have been doing life cycle analysis of various 3D printing technologies. This is a great current snapshot of a rapidly-evolving technology. We're hoping to see more efficient machines, nontoxic materials, and closed loops.

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A reframe on GHG responsibility? A mere 90 companies caused 2/3 of humanity’s emissions, with half of the estimated emissions produced in the last 25 years. This little infographic breaks it down to the Gt of CO2e. Curious to understand the methodology. 

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"It takes time for an acorn to turn into an oak, but the oak is already implied in the acorn. And so in any lump of rock floating about in space, there is implicit human intelligence. Sometime, somehow, somewhere. They all go together.
So don't differentiate yourself and stand off and say 'I am a living organism in a world made of a lot of dead junk, rocks and stuff.' It all goes together. Those rocks are just as much you as your fingernails. You need rocks. What are you going to stand on?"
- Alan Watts, Nature of Consciousness (1960)

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"When the subsidies to the coal industry exceed the market cap of industry, that’s not a business; that’s a dead man walking. When the subsidies to the oil industry are three times greater than the profits of the oil industry, that’s not a business; that’s transfer payments from taxpayers to shareholders, and one day taxpayers might just say “enough!” When half of Walmart’s employees require public assistance to compensate for insufficient wages, that’s not a business; it’s a scandal. (Here’s a new metric for you: what’s the ratio of your company’s profit to the direct and indirect subsidies it receives?)" - +Gil Friend 

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One evening last month, we walked the short distance from home to this art thing. It was so spectacularly bad that I didn't bother to read this awesome takedown of it. Perhaps it was secretly a huge conceptual prank about narcissism, self-referential culture and corporate infiltration. But likely not. "Compliance Art", declared B., tired of the queues, and we headed back home.

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People with the skills to design sustainable, energy efficient buildings are still too rare. Let's make more of them. 

During my months away, my team got ready to launch our Building Performance Analysis Certificate, a free online program for learning the basics of building science using Autodesk tools. It went live this week. A sweet thing to return to. Cheers +Adam Menter for the vision and the doing, start to finish.

http://sustainabilityworkshop.autodesk.com/bpac

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Sane, coolheaded thoughts on energy use, infrastructure and personal agency from +Maggie Koerth-Baker.
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