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Hybrid solar panels for electricity and heat

I’ve written in the past about passive solar heat, such as Trombe walls, solar furnaces or solar heating walls. The idea is more familiar is solar hot water systems. But did you know that solar heat and solar electricity can be combined? Hybrid solar panels have been on the market for a while, but the […]

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Building a long term perspective

I was in a meeting with RSPB Scotland last week, and the subject of long term planning came up. As an example, they mentioned a project in Abernethy that has a particularly bold time scale. The Abernethy Forest is the largest remaining pinewood forest in the Scottish Highlands. It’s home to a variety of wildlife, […]

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Building of the week: Green Solutions House

As I’ve been describing over the last couple of weeks, Active House is a relatively new design standard for sustainable homes. It aims to show how energy efficient homes can also be great to live in, and make them a desirable option whether or not people are interested in the environment. There’s just one problem: […]

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The rise of the forest city

Here’s a nice update on a previous building of the week – Bosco Verticale, the residential tower blocks in Milan that were designed to create a ‘vertical forest’. After the success of that project, architect Stefano Boeri has had a lot of interest in the idea and a number of other projects have been suggested. Unsurprising, […]

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How mobile phones reduce carbon emissions

Most of us in Britain have a smartphone these days, and that’s increasingly true internationally. There are 2.6 billion mobile subscriptions in the world, and while not everyone owns one, an estimated 6 billion people have access to a phone. As the UN noted a couple of years ago, more people have access to a […]

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Five options for low carbon shipping

This year I’m looking at transport a bit, and I’ve been focusing on road transport as that’s a large and obstinate source of emissions. I’ll talk about rail and aviation too along the way, and today I wanted to draw a ‘transport innovation of the week‘ from the world of shipping. In terms of carbon, […]

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How China is putting the brakes on coal

Last week I wrote about China and the shift in its energy policy. I mentioned that China is over-investing in coal power, and that the number of power stations being built wasn’t necessarily an indicator of coal use to come. This week we saw confirmation of that problem, as the government instructed 11 different regions […]

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How soil is lost

‘Common as dirt’ is, so I am told, an expression that has many international equivalents. What could be more easily obtainable than earth? And for most of us, it is indeed common. After all, soil is one of the reasons why humanity is where it is. You want to build towns and cities in places […]

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Three pioneers of alternative meat

One of the things I’ve been keeping an eye on over the few years is the development of alternatives to traditional farmed meat. To remind ourselves why this matters, meat production is a significant source of greenhouse gases. It drives deforestation, and is an inefficient use of land and water in a world with 7 […]

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The Living Planet Report 2016 is out

The Living Planet Report is produced every two years by WWF and the Global Footprint Network, and the 2016 edition was released yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I will, as it’s one of the most useful summaries of our global sustainability predicament. If you’ve ever seen me give a […]

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