May Story Roundup

Here are the stories that defined the month of May: from melting ice shelves and global levels of CO2, to a 19th-century-inspired solar energy system to the insane amount of water a small piece of steak requires for it to reach our plates.


One Flag to Unite Earth, Sort of

In anticipation of our space-traveling and planet-seeking adventures in the future, a Swedish university student has designed the “International Flag of Planet Earth” to be planted on the next alien world humans set foot on.

An artist's rendition of an astronaut planting the unified Earth flag on Mars.

An artist’s rendition of an astronaut planting the unified Earth flag on Mars.

Via Space
How Much Water Does Your Food Cost?

We’ve known for a while about the heavy dependence on water of growing livestock for meat, but Buzzfeed has prepared a more in-your-face video that details the insane amounts of water that goes to an 8 oz of …

Continue reading

Building Performance at a Glance with the LEED Dynamic Plaque

We live in the Age of Metrics where every bit of information and experience can now be quantified and digitized: steps we take each day, calories burned, hours slept, the number of people who just unfollowed you on Twitter, and infinitely more.  Now building performance can be measured in real-time as well with the LEED Dynamic Plaque.

LEED Dynamic Plaque

A LEED Dynamic Plaque proudly hangs on the lobby of an office building. (Courtesy of


Introduced last year, the LEED Dynamic Plaque is both an online dashboard and a physical plaque that monitor, measure, and display a building’s performance in …

Continue reading

Animal Rights in the Year 2015

As of now, Leo and Hercules’ case is still pending.  The two chimpanzees were briefly (for just a few hours) recognized as legal persons last month and granted a writ of habeas corpus, which basically frees them from detention, and questions the legal validity of their being incarcerated.  Had it pushed through, this would have been a momentous breakthrough for animal rights, which in the year 2015, is amazingly still an iffy, unresolved issue.

Wild chimpanzees, happy and free where they belong.  (Courtesy of

Wild chimpanzees, happy and free where they belong. (Courtesy of

It’s like this.  We collectively coo in awe and admiration at videos of animals doing cute things.  The Internet has countless of them: frisky cats and bored dogs in living rooms, yawning walruses and talented elephants at the circus, tumbling pandas and swimming monkeys, tigers and puppies playing together, dogs howling in delight when a long unseen family member suddenly comes home.  We applaud their sense of fun and freedom, we think they’re so terribly like us, ascribing human attributes to them if only to serve our entertainment needs.  But we’d rather not look at the other side of the picture: the danger animals …

Continue reading

Low- and High-Tech Solutions for Earthquake-Proof Green Buildings

Experts tell us that it is buildings—not earthquakes—which claim lives.  Before we had buildings and cities rising up and dotting the landscape, when everything was just valleys or fields or marshes or forests, and certainly no people around—earthquakes were just a naturally occurring and passing phenomenon.  The ground shook because tectonic plates rubbed against each other as they are meant to do.


Shinbashira in a Japanese pagoda (Courtesy of HenryBayman)

Shinbashira in a Japanese pagoda (Courtesy of HenryBayman)

But as human population grew, congregating and creating congested urbanized cities—earthquakes began to have a fatal dimension they previously did not have.  It’s as if they have become the price we pay for our unconscionably built world.  In an ideal world though, buildings don’t have to be as devastating at all.

In light of natural disasters, especially the recent quake that devastated Nepal, we have to look at green buildings with resilience in mind.


Continue reading

April Roundup of Stories: Up House, Volcanoes and Global Warming, Influential Buildings, and More


Welcome to our monthly roundup of stories from all over the web, stories which might have gone under your radar and didn’t get the retweets and shares they deserve.  From the real-life Up House, to the flimsy link between volcanoes and global warming, to bionic eyes that can filter, and influential buildings in the world today.


Up House of Edith Macefield Faces Demolition

Edith Macefield's steadfast decision to retain her house probably became the inspiration for Pixar's hit film Up.

Edith Macefield’s steadfast decision to retain her house probably became the inspiration for Pixar’s hit film Up.

Seven years after Edith Macefield’s death, her 108-year old house in Seattle finally faces demolition.  Macefield had previously refused offers of up to $1 million to sell he property in 2006, and instead tolerated being sandwiched between commercial development.  Her valiant anticorporate stance endeared her to Seattle and the rest of the world, and her house has been lovingly dubbed the “Up House”, after the animated Pixar film.

Continue reading