By Julia Lull and Brittany Rivera, Special to CNN
New York (CNN) - In crowded cities like Manhattan where most people work and live in high-rise buildings, there is a desire for green space and fresh air. Rather than create another park above the ground, two designers have proposed the LowLine, what they call “the world’s first underground park.”
The project, founded by Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, would take the old Essex Street Trolley Terminal located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and convert it into a subterranean playground, complete with sunlight.
After a friend and former MTA employee told Barasch and Ramsey about the amount of unused space underground, they decided to build something that would use the free space in the city, rather than add to the already dense skyline. FULL POST
By The Next List staff, CNN
(CNN) - Susanne Heisse is founder of Pura Vida, a movement for alternative trash management in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Her innovation: the eco-brick.
In its simplest form, the eco-brick is a plastic bottle stuffed with inorganic trash. Stuffed to capacity, these bottles are of sufficient integrity to be used as building blocks for homes and schools throughout Central America.
With the help of the Peace Corps and charities like Hug It Forward, this deceptively simple building innovation is now spreading throughout the world. FULL POST
Editor's note: Juan Sostheim is owner and founder of Rancho Margot, an eco-resort, educational facility and sustainable farm in Costa Rica. Sostheim is the subject of Sunday's episode of "The Next List," on CNN at 2 p.m. ET.
By Juan Sostheim, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Almost 40 years have gone by since I graduated from the University of Florida and started my professional career. I remember being relieved that the Vietnam War was nearly over and the threat of someone pushing "the button" and starting a nuclear war was becoming an unlikely scenario.
As terrible as these issues were, we always felt that we could somehow it behind us.
Today, we face a very different problem and it’s one which most people feel powerless to do something about on an individual level. I’m referring to climate change.
There have always been and will always be naysayers, but no one can stay on the sidelines and hope someone else will do the right thing. We all must become eco-literate. We all must participate.
In the scientific community, there is no doubt about where we are heading and what is causing it. There is some legitimate debate about how long the devastation due to climate change will take, how much damage we can expect or where, but the situation as a whole is clear; global warming is real and if we don’t change, life will forever be different. I’m an optimist and I know we can change. We must adapt and mitigate but most important of all we must let everyone know where we stand or it will continue to be business as usual.
When I built Rancho Margot, an eco-resort in Costa Rica, I had to make choices. I wanted to have the smallest possible environmental impact - but at the same time I needed to get tourists to come and support what we were doing. How was I going to sell my vision to people who don't believe in climate change? My mission became to get people to realize that small changes in lifestyle can have a big impact. There is no need to sacrifice.
So what is it that we as individuals can do? First and foremost, we must demand that the true cost of all products and services be visible for all to see. This is only possible if we demand that carbon footprints be measured under strict international norms. At Rancho Margot, we chose the PAS 2060 norms from the British Institute of Standards. We emit 115 tons of carbon dioxide per year and, through our mitigation efforts, sequester 1,375 tons. That means we had a minus-1,260-ton carbon footprint in 2011. As consumers, we need to demand this information.
Forget, for the moment, the global picture. This is about us. I want to know how much carbon we emit. I need to know. If this is not consumer protection, I don’t know what is. In the UK, all public companies are now required to report and certify their carbon footprint. It’s a start. It is a slow process and we have little time. In the absence of this consumer protection we need to make common sense choices. We can buy locally produced fruits and vegetables. We can buy quality that lasts and things that can be locally repaired. We need to stop supporting our own destruction. There is a whole sustainable future out there and it’s up to us.
The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of Juan Sostheim.
By Olivia Smith, Special to CNN
New York (CNN) - Imagine wallpaper that does work for you and for your electronics. Wallpaper that doesn’t only protect your walls, but also protects your health, equipment and data.
Researchers at France’s Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble have worked with the Centre Technique du Papier to develop Wi-Fi-blocking wallpaper. The product, also known as metapaper, claims to selectively filter, reduce or reflect electromagnetic waves.
Metapaper not only protects against intruders stealing Wi-Fi from buildings, but also ensures that signals inside a building are more secure and stronger, the group says. Benefits include data security for companies or people that need dependable Wi-Fi. The wallpaper can also be used to create quieter spaces for places like hospitals and movie theaters. FULL POST
Editor's note: Simon Hauger started Philadelphia's "Sustainability Workshop," a program for inner-city high school seniors that's organized around projects rather than traditional curriculum. Students build electric go-karts and solar charging stations. CNN's "The Next List" will feature Hauger on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
By Simon Hauger, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Working with teenagers is wonderful. They are a joy and a challenge. They are youthful optimists who believe in their power, and have boundless energy. Young people don’t know what they don’t know, and rather than making them arrogant, it fills them with hopeful idealism. As teachers, it is our job to make direct and audacious demands on their idealism.
My journey began 14 years ago in an after-school program I created at West Philadelphia High to engage kids around math and science. My students entered and won the Philadelphia Science Fair, something kids from West Philly weren’t supposed to do. Then we grew the program into the Electric Vehicle (EVX) Team. We built a full-size electric vehicle that outperformed top universities in the nation’s largest alternative fuel vehicle competition, the Tour de Sol. We went on to create the world’s first hybrid super-car: an awesome hybrid vehicle that was fast and environmentally friendly. At a time when most people had never heard of hybrids, West Philly students were building cars that were greener than the Prius and hotter than the Corvette. The EVX Team was gaining traction and recognition. FULL POST
By Heather M. Higgins, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN) – There's a monstrous industrial eyesore that sits ominously along Philadelphia's Delaware River waterfront. However, behind the cobalt blue gates at the southernmost tip of Broad Street is a booming energy innovation center that has the potential to put the City of Brotherly Love back on the national map.
“This area was lifeless and look at it now – it's really special,” said Dave Ziel, chief development officer of Urban Outfitters, Inc, which, along with others, is helping revitalize the Navy Yard area. “The isolation is what gives it the opportunity itself.”
The hipster-friendly retailer, which also operates the Free People and Anthroplogie brands, moved its headquarters into the 19th century red brick workshops at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard in 2005. The workspace promotes a culture of socialization and connectivity while maintaining the integrity of each brand. FULL POST