Most Clicked SmartBrief on Sustainability Stories


1. Photos: Manufactured homes work toward net-zero

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Apr 30, 2015

Prefab housing hasn't "been very progressive," but Blu Homes is changing that. It's creating upscale, custom-built homes that are constructed in a factory, then folded like origami and transported to a site. The company aims to have all its houses reach net-zero by 2020 and is working on increasing scale to reduce costs. FastCoExist (04/29)


2. Tesla home battery aimed at transformation of energy infrastructure

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 01, 2015

Electric car manufacturer Tesla has revealed a battery for the home that can store power from solar panels, be used in case of a power outage and potentially transition solar-powered homes to be off the grid entirely. "The goal is complete transformation of the entire energy infrastructure of the world, to completely sustainable zero carbon," said the company's founder, Elon Musk. Japan Times, The (05/01) Reuters (05/01)


3. A few big tree species account for half of Amazon carbon absorption

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Apr 28, 2015

Just 1% of tree species account for 50% of carbon sequestration that occurs in the Amazon rain forest, a study has found, highlighting the complexity of assessing the carbon impact of forested land. Another study assessed the amount of dead wood from logging, which is of concern because it emits carbon gases as it decomposes, adding to the emissions problem in the world's forests. BBC (04/28)


4. Architects plan autonomous, self-sustaining city in the Sahara

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Apr 27, 2015

A city similar to no other is taking shape in the minds of a team of architects. The team plans to turn its concept of a fully sustainable living community in one of the world's most forbidding deserts into reality. Architects from two firms involved in the project say the mixed-use "city" -- which will be in the Moroccan Sahara -- will rely on solar energy and will turn 45,000 cubic meters of water it collects each year into geothermal power. PhysOrg.com (04/23)


5. Chipotle drops GMOs from the menu

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Apr 27, 2015

Chipotle Mexican Grill will eliminate genetically modified ingredients from its restaurants starting today, says founder and co-CEO Steve Ells. Making the shift can be complicated for packaged-food manufacturers and eateries with complex menus, but Chipotle uses just 68 ingredients. "The vast majority of our ingredients don't come in a GMO variety, and we use lots of whole, unprocessed foods, so it was easier for us to do," Ells said. New York Times (tiered subscription model), The (04/26)


6. How Method built a LEED Platinum factory in Chicago

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Apr 29, 2015

Building Method's new LEED Platinum-rated manufacturing plant on Chicago's South Side wasn't easy, and such efforts require "an abnormal level of coordination" among government agencies, says co-founder Adam Lowry. "You need people in the city that understand not just what you're trying to do but why you're trying to do it, and that are really bought into that," he said. The Chicago plant includes a large rooftop greenhouse. GreenBiz.com (04/28)


7. Construction taking off at $900M solar factory

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Apr 28, 2015

About 250 construction workers are on site at SolarCity near Buffalo, N.Y., each day. That number is expected to top 1,500 this summer as the contractor ramps up activity and begins to work around the clock on the $900 million factory project. The goal is to have the shell enclosed by fall so equipment can be installed over the winter. Buffalo News (N.Y.), The (04/27)


8. Civil engineers create sustainable construction practices

SmartBrief on Sustainability | May 01, 2015

Skanska has turned its Elizabeth River Tunnels project in Virginia into an example of how civil construction can improve its environmental impact while augmenting modern infrastructure. The company has a recycling/reuse rate of 99% for the project, and its creative ways to benefit the surrounding environment include using concrete waste to create oyster habitats. Environmental Leader (04/30)


9. Sequestered carbon could be used for energy storage

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Apr 29, 2015

Underground storage facilities for captured carbon could double as energy-storage facilities, researchers say. Carbon dioxide could be injected into rocks miles below the Earth's surface, where the planet's heat would cause it to expand, driving special turbines. Discovery (04/27)


10. NOAA says natural, built habitat can protect coastlines

SmartBrief on Sustainability | Apr 30, 2015

Natural habitats are the best protection for keeping coastlines resilient, but a combination of man-made infrastructure and natural habitat can also work, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report also noted that seawalls or dikes might be needed in some places to reduce flooding and erosion. DredgingToday.com (Rotterdam, Netherlands) (04/30)




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