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April 27, 2014

Inhabitat’s Week in Green: energy from toilets, Legoland Florida and 6K tons of pistachios

by John_A

Earth Week is coming to a close, and to mark the occasion, Inhabitat showcased 14 awe-inspiring aerial photos of the Earth and 14 photos that remind us how important it is to protect the planet we live on. The week was also met with a bit of good news, as a report surfaced stating that President Barack Obama will most likely reject the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Apple took the opportunity to revamp its environmental-responsibility website, highlighting its new green initiatives — including building a new campus that will be entirely powered by renewable energy. Google announced its biggest renewable-energy purchase to date, investing $100 million to make solar panels more affordable for American homeowners. And Legoland Florida became the country’s first theme park to be entirely powered by solar power.

Turkey exported an impressive 6,800 tons of pistachio nuts last year, and now the country has found a possible way to transform all those shells into energy. The country recently floated plans to build a city powered by discarded pistachio shells, which could provide up to 60 percent of the city’s heating needs. For personal energy needs, the new, light and compact Port Solar Charger from XD Design allows gadget geeks to turn any window into a power source. In other green energy news, solar power has finally become as cheap as grid energy in some European countries. Scientists in South Korea have figured out a way to harness the energy from flushing toilets and use it to help power people’s homes. And a new flexible armband developed by Korean researchers at KAIST transforms wasted heat from your body into electricity.

3D printing is making science fiction a reality. Designer Deniz Karasahin has figured out a way to make custom casts using 3D printers that could speed up bone healing by nearly 40 percent. Scientists have successfully cloned the first human embryo from adult cells. The breakthrough could pave the way to personalized organ transplants and therapies based on stem cells that could be grown into any type of human tissue. And continuing with the sci-fi theme, scientists recently discovered that the threat of a major asteroid impact on Earth is much higher than previously thought. In response, the B612 Foundation announced plans to launch an early warning system that can alert us to asteroids well before they could hit us.

Detroit has a dearth of bus shelters and an abundance of foreclosed homes, so designer Craig Wilkins decided to kill two birds with one stone by making eye-catching portable shelters made of materials salvaged from abandoned houses. Creative reuse is continuing to influence the design world, as Hong Kong-based architecture firm OVA Studio unveiled plans for a wild-looking concept hotel made from colorful shipping containers. Architect Thomas Heatherwick recently unveiled plans for an amazing semi-subterranean park in Abu Dhabi that features a fragmented canopy to keep visitors cool. And MIT Media Lab’s Social Computing Group announced plans to repackage urban data into 10,000 beautiful, user-friendly city maps to inspire social change.

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