Daily Archives: August 22, 2013

Removing indoor pollution:Researcher helps create sun-powered solution to toxic air in many lands

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/08/removing-indoor-pollution/

Solar-cooking

Researcher helps create sun-powered solution to toxic air in many lands

August 21, 2013 | Editor’s Pick

While studying climate change in the rural Himalayas, Catlin Powers was asked an eye-opening question by one local family: Why are all of these scientists coming here to study outdoor air pollution when indoor air pollution is so much worse?

A Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) graduate and current Ph.D. candidate in environmental health, Powers is the co-founder of One Earth Designs, a company that creates products that enable people to improve the quality of their lives by wisely using energy resources. She is one of the creative forces behind SolSource, a revolutionary, sun-powered grill designed specifically to answer that family’s question.

Powers began her journey by measuring the indoor air quality inside the Himalayan home where the question was posed, and found that it was 10 times more polluted than the outdoor air in Beijing. Subsequently, she found that more than half a million people each year die in China from the toxic smoke coming from household stoves used for cooking and heating.

Spurred by these revelations, Powers began working directly with rural communities to explore energy solutions and alternate fuel sources for cooking in their homes.

The result was SolSource, a high-performance, low-maintenance, portable, durable, safe, and fuel- and emission-free solar cooker. SolSource harnesses energy from the sun, which is ample on the Himalayan plateau, and uses it to grill, steam, bake, boil, or fry. Cooking with SolSource saves families time and money, reduces their exposure to harmful stove pollution, and helps conserve precious resources.

(…read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120
Food-Matters http://Food-Matters.TV

Momentum at Harvard as design bends to rising seas

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/08/ideas-to-build-on/
August 20, 2013 | Popular

By Corydon Ireland, Harvard Staff Writer

Earlier this year, landscape architecture students from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD) did fieldwork in New York’s Jamaica Bay, a marshy estuary on the southwest coast of Long Island. Little more than a century ago, it was a wetland behind barrier beaches, an ecological feature that attenuated the waves and storm surges pulsing in from the ocean. Since then, dredging, fill operations, roadways, and industrial development have disturbed the sea-buffering ecology. How can designers help? The students — from a core spring studio called Flux City — were there to find out.

Just four months before the GSD students’ visit, Hurricane Sandy had punched into the bay, pushing a storm surge over beaches, roads, rail lines, and buildings. The evidence remained, including a swept-away car in a local creek.

Rising sea levels and their impact on coastal cities is “a hot topic,” said landscape architect Chris Reed ’91, a professor in practice of landscape architecture and founder of Boston-based Stoss Landscape Urbanism. Reed coordinates Flux City, eight credit hours of heavy lifting over 13 weeks that has been in place as a core requirement for a few years. Sea level rise was this year’s theme.

The studio and others like it are part of a movement reviving the idea that landscape architects represent a convening discipline for addressing complex urban issues. For a time, in the face of the ascendancy of engineering sciences, the directorial role of people such as Frederick Law Olmsted had segued into a lesser role for landscape architects. “Mostly at the garden scale,” said Reed. “We were brought in to dress up the problem, [to put] parsley in the pig.” But now large cities are again “turning to landscape architects to do big projects,” he said.

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Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120