Feeds:
Posts
Comments

A new ecological community, Rancho San Roque, is being developed in the foothills of the Rincon de la Vieja volcano in Costa Rica.  The developer has engaged the services of The Project Office (TPO) to manage the project; Deppat to create the master plan; and Zurcher Architects to create the architectural detail for a private residential community in harmony with nature.  Each of the 37 fully-titled lots available for purchase has at least 1.25-acres (5000M2) and incorporates sweeping views of the Guanacaste countryside, enjoying cool mountain air and rich volcanic soil.

Residents will enjoy the tranquility of country living with the convenience of modern services.  Located in Cañas Dulces – only 30 minutes from Liberia – where modern shopping, fine dining, and premium services are abundant.  The international airport in Liberia is just 40 minutes away, and some of Costa Rica’s best white-sand beaches and fishing are also an easy drive from the community.

Rancho San Roque is situated at a comfortable 1500 feet above sea level, offering fresh cool mountain breezes.  The area is host to a growing number of ecotourism facilities such as Buena Vista Adventure Center and Spa, which offers adventure sports such as canopy tours, rappelling, waterslides, horseback riding, hiking, thermal spa baths, and much more.  A high-end eco-resort, Borinquen Mountain Spa, showcases hot springs, a luxury hotel, restaurants, nature trails, and many more attractions within just minutes of the community.  The community is also located within minutes from the planned Guanacaste Country Club designed by Jack Nicklaus and being developed by a U.S. group that includes Frank Biden (Joe Biden’s brother).

“Most of the development in Guanacaste has happened at the beaches, but an increasing number of full-time expats find it to be too hot and too touristy,” said Dan Harris the CEO of The Project Office. “That is why we chose a tranquil country setting with a cooler climate for our community.  We’re in a laid-back rural area, yet still close to all modern services and amenities in Liberia.”

The city of Liberia is continually expanding with modern services.  Several banks, shopping centers and restaurants make up the town center along with the Home Depot-style hardware store called the Do It Center.  Large commercial developers are betting that Liberia becomes the business capital of northern Costa Rica, similar to the Central Valley, as evidenced by the million square-meter Solarium office industrial complex.  Furthermore, the best hospital in Central America, CIMA Hospital San Jose, has plans to build a new full-scale private hospital in Liberia.

Rancho San Roque will engage in a permaculture project to restore the pastureland, and will feature a community center with a pool and fitness center, walking trails through orchards, a greenhouse, organic gardens and aquaculture ponds.  The rich volcanic soil is perfect for gardening where the project aims to produce fresh organic vegetables, many fruit and nuts, fresh-water fish, chickens and eggs for the residents.

“Our goal is to restore the land with an edible forest and permaculture gardens producing healthy food security for residents” Harris added. “The intention of permaculture is not only to produce food, but also give immeasurable benefits to the environment while creating a beautiful and diverse landscape to enjoy.”

All environmental permitting is in place and all lots are ready to sell with clear title.  The developers are encouraging alternative energy such as wind and solar power, but are providing electric grid service in the community.  Satellite TV is readily available and high-speed Internet will be on site creating a fully connected community.

Each lot comes with a Costa Rica corporation allowing for clean transfers with low fees, and gives buyers a vehicle to obtain cell phones and other utilities.  The community is currently one of the best values in Costa Rica starting at $50,000 during the development phase. Financing is available with 40% down at 8% interest for 5 years ($20K down, $608/mth).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT US HERE

WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

Advertisements

By Lynda Waddington 3/12/10 10:15 AM

ANKENY, IOWA — Whether they realized it or not, the roughly 250 family farmers, workers and consumers gathered in Ankeny, Iowa, Thursday night fired off their own point-by-point response to a letter from two Republican senators that urged the U.S. departments of agriculture and justice to maintain the existing status quo in the agriculture industry.

Speakers line up to comment at Thursday night's townhall. Photo by  Lynda Waddington, Iowa IndependentSpeakers line up to comment at Thursday night’s townhall. Photo: Lynda Waddington, Iowa Independent

The often rambunctious townhall event was organized by a coalition of groups concerned that everyday people do not have adequate opportunity to express their opinions on the agricultural industry at a joint U.S. Department of Justice and USDA antitrust workshop on Friday. And it had one overarching message: “Bust up big ag.”

“We are here today to make sure that the voices of everyday people are heard loud and clear and send a simple but powerful message to our government regulators and elected officials,” said Barb Kalbach, a fourth generation family farmer from Dexter and board member for Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. “Bust up big ag, pass policies that promote sustainable agriculture and local markets, and put people first during the workshop series by prioritizing public comments and input and adding more family farmers and consumers to panels.”

On Wednesday, however, two Republicans in leadership positions on the Senate Agriculture Committee urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to do just the opposite.

“We urge you to ensure that these sessions are balanced and reflect the wide array of producers and business operations in modern-day agriculture,” wrote Sens. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Pat Roberts of Kansas.

After noting that “American agriculture is responsible for feeding the world,” that many industry “segments have become more vertically-integrated” and “other small and successful agriculture businesses have merged” to meet demands, the senators note that change is often met with frustration.

“Such change has led to better income margins for producers and processors as well as lower prices for consumers,” they wrote, adding that competition issues have been “studied extensively by several entities including the United State Congress and, specifically, the Senate Agricultural Committee.”

Although Chambliss and Roberts appear to call for a wide swath of American agriculture to have representation at the meeting, it is difficult to overlook the key point of their correspondence:

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE

by T. Caine

Over the last decade the term “Upcycling” has been coined and worked into the discourse of sustainability efforts. It appeared in William McDonough’s book, Cradle to Cradle. It has yet to earn itself mainstream popularity, but its necessity as a goal for how we should be progressing makes its definition important. Like so many things in sustainability, I come across many enthusiasts who are trying to promote the practice but may be passing around an incorrect meaning.

We all know what the basis of Recycling is: a practice that takes an item and targets it for reuse, returning it back to the cycle of daily contribution to society rather than discarding it to trash. Going to the dictionary for confirmation renders the following:

  • to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse: recycling paper to save trees
  • to alter or adapt for new use without changing the essential form or nature of: The old factory is being recycled as a theater
  • to use again in the original form or with minimal alteration: The governor recycled some speeches from his early days
  • to cause to pass through a cycle again: to recycle laundry through a washing machine

Upcycling is described by some as reusing a material without degrading the quality and composition of the material for its next use. When plastic bottles are recycled, for instance, most often they cannot be turned back into containers associated with anything that can be ingested due to the risk of things seeping into the plastic. As a result, these usually become carpets, or toys, or winter fleeces: things that will eventually also become trash. Recycling has simply prolonged the inevitable by stretching out our waste stream and made the lifecycle costs of the material a bit less.

upcycle diagram

In this model, upcycling becomes dually important. First, the practice reduces the amount of waste that we produce and ultimately goes into the ground for longer than any of us will be around. Secondly, it also reduces the need for new virgin material to be harvested as feedstock for new generations of product. In the case of plastic, this means less oil wells drilled. For metals, less mountains mined. For paper, less trees felled. All around this means less expended energy.

Our treatment of soda cans is closer to a true upcycling model. These aluminum containers can be melted down and made into brand new cans and in the process save over 90% of the energy required to make new ones from scratch. This cycle can continue in perpetuity, reducing energy consumption and effectively removing certain materials from the waste stream. Newsprint finds similar success.

More than once I have seen people broadcasting their “upcycling” habits like making wallets from tires, or lawn chairs from pallets, or tables from wire spools. These are examples of recycling. None of those materials are going back UP the supply chain (the series of processes that an industry uses to create a product or service.) They are just making the chain a bit longer.

Upcycling represents a truly cyclical, balanced process that all industries and companies should be aiming towards. At this point, just having the aim would be another important step. All of our products could be drastically changed if the beginning of their design started with the goal of not having them end up in a landfill. A number of ways could be utilities to train our economy into an inherent practice of reuse. My personal definition of the term ends up as:

Upcycling: A process that can be repeated in perpetuity of returning materials back to a pliable, usable form without degradation to their latent value—moving resources back up the supply chain.

It is important to note that I am not saying that recycling is a waste of time or beyond acclaim. Rather, recycling is a first step in reaching a more comprehensive and sustainable solution of waste management that can eventually limit the amount of new, virgin materials that need to be produced or mined from the earth.

Photo Credit: RecyclingPoint.com.au

READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

by T. Caine

There are a number of encouraging examples of cities trying to slowly evolve themselves into a vision of urban sustainability.

Implementing bike infrastructure, upgrading the ecology of alternative transit, increasing recycling and addressing the state of our energy production systems are all noteworthy efforts being tackled by numerous cities around the world. But despite the show of goodwill, there are other examples that force one to wonder if we are simply taking two steps back for each that we take forward. The city of Dubai, rising in defiance to the surrounding environment of coastal deserts in the United Arab Emirates, stands as the hallmark of a digressing trend taking us farther away from the goals of a new cultural reality. As a poster child of modern ingenuity driven by the perpetual desire of humanity for unbounded excess, the city of Dubai casts a long shadow over our path to a greener future.

Originally sited for its coastal access to shipping trade, the city has exploded infinitely from its historical size. With the discovery of oil in the mid 1960’s money flooded into the region, beginning to fill coffers that could one day be leveraged to lift life and prosperity out of the sands. Over the past quarter-century Dubai has fashioned itself as a temple to the unusual feats of how nature can be bested by humanity. Islands can be coaxed to rise from the sea. Mountains of snow can sit amidst lashing heat. The world’s tallest tower can sit in the sand and be visible for miles around.While the city lacks a Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center or its own Universal Studios, make no mistake–the creation is just another Disneyland, an attraction meant to draw people from around the world to be awed and impressed at the surreal.

Building:

Prone to sudden, heavy rains, sandstorms and hot, arid temperatures, the surrounding landscape has provided no shortage of reasons for why not to build a city in the desert, but the gait of the government-funded movement has been unfettered. The fact that sand is not the ideal medium for siting high-rise development did nothing to temper the race to build a current estimated stock of 43.6 million square feet of office space. One thing that natural ecosystems and capitalism have in common is a concept of supply and demand, equalizing forces that help balance population or production. Dubai, however, seemed to ignore such indicators given that according to Jones Lang LeSalle, the current vacancy rate for its commercial space is near 33%–a number that could rise as high as 65% with the new construction projects already in the pipeline. For comparison, the vacancy rate for office space in New York City was 11.1% in January and falling.

Of course, the crown jewel of Dubai’s high rise bonanza is Burj Khalifa, formerly known as the Burj Dubai and designed by architecture firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill. Towering 2,625 feet into the air, the building boasts the title of the tallest structure in the world. Amongst the 160 floors is a combination of residences, commercial office space, an observation deck and the Armani Hotel. Undeniably, the building is a testament to the capabilities of engineering. Getting glass and steel to stand a half-mile into the air in the middle of the desert is no easy task, one accomplished by using 110,000 tonnes of concrete to pour 192 piles that descend 540′ below the surface. Given the height of the building and high temperatures during the day, the pumping and pouring of the higher concrete floors was done at night where the curing process could be more gradual to avoid cracking and subsequent future instability. All impressive achievements, but necessary?

And yet within months of opening, the observation deck at the tower has already been closed to tourists indefinitely while precise reasons for the closure were unspecified. I found one tourist’s disappointment rather ironic. “It was the one thing I really wanted to see. The tower was projected as a metaphor for Dubai. So the metaphor should work. There are no excuses.’’ On the contrary, I think that the fact that the tower is a metaphor for Dubai is exactly why it does not work. It is a city destined to be punished for its misguided battle against an inexhaustible force: nature.

Water:

dubai villaA picture of water conservation

Unsurprisingly, there is not enough natural water to supply a city of over 2 million people in the desert. Instead taking such an impediment as cause for consideration, the city looked to the oceans. As of 2007, the city had a desalination capacity of 188 million gallons per day. Ocean desalination is a fleeting attempt at cheating the climate, requiring enormous amounts of energy. In her essay featured on The Oil Drum, former Mayor of Huntington Beach, CA, Deborah Cook notes that “The next worst idea to turning tar sands into synthetic crude is turning ocean water into municipal drinking water. Sounds great until you zoom in on the environmental costs and energetic consequences…There is no more energy intensive water source than ocean desalination.” It is important to note that Dubai residents are not exactly the image of conservation. With their swimming pools, fountains and lush green lawns, the emirate used 10% more water than the average American (formerly the largest consumer in the world) and six times more per capita than nearby Jordan as of 2009. Hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil and gas will be used to power these efforts in the years to come.

The World Wonders of Excess:

And then there are the islands. Oh, the islands. Construction began on the Palm Jumeirah island in June 2001. 94 million cubic meters of sands, 7 million tonnes of rock and $12 billion later, we have artificial islands in the shape of a palm tree. Eventually the island will be joined by the finished likenesses of Palm Deira and Palm Jebel Ali. At this point, Dubai World would not have to worry about being outdone by foreign endeavors (who else would build islands in the middle of the ocean) so they had to resort to trumping themselves. Started in 2003, the 300 world islands have risen from the waters only to halt in construction as Dubai developer Nahkeel recoils from $26 billion in debt.We can only hope it is never repaid.

world and palm islandsEach of these islands requires the dredging of the ocean floor to lift sand up onto its new home. The damage to the aquatic ecosystems in the form of waste, pollution and noise must be far-reaching. Not to mention we have already seen what can happen when people decide to build a city on a Louisiana swamp lying somewhere in the vicinity of sea-level. While the coast of Dubai may not be in a prime path for hurricanes, creating a series of islands against the natural correlation of water movement in the middle of the ocean is destined to have future problems of maintenance and structural issues. We are in a world where regardless of the fact that island nations are at risk of being eradicated due to rising sea levels, oil funds are put towards building new islands in the water.

Perhaps the only thing that can trump the world’s tallest tower and man-made islands is Ski Dubai, an interior ski resort fashioned right in the middle of the desert. The experience comes equipped with multiple trails, life-like snow, chair lifts and temperatures of -5 degrees Celsius. Once again, the structure is architecturally impressive due to the level of engineering required to keep snow from melting with outside temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius (that’s 122 degrees Fahrenheit.) The wall is actually a double-skin construction with two high-insulating layers separated by an air-gap that serves as a buffer for heat transmission. In theory the system is similar to a double-skin glass curtain wall like the one in One Bryant Park that faces the New York Public Library and holds small interior gardens. Nevertheless, it should have been enough to know that such a feat could be accomplished. There is no pride to be taken from achieving a luxury at a limitless cost of energy and resources.

As an oasis of extravagance built as a tourist trap, Dubai is a frightening reality. There is no better urban example of disregard to the environment as it resets the limit of how far from rational evolution we will travel before we decide to turn around and retrace our steps. This is not the example we should be setting for developing nations who may soon encounter the ability to craft their own cities in the landscape. I find any mention of “sustainability” linked to this city insulting and degrading. Such efforts are beyond simply “greenwashing,” but rather dipping a project in a vat of green tinted resin before dumping the waste into a landfill built over an aquifer.

But we can travel up 160 floors on elevators going 25mph to look out over a series of islands completed fabricated by humans! Aren’t you impressed? Quite simply, no. I already have the utmost of confidence in humanity’s abilities in science and technology without wasting $4 billion to make a giant spire in the desert. Perhaps there is a silver lining yet. Dubai’s very existence epitomizes the opposite of sustainability. Its logical course is destined for failure with 25% of its economy based on property and construction–a service that is limited and threatened by rising vacancies and a world recession. Such an urban downfall may help hit home the concept of such hollow endeavors and help justify the efforts of local cities to distance themselves away from new urban theme parks. Maybe the loss of billions of dollars in investment capital may help lenders not make the same mistake again when some group of innovators decide they want to build a resort at the bottom of the ocean or open golf course on the slopes of a volcano or plant a massive orange grove on the peaks of the French Alps.

Photo Credits: laughingsquid.com, kiwipulse.com

READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

By Alex Leff
Tico Times Staff | aleff@ticotimes.net

A new Costa Rican solar power plan will see the light of day thanks to an approximately $9 million gift from Japan, officials from both countries said this week.

The “Project to Introduce Clean Energy through Solar Electrical Generation,” proposed last year by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), will enable Costa Rica to have its first solar power plant, which officials expect will help steer Costa Rica closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by the year 2021.

The first phase of the plan is called the “Miravalles Solar Project,” which will join ICE geothermal and wind power plant in Miravalles, in the northwest province of Guanacaste. ICE officials said the state-run institute has enough land there to install a micro solar generator capable of cranking out 400 kilowatts, which will help provide electricity for rural communities in the region.

Phase 2 of the plan – the “Solar Sabana Pilot Project” – will be built at the ICE headquarters in the western San José neighborhood of Sabana Norte. Workers will install solar panels on the institute’s high-rise building to “show residents of the greater metropolitan area the possibilities offered by solar energy,” according to a statement from ICE.

The institute has not set a date for these projects to start, as both phases are pending final details of the donation, ICE said.

Costa Rican Foreign Ministry officials expressed gratitude for the donation from the “nation of the rising sun,” Japan.

“This cooperation will allow us to achieve 100 percent use of clean, renewable energy, reducing part of our carbon emissions, with the goal of being the first developing country to become carbon neutral by the year 2021,” Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno said at the signing ceremony.

The donation comes through Japan’s Cool Earth Partnership, which is a $10 billion program to “cooperate actively with developing countries’ efforts to reduce emissions, such as efforts to enhance energy efficiency,” according to the program’s Web site.

“I hope through our cooperation that friendly nations such as Costa Rica can have access to technologies developed in Japan to combat climate change and achieve their objectives,” said Japanese Ambassador to Costa Rica Hidekazu Yamaguchi, who signed the agreement Tuesday along with Stagno.

Renewable energy – whether through hydroelectric, geothermal or wind power – makes up 94.6 percent of the total energy generated for Costa Rican consumption, according to Roger Carvajal, director of ICE’s Corporate University Division.

From Inside Costa Rica

India’s state, Himachal Pradesh, would replicate the Costa Rica model for protecting Himalayan ecology by conserving the environmental conditions, said Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal at the concluding ceremony of the International Conference on Environment in San José, Costa Rica.

According to an official release, Prof Dhumal said Costa Rica and Himachal Pradesh had many a similarities in climatic conditions and added that mutual exchange of expertise was bound to result in achieving the objective of emerging carbon neutral State of the Country in near future.

Emphasizing that ecological conditions of the State had direct impact upon rest of the northern states of the country, he said out of total geographical area of 55,674 sq km, 37,033 sq km was under forest cover. Of the total 45 thousand plant species 3,295, making 7.32 per cent were in Himachal Pradesh.

Prof Dhumal said a major chunk of population of the state inhabited in rural area and the forests had been contributing significantly in absorption of the green house gases to maintain ecological balance in the northern region of the country.

The Chief Minister, while maintaining that Himachal Pradesh was leading in education in the Country with the highest literacy rate, he said people were aware about environment protection a an important subject.

by MikeChambersLive.com

Introduction

Critics who think that the U.S. dollar will be replaced by some new global currency are perhaps thinking too small.

On the world horizon looms a new global currency that could replace all paper currencies and the economic system upon which they are based.

The new currency, simply called Carbon Currency, is designed to support a revolutionary new economic system based on energy (production, and consumption), instead of price. Our current price-based economic system and its related currencies that have supported capitalism, socialism, fascism and communism, is being herded to the slaughterhouse in order to make way for a new carbon-based world.

It is plainly evident that the world is laboring under a dying system of price-based economics as evidenced by the rapid decline of paper currencies. The era of fiat (irredeemable paper currency) was introduced in 1971 when President Richard Nixon decoupled the U.S. dollar from gold. Because the dollar-turned-fiat was the world’s primary reserve asset, all other currencies eventually followed suit, leaving us today with a global sea of paper that is increasingly undesired, unstable, unusable.

The deathly economic state of today’s world is a direct reflection of the sum of its sick and dying currencies, but this could soon change.

Forces are already at work to position a new Carbon Currency as the ultimate solution to global calls for poverty reduction, population control, environmental control, global warming, energy allocation and blanket distribution of economic wealth.

Unfortunately for individual people living in this new system, it will also require authoritarian and centralized control over all aspects of life, from cradle to grave.

What is Carbon Currency and how does it work? In a nutshell, Carbon Currency will be based on the regular allocation of available energy to the people of the world. If not used within a period of time, the Currency will expire (like monthly minutes on your cell phone plan) so that the same people can receive a new allocation based on new energy production quotas for the next period.

Because the energy supply chain is already dominated by the global elite, setting energy production quotas will limit the amount of Carbon Currency in circulation at any one time. It will also naturally limit manufacturing, food production and people movement.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE