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Science x Kickstarter Hackathon was held Feb. 28 and March 1 at the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The weekend was dedicated to collaboration among scientists, artists, designers and writers, and bringing those ideas to life. Kickstarter is a website to help fund creative projects through pledges and donations.

At this particular event, there were 16 projects that people could sign up for to help support a team in need. On Saturday, all 16 teams presented their projects:

Horyou found it interesting to learn about the projects and how dedicated the team members are to their success. With the help of Kickstarter and participants of this event, we hope to see these projects flourish and gain the exposure they need. Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 3.12.00 PM “We’re delighted by the diversity of the projects that were selected for this event,” said Francois Grey, coordinator of the Citizen Cyberscience Centre. “There’s everything from artificial intelligence for sorting trash to laser cooling for detecting antimatter, and from studying the genetics of beer to GPS-enabled harnesses for rescue and mine-sniffing dogs. (Citizens Cyberscience Centre)”

Thank you to Francois Grey from CERN for inviting us to this fantastic event.

New generations of investors and consumers are driving the change

Horyou is a media partner of Doing Good, Doing Well

We’re in the middle of a transition. While baby boomers are retreating both as business leaders and investors, money is changing hands. And so is power. Millennials are taking over, along with their desire to bring positive impact on society and the planet.

Organized by MBA students from IESE Business School in Barcelona, the Doing Good, Doing Well Conference is in its 17th edition, yet the debate about impact investing and businesses for good had never been so palpable. “All the stakeholders are involved. The pressure for change is coming from everywhere”, said Pedro Goizueta, Investor Relations and Operations Director at Global Social Impact. The real shift here is in the word “investor”. There’s a demand for transparency, reporting and real proof of impact so as to avoid greenwashing. Impact businesses are utilizing performance indicators to speak to investors.

The transformation started as an answer to the demands of a new generation of consumers. “If all of us stop buying plastic bottles, the industry will come up with an alternative solution in less than one month”, said Rocío Alcocer, founder and CEO of TAPP Water. A survey conducted by the ING financial institution is a good indicator of consumer power: 38% would actively stop buying products if they are not environmentally responsible. The rate is even higher among millennials: 48%. The action followed a profound distrust of traditional capitalism: 73% of people express a desire for change, and 56% feel that capitalism does the world more harm than good.

Hence businesses have started to rethink their purposes. “Capital is being reassigned. Large oil companies are investing in renewable energy while car manufacturers are launching electric vehicles. Part of the assets are being shifted to sustainable investments with a long term view”, says Fernando de Roda, co-founder at Greenward Partners. The example is also coming from banks and investment funds – players like BlackRock – the global investment manager which launched a myriad of high risk sustainable funds -, and pension funds, such as the Spanish VidaCaixa and Citi, are publicly defending impact investing as a smart long-term investment option.

Technology has been a good ally when it comes to innovation and impact measurement. “It will democratize investments and lead to impact investing for everyone”, said Enrique Albarado, Head of Technology of Bamboo Capital. “It brings transparency”, claimed Fernando de Roda. Surely, It will help sustainable businesses – one of the biggest challenges to impact investing, according to the panellists – move faster. “Short-term return goals are a major problem”, insisted Financial Times reporter and producer of the digital platform Moral Money Billy Nauman. In his opinion, society should swiftly solve the more important problem: the environmental one. “There’s potential, but we’re not making progress to be anywhere near the 1,5-degree commitment. We’re moving, but not fast enough and we need to get big assets involved”, he said. It’s a matter of sustainability at its roots: to ensure that we still have businesses in the future.

 

Horyou is a media partner of Doing Good, Doing Well

 

How a technology initially designed to entertain is now changing urban landscapes

Block by Block is a collaboration between UN Habitat and Mojang

A popular game for kids and teens has turned out to be the inspiration behind smart city policies around the world. Thanks to a UN collaboration with a computer software company, citizens of all ages and backgrounds in places like Mexico, Haiti, Kenya and Gaza are literally playing an important role in redesigning public space.

Block by Block started as an initiative to get citizens more involved in the planning of public spaces through Mojang’s Minecraft computer game. Directly supporting the SDG11 (inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities), it gave tools to community members so they would develop plans that architects and governments could turn into reality. Since then, it has spread to a range of countries, from Vietnam to Haiti, Mexico and Somalia.

Known as a “digital Lego”, Minecraft was adapted to real-life cities, where people can suggest improvements and start building models for their communities.

In Kenya, the program started in 2017 as a way to bring refugees and locals closer together. The idea was to develop their design skills using the game and organize visits to physical sites that needed improvement. Even people with poor computer skills could learn quickly, due to the recreational nature of the project. Then, they would discuss the project and come up with ideas, many of them economically feasible and environmentally friendly. Some of the participants suggested tree-planting in order to provide more comfort and shade to the community and solar lights for clean energy – both projects duly implemented.

In Vietnam, the project has taken a strong gender approach. Girls were the main affected group, as they commute several miles every day to go to school, facing many safety challenges. Dark corners and dangerous passages were some of the problems they faced, and the solution came in the form of improved signage, lighted walkways and safe spaces like women-only coffee shops and shelters.

In addition to fostering collaboration, the Block by Block initiative also serves an important social function: that of developing computer skills in endangered communities and empowering minorities like women and refugees. Regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, digital technology is inclusive and for all; it leaves no one behind.

It’s time to share good news about one of the most feared diseases

New technologies and discoveries are making cancer a treatable disease

I remember when I was little, my parents and grandparents would never say the word “cancer”. It sounded like a death threat, a condition so serious that, if only mentioned out loud, could contaminate others. Time has passed and even they started to fear it less: my grandmother had breast and skin cancer and a long, healthy life after treating it; my father-in-law is in remission from a prostate cancer and is planning to go on his third transatlantic trip, confident about what the future might bring. Although cancer remains a serious disease that should be swiftly treated and carefully monitored, the latest discoveries and technologies regarding detection and treatments had made it less terrifying. And on this World Cancer Day, we would like to share some good news:

  • Cervical cancer detection and prevention: more than 100 countries have successfully introduced the vaccine against HPV. It gives a very positive prospect to future cases of cervical cancer, knowing that teenagers are the vaccines’ target audience.

  • Liquid Biopsies: widely used to detect prostate and ovarian cancer cases through a blood test, the liquid biopsy is less invasive and painful than current detection techniques as colonoscopy, needle biopsy and mammography. The FDA has just approved liquid biopsies for lung cancer – and a wider use is to come.

  • Medical cannabis: in 2002, the Netherlands have pioneered the implementation of medical cannabis access programmes to cancer patients. More recently, other European countries have given the green light for this complementary treatment, as well as many US states and countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

  • More drugs available: Cambridge scientists have discovered that more than 50 approved drugs that were not traditionally used to treat cancer have capabilities to kill cancerous cells without harming healthy ones. The researchers found that drugs developed for treating diabetes, reducing inflammation and controlling alcohol addiction were among those with good potential for treating cancer.

  • Recovering capacity: a recent discovery by UK researchers shows that our body has an impressive capacity of recoverage from damage. They found that the lungs of ex-smokers can quickly regenerate and hence reduce the risks of developing cancer.

 

Do you have any good news to share on this World Cancer Day? If so, let the Horyou Community know about it and spread a positive light!

How an EU directive – together with the will of consumers – is leading companies to change sourcing and manufacturing strategies

Plastic pollution in the ocean

How to live without plastic? The material has been increasingly present in our daily lives for many decades: according to the European Commission, its global production has increased twentyfold since the 1960’s. At the same time, it has become a vital material in our economy as it causes serious impacts in the environment, from its origin to its end of life.

Launched in 2018, the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy is an ambitious document that aims to transform the way businesses and consumers use this resource. The lifecycle of the products that use plastic in their manufacturing is a big concern – from design to disposal, companies should be aware of the impact they cause on the environment. It means that more businesses and consumers are looking for more sustainable options, like recyclable plastic, refillable or reusable options and post-consumption traceability.

The document sets bold targets for Europe by 2030. The 10-single use plastic products that today constitute 70% of marine litter are in the spotlight and should be banned by then. Also, all plastic packaging placed on the EU markets should be either reusable or recyclable in a cost-effective manner.
Following the directive, manufacturers of plastic have joined in a big movement lead by PlasticsEurope, a Pan-European association that aims to change the face of this not very well reputed industry. In this spirit, they designed the ‘Plastics 2030 – Voluntary Commitment’, focusing on increasing the reuse and recycling of plastic, and preventing plastic leakage into the environment, as well as accelerating resource efficiency. It will lead to a 60% rate of reusing and recycling plastic packaging by 2030, and a 100% rate in 2040.

In this scenario, new materials are gaining popularity among consumers – ocean waste plastic, post-consumer recycling and bio-based plastic made from coffee beans, sugar cane and other non-carbon sources, are rising as alternatives to traditional plastic.

Global players like Unilever – that will cut by half their use of virgin plastic by 2025 – and sustainable trendsetters like Lush – that started launching free-packaging stores earlier this year – are committing to the strategy to offer more eco-conscious alternatives to consumers.

Lead by consumers’ demand, governments’ commitments and businesses’ efforts, sustainable innovation is rising as an alternative to the “plastic problem”.

Estudo bioclimático, um olhar necessário na arquitetura

* Marcos Cardone

O foco da arquitetura bioclimática é a relação com o fatores climáticos e as peculiaridades da natureza

Integrar o homem ao meio ambiente, causando o menor dano aos recursos naturais, tem sido um desafio para diversos setores, e com a Arquitetura não é diferente.

Encontrar soluções eficazes de sistemas construtivos, que levem em conta a sustentabilidade, ganha espaço nos conceitos de Arquitetura Sustentável, Verde ou Eficiente, que procuram realizar esta conexão com o meio ambiente, mas nem sempre seguem o mesmo caminho. E, neste contexto, temos uma grande oportunidade de fazer alterações impactantes, na maneira como projetamos e construímos instalações de assistência à saúde.

A Arquitetura Bioclimática é um bom exemplo desta diversidade. Seu principal foco é  a relação com os fatores climáticos e com as peculiaridades da natureza, em determinada localização geográfica. A ideia é respeitar e agregar esses elementos à construção, para assegurar maior conforto para as pessoas e menores prejuízos para o meio ambiente. É encontrar o equilíbrio num projeto que considera os mecanismos naturais, aliados às técnicas e tecnologias que potencializam seus efeitos, a favor do bem-estar do indivíduo.

Esta linha de trabalho surgiu na década de 60, com os irmãos Victor e Aladar Olgyay, precursores dessas discussões e responsáveis pelas primeiras referências da área, os livros “Design with Climate” e “Architecture and Climate” e também criadores do termo bioclimatism. Há, porém, controvérsias nos que defendem que o termo se limita apenas a algumas características do projeto e não à sua essência.

Marcos Cardone

Impasses à parte, hoje há ótimos exemplos, no mundo, da aplicabilidade e bons resultados da Arquitetura Bioclimática. Em sua maioria, são obras funcionais, contemporâneas e que se adaptam ao meio ambiente de forma ímpar, respeitando a projeção de espaços, visando sempre propiciar conforto e qualidade de vida.

Uma das metas é se valer dos recursos que a natureza oferece, para reduzir o consumo de energias não renováveis ou poluentes e encontrar maneiras de aproveitar estes fatores para ampliar a eficiência na obra. Quando se pensa em lixo há outro desafio: o de diminuir o desperdício e sua geração.

Ao se traçar um projeto de Arquitetura Bioclimática deve sempre se optar por materiais que não agridam o meio ambiente. Neste cenário, a tecnologia entra como uma aliada, na hora de definir soluções que podem contribuir para eficiência do próprio projeto e a redução de custos do empreendimento.

Esta harmonização do ambiente externo natural ao interno, ao ser construído, tem exigido dos profissionais mais estudos e conhecimento de áreas, que vão além do seu dia a dia, como meteorologia, por exemplo. Na Arquitetura em Saúde, os projetos que se valem dos conceitos da Arquitetura Bioclimática, as exigências são ainda maiores, pelas peculiaridades dos hospitais, logística de atendimento, fluxo de trabalho do corpo clínico e bem-estar do paciente.

A expansão de um hospital, por exemplo, deve, primeiramente, ser pensada na melhor adequação do edifício ao meio ambiente, considerando a eficiência energética e condições ideais de iluminação e sombreamento.

A topografia do terreno é outro aspecto que pode contribuir na construção de um projeto, com foco na sustentabilidade do edifício, ao se ter como meta a menor movimentação de terra, uma solução que contribuiu para a redução do custo da obra, ao mesmo tempo em que propicia melhores resultados estéticos, uma vez que tornou a edificação mais integrada ao perfil natural do lote.

A variabilidade ou estabilidade do clima é fundamental, por se ter mais ou menos horas de incidência de Sol na edificação ou em um dos seus lados, pois pode ser determinante no melhor aproveitamento da captação de luz natural e ventilação, com o uso de amplos panos de vidro, como uma das alternativas. Cores claras na fachada também contribuem no conforto térmico, pois estas tonalidades absorvem menos irradiação solar. A vegetação no entorno é outro fator positivo neste aspecto. Tudo sempre avaliado com cautela, dentro das necessidades e viabilidade da obra.

É importante se ter em mente que os projetos que se norteiam pela Arquitetura Bioclimática respeitem as características do local, e potenciais ações da natureza, como a circulação dos ventos, que interferem no resfriamento ou calor dos ambientes do edifício; a posição do Sol e sua influência no conforto térmico, aquecimento natural e iluminação, além da diversidade do clima nas diferentes regiões: montanhosas, vales ou centros urbanos.

O desafio é adotar soluções nem sempre caras ou inacessíveis, mas inteligentes, numa busca contínua da harmonização das construções com o meio ambiente.

Marcos Cardone arquiteto titular da Cabe Arquitetos

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