Going to the Beach This Summer?

#NaturePBS wants us to notice nature at the beach this summer. Their suggestions:

  • Collect (photographs) of sand crabs and take note of how many you find
  • Survey the shorebirds and identify the species in the area
  • Watch the waves for sea creatures feeding close to shore

Even better? Use your iNaturalist app to record your observations to the database.

Hurricane Season: June 1 – November 30

“The question is which is more expensive? Building resilient homes or rebuilding them all post-disaster?”

Craig Fugate, former Florida Director of Emergency Management and FEMA head under Barack Obama

Jalandhar Can See the Himalayas for the First Time in 30 Years

The Covid-19 epidemic is currently dominating the news, conversations and our everyday lives.

With our graphic we wanted to spread a little optimism and present three facts that give us a bit of courage and help us feel more positive at this time. Our designer Raphael Hammer has accordingly created an animated graphic that gives some insight into a better world.

Johannes Laakmann

It is sad that it took a global pandemic of a novel coronavirus to show us what is possible, but it is encouraging to know that some issues can improve rapidly when we change our behavior.

City of Miami Passes Fertilizer Ordinance

The Miami City Commission has approved an ordinance to limit the type, amount and location of fertilizer use within city limits.

The ordinance aims to combat the negative secondary and cumulative effects of excess nutrients in Biscayne Bay and water bodies within the city, which are caused by fertilizer runoff. The proposed legislation is based on independent studies and with research from 85 municipalities and 32 counties that have passed fertilizer ordinances since 2007.

The Ordinance sets guidelines for the amount of fertilizer allowed, both commercial and non-commercial, in the City of Miami. It mandates that fertilizer can only be applied to actively growing turf. It also designates fertilizer-free zones 15 feet from bodies of water.Another aspect of the ordinance focuses on the regulation of nitrogen-releasing fertilizer in most forms, as well as even more rigorous phosphorus regulations.

City of Miami

The ordinance, co-sponsored by Ken Russell from District 2, Manolo Reyes in District 4, and Mayor Francis Suarez, has received strong support from the Sierra Club Florida, Ocean Conservancy, Miami Waterkeeper.

University of Miami Student Housing Gets Green Roofs

GreenRoofs.com, an online media company, just released a “Featured Projects” video showcasing AquitectonicaGeo’s 46,785 square feet of vegetative roof at University of Miami’s new Lakeside Village student housing.

University of Miami Lakeside Village Student Community Housing

The $153 million, 12-acre Lakeside Village incorporates 25 interconnected buildings snaking around courtyards and outdoor spaces overlooking Lake Osceola at the UM’s Coral Gables campus. Amenities include recreational spaces, study areas, a large flexible exhibition space, an auditorium, a classroom, a multi-use pavilion and, of course, housing for 1,115 students.

The University of Miami’s new Lakeside Village student community housing demonstrates some of the best aspects of environmental sustainability in the built environment, as well as some of the most challenging scenarios. With its location on a sensitive coastal watershed in a hurricane zone, every aspect of the building operations must be accountable to the environment.


Some of the sustainable features being incorporated into UM’s Lakeside Village:

  • The village’s green roofs reduce and slow down water runoff, provide food for pollinator species of animals, naturally insulate the building, and absorb carbon dioxide to clean the air and help regulate the climate
  • Insulated walls and enhanced window glazing help to regulate the interior temperature without relying on cooling or heating systems
  • Innovative heating and cooling systems are designed to condition and filter the air as well as re-purpose it for other uses throughout the facility
  • Existing trees and plant life were evaluated and, when possible, were incorporated into the landscape of Lakeside Village or located elsewhere on campus or in the surrounding local area

Innovative design features such as rooftop green spaces, a rain garden and expected LEED Gold Certified construction will support the sustainability initiatives of our campus and local communities.

University of Miami

According to UM Student Affairs New Student Housing, Lakeside Village is expected to open for students in August 2020. University of Miami’s Centennial Village, the second phase of new student housing, will begin this year and be completed in 2025.

Architect: Arquitectonica
Landscape Architect: Arquitectonicageo
Project Manager: Um Facilities Operations & Planning
Project Advisor: Brailsford & Dunlavey
Builder: Moss & Associates
Civil Engineer: Edwards and Partners
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti
Mep Engineer: Hngs Engineers
Sustainability / Commissioning: Sequil Systems, Inc.
Waterproofing Membrane: Henry Company
On-Structure Vegetation Components Supplier: Green Roof Outfitters
Green Roof Installation: Greenrise Technologies
Roof Installation: Paragon Painting and Waterproofing

USGBC Video: A Day in the Life of LEED

The U.S. Green Building Concil invites you to “discover all of the places where you experience LEED – from your home and local school to where you work and where you play. LEED spaces are everywhere, and there’s a LEED rating system for every type of building project.”

“A Day in the Life of LEED” follows several people through their day to explore some of the features that make a building green:

  • Daylighting
  • Low-VOC materials
  • Thermal comfort controls
  • Indoor water use reduction
  • Acoustic performance
  • Quality views
  • Transit access
  • Open space
  • Preferred parking for electric vehicles
  • Design for active occupants
  • On-site renewable energy sources: solar
  • Water-efficient landscaping
  • Recycled materials
  • Daylight control
  • Lighting controls
  • Solid waste management
  • Energy-efficient appliances

For more information about LEED and the U.S. Green Building Council


“People think of Tesla as an eclectic car company but the whole purpose of Tesla was to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy.”

Elon Musk

Defense of Our Resources

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?

Robert Redford

USA in “Top Ten” for Premature Pollution-Related Deaths

In a new study that will surprise absolutely no one, the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAPH) found that pollution kills.

The new data shows pollution still to be the largest environmental cause of premature death on the planet, killing 8.3 million people in 2017,2 or nearly one death in seven. These deaths are caused by exposure to toxic air, water, soil, and chemical pollution globally.

The GAPH report updates and expands on results of a similar study published in October 2017 – The Lancet Global Commission on Pollution and Health Report.

Diseases linked to pollution still disproportionately kill the poor and vulnerable; and is a leading cause of premature death in many smaller low and middle-income countries. That said, the United States makes the “Top Ten” in sheer number of premature pollution-related deaths.

The United States, the world’s third most populous country with 325 million people, makes the top 10 list by virtue of its size, while ranking 132nd in the number of deaths per 100,000 people. In the U.S., air pollution is responsible for more than half of the pollution-related premature deaths.

Pollution kills three times as many people a year as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. Pollution is responsible for 15 times the number of deaths caused by war and other forms of violence each year. In the most severely affected countries, diseases associated with pollution account for more than one death in four.

The GAPH report categorizes pollution “as modern and traditional”, with modern pollution resulting “from industrialization and urbanization and includes ambient air pollution, soil and chemicals pollution, and pollution in the workplace. These forms of pollution are increasing.” Traditional pollution, on the other hand, “refers to indoor air pollution, largely caused by poor ventilation and smoke from cook stoves and heating fires, and water pollution from unsafe sanitation.” The report notes that while traditional pollution is falling, “poor water sanitation and contaminated indoor air are major killers in the world’s poorest nations.”

Traditional pollution, which closely correlates with poverty, improves as economies grow and living standards rise.

I think the saddest part of this new study is not nothing has changed since the earlier Lancet Commission report was published. According to GAPH, that report had three major messages: Pollution is the largest environmental threat to health; pollution has been severely neglected and has not received adequate attention at private or government levels; and, most telling, pollution can be controlled with solutions that already exist.

An awareness that approximately one in seven deaths in the world is pollution-related should in itself be an immediate call to arms for civil society and government actors alike. Actions to mitigate pollution and implement solutions should be urgently undertaken. However, despite pollution’s substantial effects on human health (as well as on the economy and the environment), pollution mitigation remains in large part neglected, especially in low- and middle-income countries.