Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week's most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us -- it's the Week in Green.
Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast in the fall of 2012, causing widespread devastation and billions of dollars in damages -- and future superstorms will likely be worse. But the US government is doing something about it, providing nearly $1 billion in federal funding for projects that will make the coast more resilient in the face of climate change. HUD announced six winning proposals this week, and they include some of the world's top design firms. OMA, the firm founded by Rem Koolhaas, received $230 million to rebuild the damaged areas of Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken and protect them from future superstorms. Bjarke Ingels' BIG Architects was awarded $335 million to create a series of protective planted berms and flood walls in lower Manhattan's flood zones to make them more resilient to storm surges. SCAPE/Landscape Architecture won funding for its Living Breakwaters project, which will provide a buffer against wave damage on Staten Island. A team from MIT also won funding for its plan to transform and protect the Meadowlands basin in New Jersey and expand current marshland restoration efforts. And Walter Meyer has developed a proposal for creating a 50-acre nature park with sunken forest that could protect the Rockaways from future storms.
Continuing with the theme of disaster preparedness and resilience, this week Inhabitat took a look at Intershelters, prefab dome homes that can be assembled in less than a day, providing instant shelter for up to five people. In other green design news, MIT Media Lab has created a motorized and compact "home in a box" that can make a 200-square-foot space feel like a room three times larger. Best of all? The room expands and contracts with a wave of your hand or the sound of your voice. Aprilli Design Studio has drawn up plans for Urban Skyfarm, a massive tree-like vertical farm that provides food and renewable energy for urban dwellers. At this year's Venice Biennial of Architecture, Zaha Hadid and several other leading architects unveiled Titled Antarctopia, a pavilion that explores man's relationship with Antarctica by showcasing present and future models of living in the polar continent.
Could airplanes of the future be powered by nothing more than the sun? A pair of Swiss aviators thinks so. Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the men behind the Solar Impulse airplane, recently completed a successful maiden flight of the Solar Impulse 2. Next year, the two men plan to fly the solar-powered plane around the world. In other exciting aviation news, Terrafugia is seeking $30 million in funding so it can begin to produce its flying cars by as soon as 2016. But the most practical (and greenest) mode of transportation is still the trusty bicycle, and France recently rolled out a plan to pay people to ride their bikes to work. In the US, eight states just formed an alliance to drastically cut emissions by boosting the number of zero-emission vehicles on the road to 3.3 million by 2025. And electric carmaker Tesla announced this week that it will tweak the Model X crossover vehicle to make it look better (and make it more appealing to the ladies).
Ocean plastic is a major problem, but we're only beginning to understand the full extent of it. Canadian scientists have announced the discovery of a new type of rock made from the scraps of melted plastic waste and ocean debris. The best way to limit plastic waste is to stop using the stuff. In Germany, a pair of entrepreneurs is preparing to launch the country's very first zero-waste supermarket. In 3D printing news, the team at AKEMAKE has just unveiled Spirula, the world's first 3D-printed speaker that's made entirely from wood. Can you imagine a world in which you could forgo baggage fees, and email your luggage to yourself? Finnish designer Janne Kyttanen suggests that in the future we could use 3D printers to produce our clothes and other necessities at travel destinations. On the green design front, Inhabitat got a window makeover with the help of window-covering company Decorview. In Lego news, a group of schoolchildren and workers in Hungary teamed up to create the world's tallest Lego tower, shattering the previous record set by a group of high school students in Delaware. Lego has also announced plans to expand its collection of female minifigs by creating a set of female scientists. And if you're looking for a way to use your smartphone more productively, Inhabitots recently gave the (free) group text-messaging service GroupMe a test drive.