Noise Soundproofing vs Noise Cancelling Earbuds: Which One is Better for Work

We live in a noisy and dynamic environment. For that, we are striving that at least in our free time or when in office, we can have our peace and quiet. For that, there are numerous alternatives, such as renovating the office with soundproofing materials, that block the noise from our side as well as from other colleagues, or by some earbuds with noise cancellation options.

Wireless earbuds are pretty new to many people, but their popularity has grown in leaps and bounds over the last half a decade. They are among the recent innovations that have come at the right time- when people are desperate for peace and quiet. These earbuds now have advanced features such as the ability to block out noises so that users can enjoy their music in public spaces without the interference of unwanted background noises. They have the ability to lessen or eliminate car horn sounds, noises from chatty colleagues, or even music in the streets.

If this is the first time you are considering acquiring these advanced earbuds, you probably have come across two unfamiliar terms- noise soundproofing and noise-canceling earbuds. You are now curious to know how different the two are and which one is the best option for your noise-drowning needs. Well, they both reduce noise and the key difference is in how well they do it. They are also made of different soundproofing materials and with different technologies.

Nevertheless, it is important for businesses and organizations that constantly tend to boost and improve their workers’ productivity, to invest in offices that are soundproof from exterior noise and do not bother their workers.

There are multiple alternatives that companies can use to soundproof and absorb noise, some being more expensive and some more affordable. One affordable method that can be applied is using plants. Studies have shown that plants have a very high absorbing power of noise, where it leaves divert the noise and in this context absorb it. This, for businesses, presents an advantage, given that they also have benefits such as releasing oxygen and making the work environment look better. However, if the office does not have much natural light, make sure to use LED Grow Light, which will enable the plants to grow indoors without natural light.

How Soundproofing Earbuds Work

Noise soundproofing is the basic technology of drowning background noises. These earbuds work by sealing off your ear canal so that any extra ambient noise is blocked from accessing the ear canal. Your ear is isolated from your immediate surroundings.

How Noise Cancelling Earbuds Work

Noise cancellation does more than just isolate your ear. These earbuds come with a more advanced functional design that creates an anti-noise barrier around your ears. This technology emits signals that neutralize sound waves around your ear, so that no sound gets to your ear canal.

Which Earbuds are Better For Work?

Which wireless earbuds will work best for your needs: noise cancelling or noise soundproofing? In all fairness, both work impressively well in reducing noise. Each of them is unique from the other, so it is impossible to say that one is better than the other. We shall look at the differences that define each of them and then you will choose the one that best suits your preferences.

1. Noise reduction abilities

Soundproofing earbuds muffles sounds with an intensity of 30 decibels and below. Noise-canceling earbuds can muffle external sounds with an intensity of 85 decibels or even more. To give you an idea of what decibels mean, a human being speaking normally will produce a noise of 15-20 decibels. That is to mean that soundproofing earbuds will drown out noises in a chatty office, but they won’t be too effective in a busy airport. Noise-canceling earbuds will effectively cancel out an airplane that takes off with noises of around 80 decibels.

However, some low-cost noise-canceling earbuds are made from cheap soundproofing materials, so they allow more than necessary ambient noise to pass through. The active technology that helps these earbuds to reduce noise intensity cannot be 100% effective without quality soundproofing material. There are some high-end noise soundproofing earbuds that outdo low-cost noise-canceling earbuds in this regard.

2. Quality of sound

In this aspect, noise soundproofing and noise-canceling earbuds are almost at par. They both give you the best quality sound, both in noisy places and in isolated environments. Even if you aren’t fond of using earbuds when traveling or in the office, you can still buy the best budget noise-cancelling headphones for domestic use.

Ensure that you buy from reputable brands and dealers because cheap earbuds might not give you the best quality sound. Brands that manufacture earbuds using low-quality soundproofing materials sometimes exacerbate the noises instead of eliminating them.

3. Power Consumption

Because noise soundproofing earbuds are designed to block out external noise without canceling it, they are basically mechanical in nature. Noise-canceling earbuds, on the other hand, need electrical energy in order to create magnetic waves that then cancel out sound waves. They come with chargeable batteries that you have to charge your noise-canceling earbuds occasionally.

4. Price

As you can guess, maintaining noise-canceling earbuds is more expensive than maintaining soundproofing earbuds because of their difference in power consumption. The upfront cost of noise-canceling earbuds is also higher than soundproofing earbuds due to the extra technology they come with.

Conclusion

There you have it! As you can see, both earbuds are way better than wire earbuds. If not for anything else, they make the user appear sophisticated and cool. They both make your music sound pretty good too. Whichever decision you make, you can bet that you will get the best value for your money.

How Farmers Are Using Water Conservation

There is a quote attributed to Mark Twain: “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” Water has always been the first and most precious resource for any community.

Mark Twain would have seen this along the Mississippi River and the towns and farms it supplied. Then he would observe the role water played in the West when he followed the pioneers out to California and Nevada in the 1860s.

In modern times, no one knows better how vital water is to all of us than farmers. They need to keep their crops alive and flourishing but also be sure they are protecting their water source for all the dry seasons to come.

Farms, both big and small, are becoming examples for harnessing and preserving this life-giving resource.

100 Years of Water Use in Northern California

Farmers have come a long way in their ability to use water wisely. Take a typical family in Northern California. Many from this region have been farming the same 100 acres of land on the Sacramento River for 105 years.

Through three generations, the family has had horses, grapes, apples, nectarines, and apricots on the property. But the main crop has only changed once: peaches until the 1950s, and prunes to the current day.

The current farmers have a particular interest in water conservation. They have educated themselves on the best irrigation methods for crops in this area of the country.

Flooding the Crop

In the beginning, like all the farms in the area, farmers would water their crops with flood irrigation when the ground was dry. A pump would deliver water from a well into one field at a time. Water would stay in the field inside boundaries of built-up earth, and seep down to the roots.

Flood irrigation is simple and requires minimal equipment, but for most crops, it is an inefficient use of water. Often, it used about four acre-feet of water per year.

Sprinklers

To use less water and gain a little more precision about where the water went, farmers switched to a system of pipes and sprinklers. Workers would move large metal pipes from one section of the orchard to the next. They hooked the pipes up to the pump and pointed the spray directly onto the trees.

The sprinkler method used about three acre-feet of water per year. A significant improvement, but still not as efficient as they would like to be in a place where water supply is always at risk.

Hose and Drip

Now, the orchards used drip irrigation. The farmers lay flexible black roll pipe directly along the rows of trees, lining up the holes with the tree roots. Water goes only to the trees and is no longer watering all the weeds in the spaces between the rows.

The drip irrigation system has reduced water use to one acre-foot of water per year on some California farms. Combine this simple but efficient system with modern sensors to measure real-time water output, and every single drop of water is put to work.

Using Modern Tools to Measure Water

Finding the right method of water delivery for the land is the first and most significant step to managing your water source wisely. But modern-day farmers don’t stop there.

Tracking Where the Water Is

Farmers across the country use tools installed on their property to understand what the water is doing precisely on their land.

Ground sensors at one, two, three, and four feet deep in the soil track where the water level is below the surface. Ground sensors can be part of a tool such as a DTN ag weather station, which can send current moisture data and weather readings from each field.

A weather station can also tell the farmer what the soil temperature is, and how quickly the water is leaving their land and crops through evapotranspiration.

A pressure bomb can tell a farmer exactly how much water is available to a tree. Just before dawn, he takes a piece of plant and puts it inside the pressure bomb chamber. He then slowly adds pressurized gas until water comes out of the leaf or plant.

If it took too long for the pressure to extract water, the farmer knows his plants are not getting the supply they need. Taking a measurement predawn is usually the most indicative of how much moisture the plant has access to overall. However, farmers will often take a sample midday to learn about the stress level of the plant when the sun is the hottest.

Using Tools to Know the Weather

Every farmer knows the most valuable tool they have in conserving water is understanding the weather patterns in their area. The most efficient irrigation system is still wasting water if they spend one day saturating their crop, then watch the rain falling for free the next.

Organizations like the California Irrigation Management Information System will give access to weather data collected from a system of weather stations throughout a designated area. Farmers can learn things like:

  • How much water their kind of crop has used in their area
  • What the precipitation pattern has been in the past
  • What the weather is likely to do next.

Many farms see value in investing in weather stations directly on their property. Knowing precisely what the crop needs, and whether there will be rain soon, can save the farm thousands of dollars each day. And as more farmers become experts on what the water is doing on their land, they can work together to preserve the water in their area.

Taking Advantage of Water Education in Nebraska

The states of the Great Plains know how precious water can be. Eight states draw their water from the Ogallala Aquifer, stretching across 175,000 square miles. The U.S. Geological Survey states the aquifer level has dropped an average of 16 feet in the last several decades.

When the aquifer was being formed about 10 million years ago, it was fed by runoff into its western edge by the Rockies. That water source has since been closed off by erosion, and the water level depends solely on precipitation.

Farmers are Becoming Experts on Water Behavior

The farmers who depend on the Ogallala Aquifer know the urgency of using the water they have wisely. That’s why 1,500 farmers and cooperators have joined the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network (NAWMN).

The NAWMN is a knowledge-sharing group that tests out water-saving technologies. They share their experiences with types of irrigation, water sensors, erosion-reducing crops, and soil, among many other water-related topics. They are educating each other, and everyone who draws from the Ogallala aquifer will benefit.

Many farms in Nebraska use pivot irrigation to bring water to their crops. Long pipes on wheels suspended over that crop rotate around a center pivot, creating the circular fields easy to spot from an airplane.

Pivot irrigation has been around for 50 years, but low-pressure nozzles and water sensors in the ground are making them more efficient than ever before.

When the surface of the ground starts to look dry, it’s natural to think it’s time to begin supplementing the crop’s water supply. But if ground sensors are saying the roots are still drinking, the sprinklers can wait a few more days.

A farmer can save about $2,000 for every 2 inches of water he doesn’t use. And that water stays where it is, ready to use on an even drier day.

Backing up Instinct

Strong instinct has always been an indispensable trait of a successful farmer. Farmers who know their land, their crops and their weather will have a much better chance of success. Today’s farmers know that. They still rely on their gut, but thanks to modern technologies, they can make informed decisions better than ever before.

Considerations When Buying a Vacation Rental with Solar Panels

It’s possible that one of the properties you’re considering for purchase as a vacation rental will have solar panels already installed. This can be a positive marketing point for your property in today’s increasingly environmentally conscious world.

Installed correctly, solar panels can be aesthetically pleasing. Their presence is also one of the first things people will notice about a property. So, when you get to the stage of when you’re ready to start the financing process of investing in a particular vacation rental property with solar panels, here are a couple of things you’ll need to consider as a part of your vetting process.

vacation rental with solar system

How Were They Financed?

Your first consideration will be how the panels were financed. The easiest scenario is when the owner of the property financed the panels themselves. Solar panels can add a lot of value to the property. Although the value of the panels decreases with the age of the installation, newly installed panels can add up to nearly $30,000 of value to a home.

If possible, see if you can get an idea of what the previous owner’s utilities ran prior to installation of the panels, and after. This will give you concrete information about how much the panels are saving on the electric bills.

What is the Size of the System?

You’ll also want to have an inspector give you an idea of the size of the solar system. If the previous tenants worked from home and had several family members, the installation is probably more than adequate for a vacation rental property. A smaller system for one or two people might need enhancements. Lower utility bills will allow you to charge less for your property.

What if the Panels were Leased?

Sometimes the property owner doesn’t have the money upfront to pay for the panels, so they finance them by leasing. This situation is not necessarily something that should cause you to automatically pass on the property. It’s important to find out the age of the lease. It’s possible the finance period is almost over. In this case, the cost of taking over the lease will be minimal.

There are a couple of points open for negotiation here. You can work with the finance company to see if you can reduce the amount remaining on the lease. Or you could have the remaining amount on the lease included in the selling price. The cost of solar panels is expected to go down by as much as a third by 2024, so the amounts under consideration can be expected to be less as time goes on.

Have the Panels Inspected

As in any potential property purchase, having the panels inspected prior to signing on the dotted line is mandatory. You’ll want to get an overhead inspection of the panels, which can be done by drone. Make sure the drone has a thermal camera to check for an initial check for defects.

You’ll want to perform the solar panel inspection on a sunny day. This way any defects, such as hot spots, will be more easily detected. The optimum time for such inspections is in the morning or late afternoon, to reduce glare off of the panels. If the sun is directly overhead, you may get too much glare off them and the inspection won’t be able to show you anything.

If possible, do a second drone inspection with an RGB (visible light)  camera. This inspection will turn up the presence of debris on the panels. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It can simply mean that the panels are due for a cleaning, something that hopefully has been a part of the regular maintenance of the panels.

Is There Enough Sunlight?

Another aspect of existing solar panels to consider is whether there is adequate sunlight to support them. If the panels were installed in an area shaded by trees, you not only may not be getting the full benefits of them but may have more cleaning costs associated with them.

If they are shaded because of geographical features on the property, you also may not get the full benefit of the panels.

Previously installed solar panels are not necessarily a negative when considering investing in that property as a vacation rental. They can be a great marketing point for your property as well as aesthetically pleasing. Just be sure to look into how they were financed, and get them inspected for general condition. This will ensure the panels are in good working order prior to you taking over the property.

Renewables Market in MENA

MENA region has an attractive market for renewables due to abundant availability of solar and wind resources. According to a recent IRENA report, the region is anticipating renewable energy investment of $35 billion per year by 2020. Recently, the MENA region has received some of the lowest renewable energy prices awarded globally for solar PV and wind energy.

mena-renewables

Regional Developments

Among MENA countries, Morocco has emerged as a role model for the entire region. The government’s target of 2GW of solar and 2GW of wind power by 2020 is progressing smoothly with the commissioning of Nour-1 Solar project. Jordan and Egypt are also making steady progress in renewable energy sector.

As far as GCC is concerned, the UAE has also shown serious commitment to develop solar energy. The 100MW Shams CSP plant has been operational since 2014 in Abu Dhabi while 13MW Phase I of Dubai’s solar park was completed in 2013. In Saudi Arabia, the newly launched Vision 2030 document has put forward a strong regulatory and investment framework to develop Saudi clean energy sector which should catalyse renewable energy development in the country.

Renewables – A boon for MENA

Renewable energy has multiple advantages for MENA in the form of energy security, improved air quality, reduced GHG emissions, employment opportunities, apart from augmenting water and food security.

The business case for renewable energy proliferation in MENA is strengthened by plentiful availability of natural energy resources and tumbling solar PV technology costs which are leading to record low renewable power generation costs. The recent auction for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park 2 in Dubai yielded prices as low as 5.85 US cents per kWh which is one of the lowest worldwide.

Impact of Falling Costs

The falling costs will have a significant positive impact in the developing world where tens of millions of people still lack access to cheap and reliable supply of energy. Reducing costs will help MENA, especially GCC, to meet its target of steady transition towards renewable energy and thus reducing dependence on fossil fuels for power generation and seawater desalination.

The slump in renewable energy tariffs will also encourage utility companies in emerging markets to include more renewable energy in transmission and meet the targets set by respective countries. However, it should also be noted that there have been several instances where the actual renewable energy production failed to take place because of low bids.

Emerging Trends

Off-grid renewable energy technologies have tremendous potential to popularize clean energy among remote and marginalized communities across the world. Access to clean, reliable and relatively cheap energy from renewable resources, especially solar power, will usher in a new era in developing countries. Off-grid (or standalone) renewable power systems are already making a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of people across the developing world.

In recent years, Morocco has made remarkably swift progress in renewable energy sector.

In recent years, Morocco has made remarkably swift progress in renewable energy sector.

Advancements in battery energy storage have pushed this particular sector into media as well as public spotlight. With big industry names like Tesla and Nissan leading from the front, energy storage technologies are expected to make great contribution in transition to green grid powered by intermittent energy sources like solar PV, CSP, wind and biomass.

Concentrated solar power (CSP) has the potential to transform seawater desalination industry, one of the largest energy consumers in the Middle East. CSP offers an attractive option to power industrial-scale desalination plants that require both high temperature fluids and electricity.  CSP can provide stable energy supply for continuous operation of desalination plants, based on thermal or membrane processes. Leading CSP technology companies are already taking a keen interest in Middle East CSP market and rapid developments are expected in the coming years.

Key Hurdles to Overcome

Lack of strong regulatory framework, low renewable energy tariffs and weak off-take mechanisms are some of the issues confronting renewable energy projects in MENA. Regulatory framework in the GCC is in early stages and marred by heavy subsidy for oil and gas. The largest barrier to growth of solar sector in MENA has been the lack of renewable energy policy framework, legislations, institutional support, feed-in-tariffs and grid access.

The power sector in MENA is, by and large, dominated by state utilities which discourage entrepreneurs and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to enter the local markets. Lack of open and transparent market conditions in MENA are acting as deterrent for investors, technology companies and project developers.

Among regional countries, Jordan and Morocco have the most advanced legal infrastructure in place to support renewable energy projects, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Tips for New Entrants

MENA solar market is complex due to different electricity market structure and myriad challenges in each country. Different countries have different motivations for renewable energy. Solar companies who want to foray in MENA market must give special attention to land access, grid access, transparent licensing schemes, high-quality meteorological data, creditworthy customers, long-term off-take contracts, soiling of PV panels and related issues.

How Skip Bins Help in Effective Waste Management

Typically, dealing with a lot of wastes can be very overwhelming. Whether it’s food containers, plastic packaging, water bottles, hazardous chemicals, food wastes, and many more, these wastes can be a hassle if they’re not managed and disposed of properly. Not only that, but too much waste buildup in your property can be harmful to your health and the environment. For effective waste management, this is where the use of skip bins becomes beneficial.

By definition, skip bins refer to waste receptacles that can be used to remove a larger amount of wastes from a property. They can also be used for residential, industrial, and commercial purposes.

Thus, if you consider using skip bins for your rubbish, here’s how these receptacles can effectively help in your waste management efforts.

skip bins

1. Available In Various Sizes At Your Disposal

Generally, knowing the correct volume of your wastes can be very difficult. If you don’t know the amount of rubbish you’re dealing with, you might be unable to remove and dispose of them properly. Thus, if you’re looking to effectively manage all your wastes, then using skip bins in various sizes can be an excellent solution.

For example, if you want a significant volume of wastes to be eliminated from your premises, then using a bigger waste receptacle makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, if you’re only dealing with a small amount of rubbish, mini skips for Sydney residents or wherever you may be located can be a great option for effective waste disposal.

Remember, by using the right size of skip bins, you can speed up the disposal process and get rid of all your rubbish at once.

2. Can Help Keep You Safe

Waste management is crucial for your health. This is because most wastes contain chemicals and volatile materials that are toxic and harmful to the body. So, to ensure effective and safe waste management efforts, using skip bins can be the best thing to do.

Since these receptacles are stable and dependable, you can rest assured that wastes are handled properly by the experts. Moreover, by hiring skip bins, you’ll be working with specialists who are trained in doing the best waste removal methods in the most secure and safest way possible. This is especially true if you’re working on a construction site where the buildup of wastes may result in accidents and injuries. Hence, by having skip bins by your side, you can make the site safer for everyone involved.

3. They’re A Convenient Option

Effective and sustainable waste management for businesses and homeowners can be a complicated undertaking. This is especially true if you have no idea how and where to start. Fortunately, with the use of skip bins, the entire process of rubbish removal and disposal will become more convenient and smoother.

Typically, using skip bins is convenient since the skip company will deliver these waste receptacles to your location without hassle. Once you’re done with the disposal, the company will collect the bins after a certain period of time. With this kind of setup, you don’t have to get or return the skip bins by yourself. The skip bin company will handle your wastes, making waste management more effective and seamless.

4. Can Help Save You Time, Money, And Effort

In most cases, using skip bins means hiring a reliable skip bin company, like the Mobile Skips. But the good thing about the use of these waste receptacles is that they can help you save time, money, and energy. Instead of doing the dirty work of disposing your wastes on your own, you have other people to do the job for you.

All you need to do is place all your rubbish in the skip bins and the skip company will remove and dispose of them from your property. As a result, you can save some money on gas by not having to drive all your wastes to a landfill. Plus, you can save time and effort by not doing the job yourself.

5. Help Ensure Your Wastes Are Properly Disposed Of

Unless your work involves waste management and disposal, you may not know the best common practices in handling rubbish on your property. When this happens, you might dump all your wastes in the landfills, which isn’t the perfect way to dispose of them. This is where skip bins come to the rescue.

skip bins for effective waste management

By using skip bins from a reliable skip bin company, your wastes will be managed by experts. Instead of doing the disposal by yourself, you can rest knowing that professionals will handle all your wastes in the right way. For example, they can segregate your rubbish and bring some items to a facility for the recycling process. Also, they can make sure that some of your waste products won’t end up in the landfills.

6. They Can Generate More Space For Working

When dealing with home renovation, effective waste management plays an integral role in the success of the project. Generally, your entire workspace can quickly become messy and chaotic due to the accumulation of wastes during the construction process. When this happens, you might be unable to make your home renovations as efficient as they should be. This is one reason why skip bins are essential in effectively managing rubbish on your premises.

By accumulating all your wastes in the skip bins, you’re able to create more working spaces for your home renovation tasks. Always keep in mind that having less rubbish on a working site can make the whole project more efficient and your waste management practices more effective.

Bottom Line

Indeed, skip bins from a trustworthy skip bin company can be an ideal solution to eliminate wastes of all sizes. Whether you’re dealing with large or small wastes, these receptacles can effectively help your waste management efforts.

Therefore, if you consider using skip bins, keep this information in mind so you’ll understand their importance in waste removal and disposal. Due to their enhanced efficiency and durability, they’re popular among homeowners and businesses. Lastly, managing wastes doesn’t need to be complicated with the help of skip bins.

Top 5 Environmentally Friendly Construction Materials

Whether you are a custom home builder, or you are designing your own custom home, it’s worth your while to know about eco-friendly construction materials. Eco-friendly construction materials are becoming increasingly more important as more and more people are realizing the importance of creating a more sustainable world.

Eco-friendly construction materials are a great way to minimize the negative environmental impact that building a home may have. Additionally, homes that are constructed with sustainable building materials are increasing in popularity because of the vast amount of benefits that they have to offer.

An expert from a custom home builder in New Jersey pointed out, “There are a variety of benefits of using sustainable materials when building a home; the most notable is that green materials ultimately save the homeowner money down the line; in addition to the amount of waste that they [green materials] eliminate.”

Sustainable construction materials save homeowners money because they typically keep a house more insulated; cutting down on the use of heating and air conditioning systems, therefore using less electricity, gas, and oil. Below are some environmentally friendly construction materials to consider including in a custom home design.

Top Eco-Friendly Construction Materials

Eco-friendly construction materials should not only be sustainable, but they should also not cause any negative effects on the environment. Typical construction materials are detrimental to the environment because of the harsh chemicals they produce; directly causing air pollution. Or, they are detrimental because they use resources that are limited. Here are some safe alternatives to typical construction materials:

1. Hemp Concrete

Hemp concrete is a biocomposite material which is made up of hemp and a lime-based binder. Hemp concrete is a great alternative to regular concrete because it’s biodegradable and more sustainable.

Not only does hemp concrete act as an insulator and moisture regulator, but it is also extremely durable and will last just as long as regular concrete. Hemp concrete is a great sustainable material to include in your custom home design and will keep both cool and warm air, reducing the need to run heating and cooling systems, therefore also conserving energy.

2. Sheep’s Wool

Sheep’s wool is a great construction material because it can be regrown quickly and the sheep are not harmed in the process. Sheep’s wool can be used for its insulating benefits in ceilings, attics, and walls. In fact, sheep’s wool is a great insulator for both thermal and acoustic insulation purposes.

Though sheep’s wool is slightly more expensive than other insulation options, the longevity of this insulator is much longer and will reduce electricity bills significantly by keeping cool and warm air in.

3. Recycled Steel

Rather than using new steel during construction-which uses natural resources during production – consider using recycled steel. Recycled steel will produce less amount of waste in the environment, and will prevent the use of resources that are necessary to create steel.

Steel is relevant in the construction process, especially for beams that will hold up the house, therefore it’s practical to choose steel that is kind to the environment.

4. Bamboo

Bamboo is an eco-friendly building material that can be used for a number of different things. Some of the main benefits that bamboo has to offer include:

  • A durable surface
  • Strength to support other materials upon construction
  • It grows quickly, so is a very sustainable option

Bamboo can be used for both flooring and walls of a home and has a long lifespan, meaning, walls and floors that are designed with bamboo will not have to be replaced often, creating less waste in the environment.

5. Cork

Similar to bamboo, cork is a fast-growing material and is harvested from a living tree, so no trees need to be cut down in order to produce this material. Cork is most commonly used for flooring because of its resilience and durability. However, cork is another insulation option too because it is impermeable, meaning water will not make its way into it; it’s also soundproof.

Cork, if left uncoated, is naturally fire-resistant so it will not produce toxins if it is burned after replacing it with new cork later down the road.

Make Environmentally Informed Choices in Your Home

If you are a home builder or if you are simply a homeowner that wants to assist in the building process, it’s’ important to know how to make environmentally informed choices when it comes to custom home building. These eco-friendly building materials will not only benefit the environment, but they will also positively impact the homeowner. Keep these sustainable and green building materials in mind as you begin your custom home design.

Top Technologies and Practices for Sustainable Forestry and Agriculture

Innovative technologies can help improve the resilience of different industries. Agriculture and forestry are no exception. In this piece, you will find out whether you can take care of the health of the fields, detect common tree diseases promptly and save resources without harming the environment.

Sustainability and Technologies

At first glance, digital technologies and environmental sustainability are mutually exclusive concepts since common development factors do not link them. Technological changes are aimed at increasing production efficiency using artificial intelligence, IoT, and robotics. Environmental sustainability is promoted by a combination of several factors associated with geopolitical instability, deteriorating climatic conditions, and the environment.

The business will not cover all the needs of a growing population for food and services by simply increasing production. Social and environmental problems of the modern world can be solved only with the help of innovative technologies. The combination of digital innovation and environmental sustainability can help address these challenges. In addition, this combination is an excellent way for a business to stand out and consolidate its viability among clients and related organizations. Indeed, sustainable practices and digital technologies may be an integral part of any business. This combination can provide the company with higher income at lower costs while providing a positive customer experience.

Sustainable Forestry

Humanity needs the resources that the forest provides. Sustainable forestry involves  forest management and caring for its health. It is vital to save the forest as a separate ecosystem and habitat for many animals and so that the essential resources remain for future generations.

sustainable forestry

1. Forest Health and Forest Management

Various sustainable forest management practices are tailored for each area. One of the basic methods is to check the regeneration. It means that you need to make sure you have enough tree sprouts, natural seeds and seedlings.  Excessive populations of certain species of animals can lead to the destruction of young trees as they eat them. In such cases, people can install a fence. If there is little sunlight in the forest, some trees can be removed, as can weeds, which grow and take up a significant portion of the nutrients or water.

Sustainable forestry practices also include caring for wet areas and forest streams. Do not allow much soil to enter the water, as it can harm aquatic organisms. Large pipes should control rain flow to prevent erosion of exposed soil in areas where trees have been felled.

Caring for the health of the forest is another challenge for sustainable forest management. The extinction of a large number of trees testifies to the health problems of the woods. They can be caused by insect pests, diseases, wildfires, or unfavorable weather conditions. Sustainable forestry is concerned with promoting health and reducing negative health factors.

2. Precision Forestry

Precision forestry relies on various innovative technologies, including drones, soil sensors, drones, and laser scanning. However, this concept is not limited only to the introduction of technologies. Still, it means a transition from an analog control system to a system with operational control and digital data collection.

The technologies of precision forestry are designed to improve management. With their help, you can optimize the decision-making process, relying on advanced analytics. Better data collection goes hand in hand with more control over various operations, automation of production, and better meeting the needs of the forest, for example, when it comes to nutrients or soil moisture.

Sustainable Agriculture

The agricultural sector, as well as the use of forest resources, is necessary for humanity. However, the use of harmful farming practices, including the release of agricultural waste, is detrimental to the environment. Sustainable agriculture exists to minimize the negative impact on the environment. It offers the use of environmentally friendly technologies and methods.

compost-organic-waste-farming

The concept of safe food using organic waste generated compost is getting traction.

1. Irrigation

Smart irrigation systems can go beyond just providing timely watering and reporting soil moisture levels and temperatures so growers can effectively care for their crops. Many plants have specific requirements for these parameters. Special sensors inform farmers about the need to change the growing environment depending on the temperature conditions while reducing water loss.

Another serious cause of the irrigation system is hard water. The high levels of salt of hard water can clog up your irrigation system. Moreover, it can make the soil hard and unsuitable for use. Choose a sustainable technology to treat hard water for your irrigation system is one thing everyone should really consider.

2. Biotechnology

Thanks to biotechnology, breeders can develop plants with specific traits using more precise methods with faster results. Scientists are also working on plants that use water more efficiently and can thrive even in drought conditions. Biotechnology also contributes to higher yields, as breeders by editing the genes of plants make them more resistant to various diseases. It also has great potential in animal husbandry.

sustainable agriculture

3. Data and Software

The Internet of Things has a significant impact on the sustainability of agriculture, and it is through this technology, farmers can use intelligent irrigation systems or livestock health trackers. Software and sensors transmit data to a central system, from where farmers receive information. You can make more effective decisions based on the obtained data regarding the health of the crops, and therefore save resources.

8 Ways to Reduce Air Contamination in the Workplace

It’s unsurprising that air quality naturally goes downhill in workplaces. When there are too many people in too small a space, negative effects on the air that employees breathe are to be expected. Those can be exacerbated by building or remodeling projects nearby.

Poor indoor air quality may result in sneezing, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats. Medical experts caution that it may also cause respiratory disorders, asthma, and cancer to worsen and damage the nervous system over time.

Fortunately, no matter where you work, there are ways to improve air quality and provide safe working conditions. You can reduce the likelihood of illness and create a healthy work environment by implementing the following recommendations:

air contamination at workplace

1. Keep Everything Clean And Germ-Free

Mold spores, dust, debris, and toxins shouldn’t be present in the air in a work environment. Instead of using toxic cleaning products that pollute the air, consider going green with cleaning agents that releases no additional pollutants into the environment. Muddy shoes should be cleaned on a scraper mat before entering the building or office to prevent tracking dirt into the establishment.

Do the floors after you’ve finished vacuuming to get rid of any airborne pollutants. Microfiber mops and dusters collect dirt and debris more thoroughly than ordinary cloth, so it’s always a good idea to use them.

By keeping everything clean, you can improve your office and help the environment at the same time.

2. Replace The Air Filters

When air filters get dirty, they stop up the flow of air. Over time, dust and dirt will settle in the air ducts, and people within the property may be at risk. In general, you should change air filters every six months.

3. Maintain An Appropriate Humidity Level

Dust mites and mold can be reduced when the humidity is between 30% and 50%. You can use two types of equipment to maintain a comfortable humidity level in your office: dehumidifiers and air conditioners.

4. Spillage Should Be Cleaned Up At Once

Mold grows in damp environments, and exposure to it can result in allergies and infections. Because it’s more costly to get rid of mold than to prevent it, it’s imperative to wipe away spills as quickly as possible and to watch for signs of leakage in the office.

5. Make Use Of Air Purifiers

Turning to commercial-grade appliances such as dehumidifiers and air purifiers ensures indoor safety without having to employ a technician.

6. Change Air Filters Regularly

To prevent the return of airborne contaminants to the indoor environment, change the filter as often as needed. Blockage or restriction of airflow can increase moisture retention and the buildup of pollutants in enclosed spaces. That’s why it’s advisable to clean air filters in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system at least twice a year.

7. Make Sure There Is Adequate Ventilation

Open the windows whenever possible to let fresh air into the office and reduce stale air, but never turn off the HVAC system. Check the ventilation system in your workplace to ensure that it’s adequate. Ensure that there are no air leaks in the hoses or pipes within the property. Furniture, boxes, and cupboards placed in front of an air vent can create a stuffy office, so remove those at once.

air quality at the workplace

Having indoor plants is a great way to bring life into your workplace. They can help improve air quality as well because they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

8. Inspections Should Be Made At Least Every Month

Workplace air quality testing will give you the data and insights you need to determine if the methods you’re using to keep indoor air clean are effective. The tests evaluate airflow, humidity, propensity to damage, amount of odor, water in the air, leaks, and the degree of mold growth and contamination. An increase in the number of employees developing an illness or becoming allergic to a change in the environment may warrant scheduling a test.

If you notice any signs that your ducts are causing poor air quality or providing inadequate ventilation, call the professionals right away. With their help, you’ll find out precisely what has to be fixed to get your office back on track when it comes to health standards.

Takeaway

The health and happiness of your employees are directly tied to indoor air quality. That’s why you have to identify ways to make your office’s environment more conducive to productivity and wellness. These can be as simple as changing filters regularly, using air purifiers, and testing the HVAC system.

Biomass Energy in Nigeria: An Overview

Oil and gas accounts for over 70% of energy consumed in Nigeria, according to the World Bank. Considering this dependency on fossil oil and possibility of it running out in the future, there should be an urgent intervention to look into other ways to generate energy in Nigeria. The world is moving away gradually from fossil oil and aligning towards sustainable energy resources to substitute conventional fuel, Nigeria should not be exempted from this movement. Biomass, a popular form of renewable energy, is considered as a credible and green alternative source of energy which many developed and developing countries have been maximizing to its potential.

biomass-sustainability

Power generation and supply have been inadequate in Nigeria. This inadequacy of power limits human, commercial and industrial productivity and economic growth . What is the use of infrastructure without constant electricity? Even God created light first. Sustainable and constant supply of power should be one of the priority of government in nation development. Investing in biomass energy will cause an increase in the amount of power generated in Nigeria. Infact, biomass energy has the potential to resolve the energy crisis in the country in the not so distant future.

What is Biomass

The word biomass refers to organic matter (mainly plants) which acts as a source of sustainable and renewable energy. It is a renewable energy source because the plants can be replaced as oppose to the conventional fossil fuel which is not renewable. Biomass energy is a transferred energy from the sun; plants derives energy from the sun through photosynthesis which is further transferred through the food chain to animals’ bodies and their waste.

Biomass has the potential to provide an affordable and sustainable source of energy, while at the same time help in curbing the green house effect. In India the total biomass generation capacity is 8,700 MW according to U.S. of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, whereas the generating capacity in U.S. is 20,156  MW with 178 biomass power plants, according to Biomass Magazine.

Power Sector in Nigeria

Unfortunately, the total installed electricity capacity generated in Nigeria is 12,522 MW, well below the current demand of 98,000MW . The actual output is about 3,800MW, resulting in a demand shortfall of 94,500MW throughout the country. As a result of this wide gap between demand and output, only 45% of Nigeria’s population has access to electricity. Renewable energy contributed 19% of total electricity generated in Nigeria out of which biomass contribution is infinitesimal.

Electricity generation for Nigeria’s grid is largely dominated by two sources; non-renewable thermal (natural gas and coal) and renewable (hydro). Nigeria depends on non-renewable energy despite its vast potential in renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydro. The total potential of these renewables is estimated at over 68,000MW, which is more than five times the current power output.

Biomass Resources in Nigeria

Biomass can come in different forms like wood and wood waste, agriculture produce and waste, solid waste.

1. Wood

Electricity can be generated with wood and wood product/waste(like sawdust) in modern day through cogeneration, gasification or pyrolysis.

2. Agriculture Residues

In Nigeria, agricultural residues are highly important sources of biomass fuels for both the domestic and industrial sectors. Availability of primary residues for energy application is usually low since collection is difficult and they have other uses as fertilizer, animal feed etc.

However secondary residues are usually available in relatively large quantities at the processing site and may be used as captive energy source for the same processing plant involving minimal transportation and handling cost.

3. Municipal Solid Waste

Back then in secondary school, I learnt that gas could be tapped from septic tank which could further be used for cooking.  Any organic waste (like animal waste, human waste) when decomposed by anaerobic microorganisms releases biogas which can be tapped and stored for either cooking or to generate electricity.

Biomass can be used to provide heat and electricity as well as biofuel and biogas for transport. There are enough biomass capacity to meet our demand for electricity and other purposes. From climatic point of view, there is a warm climate in Nigeria which is a good breeding ground for bacteria to grow and decompose the wastes. There are plant and animal growth all year round which in turn create waste and consequently produce biomass.

In November 2016, The Ebonyi State Government  took over  the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) demonstration biomass gasifier power plant located at the UNIDO Mini -industrial cluster in Ekwashi Ngbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the State. The power plant is to generate 5.5 Megawatt energy using rice husk and other available waste materials available. More of these type of power plants and commitment are needed to utilize the potential of biomass fully.

Why Biomass Energy?

Since biomass makes use of waste to supply energy, it helps in waste management. It also has the potential to supply more energy (10 times) than the one produced from sun and wind. Biomass energy in Nigeria will lead to increase in revenue generation and conserves our foreign exchange. Increase in energy generation will yield more productivity for industries and the rate at which they are shutting down due to the fact that they spend more on power will be reduced to minimal.

Many local factories/companies will spring up and foreign investors will be eager to invest in Nigeria with little concern about power. Establishment of biopower plants will surely create more jobs and indirectly reduce the number of people living in poverty which is increasing everyday at an alarming rate.

Africa’s most populous country needs more than 10 times its current electricity output to guarantee supply for its 198 million people – nearly half of whom have no access at all, according to power minister Babatunde Fashola. Biomass energy potential in Nigeria is promising –  with heavy investment, stake holder cooperation and development of indigenous technologies. The deployment of large-scale biomass energy systems will not only significantly increase Nigeria’s electricity capacity but also ease power shortages in the country.

Plastic Waste Reduction Leads to Growth in Plastic Recycling Market

Wide-spread environmental concerns about plastic waste are leading to increased demand for the plastic recycling market that has various uses for plastic waste. At the same time, and in line with this growing need, an increased number of industries that produce plastic products have committed to reducing their use of virgin plastic and ensuring that the plastic they do produce is recyclable, reusable, or compostable.

Growth of the Plastic Recycling Market

Valued at around $43.73 billion in 2018, research indicates that the plastic recycling market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6% in revenue and 8.8% in volume by 2027. Findings are that rising environmental concerns will be the primary driving force along with the concerted global effort towards effective waste management and sustainability. Another is the growing awareness of the need for recycling plastic and the anticipated market growth of the PR market.

A new report released by Research and Markets in February 2020 gives a market snapshot in its executive summary and discusses the plastic recycling market by material type, source, application, and geography. Titled Global Plastic Recycling Market Size, Market Share, Application Analysis, Regional Outlook, Growth Trends, Key Players, Competitive Strategies and Forecasts, 2019 to 2027, it explores the roles of the many global and regional participants in the plastic recycling market and analyses anticipated acquisitions, partnerships, and collaborations. These, the report states, are likely to be the major strategies market players will follow in an endeavor to expand their geographic presence and market share.

An older report published mid-2018 gave a slightly lower CAGR for the period 2018 to 2023 of 4.3%. This report, Global Plastic Waste Management Market 2018 by Manufacturers, Regions, Type and Application, Forecast to 2023 stated that it would grow from an estimated $27,1000 in 2017 to $34,900 in 2023.

Global Focus

When research for the new report was carried out during 2018, the Asia-Pacific region including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, had the highest market share in plastic recycling. This was attributed to the fact that the region has the largest share in the generation of plastic waste and is also the biggest plastic waste importer.

However, Europe was pinpointed as a region poised to become the fastest-growing in the plastic recycling market due to increasing government initiatives and the improvement of recycling facilities in this part of the world.

While the report covers at least 16 companies involved in plastic recycling globally, the Hungarian MOL Group has been highlighted as a result of its acquisition of Aurora, a German recycled plastic compounder company. MOL is a well-established supplier of virgin polymers and was motivated by its Enter Tomorrow 2030 strategy that aims to move its business from a traditional fuel-based model to a higher value-added petrochemical product portfolio. More specifically, MOL intends to strengthen its position as a supplier in the sustainable plastic compounding segment of the automotive industry.

The older report focused on plastic waste management not only in the Asia-Pacific region but also in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Use of Recycled Plastic

In terms of plastic materials, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) had the biggest market share in 2018. The reason given for this was a rapid surge in demand for PET and HDPE for the manufacturing of packaging. Hopefully, this won’t increase the production of PET and HDPE, but will rather help to get rid of waste.

As the CEO of Unilever, Alan Jope, said in a press statement late 2019: “Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment.” He was announcing Unilever’s commitment to halve its use of virgin plastic, reduce its use of plastic packaging, and dramatically step up its use of recycled plastic by 2025. They would also help to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells – which will amount to about 600,000 tonnes per year, he said.

plastic-wastes

 

Additionally, technological advances in the plastic recycling industry have led to other less expected uses including the manufacture of denim clothing.

Realizing the environmental impact production of denim clothing has, Levi Strauss & Co. has taken bold steps to reduce its use of water and chemicals in cotton and cotton-clothing production, and about a decade ago, the company launched its much more sustainable Water<Less range of jeans. In 2013, Levi’s used dumped plastic bottles and food trays to make 300,000 jeans and trucker jackets for its spring collection. Of course, not the entire product was made from plastic, but it was guaranteed that at least 20% came from recycled plastic content.

Many other items are also made from recycled plastic, some with more plastic content than others. They include bags, rugs and mats, blankets, bottles, planters, dog collars, shoes, decking, fencing, and outdoor furniture.

The Future of Plastic

While many people talk about plastic as a material that should be eradicated, it does have remarkable uses as Alan Jope implies. But there is a dire need to change our thinking. The irony is that when recycled plastic was invented it was used to try and solve environmental problems like reducing the hunting of elephants for ivory and to provide protective sheaths for electrical wiring.

There is undoubtedly too much virgin plastic being produced worldwide and during the process, there are too many other natural resources being depleted. Added to this, too many consumers have no knowledge or concern about the use and disposal of plastic products. They simply don’t care!

We, as a global nation, need to focus more on the reuse, recycling, and remanufacture of plastic, which is exactly what plastic recycling companies can do so successfully.

Ultimately, we need to eradicate plastic waste by making it useful, and there is no doubt that the mechanical engineering sector is well positioned to find solutions.