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Climate Watch in briefs, December 15 2023

Sunny side up

This year, in New York State, a medical supplies company has installed at their distribution centre the largest rooftop solar installation project ever. With the capability to power 1,600 homes annually, this initiative derives 7.2 megawatts of energy from its 17,000 solar panels. It’s part of New York State’s plan to harness the sun’s energy to reduce its annual carbon footprint by 6,000 metric tons – the equivalent of removing several thousand cars from the roads each year.

Poop we need

Whale poop is critical to sustaining marine life and minimising the impacts of climate change. The ocean is full of whale poop produced when whales swim to the surface to breathe. Whale poop helps with the growth of phytoplankton, the tiny plants that are the foundation of the aquatic food web. Small fish and invertebrates eat the plant-like organisms, and then the smaller animals are eaten by bigger ones. The phytoplankton contribute at least 50 per cent of the world’s oxygen by capturing the more than 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide produced. When phytoplankton die, the captured carbon sinks into the deep ocean, not returning to the surface for thousands of years

Printing houses

A recent TV programme showed low carbon 3D printed homes are being produced in New Zealand. Known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing builds structures by depositing materials layer by layer according to digital models. Concrete is typically extruded through a moving print nozzle onto a substrate, hardening upon deposition to gradually form walls and roofs. Sustainability benefits are among the most significant advantages, because 3D printing can reduce lifecycle emissions by over 50 per cent compared to standard building techniques. But the biggest factor is speed – printed homes can be move-in ready in days rather than weeks or months. Combined with less labour, 3D printing can cut estimated construction expenses by up to 30 per cent.

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