A Dutch friend once told me about when he was a student in Amsterdam and went on a date, which involved the girl hitching a ride on the back of his bicycle (on the rack) and instead of having a typically fun and possibly romantic moment of her having to hold on to him, the front wheel of his bike got stuck in a tram rail and they both fell.
SafeRails solves the well-known problem of getting your bike wheels stuck in tram rails. Invented by two engineering students, Ward Kuiters and Roderick Buijs, SafeRails is a profile made from recycled plastic that can be inserted into existing tram rails. The idea is that bike wheels cannot get stuck in the rails and the tram can ride right over the profile as if they weren’t even there.
SafeRails is sustainable, durable and makes cycling safer. The guys’ goal is to start with The Hague, the political centre of the country, but first they need to win The Hague Innovators Challenge 2017 and are currently in second place. You can vote, too.
Over the past few days, stuck among the daily river of memes, one stood out because friends were making a commitment: they were going to cancel their account with Dutch consumer bank ING over the bank’s investments in the controversial Dakota pipeline.
Frances Ro started talking to ING on their Facebook page and made a very simple demand: “Show me that you’re on the right side of history. Prove that you won’t let large interests stand in the way of a livable planet. Let’s say that we’ll find a solution before 1 January. If not, I’ll be your ex-customer from that day on.”
Ro’s problems with ING’s investment are that the Dakota pipeline allegedly endangers the drinking water of millions of people and destroys territory that is culturally significant to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. According to her, ING has invested 250 million USD in the project.
ING ummed and ahed in response, suggesting they were hoping the controversy would go away by itself: “We have confidence in the proper administration of justice and the careful consideration of the case by the US government.”
The bank seems to have found itself in a perfect storm. Together with ABN Amro and Rabobank it is one of the big three consumer banks in the Netherlands. Lately, savings banks like ASN and Triodos (who claim to only invest in sustainable projects) have branched out into the payment business and new banks like Knab (owned by insurer Aegon) have also been nipping at their feet. Consumers have stayed loyal so far to to the banks that lured them in during their childhood, until now they’ve found a reason to switch to more modern banks. The joint banks even have a service that should make switching banks as easy as possible.
So far Ro’s plea got shared well over a 1,000 times, with several people reporting they’ve already abandoned ING.
The main building of the Eindhoven University of Technology plans to have “the most sustainable university building in the world” and it will be called ‘Atlas’. Once it is entirely renovated in the summer of 2018, the building’s previous gas connection will have been replaced by a geothermal system which will work with solar panels to provide energy to supply most of the building’s power.
The building will also feature smart LED lighting, controllable by users by way of an app, as well as a triple-glazed curtain wall paired with interior sun blinds, and a ‘night flush’ system that will side windows outwards during summer nights in order to cool the building and purify the air.
At the two-day Offshore Energy 2016 Exhibition & Conference in Amsterdam this week, the Dutch Envinity Group from Den Helder, North Holland unveiled what they called “the world’s first giant outside air vacuum cleaner”, a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic fine particles from the atmosphere around the machine.
The system is said to be able to suck in air from a 300-metre radius and from up to seven kilometres upwards. It can treat about 800,000 cubic metres of air an hour, filtering out 100 percent of fine particles and 95 percent percent of ultra-fine particles, the company said, referring to tests carried out by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) on its prototype.
Fine particles are caused by burning wood and other fuels as well as industrial combustion, adversely affecting our health, according to the European Environment Agency. As well, about 90 percent of EU residents are exposed to levels of such particles, which can cause cancer.
On a much smaller scale, there’s also the smaller air-purifying system called the ‘Smog Free Tower’ that was installed in Beijing last month by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde.
Today Rotterdam is celebrating Park(ing) Day, which sounds like a lot of pun fun. The city of Rotterdam is letting people take over a parking spot for free and camp out on it, as if it were a park. And to sweeten the deal, the rules of a park apply to the parking spot.
Park(ing)Day is part of Happy Streets, yet another let’s-use-English-rather-than-Dutch named event (where ‘happy’ often sounds like ‘hippie’ when some Dutch people pronounce it) lasting the entire weekend in order to promote ‘sustainable mobility and a better use of public spaces’.
The city will also feature yet another let’s-give-it-an-English-name-to sound-cool event called Walk’in Rotterdam, where people can take a stroll along various uncommon parts of the city with a knowledgeable guide who I bet will tell their stories in the country’s main language.
And Sunday is another why-use-Dutch-go-for-English event called Open Streets when streets will be car-free and feature other merriment.
We wrote to you ages ago about famous Dutch chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely trying very hard to produce 100% slave-free chocolate, and now they are one step closer thanks to a collaboration with French-Belgian chocolate company Callebaut.
Callebaut will install a cacao butter tank with fully traceable cacao beans just for Tony’s Chocolonely, which they say is a milestone in chocolate production. This improvement means that as of November 2016 the chocolate bars of this Amsterdam-based company will only be made from traceable cacao beans.
Read more about it because it is a very cool story and check out the video. And if anyone has any limited edition with the pop sugar in it that they don’t want for some reason, hit me up.
Rotterdam architectural firm Kraaijvanger has built the new city hall in Venlo, which claims to have the greenest façade in the world measuring two thousand square metres.
A greenhouse above the building purifies the air and can deliver heat to the entire building. The green façade purifies air from the nearby road and railway. According to Kraaijvanger, tests in labs of the Eindhoven University of Technology have proven that the façade filters 30% of nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the air.
As well, the building has applied many sustainable techniques such as using the parking garage to either warm up the air or cool it down, depending on the weather. It also catches and filters rainwater before flowing back into the Maas river and makes optimal use of daylight.
This week, the Delft University of Technology’s Solar Boat Team has set a world record of 50.5 kilometres per hour on Day 5 of the Dutch Solar Challenge in Drachten, Friesland. There wasn’t any previous record, making this a sweet victory for the students.
This world record will also be added to the Guinness World Records as the first record ever set for a solar-powered boat. Second place in the challenge was 42 kilometres per hour set by a team from Leeuwarden, Friesland and 30,3 kilometres per hour was clocked by a team from Slochteren, Groningen.
The Delft team also won ook the innovation award thanks to the technology it used, which included two hydrofoils placed one behind another instead of next to each other, which had the boat ‘skating over the water’.
Boyan Slat, the young Dutch inventor who came up with an inventive way of cleaning up the oceans, has recently unveiled the prototype of his ‘ambitious sea-cleaning device’ in Scheveningen, South Holland.
“Why move through the ocean if the ocean can move through you?” Slat asked at a press conference during the unveiling. He plans to use a 100-kilometre long V-shaped barrier made up of large, rubber pillow-shaped buoys floating on the ocean surface that trail a three-metre long curtain from its arms into the water.
Slat hopes to fully roll out the system in 2020, which could capture up to 3,000 cubic metres of plastic soup. Find out more at The Ocean Clean Up.
(Link: phys.org, Photo: screenshot of Tedx presentation)
For Oerol, a cultural festival on the island of Terschelling held annually in June, the very first BlueCAMP jeans tents will be set up, although they are not yet available for purchase. The tents are said to be water-resistant, can breathe, and are made from 25% old denim, with the hopes of that percentage going up in the future. Their ground sheets are made of Recuppasta, a sustainable plastic made from old bits of tarpaulin.
The entire complicated process of recycling people’s old denim is done in the Netherlands and Belgium. Apparently, the average Dutch person has six pairs of jeans in their wardrobe, and earlier this year we told you about the country’s denim obssession, which means collecting old denim in the lowlands at festivals sounds like a plan.