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When A Greenpeace Office Isn't Very Green At All

Thanks to their thick walls, Zurich's historic buildings are in some cases more energy efficient than their more modern counterparts. That's certainly the case if you compare them to 1960s-era constructions like the building that houses

The Zurich offices of Greenpeace (Google Maps)
The Zurich offices of Greenpeace (Google Maps)


ZURICHOur newspaper had five Zurich buildings photographed and analyzed by German thermographics expert Bernd Schönbach. Three of these were municipal buildings, one new and two historic. The fourth was the office building occupied by Greenpeace. The fifth is the 36-story, 126-meter Prime Tower, Switzerland's tallest building.

The verdict: new "minergy" constructions don't do any better in terms of preventing heat loss than 17th or 18th century buildings do. And the Greenpeace building is anything but environmentally friendly.

"It's a typical 1960s building," said Schönbach aid of the environmental organization's office building. "Thin walls, and poor insulation – the concrete beams over the windows are particularly inefficient in terms of conserving heat." The images do indeed show a stronger presence of heat around the windows. Fine, pale yellow surfaces between stories indicate that the ceilings are made of concrete – "a no-no by today's standards."

Greenpeace may be forgiven for the architectural sins of the past. Staff behavior, however, is another matter. Not all staffers, the thermographics analysis suggested, seem to have a full grasp of their employer's ideals: at midnight, a window was open (the images were taken at night, in February 2012).

By contrast, the new district court building came through very well. Both of the historic buildings included in the study also proved to be quite well insulated – presumably because of their thick walls. Prime Tower was a harder read due to its glass facade. "On the lower floors what we're seeing is a mirror image of warmth coming from surrounding buildings, and if the upper floors look as if they aren't losing any heat at all it's because they're actually reflecting the sky. So it's deceptive," said Schönbach.

The Prime Tower is a good example, the thermographics expert explained, of why definitive pronouncements on the energy efficiency of any building can't be made from such photographs alone.

But what the experiment could establish, Schönbach said, was that buildings erected between the 1950s and 1970s – like the one that houses Greenpeace – were the worst in terms of energy efficiency. The biggest problem with regard to energy loss, he added, is the behavior of building users, not the buildings themselves.

Read the full story in German by Ivo Cukas

Photo – Google Maps

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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