Wednesday, May 27, 2015


10 Myths About Spiders
By Chris Opfer,
How Stuff Works, 22 May 2015.

Spiders are just like you and me. That is, they're largely misunderstood. Maybe it's their eight gangly legs and hairy bodies. Or maybe it's those little fangs that inject venom into their prey. Whatever it is, the sight of a spider tends to give folks the willies. Sure, Peter Parker has repeatedly saved the world on the big screen by channelling his inner arachnid, donning a red and blue spider suit and shooting webs at bad guys, but that doesn't seem to have done much for spider awareness.

The fact is that many of us have our "facts" wrong when it comes to spiders. We assume these creepy crawlers spend their time looking for ways to frighten the daylights, bejesus and living poop out of people. Turns out, they're probably as put off by humans as we are by them. They're not likely to bite a person or crawl into your sleeping mouth and they may even prefer spending their days indoors. Some of them don't even spin webs. Let's look at 10 spider myths that don't hold up to scrutiny, starting with the biggest one of all.

10. Spiders Are Not Insects

Photo: Troup Dresser/Flickr

This is one of those common misconceptions that sounds like it's actually true. Spiders are tiny and often dark creatures that crawl around on their little legs. Like wasps, crickets and caterpillars, spiders don't have spines. They also seem to share an innate ability to get inside homes, cars and other places where they aren't "supposed" to be.

There are a few physical aspects that set spiders and other members of the Arachnida group - like mites and ticks - apart from their insect friends. The Insecta group is characterized by three main body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. Spiders, on the other hand, have only two main body parts: the cephalothorax - a combined head and thorax covered by a hard shell - and the abdomen. They lack an insect-like antennae and have one more set of legs than insects, which generally feature six limbs [source: Explorit Science Centre].

Spiders also probably look better in a bathing suit. Their slender waists distinguish spiders from other arachnids [source: Explorit Science Centre].

9. All Spiders Make Webs

Photo: Steve Calcott/Flickr

For many folks, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about spiders is the idea that these creatures were born to spin webs. The truth is, not all spiders spend their days creating them.

The intricate and surprisingly sturdy nets that many spiders produce is an important part of how some of these creatures put food on the table. They use the webs to trap insects and other prey to feast on later. Other types of spiders, however, hunt the old-fashioned way. Wolfspiders, for example, burrow into the ground. They use rocks and spin silk funnels to fortify their bunkers in the winter months and they stalk prey openly for food [sources: Ogg, Explorit Science Centre].

Tarantulas also hunt on foot, and shoot silk streams, Spider Man-style, to keep a grip on slippery surfaces. Runningcrabspiders, named for their crustacean appearance, get their food by playing dead. They lie in wait motionless and ambush insects as they pass by [sources: Kaufman, Masta].

8. The Orb Web Is Typical

Large orb web of European garden spider. Photo: Gnissah/Wikimedia Commons.

If you grew up on "Charlotte's Web," E.B. White's popular children's novel about the friendship between a barn spider and a talking pig, then you may be forgiven for assuming that all spiders spin large, ornamental webs with witty messages written into them. As we've already learned, however, many spiders don't spin webs at all. Those that do, spew their silk in a wide variety of ways.

Spiders produce silk from glands located beneath the abdomen. The silk itself is a protein that initially comes out in liquid form and hardens as it leaves the glands. Some of it is used to make webs, while the rest goes toward wrapping up prey and creating sacs for eggs [source: Explorit Science Centre].

Orb webs - the circular type nets formed from a series of spirals - are probably the best-known, but they're far from the only type of silk creations that spiders craft. Funnel webs are used by burrowing and other types of spiders to move around and stalk prey. Unlike the orbs, they aren't sticky. That allows their creators to move quickly to attack and retreat. Cobwebs and meshwebs, on the other hands, are less structured. These are the ones often found in grassy fields and under rocks, stones and dead leaves [source: University of Michigan].

7. Spiders Go Into Homes in Winter to Escape Cold Weather

Photo: James H/Flickr

It's only natural to flee for warmer climes when cold weather strikes. Birds fly south for the winter, grizzly bears hunker down in dens and old folks buy condos in Florida. If you've ever had to wait outside for a bus on a cold winter day, you may find yourself wondering why you left the house at all.

So it would seem to make sense that spiders are more likely to turn up indoors during the cold months. But in truth, most of the spiders found indoors come from a long line of house spiders that have evolved over the years to adapt a life of a constant, temperate climate and poor sources of food and water. These spiders leave their eggs in furniture and other home fixtures. They're actually more likely to be found in large groups during the late summer months, their prime mating season [source: Crawford].

Keeping this in mind, you'll understand why our next myth is also baloney.

6. If You Find a Spider Indoors, Set it Free

Photo: Isabelle Adam/Flickr

That's kind of like taking the leash off of your living-room-dwelling dog, giving the old boy a pat on the back and telling him to enjoy his new life of freedom out in the wild. Like pets, zoo animals and newly married husbands, spiders become domesticated pretty quickly. That includes common house spiders who have adapted to like the inside over many generations. You may feel like you're setting the little fella free, but you're probably handing him a one way ticket to a quick ending.

Less than 5 percent of all house spiders have ever been outside [source: Crawford]. Even fewer are adapted to the outdoor life of changing temperatures and conditions, not to mention a whole new world of predators. "Human property rights mean nothing to other species," The University of Washington's Burke Museum arachnid curator Rod Crawford wrote on the museum's website. "There was spider habitat for millions of years where your home is now. My advice is, just wave as they go by."

5. Gigantic, Deadly Spiders Live in Tunnels Under Windsor Castle

Photo: oio154/Wikimedia Commons

Ever hear the one about the royal house spider? Back in 2001, the British press reported that a swarm of venomous spiders invaded the tunnels below Windsor Castle, the countryside residence of England's monarchs. Stories abounded about thousands of the oversized critters - reportedly never before seen, twice as big as an average spider and deadly poisonous - haunting the royals' weekend retreat with jaws and fangs strong enough to puncture human skin.

Those reports were a little inflated, according to Rod Crawford. He explained on the museum's spider myths website that media outlets were misled by uninformed entomologists, professionals who study insects, rather than spiders. Crawford said that once arachnologists (who specialize in the latter creatures) got hold of photos of the Windsor Castle spiders, they quickly identified them as Meta menardi (pictured above), a type of spider found in dark caves and tunnels throughout Britain and most parts of Europe. "Not rare or endangered or dangerous, and only half as big as claimed," he concluded [source: Crawford].

4. Tarantula Venom Will Kill You

Mexican redknee tarantula. Photo: George Chernilevsky/Wikimedia Commons.

Tarantulas get a bad rap. Sure, you wouldn't want to wake up with one of these bad boys crawling around in your sleeping bag, but their hairy bodies and long, gangly legs make one of the best-known spiders look more vicious than they actually are. If you get bitten by a tarantula it's probably going to hurt a little bit and might make those allergic to the venom slightly uncomfortable, but that's about it.

Tarantula venom isn't considered dangerous, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can, however, cause a variety of allergic reactions. That includes itchiness, redness and puffiness around the eyes, swelling of the lips and throat and - in extreme cases - cardiovascular collapse. For most folks, the venom packs less of a punch than a typical bee sting [source: National Geographic].

Although these spiders feed at night, outdoor campers can rest easy. Tarantulas feast on insects and as well as mice, frogs and even some birds. But not people. They use claws to grab their food and the venom to paralyze the prey before chow time. Tarantulas secrete enzymes which allow them to dissolve their prey's bodies before sucking them in [source: National Geographic].

3. Spiders Are Aggressive

Photo: Lynette/Flickr

People tend to assume that a variety of bumps and blemishes are the work of unidentified spiders who roam their homes when the lights go out and feast on their skin until the morning comes. That's a product of at least two separate myths: One about spiders being naturally aggressive and the other about them being nearby all the time.

Spider bites are actually far less common than many people think. Like most creatures, a spider's natural instinct when trouble arises is to run and hide. That includes hobo spiders (pictured above), those eight-legged critters often found in homes. These poor guys suffer from limited vision and their movements can be misinterpreted as aggression. Even the brown recluse and black widows - two types of spiders whose bites actually can do some damage to humans - are unlikely to sink their teeth into you unless provoked [sources: DeNoon, Scott and Bundle].

The pros say that unless you catch a spider in the act of digging in, the marks on your skin were probably caused by something else [source: DeNoon].

2. The Average Person Swallows Eight Spiders Per Year While Sleeping

Cambodian fried spiders. Photo: A. Commons.

Perhaps, we should be looking at this as any easy way to get some nutrition while also catching some zzzzs. People eat fried spiders in Cambodia and, if you scour the Internet, you can find some interesting recipes for battered tarantula. Turns out that if you want to chow down on a spider, you're probably going to have to catch it yourself.

Despite popular belief, it's exceedingly rare for a person to swallow one spider while sleeping, let alone the eight creatures we're said to take down each year. Indoor spiders spend their time staying out of humans' way, either sculpting their webs or kicking back in the dark corners of a room and waiting for lunch to come along. Unless you have bed bugs - which could also be the source of a suspected spider bite - spiders aren't likely to hop in the sack with you. There's no lunch source awaiting [source: Sneed].

That's not to mention the physiological problems with the spider-swallowing myth. A person sleeping with his or her mouth open is probably snoring. The sound of cutting lumber coming out of a large body is probably enough to scare off most spiders [source: Sneed].

1. Spiders Are Always Nearby (3 Feet Rule)

Photo: Tarantuland/Flickr

Just like the British royals at Windsor Castle, it's said that common folk are nearly surrounded by spiders. It's been often repeated that spiders are always just 3 or 6 feet (1 or 2 meters) away, depending on your Internet source. But it really depends on where you are. If you're having a picnic in the park or hanging out in your back yard, then you're probably surrounded by tiny spiders. If you're in an airplane or at the top of a skyscraper the nearest arachnid may be miles away. Closer to Earth, golf courses and other turf settings are often spider-free because they're so heavily managed by groundskeepers. Many spiders tend to stay in their burrows come winter, especially in northern areas, meaning they are unlikely to swarm if you step outside for a snowball fight. There's certainly not any hard data out there to make this claim common knowledge [sources: Henriksen, Buddle].

What we do know is that most types of spiders are limited to different parts of the world. Brown recluse spiders, for example, can be found from one side of the U.S. to the other, but rarely move above the Mason-Dixon line. Hobospiders, on the other hand, seem to prefer more moderate climes and are commonly found in northern regions of North America [source: Brown Recluse Spider].

Author's Note: Thanks to this assignment, I now know that the tiny little creature that I caught scurrying across my kitchen floor this morning isn't a spider. I know that because this bug only had six legs. What I don't know is whether that makes the critter more or less likely to bite me or to crawl in my mouth while I'm snoring tonight.

Related Articles:

More Great Links:

Article Sources:
1. Brown Recluse Spider. "Where do Hobo and Recluse Spiders live?" (May 7, 2015)
2. Buddle, Chris. "You are always within three feet of a spider: Fact or Fiction?" Arthropod Ecology. June 5, 2012 (May 7, 2015)
3. Crawford, Rod. "General Fallacies." Burke Museum. (May 3, 2015)
4. Crawford, Rod. "House Spider Myths." Burke Museum. (May 3, 2015)
5. Crawford, Rod. "Myth: Spiders come into houses in the fall to get out of the cold." Burke Museum. (May 3, 2015)
6. Crawford, Rod. "Just Plain Weird Stories." Burke Museum. (May 3, 2015)
7. DeNoon, Daniel. "Is It a Spider Bite? Probably Not." WebMD. (May 3, 2015)
8. Explorit Science Centre. "Spider Facts." (May 3, 2015)
9. Henriksen, Missy. "Debunking Common Spider Myths." National Pest Management Association. Nov. 8, 2012 (May 7, 2015)
10. Kaufman, Rachel. "Tarantulas Shoot Silk From Feet, Spider-Man Style." National Geographic. May 17, 2011 (May 3, 2015)
11. Masta, Susan. "Spiders Commonly Found in Houses." Portland State University. (May 3, 2015)
12. National Geographic. "Tarantula." (May 3, 2015)
13. National Institutes of Health. "Tarantula spider bite." April 24, 2015 (May 3, 2015)
14. Ogg, Barb. "Wolf Spiders in Nebraska." University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (May 3, 2015)
15. Scott, Catherine and Christopher Bundle. "The truth about spider bites: "Aggressive" spiders and the threat to public health." SciLogs. Sept. 4, 2014. (May 6, 2015)
16. Sneed, Annie. "Fact or Fiction? People Swallow 8 Spiders a Year While They Sleep." Scientific American. April 15, 2014 (May 3, 2015)
17. Spider Bite Treatment. "Hobo Spiders." (May 3, 2015)
18. University of Michigan. "Webs and Cocoons." (May 3, 2015)

Top image: Bark jumping spider (Clynotis severus). Credit: JJ Harrison/Wikimedia Commons.

[Post Source: How Stuff Works. Edited. Some images added.]


10 Exceedingly Rare Cosmic Events Astronomers Have Witnessed
By Ivan Farkas,
Listverse, 27 May 2015.

Every single day, a mind-boggling amount of data filters through our observatories from the universe at large. Every piece is useful to science, even though much of it seems unremarkable to the public. But some discoveries are so rare or unexpected that even cosmophobes probably crack a little smile.

10. Ultra-Diffuse Galaxies


Galaxies come in many forms, and now we’ve discovered a new type: fluffy and wispy with incredibly few stars. At 60,000 light-years wide, some of these approach the size of our own Milky Way, yet hold only 1 percent as many stars.

In a collaboration between Maunakea’s giant Keck telescope and the much smaller but more awesomely named Dragonfly Telephoto Array, astronomers have discovered 47 ultra-diffuse, tissue-dense galaxies (UDGs). They’re so devoid of stars that any observers gazing at the cosmos would enjoy a boring, mostly empty night sky.

These cosmic outliers are so strange that astronomers aren’t sure how they formed. It’s possible the UDGs are failed galaxies that sputtered out of gas, or even bits that were pulled off of larger galaxies. Even more puzzling is their survival: They were found in the Coma cluster; a cosmic mosh pit buzzing with gobs of dark matter and galaxies zipping about at great speeds. Given the circumstances, it’s entirely possible that they were warped into their current configurations by the gravitational craziness going on around them.

9. A Comet Seemingly Committing Suicide

Comets are tiny and tricky to spot, but the Hubble Space Telescope was recently lucky enough to witness a rare event - a seemingly spontaneous comet disintegration.

Comets are more fragile than they appear and are easily shattered by cosmic collisions or by straying too close to massive bodies. But asteroid P/2013 R3 came apart rather unexpectedly as it was gradually pulled apart by the slow, cumulative effects of sunlight.

Catching a few rays may not seem deadly, but as the Sun shone upon asteroid R3, it caused it to spin. R3’s rotational intensity gradually increased until it whirled itself into about 10 large, 200,000-ton chunks.

The chunks are leisurely floating away from each other and leaving a stream of particles in their wake at a totally underwhelming rate of 1.5 kilometres (1 mi) per hour. In cosmic terms, this is equivalent to an injured snail making its way through military-grade molasses.

Some lucky future earthlings may even witness the aftermath, as pieces that don’t get sucked into the Sun could eventually cross our path as meteors.

8. A Star Being Born

Astronomers have been watching a burgeoning star, tongue-twistingly named W75N(B)-VLA2, as it matures into a huge, adult stellar body.

Located only 4,200 light-years away, VLA2 was first spotted in 1996 by the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array (VLA), a (very large) radio observatory in San Augustin, New Mexico. During their first viewing, astronomers observed a dense cloud of gas emanating from the restless baby star.

Then in 2014, astronomers once again trained the VLA’s radio electric eyes on W75N(B)-VLA2 to watch the formative star stumble awkwardly through its teenage years. They found that even after an astronomically infinitesimal period, the stellar toddler already looked radically different.

Reassuringly, it’s evolved in accordance with scientifically predicted models. Over the past 18 years, the surrounding gaseous mass has been stretched out by interactions with a vast torus of dust and debris that has encircled the star in its nascency.

7. A Weird Rocky Planet With Odd Temperature Swings


The celestial body 55 Cancri E gained fame as “the diamond planet,” but astronomers have recently discovered an even more unusual quirk - the planet can spontaneously change its temperature by as much as 300 percent. That’s an unprecedented feat for a rocky exoplanet.

The finicky 55 E is the innermost planet in its family of five and lives quite tumultuously. It’s so tightly squeezed in that it completes its orbit in a speedy 18 hours. It’s also tidally locked, with one face permanently turned toward its star. And since temperatures can range from 1,000-2,700 degrees Celsius (1,800-4,800 °F), astronomers now say the planet may be covered in oozing volcanoes.

That would explain its odd thermal behaviour but sadly eliminated the possibility of a giant diamond, because it appears we’ve overestimated its carbon content. The volcano hypothesis is supported by evidence in our own solar system: Jovian satellite Io is similarly close to its parent, and tidal forces ripping at the moon’s body have turned it into a giant volcano.

6. Kepler 7b Is The Weirdest Planet

Photo credit: Aldaron/Wikimedia

Gas giant Kepler 7b is the gift that keeps on giving. First, astronomers marvelled at the planet’s incredibly puffy body. It’s 1.5 times the size of Jupiter but far less massive, which means it’s about as dense as Styrofoam. As a matter of fact, it would easily float on any ocean that could accommodate such a gargantuan planet.

Other than its claim to fame as a gassy wisp, astronomers in 2013 managed to map its cloud cover - the first time such a feat has been accomplished outside the solar system. Through infrared imaging, astronomers measured the planet’s temperature at 800-1,000 degrees Celsius (1,500-1,800 °F). That’s pretty hot but much cooler than expected - 7b lies closer to its star than Mercury does to the Sun. After three years of observation, it was clear why: High-altitude cloud cover reflects loads of heat away from the planet.

Even more amazing? One side of the planet is awash in clouds while the other side enjoys clear weather, resulting in what looks like a magnificent planetary comb-over.

5. Triple Jovian Eclipse

We enjoy eclipses relatively frequently, so we don’t realize just how unlikely they are. Solar eclipses are an amazing cosmic coincidence - the solar diameter is 400 times that of the Moon, and the Sun currently sits 400 times farther away. And Earth just happened to stumble into the perfect spot to enjoy this rare phenomenon. We’re alive at the right time to observe it, because the cosmic bowling balls we rely on for this supernatural show are constantly inching into new positions in the night sky.

Solar and lunar eclipses are awesome, but a triple Jovian eclipse beats both. In January 2015, humanity’s stalwart observer Hubble caught a trio of Galilean satellites - Io, Europa, and Callisto - lined up in front of their gas giant daddy.

Any observer standing on Jupiter’s incorporeal surface at the time would have witnessed a very psychedelic triple solar eclipse, a show we won’t see again until 2032. Luckily, the perfect harmony in the moons’ paths makes this a recurring event.

4. Gigantic Potential Star Nursery

Photo credit: ESA/Hubble

Stars love to live in groups. Large enough groups are called globular clusters and contain up to one million stars. Such regions exist throughout the universe - there are at least 150 of them in our Milky Way - and all are unfathomably old, giving no clue to their formation. But a recent, incredibly rare celestial object has been discovered - a pre-natal globular cluster, full of gas but lacking in stars.

Deep within the Antennae galaxies 50 million light-years away, a giant cloud with the mass of 50 million suns will hopefully birth many stars. It’s the first time astronomers have found such an object, and they’ve likened it to a “dinosaur egg that’s about to hatch.” Technically, it’s probably already hatched long, long ago, as it’s believed such regions remain star-free for only about one million years.

This discovery is very exciting, as we could get a tiny glimpse into one of the most ancient, mysterious processes in the universe. It’s possible that regions like these are responsible for birthing most, if not all, the staggeringly beautiful globular clusters we see today.

3. Rare Configuration Solves Cosmic Dust Mystery

Photo credit: ESA/Hubble

Carried aboard a pimped-out Boeing 747SP jumbo jet, NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, does most of its (her?) work at 12,000 meters (40,000 ft) and above. Up here, there’s little atmospheric water vapour to distort measurements, and NASA gets a much clearer view of the cosmos.

Recently, SOFIA earned its keep by helping astronomers solve a cosmic mystery. As you know if you’ve watched any space show ever, stellar material is the basis of humans and everything else in the universe. But it was unclear how these tiny grains of stardust avoided vaporization at the hands of the supernovae that distribute them throughout the universe.

Peering deep into the 10,000-year-old Sagittarius A East supernova remnant with its infrared eyes, SOFIA discovered that dense regions of gas around the star cushion cosmic dust particles. This prevents their eradication as they rebound from the massive shockwave of the preceding blast.

Even though only 7–20 percent of the dust around the Sagittarius A East managed to survive obliteration, this is still enough to birth around 7,000 Earth-sized bodies.

2. Perseid Meteors Strike Moon

Photo credit: George Varros

The Perseid meteor showers light up our skies every mid-July to late-August, but stargazers fixing their eyes upward might be better served staring at the Moon.

On August 9, 2008, amateurs did just that and glimpsed something unusual - lunar impacts. Rocks and space pebbles strike the Moon regularly, thanks to its lack of atmosphere. But some of the Perseids, themselves children of the slowly disintegrating comet Swift-Tuttle, died gloriously in a flurry of light against the lunar surface. And the whole shebang was readily visible to anyone with a modest telescope.

Since 2005, NASA has reviewed about 100 such lunar impacts. And with enough data, they can hopefully protect future astronauts from bullet-like meteoroids that can strike Moon-dwellers without a moment’s notice. Predicting these strikes, which explode with the power of hundreds of pounds of TNT, is impossible. But picking out any potential patterns is undoubtedly a boon for future missions. Just in case you’re planning a lunar vacation yourself, you can consult a meteoroid hazard map online.

1. Dwarf Galaxies That Produce More Stars Than Huge Galaxies

Photo credit: NASA/ESA

Dwarf galaxies are tiny but incredibly potent, showing us on a cosmic scale that size doesn’t matter - it’s how you use it that counts. Astronomers have previously performed astronomical surveys to ascertain the rate of star formation in mid- and high-mass galaxies, but not until recently did they study the smallest ones. And so they peered eight billion years into the past to determine a relationship between galactic mass and star-forming prowess.

After Hubble had glimpsed the miniscule galaxies in infrared, astronomers were surprised to find that the dwarfs produced stars at a much faster rate than their larger, more massive brethren. That’s quite shocking, since you’d expect more gas to equal more stars. However, the tiniest galaxies proved the most productive with an ability to double up their cache of stars in only 150 million years.

In a normal-sized galaxy, such growth would require between one and three billion years of hard gravitational work. Sadly, astronomers don’t know why the dwarfs are so prolific, but they hope to pry their secrets open as they discover similar specimens at different points in their evolution.

Top image: The Antennae Galaxies. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

[Source: Listverse. Edited. Top image added.]


10 Coolest Examples of “Green Buildings”
When On Earth, 25 May 2015.

Global warming and climate change are social issues that need to be addressed in our everyday living. From reducing the use of plastic, to minimizing the use of cars as it leads to the combustion of fossil fuels, every human being must be socially aware in order to lessen the effects of global warming. In this context, we applause the architects featured in our list of the world’s top 10 Green Buildings.

1. The Crystal - London, United Kingdom

Photo source:

Siemens, one of the leading and top-most companies in the United Kingdom has built The Crystal, an urban sustainable landmark that draws thousands of visitors each year. Aside from its striking structural design, The Crystal is one of the greenest buildings ever built by mankind. This building uses natural light, that is, natural daylight is availed of entirely during the day. It also utilizes smart lighting technology, wherein electricity is mainly powered by photovoltaic solar panels- the building is illuminated by an integration of LED and fluorescent lights which are switched on and off depending on the bulk of daylight present.

Another interesting feature of The Crystal is the so-called Rainwater Harvesting and Black Water Recycling. The building’s roof acts as a collector of rainwater, while the sewage is treated, then recycled water is purified and converted as drinking water.

2. Pixel Building - Melbourne, Australia


Australians proved once more that they are heralding and walking towards the world of sustainable development. The Pixel Building in Melbourne is but a showcase of what Australia is capable of. The first ever building to achieve a whopping perfect Green Star score, it paved the way for the rise of sustainable infrastructure in the whole of Australia.

What makes the Pixel Building stand out is the fact that it is 100% carbon free which means that carbon produced annually in running the building was compensated by renewable energy. The building also boasts of a systematic method called ‘carbon neutrality.’ This process enables to offset the carbon contained in the materials used in constructing the building.

3. The Change Initiative - Shaikh Zayed Road, Dubai

Photo source:

Dubai is off to conquer the world. It is the home of world records such as the highest skyscraper in the world, biggest fireworks display, and the like. In 2013, Dubai unveiled The Change Initiative, a commercial building that received 107 out of 110 points, making it the most sustainable building in the world. Designed by HOK, it broke the record of Pixel Building, Australia with 105 points. [The Change Initiative Facebook page]

4. Bullitt Centre - Seattle, USA

Photo source:

In 2013, the Bullitt Centre in Seattle, USA, a six-story office building was heralded as one of the greenest and sustainable buildings in the world. The Bullitt Centre was a concept conceived by Bullitt Foundation president Denis Hayes. The building was designed to have an ideal lifespan of 250 years.

This sustainable building was also formulated to be carbon and energy neutral. It also has a self-sufficient water and sewage processing system that allows the building to be independent of municipal water and sewage systems. Aside from this, Bullitt Centre also utilizes photovoltaic panels to generate electricity.

5. ACROS Fukuoka Foundation Building - Fukuoka, Japan

Photo source: Kenta Mabuchi/Wikimedia Commons

Considered to be a top attraction in Fukuoka, ACROS Fukuoka Foundation Building was opened in April 1995 and considered to be a good example of the perfect fusion of native greenery and architectural concept, often referred to as eco-architecture. What makes this building a sustainable one is that its interior design features a colossal atrium, immersing the entire space with natural lighting thus saving a lot from energy consumption.

Photo source: Dan

The distinctive feature of this building is a systematized design of water drainage, similar to a mountain. This method allows natural irrigation to take place as water flows from the top of the building and further waters the surrounding vegetation on the way down.

6. Phipps’ Centre For Sustainable Landscapes - Pittsburgh, USA

Photo source:

The Americans are also forerunners in building green buildings so it is no surprise that they took things up a notch when they built Phipps’ Centre For Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) in Pittsburgh. This building uses different sources of energy such as solar, wind and geothermal.

The CSL building is also known to be run on net-zero water which means that wastewater is being recycled while rainwater is harvested so that the building won’t rely on city water anymore. This works for CSL as all its operations run smoothly including its plumbing.

Phipps’ CSL also features a green roof where visitors can walk in the rooftop garden as its walkways are filled with lush and leafy plants.

7. Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew - Sisaket, Thailand

Photo source:

The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew Temple (also known as The Million Bottle Temple) in Thailand is a modern Buddhist worship place located in Khun Han, Sisaket, Thailand. Would you actually believe that this temple is made up of more than 1 million empty beer bottles?

Buddhist monks took the initiative to be involved in the green action as early as 1984 when its construction began. Up until now, this temple, including the crematorium and comfort rooms are built of a mixture of green Heineken bottles and the brown local Chang beer bottles.

8. Bahrain World Trade Centre - Manama, Bahrain

Photo source:

The Bahrain World Trade Centre (BWTC) is a 50-floored, twin tower complex that was built in 2008 by the world-renowned architectural firm Atkins. BWTC is set to conquer the world as it is the first ever skyscraper in the world to have incorporated wind turbines into its blueprint.

The two tower are interconnected by three sky bridges, each of which are holding 225 kW wind turbine. These turbines supply up to 15% of the twin towers need, in other words, it helps in reducing the building’s energy consumption and carbon discharge.

9. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital - Yishun Central, Singapore

Photo source:

Known as a Tiger country and considered to be the most expensive city in the world, Singapore is also an advocate of building sustainable infrastructures. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital is an example of a consciously-made green environment thus equivalent to a healing environment for its patients.

This hospital complex also uses solar water heating system and other energy-efficient methodologies thus making the building 27% more energy efficient than a conventional hospital building. Solar panels are used to transform solar energy into electricity, while a solar thermal system provides hot water for the hospital’s needs.

10. Taipei Public Library - Beitou Branch, Taiwan

Photo source:

The Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch is an environmental-friendly building, the first ever building in Taiwan to qualify for the highest diamond rating under its government’s EEWH certification system.

The public library uses large windows to help save in electric consumption. Almost all windows are opened wide in order to minimize the use of fans and air-conditioning unit.

One part of its roof is also covered by photovoltaic cells that directly convert sunlight into electricity. Lastly, the library also captures rainfall to conserve water. Its roof was designed to catch rainwater and store it for use in the library’s toilets.

Top image: Meera Sky Garden House, Singapore. Credit: Guz Architects.

[Source: When On Earth. Edited. Some links added.]