In conjunction with the United Nations (U.N.) High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, held July 9–18 in New York City, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN-Habitat in a collaboration with the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture unveiled the Ecological Living Module, a 237-square-foot house that runs on renewable energy.

Designed, fabricated, and installed by New Haven, Conn.–based Gray Organschi Architecture, the tiny housing module is made of locally sourced, bio-based renewable materials, and serves a testing ground for reducing the consumption of natural resources, such as water. The project, is intended to "spark debate and new ideas on how to redesign the way we live," according to a UNEP pamphlet. [UN-Habitat]

Also: In Rotterdam, Netherlands, a new floating park made entirely of plastic waste pulled from the city's rivers and ports has opened. Dubbed "Recycled Park," the 1,500-square-foot island comprises 28 hexagonal blocks designed and built by the locally based Recycled Island Foundation (RIF) with support from the City of Rotterdam.

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