Former scrapyard is now a site for sustainable, solar-powered homes

January 28, 2020 by  
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Unit One Architects has turned a disused London lot into a row of dwellings with energy-saving features to meet the Level 4 Code for Sustainable Homes . Located behind a historic neighborhood of terraced Victorian houses in northern London’s Harringay Ladder district, the Cozens Place properties include solar panels , energy-efficient insulation and semi-permeable drainage to sustainably manage rainwater. Originally a residential area, this spot was hit by a V1 bomb strike during World War II. In the years following, the neglected commercial site sat unoccupied, morphing from a back-land plot into garages and eventually a working scrapyard . The disused site became a hot-spot for criminal activity because of its lack of safeguarding and general isolation. In 2013, the land was purchased through auction by Reve Developments, and planning permission was gained to transform the site back into its initial purpose. Unit One Architects designed the set of row-style homes so that the site couldn’t continue to be cut through on foot, therefore dissuading criminals and improving security for the surrounding area as well. Related: War ruins are reborn as a sustainable home in Lebanon Cozens Place consists of three two-bedroom homes with thoughtfully landscaped, private front and back gardens, off-street parking and split-level open-floor plans. The included solar panels are concealed with a 45-degree roof pitch on the top of the second house, which can be accessed by the operable skylight. Apart from the high-quality insulation, the buildings also feature a high level of air-tightness and built-in underfloor heating. Bricks were used in the profile to match the Victorian buildings located behind the new homes. The houses were also positioned on an east-west axis to connect internal and external spaces. This allowed optimal light to shine into the habitable rooms, no matter what time of day, while making the homes feel more expansive, regardless of the narrow width of the building plot. + Unit One Architects Photography by Charlie Birchmore Photography via Unit One Architects

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Former scrapyard is now a site for sustainable, solar-powered homes

Living Vehicle’s 2020 travel trailer generates a whopping 200 percent more solar power than its previous model

October 24, 2019 by  
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A few years ago, we estimated that HofArc’s Living Vehicle would be the future of off-grid living, and now the company has unveiled a new-and-improved model that ups the game when it comes to off-grid, net-zero travel trailers . Adding to its luxurious, eco-friendly features, the Living Vehicle 2020 version generates up to 200 percent more solar power than its previous model. Designed by award-winning, LEED-accredited architect and mobile space designer Matthew Hofmann, the Living Vehicle models offer the full package when it comes to sustainable travel trailers. According to the company’s description of the 2020 model, it has several updated features, but like the previous models, it is strategically engineered to be the highest-end luxury trailer on the market. Related: This Living Vehicle can take you completely off grid for a month The stunning tiny home on wheels comes in the same glossy aluminum cladding, giving it a sleek, modern feel. In fact, the trailer was made with zero wood products, with most of its parts, including the chassis, frame, interior and exterior skin, subflooring and all cabinets, being made out of aluminum. For adventurers seeking to go off the grid for long periods of time, the 28-foot long Living Vehicle offers the ability to do just that. Built with a stand-alone electrical powerhouse with solar-generated Volta Power Systems, the 2020 version generates an impressive 200 percent more solar power than its previous model. Even the refrigerator, dishwasher and pull-out microwave in the kitchen operate on solar power . Additionally, its robust design enables the travel trailer to take on virtually any landscape, from the barren desert landscapes to icy, mountainous regions. Four-season capabilities, off-road running gear and ample storage for equipment allows for an infinite amount of rugged adventures. If all of that durability and unprecedented sustainability isn’t enough, the luxurious interior design is truly out of this world. Much like its modern exterior, the interior also boasts a contemporary edge. The interior features furnishings made out of natural and extremely durable materials that are free from solvents, chemicals and VOCs. The living space was designed to accommodate four people, although it can be increased to six upon request. As an extra bonus, the 2020 model even comes with the ability to extend the living area thanks to a fully integrated, self-supporting deck that offers open-air space. Living Vehicles are so popular that the previous model sold out incredibly fast. Unfortunately, the company has said that it will only be producing 25 of the 2020 models, which start at $199,995. + Living Vehicle Images via Living Vehicle

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Living Vehicle’s 2020 travel trailer generates a whopping 200 percent more solar power than its previous model

Unfavorable times for the electric scooter industry

October 24, 2019 by  
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Once billed as an environmentally-friendly and enterprising venture, the electric scooter-sharing micromobility business has not lived up to the promising hype but is now looking dismal. Could this be the end for e-scooters? By commuting via e-scooters, it was hoped they would reduce traffic volume, promote zero-carbon transport and improve air quality by mitigating pollution . Instead, there have even been numerous complaints regarding cluttered sidewalks and claims about the injuries they cause due to irresponsible riders. Not to mention, they have an average lifespan of less than a month per e-scooter together, with an average of three and a half rides per day, their cost-effectiveness and sustainability are coming into question. Related:  We love electric scooters — but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment? However, e-scooter economics have been grabbing headlines, especially since the two major players, Bird and Lime, are projected to financially lose big time. Lime, for instance, is experiencing a troubling downturn to the tune of $300 million in operational costs because of “depreciation of its e-scooters and how much it costs to run warehouses that repair and position the vehicles,” according to The Information . Similarly, its competitor, Bird, has likewise lost approximately $100 million in the first quarter of this year while revenues shrank to just $15 million. Consequently, Bird is trying to drum up more investment capital just to stay afloat, thus hinting at the startup’s overvaluation. Perhaps even more worrisome is the perspective that these e-scooters, despite being electric, are in fact environmentally unfriendly. Repeatedly manufacturing, purchasing, transporting, repairing and replacing a continuous array of e-scooters with short lifespans do not collectively translate to a reduced carbon footprint .  As for those e-scooters that find themselves inoperable and beyond repair from vandalism or theft, their parts are not likely to be recycled but improperly disposed of. Finally, the lithium-ion batteries that power these e-scooters have associated environmental risks, thereby raising concerns about just how eco-friendly they are after all. Interestingly, e-scooters have now entered the radar of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). “This is a new item coming into scrapyards. ISRI is working to educate its members about e-scooters and advises them to be on the lookout for these devices,” says Mark Carpenter, ISRI assistant vice president of communications and marketing. “Facilities need to be aware the scooters contain batteries that can pose a safety hazard, and those must be removed before handling.” The environmental hazards that e-scooters pose, coupled with their poor economic feasibility, have understandably sparked skepticism. It remains to be seen whether the labor and cost intensive e-scooter business model will prove to be anything but wasteful in their net sustainability. Via Gizmodo and The Information Image via Lime

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Unfavorable times for the electric scooter industry

Two sustainable rental units dressed in reclaimed brick are self-sustaining through solar power

September 23, 2019 by  
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Melbourne-based firm Breathe Architecture has brought a bit of California flair to a Melbourne suburb. Using the empty space behind two existing Cali-style bungalows, the designers have managed to create two single, light-filled dwellings enveloped in reclaimed brick facades. The two rental properties were designed to offer the area environmentally sustainable and affordable rental housing that homogenizes with the local vernacular. Located in the area of Glen Iris, the Bardolph Garden House was designed as a building comprised of two rental units that blend in with the neighborhood aesthetic and each other. The simple, brick-clad volumes with pitched roofs emit a classic, traditional look while concealing dual contemporary interiors. Related: This home made of broken bricks features a series of rolling green roofs The two units are similar in size, both measuring just over 2,000 square feet. The entrances to the homes are through a covered courtyard and a landscaped garden area. The exterior spaces remain private thanks to several brick screens that also let natural breezes flow into these outdoor areas. When designing the layout of the two properties, the firm was dedicated to creating two energy-efficient units. As such, the project incorporated a number of passive features to reduce the homes’ energy needs. In addition to the greenery-filled pocket gardens that help insulate the properties, the gabled roofs and external steel awnings help maximize northern solar gain during the winter and minimize it during the summer months. Thanks to the region’s pleasant temperatures, the bright living spaces are incredibly welcoming. Vaulted ceilings add more volume to the interior, and an abundance of windows draw in plenty of natural light. The interior design, which features furnishings by StyleCraft and textiles by Armadillo & Co , is bright and airy with a neutral color palette that enhances the natural materials. Concrete flooring and white walls contrast nicely with the timber accents found throughout the living spaces. Additionally, the interior boasts a number of reclaimed materials, such as a repurposed timber bench tops and terrazzo tiles. Carefully designed to maximize thermal performance, the two units are completely self-sustaining. Their energy is supplied through a solar PV array on the roof, and a sustainable heat pump system supplies hot water. A rainwater collection system was also installed so that gray water could be collected and stored on-site for reuse. + Breathe Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Tom Ross via Breathe Architecture

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Two sustainable rental units dressed in reclaimed brick are self-sustaining through solar power

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