Berkshire Residence targets Passive House standards

August 6, 2020 by  
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Brooklyn-based design studio Of Possible recently completed the Berkshire Residence, a 3,600-square-foot contemporary home that the designers describe as a “marriage of spatial poetry and building science.” Built by Massachusetts company Kent Hicks Construction , the home blends traditional New England construction with sustainable and cutting-edge building science principles to ensure the home’s longevity and to meet Passive House Institute standards. Located in Sheffield, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Residence was commissioned by a client who wished to combine elements of his childhood home — a two-story colonial dwelling surrounded by an apple orchard, barn, horse corral and a variety of landscapes — with contemporary and sustainable design. As a result, the house not only takes cues from traditional New England construction with its gabled form and muted, natural palette, but it also follows a contemporary design aesthetic with its clean and minimalist form. Related: Award-winning passive tiny house is insulated to combat New Zealand’s weather “The result is a home where every window and door is a floor-to-ceiling picture frame of the spaces of memory throughout the property,” the architects explained. “The architectural finishes are a sober palette chosen to enhance the effect of these frames against the ever-changing seasonal New England landscape. Moving through the home over the course of the day, one is drawn from the inside spaces to the outside landscape. This is a home for creating new memories and honoring old ones.” Although the Berkshire Residence is not Passive House certified, the house follows Passive House Institute standards with its focus on energy efficiency and a small carbon footprint. Materials were also sourced regionally and selected for durability. Field stones and boulders, for instance, were salvaged onsite and from local construction sites to create landscape retaining walls. The airtight home and its energy-saving systems make Berkshire Residence net-zero-ready ; the homeowners can reach energy self-sufficiency with the addition of a small, ground-mounted solar array.  + Of Possible Photography by Justina via Of Possible

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Berkshire Residence targets Passive House standards

Global warming to cause more deaths than all infectious diseases

August 6, 2020 by  
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A new study published by  the National Bureau of Economic Research  shows that by the end of the century, the number of global warming -related deaths will rival that of deaths caused by all infectious diseases combined. The study estimates that high, uncontrolled greenhouse gas emission rates will increase global mortality rates to 73 deaths per 100,000 people. This number rivals that of deaths caused by all infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, yellow fever and dengue fever. Research focused on global death and temperature records. The data showed relationships between increased global heating and some deaths. For instance, the study found a surge in heart attacks during heat waves . The study also detailed direct causes of death, such as heatstroke related to global warming. Amir Jina, environmental economist at the University of Chicago and co-author of the study, said, “A lot of older people die due to indirect heat affects. It’s eerily similar to Covid – vulnerable people are those who have pre-existing or underlying conditions. If you have a heart problem and are hammered for days by the heat, you are going to be pushed towards collapse.” The study also discusses how global warming-related health risks will most affect poor communities in hotter regions of the world. Countries in the tropics, such as Ghana, Bangladesh , Sudan and Pakistan, already face an additional 200 deaths per 100,000 people. In contrast, countries such as Canada and Norway experience lower death rates due to cooler temperatures. This means that the richer countries may experience less of global warming’s effects despite contributing the most to greenhouse gas emissions. Still, even for generally colder, richer nations, climate change’s effects are closer than they seem. In recent years, heat waves have hit parts of the U.S., Europe and Arctic. Estimates forecast that 2020 may be the hottest year in recorded world history, potentially causing more deaths than in previous years. + National Bureau of Economic Research Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Global warming to cause more deaths than all infectious diseases

Self-sustaining retreat in Idaho is the perfect social distancing getaway

May 20, 2020 by  
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When a family sought reprieve from the rigors of urban living, they asked Salt Lake City-based architecture firm Imbue Design to design a retreat for them in the “middle of nowhere” in southern Idaho. Because there were no utility connections for miles of the property, the architects created a self-sustaining retreat that follows passive solar strategies, harnesses solar energy and uses an airtight envelope to minimize energy use. Dubbed Boar Shoat, the single-family home that was created to serve as a crash pad and base camp for outdoor adventures has also become a welcome getaway during these uncertain times.  Located next to a natural berm by a grove of aspen trees, Boar Shoat is set on a 60-acre parcel of rolling hills with views of Paris Peak in the distance. In response to the client’s conceptualization of the project as a “spartan shelter”, the architects organized the home as a trio of small structures centered on a larger outdoor living space beneath an expansive canopy. The three volumes — consisting of the main residence, guest quarters and utilitarian storage — flank the outdoor living space on three sides and serve as windbreaks.  Related: Stunning ‘beach shack’ on remote Australian beach is 100% self-sufficient The exterior is clad in accordion metal panels selected for their weather-resistant and low-maintenance properties. The interior complements the outdoors with its simple design and full-height glazing that blurs the boundaries between indoors and out. Natural wood ceilings lend warmth to the interior, while the untreated concrete floors serve as a durable, worry-free surface. Walls were painted white to create a blank backdrop for the clients’ extensive art collection. To generate all of the home’s energy needs onsite, the architects crafted the building with an airtight envelope fitted with performance-enhancing windows and doors as well as superior insulation. Solar energy powers the electricity and heat with supplemental battery storage and a backup generator.  + Imbue Design Images via Imbue Design

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Self-sustaining retreat in Idaho is the perfect social distancing getaway

Work from home in style in these slippers made of natural and recycled materials

May 20, 2020 by  
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Footwear requirements at home are different than anywhere else you may roam. While sometimes slippers or bare feet fit the bill, other times you might need proper support, even if you’re staying indoors. The entrepreneur behind Dooeys thinks you can have the best of both worlds, with a shoe and a slipper in one that won’t hurt the planet. Founder of Dooeys, Jordan Clark, originally from Seattle, Washington, was living in Amsterdam and found herself struggling to find a proper pair of shoes for her typical work-from-home activities. Tennis shoes were too rigid, and slippers didn’t offer the support she needed nor the style she desired. So she decided to design her own footwear that women could wear while working and lounging at home. She dubbed this footwear Slipshoes. Related: Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear In addition to comfort and versatility, it was important to Clark that the shoes were made with sustainability in mind. She said, “I came up with the idea for Dooeys two years ago before I had any idea there would be a global shift forcing millions to work from home. I spent the past year-and-a-half designing and sourcing sustainable materials to make the perfect house shoes for women.” To that end, Slipshoes are made with a breathable upper portion using vegan apple leather that comes from post-processing organic apple skins grown in the Italian Alps. The insoles are produced from cork , which is harvested in Portugal and bound with natural latex from the rubber tree. The EVA soles are made from sugarcane while the footbed stems from coconut husks. Each shoe is made in Portugal using these earth-friendly materials, along with recycled plastic and recycled polyester.  Jordan hopes the shoes appeal to anyone who loves the environment and just enjoys working, lounging or entertaining at home. The Slipshoes are available as two-tone loafer or slide-in mules. Both styles are currently available for pre-order on the Dooeys website for $145. + Dooeys Images via Dooeys

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Work from home in style in these slippers made of natural and recycled materials

Innovative micro-house uses digital fabrication on low-cost timber construction

June 6, 2019 by  
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Can digital fabrication unlock a new frontier in low-cost timber construction? All signs point to yes in the IBA Timber Prototype House, a micro-architecture project that’s been playfully described as “a log cabin turned on its side” by its designers at the Institute for Computational Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart . Designed to meet PassivHaus standards, the airtight and highly sustainable building system was developed as part of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Thueringen and is currently on show in Apolda until September 29. The IBA Timber Prototype House shows how computational design and fabrication technologies can turn low-cost timber construction into an environmentally friendly, economical and architecturally expressive way to build. The mono-material building consists of a series of staggered upright spruce timber frames with thin slits that serve as stress-relief cuts to prevent splitting and dead-air chambers to increase insulation values without compromising structural capacity. Digital fabrication and five-axis CNC milling also allowed for the creation of precision-cut airtight joints for connecting the timber elements so that no metal fasteners or adhesives were needed in construction. “Conventional building systems have a vast array of different materials embedded in them, which often have very high embedded energy costs and are difficult to separate for recycling ,” explains the ICD team. “In contrast, this research draws on traditional joinery, and a system was developed that relies purely on wood elements for structural connections and airtight enclosure, minimizing system layers and ensuring easy disassembly for end-of-life recycling. Furthermore, the project sources all the wood from within the state of Thueringen, where the demonstrator was built, allowing the team to minimize the embodied energy costs associated with moving materials over transportation networks.” Related: This geometric pod is an ultra-light micro-office on wheels The tiny building’s curving walls and roof are also a result of digital fabrication, while simulations of the home’s energy efficiency—the house achieves a U-value of 0.20 W/(m^2K) without additional insulation—have indicated that the prototype should perform up to PassivHaus standards even during cold German winters. + ICD Photos by Thomas Mueller

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Innovative micro-house uses digital fabrication on low-cost timber construction

Imperial War Museums Passivhaus-targeted archive breaks world records for airtightness

June 6, 2019 by  
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Britain’s Imperial War Museum has recently gained a new high-performance archive facility in Cambridgeshire, England that boasts the world record for airtightness with results of 0.03 ach (air changes per hour). U.K. architectural practice Architype designed the new storage building — called the IWM Paper Store — to house some of the world’s most important collections of artworks, photographs, letters and diaries that chronicle the history of warfare in the past two centuries. Engineered to meet Passivhaus standards, the boxy, single-story collections facility is sheathed in ground-to-roof panels of perforated oxidized steel. Having completed a Passivhaus archive before, Architype was tapped to develop a second airtight facility for the Imperial War Museum (the new repository is currently awaiting certification). Drawing on its decades of experience designing beautiful, low-carbon buildings, the practice not only crafted the building to meet stringent environmental conditions for archival needs, but also thoughtfully designed the exterior to complement the existing historic buildings on site at IWM Duxford. Completed January 2019 for an approximate cost of £2.8 million, the rectangular building spans an area of 13,326 square feet to bring together over 14,000 linear meters of IWM’s collections into a central repository. The building can provide for up to 30 years’ expansion of IWM’s unique collections. To stabilize temperature and humidity levels, the architects turned to Passivhaus as a low-energy alternative to a highly mechanized and energy-intensive building system. Related: Architect designs and builds his dream Passive House in New York Working together with construction provider Fabrite, the architects conceived an uninterrupted facade of oxidized steel to complement the color and texture of historic brickwork onsite. “Though simple in form, the oxidized steel facade offers thoughtful detail, consisting of ground-to-roof panels that signify each year of archived collections from 1914 onward,” the architects explained. “Perforations in panels denote the 1 According to current records held by the International Passivhaus Association quantity of collected documentation, with noteworthy years around wartimes being heavily perforated in accordance with the volume collected.” + Architype Images via Richard Ash / IWM

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Imperial War Museums Passivhaus-targeted archive breaks world records for airtightness

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