Community-oriented housing redefines a former industrial site in west London

November 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

London-based architectural firm Mæ has completed the second phase of Brentford Lock West, a urban regeneration masterplan that is providing quality homes — 40 percent of which are designated for shared ownership — designed to engage the waterfront environment and community. Taking inspiration from the site’s industrial past, the architecture complements its historic setting with distinctive sawtooth roofs that help funnel light into the buildings and the material palette of blond brick, in-situ concrete and reconstituted stone. In addition to designing for optimal daylighting, the architects have included mechanical ventilation heat recovery systems and high levels of thermal insulation to ensure energy efficiency . Completed at the end of 2018, the second phase of Brentford Lock West introduces an additional 157 homes to the mixed-use masterplan and includes a combination of lateral apartments, duplexes, penthouses and townhouses. All homes are “step-free” and follow the Lifetime Home Standard , a set of design principles that emphasize inclusivity, accessibility, adaptability, sustainability and good value. Each home is carefully oriented to maximize privacy as well as views, whether of the canal to the north or the city to the south. Related: RRA unveils mountain-inspired ski resort that emphasizes nature and community In designing the development, the architects worked with the local community and other stakeholders. As a result, community values have been embedded into the design of Brentford Lock West. One such example is the new “neighborhood street” — a shared space for pedestrians and cyclists that is landscaped and paved with herringbone brick — that knits the two phases together. Also at the heart of the development is a landscaped communal garden. Large cantilevered balconies engage the street below. “Continuing the architectural language of phase one, the second phase builds upon scale and massing, alongside the benchmark it set in terms of quality and sense of place,” the architecture firm added. “Holding the corners of each plot, six pavilion buildings are linked through rows of private townhouses and bridge structures that form entrance portals and house further accommodation above.” + Mæ Images via Goodfellow Communications

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Community-oriented housing redefines a former industrial site in west London

Deciphering wine labels: the differences between organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainable wines

November 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

‘Tis the season for holiday celebrations, cocktail parties and family gatherings. But before you pop the corks on those bottles of wine, take a moment to understand what you are about to drink. If you are hoping to serve wine made with sustainably grown, organic grapes , read the label carefully before committing to the purchase, or you might not be getting what you expect. With words like “natural,” “organic,” “biodynamic” and “sustainable,” it can be hard to decipher which wine is truly best for the planet. Here are some tips to understand sustainable wine labels. Marketing is a powerful tool, and companies will advertise characteristics of their wines that they think will appeal to the consumer. However, the terminology can be so confusing that a winery might misguide you without meaning to. Some words are so similar that you (and they) might even assume they all mean the same thing. Related: This is how climate change will impact wine Fortunately, steps have been taken to standardize the verbiage on these labels so you can better understand what’s in the bottle. But there is still variation throughout the food and beverage industry, especially for wine. Here is the terminology you are likely to see and exactly what it all means for the wines you imbibe. Organic or 100 percent organic wine In the U.S., the term organic is regulated and must fit into specific criteria. However, even within that criteria, you will find different wording. For example, wines made from organically grown grapes are grown without the use of pesticides , fungicides, herbicides, etc., and these wines do not contain sulfites added during wine production. (Organic wines do contain naturally occurring sulfites.) Note that the standards for “organic” classifications in Canada and Europe allow for a small amount of sulfites to be used during production. Biodynamic wine Biodynamic wines are organic, and these wines also follow farming ideologies dating back to the 1920s, when Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and academic, presented scientific support showing that in order for a grape to reach its potential, the entire vineyard must be taken into account. In addition to growing grapes without chemicals or common additions such as yeast, the lunar and astrological cycles are often considered when making decisions about the health of the vineyard . These wines are also produced without interference to adjust for acidity. For example, instead of making changes during fermentation and flavor development, the focus is on healthy roots, soil and the atmosphere of the vineyard as a whole. Like the term “organic,” “biodynamic” wines have earned certification by meeting specific requirements. The governing board that approves the label is the Demeter Association, a branch of an organization dating back to 1928 during Steiner’s efforts to bring societal awareness about biodynamics in agriculture. Sustainable wine This label is fairly subjective and typically refers to the way the vineyard is managed more than the way the wine is produced. A vineyard (or farm) that aims to grow crops sustainably is concerned with the impact on the planet. This means using natural methods of balancing the soil, such as crop rotation. It can also mean using energy or water-saving practices . If your wine is made “sustainably,” it likely means it was made organically in accordance with the typical goals of sustainable farming, but don’t assume it’s organic without the label identifying it as such. Natural, all-natural or 100 percent natural wine When you see the word “natural” on a label, be aware that there are limited regulations surrounding the use of this term. There is no distinction between “natural,” “all-natural” or “100 percent natural.” Manufacturers of all types of food can slap this wording on labels. But most producers in the wine industry see the “natural” classification differently. For wine-making, a natural wine is the result of a natural process, meaning that process involves as little intervention as possible throughout the stages. In other words, the wine is fermented grapes in their most natural form. That means that a natural wine is organic and sometimes biodynamic, but organic and biodynamic wines are not always natural. Furthermore, any of these wines may or may not be sustainably produced. Because there is no oversight committee for a “natural” label, selecting a wine is all about getting to know the winemaker and asking questions at the tasting room. If you live in a wine region, buy locally so you can see the vineyard and know the source of your bottle. If you don’t live near a winery, do you research online. Most wineries are proud to share their growing practices and provide transparency if they are using sustainable, organic, natural or biodynamic methods. Via Wine Spectator , Eating Well and The Guardian Images via Shutterstock

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Deciphering wine labels: the differences between organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainable wines

BIGs LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces

November 14, 2019 by  
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After five years in the making, BIG has completed The Heights, a new public school building in Arlington, Virginia that not only offers a unique and energy-efficient take on school architecture, but also helps maximize density and open space. Located along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, The Heights combines two existing secondary schools into a new 180,000-square-foot building that opens like a fan with a cascade of green-roofed terraces to provide an indoor-outdoor learning landscape. An emphasis on natural daylighting, green space, material reuse and energy efficiency has put the building on track to achieve LEED Gold certification . Completed on a $100 million budget, the dynamic new school building houses two programs: the H-B Woodlawn Program that offers visual and performing arts-focused curricula for grades 6 through 12, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Program that serves students aged 11 to 22 with special needs. The school can accommodate an expected enrollment of up to 775 students. Related: Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the “greenest school in Nepal” To make the most of a compact urban site bounded by roads on three sides, BIG organized the school as a stack of five rectangular floorplates rotated around a fixed pivot point to create a series of outdoor green-roofed terraces connected with a rotating central staircase. The spacious first terrace can be used for special events while the upper terraces are more suitable as classroom and study areas. The classroom “bars” have also informed the interior layout, which is anchored by a central vertical core containing the elevators, stairs and bathrooms as well as a triple-height lobby with stepped seating on the ground floor. For easy accessibility and to encourage public interaction throughout the school, the lobby is directly adjacent to many of the school’s common spaces, such as the 400-seat auditorium , main gymnasium, library, reception and cafeteria. Intuitive wayfinding is also extended to the classroom spaces in that each classroom “bar” is defined by its own color used to paint the walls and lockers. In contrast to its colorful interior, The Heights’ exterior is clad in white glazed brick to unify its fanned-out massing and to respect the surroundings, including the historic architecture of Old Town Alexandria. Select materials from the former Wilson School, which The Heights was built to replace, have been salvaged and reused in the new build. + BIG Photography by Laurian Ghinitoiu via BIG

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BIGs LEED Gold-seeking school in Arlington features a cascade of green terraces

SunUp is a solar panel system perfect for hikers and adventurers

November 14, 2019 by  
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Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can finally enjoy a solar panel that combines efficiency and durability with the added ability to fit snugly on top of a backpack. Rather than having to decide between a power source that is either efficient or durable, the SunUp is both, meaning it can power explorers through nearly any adventure. Invented by Bradley Brister in collaboration with The North Face, SunUp was designed as a final-year project for his Product Design Engineering bachelor’s course at Brunel University. The project was honored at the James Dyson Awards, where it was one of two runners up in the U.K. division of the contest. The awards recognize designs by current and recent engineering students from around the world. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials According to Brister, the main focus of the project was to prove a more efficient and sturdier alternative to flexible solar panels . In the past, hikers looking to go off the grid had to choose between efficiency or durability. Rigid solar panels made of monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicone are 21 percent more efficient yet easily breakable, while flexible panels made with amorphous silicone are stronger but with 7 percent average efficiency. The SunUp solution was to incorporate small, thin-film polycrystalline solar panels with an advanced hinge mechanism. The metal hinges have the system circuits built-in, so the conductive joints won’t strain or harden as the panels are used over time. The segmented panels are able to move more freely when impacted or dropped, lessening the chance of breakage while simultaneously boosting efficiency. According to Brister, each module is interlinked by a conductive hinge that doesn’t produce any mechanical deformation when in use, eliminating the typical issue of solar panels that bend only a few thousand times before eventually snapping. Theoretically, the design can be flexed and bent indefinitely or until the surfaces wear down. The panels easily fit on top of a backpack but could also be mounted onto a canoe or any number of surfaces. If one of the panels breaks, it can be replaced without replacing the entire system, adding to the product’s sustainability and longevity. The 15W panel uses a 4000 mAh battery that fully charges within 12 hours. + SunUp Via Dezeen Images via Bradley Brister

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SunUp is a solar panel system perfect for hikers and adventurers

LAVA designs carbon-neutral LIFE Hamburg with an edible green roof

November 12, 2019 by  
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LAVA (Laboratory for Visionary Architecture) has teamed up with urban agricultural collective Cityplot to design LIFE Hamburg, a new energy self-sufficient educational campus that will “reinvent learning” for 1,600 students. Created in the shape of an infinity loop, the nature-inspired learning landscape encapsulates the educational paradigms of Learnlife (purpose-inspired and personal learning) as well as the spatial typology concepts of American futurist David Thornburg. Slated to open 2023, the solar-powered sustainable building will feature a carbon dioxide-absorbing green facade and an organic rooftop garden. Proposed for Hamburg , Germany, LAVA’s design of the LIFE Hamburg was crowned the winner of a 2019 invited competition earlier this year. The project will span an area of 12,000 square meters and will use natural materials and greenery to knit together the built environment and the surroundings into one continuous landscape. The organic architecture is inspired by five elements in nature — waves, spirals, cells, branches and nests — which can be seen throughout the building from the wave-shaped balconies and spiral terrace layouts to the branching structural systems and honeycomb ceilings. Related: Sustainable Central Park with energy-producing trees unveiled for Ho Chi Minh City LIFE Hamburg will cater to 800 children and 800 adults with a variety of spaces designed to stimulate creative learning for all ages. “We combined the differentiated learning spaces of Thornburg with our nature-inspired design approach,” the architects explained. “Instead of homogeneous rooms, there are spaces with different levels of brightness, openness, plantings and connections to the exterior. Based on Thornburg’s concepts, they include expressive spaces (mountain top) for groups; open communicative environments (watering hole) for conversations with peers; hands-on spaces (sandpit) for workshops and manual experiments; group spaces (campfire) meeting areas and lectures; introverted spaces (cave) for individual quiet reflection.” For energy efficiency, the architects have designed the three-story building with a load-bearing wood structure and a highly insulated glazed shell that will bring natural light inside. The accessible roof will be partly covered with enough solar panels to meet all of the building’s energy needs as well as outdoor learning spaces and edible gardens. + LAVA Images via LAVA

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LAVA designs carbon-neutral LIFE Hamburg with an edible green roof

A young couple creates a dreamy Scandinavian-inspired yurt home in Oregon

November 11, 2019 by  
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When filmmaker Zach Both decided to hit pause on his itinerant lifestyle after three years on the road in a self-converted camper van, he and his girlfriend, Nicole Lopez, tapped into their DIY roots to assemble their new home — a contemporary yurt 20 minutes outside of downtown Portland, Oregon. Prefabricated by Rainier Outdoor, the couple’s modified yurt offers 930 square feet of light-filled living space furnished to ooze hygge vibes. To share the knowledge they learned during the build, Both created a website, DoItYurtself.com , a free step-by-step guide to show others how to build a modern yurt. Built over the course of six months, the prefabricated Eagle Yurt that Both and Lopez purchased from Rainier Outdoor measures just over 30 feet in diameter with 730 square feet of living space; the couple added a bedroom loft to squeeze in an additional 200 square feet of space. While the exterior of the yurt only took a single weekend to erect with the help of friends and family, finishing the interiors was a much more involved process. As stalwart DIYers, the duo took on all parts of the project from running electrical lines and plumbing to framing the walls and furnishing the greenery-filled contemporary interior. Related: This yurt-inspired modern cabin is a holiday getaway in Slovakia The modern yurt serves as a functional home for the couple and as a home office where Both can work on his filmmaking and writing. At the heart of the circular residence is a service core housing the bathroom with a composting toilet , service equipment and kitchen. This core is wrapped by the living room with a wood-burning stove, dining space and office. The home is hooked up to electricity and draws water from a well. A round bedroom loft is elevated atop the service core and features a circular planter with more than 45 plants. “It’s been incredible to adapt a structure with a history that stretches back thousands of years,” Both said. “It was our attempt at building a modern yurt for the 21st century.” To help others, Both’s online yurt guide offers photos and videos of his entire build process as well as a comprehensive collection of information about American yurt companies on the internet. + Do It Yurtself Photography by Bryan Aulick via Do It Yurtself

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A young couple creates a dreamy Scandinavian-inspired yurt home in Oregon

Green-roofed addition brings a mid-century home into the 21st century

November 11, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than witnessing the transformation of something old into something new — and sustainable. Washington, D.C.-based firm KUBE architecture has just unveiled the beautiful renovation of a 1950s home , called the Dual Modern Home, that includes a new addition with expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass and a lush green roof. Although the architects breathed new life into the home, they had a great structure to work with from the get-go. The mid-century home, which was designed by American architect Charles Goodman, had plenty of character and style to begin with. A one-story, elongated design, the original structure was built with glass walls that flooded the living space with plenty of natural light . Related: Stunning green-roofed home in Poland is embedded into the idyllic landscape To update the home , the design team came up with a new addition that stretches half a level up the natural slope of the site. Connected to the existing house with a courtyard, the addition houses a new living area, office and children’s playroom as well as two full bathrooms and a laundry room. To create a cohesive connection to the original home, the new addition follows the same basic features of the existing design, including multiple walls of floor-to-ceiling glass panels. The structure is topped with a split pitched roof that gives the space a modern aesthetic. Stretching from the old space and over the extension is a lush green roof , which also helps to connect the entire home with its natural surroundings. The new addition adds flexibility to the home. Sliding walls allow for a change of layout in the future, and a separate entrance was installed to allow the residents to turn the addition into a fully autonomous guest suite. + KUBE Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Anice Hoachlander and Julia Heine via KUBE Architecture

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Green-roofed addition brings a mid-century home into the 21st century

Net-zero energy DPR office becomes Austins first WELL-certified workplace

November 11, 2019 by  
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Construction management firm DPR Construction has recently moved into an impressive new workplace of its own making — a LEED Gold -certified facility located on the east side of Austin, Texas. Designed to follow sustainable principles, the net-zero energy office is fitted with energy-efficient fixtures, environmentally friendly materials and health-minded features that have also earned the project WELL Silver certification. The interiors of the new office — DPR’s regional team occupies the top floor of the mixed-use facility — were designed by IA Interior Architects . DPR’s Austin office is the fifth net-zero energy office completed by the company across the country and is seen as one of the firm’s “living labs” for sustainable design. In addition to a focus on energy efficiency, the building is notable for its promotion of healthy living. Natural lighting is emphasized while materials with volatile organic compounds are limited wherever possible. Circadian lighting design, ergonomic workspaces, a spotlight on healthy eating and activity incentive programs have helped the project achieve WELL Certification. Related: Sound-absorbing materials fold into a giant origami-like meeting pod The workspace design is also reflective of DPR’s four core values: integrity, enjoyment, uniqueness and ever-forward. As an extension of the company’s flat organizational structure, an open-office concept was created in place of private offices. Instead, employees can work from a variety of different work areas with adjustable-height workstations. Amenity spaces such as the bar/break room and the gaming corridor surround the office. “Multiple green walls with air plants and succulents, like the one in reception, enhance and in some cases provide privacy,” reads a project statement by IA Interior Architects. “Environmentally friendly and sustainable local materials, views to the outside, circadian lighting design and an increase in natural light provided by the added skylights are all factors contributing to the design’s sustainability story and DPR’s commitment to wellness in the workplace.” + IA Interior Architects Photography by Robin Hill via IA Interior Architects

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Net-zero energy DPR office becomes Austins first WELL-certified workplace

Snhetta-designed center may provide a rare look inside the worlds largest seed vault

November 7, 2019 by  
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Snøhetta has unveiled preliminary designs for The Arc, a proposed visitor center for Arctic preservation storage on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, a remote island north of the Arctic Circle. Commissioned by Arctic Memory AS, the visitor center will provide a digital glimpse inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault — the world’s largest secure seed storage — as well as a look at the contents of the Arctic World Archive, a vault for preserving the world’s digital heritage. Powered by solar energy, The Arc will not only educate visitors about the importance of resource preservation but will also inspire a call to action on global warming. Located in Longyearbyen, The Arc — named in reference to its location in the Arctic — will comprise two visually distinct volumes: an entrance building and an exhibition building. Built of cross-laminated timber and clad in charred wood and dark glass, the low-lying entrance building will house a lobby, ticketing, wardrobe and a cafe as well as facilities for the Arctic World Archive and technical rooms. The building will also be elevated off the ground to prevent heating of permafrost and snow accumulation, and it will be topped with rooftop solar panels. Related: Rising temperatures are putting the Global Seed Vault at risk In contrast to the dark entrance building, the exhibition building will be tall and conical with an all-white facade that looks as though it were formed by the forces of erosion. The exhibition building is connected to the entrance building via a glass access bridge that provides views of the towering geological formations to the south as well as a stunning landscape to the north. The vertical vault of the exhibition building houses a powerful digital archive with permanent and temporary exhibits and an environment that mimics the experience of being inside one of the real vaults. Visitors can experience the vaults’ contents via wall projections managed with touchscreens, VR experiences and other physical and digital exhibit elements. At the heart of the vault is the ceremony room, a conditioned auditorium with a large deciduous tree symbolizing the vegetation that once grew on Svalbard millions of years ago when the temperatures were 5 to 8 degrees Celsius higher. “At the current rate of carbon emissions, temperatures could rise high enough for a forest to grow again on Svalbard within only 150-200 years,” the architects said. “The tree in the ceremony room is both a symbol of the past and a call to action — a living icon for global warming and our responsibility to preserve the Arctic, and all of nature, for future generations.” + Snøhetta Images via Snøhetta and Plomp

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Snhetta-designed center may provide a rare look inside the worlds largest seed vault

This sustainable luxury smartwatch monitors climate change

November 7, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Just in time for your conscious holiday shopping, Veldt, Inc. is unveiling its newest luxury smartwatch, the LUXTURE AARDE, designed with sustainability and wellness in mind. Possibly its most interesting feature, the Climate Action Reminder is a tool that shows how global warming has quickly increased temperatures compared to just 10 years ago along with other climate-related notifications. Aimed at giving the user the ideal level of alerts at the appropriate times, this luxury watch is not designed to bombard the wearer with too much information or to groom an over-reliance on technology. Unlike other modern smartwatches, the LUXTURE AARDE watch uses a combination of LED lights embedded into the watch face, vibrations and colors to convey messages rather than words, providing a less-intrusive, more subtle approach. Related: 14 apps to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle The watch comes with alerts connected to typical apps like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as well as notifications for emails and calls. It also includes the ability to connect up to three different calendars and customize up to five VIP contacts. Yellow lights around the perimeter of the analog indicate moon phases, and the Pomodoro timer reminds you to take breaks during your workday. Additionally, LUXTURE AARDE takes data from your smartphone to help track health indicators such as activity level and steps on the connecting app. The Veldt LUXTURE AARDE watch comes in three styles: rose gold-toned with the “Birch” strap, stainless steel with the “Stone” strap and black with the “Calf” strap. Wearers will enjoy a wireless charging dock and an estimated battery life of three days. The watch connects to Bluetooth and is water-resistant as well. The collection ranges from $650 to $1,150 depending on the watch style. Perhaps the most alluring feature of the Veldt LUXTURE AARDE watch is its Climate Action Reminder. Aimed at promoting the personal well-being of the wearer, the feature offers information on UV radiation exposure, ocean wave levels and weather. The Climate Action Reminder calculates the daily average temperatures of the specific countries under the Paris Agreement. It also compares the temperature of your current location against the temperature a decade ago. This original function created by VELDT developers is directed at bringing awareness to the impact of climate change , hopefully providing the wearer with daily reminders to do their part in protecting the planet. + Veldt Images via Veldt

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This sustainable luxury smartwatch monitors climate change

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