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

DC’s Capital Bikeshare is a Red Hot Success Story in One Year!

August 29, 2011 by  
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Eco-cities , is a new series on Ecopreneurist, where we will feature the most environmentally friendly cities and their innovative city planning models designed to face their toughest environmental concerns. If you would like us to feature your eco-city, email us! The hugely popular Capital Bikeshare  or CaBi as locals call it, has completed more than one of operation and is riding high on its success in DC and adjoining suburbs. CaBi was born as SmartBike DC in August 2008, when the District of Columbia became the first jurisdiction in North America to launch a bike sharing system. At first, SmartBike D.C. offered 120 bikes at 10 stations in downtown D.C. and the Center City. Approximately 1,600 people joined SmartBike D.C. during its 2 years of operation. Meanwhile, Arlington County, VA was working on its own plans for a bike sharing system. Together, Arlington and the District reviewed proposals and selected an operator for a new bike sharing system in May 2010. The two jurisdictions worked closely to develop Capital Bikeshare and are proud to offer a greatly expanded regional service of over 1,100 bikes and 114 stations. What Is Capital Bikeshare? Capital Bikeshare puts 1,100 bicycles at your fingertips. You can choose from over 110 stations across Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA and return it to any station near your destination. Check out a bike for your trip to work, Metro, run errands, go shopping, or visit friends and family. Join Capital Bikeshare for  24 hours ,  5 days ,  30 days , or  a year , and have access to our fleet of bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The first 30 minutes of each trip are free. Each additional 30 minutes incurs an additional fee. Benefits of DC’s Bikeshare System Community Engagement-  CaBi truly engages the community by requesting feedback on services, stations and experience. Their efforts are paying off as DC residents are mighty impressed by the program. Alternative Transportation- The Washington Post reported that after last week’s earthquake, ridership tripled between 2pm and 4pm, compared to the previous day! When traffic snarls were reported all through DC, bikers did not have too many complaints! CaBi has become another means of getting around for DC workers and residents, that is environmentally friendly and carbon friendly! Pedestrian Friendly City = Vibrant Economy- Not only does it encourage a healthy lifestyle, it also fosters community well-being, where pedestrians and cyclists interact with and have easy access to local businesses, contributing to a vibrant city and economy . Road Blocks to Expand the Program? Federal/State Funding- While twelve percent of all trips nationwide happen by bike or on foot, states spend just 1 percent of transportation funds for such facilities. These programs are also like the low-hanging fruit that Congress is always looking to cut. Federal Government Non-Cooperation- The Capital Bikeshare program has been rejected by the National Parks Service that has jurisdiction over many parts of DC, like the monuments. This opposition seems irrational as tourists could benefit a great deal if facilities were provided near monuments and federal employees could avail the facilities at federal buildings. Despite the above obstacles, the DC’s bike share system has exceeded all expectations and has become the lifeline of the capital area. The bright red bikes have taken over the city and are here to stay. Great job DC!!  

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DC’s Capital Bikeshare is a Red Hot Success Story in One Year!

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