LEED Gold office in Austin offers wearables to promote employee wellness

October 16, 2020 by  
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The Texas Mutual Insurance Company’s new headquarters in Austin, Texas’s Mueller Development has earned both LEED Gold and Austin Energy Green Building 4-Star certifications in recognition of the building’s energy-efficient design and focus on occupant wellness. Designed by Texan architecture firm  Studio8 Architects , the four-story office building is notable for its adherence to the “Design for Active Occupants” LEED innovation strategy to prioritize a healthy and active workplace as opposed to the traditionally sedentary office environment. Texas Mutual also provides occupants with wearable devices to track activity and employee access to an online portal for evaluating individual health scores and biometric data.  As one of the first members of the Austin Green Business Leaders group, Texas Mutual has used its headquarters as an inspiring example of the firm’s sustainable objectives. The four-story headquarters is strategically located in the LEED ND Gold-certified Mueller neighborhood, a  mixed-use  and mixed-income area that’s pedestrian and bicycle-friendly. The offices sit above ground-floor retail space — currently occupied by a restaurant and daycare facility — and a parking garage. To meet  LEED Gold  standards, architects wrapped the building with a highly insulating envelope punctuated with full-height windows and wove biophilic design elements throughout the interior. Daylight responsive LEDs and an HVAC system that draws chilled water from Austin Energy’s Mueller District Energy System help to further reduce the building’s energy footprint.  Related: SUNY New Paltz Engineering Innovation Hub achieves LEED Gold Natural materials, daylighting and greenery indoors further promote a healthy work environment. Occupant health is also targeted with ergonomic workstations with adjustable sit/stand desks, an on-site gym and a Green Housekeeping program to maintain a clean and non-toxic space. “Social spaces were sporadically placed to encourage movement across floors, a multi-story  green wall , and a courtyard and rooftop terrace with Wi-Fi connection encouraged employees to be connected to each other and to nature,” the architects said. + Studio8 Architects Images by Lars Frazer

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LEED Gold office in Austin offers wearables to promote employee wellness

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

Award-winning B-Austin Community Project champions communal and sustainable living

August 9, 2019 by  
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Solar collection, EV charging and gray water recycling are just a few of the environmentally features offered at B-Austin Community Project , an innovative mixed-use development designed by local design practice Clark | Richardson Architects . Created with the goal of becoming one of Austin’s greenest buildings, the co-housing project considers more than just energy-efficiency—the health and wellness of its occupants have also been prioritized in the design. The mixed-use complex was awarded with a 2018 Austin Green Award and is in the process of receiving a 4-star Austin Energy Green Building Rating. Located in South Austin, the B-Austin Community Project spans 22,000 square feet across three stories. The timber-framed building comprises 14 modern apartment units as well as amenity spaces—such as community gardens, an on-site gym and a community center—and leasable white box office suites marketed towards heath and wellness businesses, such as those in the massage and physical therapy industry. As part of the City of Austin SMART building program, the development also reserves a fraction of the apartments for low-income occupants earning less than 80 percent of the median income. “B-AUSTIN was conceived as a place to foster community in a sustainable , environmentally friendly setting,” says a B-Austin statement on their website. “In this spirit, we offer residents easy access to a wide variety of professional wellness resources and programs to encourage in-reach among community members.” Related: Austin passes law banning restaurants from throwing out food waste In addition its emphasis on healthy and communal lifestyles, the mixed-use development reduces its environmental footprint with sustainable systems such as a solar array that offsets a quarter of the facility’s electricity needs, LED interior lighting, electric car charging stations, an Integrated Landfill Diversion Plan to make it easier to recycle and compost, a rainwater harvesting system and an adaptive greywater harvesting program to conserve potable water. According to the architects, B-Austin is set to become “the first mixed-use multifamily community in Austin, and possibly the first in the state, to use greywater recycling.” + Clark Richardson Architects Images via Clark Richardson Architects

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Award-winning B-Austin Community Project champions communal and sustainable living

Austin passes law banning restaurants from throwing out food waste

October 5, 2018 by  
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Restaurants in Austin, Texas have revamped operations this week by adopting sustainable measures for food waste . According to a new law, which went into effect on October 1, local eateries must now dispose of waste in a responsible manner as part of Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance (URO). The businesses are encouraged to choose from a variety of options, including donating unconsumed goods, sending leftovers to farms or composting organic waste in order to divert trash from landfills. Employees are also being given supplementary training on how to properly handle food waste with care for the environment. The URO is a major catalyst for Texas’ Zero Waste by 2040 pledge and also includes lateral initiatives to broaden recycling measures and safeguard sustainable economic development. Related: New study finds food waste will increase to 66 tons per second if left unchecked “The City is committed to helping companies, large and small, find cost-effective solutions and establish diversion programs to ensure food and other organics are put to best use while meeting ordinance requirements,” said Sam Angoori, Interim Director for Austin Resource Recovery. The organization has become a go-to for businesses that need help reshaping their operations to comply with the new food waste regulations. And the help is certainly needed. According to local government studies, “the [Austin] community needs to divert more than 90 percent of discards from being burned or buried” in order to transform Texas’ zero waste ambitions into a reality. Government research from 2015 reveals that about 37 percent of trash sent to overburdened landfills is actually organic, meaning it could easily be composted and reused to benefit — not harm — the environment. “When we waste food, we not only add organic materials to landfills (where they generate methane, a powerful global warming pollutant), but we also waste all the water , land, energy, money, labor and other resources that go into growing, processing, distributing and storing that food,” explained Senior Research Specialist Darby Hoover from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Austin joins cities such as New York, Seattle and San Francisco leading the way with food waste redirection programs of their own. San Francisco boasts the top score on the environmental leaderboard by diverting an astounding 80 percent of its total waste from landfills and, most importantly, showing other cities that it can be done. More likely than not, other cities will soon be embracing similar initiatives based on the successes of their pioneering neighbors — something that both people and the environment can be thankful for. + Austin Resource Recovery Via The Huffington Post  and  The Rockefeller Foundation Image via  Pawe? Czerwi?ski

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Austin passes law banning restaurants from throwing out food waste

Bjarke Ingels Group unveils plans for massive solar-powered sports complex in Austin

December 7, 2017 by  
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They say everything is bigger in Texas, but the state’s newest sports arena is going to be really BIG. Bjarke Ingels Group just unveiled plans for the new East Austin District, a solar-powered sports and entertainment center that will include the city’s first pro sports stadium and large-scale music arena. The modern complex will be topped with a series of red photovoltaic roofs in a checkerboard layout. The massive 1.3 million-square-foot complex will be located east of downtown Austin, at the current site of Rodeo Austin. Once complete, the space will host various sporting and musical events at the 40,000-seat pro-sports stadium and 15,000-seat arena. Additionally on site will be work spaces, youth centers, medical facilities, convention space and an abundance of hospitality amenities across the entire campus. Related: BIG’s looping station design in Paris turns bridge into public space The general design of the buildings is inspired by local cultural roots of Texas and Austin. Using a Jefferson Grid-style approach, the individual buildings will be arranged in a checkerboard layout, creating latticed rooftop appearance from above. Each individual roof will designate distinct functions of the space below. The rooftop will be equipped with red photovoltaic panels to provide clean energy to the complex and potentially provide energy to the city of Austin as well. BIG, who will be working in collaboration with Austin-based architects STG Design , designed the complex to be a vibrant modern space that blends into the city’s unique urban character, “Like a collective campus rather than a monolithic stadium, the East Austin District unifies all the elements of rodeo and soccer into a village of courtyards and canopies. Embracing Austin’s local character and culture, the East Austin District is a single destination composed of many smaller structures under one roof. Part architecture, part urbanism, part landscape – the East Austin District is the architectural manifestation of collective intimacy – a complex capable of making tens of thousands of fans come together and enjoy the best Austin has to offer inside and between its buildings.” explains Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG. + Bjarke Ingels Group Images by Bjarke Ingels Group

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Bjarke Ingels Group unveils plans for massive solar-powered sports complex in Austin

Off-grid Lake House escapes the Texan heat with minimal landscape impact

September 21, 2017 by  
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There’s nothing quite like taking a cool dip in a lake on a hot summer’s day. The lucky owners of the Lake House get to escape the brutal Texan heat with laps in Lake Austin thanks to their off-grid boathouse. American studio Andersson-Wise Architects designed the two-story boathouse that operates off the grid and exerts minimal impact on the environment. Created as part of a residential estate, the Lake House in Austin is a boathouse set a half-mile away from the main residence across a deep ravine. The modern building is anchored atop a rock in the lake and elevated on slender steel columns. The steel-framed structure is divided into two sections: a sheltered space for a sculling dock and boat storage below, and living quarters with a grill and operable windows above. “The simple, elegant building rises above the water, resting on the surface like a water skater,” said the architects, according to https://www.dezeen.com/2017/09/19/andersson-wise-off-the-grid-boathouse-lake-austin-texas/ Dezeen . “And like the surface-skimming insect, this off-the-grid domicile exerts a minimal impact on its surroundings.” Related: Dreamy summer retreat built of salvaged materials sends eclectic vibes in Austin A natural materials palette helps blend the Lake House into its forested surroundings. Dark-stained wood clad the structure inside and out. Operable screen windows on the north and east facades swing open to let in cooling winds, natural light , and views of the lake. The screen windows can also be removed so that visitors can dive directly out of the living room into the lake. + Andersson-Wise Architects Via Dezeen Images via Andersson-Wise Architects

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Off-grid Lake House escapes the Texan heat with minimal landscape impact

Schmidt Hammer Lassen breaks ground on LEED Gold-seeking incubator in Shanghai

September 21, 2017 by  
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A striking new high-tech building in Shanghai is going for gold— LEED Gold , that is. Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects just broke ground on the new CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters, an incubator for high-tech firms designed for LEED Gold certification. Engineered for climate control, the boxy green-roofed center will mitigate Shanghai’s muggy summers and bone-chilling winters with its stacked and staggered massing. Located east of downtown Shanghai near Hongqiao Airport, the government-backed CaoHeJing Hi-Tech Park is one of Shanghai’s earliest high-tech business parks serviced by its eponymous metro station. The technological development zone covers an area of 14.5 square kilometers and is home to around 1,200 domestic and overseas high-tech companies. The CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters is Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s third project for CaoHeJing, following the firm’s transformation of an old office building into the CaoHeJing Innovation Incubator. Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects unveils competition-winning design for the Shanghai Library The CaoHeJing Guigu Creative Headquarters is made up of three stacked and staggered glass volumes connected with two external landscaped terraces. The divisible incubator studio spaces are located on the upper levels while the ground-floor volume comprises the main lobby, exhibition and event space, and a coffee bar. “The volumes are playfully staggered to create a combination of exposed and shaded external spaces that can be utilised at different times of the year in Shanghai’s variable weather conditions”, said Schmidt Hammer Lassen Partner, Chris Hardie. “By doing this we create a direct connection to exterior green space for the buildings occupants to use throughout the year.” Full-height glazing with operable windows maximizes access to natural light and ventilation to keep energy costs low, while deep overhangs mitigate solar heat gain in the summer. + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Schmidt Hammer Lassen breaks ground on LEED Gold-seeking incubator in Shanghai

You can build one of these tiny backyard offices in less a week for under $7000

August 17, 2017 by  
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Austin-based Sett Studio designs tiny offices that take conventional workspaces to task. These micro-offices can be used for a variety of applications – and they can be set up in no time for an affordable price. The firm’s newest design, named NOVI, is perfect for those looking for a mobile outdoor workspace – and the DIY version can be built for just $6800. As the tiny living concept is gaining in popularity, an increasing number of people are taking that idea to the office with  flexible spaces that bring them closer to nature. This year, Sett Studio is launching a new concept that weds their award-winning contemporary design with an affordable price. The NOVI DIY can be built by anyone with little to no construction experience. The firm provides full sets of instructions on how to assemble the unit. Related: Tiny workplace on wheels can make each day at the office different! Users can choose to built the structure themselves or hire a contractor. Sett Studio can build the entire project on side and have the unit completed in under a week. The DIY unit costs $6800 and is currently available only in Austin , Texas. + Sett Studio

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You can build one of these tiny backyard offices in less a week for under $7000

Revolutionary glass building blocks generate their own solar energy

August 17, 2017 by  
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There’s a new building block in town, and it generates its own clean energy. Researchers from Exeter University developed new glass blocks that are embedded with small solar cells . Not only do the blocks generate energy, but they also provide thermal insulation and allow natural light to enter buildings. Called Solar Squared, the blocks are embedded during the manufacturing process with an array of optical elements that focus sunlight on tiny solar cells . The blocks are made to ensure maximum solar absorption, even in tricky urban areas. “The modular design is completely scalable, and allows for seamless architectural integration,” according to an Exeter press release . “The streamlined nature of the technology enables it to be embedded in conventional construction materials, meaning that its applications are myriad.” Professor Tapas Mallick and Dr Hasan Baig, along with IIB Research Commercialization Manager Jim Williams, hope their patent-pending design will revolutionize the construction industry . Related: Tesla’s new solar roof is actually cheaper than a regular roof “Deployment of standard solar technology is limited by the large area requirement and the negative visual impact,” said Dr Baig from the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Cornwall. “We wanted to overcome these limitations by introducing technologies that become a part of the building’s envelope. We now have the capability to build integrated, affordable, efficient, and attractive solar technologies as part of the building’s architecture, in places where energy demand is highest, whilst having minimal impact on the landscape and on quality of life.” There are challenges, though. Dr Baig says it’s difficult to communicate how the building product serves a dual purpose, and that expectations of price should reflect the same. “People tend to make comparisons with standard solar panels found on roof tops but it’s necessary to also include the value of the underlying building material in order to quantify the value proposition.” For this reason, the group aims to ensure that Solar Squared will cost less than conventional glass blocks with the added cost of electricity . They are currently seeking test sites and investors – in case you know someone who can take this to the next level. + Solar Squared, Exeter University Via New Atlas

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Revolutionary glass building blocks generate their own solar energy

Sprawling Bracketed Space House frames views of forests and rolling hills in Austin, Texas

November 28, 2016 by  
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The house is located on a sloped site in Austin, Texas. It reaches out to embrace the surrounding landscape and blur the line between the interior and the exterior spaces. The wings of the house are topped with flat roofs and are connected by a glazed volume that establishes a visual connection between the front and rear of the house. Related: Architect Miguel Rivera’s Daylit Residence in Austin is a Renovated 1917 Bungalow Open-plan interior spaces are oriented towards the c ourtyard with an infinity pool that overlooks rolling hills and forests. Cedar , steel, natural stucco , concrete and glass create a mixture of textures and colors. + Matt Fajkus Architecture Via D ezeen Photos by Charles Davis Smith, Spaces & Faces Photography

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Sprawling Bracketed Space House frames views of forests and rolling hills in Austin, Texas

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