Old Dutch farmhouse gets a modern makeover with locally-sourced materials

December 2, 2016 by  
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Architect Jeanne Dekkers converted this brick farmhouse in the Dutch village of Banholt into a beautiful family house and studio. The team renovated the existing building with spruce-clad extensions that line the edges of an inner courtyard, resulting in a bright and airy space with a gentle environmental footprint. The farmhouse is located on the outskirts of an agricultural region in the Netherlands . The architects converted a former shed into a studio space and connected it to the new carport, creating a layout that resembles that of traditional farmhouses of the region. The additions are separated from the existing brick structures thanks to horizontal timber cladding. The old horse stable was transformed into a light and modern living space with an office. Two large openings made of Iroko wood frame the landscape and let the light inside. A stainless steel core containing the kitchen, bathroom and toilet occupies the central area of the building. Two round staircases clad in wood connect the ground floor with the second floor. Related: Historic Belgian farmhouse renovated into a modern solar-powered home The team collaborated with local artisans through the project, prioritizing local materials and local building techniques. They also reused some of the original materials, including old steel ledgers, roof tiles and bricks. + Jeanne Dekkers Architecture Via Dezeen Photos by Holly Marder

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Old Dutch farmhouse gets a modern makeover with locally-sourced materials

Scientists blend photosynthesis and quantum physics to improve solar cells

December 2, 2016 by  
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Four physicists at the University of California, Riverside decided to blend photosynthesis and quantum physics to work towards greener solar cells . Plants effectively regulate energy flow from the sun, but since current affordable man-made solar cells hover around just 20 percent efficiency, the scientists decided to take cues from vegetation. Current solar cells require feedback controllers and voltage converters to manage fluctuations in the amount of energy streaming from the sun, and end up wasting loads of energy. Their lack of efficiency is one hurdle standing in the way of mass adoption. But plants don’t need such hindering mechanisms. The UC Riverside team decided to reevaluate solar energy conversion in light of both photosynthesis’ efficiency and quantum physics principles. Related: Newly discovered form of spiralized light breaks everything quantum physics says about photons The physicists created what UC Riverside calls a novel kind of quantum heat engine photocell, a device that assists in the sunshine-to- electricity conversion process. Their new photocell draws on two quantum mechanical photocell systems that absorb either one or two colors of light, allowing the photocell to alternate between absorbing light at high and low power. According to UC Riverside, this innovation could allow a photocell to “convert varying levels of solar power into a steady-state output.” For UC Riverside assistant professor Nathan Gabor, who took part in the research, the journey to a better solar cell started in 2010 with the simple question, “Why are plants green?” He found out no one truly understands why, and decided to search for an answer. His quest, drawing on his physics background melded with deeper study into biology, may unlock the secrets to a more effective solar cell. The journal Nano Letters published the physicists’ research online in November. Via University of California, Riverside Images via Nathaniel Gabor and Tamar Melen and Pixabay

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Scientists blend photosynthesis and quantum physics to improve solar cells

Four major cities pledge to ban diesel cars by 2025

December 2, 2016 by  
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Air pollution plagues many large cities , and now four major metropolises are taking a stand. At the C40 Mayors Summit ending today in Mexico City, Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens pledged to ban diesel cars by 2025. They also urged car manufacturers to take action, saying they will provide incentives for their residents to walk, bike, or drive alternatively-fueled cars. Air pollution leads to three million deaths every single year, with most fatalities occurring in cities, according to the World Health Organization. As diesel cars pump out contaminating fumes, the four cities decided to remove those vehicles from their cities. In addition to carbon dioxide, cars emit nitrogen dioxide and tiny particles, worsening air quality especially in congested urban areas. Related: 6 brilliant smog-eating designs ridding cities of air pollution According to The Guardian, it’s not precisely clear if the pledge will include a total ban, or if it will simply ban cars from some areas of the cities, and if so, exactly which areas. But such a move could be especially beneficial for Mexico City, which just this year banned over one million cars in an air pollution crisis. Mexico City mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera said in a statement , “It is no secret that in Mexico City we grapple with the twin problems of air pollution and traffic.” Public transportation , like the subway and bus system, will be expanded, according to the mayor, as will bicycling infrastructure. Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis indicated he wants to take his city even one step further by removing every car from Athens’ center. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo challenged the car industry to take pollution as seriously as the four cities. “Today, we…stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes – particularly for our most vulnerable citizens,” she said. “Big problems like air pollution require bold action, and we call on car and bus manufacturers to join us.” Via The Guardian Images via Mike Norton on Flickr and Pixabay

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Four major cities pledge to ban diesel cars by 2025

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