This human-sized birdhouse for two is perched among the treetops

November 14, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wished you could make like a bird and roost in the trees, you’ll love this charming birdhouse-shaped hideaway nestled in a British Columbia forest. Calgary-based design firm Studio North recently completed Birdhut, a cozy nest for people and birds alike. Built of reclaimed pine felled by a recent fire, the tiny 100-square-foot structure uses locally scavenged materials to mimic a bird’s nest-building process. Accessible via a bridge to the hillside, the cozy one-room Birdhut sleeps two (and a dog). Salvaged lodgepodge pines were used for the cross-braced structure, while planks reclaimed from a cabin deck are used for the platform and cladding. Western Red Cedar rounded shingles clad the facade and 8-millimeter clear polycarbonate panels top the roof, letting ample natural daylight into the cabin. Two circular windows let in natural ventilation. Related: Enchanting birdhouses inspired by famous architecture Twelve smaller circular holes punctuate the facade, each designed for different native birds . “The pileated woodpecker for instance, is a larger bird that seeks out a nesting space 15 to 25 feet above ground, with a 4” entry hole and an 8”x8”x24” cavity,” wrote the designers. “The warbler, on the other hand, is a smaller bird that typically nests 9 feet above ground with a 1 1/8” hole and a 4”x4”x6” cavity. Considering both the largest and smallest varieties of local birds, the hut sits 9 feet off the ground, with its peak at 20 feet above the ground and birdhouses scattered in between.” + Studio North Images by Mark Erickson

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This human-sized birdhouse for two is perched among the treetops

Rainforest Retreat is a nature lovers escape with minimal building impact

November 10, 2016 by  
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Hidden away in the British Columbia rainforest, the 825-square-foot cabin enjoys privacy and its many windows offer carefully framed views of the landscape. The building is handsomely clad in locally milled Douglas Fir and Red Cedar, which lend the cabin a sense of warmth, while helping it blend into the surroundings. The use of timber is repeated in the interior, where it is complemented by large white surfaces for a clean and contemporary appearance. Shade from the trees and cross-breezes naturally cool the building. Related: Modern timber-framed cabin is hidden high among the tree canopy of a Swedish island “The client’s wishes for simplicity, gentle exterior appearance, a small footprint, and abundant natural light set the stage for an open sculptural form,” writes Agathom. “Great effort was taken to minimize the building’s impact on the site, resulting in a long, slim structure. Slightly twisting two main blocks of the plan, and overlapping those shapes, made a building modest in area ever expansive and full of unexpected depth.” Custom lighting enhances forest views in the dark and a periscope light was installed to guide the client when outdoors. The Rainforest Retreat was this year’s Architizer A+ Awards winner in the Popular Choice category for Private House XS. + Agathom Via Dezeen Images via Agathom

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Rainforest Retreat is a nature lovers escape with minimal building impact

Rainforest Solutions Project saves over 12 million acres of forest, wins 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

October 6, 2016 by  
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The Great Bear Rainforest is ” one of the largest old growth temperate rainforests on the planet .” The region is also home to around 18,000 to 20,000 First Nations peoples, whose spirituality and identities are linked to the rainforest, according to Rainforest Solutions Project . Spirit bears, or Kermode bears, also make their home in the rainforest, and it is the only place in the world where they live, according to the Save The Great Bear Rainforest Facebook page . Related: 6 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge The Rainforest Solutions Project team said in a statement, “The problems we faced are very common, although the ecosystems and First Nations cultures are unique. The process for the parties to move through conflict to collaboration required alliances and cross-cultural relationships, while holding firm to key principles. This helped us all navigate through complex issues to bring the art of the possible into being at a meaningful scale now and into the future.” According to the Buckminster Fuller Institute , the agreement the Rainforest Solutions Project team helped develop is “historically unprecendented” and is “one of the most extraordinary approaches to conservation , social justice, and indigenous rights in recent memory.” Fuller Challenge Review Committee member Bill Browning said in a statement, “Selecting the Rainforest Solutions Project as the 2016 Winner is a provocative point in the evolution of the Challenge, as design is being recognized as an integral part of business and society.” + Rainforest Solutions Project + Buckminster Fuller Institute Images via Save the Great Bear Rainforest Facebook ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ) and Dogwood BC on Flickr ( 6 , 7 )

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Rainforest Solutions Project saves over 12 million acres of forest, wins 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

First Nations community launches the largest community-owned solar power installation in British Columbia

September 9, 2016 by  
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Home to over 1,000 members of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, the Lower Nicola Indian Band is made up of a community of Interior Salish peoples that have lived for thousands of years along the Thompson and Nicola rivers in the Southern Interior of the province. The territory’s location in the heart of British Columbia’s “sun belt” region made it an ideal place for a solar installation. The project is the first phase to make the community more energy self-sufficient and will likely be followed with initiatives to help community members add solar to their private homes. Related: First Nation builds spirited solar project in the heart of Canada’s oil sands The 330-panel rooftop solar array on the Lower Nicola Indian Band School gymnasium generates up to 85.8 kilowatts of electricity. Excess energy will be fed into the local BC Hydro grid. The school will integrate the solar project into the curriculum as an opportunity to teach students about renewable energy . The solar power installation was created in partnership with W Dusk Energy Group, the principal developer that specializes in working with First Nations community in renewable energy projects and other community development initiatives. + Lower Nicola Indian Band + W Dusk Energy Group Images via W Dusk Energy Group

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First Nations community launches the largest community-owned solar power installation in British Columbia

Meet SOLO, an affordable electric three-wheeled commuter vehicle for one

September 9, 2016 by  
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Called the SOLO for short, this little electric car is downright amazing. It has three wheels—two in the front and one in the rear. The body looks a lot like every other car out there, except that its triangular shape makes it appear as though it’s been smooshed in on itself a bit. The body is built largely from carbon fiber for a durable but lightweight ride, which aids in energy efficiency as well. Related: The 10 best electric vehicles for every buyer The SOLO may be small (and a little weird looking), but that doesn’t mean it’s not powerful. It boasts 140 ft-lbs of torque with an engine output up to 82 hp that can rev from 0 to 60 miles an hour in 8 seconds. With a top speed of 80 miles per hour (130 km/h), the SOLO is right at home on interstates and city freeways, turning an ordinary commute into an emission-free breeze. The SOLO also features all-wheel disc brakes and sporty 15” aluminum alloy wheels make it easy to stop on a dime. Electra Meccanica recognizes that range anxiety can be a big turn-off for prospective EV buyers, so the SOLO was built with a 16.1 kWh Lithium Ion battery capable of providing up to six hours of run time and maximum range of 100 miles on a single charge. The average American commutes around 26 miles each way, so the SOLO provides more than enough coverage for a daily trek between the home and the office, with a few side trips thrown in for good measure. (That’s right. The SOLO may be tiny and only seat one person, but it still has room for groceries.) Electra Meccanica found that some 80 percent of commuters travel alone, so a single-seater commuter vehicle that happens to be better for the environment is so many “wins” we can’t keep track. Did we mention this cute little commuter is affordable, to boot? With a starting price of just $15,400 ($19,888 CAD), the SOLO fits comfortably into a wide range of car-buying budgets . Electra Meccanica is accepting pre-orders with a small refundable deposit for a very limited time. “The entire team here at Electra Meccanica is excited to unveil the SOLO at the Luxury and Supercar show,” said CEO Jerry Kroll. “Most people had a good idea of what the SOLO would become, but they will be impressed by its clever design and meticulous attention to detail. It far exceeded our expectations.” Same here, Jerry. Same here. + 2017 Electra Meccanica SOLO Images via Electra Meccanica

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Meet SOLO, an affordable electric three-wheeled commuter vehicle for one

Sublime tiny cabins in British Columbia that can be installed within hours

September 2, 2016 by  
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The cabin is intended for urban dwellers who don’t want to buy all the camping gear, but still want to get back to nature from time to time. Named “The Cobby”, the structure can also be used by those looking for a small office space or a romantic getaway. It comes at 104 square feet, just a few feet under the square footage which requires a building permit in Canada . Related: Fully-furnished tiny house from France easily fits a family of three All the materials used for building these cabins are sourced from Canada, including the sustainably harvested cedar used for cladding. Low-voltage LEDs are included in the package, with the option of adding a solar energy solution. Among the main features is the fact that the cabins can be easily installed in a few hours. The Cobby can be purchased at USD $19,200, and can be customized to include a deck and a washroom. + The Little Cabin Company Via Treehugger Photos via The Little Cabin Company

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Sublime tiny cabins in British Columbia that can be installed within hours

7 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

August 23, 2016 by  
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Cooperación Comunitaria In 2013, Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid ravaged La Montaña, one of the poorest and most marginalized areas of Mexico. Home to over three-quarters of the Mexican state Guerrero’s indigenous population, the beautiful but devastated area struggled to get back on its feet in the wake of mass destruction. Cooperación Comunitaria was founded to radically improve the population’s living conditions with a comprehensive model that begins with community outreach and ends with projects that integrate both local indigenous culture and modern, eco-friendly techniques. One such example is the organization’s program to build affordable and earthquake-resistant homes constructed from local materials . Taking Root’s CommuniTree The World Wildlife Fund estimates that between 46 to 58,000 square miles of forest are lost every year—equivalent to 48 football fields every minute. CommuniTree tackles deforestation with a comprehensive reforestation and carbon sequestration strategy that also aims to help turn the tide on poverty and climate change. The project is currently working with thousands of smallholding rural farming families in Nicaragua by providing economic incentives that encourage sustainable land-use change. PITCHAfrica’s Waterbank Schools PITCHAfrica designed and implemented the Waterbank School , an innovative rain-harvesting school campus model for Africa that comprises education buildings integrated with rainwater harvesting , collection, and filtering systems. By using buildings to collect water rather than female labor, more girls and women are able to attend the Waterbank Schools. The nonprofit says school attendance has risen by at least a quarter, and often as high as 95%. The Sentinel Project’s Una Hakika Canada-based nonprofit The Sentinel Project launched Una Hakika as part of their mission to prevent genocide worldwide. Described as a “hybrid of communications technology, social insight, and beneficial use of social media,” the Una Hakika project aims to use online and offline measures to empower ordinary citizens in combating misinformation that can lead to violence or genocide. The pilot has helped defused conflict between farmers and herders in Kenya’s Tana Delta and is now being tested in Burma to prove that it can be replicated in different contexts. Urban Death Project The Urban Death Project (UDP) wants to turn corpses into compost as an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to burials and cremations. The UDP designed Recomposition centers that would safely decompose dead bodies into nutrient compost. The building would be a hybrid between a public park, funeral home, and memorial space. The first full-scale Recomposition center is slated to pop up in Seattle, Washington. Rainforest Solutions Project British Columbia’s enormous coastal rainforests are rich with resources and life, which is why they’ve become the target of many different interest groups including the government, First Nations, environmentalists, and logging companies. In an effort to protect the rainforests, Greenpeace, ForestEthics Solutions, and Sierra Club BC founded the Rainforest Solutions Project to promote conservation options and economic alternatives to industrial logging. One of their most recent successes is the historic 250-year agreement between different parties to conserve and sustainably manage the 15-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest, the world’s largest old-growth temperate rainforest. + Buckminster Fuller Institute

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7 world-changing finalists announced for the 2016 Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Yoga teacher builds a meditative 168-square foot tiny house haven

August 23, 2016 by  
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Grim built the 22-foot home with the help of her carpenter friend Rudy Hexler and an apprentice named Lenny in 2015. The tiny house sits quietly in the wooded Pacific Northwest  and took only six months and USD $38,500 to complete. A curved porch made from removable 8’ by 8’ pallets is partially covered by a plexiglas awning to keep the rain out and let the sunshine pour in. Related: Towable Riverside tiny house packs every conventional amenity into 246 square feet The living room features a cast-iron wood stove and plenty of space for Grim’s yoga practice. Bench seating is installed into the walls near the large, sun-drenched windows. The storage-packed kitchen area includes a sink and single burner on one side and a wooden countertop with detachable leaf for dining on the other. A custom stone backsplash gives the room its own fair, mirrored in the custom flooring alongside the indoor metal bathtub. Grim prefers the use of an outhouse, located on her property, yet her indoor shower and tub are equipped with hot water. All graywater is collected in a five gallon container outdoors to be used in watering her garden. Her 64 square foot bedroom loft is bathed in light and seems perfectly cozy. All in all, she pays just a few hundred dollars each month for renting the land, a place to park her car, laundry, and utilities. She says about the perks of tiny houses, “It’s a way for young people to own their own home when they’re 20–something, and I think that in this day and age that is not really available to a lot of us.” +Keva Tiny House Via Treehugger Images via Keva Tiny House

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Yoga teacher builds a meditative 168-square foot tiny house haven

Vancouver’s greenest office building envisions a new kind of office space with TELUS Garden

July 29, 2016 by  
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The one-million-square-foot TELUS Garden is a mixed use development that consumes an entire city block in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, and this building is green as it gets. The complex comprises a 53-floor residential tower and a 24-floor office tower, which includes the nine floors that hold the company’s national headquarters. Construction was completed in 2015, and the headquarters are targeting LEED Platinum certification, with many sustainability goals tied to the base building systems. The TELUS Garden building employs passive ventilation , copious daylighting, radiant heating and cooling, integration of indoor and outdoor space, and the extensive use of local wood throughout. Among the green building components featured in the TELUS Garden hub is a raised access floor with a displacement ventilation system which uses 100-percent outside air, as well as radiant exposed concrete ceilings. Systems such as these actually informed the design of the building, as the concrete radiant ceiling had to be largely left exposed in order for the heating system to function properly and efficiently. (See photo below) Related: Vancouver will be powered by 100-percent renewable energy While Henriquez Partners Architects were the project architect for this eco-friendly, soon-to-be LEED platinum office building, OMB Architects (Office of Mcfarlane Biggar designers + architects) were hired as the interior architects on the project. OMB Architects approached their design with a goal to match the sustainability of the LEED platinum structure throughout the interior details. For interior architecture, OMB chose local woods, such as Red Alder, all non-toxic surface materials, and low-VOC and recycled materials throughout the project. The local BC Red Alder wood was used throughout the office and meeting spaces, featured in the flooring as well as the sweeping spiral staircase. The TELUS headquarters also incorporates exterior space into the work environment, in the form of a terrace with solar cell-clad shades, a quiet garden space, and sweeping views of the cityscape. + Telus Garden + Henriquez Partners Architect + omb Images via Andrew Latreille and Ema Peter

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Vancouver’s greenest office building envisions a new kind of office space with TELUS Garden

Scientists find first contagious cancer transmissible between species

June 30, 2016 by  
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Scientists have seen contagious cancer before, in Tasmanian devils, in dogs, and in soft-shell clams in Prince Edward Island. Now, researchers are adding one more occurrence to the list: a contagious, leukemia-like disease that appears to be widespread among shellfish with hinged shells, called bivalves, such as clams, mussels, and cockles. Researchers discovered evidence, for the first time ever, that this particular disease can spread between species , making it slightly more terrifying. A team of Spanish scientists initially found the cancerous phenomenon in shellfish off the coast of Galicia, Spain but other researchers working in Canada have also observed the contagious disease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ir5H-yZONg8 Scientists learned that the disease was spreading among ocean creatures  belonging to related, but different species after a genetic analysis of the cancer cells. Cancer originates from mutated cells but are genetically similar to the host, so analyzing the cancer cells helped researchers determine their origin. So far, the disease has been found in mussels off the coast of British Columbia and in cockles and golden carpet shell clams in Spain, and it is very similar to a disease soft-shell clams in Prince Edward Island have suffered. Related: Clams could clean up oil spills without chemicals This discovery of a transmissible cancer is probably just the beginning, according to study coauthor Jim Sherry, an Environment Canada scientist based in Burlington, Ontario. “It may be more widespread in nature than we know,” he said. Instead of being very similar to the genetic makeup of their host, cancer cells of this variety are “wildly different from the host,” according to lead author Stephen Goff, a professor of microbiology at Columbia University. The cancer cells they found in golden carpet shell clams had originated in the pullet carpet shell, a related species of shellfish . “This had to be a case of cross-species transmission,” Goff said. Luckily, the scientists think the contagious cancer is a rare occurrence, and isn’t likely to spread to unrelated species. The study, published in the journal Nature , describes the nature of the contagious cancer in shellfish in Spain, Canada, and the northern United States. Via CBC Images via CUMC

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Scientists find first contagious cancer transmissible between species

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