An innovative rainscreen meets sustainable cladding

March 28, 2022 by  
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A leader in sustainable cladding partnered with an innovative installation designer. The result is a long-lasting, durable and low-maintenance rainscreen system with endless uses. Norwegian company Kebony offers a high-quality modified wood product used in patios and exterior cladding. Kebony Technology® is an environmentally-friendly  wood  treatment originally developed in Norway. The company has now expanded from its Oslo headquarters to production facilities in Skien and Belgium, plus a U.S. base in St. Clair, Michigan.  Related: Sophisticated, sustainable lakeside cabin showcases the best of Nordic minimalism A recent Kebony release presents a protective exterior rainscreen with a sustainable wood cladding that requires no maintenance except basic cleaning. The system is easy to install thanks to a partnership with cladding and decking attachment system innovator Grad Concept USA. Grad™ for Kebony is a collaboration that ensures the profile of the Kebony boards snap seamlessly into the Grad™ Mini Rail system, creating a tight, aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-install protective barrier.   The rainscreen has two different rail system sizes. The first is 1”x6” with a narrow gap (5/32”), similar in appearance to a nickel gap profile. The second is 1”x6” with a wide gap (17/64”), which resembles shiplap. Both systems support vertical or horizontal installment.  “Kebony has been an optimal exterior wood cladding for decades here in the US and abroad,” Kebony North American Marketing Director Ben Roberts said. “In partnership with Grad Concept USA, we are the first manufacturer to provide an off-the-shelf, passive rainscreen with completely hidden fasteners, no pre-drilling, and perfectly aligned boards in the most popular gap options, all while cutting install time in half.” Pre-mounted clips on aluminum rails provide uniform spacing for the Kebony boards and the proper air gap behind them. The system uses 100%  recyclable  aluminum & POM (polyoxymethylene). Even better, it’s durable and long-lasting with an expected lifespan of 50-75 years and a 30-year warranty. “The project uses for Grad for Kebony are limited only by the designer’s imagination,” Grad Concept North American Sales Manager Gwladys Petit said. + Kebony and Grad Concept USA Images via Kebony 

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An innovative rainscreen meets sustainable cladding

Textile architecture by Sollertia blends science and art

March 17, 2022 by  
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When Canadian Architects KANVA formed a vision for the Montreal Biodôme, they eagerly partnered with Sollertia, a firm that specializes in textile architecture. The collaboration stands out as innovative and environmentally-friendly .  First, Sollertia developed a malleable and lightweight material to meet the requirements of the project. It included a specific aesthetic and function. The resulting textile was used to construct state-of-the-art interior walls for the biodome that met those goals.  Related: Canada library reflects elements of parks and shopping malls “Textile architecture is an underutilized architectural innovation in Canada, and it still isn’t taught in schools despite being an important contribution to the construction process,” said Claude Le Bel, founder and president of Sollertia. “ Architectural textile membranes are high-performance construction materials, comparable to traditional materials, yet with a totally different design language.” Specifically, textile architecture results in structural components that resemble natural materials . The resulting walls provide reliable acoustics while the transparent finish allows natural light to filter through and bounce around for an intriguing effect.  Additionally, the material is used as ceilings, walls, exterior facades, protective roofing and more. The incredibly lightweight nature of the material means it requires substantially fewer construction materials for support. Therefore, it reduces the overall carbon footprint of the project. This is true even for huge surfaces, allowing cost and resource savings to add up.  Furthermore, the material can be used inside or outside to facilitate passive solar effort for energy efficiency. Membranes withstand the variations of Canadian climate by offering exceptional strength and durability.  “Technical textile membranes can be engineered for permanent, temporary, or even nomadic structures,” said Nathalie Lortie, director, design and innovation at Sollertia. “They are customizable to provide coverage over expansive surface areas, in a variety of geometric forms, and that unlocks the door to unprecedented freedom of architectural expression.” In the case of the Montreal Biodome, Sollertia’s material serves to meet the architect’s vision for flowing, contoured walls. In addition, the characteristics allowed it to cover up steel supports and ducting systems. The ventilation outlets were installed directly into the material sheeting.  “We were faced with several challenges simultaneously on this project, including the very complex organic shape of the walls, the many obstacles of the original building to be integrated or bypassed, the various adjustment systems developed and the strategy of the installation sequences,” Le Bel said. “In the end, it was a tremendous success that validates our firm’s experience and expertise, and part of its legacy will be that it is one of the first major applications of interior tensile fabric in Montreal .” Moreover, the project at the Montreal Biodome Science Museum married the development of new materials with innovative architecture. The design required an acute awareness of precise manufacturing specifications in order to accommodate multiple functions, including ventilation systems, doorways, sprinklers and electrical outlets while fabricating the material. As a result, the finished product measures approximately half a kilometer in length and rises nearly four stories in height. “The success of a lightweight fabric structure project such as this one requires a symbiotic relationship between architecture and engineering in order to obtain the desired aesthetics, stability, durability and lightness as a whole,” Lortie said. “The tensile fabric walls of the Biodome are a great example of the type of project we’re passionate about, and involving ourselves with projects that are carriers of messages that awaken human consciousness and promote environmental awareness.” + Sollertia Images via Olivier Le Bel and James Brittain

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Textile architecture by Sollertia blends science and art

Elon Musk’s good and bad contributions to the environment

March 17, 2022 by  
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Progress towards fighting climate change and protecting the environment is often a case of taking one step forward followed by two steps back. It’s a curvy road to the ultimate end goal of a cleaner planet. That’s perhaps most visible in the actions and innovations of entrepreneur Elon Musk .  Musk is a complex individual and business person. His financial holdings are varied, estimated wealth difficult to wrap your head around and environmental impact a topic of much discussion. After all, he bores a tunnel through the ground, but then uses the removed dirt to make bricks for low-cost housing. Related: Tesla: the real environmental impact Furthermore, he ditched bitcoin as a Tesla payment option because it’s energy-consumptive. He also sold all his real estate holdings and moved into a tiny home instead. Then, he created a roofing material with built-in solar technology. Yet, he uses a private jet to get from here to there, producing a jet stream of CO2 in its wake. The guy appears to be a walking antithesis. So what’s the story? Tesla changed the electric vehicle game Obviously, Tesla’s success points to the consumer’s interest in doing what’s right for the environment. Considering vehicle emissions are one of the top contributors to air pollution . Greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming and replacing those gas-guzzling vehicles with quiet and emission-free electric cars is an obvious win for our lungs, as well as the lungs of the planet. Since day one, however, climate deniers and environmentalists alike have been quick to criticize the impact of Tesla production. Primarily, this focuses on recyclability of the lithium-ion batteries used to power the electric vehicles. The technology has come a long way with Tesla reporting the batteries are now comprised of 90% recyclable materials .  Tesla isn’t as eco-friendly as we think? Materials needed for the batteries are another point of contention. There are accusations of the poor treatment of Indigenous populations surrounding a lithium mine in Argentina. The lithium is a dirty source of graphite from China and cobalt mined under harsh conditions. Musk’s response is the supply chain is complicated and it’s difficult to unearth the exact location and process surrounding certain materials. However, the company is doing everything it can to ensure the material is ethically sourced. The company has also significantly cut back on the amount of cobalt in the batteries (reporting less than 3%), and stated they will produce cobalt-free batteries soon. Then there’s the spotlight on acid leaching caused by the extraction of lithium. So Musk created his own lithium-production. Tesla bought land in Nevada , developed the process and applied for the patent on a new method of pulling lithium from clay to address the need in a more sustainable way.  Next on the Tesla-bashing list of crimes is the amount of power charging these cars pulls from the grid. While it’s true they do require an energy source to plug into, the real question becomes how that charging port is powered. For example, in West Virginia, where the power grid is still nearly 100% fed by coal, the charging station isn’t going to be very environmentally clean. In contrast, California feeds the electrical grid with over 52% of renewable energy such as solar, geothermal, biomass, wind and hydroelectric. Since so much of the equation depends on the public grid, Tesla invested in its own solar production company. While the power generated doesn’t go directly into each Tesla, it does offset consumption in areas with less EV infrastructure in place.  SpaceX launched space tourism While Tesla might be the first name that comes to mind in association with Elon Musk, it’s certainly not his only notable endeavor. SpaceX is the commercial space program developing a future for space travel. However, even though the program receives an abundance of support, it’s not a business that would fall into the green design category. Rockets are bulky and resource consumptive to build, launch and dispose of. They also use copious amounts of fuel. And, the company does business on federally-protected lands.  In true Musk fashion, he’s considered each of these concerns. The mission for SpaceX was visualized in the Falcon spaceships. This out-of-this-world technology resulted in a reusable spaceship . Talk about recycling. The most expensive parts of the rocket can be sent into orbit again and again, carrying payloads and people. This design reduces costs, waste and environmental impact. The spaceships rely on a fuel of methane (CH4) and liquid oxygen (LOX) or kerosene, which are both cleaner alternatives to the previously-used and toxic hypergolic propellant. Furthermore, any area with huge industrial development will create an impact and Musk’s organizations are no exception. With Tesla’s first campus came promises for jobs along with issues related to commuting, campus waste and energy consumption. So when the team began developing the newest gigafactory in Sparks, NV, the focus quickly shifted to making it as energy-efficient as possible. As a result, the battery, engine and product manufacturing will be 100% powered by renewable energy. For the biggest building of its kind on the planet , that’s a massive investment and a statement to Musk’s often-questioned dedication to putting the planet first.  SpaceX also caused significant damages to the environment At exactly the same time, however, that commitment has to be questioned with the damaging effects of the SpaceX rocket launches in an ecologically-sensitive area of South Texas . Building rockets requires a lot of trial and error, so Musk bought a big chunk of remote land to play on. The problem is that it borders state and federal lands that have been set aside and protected for the sake of the unique biodiversity.  When Musk approached decision makers about setting up camp in their backyard, businesses and legislators saw dollar signs and economic opportunities for an area mostly known as a border town with the typical-related issues. But now that the company is established, urgent problems are quickly becoming more evident. Failed rocket launches are literally littering the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Studies have shown a decrease in animal activity, including a significant decrease in nesting sites for the snowy plover, which is already threatened. Other wildlife like the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and the endangered ocelot call the region home. In addition, the ecology includes tidal flats, beaches, grasslands and coastal dunes, all at risk from rocket debris and impact from increased activity in the region.  There’s no doubt Elon’s companies leave a footprint — on both sides of the environmental equation. The unanswered question is which way the scales tip the most.  Via Guardian , Forbes Images via Pexels

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Elon Musk’s good and bad contributions to the environment

Should You Use Treated Wood?

February 2, 2022 by  
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Wood is one of the more sustainable building materials because it is renewable and biodegradable…. The post Should You Use Treated Wood? appeared first on Earth911.

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Should You Use Treated Wood?

Earth911 Podcast: Disover Floatovoltaics with BlueWave Solar’s Mike Marsch

February 2, 2022 by  
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Mike Marsch, the head of solar development at BlueWave Solar, explains how floating solar panels… The post Earth911 Podcast: Disover Floatovoltaics with BlueWave Solar’s Mike Marsch appeared first on Earth911.

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Maven Moment: The Medicine Cabinet

February 2, 2022 by  
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A common fixture in mid-20th-century bathrooms, our medicine cabinet hung on the wall above the… The post Maven Moment: The Medicine Cabinet appeared first on Earth911.

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Get the Lead Out (of Your Home)

January 24, 2022 by  
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Many people think that since lead was removed from paint and gasoline, it is no… The post Get the Lead Out (of Your Home) appeared first on Earth911.

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Avoiding Asbestos in Your Home

January 17, 2022 by  
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Home is supposed to be a safe haven, but if your home is built with… The post Avoiding Asbestos in Your Home appeared first on Earth911.

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Beware of the Red List – Top Materials to Avoid in Your Home

January 7, 2022 by  
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“The Red List” might sound like something from the Cold War. But the Red List… The post Beware of the Red List – Top Materials to Avoid in Your Home appeared first on Earth911.

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MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

October 26, 2017 by  
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Americans consume 8.6 billion water bottles — every year. Of those, only 1 of 5 is recycled . Fortunately, a handful of MIT students have developed a solution to this problem, and it involves repurposing waste plastic bottles to reinforce concrete. Because the newly-invented method results in the concrete being more durable than existing concrete, plastic bottles may soon be used to construct everything from stronger building foundations to sidewalks and street barriers. According to the study , which was published in the journal Waste Management, MIT students discovered a method to produce concrete that is up to 20 percent stronger than conventional concrete. First, plastic flakes are exposed to small amounts of harmless gamma radiation . Then, they are pulverized into a fine powder, after which it is added to concrete. The discovery has far-reaching implications, as concrete is the second most widely used material on Earth (the first is water). MIT News reports that approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon emissions are generated by manufacturing concrete. By replacing small portions of concrete with recycled plastic, the cement industry’s toll on the environment would be reduced. The newly-discovered method would also prevent millions of water and soda bottles from ending up in landfills . Michael Short, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, said, “There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT students Carolyn Schaefer and Michael Ortega explored the possibility of plastic-reinforced concrete as part of their class’s Nuclear Systems Design Project. In the future, the team intends to experiment with different types of plastic , along with various doses of gamma radiation, to determine their effects on concrete. So far, they’ve determined that substituting 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic significantly improves the mixture’s strength. While this may not seem like a lot, it is enough to have a significant impact if implemented on a global scale. “Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” said Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”’’ Via MIT News Images via MIT , Pixabay

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MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

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