First carbon positive hotel in the US breaks ground

May 19, 2022 by  
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The first carbon positive hotel in the U.S. is currently under construction in Denver , Colorado . Designed by environmental steward Urban Villages, it is called Populus. It is expected to open in late 2023.  The 265-room hotel will offer everything visitors to the mile high city expect, including a rooftop restaurant and bar with 360 degrees views. Additionally, the green roof features native plants to help with temperature control inside the building. It also helps to filter air in gathering spaces and is a visual representation of the building’s overall green design.  Related: Miller Hull’s EMission Zero program offsets tons of carbon “We’ve created Populus to be a catalyst for change and to meet the increasing preference by today’s consumers to travel responsibly, experience places in an authentic way and connect more deeply with nature and each other,” said Jon Buerge, chief development officer and partner at Urban Villages. “An earth emergency demands that we strengthen our influence, and Populus is just the beginning.” Moreover, the carbon positive aspect of the venture comes through a collaborative effort between Urban Villages and Studio Gang, an architectural and urban design studio. Furthermore, a focus on low-impact material selections and system efficiency marks the sustainability groundwork within the aspen-tree inspired hotel. The overall plan focuses on reduction of embodied and operational carbon at every phase.  Specifically, the goal is achieved through the use of low-carbon concrete and high-recycled content materials. Structural efficiency was maximized across the 13-story structure, which requires less materials and minimizes construction waste. Also, window overhangs offer shading and energy efficiency. Varying sizes of windows throughout the building offer copious natural light and views of the Colorado landscape. Offsite, the company made an initial commitment to plant over 5,000 acres worth of trees to offset remaining operational carbon.  “To truly impact our earth, carbon neutral developments are no longer enough. Populus will be entirely carbon positive starting with its construction and continuing through to its ongoing operations while acting as a vibrant social center for locals and visitors,” said Grant McCargo, Urban Villages’ cofounder, chief executive officer, chief environmental officer and partner. Populus is targeting LEED Gold Certification.  + Urban Villages Images via Studio Gang and Ryan Dearth

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First carbon positive hotel in the US breaks ground

Australian townhouses minimize water and energy use

May 12, 2022 by  
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Green Sheep Collective Architects from Melbourne, Australia answered the call from a client to create an exceptional set of townhouses. They were to be sustainable, high-quality construction with an eye for modern architectural details. We’d say they succeeded. The Alphington Townhouses have unique angles on their facades. In addition to a variety of materials that marry the traditional brick row house style with modern steel and glass. Related: House Offset reinvents New York renovation aesthetics “The challenge was to provide designs that allowed north light to as many spaces as possible on the four north-south sites, while balancing sustainable design features and material selection with the project budget and intended resale values,” the architects explained. The final buyers of the townhomes weren’t predetermined. Therefore, the architects designed with materials that were flexible, low maintenance and low environmental impact to create value for potential buyers. The resulting Alphington Townhouses have open living areas and breezy modern staircases. Also, there are uniquely angled windows, modern finishes in the kitchen and bath. It connects to the outdoors via patio or balcony. Furthermore, a thermally efficient envelope enhanced the use of appropriate materials and systems to minimize energy and water use. Meanwhile, locally-grown and sustainably-sourced ash cladding was used for durability and reduced millage waste. Low-maintenance standing seam cladding and corrugated metal roofing help offset embodied energy in manufacturing. Inside, Vic Ash flooring reduces timber waste. While raking roof forms with central operable clerestory windows allow the “stack effect,” natural ventilation with north light into southern rooms to reduce overheating during the day. The townhouse development achieved energy ratings of up to seven stars and on average exceeded steps targets by more than 100%. Also, the architects aimed to make the development aesthetically pleasing. They did so by easing the elevation of the townhomes down the slope of the street and incorporating lightweight “skins” to reduce the perceived bulk of the building. Additionally, existing trees were kept. And angled timber balcony screens were used to soften the private outdoor spaces. The bricks used for the first floor levels were recycled. As a result, the building looks modern, yet suits the space and looks as if it’s always been there. Internal courtyards have to be the most unique feature of the building beyond materials used, as they provide more natural light and ventilation to all rooms. This helps avoid the common problem of dark interior spaces within townhomes and contributes to the light and airy feeling throughout while connecting inhabitants to the outdoors. + Green Sheep Collective Architects Images via Emma Cross

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Australian townhouses minimize water and energy use

This is the first passive house dormitory in Canada

May 12, 2022 by  
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UBCO Skeena Residence complex has 220 bedrooms , a beautiful Commons area and sustainability features throughout. Its integrated design process is energy efficiency and fits practical living needs. It was designed by Architecture + Communication Inc., landscape architect WSP and consultants in specialized fields. Notably, it is the first passive house dormitory in all of Canada. It’s only the second in North America. Related: Amsterdam apartments are tic-tac-toed in wildlife habitat The Skeena Residence is part of UBCO’s Living Laboratory initiative. The Skeena Residence has a monitoring system that gathers information about energy use and occupant comfort. All 220 students will complete a survey at the end of the year to provide even more data about low energy living. Moreover, student housing requires a lot of electricity. Students use hair dryers, computers, refrigerators and all sorts of small appliances. The desert environment of the region creates a lot of humidity . That’s why the building’s construction focused on airtightness, insulation and moisture control. The air circulation is renewed every three hours through mechanical systems to prevent mold. On the other hand, triple-glazed windows prevent energy loss. There’s also an eight-inch thick blanket of mineral wool insulation around the building. The roof is also super-insulated to minimize heat loss. Floor finishes and low-VOC paint were used throughout the building. Meanwhile, low-flow plumbing fixtures help conserve water on the site. The landscaping is full of native and adapted plants to reduce the irrigation needs on the property. Rainwater management provides water for the landscaping areas. What’s cool is that the building does not need fossil fuels for heating, cooling or hot water. The building isn’t even connected to the campus district heating system. It has its own stand-alone electric system and heat pumps that provide heating and cooling. Furthermore, the mechanical systems are located within the thermal envelope . Everything is also highly insulated to minimize thermal bridging and damage caused by condensation. Lastly, the building is 80% constructed with wood framing, with some concrete used on the ground floor. + PUBLIC: Architecture + Communication Photography by Andrew Latreille

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This is the first passive house dormitory in Canada

Eco-friendly design elements drive Choice Headquarters

April 11, 2022 by  
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Designed by Plan Associates Co., Ltd., Choice Headquarters took shape in the mountainous city of Chiang Mai, Thailand . Completed in 2021, the eco-friendly design project sits in the Amphoe Mueang district. The location places the HQ within easy reach of several cultural treasures, including Long-kao (rice harvest house) and the Wall of Chiang Mai. The design features principles of these structures while balancing those traditional characteristics with natural and modern elements. Related: This home and studio in Thailand is energy efficient Immersed in the natural  environment , the design orients the building to take advantage of wind circulation and solar protection.  Plants  and trees were preserved during the construction process. Other passive design elements include a central courtyard that allows natural sunlight and an elevated entrance hall that encourages natural ventilation.  The interior design also reflects nature, with the use of  wood  in furniture, walls, and stair railings. Other local materials such as vernacular brick were used for both the exterior and interior of the building. With the offices on the upper level, the grand staircase and other connecting points serve as a transition area where visitors can gather for meetings, gatherings or simply relaxing.  The architects say the building aims to “flexibly respond to space usage,” “create a good atmosphere” and “relate to lifestyle” amid changing technology . With these considerations in mind, the space was designed to reduce energy costs and encourage health through movement. It also makes efficient use of vertical space with room for activities between and below levels of the structure.  Additional energy-efficient components include the heat-buffering vernacular  brick  facade and exterior louvers. The building is also equipped for solar power and features motion-sensor lighting for energy savings. Choice Headquarters’ sustainable material selection and design plan for long-term  energy efficiency  support its goal to earn Platinum Tree Certification from the Thai Green Building Institute (TGBI). + Plan Associates Co., Ltd  Via ArchDaily   Images via Plan Associates Co., Ltd 

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Eco-friendly design elements drive Choice Headquarters

Sustainability is a top priority at this Texas office

April 8, 2022 by  
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View, a leading creator of smart building technologies, announced its Smart Windows were installed at Uplands II. It is a 124,081-square-feet health and wellness office building in Austin, Texas . The recently completed Uplands II property, developed by Drawbridge Realty, is located on a 48-acre site and is the second building in the Uplands Corporate Center in Austin. The property was designed for a post- COVID office environment with tenant health and wellness and building sustainability as the top priorities. View Smart Windows are fitted throughout the Uplands II building to provide a healthier environment . They also increase energy efficiency and maximize natural light. As a result, they enhance the building’s panoramic views of the renowned Texas Hill Country and Austin’s business district. Related: AirBird alerts users to open windows when CO2 is too high “View Smart Windows are a differentiating amenity that increase natural light and block heat during Austin’s 300 days of sunshine while reducing the building’s energy usage and carbon footprint, ” said Mike Embree, senior vice president of asset management with Drawbridge Realty. Smart windows use artificial intelligence to automatically adjust in response to the sun . They optimize natural light and views of the outdoors while minimizing heat and glare. Buildings with View Smart Windows consume up to 20% less energy for lighting and HVAC. A recent Evolv study found that employees working next to View Smart Windows slept 37 minutes longer each night. Not only that, they performed 42% better on cognitive tests and were significantly more productive. It also showed that 77% were less likely to report feeling depressed. The tech-equipped Uplands II property will also feature View Immersive Displays. It transform windows into transparent, digital and interactive surfaces for video conferencing and content creation. The windows can also be used for advertising or video display. The Uplands II building is LEED and RESET Air Standard Certified and WELL compliant. There are also additional health-related features such as touchless check-in, hand sanitizer stations and single-use work areas. The property also features outdoor lounges with Wi-Fi, walking/running trails, a fitness center, food truck area and EV charging stations. With the focus on wellness and healthier buildings post-COVID, expect to see more technology features with the purpose of a healthier environment. + View Images via View, Levy Dykema, Austin, Texas

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Sustainability is a top priority at this Texas office

These beautiful textiles are an earthy breath of fresh air

April 8, 2022 by  
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KUFRI hand weaves and hand prints textiles with earthy hues and a sustainable story. The KUFRI mission is to champion the craft of handloom weaving. They pass on a traditional art and culture that provides employment to women and aging weavers. The brand also promotes a conscious, beautiful life at home through these domestic products. KUFRI textiles are made into wallpapers, pillows and furniture upholstery. It’s a breath of fresh air in a market saturated with bright colors and plastic-based fabrics . All KUFRI products are designed in Dallas by first-generation immigrant Mili Suleman, founder and creative director of the company, then hand woven and hand dyed in India by skilled artisans. Related: With California Design Den bedding your conscience can rest easy Furthermore, hand weaving is done on traditional wooden looms. It starts by having the threads dyed in small batches by hand. Then, they are all washed by hand the traditional way. Some fabrics are printed by wood block print with dyes while others are woven from thread dyed in traditional methods. You can see more about the process and the people behind the company in this video by KUFRI . Suleman wanted to preserve the art of weaving in India by presenting it in a new way to the world. That is the product she has come up with: unique, raw, peaceful prints and designs that go with pretty much any décor. “To me, a home ought to bring deep comforts, and that begins with natural, imperfectly perfect textures that feel beautiful,” Suleman said. “Using my textiles for upholstery, pillows , bedding and kitchen will allow you to indulge in and enjoy the simpler pleasures of a wabi-sabi life.” Therefore, KUFRI’s weaving method is extremely low in energy consumption . It requires no electricity, modern machines, computers — really anything but human labor and the facilities to house the looms. The company also makes upholstered accessory furniture such as benches, with a unique modern Indian flare. The brand works to bring together local designers for round tables on social impact, heritage and commerce. + KUFRI Images via KUFRI

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These beautiful textiles are an earthy breath of fresh air

Recycled nylon clothing from prAna keeps you comfortable

April 8, 2022 by  
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PrAna is a clothing company deeply committed to the  environment  and ensuring safe and fair working conditions. Its newest release in the ReZion collection is a story of the company’s continued progression toward comfortable and Earth-friendly recycled nylon clothing. Released in January, the ReZion line is a new version of an old favorite that relies on Stretch Zion fabric. The ReZion collection gives that original lineup a sustainability boost with eco-friendly recycled nylon stretch performance fabric. Rather than using virgin materials that further tax the planet, the ReZion line incorporates nylon from sources like carpets and fishing lines into the mix. As a lab-made and synthetic material, nylon takes painfully long to break down in the landfill. By diverting these materials from the landfill and recycling them into something durable and comfortable, prAna short-circuits fast fashion and reduces  waste  at the same time.  In addition to conscientious material selection, the ReZion collection includes thoughtful design elements like dual-entry zipper-secured cargo pockets, mesh-lined pockets, security pockets, adjustable waistbands, ventilated inseams and reinforced back pockets. ReZion pants and shorts come in an assortment of colors, fits and lengths. The collection includes the Men’s Stretch Zion II pant, which comes in a regular or slim cut. The Men’s Stretch Zion II Shorts come in three inseam lengths and eight color options. Similarly, the Men’s Brion II lineup comes in two-leg cuts and a shorts option. The Women’s Halle II pants are available in regular or straight leg, and the Women’s Halle II Shorts offer two lengths and four color options. There are also plus-size options. The Halle Jogger II comes in four color selections and a wide range of sizes.  All products in the ReZion line offer UPF 50+ protection and are treated with a durable, PFAS-free  water  repellent. The collection is made from bluesign® approved materials, which ensures no harmful substances are used at any point in the supply chain. It also certifies that textiles are safe for the environment, workers and customers.  PrAna takes pride in advocating for corporate responsibility regarding environmental protection. For the past 12 years, the company has been committed to cleaning up its packaging and eliminating plastic. To this end, it relies on roll-packing clothing secured with  natural materials  like raffia ties. Some products are packed in Vela FSC-certified paper bags when packaging can’t be avoided. PrAna also relies on recycled paper for all clothing tags, and they are attached using organic cotton string or cotton thread instead of plastic. The company even uses recyclable paper tape to seal orders. All shipments are sent in recycled content kraft paper mailers or corrugated boxes. Packaging is just one area where prAna puts effort into analyzing the most responsible choices along the supply chain. It also abides by the 5 Freedoms Act for humane treatment of  animals , which is why it doesn’t use alpaca, angora, conventional silk, conventional cashmere, mohair, rabbit or yak. PrAna also works with the Renewal Workshop, a repair shop for clothing that allows textiles to stay in circulation longer rather than being treated as waste. Additionally, as a founding member of the OIA Climate Action Corps, prAna has set emission -reduction goals and monitors its progress toward that goal annually.  Product review of the women’s Halle Short II  With some prior exposure to prAna products, when they offered to send a sample pair of shorts, I enthusiastically accepted. In fairness, I probably came in with a bias because I own a few second-hand prAna products already and appreciate the quality and feel of these pre-loved items.  I received the Halle Short II quickly, and as promised, all packaging was  plastic-free . The recycled paper tag proudly highlights the company’s sustainability movement and pledge to provide a refund or exchange if not completely satisfied with the product. Vegetable-based ink is used on the tag, and it was attached over a belt loop without the need for plastic or metal pins. The tag also carries a sticker advertising that the product was made in a Fair Trade Certified factory.  The Halle Short II I received is the 7-inch inseam length in the Shoreline bluish-green color. Honestly, I’ll need a little help from my fashionista daughter to find the best top to match this color, but it is a wonderful break from my standard black, navy, or taupe options. I also find the Earthbound and Camo options fun and representative of the brand.  The shorts themselves are incredibly flexible and comfortable. If I were a rock climber, these would provide the range of motion needed. As it is, I look forward to wearing them while backpacking this summer since they don’t ride up or dig in anywhere. The length is also great, so I don’t have to worry about coverage. Seams, button attachment and zipper quality all rank high. The front pockets are generous and mesh-lined. The back pockets snap for secure storage if needed. The material is lightweight and breathable but feels durable at the same time. In “short,” I’m extremely happy with these shorts. Happy hiking! + prAna Images via prAna and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat

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Recycled nylon clothing from prAna keeps you comfortable

Solar helps make this cool Austin tower net energy neutral

March 25, 2022 by  
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Austin’s iconic skyscraper The Independent designed by Rhode Partners has just achieved LEED Gold status and won the 2022 Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) Award of Excellence as the Best Tall Building — Residential. This net energy neutral project is the only one in Texas to receive the award. The Independent has 58 stories of family residential space and is the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi . The tower features a central circulation core combined with four cantilevered sections supported by exposed structural elements. This creates expansive city views and allows for flexible and spacious interiors. The tower has 20,000 square feet of amenities and is net energy neutral for most of the year. Additionally, the 75kW solar power system and rainwater collection generate on-site power and water for the building. Related: An entire street of 3D printed homes in Texas are move-in ready CTBUH’s Awards program recognizes projects that have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of tall buildings and urban environments, representing the best innovations in the typology. In October, the CTBUH International Conference in Chicago will hold an awards ceremony. Here, The Independent will also compete for the title of “Overall Category Winner.” Rhode Partners founder Brett Rhode said of The Independent, “This building reflects Austin’s amazing creative spirit. It is a locally designed building with a much larger story to tell.” Residential tiers are pushed and pulled to cantilever four distinct blocks that make up The Independent tower. “This dynamic form is achieved by sliding and mirroring floor plates from a central core,” the designers explain. “The mirroring of the floor plates resulted from the owner’s programmatic requirements to provide a diversity of unit orientations with the same floor plan.” At the top of the building, woven stainless-steel mesh wraps around the building’s mechanical systems, including a massive liquid damper tank that limits the sway of the 58-story structure in high-altitude winds . The Independent has already received over a dozen awards, including an AIA Austin Design Award of Merit, DNA Paris Design Awards’ 2021 Architecture Big Scale Building Award, the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat’s 2021 Interior Design Award of Excellence, and The Chicago Athenaeum’s 2021 International Architecture Award. + Rhode Partners Images via Rhode Partners, Nick Simonite, Jason O’Rear and Patrick Wong

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Solar helps make this cool Austin tower net energy neutral

Check out the first LEED Platinum V4 Building in Italy

March 2, 2022 by  
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Nestled between two pre-existing structures in Rome , the Ghella Meeting Center is the first LEED Platinum V4 building in Italy . The building serves as a sustainable, energy-efficient and economical space for the Ghella Headquarters. LEED , or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a well-known form of green building certification. It rates buildings and spaces under several categories that encompass aspects such as environmental quality, efficiency and innovation. LEED certifications range from LEED-certified, silver, gold and platinum. The latter applies to buildings that meet the highest standards of green construction. Related: Low-E glass helps Frost Bank Tower reach LEED Platinum The meeting center resembles a space constructed entirely of glass. However, the illusion of a fully-glass building is created by wrapping the cast-concrete space in large glass façades. On top of the building, a rooftop garden surrounds four skylights, which capture natural light and cool breezes from above. The skylights complement the frontal glass façade with its automated curtain system that regulates light intensity and air circulation. Hence, the space uses both active and passive systems to regulate indoor environmental quality, maximizing sunlight and airflow to suit user comfort levels. Furthermore, they incorporated a green roof that enhances biodiversity in the area. It also helps reduce the heat island effect, which occurs when infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat. This process results in higher temperatures in urban areas. Plants help limit the heat island effect by providing shade and absorbing sunlight. Alongside housing vegetation that regulates atmospheric conditions, the rooftop also harvests rainwater for irrigation. This maximizes the use of readily-available natural resources. Additionally, the building features high-efficiency faucets to lower average water consumption by 30%. The building also considers carbon emissions of users and how they access the space. The meeting center’s location is easily accessed by urban public transport, thus minimizing the extensive carbon emissions produced by private vehicles. Energy consumption within the building is further reduced by its high-efficiency plant system, the atmospheric regulation systems integrated into the façades and solar panels that provide renewable energy. Through these initiatives, energy consumption for the meeting center is 47% lower than other similar buildings. + Ghella Images courtesy of Ghella

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Check out the first LEED Platinum V4 Building in Italy

One of Sydneys biggest transport hubs just got a makeover

February 3, 2022 by  
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Many construction projects focus on revitalization, green-friendly upgrades and large-scale changes. But this project in Sydney , Australia went above that, encompassing no less than four separate sites. The design is all about transportation and movement. Wynyard Station is right at the heart of the design . The project also includes the former Menzies Hotels, Thakral House, Beneficial House and Shell House. These four separate sites have been unified into an amazing urban block that truly looks like a design for the modern world. Related: This eco-resort uses an ancient process for natural cooling In the station’s former life, passengers walked down dark, narrow concourses that ran next to the central core. Huge columns provided support for the large building. While little details pay homage to Sydney’s history and resources. One of the first thing visitors will see is Calacatta marble on the floors and walls. The marble was placed to simulate a continuous cut design. Furthermore, this central core has become the new Urban Hall. It’s a triple-height structure that captures tons of light, creating a dazzling experience for those who enter the busy travel hub. Now, it’s got a design that’s worth traveling for. On the outside, the Shell House, which is 10 stories tall, has been completely restored. The clock, a 400-ton showpiece, is still in place as a centerpiece for this historic building. There’s also a new rooftop restaurant and bar inside of two glazed pavilions. More than 3,000 sandstone-colored tiles were replaced with brand new handmade tiles. Additionally, there’s a pedestrian route from George Street that goes through Carrington Street and out past Wynyard Park. The central core is now detailed with almond gold stainless steel and vertical glazing. Pedestrians can move right under the tower to get to Wynyard Park. After you reach Carrington Street you get to the commercial office area. The tower itself is made with glazed panels accented with bronze-colored anodized aluminum fins. The fins have different depths to provide different levels of solar shading on each elevation of the building design. + Make Architects Photography by Brett Boardman

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One of Sydneys biggest transport hubs just got a makeover

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