Solar-powered bungalow in Australia promotes indoor-outdoor living

June 24, 2020 by  
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This bungalow-style home combines a thermal chimney system with solar power to improve energy efficiency. The young family who bought the original home wanted to present the rest of their community with a welcomed sense of connection through indoor-outdoor living, multiple entryways and a large-scale colorful mural on the side of the house. The two-level project in Melbourne, Australia was led by Gardiner Architects and completed in 2018. The thermal chimney effect is achieved by having the two stories spaced around the home’s stairwell, so that cool air is drawn from below and exhausted at the top. Sheet metal and shiplap cover the exterior. There are also solar panels fitted to the roof and a skylight to bring natural light inside. The brick wall, which runs down the middle of the building, works thermally as a heat sink and cool sink, while the concrete floor and efficient insulation provides additional assistance in thermal regulation. Despite only having ceiling fans and no air conditioning, the temperature inside remains comfortable throughout the year, even during the summer months. Related: Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions The home incorporates three different zones: the children’s bedroom upstairs, the adult bedroom downstairs and the living spaces toward the back. A main, informal living space and sporadic communal spaces provide plenty of opportunities for activities, and an additional ground-level common area has the flexibility to be used as a study, homework room or space for long-term projects, such as artwork or puzzles. This concept adds to the sustainability elements of the home, as the designers are able to provide more amenities in a smaller footprint. As with most homes with young children, the clients wanted a house that would help center the family around the kitchen. Because the family enjoys gardening with herbs and vegetables, making kombucha, bee keeping and preserving fruit, they wanted a large, open kitchen that connected to the dining and living spaces and also the backyard. A sizable kitchen window opens to a butler’s pantry, and large glass doors open to the deck. Windows in the living room are designed to fold back, allowing inside activities to merge with outdoor ones with ease and creating the ability to connect larger gatherings of neighbors or family. A green roof was incorporated as an extension of garden space and a spot for the family to keep their bees. + Gardiner Architects Via Houzz Photography by Rory Gardiner via Gardiner Architects

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Solar-powered bungalow in Australia promotes indoor-outdoor living

Marine veteran converts a school bus into a nonprofit traveling art studio

April 23, 2020 by  
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It’s safe to say that Marine veteran Jessica Rambo is not one to rest on her laurels. After 10 years of service in the Marine Corps, the mom of two worked day in and day out for two years in order to convert a 1997 Blue Bird school bus into a full-time tiny house on wheels that also serves as a roaming art studio. Now, Rambo and her two kids are about to embark on a long road trip to bring her nonprofit art organization, The Painted Buffalo Studio , to veterans around the country. After serving in the Marines, Rambo enrolled in art school as a way to transition back to civilian life. As a single mother, she decided that she also needed to downsize to show her kids the importance of living a life without excess . Once she decided to renovate the old Blue Bird school bus, she also found a new purpose to her project — to serve her fellow veterans by offering art classes to those who need an outlet after coming home. Related: Old bus is converted into a mobile greenhouse to teach students about sustainable eating habits Doing most of the work herself on the weekends, Rambo took two years to completely renovate the bus. The result is a light-filled, cabin-like tiny home on wheels with dark wood throughout the space, enhanced with white and teal accents. The living space includes a surprisingly large kitchen with butcher-block counters and teal cabinets. Alongside the kitchen, a small dinette doubles as a workspace on one side, and a long, cushioned bench with storage underneath was installed along the other wall. The skoolie even has a small zen garden/shrine under the front windshield. For sleeping, the bus features two bunk beds for the kids as well as a master bedroom at the back of the tiny home for Rambo. One unique feature is the bathroom, which has just enough space for a cool metal soaking tub and a composting toilet . According to Jessica, the skoolie conversion was much more than just turning an old bus into a home. “I wanted to do something wild. I wanted to prove to myself that when I set my mind to something I complete it,” Rambo said. “I felt like I didn’t complete my mission in the Marine Corps, I was struggling to get through art school, and I wanted to show myself and my children that just because you fail at something that is important to you, you can dust yourself off and try again.” After the long DIY renovation , Rambo and her family moved into the converted bus in August 2019. They are currently mapping out a road trip around the country in order to bring art classes to veterans through her nonprofit organization, Painted Buffalo Traveling Studio . + Painted Buffalo Traveling Studio Via Tiny House Talk Images via Painted Buffalo Traveling Studio

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Marine veteran converts a school bus into a nonprofit traveling art studio

How To Home-school Your Kids During the Coronavirus

April 7, 2020 by  
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Do you find yourself suddenly home-schooling your children with just … The post How To Home-school Your Kids During the Coronavirus appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Go Play Outside!

January 29, 2020 by  
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I can still hear my mother and grandmother telling my … The post Maven Moment: Go Play Outside! appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Families in China create an eco-community of timber, A-frame cabins

December 6, 2019 by  
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Spanning more than 20 acres in China’s Mogan River Valley, Wiki Tribe Park consists of multiple A-frame cabins made out of cross-laminated timber. The impressive project was conceived by local architecture firm Wiki World  that wanted to create a collaborative eco-community tucked into an idyllic, natural landscape. The Wiki Tribe Park complex was planned and designed by architects, but the project was organized in a way that would let entire families take part in the construction process. Using a modular system enabled not only the adults to take part in building the cabins, but it even allowed young children to learn the basics of green building. Related: Eco-sensitive community in northern India harvests rainwater The cabins’ walls were cut through a high-precision, prefabricated construction method, which enabled a faster building process. In fact, the A-frame cabins were finished in just about one month, especially thanks to the families that were involved in the construction. Elevated off of the ground to protect the landscape, the timber cabins are covered in a waterproof , reflective material in order to better blend the structures into the landscape. This coating also keeps the cabins resilient to the climate. From the interior, the families can take in the beautiful views through the large window located on each side of every cabin. Built in collaboration with UN-habitat, World Children Campaign and 7 Billion Urbanists, the Wiki Tribe Park project was conceived by Wiki World with the aim of creating a collaborative eco-community . By allowing the residents to participate in the construction process, not only do they feel a strong bond with their own cabins but with the natural world as well. Plus, the children who were involved were able to learn more about sustainable building practices for the future. + Wiki World + Advanced Architecture Lab (AAL) Via ArchDaily Images via Wiki World

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Families in China create an eco-community of timber, A-frame cabins

New architecture learning center in London is built with bamboo and recycled yogurt pots

November 21, 2019 by  
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Architecture lovers have a new place to convene in London thanks to the recent completion of the Clore Learning Center at the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) headquarters. Designed by local architectural practice Hayhurst & Co , the new public destination offers a variety of interactive learning displays about architecture for all audiences, from children and families to life-long learners. In addition to its creative educational program, the space is also a beacon for sustainable design and incorporates eco-friendly materials such as bamboo and recycled yogurt containers .  Developed with input from Price and Myers, Max Fordham and Jack Wates lighting design, the Clore Learning Center is the result of Hayhurst and Co’s winning proposal in a RIBA -organized design competition in 2017. The architects drew inspiration for their design of the new playful space from architect Grey Wornum’s vision for the original RIBA headquarters, a Grade II* listed building. Located on the fourth floor of the headquarters, the Clore Learning Center includes a dedicated studio, study room, terrace and interactive display area. Related: RIBA crowns Children Village in Brazil as the world’s best new building “Hayhurst & Co’s design invites visitors to explore their ‘sense of space’ and develop an understanding of the architecture that surrounds us every day,” Hayhurst & Co said. “Conceived as a series of simple, delightful and adaptable interventions that enable an interactive learning experience, the spaces promote an understanding of architecture through active learning: observing, testing, making and sharing.” Sustainability was also a major driver behind the design of the project. Instead of timber, the architects opted for fast-growing bamboo and recycled yogurt containers — leaving some lids and labels visible — as primary materials for interior furnishings. Natural daylight is emphasized indoors and complemented with energy-efficient LEDs that can be dimmed and altered depending on the occasion. A mechanical ventilation system helps provide a constant supply of fresh air. + Hayhurst & Co Photography by Kilian O’Sullivan via Hayhurst & Co

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New architecture learning center in London is built with bamboo and recycled yogurt pots

NYC bans processed meats served in public schools

October 8, 2019 by  
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In an effort to improve the Big Apple’s public health, all processed meats will no longer be offered at New York City public school and public university cafeterias. That means no pepperoni, bacon, cold-cut deli meats, sausages or hot dogs for lunch. The new ban follows on the heels of the city’s successful test-run across all city schools of Meatless Mondays. Policymakers and education officials say the decision to adopt Resolution 238 is thanks to scientific evidence linking disease and other ailments with red and processed meats . The move paves the way to healthier food choices, minimizing any associated health risks. Related: Meatless Mondays are coming to public schools in New York City Over the years, the World Health Organization has warned that processed meats are carcinogenic, increase the likelihood of obesity and pre-diabetes among children and teens and elevate risk factors associated with heart disease, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer rates among young adults. But these conditions, researchers say, are preventable through dietary and lifestyle changes. Similarly, the National Cancer Institute announced that young people of today exhibit double to quadruple the risks of colorectal cancers, when compared to those of the 1950s. Why? Sadly, today’s youth have diets low in fiber and high in processed meats, exacerbated by lifestyles lacking in physical activity . Even more worrisome, studies have shown just one hot dog or two bacon strips per day increases colorectal cancer risks by 18 percent. “We cannot continue feeding our children substances scientifically proven to increase cancer later in life,” said Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams. “Chicken nuggets and sloppy joes are in the same class of substances as cigarettes. We know that we would never give our children cigarettes to smoke, so there’s absolutely no reason why we should continue poisoning our children’s health with processed foods .” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics affirms that those following plant-based diets show lower rates of health complications than their omnivorous counterparts. In other words, curbing unhealthy meat consumption and removing processed meats from school menus is a positive change for students’ health. By offering more nutritious meals on public school campuses, from preschool through university, all NYC students can be better nourished, likely boosting academic performance and overall well-being. In September 2018, the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) became the first school district in the country to remove processed meats from all school lunch lines. This recent ban in such a large metropolitan area shows that the move toward providing plant-based alternatives for more nutritious school meals is gaining momentum. + Resolution 238 Via TreeHugger Image via Shutterstock

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High levels of plastic byproducts discovered in children, study finds

September 18, 2019 by  
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A “human biomonitoring” study, jointly conducted by the German Environment Ministry and the Robert Koch Institute, is sounding the clarion warning that plastic pollution is present — and not just in our oceans, estuaries and the fish we eat. Rather alarmingly, the study found toxic levels of plastic byproducts in 97 percent of the blood and urine samples gathered from 2,500 children tested. The children in the research study ranged from 3 to 17 years of age. Of the 15 plastics under scrutiny, researchers detected 11 in the children’s test samples. Presence of these plastic byproducts in the children’s bodies increases their risk of hormonal dysfunction. That’s because plastics , at the micro level, can mimic the action of particular hormones, thus confusing the human endocrine system. The disruption, in turn, can manifest as obesity, metabolic disease, cancers, reproductive disorders, behavioral aberrations or developmental delays. Related: How to teach children about climate change What’s disquieting is that exposure to these plastic substances can arise from the most mundane things — storage containers, DVD cases, receipts, package linings, PVC piping, imitation leather, treated furniture, carpeting, even toys and medical devices. Plastics and microplastics surround us; consequently, we cannot avoid being exposed. One of the scientific authors, Marike Kolossa-Gehring, stated, “Our study clearly shows that plastic ingredients, which are rising in production, are showing up more and more in the body.” The study also revealed that the most susceptible subjects were younger children and children from poorer families. Both at-risk groups registered more plastic residue than their counterparts. Similarly, the study addressed the issue of replacements, citing that substances classified as perilous to humans should not be replaced by similar chemicals. After all, the substitutes might be just as toxic and detrimental. Hence, replacing with similar chemicals does not mitigate the chances of being exposed to harm. Researchers expressed uneasiness about the high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the young subjects. The apprehension surfaces from the fact that PFOA is extremely persistent, bioaccumulative and rather toxic. PFOA is typically used in the process for making Teflon, which explains why it is usually found coating non-stick cookware and waterproof clothing. PFOA is a threat because it is toxic to both the reproductive system and the liver. The European Union is expected to ban PFOA in 2020. The scientists concluded that more research is needed to discover the pathways that plastics take to enter the human body. A solution is likewise needed to minimize the risks of children accumulating plastic byproducts at unsafe levels. Via Spiegel Online and TreeHugger Image via Ruben Rubio

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Ireland plans to ban single-use plastics

September 18, 2019 by  
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In a move that has environmentalists cheering, Ireland recently overhauled its waste sector by announcing a ban on single-use plastics, including cutlery, straws, cups, food containers and cotton bud sticks. The initiative also called for doubling the rate of recycled material and is considering new levy requirements for non-recyclable plastics, such as those found in food packaging at groceries. Richard Bruton, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, explained that the new policies are part of the Irish government’s improved climate action campaign to eliminate unnecessary packaging, reduce food waste by 50 percent, improve plastic recycling by 60 percent and cut landfill disposal by 60 percent. Related: Ireland will plant 440 million trees in 20 years In recent years, single-use plastic pollution has skyrocketed, prompting dismal reports that project an Earth of 2050 where our oceans are filled with more plastic than fish. Many people are realizing the urgency, and government officials are being pressured into addressing the plastic waste dilemma. Accordingly, the European Union has proposed banning single-use plastics — and Ireland is the latest EU member to join the bandwagon. That the campaign to remove single-use plastics has already taken hold on the Emerald Isle is a profound step in the right direction. To date, it is estimated that every person in Ireland annually generates more than 400 pounds of waste packaging, of which 130 pounds are plastic, and these per capita statistics are above the EU average. Implementing this single-use plastic ban is expected to bring promising results to Ireland’s ongoing war on plastic pollution . Bruton said, “All along the supply chain we can do better — 70 percent of food waste is avoidable, half of the material we use is not being segregated properly, two-thirds of plastic used is not on the recycling list and labels are confusing.” For those sectors unable to readily comply with the ban, heavy environmental taxes will have to be paid. These tax levies are a further measure designed to deter the widespread use of single-use plastics, especially non-recyclable ones. Conservation and ecology advocates are supportive of Ireland’s ban, confirming that plastic consumption must be reduced to safeguard the environment. Supporters also uphold that the cost of the added tax should reflect the dire impact single-use plastic has on the environment. Of course, the issue is not without its critics, some of whom claim the tax would do little to alleviate environmental conditions but would instead disproportionately affect lower-income consumers. Nonetheless, optimists assert that the Irish ban on plastic waste will mobilize a shift in industrial, business and consumer behavior that can ultimately contribute to a cleaner, greener Ireland, perhaps bringing the country closer to a sustainable Emerald Isle ideal. Via EcoWatch , RTE and Irish Times Image via Flockine

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With dual sleeping lofts, this family-friendly tiny home proves that the more, the merrier

July 5, 2019 by  
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Although some people might be under the impression that tiny homes don’t have enough space for a family, one savvy, space-efficient design is proving otherwise. Designed and built by New Zealand-based Build Tiny , the Dance Tiny House was custom designed to be a durable family home that boasts beautiful and child-proof interiors. Clad in very practical gray vinyl siding, the tiny home on wheels is durable yet lightweight enough to be towed easily. Double-glazed aluminum windows and quality insulation allow for a tight thermal envelope, reducing energy costs as well as maintaining a comfortable interior temperature. Related: Keep your tiny home safe with these 9 security tips Inside, the space is bright and open with a minimalist interior design that manages to avoid clutter. All-white plywood walls and honey-toned wood flooring, along with an abundance of natural light, gives the home a fresh, modern feel. A compact, open-plan living room with a small sofa and chair make up the social area of the home. To the left of the entrance is the kitchen with full-sized appliances. Although small, the cooking area includes ample counter space thanks to an ingenious rolling butcher block extension. Most of the home’s furnishings, including the counters, feature curved edges to ensure optimal safety for little ones. The far end of the residence houses the bathroom, which has a shower and plenty of storage space. The home’s dual sleeping lofts are accessible via a staircase in the kitchen, with the steps pulling double duty as storage in the form of pull-out drawers and cubbies. At the top, the master bedroom has plenty of room for a queen-sized bed and also includes a full-height closet and built-in storage . Connected by a narrow hallway, the children’s room is located on the opposite side. With plenty of space for a single or double bed, there is also room for play or study. The entire loft is made child-proof thanks to a gate and a metal safety barrier. + Build Tiny Via Tiny House Talk Images via Build Tiny

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With dual sleeping lofts, this family-friendly tiny home proves that the more, the merrier

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