First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

February 24, 2020 by  
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Move over steel and concrete — a pioneering cross-laminated timber (CLT) project that’s set to break ground in Boston could spearhead a greater adoption of mass timber across the country. Local startup  Generate Architecture + Technologies  has teamed up with progressive developer Placetailor to lead the project — the city’s first-ever CLT Cellular Passive House Demonstration Project — and provide live/work spaces in Lower Roxbury. Developed with the startup’s Model-C system for prefabricated kit-of-parts construction, the building will forgo conventional concrete and steel materials in favor of carbon-sequestering engineered wood products. Expected to break ground in June of 2020, the CLT Passive House demonstration project will comprise five floors with 14 residential units as well as innovative and affordable co-working spaces for the local community on the ground floor. In addition to introducing low-carbon, mixed-use  programming to the neighborhood, the project will be a working prototype for Generate’s Model-C, “a replicable system for housing delivery methods designed to address climate and community.”  The Model-C system is not only designed to function at net-zero carbon levels, but is also Passive House certified and built to the new Boston Department of Neighborhood Development “Zero Emissions Standards,” which were developed with Placetailor. As a result, the demonstration project is expected to have a significantly reduced carbon footprint as compared to traditional construction. The  CLT  rooftop canopy is also engineered to make it easy to mount solar panels. Modular units, like the bathrooms, can be prefabricated offsite and then plugged into the building to reduce construction time and waste.  Related: This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere Thanks to  prefabrication  methods and the reduction of interior framing, the Model-C prototype is expected to completed by the end of 2020 and will be available for tours at the Industrial Wood-Based Construction (IWBC) conference in Boston on November 4. Generate is also exploring the possibility of applying the Model-C system to projects that range from six to 18 stories across the U.S. + Generate Images by Forbes Massie Studio

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First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

CLT gives a sustainable community center in Copenhagen a welcoming feel

February 20, 2020 by  
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In the Copenhagen suburb of Brønshøj, local architectural practice NORD Architects has completed the Parish Center, a contemporary community center and place of worship that’s primarily built of cross-laminated timber to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. Selected for its renewable and durable features, the cross-laminated timber has also been purposefully left exposed throughout the multifunctional building to lend a sense of welcoming and warmth to the interior. The project serves as a gathering space while providing a new connection between the city square and church, which had previously felt cut off from the community. Officially opened in April 2019 after a five-year process, the Parish Center in Brønshøj arose from a 2015 design competition that named NORD Architects the first place winner. The Danish architects’ winning entry proposed not only a modernized church , but also unifying the church and congregation areas with the city to create a new cultural community center where everyone could feel welcome. Also key to the design was the use of mass timber, also known as cross-laminated timber, to position the building as an example of sustainable architecture in the city. The cross-laminated timber also helps stabilize indoor temperatures, humidity level and acoustics. Related: New Marine Education Center in Malmö raises climate change awareness “We have designed a multifunctional building that provides an open and welcoming space for flexible usage within a modern parish center that gather people in very varied activities,” said Morten Rask Gregersen, partner at NORD Architects. “The large span of CLT wood accommodates this is one gesture and connects the two opposite outdoor spaces. The church on one side and the city on the other.” In addition to the predominate use of natural wood inside and out, a sense of welcoming and inclusion is achieved through the shape of the building, which features curved walls that embrace a garden space on a street-facing corner. A quiet pastor garden tucked behind the building provides connection with the neighboring rectory.  + NORD Architects Photography by Adam Mørk via NORD Architects

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CLT gives a sustainable community center in Copenhagen a welcoming feel

Cross-laminated timber makes this Scottish home climate resistant

January 20, 2020 by  
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Scottish firm Mary Arnold Foster Architects has unveiled a stunning home made out of several timber “pods” and tucked into the idyllic landscape of the Scottish Highlands. Clad in cross-laminated timber ( CLT ) and covered with slats of charred larch, which provide the home with resilience, the Nedd home was built on concrete pillars and set in between two outcrops to minimize damage to the landscape. Located in the remote village of Nedd in the western region of the Scottish Highlands, the eponymous home design was constructed using CLT and covered in burnt larch to give the structure longevity and sufficient durability to stand up to the harsh mountainous climate . Additionally, the charred wood provides the home with an airtight envelope which enables the interior to require very little heating. In fact, a wood-burning stove usually meets most of the home’s heating needs. Related: Waterstudio unveils the world’s first floating timber tower Made up of connected timber cubes , the Nedd House is divided into three separate volumes. One area houses the central living room, while the remaining cubes house an en-suite master bedroom and a guest bedroom. All three sections are linked by a single corridor, which leads to an ultra-large north-facing window that connects the interior spaces with the  idyllic surroundings . According to the architect, the home design was inspired by the area’s breathtaking views. “I wanted to avoid a wall of glass but instead to frame the large view in two key rooms; the living space and the main bedroom, partly due to the topography of the site,” Arnold-Forster explained. “The other windows frame views of the rocks, heather and grasses.” Contrasting with the dark hue of the exterior, the interior of the home is light and airy thanks to the pale timber walls and ceilings found throughout. Within the main living area, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors provide direct access to an open-air deck that looks out over the landscape. + Mary Arnold Foster Architects Via Dezeen Photography by David Barbour Photography

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Cross-laminated timber makes this Scottish home climate resistant

NAWA reveals hybrid electric motorcycle at CES 2020

January 20, 2020 by  
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It’s not the first electric motorcycle on the market, but the NAWA Racer is currently the most talked about after a big reveal at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. The new tech kid on the block, a French firm called NAWA, has developed a prototype with a body style based on London’s speedy cafe motorcycles from the 1960s. While the sleek design is eye-catching, the innovation hidden within the outer appearance is what makes this motorcycle so unique. Where most electric vehicles rely on lithium-ion for power, NAWA has developed an ultracapacitor that improves performance on nearly every level. For starters, the ultracapacitor can charge and discharge quickly, endless times over. This propels the bike from 0 mph to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. While the ultracapacitor provides stellar power, it works in conjunction with conventional lithium-ion batteries and allows a 93-mile ride per charge. Related: Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle debuts at CES The hybrid ultracapacitor system can reduce the size of the lithium-ion battery by up to half or extend the range by up to double. This is exciting for city riding, which is where the NAWA Racer really excels in efficiency. With the ability to recharge in seconds by recycling energy from the stop-and-go braking of driving in traffic, the energy can last up to 186 miles without recharging. Regenerative braking produces a lot of energy, up to 80% of which is reused for power. The ultracapacitor also provides a fast recharge, allowing the bike to reach 80% of full charge within an hour from a home supply outlet. NAWA fully intends to scale the hybrid technology to other vehicles in the near future. “The NAWA Racer is our vision for the electric motorbike of tomorrow — a retro-inspired machine but one that is thoroughly modern,” said Ulrik Grape, CEO of NAWA Technologies. “It is lightweight, fast and fun, perfect for an emission-free city commute that will put a smile on your face. But it also lays down a blueprint for the future. NAWA Technologies’ next-gen ultracapacitors have unleashed the potential of the hybrid battery system — and this design of powertrain is fully scaleable. There is no reason why this cannot be applied to a larger motorbike or car or other electric vehicle. What is more, this technology could go into production in the very near future.” + NAWA Images via NAWA

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Modern farmhouse in Italy pays homage to its agricultural surroundings

January 20, 2020 by  
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Tucked into the rolling wheat fields of the Italian region of Le Marche, the Border Crossing House is a private residence that pays homage to the area’s rich agricultural history. Designed by Italian firm Simone Subissati Architects, the project manages to skillfully blend a traditional barn volume with several contemporary features, creating a light-filled family home that fits respectfully into its idyllic setting. Located in Polverigi, just outside of Ancona, the Border Crossing House is set on a ridge looking out over expansive fields of wheat. According to the architects, this bucolic location set the tone for the design, which deftly manages to “border” the vernacular aesthetics of both urban and rural architecture. Related: Old Belgian barn is transformed into a gorgeous contemporary home The home’s rectangular volume with an asymmetrical, double-pitched roof, runs from east to west, creating a strong silhouette up on the hill. The exterior cladding, which is made primarily of steel , separates the white upper floor from the ground floor, which was painted in a deep red coating. The home’s classic barn-like volume is broken up, however, by various slatted openings on the roof. These eye-catching slats of different shapes and functions were installed throughout the design as a way of creating a seamless connection between the home and its stunning landscape, which includes fields of wheat, barley, beans and sunflowers. Lead architect, Simone Subissati explained, “The idea was to overflow, to break the boundaries, without following conventions whereby the private living space is separated from the agricultural workspace.” Throughout the two-story home, the layout was designed to be what the architect refers to as a “straightforward simplicity, a true essentially that is very different from today’s trendy poetic of minimalism .” According, the home is functional, efficient and comfortable while maintaining a vibrant, contemporary feel. The ground floor comprises an open-plan living area with a spacious living room, kitchen and spa . A wooden staircase leads to the upper floor, which houses the bedrooms. Protected by a simple chicken coop net, an indoor balcony leads to a central area, where a winter garden and a second living room are located. The second floor is covered with a micro-perforated membrane that allows natural light to brighten the house during the day. At night, the upper part of the home appears to glow from within. The home was also built to passive and bioclimatic standards that created a tight thermal mass for the winter months and a natural cooling system in the warm, summer months. The various openings provide ample cross ventilation, so much so that the home needs no air conditioning to stay cool. A rainwater collection system was also installed and includes several underground storage tanks. + Simone Subissati Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Alessandro Magi Galluzzi via Simone Subissati Architects

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Modern farmhouse in Italy pays homage to its agricultural surroundings

Green-roofed CLT classrooms immerse children in nature

October 22, 2019 by  
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After transforming a historic castle into a secondary school for the Groenendaal College, Antwerp architectural firm HUB was approached once again by the same client to tackle another inspiring school project — an energy-efficient primary school addition in the middle of leafy Groenendaal Park. Fittingly titled the Park Classrooms, the recently completed project provides four classrooms and a large central gathering space for up to 90 Groenendaal Primary School children aged between 6 to 7 years old. The building opens up on all sides to the park and minimizes its environmental impact with a compact footprint, use of CLT materials and additional energy-efficient features. Opened in September, the Park Classrooms were developed as part of a government-funded effort to create extra school places in Antwerp. The new pavilion replaces four classrooms, previously housed in containers, with a single structure with a compact floor plan and an emphasis on sustainability. To that end, the architects used circular construction techniques, including cross-laminated timber for the main structure and eco-friendly finishing materials and also engineered the building for ease of dismantling for maintenance and replacement. Topped with a sloping moss-sedum roof cantilevered to provide shade, the Park Classrooms is minimalist and modern to keep focus on the outdoors. Large windows, glazed double doors, and skylights flood the interior with natural light and blur the boundary between indoors and out. Natural materials are used throughout the interior to strengthen ties with the outdoors. The four classrooms are each located on a corner of the pavilion and open up to the outdoors and to a central indoor “living room” that can serve as a reception or be used for cross-classroom activities. Related: UK’s first energy positive classroom produces 1.5x the energy it uses “They were created with ‘quality of life’ in mind, which is based on the vision that sustainability is more than just energy efficiency and that architecture departs from building a liveable environment,” explain the architects. “The four classrooms that surround this space all have double external doors that give access to a covered outdoor area in the park. In this way, the children can also work or play outside, in the immediate vicinity of the familiar classroom environment.” + HUB Images © David Jacobs

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Green-roofed CLT classrooms immerse children in nature

LEED Platinum CoLab Building brings first-ever CLT structure to Virginia

September 13, 2019 by  
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Earlier this summer, William McDonough + Partners and HITT Contracting officially opened Co|Lab, an innovative research space in Falls Church that has received LEED Platinum certification for its high-performance design. It is also the first cross-laminated timber structure in Virginia and the first commercial mass timber building in the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a beacon for sustainable design, the impressive building incorporates a wide swath of green features — such as Cradle-to-Cradle materials and roof-mounted photovoltaic panels — and is expected to achieve Zero Energy Certification. Located close to HITT’s headquarters in northern Virginia, the 8,650-square-foot Co|Lab serves as a research and testing center for emerging materials and technology . In addition to a double-height lab workspace that offers room for full-scale spatial and building “mockups,” the building includes flexible meeting and conference spaces, all of which are oriented for maximum access to natural light. The layout is organized around the workspace to encourage engagement between clients and team members through direct observation and hands-on interaction. Related: Interview with green architect and Cradle-to-Cradle founder William McDonough Per William McDonough + Partner’s commitment to circular economy principles, Co|Lab is constructed with high-value mass timber elements that can be disassembled and reused or recycled if needed. The use of mass timber also reduces the building’s carbon footprint and aids occupant well-being. Cradle-to-Cradle, Health Product Declaration, Forest Stewardship Council and Declare products were also used to promote human and environmental health. All of Co|Lab’s energy consumption will be offset by a rooftop solar array to ensure zero-energy consumption. “We designed HITT’s Co|Lab based on our concept of building like a tree,” said McDonough. “Instead of just talking about minimal environmental footprint, we talk about beneficial environmental footprint — not just minimizing negative emissions — we talk about optimizing positive emissions.” The building will also pursue Petal Certification from the International Living Future Institute. + William McDonough + Partners Photography by John Cole Photography via William McDonough + Partners

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LEED Platinum CoLab Building brings first-ever CLT structure to Virginia

A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island

April 4, 2019 by  
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Oslo-based firm Atelier Oslo has created a beautiful home for a pair of artists who wanted to enjoy a peaceful retreat on the remote Norwegian island of Skåtøy. Built into the rocky landscape, the design for the House on an Island was inspired by the couple’s desire to find a place for contemplation in nature. The 7,500-square-foot glass cube features a prefabricated timber frame enveloped by a loosely gridded timber facade that filters the sunlight into playful shadows throughout the interior, emitting the calming feeling of sitting under a swaying tree. The home was built on a rugged landscape characterized by smooth and curved rocks that run down to the coastline. Although the rocky terrain was challenging, the architects managed to use it to their advantage. Using the large rocks as a base, the architects laid a concrete foundation that wraps around the rocks to mark the home’s layout, resulting in various split-levels that follow the contour of the natural topography. Built on a slight knoll, the home’s frame is made out of prefabricated timber . Related: Prefab CLT pavilion cleverly encourages dialogue at a Vancouver TED conference The main volume is a cube-like shape comprised of massive glass panels partially covered with a timber “netting.” The timber panels, which were made from heat-treated wood that will turn gray over time, covers the rooftop and drops down over the front facade. This system allowed the architects to truly embed the home into its natural surroundings. The timber slats are placed far apart, allowing filtered natural light and playful shadows to emit a calming atmosphere throughout the interior. The living space of the two-bedroom home is an open layout with modern furnishings. Again, using the home’s natural materials to enhance the atmosphere, Atelier Oslo emphasized natural wood and concrete for the interior design. Exposed wooden beams run the length of the ceilings, and concrete flooring gives the space a fun, industrial feel. Concrete was also used to craft an impressive fireplace and adjacent stairwell (which doubles as a bookcase) that leads to the top floor. + Atelier Oslo Via Dezeen Photography by Ivar Kvaal and Charlotte Thiis via Atelier Oslo

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A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island

One third of the world’s power now comes from renewable energy

April 4, 2019 by  
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After years of hard work and dedication, a third of the power generated around the world is now linked to renewable energy. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) just released new data that shows impressive growth in both wind and solar energy , which has contributed to the changes in energy sources around the globe. Locations differed in the rate of renewable energy capacity. Asia, for example, witnessed an increase in renewable energy by 11 percent, while Africa’s pace was a little above 8.4 percent. Also contributing the numbers is the fact that two-thirds of the power added last year came from renewable sources, and developing countries are leading the pack. Related: Amazon plans to reach net-zero carbon use by 2030 “Through its compelling business case, renewable energy has established itself as the technology of choice for new power generation capacity,” the director of IRENA, Adnan Z. Amin explained. Renewable energy has been on the rise for past five years, and the numbers released in IRENA’s study show they are not slowing down. While the numbers are a positive sign for the future, Amin believes they need to increase at an even faster pace if we want to reach our global climate goals. New technology, of course, is the driving force behind renewable energy. Not only does technology make these energy sources possible, but it also makes them easier than ever to access. This includes the use of wind and solar energy, which contributed the most to energy capacities in 2018. Wind energy experienced a growth by around 49 GW while solar energy led the pack with an increase of 94 GW. While hydropower is the largest source of renewable energy, its growth has steadily declined over the years. Other notable sources include bioenergy , which saw growth in both China and the UK, and geothermal energy which increased in Turkey, Indonesia and the United States. Considering the fast growth rate of renewable energy, environmentalists hope the trend will continue for decades to come. If more and more countries continue to invest in renewable energy, we should be able to make great strides in curbing global carbon emissions over the next century. + IRENA Image via IRENA

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H&M releases sustainable fashion line made from fruit and algae

April 4, 2019 by  
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Many people remember Lady Gaga’s jaw dropping meat dress , so when you hear of a dress made out of fruit, your mind is not likely to think of the trendy pieces H&M is releasing next week. On April 11, 2019, fashion giant H&M will release its ninth Conscious Exclusive line, but this year, it has partnered with eco textile companies to make cutting-edge food waste clothing technology a global success. Eco textiles made from fruit waste This newest technology in sustainable fashion includes vegan leather made out of pineapple leaves by Piñatex , a silk alternative made from orange peels by Orange Fiber and shoe soles made from algae by  BLOOM Foam . All of these organic materials are readily available and otherwise considered waste by-products from the harvest of pineapples, juicing of oranges and the harmful overpopulation of algae in waterways. The materials would otherwise rot in landfills but are processed in factories so that they do not biodegrade while you’re wearing them. Related: These vegan “Star Wars” sneakers are made with discarded pineapple leaves Like other fabrics, these eco textiles are finished with harmful chemicals that prevent the fabrics from biodegrading. That also means that they cannot be recycled and do not break down in a landfill, not to mention that the harmful chemical process pollutes waterways. In the end, these textiles have an environmental impact sadly similar to their conventional counterparts. On the positive side, most conventional textiles materials are sourced from endangered  rainforests . Though they aren’t perfect, eco textiles do succeed in more sustainable sourcing. H&M is one of the largest fashion brands, with more than  4,433 retail locations worldwide and nearly 50 online markets. Its Conscious Exclusive line is a way to experiment with and scale-up sustainable technologies that otherwise get little traction from limited boutique markets. Despite H&M’s ninth consecutive sustainable line, critics still argue that experiments with food waste do not address the major environmental problems with fast fashion and that these distracting pineapple gimmicks are just that — gimmicks. Fast fashion and its toll on the environment According to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change , the fast fashion industry contributes approximately 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined. The report said that the fashion industry produces 20 percent of all waste water, and 85 percent of textiles end up in landfills. Related: The environmental secrets the fashion industry does not want you to know More than just the harmful sourcing and toxic processing of fabrics, fast fashion culture is highly problematic in terms of the quantities of materials produced, purchased and disposed of. According to the World Resource Institute , the average consumer bought 60 percent more clothing between 2000 and 2014 than previous years and had each item for half as long. Relevant Magazine added that the average article of clothing is only worn five times before it is discarded. Both responsible for and responding to these trends, fast fashion companies like H&M aren’t making clothes to last, but instead to be trendy, cheap enough to be disposable and in quantities that seem endless. H&M as a trendsetter for sustainable fashion There is plenty to criticize about fast fashion and companies’ feeble attempts at sustainability; however, the size and scale of H&M makes it an important ally and trendsetter in shifting the market toward sustainable fashion. The Swedish company has made serious commitments toward sustainability goals that could equate to substantial shifts because of its size. For example, H&M claimed that 57 percent of all its clothing comes from recycled or sustainable sources, and it has set a benchmark goal to get to 100 percent by 2030. In addition, many H&M retail stores have recycling programs where customers can bring in old clothing to be recycled, reused or disposed of properly. Global Citizen also reported that H&M promises to eliminate problematic plastics from its supply chain by 2025. Can eco textiles save fashion? Textiles made from pineapples and oranges are fun and stylish, and they get people talking. As Vogue explained, if your clothing was made from pineapples, isn’t that the first thing you would tell your friends when they compliment your outfit? Despite the sustainable sourcing, though, critics argue that there is simply not enough leaves from pineapple harvests to make this a scalable solution to even address unsustainable fashion within H&M’s own markets. It is only a small bandage and cute talking point. Fashion sustainability expert and former scientist at the Natural Resource Defense Council Linda Greer  argued , “They need to focus on things that matter the most and stop spending time on these amateur initiatives that are never going to scale. They’re just trying to tickle our fancy.” There is still a lot of work to turn shoppers and companies into conscious consumers and producers. Before the general public will consider or prioritize the ethics of their clothing, it has to be the right aesthetic and price point to even get their attention. Even if the eco textiles are not sustainable at a global scale or making a huge impact, a fashion giant like H&M showing public commitment and getting people talking sends a message to consumers around the world and amplifies the conversation. It also sends a message to designers and experimental sustainable fashion start-ups that large manufacturers are paying attention, committing to sustainability goals and looking to their inventions for the next big thing. That motivation alone could be enough to shift the future of the industry. + H&M Via Global Citizen Images via H&M

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