Colorado meth lab transformed into a minimalist artist retreat with rammed earth walls

April 23, 2018 by  
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A former meth lab in North Boulder, Colorado has received a new lease on life as an artist retreat with a beautifully minimalist design. Denver-based tres birds workshop designed the Swoon Art House with a careful eye on environmental stewardship, using “100 percent renewable resources” including rammed earth walls and geothermal wells. Created as part of the Swoon/ Boulder Museum Contemporary Art International Artists Residency , the 7,000-square-foot Swoon Art House merges forward-thinking design and technology with ancient construction techniques. Designed like a sculpture in itself, the artist retreat features two long structures set at an angle to one another. Round metal roofs top the building and contrast with the 30-inch-thick rammed earth walls created using soil from the site. Four vertical geothermal wells power the building’s heating and cooling system. Related: Tattoo shop-turned-distillery renovated using materials reclaimed on-site The first building houses two lofted bedrooms with bathrooms and a full kitchen for artists in residency. A small glass-walled passageway leads to the second building, which serves as an art studio. Energy-conserving windows line the studio walls, while hidden storage spaces add to the clean, minimalist feel. “The structure, from the physical design to the flow of energy, is based on the circle,” the architecture firm said. “The circle holds particular significance in ancient and modern culture, symbolizing that which is without a beginning or an end.” + tres birds workshop

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Colorado meth lab transformed into a minimalist artist retreat with rammed earth walls

Even NASA isn’t quite sure how to explain these holes in the Arctic Sea’s ice

April 23, 2018 by  
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Can you identify the holes in the sea ice pictured above? If so, let NASA know. They recently posted the image, snapped over the Beaufort Sea, as the April 2018 Puzzler on their “Earth Matters” blog. They aren’t quite sure what caused them, although they ventured a few ideas, including heat, thin ice, and even rogue seals. NASA Operation IceBridge mission scientist John Sonntag captured the baffling image from a P-3 research plane soaring over the eastern Beaufort Sea. Sonntag had never seen holes like this before; writing from the field, he said, “We saw these sorta-circular features only for a few minutes today. I don’t recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere.” Related: The first salty lakes discovered in the Arctic could hold the key to finding alien life Before the agency revealed that the photo was from the Arctic , Internet users offered plenty of guesses as to its location – from fires in Oklahoma to the surface of Mars. User Scott Stensland came close when he guessed the circles were open water holes in ice created by ocean mammals, such as seals . Indeed, that’s similar to one answer NASA has come up with: the holes bear a resemblance to photographs of breathing holes harp seals and ring seals have created. National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Walt Meier told NASA, “The encircling features may be due to waves of water washing out over the snow and ice when the seals surface. Or it could be a sort of drainage feature that results from when the hole is made in the ice.” Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory sea ice scientist Chris Polashenski told NASA he’d glimpsed features like these holes in the past. Seals could offer one answer; another is convection. University of Maryland at Baltimore County glaciologist Chris Shuman, who’s based at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told NASA, “This is in pretty shallow water generally, so there is every chance this is just ‘warm springs’ or seeps of ground water flowing from the mountains inland that make their presence known in this particular area. The other possibility is that warmer water from Beaufort currents or out of the Mackenzie River is finding its way to the surface due to interacting with the bathymetry , just the way some polynyas form.” + NASA Earth Observatory + Curious Circles in Arctic Sea Ice Images via John Sonntag/Operation IceBridge/NASA and NASA/Joe MacGregor

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Even NASA isn’t quite sure how to explain these holes in the Arctic Sea’s ice

This house from Skylab Architecture mimics the appearance of the Rocky Mountains

April 16, 2018 by  
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Portland studio Skylab Architecture ‘s Owl Creek Residence is an angular retreat  that blends into Colorado ’s mountainous landscape while offering expansive views of the Rocky Mountains. The house’s rugged steel structure mimics the topography of the surrounding area, enhancing visual connections to the landscape and simultaneously drawing it inwards. The 4,200-square-foot (390-square-meter) house sits on a hillside near the town of Snowmass, a popular destination for winter sports . Its main lounge area mimics the natural slope of the site and features stepped seating that maximizes space within the stairwell. Related: Geothermal-powered Wildcat Ridge Residence boasts breathtaking views of Aspen, Colorado Five bedrooms occupy the lower level of the residence, along with other amenities such as a steam room and hot tub. A triangular spa with an elevated deck and an expansive outdoor terrace is located right off the kitchen. The choice of cladding materials and finishes – weathering steel , wood and stone – further allows the house to harmonize with nature. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls in the common areas form the tip of the triangular plan and offer expansive views of the surrounding landscape. Most of the upper level is reserved for entertaining and includes an open-concept living and dining room, a den, and a kitchen. + Skylab Architecture Via Dezeen Lead photo by Robert Reck

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This house from Skylab Architecture mimics the appearance of the Rocky Mountains

11 Steps to Encourage Water Conservation in Your Community

March 28, 2018 by  
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In 2009, the Cherry Creek 3 townhome community in Colorado used … The post 11 Steps to Encourage Water Conservation in Your Community appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Panasonic is building an incredible smart city outside of Denver

January 8, 2018 by  
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Panasonic is just about everywhere you look these days, from car batteries to airplanes, and now the company is building one of their most ambitious projects yet: an entire smart city . Called CityNow, the futuristic city is rising up outside of Denver and will be a living lab experiment for creating towns that can survive a disaster, run on clean, renewable power, and contain sustainable infrastructure that improves people’s lives. The development has been underway for the past two years in a desolate patch of land near the Denver airport. The 400-acre project will be a transit-oriented city, with light rail connecting it to Denver and the airport, smart roadways that are perfect for autonomous vehicles, parking management, and autonomous shuttle routes, which roll out this spring. Related: Bill Gates buys a huge chunk of land in Arizona to create a ‘smart city’ The city also has a bevy of sustainable features, like a solar panel microgrid that can power the city for days in the event of a disaster. Streets lights consist of power-saving LEDs and a carbon neutral district. “Since early 2016, when we started on Denver CityNow, we’ve vetted 11 technology suppliers, developed an open API, established a carbon-neutral district, got approval from the public utility and installed the first microgrid, with solar panels on Denver Airport property, in partnership with Xcel Energy, which can power this area for 72 hours in the event of a natural, or manmade, disaster,” Jarrett Wendt, EVP of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions told PC Magazine . Panasonic’s first foray into a sustainable smart town in Fujisawa, Japan, has resulted in a city with 70 percent less carbon dioxide than normal, a return of 30 percent back to the grid, an EV charging grid, and enough renewable energy to power the city for five days off-grid. Denver’s smart city is slated for completion in eight years, and Panasonic hopes to see the same, if not better, results. Via PC Magazine Images via Panasonic

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The worlds first ski-in/ski-out treehouse cabins open in Montana

January 8, 2018 by  
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As brutal weather continues to unload icy fury in the northeast, those looking to carve white powder in the Midwest may want to head to the world’s first ski-in/ski-out treehouses . Located in the winter wonderland that is Whitefish Mountain Resort, the newly opened Snow Bear Chalets let you ski straight up to the front doors, which are located 30 feet off the ground. The resort offers three magical treehouse chalets located on the Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort’s Hope Slope. The wooden structures are built 30 feet above the forest and offer stunning views of Glacier National Park. The ski-in/ski-out cabin are the first of their kind – and they’re the only lodgings located directly on the ski run just few steps from the ski lift. When ready to hit the slopes, guests can hop straight onto the white powder. When there’s no snow, nature lovers can get their fix either hiking or biking the mountain’s hundreds of miles of trails. Related: Green-roofed 2022 Winter Olympic center echoes the surrounding ski slopes The cabins offer the ultimate in a luxury hygge-filled getaway . Guests can spend days filled with downhill skiing in one of the most picturesque ski areas in the world, and nights by the fire with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. The treehouses offer extremely cozy interiors with fireplaces, large kitchens and large windows to enjoy the stunning views. The three cabins range in sizes, but are all equipped with large treetop decks and outdoor hot tubs, along with various luxurious features. And if you’re into stargazing, the cabins even come with turrets and ceilings covered in constellations made up of 600 fiber-optic stars. + Snow Bear Chalets Via Curbed Photography via Snow Bear Chalets

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The worlds first ski-in/ski-out treehouse cabins open in Montana

‘Great American Desert’ threatens to swallow eight US states as massive aquifer dries up

November 27, 2017 by  
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The Ogallala aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground bodies of water upon which many ecosystems and communities in the American West depend, is in rapid decline due to over-exploitation of its resources. According to the Denver Post , farmers in eight American states (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and South Dakota) are putting a particular strain on the aquifer by overdrawing water from beneath the soil they cultivate in a $35 billion dollar per year industry. If allowed to continue, this could threaten both the livelihood of farmers and the ecosystems of the West, which could be replaced by a ‘Great American Desert.’ Because of the region’s intensive farming practices , agricultural wells are extracting water from the Ogallala aquifer significantly faster than it is being replenished. This trend appears to have accelerated in recent years. Federal data indicates that the aquifer contracted twice as fast in the past six years as it had in the previous sixty, with a significant impact on everyday water use in the West. “Now I never know, from one minute to the next, when I turn on a faucet or hydrant, whether there will be water or not,” said Lois Scott, who lives on a family farm in Cope, Colorado , in an interview with the Denver Post . “The aquifer is being depleted. This will truly become the Great American Desert.” Related: Dead Sea salt reveals drought on a scale never recorded – and it could happen again As a result of the exploitation of the Ogallala, at least 358 miles of rivers and streams have dried up within a 200-square-mile area in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. If trends continued, an additional 177 miles of rivers and streams are expected to dry out by 2060. “We have almost completely changed the species of fish that can survive in those streams, compared with what was there historically,” said Keith Gido, author of a recent scientific report on the aquifer’s depletion, in an interview with the Denver Post . “We’re not living in as sustainable a fashion as we need to be. Much of the damage has been done.” The over-exploitation of the Ogallala aquifer and the plight of the American West is sadly not unique to the region. “It is happening all over the world in places such as Pakistan . It causes conflicts,” said Gido. “As human populations grow, the demand for water is going to be greater. Conflicts are going to increase—unless we become more efficient in using the water we have.” Via EcoWatch and the Denver Post Images via Depositphotos  and USGS/Flickr

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‘Great American Desert’ threatens to swallow eight US states as massive aquifer dries up

Affordable new device uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity

November 27, 2017 by  
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Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have advanced the field of hydrogen power by creating a hybrid device that uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity in a cost-effective manner. “People need fuel to run their vehicles and electricity to run their devices,” said Richard Kaner, lead author of the study and a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Now you can make both fuel and electricity with a single device.” The new invention is a significant step forward in the quest to harness the power of hydrogen as a fuel source, particularly in transportation. “Hydrogen is a great fuel for vehicles: It is the cleanest fuel known, it’s cheap and it puts no pollutants into the air — just water ,” said Kaner, “and this could dramatically lower the cost of hydrogen cars.” In addition to positive and negative electrodes typically found in battery systems, the UCLA device includes an electrode with the ability to either store electrical energy or use it as a catalyst for water electrolysis, the process by which hydrogen and oxygen atoms are split from a water compound. To increase the device’s efficiency, the researcher team maximized the surface area upon which water makes contact. This additional surface area then allows greater production of hydrogen as well as increased energy storage. Related: New nanomaterial pulls hydrogen from seawater to power fuel cells Although commercial production of hydrogen has often proven to be costly and carbon intensive , the usage of ever-cheaper and clean solar power could change the game. The materials used in the UCLA device to create hydrogen, such as nickel, iron, and cobalt, are also significantly cheaper and more abundant than precious metals like platinum typically used in the process. Finally, the device, powered by the sun, is designed to be accessible even in isolated areas, thus increasing the viability of hydrogen as a fuel source for vehicles on long trips. Although the current model can be held in the palm of one’s hand, the principles behind the device may be applied at a greater scale. Via New Atlas / UCLA Images via Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

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Affordable new device uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and electricity

Stunning multi-level bamboo home stands deep in the mountains of Bali

November 27, 2017 by  
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We’ve always loved IBUKU’s beautiful bamboo structures , but their latest project, the Ananda House, is simply stunning. The private home, located in Sibang Gede, Bali, is made up of three multi-level bamboo towers embedded into Bali’s lush green vegetation. The bamboo buildings are designed to exist in harmony with the heavily-forested landscape – and they protect the surrounding vegetation as much as possible. While constructing the homes’ many balconies, IBUKU cut holes into the roofs’ overhangs in order to make way for the surrounding trees to grow. Related: Explore This Incredible Green Village in Bali Made Entirely From Bamboo A winding stone path bordered by terraced gardens leads to the entrance of each structure. The pavilion to the right houses the family room, which is a large space with an open-air terrace. At the heart of the living area is the kitchen, complete with a curving countertop made from slabs of locally-sourced river stone . The bedrooms are perched over the living space and designed to take advantage of natural light and ventilation. Each room has an east-facing private balcony that provides incredible views over the valley. To the back of the main building is a grotto pool whose design mimics the natural landscape, creating a fun, indoor-outdoor space. The master bedroom is located at the highest point of the structure. It’s a stunningly romantic space with a lookout tower at the top. The sleeping area is located on the first level, and an attached outdoor bathroom , complete with a monolithic bathtub, looks out over the valley. + IBUKU Via Archdaily

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Stunning multi-level bamboo home stands deep in the mountains of Bali

Hyperloop-inspired company promises 200 mph travel without the vacuum tubes

November 15, 2017 by  
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Arrivo, a high-speed transportation company founded by former SpaceX and Hyperloop One engineer Brogan BamBrogan, has announced a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation to construct a “ hyperloop-inspired ” track through Denver . Unlike the hyperloop design, which depends on new infrastructure, Arrivo’s system involves building open tracks on existing roadways and uses magnets to pull pods, which would hold cars, trucks, or buses, along a track at speeds of up to 200 mph. “People will tell you that a well-functioning freeway can move 2,000 to 2,500 vehicles an hour,” said BamBrogan said at a news conference. “The Arrivo system — because it’s a dedicated roadway with 21st century technology — can move 20,000 vehicles an hour.” Arrivo is distinct from Hyperloop in that it is designed for local travel rather than long, inter-city travel. For example, an Arrivo route from Denver Airport to the city’s downtown, a 32 mile journey that can take up to an hour in traffic, might instead take 8 minutes and cost as much as a toll road. Next year, Arrivo will invest $10 to $15 million into its research facility and test track in Colorado and plans to hire 40 to 50 engineers, with up to 200 engineers working on the project by 2020. Related: Winning Mexloop Hyperloop design could connect 42M people in new megalopolis The State of Colorado is enthusiastic about the project, but the partnership with Arrivo remains in its early stages. “As they prove out the technology and we prove the feasibility, then in a couple of years, we’ll talk about whether there is an infrastructure investment here,” said Shailen Bhatt in an interview with the Denver Post . “There’s no commitment by the state to say we’re going to definitely build one here, but we’re pretty confident that they’ll deliver a product that will move people quickly and safely.” Via The Denver Post and the Verge Images via Arrivo and Depositphotos

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