Singapore, the City in a Garden, sets an example for a green planet

August 15, 2018 by  
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Singapore has transformed itself from a hub of pollution to an environmental dream-city in the past 50 years. From afar, the country’s landscape looks like any other modern city with abounding skyscrapers etched into its skyline. On the inside however, a green heart has grown at the center of the city, spreading into the minds of its people and up the walls of its buildings. This heart was initiated by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — often called ‘Chief Gardener’ — who pushed his imperative of a clean and green Singapore until it became reality. In the 1960s, raw sewage loaded already-polluted canals of the city-state with so much waste that they poured sludge-like  waters into the Singapore River and surrounding areas. “In the 1960s, Singapore was like any other developing country – dirty and polluted, lacking proper sanitation and facing high unemployment,” Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources for Singapore, explained in his recent address to the Global Environment Outlook 6 (GEO6) . “These challenges were particularly acute, given our constraints as a small island state with limited resources; we did not even have enough drinking water.” These problems encouraged rapid industrialization to help improve living conditions for the citizens of Singapore, but the widespread urbanization only aggravated the environmental concerns. Related: A rainforest-like green heart grows within Singapore’s Marina One Yew saw the decay as “a blighted urban jungle of concrete [that] destroys the human spirit.” He believed that “we need the greenery of nature to lift our spirits,” hence planting the first tree of many in 1963 to inspire a generation of eco-warriors into action. This has become The Singapore Story  of the ‘Biophilic City in a Garden.’ The incredible journey began with this small deed, shortly before Singapore’s separation from Malaysia. Now, the city sits at the center of architectural innovation and technological design and has become a green global powerhouse. “We merely wanted to rise above the region we found ourselves in,” Lim Liang Jim, group director of the  National Biodiversity Centre at the National Parks Board, said in an interview with UN Environment . “Lee Kuan Yew had a plan. Keep us clean. Keep us green.” The generation that pioneered this change understood that if Singapore became “a nice place to live, then people will come and invest. Then we moved up,” Jim explained. But the movement was not solely economic or aesthetic in nature. The small self-governing city-state was urged to clean up the region by Singaporeans who wanted to stay on their land. These residents launched a strenuous 30-year campaign, cleaning up pollution and creating agencies where there were none to support their cause. This lead to the inception of the National Parks Board, which decided there should be greenery and plant life everywhere people looked. The board rejected the idea of being confined to a concrete jungle and instead constructed a sustainable model for any city to follow. Part of the ongoing changes involves educating students from an early age on the importance of environmental awareness, protection and advocacy. “We are going back to history, to ensure that we build from the ground up and ensure that the youth of Singapore don’t take our 50 years of history for granted,” said Lim, who believes that history can be easily forgotten by the minds of young Singaporeans who only know the smell of fresh air and the sights of lush greenery. “[Environmentalism] has to be something that is driven by the grassroots movement, it has to become in a sense political. You can’t easily turn a nature reserve into buildings, it would require some reasoned discussion with the public. We have to make sure that the younger generation appreciates our nature and biodiversity and do not take them for granted.” Related: Giant glowing bottle walls light up Singapore for “plastic binge” awareness This is Singapore’s mission in preserving the achievements it has made while ensuring the future of its vision as an environmental champion. It believes that its citizens are entrusted a with stewardship that makes caring for common spaces second-nature. The residents built this new Singapore from the ground up, adding innovative features like the SGBioAtlas , which allows members of the public to become ‘citizen scientists’ by uploading photos of plants or animals and to the National Biodiversity Centre’s central database. Other ongoing projects include urban planning and zoning as well as policy changes and public awareness campaigns focused on a smaller carbon footprint and zero waste, among other goals. With its visionary leadership, Singapore’s long-term plan includes a phase of sustainable development found in its Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 , which underlines improvement in sectors that include all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through 2030. “Our approach has been to build a livable and sustainable city through pragmatic policy-making based on sound economic principles and science; a focus on long-term planning and effective implementation; and the ability to mobilize popular support for the common good,” Zulkifli said. Singapore has set the standard for a clean and green future worldwide, and it looks absolutely inviting. + The Singapore Story Via UN Environment Images via Joan Campderrós-i-Canas ( 1 , 2 ), Jaafar Alnasser and Jo Sau

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Singapore, the City in a Garden, sets an example for a green planet

A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

August 15, 2018 by  
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Barcelona- and Mexico City-based firm  Cadaval Sola-Morales has just unveiled Casa de la Roca, a beautiful, dark timber home topped with a green roof  and located in a remote forest in Mexico. The single-story structure features a jet-black facade crafted from felled trees and finished with a living roof to help camouflage the home into the peaceful, secluded forestscape. When designing Casa de la Roca, the architects were focused on one objective: to create a home that would easily blend into the landscape for years to come. Acting accordingly, the architects chose materials based on durability. The structure, which sits on a low-maintenance concrete foundation, is clad in reclaimed timber from local felled or dead trees. Related: Living trees grow through the ceiling of Cadaval & Sola-Morales’ Tepoztlan Lounge in Mexico The exterior walls were then coated in black paint to add longevity to the structure. “We used paint (and not dye), to add another layer of material protection; dye tends to lose its qualities over the years,” the architects explained. “It is black, responding to the desire to blend in with the landscape, seeking a certain anonymity in front of the vegetation and exuberant views.” The dark exterior essentially allows the home to hide deep within the forest , but that wasn’t enough for the architects. Once the dwelling was constructed, the team finished the entire roof with vegetation, creating an even stronger connection between the man-made and natural. According to the architects, the home’s layout of three long hallways that converge into the main living space was also inspired by the landscape. The team wanted the house to have three private lookouts at each end to provide distinct views of the forest. The three “arms” of the home come together at a central point, which is also where people can come together and socialize . The interior space is both elegant and welcoming. A minimal amount of furniture is spread out over the open-plan living room, so the main focus is always on the incredible nature that surrounds the home. Extra large floor-to-ceiling windows and doors allow optimal natural light into the home, while also creating a seamless connection to the forest. + Cadaval Sola-Morales Via Wallpaper Photography by Sandra Pereznieto

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A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest

Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

July 27, 2018 by  
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Dutch firm  Studio Komma is working on a ground-breaking circular housing concept that would transform cargo ships into luxury homes. The Marine-doc Estate is an ambitious project that will develop various sustainable communities featuring multiple retired merchant ships converted into luxury eco-homes with expansive green roofs and plenty of outdoor space. The initial phase of the Marine-doc Estate project is kicking off with two communities planned for the Netherlands, with the potential of building more communities internationally. Depending on the building location, each estate would have up to 14 maritime homes spread out over natural landscape with open water connections. Related: Last surviving Ellis Island ferry transformed into a floating home The first step involves lifting the former cargo ships out of their boat yards by crane to be placed into their new locations on land. The estates themselves will be selected according to their landscapes. The eco-communities will be arranged on lush natural terrains in the vicinity of open water in order to strike a balance between providing privacy to the residents and fostering a strong sense of community. Once in place, the original metal structures will then be built out into proper living spaces with sustainability at the forefront of the design. Since the ships vary in shape and size, each home will have a unique aesthetic, but the entire renovation process will focus on retaining the ships’ nautical origins. According to the architects, original features such as the stern, wheelhouse and foredeck will be enhanced with “sleek geometric shapes” on the exterior. Measuring up to 200 feet in length, the elongated volume of the interior will be broken up with flexible partitions that will enable future residents to personalize the layout. To embed the new homes into their landscapes, the firm included a large rooftop garden terrace  on each home that will provide stellar 360° views of the estate grounds. The homes will also have outdoor decks to further connect the new homes with their surroundings. + Studio Komma Via Archdaily Images via Studio Komma / Buro Poelman Reesink

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Set sail on these sustainable homes made from old cargo ships

A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas

July 26, 2018 by  
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When a pair of retired ordained ministers set their sights on creating a sustainable community for “spiritual renewal,” the couple turned to Austin-based design practice Miró Rivera Architects to bring their vision to life. Located on a 47-acre meadow property in Texas , the recently completed Hill Country House serves as the community’s first housing prototype and as a private residence for the clients. Affectionately dubbed “The Sanctuary” by its owners, the spacious farmhouse-style abode combines rural influences with a modern aesthetic on a very modest budget. Arranged in a linear layout spanning 5,100 square feet, The Hill Country House cuts a striking and sculptural silhouette in the landscape with its zigzagging standing-seam metal roof that mimics the surrounding hilly topography. The home is primarily clad in white corrugated aluminum siding interrupted by vertical planks of warm cedar siding. The tapering limestone chimney, inspired by an existing shed on site, was built of dry-stacked local stone. Natural and locally sourced materials were used to reduce environmental impact and to tie the appearance to the landscape. Inside, the home is flooded with natural light and overlooks framed outdoor views. Crisp white walls and tall ceilings lend the home its bright and airy character. The public and private areas of the home are located on opposite ends. “Particular attention was paid to creating spaces that would enable hosting large groups of friends and family, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space,” the architects explained. “The stark white aluminum cladding is broken at various intervals by warm cypress siding that defines a series of rooms outside the house, including a temple-like screen porch that extends from the volume containing the main living spaces.” Related: Spectacular wildflower roof grows atop a dreamy Texan cabana The environmentally friendly features of the Hill Country House have earned it a 4-star rating from the Austin Energy Green Building, a precursor of the LEED certification system. An 8 kW solar array meets nearly two-thirds of the home’s annual energy usage, while a five-ton geothermal system supplies mechanical heating and cooling. The homeowners’ water needs are supplied by a 30,000-gallon rainwater collection system. According to a project statement, the owners hope their modern farmhouse will serve “as a model for future off-the-grid development.” + Miró Rivera Architects Images by Paul Finkel / Piston Design

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A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas

Eco-friendly Community Rowing Boathouse boasts a stunning kinetic facade

June 27, 2018 by  
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Cambridge-based Anmahian Winton Architects has designed a new eco-friendly home for the largest public rowing organization in the United States—the Community Rowing Boathouse in Boston, Massachusetts. Created to offer rowing opportunities at all skill levels, the modern community landmark comprises two buildings that cater to underserved populations, such as Boston public middle school students, the physically disabled and veterans. To lower energy demands and reduce the rowing boathouse’s environmental footprint, Anmahian Winton Architects optimized the buildings for natural lighting and ventilation and also installed stormwater reuse systems and geothermal wells. Located on the south side of the Charles River in the Boston neighborhood of Brighton, the Community Rowing Boathouse’s site had long been used as a staging area for heavy construction equipment. Instead of simply plopping a building on site, Anmahian Winton Architects considered the surrounding environment in their design and sought to remediate the land and restore habitat in the process. Thus, the design process included improving soil permeability and the implementation of stormwater and rainwater harvesting and reuse. The larger building’s appearance was also created in response to the environment and features a kinetic facade that changes shape with the movement of the sun and users’ movements around the structure while mimicking the rhythmic patterns of rowing and the river. Related: Boston outlines its plans to adapt to rising sea levels “CRI’s design expands the traditional vocabulary of rowing facilities on the river, reflecting the proportions and cladding of regional precedents, such as New England’s iconic tobacco barns and covered bridges, and anchoring this new building to its surroundings,” explains Anmahian Winton Architects. “The main building’s pre-fabricated kinetic cladding system of large-scale, hand-operated panels facilitated fabrication and expedited installation on a compressed construction schedule. These operable vents eliminate the need for mechanical cooling and ventilation of the 300-foot long boat storage bays, providing functionality and energy efficiency. Glass shingles sheath the sculling pavilion to protect, ventilate and display smaller boats to the adjacent parkway.” + Anmahian Winton Architects Images by Jane Messinger

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Eco-friendly Community Rowing Boathouse boasts a stunning kinetic facade

LEED Gold Cambie Fire Hall is a beacon of sustainability in Richmond, BC

June 25, 2018 by  
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Vancouver-based Assembly Architecture and Alberta-based S2 Architecture recently completed the Cambie Fire Hall No. 3 and BC Ambulance Services Station, a LEED Gold -certified facility that shows how civic architecture can be beautiful, effective and sustainable. Built to serve the City of Richmond in British Columbia, the new building spans over 26,000 square feet and rises to three stories, with room for fire rescue vehicles and up to six ambulance vehicles. The station is illuminated by ample natural light during the day and is built to post-disaster standards. The $20.7-million Cambie Fire Hall No. 3 and BC Ambulance Services Station sports a distinctly contemporary design with its geometric form, clean lines and abundance of glazing . The massing, design and use of transparency throughout were informed by the surrounding residential fabric and help reinforce ties between the new station and the community. The red cladding on the upper level adds a punch of color and is a nod to the red-brick architecture of traditional fire stations . The north stair tower is wrapped in translucent fiberglass panels to create a glowing beacon-like effect at night. “From this notion, we looked at the building as an anchor to the local area and residences, as well as a landmark for the larger region,” explains Robert Lange, Principal-in-Charge in a project statement. “By listening carefully throughout the design process, the design team were able to create a design that immediately resonated with RFR and their vision for Hall No. 3.” Related: LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle The facility integrates fire-rescue and ambulance services under one roof and prioritizes natural lighting. A glazed outdoor patio, for instance, forms the organizing element around which the offices, kitchen and dining room are placed. The Cambie Fire Hall No. 3 and BC Ambulance Services Station will also serve as a Department Operations Center (DOC) thanks to post-disaster design features, such as the on-site emergency generator and tie-ins for concrete aprons, that keep the building operational even after a seismic event. + Assembly Architecture + S2 Architecture Images by Sunny Jhooty and Liam Wake, Lobby

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LEED Gold Cambie Fire Hall is a beacon of sustainability in Richmond, BC

Sharing Cities: Building Local Collaboration

June 15, 2018 by  
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How do we get people talking about solutions to recycling … The post Sharing Cities: Building Local Collaboration appeared first on Earth911.com.

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LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle

May 16, 2018 by  
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Firefighting is consistently ranked one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S. — which is why the well-being of firefighters becomes all the more important in architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson’s design of Seattle Fire Station 32. Located in the heart of the Alaska Junction neighborhood in West Seattle, the 18,000-square-foot fire station boasts a handsome and modern appearance that not only enhances firefighters’ wellness, but also welcomes the community. The fire station , completed last year, is crafted to be highly energy efficient, and it recently achieved LEED Platinum certification. Filled with natural light and optimized for scenic views, Seattle Fire Station 32 is set in the heart of the neighborhood at the threshold between single-family residential areas and a denser commercial zone. To mitigate the site’s small size, the architects built upward, resulting in a four-story building with a basement. The building engages the civic arena with public areas that are visible from the street, such as the beanery and station office. The entrance of the office is marked by a 25-foot-tall wall-mounted fire truck sculpture . A 59-foot-long ladder truck and the firefighters’ activities are also put on full display behind a glazed end wall along Alaska Street. Related: Seattle’s Firestation 30 is a Copper-Clad Green Community Beacon Private bunk rooms and individual offices are tucked along the quiet residential-facing side of the building. The operational and administrative areas are housed on the lower floors, while the firefighters’ living spaces are located on the third floor. This floor opens up to an outdoor terrace overlooking the green roof . “The hose drying tower acts as a visual marker for the station between the southern residential hillside and tall mixed-use buildings to the north,” the architects wrote. “With a subtle lantern effect at night, the tower acts as a beacon of safety for residents and visitors.” The project was awarded a 2018 Green GOOD DESIGN Award , and earned LEED Platinum certification this month. + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Images by Nic Lehoux

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LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle

Bjarke Ingels is joining forces with WeWork as Chief Architect

May 8, 2018 by  
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WeWork is synonymous with coworking, but the company isn’t content just to change the way we work in office spaces. As it sets its sights on schools and neighborhoods, the innovative design group has announced that Bjarke Ingels will be furthering its vision as Chief Architect. Together, Ingels and WeWork will expand WeWork’s “community-oriented vision to ground-up buildings and urban neighborhoods” across the globe. Bjarke Ingels is the founder of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) , which is known for its visionary, sustainable designs. “Bjarke caught my attention because he’s changing the way we think about architecture. His designs inspire as much as they surprise. When we started WeWork eight years ago, we knew the world didn’t need another office building, it needed spaces where people could collaborate on projects, connect and create together, and potentially change the world. As WeWork’s Chief Architect, Bjarke Ingels will help us reimagine and reshape the future of our spaces, our company and ultimately our cities,” said Adam Neumann, Co-Founder and CEO of WeWork. Related: BIG and WeWork reveal plans for interactive WeGrow kindergarten in New York City WeWork and BIG are currently working on a kindergarten in New York City that will focus on innovation, exploration and discovery. Ingels plans to maintain his current role with BIG, while adding his vision as WeWork expands its vision globally. “WeWork was founded at the exact same time as when I had arrived to New York. In that short amount of time…they have accomplished incredible things and they are committed to continuing their trajectory to places we can only imagine. WeWork’s commitment to community and culturally-driven development is perfectly aligned with our active, social and environmental agendas. As WeWork takes on larger and more holistic urban and architectural challenges, I am very excited to contribute with my insights and ideas to extend their community-oriented vision to ground-up buildings and urban neighborhoods,” said Ingels. + BIG + WeWork Images via WeWork

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Bjarke Ingels is joining forces with WeWork as Chief Architect

A spike in tailless whale sightings worries scientists

May 8, 2018 by  
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People have occasionally glimpsed tailless whales in western North America, but a recent spike in sightings has troubled scientists. This year alone, at least three flukeless gray whales have been spotted near California. Ship collisions or killer whale attacks probably aren’t to blame for the injuries; entanglement in fishing equipment is likely the cause. National Geographic reported that when whales are feeding in areas with debris, man-made objects or fishing gear, nets or ropes can get stuck at their tail’s base, slowly sawing off their flukes. Ropes and nets can also cut off blood circulation, causing a whale’s tail to wither away. Entangled whales may not survive, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ‘s (NOAA) California stranding network coordinator Justin Viezbecke. “The majority of them — if not all of them — are going to most likely die from these injuries,” Viezbecke said. Related: Unusually high number of humpback whale deaths prompts NOAA inquiry Losing a tail makes life difficult for whales. Feeding becomes a challenge; the limb serves as a propeller as they navigate to the seafloor and seek out crustaceans. The long migration from Mexico birthing grounds to Arctic feeding grounds can also be hard without a tail. Flukeless mother whales are less capable of defending their babies from killer whales . According to whale biologist Alisa Schulman-Janiger, some whales can adapt to the handicap. Brooke Palmer — who posted a YouTube video of a tailless whale near Newport Beach, California earlier this year — said in the video description that the whale was doing “seemingly well as it adapted to the loss of an integral limb. It is sad, but inspirational how resilient and adaptive these beautiful mammals can be.” The increase in tailless gray whale sightings matches up with what National Geographic called a general increase in whale entanglements. There was an average of 10 incidents a year between 2000 and 2012, but in 2017, there were 31 incidents, according to NOAA whale disentangler Pieter Folkens. Folkens said the reason behind the rise is unknown, although it could be possible that people are better at spotting the whales. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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A spike in tailless whale sightings worries scientists

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