Doctors orders: 2 hours in nature boosts mental health, study says

June 17, 2019 by  
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According to British researchers, only two hours of sitting in nature per week could have measurable benefits on mental health. This is the first study to examine exactly how long people should spend in the natural environment to feel a positive impact. The researchers believe that with further confirmation, the two hour threshold could be added to similar health recommendations, such as five fruits and vegetables per day or 150 minutes of exercise per week. The study was published in Scientific Reports and used data from Natural England , the largest data set on the topic. The researchers analyzed more than 20,000 people in England to assess their physical activity from the previous week, their general health and their level of satisfaction with life. Their findings showed that people who had spent at least two hours in nature indicated a significant shift away from dissatisfaction — just 14 percent felt their health was poor after spending time in nature compared to 25 percent of other participants who did not spend time in nature but reported poor health. The researchers did not notice any significant changes among those who had spent more than two hours outside and therefore reached the conclusion that two hours is the recommended duration. Related: How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being “It’s fascinating to see this link between exposure to nature and better health and well-being,” said professor Helen Stokes-Lampard from the Royal College of General Practitioners. “This research makes a strong case for people to get out and about in more natural environments.” The findings held true across the diverse study participants, irrelevant of wealth, disabilities, illness or urban location. The findings also revealed that the nature benefits are not necessarily tied to physical exercise , and that there is a benefit to spending time in nature, even if it is just sitting on a park bench. + Scientific Reports Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Doctors orders: 2 hours in nature boosts mental health, study says

Tiny house in Tokyo funnels light indoors with a curved roof

June 17, 2019 by  
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After spending a decade commuting to teach at Tokyo’s Waseda University and Art Architecture School, architect Takeshi Hosaka and his wife decided to leave their tiny house in Yokohama for Tokyo, where they would build an even tinier house. Dubbed the Love2 House —the predecessor in Yokohama was called Love House—the micro-home spans just 334 square feet and is topped with a funnel-like roof to bring daylight deep inside the home. The tiny home features a minimalist and industrial aesthetic defined by its reinforced concrete structure, galvanized aluminum panel cladding, and timber accents. Takeshi Hosaka and his wife have long admired tiny homes found across history, from an Edo-period 100-square-foot home for a family of four to Le Corbusier’s 181-square-foot vacation home Cabanon. The couple followed tiny house principles preaching minimalism and a closeness with nature in designing their first micro-home, Love House, and their current home, Love2 House. The tenets for an ideal life in ancient Roman villas—study bath, drama, music and epicurism—also influenced the design of the house, which includes space for a bath, plenty of space for record storage, an old-fashioned earthen pot rice cooker and a library for books. Related: Ultra-Compact “Near House” is a Small Space Marvel in Japan Love2 House’s sculptural funnel-shaped roof was created in response to a solar study that showed that the site would be cast in shadow for three months in winter. Inspired by Scandinavian architectural solutions, Hosaka created a curved rooftop with skylights that funnel in light in winter. The open interior and the use of short concrete wall dividers let light and natural ventilation pass through all parts of the home, which is divided into three primary zones: a dining area, a kitchen area and the bedroom. “When we keep the window facing on the street fully opened, people who walk on the street feel free to talk to me,” says Takeshi Hosaka in a project statement. “It’s like a long-time friend, and children put their hands on the floor and look inside. We even pat strolling dogs from [the] dining [room]. The front street has flower bed so we enjoy it as our garden. In this house we feel the town very close. We are really surprised how pleasant to communicate with the town is!” + Takeshi Hosaka, Photography by Koji Fujii Nacasa and Partners

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Tiny house in Tokyo funnels light indoors with a curved roof

Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill

June 17, 2019 by  
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Summer is right around the corner, and the rising temperatures in many areas have already arrived. As the searing summer months approach and drag on, finding ways to keep your house cool will make you more comfortable. Chilling out without the use of energy-thirsty air conditioning will not only save you money but is good for the planet, too. For thousands of years, humans found ways to stay cool, even in the hottest climates, without the use of AC. Take a card from that playbook to keep your home comfortable without relying on energy-intensive resources by incorporating the ideas below. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC Open the windows Creating a cross-breeze is one of the most effective ways to cool a home. Many resorts and vacation homes in tropical areas rely on this technique instead of installing AC for a good reason — it works. The key to effective breeze cooling is figuring out which direction the wind blows. In some areas, it’s fairly consistent, commonly coming from the same direction during the same times each day (most often in the afternoon). Open up windows during that “window” of breeze to encourage the flow through your home. Also take advantage of cooler nighttime and early morning temperatures. Leave screened windows open to allow the cool air to come inside. Then, trap it by shutting windows on each side of the house as the sun hits it, i.e. the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon. Rely on the blinds When your windows are closed, also close off heat absorption by closing the blinds. For windows that are in direct sunlight for a good portion of the day, consider installing shutters or rolling blinds on the outside of the window as well. If you don’t want to block out the light entirely, install window film that is made to insulate against heat while letting light into the room. Blackout the light The most effective way to keep the sun from injecting blistering heat into a room is to keep it dark. Completely close off rooms when they are not being used. If you don’t mind being left in the dark, install blackout curtains, which effectively block the heat from entering the room through the window. Become a fan of fans Both ceiling fans and box fans are effective in cooling a space without cranking up the energy bill. For ceiling fans, make sure they are rotating in a counterclockwise direction during the warm months. Most ceiling fans have a switch near the top that changes the direction in which the blades rotate. This is so that the fan pushes cooler air downward during the summer. Reverse the blades during the winter, which pulls cool air up toward the ceiling to keep the living space warmer. Box and other fans help keep the air flowing throughout the space for a cooling effect. To create cooler air, place a container of ice directly in front of the fan. The air from the fan will bounce off the ice and direct the cool air across the room. Insulate against the heat With all of this talk about the importance of air flow, it seems counter-intuitive to mention insulation . However, keeping hot air from entering your space prevents from having to then cool it. Just like with cold air during the winter, evaluate any place that hot air may seep in. Close the damper in your fireplace. Feel around your doors and windows for airflow, and install weatherstripping as needed. Grab a package of insulation foam for your light switches and outlets. Related: 7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home Turn off appliances Even during the sizzling days of summer, you need to eat and do laundry , but appliances in the home generate a lot of heat and compromise your success in the battle against a hot house. Plan ahead to avoid turning on appliances as much as possible. Dust off that slow cooker book and cook dinner without turning on the stove. Also enjoy some summer grilling that takes the hot cooking outdoors. Better yet, on very hot days, go with a cold sandwich or salad and avoid cooking altogether. You can also keep the clothes dryer from heating up your space by hanging clothes to dry or only running it at night after the temperature drops. Even the dishwasher sends out heat, so wash dishes by hand and allow them to air dry in the warm space, or run the dishwasher without the final dry cycle that produces heat. Give your refrigerator a bit of a break. It works hard during hot weather, so keep up maintenance by cleaning the vent in the front and the coils in the back. Keep food away from the edges inside the fridge, so air can flow freely. Get shade from plants Keeping the home cool on the inside starts on the outside. Your landscape design can have a huge impact on the temperature inside your house. Plan ahead by placing trees where they will block intense sun rays during the height of the season. Put shrubs and vines on south- and west-facing walls to help insulate against the heat. Stop unwanted heat gain with awnings For a long-term, albeit less natural, approach, build permanent awnings or invest in retractable awnings over corridors, decks and windows. This will also make enjoying the outdoors on super hot days a little easier! Images via Shutterstock

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Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill

Architecture For Humanity’s Really Boring Year in Haiti

January 10, 2011 by  
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Kate Stohr, the co-founder of Architecture for Humanity , dropped me a note suggesting that I have a look at their Year in Review of their work in Haiti.

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Architecture For Humanity’s Really Boring Year in Haiti

Green To Grow On – An Obvious Conclusion

March 10, 2010 by  
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I was listening to a report recently that determined that, rather than trying to save the planet by purchasing green cleaners, organic food and other green products, consumers generally are motivated by health- theirs and their children’s.  This is, of course, a bit of a “duh’ for me, since I and most of my marketing colleagues came up with this conclusion awhile ago. But it is a boon to green brands trying to go mainstream.

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Green To Grow On – An Obvious Conclusion

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