A Swiss forest gains a sculptural, sustainably minded water purification plant

June 24, 2019 by  
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Most water purification plants are devoid of personality, but that’s not so for the Swiss city of Muttenz’s new water treatment facility. Designed by international architectural firm Oppenheim Architecture , the Muttenz Water Purification Plant rejects the sterile stereotype and adopts a curving and organic form that looks as if the building was naturally sculpted out of the earth. Set within a lush green forest next to the river Rhine, the low-maintenance industrial plant not only sensitively and sustainably adapts to its natural surroundings, but also serves as a new city landmark that includes a public-facing area to educate the population about the facility’s three-phased, state-of-the-art water purification process. The Muttenz Water Purification Plant is encased entirely with shotcrete, also known as sprayed concrete, which was delivered dry to the construction site and then mixed with water just before application. Shotcrete was selected because of the sensitive nature of the construction site in a drinking water protection zone. The expressive and low-maintenance facade appears both soft in appearance yet hard in texture and allows rainwater to flow from the roof across the sides, which will gradually leave a natural patina and encourage the growth of moss over time to blend the building into the landscape. Related: This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water “The engineering-driven arrangement of the inner life defines the form and the size of the building,” explained the architects, who noted that the water purification building is set between a protected forest and the nearby industrial parks. “Like a tight dress, the skin presses against it and represents the technical inner life to the outside. Pipelines, filters and apparatuses can be read through the facade in an abstract manner. The result is an expressive building, acting like a ‘objet trouvé’ in its natural context. Reduced to its materiality and form.” To heighten the educational experience for the public, the water purification plant puts parts of its complex and its state-of-the-art technology on display. One example is the open, alcove-like presentation room that is open to the outdoors and allows visitors to experience water from multiple perspectives, from the cooling sensation of the surrounding pool to the sounds and sights of rainwater pouring in from the roof. + Oppenheim Architecture Photography by Bo?rje Mu?ller via Oppenheim Architecture

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A Swiss forest gains a sculptural, sustainably minded water purification plant

Solar-powered prefab cabins keep naturally cool in Portugal

June 11, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Lisbon-based architectural practice Studio 3A for a small residential project in the seaside village of Comporta, the architects knew that a major challenge would be keeping the house naturally cool during the oppressively hot summers. In keeping with their commitment to sustainable architecture, the architects used passive solar strategies and efficient insulation to mitigate solar heat gain. The firm also teamed up with design studio Mima Housing to prefabricate the buildings, named Cabanas in Comporta, which were topped with solar panels and sheathed in charred timber for a durable and maintenance-free finish. The architecture of Cabanas in Comporta follows a modular design of three types: the “intimate module” that houses the bedroom and bathroom; the “social module” for the living spaces with room for an outdoor pool; and the “service module” that also serves as storage for items such as the client’s car collection. Together with Mima Housing, Studio 3A prefabricated the modular buildings with oriented strand board sandwich panels and wooden joints. The facades are clad in timber charred black using the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban. Related: The elegant MIMA Light prefab home ‘floats’ on thin air “As local connoisseurs, we based our construction method on the traditional fishermen huts/cabanas as an inspiration for our project,” explain the architects. These huts have been built in this area for years and are very functional and quick to build which were another important point of our brief. With this construction type we had a couple of challenges to face which was the hot-summer Mediterranean climate and the mosquitos which are well known to bug you in the area. We implemented various sustainable strategies to reduce the heat sensation such as the calculated overhangs in front of the main windows, low emissivity window panes and a tensioned solar shading system in between the cabana modules.” Heat gain is further controlled with a double blind system installed in both the interior and exterior. The external blind also zips down to protect the home from mosquito invasions. Strategic placement of the buildings optimizes solar orientation and access to cooling breezes. Dark cement flooring is used to take advantage of thermal mass, while photovoltaic panels and heat pumps help heat the buildings in winter. + Studio 3A Images by Nelson Garrido

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A gorgeous events center in Pennsylvania is built almost entirely out of eco-friendly timber

June 6, 2019 by  
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Residents of Nappanee, Indiana now have a beautiful timber events center to enjoy thanks to the Pennsylvania-based builders at Mid-Atlantic Timberframes . The Sammlung Platz (The Gathering Place in German) is a massive, multi-use center that is made out of natural timbers that give the space a unique structural strength as well as an exceptionally warm atmosphere. The Mid-Atlantic Timberframes company has established itself as a leader in the design of timber structures. Working directly with clients, the company crafts homes and commercial buildings using timber frames to create naturally strong structures that eliminate the need for load-bearing walls. Related: Green-roofed timber dwelling in Austria is built with recycled materials The Sammlung Platz is a pegged mortise and tenon-style timber construction that pays homage to traditional barns. Designed to accommodate up to 1,000 people, the two-level, 26,000-square-foot open floor plan can be used for any number of community or private events . From the sophisticated cabin-like exterior, guests enter the interior space through large wooden and glass doors. Inside, the spacious community center is clad in beautiful timber walls that cover the ground and upper levels, giving the space a warm, cozy atmosphere. To open up the space further, a vaulted ceiling with exposed beams hovers over the room. Using timber in the construction also allowed the building to be more eco-friendly. According to Mid-Atlantic Timberframes, the company’s timbers come from sustainably managed forests, and their suppliers plant as many as 10 times the number of trees they cut down. Building with timber also means significantly less carbon emissions are released during construction, as opposed to steel and concrete. Additionally, there is minimal waste, because the timber logs are used in their entirety, rather than using numerous specialty-cut lumber panels. + Mid-Atlantic Timberframes Images via Mid-Atlantic Timberframes

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How To Make Concrete From Atmospheric Carbon

May 17, 2019 by  
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Concrete, steel, and mriad other construction materials we take for … The post How To Make Concrete From Atmospheric Carbon appeared first on Earth911.com.

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The worlds tallest wood building was just completed in Norway

April 10, 2019 by  
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In March 2019, the Mjösa Tower became the tallest wooden building in the world at 18 floors (for a total of 85.4 meters tall), followed closely by the HoHo Wien building in Austria (84 meters) and the Peri-S?pân?a Monastery in Romania (75 meters). Because it was made in part with Kerto LVL wood that is both sustainable and green, the building is eco-friendly as well. While both the skeleton and the facade of the building are made of wood, the decks on the upper floors (apartments) utilize concrete to prevent swaying. The bottom 10 floors contain the majority of the Kerto LVL wood and are comprised of hotel facilities and offices. Because the wood is such high quality and lightweight, construction is faster and, in turn, uses less resources. Related: Peek inside the tallest cross-laminated timber building in the US Being a wood building, the Mjösa Tower was designed with fire safety in mind. In addition to a building-wide sprinkler system, each floor is built compartment-style with materials (such as Kerto LVL and glulam timber) with 90-minute fire resistance capability. According to Metsä Wood, when exposed to fire, the untreated, solid wood chars on the outside and provides its own fire-resistant surface. Kerto LVL wood is a laminated veneer lumber, made using thin rotary-peeled softwood glued together to form a continuous chunk of wood. It’s super strong, durable and doesn’t warp, making the wood ideal for adding substantial strength to floors and beams. Additionally, the Finnish company Metsä Wood produces the material using 100 percent bioenergy with little to no waste. The unusable segments of the wood left after the manufacturing process are either used for pulp production or for bioenergy to run the mill. Even better, there is a bio-heating plant next to the mill that’s used to power the wood production, and the remaining energy is used to help power the neighboring town of Lohja. The Metsä Wood company is certainly a large contributor to Finland’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2030. Mjösa Tower is a symbol of changing trends in the construction community. It proves that massive structures can be produced using sustainable materials without compromising quality. The building’s designers at Voll Arkitekter hope the the tower will inspire other architects to build using sustainable materials like wood. + Metsä Wood + Vol Arkitekter Images via Metsä Wood

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The worlds tallest wood building was just completed in Norway

Drones are the new cost-effective way to monitor the environment

March 21, 2019 by  
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Conservationists, researchers and volunteers have spent countless hours on the ground keeping tabs on water quality in rivers across the country. Their work has been instrumental over the years, and new technology in the form of  drones  is making their jobs a whole lot easier. These unmanned aircraft, referred to as drones or UAVs, are easy to control and have become cost-effective in recent years. Environmentalists are using them to monitor ecosystems from the skies and are able to carry out their goals with more efficiency than ever before. Related: Drones — the future of ocean conservation “The technology has come along to the point where everyday people can put a camera up in the air and see beyond the tree line or their property line,” Ben Cunningham, a coordinator working in the field for the Pipeline Compliance Surveillance Initiative, explained. According to Maryland Reporter , Cunningham’s team is keeping an eye on the construction of controversial pipeline projects in Virginia. The drones enable them to see a wider field of view without investing a lot of money or time. The new technology is even superior to what many government officials have in their inventory. Based on numbers from the Federal Aviation Administration, there will be close to seven million drones sold in 2020. That is almost three times the number of unmanned crafts purchased in 2016. These drones range from small quadcopters to more sophisticated airplanes, and many of them are as simple to use as a remote-controlled car . Most drones are also able to take photographs and feature auto-pilot once they are in the air. When it comes to pipeline construction, environmentalists are using drones to take snapshots of the construction progress. They then use the photos to measure how the construction is affecting local environments, including Bay grasses and algal blooms along riversides. Without the drones, these types of large-scale efforts would not be possible without considerable funding and volunteer forces. Because drones are relatively new to the scene, researchers are hoping that they can expand their capabilities and achieve even greater results in the near future. Via Maryland Reporter Image via Paul Henri

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6 places to find the best recycled building materials

February 19, 2019 by  
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If construction is in your future — either with a new home build or a remodel — using recycled  building materials for the project is definitely the way to go. Not only is using recycled materials good for the environment , but it is often much cheaper. Sometimes, you can even find recycled materials for free! To help you with your upcoming construction or  DIY  project, here is a list of some of the best places to find recycled items and materials. Pawn shops You can find some pretty amazing brand name power tools at your local pawn shop. So, it doesn’t hurt to stop by one near you and see what they have. You can even tell them what you are looking for and they could call you when the right item comes into the store. The most important thing to remember when you want to use recycled building materials for your construction project is to tell people — don’t keep it a secret! Write posts about what you are looking for on social media, post an online classified, talk to your friends and family, make some calls to local contractors or post a flyer around a town. You don’t know if you don’t ask. When you do, you will most likely find some pretty amazing deals that can help your construction project be eco-friendly . Habitat for Humanity Restore Outlets that accept building material donations are a gold mine, especially when you are planning a construction project. Habitat for Humanity Restore sells donated items to the general public. You can find things like furniture, appliances, building materials and housewares, and they will cost you just pennies compared to what you would find at a regular home store. If you can’t find a Habitat for Humanity Restore in your area, there are other non-profits located throughout the country that also sell recycled building materials. All it takes is a quick Google search. Related: Green-roofed home is built of waste bricks and wood in Poland Wood recycling stores There are places all over the United States where you can find recycled and reclaimed wood for things like flooring, paneling and furniture. Not only does using recycled and reclaimed wood have environmental benefits, but it can give your home character. The Building Materials Reuse Association has an online directory that you can use to find a location near you where you can find recycled and reclaimed wood for your next construction project. Scratch and dent stores If you have never heard of a scratch and dent store, they are outlets that sell items that have been damaged, refurbished, are out of the box or have been discontinued. Scratch and dent items can be a lot cheaper than retail, they sometimes have a manufacturer warranty and the damage is usually just cosmetic. However, you will be responsible for getting rid of your old appliances and installing the new ones. There is also a risk that you could buy a lemon. So, make sure that you can swap your appliance out if you end up with one that is causing problems. You can find slightly imperfect appliances at the Sears Outlet website or at one of their outlet stores. You can also buy scratch and dent furniture online at Goedeker’s. Again, a quick Google search will help you find the scratch and dent stores in your area. Tear-down sites When a contractor is tearing down a building or remodeling a residential or commercial site they usually have to get rid of a few things. This means that you can get your hands on items like building materials, cabinets, sinks and toilets, and help the contractor dispose of their waste . Contact local contractors and tell them what you are looking for, then ask if you can take a look at one of their sites. Be prepared for some resistance because there could be safety and liability concerns. But, you just might find a contractor who wants to avoid waste just as much as you do and will be more than willing to set some things aside. Freecycle and Planet Reuse This non-profit website is all about exchanging things for free . It has millions of members from around the globe and the goal is to keep things from ending up in landfills . Membership is free and you can find items like tools, tiles and wood. Related: Eco-friendly options for decluttering waste Another great online option is PlanetReuse , which is a marketplace where you can buy recycled materials from both residential and commercial buildings. They also offer a consulting service if you need help with using recycled materials for your construction or DIY projects. Not to mention, they will also make sure to stay within your budget. Also, don’t be afraid to post an online classified ad on Craigslist, in a Facebook group or your general social media network. You might just be surprised who has something you could use just hanging out in their backyard. Images via Shutterstock

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Vulnerable nuclear waste stockpiles are becoming a"global crisis"

February 4, 2019 by  
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Nuclear waste is quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest problems. Earth’s growing stockpile of radioactive waste is troublesome, because these chemicals remain in their radioactive state for several millennia — and we have yet to come up with a foolproof storage solution. A new study explored facilities that store nuclear waste in seven locations around the world, including the United States, France, Japan, Belgium, Britain, Finland and Sweden. Officials discovered that the majority of nuclear waste lacked proper defense mechanisms, like secondary protocols, and are vulnerable to failing in the wake of natural and man-made disasters. Related: Blue dye could be the next key to harnessing renewable energy Storage of nuclear waste is one of the biggest obstacles facing nuclear power plants . It was once thought that deep underground was a good storage option, but that is not the case. According to Greenpeace , all of the storage facilities in the study showed some percentage of radiation leaks, which is incredibly detrimental to the environment. “More than 65 years after the start of the civil use of nuclear power, not a single country can claim that it has the solution to manage the most dangerous radioactive wastes ,” Shaun Burnie, who works with Greenpeace Germany and led the new study, explained. Even worse, some storage facilities are located in areas prone to natural disasters. For example, the U.S. is in the process of building a major nuclear waste site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain range, which features seismic and volcanic activity, hardly suitable for keeping radioactive waste safe. The building of the Yucca Mountain facility was placed on hold by former President Barack Obama in 2010. Donald Trump, however, has expressed interest in reviving the construction and finishing the site before his term is up. As if that is not bad enough, governments are seemingly turning a blind eye to public concerns. The nuclear waste report comes after it was revealed that the U.S. government secretly moved weapons-grade plutonium across several states, despite passionate opposition from politicians in South Carolina. If scientists do not come up with a better method of disposing of nuclear waste, then it really could become the next global crisis. Fortunately, countries are exploring alternative renewable sources for energy that do not result in radioactive waste and are healthier for the environment. + Greenpeace Via EcoWatch Image via Pixabay

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Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste

December 27, 2018 by  
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Outdoor festivals and events have been popular across the world since the days of Roman gladiators and for good reason. They are a great way to enjoy music, art and other entertainment while being surrounded by nature. Unfortunately, festivals are also associated with a lot of waste. One company, Above All C6(n) , is leading efforts to find a solution for the temporary tent accommodations that often get left behind at these events. With the knowledge that thousands of tents get tossed after major festivals, the company created the Pod(o), a reusable sleeping pod made from recycled, single-use plastic rather than virgin materials. Charlie Hall, founder and managing director of Above All C6(n), said, “People were really interested in the technology behind it as well as the design, but what makes it especially appealing is the fact that it, like all our building components, provides a use for single-use plastic , which is a truly global problem.” Related: 100% recyclable cardboard tents could solve the waste problem at music festivals In addition to repurposing plastic originally headed to the landfill, Above All designed the Pod(o) to be multi-purpose and durable. The modular design makes the pods adaptable for a variety of uses. They are stackable, can be linked together and can even connect to  solar power , a water supply and a bio toilet. For portability, the pods can be taken apart, transported and set up in another location by just a few people. The goal is for the Pod(o) to be used again and again for years as a replacement for single-use tents at many events. Currently, the design of the Pod(o) accommodates two people, but the company is working to scale the design for larger options. Based out of Christchurch, Dorset, U.K., Above All has also designed other modular and portable structures intended for community use. The company focus is aimed at fixing problems within the construction and housing markets, such as waste during and after construction, longevity of products and shortage of availability. Beginning with the initial idea of sturdy and reusable festival lodging, it didn’t take long for the company to envision other uses for the pods. Now, it plans to promote them as a solution for all types of temporary housing needs: people in between accommodations, those affected by natural disaster, military persons or firefighters stationed remotely, workers designated to a construction site, people at sporting tournaments and workers and visitors to other pop-up events. “We aim to create a local sustainable legacy,” Bex Ricketts, the business development manager of Above All, told Inhabitat. “Collect locally, employ locally, make locally, re-use locally and benefit local charities. Sustainable as engineered for zero-waste , 100 percent reusable and lasts indefinitely. Creating a legacy is most important, as something that has been created to last for generations has to be useful and designed to be future proof.” + Above All Via Archinect Images via Above All

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How Do You Recycle an Entire Building?

July 3, 2018 by  
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It’s a silly question, isn’t it? How could something so … The post How Do You Recycle an Entire Building? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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