A tiny beach shack in Essex wrapped in "magic" cork panels

July 20, 2016 by  
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The artist couple who commissioned the design, which replaces a “dilapidated timber framed 1920s beach house”, wanted a weekend home that would “surpass planning requirements in terms of flood risk mitigation, building control requirements in terms of part L, and expectations in terms of design innovation,” Lisa Shell told Inhabitat. She designed the home to resemble a “hide” that provides the residents with “privacy, peace, and a sense of isolation and distance.” But it also had to overcome a few site challenges – including floods that recently swathed the area in a meter of water, according to The Guardian . Related: Amazing hairdryer made with glass and cork Elevated on red steel stilts like a Redshank wader, the home is constructed in CLT with a 180mm thick expanded cork agglomerate overcoat. The cork panels are created from the by-product of wine cork production in Portugal, according to Shell, using only heat and compression to form a chemical bond between cork chips. Unusually, the designers decided not to apply a polyurethane coating to the panels, resulting in a bleached grey color facade with black flecks. An airtight enclosure, Redshank is heated with a small wood burning stove – reducing the energy required to keep the space warm. The new house increases the amount of land available to fauna and flora within the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). “Within two months of completion, sparrows have already taken up residence in one of the integrated nesting boxes,” writes Shell. “It was also important that support was won for the unconventional design from the community of both permanent and occasional residents in the small hamlet.” + Lisa Shell Architects

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A tiny beach shack in Essex wrapped in "magic" cork panels

BeCool HVAC system generates clean energy while keeping your house cool

July 20, 2016 by  
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Most air conditioning units are energy hogs that can send an electric bill sky high, often leading people to limit their use. A new device called BeCool cools (or heats) the air while charging up a fuel cell at the same time , could transform the whole approach to indoor climate control by generating electricity rather than just sucking it up. The invention comes from Be Power Tech , a startup based in Florida, where air conditioning is not just a luxury, but also a lifesaver. https://vimeo.com/165074817 Instead of plugging into the grid for its power source, Be Power Tech’s BeCool commercial HVAC unit runs on natural gas . Where the individual unit is considered, the result is a more energy efficient air conditioning system. If more people relied on natural gas-based air conditioners, some of the strain on the power grid would be alleviated during peak times of usage, such as during a heat wave or simply at that point in mid-afternoon when the day’s heat reaches its apex. Related: Infographic shows surprising trends in summer energy usage across the United States The BeCool system is a roof-mounted unit that directly replaces standard 10-ton air conditioning systems, and the company will begin field trials on commercial units in 2017, expecting to hit the market the following year. The system relies on evaporative cooling technology developed at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and licensed by the Florida company exclusively. The system promises to reduce energy costs by 67 percent or more, with a 70 percent reduction in peak time usage. BeCool, which is also capable of functioning as a heating unit, is also an environmentally friendly system. Its inventors claim installing one of their HVAC units is the equivalent of removing five cars from the road, due to the reduction in emissions gained both by fueling the unit with natural gas and by its clean energy generation. Via Scientific American Images via Be Power Tech

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BeCool HVAC system generates clean energy while keeping your house cool

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