Century-old Japanese townhouse reborn as Blue Bottle Coffees first Kyoto location

June 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese architecture firm Schemata Architects has unveiled Blue Bottle Coffee’s first outpost in Kyoto  – and it’s housed in a century-old building. Following the aesthetic of the previous Schemata-designed Blue Bottle cafes in Tokyo, the newest location features a minimalist and modern design that takes inspiration from the surrounding urban fabric. The two-story structure was carefully overhauled to allow for new functionality while preserving and exposing historic elements. Completed in March this year, the Blue Bottle Coffee Kyoto Cafe is located near the base of Kyoto’s forested Higashiyama mountains and along the approach to Nanzen-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple and one of the historic city’s top tourist attractions. The cafe was built inside a traditional Japanese townhouse (known as ‘machiya’) consisting of two separate buildings. Schemata Architects renovated the buildings into a ‘Merchandise building’ and a ‘Cafe building’ with a total floor area of nearly 3,500 square feet. As was typical of traditional Japanese architecture at the turn of the 20th century, the original floors of the machiya were raised nearly 20 inches off the ground. To create a seamless appearance and to accommodate patrons with special mobility needs, the Blue Bottle Cafe’s architects demolished the raised wooden floors and made them level with the ground. The new floors feature terrazzo containing the same type of pebbles used outside. The same terrazzo material was also used in the counters and benches. Related: Tokyo capsule hotel gets a Finnish-inspired refresh and sauna “The floor inside the counter is also level with the customer area to maintain the same eye level between customers and staff following the same concept as the other shops, while integrating Japanese and American cultures at the same time,” said the architects. “The continuous white floor is stripped of all unnecessary things and the structure is stripped of existing finishes to expose the original roof structure and clay walls, and one can see traces of its 100-year old history throughout the large, medium and small spaces in the structure originally composed of two separate buildings.” The second floor has been converted into an open-plan office with glass frontage. + Schemata Architects Images by Takumi Ota

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Century-old Japanese townhouse reborn as Blue Bottle Coffees first Kyoto location

California becomes the first US state to require solar energy for new houses

May 10, 2018 by  
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It’s official — California is the first state in America to mandate solar for new homes. Yesterday, the California Energy Commission voted unanimously to approve the building standards, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020. The New York Times quoted Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich as saying, “There’s…this real American sense of freedom of producing electricity on my rooftop. And it’s another example of California leading the way.” Homes built in California in a couple of years will have to be equipped with solar energy systems. Called the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, the requirements “will increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500 but will save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years,” according to a frequently asked questions document from the California Energy Commission. The New York Times quoted commission member Andrew McAllister as saying, “Any additional amount in the mortgage is more than offset. It’s good for the customer.” Related: California to become the first US state to require solar panels on new homes The commission said in a press release the standards would lower greenhouse gas emissions as much as if around 115,000 fossil fuel cars left the streets. They said the standards zero in on four areas; in addition to residential solar power, those areas are “updated thermal envelope standards (preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa), residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements.” There are people who wonder if California’s new mandate is the best path forward to clean power. MIT Technology Review linked to an email from University of California, Berkeley economics professor Severin Borenstein to commission chair Robert Weisenmiller early yesterday morning; Borenstein said he, along with most energy economists, “believe that residential rooftop solar is a much more expensive way to move towards renewable energy than larger solar and wind installations.” + California Energy Commission Via The New York Times Images via Deposit Photos ,   Wikimedia Commons and mjmonty on Flickr

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California becomes the first US state to require solar energy for new houses

A cluster of wooden cabins create a serene weekend retreat in Norway

May 10, 2018 by  
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Norwegian firm Stinessen Arkitektur built this cluster of wooden cabins that peer out over the picturesque fjords of Norway. The weekend retreat is designed to provide the ultimate in relaxation, and it features extra-large glazed facades, minimalist interior design, and a serene spa. The private vacation home is located on Malangen Peninsula and it overlooks a beautiful fjord. The main entrance leads through a sliding oak door into a covered central courtyard , which connects the main building and the annex. This courtyard serves as the heart of the home, and it comes complete with a fireplace and an outdoor kitchen. Related: Cantilevered holiday cabins boast stunning coastal views in Norway According to the architects, the courtyard “functions as a protected and semi-tempered zone (without particular heating) between the main part and the annex . . . It also provides an additional layer to the natural ventilation during summertime, even on windy or rainy days.” The main building consists of two living areas. The master bedroom and bathroom are on one side of the structure, and a bedroom and secondary living room are on the other. The open kitchen, dining and living areas are located between the bedrooms. Various “in-between” spaces, with concrete floors and wood-slatted ceilings, connect the individual cabins . In order to create a cohesive connection to the exterior wooden cladding , the interior walls are covered in knot-free oak panels. Minimal furnishings and bare walls put the focus on the incredible scenery that surrounds the home. Each room has a large glass wall that offers amazing views. + Stinessen Arkitektur Via Dwell Photography by Steve King and Terje Arntsen, via Stinessen Arkitectur

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A cluster of wooden cabins create a serene weekend retreat in Norway

LEGO Hand Bag turns you into a minifigsorta

October 19, 2016 by  
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The rectangular paper bag is like regular shopping bags in many respects. It’s just the right size for hauling your LEGO store loot, and sturdy enough to stand up on its own. Inside the bag are two handles, placed on opposite long sides of the bag. However, that’s where the similarities end, because the LEGO Hand Bag has one additional amusing feature. Related: LEGO releases set with stay-at-home dad and working mom minifigures When a person is holding the bag by its built-in handles, their (human) hands are covered up by bright yellow plastic hands resembling those of a LEGO minifigure . While the illusion works best when the customer is wearing a long-sleeved shirt or jacket, the promotional bag can make anyone look like they belong in LEGOland or, at the very least, like an extra from the LEGO movie. The kooky bag has been making its way around the internet for the past several days, but there’s still no word of an official response from the folks at LEGO HQ. Surely, they’ve seen it by now, so we can only hope they are deep in discussions over what kind of check to cut for the design duo who created what LEGO’s own advertising department didn’t think to attempt. Via Junho Lee and Hyun Chul Choi Images via Hyun Chul Choi and LEGO

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LEGO Hand Bag turns you into a minifigsorta

SolarCity announces plan to give "green" Airbnb hosts $1000

October 19, 2016 by  
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Airbnb hosts will be eligible for a rad new incentive when they install SolarCity panels on their homes, thanks to a new partnership between the two companies. Hosts can receive $1000 when they go solar and existing SolarCity customers will receive a $100 travel credit if they become Airbnb hosts. The collaboration hopes to boost the home-sharing company’s image as environmentally-friendly, especially among millennial customers. On Tuesday, the partnership was proudly announced as a continuation of Airbnb ’s mission to reduce traveler consumption, when compared to hotels. A collaborate survey between the company and Cleantech Group revealed that, in just the last year, Airbnb’s guests reduced water consumption by 4.2 billion gallons, produced 37,000 metric tons less of waste, and saved enough greenhouse gases to equal keeping 560,000 cars off of the road. Related: SolarCity’s new Buffalo plant will create 5,000 jobs in New York “We know specifically that our guests are looking for this when traveling,” said Airbnb’s head of global policy Chris Lehane to Fortune . They especially know that being clean and green is important to millennial visitors, who make up a significant portion of their customer base. Airbnb hosts had better jump on the deal quickly, as the incentive will drop to $750 after March of 2017. + Airbnb , SolarCity Via Fortune Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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SolarCity announces plan to give "green" Airbnb hosts $1000

Woman discovers venomous viper in a bag of lettuce

November 17, 2015 by  
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An Israeli woman shopping at a supermarket last month made a discovery straight out of our worst nightmare. When another customer asked if she noticed anything “strange” about a bag of lettuce, she quickly realized it was housing a snake. In a situation that would leave some passed out on the floor and others rushing out the door with a resounding “nope!”, the woman did some investigating and learned that the slithery invader was indeed a venomous viper. Read the rest of Woman discovers venomous viper in a bag of lettuce

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How to make energy efficiency programs grab consumers

August 20, 2015 by  
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The problem with energy efficiency programs may be their emotional appeal. They need to make the customer feel as if they are solving a problem.

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How to make energy efficiency programs grab consumers

Buffalo Exchange Thinks Outside the Bag for Sustainability

December 3, 2013 by  
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Instead of a bag for carrying their purchases, Buffalo Exchange shoppers are encouraged to accept a 5-cent token, which is then donated to a charity of the customer’s choice.

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Buffalo Exchange Thinks Outside the Bag for Sustainability

11 Low-Waste Gift Wrapping Alternatives to Buy or DIY

December 3, 2013 by  
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Skip traditional (and wasteful) paper and opt for one of these clever solutions for low-waste, no-waste, upcycled and recycled gift wrapping.

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11 Low-Waste Gift Wrapping Alternatives to Buy or DIY

‘Groupon Rewards’ Hopes to Increase Repeat Business and Understand ROI

September 29, 2011 by  
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Enough has been written about Groupon and its business ideology, with many denouncing the idea as one that hurts small businesses in the long run. The biggest drawback was the complaint that the program does not bring customers back in most cases, creating an un-sustainable marketing plan. The company is trying to change that and is rolling out a new product called Groupon Rewards that tries to give merchants a way to increase customer loyalty. Merchants can sign up starting today and consumers will start seeing the rewards in October. Groupon’s senior vice-president of product, Jeff Holden told TechCrunch , “We think there are three components merchants need to run their business in the new world of local commerce. The first is the daily deal, which Groupon perfected as a customer acquisition product and reached massive scale. The second is Groupon Now, its mobile app that lets local merchants do yield management by offering deals when business is slow. The third now is Groupon Rewards , which is built around customer loyalty and retention.” With Rewards, users who spend some fixed amount at a given merchant are eligible for a “bonus” Groupon deal, which can provide a deeper discount. With a Groupon Reward, a business that offers a regular Groupon deal will be able to follow-up with another reward that gets unlocked after the customer spends a certain amount of money. For instance, after a customer spends $50 or $100 at a store over time, she might get a Groupon Reward of $20 worth of goods for $4. Groupon Rewards   How does Groupon Rewards work? After opting into the program a customer will need to pay with the same credit card which is already on file with Groupon. They can reach the spending goal, which is set by the merchant, over multiple visits. Each time, they will get a notification by email or phone alerting them that they just spent money at a merchant offering a Groupon Reward and how much more they need to spend to unlock it. What are the Advantages and Disadvantages for Vendors & Customers? There is no cost for the program itself, but Groupon says it has not yet determined what the split will be between merchants and Groupon for reward deals. Depending on this split, business have to decide if they want these “loyal” customers. Daily deals does not work for every business. There are some key advantages with an offering like Groupon Now , but obviously, it’s not over the board. Vendors and Groupon can finally track ROI while offering future incentives, something that was sorely missing from current Groupon offerings. As a shopper, you don’t have to worry about a loyalty or membership card  – all this work is done by Groupon. Will small-business owners buy this deal? What do you think?

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