New affordable housing in Silicon Valley boasts net-zero emissions

March 16, 2020 by  
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In one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets, a new multifamily community has sprung up to provide 66 affordable rental apartments in Silicon Valley. Named Edwina Benner Plaza after the first female mayor of California, the affordable housing project designed by Caifornia-based architecture firm David Baker Architects also boasts net-zero emissions for operations thanks to the use of all-renewable community utilities and rooftop solar panels. Located in the city of Sunnyvale next to Highway 237, Edwina Benner Plaza occupies an underutilized site where a single-story commercial building once stood. The 110,612-square-foot affordable housing project was strategically oriented and arranged to shield the residential areas and common spaces away from traffic noise and pollution. The massing strategy also helps to encourage an active and healthy community life by placing the shared areas — such as activity rooms, laundry, service programs and an after-school center — around a central outdoor play space.  Related: The Union Flats is a LEED Platinum-certified housing community To further promote an environment for healthy living, Edwina Benner Plaza offers diverse supportive services such as an after-school program, adult education and mediation support. The 66 affordable rental units, which comprise one-, two- and three-bedroom units, are made available to families earning up to 60% of the area median income as well as to individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Onsite case management reserves 13 apartment units for formerly homeless individuals and 10 units for those at risk of homelessness. Solar panels cover the building’s roof and power the common loads of the residents. Each residential wing is also served by a custom, high-efficiency central heat pump. “An all-electric building, Edwina Benner Plaza is among the first affordable housing projects in the nation to have zero operating emissions,” the architects added. The project has earned a Platinum certification under the GreenPoint rating system. + David Baker Architects Photography by Bruce Damonte via David Baker Architects

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New affordable housing in Silicon Valley boasts net-zero emissions

Discarded face masks now threatening wildlife habitats

March 16, 2020 by  
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The worldwide outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) prompted many to purchase face masks for protection. Unfortunately, these protective masks have been harming the environment. Why is that? The masks are made of the plastic polypropylene, which is not easily biodegradable. No surprise then that the accumulation of discarded face masks litters the environment and poses serious risks to the equilibrium of  habitats  and the health of wildlife, especially marine organisms. Environmental groups are now sounding the alarm on how cast-off coronavirus masks are escalating the  litter  and plastic pollution predicaments. Related:  The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch “We only have had masks for the last six to eight weeks, in a massive volume…we are now seeing the effect on the environment,” explained Gary Stokes, founder of Oceans Asia, a marine  conservation  organization. Stokes elaborated with the example of the Soko Islands off Hong Kong. On one 100-meter stretch of beach, Stokes discovered 70 masks, then an additional 30 the following week.  Hong Kong’s dense population means that its citizens have struggled with plastic waste.  Single-use plastic  makes matters more challenging. What’s more, Hong Kong does not effectively  recycle  all its waste. Instead, roughly 70% of its garbage ends up in landfills. That 70% is equivalent to approximately 6 million tons of refuse. Conservationists have been attempting to remove these masks from the environment through beach clean-ups. “Nobody wants to go to the forest and find masks littered everywhere or used masks on the beaches . It is unhygienic and dangerous,” added Laurence McCook, head of Oceans Conservation at the World Wildlife Fund in Hong Kong. Jerome Adams, the United States Surgeon General, has also  advised people to stop purchasing medical face masks , as they are ineffective at preventing COVID-19. Scaling back public purchasing of the masks would not only keep more masks available for medical professionals, but could also reduce the amount being discarded and its impact on the environment. Via Reuters Images via Pixabay

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Discarded face masks now threatening wildlife habitats

This DIY off-grid home in Hawaii includes a permaculture farm

March 16, 2020 by  
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Living an off-grid lifestyle is a dream for many, but it’s also incredibly tough to achieve. Still, there are a select few who manage to do it with such style that it makes the transition from running the endless rat race to sustainable living look relatively easy. Ambitious couple Arina and Zen Moriya have done just that by creating an off-grid oasis within the jungles of Pahoa, Hawaii . The Root Down Farm is a self-built homestead that enables the couple to embrace a close connection with nature. The sustainable permaculture farm and off-grid home are located in a community called Puna. After visiting in 2008, the couple immediately fell in love with the community’s progressive, laid-back style and history of  sustainable living. The region’s mild weather, along with the lush jungle vegetation, led them to purchase a 3-acre lot to begin a new way of life. Related: Serene off-grid tiny home sits tucked away in a Hawaiian rainforest The resulting Root Down Farm includes three structures: the main house, which is 1,272-square-feet, a 384-square-foot cottage and a sweet, 360-square-foot bungalow that the couple rents out on Airbnb. All of the structures are surrounded by an expansive permaculture farm that provides vegetables and fruits for the couple and their friends. Inside each building, the furnishings were chosen to reflect the couple’s minimalist design style . Nearly everything was handmade by Zen or found secondhand. The couple did most of the construction work themselves over the span of 2.5 years, along with help of a professional contractor and a few very good friends. The climate was an essential element in their building strategy, enabling them to rely on a few passive features. “Because we don’t have harsh winter, we were able to build structures with no windows (only screens to keep bugs out) and build with single wall with no insulation,” Zen told Inhabitat. Perhaps the only downside to building in a remote area on a tropical island is the fact that they weren’t able to find many repurposed materials to use for the structures. Instead, they turned to nature. “Reclaimed building materials are not easy to find on this island. There is only one or two vendors who salvage old building materials on this island but they charge premium,” Zen explained. “We did try to use as much natural material as possible, such as ohia tree for the main post in the house, guava trees for railing and fence.” Root Down Farm operates completely off of the grid thanks to solar power generation . There is no access to electricity, water or sewers in the area, so the couple built their own self-sufficient systems. They use multiple wells for their water needs and all of the structures are equipped with composting toilets. The permaculture gardens that surround the properties were a crucial component of the project. Arina and Zen now enjoy an abundance of organic food year-round, including coconuts, avocados, banana, papayas, root vegetables, tomatoes and more, all of which they also share with friends. + Root Down Farm Via Apartment Therapy Images by Zen Moriya

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This DIY off-grid home in Hawaii includes a permaculture farm

300 Ivy Street is a mixed-use block of pedestrian-friendly living

January 22, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of 300 Ivy Street is a mixed-use block of pedestrian-friendly living Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 300 Ivy Street block , david baker architects , floor to ceiling windows , green architecture , green neighborhood , mixed-use block , natural lighting , residential block , rooftop garden , San Francisco

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300 Ivy Street is a mixed-use block of pedestrian-friendly living

David Baker’s Ultra-Efficient Net Zero Cottage Generates 30% More Energy Than it Consumes [PHOTOS]

October 9, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of David Baker’s Ultra-Efficient Net Zero Cottage Generates 30% More Energy Than it Consumes [PHOTOS] Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: AIA Homes Tours , AIA SF , architecture and the city festival , david baker , energy positive , Green Building , leed for homes , LEED platinum , net zero , passive house , San Francisco , Sustainable Building , Zero Cottage        

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David Baker’s Ultra-Efficient Net Zero Cottage Generates 30% More Energy Than it Consumes [PHOTOS]

Eleonora Nicoletti’s Sculptural ‘Dancing Screen’ Uses Solar Power to Charge Electronic Devices

October 9, 2013 by  
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The Dancing Screen by Eleonora Nicoletti is a dynamic architectural installation that generates electric power from the sun. Nicoletti designed the screen as a charging point for passers-by to quickly power up their electronic devices. The screen is constructed from thin film solar cells and its modules are continuously reconfigured as they “dance” in the wind. The power generated by the panels is stored in the base of the screen, and visitors can plug into docks that extend from the foot.  + Eleonora Nicoletti  The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Dancing Screen , eco-art , Eleonora Nicoletti , public chargers , solar design , solar power art        

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Eleonora Nicoletti’s Sculptural ‘Dancing Screen’ Uses Solar Power to Charge Electronic Devices

Over 80 Percent of Earth’s Ecosystems are at Risk Unless Climate Action is Taken

October 9, 2013 by  
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A new study finds that more than 80 percent of ice-free land is at risk of ecosystem transformation by 2100 unless global warming is limited to 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels. Even if emissions are cut enough so that global warming doesn’t reach 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, 20 percent of land ecosystems would still be at risk of moderate to major changes. Read the rest of Over 80 Percent of Earth’s Ecosystems are at Risk Unless Climate Action is Taken Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Climate Change , ecosystems , emissions , global warming        

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Over 80 Percent of Earth’s Ecosystems are at Risk Unless Climate Action is Taken

La Valentina Station Affordable Housing Transforms a Neglected Site in Sacramento

April 4, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of La Valentina Station Affordable Housing Transforms a Neglected Site in Sacramento Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , affordable housing , brownfield remediation , brownfield site , david baker , David Baker + Partners , david baker and partners , david baker architects , eco design , eco housing project , green architecture , Green Building , green design , la valentina , la valentina station , Sacramento , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , Urban design , urban infill project        

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La Valentina Station Affordable Housing Transforms a Neglected Site in Sacramento

Richardson Apartments: David Baker’s Affordable Housing Project in Hayes Valley Wows Design Enthusiasts at AIA Homes Tours

October 15, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Richardson Apartments: David Baker’s Affordable Housing Project in Hayes Valley Wows Design Enthusiasts at AIA Homes Tours Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , affordable housing , architecture and the city , architecture in the city , david baker , David Baker + Partners Architects , design events , Drs. Julian and Raye Richardson Apartments , green architecture , Green Building , hayes valley , San Francisco , sf aia , SF AIA Homes Tours , social housing , social responsibility , Sustainable Building , sustainable design

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Richardson Apartments: David Baker’s Affordable Housing Project in Hayes Valley Wows Design Enthusiasts at AIA Homes Tours

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