This collapsible cooler is insulated with upcycled coconut fiber

September 9, 2021 by  
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Fortuna Cools recently announced the launch of the Nutshell Cooler, a collapsible cooler made using upcycled coconut fiber sourced from the  Philippines  and designed to outperform plastic. The company worked with local coconut farmers from a fishing village on Lubang Island to create the innovative, insulating material. Each cooler is insulated with 24 coconut husks and manufactured close to the farms, meaning more income for those small-scale coconut  farmers  and the creation of advanced jobs in their local agricultural communities. Since the liners use recycled PET, there are no virgin plastic components to the coolers either. Related: Coconut oil production is a danger to vulnerable species The cooler is the product of a collaboration between Tamara Mekler, a Behavioral Biologist with an M.S. from Stanford in Sustainable Development who previously worked in community-based conservation and environmental education, and David Cutler, a Stanford-educated designer who worked in development and consulting for startups and  NGOs  across Asia. The pair started working on coolers in the Philippines back in 2018 as university graduate students.  While studying with NGO Rare and the local community on Lubang Island in the Philippines, Mekler and Cutler discovered a way to turn coconut husk fiber (a leftover byproduct of the coconut meat industry that is typically burned as waste) into a material to replace plastic foam. Together with award-winning industrial engineers at Box Clever, they released the first coconut coolers in 2019 and created a Kickstarter for the Nutshell Cooler for an Early Bird price of $169 (MSRP $249). Through the 1% for the Planet program, the company donates at least 1% of sales to its  conservation  NGO partners in the Philippines. The cooler’s structure is inspired by origami, specifically the convenient feature of folding into itself to collapse and save space while not in use. Once open, it holds 19 liters (or enough for 18 cans and 14 pounds of ice) and weighs just eight pounds empty. Both the polyester shell and liner are 100%  recycled . Controlled tests promise to keep ice frozen as long as the Yeti Hopper Two and 10-40% longer than the Coleman Excursion, the REI Pack-Away and the popular Expanded Polystyrene ice chests. + Nutshell Coolers Via Core 77 Images courtesy of Nutshell Coolers

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This collapsible cooler is insulated with upcycled coconut fiber

Designing sustainable habitats at the San Diego Zoo

September 8, 2021 by  
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What’s more amazing, a tiny nectar-drinking  bird  that weighs less than a nickel and can fly backward, or a giant carnivorous lizard that can smell a dying animal up to six miles away? They’re both impressive, and now visitors to the San Diego Zoo can experience both hummingbirds and Komodo dragons in brand new habitats just steps away from each other. The two new  habitats  have been carefully designed, both from an eco-materials standpoint and considering what will make these creatures feel most at home. The hummingbirds can bathe in their choice of three water ponds, each using recycled water, or nest in green walls. Visitor benches are made from recycled plastic lumber. Komodo Kingdom features three distinct environments that wild dragons would enjoy — mountain highland, woodland and beach. The habitat also features heated caves and logs, pools and misters to replicate the hot and steamy environment of their native Indonesia. Related: San Diego Zoo successfully clones an endangered Przewalski’s horse There’s also an area of deep, soft sand for egg-laying. Zookeepers hope that Ratu, the female, and Satu, the male, will like each other enough to make baby lizards. Satu only arrived a few months ago, in time for the opening of Komodo Kingdom in June. The two haven’t met yet, and are currently being kept in separate parts of the enclosure. So what’s it like designing habitats for such diverse creatures as Komodo dragons and hummingbirds? Inhabitat talked to San Diego Zoo  architect  Vanessa Nevers to find out. Inhabitat: How did you go about researching the lifestyle and preferences of Komodo dragons? Nevers: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Architecture and Planning department worked closely with our  wildlife  care experts to determine not only the needs of the Komodo dragon but also the ways that the habitat design would encourage natural behaviors such as digging, soaking in shallow waters and basking, to name a few. Inhabitat: What factors did you take into consideration when designing Komodo Kingdom from a materials standpoint? Nevers: For the Komodo habitats, getting enough UV  light  into the space is critical, as is maintaining the hot, humid environments that Komodo dragons thrive in. The roof and clerestory at the two indoor habitats consist of an ETFE [Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a recyclable plastic that’s 100 times lighter than glass] system that facilitates appropriate levels of UV transmission and climate control. Other factors to take into account for habitat design are soils and plantings that are safe for the Komodo dragons and allow for natural behaviors. Also, the ability to create sheltered areas and pools that are just the right size, heated rocks and elevated areas for basking is very important and is usually executed with shotcrete rockwork. Inhabitat: What are the main features of the hummingbird enclosure? Nevers: Interestingly, the features that make the Hummingbird Habitat great for birds also make it very pleasant for people. The central spatial feature is a semicircular cenote-themed shotcrete structure with fly-through openings and vertical plantings. This structure breaks up the experience into three spaces which also helps define territories for the birds. The flowing ponds and streams, as well as a built-in misting system, add ambiance but also provide ample bird bathing opportunities. And of course, the tropical  plantings  with big broad leaves and the nectar-producing plants are also essential and enjoyable for both birds and people. Inhabitat: How did sustainability affect your choice of building materials? Nevers:  Sustainability  is an important consideration in the selection of all building materials. For example, the ceilings at Komodo Kingdom and Hummingbird Habitat are clad with Accoya wood, and the interior and exterior walls at Hummingbird Habitat are clad with Moso [a type of bamboo]. Both Accoya wood and Moso are Forest Stewardship Council-certified products. The ETFE system, which has been awarded the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), is used at both Komodo Kingdom and Hummingbird Habitat. It has low levels of embodied energy and can be recycled at the end of its useful life into components used in the manufacture of new ETFE systems. Inhabitat: Did anything surprise you during the process? Nevers: Komodo dragons like it hot, really hot! Their native habitat in the islands of  Indonesia  is usually about 95 degrees Fahrenheit with 70% humidity. This doesn’t sound surprising on paper, but stepping into the indoor habitats in Komodo Kingdom shortly before the dragons moved in was like walking into a sauna. The Komodo dragons love it, but I felt like I was melting! Inhabitat: How does it feel to design habitats for rare and endangered creatures? Nevers: Amazing! Being part of a team that creates habitats that allow these  animals  to thrive is one of the two most rewarding aspects of my work. The other is creating opportunities for people to really appreciate how incredible all life is and the importance of sustaining healthy habitats around the world. Inhabitat: What would you like people to know about the work that you do? Nevers: Zoo architecture is so much more than the design and construction of buildings; it truly is the architecture of experience. From the range of habitat experiences for the animals to the experiences in the guest landscape, these are all part of a larger effort to foster relationships with nature in support of  conservation  for a healthy planet. + San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Images courtesy of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Off Grid House takes remote sustainability to new heights

September 6, 2021 by  
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Nestled in the forests of Australia’s Blue Mountains, Anderson Architecture’s Off Grid House is an experimental dwelling that pushes the limits of sustainable living in remote regions. The house is split into two cabins with steep skillion roofs, slanting in opposite directions to feed 30,000-liter water tanks. The first volume houses the sleeping quarters and is oriented towards the sun to maximize comfort at night through passive solar performance during the day. The other volume contains the open plan kitchen, living space and dining area. Its roof is angled towards the north, ideal for supporting the solar panels that power the house. The solar system is so robust that it provides enough energy for the home without needing a backup generator. Related: Cottage Rock tiny home nurtures healthy living and nature The living space’s glass doors open to blur the boundary between the interior and the veranda overlooking the cliff’s edge. The porch decking is made from low carbon magnesium oxide board and clad with 60% post-consumer recycled content. The site was a pivotal factor in determining the design of several details. Stringybark timber sourced from the site is used for the internal structure, as well as for furniture and joinery. The fireproof cement shell and low carbon cement decking can withstand bushfire attacks and are pest-resistant. Motorized screens over the windows also serve as fire protection, and the large metal screen above the porch can act as both a shading device and flame zone barrier when pulled down to vertically seal off the house. Thermal comfort was another factor that drove the implementation of eco-friendly systems. The house employs double glazing , a black oxide concrete floor with hydronic in-slab heating, and high levels of insulation. Stale exhaust air heats fresh air, which the heat recovery system ducts to the home’s public and private zones. These are all supplemented by a small fireplace with wood sourced from the site for additional heating. The home’s impressive thermal performance has earned it an 8.2 out of 10-star rating on Australia’s Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS). With its enticing modern style and sustainable systems, the Off Grid House has also been shortlisted for several awards, including the 2021 Houses Awards under the New House and Sustainability categories. + Anderson Architecture Photography by Nick Bowers

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Off Grid House takes remote sustainability to new heights

Celebrate with these delicious vegan Rosh Hashanah recipes

September 6, 2021 by  
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Shanah Tovah! Start the Jewish New Year off right with this collection of vegan Rosh Hashanah recipes. From vegan challah and seitan brisket to tzimmes and apples with agave, Inhabitat has your recipe needs covered. There are many symbolic foods, or Simanim , used to help celebrate Rosh Hashanah. On the first night, many people eat apples dipped in honey, a tradition that represents “wishes for a sweet year,” according to rabbi and author Shimon Apisdorf . But for Jewish vegans who don’t eat honey, what swaps can be made? The eggs in many challah recipes present a similar challenge, as does the brisket found on many Rosh Hashanah dinner tables. Thankfully, a few clever swaps and inventive recipes are here to help you enjoy all your Rosh Hashanah favorites the vegan way. Related: Vegan Hanukkah recipes that everyone will enjoy Apples and agave nectar Let’s start with a simple and easy swap. Instead of apples and honey, try apples and agave nectar. This plant-based sweetener will do in a pinch as a sweet vegan syrup to dip your apples in. According to Healthline , agave nectar also has a lower glycemic index than honey, which means it won’t raise your blood glucose as high. For another fruit-based Rosh Hashanah food, don’t forget pomegranates. Its many seeds symbolize the merits one can create throughout the new year. Vegan water challah It may seem impossible to make challah without eggs, but never fear! Eggless challah, or water challah, can be just as sweet. If you can’t find water challah at your local bakery, try these delicious vegan recipes. The Spruce Eats has a Maple-Glazed Vegan Water Challah recipe that uses a pure maple syrup and non-dairy milk mixture as the glaze for a mouth-watering loaf. Add some cinnamon and raisins to the dough for extra sweetness, or go the savory route by topping your challah with chopped fresh herbs , poppy seeds or sesame seeds. For a unique spin on this classic, you can also try out actor and author Mayim Bialik’s Hot Pretzel Challah Bread from her cookbook “Mayim’s Vegan Table.” A boiling baking soda and water bath gives this challah its delectable pretzel crust. Serve with pretzel salt on top and your favorite mustard. Whichever recipe you choose, make sure to braid your challah in a round shape. While challah is eaten on many Jewish holidays , round challah is traditional for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize the cycle of life and creation. Seitan brisket Finding a vegan replacement for brisket can seem daunting. After all, how do you get that slow-roasted flavor with only vegan ingredients? Many people have experimented with their own versions of vegan brisket, but this recipe from ZardyPlants stands above the rest. Seitan is the star of this recipe, with black beans, vegetable broth, soy sauce and various spices and vegetables to give it a flavorful kick. Not a fan of seitan? No problem. This jackfruit brisket recipe (previously mentioned in Inhabitat’s vegan Hanukkah recipes article ) from Jewish Veg pairs crushed tomatoes, Manischewitz, agave and other ingredients for a tasty main dish you won’t soon forget. Tzimmes No great holiday dinner is complete without some stellar side dishes. Tzimmes is a sweet carrot dish often served on Rosh Hashanah. Explaining this tradition, Chabad.org says the Yiddish word merren “means both “carrot” and “increase,” symbolizing a wish for a year of abundance.” While some recipes use schmaltz for extra flavor, tzimmes can easily be made vegan. Try My Jewish Learning’s Healthy Tzimmes , which gives you the option to swap out honey for agave nectar. This recipe’s use of aromatic spices and fresh mint ensures you won’t miss out on any delicious flavors. Beets Another symbolic food, beets bring gorgeous color to your dinner table. As The Spruce Eats writes, “The Hebrew word for beets, selek, is similar to the word for “remove.” They’re eaten to express the hope that our enemies will depart.” To incorporate beets into your Rosh Hashanah meals, try this Moroccan Roasted Beets with Pomegranate and Pistachio recipe from Feasting At Home . A balsamic vinegar and maple syrup reduction makes this recipe truly scrumptious.  If you’re searching for a good snack recipe, you can also try making beet chips. For perfectly crisp beet chips, try out this recipe from A Spicy Perspective . Pair your chips with this pomegranate hummus recipe , or a spicy carrot dip . Swap fish heads for vegetables While fish heads represent the adage “be a head, not a tail,” or a leader rather than a follower, having a fish head at the table is out of the question for many vegans. Instead, why not try a head of cabbage, lettuce or cauliflower? You can even use a head of garlic if you prefer. Enjoy these foods alone as a snack, in dishes such as garlic bread or vegan coleslaw, or simply as decorative table dressings. Images via iStock, Pexels and Pixabay

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Celebrate with these delicious vegan Rosh Hashanah recipes

Apply to live in a 3D-printed Mars dwelling right here on Earth

August 30, 2021 by  
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Do you want to live on Mars? There have been books and movies about what it might be like, but now there’s a Mars replication right on Earth, and it needs inhabitants to test out the environment. Advanced 3D-printing technology company ICON, known for delivering the first permitted 3D-printed home in the U.S. and providing the world’s first 3D-printed community of homes in Mexico, has now turned its efforts towards the Red Planet. Well, technically Mars Dune Alpha will sit at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. But it will be inhabited by everyday citizens in order to measure  food  requirements, physical reactions and mental performance in a trial run for the future of Mars living. Related: Nüwa, the design for a self-sustaining city on Mars   “This is the highest-fidelity simulated habitat ever constructed by humans. Mars Dune Alpha is intended to serve a very specific purpose–to prepare humans to live on another planet for a long, long time. We wanted to develop the most faithful analog possible to aid in humanity’s mission to expand into the stars,” said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO, ICON. The 1,700-square-foot Mars habitat designed by architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group ( BIG ) includes separate quarters for four crew members, a kitchen, recreation area, two bathrooms, a treatment room, fitness space, and even an indoor garden to grow food. In total, the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, or CHAPEA, program will run three one-year simulations. The program is accepting applications through mid-September 2021 for 2022 occupancy. Candidates must hold a master’s degree in a branch of STEM studies, be between the ages of 30-55, and have at least two years of related work experience. Applicants must also pass psych, medical and physical evaluations. A day in the life will include eating a space diet and providing the necessary biological samples when requested, for research purposes.   “The data gained from this habitat research will directly inform NASA’s standards for long-duration exploration missions, and as such will potentially lay the foundation for a new Martian vernacular. Mars Dune Alpha will take us one step closer to becoming a multiplanetary species,” said Bjarke Ingles, Founder and Creative Director, BIG. To learn more or to apply, visit www.nasa.gov/chapea/participate .  + BIG Via ICON Build and Core 77 Images via BIG

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Mexico City oasis features terrace gardens on every floor

August 25, 2021 by  
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In a city otherwise characterized by dense populations, high altitudes and metropolitan buildings, Chiapas 168 Building represents a refreshing respite from the hustle and bustle. Located in the Roma district of Mexico City,  Mexico’s  largest and most populous city, this home has an exceptionally tropical feel to it thanks to bamboo wood materials and a grouping of terrace gardens on each level. The Mexico City oasis comes from the minds at Vertebral, a local architecture and  landscaping  studio that highlights designs to bring forested ambiance into the city. Rather than concentrating on the buildings themselves with landscaping as an afterthought, the company says they design gardens and build around them. Related: Aztec-inspired eco home sits lightly on the land in Mexico Chiapas 168 is made up of four residential apartments positioned adjacent to an ancient jacaranda tree, a subtropical plant native to south-central South America and brought to Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century. The building features steel planters that run along the balconies, disappearing between purple and jasmine flowers. The architects considered native organisms while designing the layout of the roof and terrace gardens to increase  biodiversity  within the city environment. The exterior of the building uses unpolished concrete and dark stained wood that is translated into the interior, invoking the design’s overall theme of integrating nature into the urban landscape. A core system of vertical circulations helps divide the apartment building’s communal areas from the private residences, connected by a stairwell made of bright pine wood. Unlike other apartment buildings where the stairwells are associated with dark, musty environments, the stairwell here is bathed in bright  natural light . A curtain of  bamboo  to the south protects the back garden from view while also filtering light and wind. Inside, wooden floor-to-ceiling shelving and paneled walls help create privacy without jeopardizing the apartment’s open planned layout in the communal area, complete with a kitchen, dining room and living room.   + Vertebral Via ArchDaily Images courtesy of Onnis Luke

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MINI Strip car uses 3D printing and recycled materials

August 24, 2021 by  
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With a focus on the future of sustainability in automotive design, the MINI Strip is a one-off car that resulted from a collaboration between two British brands. MINI and Paul Smith custom-made the vehicle, which premiered to the world in London in August 2021. The MINI Strip stands as a driving force behind innovations in sustainable auto manufacturing. The name comes from the starting point, which was a stripped-down Mini Cooper SE. From there, the entire design focuses on the theme of ‘Simplicity, Transparency, Sustainability,’ so only the final product only included the most essential components. Related: Maintaining an electric vehicle costs less than gas or hybrid counterparts The automotive background from MINI was an obvious contribution, but the team is quick to acknowledge the advantage of Smith’s outside-the-industry perspective, with Oliver Heilmer, head of MINI Design, saying, “Paul asked essential questions right at the start of the design process with his non-automotive and therefore fresh perspective. We are proud to have developed such a strong character statement together.“  Smith agreed, saying, “I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to rethink the iconic MINI. I know and love the existing car , but by respecting the past and looking to the future we have created something very special…Together I think we have created something truly unique, by going back to basics, reducing things down and stripping the car.” The car now represents a minimalist mindset, where less is more. This is seen in the raw exterior finish, where factory grinding marks were left to highlight that point. A thin film of clear paint protects the surface, but the exterior is otherwise unfinished. Visible screws incorporated into the design spotlight ease of maintenance and the ability of the car to be dismantled and the panels  recycled  at the end of useful life. The steering wheel is wrapped in handlebar tape, and the open spaces expose the airbags. The doors are covered in the same meshing as the airbags, showcasing the inner workings. The team chose to 3D-print sections of the car using recycled  plastic . Recycled Perspex was used for the grille trim, roof and wheel covers for a lightweight and eco-friendly solution. The interior of the car is more  minimalist  still, with stripped-down trim and little more in the way of controls than a space for a smartphone, switches for the power windows, and a start/stop control button. Material selection inside the car avoided leather and chrome in favor of seats upholstered in knitted fabric and floor mats made from recycled rubber. Recycled cork adds texture and visual interest to the dashboard topper pad, door shoulders and parcel shelf. Material selections are mostly recyclable and serve as an example as a substitute for foamed plastics. + BMW Group Via Automotive World Images via BMW Group 

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MINI Strip car uses 3D printing and recycled materials

Extinction Rebellion protests take over London

August 24, 2021 by  
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On Monday, Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors blocked a busy junction in Covent Garden, London during their first day of protests. Participants chained themselves together to block a roundabout at Long Acre. A van joined at the junction with a 4-meter-high pink table featuring the slogan “Come to the table.” As XR plans a fortnight of protests in London , this slogan represents their call to bring everyone to the table to discuss the climate crisis. Related: Extinction Rebellion LA protests climate change by supergluing themselves to Universal Globe In a statement, XR explained, “As floods, fire , and famine break out around the world, it is clear that climate breakdown is here now, and there is no choice left now but to take urgent action. Everyone deserves a seat at the table to have a say in how to tackle the greatest crisis of our times.” Protesters remained at the junction until 7 p.m. when the police began arresting participants. The police showed up with an order signed by Superintendent Wayne Matthews, who claimed the gathering “may result in serious disruption to the community.” The order was also shared via social media . In response, XR members targeted for arrest laid on the ground, forcing police officers to carry them away. Police claim to have arrested 52 protestors. One of the protestors told reporters that XR’s actions have already succeeded in raising awareness. “By taking these arguably drastic actions, I hope that it makes some of the passersby, or the people who read about it, think about why we are worried enough to do that and it conveys there really is something to worry about,” said activist Tristan Strange. According to the Metropolitan police, law enforcement will continue with a “policing plan” for continued XR protests. Deputy assistant commissioner Matt Twist has added that “his officers would not be deterred by a recent supreme court ruling” supporting highway obstruction as “a legitimate and lawful form of protest,” as reported by The Guardian. Via The Guardian Lead image via Extinction Rebellion U.K.

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Extinction Rebellion protests take over London

Viewfinder House combines great views with energy efficiency

August 18, 2021 by  
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In an initial meeting with Faulkner Architects, the client requested every room be oriented towards the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It took some out-of-the-box thinking, but somehow the design team managed to stay in the box while achieving that goal. Called Viewfinder House, this home is located in Truckee, CA, a launching point for myriad outdoor activities in every season. Even at 7,200 square feet with a pool, the design offers unique architecture and environmentally friendly features. The body of the home is made up of two rectangular boxes, with connections between the spaces via covered porches. The lower level is contoured to match the property line, but the upper level is rotated to take full advantage of Pacific Crest mountain views. Related: House Lhotka brings energy-efficient home design to the Czech Republic The team relied on steel for the base to hold up against deep winter snow, and an exterior rain screen of red cedar, which also shields the home from the street while allowing  natural light  to filter in.  Passive design elements create shade and promote  energy efficiency  throughout the home, starting with the roof overhang that protects the glass doors from weather and solar gain inside the home. High-efficiency boilers conserve energy and work in conjunction with effective radiantly heated floors. The back of the lower level takes advantage of earth sheltering to organically insulate the home, and natural ventilation is found through window and door placement. Faulkner Architects emphasized using enhanced-efficiency glazing and insulation for a tight construction envelope. According to a press release, these combined efforts help the building achieve a 14.5% improvement in efficiency, above the already strict California energy code.   Outdoors, the surrounding hillsides are covered in native  plants  and mature trees. The materials removed from the pool and house excavation were saved and used for the nearby terraced landscaping. + Faulkner Architects Photography by Paul Hamill

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Viewfinder House combines great views with energy efficiency

Viewfinder House combines great views with energy efficiency

August 18, 2021 by  
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In an initial meeting with Faulkner Architects, the client requested every room be oriented towards the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It took some out-of-the-box thinking, but somehow the design team managed to stay in the box while achieving that goal. Called Viewfinder House, this home is located in Truckee, CA, a launching point for myriad outdoor activities in every season. Even at 7,200 square feet with a pool, the design offers unique architecture and environmentally friendly features. The body of the home is made up of two rectangular boxes, with connections between the spaces via covered porches. The lower level is contoured to match the property line, but the upper level is rotated to take full advantage of Pacific Crest mountain views. Related: House Lhotka brings energy-efficient home design to the Czech Republic The team relied on steel for the base to hold up against deep winter snow, and an exterior rain screen of red cedar, which also shields the home from the street while allowing  natural light  to filter in.  Passive design elements create shade and promote  energy efficiency  throughout the home, starting with the roof overhang that protects the glass doors from weather and solar gain inside the home. High-efficiency boilers conserve energy and work in conjunction with effective radiantly heated floors. The back of the lower level takes advantage of earth sheltering to organically insulate the home, and natural ventilation is found through window and door placement. Faulkner Architects emphasized using enhanced-efficiency glazing and insulation for a tight construction envelope. According to a press release, these combined efforts help the building achieve a 14.5% improvement in efficiency, above the already strict California energy code.   Outdoors, the surrounding hillsides are covered in native  plants  and mature trees. The materials removed from the pool and house excavation were saved and used for the nearby terraced landscaping. + Faulkner Architects Photography by Paul Hamill

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