This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale

August 9, 2018 by  
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Living in a tiny home doesn’t have to mean sacrificing style. Case in point: this beautiful Victorian tiny cottage located in Monroe, Maine . The home is less than 430 square feet but big on character. Not only is the two-story tiny home gorgeous and elegant, but it also sits on four acres of an open meadow covered in wild flowers and lined with orchards. The best news is that this charming cottage can be yours for just $125,000 . The magical cottage, which was built in 1986, is truly an outstanding example of tiny home design done right. The Victorian-style exterior, complete with a corner turret, is clad in light blue siding with white trim and nicely contrasted by dark shingled roofs. A stone path leads up to the home’s front door, which is shaded by a large tree. Related: Kettal and Patricia Urquiola create Kettal Cottage: a part tiny house, part tent escape The tiny cottage is two floors, with the living space, bathroom and kitchen on the ground floor and the bedroom on the second floor. The interior is flooded with natural light  thanks to an abundance of large windows, which also provide stunning views of the expansive greenery that surrounds the home. Although the home is compact, its beautiful setting adds a lot of value. The Victorian  cottage sits on a natural lot of land that includes flower gardens, stone walls and fruit trees and is just steps away from a waterfall that feeds into a nearby stream. The waterfall is so close that the future residents will be able to listen to the sounds of the water as they drift off to sleep. As an added bonus, there is also another small cottage, complete with a  composting toilet , on the land. It would need a little bit of work, but this additional tiny cottage could be a perfect space for an artist studio or guest quarters. + Berkshire Hathaway Via Tiny House Talk Images via Berkshire Hathaway

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This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale

A California beacon of sustainability gets a LEED Platinum refresh

August 8, 2018 by  
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An inspiring beacon for recycling in El Cerrito, California has recently received a sustainable revamp that includes newly minted LEED Platinum certification. Redesigned by Berkeley-based architecture practice Noll & Tam Architects , the El Cerrito Recycling + Environmental Resource Center (RERC/Center) was overhauled following extensive community involvement and now features a more user-friendly environment with educational opportunities and a greater holistic approach to sustainability. The facility aims for net-zero energy use and is equipped with renewable energy systems as well as passive design strategies, including solar panels and 100% daylighting autonomy. Originally founded by a group of local volunteers in the early 1970s, the El Cerrito Recycling + Environmental Resource Center has become a source of community pride that has attracted visitors from neighboring communities, including the wider San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Inspired by the facility’s industrial uses, the architects incorporated corrugated steel, reclaimed timber and other durable materials into the building, while local quarry borders and existing concrete retaining blocks used on site allude to the old quarry in which the Center sits. “The design of the El Cerrito Recycling + Environmental Resource Center was inspired by the community’s devotion to environmental stewardship, the Center’s functional requirements, and its unique natural setting,” reads the project statement. “It was important to create a strong sense of place for the community, a great place for the gathering and interaction of the Center’s diverse users and visitors, and a demonstration project for zero net waste, net zero energy use, restoration and regeneration, and maximizing community value.” Related: NYC’s New State-of-the-Art Recycling Facility to Eliminate 150,000 Annual Truck Trips Taking advantage of the local temperate climate and cross ventilation, the Center operates in passive mode for most of the year. A 12 kW photovoltaic array provides more than enough electricity to power the building to achieve net-zero energy usage. The Center is also equipped with an additional 8.8 kW solar array to offset electricity needs from electric car charging stations and the recycling industrial equipment. A rainwater cistern, native gardens and rain gardens handle stormwater runoff on-site. + Noll & Tam Architects Images by David Wakely

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A California beacon of sustainability gets a LEED Platinum refresh

The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views

August 7, 2018 by  
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Portland residents in search of an energy-efficient home need look no further than Lightbox 23, the new net-zero project from Lightbox Portland and Steelhead Architecture . A speculative development project in northeast Portland, Lightbox 23 has two units and numerous sustainable features, including super-insulated walls, high-performance ventilation systems, and two 10-kW solar arrays. But sustainablity isn’t the project’s only draw – it also boasts beautiful design and stunning views of Mt. St. Helens’ and Mt. Adams’ snow-capped peaks. A set of floating stairs, which provides access from each floor to the half-levels above and below, serves as the duplex’s backbone. A deck on the building’s north side can be accessed from the exterior. From this deck, residents can enjoy the open air and, on a clear day, the distant peaks of the two mountains. Related: Net-zero Acacia Avenue House saves up to 90% of heating and cooling costs While the solar array on top of the building provides the building with its energy, part of making the project net-zero included finding ways to reduce the energy load overall. To tackle this problem, Steelhead Architecture turned to affordable super-insulation. Each unit has two-by-eight walls filled with blown-in cellulose, along with two inches of rigid insulation affixed to the exterior of the plywood. The concrete slabs have 3 more inches of rigid insulation. The roof construction has a similar mix of insulation, which eliminates the need for any vents. The home’s mechanical system further supports the unit’s net-zero goals. All-electric ducted heat pumps, which are much more efficient than gas systems, provide heat for the apartments. Furthermore, nothing on the project uses gas at all. A heat recovery ventilator with its own ducts effectively controls air exchanges with zero energy loss. To ensure a low heat/cooling loss, the architects sought out leaks and used repetitive joint sealing, further reducing the project’s energy use. Lightbox 23 is an exploratory project of Lightbox Portland, which is devoted to high performance, high-density modern progress. There are three additional Lightbox Portland/Steelhead Architecture projects presently underway. + Steelhead Architecture Images via Josh Partee Photography

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The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views

Towering prefab cabins envisioned for Iceland’s rugged landscape

August 7, 2018 by  
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Cabins come in all shapes and sizes, but innovative architect Bartosz Domiczek has just unveiled a tower-like prefab cabin that is one of the most extraordinary we’ve ever seen. The Northern Wisps Cabins — inspired by traditional Nordic design principals — are pyramid-like shelters that are covered in ultra-resistant sail fabric to withstand harsh climates and rugged terrain. Domiczek’s shelter design is a prefab cabin that can be assembled quite easily thanks to minimal materials and an efficient layout. The tower’s pyramid-like frame is made from wood with steel posts embedded into a flat concrete platform for stability. The entire structure is covered with a resilient fabric, similar to boat sails — a nod to Iceland’s long history of building boats . Related: Solar-powered glass PurePod cabins provide the ultimate connection with nature Inside the prefab cabins , the layout is an efficient design that uses vertical space to incorporate all of the basics. The living area is quite spacious and has a swinging hammock and ample space for seating. A large wood-burning stove that hangs from the ceiling is used for heat and cooking. The bedroom is built into a sleeping platform reached by ladder. According to Domiczek, the aesthetic of the monolithic cabins is designed to contrast with the natural surroundings . “The cabins themselves are formed as white ephemeral monoliths,” Domiczek said, “contrasting with the organic surrounding and being something between the reminiscence of the ancient dwelling built around the fireplace and the idea of Nordic gods standing in the row on a mountain ridge.” Domiczek’s incredible shelter concept, which was recently awarded first place in  Ronen Bekerman’s CABINS 3D design challenge, is just conceptual at the moment. However, it’s easy to see just how practical these cabins could be in the real world. + Bartosz Domiczek Via Uncrate Images via Bartosz Domiczek

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Towering prefab cabins envisioned for Iceland’s rugged landscape

Oakland to celebrate "Clean Economy Week" October 15-19

August 6, 2018 by  
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Mayor Schaaf and VERGE 18 will showcase companies and community groups leading the charge to a prosperous, resilient and inclusive economy.

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Oakland to celebrate "Clean Economy Week" October 15-19

6 reasons why the practice of silvopasture will help save modern farming

August 4, 2018 by  
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The ecological connectivity practice offers benefits to us all.

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6 reasons why the practice of silvopasture will help save modern farming

Lemurs are now the most endangered species of primate on the planet

August 3, 2018 by  
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Approximately 94% of the 111 species and subspecies of lemur are under threat of extinction in their native country of Madagascar – the only place they exist outside of captivity. Of the remaining lemur groups, only six do not face high risk of extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species . This retrogression was revealed by the Primate Specialist Group , a conservation organization that has been analyzing current threats to the survival of lemur populations and their habitats. Chair of the Primate Specialist Group and Chief Conservation Officer of  Global Wildlife Conservation  Russ Mittermeier indicated that the “very high extinction risk to Madagascar’s unique lemurs” would compound, generating “grave threats to Madagascar’s biodiversity as a whole.” Loss of habitat poses the single greatest threat the lemurs now face in the wild. Developments in illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture, as well as mining activities and charcoal production, are ultimately determining the fate of these endangered animals. Related: Conservationists sound the alarm to address ‘America’s wildlife crisis’ Lemurs also face threats from pet trading hobbyists or hunters who wish to turn them into food. Once a delicacy, lemur’s presence on menus has become more and more mainstream in Madagascar, according to Professor Christoph Schweitzer of the Bristol Zoological Society . In an interview with BBC News , Schwitzer commented, “More and more, we are seeing unsustainable levels of lemur poaching. We see commercial hunting as well – probably for local restaurants. And this is a new phenomenon for Madagascar – we didn’t see it at this scale 15 years ago” Although many would bow their heads at the unfortunate fate of the lemurs, Schwitzer is an optimist. People “need to shout about these problems and get the message out there” he remarked. “When we published the lemur action plan and the media picked up on it, suddenly we had people call offering to help – to donate money or other resources. That can really make a difference,” he remarked. The “lemur action plan” has already had an effect, protecting habitats that contain the densest numbers of lemur species while helping Madagascar boost its ecotourism in the hopes of tackling poverty. By helping the local people economically, the groups involved in the plan are deterring hunting and other activities destructive to the tropical forests that provide the lemurs with their natural habitat. + Global Wildlife Conservation + IUCN Via BBC News

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Lemurs are now the most endangered species of primate on the planet

The Goldtree House is designed for sustainable family living

August 3, 2018 by  
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When kids hit their teens, your house suddenly feels smaller. The atmosphere is hectic, groups of friends traipse in and out, and parents often retreat to a bedroom for peace and quiet. However, one clever family with teenage twins got ahead of the curve, asking Hartree and Associates Architects to remodel their home to accommodate these changes and create a private apartment for the parents down the road. The owners of the Goldtree House, a 1950s home in East Fremantle, Australia, wanted the renovation to include ample space for their children to entertain guests, as well as help the house withstand frequently inclement weather. They also needed a revamp that adhered to their firm budget while providing the best views of nearby Fremantle Harbor. The first step was removing the existing roof and constructing a new top story. The added level includes a new master bedroom, plenty of living space, and a kitchen with sweeping views all around. The owners envision this level as their private “apartment” many years in the future. The ground level is devoted to the needs and tastes of teenagers and their friends. The internal spaces were simplified and revamped to include ample views of the surrounding landscape as well as optimum sunlight and a current of internal breezes. The floor plan easily flows from the entryway to the great room for adolescent games and socializing. It also provides easy access to the terrace, thriving garden and pool, the latter of which was designed to eliminate the need for a privacy fence. Related: A 1950s house receives a bioclimatic renovation in Mexico Besides a photovoltaic solar panel array , the home also includes eco-friendly water and energy management through natural air ventilation, energy-efficient fixtures and equipment, and native garden plants that require minimum watering. Two wind turbines and storage batteries for power are also part of the home’s green technology. The twins were involved in the renovation from inception through completion, which gave them a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. They proudly share the outcome with their friends. + Hartree and Associates Architects Images via Robert Frith

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The Goldtree House is designed for sustainable family living

Architects build their own rammed-earth office around existing trees

August 3, 2018 by  
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Paraguay-based design firm  Equipo de Arquitectura has created a number of innovative structures, but when it came to constructing their own office space, its designers decided to go back to basics. The team has just unveiled the Caja de Tierra – a beautiful,  rammed-earth construction that was built around existing trees. When the architects set out to build a new office space for themselves, they decided to focus the design on nature, with the goal of fostering a sense of connection to the earth. As the structure’s concept began to take form, the architects decided they would employ just three basic materials: earth, wood and glass. Related: Striking rammed earth home blends into the hills of Santa Fe The architects built the cube-like structure on-site themselves. First, they had to sieve the earth to eliminate rocks, roots and large particles. Once the soil was “clean”, they mixed it with cement and placed it in mold-like modules. The mixture was then pummeled with a pressure tool to get rid of air and pack it tightly into place. When the elongated, 30-cm-thick earthen blocks  reached a sufficient consistency, the team placed them on top of each other, forming four beautiful rammed-earth walls. The result? A gorgeous facade with red and orange tones that blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings. Contrasting with the all-earthen walls is a large glass skylight, cut into one of the corners in order to flood the interior with natural light – a feature that also reduces the structure’s energy usage. In keeping with the environmentally-conscious design, all of the furniture and doors were made out of reclaimed wood. With a lot surrounded by greenery, the team did what it could to protect the existing plants growing on-site. Specifically, the architects designed the layout to leave space for two existing trees . A flame tree is framed in an all-glass box that juts into the interior while a majestic guavirá tree holds court right in the middle of the office space. + Equipo de Arquitectura Via Archdaily Photography by Leonardo Mendez and Federico Cairoli via Equipo de Arquitectura

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UK bag tariff halves plastic bag marine litter, reduces sales of plastic bags by 86%

August 2, 2018 by  
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Following a 5p charge per bag, the sale of plastic bags in the U.K. has fallen by 86 percent, according to reports from the “big seven” supermarkets in the country. Scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) have also found that approximately 50 percent of plastic bag marine litter has been eliminated from the Earth’s waters since the tax was put into effect. Statistics on individual consumption show a decline from 140 bags per person to 19 as a result of the bag fees — a total elimination of 300 million bags. The 5p (roughly 0.07 USD) tariff introduced in 2015 seems to be working in the favor of marine ecosystems, which receive nearly all of the plastic waste after human handling. “Every plastic bag not purchased is one which will not end up in our sea, damaging habitats or harming marine life,” said Thomas Maes, a marine litter scientist who has been working on the 25-year study at CEFAS . Government scientist-contributed data has estimated that in the next 10 years, nearly one million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals  will die each year as a result of consuming or getting caught in plastic litter. Realted: Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution “Since efforts from across Europe came into effect, including the U.K.’s 5p charge, we have observed a sharp decline in the percentage of plastic bags captured by fishing nets on our trawl surveys of the seafloor around the U.K. as compared to 2010,” Maes said. While the reduction in plastic bags found in the ocean was significant, the CEFAS study revealed that the dumping was only replaced by other plastic items and fishing debris, maintaining the amount of litter at an equilibrium, at least for now. Government projections report that levels in marine plastics will triple in the next 10 years, making efforts on every level that much more important. +CEFAS Via SkyNews ,  Sky Ocean Rescue  and  Mirpuri Foundation

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UK bag tariff halves plastic bag marine litter, reduces sales of plastic bags by 86%

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