This sustainable home in Chile is designed as an ‘unplugged’ retreat for a family of six

October 2, 2018 by  
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From luxury retreats to minimalist cabins, more and more people are looking for places where they can truly go off the grid. For one family of six, a remote area almost 200 miles from Santiago, Chile was chosen as the perfect place for them to disconnect. Working with architect Mauricio LLaumett of Nüform Studio , the family’s self-sufficient new home is completely “unplugged” thanks to solar energy, passive features and an independent water system connected to a nearby river. Located on an isolated landscape of Huentelauquén, the timber and glass home sits on a rocky field covered in cacti that extends to the ocean. When the family approached Llaumett about their desire to create a vacation home on the challenging topography, they requested a design that would respect the natural landscape. The next request was that the home be 100 percent off-grid, generating its own energy in order to be a self-sufficient structure that the family could use for generations to come. “The most important thing is that the house is totally ‘unplugged,’” LLaumett explained. Related: Minimalist cabin in the Chilean mountains lets climbers escape the daily grind The home’s electricity is generated by rooftop solar panels , while an innovative system collects water from a nearby river. The water is stored in two elevated containers that work with gravity to release water on demand. Additionally, a water waste system was built into the design so that excess water from the shower and the kitchen can be used to irrigate the interior garden. The home was built on a slanted concrete foundation with a shape that mimics the natural slope of the landscape. Dark pine siding  on the exterior blends the home into its surroundings. A wall of sliding glass doors opens up to a large, stepped wooden deck where the family enjoys panoramic views of the sea in the distance. On the interior, the layout was strategically designed to connect the off-grid home to its surroundings. The front glazed facade opens up completely to create a seamless passage between the interior and the exterior. As for the home’s furnishings, many of them were made from  locally sourced wood and handcrafted by local artisans. Even the family built some of the furniture, including the master bed frame and dining room table. + Nüform Studio Via Dwell Photography by Aryeh Kornfeld K. via Nüform Studio

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This sustainable home in Chile is designed as an ‘unplugged’ retreat for a family of six

This family-friendly home is a beacon of modern energy-efficient design in Calgary

September 26, 2018 by  
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Located in one of the most coveted lots in Calgary’s inner-city neighborhood of Rosedale, this modern single-family home crafted by local design/build firm Alloy Homes was, as the firm puts it, “designed to lead by example.” Created with an undeniable contemporary aesthetic, the Rosedale House also pays homage to the local neighborhood vernacular with a large front porch, subdued color palette and other details that match the nearby homes. The home also emphasizes energy efficiency with its incorporation of triple-glazed windows, in-slab radiant heat, a solar-ready electrical system and highly efficient insulation. Covering an area of 3,300 square feet, the Rosedale House is spread across two floors with the communal levels on the ground floor and the private areas on the upper level. Crafting a home that embraced indoor-outdoor living was of particular importance to the clients, not least because the house is sited next to parkland. As a result, giant triple-glazed windows and doors were installed to facilitate a seamless flow between indoors and out, while a natural material palette with neutral, earth-tone colors help ground the home into the site. A rooftop patio at the front of the home also extends the living spaces and overlooks views of the cityscape and mountains beyond. Privacy was maintained with strategically placed planting and a carefully designed layout that adheres to the clients’ lifestyle and places the “public” areas near the front of the home while the rear is reserved for private living. Despite the floor plan’s open feel, the layout can also be adapted as the needs of the family evolve using walls that can be added with no demolition required. Related: Energy-efficient Guitar House embraces indoor-outdoor living in Calgary “The key challenge with this project was to reconcile a number of contradictory programmatic requirements: Create a home that was simultaneously modern and family friendly; open to the adjacent green space yet private; modern yet timeless,” explained Alloy Homes. + Alloy Homes Images via Alloy Homes

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This family-friendly home is a beacon of modern energy-efficient design in Calgary

7 crucial tools to accelerate energy efficiency

September 25, 2018 by  
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Meeting global climate challenges will require every tool we have. Energy efficiency is many packed into one.

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7 crucial tools to accelerate energy efficiency

A stunning solar-powered pavilion is planned for pasta company Barilla

September 21, 2018 by  
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London-based firm Open Architecture Systems  has just unveiled designs for a gorgeous solar-powered pavilion for the Italian food company Barilla. Slated to be built adjacent to the company’s headquarters in Parma, Italy, the plans show a contemporary building with an undulating roof rising out of the surrounding landscape. According to the architects, the inspiration for the design originated with the company’s key values of tradition, family and community. Although the concept is based on the pasta company’s long history, the structure itself is a fresh,  contemporary design that manages to be both subtle and striking at the same time. Related: Confluence Park’s new solar-powered pavilions collect rainwater and provide shade from the summer sun The architects explained that their first objective was to blend the new building into its surrounding landscape in order to become one harmonious space. “We strongly believe that landscape and pavilion should always be merged into one system, one building,” the firm said. “The new topography allows us to define a sense of space, and to provide shelter and a place for discovery, very much like in nature . We are interested not only in the space created by the topography but the spaces around it and how they interact with the new Barilla Pavilion. Raising the landscape provides us with infinite potentials for visitor interactions, interesting and unique experiences such as a raised piazza, a stepped hill with seating for an amphitheater, a valley for gatherings and many more different uses.” Partially embedded into the surrounding landscape, the building’s height is kept low to put the focus on the bold, undulating canopy that looks as if it’s about to take off at any moment. Comprised of perforated rows of solar panels , the roof’s array will generate clean energy for the building and also enable a system of natural ventilation. The exterior will be clad in large vertical glass panels framed in metal posts, providing natural light  throughout the interior. Once inside, visitors will be greeted with an open-floor plan comprised of several independent elements used for distinct purposes. At the heart of the structure will be the Hub, a large central space that can be adapted to various uses. There will also be flexible spaces for art exhibits and meetings as well as a large 400-seat auditorium. Also found inside will be the Start-ups Pavilion, an open office space where young entrepreneurs can foster their ideas. Within the solar-powered pavilion there will also be a nutrition center, which will serve as a research facility that is open to the public. And of course, guests to the pavilion will be able to dine in Sapori Barilla, a large restaurant featuring the company’s signature pastas. + Open Architecture Systems Images via Open Architecture Systems

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A stunning solar-powered pavilion is planned for pasta company Barilla

LEED-targeted condos bring Scandinavian design to a Quebec forest

September 19, 2018 by  
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Montreal-based real estate developer KnightsBridge has recently unveiled Arborescence, an eco-friendly condominium project on Quebec’s Bromont Mountain that will likely be the latest addition to its line of LEED-certified properties. Quebec design practice ABCP Architecture designed the residential development, which will comprise approximately 260 units, all for four-season use. The gabled structures are inspired heavily by Scandinavian design both inside and out and will embrace the outdoors with a natural materials palette and full-height glazing. Located just an hour from Montreal and a mere 40 minutes from the U.S. border, Arborescence will be sited in an area of natural beauty that’s also close to local services and attractions. The development was conceived as a “retreat in the heart of the forest.” Residents will have easy access to year-round outdoor activities, from ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes, snowshoeing, mountain biking, hiking and swimming at the nearby water park. Even at home, the residents will take in nature through expansive glass windows that offer unobstructed views of the Eastern Townships. In addition to ample glazing, each unit will be built using natural materials and outfitted with a gas fireplace. Tall ceilings from nine to 15 feet in height give the homes an airy feel, while superior soundproofing and insulation ensure peace and comfort. Residents will also have access to a heated outdoor pool, pond with a dock, tennis and beach volleyball courts and an outdoor fireplace. Related: Twisting tree-like sculptures redefine a public space in Montreal “If Quebec and Scandinavia were neighbors, Arborescence would be located right at the border,” said Simon Boyer, co-founder of KnightsBridge. “The development offers the best of both worlds, with sleek, modern architecture that integrates the warm feel of wood. The development is renewed with every season and is sure to please any epicurean!” The first phase of the $100 million project is slated to launch September 19 with 48 units to be delivered toward the end of 2019. + ABCP Architecture Images via KnightsBridge

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LEED-targeted condos bring Scandinavian design to a Quebec forest

Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada

September 19, 2018 by  
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Las Vegas-based Hoogland Architecture designed the Arroyo House, a forever home for a couple with a penchant for the outdoors and sustainable design. Located in the tiny town of Blue Diamond just outside Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert, the Arroyo House enjoys panoramic views of the landscape with nary a neighbor in sight. The 3,875-square-foot dwelling takes advantage of the views with full-height glazing that’s protected from the sun by large overhangs, while the water conservation and recycling system helps keep water usage to a minimum. Designed for a Las Vegas couple nearing retirement age, the Arroyo House was conceived as a forever home with a design conducive to aging in place. Examples include an ADA compliant roll-in shower and a single-story layout for the main living spaces. Currently, the house is used as a launch pad for hiking and exploring the desert landscape as well as nearby Red Rock Canyon. To ensure the longevity of the building, the architects relied on low-maintenance concrete and weathering steel for the external walls. Large roof overhangs protect full-height, low-E glazing and sliding doors that flood the modern interiors with natural light while framing views of the outdoors. Inside, the rooms are minimally dressed with polished concrete floors, white walls and light timber furnishings. The living room, dining area and kitchen are located in an open-plan, L-shaped layout next to the deck on one side of the home. The master suite is located on the opposite side of the entry and connects to a guesthouse via a shaded outdoor walkway. Related: Geothermal-powered forever home targets environmental and social sustainability In addition to ample daylighting and passive cooling measures, energy efficiency was reinforced with radiant in-slab heating and low-flow fixtures. The drought-tolerant landscape is irrigated with recycled gray water, while black water is treated on site with a septic system. The house has also been engineered to accommodate the photovoltaic solar array that the homeowners plan to install in the future. + Hoogland Architecture Via Dezeen Images via Stephen Morgan

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Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada

Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

September 18, 2018 by  
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At last, the world’s first hydrogen-powered trains have made their global debut in the northern countryside of Germany . As of Monday, two Coradia iLint locomotives have been transporting passengers back and forth to the towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude, just west of Hamburg. The efficient trains were produced by French transportation engineers at Alstom, the same manufacturers who amazed the world in the early 1980s with the world-record-setting bullet train. While the TGV captured many people’s attention as the fastest locomotive in production, its true feat was providing a solution to the 1973 oil crisis in France by featuring an electric — not gas — fueled transmission. Nearly four decades later, Alstom has come to the rescue again as European cities continue to struggle with pollution. Replacing diesel powered engines that are stagnating Germany’s fight for the green is the first push. Related: New photosynthesis machine is twice as efficient at creating hydrogen fuel Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge inaugurated the pair of novel trains at an unveiling ceremony in Bremervoerde, where the trains will undergo routine hydrogen refueling. The company leader said, “The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production.” The bright blue Coradia iLint trains currently operate on a 62-mile (100-kilometer) course. However, in equal capacity to their gas-gulping counterparts, the hydrogen-powered vehicles can travel the span of 600 miles (1000 kilometers) on one tank of hydrogen. The trains rely on fuel cells that can produce electricity from a combined mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. The models are extremely efficient in the conversion — excess electricity can be siphoned into ion lithium batteries stored on board. The only byproducts emitted by this process are steam and water. Many German states have expressed interest in adopting the models to their own transportation lines. The company announced it will be delivering a set of 14 trains to the Lower Saxony region of the nation by 2021. While the zero-emission alternatives are attractive because of their quieter, eco-friendly nature and ability to run without electrified railways, they are not without a high initial price. Stefan Schrank, Alstom’s project manager, said, “Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run.” It’s a price many countries are willing to pay for cleaner air . France plans to rail its first hydrogen train by 2022, with the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Canada eager to follow suit. + Alstom Via The Guardian Image via René Frampe / Alstom

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Germany premieres the first hydrogen-powered train in the world

Why Google is ready to entrust energy management to AI

September 14, 2018 by  
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The technology has recommended strategies that hadn’t occurred to its human counterparts.

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Why Google is ready to entrust energy management to AI

10 money-saving tips for a green home

September 7, 2018 by  
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With more and more people becoming mindful about the environment, there has never been a better time to make your home greener . Not only does making your house more sustainable contribute to a better world, but it also puts money back into your pocket. Here are 10 ways in which you can turn your home into an environmentally friendly space. 1. Save Water We usually think about sustainability in terms of energy savings, but being environmentally minded also means taking a closer look at water consumption. There are plenty of ways you can save water around the house, and some of the methods require no investment on your part. For example, avoid running tap water while you are brushing your teeth, and only do laundry and run the dishwasher when you have a full load. Beyond changing your daily routines, you can drastically cut down on water consumption by investing in a low-flow shower head. These energy-efficient shower heads can save around 160,000 liters every year, depending on the size of your family. You should also check your home for any leaks, including running toilets and leaky faucets. Not only do these waste water, but they can also drive up your monthly water bill. 2. Choose Green Lighting Eco-friendly light bulbs are nothing new, but they have only recently started trending with homeowners. Nowadays, companies offer a slew of energy-efficient light bulbs, so finding the right match for your home is easier than ever. These bulbs use less electricity but are just as bright as their traditional counterparts. They also have longer life spans, which means you will spend less money on replacements. If you opt for smart lighting, you can program your lights to further optimize their energy consumption. Smart lights can be programmed to switch on and off automatically whenever you are close to the house. 3. Harness Solar Power Investing in solar power is one of the best ways you can make your home greener. Solar panels are made from photovoltaic materials and use sunlight as an energy source. The electricity generated by the solar panels can be used to power multiple devices in your house, from lighting to appliances — and it is all provided free from the sun. While the initial investment is high, you can earn back your money in energy savings. It’s also important to keep in mind that you are helping the environment by depending less on traditional energy sources. Related: A brighter energy — the practicalities of solar power 4. Set a Smart Thermostat Heating your home takes a lot of energy. Why not maximize that energy by installing a smart thermostat? These devices are easy to program and maximize the use of your home’s HVAC system. You can even program them to turn on and off during certain times of the day. For example, a smart thermostat can start warming up the house right before you come home and lower the temperature when nobody is around. This helps save energy by running your furnace more efficiently than ever, which ultimately saves you money. 5. Close the Gaps Caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows wear down over time. When those seals break down, spaces open up and allow outside air to come inside. This makes your HVAC system run harder to heat and cool your home throughout the year, consuming more energy. You can seal up those pesky gaps with new weather stripping around doors and windows. These foam strips are easy to install and can save you hundreds in your energy bill every year. 6. Recycle Recycling is one of the easiest ways you can make your home more eco-friendly. Some cities will even pick up your recycled goods with the regular trash. The key is to remember to recycle while you are throwing things away. To help facilitate this, install recycling stations in at least two parts of your home. You might even find free recycling bins from your local waste management center, making it easy to start recycling. If you already recycle, take things to the next level by creating a compost pile for food scraps. Not only are you saving these materials from the landfill, but you can use the compost for your garden next year. 7. Check Insulation A correctly insulated attic is important in regulating the temperature of your home. If your attic is not adequately insulated, air will escape through the roof and make your HVAC system run harder. Installing new insulation in your attic is not cheap at first, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Some locations will even give you tax rebates for insulation, so double-check the codes in your area before installing. You can also consider adding an attic fan to your home, which can help circulate air in hot and cold weather. 8. Collect Rainwater Collecting rainwater is a great way to take advantage of what nature provides. A good thunderstorm can provide upward of 300 gallons of water, all of which can be stored in water barrels. You can use the stored water for gardening or drinking during the dry seasons. This helps save on the amount of water you consume every month and puts money back in your pocket. It also prevents rainwater from washing pollutants down your city’s sewer system and ultimately dumping them into larger water sources. Be sure to check your city codes for regulations on rainwater collection. 9. Fix Water Heaters A water heater uses a lot of energy to provide hot water throughout the home. You can increase the efficiency of older units by wrapping them in insulation. You can also turn down the heater a couple of degrees to save energy. But if your water heater is in need of a replacement, consider buying a tankless one. These units only work when you need hot water and run off electricity, making them a perfect option if you have solar panels installed. Their lifespan is also considerably longer than traditional water heaters, which means less waste for the landfill. 10. Avoid VOCs Volatile organic compounds ( VOCs ) are terrible for the environment and bad for your health. These compounds, which are common in cleaning products and house paints, can irritate respiratory systems, cause nausea, headaches and other health issues. Avoid these products by opting for low-VOC or zero-VOC cleaning chemicals and household paints, which are becoming more common around the country. Images via Joe Shlabotnik , Haley Neal , Michael Coghlan , Barb Howe ,  Roger Mommaerts , Lindalnpijn , Achim Hering , Tony Webster , Yoann Siloine , Dmitri Popov , Spencer Means

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A simple truth: Energy efficiency is good for manufacturers’ bottom lines

September 5, 2018 by  
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And it’s an essential strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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A simple truth: Energy efficiency is good for manufacturers’ bottom lines

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