New self-driving electric RoboBuses are launching in Finland this year

June 14, 2017 by  
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The world is becoming increasingly automated, and a new self-driving bus in Finland is evidence of this. Beginning in the fall of 2017, the Finnish capital will launch a new autonomous electric “RoboBusLine.” According to the City of Helsinki the line “represents a shift from an experimental phase to regular, scheduled public transit service with self-driving buses.” Not only will the self-driving vehicles reduce the costs of transportation and improve access to public transit – they will also reduce the amount of cars that are on the road and slash emissions. In August of 2016, the Sohjoa project (an EU-financed initiative by the six largest cities in Finland, Finnish universities and transportation authorities) launched two EasyMile EZ10 electric minibuses in Helsinki. Reportedly, the initiative is part of the EU-financed mySMARTLife program, in which European cities are encouraged to develop energy-efficient mobility to reduce energy consumption in cities by 10-15 percent. So far, the electric minibuses have been tested in real traffic conditions – and they will continue to be monitored in urban areas until August 2017. Each bus has an operator on board in case of an emergency and travels at about 7 mph (11 km per hour), learning the route and accruing knowledge as it transits . Said Sohjoa project manager, Oscar Nissin of Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, “We focus on a number of aspects including sensor technology, user experience, and how to complement overall public transit services with self-driving buses.” Once the self-driving trials are complete, the Finnish cities of Espoo and Tampere will launch the buses to shuttle passengers from Helsinki’s Mustikkamaa recreational Island to Helsinki Zoo. Project leader and Metropolia’s smart mobility program director, Harri Santamala, explained that the “RoboBus will allow us to test operation in everyday public transit conditions. It will be used to study the long-term operability of self-driving buses and customer behavior. Related: The world’s first self-driving grocery store just hit the streets of Shanghai Finland is an ideal location for a self-driving bus to launch, as the country’s law does not state that a vehicle has to have a driver. Additionally, autonomous buses could offer a solution to a persistent problem in Helsinki: transporting riders from a regular public transit stop to their homes. A press release says, “Automated, remote-controlled bus service could markedly reduce the costs of the last-mile service and improve access to public transit . The ultimate goal is to increase public transit use and so to reduce cars and needs to drive in the city.” Because the electric minus is in a competitive bid process, the route, its launch date, and schedule will be announced at a later time. + Helsinkin RoboBusLine Image via Helsinkin RoboBusLine

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New self-driving electric RoboBuses are launching in Finland this year

Oakland fire-damaged home transformed into a magnificent naturally-cooled residence

June 14, 2017 by  
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California-based Terry & Terry Architecture rebuilt an existing home damaged in a 1991 Oakland fire as a beautiful residence offering staggering views of San Francisco Bay. The architects designed Skyline House for a young family who wanted an open-plan home with ample ventilation to provide natural cooling. The house sits on a property dominated by large redwood trees, which inspired the use of timber cladding and other natural materials. The designers started off by working with the existing floor plan. They transformed the kitchen area to open out and lead to the front yard garden with an outdoor dining area. Related: Beautiful cliffside home ‘split in half’ by landslide rebuilt with wooden pods The home is situated to take advantage of the bay breezes and the interior roofline flows to both convey the breezes through the home and to recreate the appearance of undulating fog. A wooden tube-like envelope hugs the open common space and visually connects the garden to the front viewing deck at the rear. This form takes advantage of the winds to facilitate natural ventilation , with the main living space acting as a connection between two contrasting outdoor spaces. + Terry & Terry Architecture Via v2com Photos by Bruce Damonte Photography

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Oakland fire-damaged home transformed into a magnificent naturally-cooled residence

LeapHome unveils sustainable, super-efficient Frame prefab

June 12, 2017 by  
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LEAPfactory , the Italy -based company known for building gorgeous prefabricated structures in extreme locations , just unveiled their very first LeapHome . Frame is a two-story, 1,400 square foot house built with minimal impact on the environment . The home’s design is super energy efficient , so it can easily go off-grid . LEAPfactory was inspired by the idea of living in harmony with nature to create Frame. The home can be customized and configured according to a buyer’s desires and budget, and includes two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study area, a kitchen, dining area, an outdoor terrace, and a double height living room. Forest Stewardship Council certified wood , metal sheet cladding, and finishes made with ecological materials comprise the home that includes prefabricated components. Related: LEAPfactory unveils prefab snowboard school at the foot of Mont Blanc The outdoor shell of the home was designed with energy efficiency in mind, so the home doesn’t consume as much power as others do. Solar energy powers the home, which heats water with a solar thermal system. LED lighting and radiant technology electric systems recycle heat in Frame. According to the company’s website , “The structure is designed to maximize air circulation and distribute heat and humidity.” LEAPfactory says the home could potentially be set up in off-grid configurations – sewage can be independently managed thanks to a biological liquid waste treatment system and other sanitation systems. Panoramic openings in the home also serve to connect an inhabitant with nature. Large sliding glass doors, a bay window , a skylight, and a vertical ribbon window can all be part of the design . LEAPfactory co-founders Stefano Testa and Luca Gentilcore said in a statement, “Living immersed in nature represents one of the most important choices to embrace a new style of life. We like to think that we can combine the comforts of a modern home with the profound freedom and the pioneering spirit of a life in perfect harmony with the environment that surrounds us.” LEAPfactory’s process allows them to go from a design to a fully furnished and functioning house “within weeks” according to their website . + LEAPfactory + LeapHome Images courtesy of LEAPfactory

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LeapHome unveils sustainable, super-efficient Frame prefab

Study reveals where climate change is most likely to induce food violence

June 12, 2017 by  
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Much has been written about the affect rising temperatures will have on climate and sea levels, but global warming is expected to dish up a host of other catastrophes as well. According to a new study published in the Journal of Peace Research , the first ever to take into account climate change-induced weather patterns on violence and the strength of governments around the world, certain locations will be more susceptible to food violence than others. Take a closer look after the jump. The study was conducted by Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science at Ohio State University, and former doctoral students Benjamin Jones of the University of Mississippi and Eleonora Mattiacci of Amherst University. Together, they concluded that extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, could hurt agricultural production, which will likely lead to violence in affected regions or elsewhere by those who are desperate for food. “We’ve already started to see climate change as an issue that won’t just put the coasts under water, but as something that could cause food riots in some parts of the world,” Braumoeller said. The researchers used data recorded about the effects of food insecurity and state vulnerability on the occurrence of violent uprisings in Africa between the years 1991 to 2011. Measurements for food shocks and the vulnerability of countries were also taken into account. For food shocks related to climate change , the team analyzed rainfall, temperature and the international prices of food — including sudden spikes in prices. To determine which countries are most vulnerable, the researchers analyzed the country’s dependence on agricultural production, its imports, its wealth, and the strength of its political institutions. Related: Solar-Powered Floating Greenhouse is an Off-Grid Solution to Food Scarcity In the report, Braumoeller explained that the countries that imported food would be most affected by climate shocks as prices increase — even if they weren’t experiencing “significant weather impacts themselves.” “We found that the most vulnerable countries are those that have weak political institutions, are relatively poor and rely more on agriculture ,” said Braumoeller. “Less vulnerable countries can better handle the problems that droughts or food price fluctuations create.” This data is important because it provides insight as to how more developed countries, such as the United States , can respond to these challenges. It is “crucial” to break the links between food insecurity and violence, said Braumoeller, and countries can help accomplish this in a number of ways. A short-term solution is to provide food aid to offset shortages, whereas long-term efforts include strengthening government institutions and helping them invest in “green growth” policies aimed at improving the economy. Braumoeller said, ”Development aid is important now and it is likely to be even more important in the future as we look for ways to increase climate resilience.” + Journal of Peace Research Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Study reveals where climate change is most likely to induce food violence

Worlds greenest terminal opens at Oslo airport

April 28, 2017 by  
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Nordic Office of Architecture recently completed the world’s greenest airport terminal with their new 115,000-square-meter extension that’s doubled the size of Oslo Airport. As the world’s first airport building to achieve the BREEAM Excellence sustainability rating, the renovated Oslo Airport boasts an array of energy-efficient strategies as well as on-site energy harvesting systems. The most notable energy-saving measure is the airport’s collection and storage of snow for reuse as coolant during the summer. The recent expansion is a continuation of Nordic’s work on the Oslo Airport, which the architecture firm designed in 1998. The Oslo-based design studio’s 300-meter-long extension preserves the building’s simple and iconic appearance while increasing airport capacity from 19 million to an anticipated future capacity of 30 million. New design elements also improve the passenger experience, such as the reduction of walking distances to a maximum of 450 meters, and the overhaul of the existing train station at the heart of the airport. Artificial lighting is minimized in favor of natural lighting to improve passenger comfort and reduce energy demands. Related: Zaha Hadid unveils plans for world’s largest airport terminal in Beijing In addition to the use of natural lighting and the reuse of snow as a summer coolant, the architects reduced the airport’s carbon footprint by 35 percent with the use of environmentally friendly and recycled materials . The new pier is entirely clad in timber sourced from Scandinavian forests, while additional natural materials, green walls, and water features, can be found throughout the interior. Recycled steel and concrete mixed with volcanic ash were also used. Improved insulation has helped the building achieve Passive House-level performance standards and, coupled with on-site energy harvesting, slashed energy consumption by over 50 percent as compared to the existing terminal. + Nordic Office of Architecture Images by Ivan Brodey

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Worlds greenest terminal opens at Oslo airport

Giant ski slope to top green-roofed civic center in Beijing

April 25, 2017 by  
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The next time you visit Beijing you may want to get your sled ready. China’s ever-evolving capital will soon be home to a stunning new civic center topped with an artificial snow-covered slope perfect for skiing and sledding. Designed by architect Andrew Bromberg of Aedas , the civic center, called the China World Trade Center Phase 3C, will merge energy efficient principles with mixed-use programming that accommodates the arts, outdoor recreation, and even organic farming. Set for completion in 2020, this extraordinary project is the final piece of the China World Trade Center masterplan, which includes Beijing’s two tallest towers to date in the city’s business district. With its eye-catching sculptural shape and ample green space, the Phase 3C development will serve as an anchor and gateway to the complex. Instead of massing the buildings around a single street-level civic green, Bromberg elevated the green space to the upper level to create a series of green terraces outfitted with seating and large trees. The shape of the elevated building dips towards the street corner but gently lifts up towards the tall towers. An Olympic-sized indoor ice-skating rink will be located directly below the largest roof garden, which sits above multiple levels of retail. Parking is tucked beneath ground. The building will also include an amphitheater, art studios, exhibition spaces, an organic farm , cultural and educational facilities, a rock climbing wall, theater, and a water play area that can be converted into an outdoor ice skating rink in winter. The crown jewel of the project is the sloping hill at the crest of the building that, with the use of artificial snow, will be turned into a slope for skiing and sledding during the colder months. Related: Smog-filled Beijing is building a ‘green necklace’ around the city to curb pollution To lower its energy footprint, the building will be clad in low-e , low-iron glass and is designed to maximize indoor access to natural light to reduce electricity demands. Existing trees will be transplanted onto the roof of the development and the natural landscaping will help reduce the city’s heat island effect and solar gain. Specially chosen plants and an efficient irrigation system are expected to reduce the project’s landscape requirements by as much as 30 percent as compared to the project baseline for the peak watering month. Water Efficiency Labeling Scheme (WELS) rated water fittings will also be used. The project will begin construction in August 2017. + Aedas Images via Aedas

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Giant ski slope to top green-roofed civic center in Beijing

Old watermill recycled into modern light-filled refuge in Portugal

February 3, 2017 by  
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Down on the banks of a beautiful creek sits a beautiful and modern refuge that blends in with its environment. Ansião-based architecture practice Bruno Lucas Dias designed this rentable lodge constructed with recycled materials from an old watermill . Nestled in Portugal’s Ponte de São Simão, the contemporary home, called Watermill on the Crag (Moinho das Fragas), was constructed on a modest budget and saves costs with its energy-efficient design. The Watermill on the Crag is largely constructed with natural materials that blend the home into its forested surroundings. Crafted from an old watermill, the building’s external walls are constructed of stone , matching the craggy cliff faces of Saint Simon. “This local lodging project is born out of the respect of the existing language, and aims to requalify the constructions and their context, faithfully respecting, as much as possible, its past use,” write the architects. Related: Water Pumping Mill Transformed Into Self-Sustaining Residence The watermill’s stone exterior was mostly left intact save for new double-glazed wooden window frames and thermal improvements to the roof. In contrast, the interior was largely revamped with white walls and surfaces covered with locally sourced pinewood . The building contains a bedroom that sleeps two, a bathroom, and open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen, as well as an outdoor terrace with views of the mountains and creek. + Bruno Lucas Dias Images by Hugo Santos Silva

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Old watermill recycled into modern light-filled refuge in Portugal

Renovated 1960s bungalow in Belgium is more energy-efficient than ever

January 18, 2017 by  
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A few simple steps can turn an average home into a modern marvel. Architecture firm Urbain Architectencollectief gave this 1960s bungalow in Belgium a contemporary renovation , transforming it into a daylit family house that maximizes the use of its garden. The team introduced an extension, repurposed the garage into a kids’ playroom, and vastly improved the home’s overall energy-efficiency. The new plan blurs the line between interior spaces and the garden, accentuating the connection through the use of large windows and offering direct access to terraces . The existing rooms on the northern side of the house now function as the entrance hall, bathroom, storage rooms and a private office space. The living room was placed facing the south, benefiting from large windows and sliding doors also connected to the garden. Ensuring an abundance of natural light also helps to reduce energy use. Related: Rescued 1927 Austin bungalow gets new life as a sweet new solar-powered home Exposed wooden beams and timber cladding give warmth to the renovated bungalow, while a steel profile, resting on two steel columns, helps support the new flat roof. A new layer of insulation ensures superior energy efficiency. + Urbain Architectencollectief Via Plataforma Arquitectura Photos by Filip Dujardin

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Renovated 1960s bungalow in Belgium is more energy-efficient than ever

Energy-efficient minimalist cabin blends into the surrounding alpine forests

November 22, 2016 by  
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This Alpine dwelling pays homage to the  pine trees were cleared to give way to urbanization. Its tall and lean design causes minimal impact on the ground and the blonde pine wood blends in with the surrounding nature. The  pinewood that clads its outer skin, interior walls, floors and ceilings provides the home with warmth and comfort. Related: Enchanting Woodland Sculptures Pay Homage to the Witches of Pendle Forest in England A closed spiral staircase leads inhabitants throughout the home’s 3-levels while acting as a décor focal. The living room features a glazed wall that fills the room with natural light while framing the majestic scenery and its snowy caps. The home cleverly divides living areas, using different levels and ceiling heights that, along with good  insulation and a sustainable heating solution, help keep interiors warm. + Madritsch Pfurtscheller Via Blog Gessato Photos by Wolfgang Retter

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Energy-efficient minimalist cabin blends into the surrounding alpine forests

Historic Belgian farmhouse is renovated into a modern solar-powered home

August 19, 2016 by  
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The architects preserved the brick from the original farmhouse, where it can be seen in both the facade and interior, however the two stepped additions are clad in timber for a contemporary touch. “Old and new work remain visible,” said architect Tom Vanhee, according to Dezeen. “The new volumes are clad in wood, and the old brick exterior can be seen inside the entrance.” The original building and the extensions are united under a pre-weathered zinc roof. The original brick structure comprises the main living spaces, including an open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining area in a spacious double-height room, as well as four bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper level. The smaller timber-clad additions house the entryway, hallways, storage, utility spaces, and a garage. White walls and surfaces dominate the minimally but stylishly decorated interior and are broken up by remnants of salvaged brick and timber beams. Large windows punctuate all three interconnected structures, filling the home with natural light and framing views of the surrounding countryside. In addition to expanding the building footprint and updating the appearance, the architects added energy-efficient features. The air-source heat pump was installed to warm water and power underfloor heating . Solar energy satisfies the bulk of the home’s electricity needs. The windows and insulation are constructed for airtightness. + Atelier Tom Vanhee Via Dezeen Images via Atelier Tom Vanhee

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Historic Belgian farmhouse is renovated into a modern solar-powered home

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