This passive house in the Czech Republic uses technology to recycle heat

March 28, 2019 by  
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A unique location and environmentally-friendly passive house design are what define this lovely home on the Czech Republic/German border. 750 meters above sea level and in the middle of a ridge within the Ore Mountains, it almost looks like a modern farmhouse from the outside. On the inside, however, you’ll find a sleek, clean design with light colors, glass and wood. The rustic home was built by Stempel & Tesar Architects and is a certified passive house . A passive house technique dramatically reduces a building’s environmental footprint by essentially reusing the heat generated by electrical and gas appliances (refrigerators, ovens, even computers) to heat the home. A ventilation system is used to supply fresh air from outside the house to keep the air quality clean, and an efficient heat recovery unit contains and exhausts the recycled heat. Related: Green-roofed NY home taps into passive solar with contemporary style Ultra tight insulation and advanced windows that don’t allow for the heat to escape is required to produce a passive house. Conversely, a passive house is also designed to keep your home comfortable in the warmer months. So rather than using a separate heating or cooling device like a heater or air conditioner that drains energy , a passive house can recycle the heat that is already being generated. The result is a low-cost, energy efficient design that reduces the ecological footprint of the home. Outside the home is a covered walkway leading to the front entrance and an exterior of dark wood. Using an environmentally-friendly method, the wood was colored using a heating technique that eliminated the need for synthetic varnishes. The wood was also used to match the two-car garage to the look of the main house, and the roof is made of simple ceramic tiles. The location of the property allows for plenty of sunlight to brighten the home through the large windows. The home is comprised of two levels and also features a living room with floor-to-ceiling windows and a sliding door that allows for the entire house to be opened to the garden in the warmer months. Though the summer is short in this part of the world, the designers still included a winter garden and a covered terrace outside. + Stempel & Tesar Architects Via Archdaily Images via Stempel & Tesar Architects

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This passive house in the Czech Republic uses technology to recycle heat

8 ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly

March 22, 2019 by  
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An outdated bathroom isn’t just an eyesore; it can also be quite harmful to the environment, because old toilets and faucets waste a ton of water, most of the building materials aren’t sustainable and many water heaters use way more energy than needed. In recent years, there have been significant changes in the world of bathrooms, with many eco-friendly fixtures, decor and accessories hitting the market. If it is time for a bathroom remodel in your home, take the opportunity to go green with some of these eco-friendly bathroom ideas. Interior design Recycled tile Most bathrooms feature some kind of tile, and now you can easily find options made from recycled content available in just about every aesthetic you can think of. Related: How to retile your bathroom You can find bathroom tile made from bamboo, cork or eco-friendly concrete. Newer options on the market include tiles made from reclaimed wood and vegetable ivory. Cabinets and vanity sinks Most traditional cabinets and vanity sinks use plywood, particle board, pressed wood and medium density fiberboard (MDF). But the glue used in those materials contains formaldehyde. Now, there are eco-friendly cabinets and vanity options  made from solid wood or recycled and reclaimed materials that are much safer. Think of cabinets made from bamboo or recycled concrete and countertops made from recycled glass or paper. Steel bathtubs Forget fiberglass and acrylic, and instead, consider a steel bathtub. The German company KALDEWEI offers bathtubs made from a steel enamel that come with a 30-year guarantee. Instead of ending up in a landfill at the end of its lifespan, these bathtubs — as well as their steel bathroom fittings — can be completely recycled. Fixtures Low-flow showerheads, toilets and faucets It should come as no surprise that every time you flush the toilet, you are wasting a significant amount of water . But there have been major advancements in recent years with low-flow and dual-flush toilets that have reduced water usage. Just a few years ago, toilets used more than three gallons of water with each flush. Now, high-efficiency toilets use less than a gallon. Considering how often your family flushes the toilet each day, this new technology can save thousands of gallons of water every year. Not only is this good for the environment, but it also helps lower those utility bills. The same goes for faucets and showerheads. The flow rates have dropped significantly over the years, so upgrading can result in less water usage, increased energy efficiency and even more savings on your utility bills. A fantastic resource for finding water-efficient appliances is the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program website. It offers a list of approved appliances that meet the EPA criteria, and it rates everything from showerheads to bathroom accessories. If you want to reduce your water usage without replacing your showerhead and faucet, you can add an aerator that will reduce the water flow rate without affecting water pressure. Energy-efficient water heater The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that nearly one-fifth of your home energy use is for heating water. An eco-friendly bathroom remodel should include the installation of an energy-efficient water heater. When shopping for water heaters, look for the EPA’s Energy Star label, so you know the product has been certified energy-efficient. Related: Adjusting a tankless water heater Eco-friendly options include a heat pump water heater, which uses heat from the air to heat the refrigerant that heats your water; a tankless water heater, which will heat the water as you use it; a condensing storage water heater, which will use less energy to create hot water; or a solar water heater, which will slash your energy costs. Accessories Oiled teak shower mat Cloth bath mats can invite mold and mildew, so opt for a mat made from teak wood that resists harmful bacteria while giving your bathroom a modern look. Oiled teak shower mats are slip resistant, naturally warm and easy to clean. Organic cotton towels and washcloths Harmful chemicals are often used when making traditional cotton bathroom linens, so when you are updating your bathroom, don’t forget to upgrade your towels and washcloths with organic cotton towels that don’t use pesticides. Related: How to save the environment one hair wash at a time Bamboo toothbrushes Get rid of those plastic toothbrushes and replace them with biodegradable bamboo. Mable offers a chic, self-standing bamboo brush at an affordable price. When you buy one, the company gives one to a child in need. Toothbrushes are just the beginning when it comes to bamboo bathroom accessories. You can find things like bathtub trays, soap dispensers and toothbrush holders that are made from this all-natural, sustainable material. It’s easy to go green when you remodel your bathroom. Even though some of these options may seem to be a bit pricey, remember that many of them will save you a ton of cash in the long run because of reduced energy bills. Try some of these eco-friendly bathroom ideas when you are turning your outdated bathroom into a sustainable home spa. Image via La Belle Galerie and Shutterstock

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Solar-powered home puts an eco-friendly twist on the farmhouse vernacular

March 14, 2019 by  
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When architect Paul O’Reilly of the Australian architectural practice archterra was asked by his mother to design a modern farmhouse, he delivered a handsome dwelling that not only takes inspiration from traditional barn architecture, but also deftly addresses the region’s climatic extremes with its site-specific, energy-efficient build. Aptly named the Farm House, the roughly 2,000-square-foot abode features a gabled roofline, a veranda and timber cladding to mimic traditional barns, while the interior is decidedly contemporary and dressed in natural materials, including rammed earth and oiled timber cladding. Moreover, the home is energy-efficient , taking cues from passive solar principles and drawing power from a 2.5-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array. Located on a grassy paddock on a working cattle farm near Margaret River, the Farm House is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom abode that places the sleeping areas toward the south and the open-plan living areas to the north. Large outdoor decks open off of the two bedrooms and the living area toward the east. “Primary outlook across paddocks to the east and a need to maintain a passive solar orientation to the north generated a T-shaped plan response with the living pavilion orientated to the north, whilst the sleeping areas align east-west,” explained the architecture firm. “Morning sun is moderated on the sleeping pavilion by the traditional veranda to the east whilst a thick rammed earth wall to the west ensures the thermal lag effect of the earth wall keeps internal spaces cool into the early evening.” Related: Solar-powered Bush House exemplifies chic eco-friendly living in the Australian outback The home’s passive solar orientation mitigates unwanted heat gain and permits cooling cross breezes to flow through the home from all directions. In addition to the thermally efficient envelope, the energy efficiency of the Farm House is bolstered by the addition of an evacuated tube solar hot water heater, a solar photovoltaic array, rainwater collection  and wastewater treatment systems. Recycled timber and bricks lower the embodied energy of the project as well. + archterra Photography by Douglas Mark Black via archterra

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Solar-powered home puts an eco-friendly twist on the farmhouse vernacular

Two energy-efficient cork homes are elevated off the landscape in northern Spain

February 27, 2019 by  
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Barcelona-based firm López-Rivera Arquitectos has unveiled two beautiful homes tucked into a dense forest in northern Spain. The natural forest, which is comprised of cork and pine trees, inspired the architects to clad both homes in a gorgeous cork facade . The sustainable material helped create an energy-efficient and resilient design that is also raised off the ground to reduce the impact on the landscape. Located in Platfrugell, Catalonia, the two cork houses are located on a rugged landscape, marked by uneven and steep terrain. The challenging topography, as well as the architects’ respect for nature, inspired the design to go vertical. Anchored into a strong base of concrete, the two homes are elevated on cross-laminated timber supports, which were locally-sourced. Related: Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living Both of the homes are entirely clad in two layers of cork to connect the homes into the environment, which is a dense, wooded landscape dominated by the presence of cork trees. The designers also chose the material for its durable and long-lasting features, and for its ability to tightly insulate the homes, conserving energy throughout the year. In fact, the project’s many passive features have earned both of the homes a Class A energy rating. The interior design of the two structures was also based on their natural setting. The wooden walls were left exposed to continue the cabin-the-woods atmosphere. To keep the residents warm and cozy in the cold months, the ceramic-tiled floors are heated through a system of underfloor heating. During the summer months, the adjustable casement wood windows enable almost constant air ventilation  through the interior. For those searing hot days, an adjacent swimming pool is the perfect cool-down spot. With no hallways and rooms of varying sizes, the living spaces were arranged so that there is no clear distinction between them. According to the architects, this was strategic so that the interior spaces would be defined by their relationship to the outdoors. Large open-air decks are at the heart of the design and offer stunning views of the surrounding forest as well as distant views of the sea. + López-Rivera Arquitectos Photos by José Hevia and Juande Jarrillo via López-Rivera Arquitectos

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Two energy-efficient cork homes are elevated off the landscape in northern Spain

Designer creates algae-sourced alternative for plastic packaging

February 27, 2019 by  
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Food packaging has a become a target in the world of sustainability and environmentalism. Walk down the aisle of any supermarket or look in your own shopping cart, and you’re likely to see package after package made from petroleum-based plastic. A few resourceful scientists and engineers have chosen to tackle the problem, including designer Margarita Talep, who has developed an algae-based alternative to plastic. With the short lifecycle of most packaging, Talep wanted to create a material that would stand up to the task of holding food and other products but break down quickly once it hit the waste stream. Related: Nuatan is the bioplastic that could answer the plastic pollution crisis Agar, a gel-like substance sourced from seaweed, is not new to the food world, as it is commonly used as a food thickener. With that understanding, Talep heats the agar to create a polymer and then adds water as a plasticizer and natural dyes for color. To achieve the goal of all-natural ingredients, natural dyes are sourced from fruits and vegetables such as beets, carrots, blueberries and purple cabbage. After the mixture of agar and other ingredients is heated, it is cooled, a process that transforms it into a gel. At this point, the mixture is turned into thin plastic or poured into molds to cool. By adjusting the ingredients, Talep has created a firm material that will mold into shapes, such as the trays that a package of donuts sit in. The technique is versatile enough that it can also create a replacement for plastic bags, like those pasta is sold in. With the overarching goal of replacing single-use , disposable packaging, the algae packaging breaks down naturally within two to three months during warm summer months, depending on the thickness of the material. In the colder winter months, the material still breaks down, but requires a few extra weeks. + Margarita Talep Images via Margarita Talep

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Designer creates algae-sourced alternative for plastic packaging

Shine On: 5 Green Lighting Tips

January 4, 2019 by  
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Home lighting has a significant impact on interior design and … The post Shine On: 5 Green Lighting Tips appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Shine On: 5 Green Lighting Tips

Danish home champions wood over concrete for lower carbon emissions

December 21, 2018 by  
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Danish architecture firm Tegnestuen LOKAL recently completed TK-33, a modern and energy-efficient home that promotes building materials considered more sustainable than those typically used in Danish residential construction. To reduce the carbon footprint of the project, the architects designed the home with a timber structure rather than the more commonly used load-bearing concrete walls. Triple-glazed windows and a flexible floor plan also add to the home’s environmentally friendly cachet. Designed for an older couple, the TK-33 home is located on the outskirts of a small town north of Copenhagen . The single-story home spans 130 square meters with two bedrooms and a centrally located, open-plan living area that connects to a spacious L-shaped deck. The flexible layout allows the homeowners to easily adapt rooms to new uses without the need for renovation. Full-height glazing pulls the outdoors in while a natural materials palette ties the home to the rural landscape. Driven by a desire to reduce carbon emissions in Denmark, the architects focused on replacing the most emission-heavy elements of typical Danish construction with more eco-friendly alternatives. In place of brick-clad concrete — commonly used for outer walls that the firm said account for nearly 30 percent of the total emissions associated with the construction of a typical home — the architects used a wooden frame clad in a thin layer of brick shingling. The slim brick facade is Cradle-to-Cradle certified and highly durable to ensure longevity. Related: Copper-clad Copenhagen landmark boasts Denmark’s most energy-efficient laboratories “Eliminating emissions during construction, allowing for flexibility in the use of the house and facilitating reuse of the entire envelope makes for a house and a building technique that could decrease the emissions from the single-family house industry in Denmark greatly,” the architects said. “The house can be naturally ventilated and installations are pragmatically limited to the central core containing two bathrooms and a laundry room, lowering overall costs during construction.” + Tegnestuen LOKAL Photography by Jan Ove Christensen and Peter Jørgensen via Tegnestuen LOKAL

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Danish home champions wood over concrete for lower carbon emissions

Striking home in Greece uses bioclimatic features to be energy-efficient year-round

December 4, 2018 by  
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Tucked into a sloping hillside looking out over the Aegean Sea, the TRIF House designed by Sergey Fedotov boasts a gorgeous, contemporary design with massive floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the breathtaking sea views. In addition to its striking aesthetic, the private residence also includes a number of passive features that insulate the home and reduce energy use throughout the year. Located in Porto Heli, Greece, the massive home, which spans over 3,800 square feet, sits on a naturally sloped landscape spotted with olive trees. To appreciate the gorgeous sea views, the front facade is a series of frameless, floor-to-ceiling windows that can slide open and shut at just the push of a button. The glazed exterior not only creates a seamless connection between indoors and out but also allows for natural sunlight to illuminate the interior. Related: A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree Alternatively, the home’s north facade was embedded into the natural slope of the hillside. Burying part of the house into the landscape was another passive feature that helps provide the structure with a strong thermal envelope. The main floor houses a kitchen, dining and living room, all of which open up to an expansive veranda with a swimming pool. The top floor, which is enclosed in a large white rectangular volume that cantilevers just slightly over the ground floor, is home to the master bedroom and two guest rooms, all of which enjoy stunning panoramic views. The interior boasts a minimalist design with custom-made furniture. Surrounding the home, the landscape was left in a natural state. Large olive trees and shrubs dot the sloping hillside, which has various walking paths that wind through the home’s beautiful surroundings. + Sergey Fedotov Via Archdaily Photography by Pygmalion Karatzas via Sergey Fedotov

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Striking home in Greece uses bioclimatic features to be energy-efficient year-round

Gorgeous, energy-efficient retreat rests among Utah’s mountains

November 9, 2018 by  
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Danish interior designer Mette Axboe spent months searching for the perfect U.S. location for a family retreat, but the hunt came to an abrupt end once she set sights on an expansive lot of 10 pristine acres overlooking Utah’s picturesque Park City. The mountain range in the background inspired the stunning design, which was conceived as a “looking box” to enjoy the scenery from any point in the home. Axboe worked with architect Chris Price and his firm Park City Design + Build to develop the idyllic retreat for long getaways. Although the family was open to ideas about the overall design, they knew that the focus had to be on the surrounding landscape. “We wanted something that would fit our lifestyle and family, and cater to frequent (and long-staying) guests from overseas,” Axboe said. “We asked Chris to ‘architect it up’ — keeping our layout in mind, and ensuring a good fit with both the site and surrounding area. It was very important for us to design a house that fit the landscape and not the other way around.” Related: A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof Accordingly, the rolling fields and mountain range in the distance became the focal point of the home’s design. The  low-lying horizontal volume  is tucked into the landscape to help blend the structure into its surroundings. To create a “looking box,” the team included sizable windows and multiple outdoor decks to provide stunning views from virtually any angle. To further blend the home into its environment, the architects and designer went with a muted color palette using a combination of natural cedar and board-formed concrete. These materials continue through the interior, where enormous sliding glass doors and windows provide a seamless connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces. An expansive deck with large comfy sofas, a dining table and fire pit is the perfect spot for soaking up the amazing scenery. In addition to bringing nature to the forefront of the design, the residents were also focused on creating an energy-efficient home . As such, the architects employed various Passive Haus standards . Triple-pane windows were installed to allow the home to have access to ample natural light and stunning views without massive heat loss. Radiant heat flooring also provides even temperature control during the freezing Utah winters. As for the interior living areas , Axboe used her native Danish roots to create a modern, Scandinavian-inspired design. The home’s all-white walls and light oak flooring open up the space, providing a welcoming atmosphere throughout. According to Axboe, “This is a family home, not a cold art museum.” + Park City Design + Build Via Dwell Photography by Renan Ozturk via Park City Design + Build

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Gorgeous, energy-efficient retreat rests among Utah’s mountains

BIGs dramatic hillside apartments officially open in Stockholm

November 9, 2018 by  
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Bjarke Ingels Group has announced the official opening of the long-awaited 79&Park, a residential development with a striking, stepped design. Located in Stockholm’s Gärdet district, the sculptural complex consists of 169 foliage-covered apartments constructed from prefabricated 3.6-meter by 3.6-meter modules that are arranged around an open courtyard. The cascading design was developed to optimize access to natural light as well as views toward the city and Gärdet’s parklands. Inaugurated on the same day as OMA’s Norra Tornen — another spectacular structure and the tallest new building in the city — 79&Park occupies a prominent location bordering the city park. To tie the building into the urban fabric and adjacent nature, Bjarke Ingels Group crafted the building in the image of a gently sloping hillside and clad the exterior in vertical strips of cedar. An abundance of greenery has been incorporated as well, from the modular rooftop terraces to the lush central courtyard. “79&Park is conceived as an inhabitable landscape of cascading residences that combine the splendors of a suburban home with the qualities of urban living: the homes have private outdoor gardens and penthouse views of the city and Gärdet,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “The communal intimacy of the central urban oasis offers peace and tranquility while also giving the residents a feeling of belonging in the larger community of 79&Park. Seen from a distance, 79&Park appears like a man-made hillside in the center of Stockholm .” Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen In addition to the 169 apartment units — nearly all of them have a unique layout — the development also houses commercial spaces open to the public on the ground floor. Resident amenities include a doggy daycare and preschool. Like the exterior, the Scandinavian design-inspired interiors were dressed in a natural material palette including white oak floors and natural stone. Large windows blur the boundary between the indoors and out. + BIG Photography by Laurian Ghinitoiu via BIG

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