Green Mountain’s Svein Atle Hagaseth on carbon neutral data centers

November 12, 2019 by  
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As companies’ data center use continues to grow, there’s an expanding need for the facilities to be energy efficient.

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Green Mountain’s Svein Atle Hagaseth on carbon neutral data centers

This unique eco home was designed to reduce energy use

July 12, 2019 by  
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Located in Toronto, Canada, this eco home by Craig Race Architecture was built entirely with sustainability in mind. The 1,800-square-foot house was a passion project for the architect, who wanted to use the space to test high-performing methods for the outer elements that facilitate climate control within the house. The highlight of the home is its high-quality insulation . Superior insulation in a structure design can maintain a dry, hot or cold temperature inside by creating a barrier between exterior and interior environments. In the Curvy Eco Home’s case, a majority of the insulation was installed as a continuous, unbroken layer on the outside of the building, which greatly reduced the number of localized areas with low thermal resistance. Related: This family-friendly home is a beacon of modern energy-efficient design in Calgary In combination with the insulation, the home is also almost completely airtight. According to the architects’ energy modeling, they were able to reduce the heating energy in the home by 40 percent by using $1,500 worth of tape to ensure exceptional airtightness. Not only will this dramatically reduce the owner’s electricity bill, but the home itself will be much more comfortable no matter the season. A large amount of glass on the south side of the home allows for passive heating. To reduce energy needs, an in-floor radiant system was installed with separate thermostats for either side of the home. This way, when the passive heating is being utilized on the south side, the owner can turn off half the electric heat, maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout. There is an air conditioner in the house for the hottest days of summer; however, it rarely needs to be used thanks to the skylight purposely placed to move air in and out of the house for natural ventilation. The curvature in the exterior design of the home was intended to follow the same pattern as the street and to maximize space. All of the materials used for cladding are either recycled and/or sustainable, including the cedar shingles. The roof, side walls and south wall were made with standing-seam galvalume panels, which are long-lasting and maintenance-free. The panels are also untreated — meaning no toxic paint or coating — and can be recycled in the future. Inside, the eco home features a rather minimalist design. Each room benefits from a bright, airy atmosphere thanks to natural light, white walls and light wood accents. The kitchen boasts marble countertops and backsplash, while the bedrooms earn extra charm from exposed wood ceiling beams. + Craig Race Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography via Robert Watson via Craig Race Architecture

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This unique eco home was designed to reduce energy use

Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill

June 17, 2019 by  
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Summer is right around the corner, and the rising temperatures in many areas have already arrived. As the searing summer months approach and drag on, finding ways to keep your house cool will make you more comfortable. Chilling out without the use of energy-thirsty air conditioning will not only save you money but is good for the planet, too. For thousands of years, humans found ways to stay cool, even in the hottest climates, without the use of AC. Take a card from that playbook to keep your home comfortable without relying on energy-intensive resources by incorporating the ideas below. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC Open the windows Creating a cross-breeze is one of the most effective ways to cool a home. Many resorts and vacation homes in tropical areas rely on this technique instead of installing AC for a good reason — it works. The key to effective breeze cooling is figuring out which direction the wind blows. In some areas, it’s fairly consistent, commonly coming from the same direction during the same times each day (most often in the afternoon). Open up windows during that “window” of breeze to encourage the flow through your home. Also take advantage of cooler nighttime and early morning temperatures. Leave screened windows open to allow the cool air to come inside. Then, trap it by shutting windows on each side of the house as the sun hits it, i.e. the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon. Rely on the blinds When your windows are closed, also close off heat absorption by closing the blinds. For windows that are in direct sunlight for a good portion of the day, consider installing shutters or rolling blinds on the outside of the window as well. If you don’t want to block out the light entirely, install window film that is made to insulate against heat while letting light into the room. Blackout the light The most effective way to keep the sun from injecting blistering heat into a room is to keep it dark. Completely close off rooms when they are not being used. If you don’t mind being left in the dark, install blackout curtains, which effectively block the heat from entering the room through the window. Become a fan of fans Both ceiling fans and box fans are effective in cooling a space without cranking up the energy bill. For ceiling fans, make sure they are rotating in a counterclockwise direction during the warm months. Most ceiling fans have a switch near the top that changes the direction in which the blades rotate. This is so that the fan pushes cooler air downward during the summer. Reverse the blades during the winter, which pulls cool air up toward the ceiling to keep the living space warmer. Box and other fans help keep the air flowing throughout the space for a cooling effect. To create cooler air, place a container of ice directly in front of the fan. The air from the fan will bounce off the ice and direct the cool air across the room. Insulate against the heat With all of this talk about the importance of air flow, it seems counter-intuitive to mention insulation . However, keeping hot air from entering your space prevents from having to then cool it. Just like with cold air during the winter, evaluate any place that hot air may seep in. Close the damper in your fireplace. Feel around your doors and windows for airflow, and install weatherstripping as needed. Grab a package of insulation foam for your light switches and outlets. Related: 7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home Turn off appliances Even during the sizzling days of summer, you need to eat and do laundry , but appliances in the home generate a lot of heat and compromise your success in the battle against a hot house. Plan ahead to avoid turning on appliances as much as possible. Dust off that slow cooker book and cook dinner without turning on the stove. Also enjoy some summer grilling that takes the hot cooking outdoors. Better yet, on very hot days, go with a cold sandwich or salad and avoid cooking altogether. You can also keep the clothes dryer from heating up your space by hanging clothes to dry or only running it at night after the temperature drops. Even the dishwasher sends out heat, so wash dishes by hand and allow them to air dry in the warm space, or run the dishwasher without the final dry cycle that produces heat. Give your refrigerator a bit of a break. It works hard during hot weather, so keep up maintenance by cleaning the vent in the front and the coils in the back. Keep food away from the edges inside the fridge, so air can flow freely. Get shade from plants Keeping the home cool on the inside starts on the outside. Your landscape design can have a huge impact on the temperature inside your house. Plan ahead by placing trees where they will block intense sun rays during the height of the season. Put shrubs and vines on south- and west-facing walls to help insulate against the heat. Stop unwanted heat gain with awnings For a long-term, albeit less natural, approach, build permanent awnings or invest in retractable awnings over corridors, decks and windows. This will also make enjoying the outdoors on super hot days a little easier! Images via Shutterstock

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Cool ways to skip the air conditioning and still keep your home chill

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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8 ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly

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

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