6 ways to save energy while sheltering in place

April 21, 2020 by  
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Now that millions of Americans are isolated in their homes, everyone is using more energy during off-peak hours. Americans are getting more concerned with paying their growing electricity bills. Combined with the obvious environmental tolls of changing and increased at-home energy usage, paying a larger bill during times of economic uncertainty is enough to weigh on anyone’s heightened nerves. Inhabitat has rounded up some tips and tricks to help readers save energy (and money) at home during this time. The good news is that energy usage outside the home is at a 16-year low in the United States. The novel coronavirus has caused a huge drop in energy consumption throughout the country since stay-at-home measures have been implemented. Entire businesses have shut down, and most industrial activity has come to a grinding halt. According to the World Economic Forum , the demand for electricity fell by 5.7% from the week of April 14, 2020 compared to the same week in 2019 — the lowest since 2004. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projected that the combination of this economic slowdown and ongoing stay-at-home orders would help further reduce electricity and natural gas consumption in the coming months as well. The administration expects power consumption in the country to decline by 3% in 2020 before rising 1% in 2021. Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 Still, while you are at home, you can further reduce energy consumption and minimize your energy bill by following these simple tips. Utilize natural light and open windows This pandemic is coming at a time of unpredictable spring weather. Some places around the country are beginning to warm up, but others are still feeling the effects of a longer winter with cold, rain and even snow. Something as simple as letting the light in during sunny days can not only raise your spirits but also lower your energy bill. If it is warm enough, open the windows to bring in fresh air. Even simply opening the blinds or curtains provides natural light, which is essential for working and your mental health. Daylighting also negates the need for artificial energy-using overhead lights or desk lamps. Swap electronics for creative activities It is easy to spend hours binging a new TV series or get sucked into playing video games when you’re stuck at home all day. Give your eyes a rest by swapping your nightly TV marathon for non-electrical activities such as reading, drawing or solving puzzles. It is no secret that our phones and computers are most people’s only link to the outside world right now, so start small with a couple of hours a day without electronics, adopt no-tech days or practice phone-free Sundays. Check in with your thermostat With more people staying at home 24/7, thermostats that are usually lowered or even switched off while everyone is normally at work or school are now running at higher capacities for longer amounts of time. Don’t forget to check in with yourself and adjust the thermostat accordingly. Fluctuations in temperature during this season mean that a smart thermostat could particularly come in handy, as it can learn your home’s heating and cooling patterns. Smart thermostats have the ability to adjust the temperature automatically instead of manually, so you will have a more optimal at-home climate as well as a reduced electricity bill. Only plug in devices when needed According to the U.S. Department of Energy, standby power from electronic devices accounts for about $100 of the average American’s electricity bill each year. If you’re working from home, chances are you’ve borrowed computers, printers, scanners or phones from your work office to make the transition to remote employment a bit easier. If you’ve become unemployed, you may be spending more time catching up on your favorite shows or surfing the internet, or maybe school closures have led to full-time homeschooling. Regardless, that means there are more devices plugged into your home’s outlets than there were a few months ago, and they are all consuming power even when they are not being used or are on standby. Be mindful of unplugging as much as you can at the end of your remote work or school day. You might consider investing in a smart power strip or two around the house, which can help you pick and choose which items to keep on or make it easier to turn everything off when not in use. Turn off the lights in unused rooms This may seem obvious, but the simple act of turning off lights in empty rooms does wonders for your electricity bill. Switching off the lights whenever possible will extend the life of your lightbulbs , too. If you’re not used to hitting the light switch whenever you leave the room, take this time to be more mindful of it. It is good practice for the future! Practice an energy-efficient laundry routine Household appliances make up a massive portion of energy use in American households. Remember to wait until your washing machine or dishwasher is full before running it — your washer will use almost the same amount of energy no matter the size of the load. Wool dryer balls help separate clothes, absorb moisture cut drying time and reduce static (no need for dryer sheets). While using cold water in your washing machine saves the largest amount of energy, even using warm water instead of hot water can cut energy use in half. Plus, you will not only save energy, but also detergent, dish washing soap and time! If the weather is nice, consider hanging laundry on a line outside to dry. Via Consumer Energy Alliance and Energy.gov Images via Pixabay and Unsplash

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6 ways to save energy while sheltering in place

Wedge-shaped Sideyard champions CLT construction

April 21, 2020 by  
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When Portland, Oregon reconfigured the roadways in the Central Eastside community, a 20,000-square-foot berm space was leftover from the move. To make the most of the small and oddly shaped site, Key Development teamed up with local architecture firm Skylab and Andersen Construction to use cross laminated timber (CLT) in the construction of Sideyard, a mixed-use development. The CLT components were prefabricated in a factory and then transported on-site for final assembly, a modular process that streamlined the building process and boasts environmental benefits. Located on a busy intersection next to the YARD apartments, the 23,202-square-foot Sideyard comprises a mix of retail and offices across five floors with retail located on the ground floor and workspaces placed on the top levels. Conceived as a “working class” building and gateway to the Portland Eastside community, Sideyard also emphasizes public transportation connectivity as well as pedestrian and bicycle accessibility, which has been enhanced with the addition of a ground-floor bike bar and pedestrian-friendly plaza extended from the city sidewalk. A pedestrian stair has also been integrated down from the Burnside Bridge level to Third Avenue. Related: First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground The use of cross-laminated timber was critical to the project’s success. Because of the site’s tight footprint, construction materials could not be stored on-site for long; the modularity of the CLT panels and glulam members allowed for quick assembly of the building atop a post-tensioned concrete foundation. The interior features an industrial feel thanks to exposed concrete and timber throughout, while floor-to-ceiling glazing creates a constant connection with the surrounding neighborhood. “Cross-laminated timber is a new and sustainable building material that celebrates the inherent structural qualities of wood,” said Jill Asselineau, project director for Skylab Architecture. “This material was championed by the general contractor for its regional relevance, availability and simplicity of assemblage. Employing this mass timber system saved on both time and labor expenses. The project also used mass plywood for the interior stair structure, landings and treads. This project is one of the first to employ and elegantly demonstrate the potential of this wood product.” + Skylab Architecture Photography by Stephen Miller via Skylab Architecture

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Wedge-shaped Sideyard champions CLT construction

A lush public park grows on the roof of a luxury Wuhan mall

November 20, 2019 by  
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When Los Angeles-based design studio 5+design was tapped to create a high-end mall in Wuhan, China, the firm was also given the opportunity to create a publicly accessible green space — an amenity in decline in the city due to rapid development. As a result, the 164,000-square-meter Wuhan North Pavilion supports a lush public rooftop park that’s accessible from the ground level and provides active and passive spaces for children and adults alike. Designed to foster community and an added sense of identity, the park’s seasonal planting palette references Wuhan’s pastoral landscapes and the region’s agricultural past. Built to span the entire length of the mall, the rooftop public park features a mix of walkways, recreational spaces and children’s play areas. The landscape design helps define a variety of active and passive spaces, while the plant choices create “an ecological haven.” Greenery is also integrated into the street-level landscape and along the other parts of the architecture to soften the appearance of the building and to give the mall a more human scale. Related: Studio NAB wants to rehab parking lots into energy-producing urban gardens “With Wuhan’s steady decline of green space in the face of rapid development, Wuhan North Pavilion preserves a place to observe and absorb nature that goes beyond the standard use of today’s retail spaces,” the designers explained in a project statement. “The addition of careful planting with variety in scale, openness and intimacy creates a new kind of public space within the city that fosters community and an added sense of identity.” In addition to the rooftop park’s benefits in fighting the urban heat island effect , the Wuhan North Pavilion incorporates energy-saving features such as LED lighting, fans, pumps and chillers. Water usage has been reduced thanks to low-flow urinals and bathroom fixtures fitted with sensors. Low-emitting materials, adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings were also selected to help reduce indoor air pollutants. + 5+design Images via 5+design

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A lush public park grows on the roof of a luxury Wuhan mall

Zaha Hadid Architects completes futuristic, energy-saving airport in Beijing

October 11, 2019 by  
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China has officially opened the Beijing Daxing International Airport, a futuristic transit hub designed by Zaha Hadid Architects with the world’s biggest terminal spanning 700,000 square meters. Seamlessly integrated into the city’s expanding transportation network, the new airport is defined by dramatic sweeping curves, an abundance of interior daylighting and energy-saving systems that include photovoltaic panels and a rainwater harvesting system. The Beijing Daxing Airport is expected to accommodate 72 million travelers by 2025 and is planned for further expansion to serve up to 100 million passengers and 4 million tons of cargo annually. Located 46 kilometers south of Beijing’s city center in the Daxing District, the Beijing Daxing International Airport was created to alleviate congestion at the capital’s existing airport. The airport offers direct connections to Beijing — including a 20-minute express train — as well as to the national high-speed rail network and local train services for easy access to nearby regions such as Tianjin and the Hebei Province. The terminal features a compact, radial design to support a maximum number of aircraft and minimize distances from the center of the building. Related: MAD unveils an energy-saving, snowflake-shaped terminal for Harbin Airport “Recently assigned the airport code ‘PKX’ by the International Air Transport Association, Beijing Daxing sets a new standard in air transport services, serving the region’s growing population within a compact and efficient passenger terminal that is adaptable for future growth,” reads the architects’ press release. “Echoing principles within traditional Chinese architecture that organize interconnected spaces around a central courtyard, the terminal’s design guides all passengers seamlessly through the relevant departure, arrival or transfer zones toward the grand courtyard at its center — a multi-layered meeting space at the heart of the terminal.” Zaha Hadid Architects’ iconic, flowing lines are brought to life inside the airport, which features a vaulted roof fitted with linear skylights that flood the interior with natural light. To reduce energy demands, photovoltaic panels were installed to provide a minimum capacity of at least 10 MW. A composite ground-source heat pump system provides supplemental power to the centralized heating system with waste heat recovery. The airport also includes a rainwater collection and water management system that naturally purifies up to 2.8 million cubic meters of water in new wetlands, lakes and streams. + Zaha Hadid Architects Photography by Hufton+Crow via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Zaha Hadid Architects completes futuristic, energy-saving airport in Beijing

This multigenerational smart home boasts energy savings

July 3, 2019 by  
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When a family approached international design practice ONG&ONG to design a home for accommodating multigenerational needs, the firm responded with a contemporary abode that not only caters to residents of different ages, but also boasts a reduced carbon footprint. Located in Singapore, the 37FC House is carefully laid out to make the most of its long and linear plot and to optimize exposure for its rooftop solar panels. In addition to other energy saving systems such as home automation , the multigenerational home is estimated to save 30 percent on energy costs as compared to similarly sized homes. The strikingly contemporary 37FC House stands out from its neighbors with its boxy form spread out across four levels to maximize living space on a narrow lot. Deep overhangs protect the interior from Singapore’s intense heat, while an abundance of greenery planted around the perimeter and on every floor of the house help cultivate a cooling microclimate and provide a sense of privacy for the residents. Retractable full-height glazing creates a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience, while the generous use of teak throughout the home further emphasizes the connection with nature. Related: Singapore’s energy-efficient green heart center Spanning an area of 5,800 square feet, the 37FC House includes four bedrooms across four floors, including the basement and attic. The main service areas and communal spaces are located on the ground floor that opens up to a lushly planted rear garden, where a Sukabumi-tiled lap pool is located. With approximately 1.5 times more floor space than the ground volume, the second floor cantilevers over the ground floor and contains two junior suites in the rear and the master bedroom that opens up to views of the street and garden. The attic houses a guest bedroom, while the basement includes an additional living room. A sky-lit black steel staircase and an elevator join the home’s four floors.  To reduce energy consumption, the home is powered with solar energy. Home automation that can be remotely controlled with a smartphone — such as the EIB system for controlling lighting — also helps with energy savings. + ONG&ONG Images by Derek Swalwell

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This multigenerational smart home boasts energy savings

Escape to paradise in this nature-inspired surf hotel in Costa Rica

July 24, 2018 by  
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A beloved surfer hangout has been transformed into the stunning Gilded Iguana Hotel , a breezy and contemporary getaway that, despite its updated amenities, still exudes its original laid-back atmosphere. Located in the Costa Rican beach town of Nosara, the existing hotel was expanded and redesigned under the direction of Studio Saxe , a San Jose-based architecture firm renowned for its beautiful boutique hotel designs. Together with the owners, the architects sensitively restored and revitalized the originally run-down wooden house while imbuing it with bioclimatic design principles as well as other energy-saving systems including a solar photovoltaic panels and water recycling. Spanning an area of approximately 57,500 square feet, the Gilded Iguana Hotel includes a reception, spa, restaurant and bedroom suites all clustered around the communal pool located at the heart of the development. The renovated timber house is visually tied to the new structures through a shared natural materials palette that includes simple wood frames and balconies with hand-made palm thatch “palapas.” The nature-inspired palette continues indoors where sustainably sourced teak, palm thatch, jute fabric and concrete tiles are used alongside modern and locally crafted tropical furniture. “The Gilded Iguana Hotel is designed as a harmonious ‘dialogue’ between the tropical identity of the past and a new toned-down, unpretentious and timeless tropical modernity that sits softly in the landscape and reflects the relaxed town atmosphere which most wish to preserve,” explained Benjamin Garcia Saxe, principal architect and founder of Studio Saxe. Related: Scandinavian-inspired hotel emerges from the lush Costa Rican landscape As with many of Studio Saxe’s projects, the Gilded Iguana Hotel was largely informed by passive solar principles to naturally achieve a comfortable climate year-round. Locally sourced materials and labor were used to help create jobs for the community and reduce the project’s environmental impact. Water is recycled through water treatment systems, and solar energy is harnessed through solar hot water collectors and photovoltaic panels . + Studio Saxe Images by Andres Garcia Lachner

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Escape to paradise in this nature-inspired surf hotel in Costa Rica

Shimmering LED-studded tower focuses on sustainability in Seoul

September 11, 2017 by  
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American firm The Beck Group designed an office tower in Seoul that makes its focus on sustainability a beautiful asset. Known as The Harim Group Headquarters, the 86,000-square-foot tower features many energy-saving technologies, including an attractive S-shaped recess in the facade that creates a low pressure zone for facilitating natural ventilation on every floor. The sculptural building is studded with LED light fixtures that give the facade and interior a shimmering effect. As the largest agricultural business in Korea, the Harim Group wanted a headquarters building that would be highly visible in Seoul and show off the firm’s commitment to sustainability. Thus, the Harim Group Headquarters is located in Seoul’s flashy Gangnam district on one of the city’s busiest pedestrian streets and cuts an impressive figure in the city skyline, both day and night. Fourteen stories of office spaces are stacked atop three stories of retail and restaurant space at the base to engage the public. Related: World’s newest mega-skyscraper opens in Seoul The curving S-shaped recess that stretches from the ground-floor retail to the roof garden gives the building visual identity, while allowing for natural ventilation. Polished and perforated stainless steel panels line the recess and are illuminated with white LEDs that create a shimmering effect. The building’s energy use is further reduced with operable low-E coated windows, a building automation system, green roof, rainwater harvesting system, and an underfloor air distribution system. + The Beck Group Via ArchDaily Images via The Beck Group

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Shimmering LED-studded tower focuses on sustainability in Seoul

LEED Gold home brings modern luxury to a Colorado working ranch

May 24, 2017 by  
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LEED-certified luxury living comes to a working ranch in Eagle County, Colorado. CCY Architects designed the Gambel Oaks Ranch, a lovely low-lying home that blends into its surroundings and is imperceptible from public roadways. In addition to its beauty, the 5,687-square-foot property achieved LEED Gold certification for its innovative use of a horizontal loop field ground-source heat pump, solar array, and other energy-saving techniques. The three-bedroom, predominately one-story Gambel Oaks Ranch sits low on the landscape and follows the natural topography so as to minimize the home’s visual impact on the environment. Panoramic views to the south are prioritized in the design and revealed in a carefully choreographed sequence. “Entering the home, the view is released by a series of layers building from interior to exterior space, pool terrace, pasture, distant lake, and mountain peaks,” write the architects. Related: Tiny modern cube home boasts spectacular desert views Corten steel volumes divide the interior into different zones, with private areas housed within the steel boxes including the master suite, guest suite, and garage. The public gathering spaces occupy the voids and flow into outdoor entertaining areas. The material palette of the interior and exterior spaces reference the landscape, from the gabion walls filled with locally sourced stone to the beetle-kill pine and Blue Ledge Stone that match the color of the distant mountains. + CCY Architects Via Dezeen Images via CCY Architects

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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

Historic Dutch nursery transformed into stunning solar-powered home

March 21, 2017 by  
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A stunning solar-powered home has emerged from the bones of a former school for infants in Leiden, the Netherlands. Design firm ATELIER SPACE completed the beautiful adaptive reuse project , taking care to preserve historic elements while imbuing fresh contemporary touches to the renovation. Energy efficiency was a major focus in the redesign, which includes energy-saving features such as improved insulation, underfloor heating, and home automation. Built in 1925, the historic brick nursery was constructed with great open spaces and tall ceilings filled with natural light from skylights and large windows. These features lend themselves easily to reuse as a residence and the architects made no major changes to the overall structure of the building. A single classroom, for instance, were repurposed into three bedrooms. The architects also preserved the tiled floors in the corridor, original doors, and wooden rafters to maintain a connection to the building’s past. While the tiled corridor was kept intact, the architects replaced the other floors with insulated concrete with underfloor heating . The roof and glass windows were also bolstered with improved insulation to minimize heat loss. A water and air-based heat pump heats and cools the building. Solar panels provide electricity. JUNG KNX home automation allows the homeowners to control aspects of the house, such as lighting and the shutters, remotely from their phones. Related: Cigarette factory reborn as a light-filled city hall in Brussels The spacious 694-square-meter home includes five bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, a media room, workout room, and an open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining area housed in a converted gymnasium. The school’s old playground was transformed into a sunny courtyard with plastered brick banks and planters around a “conversation pit.” The second floor contains a small guesthouse. + ATELIER SPACE Via ArchDaily Images via Brigitte Kroone

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