Switzerland’s NeighborHub wins first place in the Solar Decathalon 2017

October 14, 2017 by  
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This past week, eleven teams of students designed, built and presented futuristic houses at the Solar Decathalon 2017 . The competition took place in Denver , and though the challenge was simple it was by no means easy: create a super-efficient sun-powered building that seamlessly integrates green building technologies into its design. The winners of the highly-anticipated event were just announced this morning – and Team Switzerland’s NeighborHub took first place! For the first time in history, the winners of the Solar Decathalon won prize money. First place received $300,000; second place won $225,000; third place took home $150,000; fourth place won $125,000 and fifth through eleventh places each received $100,000. 1st Place: NeighborHub by the Swiss Team First place in the Solar Decathalon 2017 was awarded to the Swiss Team ‘s NeighborHub. The NeighborHub isn’t a home at all – rather, it is a collaborative community space. The team designed the eco-friendly space to serve as an educational resource, specifically for suburban neighborhoods. At the NeighborHub, residents can learn about seven sustainable themes: renewable energy, water management, waste management, mobility, food, material choices, and biodiversity. 2nd Place: reACT by University of Maryland The University of Maryland’s reACT House (Resilient Adaptive Climate Technology) took second place. It’s a smart, sustainable home that can adapt to different needs and environments . Not only is the self-sufficient home beautiful, it produces clean energy, clean water, and nutrient-rich foods — all the while automatically adapting to homeowners’ habits. 3rd Place: RISE by University of California, Berkeley, and University of Denver Students from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Denver collaborated to develop RISE . The affordable and sustainable abode is designed for urban infill lots in Richmond CA, and it can be stacked and expanded like building blocks. The prefab solar is home is incredibly flexible, with a scalable size, customizable floor plans, and moveable walls. 4th Place: SILO by Missouri University of Science and Technology Finally, fourth place was awarded to the Missouri University of Science and Technology for their SILO House (Smart Innovative Living Oasis) . The light-filled home combines high-tech, energy-efficient technology with traditional farmhouse vernacular. Best of all, this futuristic house lets you control all systems remotely via a smartphone. Related: 11 Solar-powered homes that show the future of architecture Each team presented an incredible futuristic home that incorporates solar and energy-efficiency technologies. Congrats to all of this year’s teams, and we can’t wait for the return of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathalon in 2019. + Solar Decathalon 2017 + Solar Decathlon Coverage on Inhabitat Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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Switzerland’s NeighborHub wins first place in the Solar Decathalon 2017

Airstream unveils new off-grid ready Globetrotter trailer

October 12, 2017 by  
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One of our favorite travel trailer companies, Airstream , just debuted a new product: the Globetrotter. Almost 70 years ago the company’s founder Wally Byam set out on a European trip in an Airstream , and adorned the side with the words ‘Globe Trotters.’ Now, Airstream is bringing back the storied name with their new trailer, designed with United Kingdom-based design firm Astheimer Limited . Hit the jump to hear more from Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler, who spoke to Inhabitat about the inspiration for the design -forward Globetrotter. Airstream’s Globetrotter puts a sleek spin on the iconic aluminum travel trailer, with a European-inspired interior aimed at people who “like comfort but don’t like clutter,” according to Wheeler, who told Inhabitat, “This product is designed specifically for people that have a sophisticated taste in design; they like clean, uncluttered modern design , but without the hard edge.” Related: Iconic Airstream gets a magnificent revamp to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial The Globetrotter is a 27-foot long trailer that can sleep as many as six people comfortably. A small kitchen features a three-burner stove, pantry, and 6.7 cubic foot fridge. There’s a bathroom with built-in nightstands, a shower, bathroom, and dinette space that doubles as a lounge bed. There are two choices for interior decor: natural elm and dark walnut. “A very holistic approach really sets this design apart,” Wheeler told Inhabitat. “Every fixture, every handle, every light and the flooring, the design of the furniture: everything in there works together in a very high degree of harmony. There are more curves in this design, whether it’s the corner of the cabinets, or the design of the bed or the seating that wraps around you, even the edges of the cushions. There are no sharp edges, no sharp corners. It draws you in and looks like something you would want to spend some time in.” The trailer can also go off-grid with an optional solar package that includes two 80-watt solar panels , two batteries , and an inverter. “We try to set everything up so you can spend several days comfortably off-grid, and get away from the crowds and the campsites,” said Wheeler. Solar power isn’t the last of the Globetrotter’s sustainable features. It’s equipped with low flow water fixtures, and LED lighting – both inside and out. Airstream utilized low volatile organic compound materials, and Wheeler estimates around 90 percent of the materials in the trailer are recyclable . “We want to inspire people to travel ,” he told Inhabitat. “That’s really the magic of the Airstream brand: it inspires people to get out of their La-Z-Boys, and get out of their comfort zones and go have an adventure.” The 27-foot Globetrotter costs $99,900. Wheeler said the initial reaction to the trailer has been “one of the most positive responses we can remember to the launch of a new product.” He said in the future, Airstream aims to create a whole line of products with different lengths and layouts with the same interior design aesthetic. + Airstream + Astheimer Limited Images courtesy of Airstream

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Airstream unveils new off-grid ready Globetrotter trailer

This new energy concept from Sweden can make any building net zero

October 11, 2017 by  
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A new Swedish energy concept can turn any building into a net zero energy structure. Pioneered by Malmö-based company Innenco , the concept utilizes a building’s thermal mass to drastically reduce energy use by around 85 percent. With their active elements systems, heat pumps, chillers, and adding solar panels , Innenco can bring new or existing buildings to net zero energy consumption. Inhabitat spoke with CEO and founder Jonathan Karlsson to find out more. Innenco, which stands for innovative energy concept, dramatically slashes a building’s energy use. Karlsson told Inhabitat, “Our vision is to create possibilities to make new net zero constructions in an efficient way, giving everyone the capability to do so.” Their technology changes how a building operates for vastly improved energy efficiency . Related: California city could become the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S. It starts with their active elements system: pipes are integrated into the frame construction to utilize a building’s thermal mass. Adding heat pumps and chillers to the system allows Innenco to get four to six times greater efficiency in heating and cooling . At this point they’re able to reduce energy use by 85 percent, so to cover that last 15 percent, they install Innenco Quantum Solar panels. “This makes an investment in solar cells much lower than a traditional system, and we can get net zero for a really cost-efficient investment,” Karlsson told Inhabitat. Buildings with the Innenco system installed tend to maintain a temperature of around 22 degrees Celsius, or around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Innenco has already seen their concept work in the real world. They’ve installed their system in homes, offices, schools, and industry premises. Karlsson said they were excited to discover they could utilize a really high rate of thermal mass in industry buildings, and think their concept could translate well to skyscrapers . They’ve worked in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Spain, and the Netherlands, with projects coming up in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. They provide maintenance, and their energy concept can be installed as new buildings are built or integrated in old ones. Karlsson said sustainability projects should deliver social, environmental, and economical benefits, all three of which Innenco aims to offer with their concept. “Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is a really high goal for us,” Karlsson told Inhabitat. “It’s the climate condition; it’s really necessary to figure out how we can help the planet.” Innenco hopes to introduce their energy concept to other markets too, such as the United States. You can find out more on their website . + Innenco Images courtesy of Innenco

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This living hammock is a swinging seat made of soil-less plants

October 2, 2017 by  
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Ever imagine swinging from the trees in a hammock made of plants? Spanish artist Ainhoa Garmendia is making the fantasy into reality. Her Naturalise installation features a hammock made out of soil-less living plants woven into a sturdy fabric. The piece is a statement that calls to fight our contemporary throw-away culture in favor of something lasting and living. “We are very used to short-life objects. We were taught that recycling is good, when the real solution is just not to produce waste. We take advantage of plants’ benefits, while they have many structural and functional characteristics to be applied when they are still alive” said Ainhoa Garmendia in an interview with Inhabitat. “Naturalise is a verb, an action and a process of creating objects that keep growing and are alive” explained the artist added. To realize Naturalise Ainhoa Garmendia chose Tillandsia Usneoides (known also as a Spanish Moss), a plant that needs no soil to grow and requires little water. Its long, soft fibers are a perfect medium for the hand weaving realized by the artist herself. The Naturalise hammock can be seen as a metaphor. The suspended in-air object made of plants, a typical earthly material, embodies an idea of reconnection with nature, bringing the idea of sustainability and eco-awareness to a new level. Related: Asif Khan creates spectacular furniture with flowers The Naturalise living hammock was first showcased in Milan at “I see colors everywhere” exhibition at La Triennale di Milano curated by the clothing brand United Colors of Benetton and Fabrica communication research center fore Milan Fashion Week 2017. + Ainhoa Garmendia Images via Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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This living hammock is a swinging seat made of soil-less plants

Why natural stone is the best choice for your fireplace

September 26, 2017 by  
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Now that fall has started to settle in, there’s nothing better than getting cozy next to a roaring fire. And when it comes to fireplace design, natural stone is simply the most elegant, durable, and efficient material around. Natural stone retains heat better than just about anything out there, it’s practically maintenance-free, and it’s incredibly resistant to wear and tear. On top of that, it can handle extremes in temperature and doesn’t suffer from rot and mold like other materials. Whether it’s time to update your old brick fireplace or build something new, read on to find out why natural stone is the greenest choice. Zebrino marble fireplace – Image courtesy of Aria Stone Gallery Heat retention Natural stone absorbs, stores and radiates heat, so it can actually improve the efficiency of your home as the the warmth of a fire radiates throughout your space. Marble and limestone are particularly good at absorbing heat, while granite is particularly good at conducting heat. Basalt and soapstone are particularly good at storing heat and releasing it slowly over a long period of time. Stacked stone fireplace – Image courtesy of Eldorado Stone Low maintenance Natural stone is exceptionally easy to maintain – simply give it a wipe with a cloth every now and then to keep it looking new. That said, some stones, like marble, are porous so you may want to consider sealing them to help prevent dirt or soot from settling in. Regardless of the type of stone you use, you’ll be able to spend your time enjoying it rather than trying to maintain it. Image via Deposit Photos Longevity Natural stone is one of world’s oldest building materials – and it’s extraordinarily long-lasting. Just look at ancient buildings around the world – stone survives while other materials fade and rot away. Some stone surfaces can last many lifetimes without losing their luster, while others like limestone will weather beautifully over time. Stacked stone fire pit – Image courtesy of Marmiro Stones Durability Natural stone is known for being practically indestructible. It can handle wear and tear without falling apart, and it’s extremely resistant to water damage and mold. That’s why people use stone in areas that take the most beating – like countertops, floors, bathrooms and fireplaces. Related: How stone can help you create a more sustainable home Types of stone While you can choose just about any natural stone for your fireplace, there are a few options that are particularly well suited for the space. Limestone and soapstone are clean and simple, with a more modern feel, while slate is incredibly durable with a rustic vibe. Marble has a rich beauty that is impossible to replicate – and it can be honed or polished if you want a more formal look. Granite is a great choice for any contemporary space, and it’s one of the hardest and strongest stones available. If you prefer something dramatic, you can’t go wrong with a richly textured stone like quartzite. + Use Natural Stone Thanks in part to the Natural Stone Institute for sponsoring this post

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Biomimicry helps nature-lovers and fragile wildlife co-exist at the Votu Hotel in Brazil

September 20, 2017 by  
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The Maraú Peninsula is a 25 mile long bar of pristine Brazilian sand, flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the tranquil Camamu Bay on the other, where one glorious beach gives way to another. With such stunning landscapes, it’s no wonder hip Brazilians are flocking to these shores. But the native mangrove forests here are one the world’s most endangered ecosystems, and great care must be taken to preserve them. GCP Arquitectura and Urbanismo’s Votu Hotel takes an unusual approach to that challenge: biomimicry––sustainable innovation inspired by nature’s proven wisdom. According to Indian legend, the peninsula’s namesake, Maraú, was a peaceful fisherman who lived in with his beautiful wife, Saquaíra. One day, while Maraú was out fishing, his neighbor, Camamu, came ashore, and he and Saquaíra fell deeply in love. Camamu took her away in his canoe, and when Maraú returned to discover her abduction, he desperately begged the gods for a faster one. They granted his lovesick plea, and away he went after her at top speed, surfing the waves and sculpting the peninsula´s curved beaches and bays as he went. Today, the region is a dreamy wonderland of rich, golden sands, rugged white cliffs, nodding coconut palms, cool waterfalls, teeming coral reefs, tranquil mangrove forests and restingas ––special forests that grows on shifting coastal dunes. Unfortunately, humans are having a massive impact on the landscape. Less than 5% of the original forest cover remains, yet 40% of its plants and 60% of its vertebrates––including a long-hair maned sloth, giant armadillo, giant otter, and unique local populations of cougar, jaguar, and ocelot––are found nowhere else in the world. New species are discovered frequently: over a thousand new flowering plants, a black-faced lion tamarin recently believed extinct, and a brightly blonde-haired capuchin monkey in recent years. Meanwhile, the mangroves and estuaries provide critical nurseries for the fish, crustaceans, and mollusks that feed these populations. Inhabitating such a precious and endangered habitat requires the region’s hotels to care for it just as they care for the visitors who come here. The Votu Hotel, designed by GCP Arquitectura and Urbanismo , embraces the challenge using biomimicry, an innovative approach to design that is in accordance with nature. GCP even has a biologist on staff––Alessandro Araujo, a Certified Biomimicry Specialist educated by Biomimicry 3.8 ––and it’s her job to enhance natural processes already at work here by tapping nature’s proven solutions ––those favored for hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Related: 6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry The GCP team sought to maintain and support the region’s native species while minimizing air conditioning and electricity consumption, and good water management, ventilation, and thermal comfort were also critically important. These requirements were made challenging by the vulnerability of these shores to heavy rain, floods, coastal erosion, high temperatures, salt spray, and high humidity. To solve these problems, Araujo looked at species that solve these same kinds of challenges. Prairie dogs, for instance, are social rodents that live in large colonies or towns where outside temperatures can reach 100°F in the summer and -35°F in the winter. They rely on long underground burrows to insulate them from such extremes. GCP borrowed this concept for Votu, using concrete walls and a roof garden to buffer heat. The burrows also leverage a natural process called the Bernoulli principle, in which air flow is slowed by the prairie dogs’ earthen mounds, increasing pressure and forcing air to flow quickly through the tunnels. Votu’s team mimicked this clever strategy by optimizing the position of each bungalow using computer modeling, and placing a semi-permeable guardrail in front of the prevailing winds, slowing them and drawing air into ventilation ducts below the roof. The bungalow shell itself was inspired by another biological champion, the saguaro cactus, which relies on long spines and accordion-like folds to mitigate extremes of heat and exposure. The deep folds offer partial shade, cooling air on the shaded side and creating a gradient that facilitates circulation and minimizes heat absorption. The Votu bungalows mimic this strategy with vertical, wooden, self-shading slats. Local species were consulted as well. The little houses rest on stilts, just as the native mangroves and restinga forest trees do, preserving the natural topography and allowing the unimpeded flow of rainwater and tides. Meanwhile, the kitchen takes inspiration from the toco toucan, a local bird that experiences large temperature swings, from hot days to cool nights. The large, vascularized toucan beak is an extremely efficient thermal radiator, offering the greatest thermal exchange known among animals. Heat from the kitchen is dissipated the same way: as it rises, it is drawn into a copper coil that passes through the rooftop soil. Air cools in the shade of a roof garden, and eventually returns to the kitchen: a natural air conditioner requiring no additional energy. Biomimicry is known for its reliance on a simple set of Life’s Principles, and GCP is dedicated to following them. One Araujo particularly loves is “Be resource efficient,” which the team did by relying on multifunctional design, low energy processes, recycling, and fitting form to function. The bottom of Votu’s concrete structure doubles as the bathroom wall, for instance, while the upper part forms the roof. In front of the hotel, a thicket of bamboo intercepts any run-off from the bungalows or tidal wash from the beach, acting as a living filter against salinity, bacteria, or pollutants. In back of the bungalows, graywater goes into the banana circle, while blackwater passes through a biodigester and biofilter, ending in a compost pile that fertilizes a fruit-bearing orchard for the guests to enjoy. GCP’s approach to conservation and tourism may seem unusual, but biomimicry has been growing in popularity among architects for a long time. And after all, these ideas are proven winners, nature’s survivors. Why reinvent the wheel? And maybe, just maybe, such bio-inspiration will let nature’s wild places continue to survive and thrive as we enjoy them. + GCP Arquitetura & Urbanismo

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Biomimicry helps nature-lovers and fragile wildlife co-exist at the Votu Hotel in Brazil

New Orleans golf course transformed into citys biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus

September 18, 2017 by  
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A former golf course in New Orleans’ City Park has been transformed into the city’s biggest urban farm— Grow Dat Youth Farm . The seven-acre sustainable farming nonprofit features a low-energy Eco-Campus built with seven recycled shipping containers and designed by Tulane University architecture students. The urban farming and leadership program teaches local youth how to sustainably grow fruits and veggies that are then sold to CSAs, local restaurants, and markets, as well as donated to neighborhoods lacking access to healthy, fresh food. Founded in 2012, Grow Dat Youth Farm wants to do much more than grow delicious chemical-free food. The nonprofit farm’s central mission is to bring local youth and adults from different backgrounds together in a safe collaborative environment where they can learn how to grow their own food and develop personal, social, and environmental change. Most of the educational workshops take place within the Eco-Campus, a simple low-energy structure with an open-air classroom, two climate-controlled offices, kitchen, bathroom with composting toilets , and storage. A bioswale under the front timber walkway prevents flooding and manages water sustainably. The City Park birding corridor runs along the side of farm and provides a more wild contrast to the farmed environment. Grow Dat Youth Farm has a long-term lease for seven acres of land in New Orlean’s City Park and is currently growing on two acres with plans for expansion. Formerly a golf course that had been uninhabited before Katrina, the site comprised very sandy or mostly clay soils—poor conditions for farming. The team remediated the soil with lots of organic matter—mainly a mixture of coffee grounds, processed dried sugar cane, and chicken manure—and use crop rotations to add minerals back into the earth. Today, the diversified farm grows over 50 varieties of fruits and vegetables, from avocados and satsuma to beets and kale. “Food justice is a big part of who we are,” said Michael Kantor, Interim Director at Grow Dat Youth Farm, who stressed the program’s primary purpose to develop youth leadership skills. “Black farmers in particular have historically been marginalized so we create opportunities here to give young people of different races the chance to take control of food production, either here or in their neighborhoods, and increase access to fresh healthy produce—something many New Orleans neighborhoods do not have.” Grow Dat Youth Farm partners with nine local schools to recruit around 60 high school students annually. Starting January, these youth Crew Members participate in a paid, five-month leadership program held after school and on Saturday that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. The program time is evenly split between lessons on sustainable food , cooking, and farming, and team-building and leadership exercises. Graduates of the program are invited to enroll in the next tiered leadership position as Assistant Crew Leaders; a fellowship program brings in extra help around the year. Related: Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food “Our farm is pretty active from September to June,” said Michael. “That’s when we’re harvesting crops for the CSA , our main distribution channel that starts in October, or for the Crescent City Farmers Market or farm stand. We’ve also sold to restaurants and have been in Whole Foods too. We donate 30% of our food to households without access through our Shared Harvest program.” Grow Dat Youth Farm has donated over 26,000 pounds of food. In addition to funding from grants, donors, and market sales, Grow Dat Youth Farm raises funds through their seasonal farm dinners , where they invite celebrated local chefs to cook up locally focused, family-style meals on the farm. This year’s first farm dinner, on September 28, features chefs from Cochon and Peche, while the October 8th dinner features a chef from Shaya. Tickets are still available for these farm dinners. Learn more information about Grow Dat Youth Farm by following the link below. + Grow Dat Youth Farm Images © Lucy Wang

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New Orleans golf course transformed into citys biggest urban farm with an Eco-Campus

10 vegan sources of protein you can grow at home

September 4, 2017 by  
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When most people go vegan , the number one question that tends to get asked of them is usually “where are you going to get your protein from?” Sound familiar? Yes, protein is indeed an important part of a healthy diet, and if you’re keen on growing your own food, it’s a good idea to have a few solid sources growing in amongst your herbs and lettuces . Read on to discover 10 delicious, plant-based, nutrient-dense foods you can cultivate in your own garden . Amaranth This gorgeous plant can be grown pretty much anywhere, and its seeds are an incredibly rich source of protein. Those seeds can be cooked like quinoa as a pseudo grain into a gorgeous, crunchy dish that can be served either savory or sweet. Try cooking it like breakfast porridge with cinnamon, apples, and maple syrup. Amaranth leaves are also edible, and are prepared in the same way spinach is. Those leaves don’t have as much protein as the seeds, but they do have some protein content, as well as iron and calcium. Squash and Pumpkin Seeds Growing pumpkins and squash is a lot of fun, and serves multiple purposes, especially if you grow small, easy-to-manage varieties like Luxury Pie Pumpkin or Lakota Squash. Not only can you carve these hardy gourds to creep out your neighbors at Halloween, you can eat the vegetables’ flesh in soups, pies, and muffins, and then roast those glorious seeds of theirs into crunchy, protein-rich snacks. Sunflower Seeds Not only are sunflower seeds incredibly high in protein, they also have very high levels of magnesium and vitamin B6. Sunflowers are gorgeous, sunny additions to anyone’s garden, and in addition to providing you with nutrient-dense food, they’ll also attract pollinators to your yard. In permaculture , they’re often referred to as the fourth sister in the traditional guild of corn, beans, and squash: beans can climb up sunflower stalks, and they draw bees over to fertilize other crops. Green Peas These tasty little gems are packed with protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium (the latter being great for alleviating winter depression) and are as delicious as they are pretty to look at. Even better, peas are incredibly easy to cultivate, and can be grown indoors as well as out in your garden, which is great for adding some edible greenery to your living space over the winter months. Related: How to maximize your south-facing windows to grow food all winter Green Beans Just 1/2 a cup of fresh green beans contain about four grams of protein, and they’re a great source of vitamin B6 as well. You can cultivate either pole or bush varieties, and you can pick the haricots verts right off the vine while they’re new. Just steam them or sautee them lightly, and serve with a bit of Earth Balance or a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash of salt. Dry Beans If you let those green beans mature fully, the seeds within will ripen into the rich, creamy beans we use for everything from soups and stews to chili, or even brownies. Beans are one of the top protein sources for people around the world, and they’re also full of magnesium, fiber, and iron. There are so many different types that you can cultivate, from creamy white Hutterite soup bush beans to spotted, fuchsia scarlet runner pole beans. All are delicious, easy to grow, and ideal for any vegan diet. You can even sprout them for a raw, crunchy snack. Related: How to sprout seeds and beans on your kitchen counter Groundnuts Are you familiar with these wonderful little tubers?  Apios americana , also known as the potato bean, is a perennial, indigenous North American vine with tuber roots that taste… well, mildly like potatoes. Groundnuts have 17 percent crude protein (that’s three times the amount of a regular potato), and thrive in damp woodlands without a lot of direct light. You can boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew… anything you’d do with a regular or sweet potato, and since they’re perennial, they’ll come back year after year. Hazelnuts Hazelnut (filbert) bushes don’t take up a lot of space, and start producing nuts more quickly than nut-bearing trees like walnuts, pecans, or chesnuts. If you plant 2- or 3-year-old bushes, you’ll be able to harvest nuts even more quickly. Hazelnut bushes can thrive in almost any soil type, but need full sun for a good 4–6 hours a day. In addition to protein, each nut will also provide you with calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin C. How’s that for a nutrient-dense powerhouse? Peanuts People who don’t suffer from peanut allergies can grow these fabulous plants as easily as they can grow potatoes. Although they thrive best in warmer, southern climates, those of you who live a bit further north can also grow them with ease: you’ll just need to get cultivars that do well in a cooler climate with a shorter growing season. They’ll need about 100 frost-free days to reach maturity, and since they’re tropical, they’ll need to be grown in the warmest, sunniest spot you can offer them. Kale Adding this one in for honorable mention, but with good cause: most people don’t realize just how much protein leafy greens have to offer, and kale is one of the easiest (and tastiest) members of the brassica family that you can grow. It also has a crazy-high amount of both vitamin C and vitamin A, and you can eat it at any stage of its development: use the baby greens in salads, maturing leaves in salads or smoothies, and braise the older leaves like you would cook collard greens. Whenever possible, aim to cultivate heirloom, organic seeds in your garden, and be sure to share those seeds with your friends and neighbors so they can grow them in their own yards! Biodiversity is incredibly important, and by choosing organic seeds, you help ensure future plant generations are healthy, and unsullied by genetic machinations thanks to companies like Monsanto. Photos via Unsplash and Wikimedia Commons

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5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award

September 1, 2017 by  
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The world’s biggest design award was just bestowed upon five groundbreaking green designs that stand to improve life around the globe. The biennial INDEX: Award honors sustainable designs that address global challenges, and this year’s winners came from a pool of 1403 entries. From a floating farm that heals ocean ecosystems to a life-saving centrifuge that costs 25 cents, read on for a first look at this year’s winners – live from the INDEX: Award ceremony in Denmark. Zipline Delivering emergency medical supplies in developing nations can be difficult. On average, it takes four hours to send vaccines and blood transfusions from a central facility, but it can take much longer in the event of a natural disaster or infrastructural collapse. Enter Zipline – the world’s first commercial medical drone delivery system. Zipline uses a simple system to quickly and efficiently deliver critical medical supplies. Health workers text an order, and items are packaged at a distribution center. Then a drone is dispatched and the items are delivered by parachute with a high degree of precision. A single drone can carry a payload of 1.5 kilos for up to 150 kilometers – and it can make 500 deliveries in 24 hours in all weather conditions, for the equivalent cost per trip of a motorbike or ambulance delivery. Zipline began delivering blood to 21 transfusion facilities in western Rwanda in 2017, and it’s set to begin delivering blood and medicine in remote Maryland, Nevada and Washington over the next year. What3Words You might take your address for granted, but according to the UN, 4 billion people lack a way to reliably address their homes. This leads to myriad problems, as those without addresses are denied access to basic social and civic services – it’s difficult or impossible for them to open bank accounts, register births, or sign up for utilities like electricity and water. What3Words solves this problem by dividing the world into 57 trillion 3 meter x 3 meter squares, and assigning a unique combination of three words to each square. The resulting grid is more precise than street addresses, and it allows anyone to share their location quickly for emergency situations, census taking or even everyday mail delivery. GreenWave The world’s oceans are in trouble. 90% of large fish stocks are threatened by overfishing , the amount of carbon dioxide in our oceans is higher than at any point in the past 400,000 years, and nitrogen pollution from farms, factories and homes creates oxygen-depleted dead zones. Greenwave is a revolutionary ocean farm that addresses all of these issues while producing healthy local food, restoring ecosystems, and creating jobs for fishermen. The hurricane-proof floating farm grows shellfish and seaweed using “mussel socks,” oyster cages and nets. Each species is selected to address an environmental challenge – for instance, oysters naturally filter out excess nitrogen, and seaweed soaks up five times more CO2 than land-based plants. GreenWave also provides ocean farmers with grants, free outdoor gear, and training – and it promises to purchase 80% of new farmers’ crops over five years at triple the market rate. Paperfuge Every year, five million people are killed by three highly infectious diseases: malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis. Diagnosing and treating these illnesses is difficult in parts of the world with limited access to infrastructure, electricity and medical facilities. Centrifuges are critical tools that can isolate and detect infections – but they require electricity to function and can cost up to $1,000 per machine. The Paperfuge provides a brilliant alternative – it’s a simple device inspired by a five-thousand-year-old toy that can separate plasma from a blood sample in 90 seconds. The device weighs about 2 grams, it’s made from paper, string and plastic, and it only costs 25 cents to make – which makes it an accessible, low-cost “frugal design” with the potential to save millions of lives around the world. Ethereum Ethereum offers a way to validate your digital identity and make online transactions while keeping complete control over your personal information – instead of giving it over to a third party service like Facebook or Paypal. It’s a platform that provides developers with tools, custom blockchains and networks to build decentralized applications that can transform the way we interact with money, business, government and society. Since the applications use a blockchain, there’s no centralized server that can get hacked or shut down. + INDEX: Award + INDEX: Design to Improve Life

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5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award

Iowa grocery grows 10-15 lbs of produce on outdoor vertical garden – every week

August 29, 2017 by  
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It doesn’t get much more local than this. In Davenport, Iowa, Hy-Vee grocery store commissioned Friday’s Fresh Market (FFM) to install and maintain two eight-tower Grow Walls , or hydroponic vertical gardens, on the outside of their store – which they then sell inside. Owner Andrew Freitag told Inhabitat they can obtain between 10 and 15 pounds of fresh produce every week, depending on the crop. Basil, lettuce, and mint flourish on the outdoor Grow Walls at Hy-Vee, installed by FFM in May this year. There’s no soil needed here: the plants are suspended in a growing medium made from recycled plastic bottles and grow in the sunlight. FFM also installed a smaller Grow Wall inside the grocery store in the produce section. They maintain both systems, germinating seeds, transplanting, supplying nutrients and water, harvesting, and packaging the produce for sale in the store. Related: Berlin grocery with vertical micro-farm reimagines the future of produce departments (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.10″; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); We are at the HyVee in Davenport, Iowa checking out a Grow Wall from Friday's Fresh Market! Posted by Inhabitat on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 FFM manager Chen Freitag told Inhabitat, “We see this disruptive technology becoming more and more popular in our future farming industry. It will help to improve the fresh food desert situation here in the Midwest tremendously and stimulate the local economy.” The Grow Walls aren’t the only aspect of FFM’s business. They also cultivate indoor farms in shipping containers , using the same towers and irrigation system as a Grow Wall. Freitag said these farms consume around 90 percent less water than traditional methods, and since FFM can control the environment, produce grown inside the shipping container farms is more colorful and flavorful, with a higher nutrient content. She said FFM started pursuing hydroponics as a more efficient, sustainable way to grow fresh food, no matter the weather outside. “Our goal is to improve the quality of life in our local communities,” Freitag told Inhabitat. “People here deserve to eat better, live better. We believe we are capable of being self-sufficient when it comes to fresh, local food year-round.” One small Iowa company may not be able to change the entire agriculture industry right away; instead, Freitag said they focus on changing people’s daily lives with better food, and hope the industry evolves from there. “The earth is the resource account we cannot afford to overdraw,” she told Inhabitat. “We need to think about future generations: what we leave them to live with.” + Friday’s Fresh Market Images via Lacy Cooke for Inhabitat

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Iowa grocery grows 10-15 lbs of produce on outdoor vertical garden – every week

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