Gardens grow on all floors of Saint-Gobains crystalline HQ

July 1, 2020 by  
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On the outskirts of Paris, French architecture firm Valode & Pistre has completed a new headquarters — a crystalline tower wrapped in low-emission glass — for Saint-Gobain, a multinational building materials company. Designed to emphasize urban integration, energy performance and user comfort, the skyscraper features wind-sheltered gardens accessible from every floor, an abundance of natural light and stunning panoramic views. The building, known as Tour Saint-Gobain, was completed in 2019 in the business district of La Défense. Selected as the winning entry in an international architecture competition, Valode & Pistre’s design for Tour Saint-Gobain references Saint-Gobain’s leading role in construction material distribution — particularly with glass — with its crystalline architecture. The new company headquarters is divided into three distinct parts that are likened to the head, body and feet of a person: the lower floor, or “feet”, contain the open access areas and showroom; the main “body” comprises flexible office spaces; and the highest floors at the “head” houses reception areas, meeting places and the “espace plein ciel”, a stunning gathering space with panoramic views. Related: Dramatic crystalline concert hall boasts a gorgeous prismatic interior in Poland “A tower, more than any other building, is about people and how it affects them,” the architecture firm explained in a press release. “Emotions are expected to be felt at the sight of such a building and the architect should strive to bring about these feelings and this excitement. The dynamic silhouette of the building, through the assembly of three oblique prisms that, in an anthropomorphic way, resemble a head, a body and a foot, allows it to interact with the surrounding towers. The tower thus becomes a figure turning its head and slightly stooping as a sign of warm welcome.” At 165 meters tall, Tour Saint-Gobain spans 44 floors and encompasses 49,900 square meters of floor space. High-performance glass ensures optimal user comfort for occupants, who not only enjoy panoramic views but also direct access to indoor gardens from all of the office spaces. + Valode & Pistre Photography by Sergio Grazia via Valode & Pistre

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Gardens grow on all floors of Saint-Gobains crystalline HQ

Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

May 26, 2020 by  
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Paris-based design studio Rescubika has unveiled a fantastical proposal for the Babylon Bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge over the river Seine. Inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the proposed bridge would be covered with greenery on multiple levels, from trees that line the length of the bridge to the hanging planters that surround a central waterfall feature. The new public park would also be connected to the riverbanks, which could be turned into urban agriculture plots for local use. The Babylon Bridge proposal spans the Seine to connect the Esplanade Pierre Vidal-Naquet on the left bank with the 14-hectare Parc de Bercy on the right. Rescubika designed the proposal in response to the revitalization of Avenue de France — most notably with the ongoing development of architect Jean Nouvel’s Tour Duo project — and its desire to provide urban beautification that can be seen by a greater number of residents and visitors. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor “This project aims to study the possibility of a strong city entrance in the form of a hanging landscape,” the firm explained. “The Babylon Bridge is a positive vision of the city of tomorrow, less chaotic and annihilating than that of yesterday. The bridge is an urban tool allowing the passage of flows over areas that are impossible to cross, here we also want to allow the user to stroll and relax. It is a participative and positive architecture.” As an antidote to city living, the Babylon Bridge will shield visitors from urban noise and pollution with its hanging gardens and the noise buffer created by the central waterfall. A large, landscaped canopy would stretch over the bridge to provide shade and support for thousands of hanging potted plants. Seating areas would be integrated along the path to encourage visitors to take their lunch out on the bridge, which would be accessible from street level and the riverbanks below. + Rescubika Images via Rescubika

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Babylon Bridge features hanging gardens over the Seine

U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

May 22, 2020 by  
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Wildlife  officials recently announced outbreaks of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus Type 2 (RHDV2) ravaging Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and California. The  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  deems RHDV2 as seriously contagious and nearly always fatal amongst domestic and wild rabbit species and their close relatives, hares and pikas. RHDV2 is not zoonotic, so it won’t infect livestock, pets or humans, asserts the  California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) . Still,  Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPW)  advise against pets consuming rabbit carcasses. Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) is the viral agent causing rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD).  Science Direct  says RHDV belongs in the calicivirus family, which infects many  animals  including pigs, cattle, cats and even humans. Norovirus, for example, is a human calicivirus. But humans seem unaffected by RHDV.  Related:  What’s causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations? There are two worrisome strains of RHDV — RHDV1 and RHDV2.  House Rabbit Society ,  Veterinary Practice , as well as both the Vaccine and Veterinary Research  journals document RHDV1 as first emerging in China back in 1984, when, in just one year, 140 million rabbits were decimated. China claims that the outbreak started in Angora rabbits imported from Europe. Eventually, RHDV1 spread to over 40 countries and hit the U.S. in 2000. Given its estimated 95% mortality rate, Australia and New Zealand notoriously introduced RHDV1 into their wild rabbit populations as pest biocontrol. RHDV1 mutated, begetting RHDV2, which was first identified in 2010 when domesticated rabbits in France showed clinical signs of RHD despite being already vaccinated against RHDV1. By September 2018, RHDV2 reached the U.S., manifesting among domestic rabbits in a rural Ohio farm, documents the  Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service . The USDA considers both RHDV1 and RHDV2 invasive pathogens, as they are not native to North America. A  joint paper  put forth by the Center for Food Security & Public Health , Institute for International Cooperation in Animal Biologics, Iowa State University, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the USDA revealed RHD can be difficult to eradicate. Not only can the virus strains survive over seven months on rabbit carcasses, but they also withstand temperatures below freezing and above 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  House Rabbit Society  cites several differences between RHDV1 and RHDV2. Incubation is two to 10 days for RHDV1, but three to nine days for RHDV2. Rabbits with RHDV2 can be asymptomatic yet spread the virus for up to two months. There is no known cure for either strain. While a vaccine exists for RHDV1, there are currently no USDA -licensed vaccines for RHDV2. That RHDV2 can “potentially surviv[e] more than 3 months without a host” has prompted some U.S. veterinarians to import RHDV2 vaccines despite a convoluted process. The  USDA  and  VIN News Service  warn RHD is highly contagious, spreading easily by direct contact with rabbit excretions and secretions — saliva, sweat and biowaste. Sharing food, water, bedding, fomites and vehicles spreads RHD. Other vectors are infected rabbit meat, pelts, even insects. Besides farmers and pet owners, biologists and  conservationists  are worried about this virus. As declining rabbit populations have repercussions in  habitat  food chains, RHDV2 could cause severe consequences down the line. + Veterinary Information Network (VIN) News Service Via USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and House Rabbit Society Images via Pexels

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U.S. rabbit populations contend with lethal virus, RHDV2

Reusable packaging in the time of COVID-19

May 18, 2020 by  
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Reusable packaging in the time of COVID-19 Tom Szaky Mon, 05/18/2020 – 01:00 The novel coronavirus had cases on every continent except Antarctica when it was declared a global pandemic March 11. The crisis was brewing long before, and the United States federal emergency and stay-at-home orders would come after, but it was in that official moment of alarm that consumer behavior, and business’s response to it, changed across the country. Almost immediately, reusables and durable items took a spotlight as potentially undesirable . The socially sanctioned practice of bring-your-own shopping bags and coffee mugs came to a halt and was enforced at retail locations , as did the use of glass and durable tableware in bars and restaurants before dine-in service stopped. Even in states that previously had instituted bans on single-use items such as plastic bags ( temporarily lifted  with new bans on their reusable counterparts ), there has been a swap to disposables, thought to be more sanitary than durable products and packaging intended to be used many times, sometimes by many people. In an evolving age of contagion, we are still only beginning to understand the perception of reusables is that they are vehicles for a virus. But reuse in and of itself isn’t the problem here; it’s the way it’s done. Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Take the dentist. Year-round, people young and old go for routine check-ups and surgeries administered by tools and equipment that come in contact with pathogens and people potentially infected with serious diseases. It’s a practice that often draws blood, and yet, the items are used over and over again, on many folks, and everyone’s OK with it. The reason for this is trust. Despite that most of us will never see it in action, we trust the tools are being sterilized properly. If we didn’t have faith in this, we’d choose another provider or stop going to the dentist. Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Trusting others to be clean and safe on your behalf is a liability that can result in someone getting sued, or sick, which is why many consumers are opting for goods in single-use packaging and some eateries frown upon patrons taking leftovers home in their own containers in “normal times.” Disposable packages are painted as sterile, while durables are tainted with suspicion. To be clear, unless explicitly labeled “sterile,” single-use is no more safe, as both are potentially exposed to different elements in packing, pallet and transport. They are touched by many people, and the independent organizations setting the standards and monitoring respective microbial limits vary. But trust is a risk, and businesses championing reuse that are able to meet people where they are, COVID-19 notwithstanding, stand to benefit. The sort of systems-thinking that considers the consumer and their values now and beyond this time of uncertainty creates value through a sense of community and meaningful connection that’s both scalable and adaptable. At the start of this pandemic, our new Loop platform was at the center of some of this discourse, the returnable, refillable packaging model a subject of wonder. In a world where consumers are anxious and making purchases with safety, ease and comfort top of mind, could a zero waste, circular shopping platform of returnable glass, metal and plastic containers survive? Now, we can report that our sales for April nearly doubled what we did in March, half of which was spent out of an official emergency. Our bestsellers were refillable Clorox wipes (the “disposable” sheets recyclable through TerraCycle) and Häagen-Dazs ice cream in insulated metal tubs. Media Authorship TerraCycle Close Authorship All of the essential things people are buying (and bought in frenzy at the start: cleaning supplies; personal care; soap; pasta) are on Loop, and we’ve found consumers are comfortable with the reuse aspect, as the service is conveniently delivered by our logistics provider UPS, offers items in beautiful packages and was contactless prior to the pandemic. Consumers can toss their empties in the Loop Tote with the same ease as throwing an item in the trash, and don’t need to do any cleaning themselves. Unlike the durable coffee cup systems and reusable bags hibernating now, health and safety protocols and industrial cleaning processes are in place in our reuse system. Interestingly, as consumers look for a connection to what they buy and a meaningful way to shop, we are seeing competitors in the coming of COVID-19: the actual, modern-day milkman . Home delivery is important to consumers, as is shopping positively in a retro-style model, so if not for the social impacts, the no-contact and returnable packaging system is appealing. From its initial launch to Paris, France and in 10 states in the Northeastern United States, Loop recently announced its expansion to all 48 contiguous states and is slated to officially go live nationwide this summer, which means more people soon will be able to order. The next phase of the shopping platform, currently all digital commerce, will be to integrate in retail locations, where consumers can return empty containers and shop for refills in-store. We can’t project how or when retail will return to “normal,” or what a new normal will look like. But by having met people where they are at home and online and establishing trust in a difficult situation, we anticipate consumers will continue to engage with Loop in a post-social distancing world. Brands and retailers working towards plans for circularity can gain tangible returns even (or especially) now by reaching people through continued investment in their present and future. Putting this on the backburner in a health crisis is short-sighted. With so much to fear today, the opportunity to trust is one that consumers desire, and businesses are in a position to give. Pull Quote Reusable packaging is faced with proving its trustworthiness alongside disposables in a world that is standing six feet apart in the grocery aisle. Topics Circular Economy Design & Packaging Circular Packaging Reuse Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock 5PH Close Authorship

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LEED Platinum Akademeia High School caters to millennials

April 13, 2020 by  
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When  Medusa Group Architects  was tasked to design a high school in Warsaw, the Polish interdisciplinary design studio’s team seized the opportunity to address the perceived failures of the public education system to keep up with changing millennial needs. As a result, their design of Akademeia High School, completed in 2015, encourages a welcoming and flexible “lifestyle atmosphere” where students are encouraged to stay in school even after classes end. Built primarily of locally sourced timber, the school also boasts low energy consumption and has achieved LEED Platinum certification with a total of 86 points.  Spanning an area of 14,369 square meters, the Akademeia High School comprises a U-shaped building that wraps around a central  courtyard . Taking inspiration from urban design and place-making principles, the architects deliberately introduced a sense of ambiguity to many of the indoor spaces to encourage students to adapt the rooms to multifunctional uses. Seating, for example, is no longer limited to benches and chairs but also encompasses sculptural interior surfaces and the stairs of the outdoor amphitheater-like structure facing the central courtyard. The school cafeteria has also been transformed from a traditionally single-use space into a  multi-use  space akin to a “fashionable restaurant” that is open throughout the day for various functions. “This is a place where you can work with literature, meet with a psychologist, wait for parents and at the same time sit at a laptop and do homework, preparing the elders,” explain the architects in their project statement. “We wanted pupils in small groups to learn the culinary art from the kitchen, get to know the flavors and make inspiring, culinary travels – geography with gastronomy in one.” Related: A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun Students can further their culinary arts education on the accessible roof, where an  urban garden  grows and houses beehives during the summer. The herbs grown on the roof are used in the school cafeteria. The rooftop space can also host classroom activities, from biology and physics to astronomy and geography.  + Medusa Group Architects Photography: J?drzej i Juliusz Soko?owscy

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"Embroidered filtering skin helps library regulate light

January 20, 2020 by  
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French design practice Serero Architectes Urbanistes has recently completed the new Bayeux Media Library, a light-filled cultural institution that connects the northwestern French commune’s historical roots to its future development zones. Inspired by the famous Bayeux Tapestry, the building includes an “embroidered filtering skin” along its north facade comprising a series of multicolored tubes hanging behind the glazed facade to help filter views and light while mitigating unwanted solar gain. Energy usage is reduced thanks to an abundance of glazing outfitted with solar shades as well as an insulating green roof. Located next to the beltway near Bayeux’s dense historic center, the Bayeux Media Library has been strategically located to provide views of the cathedral. To emphasize a connection between the historic center and nearby contemporary development, the architects opted for a “transparent, landscape-building” with a horizontal profile and minimalist design. The glazed library also focuses on the indoor/ outdoor experience with outdoor reading terraces on the south side. At the heart of the contemporary Bayeux Media Library is its reference to the Bayeux Tapestry, a nearly 230-foot-long embroidered cloth dating back to the 11th century that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. “It inspired the design of the media library’s north façade,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Stitch by stitch and thread by thread, embroidery was applied to the fabric to form the tapestry’s semiotic elements. The Boulevard Ware façade of the library is entirely glazed and protected by a ‘filtering skin’ composed of tubes tinted in the natural colors of the woolen yarns in the famous Bayeux Tapestry: beige, brown, bronze green, blue-black and deep blue with yellow highlights.” Related: Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design In addition to the “embroidered” filtering skin on the north facade, the architects added an overhanging roof to shield the interior from unwanted solar gain on the south facade. The glazed east, west, and south facades are also equipped with roller blinds. Skylights let in additional natural light.  + Serero Architectes Urbanistes Photography by Didier Boy de la Tour via Serero Architectes Urbanistes

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"Embroidered filtering skin helps library regulate light

California winery innovates with sustainable recycling creation

January 6, 2020 by  
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In the California city of West Paso Robles, architecture firm Clayton & Little has given old oil field drill stem pipes unexpected new life — as an equipment barn that offsets over 100% of the energy needs for a sustainably-minded winery. Covered with a photovoltaic roof, the Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn is not only self-sufficient, but also champions environmentally friendly design principles that include material reuse , rainwater collection and responsible stormwater management practices. The simple agricultural storage structure was strategically placed at the property’s vineyard-lined entrance as an icon of the winery’s commitment to sustainability. Located in the Templeton Gap area at the foot of the 50-acre James Berry Vineyard, the Saxum Vineyard Equipment Barn was constructed with a frame made from reclaimed oil field drill stem pipes. Along with timber and welded WT steel flitch purlins, the pipe structure supports a series of laminated glass solar modules that provide shelter and serve as the solar system capable of producing a third more power than needed — roughly 87,000 kWh per year. The pipe framing has also been fitted with a gutter system to accommodate future rainwater harvesting . In addition to offsetting all of the winery’s power demands, the minimalist building provides covered open-air storage for farming vehicles, livestock supplies and workshop and maintenance space. The salvaged pipes were left to weather naturally and are complemented with 22 gauge Western Rib Cor-Ten corrugated perforated steel panels for added shade and filtered privacy to equipment bays. Pervious gravel paving was installed for all open vehicle storage bays and livestock pens to return rainwater to the watershed. Related: Old ruins are transformed into a cozy, off-grid guesthouse in France “ Salvaged materials do more with less,” the architects explained in a press statement. “Barn doors are clad in weathered steel off-cuts that were saved for reuse from the adjacent winery shoring walls, re-used in a ‘calico’ pattern to fit the oddly shaped panels to tube steel framed door leafs. Storage boxes are skinned with stained cedar siding with the interiors clad with unfinished rotary cut Douglas Fir plywood.” + Clayton & Little Images by Casey Dunn

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Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art

January 6, 2020 by  
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In a bid to clamp down on the NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) opposition to wind farms, international design collective Prototype 2030 has created a two-part proposal that would turn wind turbines into interactive public art. The first part of the design, dubbed Windwords, proposes reshaping wind turbines into giant letters to create landmarks representative of the community. To further empower communities with wind farms, the designers suggest allowing local residents to share in the profits and control the wind turbines through a smartphone app. Inspired by community-oriented design processes for public infrastructure, Prototype 2030 believes that the way to wider acceptance of wind farms and wind turbines begins with neighborhood-centered design. The Windwords proposal takes cues from the Hollywood sign and the IAMSTERDAM letters, which are not only iconic landmarks in their respective cities but also attract attention from tourists. Related: LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic “Our point is not, of course, that every wind turbine has to be turned into a giant letter,” the collective explained. “Every site and community is different and will present different needs and opportunities. Big pink words will not be the solution every time. The real lesson is that wind farms need to be designed to mean something to humans — because they do, to neighbors and passersby. Right now, what they say is usually not what we want to hear. They need to be designed to speak human.” To further humanize the relationship between wind farms and communities, the designers have also proposed Windswitch, a smartphone app that would allow local residents to share in the profits from wind energy . The app would also give users the opportunity to “influence the turbines in their backyard” by trading previous earnings in as credits to temporarily pause a wind turbine. + Prototype 2030 Images by Prototype 2030

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Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art

Energy-efficient affordable housing project opens in South LA

January 6, 2020 by  
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As part of its ongoing effort to house Los Angeles’ homeless, local design practice Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) has transformed a vacant lot in South Los Angeles into an inspiring example of 100% affordable housing. Certified LEED Gold , the energy-efficient MLK1101 Supportive Housing project not only emphasizes natural lighting and ventilation to reduce reliance on mechanical systems, but also encourages community and public health with the addition of communal spaces and an outdoor garden with raised-bed edible gardens.  According to the architects, over 58,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County. Working with Clifford Beers Housing, LOHA created MLK1101 Supportive Housing to provide permanent housing for a range of residents, from formerly homeless veterans to chronically homeless individuals and low-income households. The development includes 26 affordable housing units that range in size from one to three bedrooms, all of which include their own bathroom as well as kitchens and living spaces. To encourage neighborly relations, the architects included a community room with shared amenities, an elevated community garden set atop street-level parking, a street-facing stoop and a series of exterior walkways of varying widths that serve as informal gathering spaces. In addition to housing, amenities and 4,000 square feet of parking for cars and bicycles, MLK1101 Supportive Housing also includes two retail units at street level that will generate income to help subsidize housing while providing workforce training to residents. Related: LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot “Further advancing previous experience working with Clifford Beers Housing and other supportive housing organizations like the Skid Row Housing Trust, LOHA’s design acknowledges the successful track record these housing complexes have had with integrating various populations, bringing supportive services in-house, and creating uplifting living environments for people to thrive,” note the architects in a project statement. Other sustainable features of the project include high-efficiency heating and cooling, energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, solar water heating and electric vehicle charging.  + Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects Images by Paul Vu Photography

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How 16 initiatives are changing urban agriculture through tech and innovation

January 2, 2020 by  
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From high-tech indoor farms in France and Singapore to mobile apps connecting urban growers and eaters in India and the United States, here are more than a dozen initiatives using tech, entrepreneurship, and social innovation to change urban agriculture.

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