Beautiful tiny home boasts passive design features and resilient materials to withstand frigid climates

January 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Due to limited space, designing a tiny home can be a very complicated task, but when designing a structure that can withstand extremely frigid temperatures, its a different beast entirely. Just ask Canadian tiny home builders, Minimaliste Houses , who specialize in creating durable tiny homes built to withstand Canadian winters. The designers have just unveiled the gorgeous Ébène Tiny Home, which was designed to be energy-efficient thanks to tight thermal insulation and a hydronic heating floor system. The exterior of the tiny home on wheels, which is 34 feet long, is clad in a sleek black cedar, with a contrasting natural wood color. As part of their 4 seasons Tiny Home collection, the Ébène tiny home boasts several passive features such as its strategic window placement. Most of the home’s windows are installed on the southern side, with only three small windows on the northern side. The home was also installed with a hydronic heating floor system to keep the interior space warm and cozy during the most frigid months of the year. Related:The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes Working with the clients, a young couple from Ontario, the designers wanted to create a soothing, but functional living area for the 475 square feet home. All white walls are sandwiched in between wooden flooring and a high ceiling which feature cross beams, giving the home a modern cabin feel. For the furnishings, the interior design went with simple, but functional furnishings. Large windows, equipped with solar blinds for privacy when needed, bring in lots of natural light during the day, making the living space bright and airy. A compact, but cozy sofa sits adjacent to a wooden accent wall that juts out just a bit from the structure’s end. This space was outfitted with a high top counter, perfect for dining or working. On the other side of the living room, a modern kitchen is surprisingly spacious, with custom cabinetry. Plenty of storage and working space make it a dream come true for any home chef.  Located next to the refrigerator cabinet, a small cabinet stores the ladder that allows access to the sleeping loft over the bathroom. At the entrance to the interior, a lovely wooden staircase separates the living room and the kitchen, leading up to the master bedroom, one of the largest the company has ever designed. Again focusing on practicality, the stairs double as storage space . Furnished with custom in-wall cabinetry and small bedside tables with wall lights, the master bedroom is incredibly cozy and spacious. + Minimaliste Houses Photos via Minimalist Houses    

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Beautiful tiny home boasts passive design features and resilient materials to withstand frigid climates

Perkins+Wills University of Hawaii building is an eco-conscious beacon in West Oahu

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The University of Hawaii West Oahu has gained a new Perkins+Will -designed addition that’s not only visually striking but also site-specific to Kapolei, a planned community on the island of Oahu. Created in collaboration with Hawaii-based KYA Design Group, the campus building offers a mix of workspaces and learning areas for students, faculty and staff. All parts of the University of Hawaii’s new Administration and Allied Health Building was inspired by the site context, from the siting of the building to the sculptural zigzagging roof that references the area’s historic sugar mills. Located on land that had formerly been used as sugarcane fields, the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu campus is tied to a long agricultural history dating back more than a hundred years. Continued sustained tilling, however, has stripped away rich topsoil and rendered the land less fertile and less able to retain water. As a result, Perkins+Will has made environmental stewardship a priority in the project with a landscaping plan that will restore the topsoil through nitrogen fixing planting, improve onsite ecological water and nutrient management and revive native landscaping . Eco-friendly principles also guided the design of the 43,000-square-foot complex, which features deep open-air lanais (balconies) on the south-facing facade that provide shade against the harsh sun and promote natural ventilation . The textured monolithic skin is made from concrete masonry units (CMUs) that form a geometric pattern inspired by traditional Hawaiian kapa (cloth). Related: Perkins + Will’s KTTC building blends beauty and sustainability in Ontario “The challenge was how to best consolidate the distinct functions of teaching labs and classrooms within the same building as office space for the campus administration,” Mark Tagawa, associate principal at Perkins+Will’s LA Studio, said. “We wanted to create a facility that interacted with the landscape in a sympathetic way, through water management, landscaping and materiality. Cultural and ecological appropriateness was our filter for all design decisions.” + Perkins+Will Via Dezeen Photography by Andrea Brizzi via Perkins+Will

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Perkins+Wills University of Hawaii building is an eco-conscious beacon in West Oahu

A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

In one of its latest eco-conscious retrofits, Australian architecture firm Green Sheep Collective has given a single-fronted timber Victorian cottage a sustainable transformation in inner Melbourne. The renovation and expansion project combined recycled and eco-certified materials with low-tech, passive solar principles to reduce the carbon footprint of the home while improving livability. Filled with light and contemporary flourishes, the updated house — named Magnolia Soul — has also been designed to embrace the outdoors. Commissioned by a young family with pets, Magnolia Soul was designed with an emphasis on spacious indoor-outdoor living as well as healthy and eco-friendly materials. During the renovation, the architects preserved a mature magnolia tree — a stunning Magnolia x soulangeana — and turned it into a main focal point. In addition to the tree, the existing property conditions also informed the building’s siting, mass and volume, which were all optimized to follow passive solar principles. Moreover, the building footprint is minimized in favor of maximizing the garden area. “A unique folding roof form envelopes and cradles robust living spaces, whose lowered floor level is embraced by adjacent decking,” the architects explained, having created a flexible open-plan interior layout with strong sight lines to the outdoors. “Views of the magnolia tree are intentionally framed by the roof structure, through a high-angled window and bay window seat. The generous and versatile window seat creates a lovely place to relax, read a book, admire the flowering magnolia or sit on the edge of the garden. High angular ceilings offer views of the magnolia, allow dappled light to penetrate deep into the residence and provide stack effect ventilation.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia The home is oriented for optimal thermal comfort : north-facing windows draw in natural heat for winter, while deep eaves and strategically placed windows for cross ventilation combat unwanted summer heat gain. Low-E double glazing and effective insulation also accommodate a temperate climate. Recycled, low-emission and ethnically procured materials were used wherever possible. For added resource savings, the home is equipped with a rainwater tank that reuses roof runoff for the laundry and toilets. + Green Sheep Collective Photography by Emma Cross via Green Sheep Collective

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A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

When it comes to conserving water , making small changes can have a huge impact. But many of us don’t really think about water shortages unless we are in the middle of a heatwave, when temperatures are consistently at 85 degrees or more. Extreme heat or not, the water system is overstretched, and with climate change , we can expect to put even more pressure on the depleting water supply. Here are some ways to do your part in conserving water. According to Friends of the Earth , 97.5 percent of the world’s water is locked in oceans and seas, which means it is too salty for humans to use. The remaining 2.5 percent is mostly in the ice caps, so we are all relying on a tiny amount of freshwater to survive. Water isn’t just for drinking. We use it for bathing, cleaning and producing everything from crops to clothing. It’s time to save water, and we need to do it fast. Here are seven ways that you can start conserving water now. As an added bonus, these ideas can also save you money. Change your diet It takes a lot of water to grow, process and transport food. Raising animals for meat and dairy products is also incredibly water-intensive. To reduce your water footprint , reduce your meat and dairy consumption, switch to shopping local and grow food in your own garden. If more people do these things, they will not only lead to a reduction in total water usage but also in less food waste . Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Have a plan for your garden If you do have a garden , water your outdoor plants early in the morning or at the end of the day, so the water doesn’t immediately evaporate in the sunlight. Also, make sure to water the soil, so the roots get the much-needed liquid. If you water your plants manually instead of with automatic sprinklers, it can cut your water use by 33 percent. American lawns consume a large amount of water, so reduce how much you are watering your lawn. Installing rain barrels to capture rainwater can also be a huge help and can save you up to 1,300 gallons of water every year. Related: New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns Turn off the tap When you let the water run while you brush your teeth, you are wasting over 1.5 gallons of water. If you have leaky taps, you could be letting up to 15 gallons a week go down the drain. Every minute you spend in the shower burns 4.5 gallons of water. So turn off the tap water when you are brushing your teeth, set a timer on your shower to keep it short and fix those leaky faucets. Don’t forget about the outside of your home. Leaky outdoor faucets, pipes, hoses and broken lawn sprinklers can waste water, too. Also, monitor your water bill for unusually high usage so you can discover leaks. Save your dirty clothes When you wash two half-loads of laundry, it uses more water and energy than washing a full load of clothes. Wait until you have enough dirty clothes to fill up the washing machine. This will not only save water and electricity, but it will also lead to lower utility bills. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Use the dishwasher It may be hard to believe, but if you fill up the dishwasher every time you use it , you will use less water than if you washed the dishes by hand — even if you fill up your sink and clean your dishes without the water running. If you use water- and energy-efficient appliances, you will save even more. When you have extra-dirty pots and pans, let them soak first instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean. Wash your car at home Instead of going to a car wash, wash your vehicles at home on the lawn, so you can water your grass at the same time. Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you are scrubbing your car so you can save up to 100 gallons of water each time you give it a wash. Recycle ice cubes When you have leftover ice cubes in your drink, toss them into a houseplant instead of pouring them into the sink. When you are washing fruits and veggies , save that water as well to use for watering your plants. Via Friends of the Earth Images via RayMark , Jerzy Gorecki , Pierre Gilbert , Charles Deluvio , Steve PB , Conger Design , Sasin Tipchai and Hans Braxmeier

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7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint

1942 army train car used in WWII gains a new life as a beautiful tiny home

January 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

For those history buffs out there, a stay in this beautifully converted WWII train car would be a dream come true. Tucked into the Smoky Mountains in Maryville, Tennessee, Platform 1346 , which was previously used as a kitchen car for U.S. Army cooks, has been carefully revamped to provide a serene tiny home retreat in an idyllic setting while still retaining its historic character. The train car goes back to 1942 when it was used as a troop train kitchen car for U.S. Army cooks preparing meals for troops that were being transported to the East Coast to board ships bound for Europe. The car served throughout the war until it was decommissioned in 1955 and placed in a military surplus yard for years. Later, it would be called back to duty in the 1970s during the Cold War, when it would serve as a mobile command car for SAC (Strategic Air Command). The historic car was used to transport large computers and communication equipment until 1988, when it was officially retired from duty. Related: 8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small After being put up for sale at auction in 2005, the old train car was purchased by a retired Lt. Colonel and transported to Maryville, Tennessee. After the train car sat unused for years, the new owners of the property decided to revamp the structure into a tiny home weekend retreat . The family found most of the materials for the renovation secondhand, scouring Craigslist and estate sales for cabinets, countertops, dishware, appliances and more. After eight months of construction, plumbing and electrical work, the almost 80-year-old train car was given a new life as a tiny Airbnb rental. Located on six acres of pristine wooded land, the Platform 1346 offers a beautiful retreat to enjoy the idyllic surroundings. On the interior, hardwood flooring and white walls make the home feel comfy and welcoming. Multiple large windows flood the interior with natural light and provide stunning views of the natural surroundings. The tiny home escape can comfortably accommodate four guests with one queen-sized bed and a queen-sized pull-out sofa bed. The kitchen offers all of the amenities for enjoying a nice homemade meal, including a dining counter that looks out over the expansive fields. There is also an open-air deck, which is a great place for dining al fresco. After a day out hiking or simply enjoying the fresh mountain air, guests can enjoy a nice soak in the large clawfoot tub. There also is a fish pond and a fire pit on site, making for a relaxing spot to unwind in the evening time. + Platform 1346 Photography by Tayler Smith via Platform 1346

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1942 army train car used in WWII gains a new life as a beautiful tiny home

Oceans warming 40 percent faster than previously thought

January 16, 2019 by  
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  After discrepancies between climate models projecting higher levels of ocean warming and observational data showing lower temperatures, a recent article published in Science demonstrated that the world’s oceans are warming about 40 percent faster than previously projected.  Apparently, the higher numbers were right, and even though this gives scientists a better understanding of climate change , the reality of the situation could be alarming for marine life and coastal residents. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, published in 2013, showed that leading climate change models seemed to predict a much faster increase in ocean heat content over the last 30 years than was seen in observations,” study author and University of California (UC) Berkeley graduate student Zeke Hausfather said in a UC Berkeley press release. Hausfather says that was a problem because this is something they need the models to get right. Now that the corrected records agree with climate models, it is an encouraging step that removes major uncertainty. Oceans are incredibly important when understanding the implications of global warming, as they can absorb more than 93 percent of the solar energy that becomes trapped by greenhouse gasses. Not to mention, ocean warming can lead to severe consequences such as sea level rise, stronger storms and loss of ocean life. Hausfather explains that the best place to see where global warming is happening is to look at the oceans. While current technological methods have allowed for better oceanic temperature readings, it was more difficult to obtain clear readings before the mid 2000s, when 4,000 floating robots called Argo were distributed. This network of robots dives into the ocean every few days to take temperature, PH and salinity readings. Before the creation of Argo, bathythermographs were the only thing that could take ocean measurements. Yet, they could only be used once because they couldn’t be recovered from the ocean floor. Now that we have accurate measurements, we can understand the steady increase of ocean temperatures. Hausfather wrote on Twitter that 2018 would beat out the second-place year (2017) “by a comfortable margin” for warmest year. Via EcoWatch Image via dimitrisvetsikas1969

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New library in Hanoi aims to show young children the benefits of aquaponics in an urban setting

January 14, 2019 by  
Filed under Green

While most libraries tend to be filled with nothing more than books, the new VAC library (an abbreviation of the Vietnamese words for Garden, Pond and Cage) in Hanoi is teeming with koi fish and greenery. Vietnamese firm Farming Architects has built the the new open-air library with an impressive aquaponic system to teach the kids about urban farming. Located in a Hanoi neighborhood, the VAC Library is an immense structure comprised of wooden frames with various cubicles filled with books. However, within the almost 600 square feet library is an integrated production system that was designed to teach kids about sustainable food production. Related: URBANANA is Vertical Banana Plantation That Would Bring Tropical Fruit Farming to Paris According to the architects, the library is designed to show children how energy from land, air, water and solar energy can be harvested in order to be completely self-sufficient even within an urban context, “The aim is not only to produce an effective use of natural resources but also favorite experimentation in using different types of plants and animals in the urban environment.” At the heart of its design, the VAC library relies on aquaponic systems to provide a sustainable model. The structure’s fish pond provide nutrients to the plants, which in return purify the water. Built with energy conservation in mind, the system runs on a few pumps powered by solar energy, which also provides the electricity for the lighting system as well. In addition to its impressive sustainable systems , the VAC library is a center of learning. Besides reading the many books on offer, local children enjoy learning about the way that the fish in the ponds are so vital to the vegetable planters and so on. There are also chickens on site whose eggs are used for meals and their waste used as fertilizer for the center’s gardens. + Farming Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Thai Thach and Viet Dung An via Farming Architects  

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New library in Hanoi aims to show young children the benefits of aquaponics in an urban setting

A bivouac is lightly perched on a rocky peak of the Italian Alps

January 14, 2019 by  
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Designed by Italian architects Roberto Dini and Stefano Girodo , the Luca Pasqualetti Bivouac is a prefab mountain shelter that was airlifted to the very peak of the incredibly remote Morion ridge in Valpelline at an altitude of 3290 meters. The tiny bivouac  was built with sustainable and recyclable materials and designed to cause minimal impact to the stunning landscape. The tiny shelter was the brainchild of a group of local alpine guides called Espri Sarvadzo (“Wild Spirit”). Their objective was to attract more adventurous hikers and climbers to the Morion ridge of Valpelline, which, due to its remote location, is often overlooked. The team worked with the parents of Luca Pasqualettie to dedicate the bivouac to their son who passed away in the same area. Related: Tiny alpine hut is a cozy refuge in the harsh yet spectacular Slovenian Alps The rough location and extreme climate (temperatures reach -20°C and winds up to 200 km/h) in the area meant that the shelter had to be incredibly durable and resilient to wind and snow loads. The rugged terrain made building on the site impossible, so complicating the issue further was the fact that the structure had to be lightweight enough to be transported by helicopter to its destination. To bring the project to fruition, the architects designed and built a prefab structure. All of the building’s components, which were chosen for their durability and low-maintenance properties, are also recyclable and ecologically certified. As for the design itself, the shelter is a simple hut with a large pitched roof made out of two composite sandwich panels, wood and steel and can be split into four parts for easy transport. In addition to being sustainable, the design also called for a building that would cause minimal impact on the landscape. As such, the shelter was installed on non-permanent foundations that were anchored into the rock. This will enable the building to be dismounted at the end of its lifecycle without leaving a permanent trace. The interior of the tiny shelter is a minimalist space, optimized to live comfortably in a compact area. A large panoramic window on the main facade was oriented to face the east to take advantage of natural light and heat as well as to provide stunning views. A small solar panel provides additional lighting. As for furnishings, the interior houses a dining table and eight stools, as well as chests for additional seating and storage. There is also a sideboard that folds down for food preparation and various compartments for equipment. At the rear of the shelter ‘s living space is the sleeping area, which is made up of two wooden platforms with mattresses and blankets. + Roberto Dini + Stefano Girodo Via Archdaily Photography by Roberto Dini, Stefano Girodo, Adele Muscolino and Grzegorz Grodzicki via Bivacco Morion

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A bivouac is lightly perched on a rocky peak of the Italian Alps

Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone

January 11, 2019 by  
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When tasked with creating a family home in Austin, local firm, Michael Hsu Office of Architecture , decided to go with a blend of charred wood , locally-sourced stone and glass panels. The result is the stunning Llano retreat, a design that was strategically built to embrace the natural landscape, while providing a contemporary, but cozy living space.   Situated along the Llano River in central Texas, the building site was used for years by the family as a camping and fishing spot for the weekends. After years of spending the warm Texas nights under a pole structure with metal roof, the family finally decided to put up a proper shelter, in the form of a beautiful family home that was specifically designed to take advantage of the idyllic natural setting. Related: Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool “After years of getting to know the ranch land, the family chose a site for their home at the top of a hill overlooking the river, only accessible through a low-water crossing,” said the team. “The design is a result of the knowledge of the landscape and the desire to retain the connection to nature.” The U-shaped layout of the home allowed the architects to bring the outdoors into the living space via a front courtyard . In the back of the home, the natural landscape consisting of trees, shrubs and wildflowers was left in its natural state. The home’s exterior is clad in locally-sourced limestone and wood charred in the Japanese shou sugi ban style.   Large glass panels not only further connect the interior with the exterior, but also flood the home with natural light. Large roof overhangs shade the windows during the hot summer months, but allow sunlight to enter the home during the colder months, reducing the need for artificial heating. The home’s doors and operable windows were strategically placed to enable air circulation. Inside the home, the interior design , led by the team from Laura Roberts Design, was focused on providing the family with a rustic yet cozy atmosphere. Double-height ceilings were clad in warm Douglas Fir and crossed with expose beams, giving the home a modern cabin feel. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels enable the homeowners to comfortably enjoy the stunning views from virtually any corner of the home. From the large kitchen, sliding glass doors open up to an outdoor space. + Michael Hsu Office of Architecture Via Dezeen Photography by Casey Dunn

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Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone

Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape

January 11, 2019 by  
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Located adjacent to designated wetlands, the Tung House by Seoul-based firm Project Architecture  is a net-zero home that combines conscientious landscape design with energy efficiency. Along with a large photovoltaic array and solar water heater panels to provide power and heating, the home uses a number of passive features to achieve its  net-zero energy use . At 2,900 square feet, the Tung House is a fairly large structure but relatively small in comparison with other homes in the area. One of the reasons that the size was restrained is its location. The home is built in Lincoln, Massachusetts on a strictly preserved site adjacent to designated wetlands. The size limitations imposed by the local government presented a challenge to the architects, who met the restrictions head-on with a gorgeous angular design that aesthetically gives the home a unique character while simultaneously achieving net-zero energy use . Related: This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes At the heart of the design are the geometric features. The roof, which is comprised of various planes, was used to give the home ample space for the photovoltaic array and solar water heater panels . The rooftop solar panels provide sufficient power and heating to the house, and in the summer months, any additional energy is transferred back to the city’s local grid. In addition to making room for solar panels, the multiple roof planes provide several overhangs that shade the interior living space during the warmer months and help provide natural light and heat during the wintertime. Inside, the architects wanted to create an open layout that offered a seamless connection between the living space and the outdoors. From the front door to the upper level, multiple large windows offer views of the serene backyard. Naturally lit by sunlight , a loft-like living room and open kitchen are on the ground floor, which is connected to the upper floors through a mezzanine level. The interior design scheme of all-white provides a contemporary elegance throughout the home, enhanced by the various angular ceilings. + Project Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Project Architecture

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Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape

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