This luxurious home is a pollutant-free paradise and it’s for sale

October 1, 2020 by  
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Located in Norwalk, Connecticut, this recently listed pollutant-free home at 88 Old Saugatuck Road has been void of chemicals, insecticides and pesticides for more than 26 years. The house has been rebuilt to 100% green standards by the seller, an award-winning LEED AP interior designer specializing in sustainable luxury, green consulting and holistic homes. The house at 88 Old Saugatuck Road isn’t just an energy-efficient, green home built with non-toxic materials and finishes — it is also a stunning example of a residence with clean air . The indoor air is refreshed every 20 minutes with a specialized heat recovery ventilation system that exchanges indoor air with fresh outdoor air. The system filters out allergens like dust, pollen, mold, mites, dander and VOCs all while recovering up to 80% of the heating and cooling energy. There is even a whole house central vacuum system designed to prevent dust from going back into the air while vacuuming. Related: IKEA’s new air purifying curtain will decrease indoor pollutants Thoughtfully constructed with fewer natural resources to minimize its environmental impact , the house also has custom, FSC-certified solid rock maple cabinetry throughout. The cabinetry is free from interior particleboard and formaldehyde-based finishes. Additionally, the walls and trim are painted with no-VOC, water-based latex paint. During the remodel, when a wall was taken out between the original kitchen and living room, the design team reused the appliances in a lower-level catering kitchen rather than purchasing them new. The garage has a charging station for electric vehicles as well as an automatic air filtration system that activates for 20 minutes each time the car pulls in to filter harmful fumes. To reduce electromagnetic fields, there is metal-clad cable electric wiring used instead of non-metallic sheathing. For landscaping, the property’s 1.15 acres are planted with trees and pines to help filter out any car fumes from the street and organic, perennial gardens to promote less maintenance. A driveway storm drain filters pollutants before runoff can enter local waterways, and a five-ring meditation walkway can be found in the back garden . The 4,094-square-foot, single-family home has three bedrooms, three full baths and a two-car garage. + Coldwell Banker Images via Coldwell Banker

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This luxurious home is a pollutant-free paradise and it’s for sale

What NOT to Put in the Bin

September 25, 2020 by  
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Ever wondered if that greasy paper plate could go in … The post What NOT to Put in the Bin appeared first on Earth 911.

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From golf to gardens: Houston’s new botanical garden opens

September 23, 2020 by  
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It’s a loss for golfers but a big win for  plant  lovers. After decades in the planning stage, the  Houston Botanic Garden  finally opened September 18 on the former Glenbrook Golf Course in southeast Houston. The garden serves as yet another draw for locals and visitors to explore Sims Bayou, a watershed area near Hobby Airport that already includes miles of walking and biking trails and countless places to launch canoes. “The  garden  will showcase international and native plant collections, educational classes for children and adults, and provide engaging programming that will embrace the garden and natural settings,” said Justin Lacey, director of communications and community engagement at Houston Botanic Garden. The international firm West 8 designed and managed the overall garden project, with Harvey Cleary Builders as the general contractor. Houston’s Clark Condon designed the garden’s planting and soil, with installation by Landscape Art. Related: Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed Building a garden By the time Nancy Thomas, past president of the Garden Club of America, and the late Kay Crooker formed the nonprofit  Houston  Botanic Garden in 2002, they’d already been talking about it for years. The two women dreamed of a massive botanic garden that would rival those of other metropolitan cities. But like all massive projects, the garden took a lot of planning and plenty of  money . It wasn’t until 2015 that the Houston City Council unanimously approved a plan for the garden to take a 30-year lease on Glenbrook Golf Course. Garden supporters had to raise $20 million by the end of 2017 to claim the city-owned property. The garden has been built from the ground up. First, the garden team analyzed how long-term golfing had impacted the soil. Maintaining perfect-looking greens meant decades of intensive mowing and regularly applying  pesticides  and herbicides. In 2018, the horticulture staff quit applying chemicals to the golf course and cut the Bermuda turf very short. They tilled to a depth of about six inches, added compost, and seeded the land with cover crops like tillage radish and white clover. In 2019, gardeners worked on the drainage system and specially blended  soils  for the garden’s different areas. Planning for tropical, sub-tropical and arid plants, the gardeners sought the right mix to keep all the flora happy. The staff’s 30-year master plan includes conserving water, promoting biodiversity and providing habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Garden designers integrated the plans into the surrounding Sims Bayou, allowing for the flooding and intense weather events so prevalent in Houston. Themed gardens The botanic garden will be organized into smaller themed gardens. Landscape architects picked about 85% of the plants showcased because they grow easily in Houston. The architects hope that this may inspire visitors to up their home  gardening  efforts. “In one area, we are assessing the rate of success for simply spreading seed, versus spreading seed and  compost ,” Joy Columbus, the garden’s vice president for horticulture, wrote in an article about the garden’s opening. “In another, we are spreading seed, compost, and a liquid biological amendment. Our goal is to provide home gardeners with a menu of choices – including the cost, both monetary and in sweat equity – and the opportunity to see the results for themselves on our property.” Visitors will drive over a bridge crossing Sims Bayou then cruise down tree-lined Botanic Boulevard to enter the garden. Once inside, they can explore rare species from the Houston region and around the world in the Global Collection Garden, learn about practical uses for plants in the Edible & Medicinal Garden and gain knowledge of water purification and flood control in the Stormwater Wetlands Garden. The Susan Garver Family Discovery Garden features forests, floating gardens, a play area, a picnic grove and the chance to get close to aquatic and carnivorous plants (but not too close). A one-acre Culinary Garden will thrill both gardeners and chefs. For those who lack the yard space at home, the botanic garden plans to have room for about 100 raised  vegetable  beds in a community garden. Events in the garden One of the botanic garden’s goals is to connect Houstonians across different cultures and ethnicities. The events schedule reflects this aim. For example, Celebrating Latin America on the opening weekend will include demonstrations of uses of cacti and succulents in  Mexican  culture, a mariachi performance and a talk on the aesthetic aspects of Latin American cooking by Adán Medrano, author of the cookbook “Don’t Count The Tortillas: The Art Of Texas Mexican Cooking.” In October, the Celebrating Asia event will feature an outdoor educational demonstration on ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, a virtual lecture on Vietnamese gardens in Houston and performances by Dance of Asian America. What about golf? But what about the  golf course? Americans aren’t as keen on golf as they used to be. Since 2007, golf courses have closed faster than new ones have opened. Theories about golf’s decline in popularity vary, but the sport doesn’t seem to have caught on with millennials, who might be put off by the sport’s exclusive reputation. Or maybe it’s because Americans work longer hours than workers in many other countries, according to  The Center for American Progress . This leaves Americans with significantly less time for lengthy rounds of golf. But botanic garden visitors will probably be too busy learning about plants or sampling a cooking demo to bemoan golf’s demise. Instead, they will happily enjoy the course formerly known as Glenbrook’s 132 acres of rolling hills and draping Spanish  moss . + Houston Botanic Garden Photography by Michael Tims Photography

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Melting Florida panther statue highlights climate change

September 23, 2020 by  
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The Florida panther has long had to deal with disease, car accidents, genetic disorders, extreme heat, hurricanes and even predators before cubs are old enough to open their eyes. Now the animal faces the indignity of being portrayed in orange wax and melting in the sun. But it’s for a good cause — The CLEO Institute is working with the VoLo Foundation and Miami ad agency Zubi to make an artistic statement about how climate change is decimating the panther population and other wildlife. “We are having a very hyperactive hurricane season and we have run out of names to name them. We are experiencing increased temperatures and increased sea level as well,” Yoca Arditi-Rocha, executive director of The CLEO Institute, told CNN . “For us the climate crisis is very relevant and it’s impacting Floridians in so many ways.” Related: Museum of Plastic pops up during Art Basel Miami Beach The panther sculpture is one of three wax installations created by artist and director Bob Partington, who is known for hosting The History Channel’s “ThingamaBob” show. The installation was unveiled at ZooTampa last week. The sculptures are designed to melt in the heat over a period of days, revealing a climate change-related message. The first wax work, which was installed in Miami, depicted a lifeguard hut which melted to reveal the message: “More Heat, Less Beaches.” Partington’s third wax sculpture will debut at Orlando’s city hall this week. It depicts a girl and her grandfather sitting on a bench and aims to make viewers wonder how much of Florida’s nature will be left when this little girl grows up. “The idea of these icons is to highlight things that all Floridians really want to protect and treasure,” Arditi-Rocha said. “We know this is a topic that has been tremendously politicized, but everyone wants to protect our beautiful beaches, our biodiversity and our way of living.” + The CLEO Institute + VoLo Foundation Via CNN Image via José Seijo & Sebastian Fernandez / Zubi / The CLEO Institute

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Melting Florida panther statue highlights climate change

NYC Metronome clock now displays deadline for irreversible global warming

September 23, 2020 by  
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The New York City Metronome digital clock in Manhattan has been reprogrammed to show the critical window within which global warming must be stopped. The display, called The Climate Clock, now indicates that the world has to stop global warming in about 7 years — otherwise, the impacts would be irreversible. The artists behind the project say that they have based their timing on calculations by the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin. The Metronome was reprogrammed on Saturday and started ticking second by second, creating a sense of urgency in addressing global warming . For the past 20 years, the Metronome clock that faces Union Square in Manhattan has been one of the city’s prominent artistic projects. Due to its influence on the city, the minds behind the project thought it would be the ideal way of sharing the critical message of global warming. Related: Scientists announce the Doomsday Clock is within 100 seconds to midnight The two artists behind the project, Gan Golan and Andrew Boyd, said that the clock is a perfect technological tool to call people to action. “ Climate change is already here. This clock is not an alarm clock saying, in 7 years it will ring and we need to wake up! It’s more like a stopwatch already running that we have to keep pace with,” Golan explained. “We need to take action today, tomorrow, and the day after that. Let’s get moving. Every second counts. We need to act in time.” Before the countdown was projected, the building displayed messages such as, “The Earth has a deadline.” At the launch of the clock, the numbers 7:103:15:40:07 were displayed, indicating that the time remaining is 7 years, 103 days, 15 hours, 40 minutes and 7 seconds. “The clock is a way to speak science to power,” Boyd said. “The clock is telling us we must reduce our emissions as much as we can as fast as we can. The technology is there. We can do this — and in the process, create a healthier, more just world for all of us.” The Climate Clock will be displayed on the Metronome through September 27, which is the last day of Climate Week. However, the two artists hope the same message can be displayed permanently. + The Climate Clock Via The New York Times Image via The Climate Clock

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NYC Metronome clock now displays deadline for irreversible global warming

Garden House brings nature back to the city

September 23, 2020 by  
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As urban areas grow around the world, housing seems to get farther and farther from nature, turning cities into concrete jungles lacking in greenery. This is not only less than ideal for humans, but it is hard on the planet as well. The team at Christos Pavlou Architecture addressed this issue with the Garden House, a nearly 2,000-square-foot home complete with nature elements inside and out. Built in Nicosia, Cyprus, the home “brings nature back to the city” with inviting outdoor areas for gathering with friends and neighbors as well as balconies and rooftops for more indoor/outdoor living opportunities. The designers put the focus on nature after realizing the development of Nicosia lacked greenery and public communal areas as part of its urban development. With this in mind, the team incorporated an abundance of potential for microclimates within the space. To achieve this goal, 60% of the ground floor incorporates garden space, which includes lush plants and wildflowers . Additionally, a green terrace on the first floor continues the garden theme. All areas within the home open up to the outdoors; the ground floor is connected via a centralized courtyard. Related: Instagram data uncovers the world’s top #urbanjungles While creating all this green space is great for the residents of Garden House, it’s also beneficial to pollinators . The bee-friendly landscape includes 40 kinds of native wildflowers and encourages the return of local bird species that have mostly been driven out of the city. In addition to improving the air and visual appeal for humans and supporting wildlife , the design is a thoughtful gift to the planet with elements that work to slow global warming. Christos Pavlou Architecture is a small design studio that opened in 2003. With a focus on indoor/outdoor spaces and attention to solving problems related to customer needs and climate conditions, the firm has earned several recognitions, including a first-place Cyprus state architecture award in 2019 in the Outstanding Architecture category. Christos Pavlou Architecture is currently a nominee for the European Union Mies Van Der Rohe Award 2021, Barcelona.  + Christos Pavlou Architecture Photography by Charis Solomou via v2com

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Garden House brings nature back to the city

LeSportsac’s ReCycled collection uses recycled water bottles

September 11, 2020 by  
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In 1974, LeSportsac opened its doors for business in New York City. Much has changed since then, but not the company’s focus on creating innovative, colorful and useful bags that encourage an on-the-go lifestyle. With the modern-day zeitgeist squarely aimed at improving sustainable practices, both in the private and business world, LeSportsac’s most recent release removes plastic from the waste stream while encouraging fans to continue their LeSportsac journey. Called ReCycled, the new bags come in three prints, each making a statement about green developments in production and packaging. LeSportsac’s effort to improve its products through sustainable practices has led to a reduced carbon footprint by utilizing post-consumer water bottles in the fabric. In fact, every yard of fabric equals nine recycled bottles, and each product lists the actual equivalent number of water bottles used. Related: This versatile, waterproof parka is made with recycled PET bottles Fortunately for the environment, many companies have adopted the advancing technology of turning  post-consumer plastic  into usable fabric. The process involves collecting, cleaning and shredding plastic into small chips. Subsequently, the chips are spun into yarn for the fabric.  Small and large cosmetic, cross-body, hobo and weekender bags make up the collection in all three prints. Eco Iris Garden features tones of blue and purple with the telltale yellow color punch of an iris in bloom. Eco Rose Garden offers a colorful and classically feminine floral motif. Eco Black delivers the same travel bag options in a more subdued color offering.  LeSportsac has even transformed its old logo to accommodate the recycled logo. The LeSportsac Fall 2020 ReCycled Collection debuted in-store and online mid-August 2020, and each component of the capsule collection is now ready for purchase. After more than four decades in the industry , LeSportsac aims to continue providing the bags consumers need for an active lifestyle while simultaneously focusing on sustainable, eco-friendly development. + LeSportsac Images via LeSportsac

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LeSportsac’s ReCycled collection uses recycled water bottles

Greenery envelopes a Snhetta-designed timber office in Austria

September 4, 2020 by  
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Snøhetta has recently completed the new head office for ASI Reisen, an international trekking and adventure travel company that sought a space reflective of its working culture and sustainable ethics. Crafted for low environmental impact, the four-story, timber-framed building minimizes its energy footprint with rooftop solar panels, energy monitoring and automation systems, a reversible air-water heat pump system, a rainwater harvesting system and a “green curtain” of climbing plants that envelopes the building facade and serves as a glare shield. Completed in 2019 in Natters, just south of Innsburck, Austria, ASI Reisen’s new head office takes inspiration from the symbiotic relationship between nature and humans for its reduced environmental impact and sustainable construction methods. The “green curtain” that grows on a suspended metal frame around the building, for instance, contributes to local biodiversity while helping to blend the building into its forested surroundings. The green wall comprises 17 different warm-weather and evergreen species that, together with the garden, count toward a total of 1,215 new plants and 73 local species. The 118 climbing plants in the “green curtain” change appearance throughout the year and are irrigated by rainwater collected from the roof. Related: Snøhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers In addition to a timber structure that rests on a basement and building core of reinforced concrete, the office is clad in a timber facade treated with the traditional Japanese method of wood preservation called yakisugi . The carbonized timber facade is waterproof, long-lasting and resistant to pests. Timber also appears in the interior in the form of light-colored wood surfaces that lend warmth and pair well with the abundance of indoor plants. An open-plan office layout was applied but can be flexibly adapted for future needs. “With its resource-saving timber construction and sophisticated sustainable energy concept, the new ASI headquarters marks an inspiration for responsibly constructing our homes and office spaces for the future,” explained Patrick Lüth, managing director of Snøhetta’s studio in Innsbruck. “At the same time, the new office space offers a pleasant and modern working atmosphere for its employees.” + Snøhetta Photography by Christian Flatscher via Snøhetta

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Greenery envelopes a Snhetta-designed timber office in Austria

Burmese roofed turtle is rescued from extinction

September 4, 2020 by  
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The Burmese roofed turtle has been saved from the brink of extinction. The turtle had not been seen for over 20 years, leading many conservationists to assume that it was extinct . But in 2001, one Burmese roofed turtle was spotted in markets in Myanmar, sparking interest among scientists. From this point forward, efforts to save the endangered species were put in place by scientists in collaboration with the government of Myanmar. The efforts have paid off, with nearly 1,000 of these turtles existing today. The Burmese roofed turtle is a giant Asian river turtle that is characterized by its large eyes and small, natural smile. Since the sighting of a surviving turtle in Myanmar about 20 years ago, the population of the turtles has been increased to about 1,000, thanks to serious conservation efforts. Some of the turtles have already been released to the wild, while the others are still within captivity. Related: This turtle with a green mohawk is one of the most endangered reptiles in the world These turtles were once thriving around the mouth of the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar. But by the mid-20th century, fishing and overharvesting led to a significant drop in the number of turtles. For years, the state of the species was unknown, given that Myanmar had closed its borders. Scientists could not access the country and, as a result, could not make any efforts to save the turtles. By the time Myanmar reopened its borders in the 1990s, scientists could not find any Burmese roofed turtles and began to believe that they were extinct . “We came so close to losing them. If we didn’t intervene when we did, this turtle would have just been gone,” Steven Platt, a herpetologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, told The New York Times . Turtles and tortoises are among the most vulnerable species globally. About half of the planet’s turtle and tortoise species , a total of 360 living species, are threatened. The scenario is especially bad for species across Asia, where turtles and tortoises are affected by habitat loss, climate change and hunting for consumption. But the recent good news on the growing population of Burmese roofed turtles gives hope that concerted conservation efforts can continue to save more vulnerable species. Via The New York Times and Wildlife Conservation Society Image via Wildlife Conservation Society

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Burmese roofed turtle is rescued from extinction

Modern passive house is carbon-negative and energy-positive

August 26, 2020 by  
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Designed by McLean Quinlan Architects, the Devon Passivhaus combines contemporary architecture with a rustic outdoor setting. The modern passive house uses a minimalist-yet-elegant brick wall as its facade, with a discreet doorway carved into the front and a simple oriel glass window to peek inside at the stunning interiors. The brick design is modeled after an existing garden wall that connects the property, while the front door mimics the style of an old gate that would have accompanied such a wall in the past. The original garden and footprint inspired the design of the home, while the historic brick paths leading up to the property were restored as well. The house is certified Passive and includes eco-friendly features such as air source heating, MVHR, solar power , battery storage, super-insulation and triple-glazing in order to sustain over 100% of its required energy. Related: Local earth bricks form this inspiring co-working space in Ouagadougou Past the initial brick and into the interior of the home, a glass roofed courtyard with a winter garden is located in the center, helping to channel natural light to the inside. Natural and repurposed materials, including reclaimed terracotta, sawn oak wood and clay plaster, are found throughout the home in order to connect it with the outdoors. The clients are also avid art collectors, so the designers were sure to include spaces to display and curate their many pieces of pottery and paintings. The project leaders decided to aim toward passive capability after achieving planning under the open countryside house route. “We’d always aimed to make the house high performing, but having a benchmark to aim for and test against enabled the whole project team to get behind the ambition,” said Fiona McLean of McLean and Quinlan Architects. “The wall panels, 4Wall fromTribus, were an innovative product. A ‘hyperSIP’ panel constructed using steel framing and magnesium oxide boards sandwiching PIR insulation. Their benefits were excellent airtightness, waterproof, minimal thermal bridging, good core strength and low U-Values.” According to the clients, they’ve become carbon-negative and energy-positive by 40% thanks to the clever design. In the sunny summer months, the house generates 3,500kwh of electricity while only using 60kwh, with remaining power stored in the grid. + McLean and Quinlan Photography by Jim Stephenson via McLean and Quinlan

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