Save money and energy this winter with these 7 sustainable home heating systems

November 14, 2018 by  
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When winter comes, utility expenses can destroy your budget, and most traditional heating methods are also bad for the environment. Fortunately, there are plenty of sustainable types of home heating systems that can also save you money in the long run. From solar power to hydronic systems, here are seven different types of sustainable heating available for your home. Geothermal Systems Geothermal heating is both eco-friendly and efficient. These systems work by using temperatures deep underground to heat your home. Temperatures are much warmer in the earth than outside, which means less energy is used to heat the air. Not only does this result in an efficient heating system, but it also lowers the monthly utility bill. The one downside to geothermal heating , however, is upfront cost. This type of heating is expensive to install, but it does pay for itself the long run. On average, it takes around eight years to pay it off. In addition to helping lower energy costs, geothermal systems also increase the value of your home, which is another consideration when calculating the investment. Solar Power Solar power is easily one of the best ways to power a home. Although the initial investment can be significant, you are basically getting free energy for the rest of the home’s life. The same is true with solar heating, which generally comes in two formats: hydronic collectors and air systems. Hydronic collectors heat liquid to warm up the house, while air systems work more like traditional HVAC systems. If you have forced air already installed, then a solar air heater is the best option. The opposite is true if your house features a radiant heater. Choosing a solar heating system that fits into your home’s current HVAC system can save you a lot of money in upfront costs. Pellet Heating Pellet stoves are set up similarly to their wood counterparts, only they burn pellets instead of wood. The pellets are created from a mixture of waste products and switch grass, both of which are friendly to the environment . These pellets are also affordable to purchase, especially when compared to wood. A typical budget for pellets is around $600 a year. You also do not have to worry about stacking, chopping or storing wood, as the pellets can be placed in a basement or garage with no issues. Apart from saving money on the fuel source, pellet stoves are easy to install and budget-friendly. The average cost to install a pellet stove system is around $2,500, depending on the size of the home and how the HVAC system is laid out. For houses that are larger than 1,500 square feet, two pellet stoves will likely be necessary for adequate heating. This might appear like a significant investment, but the money you save on pellets will pay for the additional units over time. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Wood Burners Wood burners are one of the most popular methods of sustainable heating. While wood burners have received a bad reputation over the years, new models are more efficient and more eco-friendly than their predecessors. Even better, new wood burners are powerful enough to heat entire homes. You can even find some wood burners that can handle sawdust pellets, which are not too different from what pellet stoves burn. The one downside to wood burners is that you have to install an extensive system to properly ventilate the burner. This includes installing pipes and a chimney that vents to the outside. When the cold months come, of course, you also have to determine how you are going to chop and store your wood. It is usually recommended to keep the wood away from the house as pests are attracted to wood piles, which means you will have to go outside whenever you need more fuel. Masonry Heating Masonry heaters exist somewhere between wood burners and pellet stoves. These heaters work by trapping heat in a chamber of bricks and then distributing warm air over the next 24 hours. Masonry heaters burn wood but generate less pollution than traditional wood burners, because they do not burn as fast. This also makes them more efficient, as they are better at trapping heat, and you do not have to purchase as much wood each year. Like wood burners, masonry heating systems require a bit of an investment to get up and running. A typical setup can be as low as $2,000 or as high as $5,000, depending on the size of the home and the layout. Hydronic Heat Systems Hydronic heating works by running hot water in pipes under the floor, through base boards or via radiators that are distributed throughout the home. These systems usually feature a boiler that heats up the water — using geothermal or solar power — and a pump that sends the hot water throughout the house. At some point, the water runs through a heat exchanger, which transfers the energy into a usable form. With hydronic heating systems, there are three ways in which the heat is converted: radiation, conduction and convection. Each system has its pros and cons, and picking the right one depends on your home’s layout. Wind Power Wind power has been around for a long time, but many people do not know that you can also use wind to create heat — and you do not need a massive windmill to get the job done. These systems work in conjunction with a water heater, with the wind providing energy to run the heater. The catch with wind power is that you need to live in an area that gets a good amount of air flow to turn the turbine. You also have to set up your house like a hydronic system to pump the hot water through, which might add extra costs if your home features a traditional forced-air system. No matter how you choose to sustainably heat your home, be sure to consult with professionals when making your decision. This winter, you’ll be able to get warm and cozy knowing you are doing your part for the environment. Via Do It Yourself and Freshome Images via Mark Johnson , Vela Creations and Shutterstock

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Save money and energy this winter with these 7 sustainable home heating systems

Mark your calendars for the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago!

October 8, 2018 by  
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Integrating nature into the built environment is no easy feat, but when done correctly, it can be a work of art that gives back to our world instead of taking from it. Greenbuild celebrates just that by exploring new ways of sustainable building and design through teaching, collaborating and empowering professionals. View the gallery below to learn about this year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago, where you can find new inspiration, learn state-of-the-art techniques and skills and meet like-minded experts interested in bettering our planet through green design.

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Mark your calendars for the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago!

Walkers launches free recycling program amid growing pressure from critics

October 8, 2018 by  
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An online social media campaign calling for popular U.K. chip manufacturer Walkers to adopt a more sustainable packaging method has succeeded. After hundreds of thousands of empty potato crisp packages were sent back to Walkers by environmental critics, the PepsiCo-owned company is launching a free recycling initiative to collect and repurpose the plastic packaging. Initially, Walkers intended to adopt a better packaging solution by 2025, but pressure from consumers has resulted in a momentous decision by company leaders to make the change now. “Our new Walkers recycling initiative starts to tackle this issue right now by repurposing used crisp packets to create everyday items,” announced Ian Ellington, general manager for PepsiCo U.K., on Friday. Starting in December, consumers will be able to deposit any brand of empty chip bags with recycling firm TerraCycle. The company is setting up collection points nationwide as well as a free-of-charge mailing system where users can post their chip bags using a box or envelope. Walkers came under public scrutiny after it was revealed that it produced over 7,000 non-recyclable potato chip packets every minute. These empty bags find their ways into landfills and oceans  at a rate of approximately 6 billion packs a year. Backlash resulted in a highly-publicized plea by the British Royal Mail for chip consumers to stop sending empty bags back to the company (despite their respect for the conservation movement), because the mass mailings were tampering with its service efficiency. Related: Environmental campaign floods UK Royal Mail with empty potato chip bags “We share people’s concerns about the amount of plastic in our environment and are working on a number of both short- and long-term solutions to reduce the impact of our packaging,” Ellington said. Walkers maintains that its packaging is in fact, “technically recyclable, but the issue until now has been that they weren’t being separated or collected for recycling.” However, Recycle Now, the government-funded program created by waste advisory committee Wrap, claims this is not quite the case. The body reports that none of the produced packets are recyclable, and that they should be directed to the waste can, not the recycling bin. Members of the 38 Degrees movement , which includes more than 332,000 petition-signers, will be keeping a close eye on Walkers and its repurposing plans. “We are delighted to hear that Walkers will now be recycling used crisp packets,” said David Babbs, executive director of the online campaign. “It is proof that public pressure can shift big companies to do more to prevent waste. But let’s not forget that there is still more for Walkers to do if they want to keep the public on side. The public will be watching to make sure the new recycling scheme isn’t just a PR stunt. And, most importantly, they have to make their crisp packets fully recyclable far sooner than 2025.” Via The Guardian and 38 Degrees Image via Caitriana Nicholson

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Edible plants surround the curvaceous Barangaroo House in Australia

October 8, 2018 by  
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Completed just last year, the eye-catching Barangaroo House has already become a visual landmark for the inner-city suburb of Barangaroo in Sydney, Australia. The competition-winning design is the work of Australian architecture firm Collins and Turner , which created the sculptural building to house a contemporary restaurant and bar of the same name. Located near the waterfront in a high pedestrian-trafficked area, the curvaceous building mimics the appearance of three stacked bowls rimmed with edible and ornament plants for a touch of greenery. Set on a 750-square-meter corner site overlooking waterfront views, the Barangaroo House marks the southern entry point to the Barangaroo South urban regeneration project that was headed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners . In contrast to its angular neighbors, the three-story restaurant and bar features curved facades made with concentrically steam-bent timber dowels that have been charred black to improve the material’s resistance to the elements and as a reference to the “primeval act of cooking.” Ringed with vegetation, the rounded balconies are cantilevered  over the landscape and provide a stellar outdoor dining experience for guests. “The ambition of the project is the creation of a welcoming, timeless, convivial structure, that over time becomes a much loved part of the city ,” the architecture firm said. “The key urban design agenda of a ‘building in the round’ dictated the curvilinear form, which projects curved perimeter balconies outward in each direction. Structural cantilevers up to 8.5 m permit a uniquely outdoor atmosphere to a series of dining spaces on each level of the multi-tiered building.” Related: An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrecht’s “circular” pavilion Frameless glazing was installed on the north and west facades of the ground floor, providing a seamless connection between the streetscape and the indoor bar. Operable glazing also wraps around the upper levels and is shielded from the intense sun by the cantilevered balconies. + Collins and Turner Via ArchDaily Images via Rory Gardiner

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Edible plants surround the curvaceous Barangaroo House in Australia

Historic Luxembourg building is metamorphosed into an eco-friendly powerhouse

October 3, 2018 by  
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Paris-based Vincent Callebaut Architectures has placed first in POST Luxembourg’s international design competition with its chrysalis-inspired vision for transforming the telecommunication company’s historic headquarters building into a carbon-neutral city landmark. Dubbed the Metamorphosis of the Hotel des Postes, the winning design includes nearly 120,000 square feet of mixed-use space comprising housing, co-working, retail, a brewery, restaurant and a permaculture rooftop garden. Although the design calls for a significant revamp of the structure’s energy systems, the architects will also take care to preserve the building’s historic architectural elements that date back to the turn of the 20th century. Designed by the government architect Sosthène Weis in the early 1900s, the historic building is mainly built of stone and reinforced concrete but has also been remodeled over the years with several extensions. Vincent Callebaut Architectures will begin its “metamorphosis” of the property by removing three of the extensions and then carefully inserting new changes, which include transforming the interior courtyard into a covered atrium. Central to the redesign is the addition of a chrysalis-inspired, multi-story volume in an oblong shape as well as a photovoltaic cell-studded glass “solar dome.” “[Our goal is to] reveal the intrinsic heritage qualities of the building and highlight them with contemporary architecture that assumes its era,” the architects explained. “Between history and modernity, between heritage and innovation, this metamorphosis presents a project reinforcing the patrimonial identity of the place by transforming the historic building into a showcase of contemporary, ecological architecture. Low-Tech and high-tech are therefore in tune to serve this exceptional project.” Related: Five bridges topped with urban farms could revitalize war-torn Mosul Designed to meet carbon-neutral status, the project aims to consume less than 30 kWh of energy per square meter annually and meet near net-zero energy targets. The building will not only be powered with renewable energies such as solar, wind and biomass, but it will also be renovated to follow passive design principles and updated with an airtight building envelope, double-glazed windows and highly efficient insulation. Metamorphosis of the Hotel des Postes is currently seeking approval from the local government. + Vincent Callebaut Architectures Images via Vincent Callebaut Architectures

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Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada

September 19, 2018 by  
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Las Vegas-based Hoogland Architecture designed the Arroyo House, a forever home for a couple with a penchant for the outdoors and sustainable design. Located in the tiny town of Blue Diamond just outside Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert, the Arroyo House enjoys panoramic views of the landscape with nary a neighbor in sight. The 3,875-square-foot dwelling takes advantage of the views with full-height glazing that’s protected from the sun by large overhangs, while the water conservation and recycling system helps keep water usage to a minimum. Designed for a Las Vegas couple nearing retirement age, the Arroyo House was conceived as a forever home with a design conducive to aging in place. Examples include an ADA compliant roll-in shower and a single-story layout for the main living spaces. Currently, the house is used as a launch pad for hiking and exploring the desert landscape as well as nearby Red Rock Canyon. To ensure the longevity of the building, the architects relied on low-maintenance concrete and weathering steel for the external walls. Large roof overhangs protect full-height, low-E glazing and sliding doors that flood the modern interiors with natural light while framing views of the outdoors. Inside, the rooms are minimally dressed with polished concrete floors, white walls and light timber furnishings. The living room, dining area and kitchen are located in an open-plan, L-shaped layout next to the deck on one side of the home. The master suite is located on the opposite side of the entry and connects to a guesthouse via a shaded outdoor walkway. Related: Geothermal-powered forever home targets environmental and social sustainability In addition to ample daylighting and passive cooling measures, energy efficiency was reinforced with radiant in-slab heating and low-flow fixtures. The drought-tolerant landscape is irrigated with recycled gray water, while black water is treated on site with a septic system. The house has also been engineered to accommodate the photovoltaic solar array that the homeowners plan to install in the future. + Hoogland Architecture Via Dezeen Images via Stephen Morgan

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Sustainable desert home has a small water footprint in Nevada

Frank Gehry tops Facebook HQ expansion with a 3.6-acre rooftop park

September 19, 2018 by  
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Facebook recently unveiled a peek inside MPK 21, its newest campus building designed by Frank Gehry and built in less than 18 months. Created as an extension to its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, this striking addition blurs the distinction between the indoors and outdoors with its massive walls of glass, sheltered courtyard and expansive 3.6-acre rooftop garden — named The Town Square — planted with 40-foot-tall redwood trees. In addition to its abundance of plant life, the building is also designed to meet green standards and is expected to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Located on a formerly unoccupied industrial site, MPK 21 connects to MPK 20 — another Facebook building also designed by Frank Gehry that opened in 2015 — via an amphitheater -style courtyard called The Bowl. The building houses offices with open workspaces, designed to promote collaboration between teams, as well as quiet areas for focused work. Employees traverse the length of the building with a single walkway, which also connects to five dining areas and a 2,000-person event and meeting space with state-of-the-art A/V technology. Artists from Facebook’s Artist in Residence Program were commissioned to create 15 art installations for MPK 21. “The building was designed to promote teamwork and allow our people to do their best work,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of Global Facilities and Real Estate, in a press release. “MPK 21 is designed to reduce impact on the environment and enhance employee well-being. The building encourages active engagement inside and outside of the building with pedestrian walkways, access to various outdoor areas, visible stairways and flexible work stations. The physical infrastructure is designed to reduce water, energy  and waste as well.” Related: Facebook signs Frank Gehry to design two more buildings for their California campus The LEED Platinum -targeted building is powered by 1.4 MW of photovoltaic solar roof tiles, which can generate nearly 2 million kWH of electricity a year. Approximately 17 million gallons of water will be saved annually thanks to a reclaimed water system, while the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours is minimized with an abundance of bird-friendly glazing. Facebook also enrolled in Peninsula Clean Energy’s ECO100 energy option to further reduce its carbon footprint. + Frank Gehry Via Dezeen Images via Facebook

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Frank Gehry tops Facebook HQ expansion with a 3.6-acre rooftop park

These low-energy prefab cabins are inspired by the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’

September 5, 2018 by  
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Prefab housing startup Koto has unveiled a series of tiny timber cabins with minimalist designs inspired by friluftsliv — translated as “free air life,” this Nordic concept is the act of embracing indoor-outdoor living and a connection with nature. The low-energy, modular Koto cabins can be configured in a variety of sizes and are crafted specifically for those looking to reconnect with nature. Koto was founded by Johnathon Little and Zoe Little earlier this year. The name Koto means “cozy at home” in Finnish and is the ethos behind the company’s minimalist cabin design. To create the ultimate nature-based retreat, the cabins — which are made with eco-friendly materials  — allow for a comfortable atmosphere. Related: This off-grid, prefab tiny cabin in Michigan fits a family of five Black cladding allows the tiny cabins to blend into nearly any environment. The sloped roof, a hallmark of the company, is part of the architects’ design strategy to add space to the interior. “Our initial range of modules — Pari, Muutama and Ystava — are all represented with the Koto wedge shape roof,” Jonathan told Dezeen . “This shape allows for an interesting form and experience both internally and externally, a modern twist on the traditional vernacular.” According to the designers, the interiors are meant to be private retreats in the middle of serene landscapes. The living area is extremely space-efficient with storage concealed within the walls. The fresh Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic is achieved thanks to all-white walls and light wood flooring. A large skylight and glass front facade floods the interior with natural light and allows for a strong, constant connection to the outdoors. The modular cabins can be configured in a number of sizes, but a medium-sized cabin contains a bathroom, a fold-out king-sized bed, hidden wall storage, a window bench and a wood-burning stove. There are various options to customize the space, including a small kitchenette, an outdoor shower and a sauna cabin. + Koto Via Dezeen Images via  Joe Laverty

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These low-energy prefab cabins are inspired by the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’

New images show greenery engulfing Singapores tropical skyscraper

August 30, 2018 by  
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When we last saw local design practice WOHA Architects’ 30-story Oasia Hotel Downtown in Singapore, the tropical skyscraper had only begun to sprout the lush landscaping that would later overtake the building’s facade. Now, a little over a year-and-a-half later, we’ve been treated to new images of the high-rise that has become increasingly enveloped in creeping vines. This combination of nature and architecture is continued into the building’s embrace of indoor-outdoor spaces, particularly in the sky gardens designed by Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola , that feature verdant landscaping and spacious pools. Located in Singapore’s central business district, the Oasia Hotel features a sealed-off, air-conditioned tower sheathed in red aluminum mesh cladding. More than 20 species of creepers and vines grow on the facade and will envelop the exterior in a process largely helped along by the country’s humid tropical climate. The plants were also selected for low-maintenance and ability to withstand strong winds, particularly at the top of the tower. The vertical garden set against a vibrant red backdrop not only serves a striking visual component for the building, but it also helps reduce the urban heat island effect and clean the air of pollutants. Rising to a height of over 600 feet, the tropical skyscraper comprises four large outdoor spaces. Three massive verandas occupy the 6th, 12th and 21st floors, while a luxurious roof terrace can be found on the 27th floor. The roof terrace is protected from solar heat gain and noise pollution by a 10-story-tall screen constructed from the same material as the building’s red mesh aluminum cladding. Greenery also grows over the screen to give the rooftop terrace the impression of a hidden oasis. Related: This plant-covered Singapore skyscraper is the tropical building of the future Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola led the design of the outdoor spaces as well as the hotel interior. To give each of the outdoor locations an oasis-like appeal, she introduced verdant greenery and — on the 21st and 27th floors — added swimming pools lined with beautiful AGROB BUCHTAL tiles. + WOHA Architects Images via Infinitude

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New images show greenery engulfing Singapores tropical skyscraper

An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrechts circular pavilion

July 27, 2018 by  
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A new restaurant celebrating sustainability has opened in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Designed by Dutch architecture firm cezeped , The Green House is a “circular” pavilion that houses a restaurant, urban farm and meeting center. Created as part of an initiative by Strukton Ballast Nedam and Albron, the experimental and temporary venue follows eco-friendly principles and features modular components so that it can be dismantled and moved to a new location in the future. The Green House was born from a larger project that saw cepezed transform the former Knoopkazerne barracks on Croeselaan into a modern government office. Next to the office building was a vacant space that wouldn’t see development for the next 15 years; the developers asked the architects to create a temporary design that could reactivate that leftover lot. With the project’s relatively short lifespan in mind, the architects crafted a design based on the “principles of circularity ” to ensure that the building could be rebuilt elsewhere in 15 years. Related: Sustainable ‘circular economy’ principles inform Amsterdam’s flexible Circl pavilion Modularity and reusability are at the heart of The Green House, a two-story pavilion with a removable steel frame. “The dimensions are derived from those of the smoke glass facade panels of the former Knoopkazerne; these have been re-used for the second skin and the greenhouse of the pavilion,” the architects explained. “The circularity of the building also lies in the choice of the right floor in the right place. Street clinkers from an old quay in Tiel replace the classic ground floor that has been poured. They are located on a compacted sand bed with underfloor heating.” Related: Vertical Gardening 101 The first floor was constructed from prefabricated and recyclable timber elements, while the roof is sheathed in a lightweight and perforated steel sheet filled with insulation and topped with solar panels. The glass curtain wall lets in plenty of natural light so that artificial lighting is minimized. The restaurant occupies the ground floor, while the meeting rooms and the 80-square-meter vertical farming greenhouse are located upstairs. Restaurant patrons can see glimpses of the greenhouse from below and also enjoy views of an indoor green wall. + cezeped Images by Lucas van der Wee/cepezed

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An urban farm and restaurant flourishes in Utrechts circular pavilion

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