Historic schoolhouse is reborn into a contemporary hotel in the Columbia River Gorge

December 4, 2019 by  
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Historic preservation meets modern hospitality design in The Society Hotel in the Columbia River Gorge, a new 20,000-square-foot lodging and recreation destination in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Following in the footsteps of the first Society Hotel, the boutique hotel is an adaptive reuse project with a minimalist aesthetic and one-of-a-kind amenities. Portland-based architectural firm Waechter Architecture led the design of the hotel, which includes a retrofitted former schoolhouse, 20 individual hotel cabins , a covered pathway, a spa and bathhouse building and a subterranean sanctuary. Set near the riverfront, The Society Hotel Bingen is named after the adaptive reuse of the 80-year-old Bingen Schoolhouse, which anchors the 2.57-acre hotel campus. The renovated schoolhouse building is now home to 10 private, standard rooms and two 24-bed hostels as well as a library in the reception area, lockers in the hallway and a refurbished gym for guests. Portland-based design firm BLOSSOM led the interior and landscape design. Related: These adaptive reuse hotel suites in Amsterdam are built inside old bridge houses On the school’s former playfields, the architects inserted 20 individual cabins that form a ring. At the center of the ring is a new spa and bathhouse building with a shared saltwater soaking pool, sauna , hot tub, cold plunge pool and a cafe. On the corner of the property, the architects have placed the Sanctuary, a unique, subterranean building specially built for events and retreats. “One of our primary goals was to design a hotel that not only felt connected to the Gorge but amplified people’s experience of it,” Ben Waechter, firm principal, said. “It’s exciting to stand within the hotel and cabins today and feel the complementary dialogue between the two.” Strategically framed views emphasize that connection to the Gorge as does the material palette, which includes premature aged cedar cladding on the exterior and 8-inch tongue and groove knotty pine for the cabin interior headboard walls. + Waechter Architecture Photography by Lara Swimmer via Waechter Architecture

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A rundown 1960s structure is converted into a stunning home that operates almost entirely off the grid

November 22, 2019 by  
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Los Angeles-based AUX Architecture has unveiled an amazing transformation of a 1960s home in Calabasas, California. Once a tract home, the Saddle Peak Residence is now a contemporary, light-filled space that has been equipped with several energy-efficient features, such as solar power , that allow the home to largely function off the grid. Located on a one-acre property, the former home sat on a protected area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Local restrictions prohibit new construction, so the architectural firm was forced to work within the parameters of the existing house. Although modernizing the older home was challenging, the renovation process resulted in reduced construction costs, less landfill waste and a minimized carbon footprint. Related: Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode Using the surrounding natural landscape as a guide, the home was clad in a sleek combination of dark standing seam metal siding and grain cedar panels . As a central theme of the design, the architects wanted to create a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. Accordingly, they used cedar siding inside as well to bring a little warmth to the interior design. Large expanses of glass also create unobstructed views of the surrounding countryside. In addition to serving as a stunning living space for the owners, the home boasts several energy-efficient features. Because of frequent power outages in the area, it was important to provide the home with an off-grid system. Solar panels generate enough energy to power the home throughout the year. A hydronic heat-pump system utilizes water heated by the sun to heat the home in the winter months as well as to heat water for the adjacent swimming pool. + AUX Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Grant Mudford via AUX Architecture

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A rundown 1960s structure is converted into a stunning home that operates almost entirely off the grid

LEED Gold-seeking wildlife center emphasizes energy conservation in Quebec

October 1, 2019 by  
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The Canadian city of Laval in southwestern Quebec has recently gained a new wildlife interpretation center with an impressive, energy-efficient design. It’s the first of its kind in the city and is targeting LEED NC v3 Gold certification . Designed by Montreal-based architecture firm Cardin Julien , the $11.5 million project provides a new community and educational resource for visitors to Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, an urban wildlife sanctuary that spans 26 hectares rich with recreational opportunities including kayaking, canoeing and island hiking. Completed October 2018, the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles exploration center features a main building with three floors. The ground floor houses a large multipurpose hall with a cafe and reception area framing views of the river through full-height glazing as well as museum programming and a monitoring room for conferences and events. The equipment rental space, locker room, ecology laboratory, researchers’ offices and day camp facilities are placed on the lower “river” level. The uppermost floor comprises an employee relaxation area and a flexible multipurpose room that can be partitioned into three sections. Related: Minimalist TRIPTYCH house pulls the Quebec outdoors in “In order for the project to integrate seamlessly into its environment, the use of wood was recommended for the building’s exterior,” reads the press release. “This material, which can also be found inside the building, fosters a warm environment and allows a connection between visitors and the nature around them. In addition, the structure was built in such a way that it preserves the mature trees growing onsite.” The project also includes a new parking pad, bike path, pedestrian walkways and landscaping as well as a new workshop and equipment distribution kiosk housed in a renovated stable. The main building is topped with a green roof as part of the project’s water conservation strategy that includes rainwater recycling. A high-performance building envelope and strategically placed windows and roof overhangs help contribute to energy savings and visitor comfort. + Cardin Julien Photography by David Boyer via Cardin Julien

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LEED Gold-seeking wildlife center emphasizes energy conservation in Quebec

MVRDV unveils pro-bono vision to reopen the lost canals of The Hague

September 27, 2019 by  
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In a bid to restore a lost part of nature to The Hague, MVRDV has unveiled a proposal to reopen the city’s 17th-century canals that were filled in between 1910 and 1970. Created in partnership with the local community, the “Grachten Open” (Canals Open) initiative would restore access to the waterways and would revitalize a run-down part of the historic center by introducing new programming from swimming canals to a gastronomy route with a new market hall. The urban revitalization project would also bring ecological benefits by bringing natural habitat back into the city center. As the seat of government for the Netherlands, The Hague has placed less emphasis on its canal system compared to other Dutch cities historically more reliant on trade. While many of the canals have been drained and filled in, a local grassroots movement to preserve the canal area in the historic city center began to take root in the late 20th century. In recent years, the movement has seen greater community action for revitalizing the area and reopening the lost canals. One of the most notable contributors to the cause is local resident Shireen Poyck, who co-founded the ‘Grachten Open’ and, in 2018, invited her neighbor, MVRDV partner Jan Knikker, to participate. Related: Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagen’s harbor Working together with local neighborhood organizations, MVRDV recently presented a plan to reopen the canals to the city of The Hague. The design proposes restoring the main canals and creating plans for the minor canals, which can be remade into “urban activators” and used as swimming canals, koi carp canals or even surf canals. The main canals would be defined by themed “routes,” that include a green route, creative route, shopping route, culinary route and sport route. “All over the world, neighborhoods like the old center of The Hague form the backbone of tourism and provide an identity to a city, but in The Hague, somehow this ancient and incredibly charming area was forgotten,” said Winy Maas, architect and co-founder of MVRDV. “The area offers the unique chance for an urban regeneration that will improve the local economy and make a leap forward in the city’s energy transition.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV unveils pro-bono vision to reopen the lost canals of The Hague

Central Park to undergo $150M LEED Gold-targeted redesign

September 25, 2019 by  
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To cap the Central Park Conservancy’s 40-year renewal of Central Park, the nonprofit has unveiled designs to update the park’s north end with a LEED Gold -targeted recreational facility, a new pool, skating rink and other amenities. The $150 million project also aims to repair the site’s damaged ecology and hydrology using environmentally responsible practices. The groundbreaking for the transformative project will take place in spring 2021 and construction is expected to reach completion in 2024. Designed with input from more than a year of extensive community engagement, the redesign for Central Park’s north end will replace the Lasker Rink and Pool that were built in 1966. The position of the rink and pool will also be changed; the facilities currently obstruct access between the Harlem Meer and the scenic Ravine to the south. In repositioning the pool and the rink building, the waterway will be reestablished and will once again flow overland through the Ravine into the Meer. To reconnect visitors to the water, a curvilinear boardwalk will be installed across a series of small islands and the new freshwater marsh. Related: Sustainable Central Park with energy-producing trees unveiled for Ho Chi Minh City In addition to improved biodiversity and landscape integration, the project will feature a new facility built into the topography of the site. The LEED Gold-seeking building will be built with locally sourced, natural materials of stone, wood and glass. Demolition debris will be recycled and reused on site wherever possible. Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass punctuated by slender wood columns will let in natural daylight to reduce reliance on artificial lighting and will create a seamless visual connection to the outdoor recreation areas. The roof will be landscaped to offer additional public gathering space and mitigate the urban heat island effect. “The fundamental premise of the design derives from the restoration’s leading objective: repairing the damaged ecology and hydrology of the site, a goal that filters through every aspect of the project’s commitment to sustainability and the highest standards of environmentally responsible construction practices,” reads the Central Park Conservancy press release. “By building into the slope to insulate the interior of the pool house, orienting the structure and its overhangs to shade the interior in summer and admit sunlight in winter and providing ‘ stack ventilation ‘ through the operable glass facade, the design’s passive climate control minimizes the use of energy for heating and cooling.” + Central Park Conservancy Images via Central Park Conservancy

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Pacific heat wave threatens coral reefs in Hawaii and other regions

September 25, 2019 by  
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Researchers predict a major marine heat wave in the Pacific Ocean could prove disastrous to the fragile coral reefs along Hawaii’s Papa Bay and similar coastlines. Warmer water conditions often trigger coral bleaching, a condition that leaves coral reefs susceptible to mortality. Coral reefs play a very significant environmental and ecological role. As a habitat, for instance, they support many species in the marine environment. Coral reefs likewise serve as a protective barrier, buffering shorelines against deleterious wave action, especially during typhoon season, to minimize coastal damage and to prevent erosion. Healthy reefs contribute to local economies, particularly through tourism as well as commercial and recreational fishing. Related: ‘The Blob’ returns — marine heatwave settles over Pacific Unfortunately, when water is too warm, coral become stressed. They consequently expel the algae , or zooxanthellae, that live in their tissues. In doing so, coral turn white, a condition known as bleaching. Prolonged loss of the algae eventually leads to the coral’s demise. When coral reefs are compromised, the loss cascades, often causing far-reaching ecosystem repercussions. Back in 2015, a prominent marine heat wave eliminated half of the Papa Bay coastline’s coral reefs that surround Hawaii’s Big Island. This year, marine scientists associated with NOAA similarly predict that another round of very warm water will occur in the region once again. “In 2015, we hit temperatures that we’ve never recorded ever in Hawaii ,” NOAA oceanographer Jamison Gove said. “What is really important — or alarming, probably more appropriately — about this event is that we’ve been tracking above where we were this time in 2015.” Earlier this September, NOAA researchers warned of the Blob’s return. The Blob — the moniker coined by Washington state climatologist Nick Bond during the 2015 heat wave — describes the vast expanse of unusually warm water that occurred in the Pacific Ocean from 2014 to 2016. It adversely impacted coral reefs, causing global bleaching and diminished coastal fisheries’ yields throughout the Pacific. To date, this year’s Blob is reportedly the second-largest marine heat wave ever recorded in the past 40 years, just behind the 2014 – 2016 Blob. As a result, forecasts anticipate an even warmer October, which could critically undermine the coral that are still recovering from the first Blob. “Temperatures have been warm for quite a long time,” Gove continued.  “It’s not just how hot it is — it’s how long those ocean temperatures stay warm.” While scientists are not yet able to pinpoint the exact causes for ocean temperatures warming, it is believed human-influenced climate change is a salient factor. Restoration efforts are in the works. Research suggests coral can be conditioned to withstand future onslaught of warmer water. Both scientists and coral hobbyists are on a mission to breed “super corals” resilient enough to avoid bleaching. It is hoped the introduction of these “super corals” into the environment will fortify reefs to better evolve amidst global warming conditions. Via Associated Press Images via Terri Stewart and NOAA

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Pacific heat wave threatens coral reefs in Hawaii and other regions

Honda makes largest renewable energy purchase of any automaker

September 25, 2019 by  
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Multinational auto manufacturer Honda Motor Company, headquartered in Tokyo, recently made the largest renewable clean energy purchase by any car maker. The electricity will be utilized to offset emissions from its United States factories, thus enabling Honda to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent in its North American manufacturing plants. With widespread public debate and mounting regulatory pressures, automakers have no choice but to shift their business models to address the carbon dioxide reduction challenge. It is no wonder then that a growing number of automobile companies are turning to renewables, like wind and solar, to achieve sustainable returns. Related: Beautiful, solar-powered EV charging stations promise to charge a vehicle in 15 minutes According to Honda, it currently obtains about 21 percent of its North American operations’ power from low- or zero-emission power sources.  But it hopes to improve upon that, thanks to clinching the car industry’s largest renewable energy purchase. Honda’s new clean energy deal involves the purchase of wind power from an Oklahoma wind farm as well as sourcing energy from a Texas solar farm. Projections show that, with this clean energy purchase, Honda can annually offset 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s equal to “100,000 U.S. households’ worth of CO2-emissions from household energy usage,” as described in Honda’s press release. Honda revealed, “Two Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (VPPAs) will secure 320 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power totaling over 1 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable electricity annually.” How do VPPAs operate? Honda explained that VPPAs are “a way for Honda to purchase renewable energy in locations where it is unable to purchase renewables from the local electric utility.” The automaker buys “electricity from a renewable energy supplier, but the clean energy does not go directly to Honda’s facilities; instead, it is sold into the electricity grid where the clean power is generated.” In effect, Honda’s ‘virtual purchase’ of that “renewable energy adds more clean energy into the nation’s grid,” which decreases fossil fuel dependency and any accompanying carbon dioxide emissions. Honda’s VPPA purchase essentially “de-carbonizes” the electricity grid. Analysts say VPPAs are becoming an ever-popular means for large corporations seeking to meet carbon dioxide emission reduction goals.  Tech giants, like Google and Microsoft, for instance, have historically purchased VPPAs as well. Business industry pundits forecast an uptick of VPPA procurements in the next couple of years as renewable energy policy intensifies. Aligned with its revitalized green mission, Honda’s long-term plans go far beyond clean energy purchases, as it continues its commitment to sustainability. The company similarly announced plans to electrify two-thirds of its manufactured vehicular fleet so that they are charged via renewable energy by 2030. + Honda Motor Company Image via Honda Motor Company

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Designer stylishly revamps a geodesic dome

September 2, 2019 by  
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After more than 15 years styling vacation homes in Massachusetts’ Berkshires, Jess Cooney and her design team have become specialists in combining clean-line elegance with a space where kids, house guests and dogs can play, relax and have fun. But taking on a geodesic dome in the tiny Berkshires town of Becket was a new challenge for Jess Cooney Interiors — a challenge that the team overcame with much success. “This was the first we worked on,” Cooney told Inhabitat. “We liked the challenge of making the space really efficient while working with all the angles in the space.” Finding flat areas in the geodesic dome home for vanities and appliances proved especially tricky. Related: Escape the everyday in this Geodesic Dome House in Palm Springs The 2,567-square-foot lakefront cabin was built in the 1980s and is owned by a Boston couple. A central spiral staircase connects the main level, basement and loft. Buckminster Fuller developed the geodesic dome in 1954, seeking to enclose maximum space with minimal internal supports. During the 1960s and ‘70s, dome popularity grew. Cooney faced the challenge of making what looked like a futuristic design in midcentury appear elegant and modern today. When the Boston couple bought the geodesic dome , it was crying out for a makeover. Dark wood paneling, dated finishes and old heating and electrical systems were dragging it down. Plus, old wall-to-wall carpeting wasn’t friendly to the sandy feet of guests. The team got to work stripping finishes and carpeting. Walnut flooring is a key improvement. “The lower level has wood plank flooring that are tiles in place of wood flooring that work really well for people coming in and out of the lake,” Cooney said. The design team added radiant heat and new treads on the staircase. Cooney also saw the importance of balancing open space for family time with more private areas. The designer said the most interesting aspects of the project were “the windows and the different materials we brought in with bamboo , oak and the high level sheetrock we put in place of the old wood paneling on the ceiling.” Instead of dark paneling, the dome’s interior is now a stunning white, which makes the most of the vaulted ceiling and the large, striking triangular windows. Daylight fills the main living area, and views of the surrounding trees are a blink away. Cooney chose calming colors throughout most of the geodesic dome , such as a silvery velvet sofa and blue armchairs. Guests can relax around a fireplace complete with a floating oak mantel. “The kitchen was the most challenging for us,” Cooney said. “But by creating a pantry in the back, we were able to make the whole space work well.” The family can choose between eating in the larger main dining space, or a more intimate eating area with a circular table. Local, third-generation cabinet maker Erik Schutz custom-built both the dining table and the kitchen table. Upstairs is the light-filled master bedroom, illuminated by a hexagonal skylight and side windows. A slate bed frame by Old Bones Co enhances the clean, modern look. The guest bedroom incorporates concrete nightstands by Fourhands with a woven chair from Orient Express. The bathroom is the biggest splash of color, with gorgeous teal tiles made all the more eye-catching because most of the design is so neutral. The basement offers additional living space, with comfy chairs and ottomans. Cooney also fit in an office and mudroom. Now, the owners are adding an outdoor deck and new landscaping to truly make the most of the home, inside and out. + Jess Cooney Interiors Via Dezeen Photography by Lisa Vollmer Photography via Jess Cooney Interiors

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Designer stylishly revamps a geodesic dome

Industrial building is reimagined as a zero-carbon paragon for Paris 2024 Olympics

June 19, 2019 by  
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In anticipation of the upcoming Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, French architectural firm Jakob + MacFarlane has set its sights on reinventing a large, post-industrial facility into an innovative beacon for carbon-neutral design. Located directly adjacent to the planned site for the Olympics in Quartier Pleyel, the existing building is a towering relic of Saint-Denis’ industrial past that now lies at the intersection of major metropolitan projects. The zero-carbon, adaptive reuse proposal, dubbed Odyssee Pleyel, is one of the winning proposals in Reinventing Cities , a competition created by C40 Cities that asked architects to sustainably transform vacant and abandoned spaces in cities around the world. Spanning an area of over 15,000 square feet and rising to a height of nearly 79 feet, the Hall de décuvage Pleyel was previously used to remove electric transformer windings. Rather than tear down the building, Jakob + MacFarlane suggests retrofitting the structure into a carbon-neutral landmark for the city, as it is prominently located on the perimeter of the 2024 Olympics site. In addition to renovating the existing structure, the architects suggest adding a modular wood construction structure and renewable energy systems to ensure energy self-sufficiency. Related: Eiffel Tower site to become a pedestrian-friendly garden “Reflecting the historical industrial heritage of Saint-Denis, the Odyssee Pleyel project showcases thought-leadership in the global clean energy transition in a quest to become a carbon-neutral development,” the architects said. “The Odyssee Pleyel bears witness to the human, technological and cultural achievements of this area. The Energy Plug building is an excellent example of reinventing a former industrial site into a reflexive building of the future.” Topped with hybrid photovoltaic and thermal solar cells, the Odyssee Pleyel would also tap into rainwater collection and reuse to minimize resource demands. Excavated soil from the Grand Paris Express — the Pleyel district is to host one of 72 stations for the 2023 transport project — would be reused and integrated into the Odyssee Pleyel construction site. Most importantly, the zero-carbon building would encourage ecological innovation and awareness by hosting workshops, clean energy start-ups and educational programs on topics of sustainability. + Jakob + MacFarlane Images via Jakob + MacFarlane

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Industrial building is reimagined as a zero-carbon paragon for Paris 2024 Olympics

A Melbourne workers cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home

May 30, 2019 by  
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When a young family with two children approached Melbourne-based practice Gardiner Architects for a renovation and extension of their existing worker’s cottage, sustainable design was at the forefront of their minds. Not only would a small footprint ease the building’s environmental impact, but it would also help the family stick to their modest budget. Consequently, the architects combined passive solar principles with energy-efficient technologies to create the Allan Street House, a solar-powered home full of daylight and contemporary character. Located on a quiet side street in the Melbourne inner suburb of Brunswick, Allan Street House was transformed from a “pokey terrace house” into an open, light-filled house that embraces both indoor and outdoor living. In renovating the property, the architects retained the existing worker’s cottage and added a single-story extension to the rear. In order to ensure the thermal performance of both the new and old structures, the architects compartmentalized the two sections with operable doors, which also offers the added benefit of noise separation. “A tight budget demands lateral thinking to optimise the amount of space, or amount of function, that can be inserted within the least amount of building,” explain the architects. “We employed a few design tricks, such as having the corridor into the new extension expand out to become part of the dining and living room. There is also a study nook at the end of the living area, which is within the same building form, the roof of which continues to the rear boundary to create an external storage area– a cheap, efficient way to gain extra space.” Related: Green-roofed Ruckers Hill House gives curated views of nearby Melbourne Also key to the design was maximizing natural light and creating connections to the outdoors, whether with full-height glazed sliding doors that open up to the backyard or sight lines that bring the eye up and out beyond the cottage. Moreover, the large windows were oriented toward the north for warmth and light, while a large overhang and pergola helps block out the harsh summer sun. For energy efficiency , all the walls and ceilings have high levels of insulation, cross-ventilation is optimized and exposed concrete was used for the floor and equipped with an in-slab hydronic system that provides heating in the communal areas. The home is also topped with solar panels on the roof. + Gardiner Architects Images by Rory Gardiner

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A Melbourne workers cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home

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