LEED Platinum Sitka captures the Pacific Northwest spirit with a lush, fog-enabled courtyard

October 2, 2019 by  
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Local architectural practice Runberg Architecture Group has raised the bar for sustainable design in Seattle with the completion of Sitka, a LEED Platinum-certified multifamily development on target to achieve Seattle’s 2030 Challenge for Planning goals of reducing water and energy use. Built to use nearly a third less energy than the typical baseline design, the 384-unit development features numerous energy-saving systems — Sitka is the nation’s first multifamily project to use a Wastewater Heat Recovery system — as well as a stunning courtyard that mimics the Pacific Northwest landscape with a running stream, tree-covered hilltops and a lounge that resembles a treehouse. Located in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, Sitka is a seven-story building centered on an outdoor courtyard. Runberg Architecture Group drew inspiration from Northwest Modernism and the landscapes of the nearby San Juan Islands to create the project. A sloping green roof and rooftop community garden help capture stormwater runoff as well. The tree-filled courtyard also features a fog system and a treehouse, designed by Seattle’s Lead Pencil Studio, that includes a working fireplace with views of the courtyard. Related: Energy-efficient house embraces panoramic views of Puget Sound “Our mission is to design places where people want to be,” said Brian Runberg of the project’s human-centered design. “When creating Sitka, we asked ourselves what was missing from most of South Lake Union — what would make people feel good about spending time here — and it was green space . We wanted to create an oasis for residents and neighbors in the midst of the hard cityscape.” To minimize energy usage, the architects strategically broke up the building mass to allow natural light and ventilation into the courtyard and interiors. The development also includes LED lighting, EnergyStar appliances, recycled and locally sourced materials, low-flow toilets and fixtures and a high-efficiency 14-foot-diameter fan in the fitness center, all of which contribute to the development’s energy goals. + Runberg Architecture Group Images by Christophe Servieres and Michael Walmsley via Runberg Architecture Group

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LEED Platinum Sitka captures the Pacific Northwest spirit with a lush, fog-enabled courtyard

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

This plant-based ski wax keeps nasty chemicals off the snowpack

October 1, 2019 by  
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For those looking to hit the slopes as the weather cools down, a new eco-friendly ski wax will not only help you glide through the fluffy snowpack but will also help keep the environment free of the dangerous chemicals found in most ski waxes. In a world where nearly all ski wax is made from petroleum, the innovative MountainFLOW eco wax is made entirely from plants. The sight of white snow-covered hills is enough for most skiers to call off of work and hit the slopes, hopefully in a sustainable retreat . But whatever we put on our skis quickly enters the snowpack, eventually making its way into local streams and rivers. Considering that most ski wax is made out of petroleum, this means that pollution during the ski months increases substantially for these water systems. Related: Top 6 sustainable winter resorts for snowboarding and skiing in the US Thankfully, the eco-conscious team at MountainFLOW has kicked off a new Kickstarter campaign to announce the launch of North America’s only line of plant-based ski wax . Designed to keep harmful chemicals out of the environment, this eco-friendly product is rapidly catching the attention of the ski world. Over the years, the team has worked to develop a petroleum-free wax that offers the same hydrophobicity, durability and ease of application that most traditional petroleum-based waxes offer. Not only have they created a product that does just that, but they have created a ski wax that is much better for the environment. Other plant-based ski waxes have been made with soy. Although the MountainFLOW wax does include a little bit of soy, the eco-friendly product uses a high-quality combination of other plant-based waxes that offer a faster, more durable product. The MountainFLOW packaging is also made from 100 percent recycled materials and is completely biodegradable. + MountainFLOW Images via MountainFLOW

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This plant-based ski wax keeps nasty chemicals off the snowpack

Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia

August 26, 2019 by  
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In a bid to keep the notorious heat of Saudi Arabia at bay, Istanbul- and London-based architectural firm Avci Architects has created an upscale, mixed-use complex in the coastal city of Al Khobar that is carefully oriented to maximize natural cooling. In addition to careful site placement and building massing, the architects will add shading elements and an abundance of greenery to create a cool microclimate to encourage use of outdoor space and community building. The project, which has yet to be built, was recently selected as the 2019 Architizer A+ Awards Popular Choice Winner in the Residential Multi-Unit Housing category. Covering an area of approximately 60,000 square meters, the Al Khobar mixed-use development will offer a mix of housing, office space, a hotel, retail space and restaurants as well as a mosque. To protect the privacy of the residential areas, the architects have oriented the openings of the offices to face away from the residences and added pergolas or mashrabiya — decorative enclosed balconies common in Islamic architecture — to shield views with the added benefit of mitigating unwanted solar heat gain . Related: A Mumbai industrial complex becomes a modern, mixed-use campus “The facades are layered in shading elements that are designed appropriately to the orientation of the buildings in relation to the sun,” the architects explained. “Our approach would be to create a massing and facade articulation that becomes reminiscent of old Islamic cities, where a sense of community is created between neighbors by allowing them the opportunity to interact through some of the adjacencies of such articulated spaces at higher levels in the buildings.” The outdoor spaces have also been sheltered from the heat with shade elements, landscaping and evaporative pools so that residents and the public can comfortably enjoy the outdoors for most of the year, barring the most intense summer months. + Avci Architects Images via Avci Architects

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Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia

Cheer Project creates zero-waste products from pine needles

August 26, 2019 by  
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Sourcing materials is the foundation of every design process, but the practice often doesn’t align with sustainable philosophies . Increasingly, companies and individuals alike are seeking natural products that can be used in new and innovative ways. One designer, Gaurav MK Wali, is an example of this goal with his use of discarded pine needles as a 100 percent bio-based and biodegradable material that can be incorporated into a variety of products. The Cheer Project, as Wali has dubbed the innovation, is a result of the desire to solve a fire hazard issue in the nearby forests. According to Wali’s website , “The northern region of India is home to the pine trees. These forests cover most of the lands of Himachal and Uttarakhand, but these states are facing menacing problems caused by an excess of dry pine needles on the forest floor, causing frequent forest fires and several other environmental issues. With a forest cover of about 40,000 square kilometers, the damage is incalculable with no significant solution to the problem yet.” Related: Biodegradable ‘Forest Wool’ furniture is made entirely out of pine needles The process of converting pine needles into a durable product material begins by “shedding” the pine needles into smaller components. Subsequently, a composite is produced by adding natural waxes and binders to the pine needle fibers. For variety, some of the composite is dyed with natural colors from local vegetables and spices. Because the initial and final products are all-natural, the Cheer Project has created a material that is not only bio-based and biodegradable but also water-resistant, fire-resistant and recyclable. Perhaps most importantly, the innovation incorporates materials that are otherwise unused and would feed forest fires. The full manufacturing process produces no waste or pollution. At its core, the Cheer Project is an experiment aimed at finding a sustainable material as an alternative to plastic, petroleum-based products and other environmentally damaging substances. In addition, the goal is to boost the economies of rural areas of Himachal via a sustainable craft . “It has been an experiment to understand the root of a local material and its potential and possibilities in an ever-increasing demand for alternatives for the production of sustainable objects,” Wali said. “The ultimate concept rested on the fusion of local craftsmanship and sustainable utilization of a naturally abundant novel material — the rediscovery of the pine needle.” + Gaurav MK Wali Images via Gaurav MK Wali

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Cheer Project creates zero-waste products from pine needles

This home made of broken bricks features a series of rolling green roofs

August 23, 2019 by  
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Mexico City-based architect Fernanda Canales has unveiled the Terreno House, a beautiful, green-roofed home that was designed with two opposing factors in mind. According to the architect, the house, which was partially constructed out of broken bricks , had to be both resilient against the severe climate and as open as possible to take advantage of the vast natural landscape that surrounds the building. Located in Valle de Bravo, an idyllic lakeside community just three hours west of Mexico City, the 2,100-square-foot home was designed to blend into its environment. Set on a mountain plateau, the house is surrounded by expansive green fields and forested land. Related: Green-roofed home in Poland is made out of reclaimed brick Although the location is known as a popular resort area, the region is infamous for its severe climate of soaring high temps . It also rains almost daily for six months of the year. Accordingly, the team was tasked with not only creating a comfortable home but also designing a structure that would be resilient to the area’s extreme weather. At the same time, the family wanted a vibrant space that would be open and closely connected to the landscape. The building was strategically designed to be an extension of its setting. A low-lying elongated structure, the home is topped with a series of rolling domed roofs surrounded by greenery . The structure’s rough exterior was built out of broken brick, which creates an earthy, natural aesthetic. To create ample open-air space, the designers added four courtyards in the project. These spaces create a seamless connection with the exterior surroundings as well as provide a system of natural air ventilation throughout the home. Inside, smooth concrete ceilings and wood walls and floors create a pleasant contrast to the rough exterior. Daylighting is emphasized through the inclusion of massive windows. + Fernanda Canales Via ArchDaily Photography by Rafael Gamo via Fernanda Canales

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A native meadow green roof camouflages a low-impact Hamptons home

August 5, 2019 by  
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When a husband and wife purchased five acres of bluff top property overlooking the Peconic Bay in the Hamptons, they knew from the beginning that landscape preservation would be a major focus of their future home. To bring their vision of an environmentally sensitive residence to life, the couple turned to Mapos , a New York-based architectural studio that they had worked with previously. By treading lightly on the site, the architects crafted a modernist multigenerational family retreat—the Peconic House—that blends into its meadow setting with a lush green roof, Corten steel exterior and timber interior. Designed in part as a reaction against the “insensitive residential development…and reputation for showing off” that has characterized recent real estate development in the Hamptons , the Peconic House is a callback to the modernist legacy of Long Island’s South Fork. Featuring simple and low-slung proportions, the rectangular 4,000-square-foot shuns ostentatious displays and instead uses a roof of native meadow grasses to camouflage its appearance and minimize its impact on the watershed. The residence also embraces indoor/outdoor living with a 2,000-square-foot terrace that faces the Peconic Bay and culminates in a 75-foot-long infinity-edge lap pool. In positioning the building, the architects were careful to preserve the property’s existing vegetation—particularly a 70-foot-tall sycamore located at the center of the meadow. To relate the architecture to the old-growth forest, the architects relied on a predominately timber palette that includes cedar and reclaimed ipe wood that are complemented by concrete and Corten steel. All materials are left unfinished and will develop a natural patina over time. Related: The Beach Box is the First Hamptons Home Built With Recycled Shipping Containers! Inside the open-plan living area “further abstracts the bluff-top landscape, with unfinished cedar and reclaimed white oak,” note the architects. The blurring of indoors and out are also achieved with 100-foot-long walls of glass that slide open and seamlessly unite the indoor living spaces with the outdoor terrace. The cantilevered roof helps block unwanted solar gain and supports a thriving green roof of native grasses that promote biodiversity. + Studio Mapos Via ArchDaily Images by Michael Moran

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A native meadow green roof camouflages a low-impact Hamptons home

A solar-powered, concrete home in Brazil is a powerhouse of sustainability

July 26, 2019 by  
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São Paolo-based firm Steck Arquitetura has just unveiled the Julieta House, a concrete home that spans nearly 7,000 square feet. Located in the city of Piracicaba, the house is comprised of a concrete shell that provides a strong thermal envelope along with a bevy of sustainable features such as solar power to help the home reduce its energy needs to a bare minimum. Surrounded by a low-lying concrete wall, the three-story home is located on a sloped lot that creates extra space for its large volume. The partially-embedded ground floor houses the garage, storage space and maintenance equipment. Related: Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system The main living area is located on the first floor, where high ceilings with sunken spaces add a sense of whimsy to the atmosphere. The main social areas, along with the private bedrooms, all boast a modern, minimalist design. Sparse furnishings bring out the warm palette of wood and concrete that is further enhanced by an abundance of natural light . At the heart of the home is the massive swimming pool . Thanks to a few savvy design techniques, the indoor area and outdoor area have a seamless connection. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors slide completely open to create one large, open-air living space, which includes easy access to the pool. Concrete features prominently throughout the design. From the exterior envelope to the concrete roofs that have several shade-providing overhangs, the raw concrete surfaces throughout the home create an interesting juxtaposition with the Mediterranean-style layout. In addition to the tight thermal envelope, the home also boasts a number of sustainable features. A green roof shares space with a solar array hooked up to meet the home’s energy needs, including the solar-powered water heater. Additionally, using the wet Brazilian climate to its advantage, the home was installed with a rainwater catchment system that is used to irrigate the gardens. + Steck Arquitetura Via ArchDaily Photography by Adriano Pacelli via Steck Arquitetura

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MVRDV designs BREEAM excellent-seeking sustainable research lab for Amsterdam

July 25, 2019 by  
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A new facility for researching sustainable technologies and green business models is coming soon to the heart of Amsterdam Science Park. MVRDV recently unveiled designs for Matrix 1, an office and laboratory complex that will be home to the University of Amsterdam’s Sustainalab, a specialist research facility aimed at stimulating creative cooperation between academia, government, and businesses on sustainable solutions to environmental problems. Sustainability will also be woven into the design of the building, which will target BREEAM excellent certification and be powered with rooftop solar panels. Located on the east side of Amsterdam , Matrix 1 at Amsterdam Science Park will span 13,000 square meters. The SustainaLab will occupy a quarter of the building footprint. To open the new facility up to the existing buildings on campus, which include the six existing buildings of the Matrix Innovation Center as well as the University of Amsterdam’s Facility of Science, Mathematics and Computer Science buildings, the architects will clad a large portion of Matrix 1 in glass to ensure that the building will be “open and social.” The focal point of the building will be a spacious zigzagging staircase that’s fully visible from the outside. Prominently located at the entrance, the stairwell serves as the social heart of the building that stimulates interaction and “provides a balance in the building between the standardized laboratories and a playful, people-oriented architecture— an important consideration in a building where tech workers, who have high expectations for the quality of their office spaces, will share with science workers, for whom laboratories are unable to provide the same perks,” say the architects in a press release. “Matrix 1’s stairwell will thus allow scientific workers to feel pampered in the same way that has been normal in the tech sector.” Related: Amsterdam announces plan to ban all polluting cars by 2030 To meet BREEAM excellent standards, the six-story building will be optimized for flexibility and reusability. Office spaces can be easily transformed into laboratory spaces and vice versa. The building’s steel structure and concrete floors can also be dismantled for reuse in the future. In addition to solar panels, landscaping will top the roof to contribute to biodiversity and water buffering. + MVRDV Images by MVRDV

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Scientific consensus reaches beyond 99% on human-caused climate change

July 25, 2019 by  
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Researchers have released three additional studies confirming the consensus among scientists that climate change is real. More than 99 percent of scientists have reached the same conclusion that global warming is real and caused by human activity, with findings showing that current warming is unprecedented when compared to the last 2,000 years. Even though most deniers are political or corporate-backed — rather than driven by science — scientists continue to release worrisome research repeating and reconfirming that all evidence indicates climate change is real in hopes that the consensus itself will be convincing. Related: Climate anxiety — is hopelessness preventing us from confronting our biggest challenge? “There is no doubt left — as has been shown extensively in many other studies addressing many different aspects of the climate system using different methods and data sets,” said Stefan Brönnimann of the University of Bern. The three studies were published in Nature and Nature Geoscience and indicate that the temperature spikes over the last few decades have not been as dramatic over the last 2,000 years . While there have been other roving and site-specific temperature changes, such as the Little Ice Age , the current record-breaking temperatures impact the entire globe. The researchers used proxy indicators such as evidence in trees , ice and sediment, which show that changes in climate have never been as severe as they are now. “The good news is public understanding of the scientific consensus is increasing,” said researcher James Cook, who wrote the original paper on scientific consensus in 2013. “The bad news is there is still a lot of work to do yet as climate deniers continue to persistently attack the scientific consensus.” Last week, the original paper was downloaded for the one millionth time, making it the most-read study by the Institute of Physics. Cook also wrote a follow-up to this study, but because of the recent rise in disasters and interest in climate change , he plans to revise his paper again. Via The Guardian Image via Christopher Michel

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