Sustainable office renovation in Barcelona earns LEED Gold

September 15, 2021 by  
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Designed by Sanzpont Arquitectura, this sustainable renovation completely transformed a 1970s office building in Barcelona,  Spain . The project, a new headquarters of the Naturgy Group, overcame several structural obstacles to achieve LEED Gold certification. The building includes a main facade with large windows for ample  natural light . A series of photocatalytic krion 3D modules also give the building the ability to purify the air. The south facade incorporates photovoltaic louvers to protect from the sun in the summer while generating clean energy. According to the designers, the louvers generate enough energy to power 1,562 points of light for four hours a day for up to 35 years. Related: This O-shaped tower will reduce solar gain by 52% The building also has a large portion of its roof dedicated to a  natural green space . Landscapers incorporated drought-tolerant native plant species that provide extra insulation, improve the microclimate and help reduce solar gain. How did the architects develop such a sustainable design? To start, they conducted a detailed study of the area’s climate and environment to determine the characteristics of the building and how it responds to its surroundings throughout the year. The project was also designed using the latest BIM cloud technology to create virtual models of architecture, engineering,  interior design  and the urban environment before bringing the project to fruition. One of the challenges presented to the designers was the existing structure’s insufficient pre-existing floor heights and deformed slabs. The original use for the building was limited to housing — with structural regulatory requirements far below that of modern constructions. The building was changed from housing to offices by modifying and eliminating patios and adding access ramps to the basements. New supports were added, such as an emergency staircase and a new foundation. At 7,000 square meters in size, the newly renovated building also uses  carbon fiber  to reinforce concrete slab ribs and pillars.  + Sanzpont Arquitectura  Images by Sergio Sanz (courtesy of Sanzpont)

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Sustainable office renovation in Barcelona earns LEED Gold

14 eco-friendly van life essentials every vanlifer needs

September 15, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Whether you’re hitting the trail for a weekend trip or committing to van living, there are some items you need to make your time more enjoyable. These eco-friendly van life essentials will keep you comfortable and help reduce your environmental footprint. Wildland Coffee Minimize the coffee -making supplies required for your cup of joe with Wildland’s Coffee in a Tea Bag. This convenience produces your morning brew in five to eight minutes. Simply prepare it as you would tea; drop the compostable coffee bag into hot water and allow it to steep. Conscientious coffee lovers will appreciate that Wildland Coffee uses ethically sourced beans from Brazil. Related: Couple turns old van into home-on-wheels for just $1K Layover travel blanket A light, packable blanket can go where you go. At only 11.4 ounces, the Layover by start-up Gravel will clip on to your day pack or stash away in the van with packed measurements of about 5 inches by 7 inches. Even better, the compressible insulation is made up of 100% recycled PET plastic. Allez Another ethically sourced essential, Allez uses plant-based ingredients for natural cleansing. The cloths are biodegradable , compact, lightweight and handmade in the U.S.A. Through a partnership with Purchase to Protect, Allez has stewarded over eight acres of protected rock climbing areas. Bee’s Wrap There’s no reason to fill your drawers (or your garbage can) with plastic wrap. Instead, grab some Bee’s Wrap for your food storage needs. The wraps are compact, come in a variety of sizes and reduce  waste . Bee’s Wrap is made in the U.S. from certified organic cotton, responsibly sourced beeswax, certified organic plant oils, and tree resin. Mioeco reusable towels Skip single-use paper towels and napkins in favor of bleach-free, organic cotton reusable ‘ unpaper ’ towels. The GOTS-certified material is produced via carbon-neutral,  solar-powered  manufacturing too. Osprey Arcane bag Adventure requires gear. Whether heading to the library for research on your next destination or packing up for a week in the wild, the Osprey Arcane series has you covered with bags that keep your smaller items organized and your essentials close at hand. Every bag is constructed from 100% recycled polyester fabric made from water bottles and offers a lifetime repair guarantee. Big Potato Games We all need a little entertainment in our lives, so when choosing games for your limited space, look to Big Potato Games , a brand dedicated to using the smallest box possible for space efficiency in shipping and storage. The company has also implemented a  plastic -free initiative, aiming to make 64% of its games plastic-free by the end of the year. Plus, the brand plants one tree for each game sold, supporting mangrove trees in Madagascar and working toward reforestation in Mozambique and Kenya. Plants Speaking of trees, your van life also needs some greenery, so select a cute flower pot and a favorite  plant  to hang indoors during your journey. Succulents are a resilient and popular choice that will brighten up any space. Reli. biodegradable trash bags Although you may be close to zero waste, it seems there’s always some trash to deal with. When the need calls, ‘ Reli ’ on biodegradable bags that break down in the landfill after being exposed to soil, air and  water .  All-natural sponges Even if you move all your belongings into a van, cleaning is still part of life, unfortunately. When choosing tools for the job, go with  natural materials . Standard sponges are often made using polyester or nylon, which is not recyclable or biodegradable. In contrast, Helping Out Mother Earth sponges are all-natural. Bite Toothpaste Continue your zero waste journey with toothpaste bits that come in a reusable glass jar instead of a tube. Bite Toothpaste Bits are made with natural, plant-based ingredients, and refill packs are made from 100% biodegradable cellulose. Wood utensils Food tastes better in nature, and cooking is better for the planet when you eliminate plastic from the process. Stock up on bamboo cooking utensils, or sets made of sustainably sourced wood.  Canning jars You may not be canning jam or salsa, but canning jars are the ideal storage device throughout the entire van. Use half-pint jars for herbs and spices and larger jars for nuts and seeds. Outside the kitchen, use a jar to store cotton balls and swabs, make an easy toothbrush holder or pot plants. Clothing  A minimalist van lifestyle means choosing quality over quantity, especially when it comes to clothing . Whether you’re dressing for work or the mountain, look for natural materials that will biodegrade back into the soil at the end of the piece’s usable life. Brands like prAna, Patagonia, Tentree, and Cotopaxi can get you started. Reviewing the essentials Wildland Coffee and Allez sent sample products for me to try out. Although I haven’t moved into van life quite yet, it’s on my radar. I am an avid backpacker and camper , however, so both products are a good lifestyle match. The Wildland Coffee is a ‘wild’ idea. I typically go with French press or drip when I have room. When I don’t, I use a funnel and an unbleached coffee filter that I bury afterward. But a simple tea bag in hot water is brilliant and simplifies the process immensely. It doesn’t get any easier to make a cup of coffee. The flavor is described as chocolatey and creamy. I wouldn’t say there’s that level of complexity, but it’s worlds better than instant coffee (yuck!), and the flavors are mild and well-balanced. I would be grateful to have this brew as part of my backpacking wake-up call. The Allez wipes are ultra-convenient, especially considering space and weight constraints when backpacking. I was shocked at the generous size. They’re very thick, too. I think I could wipe down my car with these things, so they can certainly handle anything nature throws my way. Better yet, they didn’t leave my skin feeling stripped like a lot of wipes do. I’m extremely sensitive to scents, so the Cactus Bloom and Chaparral scent was a little strong for me. That said, my husband’s sniff test didn’t find it to be overpowering, and he really enjoyed using the cleansing cloths himself. Images via Wildland Coffee, Allez, Osprey, Lindsay McCormick , Pixabay , and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat 

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14 eco-friendly van life essentials every vanlifer needs

A green roof makes Lazy House a sustainable beauty

August 9, 2021 by  
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Lazy House’s design emphasizes the relationship between house, garden and city. Each element flows together in this beautiful, harmonious home. Part of a new urban area in the Czech Republic , Lazy House is located above the Zlín valley on a slope that connects to the Lazy residential district. With its lower floor base sunk into the slope, the house has a square floor plan with a rotated layout. The house sits facing the north and the valley below to create gorgeous views. Related: 4 green-roofed volumes combine to form one eco-friendly home The floor plan is divided into two separate guest sections with separate access. There’s also room for a wine cellar and a swimming pool with a grotto. A “social zone” area houses the dining room, living room and kitchen. This is in the central part of the home. The master suite area has a walk-in closet and a “secret” bathroom door. Meanwhile, the two smaller bedrooms share a bathroom. The western part of the house has a guest apartment with a separate entrance, terrace and garden. The unique layout helps eliminate the need for hallways and corridors so that the space is used for living and not for connecting areas. Lazy House is constructed out of reinforced concrete with high-performance thermal insulation . Adapted from the original brick design, the wine cellar features interior steel waxed shelves and a roof covered with Irish moss. The green roof over the main portion of the home creates the look of an infinity meadow that blends into the landscape. The house showcases an open concept that creates stunning panoramic views of the surrounding city. Vegetation around the house creates privacy without destroying this beautiful view. Tall grasses and bamboo plants form a green “fence” of sorts around the property. The design aims to be seamless, streamlined and flowing, like nature itself. Even the garden is made to look like a smooth, natural green carpet. + Petr Janda Photography by BoysPlayNice

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A green roof makes Lazy House a sustainable beauty

This island home has a green roof seeded with native, drought-tolerant plants

July 30, 2021 by  
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Lone Madrone is a 1,600-square-foot vacation retreat located on a rocky, south-facing shoreline on Orcas Island, a horseshoe-shaped islet in the San Juan Islands archipelago off Washington state. The home’s green roof is landscaped with a variety of plants and vegetation that are both native and drought-tolerant, a feature that designers hoped would increase the biodiversity value of the area. The home, called Lone Madrone, is built for a family of four and is clad in wood . It utilizes a simple design to blend into its natural surroundings and mimic the hillside slope that hits behind it. What’s more, Lone Madrone is also tucked into a naturally forming depression in the shoreline landscape (known as “wedge shape geometry”) in order to diminish its visual impact and minimize exposure to the weather as well. Related: Kauhale Kai is a solar-powered, pavilion-style home on Hawaii’s Big Island Although the living spaces are completely open to gardens on the northern side and water on the southern side via a custom lift sliding door mechanism, the bedrooms are built with much more privacy in mind. The private rooms are located on the forested slopes to the west, while the kitchen opens to the east. All of the main openings are paired with rolling wall panels to both provide security and protect the house from winter storms, given the extreme weather exposure of the site. A variety of local woods were used during construction, including douglas fir for the floors and trim, western red cedar for the siding, walls and ceilings, and pacific madrone for the interior furniture. The site itself is part of the San Juan Islands National Monument, characterized by its sensitive shoreline and marine environments. As a result, the designers incorporated their understanding of near-shore ecology as part of the design with a garden roof. The green roof features native plants to provide habitats for coastal insects, which have become a critical food source for local endangered Chinook salmon. According to the designers, the roof helped replace 90% of the vegetative footprint lost to construction.  + Heliotrope Architects Photography by Sean Airhart via Heliotrope Architects

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This island home has a green roof seeded with native, drought-tolerant plants

Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

October 27, 2017 by  
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In November, voters in Denver, Colorado will go to the polls to approve or disapprove a new ballot initiative that would require most new buildings of at least 25,000 square feet and some older buildings to include a green roof . The roofs would have to be covered with trees, vegetables or other plants that add aesthetic value and mitigate the urban heat island effect. Although the idea of green roofs is broadly popular, the mandate to require them is somewhat controversial. Nonetheless, supporters are optimistic that voters will ultimately approve the bold and beautiful policy to add even more green to the Mile High City. Denver’s proposed green roof mandate takes cues from Toronto , which implemented the policy seven years ago, becoming the first city in North America to require green roofs. Although San Francisco recently adopted a mandate for green roofs on new buildings, Denver would be the first to transform rooftops on existing buildings through the mandate. Supporters see real environmental and economic benefits from such a broad adoption of green roofs. A new study from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the Green Infrastructure Foundation estimated that the adopted initiative would create 57.5 million square feet of green roofs by 2033 and generate $1.85 billion in energy cost savings and other benefits over the next 40 years. “We have all these flat roofs with all this space, and we’re not doing anything with them,” said Brandon Rietheimer, the initiative’s campaign manager, according to the Denver Post . “Why aren’t we putting solar or green vegetation up there? … We hear all the time that Denver is an environmentally friendly city, yet we rank 11th for air quality and third for heat islands.” Related: Denver food desert raises $50K for first community-owned grocery store Although the idea may be appealing, it still faces a mountain of opposition before it becomes law. “I think it would be great if we all had green roofs,” said Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman. “They’re so lovely. But the mandate is what worries me. … If you have so much support for it, then why wouldn’t the market just take care of it?” Even Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has come out against the measure, stating that it was “not the right approach” for the city. Despite heavy opposition, the initiative may prove endearing to the Denver electorate, particularly in an off-year election . Political analyst Eric Sondermann said, “I think the risk to the opposition is that it’s under the radar and it just looks good, looks cutting-edge, feels good and that no one digs into it”. Via The Denver Post Images via Denver Green Roof Initiative

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Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

October 27, 2017 by  
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In November, voters in Denver, Colorado will go to the polls to approve or disapprove a new ballot initiative that would require most new buildings of at least 25,000 square feet and some older buildings to include a green roof . The roofs would have to be covered with trees, vegetables or other plants that add aesthetic value and mitigate the urban heat island effect. Although the idea of green roofs is broadly popular, the mandate to require them is somewhat controversial. Nonetheless, supporters are optimistic that voters will ultimately approve the bold and beautiful policy to add even more green to the Mile High City. Denver’s proposed green roof mandate takes cues from Toronto , which implemented the policy seven years ago, becoming the first city in North America to require green roofs. Although San Francisco recently adopted a mandate for green roofs on new buildings, Denver would be the first to transform rooftops on existing buildings through the mandate. Supporters see real environmental and economic benefits from such a broad adoption of green roofs. A new study from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the Green Infrastructure Foundation estimated that the adopted initiative would create 57.5 million square feet of green roofs by 2033 and generate $1.85 billion in energy cost savings and other benefits over the next 40 years. “We have all these flat roofs with all this space, and we’re not doing anything with them,” said Brandon Rietheimer, the initiative’s campaign manager, according to the Denver Post . “Why aren’t we putting solar or green vegetation up there? … We hear all the time that Denver is an environmentally friendly city, yet we rank 11th for air quality and third for heat islands.” Related: Denver food desert raises $50K for first community-owned grocery store Although the idea may be appealing, it still faces a mountain of opposition before it becomes law. “I think it would be great if we all had green roofs,” said Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman. “They’re so lovely. But the mandate is what worries me. … If you have so much support for it, then why wouldn’t the market just take care of it?” Even Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has come out against the measure, stating that it was “not the right approach” for the city. Despite heavy opposition, the initiative may prove endearing to the Denver electorate, particularly in an off-year election . Political analyst Eric Sondermann said, “I think the risk to the opposition is that it’s under the radar and it just looks good, looks cutting-edge, feels good and that no one digs into it”. Via The Denver Post Images via Denver Green Roof Initiative

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Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

October 27, 2017 by  
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In November, voters in Denver, Colorado will go to the polls to approve or disapprove a new ballot initiative that would require most new buildings of at least 25,000 square feet and some older buildings to include a green roof . The roofs would have to be covered with trees, vegetables or other plants that add aesthetic value and mitigate the urban heat island effect. Although the idea of green roofs is broadly popular, the mandate to require them is somewhat controversial. Nonetheless, supporters are optimistic that voters will ultimately approve the bold and beautiful policy to add even more green to the Mile High City. Denver’s proposed green roof mandate takes cues from Toronto , which implemented the policy seven years ago, becoming the first city in North America to require green roofs. Although San Francisco recently adopted a mandate for green roofs on new buildings, Denver would be the first to transform rooftops on existing buildings through the mandate. Supporters see real environmental and economic benefits from such a broad adoption of green roofs. A new study from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and the Green Infrastructure Foundation estimated that the adopted initiative would create 57.5 million square feet of green roofs by 2033 and generate $1.85 billion in energy cost savings and other benefits over the next 40 years. “We have all these flat roofs with all this space, and we’re not doing anything with them,” said Brandon Rietheimer, the initiative’s campaign manager, according to the Denver Post . “Why aren’t we putting solar or green vegetation up there? … We hear all the time that Denver is an environmentally friendly city, yet we rank 11th for air quality and third for heat islands.” Related: Denver food desert raises $50K for first community-owned grocery store Although the idea may be appealing, it still faces a mountain of opposition before it becomes law. “I think it would be great if we all had green roofs,” said Denver City Councilwoman Mary Beth Susman. “They’re so lovely. But the mandate is what worries me. … If you have so much support for it, then why wouldn’t the market just take care of it?” Even Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has come out against the measure, stating that it was “not the right approach” for the city. Despite heavy opposition, the initiative may prove endearing to the Denver electorate, particularly in an off-year election . Political analyst Eric Sondermann said, “I think the risk to the opposition is that it’s under the radar and it just looks good, looks cutting-edge, feels good and that no one digs into it”. Via The Denver Post Images via Denver Green Roof Initiative

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Denver might require green roofs on new large buildings

Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year

October 24, 2017 by  
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Six years ago, Bjarke Ingels Group unveiled plans for a ski slope power plant that could provide the city of Copenhagen with electricity, hot water, and a steady stream of recycled materials. It’s a wild design, and we never thought it’d see the light of day – but fast forward to 2017, and Copenhill is nearly complete. The waste-to-energy plant is currently operational, and by the end of next year it will be topped with 30 rooftop trees, the world’s tallest artificial climbing wall, and a 600-meter ski slope. Inhabitat recently traveled to Copenhagen for a first look inside this landmark building – hit the jump for our exclusive photos. When it officially opens next year, the Amager Bakken waste-to-energy plant will process 400,000 tons of waste annually to provide 160,000 homes with hot water and 62,500 homes with electricity. The new plant replaces the aging Amager Resource Center, and it’s able to produce 25% more energy while cutting CO2 emissions by 100,000 tons per year. Despite the fact that the plant effectively burns trash, its emissions are remarkably clean thanks to advanced filtration technology – the air in the plant’s vicinity is actually healthier than in Copenhagen’s city center. The plant will also enable the city to salvage 90% of the metals in its waste stream, and it will yield 100,000 metric tons of ash that will be reused as road material. Did we mention that it’s designed to blow enormous smoke rings? BIG Project Manager Jesper Boye Andersen told Inhabitat that “The completion date is after summer 2018, we are still pushing for the smoke rings, and we have proven that the technology works.” The building’s facade is made up of staggered metal planters that vary in size and shape to carefully control solar exposure. When it rains, each planter will drain into the one below it to sustain a flourishing vegetated wall. Copenhill’s roof will made from an artificial turf material, and it will be open to skiers and snowboarders all-year-round. In addition to the ski slope, the roof will feature a cafe, a running path, and the world’s largest artificial climbing wall, which will measure 86 meters tall by 10 meters wide. According to recent estimates, the total cost of the plant will be 4 billion DKK (about $632 million). It was financed by five nearby municipalities that will benefit from the energy, hot water, and other resources it produces. + BIG + Amager Resource Center Inhabitat was invited to Denmark by Visit Copenhagen , which paid for meals and lodging for 3 days

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Denmark fires up its Copenhill power plant, with ski slopes set to open next year

40% of China’s factories shuttered in pollution crackdown

October 24, 2017 by  
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Is China at last cracking down on factory pollution ? The country’s Ministry of Environment inspectors have charged, fined, or reprimanded officials from over 80,000 factories in 10 provinces in the last year, according to NPR. One estimate indicates around 40 percent of the country’s factories have been at least briefly shuttered. Whole industrial regions have been temporarily closed in China, while inspectors conduct surprise inspections. They’ve cut gas and electricity to discover which businesses are adhering to the country’s environmental laws, and which aren’t. Some companies have moved their entire supply chains over to Bangladesh or India to keep up with orders. Related: Beijing creates new environmental police force to crack down on smog Michael Crotty told NPR in his almost 20 years in China, he has never seen a crackdown like this. He’s the president of MKT & Associates, which exports textiles from the country. He said the crackdown reminds him of America post-Clean Water Act in the 1970’s. He told NPR, “At that time, we in the textile business saw many dyeing and printing houses shut down because they couldn’t comply with the regulations. We’re seeing a similar process taking place here in China, and it’s much, much bigger. The disruption is larger.” MKT & Associates general manager Archie Liu estimated 40 percent of factories have been at least briefly closed in the flurry of inspections. Shanghai-based environmental lawyer Peter Corne told NPR emissions are now watched in real time, and fees are slapped on factories when they discharge more than allowed by law. He said implementation will be different – accomplished not by the environment ministry, which will only be monitoring, but the tax bureau. This is key because according to Corne, the country’s tax bureaus are supported by rigorous laws that tend to be aggressively enforced. Crotty said Americans shopping during the holidays could see higher prices due to the pollution crackdown in China – but that’s a small price to pay for a cleaner environment . Via NPR Images via Depositphotos

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40% of China’s factories shuttered in pollution crackdown

A luscious open-air ‘urban forest’ tops this formerly abandoned penthouse

October 17, 2017 by  
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Parisian firm Matteo Cainer Architects just unveiled plans to convert an old abandoned apartment into a beautiful solar-powered penthouse filled with natural light and pockets of lush green vegetation. The renovation of the 1,400 square-meter space – referred to as “La Forêt Urbaine” – includes a lush open-air urban forest that echoes the many surrounding parks below. Located on a central Paris street with striking 360-degree views of the city’s landmarks, the original apartment, which had been empty for some 30 years, was broken up into two floors with several rooms. To create an open layout, the renovation began by tearing down walls and reconfiguring the living space . Related: Explore Andrew Franz’s Greenery-Covered West Village Penthouse Addition and Townhouse Renovation Several sustainable features were used to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. Solar panels were installed on the rooftop’s veranda and the living space was installed with in-floor heating and cooling. The various windows allow the homeowners to take advantage of natural ventilation in order to reduce energy use year-round. In an attempt to bring in the surrounding green space to the home, multiple garden pockets were installed within and around the living spaces, which are clad in glazed walls. The result is a beautiful open floor plan filled with greenery and natural light . Of course, at the heart of the project, is the expansive rooftop garden with spectacular city views. The landscape design really shines here, with different sections being distinguished by their uses by sculptured bushes and trees. The large area includes an outdoor dining area, a lounge space with a fire place and even an open-air cinema. A glass veranda houses an enclosed large entertainment area and a gym, both installed with several hanging gardens. + Matteo Cainer Architects Images via Matteo Cainer Architects

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