U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

July 10, 2019 by  
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How can we give power back to farmers — and out carbon back into the ground?

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U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

July 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Green

How can we give power back to farmers — and out carbon back into the ground?

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U.S. agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal

This multigenerational smart home boasts energy savings

July 3, 2019 by  
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When a family approached international design practice ONG&ONG to design a home for accommodating multigenerational needs, the firm responded with a contemporary abode that not only caters to residents of different ages, but also boasts a reduced carbon footprint. Located in Singapore, the 37FC House is carefully laid out to make the most of its long and linear plot and to optimize exposure for its rooftop solar panels. In addition to other energy saving systems such as home automation , the multigenerational home is estimated to save 30 percent on energy costs as compared to similarly sized homes. The strikingly contemporary 37FC House stands out from its neighbors with its boxy form spread out across four levels to maximize living space on a narrow lot. Deep overhangs protect the interior from Singapore’s intense heat, while an abundance of greenery planted around the perimeter and on every floor of the house help cultivate a cooling microclimate and provide a sense of privacy for the residents. Retractable full-height glazing creates a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience, while the generous use of teak throughout the home further emphasizes the connection with nature. Related: Singapore’s energy-efficient green heart center Spanning an area of 5,800 square feet, the 37FC House includes four bedrooms across four floors, including the basement and attic. The main service areas and communal spaces are located on the ground floor that opens up to a lushly planted rear garden, where a Sukabumi-tiled lap pool is located. With approximately 1.5 times more floor space than the ground volume, the second floor cantilevers over the ground floor and contains two junior suites in the rear and the master bedroom that opens up to views of the street and garden. The attic houses a guest bedroom, while the basement includes an additional living room. A sky-lit black steel staircase and an elevator join the home’s four floors.  To reduce energy consumption, the home is powered with solar energy. Home automation that can be remotely controlled with a smartphone — such as the EIB system for controlling lighting — also helps with energy savings. + ONG&ONG Images by Derek Swalwell

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This multigenerational smart home boasts energy savings

A potato field is transformed into an award-winning communal home in the Netherlands

May 8, 2019 by  
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Amsterdam-based architectural firm bureau SLA and Utrecht-based ZakenMaker have transformed a one-hectare potato field in the rural area of Oosterwold Almere, the Netherlands into nine connected homes for a group of pioneers seeking a sustainable communal lifestyle. Initially, Frode Bolhuis had approached the architects to construct his dream home, but the very limited budget prompted him to ask eight of his like-minded friends to join to make the project possible. The nine homes—each 1,722 square feet in size—are all located under one roof in the Oosterwold Co-living Complex, a long rectangular building with a shared porch, landscape and vegetable garden. The client’s tight budget largely drove the design decisions behind Oosterwold Co-living Complex. Not only did the project morph into a co-living complex as a result of limited funds, but the architects also decided that only the exterior would be designed and left the design of the interiors up to families. Elevated off the ground for a reduced footprint and to allow residents to choose the location of the sewage system and water pipes, the rectilinear building extends nearly 330 feet in length and appears to float above the landscape. “The façade is designed to give maximum freedom of choice within an efficient building system,” explain the architects. “Each family received a plan for seven windows and doors, which can be placed in the façade. The space between the frames is vitrified with solid parts of glass without a frame. This creates an uncluttered but diverse façade. Oosterwold Co-living Complex demonstrates that it’s possible to achieve a convincing design within a tight budget and which, most importantly, manages to meet the expectations of nine different clients.” Related: How shared space makes four micro apartments in Japan seem much larger For a cost-effective solution to insulation, the architects built the floor, roof and adjoining walls out of hollow wooden cassettes that were then filled with insulating cellulose. Floor-to-ceiling windows open up to a long, communal porch that overlooks the shared landscape and vegetable garden. The windows also bring ample amounts of natural light indoors while the roof overhang helps block unwanted solar gain. The Oosterwold Co-living Complex won the Frame Awards 2019 in the category Co-living Complex of the Year. + bureau SLA + ZakenMaker Images by Filip Dujardin

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A potato field is transformed into an award-winning communal home in the Netherlands

A solar-powered home in Maine rises above the sand dunes on wooden stilts

March 20, 2019 by  
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Portland-based firm  Caleb Johnson Studio has unveiled a beautiful cedar-clad home elevated off the ground on stilts so that the natural “landscape is allowed to flow under the house.” The solar-powered home, named “In the Dunes,” was designed to not only protect the natural dune terrain, but the resilient design also reduces the risk of damage caused by potential coastal flooding. Located in the coastal town of Wells in southern Maine, the three-story home is built on sand dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Due to instability of the dune landscape, the architects decided to elevate the home off the ground by large wooden stilts  built into a concrete plinth. According to the firm, this was a strategic decision to allow the landscape to continue in its natural state under the home. It is also a resilient feature to protect the home from coastal flooding. Related: Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes The design was meant to fit into the local vernacular, comprised mainly of charming beach houses . “This home was influenced by the vernacular coastal structures that can be found dotting the Maine coast,” Caleb Johnson Studio said in a project description. “The building was simplified to pure geometric forms and then manipulated and modernized to take advantage of the sea and marsh views.” With its cedar cladding, pitched roofs (installed with solar panels ) and multiple large windows, the home certainly manages to blend in with its natural surroundings. On the interior, the space is also focused on the incredible views. The ground floor is marked by the large wooden stilts that form a pleasant, open-air space, which wraps around the home with a wooden pathway leading the way to the glass-enclosed entryway. From the front door, a large window surrounded by natural stones leads up to the upper floors. Once inside, an abundance of strategically placed windows provide panoramic views from nearly any angle. An interior design comprised of a neutral color palette and minimal furnishings creates an incredibly welcoming home. + Caleb Johnson Studio Via Dezeen Photography by Trent Bell via Caleb Johnson Studio

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A solar-powered home in Maine rises above the sand dunes on wooden stilts

Are bioenergy facilities the solution to the growing garbage problem?

March 20, 2019 by  
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Have you ever heard of bioenergy? Or, have you ever wondered where your garbage goes once you throw it out? For many people — especially Americans — once their trash leaves the house, there is no more thought about where it goes or what happens to it. As soon as a sanitation worker picks up your garbage , there is no reason to think about the serious problems that massive amounts of waste can cause. Every year, Americans discard about 250 million tons of resources, making them the largest generator of waste on Earth. Approximately 136 million tons are buried, 89 million tons are composted or recycled  and 33 million tons are burned. Yet, have you ever thought about how those methods of trash disposal impact communities and the environment ? In an effort to dispose of trash in a more eco-friendly way, many countries have started increasing the disposal method of waste-to-energy, or bioenergy , because when the garbage is burned, it generates energy. Some countries have even switched to bioenergy completely, like Sweden, who has actually run out of its own trash and imports 700,000 tons annually to meet the capacity of their waste-to-energy plants. In Norway, they are experimenting with fueling their public transportation system with biogas. According to Energy Central, one kilogram of food waste produces a half liter of fuel . The city of Oslo powers 135 buses with their organic waste. It may seem like a good idea to turn trash into energy, but is the process really as environmentally-friendly as it sounds? Related: Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen The Controversy When waste is burned to produce energy and heat, the process produces an enormous amount of smoke. Nearly all of that smoke is carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, and there is nothing clean about that. Could this really be better than recycling or even burying trash in a landfill ? Waste-to-energy is not a “renewable” process because unlike solar or wind, once the waste is burned, that’s it. There is no more energy production from that specific resource. Gayle Sloan, chief executive of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia, says that the goal is to create energy from burning materials that recycling programs leave behind. This means the waste hierarchy is prevention and recycling before bioenergy and landfills. But, according to Jane Bremmer, coordinator of the campaign group Zero Waste Oz, waste-to-energy incinerators are actually a threat to recycling. “We appear to have this system where waste-to-energy incinerations are being allowed to remove material recovery facilities (recycling centers) from their planned projects,” says Bremmer. “They are doing that because it assures their waste stream.” Not only is waste-to-energy emitting greenhouse gasses and threatening recycling, but it can also be polluting the air. Wheelabrator, an incinerator located in Peekskill, New York, burns 2,250 tons of waste every day and provides “clean, renewable electricity.” But, is that an honest claim? The plant emits toxins into the air that can be deadly — 577 million pounds of carbon dioxide and 131,000 pounds of carbon monoxide every year, according to the Emissions Containment Totals Report . Then there is the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen, which means the citizens around that plant are breathing in a plethora of dirty pollutants . Related: Verizon pledges $1 billion for programs that help the environment In Australia, there is also a problem when it comes to funding. Not only are their waste-to-energy plants polluting the air and damaging their recycling programs, but they are also gobbling up cash from government grant and loan programs. “It’s consuming, in a large degree, a petroleum product into an energy stream which produces CO2 equivalent,” says Robin Chapple, Greens Western Australian MP. “We managed to control the emissions, like dioxins, but we are still turning the plastics into a greenhouse gas . If you have a good recycling program which deals well with waste, the feedstock for incineration disappears.” Smart Solutions Inventors from the Center for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) program at the University of New South Wales are attempting to take recycling to the next level . Instead of burning materials to create energy, they have developed a microfactory that can be placed at waste sites that can turn discarded items into molecules which can then be transformed into something new. “If you are using something and then, after a single life, saying, ‘I’m done with it, and I’m going to burn away the fundamental molecules and elements and everything else to release a bit of energy’, then that’s not good,” says UNSW engineering professor Veena Sahajwalla, the head of the SMaRT project. She says that if we simply burn our waste, then we aren’t trying hard enough to find ways to repurpose materials and resources. For Sahajwalla, bioenergy is not the solution to our environmental problems. Via The Guardian Images via Shutterstock

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Are bioenergy facilities the solution to the growing garbage problem?

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life in these bamboo huts built on a remote Vietnamese beach

March 20, 2019 by  
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When it comes to completely disconnecting from the stresses of everyday life, sometimes it’s worth the while to really go off-the-beaten-path. Thanks to Vietnamese architecture firm, VTN Architects , now you can find a little slice of serenity in a very remote area of Vietnam. Located about 2 hours from the nearest port and only accessible by boat, the Castaway Island Resort is comprised of five bamboo guest huts , covered in thatched roofs and engulfed on one side by a verdant mountain range and on the other by a private white sand beach. The Ho Chi Minh City-based firm designed the resort to offer the ultimate in lodging for those who want to reconnect with nature. Located on a tiny island that’s part of the Cat Ba Archipelago, the idyllic area is a well-known tourist destination. Tucked into a soaring mountain range on one side and a private beach on the other, guests at the eco-retreat can enjoy breathtaking views from anywhere inside the bamboo huts and outside the property. Related: Top 6 Must-See Summer Eco Resorts Around the World! Using the natural landscape for inspiration, the architects used environment-friendly bamboo to craft the huts that make up the guests rooms, as well as the restaurant and multi-use pavilion. The huts were built using thin bamboo rods that were treated in a traditional Vietnamese technique that involves soaking the bamboo in mud first and then smoking it afterwards. Once properly treated, the bamboo frames were assembled by bamboo dowel nails and re-enforced by rope. Covered with thatched roofs, the huts not only offer an authentic Vietnamese cultural experience, but also reduce the building’s impact on the existing landscape. Using bamboo as the primary building material meant adding durability to the design, as well as the option to be easily removed without leaving a footprint on the beautiful landscape. Guests will enjoy staying in the spacious guest rooms, but can also enjoy spending time in the restaurant and onsite pavilion. Built in the same style as the bamboo huts , the restaurant is built in a hyperbolic-parabolic shell volume. This shape allows the communal area to be covered, but open on all sides so that guests can take in unobstructed views while they enjoy local fare served by the restaurant. + VTN Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Hiroyuki Oki, via VTN Architects

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Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life in these bamboo huts built on a remote Vietnamese beach

A beachside resort on a remote Indonesian island resembles a traditional village

February 4, 2019 by  
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Indonesian firm Atelier Riri has designed a stunning eco-resort on the Indonesian island of Lombok. The small Kiyakabin Resort is an intimate, village-esque layout with just four cabins that open up to breathtaking, beachside views of the Bali Sea. The retreat’s cabins were made with locally-sourced charred timber and built with traditional construction methods by local builders. The Kiyakabin resort has just four units: three accommodations and a communal restaurant and dining area. The guest rooms are arranged in a strategic manner with the swimming pool at the center. This was an intentional decision by the architects to pay homage to the traditional villages of the local Sasak ethnic group. Related: Eco-resort in Tulum features luxury beach huts made of natural materials “Kiyakabin was designed and built to represent the Sasak culture,” the architecture studio explained. “Built in collaboration with local artisans, Kiyakabin wants to combine the characters of local vernacular living with a modern yet low-energy building concept.” The four cabins were constructed out of a timber frame and clad in locally-grown teak wood that was charred using the Shou Sugi Ban technique . The charred timber facades not only give the resort a modern feel; it is also a strategic feature that will protect the buildings from the affects of the sea climate. Two of the four timber cabins sit on the ground, with one facing the beach and one facing the swimming pool. The third cabin is raised off the ground on stilts to provide stunning views of the natural surroundings. The fourth and largest cabin houses the restaurant and dining area. This space is open on two sides to provide beautiful views as well as natural air circulation while dining. The interior of the guests rooms were clad in the same natural teak wood as the exteriors but without the charred finish. The exposed natural wood, also used in the furniture, creates a soothing living space that contrasts nicely with the dark exteriors. Simple but luxurious bedding and natural woven textures add a bit of local style into the interior design . + Atelier Riri Via Dezeen Photography by William Sutanto via Atelier Riri

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A beachside resort on a remote Indonesian island resembles a traditional village

Eating In: 5 Ways to Start Your Indoor Gardening This Winter

December 21, 2018 by  
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Just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean … The post Eating In: 5 Ways to Start Your Indoor Gardening This Winter appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Eating In: 5 Ways to Start Your Indoor Gardening This Winter

This dreamy Malibu beach house is designed to withstand climate change

August 21, 2018 by  
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Ask any number of people what they envision as their dream home, and the majority will likely respond with something along the lines of, “A house on the beach where I can hear and see the crashing waves.” With the right amount of money (in this instance, $5.7 million), you can make that vision a reality with House Noir, a spacious, three-story beach house in marvelous Malibu, California . Built on the sandy Las Flores beach, just steps from the mighty Pacific Ocean, House Noir has unmatched views of the mountains, sea and Catalina Island. Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) met the challenge of designing an aesthetically pleasing and sustainable home that can also withstand natural disasters and the impacts of climate change : earthquakes, rising sea levels and an eroding coastline. Related: Hurricane-resistant home uses resilient boat-building techniques to weather the storm The team began by elevating the 1,790-square-foot house a generous 20 feet above the beach to accommodate a tall seawall and subterranean caisson foundation (or pier foundation), an impermeable retaining structure sunk into the ground. The added energy-absorbing features help the structure withstand earthquake tremors. To combat the caustic effects of sea air, which can seriously depreciate exterior paint and metal facades, LOHA enveloped the house with aluminum and non-corrosive metal and finished it off with high-quality rustproof paint. The entire exterior package is wrapped in standing-seam siding that is seamlessly molded up the sides of the structure over the roofline, all the way to the roof deck. The luxurious — and well-protected — interior of the home offers mesmerizing views throughout. Full-height glass doors, which lead to oblique balconies, allow ocean breezes to cool the beach house. An open-air staircase ascends from the ground floor up through the heart of the home to the rooftop deck, with perforated metal risers and treads that encourage beams of natural light  to illuminate every floor. Other amenities include a large designer kitchen, imported tiles, European fixtures, white oak floors, an airy mezzanine, two bedrooms, two and a half baths and the spacious, private rooftop deck with an outdoor shower. + Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA) Via Dwell Images via Paul Vu/Simon Berlyn

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