Multi-family timber home perches atop a Norwegian slope

April 25, 2018 by  
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Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter recently completed their latest residence: a multi-family dwelling set atop a steep slope in Oslo , Norway. As with the Norwegian architecture firm’s many other projects, the home is primarily clad in vertical planks of natural timber which helps tie the building into its wooded surroundings. Named the Two-in-One House, the residence houses two families as well as an independent apartment. When the client came to Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter with the project, the brief asked for a house that could comfortably accommodate two families while appearing as a single, unified home. In response, the architects crafted a slender and rectangular cedar -clad volume that emerges from a concrete base. To give the monolithic building a sense of lightness and to take advantage of surrounding views, the building is wrapped in glazing on the lower and top-most levels. Related: Norwegian-inspired timber cabins unveiled for a landscape hotel in France “The main task was for the project to appear as a unify house despite its duality, and still ensure the privacy of both units,” wrote the architects. “The ground floor integrates the main public functions of the homes and elegant windows frame the landscape scenery and invite nature into the building. On the contrary, the first floor protects the intimacy of the families and provides a more introvert area, with windows subtly appearing behind the cedar cladding.” The contemporary home also connects to a series of outdoor terraces on the east. + Reiulf Ramstad Arkitekter Images by Ivar Kvaal

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The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs

April 23, 2018 by  
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This beautiful brownstone in Brooklyn  has been refurbished into the first Passive Plus House in the United States. Located in Carroll Gardens, 78 Third Place features an impressive array of cutting-edge renewable technologies wrapped in a thoughtful renovation that preserves the original home’s historic character. The house, remodeled by Baxt Ingui Architects , saves 80 to 90 percent of the energy needed to heat and cool the building and nearly reaches net-zero energy consumption. The Brooklyn townhouse was originally built in the early 1900s. Baxt Ingui Architects expanded the building to include a new third floor with a mansard and a modern rear addition that nearly doubles the brownstone’s original footprint. “The homeowners’ goal was to create a beautiful, open and inviting home suitable for everyday living and entertaining as well as respecting the historic character of the original house while incorporating high-performance construction,” the architects wrote. “They emphasized the need for abundant natural light throughout the home as well as an open flow when designing indoor/outdoor living spaces.” Related: Park Slope row home renovation marries historic charm with energy-conserving features The architects collaborated with a team of six contractors, three engineers, Passive House consultants and eco-conscious clients to make the upgrades. Baxt Ingui Architects installed low E and argon-filled triple-glazed windows, cellulose insulation and a 387-square-foot Brooklyn Solarworks solar canopy to help offset the home’s energy needs. The well-sealed townhouse is also equipped with a very quiet Energy Recovery Ventilation system, an air-to-air heat pump and an improved gas-condensing boiler. + Baxt Ingui Architects Via ArchDaily Images © John Muggenborg Photography

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The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs

95% of the world’s population breathes unsafe air

April 17, 2018 by  
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Are you breathing clean air ? A new air pollution study suggests you might not be. It found that almost 95 percent of people in the world live in areas with higher fine particle levels than the World Health Organization ‘s air quality guidelines. According to The Guardian , poor communities are taking the brunt of the burden. The Health Effects Institute recently published the State of Global Air/2018 report. They drew upon satellite data and improved monitoring to discover that the majority of us could be breathing unhealthy air. According to the report , “An estimated 95 percent of people live in areas where ambient (outdoor) fine particulate matter concentrations (small dust or soot particles in the air) exceed the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guideline of 10 µg/m3. Almost 60 percent live in areas where fine particulate matter exceeds even the least stringent WHO interim air quality target of 35 µg/m3.” Related: New map reveals world’s most toxic countries The 2018 report also delves into household air pollution. More than one third of the world’s population is exposed to polluted air from the burning of solid fuels for heating or cooking indoors. Reportedly, “For them, fine particulate matter levels in the home can exceed the air quality guidelines by as much as 20 times.” Air pollution has been connected to sickness and early death — just last year, exposure to polluted air played a role in over six million deaths around the world, according to experts. Half of the deaths were in India and China . And the gap between the most and least polluted countries is increasing: it’s now 11-fold compared to six-fold in 1990, Health Effects Institute vice president Bob O’Keefe told The Guardian. But, he said even though countries may have a ways to go on cleaning the air, there are reasons for hope — such as India’s focus on electrification. O’Keefe said China “seems to be now moving aggressively,” as they put stronger controls in place and work to cut coal . You can explore the data from the State of Global Air/2018 on the report’s website . + State of Global Air/2018 Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1 , 2 )

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This stunning brick "cave house" in Vietnam is open to the elements

April 17, 2018 by  
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Vietnamese firm H&P Architects has created a unique “cave” fit for human habitation. Their “Brick Cave” townhouse has three levels of brick walls, each one with apertures that create a playful atmosphere of light and shadow throughout the interior. Pockets of greenery accent the brick construction throughout the house, and a vegetable garden on the roof caps off the structure. Built on a corner lot in ?ông Anh, Vietnam, the home is nestled on the street and blends into the urban landscape. The architects chose to use brick in the construction to create not just a unique home design, but one with an ecological shade system. The multiple walls both filter natural light into the home and shade the interior from the region’s searing summer heat. Related: H&P Architects’ Bamboo Homes Float Above Rising Flood Waters on Recycled Oil Drums The idiosyncratic design is a labyrinth of walkways, stairs and angles illuminated by streams of natural light. In fact, to use the sun to the home’s advantages, the architects conducted a number of studies on the sun’s daily positions in relation to the house. Although the apertures may appear a bit random at first sight, they were strategically implemented to keep the home cool in the summer heat while providing as much natural light as possible. According to H&P Architects , the unconventional combination of bricks and greenery was essential to connect the home to its surroundings: “Brick Cave encompasses a chain of space…with random apertures gradually shifting from openness/publicity to closeness/privacy and vice versa. The combination of ‘close’ and ‘open’ creates diverse relations with the surroundings and thus helps blur the boundaries between in and out, houses and streets/alleys, human and nature.” In addition to having various openings, the walls are slanted inwards. This represents another conscious choice on the part of the architects–the slanted walls provide better viewing angles of the surrounding area and add a sense of nature to the design, letting in elements such as rain and wind. Harsh elements are commonly to blame for house flooding in this region, so the architects wanted a resilient design that would aid in protecting the home by letting the elements pass through it rather than crash into it, essentially creating a safe shelter. + H&P Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Nguyen Tien Thanh

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This stunning brick "cave house" in Vietnam is open to the elements

Stellar views and a small footprint defines this Tasmanian timber cabin

April 12, 2018 by  
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A small abode perched high on the eastern slopes of Tasmania’s Mount Wellington offers spectacular landscape views. Room11 Architects designed the boxy dwelling with a deliberately compact footprint as an “intensely private” retreat that keeps the focus on outdoor views framed by large windows. In addition to enviable views, natural cross ventilation and a wood-burning stove help keep the home, called Little Big House, attuned to nature. Located high above Hobart, Little Big House is an escape from the city set in a forested landscape. The simple residence is clad in vertical unfinished timber in a nod to the local vernacular construction styles of Southern Tasmania. “A small home with big volumes, the house is a bespoke building in a cool climate,” wrote the architects. “Eschewing many of the traditions of Australian architecture , this house is distinctly Tasmanian.” Related: Historic train shed transformed into Tasmanian School for Architecture Polycarbonate cladding on the east and west facades bring additional light to the minimalist interior without compromising privacy. White walls and tall ceilings create a bright and airy atmosphere indoors; the entry, kitchen, and bathroom spaces are finished in black to provide visual contrast. The focus is kept on the double-height living room set next to a long strip of glazing, while the bedroom is tucked above on the mezzanine level. + Room11 Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Ben Hosking

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Stellar views and a small footprint defines this Tasmanian timber cabin

This custom-built tiny house is big on interior design

April 9, 2018 by  
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Washington-based company Handcrafted Movement is making quite the name for itself with custom-made tiny homes. The company’s latest micro dwelling — called the Coastal Craftsman — is so gorgeously designed that you’ll forget it’s only a mere 238-square-foot space. The energy-efficient tiny home has a stunning interior design that is not only open and airy; it is also handcrafted with various reclaimed materials. The home, which is built onto a transportable trailer , is clad in a cream-colored board and batten siding with Pacific Cedar accents, complimented with a dark metal rooftop. A lovely glass-panel door leads into the living space, which has distressed oak flooring that contrasts nicely with the white walls. Throughout the home, the interior design gives off a relaxed beach vibe, enhanced with an abundance of natural light. Related: These solar-powered tiny homes are designed just for millennials The furnishings were all strategically custom-built  to provide personal touches to the home without adding clutter. A chaise lounge-style sofa bed is at the heart of the living area, providing a comfy place to read or watch television. There’s an electric fireplace to keep warm in the winter months, and a vintage desk and chair sit in a small nook under a window. The tiny kitchen has plenty of shelving and cupboards. The space is compact, but efficient and includes a dining table made out of Oregon-sourced, salvaged walnut wood . In the corner of the kitchen, stairs lead up to the sleeping loft, which has enough space for a king-size bed. Matt Impola, the founder of Handcrafted Movement, framed the walls himself and even inserted custom-made roof trusses to add dimension to the tiny home design . The craftsmanship of the project is incredibly impressive. “I built much of the tiny home components—the exterior shutters, kitchen cabinets, bathroom doors, stairs, electric fireplace, television cabinet, coffee counter, dining table, etc. — from scratch, and had two production assistants help me assemble and finish all them,” Impola said. “I’ve seen too many tiny homes with minuscule couches that will not realistically be comfortable for very long, so it’s important for me to be able to fit full-size furniture in every tiny home I build.” In addition to its amazing design, the home was also built with various energy-efficient features such as rock-based Roxul insulation, 10 large energy-star windows, LED lighting, an instant water heater, and a propane oven and cooker. Thanks to these features, the home’s monthly energy costs are incredibly low — an estimated $12 to $25 per month. + Handcrafted Movement Via Dwell Photos via Handcrafted Movement

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Load up on Tabasco while you can – because the island it comes from is being swallowed by the sea

April 4, 2018 by  
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If your idea of the perfect Bloody Mary involves a dash of Tabasco, better stock up while you can. Over one hundred miles west of New Orleans , Avery Island, the birthplace of Tabasco sauce, is disappearing as its land slowly washes away with the sea. As with much of the American Gulf Coast, Avery Island is plagued by rising sea levels, erosion, and human-caused environmental damage. Despite Avery Island’s relatively high elevation at 163 feet above sea level, the island is losing 30 feet of wetland per year due to saltwater encroaching via canals dug by the oil and gas industry. Meanwhile, the island’s elevation is shrinking by a third-of-an-inch each year. Tony Simmons is the latest in a long line of McIlhenny family members to lead the company that has produced Tabasco sauce for 150 years. Simmons’s ancestor Edmund McIlhenny first began making Tabasco sauce after discovering a particularly well-suited pepper plant growing behind a chicken coop on Avery Island, a long-time refuge now retreating. “It does worry us, and we are working hard to minimize the land loss,” Simmons told the Guardian . “We want to protect the marsh because the marsh protects us.” Related: This Louisiana craft beer pioneer ‘went green’ long before it was cool Technically, Tabasco isn’t going anywhere. If Avery Island continues to shrink, McIllhenny may someday have to consider relocating away from its historic homeland. “We don’t think it will come to that, but we are working to do everything we can to make sure it won’t happen to us,” said Simmons. “I mean, we could make Tabasco somewhere else. But this is more than a business: this is our home.” If the island experiences an additional sea level rise of two feet, which is widely expected to occur, only the highest points of the island will be safe. Despite the resilience of the people who live there, the future of Avery Island and similar communities in Louisiana looks stormy. “It is a ripped-up rug. It would take decades to put it back together, even without sea level rise ,” Oliver Houck, an expert in land loss at Tulane University, explained to the Guardian . “Avery Island is going to become an actual island, there won’t be much left. The state has decided to put all its eggs into restoring the eastern part of the state. I hate to use the words ‘written off’, but those coastal communities are on their own.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 2 ) and Paul Arps/Flickr

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Load up on Tabasco while you can – because the island it comes from is being swallowed by the sea

Top 5 Green Gadgets That Will Save You Energy and Money

March 26, 2018 by  
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One of the biggest myths of sustainable design is that you have to spend lots of green in order to go green. Fortunately, there’s a plethora of great gadgets out there that stand to cut down your bills while reducing the amount of electricity you consume. From active solar solutions and energy monitoring systems to ultra-efficient appliances, read on for our top 5 green gadgets that save energy and money. LED Lighting Over the past year energy efficient lighting has proven to be one of the most exciting fields in green consumer tech, and we’ve seen some remarkable advancements in LED technology that stand to save significant amounts of energy while cutting down on your electricity bill. LED lights also last much longer than incandescents and even compact fluorescents – new bulbs by Pharox and Panasonic have life-spans rated for 19-25 years . Although these next-generation bulbs tend to cost a bit more, you can count on technological advances and economies of scale making them cheaper and more plentiful in the years to come. Household Energy Monitors Studies show that if households are able to measure and track energy use, then residents tend to automatically take steps to cut down on electricity use and increase energy bill savings. Of course, our favorite energy monitor for the always-connected web 2.0 set is the Tweet-A-Watt , a household power meter that automatically tweets your home’s energy use. The system is sure to spark a bit of friendly competition among neighboring households, and there’s nothing like a little public accountability to jump-start home energy savings. Portable Solar Chargers Gadget geeks on the go know that keeping charged can be a challenge with today’s energy-draining smart phones and mp3 players. Fortunately we’ve seen a slew of great portable solar chargers that enable you to skip the grid altogether and charge anywhere the sun is shining. The K3 Wind and Solar Charger , the Suntrica Solar-Powered Badge , and the Solio Charger are three of our favorites, and for the fashion-forward set there are even several solar-powered satchels and backpacks out there – our top marks go to Voltaic and Noon Solar . Fuel-Saving Car Systems Anyone who’s ever driven a Prius knows how fun and addictive it can be to save fuel by easing off the gas and watching your milage go up. For those who don’t have a heads-up display handy, Kiwi makes a great fuel-saving system that plugs right into your car’s on-board diagnostic port to gather driving data, analyze it, and offer steps to increase your mileage. The device is compatible with all vehicles made after 1996 and can increase your fuel economy by up to 20%. Energy-Star Rated Appliances TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, and other household appliances make up for a huge amount of your monthly electricity bill, so by selecting more efficient electronics you’ll be saving both energy and money. An easy way to do this is to keep an eye out for the Energy Star label when purchasing new appliances – the certification mandates strict energy efficiency standards and covers practically every area of household technology. Last year alone Energy Star appliances avoided 29 million cars worth of greenhouse gas emissions while saving Americans $19 billion on their utility bills.

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Top 5 Green Gadgets That Will Save You Energy and Money

Check out this Amsterdam house created with trash and items from eBay

March 21, 2018 by  
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Garbage doesn’t need to simply be garbage; it can be used to build new things. At least, that’s what Frank Alsema has done. Profiled by Gizmodo, Alsema is a retired TV producer in the Netherlands who’s been fashioning his home out of garbage and other items he discovered on eBay. He calls the house Palais Récup, or Palace Recover, and he’s turned it into a laboratory for sustainable living. Alsema began his project in 2013, gathering materials he thought were beautiful and then asking an architect, John Zondag , to design a home around them. Over the years, Palais Récup has become a testing ground for urban green living. Alsema not only employs recycled materials  to construct the house, but also works to reuse energy , food scraps, and rainwater . (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Posted by Palais Récup on  Monday, May 15, 2017 Related: Colorful People’s Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials According to Gizmodo, Alsema estimates around 60 percent of the items in Palais Récup are from eBay, including a 19th-century cupboard. A large spiral staircase originally came from a secondhand car shop. Zondag’s website says the house also contains slate from a church roof, a curtain wall comprised of natural stone via a bankrupt estate, and antique interior doors. Solar panels , a central heating pellet stove, green roofs , a heat sink, and “very high insulation values” are also among the home’s features. (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Posted by Palais Récup on  Thursday, February 2, 2017 Palais Récup is a work in progress: some rooms have yet to be finished. But this project is just one of Alsema’s and the nearby community’s efforts to foster circular living. Alsema is helping to create a complex of houses on a lot close by for people who aim to live sustainably. About a mile away, another community of people resides in an old shipyard, attempting to clean polluted soil in the area with plants. Alsema believes that “as we want to change the world…we have to do something, and we have to do it quick…And for that we need a lot of citizens who are going to hack the system, play with the system…If I can do it in Amsterdam North, you can do it. And we can do it together. And we need this system change to create a circular city and create a better world.” + Palais Récup Via Gizmodo Image via Palais Récup Facebook

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Check out this Amsterdam house created with trash and items from eBay

Antony Gibbon’s Flux House appears to float on the water’s surface

March 19, 2018 by  
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Architect Antony Gibbon  has unveiled yet another incredible structure – this one designed for a future world where homes float on water . The circular Flux House features two rings of thin timber panels , equally spaced around the frame in order to illuminate the interior with a soft diffusion of natural light. Four walkways provide access to the home, which has a large swimming pool at its center. The main house is designed to sit upon a large body of water, creating the effect of being surrounded by a modern-day moat. The timber slats in the facade not only let in natural light, but allow for light to reflect off the water and into the structure. Related: Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone The interior maintains the home’s  circular shape , with the living and dining areas on one side and the bedrooms on the other. The swimming pool, accessible from any room, serves as the focal point of the building. The Flux House design is conceptual at the moment, but, like most of Antony Gibbon’s designs , it could very well be used as a private home or off-grid resort. + Antony Gibbon Images via Antony Gibbons

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