Australian townhouses minimize water and energy use

May 12, 2022 by  
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Green Sheep Collective Architects from Melbourne, Australia answered the call from a client to create an exceptional set of townhouses. They were to be sustainable, high-quality construction with an eye for modern architectural details. We’d say they succeeded. The Alphington Townhouses have unique angles on their facades. In addition to a variety of materials that marry the traditional brick row house style with modern steel and glass. Related: House Offset reinvents New York renovation aesthetics “The challenge was to provide designs that allowed north light to as many spaces as possible on the four north-south sites, while balancing sustainable design features and material selection with the project budget and intended resale values,” the architects explained. The final buyers of the townhomes weren’t predetermined. Therefore, the architects designed with materials that were flexible, low maintenance and low environmental impact to create value for potential buyers. The resulting Alphington Townhouses have open living areas and breezy modern staircases. Also, there are uniquely angled windows, modern finishes in the kitchen and bath. It connects to the outdoors via patio or balcony. Furthermore, a thermally efficient envelope enhanced the use of appropriate materials and systems to minimize energy and water use. Meanwhile, locally-grown and sustainably-sourced ash cladding was used for durability and reduced millage waste. Low-maintenance standing seam cladding and corrugated metal roofing help offset embodied energy in manufacturing. Inside, Vic Ash flooring reduces timber waste. While raking roof forms with central operable clerestory windows allow the “stack effect,” natural ventilation with north light into southern rooms to reduce overheating during the day. The townhouse development achieved energy ratings of up to seven stars and on average exceeded steps targets by more than 100%. Also, the architects aimed to make the development aesthetically pleasing. They did so by easing the elevation of the townhomes down the slope of the street and incorporating lightweight “skins” to reduce the perceived bulk of the building. Additionally, existing trees were kept. And angled timber balcony screens were used to soften the private outdoor spaces. The bricks used for the first floor levels were recycled. As a result, the building looks modern, yet suits the space and looks as if it’s always been there. Internal courtyards have to be the most unique feature of the building beyond materials used, as they provide more natural light and ventilation to all rooms. This helps avoid the common problem of dark interior spaces within townhomes and contributes to the light and airy feeling throughout while connecting inhabitants to the outdoors. + Green Sheep Collective Architects Images via Emma Cross

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Australian townhouses minimize water and energy use

Passive and green design becomes of Annandale House

May 11, 2022 by  
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Day Bukh Architects met the challenges of designing a green home that matches the client’s desire for a minimalist and sustainable lifestyle. Located in the inner city suburb of Annandale in Sydney on a large, wide lot, the home features a variety of green design elements.  Known as the Annandale House, designers capitalized on breezes and natural lighting . They carefully oriented the house on the lot and encompassed the entire width of the land.  Related: Vintage viewfinders inspired this studio in Australia Furthermore, passive design resulted in a highly energy-efficient home that embraces a flow between indoor and outdoor living. The building benefits from a tight envelope with comprehensive insulation throughout. It relies on evaporative cooling, natural ventilation and low-consumption LED lighting. In addition, the home produces renewable energy through the use of solar panels. Water management systems result in low-consumption. Plus, the home is equipped to harvest rainwater .   Using sustainably-sourced building materials was important to the client. As a result, the home is built with a reliance on renewable building materials and eco-friendly products.  While there was a focus on the embodied and operational carbon during construction, the design also sought to increase the density of the site. A “granny flat” was built on the same property, located behind the primary home with the goal of providing additional living or lodging space while sharing resources. The rear addition was situated to capture passive solar elements like natural light and warming during the winter months.  In addition to the two structures, the home features a large deck with built-in kitchen amenities and heaters installed into the ceiling to increase opportunities for outdoor living throughout the seasons .  + Day Bukh Architects Images via Katherine Lu

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Passive and green design becomes of Annandale House

Free solar for LA homeowners offered by GRID Alternatives

May 4, 2022 by  
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With the world struggling to cut emissions , home energy use is a key area that must be addressed. GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles, is working to help homeowners bridge the gap by providing the elusive solar power. The main aim of the organization is to help low- to medium-income homes access solar, initial investment costs notwithstanding. According to Danny Hom, the external affairs manager at  GRID Alternatives , heavy initial investment cost is the main reason why most families are unwilling to install power. On top of that, families also have to think about the cost of maintenance. GRID Alternatives now helps families install solar panels and offer maintenance at zero cost to qualifying families. Related: Affordable solar homes are lifting homeowners out of poverty “To a working-class family, stretching that dollar that they might have been paying for an electric bill , that can go towards savings for retirement, a better car, just a tank of gas, college tuition…whatever working-class families need,” Hom said.  The organization has already installed solar power on more than 2,000 households in Los Angeles and is still carrying out more projects. The biggest challenge has been that few people believe that solar panels could be installed and maintained for free. With the cost of solar installation above the income of most families, the gap remains big. “We want to fortify this community so that people living here can live their best and healthiest lives, and we want to put something directly in their custody and in their pocketbooks,” Hom said. “We’re not here to try and force people to sign up, but we believe if we’re able to empower them with the correct information they’re going to sign up themselves,” Nick Boateng of GRID Alternatives said. One of the beneficiaries of the project, Maria Madrigal, says that she has seen a significant reduction in her electricity bills since installing solar. She admits to having lowered her bill from above $700 to less than $15 just by using solar power . “My electricity bill? It was $14,” she said with a laugh. Although GRID does not force anyone to sign up for the program, it is still trying to reach out to qualifying families to apply. If you live in Los Angeles and would like to apply, check out the requirements on GRID’s  application page . Ashley Christy, GRID’s executive director of great L.A., said “It shouldn’t be, ‘How am I going to put food on my table because I’m paying all these high bills?’ We should have solutions that help people stay in their homes and help move towards the future.” Via ABC7 Lead image via Pexels

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Spanish housing project is simple but sustainable

May 3, 2022 by  
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In a changing world, the people in it have also evolved. That’s why the housing solutions of the past no longer work in today’s world. El Refugio, designed by Álvaro Sánchez de Miguel, is a housing project that’s based on real-world lifestyle trends. Fewer and fewer people want to live surrounded by concrete and human-made objects. This is a common situation in Spain , where El Refugio is located. As a result, the home is all about elegant, simple design. It’s also sustainable, budget-friendly and surrounded not by concrete, but by nature. Related: Crash after hitting the waves at this surfers refuge El Refugio is in the Cuatro Calzadas area of Buenavista, Salamanca, Spain. And it can house 84 residents. Local construction materials from Salamanca were used to create the project, including steel, wood and ceramics. The furniture was designed on-site to reduce carbon emissions . A little background: Project Architect Alvaro Sanchez de Miguel was born in Salmanca. He has received international awards and knows firsthand what kind of housing will suit the people of his homeland the best. Therefore, he wanted to create housing that provides spaces for rest, play and work. Simple a warm and welcoming environment . Furthermore, El Refugio is tucked into the natural landscape. It is a short distance from the world-famous Plaza Mayor, a historic attraction. It’s only about 90 minutes away from Madrid where there is the food, culture and natural beauty of Spain. Moreover, the project is made with a rounded geometry that mimics the nearby Castilian Plateau. The preserved existing vegetation sits surrounded by oak trees. The existing trees were left in place and the project was built around and between them, rather than forcing their removal. The entrance to the building is accessed through a natural lateral path. The porch is designed with latticework to create a lovely private outdoor area. The home is spacious and open inside. There are no doors, no partitions, just wide-open areas and panoramic views of the landscape beyond. The house is situated so that it is protected from the western sun, preventing heat that would make the home harder to keep cool. The final design is a simple, elegant building that sits beautifully tucked into nature. Huge windows and open spaces bring the outside world in. It’s constructed with local materials and designed by a local architect to be the ideal housing solution for its location. Because great housing design doesn’t take away from nature, it adds to it. + Álvaro Sánchez de Miguel arquitectos Images via Álvaro Sánchez de Miguel arquitectos

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High-rise tower will provide affordable housing in Germany

April 21, 2022 by  
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UNStudio and OKRA Landscape Architects won the International Architectural Competition for a mixed-use, high-rise. The Belsenpark Tower is designed to be a sustainable building that fits the style of the surrounding communities . Included on the ground floor will be an open park area and pedestrian and cyclist walkway. Additionally, there will be restaurants and sports and wellness programs. The space is meant to connect to the surrounding developments and community. Related: Solar helps make this cool Austin tower net energy neutral Moreover, Belsenpark Tower will house offices on lower levels with apartments above. Two low-rise buildings on either side of a higher tower will be comprised of rent-controlled housing. It will fill the need for affordable housing in the area, which is experiencing densification. On the other hand, is is designed as sustainable as possible. Prefabricated components will be used in construction of a modular design to the supporting structure. Also, the designers’ aim to significantly reduce CO2 emissions during construction and operation of the building. They will use upcycled materials to help avoid additional waste. Additionally, wood will be used for load-bearing components of the low-rise buildings. However, the tower will be made of reinforced prefab recycled concrete and CO2-reduced cement . Local aggregates will be used in the mix to minimize transport of concrete to the site. Furthermore, geometric patterns on the building facades are used to create seating areas outside. At the intersection of the two cycling and pedestrian paths, a sustainable water feature creates an outdoor meeting place to enjoy the sun. Besides, a green-blue water management system buffers rainwater. The rainwater is captured on the green roofs via a water retention layer and the overflow is directed to the plantings in the park. The system also serves as a detention basin during extreme flooding, thus creating a strategy for a circular water system . Likewise, Belsenpark is located in one of Dusseldorf’s east-west green corridors. These landscape corridors extend farther west and build on the city’s greenery and biodiversity . The location of the project solidifies a link within this network of green spaces . In the same way, the wellness of residents was thought of in the design. The facades are designed to dampen noise pollution, maximize views and optimize natural light throughout the day. Co-working office space included here create an interesting option for people who might want to live and work in the same building. The building lends itself to “cell structures” for a blended-use office environment . The co-working space also acts as a sound barrier for the inner courtyard and residential apartments behind it. + UNStudio Images via Flying Architecture

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High-rise tower will provide affordable housing in Germany

Rivendell net-zero energy house optimizes solar energy

April 18, 2022 by  
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Surrounded by lush scenery in Harvard, Massachusetts is the Jenson-DeLeeuw Net-Zero Energy House by Paul Lukez Architecture. The dwelling is often referred to as Rivendell by the owners, a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien’s elvish village in Middle Earth. Rivendell uses various systems to harness copious amounts of solar energy and features several passive design strategies that allow for thermal comfort and airflow. The project uses a dual clean-energy system that generates and conserves solar energy. The angled roof maximizes the energy production of 56 photovoltaic roof panels, which produce 21,000 kWh of solar power each year. 16kWh Sonnen batteries store surplus energy and are part of a split heating and cooling system. This solar energy system is a lower-cost alternative to standard HVAC systems and is more eco-friendly. Rivendell also has a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) score of -23, meaning that it produces 23% more clean energy than similar-sized homes. As a result, the excess energy can be used in cloudy weather or to power the owners’ Chevrolet Bolt electric car. Related: Zero Energy Ready Homes can bring you net-zero energy bills Passive design strategies are key in optimizing the home’s thermal comfort. During the warmer months, the large roof overhangs shield the interior from the intense summer sun. Additionally, the open floor plan and high ceilings enhance airflow and cool the space with natural breezes. Conversely, in the winter, the project’s large south-facing windows bring in natural light and warmth from the low-angled winter sun. This is supplemented by insulated walls and a wood stove in the living space for extra heating on colder days. The architects created a thermal envelope using Huber Engineered Woods’ Zip System. This high-efficiency sheathing enhances insulation and prevents moisture buildup. Visually, the weathered wood cladding alludes to the wooded, rocky landscape and reinforces Rivendell’s connection to the site. By maximizing solar energy and creating a thermal envelope through passive design strategies, the Jenson-DeLeeuw house successfully achieves net-zero principles and creates a comfortable living environment . Its self-sufficiency also prevents cutting down trees in the woods for the installation of utility infrastructure. Alongside its incredible efficiency, the Rivendell house also creates visual connections to its surroundings and celebrates the beautiful scenery. + Paul Lukez Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Greg Premru

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Crash after hitting the waves at this surfers refuge

April 18, 2022 by  
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What began as a discussion around creating a crash pad for surfers came to reality. It resulted in a coastal refuge for active water sports enthusiasts frequenting La Saladita Beach in La Saladita, Mexico .  Many discussions between the client and Architect Chris Nu brought the project into focus. There was a clear vision for a gathering place of like-minded friends. The project was named Casa Nu (from the French “nous”, we, personal pronoun) and sits perched among the mango trees on a corner lot. Related: Sustainable bamboo makes up these off-grid eco-resorts Furthermore, the home is as much an outdoor living space as an indoor one. There are unconventional solutions to integrate a laundry area, storage space, a guest bathroom and a utilities room in an enclosed courtyard. A surfboard rack (essential indeed) and an area to lock them up when not in use was also included in the outdoor space. Private outdoor showers further compliment the outer perimeter of the lot.  The inside of the home consists of two stories. The top level is a loft with a king-sized bed and a modular wardrobe. The main floor features a kitchen for post-surf food prep, living room and a bathroom that can accommodate guests with separate toilet and shower areas. Additionally, material selection was a high priority for the client and architect. There was a goal of using natural materials t hat would organically patina and appear natural with age. This effort is seen in the baked pinewood on the doors and windows, as well as in the various pre-oxidized and varnished metallic elements. To further express the rustic nature of the architectural design, the concrete with slat formwork was left exposed, which also highlights the strength of the walls. Polished concrete with brass joints on the floor provide a similar effect.  Much effort was dedicated to creating a minimalist space that feels open and spacious with all the comforts of home. Architect Chris Luce summarized, “Casa NU has all the essentials, to provide rest and peace, after a surf session.” + Chris Luce Images via Ana Paula Álvarez 

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Crash after hitting the waves at this surfers refuge

Bioclimatic house fits a meditation space under the pool

April 18, 2022 by  
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The APS/ pablo senmartin arqitectos bioclimatic house in Villa Parque Siquiman, Argentina floats over natural vegetation with views of a distant lake. It’s a weekend house with a carefree, breezy modern feel. However, the house is actually the result of an in-depth study on the current construction problems in the Argentinian natural territory. It developed under the guidance of LEED v4 sustainable housing certification standards. The pandemic created more demand for remote work from homes in areas with a lot of natural beauty. Therefore, the architects created a house that benefits from its gorgeous environment but treads lightly. Related: Vacation home in Australia is a slice of heaven To start, they wanted to develop a house that explores sustainability and bioclimatic models while incorporating the new country-city relationships of remote workers. Doing so, the architects attempted to create a home that was low impact in construction and on an ongoing basis. Construction work represents around 70% of global emissions and more than 60% of the use of resources. As a result, the bioclimatic house is located in the mountains of ??Cordoba, on the banks of Lake San Roque. It is set in a region characterized by environmental fragility. There are periods of drought , large fires, a loss of native forest, lack of infrastructure, and territorial anthropic footprints that damaged the natural environment. The first step to treading lightly came from placing a concrete foundation on the sloping lot with as little of the base touching the ground as possible. This allows natural vegetation to continue growing beneath the house. It also creates a natural airflow and water runoff beneath the structure. The house is accessed via a bridge at street level. Beneath the house, there is space for parking and even a meditation bench that sits open beneath the concrete foundations of the pool on the deck above. Furthermore, a box sits on top of the foundation to create the body of the house that’s split into two levels. The first is used for kitchen, dining and living areas. Out the back, there is a terrace, solarium and the infinity pool. On the second floor is the main bathroom, bedroom, storage and a massage room and sauna that doubles as a small theater. Plus, there’s a home office space on a loft edge that looks over the main living area and back out over the pool to the lake. Additionally, vertical wooden slats filter direct sunlight into the larger windows at the rear of the house . It also protects the windows from wind and rain. The vertical elements like these slats accelerate the view toward the surrounding landscape. This relationship between house and surrounding environment changes through the day. On the other hand, the roof is a single-pitch roof made of ventilated sheet metal. It has a ceiling with double waterproof insulation and water lines that allow evaporation in the space to be evacuated. There is no perforation, allowing for rainwater collection into the technical room of the plinth under the home with zero maintenance. Sheep’s wool was used for insulation. Floors are pinewood planted for the construction. Other low maintenance recycled materials were locally sourced for construction of the interior. + APS/ pablo senmartin arqitectos Photography by Gonzalo Viramonte

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Bioclimatic house fits a meditation space under the pool

3 prefab CLT condos are being built in Canada

April 13, 2022 by  
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The first cross-laminated timber (CLT) condo project in Toronto, Canada will make a big difference in the way people see prefabricated construction. Prefabrication is a highly effective way to create sustainable buildings that use fewer materials. Windmill Development Group, Leader Lan Developments and R-Hauz worked together to create three prefab CLT condo projects to Toronto . To start, these prefab buildings are quick to construct. They take only eight to 12 months to complete. As a result, they create fewer emissions , less construction waste and a shorter construction timeline than condos constructed on-site without prefabrication. Related: Prefab homes from Dvele are built using automation Furthermore, each of these buildings are made with CLT. The material is prefabricated off-site. The total project includes 83 condo units across three properties. All three of these areas are joined by the Mimico GO Train Station. Therefore, each building is targeting LEED Platinum Certification . R-Hauz will be the design-build contractor for each building. Additionally, all three projects are receiving funding from One Planet Living. They are a fund developed by Windmill Development and Epic Investment Services. The fund is designed to provide opportunities in real estate development . On the other hand, CLT is made with layers of wood that are glued together and joined at angels. This creates strong, rigid wood panels. In fact, the panels can be used to build walls, ceilings, floors, roofs and even furniture . The CLT panels are easy to assemble and once they are made, they can be taken to the construction site and assembled. Moreover, cross-laminated timber it’s actually highly flame-resistant. By using timber instead of steel or concrete , emissions are reduced. With the combination of CLT and prefabricated materials, the condos project in Toronto are building a better future. + Windmill Development Group , Leader Lane Developments and R-Hauz Images via R-Hauz

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Veev takes environmental approach to modular home building

April 5, 2022 by  
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Veev offers an innovative and solutions-oriented homebuilding platform. It revolves around Veev’s proprietary prefabbed panels that facilitate modular construction. The process allows homes to be completed faster with almost no waste throughout the manufacturing process. “Traditional construction has taken a significant toll on the  environment  and Veev is striving to be an outlier,” Veev Homebuilders stated. Related: These prefabricated tiny homes are earthquake- and fire-resistant  Because Veev wall panels are produced in a highly-automated factory, design changes are made through digital files rather than waste on the production floor. Each wall is fabricated with integrated electricity, plumbing, light and sensors, so they are ready for installation without additional subcontractors and time delays.  Veev handles the entire build process for customers, providing expertise in asset management, architectural & structural design, permitting, full modular build, installation and a digital home package. In addition to convenience and  minimal site impact , Veev homes come with a host of energy-efficient features. The company is transparent in its dedication to sustainable building practices — a rarity in the otherwise notably dirty construction industry.  Veev is so committed to environmentally-friendly materials selection and processes up and down the supply chain that it commissioned an independent review of its sustainability efforts. The full sustainability report on their construction process was third-party verified by Ecometrica. The results were based on a review of a recently-completed home and a comparison to traditional-built homes.  The study analyzed embodied and operational carbon emissions by reviewing material selection, waste disposal and estimated energy consumption over the lifespan of the home, among other measurements. Results showed an overall 47% CO2e reduction, waste diversion rates greater than 95%, and 38.6% lower CO2 impact.  Veev has set goals to reduce its homes’ carbon footprint by an additional 25% in 2022. The company also recently joined the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. To keep carbon emissions low, Veev relies on vendors who provide  recycled steel . The use of light gauge steel (LGS) for the structural framing of the walls is a lightweight option that allows for a highly precise finish. Steel also resists issues with moisture, pests, fire, water and earthquake damage.  Another innovative product called high-performance surface (HPS) is used to clad walls, counters, exteriors and more. It offers durability, doesn’t fade, and is antimicrobial and easy to maintain.  All Veev homes are equipped with a digital system that allows owners to easily manage air quality, energy consumption, and  water  conservation. + Veev Images via Veev

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