Custom ordered tiny homes provide compact living options without sacrificing on comfort

November 7, 2017 by  
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Not everyone is capable of building their own tiny home, but for those who’d like to live sustainably and efficiently, Fauna Homes can make your tiny home dream come true. The home designs – which are based on the three pillars of minimalism, affordability and sustainability – come in a range of models, but all are strategically designed to provide compact living spaces that don’t sacrifice on comfort. The designs for Fauna Homes are based on providing sustainable options for those looking for an eco-friendly, but comfortable tiny home. The small stature of the structures require fewer building materials, transport, and produce less waste, making it a wise investment for a sustainable lifestyle, and the optimal dimensions provide ample living space. Related: MUJI to sell eagerly awaited $27k minimalist tiny homes this fall As far as sustainable features, the homes are designed to be mounted on a concrete slab in order to reduce its environmental impact. The building materials were chosen to create a strong thermal mass that reduces the need for energy use. The tiny homes can also be ordered with an optional heating floor system, further reducing energy use and costs. Solar rooftop panels and a household waste water recuperation system can also be implemented into the design. All of the Fauna Homes, which can be custom ordered to abide by any local building codes, offer the ultimate in space efficiency, personalized to each homeowner’s needs. Open floor plans and high ceilings with ample windows and glazed walls allow for a strong connection between the indoors and outdoors. Every layout has been optimized for maximum efficiency in terms of flexibility, meaning no space is left unused. Each model also contains a number of strategic storage options such as custom-crafted cabinets. + Fauna Homes  

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Custom ordered tiny homes provide compact living options without sacrificing on comfort

The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

November 7, 2017 by  
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Today the war-torn country of Syria officially signed the Paris Climate Agreement , leaving the United States as the only country to refuse the landmark climate deal. Though Barack Obama entered the US into the deal during his time as president, Donald Trump quickly withdrew the nation after his inauguration. The Middle East nation made the announcement in Bonn, Germany, at the COP 23 UN climate summit. Even though Syria is facing its sixth year of a brutal civil conflict, it agreed to limit its carbon emissions in an effort to prevent climate change from worsening. It’s not clear what has changed, and Syria has yet to submit its targets for cutting greenhouse gases . In December 2015, nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Accord . Until last month, Nicaragua was also a holdout nation. However, that was because the Central American country did not think the deal went far enough in putting limits on emissions and helping lower-income nations adapt to an already-changing planet. One of Nicaragua’s complaints was that top polluters — like the US, EU, China, and India — were not keeping their emissions levels low enough to prevent sea levels from rising and global warming under 2 degrees Celsius — let alone the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Eventually, parties to the deal signed – as the global climate change agreement was better than none at all. Now the US is the last country to sign. In the past, President Trump said that American workers (particularly coal miners) were being put at an “economic disadvantage” by the deal. And even though the US is the second largest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the world (second to China ), Trump remains committed to the idea that investing in coal — not renewable energy — is the way forward. Related: Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” Paula Caballero , director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute, told the New York Times . “The US’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change .” The countries that have signed the Paris Agreement now seek to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Via The Independent , The Verge , BBC Images via Pixabay

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

Green-roofed village shows a more sustainable way to build in post-disaster rural areas

October 24, 2017 by  
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When the 8.0-magnitude Sichuan Earthquake devastated China in 2008, nearly 5 million people were left homeless. Rural Urban Framework , a non-profit research and design collaborative, saw construction in the wake of disaster as an opportunity to improve the lives of rural villagers through new building typologies. Their recently completed project, Jintai Village, is a socially and environmentally sustainable prototype for earthquake reconstruction that combines rooftop farming, biogas technologies, denser living, and local materials in a self-sufficient community. Developed with support from the local government and NGOs, the Jintai Village Reconstruction project was created as an alternative to the hundreds of thousands of homes rebuilt after the 2008 earthquake and as “an investigation into modern rural livelihood.” Unlike most rural developments, this 4,000-square-meter project takes cues from denser urban living by placing buildings closer together with narrow alleys in between. The architects developed four housing types—varying in size, function, and roof sections—in their total of 22 houses united by their use of brick facades, concrete frameworks, and terraced roofs where villagers can grow food. Natural ventilation, rainwater harvesting systems, and insulation made of straw are built into the homes. Related: Eerie photos show nature swallowing up a Chinese village 7 years after an earthquake “By relating various programs of the village to an ecological cycle, environment responsiveness is heightened, transforming the village into a model for nearby areas,” said Rural Urban Framework to Dezeen . “Because the land available for house building is limited, the village combines dense urban living in a rural context.” The village also includes a concrete community center with space for growing vegetables on the roof. The humanitarian project was completed as part of the studio’s ongoing efforts to provide design services to charities and NGOs working in China . + Rural Urban Framework Via Dezeen Images by architects

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Green-roofed village shows a more sustainable way to build in post-disaster rural areas

Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed into a sustainable community filled with olive groves

October 20, 2017 by  
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A failed Palm Springs golf course is being reborn as an “eco-modern agrihood” located on 300 beautiful acres of desert landscape. The Miralon residential community will include 1,150 solar-powered homes , along with almost 100 acres of open recreational space, including working olive groves, community gardens, and walking trails. The ambitious project is located on a former golf course, which was built, but never operational due to falling into foreclosure in 2008. Freehold Communities bought the property and will be collaborating with Robert Hidey Architect s along with C2 Collaborative Landscape Architecture to create a sustainable residential community focused on providing a healthy lifestyle for the homeowners. The large complex will include multiple pools, a fitness and recreation center, and various amenities. Related: Wind and solar-powered Thunder Valley Regenerative Community rises in South Dakota Miralon will consist of more than 1,000 eco-friendly homes, all equipped with solar panels. However, at the heart of the project is the massive amounts of outdoor space included in the master plan. The residential area will be surrounded by almost 100 acres of green space , which will be landscaped to create recreational space for the residents. Former golf cart paths will be repurposed as 6.5 miles of hiking trails. The tee boxes and greens will be converted into community gardens as well as dog parks, exercise stations and community social areas with firepits and WiFi. What’s even more impressive is that the homes will back up to more than 70 acres of working olive groves , which will be installed with a drip-irrigation system and cultivated by Temecula Olive Oil Company . The olives will be pressed on-site and be made available to the residents, along with produce from the community gardens. “Evolving the existing golf course into habitat-sensitive, agricultural open space is a response to the precious resources of the Coachella Valley including its need for water,” explained Freehold California Division President Brad Shuckhart, “At the same time, Miralon responds to peoples’ desire for authentic experiences – whether through community gardening or immersion in a rich range of social spaces.” + Miralon + Freehold Communities

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Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed into a sustainable community filled with olive groves

How termites draw on solar power for climate control

September 22, 2017 by  
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Termite mounds could hold clues to passive climate control , according to new research. Seven scientists scrutinized African termite mounds to see how they keep their homes cool in the sun while maintaining a uniform concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers have looked at south Asian termite mounds in the past, but those are often more shaded; they say uncovering the secrets of African termite mounds could lead to energy-efficient building ideas. Termite mounds are impressive not only because the creatures that construct them are so small, but because they naturally maintain a comfortable temperature – no air conditioner necessary. Researchers led by Samuel Ocko, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student, dug further into climate control in termite mounds, specifically those of the Macrotermes michaelseni termite in Namibia . Their mounds can be around 10 feet high, with millions of workers residing inside. Related: BIOMIMETIC ARCHITECTURE: Green Building in Zimbabwe Modeled After Termite Mounds Ocko and his team measured air velocities and temperatures in the mound over 35 days in Namibia’s autumn and found even though temperatures outside the mound changed by 27 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, inside temperatures only varied by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The termites drew on the sun more than wind to achieve climate control. According to IFLScience, convection from the temperature gradient between outside the mounds and their centers drove smooth airflow. During 24 hours, CO2 levels stayed around five percent. The mounds have holes that can be up to 0.2 inches in diameter, which IFLScience said creates an array of tunnels and allows for gas exchange. They said the mounds also lean towards the equator. CO2 levels vary more in Indian mounds during the day, while temperatures remain even. African mounds have large thermal gradients between the center and the sun-facing side. The researchers said in their paper abstract that even though African and Indian mounds differ, they can harness periodic solar heating for ventilation ; they said the system functions like as an external lung. The Journal of Experimental Biology published the research this year. Ocko was joined by scientists at institutions in the United States, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Via IFLScience Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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How termites draw on solar power for climate control

IKEA’s new augmented reality app could totally change the way we shop

September 13, 2017 by  
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Ever purchased a piece of furniture, only to find out later it didn’t fit the style or size of the room? Swedish furniture maker IKEA is tackling this problem with a free augmented reality (AR) application that utilizes Apple’s new ARKit technology . The app will let users experience how sofas, armchairs, coffee tables and other furnishing items will fit into their homes in augmented reality. According to the IKEA press release, all products experienced through the app are 3D and true to scale. This ensures “every choice is just the right size, design and function.” Said Michael Valdsgaard, Leader Digital Transformation at Inter IKEA Systems, “IKEA Place makes it easier to make buying decisions in your own place, to get inspired and try many different products, styles, and colors in real-life settings with a swipe of your finger. Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster.” Users will also have the option of capturing the setting in the app and sharing it as an image or a video with friends. Related: IKEA’s SPACE10 lab is bringing a pop-up vertical farm to London IKEA is the first home furnishing company to build on Apple’s new technology to create an AR app that ensures customers are confident with their purchases. Reportedly, the app has a 98 percent accuracy as it scales products based on room dimensions. “The AR technology is so precise that you will be able to see the texture of the fabric, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on your furnishings,” says the press release. “ARKit gives us the opportunity to help shape the development of AR as an accessible tool for real-life decision making,” added Valdsgaard. “ARKit gives us the opportunity to help shape the development of AR as an accessible tool for real-life decision making,” added Valdsgaard. Beginning late-September, users with an iOs 11 may download and enjoy the app. In total, 2,000 IKEA products will be available to experiment with. The first release will focus on larger furniture products, including all sofas, armchairs, footstools, coffee tables and top-selling “storage solutions” that can be placed on the floor.  Data collected from the application will also play a role in the launch of new product lines. “Now, technology has caught up with our ambition. AR lets us redefine the experience for furniture retail once more, in our restless quest to create a better everyday life for everyone, everywhere,” said Valdsgaard. To use the IKEA app, all one needs to do is: upgrade their device to iOS 11, download the IKEA Place app for free from the Apple store, scan the floor in your home, browse the list of available products in the app, select a chosen furniture item to experience, and move and place the product into the space. It is that simple! + IKEA  Images via IKEA

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IKEA’s new augmented reality app could totally change the way we shop

10 Things in Your Closet You Can Reuse or Recycle

September 12, 2017 by  
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Many of us put off cleaning out our homes, which means by the time we get around doing so, we want the old stuff out as quickly as possible. Closets especially tend to accumulate extra stuff, but the landfill doesn’t have to be the end destination…

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10 Things in Your Closet You Can Reuse or Recycle

6 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey

August 28, 2017 by  
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Tropical Storm Harvey is battering the Houston area, affecting over 6.8 million people . With so many people and pets displaced and suffering, you may be wondering how you can help. Whether you live close to the disaster area or on the other side of the world, here are a few great ways you can support people hit by the devastating storm . Donate to a food bank or another charity There are several charities out there you can support financially as they work to help Tropical Storm Harvey victims. Food banks can also use donations in the aftermath of Harvey. You can donate online to the Central Texas Food Bank . Or donate to the San Antonio Food Bank ; according to SBNation, some displaced Houston locals will be relocated to San Antonio. SBNation has a list of more local charities here . Related: INFOGRAPHIC: How social media can save lives in a disaster Donate to the Salvation Army The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services is on the ground to help out both first responders and locals. The organization is offering shelter at Salvation Army locations in the area, and as of earlier this week had served over 3,000 meals, drinks, and snacks via their mobile kitchens. You can help out right now by texting STORM to 51555 or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. You can donate online here or send donations to The Salvation Army, PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301. Open up your home through Airbnb If you live in Texas and can share your space, Airbnb has a page for urgent accommodations in the wake of Harvey. They waive service fees for those impacted, and allow locals to list their homes so people can find a place to stay for free. You can find shelter or list your space here . Donate blood You can donate blood to help people affected by the crisis as well. South Texas Blood & Tissue Center has been calling for blood donations – you can get in touch with them at 210-731-5590. They also posted a list of locations to donate on their Facebook page, including addresses and donation hours. According to the post, Houston is asking for more than 2,000 units of blood from blood centers, so if you live in South Texas, consider finding a place to donate blood. Donate the use of your boat If you live in the area, you can help by volunteering the use of your boat. Get in touch with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office by calling 713-881-3100. Help rescue furry friends Let’s not forget the animals and pets impacted by the disaster. You can donate to the Houston SPCA , which is providing animal rescue and relief. Donate online here . Call 713-869-7722 if you need help. Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) is another Texas-based organization that’s been helping shelters in the path of Harvey to transport animals to APA! As of the weekend, they’d brought more than 235 animals to their facility. If you live in the Austin area, you can help by fostering animals or donating supplies like cat litter, leashes, or brooms. You can also donate online here . APA!’s address is 1156 West Cesar Chavez, Austin, TX 78703 and their phone number is 512-961-6519. Images via Harris County Sheriff’s Office Facebook , Salvation Army , Lars Plougmann on Flickr , Connect for Life Facebook , Austin Pets Alive! Facebook , National Guard Photo by Lt. Zachary West , and

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6 ways you can help people affected by Tropical Storm Harvey

Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

August 28, 2017 by  
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Until recently, few people could afford to shop at Whole Foods regularly. Now that Amazon has bought out the grocery chain for $13.7 billion , however, big changes are underway. On its first day, the internet giant slashed some of the store’s prices by up to 43 percent. The goal is to upend the way customers shop and ensure more people have access to affordable, healthy food. The first step to addressing the store’s reputation for being overpriced (which has led some to call it Whole Paycheck) was to mark down the prices of food. Bloomberg reports that at the Whole Foods store on East 57th Street in Manhattan , organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49. Similarly, organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 from $13.99 and organic avocados changed from $2.79 each to $1.99. All of the marked-down items have orange signs reading, “Whole Foods + Amazon .” The sign also lists that there is “More to come.” “Price was the largest barrier to Whole Foods’ customers,” said Mark Baum, a senior vice president at the Food Marketing Institute. “Amazon has demonstrated that it is willing to invest to dominate the categories that it decides to compete in. Food retailers of all sizes need to look really hard at their pricing strategies, and maybe find some funding sources to build a war chest.” 60-year-old Simon Salamon couldn’t be more pleased by the marriage between Amazon and Whole Foods . He said, “It reminded me why I shop at Amazon. Ninety-nine percent of the time they have the best prices and their return policy is great. With the prices lower, I think we’re more likely to shop here every day.” While Walmart has invested billions into lowering prices all around, it’s Costco that might be Whole Foods’ biggest competitor. The chain has a slate of organic items that are priced about 30 percent cheaper than Whole Foods, according to Sanford Bernstein. Prices can remain low, as Costco charges membership fees and sells bulk-sized goods to customers. Related: Whole Foods reveals the bleak future of dessert without bees Now that the deal is done, only time will tell if the organic grocery chain will be successful at changing its reputation and, in the process, serving a wider clientele. Via Bloomberg Images via Whole Foods , Pixabay

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Whole Foods prices just dropped by as much as 43%

World’s first solar-powered hot air balloon visits UK school

July 18, 2017 by  
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Schoolchildren living in the coolest city in the UK just got a glimpse of one of the coolest energy sources in action with the arrival of the world’s first solar -powered hot air balloon. The balloon actually took its maiden voyage back in 2015 , but on Monday youngsters from the Hannah More Primary School got to learn about how renewable energy can power global transport — even a hot air balloon. The balloon is made of lightweight polyurethane coated nylon. The air inside the balloon is heated by the sun instead of a propane burner, causing it to rise. The black side of the balloon faces the sun, collecting heat, while the silver side prevents the heat from escaping. The balloon is technically a hybrid because it is fitted with propane burners as a back up in case the sun hides behind the clouds when the balloon is up in the air. Related: The world’s most efficient 5-seater car is powered entirely by the sun The balloon is owned by Bristol Energy and developed by Cameron Balloons . “It’s this kind of very simple science that gets people, young and old, excited about green energy,” said Simon Proctor, Bristol Energy’s Origination Manager. “We have incredibly powerful natural resources that can heat our homes, power our cars, and fly hot air balloons too! It’s now crucial that we support renewable energy, so we can create a sustainable energy future for the next generation.” Via Bristol Post Images via YouTube ,  Bristol Energy  and  Balloon Fiesta 2015

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World’s first solar-powered hot air balloon visits UK school

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