Student-built solar-powered tiny home represents new vision for the American dream

October 9, 2017 by  
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The future of tiny home design is looking very bright. A team of students from Sacramento State, working under the name Sol Vespiade , have designed a beautiful self-sustaining tiny home that reflects a new sustainable way of living for future generations. The solar-powered , 400-square-foot home on wheels – with a seriously comfy interior – is a powerhouse of energy generation that offers the ultimate in flexible, off-grid living. The exterior of the tiny home was clad in a light paint color with cedar trim, paying homage to the traditional American wooden homes. However, this classic look has been modernized with various innovative and visible sustainable features that take the home into the future of sustainable living. A vertical wall of solar panels was installed on the northern facade, complementing the roof’s solar array , in order to provide the home with ample electricity. Related: Luxury Fireside tiny house resort carries an important message for sustainability Alternatively, the home’s southern facade is equipped with an evacuated tube solar collector , which converts sunlight into heat for water. The system is protected by a rigid steel frame that keeps it safe while traveling. For the home’s water needs, a 40 gallon rainwater collection tank was affixed to the home’s western side. The home’s entrance is through two wide french doors that swing out as to not take up too much space once inside the home. The living space is light and airy thanks to the glass doors as well as a large bay window that sits over an extended counter/dining space. In addition to the natural light they offer, the multiple windows provide cross ventilation to create a healthy, natural atmosphere, reducing the need for air conditioning. The interior design is a sophisticated blend of a cool teal color on the walls, accented with honey-toned wood paneling. The wooden accents are used in the home’s shelving, flooring, and the stairs, which lead up to a small sleeping loft. Hidden in a corner is a mechanical well that allows for monitoring of the home’s electrical and water use. Eight 6 watt deep-cycle batteries that store the energy and a 20 gallon water tank stores the water heated by the solar collector. The tiny home will soon be on display in Sacramento’s upcoming SMUD Tiny House Competition. +  Sol Vespiade Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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Student-built solar-powered tiny home represents new vision for the American dream

Mike Pence says America will send humans back to the moon

October 9, 2017 by  
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Humankind took steps on the moon for the first time in 1969, and now vice president Mike Pence says it’s time to go back. He penned an opinion editorial piece for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) stating “America will lead in space again,” and also spoke on the topic at the first meeting of the revived National Space Council in Virginia at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. This isn’t the first time Pence has hinted at a return to the moon. He talked about the idea back in July at the Kennedy Space Center. At the National Space Council meeting, he said, “We will return NASA astronauts to the Moon – not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation, we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond.” Related: Pence vows America will put ‘boots on the face of Mars’ in near future The Verge pointed out this would mark a shift for NASA , which since 2010 has concentrated on sending humans to Mars without a return to the moon. They said the goal of a presence on the moon surface is a return to President George W. Bush’s vision . Pence described the move to go back as a vital strategic goal, saying NASA should refocus on human exploration and discovery. NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement , “The National Space Council acknowledged the strategic importance of cis-lunar space – the region around the moon – which will serve as a proving ground for missions to Mars and beyond and advance our stepping stone approach to going farther into the solar system .” Pence also said according to the intelligence community, China and Russia are developing antisatellite technology, saying in his article, “We will renew America’s commitment to creating the space technology needed to protect national security.” The vice president did look ahead to the red planet in his WSJ article, saying, “America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars.” Via The Verge Images via NASA and Wikimedia Commons

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Mike Pence says America will send humans back to the moon

Solar SILO home uses light to feel much larger than its actual size

October 9, 2017 by  
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Daylight, fresh air, and greenery fill this self-sufficient solar home that feels much larger than its actual size. Students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology designed this net-zero dwelling, named SILO, short for ‘Smart Innovative Living Oasis.’ Inspired by farmhouse architecture, SILO blends a rustic aesthetic with cutting-edge technology to create a homey and completely automated dwelling that ensures stress-free comfort year-round. Home automation is at the heart of SILO. From the HVAC system to lighting, these engineered systems work in tandem to create a comfortable and energy-efficient living space. An energy monitoring system sends feedback to the central control system to improve efficiency and includes the ability to sell excess energy generated by the 8.5-kW rooftop solar array back to the grid. The homeowner can also control all of the home’s systems manually via smartphone or voice commands. Related: The Nest home is a solar-powered prefab made from recycled shipping containers SILO features a flexible open-floor plan that emphasizes views of the outdoors and access to natural light. The light-filled home feels much larger than its actual size thanks to a high-ceiling living area and glazing that wraps both ends of the home. A graywater system feeds into a beautiful water wall, while treated water is reused for irrigation of non-edible landscaping such as the movable green wall. A clay plaster made partly with recycled materials was used as wall paint and boasts air-purifying and humidity-regulating benefits. SILO was designed and built for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2017 and will return to Missouri to be part of the university’s eco-village after the competition. + Solar Decathlon Images by Mike Chino

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Solar SILO home uses light to feel much larger than its actual size

Canadas tallest building breaks ground in Toronto

October 9, 2017 by  
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Canada’s tallest building has just begun construction in Toronto. Designed by Foster + Partners and CORE Architects , The One is a 1,004-meter-tall mixed-use building that stacks luxury condominiums atop high-end retail. This outstanding new addition to the Toronto skyline will be located at One Bloor West between the downtown and the upscale Yorkville neighborhood. At 85 stories tall, The One will be Canada’s tallest building and the second tallest man-made structure after Toronto’s CN Tower. Champagne bronze-colored diagonal, vertical, and horizontal elements form a distinctive exoskeleton frame that wraps around full-height glazing. “The One is the final piece of the jigsaw in the tower cluster at the Yonge and Bloor node – one of the most prominent intersections in the city,” said Giles Robinson, Senior Partner, Foster + Partners. “The project creates a new anchor for high-end retail along Bloor Street West, while respecting the urban scale of Yonge Street. The design is respectful of the legacy of the William Luke Buildings, and incorporates the historic 19th century brick structures within the larger development.” Related: Budapest’s tallest tower to follow the highest standards of sustainability The One stacks residences atop a multi-level retail base with shops, cafes, and restaurants, and also offers access to the city’s underground pedestrian ‘PATH’ network. The residential floors are based on flexible 620-square-foot modules that can be configured into different layouts. Duplex penthouses are located at the higher levels and command sweeping views of Lake Ontario and beyond. Residents will be able to enjoy shared spa and fitness facilities, library, formal entertaining rooms, and a large south-facing terrace punctuated with luxurious, intimate spaces. The One is slated for completion in 2020. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Canadas tallest building breaks ground in Toronto

Compact New Zealand home sets its sights on going off the grid

September 25, 2017 by  
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High on a hill above New Zealand’s idyllic Peka Peka beach sits an eco-friendly compact home that responds to the surrounding landscape. Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects designed the dwelling, named Peka Peka House I, as three boxy units perfectly positioned to maximize shelter as well as views of Kapiti Island, forestry, and farmland. In response to the client’s desires to eventually go off-grid, the home is equipped with photovoltaic panels, solar hot water panels, above-code insulation, and other energy-saving features. Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects separated the living, sleeping, and garage functions into three interconnected box-like volumes, each positioned in response to climate and views. Two of the boxes are clad in black-stained cedar ; one contains the living functions, while the other comprises bedrooms. The third box is clad in profiled polycarbonate and contains the garage and workshop. At night, the polycarbonate-clad volumes glows like a lantern. Timber decking surrounds the three volumes. Related: Dreamy cabin is a luxurious escape in the New Zealand bush The cedar-clad boxes are arranged to form a sheltered north-facing courtyard that provides views towards the sea and is protected from coastal winds. “As requested by our knowledgeable clients, the house promotes some eco values in the form of a combination of PV and solar hot water panels and above code insulation,” wrote the architects. “Their long-term ambition is to go off-grid. LED lighting throughout and exposed and insulated concrete slab as a heat store helps reduce power consumption. Natural ventilation picks up the consistent afternoon sea breezes.” + Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Jason Mann

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Compact New Zealand home sets its sights on going off the grid

Light-filled home for book lovers and their cute cats is built of recycled materials

September 18, 2017 by  
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If you’re a bibliophile who loves cats, prepare to swoon over this light-filled row home in New York City . Barker Freeman Design Office (BFDO Architects) transformed a row house in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn into the House for Booklovers and Cats. The renovated dwelling was built with materials recycled from the original architecture wherever possible, and features an expansive built-in book wall and special cat accommodations. The clients, a pair of poets, asked BFDO Architects to infuse color and light into their old Brooklyn row house , while creating a live/work arrangement with room for their extensive collection of art and books. The literary couple also requested that the renovation include special circulation for their two shy cats that like to hide in high and small places. The architects began the renovation process by sprucing up the facade and painting the front door a vibrant shade of red. They gutted the interior—originally dark, musty, and narrow—and knocked down walls to create an open and airy space and repainted it with bright white walls. Full-height rear windows and a skylight flood the interior with natural light. The main floor comprises the 20-by-50-by-10-feet tall primary living space with an eye-catching full-length bookshelf on one end integrated with special pieces that allow the cats to circulate through the room. “Shelves project to create steps for the cats to climb up to a continuous open ledge where they can observe activities from a high vantage point,” said the architects. “Trap doors allow the cats access to rooms above at either end of the house.” Related: CATable: A Multifunctional Work Desk to Keep Your Cat Entertained and Off Your Keyboard In addition to the living room, the main floor includes a media room, dining area, and kitchen. The upstairs houses the studio with a balcony, as well as a concealed skylit “nest” built from timber recycled from the home. The bottommost level is a “cat-free zone” comprising a workout space and guest suite. Playful pops of color punctuate the modern space, from the yellow-hued columns and melon-popsicle shelf niches. Materials in the home were recycled when possible; the architects reused the existing paneled wood doors, doorknobs, and hardware, and also refinished the pine flooring. + Barker Freeman Design Office Photo credit: Francis Dzikowski/OTTO

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Light-filled home for book lovers and their cute cats is built of recycled materials

Minimalist Timber Loft House gives you a birds-eye view of the Swedish landscape

September 1, 2017 by  
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This minimalist timber Loft House (Lofthuset) is a serene getaway that offers a birds-eye view of northern Sweden’s mountainous landscapes. Architect Hanna Michelson, who works for Tham & Videga?rd Arkitekter , designed the building as a unique sanctuary and peaceful vantage point for visitors who want to escape into the treetops without damaging the forest landscape. The house is lifted from the ground by a timber framework in an attempt not to disturb the surrounding nature. The lower part of the house offers a more immediate connection to the forest, while the upper part, a roofed outdoor space stripped from walls, provides uninterrupted views of the valley below. Related: Dreamy summer retreat built of salvaged materials sends eclectic vibes in Austin The minimalist interior is stripped down to the essentials, with sleeping accommodations arranged on futon mattresses that can be hung on the wall in order to free the room for daily activities. A wooden bench by the window is a place for reflection, but can also be used as seating during mealtimes. Related: Swedish Örnsro Timber Town relies on wood to lower its carbon footprint Birch plywood and ash dominate the interior and complement the timber framework of the house. Flax fibers, traditionally used in Nordic building practices, provides insulation to the exterior walls made from heart pine and organically treated spruce wood. + Tham & Videga?rd Arkitekter Via Architizer

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Minimalist Timber Loft House gives you a birds-eye view of the Swedish landscape

LEGO runs into stumbling blocks on its path to greener bricks

August 2, 2017 by  
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LEGO wants to make everything awesome for the planet. In 2015 , the Danish toy-maker pledged to spend $150 million and hire more than than 100 extra staffers to research and develop sustainable alternatives to the petrochemical-based plastics it uses to make its signature building blocks. The goal, the company said then, was to transition to either a bio-based version of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, its current primary raw material, or a polymer with a lower environmental footprint by 2030. Finding a suitable replacement, however, has proven thornier than anticipated. “We want any bio-based material to be capable of being precisely molded, or to mold to just a few microns,” Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility for the LEGO Group, told Quartz . “And we want it to be shiny.” Manifesting that gleam has proven to be a stumbling, well, block . Next to a traditional plastic brick, a prototype brick made from wheat sugar appears dull and matte. Related: BIG’s LEGO House tops out with opening date in September Not that LEGO is going to give up, of course. Climate change is real, and the world’s leading companies will have to rein in their fossil-fuel use if the human race wants a fighting chance at survival. “We know that making bricks has an impact on the planet, and we want it to be a positive one,” Brooks said. + LEGO [Via Quartz ]

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LEGO runs into stumbling blocks on its path to greener bricks

Honda unveils new 2017 Clarity Electric car

August 2, 2017 by  
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Over the past few weeks electric car news has been overtaken by updates about the Tesla Model 3, but another new EV also recently went on sale – the 2017 Honda Clarity Electric. While the Clarity Electric won’t be a direct rival to the Model 3, it does represent the newest Honda EV following the Fit EV, which is no longer available. The 2017 Clarity Electric is the second model in the new Clarity lineup, which includes the Clarity Fuel Cell and upcoming Clarity Plug-in hybrid. The main reason why the Clarity Electric isn’t a direct rival to models, like the Model 3 or even the Chevy Bolt, is because of its driving range. Both the Model 3 and Bolt can travel over 200 miles on a single charge, while the Clarity Electric only has 89 miles of driving range. Related: Honda steps up with new green car strategy Although the Clarity Electric’s driving range is at the lower end of the segment, it does offer room for five passengers with its spacious interior. It’s a bigger car than the Chevy Bolt , so if you want something that will be a replacement for the conventional midsize sedan, the Clarity Electric is ideal. The Clarity Electric can be fully recharged in about three hours and up to 80 percent in thirty minutes with a DC fast charger. The Clarity Electric also won’t hurt your bank account, since Honda has announced that the Clarity Electric can be leased for only $269 a month for 36 months, if you live in California or Oregon. The lease terms also allow you to drive up to 20,000 miles a year. Sadly the only downside is that, just like the Fit EV, Honda will only let you lease the Clarity Electric. Images @Honda + Honda

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Honda unveils new 2017 Clarity Electric car

Off-grid Tent House takes the roughing-it out of camping in New Zealand

August 1, 2017 by  
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For those that are looking to go  off-grid , but don’t want the fuss that comes with setting up camp, Architect Chris Tate ‘s Tent House is just the thing. Located on New Zealand’s remote Waiheke Island, the black A-Frame retreat was built into an area of undeveloped wetland on the island, letting guests get back to nature in contemporary style. The Auckland-based architect began to create the Tent House as personal studio for himself, but with a little tweaking of the design, the project developed into an unconventional space for anyone looking for an off-grid escape hidden deep in the forest. With all of the basic amenities of a swanky hotel, the space lets guests enjoy the beauty of nature without the hassle of setting up camp. Related: Tent cabin cluster blends perfectly into a Californian forest The A-frame structure is clad in black slats, blending it seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Inside, the one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 753-square-foot space is a beautiful minimalistic design. An all-glass entranceway leads into the open living area and the sleeping quarters are located on the mezzanine level. The glass facade floods the interior with natural light . In order to further connect the design into its surroundings, the front deck juts out into the vegetation. After the construction process was finished, the area around the house was carefully landscaped by planting hundreds of plants native to New Zealand. Since the project was completed, many native birds have returned to the area. The Tent House can be rented out for short-term rentals. + Tent House + Chris Tate Via Dwell Photography by Simon Devitt

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Off-grid Tent House takes the roughing-it out of camping in New Zealand

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