Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

July 8, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor. Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit. “The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.” Related: Singapore’s first new-build, net-zero energy building opens its doors Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use. + ONG&ONG Images via ONG&ONG

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Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

Solar-powered prefab cabins keep naturally cool in Portugal

June 11, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Lisbon-based architectural practice Studio 3A for a small residential project in the seaside village of Comporta, the architects knew that a major challenge would be keeping the house naturally cool during the oppressively hot summers. In keeping with their commitment to sustainable architecture, the architects used passive solar strategies and efficient insulation to mitigate solar heat gain. The firm also teamed up with design studio Mima Housing to prefabricate the buildings, named Cabanas in Comporta, which were topped with solar panels and sheathed in charred timber for a durable and maintenance-free finish. The architecture of Cabanas in Comporta follows a modular design of three types: the “intimate module” that houses the bedroom and bathroom; the “social module” for the living spaces with room for an outdoor pool; and the “service module” that also serves as storage for items such as the client’s car collection. Together with Mima Housing, Studio 3A prefabricated the modular buildings with oriented strand board sandwich panels and wooden joints. The facades are clad in timber charred black using the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban. Related: The elegant MIMA Light prefab home ‘floats’ on thin air “As local connoisseurs, we based our construction method on the traditional fishermen huts/cabanas as an inspiration for our project,” explain the architects. These huts have been built in this area for years and are very functional and quick to build which were another important point of our brief. With this construction type we had a couple of challenges to face which was the hot-summer Mediterranean climate and the mosquitos which are well known to bug you in the area. We implemented various sustainable strategies to reduce the heat sensation such as the calculated overhangs in front of the main windows, low emissivity window panes and a tensioned solar shading system in between the cabana modules.” Heat gain is further controlled with a double blind system installed in both the interior and exterior. The external blind also zips down to protect the home from mosquito invasions. Strategic placement of the buildings optimizes solar orientation and access to cooling breezes. Dark cement flooring is used to take advantage of thermal mass, while photovoltaic panels and heat pumps help heat the buildings in winter. + Studio 3A Images by Nelson Garrido

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Solar-powered prefab cabins keep naturally cool in Portugal

Inhabitat Interview with Beth Cosmos, owner of Billygoats & Raincoats

April 5, 2019 by  
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In 2016, Beth Cosmos was fresh out of design school at the University of South Wales and volunteering at several music festivals. Eager to see the hundreds of thousands of displaced tents left after music festivals in her native U.K., Cosmos decided to combine her love of sustainability and fashion . The lightbulb moment came when she woke up to what seemed like an endless ocean of abandoned tents left behind by festival-goers at a venue. The tents were made of a good material: sturdy, waterproof and sadly destined for a landfill where it would never fully decompose. Armed with an idea, she took a few of the tents home to turn into clothes. Fast forward to 2019, and Billygoats & Raincoats is now Cosmos’ full-time job. We talked to Cosmos about her passion project and what’s next for the brand. Inhabitat: “Have you always been passionate about sustainability?” Cosmos: “Most definitely, I was that uni housemate who reinforced what exactly could be recycled or not and in which bags … super fun housemate, right?” Inhabitat: “You initially got the idea for Billygoats & Raincoats after noticing leftover tents at a festival. Were you looking for a project at the time?” Cosmos: “It’s an incredibly wasteful and upsetting sight to see. I was already designing children’s raincoats and seeking out the most sustainable options fabric -wise. The realization of the scale of waste and need for an alternative to using new fabrics came together perfectly, really.” Related: Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste Inhabitat: “Tell us about your company’s zero-waste initiative. How do you use each part of the tent?” Cosmos: “All the best parts, nicest weight and condition fabrics are used for the kids coats. I tend to use all the primary colors first, smaller panels of the good stuff go to the tote bags. If there are any pieces with marks, I use them in reverse for the linings of the bags. Blacks, grays and darker colors are being saved for my big kid, AKA adult’s wear, range. I have designed the range and will be launching a Kickstarter very soon to help fund that collection, so keep a look out on our Instagram for a heads up on when that’s going to be launched. There will be opportunities to win lots of goodies, like kids coats, one-offs and custom adult coats. I use all the fly nets for pouches on bags and lining on pockets, and they will be used as a large part of the lining in the big kid range. Guy lines have a few uses, namely pocket hooks and ties on packaging and will be getting used a lot more in the future as handy hooks. I use the ground sheets for packaging , and everything else gets cleaned and stored until I think of something to do with it. There is a lot of hauling going on.” Inhabitat: “Any plans for repurposing the coats once children grow out of them?” Cosmos: “The coats are made to a very high standard and designed to fit children for more than a year; once one cool kid grows out of the coat, it would be great to see the coat handed down. The coats can be sent back to us at the end of their life. We will offer 50 percent off the next purchase, and we will reuse the salvageable fabric.” Inhabitat: “How do you make the coats breathable with such a notoriously durable material? Do the coats get ‘muggy’ or ‘clammy’ at all?” Cosmos: “The coats are a very loose fitting, boxy shape that allows children to move freely in, and they are designed to be worn layered up.” Inhabitat: “Are you working with any festival companies directly?” Cosmos: “We will be working with and recovering tents from Glastonbury, Boomtown and Camp Bestival this year. We hope to be working very closely with them this time next year. We’re planning very exciting collaborations.” Inhabitat: “What’s next for Billygoats and Raincoats?” Cosmos: “To take over the world of rainwear, of course!” To check out Billygoats & Raincoats, head to its  website or Instagram page . + Billygoats & Raincoats Images via Billygoats & Raincoats

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Inhabitat Interview with Beth Cosmos, owner of Billygoats & Raincoats

A 19th century building is reborn as solar-powered temporary housing for families in need

July 19, 2018 by  
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No matter where you live or what you do for a living, there’s always a chance that fate will take a few bad turns, leaving you and your family in need of temporary housing. The Cambridge Health and Human Services Department (CHHSD) and Cambridge’s HMFH Architects recently joined forces to build such a shelter in a lovely 19th century building once thought doomed for demolition. In addition to providing safe, short-term housing, the project focuses on sustainability in its design. Once a grand, aluminum-gilded structure among the dignified homes along Massachusetts Avenue, building number 859, constructed in 1885, was turned into offices years ago. But time took its toll: the aluminum siding faded, the entryway became disheveled, rust sullied the fire escapes and flourishing gardens were harshly paved. Related: Architect converts derelict 19th century Mexican home into light-filled mixed-use community center The city purchased the dilapidated structure, and HMFH Architects razed the interior down to its structural beams and studs to make room for 10 family-sized housing units that each provide temporary homes with private baths for an adult and one to two children. Each floor has a kitchen and dining area shared by tenants. The architectural design team joined forces with the Cambridge Historical Commission to ensure as many details as possible were restored to their original state, from the front stairway design to the paint, trim and roofing materials. Sustainable design was also high on the list of project goals. The building meets Cambridge’s goal to keep the site’s energy use to as close to zero as possible, concurrent with generating sufficient renewable energy to fulfill its own yearly consumption. To accomplish this, the building has three types of solar roof tiles , maximum-efficiency mechanical systems to decrease heating and cooling needs and LED lighting operated by sensors. Double-thickness walls and insulation along with energy-efficient windows and doors also helped the project meet its energy goals. “The new residence at 859 Mass Avenue provides a welcoming, comfortable environment for families and children in need,” said Ellen Semonoff, Cambridge’s Assistant City Manager for Human Services. “The beauty and functionality of the building let families know that they are valued members of our community.” The Cambridge Historical Commission presented the 2018 Cambridge Preservation Award to jointly honor the project and the city for its work. + HMFH ARCHITECTS + Cambridge Health and Human Services Department Images via Bruce T. Martin and Ed Wosnek

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A 19th century building is reborn as solar-powered temporary housing for families in need

Giant manta ray nursery discovered in Gulf of Mexico

June 22, 2018 by  
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Researchers have identified the first recognized giant manta ray nursery in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico , about 70 miles offshore from Galveston, Texas . Graduate student and executive director of  Manta Trust Josh Stewart first made this discovery while studying adult mantas in the area for the first time. “I was there trying to get a genetic sample from a full grown manta, and that’s when I saw it. It was a juvenile male manta, which is a very rare,” Stewart told NPR . After expressing his excitement to local researchers, he was informed that young manta sightings were quite common there. He said, “And that’s when I knew that this was a really special, unique place.” The local researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration had misidentified the young manta rays as another species, neglecting to recognize the importance of this place until the arrival of an outside perspective. Typically, adult manta rays live in deep tropical and subtropical waters, making the study of these majestic sea creatures quite difficult. Young manta rays are almost never seen with adults. Related: Microplastic pollution poses particular threat to filter-feeding rays, sharks and whales “The juvenile life stage for oceanic mantas has been a bit of a black box for us, since we’re so rarely able to observe them,” Stewart explained. “We don’t know much about their movements, their feeding behavior and how that compares to the adults. Now we have a pool of juveniles that we can study.” The recognition of the nursery will ensure that these young mantas, now an endangered species in the U.S., are protected while also providing a road map for the protection of juvenile habitats around the world. “This research backs up the need for protection of other critical habitat, especially since manta rays have recently been designated as threatened species,” study co-author Michelle Johnston told the Herald Sun . “Threatened species need a safe space to grow up and thrive and live.” + Scripps Institution of Oceanography Via NPR and  The Herald Sun Images via G.P. Schmahl / FGBNMS

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New ‘agrihood’ coming to the Island of Hawaii

June 13, 2018 by  
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In a first for the Big Island of Hawaii, a new sustainable “ agrihood ” known as Kuwili Lani, Hawaiian for “to embrace the heavens,” has received final subdivision approval and properties in this new neighborhood are now available to the public. An agrihood is an organized sustainable community that, rather than being built around a pool or a golf course, is centered on spaces designed for community food production. Backed by Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, the Kuwili Lani project is the result of over ten years of research and organizing which are now bearing fruit. Now that the infrastructure in the gated community is complete, lots are available for purchase from mid-$200k to mid-$300k. Located on the Hamakua Coast in Laupahoehoe, Kuwili Lani is designed with sustainability in mind across the board. From the community’s independence from the energy grid, made possible by on-site wind and solar power generation, to each of the eleven one-acre lots being zoned for agricultural use, Kuwili Lani intends to offer its residents a unique, sustainable lifestyle only 25 miles from the nearby city of Hilo. The community’s careful use of natural resources is also reflected in its sustainable rain harvesting for outdoor, agricultural use; the potable county water supply will be piped into the community. Related: Hawaii just set the most ambitious climate goal of any US state: carbon neutral by 2045 Although there may be communal food production plots, individual plot owners are encouraged to grow their own food on their own lots. Neighbors may coordinate to determine what the community needs and then delegate, so that Kuwili Lani may be able to provide its own fruit, vegetables, and even seafood right on site. Overall, the new sustainable community is aimed at those who want to be good stewards of the Earth while also taking charge of their own lives. “Kuwili Lani is based on the principle of being independent and in charge of one’s own destiny,” Michael Whelan, managing partner for Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, said in a statement. “We wanted to create a path for people to follow who are aware of the way their lifestyle impacts our environment.” Via Kuwili Lani Images via Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers

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Boring Company confirms Elon Musk’s plan to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing

May 9, 2018 by  
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Will Elon Musk foray into affordable housing next? Earlier this week, he said on Twitter that The Boring Company would transform dirt from tunnel digging into bricks for low-cost housing . A spokesperson confirmed the plans to Bloomberg , and said, “there will be an insane amount of bricks.” The Boring Company will be using dirt from tunnel digging to create bricks for low cost housing — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2018 A Boring Company spokesperson told Bloomberg bricks would come from “excavated muck.” Musk has indicated in the past he could sell excavated materials; in March he tweeted about kits of life-size LEGO -like interlocking bricks to make structures inspired by ancient Egypt. And when asked if the bricks could be used for affordable housing around that time, he said yes, and that “two people could build the outer walls of a small house in a day or so.” Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company to sell life-size ‘LEGO-like’ bricks dug from the earth It seems like he’s serious, but there are still plenty of questions around such an endeavor — such as how many housing units Musk could build with Boring Company bricks. Bloomberg spoke with University of California, Los Angeles lecturer Juan Matute who said Musk’s tweet “assumes that housing costs are driven by construction materials , and particularly, construction materials that can be replaced by bricks. That’s not the case.” Labor and land drive prices more, according to Bloomberg, at least in California where The Boring Company is currently tunneling. Another potential issue is that chemicals have contaminated land underneath Los Angeles. If contaminants are present in excavated dirt, it may be difficult for The Boring Company to transform that dirt into bricks. Matute told Bloomberg challenges might not prevent Musk from following through on the plan, saying, “That doesn’t mean The Boring Company can’t buy some land and build a few low-cost houses, with a partner like Habitat for Humanity. And say, ‘Look what we did.’” The Boring Company said future offices could be erected with their bricks, according to Bloomberg. The company’s Frequently Asked Questions page said they’re “investigating technologies that will recycle the earth into useful bricks to be used to build structures,” and that these bricks “can potentially be used as a portion of the tunnel lining itself.” + Elon Musk Twitter Via Bloomberg Image via Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

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Hawaii sets the most ambitious goal of any US state by vowing to be carbon neutral by 2045

May 9, 2018 by  
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The legislature of Hawaii has approved two bills that together put the state on the path to becoming carbon neutral by 2045 – the most ambitious climate change goal of any state in the United States. Bille bill 1986 establishes a carbon-offset program, while House bill 2182 convenes a task force to determine the best course of action to achieve carbon neutrality within the next three decades. “This is the biggest step forward on climate change any state has yet taken,” said Hawaii representative Chris Lee in a statement . As an island nation, Hawaii is taking such strong action to combat climate change in part because it is particularly vulnerable to its impacts. In passing the bills, legislators cited a study which estimated that Hawaii would endure $19 billion worth of damage on private property and significantly more on public infrastructure as a result of rising sea levels. In addition to its recently passed climate change legislation, Hawaii was the first state to formally adopt the goals established under the Paris climate agreement after President Trump withdrew the United States from it. Related: Helsinki unveils plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2035 Prior to the passage of these bills, Rhode Island was the American state with the most ambitious climate change goal, which pledged to achieve an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Hawaii now stands as one of the world’s most aggressive states in its fight against climate change, sharing the same carbon neutrality timeline as Sweden. For context, carbon neutrality is expected in Iceland by 2040, Norway by 2030, Costa Rica by 2021, and the Maldives by 2020. While these steps are important, they are not sufficient. More governments must make similarly aggressive pledges toward carbon neutrality if climate change is to be halted. Hawaii governor David Ige,  who has been supportive of sustainability initiatives in the past , is expected to sign the bills into law. Via Quartz Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Hawaii sets the most ambitious goal of any US state by vowing to be carbon neutral by 2045

10.3 million people are employed in the renewable energy industry

May 9, 2018 by  
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For the first time ever, the number of people employed in renewable energy has passed the 10 million mark, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). In 2017, 10.3 million people were working in renewable energy, with 60 percent of the jobs in Asia. Of renewable energy jobs, solar power was the largest employer with nearly 3.4 million jobs. In 2017, the renewable energy industry created over 500,000 new jobs, according to IRENA, based in Abu Dhabi. That’s a 5.3 percent increase over 2016. The countries with the most jobs in renewable energy are the United States, China, India, Japan, Germany, and Brazil, and they account for over 70 percent of renewable energy industry jobs in the world. IRENA Director-General Adnan Amin said in the agency’s statement, “Renewable energy has become a pillar of low-carbon economic growth for governments all over the world, a fact reflected by the growing number of jobs created in the sector.” Related: Clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs in most US states The number of solar power jobs was up nearly nine percent over 2016 after what IRENA described as a record 94 gigawatts in installations last year. Around two-thirds, or around 2.2 million, of solar energy jobs are in China. Liquid biofuels is another big employer with 1.9 million jobs. Large hydropower is up there as well with 1.5 million jobs. Jobs in the wind industry decreased some at 1.15 million jobs globally. IRENA said while growing amounts of countries are enjoying clean power’s socioeconomic benefits, most manufacturing happens in relatively few countries. Amin said, “The data also underscores an increasingly regionalized picture, highlighting that in countries where attractive policies exist, the economic, social, and environmental benefits of renewable energy are most evident. Fundamentally, this data supports our analysis that decarbonization of the global energy system can grow the global economy and create up to 28 million jobs in the sector by 2050.” + International Renewable Energy Agency Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 ) and the International Renewable Energy Agency

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Designers envision innovative affordable housing for Sydney

May 7, 2018 by  
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The Sydney Affordable Housing Challenge , organized by Bee Breeders , calls for ideas that try to solve the affordable housing shortage in Sydney. The competition attracted worldwide talent as designers attempted to create innovative solutions. Many of the successful entries offered more than just housing — they designed spaces that would build communities. Bridging Affordable Housing, the winning entry, intersperses  green-roof prefab housing units throughout the city. The project involves “a simple module : a structural bridge pier with decking that contains prefabricated housing units topped by a green roof.” Instead of stacking the units, the team designed the houses above the city’s streets like bridges. The second prize winner is “Newborn in the Crevice”, which combines housing units with public spaces in a structural grid. The simple vertical arrangement makes the design adaptable to population needs and economic conditions. Related: Tiny new flat-packed off-grid homes offer affordable housing breakthrough The third place project, TOD and Waterfront Housing, envisions “stacked prefabricated units floating within the bays of  Sydney .” It creates  waterfront  housing and commercial spaces and introduces a rail system to reduce dependence on cars. Finally, The BB Green Award winner was project Water Smart Home Sydney, which aims to sustainably harness energy from several sources, through both passive and active systems. The project authors said they hope their design helps to “…contribute ideas that could bring desirable living within reach of the majority of the population and lift the burden of housing affordability for young people and low-income families.” + Sydney Affordable Housing Challenge Via Archdaily

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