Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

April 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

As one of the most beautiful states in the country, Maine offers an infinite number of advantages. But the state’s notoriously frigid winters often leave new residents desperate to find some respite from the long, cold months. After spending a few years in a drafty home where she and her family lived in multiple layers of clothing, author Jessica Kerwin Jenkins and her husband decided to build their own energy-efficient home. The result is an incredible barn-inspired structure that uses solar power and multiple passive features to keep the stunning interior living spaces warm and cozy throughout the year. Once they set out to build a new home, the couple researched passive house concepts that would suit their family’s needs, which included a comfortable living space where they wouldn’t have to dress in 10 layers of warm clothing for six months out of the year. With the help of a local architect, the couple set out to build an extremely airtight structure that used solar power and passive strategies to create an energy-efficient home with a minimal carbon footprint. Related: Beautiful Maine home uses passive solar principles to achieve near net-zero energy Located in the quaint community of Blue Hill, the beautiful home is tucked into an old blueberry field just minutes away from a secluded cove. The incredibly idyllic setting set the tone for the design, which focused on creating something that would fit the region’s style but also reap the benefits of modern sustainability. As for aesthetics, Jenkins explained that she and her husband were both intrigued by the traditional Japanese practice of shou sugi ban . But they ended up cladding the home in something that would pay homage to the local seaside community — pitch tar. Typically used to weatherproof ships’ masts, the material is durable, low-maintenance and highly insulative. Additionally, the jet-black exterior allows the home to both stand out and blend in with its natural surroundings. “We always wanted to do a black house, which seems really dramatic — but there are so many evergreens here that it disappears into the tree line,” Jenkins said. The house is topped with a 26-panel, 7.8 kW solar array on the pitched roof, generating more power than the home uses. The exterior is punctuated with an abundance of triple-paned windows that, thanks to the home’s southern orientation, provide optimal solar gain to keep the interiors warm. At 2,288 square feet, the four-bedroom home is quite spacious. Plentiful windows and high ceilings add to the modern feel of the living spaces. For an extra touch of warmth, the home is equipped with a radiant floor heating and an air exchanger that pulls in air from outside and passes it through a filter. This stunning, eco-friendly home set in an unbelievable location, not far from Acadia National Park, can be all yours for just $585,000 , as it is currently listed for sale. + Christopher Group Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Bruce Frame Photography via Christopher Group

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Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

April 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

As one of the most beautiful states in the country, Maine offers an infinite number of advantages. But the state’s notoriously frigid winters often leave new residents desperate to find some respite from the long, cold months. After spending a few years in a drafty home where she and her family lived in multiple layers of clothing, author Jessica Kerwin Jenkins and her husband decided to build their own energy-efficient home. The result is an incredible barn-inspired structure that uses solar power and multiple passive features to keep the stunning interior living spaces warm and cozy throughout the year. Once they set out to build a new home, the couple researched passive house concepts that would suit their family’s needs, which included a comfortable living space where they wouldn’t have to dress in 10 layers of warm clothing for six months out of the year. With the help of a local architect, the couple set out to build an extremely airtight structure that used solar power and passive strategies to create an energy-efficient home with a minimal carbon footprint. Related: Beautiful Maine home uses passive solar principles to achieve near net-zero energy Located in the quaint community of Blue Hill, the beautiful home is tucked into an old blueberry field just minutes away from a secluded cove. The incredibly idyllic setting set the tone for the design, which focused on creating something that would fit the region’s style but also reap the benefits of modern sustainability. As for aesthetics, Jenkins explained that she and her husband were both intrigued by the traditional Japanese practice of shou sugi ban . But they ended up cladding the home in something that would pay homage to the local seaside community — pitch tar. Typically used to weatherproof ships’ masts, the material is durable, low-maintenance and highly insulative. Additionally, the jet-black exterior allows the home to both stand out and blend in with its natural surroundings. “We always wanted to do a black house, which seems really dramatic — but there are so many evergreens here that it disappears into the tree line,” Jenkins said. The house is topped with a 26-panel, 7.8 kW solar array on the pitched roof, generating more power than the home uses. The exterior is punctuated with an abundance of triple-paned windows that, thanks to the home’s southern orientation, provide optimal solar gain to keep the interiors warm. At 2,288 square feet, the four-bedroom home is quite spacious. Plentiful windows and high ceilings add to the modern feel of the living spaces. For an extra touch of warmth, the home is equipped with a radiant floor heating and an air exchanger that pulls in air from outside and passes it through a filter. This stunning, eco-friendly home set in an unbelievable location, not far from Acadia National Park, can be all yours for just $585,000 , as it is currently listed for sale. + Christopher Group Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Bruce Frame Photography via Christopher Group

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Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

DIY yurt could be the answer for true social distancing

April 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

In these trying days when social distancing seems to be so hard for so many, perhaps a change of living space is the key to finding some alone time. Designed by the team from  Woodenwidget , the Plurt is a lightweight yurt  that can be assembled quickly with just a few simple tools. What’s more, the round yurt offers a sustainable and highly insulated home that can be built in just about any landscape. While we’ve seen some pretty impressive DIY yurt designs over the years, the Plurt is designed to take the guesswork out of the process. The entire set up includes six curved wall panels, 15 flat roof panels and a door frame. Enabling an easier transport process, the panels, which are made out of exterior grade wood, weigh less than 45 pounds each. In fact, the entire yurt weighs only about 550 pounds. Additionally, the interchangeable panels are custom cut to ensure that the project is as low-waste and low-impact  as possible. Related: 7 cozy tipis and yurts that make you feel right at home Once put into place, the  wooden panels are bonded together through several adjustable clasps and sealed with waterproof wood glue. According to the team from Woodenwidget, the round yurt structure can be assembled by just one or two people using basic power tools in about 200 hours. About 16 feet in diameter and just under 9 feet high, the interior of the yurt is a fairly compact size, but the living space seems quite spacious thanks to an abundance of  natural light . Curved walls made out of plywood add a cabin-like feel to the living space. In addition to the large windows, a central skylight covered by a plexi dome can be raised or lowered for natural air ventilation. Besides the resiliency naturally achieved by its  circular design , the Plurt also offers several sustainable features. Unlike most yurt designs, the structure is constructed using the insulating layer as a structural element, which in return, reduces the project’s overall number of building materials. Additionally, the design’s highly-insulated system and natural lighting mean that it can be used in almost any climate. A Neoprene seal stops water leakage and a simple gutter system helps redirect rainwater from the roof. + Woodenwidget Images via Woodenwidget

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DIY yurt could be the answer for true social distancing

Where to order vegetable seeds online

April 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

My grandfather always liked to garden, but he ramped up his vegetable production during World War II. Many folks at the time grew what they called “ victory gardens ” to supplement food shortages and ration cards. Nowadays, with COVID-19 raging on, people are similarly starting pandemic gardens. If you’re thinking of starting a garden or adding to your existing plots, here are some tips on buying seeds online. “There’s a huge number of people looking for planting information right now,” Melody Rose, an editor at Dave’s Garden , told Inhabitat. “We’ve seen an uptick in members who have slipped away coming back.” Related: New gardener advice and suggestions So far, supply chains are holding. While toilet paper may be scarce, there’s still plenty of food. But why not start a garden? If you’re sheltering in place anyway and you have some outdoor space, this healthy habit will connect you with the earth, get you safely outside and provide food in the coming months. Rose talked with Inhabitat to share tips for starting a garden and finding the best places to buy seeds online. What to plant If you’re new to gardening , you might not know what to plant. My early gardening attempts involved grandiose dreams of winning county fair prizes with exotic vegetables, none of which wanted to grow in my yard, as it turned out. That’s because you have to know your turf. Thanks to a neighbor’s enormous oak tree, I get less than the ideal amount of afternoon sun. So after some trial and error, I know to stick to kale , peas, beans and lettuce. Lucky enough to have more sun? “Beginning gardeners will have good luck with squash and cucumbers if they have a sunny spot outdoors and the seeds can be planted directly in the ground,” Rose said. “Beans are easy to plant outdoors, you just need at least a dozen plants to do much good, and probably more. Lettuce and radishes are quick and easy, and you can plant seeds several weeks apart to ensure a crop for a longer time.” Vegetables grow best with at least eight hours of full sun every day, Rose advised. “Afternoon sun is preferable to morning sun. I plant my vegetables where they get full sun all day, but I know that isn’t an option for some. Lettuce, radishes and spinach will do okay with a little more shade, especially when the summer temps get really hot.” Some plants are more high-maintenance than others. “Tomatoes and peppers are a bit tricky to start since they require several weeks under lights indoors,” Rose said. If you’re new to gardening, it’s better to minimize start-up costs and see how your new hobby goes. If it turns out you constantly forget to water and weed, you’ll regret buying a bunch of lights. Garden choices also come down to taste and whether you have enough space to grow a sufficient number of plants. What good is a bountiful bean harvest if you hate beans? And what good is one plant if you can’t harvest at least a single meal’s worth of vegetables from it? “Being Southern, I like okra,” Rose said. “It needs warm summers, but grows well and few pests bother it. Each plant will provide one or two pods every day all summer . You’ll need between one and two dozen pods for a family of four, depending on how they like it.” Where to buy seeds online Toilet paper companies aren’t the only ones experiencing increased demand. Seed companies are feeling it, too. “Good companies are having a huge surge in mail orders,” Rose explained. “I know that Baker Creek had to shut their portal down over last weekend just to catch up with orders.” Rose recommended a few vendors she’s ordered from herself. “I have nothing but good things to say about them,” she said. “I think all of these companies are having a good sales year.” Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds , based in Missouri, began in 1998 and now offers about 1,200 varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers. Try the purple lady bok choy and atomic orange corn. Iowa-based Seed Savers Exchange started with tomato and morning glory seeds brought by the founder’s grandfather from Bavaria. Johnny’s Seeds , which is 100% employee-owned, began in the attic of a New Hampshire farmhouse in 1973. Kitazawa Seed Company , founded in 1917, is the country’s oldest seed company specializing in Asian vegetables. People who start seed companies are a special breed. It takes a lot of passion and perseverance for small, organic companies to go up against huge, conventional seed growers. I recently ordered seeds from Wild Mountain Seeds in Colorado, after sharing an Uber Pool ride with the one of the owners, who was en route to an organic seed growers conference. Wild Mountain specializes in heirloom tomatoes and sturdy seeds that can withstand colder climates. Because of the pandemic-related upsurge in seed sales, keep in mind that these and other companies might be slower than usual in delivering, out of stock and/or might have to temporarily close ordering to catch up with demand. Rose recommended checking out any unfamiliar seed company in the Garden Watchdog rating database on Dave’s Garden. You can even narrow your search to specific plants. Beginner gardening tips Rose suggested starting small and properly preparing your soil . Too much ambition and too little knowledge could put you off gardening forever. “One of my husband’s employees decided that he and his family would plant a garden last year and he had a huge plot tilled up,” she said. “They battled weeds, bugs, raccoons, rabbits and deer. The ground wasn’t prepared properly and they chose a location that was shaded in the afternoon. Needless to say, it was a huge disaster.” If possible, test your soil before planting. The Old Farmers Almanac offers DIY testing advice . Otherwise, Rose recommended incorporating well-rotted manure or a commercial fertilizer with a 10-10-10 rating. Even if you don’t have a proper plot, you can still container garden. Just be sure not to pick containers that are too small or shallow. “A tomato plant needs the minimum of a five-gallon bucket and a gallon of water every day to produce,” Rose said. “A squash plant is similar.” Microgreens are an option for people who have no outdoor space and/or lack green thumbs. Microgreens are nutrient-packed plants that require only a tiny container, a handful of soil and a sunny windowsill . “I think microgreens would be an easy and nutritious option for lots of people,” Rose said. “Easy, very little equipment and fast turnaround.” Whether you’re an indoor urban gardener or have an acre of land, there’s never been a better time to get your hands in some cool dirt and grow something nutritious to eat. + Dave’s Garden Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Eco Warrior Princess

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A cluster of serene bungalows is tucked into Vietnamese rice fields

April 1, 2020 by  
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When it comes to serene vacations, the hospitality sector is finally realizing that true luxury comes in different forms. For those looking to enjoy peace and quiet while being completely immersed in nature, the beautiful Ruong resort in Vietnam, designed by studio H.2 , features an intimate complex of bungalows built with natural materials  and tucked behind miles of expansive rice fields. Located near a popular beach resort in the Phuoc Thuan commune, the Ruong complex is set off the beaten path into expansive rice fields that have been harvested by generations of local families. According to the architects, the idyllic location set the tone for the project’s design, creating a tranquil “place to return, rest and escape from the smog, noisy, hustle and bustle life in the city.” Related: Solar-powered eco hotel in Portugal offers surfers ocean views from green-roofed bungalows The small-scale resort features several individual bungalows arranged around a central area. Although the bungalows vary in size, they are all crafted from natural materials, such as wood and iron truss frames covered with tile and straw roofs, that have been used in traditional Vietnamese constructions for generations. H.2 collaborated with local workers to construct the buildings. Each bungalow is positioned to provide stunning views of the surroundings. Most of them have sliding glass doors that open up to wooden decks. These outdoor areas, as well as the glass walls that line the bungalows, create a seamless connection with nature while also welcoming natural light into the guest rooms. The duplex suites, which are directly connected to the rice fields via elevated decks, feature slanted roofs that mimic the silhouettes of kites soaring over the landscape. When guests can finally manage to pull themselves away from the spectacular views and comfy rooms, they can enjoy the resort’s communal spaces. At the heart of the complex is a thatched-roof restaurant and a large swimming pool. + H.2 Images via H.2

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A cluster of serene bungalows is tucked into Vietnamese rice fields

Solar powered hotel opens in Indian wine-growing region

March 27, 2020 by  
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Mumbai-based firm  Sanjay Puri Architects  has just completed work on a beautiful hotel in northern India known for wine production. Built on a base of locally-sourced natural stone, the Aria Hotel is a stunning design carefully stacked onto the landscape that boasts several passive and active features to make it incredibly  energy efficient . Located in the ancient city of Nashik in the northern Indian region of Maharashtra, the  beautiful hotel  is located right on the banks of the Godavari River. The idyllic location includes the river on one side and rising hills on the other, providing guests with a beautiful area to reconnect with nature. Related: Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort According to the architects, no soil was taken out of the site or brought into the site during the construction process to protect the natural topography. Stacked multiple levels high, the hotel is built on a base of locally-sourced natural black basalt stone . The north side of the building includes several modules with large balconies that look out over the river. Throughout the suites as well as the common areas, the hotel boasts an abundance of natural light  thanks to several floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors. Additionally, the spaces, including the main courtyards, are naturally ventilated, further reducing the hotel’s energy usage. The hotel meets an estimated 50% of its energy needs thanks to a rooftop solar array . In addition to its clean energy generation, the hotel was installed with a rainwater collection system that provides water for irrigation. All of the luxury units boast large rectangular balconies that are angled to frame the incredible views of the river landscape. However, these angled outdoor spaces with overhanging roofs were also specifically designed to provide shade and  minimize heat gain  throughout the interior spaces. + Sanjay Puri Architects Via v2com Photography by Dinesh Mehta and Sanjay Puri

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Solar powered hotel opens in Indian wine-growing region

MVRDV designs a sustainable urban living room for Shenzhen

March 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has unveiled its competition-winning designs for the Shimao ShenKong International Centre, a new “three-dimensional urban living room” for the heart of Shenzhen’s Longgang district. Selected from nearly 30 competition entries, the winning proposal, also known as the Shenzhen Terraces, will introduce over 20 programs to a thriving university neighborhood. The project also focuses on sustainability and will integrate passive design principles, native landscaping, recycled materials and solar panels.  Named after its architecture of stacked plateaus, the Shenzhen Terraces project references forms of the nearby mountains while its predominately horizontal lines and curvaceous shapes provide a visual contrast with the vertical lines and hard edges of the surrounding high-rises. The terraced design also creates opportunities for large overhangs to mitigate solar gain as well as spacious terraces filled with plants and water basins for cooling microclimates . Bridge elements link various buildings to create a continuous elevated route.  Related: ZHA unveils LEED Gold-targeted OPPO headquarters in Shenzhen “ Shenzhen has developed so quickly since its origins in the 1970s,” said Winy Maas, founding partner of MVRDV. “In cities like this, it is essential to carefully consider how public spaces and natural landscape can be integrated into the densifying cityscape. The urban living room of the Shimao ShenKong International Centre will be a wonderful example of this, and could become a model for the creation of key public spaces in New Town developments throughout Shenzhen. It aims to make an area that you want be outside, hang out and meet, even when it is hot — a literally cool space for the university district, where all communication space can be outside. It will truly be a public building.” As a sustainable hub, the 101,300-square-meter Shenzhen Terraces will be home to a pedestrian-friendly landscape, a bus terminal and a mixture of functions — such as an art gallery, library, conference center and outdoor theater — conveniently placed near high-rise housing, commercial complexes and educational facilities. The landscaping, designed in collaboration with Openfabric, will mimic the curvaceous architecture and will feature native sub-tropical plants and recreation zones.  + MVRDV Images by Atchain via MVRDV

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MVRDV designs a sustainable urban living room for Shenzhen

1980s cottage in Melbourne is updated into an energy-efficient retreat

March 19, 2020 by  
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Melbourne-based firm Jost Architects has managed to breathe new life into a rundown 1980s cottage house in the beachside community of St Kilda. The renovation process focused on retaining as much of the building’s original features as possible, with the resulting design boasting several energy-efficient features that reduce the home’s environmental impact. The original home consisted of a one-story layout with two front bedrooms and a bathroom as well as an extension that was previously added to the back of the house. During the green renovation process, the architects decided to remove the addition but retain the original living areas. Related: A Mel bourne worker’s cottage gets revamped into a solar-powered family home Once the project started, the designers had to work around the local building restraints to add an upper level. The extension had to fit just right on the original, irregular layout without causing a distraction from the street. Working within the restrictions, the team carefully added a second floor with a new master bedroom and en suite at the front of the house. This space also has a front balcony with windows that open completely. From the bedroom, a hallway leads to another east-facing deck with an operable aluminum screen that provides the homeowners with a bit of outdoor privacy as well as protection from the western summer sun . The new area on the ground floor was also transformed into a spacious, open-plan living room. The entrance is now through a lovely outdoor courtyard that leads into the modern living area. Farther past the main space is the kitchen followed by two additional bedrooms. The green renovation not only gave the residents a bigger space that is flooded with natural light, but the home is now much more energy-efficient. Adding new outdoor spaces provided the living areas with optimal natural ventilation, both upstairs and downstairs. New materials, such as double-paned windows and decorative concrete with zoned hydronic heating, help keep the home well-insulated. For energy generation, the home was outfitted with a 2.6 kW solar power system on the roof. + Jost Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Tom Roe and Shani Hodson via Jost Architects

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1980s cottage in Melbourne is updated into an energy-efficient retreat

UK university unveils efficient, BREEAM-certified learning center

March 12, 2020 by  
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Years ago, Durham University decided to implement a 10-year plan to improve on-campus facilities for its student body. Tasking British firm Faulkner Browns with the ambitious project, one of the first buildings to come to fruition is the Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre. The massive, three-level student center was built to be incredibly energy-efficient , so much so that the innovative design has already been BREEAM-certified for its sustainability profile. The 3,000-square-foot building is clad in handmade gray brick that contrasts with the abundance of greenery that surrounds the site. The design’s most striking feature, however, is the 12 rooftop modules that are all topped with asymmetric pyramidal peaks. Each of these roofs is arranged around a small or large skylight, which brighten the interior spaces with natural light. Related: Ecosistema Urbano designs a digitally integrated eco-campus for the University of Malaga The interior spaces were strategically positioned to foster a strong sense of community. In the past, learning centers were often arranged into multiple private spaces for individual or small group study. While the Lower Mountjoy Teaching and Learning Centre certainly has ample space for quiet study, the main floors are filled according to a specific teaching and learning “space model”, which seeks to create an open and welcoming area for the entire student body, regardless of the students’ specific areas of study. Students and visitors enter through a massive central courtyard , which forms the social hub of the building. Further into the first floor, there are various seminar spaces and project rooms as well as two 250- and 500-seat lecture halls. There is also a spacious cafe for taking a break from the tough studying grind. Leading to the upper floors, a wide staircase adds a dramatic feel to the learning center. On the vaulted top floor, there is an expansive, flexible space that can be used for quiet, contemplative study or as a group lounge-like setting for collaborative learning projects. In addition to the ample natural light that filters through the many skylights, the building features full-height windows that provide views of the landscape. The learning center has a tight thermal envelope and was installed with several energy-efficient features, which has led to the project to earn a distinguished BREEAM Excellent certification. + Faulkner Browns Photography by Jack Hobhouse, David Cadzow and Kristen McCluskie via Faulkner Browns

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UK university unveils efficient, BREEAM-certified learning center

Transformed caravan’s mobile music studio to help refugees

March 11, 2020 by  
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Although we’ve seen quite a few cool caravan conversions, Swedish studio  Snask ‘s latest project brings music to our ears and color to our eyes. The innovative designers have converted an old camper  into a vibrant mobile music studio — all for a very worthwhile cause. The project is in collaboration with  Turning Tables , a nonprofit organization that builds creative spaces so that refugee children around the world have a place where they can express themselves through music. Founded by Danish DJ Martin Jakobsen, Turning Tables first began its work with  refugees  in New York, where it ran a program to teach kids how to DJ. The nonprofit program has since gone global, with teams of artists and musicians building spaces for kids to express themselves through music and other art forms. Related: Amplified tiny house lets musician homeowner rock out in the great outdoors Not satisfied with their many brick and mortar locations around the world, the Turning Tables team decided to go on tour around Sweden. To do so, however, they knew they needed a more efficient way to travel with their music equipment. Looking for solutions, they contacted the innovative creatives behind Snask to ask for help in designing a  tiny music studio on wheels  that would help them travel further to reach more kids. Once they found an old caravan for sale, the  renovation project  kicked off with the help of several artists and friends. The rundown camper was completely gutted, removing all of its moldy furnishings and replacing its wooden structure. The resulting design is a fantastically vibrant music studio, complete with turntables. Of course, the  pièce de résistance  is the soft pink fur used to line the walls and help with sound insulation . With the help of artists  Fabrizio Morra ,  Rasmus Linderos  and  Enrike Puerto,  the exterior of the camper was painted with a bold pattern of colors and shapes that perfectly reflect the project’s mission. + Snask + Turning Tables Via Design Boom Images via Snask

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Transformed caravan’s mobile music studio to help refugees

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