7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home

January 4, 2019 by  
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Insulation is an important part of any home. Not only does it retain heat during the winter by restricting air flow, but it also reduces the cost of heating and cooling throughout the year. For more than a century, most new homes were built with fiberglass insulation, but this can cause many health issues. If you are building a new house or remodeling in the near future, try one of these green home insulation alternatives to make your home safe and healthy. Sheep’s wool Not only is sheep’s wool fire retardant, but the material can keep your home warm the same way it helps sheep survive frigid temperatures. In recent years, scientists have figured out how to apply the insulating properties of sheep’s wool to home construction. The compressed wool fibers form millions of tiny air pockets, and the outer layer is resistant to water while the inner layer absorbs moisture. This helps it generate heat while preventing condensation, and it keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When you use sheep’s wool, you won’t have to adjust your heating and cooling system often, and that will save you energy and money. Cotton/denim Because cotton is a natural and renewable resource, it is one of the most eco-friendly insulation options on the market. Leftover blue jean scraps are shredded and recycled into thick batts that fit into your walls just like fiberglass. To make it safe for humans as well as the environment, companies treat the cotton with a borate solution, so the insulation isn’t flammable. Cotton is also a natural insect repellent, doesn’t contain formaldehyde and doesn’t cause respiratory problems. However, compared to fiberglass, it is incredibly expensive, costing nearly twice as much. Icynene One of the strongest home insulation alternatives, Icynene is a spray foam made out of castor oil that expands about 100 times its volume when you spray it into a wall or ceiling. Not only does it seal leaks and drafts, but it also cancels noise. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home During the foaming process, Icynene traps in tiny air bubbles, and when the foam cures, the air remains in place. This is why the insulation works so well. However, the sealing powers of Icynene are so strong, you have to install a ventilation system. Because of the additional requirements, the upfront costs to install Icynene are expensive. However, it will reduce your energy bill so drastically, in the long run, you will save money. Polystyrene At first glance, this might not sound like a green option, but polystyrene is considered to be green because it helps you save an enormous amount of energy. Polystyrene is a plastic that comes in two forms: rigid foam boards that will add structural integrity to your walls and a spray foam. Aerogel This man-made material is 90 percent air, but it is difficult for heat to pass through it, making it excellent for insulation. The legend has it that Samuel Stephens Kistler invented aerogel in 1931 after making a bet with a friend. Kesler bet that he could replace the liquid in a jelly jar without causing the jelly to shrink, and he won by removing the liquid and replacing it with air. This led to aerogel, which is made by removing the liquid from silica under high pressure and temperature. Aerogel is ultra lightweight and comes in sheets or stickers for easy installation. However, it is pricey, costing up to $2 a foot. ThermaCork This option actually has a negative carbon footprint , because the finished product is made from the outer bark of oak trees. It is natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable, plus it cancels noise and is free of toxins. Cellulose If you are looking to minimize the toxins in your house, cellulose is a good choice. Made from recycled newsprint and other paper, it is safe to install. Using this kind of insulation means that the paper in your walls didn’t make its way to a landfill to release harmful greenhouse gases . When it comes to insulation, there is no right or wrong choice. But there are many different options out there with various qualities, good and bad. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each to find the insulation that works best for you and your home. Images via Icynene , Tony Webster , Jon Collier and Shutterstock

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7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home

Experimental prefab home eschews fossil fuels in Geneva

December 4, 2018 by  
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In the centrally located town of Lancy in Geneva, Switzerland, a compact and experimental timber home bucks the local archetype for concrete-based housing in favor of a more eco-friendly alternative. Swiss architect Leopold Banchini collaborated with engineer Marc Walgenwitz to design the light-filled abode — dubbed the Casa CCFF — using a prefabrication system that minimizes construction costs as well as waste. The small urban home was built for energy efficiency and assembled in just a few days by local carpenters.   Built overlooking Geneva’s industrial train station, Casa CCFF references its surrounding industrial environment with a sawtooth shed roof that floods the interior with natural light . Connections to nature, however, dominate the majority of the design, which boasts two interior gardens on the upper level and carefully framed views of the landscape for indoor-outdoor living. The primary living spaces are located on the open-plan upper floor while the ground level features a much smaller built footprint and is mainly used as a covered outdoor space for living and parking. The prefabricated home can be understood as a series of square modules laid out in a square four-by-four module plan. The compact ground floor, for instance, is made up of three modules: a single outdoor living space and a double-width interior space that connects to the upper floor via a spiral staircase. Upstairs, an open-plan layout with a kitchen, living room and dining area takes up roughly three-quarters of the area while the remaining space is dedicated to the two interior gardens, bedroom and bathroom. Related: Yves Béhar designs compact, prefab homes to tackle the housing crisis Casa CCFF is a domestic factory floating above an untouched garden. The house is built almost entirely in wood, pushing the structural capacities of this natural and sustainable material to its limits. The use of wood for the home also helps reduce the use of concrete to a bare minimum. By incorporating high insulation values and maximizing solar gain , a small heat pump allows the modern home to avoid the use of fossil fuels. + Leopold Banchini Images by Dylan Perrenoud

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Experimental prefab home eschews fossil fuels in Geneva

Robotically fabricated Wander Wood Pavilion pops up in just over three days

December 4, 2018 by  
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Traditional materials and futuristic technologies have come together in the Wander Wood Pavilion, a large-scale robotically fabricated structure completed by students at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Installed as a temporary addition to the campus grounds, the experimental pavilion was fabricated and assembled in just over three days using a state-of-the-art eight-axis industrial robot at the UBC Center for Advanced Wood Processing . Constructed with built-in seating, the sculptural installation was built mainly of wood, a renewable material selected for its sustainable features and ability to store carbon. Completed in October 2018, the Wander Wood Pavilion is the result of the Robot Made: Large-Scale Robotic Timber Fabrication in Architecture workshop led by David Correa of the University of Waterloo, Oliver David Krieg of LWPAC, and SALA professor AnnaLisa Meyboom. A large team of students, staff, faculty and external partners worked on the project as part of the university’s SEEDS Sustainability Program , an initiative that aims to advance campus sustainability through multidisciplinary projects. Forestry Industry Innovation provided the funding. “Starting with computational tools for parametric design, structural principles for wood construction, robotic CNC milling and digital workflow management, participants were provided with a unique insight into the new opportunities and challenges of advanced design to fabrication processes for timber structures,” explains the team in their project statement. “Parametric design and robotic fabrication are disruptive new technologies in architecture that allow us to build high performance structures of unprecedented formal complexity.” Related: Provocative timber horn explores the hypnotic pull of the unknown The sinuous and latticed form of the sculptural Wander Wood Pavilion not only helps activate the surrounding public area, but its curved shape also creates a cocoon-like environment for visitors using the built-in bench seating. The research workshop installation was installed next to the university fountain in the Martha Piper Plaza. + UBC Center for Advanced Wood Processing Images by David Correa

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Robotically fabricated Wander Wood Pavilion pops up in just over three days

The Screen House comfortably and sustainably connects with the outdoors

October 23, 2018 by  
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When Camberwell-based design practice Warc Studio Architects was tapped to renovate and extend an existing Edwardian residence in Victoria, the Australian firm also wanted to open the house to greater connection with the outdoors. To mitigate the site’s potentially harsh western aspect and hot summers, the architects strategically constructed an externally operable screen that inspired the project’s name, the Screen House. Passive solar principles were also applied to keep the home comfortable year-round as were other sustainably minded design decisions, such as low-VOC finishes, formaldehyde-free plywood and the inclusion of a compost and vegetable garden. Completed in 2016, the Screen House began with the renovation of an existing detached weatherboard Edwardian residence. The architects upgraded the bathrooms and private areas while simultaneously improving internal circulation and making room for greater landscaping and a new swimming pool. To make the most of the newly added gardens and swimming pool, the firm designed an addition to house a new open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area overlooking the landscape. The main corridor that connects the extension to the existing house provides immediate views to the rear garden from the front entrance. “Windows, cabinetry, walls and ceilings were strategically placed to unveil views and openings to the outside,” the architecture firm explained. “As the the occupants proceed toward the rear, a series of views unfold: the North garden framed by cabinetry; glimpses of the sky through a strip skylight ; views of trees through high level windows; screened views to the western outdoor areas.” Related: An energy-efficient extension in Melbourne captures the owners’ adventurous spirits Timber hardwood screens envelop the rear additions to mitigate unwanted solar gain without compromising views and can be manipulated to maximize seasonal variation in passive solar radiation. To minimize energy needs and waste, the Screen House has also been equipped with high-performance insulation, double glazing, rainwater harvesting and hydronic heating underfoot. + Warc Studio Architects Images by Aaron Pocock

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The Screen House comfortably and sustainably connects with the outdoors

This geometric cabin in Slovenia is a perfect romantic getaway for nature-lovers

October 23, 2018 by  
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For those looking to enjoy a serene glamping retreat, this tiny geometric cabin in Slovenia is a dream getaway. Located near the region of Maribor, the itsy-bitsy wooden hut is designed to blend seamlessly into the natural landscape thanks to a large glazed front wall that looks out over the expansive rolling hills. Guests can enjoy the fresh air while swinging from a hammock on the wooden deck or soaking in the hot tub. Guests of the tiny cabin , which starts around $170 per night, will enjoy the modern simplicity of the design. A geometric volume expands the space of the compact interior while adding character to the overall aesthetic. The floor-to-ceiling windows on the front facade were used to connect the interior with the exterior. Of course, the swinging hammock on the front deck is the best way to enjoy the panoramic views of the rolling green hills, mountains and valleys that surround the cabin. Related: This itsy-bitsy treehouse in Norway offers the ultimate off-grid escape The cabin comes with everything needed for a romantic getaway for two. The interior is small with just a queen-sized bed, but it is flooded with natural light . There are also a few tables and shelves for personal belongings. The bathroom is located just a few steps away, and linens and towels as well as bathrobes and slippers are all provided. The best part of the tiny cabin is the wooden deck that has a hammock as well as a small sitting area to enjoy the views. This deck is perfect for a morning cup of coffee or a glass of wine in the evening. Guests can also enjoy a community fire pit onsite as well as a large fireplace for barbecues. As an extra bonus, the hosts provide a breakfast basket every morning, filled with products from local farms . + Glamping Hub Via Apartment Therapy Images via Glamping Hub

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This geometric cabin in Slovenia is a perfect romantic getaway for nature-lovers

Earth911 Podcast, Oct. 12, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Hytch Reorganizes Your Commute

October 22, 2018 by  
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The Hytch app is a clever approach to incenting ridesharing … The post Earth911 Podcast, Oct. 12, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Hytch Reorganizes Your Commute appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Oct. 12, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Hytch Reorganizes Your Commute

This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

October 16, 2018 by  
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Compact, energy-efficient and built with locally sourced materials, this hillside home takes a low-impact approach to its wetland surroundings in the city of Valparaiso in northern Indiana. Local design firm Bamesberger Architecture completed the home for a client who wanted a relatively small dwelling overlooking a pristine 400,000-square-foot wetland site. Named The Box after its boxy appearance, the home boasts low-energy needs and does not rely on air conditioning, even in the summer Completed in 2013, The Box spans an area of 960 square feet and consists of a main house, a screened porch and a small storage building. All three structures are slightly offset from one another to offer varied views of the landscape and are connected with two square timber decks. In response to the client’s wishes for a “very affordable” house with wetland views, the architects selected a budget-friendly yet attractive natural materials palette — including blackened steel, stone, concrete and birch plywood — to complement the property’s native trees and grasslands. “To set the house into the site, the main living space was built into the hillside,” the architecture firm explained. “Excavated rocks were reused as a base for the steel encased fireplace as well as a stepping stone inside the front door. The front door was built from a walnut tree found dead on the site.” Related: Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree The main dwelling includes an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living area on the ground floor. Above, a small loft offers space for sleeping and a home office. A two-story shower takes advantage of the double-height volume, adding what the architects call “a spatial surprise in the otherwise small space.” To minimize energy needs, The Box is wrapped in high-performance insulation and built into the side of the north-facing hill. Radiant underfloor heating and natural ventilation also help keep the home at comfortable temperatures year-round with minimal utility bills. + Bamesberger Architecture Images via Fred Bamesberger

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This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living

October 10, 2018 by  
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Berlin-based architecture office rundzwei Architekten recently completed a light-filled home that showcases the many material benefits of cork . Named the Cork Screw House, the sustainably minded abode boasts a facade and roof clad in natural cork, a material that not only gives the building a highly textured appearance, but also contributes significantly to the home’s energy efficiency thanks to high insulation values. The cork home is set on a base of rammed concrete and comprises a series of split-levels for flexibility. The decision to clad the home in cork emerged from the client’s desire for a house with good acoustic performance. Initially drawn by the acoustic insulation properties of cork, the architects were ultimately convinced by the sustainable benefits of the material, which is made from granulated cork waste that has been pressed into naturally weather- and mold-resistant panels without any artificial additives. In addition to insulating cork panels, the architects carefully chose a natural materials palette and steered clear of chemical adhesives. Wood fiber and cellulose were used as additional insulation, while timber and gypsum fiberboards were selected for their ability to absorb humidity and create a comfortable indoor environment. Created for a family of three, the Cork Screw House is organized around a central, atrium -like staircase illuminated by a skylight. To side-step planning regulations that mandated a maximum floor size of 100 square meters, the architects lowered the base floors and designed the timber-framed upper floors as a series of split-levels, bringing the gross floor area to over 320 square meters. On the ground floor, full-height glazing floods the interior with natural light. The home also includes an exterior sunken pool that’s surrounded by rammed concrete walls for privacy. Related: Elegant cork-clad artists’ studio slots into a bijou London garden Due to the selection of natural materials and ample daylighting, the building “doesn’t need an active ventilation system despite the very low energy standard,” the architects explained in a project statement. “Through a stratified heat storage system supplemented by roof integrated solar panels, the heating supply is almost self-sufficient adding to the efficiency of the building’s overall performance.” + rundzwei Architekten Photography by Gui Rebelo

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Solar-powered cork house pursues healthy, sustainable living

This gorgeous converted bus hotel in Scotland pulls out all the stops

October 10, 2018 by  
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The world is full of cookie-cutter lodgings, but for those looking for a bit of character on their next vacation, The Bus Stop is now taking reservations. Located on a working farm in northeast Scotland, this old,  converted bus has been renovated to provide a peaceful retreat where guests can enjoy the beautiful, panoramic views of the rolling green hills for which the country is famous. There are two restored old buses tucked into the East Lothian countryside. Both have been renovated with everything needed for a glamping-style getaway . The interiors sleep up to four, with a king-size bed in the back as well as two bunk beds. The large bedroom has a glass skylight on the ceiling to allow guests to enjoy a bit of stargazing as they drift off to sleep. Related: Vintage red double decker bus is converted into a cool, retro hotel The living room is light and airy with a wood-burning stove to keep guests warm and toasty on chilly evenings. Natural light brightens the interior thanks to an abundance of windows. Guests can enjoy a fully-functional kitchen with a small refrigerator, a stovetop, a microwave and all of the essential utensils. The bathroom has a rainfall shower and is stocked with complimentary luxury toiletries. Of course, the best part of the bus hotel is its peaceful surroundings. Guests can enjoy the expansive views from open-air decks with ample seating for dining, socializing or simply taking in the landscape. The outdoor space is the heart of the hotel and comes complete with a charcoal barbecue and fire pit. As an extra bonus, there is also a wood-fired hot tub for relaxing with a nice glass of wine. When they are not soaking in the warm suds, guests can enjoy a stroll around the working farm, which is home to alpacas, horses, sheep and chickens. + The Bus Stop Via Tiny House Talk Images via The Bus Stop

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This gorgeous converted bus hotel in Scotland pulls out all the stops

Energy-efficient Guitar House embraces indoor-outdoor living in Calgary

August 15, 2018 by  
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Near downtown Calgary , the Guitar House is a compact modern home that celebrates music, family and the natural environment. Designed by local architecture practice Alloy Homes , the family residence emphasizes indoor-outdoor living with a natural materials palette and ample triple-glazed windows and doors that provide a seamless connection with the landscape. Its small footprint on a tight, urban site was also informed by the clients’ desires to preserve the property’s existing wild hops, which are regularly harvested by a local brewery. Completed in 2015, the Guitar House takes its name from the clients’ collection of guitars displayed in a custom storage wall. Since music is an important aspect of the owners’ lives, the house was designed around a family-oriented performance space at the heart of the property that takes the form of a light-filled open plan living room, kitchen and dining area. This dramatic great room opens up to the outdoors at both ends with a covered porch in the front and backyard terrace in the rear — these outdoor spaces help make the home inviting for neighbors to stop by and chat. A key element of the open-concept great room is a full-width custom entertainment unit with custom built-in storage . “It’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle and can be reconfigured many ways depending upon the family’s requirements,” the architects wrote. The firm also made sure to meet the family’s need for plenty of outdoor gear storage. Related: An old, battered Calgary garage is transformed into a greenhouse To minimize the home’s energy footprint, the architects installed a high-efficiency HVAC system, large overhanging eaves, triple-glazed windows  and a highly efficient insulation. Natural light and cross ventilation are considered throughout the design. Moreover, the floor plan is highly flexible and can adapt to the family’s needs. + Alloy Homes Images via Alloy Homes Incorporated

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Energy-efficient Guitar House embraces indoor-outdoor living in Calgary

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