A 1960s Swiss chalet is transformed into a whimsical off-grid home

June 21, 2018 by  
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Swiss architecture firm Frundgallina has dramatically transformed a rundown chalet in the Jura Mountains into a whimsical self-sufficient dwelling punctuated by a variety of  gabled openings. The architects kept the structure’s exterior dimensions, but rearranged the interior by dividing the floor plan into four sections measuring approximately 86 square feet each. The gabled home operates off the grid and is equipped with a rainwater harvesting system. The chalet was built almost entirely of fir boards sourced from the Jura forests. Vertically oriented rough sawn fir clads the exterior, while the interior boards — also nailed vertically — were planed. Grooved-ridge fir from the same source was laid on the floors and ceilings as well. A thin folded sheet of stainless steel forms the gabled roof and is outfitted with a rainwater harvesting system. The gable theme continues through the interior where it can be seen in doorways and windows. The interior, divided into four identical volumes, was also split into two levels to create seven distinct spaces, each specially positioned to offer outdoor views. Some of the windows are also large enough to serve as entrances and as such, there is no designated formal door, but rather four entrances — one on each side of the chalet . Related: Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape “These ‘rooms’ are connected to each other by large, medium or small openings, allowing a playful, spiral stroll, and continuously guaranteeing the perception of the whole of the interior space, isolated from each other by strongly felt thresholds,” Frundgallina said in a statement. “On each facade are drawn a small and a large window, as well as a double door opening to the outside. Cutting the walls to different heights, they reveal to the visitor the principle of interior spatial organization.” + Frundgallina Via ArchDaily Images by J.-C. Frund

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A 1960s Swiss chalet is transformed into a whimsical off-grid home

Couple transforms a fire truck into a cozy camper for traveling Europe

June 15, 2018 by  
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When Anna and Sebastian Schlüter decided to take a break from working in Berlin to embark on their long-awaited trip around Europe, traveling via fire truck wasn’t the first thing on their minds. But on the advice of Sebastian’s father, and after coming across a deal on a 1987 Mercedes-Benz fire truck, the duo found themselves in a year-long conversion project that turned the vehicle into a cozy travel camper. Nicknamed ‘ Bombero ’ (Spanish for “fireman”), the converted fire truck took about a year to complete and has provided the perfect travel wheels for Anna and Sebastian, who have visited 19 countries and counting thus far. Purchased for approximately $14,700 USD, the 30-year-old Mercedes Benz fire truck conversion involved a gut-renovation that decreased the 11-ton vehicle to a weight of 7.5 tons. The couple initially parked the vehicle on the Schlüter family farm in Nottuln, Germany, where it was worked on with help from Sebastian’s brother and father, who has experience with converting a Unimog into a camper . Thanks to Sebastian’s father’s experience and many helping hands, the project was relatively low-cost. Sebastian handled the engineering and construction, while Anna led the interior design. The cost of materials, some of which were gifted or found in secondhand shops, is estimated at around $29,520. In addition to emptying out the interior, the Schlüters made the fire truck more livable by lifting up the roof to add extra windows and inserting insulation and wiring. Custom-made upholstery, a mix of birch , oak and spruce as well as decorative elements like porcelain door knobs make the space cozy and inviting. The fire truck was outfitted with all the necessities, such as a full-size bed, closet, dining area, a bathroom and a full kitchen with an oven and electrical appliances. The off-grid home is also equipped with a gas tank, fresh water and gray water tanks and rooftop solar panels. Related: The Beer Moth is a Sweet Room in a Refurbished Fire Truck in Scotland “Many decisions were very deliberately led by quality over price — keeping in mind that anything that keeps you from having to fix it while on the road will give you peace of mind and let you enjoy traveling rather than being stressed out and having to find solutions while in a foreign country,” explained the couple. “This decision paid off very well — no items, besides the brake lights, has broken down during the last 11 months! Not one thing!” Anna and Sebastian hit the road with their dog, Lotta, in June 2017 and have clocked more than 10,000 miles in their ongoing trip around Europe. You can follow the Bombero Travel adventure here . + Bombero Travel Via Dwell Conversion image copyright Anna Schlüter, all others copyright Seraia Photography

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Couple transforms a fire truck into a cozy camper for traveling Europe

Find your zen in this tiny cabin tucked into New Zealand’s idyllic landscape

June 13, 2018 by  
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Located just outside Kawarau Falls near Queenstown, New Zealand, a tiny, off-grid  cabin conceals a truly luxurious and light-filled interior with a striking, jet-black facade. Designed by local architect Anna-Marie Chin, Tom’s Cabin, which can be rented through Airbnb , is strategically built to provide amazing views of the idyllic landscape while fitting in with the local vernacular. The 1,291-square-foot off-grid  cabin , which was voted New Zealand’s best small home in 2016, offers a serene retreat tucked into the natural landscape around Kawarau Falls. The low-lying volume with a “tilted” sloped roof mimics the landscape of the rolling hills, and the jet black exterior gives the cabin a contemporary, sophisticated feel. The simple gable form of the rooftop also provides an ultra-tall entryway, which is clad almost entirely in glass to provide stunning views from the small wooden deck. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The interior space is surprisingly well-lit by natural light . Using a simple color and material palette, the interior walls of the cabin are clad in plywood paneling, punctuated with large windows. Concrete floors and black accents create a seamless cohesion with the exterior. Various space-saving features and custom-made furniture provide the interior with plenty of storage . The cabin has three bedrooms and can accommodate up to six adults, with additional bedding available for small children. A large fireplace and underfloor heating keep the interior temperatures warm and cozy year round. For additional amenities, guests can enjoy the outdoor cedar hot tub after a long day of hiking or biking. In case of inclement weather, the cabin comes equipped with high-speed internet and a projector for movie night. + Tom’s Cabin Airbnb + Anna-Marie Chin Via Dwell Photography by David Straight

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Find your zen in this tiny cabin tucked into New Zealand’s idyllic landscape

Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

June 11, 2018 by  
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Yellowstone National Park superintendent Dan Wenk says he was forced out of his position by President Donald Trump’s administration because of his wildlife advocacy, The Guardian reported . Former National Park Service director Jon Jarvis told the publication the move was meant to make Wenk into an example to weaken a culture of conservation . Wenk said, “It’s a hell of a way to be treated at the end of four decades spent trying to do my best for the park service and places like Yellowstone, but that’s how these guys are. Throughout my career, I’ve not encountered anything like this, ever.” Last week, the United States Department of the Interior (DOI) told Wenk, who has been the Yellowstone superintendent since 2011, that he must accept a reassignment to the Capital Region in Washington, D.C. in 60 days or resign. The Guardian said Wenk had been outspoken about creating more room for wild bison to ramble outside the national park to Montana, a move opposed by the cattle industry, which comprises a core section of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke ‘s constituency. Wenk had also questioned proposed sport hunting of grizzly bears. Related: US DOI scientist claims he was reassigned for speaking up on climate change Jarvis told The Guardian that preservation in large parks, largely in Alaska and the American West, conflicts with Zinke’s hopes to increase industrial development and monetize natural resources located on public lands . He said that Zinke “holds little regard for the esprit de corps traditions of the park service. Dan [Wenk] was set up as the first domino to fall.” An April 2018 Office of Inspector General at the DOI report scrutinized the reassignment of 27 senior executives between June 15, 2017 and October 29, 2017 and discovered the DOI’s Executive Resources Board “did not document its plan for selecting senior executives for reassignment, nor did it consistently apply the reasons it stated it used to select senior executives for reassignment.” They also found the board “did not gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments” and didn’t effectively communicate with the senior executives or most managers impacted by the reassignments. The report said, “As a result, many of the affected senior executives questioned whether these reassignments were political or punitive, based on a prior conflict with DOI leadership, or on the senior executive’s nearness to retirement. Many executives…believed their reassignment may have been related to their prior work assignments, including climate change , energy, or conservation.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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Yellowstone superintendent says the Trump administration forced him out of his job due to wildlife advocacy

Beekeepers file a complaint against Bayer after glyphosate was discovered in honey

June 11, 2018 by  
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Beekeepers in France aren’t happy with Bayer . Agence France Presse reported (AFP) a beekeeping cooperative in the northern part of the country filed a legal complaint against the chemical giant after the controversial herbicide glyphosate was found in honey . The complaint was filed the same day as the close of Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto . The head of the beekeeping cooperative, which represents around 200 beekeepers, detected traces of glyphosate in three batches of honey from one of the members. A lawyer for the beekeeping cooperative, Emmanuel Ludot, told AFP the member’s hives are close to beet, rapeseed and sunflower fields, “But you also can’t forget the weekend gardeners who often tend to use Roundup .” Roundup, according to the news agency, “is the most widely used in France.” President Emmanuel Macron has said he’ll outlaw the weedkiller by 2021. Related: Monsanto will scrap its notorious name after acquisition by Bayer It is Ludot’s hope that this legal complaint will incite an inquiry to nail down the percentage of glyphosate in the honey batches and find if there are any health ramifications for humans. If glyphosate is detected in honey, the whole shipment is rejected, Famille Michaud president Vincent Michaud told AFP. Famille Michaud is one of France’s biggest honey marketers and Michaud said they “regularly detect foreign substances, including glyphosate.” Michaud said beekeepers usually say they’ll sell the honey at a market or roadside stand where there is no quality control if their shipments are rejected, “but this beekeeper had the courage to say, ‘I’m not going to be like everyone else; I’m going to file suit against Monsanto.’” On the date of Monsanto’s acquisition by Bayer, June 7, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said in a statement he was “proud of the path we have paved as Monsanto.” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said, “Our sustainability targets are as important to us as our financial targets. We aim to live up to the heightened responsibility that a leadership position in agriculture entails and to deepen our dialogue with society.” The AFP said some scientists suspect glyphosate of causing cancer . Via Agence France Presse Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Beekeepers file a complaint against Bayer after glyphosate was discovered in honey

RepAir T-shirt cleans the air while you wear it

June 11, 2018 by  
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Italian fashion company Kloters has created a T-shirt that cleans the air through a specially designed insert capable of capturing and disintegrating pollutants and foul odors. Called RepAir, the shirt was designed to be both comfortable and environmentally friendly. “RepAir is born from the desire to go beyond the traditional concept of sustainable fashion,” said Kloters co-founders Federico Suria, Marco Lo Greco and Silvio Perucca in a press release. “[We] want to make fashion a vehicle to raise awareness and to think of new solutions to the pollution problem through nice, comfortable and, most of all, virtuous clothing .” The company is currently raising funds for the new product through a Kickstarter campaign . RepAir’s unique anti-pollutant features are made possible by the Breath , a patented absorbent fabric. “The company that produces it, Anemotech, has been very enthusiastic about the project and our collaboration started immediately,” De Greco said. “Our dream has become a reality.” The material is capable of absorbing pollutants that could contribute to health problems such as respiratory illness or cancer. The Breath has undergone extensive testing at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, which demonstrated the fabric’s ability to absorb up to 97 percent of volatile organic compounds, 92 percent of sulfur dioxide and 86 percent of nitrogen oxides. The Breath fabric insert is contained within a pocket on the T-shirt , which can be removed and replaced when necessary. Related: This startup is turning air pollution into art In addition to its pollutant fighting qualities, RepAir keeps  sustainability in mind throughout the production process. Produced in Italy, RepAir is manufactured with the support of suppliers that focus on making sure that no workers are exploited, which often occurs in the production of clothing for global consumption. The T-shirts are made from high-quality cotton and are designed to last, reducing the amount of waste created in its production. Kloters hopes that its shirts can start a conversation and a movement to improve air quality around the world. As its motto goes, “a single T-shirt may not save the world, but many can.” + Kloters Images via Kloters

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RepAir T-shirt cleans the air while you wear it

Light-filled Lake Cottage with a zigzagging roof is embedded into the hillside

June 1, 2018 by  
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Architecture firm artek created a site-specific holiday home lodged into the hillside by a lake in El Peñol, a Colombian town renowned for its massive 650-foot-tall monolith. In a nod to the hilly environment (and perhaps the town’s famous monolith), the Lake Cottage is topped with a series of steep gables joined together to create a dramatic zigzagging roofline. Large sliding doors and windows as well as an outdoor stone patio blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. Completed in 2016, the Lake Cottage covers two floors with an area of 1,076 square feet. The home is oriented northeast to face the Guatape Reservoir and the fjords, peninsulas and islands beyond. The cottage consists of five interconnected gabled structures, with the rightmost structure serving as the entrance. The entrance is marked by a fully glazed gabled end wall, however only the left halves of the four other end walls are glazed. The zigzagging roofline extends slightly outward to shade the home from unwanted solar heat gain. “The composition of the construction elements (Tekton) are arranged in an ideal order, the stereotomic constraints make up the platforms, the interior walls are emptied monolithic concrete with EPS soul that allow achieving the asymmetric trapezoidal silhouettes in a rhythm of full and empty,” the architects wrote. “This as a cloak protects the house from the ‘natural antagonist phenomenon.’” Related: Kengo Kuma’s new community center hides a hilly indoor landscape under its zigzag-roof The interior is finished in light-colored wood. The large glazed openings, in addition to the row of clerestory windows in the rear, let in natural light. The home comprises an open-plan living area, dining room and kitchen to the north and also includes three ensuite bathrooms, one of which is located on the smaller lower level. The upper level opens up to an outdoor terrace that connects to the boat dock and rear parking pad via a stepping-stone path. + artek Via ArchDaily Images by Sergio Gómez

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Light-filled Lake Cottage with a zigzagging roof is embedded into the hillside

A Victorian cottage transforms into a light-filled passive solar abode

May 29, 2018 by  
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Australian modular design and build firm Habitech Systems has breathed new life and improved sustainable standards into an original Victorian cottage in Hawthorn, Australia. In addition to the renovation of the existing home, the designers replaced the existing rear addition with a modern extension that boasts a strengthened connection with the rear garden. The energy efficiency of the new home—named Lawes St Extension – Hawthorn—was vastly increased through improved insulation, energy-saving heating and cooling systems, and the integration of passive solar principles. The existing home had been clad in brown brick in the 1980s, creating a dated look that Habitech Systems rectified with a new street facade made from naturally oiled Cypress timber battening. They also gave the front veranda a modern refresh with a new porch entry, while adding black metal-clad box-bay windows to provide a visual pop of contrast. Inside, the floor plan of the original cottage was kept largely intact; it includes a long entrance hall, two secondary bedrooms, a study and bathroom. After the previous extension was torn down, the designers grappled with height restrictions and the challenging terrain, which slopes down to the north and east at a point lower than the existing floor level. “The two primary challenges were leveraged together to produce the connected but varied arrangement of spaces designed,” wrote Habitech Systems. “The stepped floor level provided an opening up of the space to the northern sun and daylight, while the roof of the addition slopes up to the light.” Related: The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs A lowered laundry room and lobby roof occupies the transitional zone between the existing structure and the extension. Just beyond are the master suite and an open-plan living area, dining room, and kitchen awash in natural light. The extension receives direct north solar access and was built with highly insulated Habitech SIPS walls and roof. Double-glazed and thermally broken aluminum-framed windows flood the interior with natural light without letting in unwanted solar gain. Heat reclamation ventilation and floor- and wall-based hydronic heating and cooling also reduce energy demands. Materials from the existing house were reused wherever possible. + Habitech Systems Images via Nic Granleese

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A Victorian cottage transforms into a light-filled passive solar abode

Couple builds an ‘Earthship’ tiny home for less than $10K

May 25, 2018 by  
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DIY home builds are never easy, and rarely cheap, but one ambitious couple managed to create a beautiful tiny home for under $10,000. Taylor and Steph Bode from Nomadic Roots created their sustainable 560-square-foot ‘Earthship’ mainly using reclaimed and repurposed materials. Inspired by the design principles of visionary architect Mike Reynolds and his company, Earthship Biotecture , the couple focused on creating a sustainable home that would employ passive and sustainable features to stay comfortable throughout the seasons, without air conditioning or heat sources. Related: Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels Once they found the perfect lot, the couple moved into a 14′ yurt while they slowly started the building process. To begin the project, they planned the home’s perimeters to maximize its potential thermal mass. Built into a south-sloping hill, the east, west, and north walls are buried underground , insulating the home and providing stable indoor temperatures. According to the owners, “The stylistic elements were secondary to creating a functionally competent structure that was well-suited for its environment.” To create the frame for the house, the couple cut down two young redwood trees from an adjacent grove. The siding and trim is crafted from old redwood fence boards. For the rest of the construction materials, Taylor and Steph scoured various sites to find discarded materials that could be reclaimed . They found new uses for countless thrown-away items such as automobile tires, glass bottles and aluminum cans. All of the home’s windows and doors were salvaged or found for free on Craigslist. Although the majority of the walls are buried, the many repurposed windows help flood the interior with an abundance of natural light . The couple created an earthen floor with a mixture of sand, clay, straw and water. After laying the mixture, they finished it with a hemp oil to create a warm, soft look. The Bodes used reclaimed barn wood for the interior walls, and they made or salvaged all their furnishings. + Nomadic Roots Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Taylor Bode via Nomadic Roots

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Couple builds an ‘Earthship’ tiny home for less than $10K

Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution

May 25, 2018 by  
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You’ve heard a lot about the ocean plastic crisis, and may even know a fair amount about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . But for many of us, the issue can still seem far away when we drink out of a plastic bottle or tote groceries in a plastic bag. Professional distance swimmer Ben Lecomte aims to offer a fresh, personal perspective on ocean health as he swims 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean . Inhabitat caught up with Lecomte just days before he plans to leave for the potentially record-setting trek. Lecomte could be the first man to swim across the Pacific Ocean, but that’s not his goal for this venture. “My goal is to do something a little bit out there, a little bit extreme, to get the attention on an issue very important to everybody: the state of the ocean ,” he told Inhabitat. He’ll leave from Tokyo and swim to San Francisco, across thousands of miles, in a journey that could take around six months. Related: The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Lecomte’s father taught him how to swim in the Atlantic Ocean . “I remember spending a lot of summers on the beach and never seeing plastic. Within my lifetime, now it has suddenly changed. I cannot walk on a beach where I don’t see any plastic,” he said. “I have children, and I ask myself, how is it going to be for them when they are older and they walk with their kids, is it going to be worse, is it going to be better? The only way to make it better is first of all, we have to be aware of the problem, and second of all, we have to start taking action. And it’s something that we can do. We have a solution, but it means we change our habit, we change our behavior, and then by our collective action, we can make a difference.” A volunteer-staffed, wind – and solar -powered sailboat will accompany Lecomte as he swims for around eight hours a day. He’ll need to consume about 8,000 calories daily, but he said he won’t take breaks on the boat and so won’t each much during those eight hours, just liquids like soup. He’ll eat two large meals in the morning and at night, and eat if he wakes up in the middle of the night. Will the sailboat inadvertently cover some of the distance? Lecomte says they’ll try to keep the boat in the place where he stops, but if they move, they will travel back so he can pick up where he left off. Along the way, they’ll gather over 1,000 samples for 27 scientific partners with two main research focuses: ocean health and human health . Lecomte said that in the past, scientists typically haven’t been able to gather samples from across an entire ocean — that would take too long. But his journey offers a perfect opportunity to do so. Plastic is a primary emphasis; Lecomte will swim right through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Radiation from Fukushima and phytoplankton are among other ocean research areas. To delve into human health, Lecomte will be working with NASA . “Since I’m going to be in low gravity, there are a few things they would like to find out how it’s going to affect me or not. My bone density is going to change; pressure on my eyes is also something that affects astronauts, [and they want] to find out if that’s going to change for me,” he said. The wealth of information Lecomte could collect, and awareness he could raise, has the potential to be immense. But will such a voyage leave its own impact on the Pacific Ocean? Lecomte told Inhabitat renewable energy will generate the power they need. They won’t throw out trash, keeping everything on the boat, and will limit plastic packaging . The team has partnered with several organizations, including Mission Blue , the Ocean Voyages Institute , and the Ocean Institute . “They already have initiatives in place we want to reinforce,” said Lecomte. “For example, the Ocean Institute has 2,500 kids that go to their activities and learn about the plastic problem in the ocean, and that will do some of the data and collect some of the samples we’ve collected, and replicate some of what we do. We’ll try to be in connection with them and interact with those kids so they know what they are doing is being done in the middle of the ocean as well.” Lecomte is scheduled to leave on Wednesday, May 30. Seeker and Discovery are partnering for a project to cover Lecomte’s journey called The Swim , and they’ll produce content with Nomadica Films . Live coverage, mid-form and short-form videos, weekly Instagram stories, and weekly Discovery updates will all be part of The Swim, and the groups plan to release a feature-length documentary next year. You can also see where Lecomte is via The Longest Swim’s live tracker . + The Longest Swim + The Swim Images courtesy of Ben Lecomte

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Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution

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