Perkins and Will designs modular, affordable housing for the homeless

December 4, 2019 by  
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In response to the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, Perkins and Will’s Los Angeles studio has proposed DOME , a stackable, modular furniture system that would provide affordable and flexible interim housing for the homeless. The patent-pending design was created after months of research — including visits with community members, fabricators and operators — in the studio’s Innovation Incubator, which provides micro-grants and support to employee projects. Perkins and Will’s Los Angeles studio drew inspiration for the DOME project from L.A. Mayor Garcetti’s A Bridge Home initiative, a program to provide emergency homeless housing in the city. According to the firm, nearly 60,000 people are in need of adequate housing in Los Angeles on any given night, yet nearly three-quarters of those in need forgo the shelter system in favor of living independently in tents outdoors. To provide a lifeline to those individuals and to meet the city’s goal to create 1,500 new beds by 2020, Perkins and Will designed the DOME to not only meet the basic necessities of privacy and safety but to also provide for efficient storage and shipping, low installation costs and easy configurations. Related: LEED Platinum housing for the homeless takes over a formerly vacant L.A. lot Having tracked down a potential fabricator — Kansas City-based SHIELD — Perkins and Will estimates that each collapsible DOME unit would cost $4,749 and range from 42 to 55 square feet in size. Each unit would be equipped with all of its own essential furnishings, including an extra-long twin bed with room for storage underneath, a lockable wardrobe, partitions, an aisle light, an outlet and an optional kennel area that accommodates up to a 30-pound pet. Low-maintenance, solid surfaces would be used for the exterior shell and internal shelving, while birch plywood closet doors lend warmth to the interior. An optional fabric canopy could be added for additional privacy. The modular nature of the design would also give operators the flexibility to add or remove units as needed or to even combine units to accommodate couples or to create social spaces. “DOME could have been a utilitarian box, but this isn’t just about putting people in beds as quickly as possible, it’s about attention to detail and experience,” said Yan Krymsky, design director and principal at Perkins and Will’s Los Angeles studio. “We want it to feel residential, not institutional. It sends a message that people care.” A DOME prototype is currently on show at the Architecture and Design museum in Los Angeles; the firm hopes to get DOME into production as soon as possible. + DOME Images via Perkins & Will

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Perkins and Will designs modular, affordable housing for the homeless

Architecture students design and build a LEED Platinum smart home in Kansas

November 25, 2019 by  
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Every year, graduate students at the University of Kansas Department of Architecture enroll in the nonprofit Studio 804 program to design and build a sustainable, affordable and innovative home over the course of the year. In 2018, the group not only accomplished their goal of a LEED Platinum-certified house but also created the program’s first fully integrated smart house. Located in the Brook Creek neighborhood of Lawrence, Kansas, the net zero energy-targeted residence is a shining example of sustainable housing that even comes with an accessory dwelling unit. Located in a flood plain, the house takes the form of two floating, modern glass boxes that are elevated yet accessible with a ramp. The home takes flooding into account and makes water conservation and management a central theme in its design. All stormwater is managed onsite and is either funneled through underground pipes to native plantings or absorbed into the onsite subsurface. Inside the home, low-flow fixtures were installed and all but one fixture are WaterSense-rated. An Energy Star-rated heat pump water heater also helps reduce energy and water use. Related: Students build a low-cost yet high-quality sustainable home from recycled materials The house achieves energy savings through its airtight, highly insulated envelope, Energy Star-rated appliances and use of solar panels on the highly reflective roof. The east side of the building is completely glazed to let natural light flood the interiors and to bring the outdoors in. As a fully integrated smart house, all the appliances can be remotely controlled and “communicate with each other” to ensure energy efficiency. “As we always try to do, we took the potential negative of the site — being in a flood plain — and tried to make it a positive,” Studio 804 explained. “The buildable site was built up with compacted earth above the flood plain. The dwellings are carefully composed glass boxes perched on concrete plinths, off which they cantilever. The buildings seem to float in what is a park-like setting.” + Studio 804 Photography by Corey Gaffer Photography via Studio 804

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Architecture students design and build a LEED Platinum smart home in Kansas

Athlete and activist runs across the US to raise awareness of plastic pollution

July 30, 2019 by  
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Sam Bencheghib, a 22-year-old athlete and environmental activist, has kicked off his effort to become the first person to run across America — and he’s doing it all to raise awareness about plastic pollution . Bencheghib’s initiative is a collaboration with his nonprofit Make a Change World and Parley for the Oceans. He started out his journey last week after a ceremony that included remarks from the Assistant Secretary General of the U.N. Environment Program. He will run 20 miles a day, six days a week, for five months, stopping in 13 states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona and California. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution “In times of such environmental concern, we’re really on a countdown,” Bencheghib said. “I really believe that no idea is crazy enough and so I think that by running 3,000 miles, it’s definitely a crazy feat, but it’s a good metaphor to showcase the severity of the plastic problem in the ocean. It is also an incredible opportunity to engage with as many communities as possible to tell them about the effects of plastic.” Throughout his journey, Bencheghib will stop at schools and businesses to educate people about the plastic pollution crisis and encourage them to sign on to Parley’s pledge to take action. His advice is to avoid using plastic when possible, intercept plastic that is incorrectly heading to landfills or waterways and redesign plastic waste into recycled and upcycled materials. Bencheghib will be running in Adidas sneakers upcycled from ocean plastic in a marketing partnership with Parley. “Sam and his brother Gary have already proven with previous initiatives that the real superpower of change lies in courage and individual action,” said Cyrill Gutsch, founder and CEO of Parley for the Oceans. “Everyone can change the world. Step by step. We need to include everyone in this conversation — fostering awareness and action to address these issues and drive solutions because they affect everyone, even those away from the coasts and major cities. This is an invitation to everyone who wants to rise up and have a role in the movement.” You can follow the Ocean2Ocean run via social media and watch video updates at www.makeachange.world . + Make A Change World + Parley for the Oceans Photography by Eric White and Charlie Rubin via Parley for the Oceans

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Athlete and activist runs across the US to raise awareness of plastic pollution

Glenwood Springs, Colorado set to run on 100 percent renewable energy

May 30, 2019 by  
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Like many cities around the world, Glenwood Springs, Colorado has set a goal to run on renewable energy . But instead of picking a date a year or two ahead, they’re going renewable now. As of June 1, Glenwood Springs is the seventh U.S. city to run on 100 percent renewable electricity. “Many cities and towns across the country have set aggressive targets, and we are doing our part now — our future is now,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes told the Post Independent . Related: India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment In April, the Glenwood Springs City Council resolved to move entirely to wind power supplied by Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN). They’ve since modified this commitment to include seven percent hydroelectric renewable power. Signing a contract is not usually a public event, however, the city decided to celebrate the move to renewable energy by signing the contract at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, a theme park perched atop Iron Mountain with an elevation of more than 7,000 feet. Since Glenwood Caverns is a city electric customer, it will be the one of the country’s first amusement parks to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy. “Protecting the environment and natural resources has been our primary goal since we gave our first cave tour in May 1999,” Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park owner Steve Beckley told the Post Independent. “Sustainable tourism is an important issue these days and this move is a huge step in the right direction for Glenwood Springs as a whole.” To celebrate the signing, the park gave free gondola rides to visitors and the first 50 attendees received free LED light bulbs. The city will save money with the new contract, dropping the per-megawatt hour cost from $51 to $46 and saving Glenwood Springs a half million dollars per year. However, the city will be constructing a new electrical substation that will cost approximately $2.5 million. The other six cities that are already running on 100 percent renewable energy are Aspen, Colorado, Burlington, Vermont, Georgetown, Texas, Greensburg, Kansas, Rock Port, Missouri and Kodiak Island, Alaska. Via The Hill Image via inkknife_2000

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Glenwood Springs, Colorado set to run on 100 percent renewable energy

How strategic public-private partnerships are shaping up in cities

June 26, 2018 by  
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Examples from Charlotte, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and beyond.

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How strategic public-private partnerships are shaping up in cities

Why smart irrigation startups are bubbling up

March 22, 2018 by  
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Plus, what semiconductor legend T.J. Rodgers has in common with Kansas farmer Dwane Roth.

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Why smart irrigation startups are bubbling up

‘Great American Desert’ threatens to swallow eight US states as massive aquifer dries up

November 27, 2017 by  
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The Ogallala aquifer, one of the world’s largest underground bodies of water upon which many ecosystems and communities in the American West depend, is in rapid decline due to over-exploitation of its resources. According to the Denver Post , farmers in eight American states (Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and South Dakota) are putting a particular strain on the aquifer by overdrawing water from beneath the soil they cultivate in a $35 billion dollar per year industry. If allowed to continue, this could threaten both the livelihood of farmers and the ecosystems of the West, which could be replaced by a ‘Great American Desert.’ Because of the region’s intensive farming practices , agricultural wells are extracting water from the Ogallala aquifer significantly faster than it is being replenished. This trend appears to have accelerated in recent years. Federal data indicates that the aquifer contracted twice as fast in the past six years as it had in the previous sixty, with a significant impact on everyday water use in the West. “Now I never know, from one minute to the next, when I turn on a faucet or hydrant, whether there will be water or not,” said Lois Scott, who lives on a family farm in Cope, Colorado , in an interview with the Denver Post . “The aquifer is being depleted. This will truly become the Great American Desert.” Related: Dead Sea salt reveals drought on a scale never recorded – and it could happen again As a result of the exploitation of the Ogallala, at least 358 miles of rivers and streams have dried up within a 200-square-mile area in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. If trends continued, an additional 177 miles of rivers and streams are expected to dry out by 2060. “We have almost completely changed the species of fish that can survive in those streams, compared with what was there historically,” said Keith Gido, author of a recent scientific report on the aquifer’s depletion, in an interview with the Denver Post . “We’re not living in as sustainable a fashion as we need to be. Much of the damage has been done.” The over-exploitation of the Ogallala aquifer and the plight of the American West is sadly not unique to the region. “It is happening all over the world in places such as Pakistan . It causes conflicts,” said Gido. “As human populations grow, the demand for water is going to be greater. Conflicts are going to increase—unless we become more efficient in using the water we have.” Via EcoWatch and the Denver Post Images via Depositphotos  and USGS/Flickr

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‘Great American Desert’ threatens to swallow eight US states as massive aquifer dries up

Students build a low-cost yet high-quality sustainable home from recycled materials

October 4, 2017 by  
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Affordable and sustainable housing is possible—and Studio 804’s many projects are proof. Working together with University of Kansas architecture students, Studio 804 produced their latest design/build project, called 1330 Brook Street, in a working-class neighborhood in the city of Lawrence. As with their previous projects, the energy-efficient home is designed with LEED standards in mind and makes use of passive solar strategies to save on energy. The three-bedroom, two-bath home is located on an undesirable urban infill site in the East Lawrence community. Although the 1,300-square-foot home is decidedly contemporary , the architects were careful to integrate the dwelling into the existing neighborhood fabric. The handsome yet understated home is clad in insulated metal panels salvaged from a scrapped tennis center project in town. The cedar boards used for the roof overhangs were reclaimed from railroad bridge trestles. “As we design toward LEED Platinum standards, we are integrating passive strategies for lighting and sun shading,” wrote Studio 804. “With an exterior screening system and concrete floor for thermal mass, the southwest glazing allows optimal temperatures year round. We are also selecting materials based on a desire for longevity and ease of maintenance, including the re-purposed metal panel cladding system and insulated glass units for the southwest glazing.” Related: Kansas University students build net-zero home with LEED Platinum and Passive House certification The ADA-compliant home features a flexible open-plan interior—save for the fixed kitchen—with plenty of built-in storage space to give the homeowner control over the use and layout of the space. The light-filled home also opens out to a small “outdoor room” on the south side, blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living. A rooftop array of 16 solar panels provide up to 4.8 kilowatt-hours of power—expected to meet the home’s energy demands—while low-flow fixtures and LEDs help reduce energy needs as well. + Studio 804 Via Dezeen

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Students build a low-cost yet high-quality sustainable home from recycled materials

Energy-conscious library that doubles as a living room breaks ground in Shanghai

October 4, 2017 by  
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Shanghai is adding yet another futuristic building to its modern skyline. The Chinese megacity just broke ground on the Shanghai East Library, a new public library that will serve 4 million visitors a year and be much more than a repository for millions of books. Designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects , the massive 115,000-square-meter library will be a state-of-the-art, energy-conscious facility that feels like a shared “living room” with diverse programming. In 2016, Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects won an international competition to design the Shanghai East Library, and recently released new renderings to commemorate last week’s groundbreaking. The library will be located in Pudong next to Century Park, the city’s largest park, and will be surrounded by landscaped courtyards and gardens. The library comprises a monolithic trapezoidal volume that appears to float above the tree canopy as well as two lower pavilions that house a 1,000-seat performance venue, exhibition and events space, and a dedicated children’s library. “The Shanghai Library client had a vision for the library – the future of the library should be a space for inspiration, learning, exchange and creation. Throughout the design process we have followed the same goals and beliefs in what we felt the library should be, that we wanted to create a building that focused on people and create spaces that are interconnected and inclusive. The aim is to create a building that feels like a second home for the citizens of Shanghai,” said Chris Hardie, Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen. “Creating a building of this size is an enormous challenge. The complexity of program spaces required in a new modern library such as this goes far beyond being simply a container for physical books. As we always believe a new modern library should be, we envisage this will become a ‘living room’ for Shanghai’s citizens bringing them new learning and cultural experiences binding them closer to their own city and the world.” Related: Schmidt Hammer Lassen breaks ground on LEED Gold-seeking incubator in Shanghai The library is continuously clad in clear, insulated, and fritted glass organized in horizontal bands of varying transparency to evoke the image of striated rock. These alternating bands of transparent, semi-transparent, and insulated glass let in natural light while controlling solar gain. A grand central atrium forms the heart of the library and is flanked by three staggered reading rooms that open the building up to outdoor views. The modern library will offer both paper and digital reading and, as expected of Shanghai, will be highly integrated with technology. The building will serve as a resource center, knowledge exchange center, technology experience center, think tank, and international communication platform. The library is expected to open to the public by the end of 2020. + Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects Images via Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects

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Energy-conscious library that doubles as a living room breaks ground in Shanghai

Rare bag of moon dust to be auctioned for millions of dollars

May 23, 2017 by  
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Souvenirs from humankind’s missions to the Moon are extremely rare; NASA usually holds on to moon rocks or moon dust instead of allowing private owners to keep them. But they couldn’t hold on to one bag of moon dust. The artifact – supposedly collected by astronaut Neil Armstrong – is the property of a Chicago lawyer, and now she plans to auction it off. After Armstrong took that historic leap for mankind on the Apollo 11 mission, he did what many of us would do – grabbed a space souvenir in the form of a handful of moon rocks placed in a bag, which he put into a second bag. That second outer bag then embarked on a journey of its own. When the bag was accidentally put up for auction, lawyer Nancy Lee Carlson obtained the bag in February 2015 for $995 on a federal auction website. Related: ESA 3D prints extraterrestrial bricks with concentrated sunlight and moondust Carlson kept the bag for a while and then decided to send it to NASA to see if it was really authentic. NASA said the bag did indeed have traces of the moon’s dark gray powder. But then the agency tried to confiscate the bag as the property of the government . Carlson fought the move and this year in February a judge decided she’d acquired the bag legally and could keep it. NASA put out a statement after the ruling: “This artifact, we believe, belongs to the American people and should be on display for the public, which is where it was before all of these unfortunate events occurred.” Before going up for auction the bag belonged to Max Ary of the Kansas Cosmosphere museum; he was convicted of stealing such interstellar objects and putting them up for sale, and when several of his possessions were seized by the government, the moon bag was among them but was mixed up with another bag lacking the treasured dust. Now Carlson plans to auction the bag off once again on July 20, send some money to charity , and set up a scholarship at her alma mater, Northern Michigan University. Auctioneers think the bag could be sold for between two to four million dollars. Sotheby’s auction house curators think the bag of moon dust could be the only privately held object of this nature on Earth. Via the Chicago Tribune Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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Rare bag of moon dust to be auctioned for millions of dollars

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