Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween

October 10, 2019 by  
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With spooky season upon us, consider illuminating your jack-o’-lanterns in an eco-friendly way. But what are some good light sources to place within or even near pumpkins? You, of course, want to avoid toxins from certain sources, so here are some of Inhabitat’s sustainable suggestions this autumn. Soy or beeswax candles Steer clear of paraffin, because it is a petroleum-based product that produces soot. Paraffin candles have also been known to release acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, formaldehyde, naphthalene and toluene — all of which are toxins . Instead, choose “cleaner” candles made either of soy or beeswax. These options are all-natural, burn at lower temperatures, and last longer — ensuring a healthier light to place within your carved pumpkins. Related: Time to put the flame out — scented candles can cause disease and poor air quality Flameless LED artificial lights LED lights can be in the form of tea lights, string lights, even bike lights — making them wonderful choices for your jack-o’-lanterns. They are, after all, more energy-efficient and have longer lifespans than other types of artificial lighting. They are also a safer choice for inside a pumpkin because they don’t emit much heat, thereby lowering the risk of fire. They can operate at a wide range of temperatures — whether hot or cold — without significant degradation. For these reasons, LED lights are safer and more budget-friendly for a sustainable Halloween. Solar lights Go green this year by utilizing your garden decor to fashion a solar-powered jack-o’-lantern. How does one solarize pumpkins? First, you’ll have to allow your solar garden lights to collect energy from the sun throughout the day. While your yard’s solar lights are soaking up the sun, that is when you can cut out the bottom of your carved pumpkins. Then, at night, you can place those jack-o-lanterns atop the now-glowing solar garden lights. Voila! Your yard will come alive with solarized jack-o’-lanterns to ghoulishly light up your Halloween night . So this Halloween, if the kids are asking why your pumpkins have bigger smiles, goofier faces or even epic expressions, you can explain that it is all because they are all lit up in EEK-o-friendlier ways. Via Chester Energy and Policy Image via David Menidrey

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Light your pumpkins the EEK-o-friendly way this Halloween

Kids Inspiring Kids: 6 Ways To Teach Kids About Recycling

October 7, 2019 by  
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Parents know that getting their kids outside every day is … The post Kids Inspiring Kids: 6 Ways To Teach Kids About Recycling appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Kids Inspiring Kids: 6 Ways To Teach Kids About Recycling

New York allows students to miss class for the climate strike

September 19, 2019 by  
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Tomorrow, on September 20, a global climate strike is scheduled to bring awareness about the need for transformative action against the growing climate crisis . The strike will take place three days before the United Nations Climate Summit in New York City. Unlike other strikes, this one invites New York City minors to participate, thanks to the event coinciding with efforts already begun by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg. In support of Thunberg’s efforts, the New York City Department of Education recently announced via Twitter that it will excuse any of the city’s 1.1 million students who are interested in attending the scheduled September 20 climate strike . But they must provide parental consent, per their school’s attendance protocols, to be formally excused from class. Related: Can’t make the climate strikes? Here are a few tips on how students can live sustainably New York Mayor Bill de Blasio similarly tweeted his stamp of approval, saying, “We have 10 years to save the planet. TEN YEARS. Today’s leaders are making decisions for our environment that our kids will have to live with. New York City stands with our young people. They’re our conscience. We support the 9/20 #ClimateStrike.” Thunberg will be speaking at the NYC event, as will climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. The event is supported by organizations such as Fridays for Future, National Children’s Campaign, OneMillionOfUs, 350.org, Zero Hour and many more. Participants in the New York City climate strike are asked to assemble on Foley Square at noon Eastern Time, then head southward toward Battery Park, where the rally is to take place between 2:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. local time. Meanwhile, students and adults alike will be striking around the world, with strikes taking place in cities from September 20 to September 27. You can join in by using this map to find an event near you. + Global Climate Strike Via CNN Image via Jasmin Sessler

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New York allows students to miss class for the climate strike

13 fun and sustainable activities to enjoy before summer ends

August 16, 2019 by  
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The dog days of summer linger from early morning until late into the evening, providing plenty of opportunities to play, travel and work in the yard. If you’re focused on making sure those summer activities are earth-friendly, we’ve brainstormed some ideas to get you into the great outdoors without leaving a heavy footprint in your wake. Hiking Getting into nature is easy with nothing more than your refillable water bottle and a good pair of shoes. Depending on where you live, you can head straight out your front door, bike to a nearby trail, jump on city transport or take the hybrid car to a trailhead. Hiking doesn’t have to be done on trails, but why not take advantage of the forest canopy, rippling water and scenery that nature provides while getting in your steps. Touring city parks Nearly every city has parks, and often you’re not even aware of them all. Especially if you have kids, vowing to track down each park in your city is a fun way to immerse yourself in your community without leaving a trace. Enjoy the trails, playground equipment and informational kiosks in your area one city park at a time with a goal of seeing them all before summer ends. Swimming Water activities are popular during warm weather for more than a few reasons, and swimming is a great activity for your body and the planet. If you choose a river or lake, make sure you understand the dangers of currents and always have a life jacket. The community pool is a great way to get in your laps while enjoying the cooling effects of the water in a maintained facility. Cycling Jump on your bike next time you’re scouring the Saturday market or heading to the store for small items. Use it as your mode of transport when you go to a friend’s or to the pool. If you want to make an adventure out of it, look up nearby mountain biking trails or road biking routes that fit into your schedule and physical abilities. Enjoy the exercise without polluting the environment. Camping/backpacking Getting into nature is a valid goal for any season, but summer offers opportunities for fair-weather camping and backpacking that the other seasons don’t. To keep it sustainable, watch the packaging on the items you buy, skip the plastic water bottles and use refillable propane tanks instead of disposable ones. Remember to pack out all garbage, including toilet paper. Bury human waste 6 to 8 inches underground and always do your business at least 200 steps from any water source. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Kayaking/rafting/river floating River activities are the highlight of summer in many places. There are several ways to enjoy these activities without damaging the environment, especially when you avoid polluting the water with gasoline engines. Instead, rely on your arm strength and the current to kayak, float or white water raft. Scuba diving and surfing If you’re near the ocean or hope to head in that direction for vacation, hit the surf with a board for a good workout and adrenaline rush all in one. Take in the diversity of the marine wildlife you aim to protect through your sustainable lifestyle by grabbing a tank and heading below the surface. Check certification requirements and diving regulations in your area for the safety of yourself and the ecosystem. Be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen while in the water. Visiting national parks There are 61 national parks in the United States alone, plus other protected areas around the world. Wherever you are, take in these natural wonders via bike, hike, boat, air or water. Unless you attend during one of the free national park day events, expect to pay an admission fee, which helps fund the maintenance and care these parks require. Remember to keep your wasteful packing to a minimum, pick up garbage when you see it and use the waste receptacles or haul your trash home. Related: How national parks benefit the environment Barbecuing The very essence of summer is defined by the concept of grilling with friends. Fresh fruit, grilled meat and veggies and frozen ice cones make for a memorable afternoon. Make sure your event is earth-friendly with reusable plates, cups and utensils. Recycle items whenever possible, watch for plastic packaging, skip the single-use straws and make ice ahead of time instead of buying it at the store in plastic bags. Going on a road trip Road trips are a great family bonding experience and an opportunity to really see the land you live in. Throw in the camping gear or plan your lodgings ahead of time. Hit up those national parks or head to the beach. Make your trek as environmentally friendly as possible by bringing snacks packed at home, refillable beverage containers and washable plates and utensils. Toss in some biodegradable soap for washing yourself and those dishes. Playing lawn games Whether you’re at home, the beach or the campground, lawn games are a fabulous activity. Entertaining and memorable, dragging out the cornhole or horseshoes is an earth-conscious choice, too. Watch for games made with plastic ; instead invest in quality metal or wood parts instead. Then, get out there and start the bocce ball, croquet or golf short-chip challenge. Participating in sports There is no end to the number of sports you can play, and almost all of them are low-impact from an environmental stance. Shoot hoops, head to the park for disc golf, put together a neighborhood baseball game or take up wake surfing. Going to museums Although summer is a very outdoorsy time of year, some days are just too hot, cold or wet. When the weather isn’t cooperating, head indoors and learn something new at a museum . Find something related to your interests or those of your kids and focus on art, history, native culture, ships, planes, technology, architecture or toys. Images via Jan Walter Luigi , Dan Fador , Leon He , Pixabay , Jacqueline Macou , RawPixel , Christoph Lindner and Just Pics

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13 fun and sustainable activities to enjoy before summer ends

A guide to going green for the back-to-school season

August 9, 2019 by  
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As summer comes to a close, our focus shifts to back-to-school. There’s so much to do between registering, shopping, picking up supplies and coordinating all the activities filling the calendar. If you’re looking for ways to act more sustainably this school year, we’ve got you covered in multiple areas. Transportation We all know that using our cars consumes fossil fuels and leaves a carbon tire print. Unless you live in a town that shuttles kids to school via electric trolley, it’s hard to figure out a sustainable way to transport the kiddos back and forth. This is a case of progress over perfection, and remember that every act helps. Related: The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills Walking and biking are the most sustainable ways to get to school. Older kids can trek off on their own or with a group of friends. Escort younger kids and get in your exercise, too. If you don’t live close enough for biking or walking, consider the public transit system. The buses and subways are running, so using them instead of your car staves off air pollution . The same goes for the gas-guzzling school bus. It will run the route every day whether kids ride or not, so it’s a more eco-friendly option to take advantage of the bus service instead of driving each day. If driving is your only option, set up a carpool before and after school to minimize the number of cars going to the same place. Be sure to shut off the engine while you wait at the bus stop or school. Clothing One of the only things many kids get excited about when heading back to school is the new school clothes. As you know, though, clothing doesn’t have to be new to be hip, cool or trendy. Head out to the thrift shop to scour the options. When you do buy new, look for organic cotton, bamboo and other natural fabrics . For a fun option, host a clothing swap party. You know your daughter is constantly trading clothes with her friends anyway, and it’s the perfect opportunity to clean out the closet before the school year begins. Have everyone bring their pre-loved clothing, belts, handbags and shoes to the party, where they can reconnect with each other as summer comes to a close and maybe find some new clothes they love at the same time. Lunches Sometimes getting kids to eat healthy food at home is enough of a challenge, but mix that with portability and the fact that you’re not there to supervise, and lunchtime might start to feel like you’re playing the lottery. Let your kids have a say in what they want to take for lunches, but set boundaries. Remember the toddler stage when they got to make their own decisions about which of the two outfits they would like to wear that day? Same concept. Offer healthy meal and snack options, from which your child can choose. Make lunchbox-friendly entrees in advance, freeze items for easy grab-and-go snacks and breakfasts, re-package bulk items ahead of time and make a meal plan to minimize the morning hassle and simplify the grocery shopping. Map out two weeks of lunches, and repeat the schedule so the same lunch only comes around a few times each month. Agree to ban single-use water bottles and individual packaging from the lunch box. Use stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic resealable bags. Order or make some reusable beeswax wraps for sandwiches. Add a metal or other non-plastic lunch box, and you have the foundation for a nearly waste-free lunch system. School supplies The basic laws of minimization apply here. Start by taking an inventory of what you already have. Check that tote of pushed-aside writing utensils, and resharpen the crayons and colored pencils. Inspect markers, pens and pencils. Grab the compass and protractor your older child no longer needs to give to the younger kids, and reuse the same rulers. Finish filling up the notebooks from last year when applicable, and make a few book covers. Chances are you even have tissues and 3×5 cards around that you can donate to the classroom. Once you’ve compared your inventory to the supply list, streamline your shopping. Make a “must have” list and vow to stick to it, at least for the first round of school supplies. There seems to be a phenomenon that makes kids feel they need the newest, shiniest everything before school starts, yet a few weeks in, any pencil will do. Related: The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping When you do make school purchases, think long-term. Buying quality items is an earth-friendly decision that benefits everyone. Look for durable backpacks and binders that you won’t have to replace each year. Avoid themed folders and bags that your child will want to replace when the superhero phase passes. Beyond durability, hunt down sustainable options like those that are biodegradable , refillable and recyclable and contain post-consumer content and recycled materials. Reduce paper While you’re gearing up for the new year, look for ways to minimize paper communication by getting your email updated. Add your child’s teachers and administrators to your contacts, and sign-up for electronic classroom updates if possible. With any papers that do come, be sure to reuse or recycle them after they are no longer needed. Sports and activities With the new school year comes uniforms, gear and supplies for the extra-curricular activities, too. Again, look for secondhand gear, or borrow from friends. Hit up the local sporting goods resale shop or online marketplaces. When it comes to fundraising for those uber-expensive requirements, send flyers electronically, watch for wasteful packaging from vendors and seek out services the team can offer instead of products to sell. Also take advantage of carpool options for practices, games and competitions, and put all those activities into your meal planning calendar to avoid the dinner hassle. On activity nights, plan ahead for a slow cooker meal or leftovers instead of relying on fast food or pre-packaged dinners. With just a bit of planning, you can get the school season started with all the right supplies and habits needed for a successful and sustainable year. Images via Element5 Digital , Jaden C. , Prudence Earl , U.S. Department of Agriculture , Dawid Ma?ecki , Freddie Marriage and Picture Back

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A guide to going green for the back-to-school season

Canada to ban single-use plastics by 2021

June 11, 2019 by  
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Canada is the latest country to follow the European Union’s ambitious ban of single-use plastics, which will go into effect by 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the upcoming ban, which still has details to iron out, in an attempt to address the marine litter crisis. The announcement also comes months before the election this fall, during which political experts expect climate change to take center stage. Less than 10 percent of all plastics in Canada are recycled, with 300 million tons thrown out every year. This recycling rate is similar in the United States, the largest plastic consumer in the world, where about 9 percent of plastics are recycled. In every corner of the globe, plastic waste is reaching the ocean and wreaking havoc on marine species from sea turtles to fish and whales. Related: Have your plastic and eat it too – average American ingests 50,000 microplastic particles a year To put it into perspective for citizens, Prime Minister Trudeau explained, “As parents, we’re at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles. That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.” Legislators have yet to announce exactly which single-use plastics will be banned, but the list could include cutlery, straws, plates, stir sticks and bags. Throughout the European Union, plastic bags, cutlery, cotton balls, stir sticks and balloon sticks will be outlawed in 2021, with a reduction in plastic cups and other food-related plastics also going into effect. The ban legislation is also expected to detail regulations for companies that produce significant plastic waste . The policy will hold companies accountable and mandate they develop targets and responsible waste management plans. Prime Minister Trudeau’s environmental policy may help his chances for re-election this fall, as voters are increasingly concerned about the environment and climate change . Via The BBC Image via Fotoblend

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The Sparkle Paper Saver Notebook teaches kids about recycled paper and sustainable living

May 14, 2019 by  
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Australian-based company Paper Saver has been using its products to help recycle paper since 2015. Its original Paper Saver notebook has a plastic sleeve inside, where leftover scratch paper can be inserted and used as pages. When the pages are full, the paper can be easily taken out, recycled and replaced with new pieces. It’s an innovative idea that has since allowed tens of thousands of people alike reduce their paper waste, according to the site. Now, the company is supplementing its sleek, faux-leather notebook with a brightly-colored kids edition called the Sparkle Paper Saver, launched on Kickstarter in May 2019. Using the blank back sides of their used craft paper (or any other kind of paper), kids can make and re-make their own notebooks. Here’s how it works: 1. Collect a pile of the used papers (old printouts from work, spreadsheets, drafts, bills, itineraries, used coloring and activity sheets, school notices — the list is endless!). 2. Fold the papers in half. 3. Insert papers through the functionally-designed binder, which is made of spring steel to ease the paper insertion, yet durable and strong enough to secure all the paper. Related: Recycling can get kids free books in Southern Italy It’s an interactive way for kids to learn about recycling and reusing while inspiring their creativity at the same time. Along with the notebook, supporters of the Kickstarter campaign will also receive three Environmental Awareness Woven Stickers to decorate with, each designed with images conveying a different environmental message: a melting ice cream cone for climate change , a solar daisy for renewable energy and fish in a bottle for ocean pollution. The package also includes The Paper Saver Organizer, which can be inserted into the notebook binder and includes a pencil case, cardholders and a pocket. Apart from finding new ways to recycle, Paper Saver’s goal with the new kids’ edition is to expose children at a younger age to the state of our environment while giving them tools to make less wasteful choices. Hopefully, that will translate into more sustainable decisions as they grow up and become active members of society, because it arms them with the knowledge to apply what they learned with Paper Saver’s fun notebook to other aspects of life. + Paper Saver Images via Paper Saver

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The Sparkle Paper Saver Notebook teaches kids about recycled paper and sustainable living

How to pull off a tech-free family vacation the whole family will enjoy

May 1, 2019 by  
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It’s a full-blown modern challenge to get through even an hour of the day without using technology. So considering a tech-free trip for the entire family may seem insurmountable. While we acknowledge that there will likely be some discomfort at times, we’re happy to report that it’s certainly attainable. Here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction towards a tech-free family vacation. Preparations We are so accustomed to having technology at our fingertips that you might have to remind the people in your life that you will be checking out. Provide an alternate phone number, like that of the hotel, if necessary. Also let family and friends know you’ll be off-grid so they don’t wonder why you haven’t responded to their text. If you plan to cheat with an occasional phone-on check in, at least remove email push from your phone so you’re not tempted to scroll through. Create a meeting point Not all things about technology are bad, but you might not realize how much you rely on it so it’s important to think ahead. You won’t be able to simply throw out the, “Where are you?” text. If your group is going to be separated for any reason, make sure you have a plan for meeting up again. Divide and conquer in the grocery store and meet by the checkout, for example. If you’re at an amusement park, zoo or museum, pick a time and place to meet. Paper maps Nope, we’re not kidding. Generations of successful roadtrips have spawned from the use of paper maps so there’s no reason not to make them your go-to navigation guide. Plus, map reading is always a good skill to brush up on and is something you’ve likely never taught your kids how to do. Grab road maps for any area you’ll be traveling and pick up city maps and attraction maps when you reach your destination. Visit your local Chamber of Commerce and that at the destination for information that you’re otherwise tempted to find on your phone. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Road games If you’re older than twenty, you likely remember playing games with your family on road trips that didn’t require a board, dice or cards. Contrary to current norms, family trips without DVD players, phones or iPads can still equal a good time. Teach your kids the art of identifying each letter of the alphabet on road signs. Play 20 questions or engage in Ispy. It’s also a good time to list those items for your next trip using the alphabet (I’m going on a camping trip and I’m taking…). For older children, start a story and pass the storyline along with each person contributing to the plot. For younger children, create a bag of surprises before your trip. Each 100 miles or when you cross state lines or once an hour, introduce a new activity. This can include small containers of finger dough, jigsaw puzzles, word puzzles or toys (non-electronic of course!) Board games Often times, voids in activity lead to mindless swiping of the cell phones. Instead of engaging in online game play, engage with each other. Be sure to bring along board games for in-between activities at the hotel and smaller versions for the car rides. Handheld card games work well for this. Ask a local In the old days, mom and dad had to stop and ask for directions when they couldn’t find their way. The waitress at the diner and the clerk at the store are still strong resources for this information when you decide to go tech-free. Plus, you can ask about the best place to pick up a pizza without relying on Yelp. Wear a watch Speaking of time, it’s likely that you also rely on your phone to know what time it is. Plan ahead by wearing a watch or identify clocks in the space you’re to help keep you manage your time. Go remote If you don’t trust your ability to to go tech-free, plan a vacation that takes the decision out of your hands. Head into remote areas where you don’t receive cell service and enjoy the solitude of nature . Once the kids stop whining that their phone’s don’t work, they’ll discover the simple pleasures of stacking rocks and skipping rocks. Teach them fire building, take them on a hike or take them backpacking where they can learn map and compass, fishing and how to filter water. Take an alarm clock Hopefully your vacation doesn’t require you to rise early or be anywhere at a specific time, but it’s a good idea to throw in a small alarm clock, both so that you know the time and so you don’t need to rely on a phone for your alarm. Use long math Education never ends, and not toting a phone means not having a calculator at your disposal. That makes for a good opportunity to calculate tips, percentage off deals and admission totals the old fashioned way. It will feel strange at first to eliminate the technology in your life for a few valuable days, but in the end you will achieve more quality time and true engagement without electronic distraction. After all, isn’t that what a vacation should be about? Via Matador Network Images via t_watanabe , Shutterstock

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Worlds first upcycled high-rise is proposed for Copenhagen

May 1, 2019 by  
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Danish architecture firms Lendager Group and TREDJE NATUR want to prove that building tall doesn’t need to come at the cost of the environment or human comfort. That’s why the two firms teamed up to design CPH Common House, a proposal for the world’s first upcycled high-rise in the Ørestad area of Copenhagen. Draped in greenery, the stepped building would be built from upcycled materials “to an unprecedented extent” for an estimated 1,174 tons of carbon emission savings in the building phase. Designed to raise the bar for sustainable high-rises in the future, the CPH Common House is a proposal commissioned by SOLSTRA Development – Bellakvarter A/S, but it was not chosen for construction. The conceptual project serves as a springboard for eco-friendly developments in the future. “With CPH Common House, we propose the world’s first upcycled high-rise building,” the architects explained. “We show how to build high and dense without losing the connection to the history, context and human scale. Strategies on sustainability and circularity are incorporated in the project from the first sketch.” The CPH Common House puts a new sustainable spin on the classic Copenhagen courtyard building by introducing a larger courtyard and a dramatically staggered design that lets greater amounts of natural light into the apartments and creates room for terraced green spaces. The architects proposed using 17,577 tons of upcycled waste to create a resource-efficient building that includes recycled tiles and concrete with brick fractures, recycled window frames reused as wood paneling and recycled wood floors. Related: Ecovillage in Copenhagen strives to meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals To create connection with the existing urban fabric, the CPH Common House draws elements from the traditional perimeter block and activates the streetscape with 30,000 square meters of commercial space located at the building’s base. The landscaped terraces and the expansive courtyard near the base of the building create communal meeting spaces for the community, while residents would also enjoy access to private roof terraces from their apartments. Rainwater would be harvested and reused for irrigation. + Lendager Group + TREDJE NATUR Via ArchDaily Images via TREDJE NATUR

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Worlds first upcycled high-rise is proposed for Copenhagen

A welcoming healthcare center in New Delhi follows passive design principles

May 1, 2019 by  
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New Delhi-based architecture and interior design firm VYOM has completed the Dental Care Centre, a recently opened healthcare facility in New Delhi that offers much more than a teeth cleaning. Designed to follow passive solar principles, the light-filled facility immerses patients in a spa-inspired environment with views of nature from every room. A natural materials palette also helps tie the bright and airy building to the landscape. Built to embrace nature, the Dental Care Centre was carefully laid out on a linear site so as to avoid removing any mature trees. The thoughtful design not only reduced site impact , but also helped maximize access to shade while reducing heat load on the structure. The shaded areas also informed the team’s decision to add an outdoor deck and outdoor seating for patients and visitors, while bamboo screens provide privacy to the staff quarters. Views of the preserved canopy are swept indoors through large glazed openings and include clerestory windows , walls of glass and skylights. The most dramatic opening can be found at the heart of the Dental Care Centre, where an open-air courtyard is punctuated by a square fishpond enclosed in glass on four sides. A raised wooden roof with deep overhangs helps mitigate glare from southern sunshine while allowing natural daylight to flood the interior. Related: Light-filled dentist clinic shows how good design can calm patient fears “Addressing the functional, medical requirements while always keeping the focus on positive patient care has resulted in a scheme where the colors and materiality harmoniously enhance the spatial quality,” the architects explained of the healthcare facility, which is dressed in off-white walls and timber accents. “The Dental Care Centre is a singular and exclusive design that enhances the levels of patient care, while mitigating patient stress levels by giving them an environment which is close to nature, dynamic, cheerful and full of natural light .” + VYOM Photography by Yatinder Kumar via VYOM

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