Angular cedar-clad home in New Zealand is designed to go completely off-grid

October 17, 2017 by  
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New Zealand firm Herriot Melhuish Oneill has created a beautiful eco-friendly home deep in the rolling farmland just outside of Wellington. The Peka Peka House is comprised of three cedar boxes with glazed walls that provide views of the breathtaking landscape – and it’s set to be 100% off-grid. The home’s volume is comprised of three connected boxes. The living and dining area are located in the larger box and the bedrooms are in the second cube. These two structures are both clad in a beautiful black-stained cedar with large windows that connect the living spaces with the exterior environment. The third box, which houses the garage and workshop, was built out of profiled-polycarbonate, and “glows” from within at night. Related:See how the “Kiss-Kiss House” snaps in half like a branch to embrace the landscape The home’s orientation was strategic to benefit from the area’s harsh climate. Thanks to the home’s many openings, the interior is naturally ventilated by the afternoon sea breezes. Additionally, the interior courtyard faces north in order protect the space from any strong winds. The home is surrounded by a timber deck that connects the home to its natural surroundings and lets the homeowners enjoy the outdoors comfortably. The Peka Peka house was designed to eventually go 100% off grid . Installed with PV and solar hot water panels, the home produces a lot of its own energy. To conserve that energy, the insulation in the home is above-code insulation, and an exposed, insulated concrete slab under the home helps retain heat. LED lighting is also used throughout the space. + Herriot Melhuish Oneill Via Archdaily Photography by Jason Mann

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Angular cedar-clad home in New Zealand is designed to go completely off-grid

Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife

October 5, 2017 by  
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Seattle-based firm, Olson Kundig Architects  unveiled a brilliant T-shaped home called Rimrock whose elongated design ‘floats’ over a local wildlife trail. Located deep in the forest of Spokane, Washington, the 5,200-square-foot structure is supported by a platform that hovers over the path so local wildlife can easily make their way from the high woodland plateau on one side of the home to the Spokane River below. The home’s elongated form – which is clad in untreated steel – is partially supported by stilts embedded into a platform. This platform spans over a natural  animal trail , allowing for an unobstructed passage from the high forest plateau on the back side of the home to the river some 300 feet below. Entirely clad in floor-to-ceiling glass panels, the first floor living area is perfect for watching the animals make their way to the water. Related: Olson Kundig Architects’ Transforming Micro Cabin Folds Up to Protect Against the Elements Creating a strong connection between the house and its natural surroundings was central to the design. Not only was the layout carefully crafted with the local wildlife in mind, but also the area’s natural landscape. Located cliffside, the structure is only partially embedded into the landscape. Adding more volume to the top level allowed the architects to alleviate some of its ecological footprint . The glass-enclosed lower level, which includes the living room, kitchen, and dining area, lets in optimal natural light and provides 180 degree views of the spectacular surroundings, including the adjacent forest, the valley below, and even the city of Spokane in the distance. Equally as stunning is enjoying the views from the home’s open-air deck with reflecting pool. The bedrooms and personal spaces are found on the second floor, and were intentionally shielded from the outside elements in order to provide the occupants a cozy, interior space to spend time during inclement weather. + Olson Kundig Architects Via Yatzer Photography by Benjamin Benschneider and Kevin Scott

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Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife

Donkey-drawn mobile libraries bring books to people in Zimbabwe

October 5, 2017 by  
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It’s not always easy for people in rural Zimbabwe to visit a library , so Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program (RLRDP) brings the library to them. Donkeys power their mobile libraries that can carry around 1,200 books . Out of the organization’s 15 donkey cart libraries, three are outfitted with solar panels that can power a computer. RLRDP founder Obadiah Moyo designed the donkey cart libraries and began trotting them out in 1995. The two-wheeled, roofed carts can carry up to three riders, and are separated into compartments that can lock up. Three donkey libraries have electricity from solar power for charging phones, printing, and accessing the Internet on a computer. The carts serve more than 1,600 people apiece, stopping at schools or community sites. 12 of the mobile libraries are devoted to children’s books . The organization has also facilitated 120 book delivery bicycles . Related: One-woman traveling bicycle library delivers free books in San Francisco Moyo said school pass rates have greatly improved since mobile libraries started bringing the books to rural areas. In a blog post for Book Aid International, he said O-Level pass rates at Inyathi Secondary School, that RLRDP supports, were six percent in 2009, but last year were 75 percent. Moyo said in the blog post, “We believe that to pull these rural communities out of poverty we need to surround children with books and knowledge, and give them the tools they need to improve their lives.” Financial contributions are often most helpful for RLRDP – Moyo says it costs around $150,000 a year to operate the organization. Books mainly come from charity Book Aid International , and RLRDP can get discounts from publishers. The organization would like to stock their donkey-powered libraries with more books written by Zimbabwean authors, especially ones in the languages of Ndebele or Shona. + Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program Via Literary Hub and Book Aid International Images via Book Aid International and Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program

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Donkey-drawn mobile libraries bring books to people in Zimbabwe

Transformable solar building changes shape to teach people how to live sustainably

October 5, 2017 by  
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How do you persuade people to adopt sustainable lifestyles? A team of Swiss architecture students believes in the power of demonstration—and they’ve designed and built the eco-friendly NeighborHub to prove their point. Conceived as a collaborative community space, the NeighborHub is a transformable, shared space that demonstrates innovative solutions, from renewable energy and water management to biodiversity and sustainable mobility. The NeighborHub is a community space that provides innovation solutions to the challenges of climate change and resource depletion. The building explores seven themes—renewable energy, water management, waste management, mobility, food, material choices, and biodiversity—within a transformable shell built of laminated veneer lumber. “The house is divided into two main spaces,” said the Swiss Team. “The center of the NeighborHub, the core, is a thermally controlled space. It is surrounded by the extended skin which is controlled by passive strategies.” The modular, prefabricated building envelope can adapt to different needs, from a private bedroom to a bicycle repair shop, and even expand its footprint to the outdoors thanks to movable walls and transforming furniture. The NeighborHub’s movable facade is clad in active solar panels and solar thermal panels on the east, south, and west sides. An edible garden grows atop the rainwater-harvesting roof. Two vertical greenhouses are installed to show off space-saving year-round farming techniques such as aquaponics . A zero-water “dry” toilet recycles waste and produces compost that can be used as fertilizer. The rainwater collected from the roof is treated with an on-site phytopurication system and reused for non-potable uses, such as laundry and irrigation. Related: Hurricane-resistant SURE HOUSE wins the 2015 Solar Decathlon The NeighborHub was designed and constructed by the Swiss Team, comprising students from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg (HEIA-FR), the Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD) and the University of Fribourg (UNIFR). The Swiss Team’s solar prototype was developed for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon , an academic competition that challenges student teams to design and build full-size solar-powered homes; this year’s contest is held near Denver, Colorado. Following the competition, the NeighborHub will be brought back to the blueFactory in Fribourg, Switzerland for further research and development. + Solar Decathlon Images © Mike Chino

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Transformable solar building changes shape to teach people how to live sustainably

Budapests tallest tower to follow the highest standards of sustainability

October 5, 2017 by  
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Foster + Partners designed a tower for Budapest that will not only be the city’s tallest—it’ll also be a beacon for sustainability. Designed as the new headquarters for the oil and gas company MOL Group , the mixed-use building named MOL Campus is wrapped in glazing to maximize natural daylight, views, and connection with the outdoors and urban fabric. MOL Campus will be powered by low and zero-carbon energy sources, such as photovoltaics, and saves on energy costs with cutting-edge technology that controls light levels and temperatures. Located in southern Budapest , MOL Campus is set to be the tallest building in the city and will comprise a 28-story tower with an integrated podium. In addition to offices, the campus will include a restaurant, gym, conference center, public sky garden, and other facilities. Glass clads the unified, curved volume to provide daylight and views. Greenery, including mature trees, travels through the heart of the building from the central atrium on the ground floor to the public garden at the top of the tower. The architects see the green spaces as a “social catalyst” that encourages collaboration, relaxation, and inspiration in the workplace. Related: New Budapest museum will feature a sweeping green roof resembling a skateboard ramp “As we see the nature of the workplace changing to a more collaborative vision, we have combined two buildings – a tower and a podium – into a singular form, bound by nature,” said Nigel Dancey, Head of Studio, Foster + Partners. “As the tower and the podium start to become one element, there is a sense of connectivity throughout the office spaces, with garden spaces linking each of the floors together.” The building’s location in a dense urban environment allows employees to walk or cycle to work. In addition to use of photovoltaics and energy-saving technologies, MOL Campus will also feature rainwater harvesting and storage facilities. + Foster + Partners Images via Foster + Partners

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Prefab tiny cabin perched on a granite rock to minimize environmental impact

October 4, 2017 by  
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This solitary cabin in Lincoln, New Hampshire, was built to fit the rock on which it sits, rather than the other way around. I-Kanda Architects designed the building as an angular timber structure precariously perched on a granite outcropping in the White Mountain. Using just nine foundation points and prefabricated framing, the architects specifically designed the 900-square-foot cabin to have a gentle environmental impact. Providing stunning views of the valley and several prominent peaks of the mountain range, the home was designed to minimize the amount of trees that needed to be cleared. Initially conceived as a weekend getaway for two people, the structure evolved to meet the spatial and functional demands of a family of four. Related: Dreamy cabin is a luxurious escape in the New Zealand bush The growing needs of the family combined with the site’s unique spatial restraints required the architects to maximize the footprint of the building without imposing on the landscape—and the result + I-Kanda Architects Via Architizer Photos by Matt Delphenich

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Cow farts may be contributing more to global warming than we realized

October 4, 2017 by  
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When you hear the words ‘ cow farts,’ you probably giggle a little. But bovine flatulence and belches are pumping methane into the atmosphere, and contributing even more greenhouse gas emissions than scientists previously thought. According to new NASA -funded research, estimates of livestock emissions could have been off by around 10 percent. When we think of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change , carbon dioxide is typically the first one that comes to mind. But methane – even though it can break down quicker – is around 85 times more powerful in trapping heat. And guess who’s pouring methane into the air? Cows. Three scientists, from the United States Department of Agriculture , Joint Global Change Research Institute , and the United States Department of Energy , reevaluated data employed to calculate 2006 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emissions factors. They created revised emissions factors and discovered livestock methane emissions were 11 percent higher in 2011 than other estimates arrived at using the 2006 guidelines. Related: How oregano could save the world by reducing bovine belching The journal Carbon Balance and Management published the research the end of September. Lead author Julie Wolf said in a statement , “In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.” The way we deal with cow poop also influences how many emissions enter the air. Using manure as fertilizer on fields yields less methane than storing the poop in pits. Changes like that one have caused global methane emissions to increase by almost 37 percent. Between 2003 and 2011, livestock yielded around one fifth of methane emissions – but they were also responsible for between half and three quarters of the methane emissions increase researchers noted during that time period. Even if you’re not a farmer, and can’t control farming practices, Popular Science said it wouldn’t hurt to eat less red meat . Via Forbes and Popular Science Images via Ryan Song on Unsplash and Filip Bunkens on Unsplash

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Meditative lakeside Prism Cabin reveals Bordeaux through stained-glass windows

September 27, 2017 by  
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This pyramid-shaped cabin in France features beautiful stained glass windows and lookout towers that offer unique views of the surrounding landscape. Visual artist Lou Andréa Lassalle designed the Prism Cabin to allow occupants to rediscover the world around them through the colors cast from its faceted windows. The cabin comprises part of the Refuges Périurbains project, which offers overnight stays in temporary installations built all around the periphery of Bordeaux. Related: Kengo Kuma’s Transparent Temporary Shelter Pays Homage to Classic Japanese Literature Built by Zebra3 , the pyramid-shaped structure reveals unsuspected aspects of the landscape through color and shape. The designers say it “evokes the esotericism of the water bank where local fish, monsters from the depths, high voltage towers and natural fog mix.” Full of playful design features, the cabin includes lookout towers built in the shape of the Great Sphinx. It can host up to eight people at once and encourages people to reconnect with Bordeaux’s gorgeous landscapes. + Lou Andréa Lassalle + Zebra3 + Refuges Périurbains Via Treehugger Photos by Lou Andréa Lassalle

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Geothermal-powered Lake Austin Home is tuned in to nature

September 22, 2017 by  
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Local studio A Parallel Architecture designed the award-winning Lake Austin Residence, a beautiful luxury home that derives inspiration from nature. Despite its large 6,750-square-foot size and horizontal footprint, the contemporary house achieves a sense of lightness thanks to ample full-height glazing and limestone massing. The energy-efficient dwelling offers geothermal climate control, as well as onsite waste treatment and water collection. Spread out across two stories, the Lake Austin Residence comprises a series of stacked and staggered rectangular volumes clad in limestone brickwork and white stucco. Nearly flat roofs top the volumes, which are punctuated by large sections of glazing to let in natural light and views of the landscape. “Like a butterfly specimen pinned to its mounting, this sinuous lake-front home’s light floating roofs are anchored to its site by heavy rusticated limestone masses, while its horizontal footprint is spread out and sewn through the vertical punctuation of mature sycamore, cypress and pecan trees,” wrote the architects. Related: Dreamy summer retreat built of salvaged materials sends eclectic vibes in Austin To lend a sense of warmth to the glass and stone palette, the architects added a warm interior palette of oak, mahogany, and cedar as well as splashes of turquoise to reference the lake. The heart of the light-filled interior is a nearly double-height living room separated from the dining room and kitchen by a fireplace. The master suite is located on the right side of the house, while the three bedrooms are placed in the left wing. Sliding glass doors open the back of the property up to the outdoor stone patio, infinity pool, and Lake Austin . + A Parallel Architecture Via Dezeen Images via A Parallel Architecture

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Geothermal-powered Lake Austin Home is tuned in to nature

Solar-powered Cottage in the Vineyard puts a modern spin on rural architecture

September 22, 2017 by  
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Ramón Esteve Estudio completed a minimalist mono-pitched dwelling that blends into its agricultural backdrop yet still catches the eye with its modern design. Located in the rural outskirts of Valencia, Spain, the Cottage in the Vineyard was designed to perfectly integrate into the landscape and features full-height glazing to blur the lines of indoor/outdoor living. The home also sits lightly on the landscape with its use of solar panels, natural insulation, energy-efficient lighting, and rainwater harvesting systems. Located between pine forests and grapevine fields, Cottage in the Vineyard marks a threshold between the cultivated and wild landscape. The house takes on a long linear shape made with a white concrete shell intersected by boxy thermally modified pine containers. Each pine structure features large glazed end-walls to frame views of the landscape. The structure is topped with a pitched roof in the image of a standard traditional rural house. Related: Vineyard House uses rammed earth to stay cool in Portugal’s hot summers “Environmentally, it follows the guidelines for a passive house ,” said Ramón Esteve. “Appropriate means are available to take advantage of renewable energy through the use of panels of solar energy, energy supply from biomass or collecting and storing drinkable rain water.” The Cottage in the Vineyard uses rock wool for thermal insulation. Cross ventilation is optimized through the home’s concrete spine. + Ramón Esteve Estudio Via Gessato Images by Mariela Apollonio

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