The Glen House is a sustainable retreat in the mountains of New Hampshire

April 24, 2019 by  
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Hikers have long flocked to Mt. Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire . Back in 1852, the original Glen House hotel opened to serve visitors who wanted to ascend the Northeast’s highest peak without roughing it. Today, the fifth and newest iteration of Glen House blends history, mountainous beauty and 21st century sustainability initiatives. “Each new hotel took advantage of whatever the latest in building theory and technology had to offer,” said Howie Wemyss, general manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road/Great Glen Outdoor Center, which owns the hotel. “In 1885 when the second Glen House was constructed, it had electric as well as gas lights, a telegraph and an elevator. The fourth Glen House, built in 1924, was winterized with insulation and central heat to take advantage of the growing winter sports of skiing, tobogganing and snowshoeing.” Related: 16th century building in Malta is now a charming eco hotel that reflects a long history Nowadays, the 68-room Glen House has progressed from the telegraph to new, cutting-edge technology and the aim to be as energy self-sufficient and carbon-neutral as possible. A geothermal system composed of 30 wells drilled 500-feet deep heats the Glen House in winter and cools it in the summer without the burning of fossil fuels. A hydro-generator provides for most of the electric needs of the Great Glen Lodge activities center, located across the street.  The same water system also irrigates the hotel’s flowers, shrubs, trees and grass and is used for snowmaking and fire safety. Other sustainability features include high-efficiency insulation, LED lighting throughout, Otis Gen2 models that regenerate energy as elevator cars descend and water fountains designed to fill reusable water bottles. The hotel’s outdoor lighting is dark-sky compliant, meaning fixtures point at the ground rather than up toward the sky. Glen House even provides wax paper bags in the bathroom to encourage guests to take home partially-used bars of soap. Visitors who want to climb the 6,288-foot Mt. Washington and then sleep in a bed instead of a tent can feel good about supporting Glen House. + Glen House Images via Glen House

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The Glen House is a sustainable retreat in the mountains of New Hampshire

This high-tech LED lighting could grow veggies in space

January 22, 2019 by  
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Move over, freeze-dried foods and Tang. The astronauts of tomorrow may be growing veggies in their spacecraft or even on the moon and Mars. OSRAM , a global high-tech lighting company, showed off its PHYTOFY horticultural lighting system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) . PHYTOFY RL uses LED lights that can be tuned, controlled and scheduled for different research applications. NASA is experimenting with PHYTOFY at the Kennedy Space Center to create plant recipes, which could eventually be used at the international space station. “While space is limited on spacecraft, NASA hopes to eventually scale up to larger growing areas, such as the lunar surface, the Martian surface or even during space transit,” said Steve Graves, strategic program manager for urban and digital farming. Related: Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry? The PHYTOFY system includes an electric light unit, control gear and software. “The ability to control and schedule spectra, dosing plants photon by photon, is extremely innovative, especially when put into the hands of plants scientists,” Graves said. Despite the allure of space, OSRAM isn’t giving up on this planet. The plantCube is an Earth-based example of horticultural tech in OSRAM’s CES 2019 display. This hydroponic “smart garden,” made by agrilution, uses OSRAM’s LED technology to make it easy to grow greens and herbs. “With the plantCube, we meet two different global trends: the desire for people living in big cities to have a healthy diet alongside a switch to local food production,” Maximilian Lössl, co-founder of agrilution, said. “With this closed system, you are able to reduce water consumption and keep the use of fertilizers to a minimum, while eliminating the need for pesticides.” One of OSRAM’s breakthroughs — both in outer space and on Earth — is using different wavelengths of light to control plants’ growth cycles. Plants can then be harvested more or less frequently, as needed. “Light recipes” can also increase the nutrients and vitamins in plants and alter their flavors. OSRAM continues to collaborate with labs and universities to fine-tune and explore applications. + OSRAM Images via OSRAM

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This high-tech LED lighting could grow veggies in space

A guide to the best holiday gifts for an eco-friendly home

December 5, 2018 by  
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As adults, receiving gifts to adorn a home or apartment is one of the greatest joys in life. Whether you’re searching for a unique furniture piece for your parents, adorable trinkets for a friend or something extra special for yourself, these gifts top our list of favorite presents for a green home this year. Natural Escape Mattress This holiday season, give the best gift of all: the gift of a good night’s sleep. Free from the toxic VOCs and chemical flame retardants that lurk in most traditional mattresses, the Natural Escape mattress from My Green Mattress is organic and USA-made, making it the perfect gift for just about anyone on your list. We certainly won’t judge you for purchasing it for yourself — once you’ve slept on the contouring, supportive layers of organic cotton and latex as well as natural wool, it will be even harder to leave your bed each morning. Smart thermostats This green technology will allow its recipient to keep their home cozy and comfortable year-round while saving energy and lowering utility bills. Check out the high-tech options by Nest or ecobee . Related: 4 things you need to know about smart thermostats Cork and bamboo coffee press Made from cork, bamboo and glass, this eco-friendly French press is a stylish gift that will look beautiful on any kitchen counter. The wood is left unstained for food safety, and the simple device is just as quick and easy to use as any other coffee maker but without throwaway filters or electricity. Best of all, each purchase helps the company, GROSCHE, provide more than 50 days of safe, clean drinking water for those in need. Bidet Is a bidet attachment for a toilet the most romantic or exciting gift? Maybe not. But it is incredibly useful and better for the environment, considering people around the world flush the equivalent of about 27,000 trees daily . Nomadix Many people have towels for different purposes: bathing, camping, swimming, yoga. But  one towel from Nomadix  can do it all, and these brightly patterned towels are even made from post-consumer  plastic  bottles. It’s a win-win. Terra Klay If you really want to take someone’s breath away, snag some impressive dishware from Terra Klay . From bowls and mugs to teapots and casserole dishes, this pottery is handcrafted with care by women artisans in Manipur, India. They make a striking addition to any kitchen. Fan-folded paper lights Really wow someone you love with these luxurious (but budget-friendly) pendant lights . The fixture of each light is made from upcycled vinyl records, while the intricately folded shade is made from scrap cardboard paper. It also includes LED bulbs and comes in four colors, from neutral to flashy. Rio sofa from Stem At first glance, this is a simple couch that can blend into any living room. But this sofa also features eco-friendly and customizable materials from colors and fabrics to fillings and legs. The sofas are made with FSC-certified timber frames and avoid harsh chemicals. Inmod Azara dresser This stylish dresser is made from 100 percent Moso bamboo and features six soft-close drawers to hold plenty of clothing, accessories or extra blankets. The finish is distinct enough to stand out, but subtle enough to match the recipient’s existing furnishings. Wool comforter We spend a lot of time sleeping or snuggling in bed. Make that time count with these warm, snuggly wool comforters that are made with 100 percent organic wool and cotton. This is also a durable comforter that will last and last. Melrose furnishings from Urban Woods You can’t go wrong with the Melrose set from Urban Woods . Each piece uses reclaimed wood as well as low-VOC and non-toxic materials. These furnishings are also made in L.A., reducing the environmental impact of shipping (compared to ordering items shipped from outside the country). This collection is bold and modern, but you can also find many other sets or make a custom order to suit your gift recipient’s style. Teak wood bowls and salad servers Made from reclaimed teak wood, these bowls and salad servers are a must-have for anyone who loves to entertain. Each is hand-formed with distinct graining, leaving no two items the same. From salads to fresh fruits, anything served in these bowls will be the star of the show. Recycled pouf The incredibly relaxed lounge chair, or the pouf, is becoming a staple for modern living rooms. Choose a unique, sustainable option like this eye-catching black pouf made from recycled textiles like leather and cotton. Each pouf uses a different blend of materials, making each one an original. Organic crinkled percale sheets It’s no secret that well-loved (read: old) sheets are the most comfortable to sleep in, so imagine the joy of opening a set of brand new, organic sheets that already have that worn-in softness from the start. These sheets come in soothing neutral shades to match any bedroom, and the soft, slightly crinkled cotton will make your bed even cozier than normal. Images via My Green Mattress , Nest , GROSCHE , Amazon , Terra Klay , Nomadix , ABCD , Stem , Inmod , Haiku Designs , Urban Woods , CB2 ( 1 , 2 ), Coyuchi and Amira Hegazy

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A guide to the best holiday gifts for an eco-friendly home

A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree

October 3, 2018 by  
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Many people design homes to be surrounded by nature, but Seattle-based PRDG Architects decided to take it a step further by building a modern home around a family’s beloved madrone tree. Located in a woody lot outside of Seattle, the ultra energy-efficient Farwell is a two story structure made from weathered steel. Plenty of windows and natural light blend the family home into its natural environment, but it’s the sculptural tree that is spotlighted by the design. Surrounded by trees and greenery, the 3,800-square-foot home was designed to be a serene oasis where the family can reconnect with nature. Using the madrone tree as a focal point, the architects strategically designed the home to both preserve the tree and make it visible from nearly every room. An expansive deck wraps around the house, further providing a constant connection with the tree and the surrounding environment. Related: Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree In addition to saving the tree, the architects set out to build a home with minimal impact on the landscape. All of the trees on site were preserved and maintained without harm, and the existing green space was left in its natural state. To add resilience to the landscape around the home, the team installed a bioretention garden with a cistern that collects rainwater and controls stormwater run-off. Beyond the reverence for the landscape, the design for the Farwell home also focused on energy conservation. The building has a high-tech, energy-efficient building envelope and generates its own power thanks to the solar roof tiles . Additionally, the home was installed with smart appliances and LED lighting fixtures. The stunning design is not only efficient, but boasts a modern, light-filled interior with a fresh aesthetic. An abundance of sliding glass doors and large windows open up the space — in fact, extra-large square windows were installed throughout the home to frame the madrone tree as if it were a piece of artwork. + PRDG Architects Via Dwell Photography by Lara Swimmer via PRDG Architects

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A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree

3XN unveils competition-winning designs for Denmarks Climatorium

October 3, 2018 by  
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Danish architectural practice 3XN Architects recently won a competition for the Climatorium, Denmark’s new international climate center that will be located in Lemvig. Created in collaboration with urban development consultancy SLA and technical advisory company Orbicon, the winning entry will help establish Lemvig as a center for climate change adaptation and support the country’s role as an exporter of climate solutions. Slated for completion in 2020, the sculptural waterfront building will serve as a public forum for knowledge, education, innovation and development projects that can promote climate-related growth and job opportunities. Inspired by the coastal location, the architects have integrated a wave motif to the entrance section of the two-story structure. The surrounding landscape, named the Climate Wedge, also mimics the local environment with its undulating shape structured with meteorological isobar lines in reference to the city’s wind conditions. The outdoor space is planted with native , low-maintenance vegetation and includes sheltered spaces where the public can gather and reconnect with the harbor front. A site-specific approach was taken to the building design as well. The Climatorium is carefully sized to match the existing scale of the other waterfront buildings and is clad in a simple material palette of wood, concrete and steel in a nod to the nearby boat halls. A ground-floor glass facade helps activate the building on the ground level and attracts passersby to come and visit exhibitions about climate change or enjoy food in the cafe. The lower floor can also be used for conferences, concerts and other events. Related: This dreamy Malibu beach house is designed to withstand climate change “We have aimed to create a building that tells the story about climate ,” said Jan Ammundsen, Senior Partner and Head of Design at 3XN. “The building has a rectilinear, stringent expression but forms a wave shape that lends it a distinct and easily decoded identity. The wave tells the story of the site and also refers to the serious challenges we face as a result of climate change.” + 3XN Architects Images via 3XN Architects

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3XN unveils competition-winning designs for Denmarks Climatorium

A tiny, rustic, off-grid cabin sits on vast 300 acres in Australia

October 3, 2018 by  
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When clients tasked Melbourne-based firm MRTN Architects with designing a new home for their whopping 300 acres of natural landscape, the architects could have created a massive structure. Instead, the design team, inspired by the local vernacular, chose to implement a modern take on a simple shed. The 500-square-foot Nulla Vale House and adjacent shed, both of which are 100 percent off-grid , were designed to foster a strong harmony with nature. Located in Victoria, Australia, the home is set on an idyllic and rather remote area of untouched landscape. When the architects were contacted by the clients, the main request was that they design a structure that could be incorporated into another “more permanent home” that may be built on the same site in the future. Other than that, the clients also requested something that would stand out among the landscape from a distance. While exploring the area, the architects saw a lot of old sheds tucked into the rolling hills and decided to use these traditional forms as inspiration for the new home. “Nostalgia for this connection between land and building was the guiding principle for the Nulla Vale House and Shed,” the team explained. Related: Off-grid rainforest cabin built from scratch has minimal site impact The home and the adjacent shed are 100 percent off the grid and installed with water, sewer and electrical systems that not only support the existing buildings, but are capable of supporting any future buildings as well. The shed, which is covered with solar panels , is used for storage and houses the main PV battery. In addition to its energy efficiency, various recycled or repurposed materials such as salvaged brick were used in the home’s construction. Radial sawn timber was used to frame the home, which was then topped with a roof made from galvanized sheeting. The roof’s deep eaves shield the interior from the hot summer sun and optimize solar gains in the winter as part of a passive, energy-efficient strategy. The rustic aesthetic of the exterior continues throughout the interior living space. The salvaged brick walls were left unfinished, and wooden beams run the length of the vaulted ceiling. Even the insulation in the ceiling was left intentionally exposed in order to reflect the light from the concealed LED fixtures , which were installed in the beams. The main living room and small kitchen sit at the heart of the home. Farther back, there is a simple bedroom and bathroom. Throughout the space, there are various windows that flood the home with natural light. + MRTN Architects Via Dwell Photography by Peter Bennetts via MRTN Architects

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A tiny, rustic, off-grid cabin sits on vast 300 acres in Australia

Gleaming, recyclable facade clads a solar-powered Dutch house

July 9, 2018 by  
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Move over, brick and mortar — a new house in Amsterdam is eschewing the traditional facade for a striking alternative that gleams golden in the sun. Local architecture practice MOPET architecten designed the contemporary home, named the Brass House Amsterdam, for a family who sought sustainable features. In addition to its fully recyclable facade, the house is equipped with solar panels, LED lighting and triple-insulated glazing. Sandwiched between two brick buildings in the city’s IJburg district, the Brass House Amsterdam catches the eye with its shiny, multifaceted facade that clads the front and rear of the property. Triple-glazed aluminum sliding doors punctuate the angled exterior on both sides and open up to a series of balconies. The fully recyclable facade changes color from brown to gold in the sunlight. The 2,260-square-foot house is split into three levels and includes a green roof . The modern interior is dressed in a basic palette comprising oak , concrete, black steel and white stucco, which establishes a spacious feel. An open-plan kitchen, dining room and living area are located on the first floor and open up to a garden in the rear. A flight of stairs on the south side of the home leads up to two bedrooms, a shared bathroom, a service room and storage space. The second floor houses an en suite bedroom with a walk-in closet and a spacious lounge. Related: Sustainable ‘circular economy’ principles inform Amsterdam’s flexible Circl pavilion “Integrated solutions are designed for maximum openness in the house: The entrance hall, toilet, staircase, doors and kitchen are combined in a long wall cabinet that runs from the front to the rear,” the architects explained. “It narrows and widens, creating places with a variation in atmosphere and perspective. A split-level offers overview from the kitchen. At the same time, it creates an intimate seat pit with a fireplace in the backyard.” + MOPET architecten Via ArchDaily Images by Stijn Poelstra

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Gleaming, recyclable facade clads a solar-powered Dutch house

A couple turns a Mercedes Sprinter into a solar-powered home on wheels

July 9, 2018 by  
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Traveling road warriors Andre and Marissa converted a 2017 Mercedes Sprinter van into a beautiful, chic home on wheels  named the Bluebird for their on-the-go adventures. The solar-powered van’s interior was revamped with reclaimed wood and is now equipped with all of the comforts of home including a queen-sized bed, kitchenette, ample seating space and plenty of storage. The High Top Mercedes Sprinter was strategically retrofitted into an efficient tiny home on wheels. The couple made a space-efficient kitchenette using refurbished wood for cabinets and added a touch of color with a fun mosaic backsplash. The kitchen comes with running water, a propane stove and a 45-quart refrigerator. For extra seating and dining space, the front driver and passenger seats swivel around from the driver’s area. A queen-sized bed is located in the back of the van and surrounded by storage. Related: San Francisco is too expensive – so this couple hit the road in an amazing renovated van Best of all, the Bluebird is outfitted to go off the grid . The couple installed two solar panels that are connected to a Yeti 1250 generator. The van runs almost entirely on solar energy . The tiny home’s energy use is also reduced thanks to LED lights and a set of Thinsulate curtains that help maintain a warm, toasty interior on colder days. In addition to creating an off-grid residence, the couple focused on designing the ultimate adventure home on wheels. The “garage” area under the bed is 36 inches high, so it fits quite a bit of gear for kayaking, rafting, skiing and climbing — there is even a bay for bike storage. There are also various cabinets and cubbies for small equipment like climbing ropes, helmets and shoes. After exploring in the van for a while, Andre and Marissa are now selling their beloved Bluebird for $108k in order to start a new transformation project. + Joyful Vans Via Tiny House Talk Images via Joyful Vans

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A couple turns a Mercedes Sprinter into a solar-powered home on wheels

Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing "bat-friendly" streetlights

June 7, 2018 by  
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Street lighting can impact bats’ feeding patterns and internal compasses, as well as the activity of their insect prey, but a town in the Netherlands is taking steps to help the bats out. Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop , a housing development of around 90 sustainable homes near the Nieuwkoopse Plassen nature reserve, has installed what are thought to be the world’s first bat-friendly streetlights. The red LED  lights from Signify , formerly Philips Lighting, brighten the road for humans, but the the bats still perceive the light as darkness. The town and surrounding area are part of the Natura 2000 , a network of nesting and breeding sites for rare and threatened species across the European Union. These sites don’t all exclude human activities; in fact, most of the land is privately owned. The approach to conservation on these sites revolves around “people working with nature rather than against it,” according to the European Commission. Related: Bat bridge provides shelter for our winged friends in the Dutch town of Monster Bat-friendly lighting could fit that bill. Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop , according to Signify, is a key feeding ground “for some rare bat species.” The energy-efficient streetlights emit red with a wavelength that won’t interfere with the flying mammals’ internal compasses. The lighting is based on 2017 research from Wageningen University , the Netherlands Institute of Ecology , and Philips Lighting. Nieuwkoop city council member Guus Elkhuizen said, “Nieuwkoop is the first town in the world to use smart LED street lights that are designed to be friendly to bats. When developing our unique housing program, our goal was to make the project as sustainable as possible, while preserving our local bat species with minimal impact to their habitat and activities. We’ve managed to do this and also keep our carbon footprint and energy consumption to a minimum.” + Signify + Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop Images courtesy of Signify

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Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing "bat-friendly" streetlights

For every action: how cities are using new tools to drive climate action

June 4, 2018 by  
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Where there’s political will, there’s a way.

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For every action: how cities are using new tools to drive climate action

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