Garden-facing timber home uses highly efficient SIPs to minimize waste

October 31, 2018 by  
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When asked by a long-time friend to build a garden-facing retirement home in Hobart, Australia, Brunswick-based architectural practice Archier created the Five Yards House, a timber-clad abode that takes its name from the numerous “yards,” or gardens, integrated into the design. To minimize onsite waste and to ensure rapid installation, the design firm turned to SIP (structural insulated panel) construction, a high-performing methodology that “provides structural, insulative and aesthetic solutions in one,” according the the architects. High performance and environmentally friendly materials were also specified for the rest of the design, from operable double glazing to recycled timber to  LEDs . Strong connections with the garden were a priority in the 131-square-meter Five Yards House’s project brief. Rather than design a simple glass house for enjoying views of one garden, the architects designed the home around a series of unique gardens, each with its own distinct appearance and framed by full-height walls of double glazing. The entrance on the east side is flanked by two gardens, or “yards,” and opens up to a mud room, a library and a long hallway that extends to the far west end of the home. At the heart of the building is an  open-plan living room, dining space and kitchen that connects to the outdoors on both ends; a smaller garden is to the south, and a more spacious yard is to the north. The bedroom is located at the far end of the house and overlooks a small garden as well. Related: Industrial modern Sawmill House is built from recycled concrete blocks Because the house was constructed with SIPs, the building boasts high thermal performance, and the operable walls of glass allow for natural ventilation in summer to negate the need for mechanical cooling. A restrained palette of natural materials helps strengthen the indoor-outdoor connection. Recycled Tasmanian Oak timber was used to line the interior, and the exterior is painted matte black. + Archier Photography by Adam Gibson via Archier

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Garden-facing timber home uses highly efficient SIPs to minimize waste

Barn-inspired home offers back-to-nature living with a crisp, contemporary twist

October 15, 2018 by  
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Reconnecting with rural roots has never looked better than at Silvernails, a beautiful hillside home fashioned as a rural barn in Rhinebeck, New York. Set on a picturesque 120-acre property near the east side of the Hudson River, the gabled holiday retreat is the first “ground-up” residential work of Manhattan-based Amalgam Studio . In addition to its modern good looks and spectacular outdoor views, Silvernails also boasts an energy-efficient design optimized for cross-ventilation and daylighting. Spanning 5,000 square feet, the timber-clad home is organized as a long and linear rectangular mass clad in timber inside and out. “Much like the traditional communal barn-raising events of the region, the double-height Bent Frames were raised and bolted into place, with the entire timber structure completed in one day,” explained Amalgam Studio founder Ben Albury, who noted that although many people are drawn to the airy and warm character of barns , the rural buildings’ lack of insulation and comfort are turn-offs. To make the barn-inspired residence a comfortable and welcome place to call home, the architects used high-performance glazing and insulation to ensure stable indoor temperatures year-round. In-wall heat-recovery ventilation units and operable windows also promote continuous fresh air. “From the very beginning, the clients wanted a comfortable house. I believe it would have been irresponsible for me not to look at, and ultimately follow, Passive House Standards,” Albury said. “As far as I’m aware, the home features the longest triple-glazed Passive House Certified residential skylight in North America.” In addition to natural ventilation and lighting, Silvernails features LED lighting, an energy-efficient multi-split heat-pump air conditioning system and locally sourced materials. Related: A Michigan farmhouse is reborn as a beautiful modern vacation retreat The exterior is clad with unpainted “plantation pine” treated to withstand rot and pests and applied using a “unique, innovative clip system to the standing seams of roof sheeting.” The interiors include white oak flooring and lining, walnut cabinetry and hickory vanity units. The timber palette is complemented with domestically quarried stone, including granite and slate. + Amalgam Studio Via ArchDaily Images by Oliver Mint

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Barn-inspired home offers back-to-nature living with a crisp, contemporary twist

Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

August 31, 2018 by  
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A 1960s home has been reborn into an eco-friendly abode with an impressive net-zero energy footprint. Designed by local architecture firm Neumann Monson , the Koser II is a single-family home that combines forward-thinking sustainable strategies within a contemporary envelope in a leafy and walkable Iowa City neighborhood. Powered by solar and geothermal energy, the home doesn’t sacrifice comfort or luxury in its pursuit of energy efficiency — it even includes a beautiful backyard pool. Covering an area of 2,850 square feet (including a 420-square-foot finished basement), the Koser II house is mainly spread out over a single level. To provide privacy, the street-facing facade is primarily clad in dark cedar planks and punctuated with few windows. A long slatted timber screen near the entrance also shields the home from views and frames an outdoor dining area. In contrast to its introverted exterior, the home’s interior is bright and airy with full-height glazing that lets in plenty of natural light and views. “The design bears the mark of the 1960s home that came before it,” the architecture firm explained. “Removing the existing house’s superstructure and incorporating its slab-on-grade foundation into the new construction makes the most of the predecessor’s limited potential. Additional foundations and a concrete collar support exterior walls of nine- and 10-foot pre-cut studs. Their height differential provides adequate slope to the 14-inch truss-joists spanning the 20-foot width. Operable windows extend to the ceiling plane, maximizing daylight penetration and encouraging cross-ventilation .” Related: After a makeover, this local “shack” becomes the envy of the neighborhood The renovated home also features foamed-in-place insulation and a continuous rigid insulation shell with R-24 walls and an R-40 roof. The light-filled interior is supplemented by LEDs at night and equipped with EnergyStar appliances. Radiant floor heating is complemented with a geothermal climate control system connected to an underground horizontally bored loop. A rain garden in the backyard mitigates stormwater runoff, while a 10.08kW solar array brings the home to zero-energy building performance. + Neumann Monson Images by Cameron Campbell Integrated Studio

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Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

Solar-powered multi-generational home offsets its energy consumption

June 5, 2018 by  
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Toronto-based architecture firm Williamson Williamson has completed a stunning home that embraces aging in place with a sustainably minded footprint. Located in the Ontario town of Hamilton, the House on Ancaster Creek comprises two distinct residences—one for the clients and the other for their elderly parents. The multigenerational home also reduces its energy demands with a 10KVa solar array, daylighting techniques, and low-energy fixtures throughout. Conceived as a high-density solution, the House on Ancaster Creek combines the functions of two separate homes into a single L-shaped entity. To accommodate any future mobility limitations, the architects placed the parents’ suite on the ground floor, where it’s joined with additional living spaces. Elder-friendly design considerations and features were also incorporated, such as the well-located drains and a master power switch that can immediately switch off any fixtures accidentally left on due to memory loss. The second floor master suite is accessed via a dramatic wood-clad spiral staircase that ascends from the first-floor living room located at the intersection of the two rectangular volumes. The main residence is positioned parallel to the creek and overlooks the views through floor-to-ceiling glazing. Full-height glazing is also used throughout the home to create a seamless connection with the outdoors. The material palette also reflects this connection: the ground floor of the home is clad in three-and-a-half-inch thick locally quarried Algonquin limestone while timber is used throughout. Related: Fabulous multigenerational home allows owners to comfortably age in place Despite the abundance of glazing, the home manages to keep energy demands to a minimum thanks to a highly insulated envelope and a high-performance triple-pane wood-frame window system with an average Uw of .77. Radiant heating is also used to complement a high-efficiency furnace, while LEDs and low-energy fixtures are installed throughout. A 37-module 9.8 kW solar array is installed on two of the flat roofs to offset energy consumption. + Williamson Williamson Via ArchDaily Images by Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.

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Solar-powered multi-generational home offsets its energy consumption

Shimmering LED-studded tower focuses on sustainability in Seoul

September 11, 2017 by  
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American firm The Beck Group designed an office tower in Seoul that makes its focus on sustainability a beautiful asset. Known as The Harim Group Headquarters, the 86,000-square-foot tower features many energy-saving technologies, including an attractive S-shaped recess in the facade that creates a low pressure zone for facilitating natural ventilation on every floor. The sculptural building is studded with LED light fixtures that give the facade and interior a shimmering effect. As the largest agricultural business in Korea, the Harim Group wanted a headquarters building that would be highly visible in Seoul and show off the firm’s commitment to sustainability. Thus, the Harim Group Headquarters is located in Seoul’s flashy Gangnam district on one of the city’s busiest pedestrian streets and cuts an impressive figure in the city skyline, both day and night. Fourteen stories of office spaces are stacked atop three stories of retail and restaurant space at the base to engage the public. Related: World’s newest mega-skyscraper opens in Seoul The curving S-shaped recess that stretches from the ground-floor retail to the roof garden gives the building visual identity, while allowing for natural ventilation. Polished and perforated stainless steel panels line the recess and are illuminated with white LEDs that create a shimmering effect. The building’s energy use is further reduced with operable low-E coated windows, a building automation system, green roof, rainwater harvesting system, and an underfloor air distribution system. + The Beck Group Via ArchDaily Images via The Beck Group

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Shimmering LED-studded tower focuses on sustainability in Seoul

How the upcoming solar eclipse will affect 7 million homes and businesses

August 14, 2017 by  
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A total solar eclipse will block sunlight from reaching parts of the Earth for an estimated three hours on August 21. As a result, at least 7 million U.S. homes and businesses that rely on solar power will be directly affected. But there’s no reason to be nervous: electric grid and skilled operators are well-prepared. A total solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon which occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun . Though it will disrupt solar generation during times of peak generation, the event is not one to fear. According to Julia Prochnik , the Director of Western Renewable Grid Planning, people will not notice any change in their electrical service as electric grid operators across the country have made appropriate preparations. The last time citizens in the U.S. glimpsed a solar eclipse was in 1979, when solar energy was in its infancy. In the time that has passed, the energy system has changed significantly. Wind and solar energy are now the fastest-growing sources of renewable electricity in the U.S. Prochnik says that some states will see a larger drop in solar power than others; it all depends on how much the sun is blocked by the moon in their specific location. Fortunately, there are plenty of energy resources available to “fill the gap,” and they include geothermal , wind and hydropower. Related: Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say NASA reports that the solar eclipse will block a 70-mile-wide path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. The longest period of total darkening will be about two minutes and 40 seconds. Nationwide, the moon will still block at least a portion of the sun. At any one spot, the longest period of partial darkness may last three hours. Arizona can expect to experience a brief interruption in 70 percent of its rooftop solar generation. New York follows with 68 percent, Utah can expect a 39 percent, and Nevada a 24 percent interruption. California and North Carolina may experience the biggest impacts from the eclipse, as they are both major solar producers. The difference can be compensated by reducing energy use and/or by temporarily drawing electricity from the grid. A few things environmentally-conscious individuals can do to prepare for the eclipse is replace all light bulbs with LEDs , turn off lights, unplug chargers and appliances, and turn down their thermostats. All of these steps will help save energy and reduce load grid pressure. All in all, the celestial event is one to celebrate, as it is one few will likely witness again. Via NRDC Images via Pixabay

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Stunning home in India blends into the earth with segmented green roofs

August 14, 2017 by  
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Jodhpur-based firm Misa Architects has created a contemporary concrete home that – despite its brutalist structure – manages to blend in to its bucolic surroundings. Tucked into rural farmland, the concrete and glass house is sandwiched between the rolling green landscape and a series of verdant green roofs . The home is located on agricultural farmland just outside of Vansajada, India, and it was designed to create a harmonic balance with the natural horizon. Although the building is made from concrete, its elongated shape, segmented green roofs, and verdant landscaping help camouflage it amidst the land. Related: Massive stone walls rotate to bring natural light inside this extraordinary Indian home The home’s structure is broken up into various segments, courtyards and open-air spaces that create a dynamic living environment. The abundant greenery embeds the home within its sites while providing natural insulation to keep the interior cool during India’s sweltering summer months. The roof features a water collection system that reuses rainwater to irrigate the on-site greenery. The home features open-air courtyards and well-lit nooks that create a seamless connection between the interior and exterior. Large glass windows and doors also bring in an optimal amount of natural light . + Misa Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Zurich Shah

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Stunning home in India blends into the earth with segmented green roofs

Margot Krasojevi 3D prints recycled plastic into a delicate Lace LED lamp

January 11, 2017 by  
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Architect and designer Margot Krasojevi? shows off the beautiful possibilities of 3D printing in her latest work, the Lace LED. Made from recycled post-consumer plastics, the LED light diffuser gets its lace-like quality from its layers of geometric shapes that fan out from a central point. The Lace LED is designed as a suspended work of kinetic art . The diffuser is hinged on a pivot that rotates within a frame to create different patterns of light and shadow. “These complex shapes direct LED light through the entire pattern, which diffuses, deflects and refracts light creating a moving shadow whilst focusing it,” write Margot Krasojevi? Architects. “The form is the antithesis of the mass-produced recycled bottles and waste used in its fabrication.” Related: Designer David Grass 3D-Prints Light Bulbs in the Shape of Modern Cityscapes The diffuser’s intricate parametric pattern was created from a digital modeling program. In addition to recycled plastic , the Lace LED is 3D printed in ceramic, polymer, silver, and brass. + Margot Krasojevi? Via v2com Images via Margot Krasojevi?

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Margot Krasojevi 3D prints recycled plastic into a delicate Lace LED lamp

Lego-like LEDs snap together to transform your walls into light art

November 24, 2016 by  
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Designed by James Vanderpant and James Glover of Dyena , Helios Touch uses moveable hexagon LED modules to create light art. The slim modules measure 4.3 inches (11 centimeter) across and are 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) thick. Each 6.3-watt unit produces 400 lumens, which generates around the same brightness as a 40-watt incandescent bulb . After a central Helios Touch panel is rigidly mounted onto the wall (with nails or sticky pads), users can easily expand upon their tessellated lighting design. The modules snap together via magnets, located on the sides, which also allow electricity pass through from one piece to another. Related: Brilliant DiscoDisco LED sculpture comes alive to the sound of music A capacitive sensor is installed behind the Helios Touch surface to allow users to turn individual modules on and off with a simple touch of a finger or swipe of the hand. Currently up to 105 tiles can be joined on the same power circuit. The modular LED panels are powered by a mains power supply; a 120 / 220 v to 24v 2A adapter can power up to 35 panels. The Helios Touch modular lighting system is currently on Kickstarter , where a pledge of £49 (US$61) includes a pack of five panels and a power unit. + Helios Touch Kickstarter Via New Atlas Images via Helios Touch

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Lego-like LEDs snap together to transform your walls into light art

African giant rats tapped to sniff out environmental crimes

November 24, 2016 by  
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African Giant Pouched Rats have detected landmines for several years, and now they might be put to work stopping wildlife crimes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is allocating $100,000 to a trial project run by Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) in partnership with APOPO to see if giant rats can sniff out illegal shipments. The trial will determine if the rats can detect hardwood timber and pangolin scales and skin. The US government is funding 12 creative methods of stopping wildlife trafficking and poaching in 11 different countries, and the giant rats program is one of them. APOPO, which was founded almost two decades ago, has already demonstrated the rats’ sharp sense of smell is useful for detecting landmines and tuberculosis, and the new trial project will determine whether they can pick out the smells of illegally trafficked products. The first step of the program is to assess if the rats can distinguish between control substances and target substances in a laboratory. Related: U.S. gives South Africa millions of dollars to combat wildlife poaching According to EWT project head Kirsty Brebner and program manager Adam Pires , the giant rats are “relatively cheap to source, feed, train, breed, and maintain, and their small size makes them cheap and easy to transport.” A typical rat lives between one and two years, but giant rats can live for as much as eight years. Many illegal products are moved in shipping containers , and dogs have provided some help in sniffing out shipments in the past. But with superior agility and ability to reach container vents, giant rats might be able to detect illegal products more effectively than a dog can. EWT says if the program is successful, the giant rats may be trained to also detect other illegally trafficked products like rhino horns and elephant ivory. + APOPO + Endangered Wildlife Trust Via the Los Angeles Times Images via APOPO’s HeroRATS Facebook

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African giant rats tapped to sniff out environmental crimes

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