A business model canvas for the 21st century

March 30, 2020 by  
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Traditional strategy constructs don’t capture the interconnectedness and complexities of the living ecosystems that companies are inherently entangled in today. Here are suggestions for an update.

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A business model canvas for the 21st century

Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech

February 10, 2020 by  
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After a visit to the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Diana Blank was inspired to fund a similar project in Georgia. Taking action, she founded the Kendeda Fund and funded it with $30 million to donate toward the cause. Georgia Tech is the recipient of Blank’s vision with a project by Lord Aeck Sargent and The Miller Hull Partnership that resulted in a Living Building . The net-positive Kendeda Building opened for classes in January 2020 and provides a place for learning and a template for innovative, sustainable design. The construction and design were influenced by the Living Building Challenge, “a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment.” Receiving this certification means meeting a host of requirements on everything from material selection to accessibility, and the Kendeda building checks all of the boxes. Related: Net-zero Del Mar Civic Center celebrates community and the great outdoors One example is The Red List, which is a compilation of chemicals common in mainstream construction. In order to avoid these chemicals, every building material was scrutinized to ensure it didn’t contain Red List items. John DuConge, the senior project manager, admitted, “Getting through the Red List compliance, that was truly a challenge, and that probably took a lot more time than anyone expected. But we’ve moved the needle in the market, I think, and that’s one of the things that will make it easier for the next Living Building Challenge project.” This added effort creates an atmosphere without off-gassing or other toxins, resulting in clean indoor air for the hundreds of students and staff using the building daily. Every system in the building stands as an example of the focus on function, internal health, aesthetic beauty and energy savings. This is quickly apparent in the fact that the project is net-positive for energy and water, meaning that it gives back more than it takes. The Kendeda Building incorporated the use of solar panels as a basic step in providing energy to the 47,000-square-foot building. They do the job, plus some, with extra energy to return to the grid. Additionally, these solar panels function as water collection devices. The primary heating and cooling systems then push that water through the floors to maintain a comfortable surface temperature. For additional temperature control, 62 ceiling fans throughout the building help balance the humid Georgia environment. Now complete, the structure consists of two 64-person classrooms , four class labs, a conference room, makerspace, auditorium, rooftop apiary and pollinator garden, an office space for co-located programs and a coffee cart. The Kendeda Building will be audited for certification for the first Living Building Challenge facility of its size and function in the Southeast, following one complete year of functional occupancy. + Georgia Tech Photography by Johnathan Hillyer, Justin Chan Photography, Miller Hull Partnership and Vertical River via Georgia Tech

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Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech

Tiny prefab cabins in Brazilian forest assembled in under two days

February 5, 2020 by  
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Brazilian architecture firm  Porto Quadrado  has revealed a serene refuge composed of three prefab cabins tucked into the wilderness of Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul. The Alpes São Chico Housing Complex is comprised of three tiny cabins, all made out of  structural insulated panels (SIP), which were assembled on-site in less than two days. The result is a low impact refuge that lets its homeowners reconnect with nature. According to the architects, they were first approached by a family who was looking to create a single building that would be shared by three families. Once they began to explore the incredibly remote location, however, the plan blossomed into another concept completely. Instead of one large structure with various bedrooms, the remote landscape inspired the designers to create three separate  tiny cabins  that would be oriented to make the most out of the incredible setting. Related: Tiny prefab timber cabin in New Zealand designed to be serene art studio To bring their concept to fruition economically and sustainably, the architects decided to use prefabricated materials. All of the project’s 48  prefabricated (SIP) panels were constructed off-site and brought to the building site to be assembled. Using the prefab model, the team was able to put together three, roughly 376-square-foot cubes all in less than two days. This process allowed the designers to not only reduce time and costs, but also reduce the impact of the entire project. The resulting complex, known as the Alpes São Chico Housing Complex, is comprised of three cubed SIP structures clad in a waterproof metal membrane. Metal was chosen to add extra durability and  resilience  to the cabins. It also helps to insulate the interior spaces, keeping the living spaces warm and cozy during cold or rainy weather. The cabins have all of the basics of a conventional house, but with an extremely strong  connection to the outdoors . The orientation of the modules’ layout was centered around creating a mixed indoor/outdoor space for each cabin that would create a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. Comprised of a minimalist layout with sparse furnishings, the interior houses a small bed and sofa, as well as a kitchenette and bathroom. At the heart of the tiny cabins,  however, is a small living room that opens up to a large open-air deck that becomes an integral part of the living area. + Porto Quadrado Via Archdaily Photography by Alessandro Quevedo

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Tiny prefab cabins in Brazilian forest assembled in under two days

KUKU birdhouses combine sustainability and wildlife protection

February 5, 2020 by  
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Birds play an important role in the environment. They are responsible for dispersing seeds, pollination  and pest control. However, urban growth contributes to driving them out of their homes. The KUKU birdhouse offers a solution to the problem in a cute, functional and sustainable design. Designed by Marco Antonio Barba Sánchez , KUKU was created to provide a place for birds  to feel protected and to reproduce. The inspiration comes from the realization that bird populations are dropping in many areas around the world.  Related: These tiny and adorable vintage campers are made for birds “Of 10,000 species of birds in the world, 1,200 are in danger of extinction and 93% are due to the growth of cities and agriculture. We are killing them!!” Marco Barba Industrial Design said in a tweet (quote translated from Spanish). A large part of the issue stems from agricultural practices and the development of cities, but birds have natural enemies like all other animals . The KUKU provides a home where the birds may not have been able to build one naturally. It’s a place where they can take refuge from predators and larger pest birds.  Since the motivation for KUKU stemmed from a  love of nature , it is made with sustainable materials. The shape is geometric, which is meant to be an abstract version of the sun, an element that is vital to birds. Also, the shape allows protection from predators and plenty of room for the winged creatures to feel at home. So while it may not be able to solve the problems of clear-cutting trees , over-development or plastic consumption, KUKU can provide housing for a critical species on the planet. KUKU is nearly ready to hit the market. You can sign up in advance on the KUKU website and receive a notification when it becomes available. Marco Barba Design is a Mexican company focused on sustainable industrial design with a host of design awards under their belt. + KUKU Via Design Milk Images via Marco Barba Design

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KUKU birdhouses combine sustainability and wildlife protection

Sophisticated, sustainable lakeside cabin showcases the best of Nordic minimalism

February 5, 2020 by  
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With its black-oiled timber cladding, angular zinc roofs and minimalist interior , the 3-Square House by Helsinki-based Studio Puisto is the epitome of Nordic design. Located on the waterfront and surrounded by a dense spruce forest, the home’s walls are punctuated with large vertical windows to create a seamless connection between the interior and the stunning natural surroundings. Located on the waterfront of Lake Saimaa in southeastern Finland, the 3-Square House is surrounded by idyllic nature. Tucked into a lush spruce tree forest mere steps away from the water, the home’s location serves as a peaceful refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life. Related: Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets To make the most out of its incredible setting, the home is comprised of three interconnecting cubes. The main block contains the living, sleeping and dining areas, while the smaller ones contain the sauna, utility facilities and garage. All three of the cubes feature an oil-painted black timber facade and are covered in a series of dark zinc roofs that extend in various angles. Built on a slightly sloped hill, the front of the home is elevated slightly from the back of it. The interior living space follows a minimalist design , with dark wood flooring and honey-toned walnut paneling on the walls. Built-in sofas and a concealed kitchen add to the minimal atmosphere. Within the living areas, there is a continuous flow from one space to the next, with no traditional division into separate rooms. To keep the spaces nice and toasty year-round, a geothermal heat system was installed that lets heat radiate from underneath the floor. The windows are also electrically heated. To create an unobstructed connection between the outdoors and the interior spaces, large vertical glass panels run the length of the main building. Wrapping around one side of the home is an open-air deck, complete with a sunken tub for enjoying a little bit of stargazing. Various walking paths lead from the deck to the waterfront. + Studio Puisto Photography by Marc Goodwin via Studio Puisto

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Sophisticated, sustainable lakeside cabin showcases the best of Nordic minimalism

The low-impact Bridge House hovers over a stream in Los Angeles

January 15, 2020 by  
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Architecture is often heavily influenced by the existing landscape surrounding a structure, but architect Dan Brunn didn’t let the weaving waterways on his Los Angeles property limit the options for his home. Dubbed the Bridge House, this 4,500-square-foot home straddles 65 feet of natural stream without harming the landscape. The long, narrow home nestles into the forested background with limited street exposure. The focus on nature is evident with natural light streaming in from expansive windows throughout, a living wall in the living room and an outdoor terrace. In fact, the 210-foot-long home provides a wide expanse of northern exposure for more natural light and less energy consumption. Related: The Garden House features greenery and bee-friendly landscapes While the overall theme is sleek and minimalist, the pool area — complete with a full pool house, an outdoor shower, space for grilling and a Yamaha music room — aims to create an oasis for entertaining. But don’t let the luxuries and size fool you. In addition to the layout and physical situation of the home, each space was designed with low impact in mind. Starting with the foundation, the bridge design suspends a large portion of the structure, minimizing the impact on the landscape. For the structure itself, a BONE steel modular system was incorporated to ease on-site construction with sustainable materials. Plus, the system’s precision leaves little to no cutoff waste, and the steel itself comes from up to 89% recycled material . Although there was waste from the removal of the previous home, all usable parts were donated to the local Habitat for Humanity for reuse. The air quality inside the home is enhanced by the living wall of plants and superior insulation. A water filtration system eliminates the desire for bottled water, and solar power provides for much of the home’s energy needs. + Dan Brunn Architecture Via Dezeen Photography by Brandon Shigeta via Dann Brunn Architecture

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The low-impact Bridge House hovers over a stream in Los Angeles

Upcycled materials make up this beautiful cabin retreat in Denmark

December 19, 2019 by  
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Located an hour outside of Copenhagen, this beautiful vacation home is tucked into a lush forest mere steps away from a beach. Designed by Nordhavn-based Lendager Group , the Holiday Cabin consists of five connected structures, all of which are constructed from upcycled waste materials found from demolition sites and local factories. According to the architects, the five connected volumes were built with circular principles in mind out of respect for the pristine nature that surrounds them. As they designed the holiday rental, the designers searched locally to find discarded building materials. They found a great source of waste wood at a local flooring company, and several demolition sites allowed them to salvage old bricks to repurpose for the retreat. Related: These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials The cabin exterior, structural frame and exposed rafters are made from the waste wood. To prepare it for its new life in the cabin, the wood was treated in the Japanese traditional preservation of shou sugi ban . Not only does the 700-year-old practice add durability and resilience to the exterior, but dark cladding blends the home into the lush forest that surrounds the property. In addition to the cabin’s reclaimed materials , the living spaces offer guests a gorgeous respite away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Each section of the holiday home offers uninterrupted sea views from the living areas and the outdoor terrace. The entire structure is 1,700 square feet with five bedrooms, three living rooms and three bathrooms. The main living area is arranged in an open plan that it shares with a fully equipped kitchen and dining space. This living area also features several sofas and chairs positioned around a central fireplace. Floor-to-ceiling glazing and skylights allow natural light to filter throughout the interior. + Lendager Group Via ArchDaily Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj – Coast via Lendager Group

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Upcycled materials make up this beautiful cabin retreat in Denmark

Living Vehicle’s 2020 travel trailer generates a whopping 200 percent more solar power than its previous model

October 24, 2019 by  
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A few years ago, we estimated that HofArc’s Living Vehicle would be the future of off-grid living, and now the company has unveiled a new-and-improved model that ups the game when it comes to off-grid, net-zero travel trailers . Adding to its luxurious, eco-friendly features, the Living Vehicle 2020 version generates up to 200 percent more solar power than its previous model. Designed by award-winning, LEED-accredited architect and mobile space designer Matthew Hofmann, the Living Vehicle models offer the full package when it comes to sustainable travel trailers. According to the company’s description of the 2020 model, it has several updated features, but like the previous models, it is strategically engineered to be the highest-end luxury trailer on the market. Related: This Living Vehicle can take you completely off grid for a month The stunning tiny home on wheels comes in the same glossy aluminum cladding, giving it a sleek, modern feel. In fact, the trailer was made with zero wood products, with most of its parts, including the chassis, frame, interior and exterior skin, subflooring and all cabinets, being made out of aluminum. For adventurers seeking to go off the grid for long periods of time, the 28-foot long Living Vehicle offers the ability to do just that. Built with a stand-alone electrical powerhouse with solar-generated Volta Power Systems, the 2020 version generates an impressive 200 percent more solar power than its previous model. Even the refrigerator, dishwasher and pull-out microwave in the kitchen operate on solar power . Additionally, its robust design enables the travel trailer to take on virtually any landscape, from the barren desert landscapes to icy, mountainous regions. Four-season capabilities, off-road running gear and ample storage for equipment allows for an infinite amount of rugged adventures. If all of that durability and unprecedented sustainability isn’t enough, the luxurious interior design is truly out of this world. Much like its modern exterior, the interior also boasts a contemporary edge. The interior features furnishings made out of natural and extremely durable materials that are free from solvents, chemicals and VOCs. The living space was designed to accommodate four people, although it can be increased to six upon request. As an extra bonus, the 2020 model even comes with the ability to extend the living area thanks to a fully integrated, self-supporting deck that offers open-air space. Living Vehicles are so popular that the previous model sold out incredibly fast. Unfortunately, the company has said that it will only be producing 25 of the 2020 models, which start at $199,995. + Living Vehicle Images via Living Vehicle

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Living Vehicle’s 2020 travel trailer generates a whopping 200 percent more solar power than its previous model

Unfavorable times for the electric scooter industry

October 24, 2019 by  
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Once billed as an environmentally-friendly and enterprising venture, the electric scooter-sharing micromobility business has not lived up to the promising hype but is now looking dismal. Could this be the end for e-scooters? By commuting via e-scooters, it was hoped they would reduce traffic volume, promote zero-carbon transport and improve air quality by mitigating pollution . Instead, there have even been numerous complaints regarding cluttered sidewalks and claims about the injuries they cause due to irresponsible riders. Not to mention, they have an average lifespan of less than a month per e-scooter together, with an average of three and a half rides per day, their cost-effectiveness and sustainability are coming into question. Related:  We love electric scooters — but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment? However, e-scooter economics have been grabbing headlines, especially since the two major players, Bird and Lime, are projected to financially lose big time. Lime, for instance, is experiencing a troubling downturn to the tune of $300 million in operational costs because of “depreciation of its e-scooters and how much it costs to run warehouses that repair and position the vehicles,” according to The Information . Similarly, its competitor, Bird, has likewise lost approximately $100 million in the first quarter of this year while revenues shrank to just $15 million. Consequently, Bird is trying to drum up more investment capital just to stay afloat, thus hinting at the startup’s overvaluation. Perhaps even more worrisome is the perspective that these e-scooters, despite being electric, are in fact environmentally unfriendly. Repeatedly manufacturing, purchasing, transporting, repairing and replacing a continuous array of e-scooters with short lifespans do not collectively translate to a reduced carbon footprint .  As for those e-scooters that find themselves inoperable and beyond repair from vandalism or theft, their parts are not likely to be recycled but improperly disposed of. Finally, the lithium-ion batteries that power these e-scooters have associated environmental risks, thereby raising concerns about just how eco-friendly they are after all. Interestingly, e-scooters have now entered the radar of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). “This is a new item coming into scrapyards. ISRI is working to educate its members about e-scooters and advises them to be on the lookout for these devices,” says Mark Carpenter, ISRI assistant vice president of communications and marketing. “Facilities need to be aware the scooters contain batteries that can pose a safety hazard, and those must be removed before handling.” The environmental hazards that e-scooters pose, coupled with their poor economic feasibility, have understandably sparked skepticism. It remains to be seen whether the labor and cost intensive e-scooter business model will prove to be anything but wasteful in their net sustainability. Via Gizmodo and The Information Image via Lime

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Unfavorable times for the electric scooter industry

How the Urban Freight Lab seeks to fix the last 50 feet of shipping

October 15, 2019 by  
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Packed with automotive and logistics giants, the living lab out of Seattle aspires to test solutions to “the transportation challenge of our time.”

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How the Urban Freight Lab seeks to fix the last 50 feet of shipping

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