Silver Oak becomes worlds most sustainable winery

June 2, 2020 by  
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After a devastating fire ravaged the Silver Oak Winery in California’s Napa Valley nearly 15 years ago, the owners turned tragedy into opportunity when they rebuilt the facility to target the most stringent sustainability standards in the world. After achieving LEED Platinum certification, the redesigned winery has now also earned Living Building Challenge (LBC) Sustainability Certification from the International Living Future Institute — making it the world’s first LBC-certified winery. Sagan Piechota Architecture led the redesign of the Silver Oak Winery with sustainable services provided by international engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti . Founded in the early 1970s, the family-owned Silver Oak Winery now covers 105 acres of land in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley and is dedicated to producing only Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery is the largest building globally to achieve Living Building Challenge certification and meets requirements of all seven LBC performance petals including site/place, water, energy, health, materials, equity and beauty. Related: LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials “The Living Building Challenge is considered to be the world’s most rigorous green building standard,” said Thornton Tomasetti in a press statement. “It encourages the creation of a regenerative built environment and is based off of actual rather than modeled or anticipated performance. Silver Oak was awarded the certification after more than five years of planning and construction.” The Silver Oak Alexander Valley project comprises two buildings — the tasting room with event spaces and offices and the production and administration building — totaling over 100,000 square feet. All materials used were vetted to meet the Red List Imperative, which restricts the use of the most harmful chemicals. Rooftop solar panels power all of the winery’s energy needs, while solar thermal energy systems and CO2 heat pumps provide heating. To minimize water consumption, the winery uses recycled hot water systems and a water-management system that captures and treats rainwater as well as wastewater for reuse. + Silver Oak Winery Photography by Damion Hamilton

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Silver Oak becomes worlds most sustainable winery

Energy-efficient Indian home features beautiful greenery

January 24, 2020 by  
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Mumbai based architecture and design firm,  unTAG  has just unveiled a stunning home built for a retired teacher looking to spend retirement in his home village of Dakivali, India. Working within the man’s limited budget, the architects employed several low-cost,  passive strategies  such as building the home in the middle of a lush bamboo field to use the vegetation as natural insulation. Spanning two levels, the 1,400 square feet home was constructed using  low-cost , locally-sourced materials, with the main material being concrete. The resulting aesthetic is a monolithic exterior, which contrasts nicely with the surrounding vegetation. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC In addition to the concrete’s innate  sustainable aspects , the home boasts several passive strategies to achieve optimum thermal comfort. Strategically located westward, the home was built in the middle of an existing bamboo grove. Abundant greenery envelopes the home, adding an extra layer of insulation that protects from the harsh summer sun. According to the architects, the large trees also help create a comforting microclimate for the interior, lowering the temperature by up to 5°C. The house’s entrance is through a landscaped courtyard with a large concrete  jaali  screen. A common feature in Indian architecture, the screen helps keep interior spaces private, while allowing pleasant breezes to flow through the interior. Additionally, the home was built with several seating areas, both covered and open-air, which let  natural light  filter into the living space. Adding to the home’s thermal mass, the various terraces are painted white to reduce heat gain. For the interior, large walls were built with  locally-manufactured bricks  and covered with natural plaster, while the floors were made out of natural stone. The home also features several rain collection drains that channel runoff into tanks where it is used as irrigation for landscaping. According to the architects, the main objective of the home was to provide a comfortable family home for a retired man to spend his years reconnecting with nature. The home’s simple but effective  passive strategies will also let him live with low operating costs, adding to his quality of life. The architects explained, “Inhabiting this meek abode, our dear client is a proud owner of a village home, exemplary of an affordable luxury, which he enjoys residing, nurturing and aging gracefully with it. This humble home of a farmer exemplifies that sustainability need not always come at huge costs, but can be practiced at grass root level too, through simple DIY solutions.” + unTAG Via Archdaily Images via unTAG Architecture & Interiors

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Energy-efficient Indian home features beautiful greenery

EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

January 24, 2020 by  
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Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, persist in the environment , grossly tainting the drinking water of many United States cities, like Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia. More specifically, findings by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveal that the a 2018 estimate of 110 million U.S. citizens being contaminated with PFAS is far below actual numbers. “It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” shared David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals.” Related: Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater PFAS are highly fluorinated chemicals that do not break down in the environment. The most infamous PFAS are those associated with Teflon and 3M’s Scotchgard. Much of the PFAS contamination is legacy pollution . In fact, both Teflon and Scotchgard were phased out years ago, but these harmful PFAS still persist in the environment — in soils and especially in water , such as the rainwater that supplies drinking water. Despite the original PFAS chemicals being taken off the market, they’ve been replaced by modern PFAS chemicals that might still be just as harmful, if not more so. These modern PFAS chemicals lurk in packaging, stain-resistant furnishings, water-repellent clothing and items, cosmetics and personal care products and firefighting foam. What’s worrisome, too, is that PFAS can accumulate in the human body, thus compromising health . Cancer, disease, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, low birth weights and a host of other compromised health incidences are some of the consequences of drinking PFAS-tainted water. EWG is advocating for tougher regulations and laws to reduce PFAS chemicals in drinking water and consumer products to help reduce human exposure to these toxins . Some states are ramping up their efforts to reduce PFAS in the drinking water by banning PFAS-based food packaging or firefighting foam. But more work is still needed. + EWG Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Arcaion

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EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

May 9, 2019 by  
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There’s a good reason why this beautiful, natural wood treehouse blends in perfectly to its surroundings on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica — the entire structure was built using the trees from the property site. Nestled in the jungle and complete with ocean views, the house, designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig , was inspired by the owners’ love for surfing and environmentalism. There are three floors to the treehouse , with the top floor visible from above the tree canopy, and the bottom two levels hidden among the dense trees. Occupants are able to check the surf at nearby Playa Hermosa Beach from the comfort of the top floor. Related: A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach Wood has the power to be a green, renewable resource when used with sustainability in mind. Nowadays, there are plenty of companies that offer certifiably sustainable wood that comes from forests that are responsibly managed to avoid things like erosion, pollutants and habitat loss. Locally harvested trees, like the ones used to build this surfer’s treehouse, can reduce the environmental impact of construction projects. Apart from contributing to social aspects of sustainability by utilizing local employment, green construction using locally harvested trees also helps to minimize carbon emissions from transportation. The designers took advantage of the natural sea breezes and tropic environment through the passive , open-air design of the structure. The lush vegetation is accessible from the bottom floor, which opens to a courtyard that helps blend the house into its setting. A double-screen shutter system, also made of teak wood, allows the two bottom floors to either open up to the elements, ventilation and natural light, or close to provide privacy. The treehouse is powered using a 3.5 kW solar array, and a rainwater collection system helps reduce the house’s  carbon footprint . In the evenings, the lights shine through the slatted walls to create an ethereal glow that shimmers through the thick leaves and trees that surround the property, making this unique treehouse an even more beautiful addition to the area. + Tom Kundig Photography by Nic Lehoux via Olson Kundig

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This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson

May 4, 2018 by  
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Much like the Guggenheim Museums around the world, a new art gallery founded by the great-grandson of Peggy Guggenheim is a true architectural showstopper. Santiago Rumney Guggenheim commissioned designer Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel to create IK LAB , a stunning arts gallery that opened late last month in Tulum, Mexico. Topped with a curved timber canopy, the nature-inspired space is located within the eco-friendly Azulik resort. Upon entering, visitors are asked to slip off their shoes and “to interact with the floor as a living organism,” made from woven jungle vines that seamlessly flow into walls and ceilings made with smooth curved concrete and locally sourced wood. No trees were cut in the process of building and the organic structure is lifted off the ground to minimize site impact. Natural light filters into the building through spaced-out timber elements and large openings in the walls reinforced by transparent fiberglass . In addition to framed views of the jungle outside, plants grow inside the art gallery as well. Related: World’s first porcelain courtyard opens at London’s V&A Museum “This majestic space redefines the traditional white-cube, gallery-visiting experience, instead fortifying the organic relationship between art and its physical surroundings,” IK LAB said in a statement. The inaugural exhibition, curated by Santiago R. Guggenheim, is titled “Alignments.” It features works by Tatiana Trouvé, Artur Lescher and Margo Trushina. + IK LAB Via Dezeen Images by Fernando Artigas

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This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson

Beautiful cedar-clad Bridge House crosses a ravine in Ontario

February 27, 2018 by  
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This elegant  timber house bridges a ravine near the shores of Mary Lake in Port Sydney, Ontario. Architecture firm LLAMA urban design created the inspiring home to have minimal impact on the landscape and to celebrate the beauty of the surrounding environment. The house is located two hours north of Toronto , and it sits across the steepest part of a wide ravine. Its overall length – 124 feet – creates a strong linear gesture that allows the residents to immerse themselves in the surrounding landscape. The home is held aloft by an inverted V–shaped glulam structure, and the architects used locally sourced wood and unstained cedar siding for the exterior cladding. Related: This Iowa home built across a ravine is heated and cooled by the earth The main façade of the house faces the lake and creates a feeling of being among treetops. The second façade faces the forest and features expansive transparent surfaces. An inverted V–shaped Glulam structure holds up the house and connects the interior social area with the roof deck. + LLAMA urban design Via Archdaily Photos by A-Frame studio/ Ben Rahn

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New green school in Kibera slum replaces original started by concerned Kenyan mothers

September 28, 2017 by  
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A group of concerned mothers started the Anwa primary school in Kibera, Kenya , where extremely disadvantaged children previously lacked access to education. Over time, the school has grown in attendance and needed a new facility that would replace the original 2-story ramshackle building. Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) designed the new main building in close collaboration with the school community as a model for sustainable, context-based design. The architects used sustainably-sourced and certified timber framing, wattle and daub mud-walls on the ground floor and mabati (steel) sheeting on the first floor. This references traditional Kibera construction techniques while reflecting a connection with the local identity. Related: Mobile school “walking classrooms” are helping change lives in Kenya KDI carpentry trainees built the doors and windows using bamboo and timber. All materials used were locally-sourced, while the techniques and building methods were transferable to the local community. The next phase in the project will focus on creating a suitable access to the upper storey and a sustainable landscape for the school grounds. The design firm issued a statement: “At KDI, we co-design and build what we call Productive Public Spaces (PPS) – formerly underutilized, unsafe or polluted sites that are transformed into active, attractive community hubs.” + Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI)

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New green school in Kibera slum replaces original started by concerned Kenyan mothers

Green makeover transforms cedar-clad Virginia house into a lifelong retreat

January 26, 2017 by  
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A few easy steps has transformed a normal Virginia home into a charming, lifelong retreat. A couple approaching retirement commissioned Thrive Architecture to renovate their Hickory House into an accessible home that uses less energy than it did before. The architects expanded the existing space to include a living room, bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and laundry, all organized on a single story. The main sitting area offers views of the surrounding forest. Related: Gorgeous cedar-clad house boasts stunning mountain views in Canada Three types locally-sourced hardwoods were used for the interior, including Hickory. This choice of materials complements the exterior cladding, dominated by ship-lapped oiled cedar . To make the house more energy efficient, the team added air-tight spray foam insulation, LED lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures. + Thrive Architecture Photos by Ansel Olson

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Abandoned alleyway in Beijing reinvented as a stunning private courtyard

January 19, 2017 by  
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This is one of the most impressive renovations to ever cross our desk. Beijing-based architects  META – Project worked absolute magic on an abandoned alleyway , turning the bleak space into a multi-use entertainment area for the nature-loving homeowner. Once a long-forgotten hutong, Courtyard by the West Sea is now an open “extraverted” space that is a perfect spot for enjoying both peaceful solitude and lively family gatherings. The owner of the home asked the architects to design an open-air space that could accommodate a variety of uses, including a tea house and entertainment space. Using the local custom of “meandering in the hutongs” as inspiration, the team began to recreate the space as a private, but welcoming courtyard . Related: Fortress-like house in Portugal hides a surprising light-filled courtyard inside The original site was quite narrow, but the architects opened the width by removing a temporary structure to the east and in the middle of the space. Inspired by the home owner’s daily routine of slowly strolling around the property, the project evolved into a dynamic “three-step-courtyard”. The courtyard space was built by local artisans using locally-sourced materials such as constructed volcanic rock, catalpa wood, and tube tile. These unique materials were chosen to contrast with the privacy wall made of grey tiles, which pays homage to traditional Chinese architecture . Green vegetation is integrated into the design in various forms, from the patches of green lawn to the bushes and trees located throughout the space. + META – Project Via Archdaily

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Abandoned alleyway in Beijing reinvented as a stunning private courtyard

Global temperatures hit record high for the third year in a row

January 19, 2017 by  
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On Wednesday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists marked a disturbing new milestone in Earth’s history: 2016 has been officially declared the warmest year on record . The previous record was set in 2015 , which beat record highs in 2014 . That means that for three years in a row, global temperatures have continued to soar to unprecedented highs unlike anything we’ve seen in the modern era. Part of the record-busting temperatures in 2015 and 2016 could be attributed to an unusually warm El Niño , however, without the ongoing release of greenhouse gasses into the air, even the recent weather phenomenon couldn’t have made such a strong impact. Deke Arndt, chief of global climate monitoring for NOAA, told the New York Times , “A single warm year is something of a curiosity. It’s really the trend, and the fact that we’re punching at the ceiling every year now, that is the real indicator that we’re undergoing big changes.” Related: Record-breaking CO2 levels mark a “new era” in the world’s climate Some of the most extreme temperatures were seen in the Arctic, with ocean temperatures rising 20 to 30 degrees above normal. In fact, the climate was so unusual that enough Arctic ice melted to let a luxury cruise ship cross the Northwest Passage for the first time ever. Nature photographers captured horrifying images of polar bears stranded on dry earth with no snow or ice in sight. Devastating drought also hit Africa and India, with the town of Phalodi experiencing the hottest day in recorded Indian history at 123.8 degrees. With El Niño over, scientists are expecting 2017 to be a cooler year than those that have come recently. However, that doesn’t mean climate change is not still a concern. In fact, some worry that climate change could accelerate quickly in the coming years. The temperature burst between 2013 and 2016 – about half a degree globally in total – was the largest change in a three year period measured on the planet’s surface since 1880. Via The New York Times Images via Swen George and Mehmet Canli

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Global temperatures hit record high for the third year in a row

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