Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

April 6, 2020 by  
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As one of the most beautiful states in the country, Maine offers an infinite number of advantages. But the state’s notoriously frigid winters often leave new residents desperate to find some respite from the long, cold months. After spending a few years in a drafty home where she and her family lived in multiple layers of clothing, author Jessica Kerwin Jenkins and her husband decided to build their own energy-efficient home. The result is an incredible barn-inspired structure that uses solar power and multiple passive features to keep the stunning interior living spaces warm and cozy throughout the year. Once they set out to build a new home, the couple researched passive house concepts that would suit their family’s needs, which included a comfortable living space where they wouldn’t have to dress in 10 layers of warm clothing for six months out of the year. With the help of a local architect, the couple set out to build an extremely airtight structure that used solar power and passive strategies to create an energy-efficient home with a minimal carbon footprint. Related: Beautiful Maine home uses passive solar principles to achieve near net-zero energy Located in the quaint community of Blue Hill, the beautiful home is tucked into an old blueberry field just minutes away from a secluded cove. The incredibly idyllic setting set the tone for the design, which focused on creating something that would fit the region’s style but also reap the benefits of modern sustainability. As for aesthetics, Jenkins explained that she and her husband were both intrigued by the traditional Japanese practice of shou sugi ban . But they ended up cladding the home in something that would pay homage to the local seaside community — pitch tar. Typically used to weatherproof ships’ masts, the material is durable, low-maintenance and highly insulative. Additionally, the jet-black exterior allows the home to both stand out and blend in with its natural surroundings. “We always wanted to do a black house, which seems really dramatic — but there are so many evergreens here that it disappears into the tree line,” Jenkins said. The house is topped with a 26-panel, 7.8 kW solar array on the pitched roof, generating more power than the home uses. The exterior is punctuated with an abundance of triple-paned windows that, thanks to the home’s southern orientation, provide optimal solar gain to keep the interiors warm. At 2,288 square feet, the four-bedroom home is quite spacious. Plentiful windows and high ceilings add to the modern feel of the living spaces. For an extra touch of warmth, the home is equipped with a radiant floor heating and an air exchanger that pulls in air from outside and passes it through a filter. This stunning, eco-friendly home set in an unbelievable location, not far from Acadia National Park, can be all yours for just $585,000 , as it is currently listed for sale. + Christopher Group Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Bruce Frame Photography via Christopher Group

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Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

LEED-Platinum learning lab is a beacon of sustainability

February 12, 2020 by  
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In a bold move to embrace environmental education, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine recently welcomed the Roux Center for the Environment, a new three-story academic building that’s also been certified LEED Platinum. Designed by Cambridge-based architectural firm Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc. , the 29,000-square-foot interdisciplinary building brings together faculty and students from across campus into a collaborative setting focused on finding solutions to the world’s environmental challenges. Officially opened in October 2018, the Roux Center for the Environment comprises flexible classrooms, laboratories, research labs, teaching labs, offices, conference rooms, common spaces, storage, and other miscellaneous support spaces. Durable, thermally-modified poplar siding clads the east and west facades, while glass wraps around the north and south facades. The walls of glass that surround the front entrance of the building also provide views into The Lantern, an indoor amphitheater -like space that can seat up to 150 people and hosts lectures and informal gatherings.  “Transparency, both physical and pedagogical, enables a clearer engagement of teaching, learning and scholarship,” the architects’ project statement said. “The building’s form is expressed by two bars shifted and angled to one another within the trapezoidal site, with the east bar housing faculty offices and research labs and the west bar containing classrooms and teaching labs. A glazed circulation space connects the two, fostering connections between faculty and students.” Related: Green-roofed CLT classrooms immerse children in nature As a teaching and learning lab for sustainable technologies, the Roux Center for the Environment includes a variety of renewable energy and energy-saving systems that have earned the building LEED Platinum certification. Examples of such systems include the rooftop solar array that offsets 13% of annual electric costs; a gray water reclamation system; high-efficiency mechanical systems for reduced energy usage; an experimental, research-based green roof; and stormwater swales at grade. + Cambridge Seven Associates Images by Jeff Goldberg – Esto

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LEED-Platinum learning lab is a beacon of sustainability

A solar-powered home in Maine rises above the sand dunes on wooden stilts

March 20, 2019 by  
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Portland-based firm  Caleb Johnson Studio has unveiled a beautiful cedar-clad home elevated off the ground on stilts so that the natural “landscape is allowed to flow under the house.” The solar-powered home, named “In the Dunes,” was designed to not only protect the natural dune terrain, but the resilient design also reduces the risk of damage caused by potential coastal flooding. Located in the coastal town of Wells in southern Maine, the three-story home is built on sand dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Due to instability of the dune landscape, the architects decided to elevate the home off the ground by large wooden stilts  built into a concrete plinth. According to the firm, this was a strategic decision to allow the landscape to continue in its natural state under the home. It is also a resilient feature to protect the home from coastal flooding. Related: Stormwaters sweep beneath this coastal beach house raised above dunes The design was meant to fit into the local vernacular, comprised mainly of charming beach houses . “This home was influenced by the vernacular coastal structures that can be found dotting the Maine coast,” Caleb Johnson Studio said in a project description. “The building was simplified to pure geometric forms and then manipulated and modernized to take advantage of the sea and marsh views.” With its cedar cladding, pitched roofs (installed with solar panels ) and multiple large windows, the home certainly manages to blend in with its natural surroundings. On the interior, the space is also focused on the incredible views. The ground floor is marked by the large wooden stilts that form a pleasant, open-air space, which wraps around the home with a wooden pathway leading the way to the glass-enclosed entryway. From the front door, a large window surrounded by natural stones leads up to the upper floors. Once inside, an abundance of strategically placed windows provide panoramic views from nearly any angle. An interior design comprised of a neutral color palette and minimal furnishings creates an incredibly welcoming home. + Caleb Johnson Studio Via Dezeen Photography by Trent Bell via Caleb Johnson Studio

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A solar-powered home in Maine rises above the sand dunes on wooden stilts

This beautiful but toxic weed could make you go blind

July 26, 2017 by  
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Be careful before you pick that pretty wildflower . Giant hogweed, which can grow up to twenty-feet-tall and produce attractive white flowers, is a beautiful but dangerous plant. The plant produces a clear sap capable of causing third-degree burns or even blindness in humans who touch it. Native to the Caucasus in Central Asia , giant hogweed has become a wide-ranging invasive species in the Northern United States, Southern Canada, and Western Europe. Those who encounter the toxic flora are advised to admire from a distance. Like Japanese knotweed and other invasive, noxious plant species, giant hogweed was first introduced to the United Kingdom and other countries as an ornamental plant. Its white flowers reveal its familial origins as a member of the carrot family, like its similar though diminutive and less-toxic relative known as Queen Anne’s Lace. Hogweed flowers can be up to two feet across and are popular among pollinators. Related: Could Lasers Be The New Way to Kill Weeds? Hogweed’s curse is its phototoxic sap, which causes skin, eyes or whatever it touches to become highly sensitive to UV light. If the affected skin is exposed to sunlight, it can quickly become red and irritated. Affected areas will rapidly deteriorate if exposure is continued and the sap is not washed off. In North America, giant hogweed usually blooms in July. If possible, it is important to eliminate the plants before they flower and reproduce. “You want to have it eradicated before it does go to seed,” said Barbara Ashey, Town Administrator for Northport, Maine . “There are thousands of these seeds.” On the bright side, pigs and cows seem able to consume giant hogweed without harm and may be used as a biocontrol solution in the fight against the invasive species . Via Bangor Daily News/WGME Images via Nature Photos/Flickr and debs-eye/Flickr

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This beautiful but toxic weed could make you go blind

President Obama establishes controversial new National Park in Northern Maine

August 25, 2016 by  
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In honor of the National Park Service’s centennial anniversary, President Obama declared the establishment and protection of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, a new National Park site in Northern Maine . Katahdin Woods “may be one of the last, large national parks that we see in our lifetime,” said Theresa Pierno, chief executive of the National Parks Conservation Association. More than 87,500 acres of woodland wilderness were donated to the National Park Service by Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Maine-based Burt’s Bees. President Obama’s declaration puts an end to a contentious process, which has pitted conservationists against local residents and Maine politicians. The region is home to lynx, bears, brook trout and moose, as well as rare birds such as gray jays, boreal chickadees and the American three-toed woodpecker. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is located in the North Maine Woods region, where the decline of the paper industry has left the economy weakened. Locals expressed concern that a National Park designation would further threaten their livelihoods through increased regulations and restrictions. The Maine Legislature and Governor also opposed the creation of the Monument. “It’s sad that rich, out-of-state liberals can team up with President Obama to force a national monument on rural Mainers who do not want it,” said Governor LePage (R). Related: Tiny Off-Grid Cabin in Maine is Completely Self-Sustaining Despite the requirement of an act of Congress to create a National Park, Maine’s congressional delegation refused to introduce such a measure. President Obama maneuvered around this opposition by using the authority granted by the Antiquities Act of 1906, which allows the President to create National Monuments without Congressional approval. To accommodate this strong opposition, the establishment of Katahdin Woods has been shaped by compromise. The new National Monument will be the only National Park Services site that allows hunting , though the killing of bears will remain forbidden. Snowmobiling, a popular local pastime, will also be allowed on all existing trails at the site. The site is not without its supporters in Maine. Angus King, independent US Senator and former governor of Maine, said that “the benefits of the designation will far outweigh any detriment” and a National Park site “will provide much-needed diversity to the region’s economy .” “This isn’t the only monument that has been criticized, and our governor isn’t the only governor who has criticized a monument,” says Lucas St. Clair, organizer of the pro-park campaign. “From the Grand Tetons to the Everglades , it’s a theme in the creation of these parks. But I think time will help heal these divisions.” Via Washington Post Images via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region  and North Maine Woods Inc.

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President Obama establishes controversial new National Park in Northern Maine

Deconstructing Construction Waste

August 22, 2016 by  
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When I approached my neighbor’s construction site, Edward Small of Sheridan Brick & Stone Work was chiseling off construction waste — mortar from old bricks to be exact. He suspects they were salvaged from a nearby Maine paper mill, and…

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Deconstructing Construction Waste

No Bees, No Berries

August 13, 2015 by  
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Now this is true flower power.  Wyman’s of Maine, one of the nation’s leading growers and marketers of frozen fruits and a longtime supporter of native pollinators, is distributing millions of wildflowers seeds to consumers who want to do their…

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No Bees, No Berries

What is Killing Maine’s Baby Puffins?

June 3, 2014 by  
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It’s fair to say that people tend to give more attention to endangered animal populations when the animals in question are cute. In the case of the ridiculously endearing puffins of Seal Island , their sharp decline over the last two breeding seasons is an indicator of significant environmental and population shifts that are having an impact on all marine life in the Gulf of Maine. Read the rest of What is Killing Maine’s Baby Puffins? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: baby puffins , fish , global warming , Gulf of Maine , Maine , population crash , puffin die-off , puffins , rising sea temperatures , Seal Island , Stephen Kress , The Audubon Society

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What is Killing Maine’s Baby Puffins?

JaK Studio to Built London’s First ‘Invisible’ Eco-Home

June 3, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of JaK Studio to Built London’s First ‘Invisible’ Eco-Home Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eco-home London , green homes , invisible eco-home London , invisible house London , JaK Studio invisible home , JaK Studio UK , London architects , mirror-clad architecture , passivhaus London , passivhaus UK , renewable energy sources , Sustainable Building

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JaK Studio to Built London’s First ‘Invisible’ Eco-Home

Colorful LEDs Transform Industrial Shipyard into Giant Origami-Like Light Show

June 3, 2014 by  
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Read the rest of Colorful LEDs Transform Industrial Shipyard into Giant Origami-Like Light Show Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Adriatic sea , architectural lighting , Art , croatia , dean skira , LED lights , LED spotlights , lighting designer , lighting giants , Philips LED spotlights , pula , shipyard art , shipyard machines , skira , uljanik industrial shipyard

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Colorful LEDs Transform Industrial Shipyard into Giant Origami-Like Light Show

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