Low-impact ‘Outside House’ is built on an old lava flow in the mountains of Maui

November 22, 2017 by  
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Oregon-based firm FLOAT Architectural Research and Design recently built the “Outside House” for a client who wants to spend her days communing with nature at its fullest. To provide a strong connection to the surroundings, the architects created two simple wooden cabins – the Mauka house and the Makai house – on top of a three-hundred-year-old solidified lava flow high up in the Maui mountains. According to FLOAT architect Erin Moore, the design was inspired by a back-to-basics philosophy that puts the focus on enjoying nature, “The Outside House is a place to live outside. Two small pavilions shape the basics of daily life and structure an intentional relationship with the land.” Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight The first cabin, the Mauka (Hawaiian for “inland toward the mountains” ) pavilion, is an enclosed cabin with a small bedroom. It’s equipped with just the basic necessities – a bed, built-in bench and small desk with chair – and it has a large sliding window that provides beautiful views of the landscape. The cabin is raised off the ground by four concrete blocks to reduce its impact on the ground. The Makai (Hawaiian for “seaward”) pavilion is an open-air deck with a small kitchen that offers stunning view out over the Pacific and the island of Kahoolawe in the distance. The wooden cladding and deck were are made from Juniper – a tree that is harvested for its protective qualities in the Pacific Northwest. An open shower is located on the backside of the kitchen, covered with a privacy panel made out of woven marine rope. Based on the wishes of the homeowner, the construction process took great lengths to protect the land. The architects built the cabins using prefabricated galvanized steel, which was carried to the building site by hand to anchor one of the cabins to the ground, while the other one was placed on concrete blocks. This reduced the impact of the project while also allowing the structures to be easily dismantled. + FLOAT Architectural Research and Design Via The Contemporist Photography by Olivier Koning

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Low-impact ‘Outside House’ is built on an old lava flow in the mountains of Maui

London buses swap out diesel for a coffee-based biofuel

November 22, 2017 by  
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Brits may prefer tea, but their busses will be getting a buzz from coffee. U.K. startup bio-bean , Shell, and Argent Energy have teamed up to fill London’s double-deckers with an innovative new java-based fuel. According to CNN , bio-bean has already brewed up 6,000 liters (1,585 gallons) of the high-octane joe, an amount able to power one city bus for an entire year. So, how is the coffee oil manufactured? As bio-bean shares on its site, the company gathers grounds everywhere from small cafes to Starbucks-like chains to universities and even instant coffee factories. The grounds are then brought to the bio-bean plant where they are dried and coffee oil is extracted. Related: Could coffee help fight cancer? The extracted oil is then blended with other fats and oils to create a “B20” biofuel, which is further mixed with traditional mineral diesel. The new concoction offers a 10-15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions as compared to pure diesel, and prevents the release of any methane that would have occurred had the grounds been sent to a landfill. Notably, the mix does not require a specialized engine and can be used with any diesel bus, making the switch easy. Bio-bean estimates that Britain produces nearly 500,000 tonnes of coffee grounds a year—enough to power a third of London’s entire transport network. At the moment, bio-bean’s plant has the capacity to recycle 50,000 tonnes of grounds a year. Company founder Arthur Kay, however, hopes to scale the project. Kay, in fact, has his sights set on the U.S. where coffee consumption is the highest of anywhere on the planet with 400 million cups downed daily. + bio-bean Via CNN Images via Pixbay and bio-bean

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London buses swap out diesel for a coffee-based biofuel

This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

October 31, 2017 by  
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Ljubljana-based firm Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti has built a beautiful contemporary home in Maui that provides striking views of the expansive coastline. The home’s unique angular roof – which is twice the size of the building itself – was designed to mimic the rugged surrounding landscape, and it doubles as an expansive open-air terrace . Located in the West Maui Mountains, the 5,000-square-foot home was built with locally-sourced materials whenever possible – including beach sand, which was integrated into the plaster finish applied to the interior walls. The building consists of five semi-separate “mini houses” arranged in an elongated u-shape that provides perfect ocean views from every angle. Related: Timber Chimney House gives farmhouse vernacular a modern twist At the heart of the design is the irregular roof, whose elongated, “choppy” angles are actually more than a unique design whim. The roof’s large shape provides protection against the area’s strong sun and wind conditions. Additionally, the roof extends generously over the structure’s perimeter in various areas, creating several shaded outdoor nooks. And just for fun, one section of the roof slopes to ground level, enabling the occupants to easily climb on top to enjoy the jaw-dropping ocean views. Clad in wooden slats, the roof will weather over the years with a green-hued grey patina , further embedding the structure into its idyllic surroundings. + Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti Via Dezeen

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This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

New Harvard study links pesticide consumption with reduced fertility in women

October 31, 2017 by  
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When trying to get pregnant, many women adopt a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables . But it turns out they may be compromising their chances — unless the produce is organically grown. According to a new study published in  the journal JAMA Internal Medicine , women who ate 2.3 servings or more of high- pesticide -residue fruits and vegetables had an 18 percent lower probability of getting pregnant and a 26 percent lower probability of giving birth to a live baby. 325 women between the ages of 18 and 45 participated in the study. CNN reports that they were already undergoing infertility treatment with assisted reproductive technology at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers gave the women diet questionnaires and recorded their height, weight, overall health, intake of supplements, and residential history. They then analyzed each woman’s pesticide exposure by determining whether the fruits and vegetables she consumed were treated with high or low levels of pesticides — chemical concoctions that are sprayed on fruit to protect plants (and humans) from mold, fungi, rodents, insects, and weeds. The scientists analyzed the pesticide levels based on reports from the US Department of Agriculture’s  Pesticide Data Program . Strawberries typically top the list as the #1 sprayed fruit, whereas avocados , onions, dried plums, corn and orange juice are typically low in pesticide residue. The results were disturbing: compared to women who ate less than one daily serving of high-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables, those who ate more than 2 servings were 26 percent more likely to have a miscarriage. “Most Americans are exposed to pesticides daily by consuming conventionally grown fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Yu-Han Chiu, first author of the study and research fellow in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “There have been concerns for some time that exposure to low doses of pesticides through diet, such as those that we observed in this study, may have adverse health effects, especially in susceptible populations such as pregnant women and their fetus, and on children. Our study provides evidence that this concern is not unwarranted.” Related: Facial deformities in Ugandan apes linked to pesticide use The researchers also determined that consuming low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables was associated with increased odds of pregnancy and giving birth. “Although we did find that intake of high-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables were associated to lower reproductive success, intake of low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables had the opposite association,” Chiu said. The researcher concluded: “A reasonable choice based on these findings is to consume low-pesticide-residue fruits and vegetables instead of high-pesticide-residue ones. Another option is to go organic for the fruits and vegetables known to contain high pesticide residues. It is very important to keep in mind that, as far as we are aware, this is the first time that this association is reported, so it is extremely important that our findings are replicated in other studies.” + JAMA Internal Medicine Via CNN Images via Pixabay ,  Reader’s Digest ,  HerFamily.ie

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New Harvard study links pesticide consumption with reduced fertility in women

This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

October 31, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous monolithic house in Portugal , designed by Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos , uses modular design to stay true to the simplicity of a child’s drawing of a house. Its geometry and materials not only reflect the archetypal image of a home– they also allow for optimal energy performance and lower maintenance costs . The house sits on a sloping piece of farmland in Ourém, Portugal, with a difference in height of approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) from one end to the other. It is surrounded by natural landscape and overlooks the historic Castle of Ourém. Related: This charming home in Portugal is insulated with soil The design of the residence mimics a child’s drawing of a house, composed of five lines that represent walls and roof, while rectangular shapes represent doors and windows. In line with this simplicity, the main approach to the construction is based on prefabricated elements such as black concrete panels . The black concrete panels not only help the project blend into the surroundings, but it also reduce maintenance costs. + Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos Photos by Joao Morgado

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This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

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