A guide to going green for the back-to-school season

August 9, 2019 by  
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As summer comes to a close, our focus shifts to back-to-school. There’s so much to do between registering, shopping, picking up supplies and coordinating all the activities filling the calendar. If you’re looking for ways to act more sustainably this school year, we’ve got you covered in multiple areas. Transportation We all know that using our cars consumes fossil fuels and leaves a carbon tire print. Unless you live in a town that shuttles kids to school via electric trolley, it’s hard to figure out a sustainable way to transport the kiddos back and forth. This is a case of progress over perfection, and remember that every act helps. Related: The Akshar Foundation is creating sustainable schools to teach children important life skills Walking and biking are the most sustainable ways to get to school. Older kids can trek off on their own or with a group of friends. Escort younger kids and get in your exercise, too. If you don’t live close enough for biking or walking, consider the public transit system. The buses and subways are running, so using them instead of your car staves off air pollution . The same goes for the gas-guzzling school bus. It will run the route every day whether kids ride or not, so it’s a more eco-friendly option to take advantage of the bus service instead of driving each day. If driving is your only option, set up a carpool before and after school to minimize the number of cars going to the same place. Be sure to shut off the engine while you wait at the bus stop or school. Clothing One of the only things many kids get excited about when heading back to school is the new school clothes. As you know, though, clothing doesn’t have to be new to be hip, cool or trendy. Head out to the thrift shop to scour the options. When you do buy new, look for organic cotton, bamboo and other natural fabrics . For a fun option, host a clothing swap party. You know your daughter is constantly trading clothes with her friends anyway, and it’s the perfect opportunity to clean out the closet before the school year begins. Have everyone bring their pre-loved clothing, belts, handbags and shoes to the party, where they can reconnect with each other as summer comes to a close and maybe find some new clothes they love at the same time. Lunches Sometimes getting kids to eat healthy food at home is enough of a challenge, but mix that with portability and the fact that you’re not there to supervise, and lunchtime might start to feel like you’re playing the lottery. Let your kids have a say in what they want to take for lunches, but set boundaries. Remember the toddler stage when they got to make their own decisions about which of the two outfits they would like to wear that day? Same concept. Offer healthy meal and snack options, from which your child can choose. Make lunchbox-friendly entrees in advance, freeze items for easy grab-and-go snacks and breakfasts, re-package bulk items ahead of time and make a meal plan to minimize the morning hassle and simplify the grocery shopping. Map out two weeks of lunches, and repeat the schedule so the same lunch only comes around a few times each month. Agree to ban single-use water bottles and individual packaging from the lunch box. Use stainless steel or glass containers instead of plastic resealable bags. Order or make some reusable beeswax wraps for sandwiches. Add a metal or other non-plastic lunch box, and you have the foundation for a nearly waste-free lunch system. School supplies The basic laws of minimization apply here. Start by taking an inventory of what you already have. Check that tote of pushed-aside writing utensils, and resharpen the crayons and colored pencils. Inspect markers, pens and pencils. Grab the compass and protractor your older child no longer needs to give to the younger kids, and reuse the same rulers. Finish filling up the notebooks from last year when applicable, and make a few book covers. Chances are you even have tissues and 3×5 cards around that you can donate to the classroom. Once you’ve compared your inventory to the supply list, streamline your shopping. Make a “must have” list and vow to stick to it, at least for the first round of school supplies. There seems to be a phenomenon that makes kids feel they need the newest, shiniest everything before school starts, yet a few weeks in, any pencil will do. Related: The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping When you do make school purchases, think long-term. Buying quality items is an earth-friendly decision that benefits everyone. Look for durable backpacks and binders that you won’t have to replace each year. Avoid themed folders and bags that your child will want to replace when the superhero phase passes. Beyond durability, hunt down sustainable options like those that are biodegradable , refillable and recyclable and contain post-consumer content and recycled materials. Reduce paper While you’re gearing up for the new year, look for ways to minimize paper communication by getting your email updated. Add your child’s teachers and administrators to your contacts, and sign-up for electronic classroom updates if possible. With any papers that do come, be sure to reuse or recycle them after they are no longer needed. Sports and activities With the new school year comes uniforms, gear and supplies for the extra-curricular activities, too. Again, look for secondhand gear, or borrow from friends. Hit up the local sporting goods resale shop or online marketplaces. When it comes to fundraising for those uber-expensive requirements, send flyers electronically, watch for wasteful packaging from vendors and seek out services the team can offer instead of products to sell. Also take advantage of carpool options for practices, games and competitions, and put all those activities into your meal planning calendar to avoid the dinner hassle. On activity nights, plan ahead for a slow cooker meal or leftovers instead of relying on fast food or pre-packaged dinners. With just a bit of planning, you can get the school season started with all the right supplies and habits needed for a successful and sustainable year. Images via Element5 Digital , Jaden C. , Prudence Earl , U.S. Department of Agriculture , Dawid Ma?ecki , Freddie Marriage and Picture Back

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A guide to going green for the back-to-school season

Ultra-modern ski chalet pays homage to Ontario’s traditional farmhouses

March 7, 2019 by  
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Toronto-based Atelier Kastelic Buffey has unveiled a beautiful family ski chalet tucked into a winter wonderland landscape surrounded by Ontario’s Blue Mountains. Although the black and white Alta Chalet boasts a thoroughly modern aesthetic, the home’s extreme pitched roof was inspired by the area’s traditional farmhouse vernacular. The design also boasts a number of sustainable features such as a high-performance glazing system, ultra-tight insulation and natural air ventilation. Located in a private ski club, the massive 3,000-square-foot Alta Chalet was designed for a family of five who love the outdoors. When first approached by the clients, the designers were intent on avoiding the typical ski chalet aesthetic, instead opting for a home that would pay homage to its farmhouse history . The project was also inspired by the area’s idyllic natural surroundings. Related: Gorgeous prefab cabin is embedded into the mountainous Norwegian landscape “Alta Chalet communicates an ethos of contemporary design and elegant detailing that derives from the local vernacular tradition of the barn,” the architects explained. “Its iconic presence — defined by a reductive black-and-white color scheme and a tight, clean, gabled roof edge — complements the intelligence of its spatial and economic efficiency.” The home’s exterior is clad in jet black and bright white siding. Various blocks make up the ski chalet’s volume, which is marked by a large gable roof that looms over the lower volumes. The interior space, marked by white walls and wooden finishes, was designed with the family in mind. The open-concept kitchen, dining and living area is minimalist , but a strategic interior design scheme helps provide a welcoming living space that is perfect for both enjoying family time and entertaining guests. The home also has a south-facing outdoor deck to enjoy the crisp cold air while taking in the amazing views. Due to the extreme climate, the architects also focused on making the home as energy-efficient and resilient as possible. The ski chalet is wrapped in a low-maintenance, pre-finished Canadian pine siding and is heavily insulated to withstand the area’s frigid temperatures. Additionally, the home’s many windows are comprised of high-performance glazing in order to reduce energy loss. Along with a pleasant wood-burning fireplace, a hydronic in-floor heating system keeps the living spaces warm and toasty year-round. + Atelier Kastelic Buffey Via Freshome Photography by Shai Gil via Atelier Kastelic Buffey

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Ultra-modern ski chalet pays homage to Ontario’s traditional farmhouses

Beautiful tiny home boasts passive design features and resilient materials to withstand frigid climates

January 18, 2019 by  
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Due to limited space, designing a tiny home can be a very complicated task, but when designing a structure that can withstand extremely frigid temperatures, its a different beast entirely. Just ask Canadian tiny home builders, Minimaliste Houses , who specialize in creating durable tiny homes built to withstand Canadian winters. The designers have just unveiled the gorgeous Ébène Tiny Home, which was designed to be energy-efficient thanks to tight thermal insulation and a hydronic heating floor system. The exterior of the tiny home on wheels, which is 34 feet long, is clad in a sleek black cedar, with a contrasting natural wood color. As part of their 4 seasons Tiny Home collection, the Ébène tiny home boasts several passive features such as its strategic window placement. Most of the home’s windows are installed on the southern side, with only three small windows on the northern side. The home was also installed with a hydronic heating floor system to keep the interior space warm and cozy during the most frigid months of the year. Related:The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes Working with the clients, a young couple from Ontario, the designers wanted to create a soothing, but functional living area for the 475 square feet home. All white walls are sandwiched in between wooden flooring and a high ceiling which feature cross beams, giving the home a modern cabin feel. For the furnishings, the interior design went with simple, but functional furnishings. Large windows, equipped with solar blinds for privacy when needed, bring in lots of natural light during the day, making the living space bright and airy. A compact, but cozy sofa sits adjacent to a wooden accent wall that juts out just a bit from the structure’s end. This space was outfitted with a high top counter, perfect for dining or working. On the other side of the living room, a modern kitchen is surprisingly spacious, with custom cabinetry. Plenty of storage and working space make it a dream come true for any home chef.  Located next to the refrigerator cabinet, a small cabinet stores the ladder that allows access to the sleeping loft over the bathroom. At the entrance to the interior, a lovely wooden staircase separates the living room and the kitchen, leading up to the master bedroom, one of the largest the company has ever designed. Again focusing on practicality, the stairs double as storage space . Furnished with custom in-wall cabinetry and small bedside tables with wall lights, the master bedroom is incredibly cozy and spacious. + Minimaliste Houses Photos via Minimalist Houses    

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This itsy-bitsy treehouse in Norway offers the ultimate off-grid escape

September 28, 2018 by  
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For those looking to get away from it all, Glamping Hub offers a tiny treehouse perched high above the treetops in a remote area of Norway. The wooden cube with an all-glass front facade allows guests to disconnect completely while taking in some seriously breathtaking panoramic views of the majestic fjords. Located near Sandane, Norway, this minimalist treehouse offers the perfect retreat for those looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The cube-like structure is perched among the treetops and surrounded by lush greenery. The environment, as well as the tiny cabin, allows guests to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings. Related: Stay in a dreamy treehouse inside an ancient English forest Guests visiting the treehouse will enjoy the chic, glamping style of the lodging. There is a double bed as well as a cozy floor mattress for lounging around. For quiet reading or napping time, a comfy hammock is the ideal spot for relaxation. The bathroom is compact but functional with a toilet and sink. Linens, towels and toiletries are provided. There is also a small kitchenette where guests can prepare their own meals. At the heart of the tiny cabin is a seating area with two comfy armchairs and a small table. Looking out through the floor-to-ceiling glazed facade, guests can spend hours soaking up the stunning views of the fjords. For those wanting to explore a bit, there are plenty of outdoor activities available year-round in the area: hiking, biking, canoeing, bird watching and much more. + Glamping Hub Via Apartment Therapy Images via Glamping Hub

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This itsy-bitsy treehouse in Norway offers the ultimate off-grid escape

These low-energy prefab cabins are inspired by the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’

September 5, 2018 by  
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Prefab housing startup Koto has unveiled a series of tiny timber cabins with minimalist designs inspired by friluftsliv — translated as “free air life,” this Nordic concept is the act of embracing indoor-outdoor living and a connection with nature. The low-energy, modular Koto cabins can be configured in a variety of sizes and are crafted specifically for those looking to reconnect with nature. Koto was founded by Johnathon Little and Zoe Little earlier this year. The name Koto means “cozy at home” in Finnish and is the ethos behind the company’s minimalist cabin design. To create the ultimate nature-based retreat, the cabins — which are made with eco-friendly materials  — allow for a comfortable atmosphere. Related: This off-grid, prefab tiny cabin in Michigan fits a family of five Black cladding allows the tiny cabins to blend into nearly any environment. The sloped roof, a hallmark of the company, is part of the architects’ design strategy to add space to the interior. “Our initial range of modules — Pari, Muutama and Ystava — are all represented with the Koto wedge shape roof,” Jonathan told Dezeen . “This shape allows for an interesting form and experience both internally and externally, a modern twist on the traditional vernacular.” According to the designers, the interiors are meant to be private retreats in the middle of serene landscapes. The living area is extremely space-efficient with storage concealed within the walls. The fresh Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic is achieved thanks to all-white walls and light wood flooring. A large skylight and glass front facade floods the interior with natural light and allows for a strong, constant connection to the outdoors. The modular cabins can be configured in a number of sizes, but a medium-sized cabin contains a bathroom, a fold-out king-sized bed, hidden wall storage, a window bench and a wood-burning stove. There are various options to customize the space, including a small kitchenette, an outdoor shower and a sauna cabin. + Koto Via Dezeen Images via  Joe Laverty

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These low-energy prefab cabins are inspired by the Nordic concept of ‘friluftsliv’

Minimalism adds a modern twist to this traditional farmhouse

July 25, 2018 by  
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Columbus-based practice Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design took cues from early 19th-century agrarian architecture for its design of the Sullivan House, a contemporary residence that comprises two gabled barn-like structures. Located in the leafy Ohio suburb of Worthington, this single-family home offers a modern take on the local farmhouse vernacular with its simple form clad in natural materials and large expanses of glass. Completed in June 2016, the Sullivan House is a spacious residence placed on a high point of a three-acre wooded lot upslope from a deep ravine. The two-story home was built on the remaining foundations of a previous house and covers an area of 3,500 square feet. The entrance and the main rooms of the house — including an open-plan living area, dining space and kitchen — are on the upper level, and a glazed connector separates them from a private wing housing the master suite and two bedrooms. A small loft space with an en suite bedroom is tucked above the living space. The lower level houses the garage, guest room, play room and storage with laundry. The main level of the Sullivan House is wrapped in Shou Sugi Ban set atop a base of rough limestone. The gabled roofs are sheathed in natural slate shingles with a terne metal standing seam skirt. The use of natural materials helps to blend the home into its forested surroundings, while large sliding glass panels and outdoor entertaining areas — a dining patio on the lower level and a large dining terrace on the main floor — emphasize indoor-outdoor living. Related: A Michigan farmhouse is reborn as a beautiful modern vacation retreat “The project formally references the farm structures common to the area at the time of its first settlement in the early 19th century,” said Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design in its project statement. “The minimalist expression of this reference creates a strong and clear aesthetic — the basic structure and iconic form are primary.” + Jonathan Barnes Architecture and Design Images by Brad Feinknopf

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An updated Scandinavian summer cottage weaves Japanese influences throughout

July 18, 2018 by  
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There are few better places to spend a Scandinavian summer than in a breezy cottage by the water. One stellar example is the Summer House completed by Swedish architecture firm Kod Arkitekter in the northern Stockholm archipelago. Located on an island and surrounded by the forest and sea, this home makes the most of its idyllic surroundings with a design that maximizes indoor-outdoor living and combines Scandinavian cottage traditions with Japanese minimalism. Built of timber to reference the surrounding forest, the Summer House comprises a renovated old cottage and a new addition. The clients asked Kod Arkitekter to save and update the cottage — a 65-square-meter structure — and seamlessly integrate it into the extension , a long volume that stretches perpendicular to the existing building. To connect the two buildings, the architects clad both volumes in vertical stained strips of lumber and also topped the house with a dark roofing material. The roof extends over the outdoor patio so that it can be enjoyed rain or shine. Related: Timber-clad waterfront house in Norway epitomizes modern Scandinavian design “With its elongated shape, window setting and the location of the rooms and the patios , the design maximizes the outlook on the water and the unspoiled nature,” explained Kod Arkitekter of the 210-square-meter cottage. “In addition to the Scandinavian traditions, the house draws inspiration from Japan , in an interpretation where simplicity, wood and the relationship with the surrounding nature are at the heart of the architecture.” To mitigate the sloping site, the west end of the T-shaped house is partially elevated on steel posts. The private rooms can be found in the home’s north and south wings. The common areas are located in the west wing, which faces views of the water. Framed by large windows, the communal spaces connect to the outdoors for an indoor-outdoor living experience. + Kod Arkitekter Images via Måns Berg

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An updated Scandinavian summer cottage weaves Japanese influences throughout

A former ski lift station takes on new life as a bold mountain lodge

July 12, 2018 by  
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A small mountain lodge has replaced an old ski lift station on the Krkonoše mountains in the Czech Republic. Czech studio ADR designed the ?erná Voda, named after a nearby stream, to serve as a place of respite for short-term guests of a nearby lodge’s owner. The isolated retreat stands in a meadow apart from the Horní Malá Úpa village, among tall trees and lush shrubbery that shroud the cabin in serenity. Stepping inside the ?erná Voda, guests will find a bright, minimalist design. Light timber, which covers the walls, floors and ceilings, creates an open, airy feel. The kitchen space offers a sharp contrast with blackened wood cabinetry. The simple interior draws focus to the large windows and their picturesque views of the mountains , including Sn?žka, the highest mountain peak in the country. One window opens to the outdoors and allows a breath of fresh air into the cabin. Upstairs, a sleeping loft outfitted with protective netting offers a quiet space for visitors to rest. As natural light filters into the ground floor at daybreak, the loft benefits from the pitched ceiling and retains some darkness for guests who prefer to sleep in. During cooler months, a small wood-burning stove keeps the cabin toasty and inviting after a long day of exploring the outdoors. The mountain lodge blends into its forested surroundings in the summer with its dark metal and blackened wood cladding. When the landscape becomes blanketed in snow, the gabled cabin stands out boldly in its environment. On the west end of the home, a deck extends the living areas to the outdoors. The ?erná Voda mountain lodge has been nominated for a 2018 Czech Architecture Award , which promotes projects that embrace the public and the environment by both new and seasoned architects. + ADR Images via Jakub Skokan and Martin T?ma / BoysPlayNice

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Century-old Japanese townhouse reborn as Blue Bottle Coffees first Kyoto location

June 6, 2018 by  
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Japanese architecture firm Schemata Architects has unveiled Blue Bottle Coffee’s first outpost in Kyoto  – and it’s housed in a century-old building. Following the aesthetic of the previous Schemata-designed Blue Bottle cafes in Tokyo, the newest location features a minimalist and modern design that takes inspiration from the surrounding urban fabric. The two-story structure was carefully overhauled to allow for new functionality while preserving and exposing historic elements. Completed in March this year, the Blue Bottle Coffee Kyoto Cafe is located near the base of Kyoto’s forested Higashiyama mountains and along the approach to Nanzen-ji Temple, a Zen Buddhist temple and one of the historic city’s top tourist attractions. The cafe was built inside a traditional Japanese townhouse (known as ‘machiya’) consisting of two separate buildings. Schemata Architects renovated the buildings into a ‘Merchandise building’ and a ‘Cafe building’ with a total floor area of nearly 3,500 square feet. As was typical of traditional Japanese architecture at the turn of the 20th century, the original floors of the machiya were raised nearly 20 inches off the ground. To create a seamless appearance and to accommodate patrons with special mobility needs, the Blue Bottle Cafe’s architects demolished the raised wooden floors and made them level with the ground. The new floors feature terrazzo containing the same type of pebbles used outside. The same terrazzo material was also used in the counters and benches. Related: Tokyo capsule hotel gets a Finnish-inspired refresh and sauna “The floor inside the counter is also level with the customer area to maintain the same eye level between customers and staff following the same concept as the other shops, while integrating Japanese and American cultures at the same time,” said the architects. “The continuous white floor is stripped of all unnecessary things and the structure is stripped of existing finishes to expose the original roof structure and clay walls, and one can see traces of its 100-year old history throughout the large, medium and small spaces in the structure originally composed of two separate buildings.” The second floor has been converted into an open-plan office with glass frontage. + Schemata Architects Images by Takumi Ota

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Century-old Japanese townhouse reborn as Blue Bottle Coffees first Kyoto location

This bold ship-inspired tiny house has a surprising minimalist interior

May 11, 2018 by  
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Designed by Brian and Joni Buzarde, the Land Ark RV is a tiny home on wheels that’s geared toward adventurers who prefer to travel in style. Not only does the RV’s design include a contemporary and sophisticated all-black corrugated metal exterior, but the interior boasts a well-lit living space, complete with all of the comforts of home. The sleek silhouette of the beautiful RV is inspired by the symmetrical front elevation often found in ship design. The sloped roof appears steeper from different angles, creating a sense of movement even when the tiny home is stationary. Related: Timber cabin on wheels lets you hit the open road in luxurious comfort In contrast to the sleek, all-black exterior, the interior is a light-filled oasis of strategic design. Clad in natural pinewood panels, the living space is large and airy. The kitchen and living room are subtly integrated, sharing a long shelf that pulls double duty as a dining area or office desk. A large sleeping loft is accessible by ladder and lit by various windows. For extra space on the ground floor, an additional “flex room” can fit a queen size bed or serve as an office. The tiny home ‘s bathroom, which comes with a 30 x 60 inch tub and Kohler features, is compact but has a long pine ledge to create plenty of shelf space. There are also several linen and storage nooks to help deter clutter. + Land Ark RV Via Dwell Photography by Jeremy Gudac via Land Ark RV

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