Early learning center sustainably embraces rural New Zealand

September 10, 2020 by  
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In the rural New Zealand haven of Dairy Flat, U.K.-based architecture firm Collingridge and Smith Architects has recently completed the Fantails Estate, an early learning center for 154 babies and preschoolers. Designed to sit sensitively within its rural context, the modern building is built primarily of timber and opens up to the outdoors with large windows and areas for outdoor play. Sustainability has also been naturally woven into the design, which includes a rainwater harvesting system, onsite blackwater treatment, a high-insulated building envelope and passive solar principles. Set over 3.5 hectares of land, the Fantails Estate was conceived as a unique “luxury lodge” for children. The center features a radial plan with six individual blocks fanned out around a geometric timber canopy and centrally located car park. The six blocks comprise five individual classrooms as well as a private staff block housing the kitchen, laundry and administrative spaces.  Related: Chrysalis Childcare Centre uses existing trees as symbolic centerpieces Each classroom opens up to a shaded, north-facing terrace that connects to a large playground and countryside views. The integration of all-weather play spaces provides children with seven times the minimum area for outdoor play, with each child allotted approximately 52 square meters of individual play space, according to the architects. The sizing and orientation of the blocks are also optimized for indoor access to natural light and ventilation. Low-E glazed sliding doors emphasize the indoor/outdoor connection. A warm, natural materials palette defines both the exterior and interior, the latter of which is fitted with custom-designed cabinetry and play equipment for a cohesive feel. Steel beams and posts were minimally incorporated into the building’s timber envelope so as to minimize the center’s overall carbon footprint. In addition to a high-performance envelope that minimizes heat loss, the architects oriented the building for solar gains in winter and natural shading and thermal mass cooling in summer. + Collingridge and Smith Architects Photography by Mark Scowen via Collingridge and Smith Architects

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Cargotecture: Another Future Path for Modern Architecture

September 7, 2020 by  
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The world is heading towards sustainability, which includes making the … The post Cargotecture: Another Future Path for Modern Architecture appeared first on Earth 911.

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Solar-powered dome in the Texas desert is the perfect place to go off the grid

August 18, 2020 by  
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The Terluna off-grid adobe dome home is located in a remote part of the Texas desert near Big Bend National Park, inside one of the country’s few remaining dark sky ordinance territories. Along with the opportunity to completely cut yourself off from the modern world, the dome’s setting offers incredible views of the night sky along with unobstructed access to the desert horizon. The dome is an earthen structure, built with an adobe barrier, that provides shelter from the elements. In this part of the state, those elements can range from extreme heat and wind to cold and rain. All power comes directly from an installed solar energy system, with just enough energy to also power phones, laptops and lights. Related: Spectacular rammed-earth dome home is tucked deep into a Costa Rican jungle Terluna is isolated, but because the entrance to Big Bend National Park is just a 25-minute drive away, it is easily accessible for those who want to do some exploring. For history buffs, the historic Terlingua Ghost Town can be found about 25 minutes away as well. Wi-Fi is also available in the dome for those who aren’t quite ready to go fully off the grid just yet. Fans of HGTV’s “Mighty Tiny Houses” may recognize the Terluna, as it has been featured on the show in the past. The dome home includes a kitchen with a two-burner propane stove, an oven and a refrigerator. The kitchen sinks get water from a small rain collection tank; guests are recommended to bring their own drinking water. There is space for two people to sleep comfortably, and linens, pillows and blankets are included. Additional space on the pallet couch allows for a third guest. A no-flush, composting toilet can be found in a separate, private outhouse next to the main structure, and guests will have to utilize a nearby coin shower if they want to wash up. The off-grid nature of this space means that occupants will have to sacrifice AC, but the Airbnb stay does have a fan and plenty of windows. + Airbnb Images via Airbnb

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Solar-powered dome in the Texas desert is the perfect place to go off the grid

Are we on the cusp of the ‘Age of Freedom’?

July 23, 2020 by  
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Are we on the cusp of the ‘Age of Freedom’? Shana Rappaport Thu, 07/23/2020 – 01:00 Anything with “technology convergence” and “climate change” in the same sentence captures my attention. Contextualize it in the “making or breaking of human civilization as we know it” and I’m hooked — and admittedly a tad skeptical. That’s why I buckled up and dug into the recent 90-page report put forth by think tank RethinkX , co-founded by internationally recognized technologists and futurists Tony Seba and James Arbib. ” Rethinking Humanity ” makes the case that the convergence of key technologies is about to disrupt the five foundational sectors that underpin the global economy, and with them every major industry in the world.  Super heady stuff, to be sure. The vision Seba and Arbib detail reads somewhat like a distant techno-utopia. But the vision they lay out isn’t all that far off: Climate change solved and poverty eradicated within the next 15 years? Got my attention. Given that Seba and Arbib have been impressively accurate over the past decade in predicting the speed and scale of technological disruption, I figured it was worth giving the analysis a closer look.  From extraction to creation  Focusing on the disruptive potential of emerging technologies in the information, energy, transportation, food and materials sectors, the report predicts that across all five — and within the next 10 years — we could see costs of key technologies fall by 10 times or more, production processes become 10 times more efficient, all while using 90 percent fewer natural resources and producing up to 100 times less waste. What Seba and Arbib are calling the “fastest, deepest, most consequential transformation of human civilization in history” isn’t just a reframe of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which we know is underway and being enabled by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing. Indeed, many of their predictions will sound familiar to those conversant in technological change. But it’s not just the march of progress of individual technologies that will save us. The report does not introduce this alluring vision as an absolute — quite the contrary. Therein lies one big variable: Humans need to make it happen, and fast.   Instead, the report posits that we are on the cusp of the third age of humankind — what they describe as “The Age of Freedom.” This new era will be defined by a shift away from models of centralized extraction to localized creation; ones built, they say, not on coal, oil, steel, livestock and concrete, but on photons, electrons, DNA, molecules and qbits (a unit of quantum information).  They predict, for example, that the combination of cheap solar and grid storage will transform energy systems into entirely distributed models of self-generation in which electrons are virtually free. And that as the widespread adoption of autonomous electric vehicles replaces car ownership with on-demand ride sharing, we’ll completely reimagine and redesign our roads, infrastructure and cityscapes. Their vision for the future of food, outlined in greater detail in another report last year, predicts that traditional agriculture soon will be replaced by industrial-scale brewing of single-celled organisms, genetically modified to produce all the nutrients we need ( say what? ). Similar processes, combined with additive manufacturing and nanotechnologies, will allow us to create all the materials necessary to build infrastructure for the modern world from the molecule up, rather than by continuing to extract scarce and depleting natural resources.  These transformations mirror, in many ways, what we’ve seen already in the information sector — in which the decentralization enabled by the internet has reduced barriers to communication and knowledge in ways unimaginable 25 years ago.  What may sound like a pipe dream is what Seba and Arbib claim could be a lifestyle akin to the “American Dream” — in terms of energy consumption, transport needs, nutritional value, housing and education — accessible to anyone for as little as $250 a month by 2030. Humanity at a crossroads  To be clear, the report does not introduce this alluring vision of The Age of Freedom as an absolute — quite the contrary. Therein lies one big variable: Humans need to make it happen, and fast. Will the public embrace self-driving cars and genetically modified foods, among other innovations? Futurists have been wrong before about such things. (Weren’t we all supposed to be getting around in flying cars by now?) “We can use the upcoming convergence of technology disruptions to solve the greatest challenges of humankind — inequality, poverty, environmental destruction if, and only if, we learn from history, recognize what is happening, understand the implications and make critical choices now; because these very same technologies that hold such promise are also accelerating civilization’s collapse,” Seba said. We can use the upcoming convergence of technology disruptions to solve the greatest challenges of humankind — inequality, poverty, environmental destruction if, and only if, we learn from history …   Indeed, we face an epic choice. But, are utopia or dystopia really our only options? Is framing the path forward in a binary win-or-lose scenario actually accurate, let alone helpful for the business leaders, policy makers and citizens in whose hands such a complex set of decisions rest today? And what about the millions of people without access to jobs, food, housing or healthcare right now? Where do they fit into this grand, seemingly idyllic plan? The report outlines a set of recommendations which, in many ways, seem as unlikely as the vision they’re intended to enable. Giving individuals ownership of data rights, scaling new models for community ownership of energy and transportation networks, and allowing states and cities autonomy on policies such as immigration, taxation and public expenditure, for example, take time. The rapid reimagining and restructuring of what they call our society’s fundamental “Organizing System” is no small feat. And the report seems to gloss over many messy realities of how social change actually occurs. Still, there’s something compelling here. Regardless whether Seba and Arbib’s techno-utopian dream materializes in the ways they’ve outlined, the report offers compelling ideas for building a more robust, resilient and equitable society than we’ve ever seen. It’s certainly good fodder as we enter a decade that will, without question, be defined by great disruption — and already is. Pull Quote The report does not introduce this alluring vision as an absolute — quite the contrary. Therein lies one big variable: Humans need to make it happen, and fast. We can use the upcoming convergence of technology disruptions to solve the greatest challenges of humankind — inequality, poverty, environmental destruction if, and only if, we learn from history … Topics Innovation Information Technology Corporate Social Responsibility Clean Economy Corporate Social Responsibility Featured Column On the VERGE Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Abandoned fuel tanks retrofitted for new Shanghai art museum

April 7, 2020 by  
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On the banks of Shanghai’s Huangpu River, Beijing-based practice  OPEN Architecture  has transformed five giant aviation fuel tanks into Tank Shanghai, a new contemporary art museum and open park. Developed over six years, the adaptive reuse project not only creates a new cultural asset for the city, but also helps reconnect residents to the waterfront.  Located on an industrial site, the five decommissioned aviation fuel tanks had belonged to  Shanghai’s  former Longhua Airport. As part of a greater revitalization plan for the city’s southwest region, OPEN Architecture converted the waste containers into a vibrant community art center with each tank housing different programming. The surrounding landscape was redesigned with long, undulating lawns that emphasize connections with the once-inaccessible Huangpu riverfront and can accommodate a variety of outdoor events, from art festivals to book fairs. At the heart of the Tank Shanghai design is the introduction of a Z-shaped “Super-Surface”: a five-hectare zigzagging landscape of trees and grasses that weaves together the five tanks and slopes upward to become a green roof for a built structure below. Two tanks are located above the Super-Surface, while the other three are set slightly below. The tanks were  retrofitted  to include a two-story live-house and bar, a restaurant and art exhibition spaces. The architects preserved the tanks’ industrial exteriors and minimized changes to the facades. Curvilinear outdoor pathways complement the tanks’ rounded forms.  Related: 10 shipping containers make up this modern, mixed-use structure in Shanghai “Tank Shanghai represents a new type of urban art institution—one linking the past and the future, reconnecting people with the natural environment, and fusing art with nature,” explained the architects. “It is an  art center without boundaries, and as it continues to assimilate into the life of the city more largely, Tank Shanghai will continue to facilitate and inspire the creation of more inclusive and collective cultural spaces.” Tank Shanghai opened in March 2019. + OPEN Architecture Images by INSAW Image, WU Qingshan, and CHEN Hao

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Abandoned fuel tanks retrofitted for new Shanghai art museum

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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New electric car can be rented for just $22 a month

March 11, 2020 by  
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French automaker Citroën has unveiled the Ami — a one-of-a-kind tiny electric car made so accessible, it can be driven by anyone older than 14 years old, with or without a driving license. The two-seat vehicle is 100% electric and comes with a battery that can be powered from a standard electrical socket in just three hours. As part of the brand’s mission to “unleash urban mobility for all,” the Citroën Ami is affordably priced at just 6,000 euros (approximately $6,600) or the long-term rental price of 19.99 euros ($22) per month. Named after the French word for friend, Ami is classified as an electric quadricycle, a European Union vehicle category for microcars that can typically be driven by a teenager, even without a license. Lightweight and ultra-compact, the Citroën Ami measures just 2.41 meters (7.9 feet) in length and weighs 485 kilograms (1,069 pounds) with a 5.5 kWh battery and 6 kW engine. The microcar has a range of 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) on a single charge.  Related: Fisker debuts an electric luxury SUV for $37,500 at CES Despite its small size, the two-person interior looks surprisingly roomy thanks to expansive glazing that includes the windscreen, side windows, rear windows and panoramic roof, all of which bathe the car in natural light. As a car of the modern age, Ami can be seamlessly linked to a smartphone for easy access to essential information about the vehicle, from range and charge status to maintenance alerts and mileage. Ami is also available in seven different versions and provides a variety of customization and color options. “Ami – 100% ëlectric makes everyday city life easier by drawing inspiration from new consumption patterns,” the firm explained. “Beyond the innovative mobility object, Citroën adopts a disruptive strategy by offering an electric mobility solution at previously unheard price levels, through various offers tailored to the customer’s actual use.” Ami will be made available for long-term rental, car sharing or purchase. Sales will launch in France at the end of March and will be expanded to select European countries in the following months. + Citroën Photography by maison-vignaux at Continental Productions via Citroën

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LEED Gold-targeted office mimics High Line via lush greenery

February 18, 2020 by  
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New York City’s award-winning High Line has attracted yet another sculptural building to its side — 512 West 22nd Street, a contemporary Chelsea office building that takes cues from the elevated park with landscaped terraces on every floor. Designed by local architecture firm COOKFOX Architects , the new building is inspired by not only its proximity to the High Line, but also the neighborhood’s industrial history. The office is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.  Located adjacent to the “Chelsea Thicket” portion of the High Line, 512 West 22nd Street visually extends the park’s greenery with large landscaped terraces cut into the building’s profile on every floor for a total of over 15,000 square feet of outdoor space for occupant use. Light-filled workspaces, engineered for comfort and high-performance, enjoy direct access and views of these landscaped areas, which are planted solely with native species. Partly shielded from view by dense tree growth on the High Line, the building’s lower landscaped terraces are used for events and outdoor circulation, while the terraces on the fourth floor and above provide direct views of the city and Hudson River beyond.  The integration of landscaped terraces gives the contemporary building a dynamic and sculptural appearance that opens up at the edges. The streamlined facade of anthracite terracotta , zinc and granite is divided by industrial sash-inspired windows that wrap around the curved edges of the exterior. Operable glass gives occupants control of access to outdoor air. Related: Studio Gang’s 40 Tenth Avenue “Solar Carve” tower tops out near NYC’s High Line In addition to the air purification benefits of the nearby park and landscaped terraces, building occupants can enjoy access to a state-of-the-art overhead air distribution system. The large and flexible office spaces can also be adapted to a wide range of users. “Designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and foster an office environment connected with the natural world, 512 West 22nd Street sets new standards of health and productivity in the modern workplace,” the project’s press release stated. + COOKFOX Architects Images by Bruce Damonte

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Transformed midcentury modern home focuses on sustainability

January 31, 2020 by  
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Originally designed in 1956, this mid-century property in Indianapolis has been remodeled to reflect the new owner’s modern style. The design plan included methods to turn the 60-year-old house with outdated fixtures and overgrown landscaping into an organized, harmonious, private living space. By prioritizing the preservation of the original architecture as much as possible while maintaining privacy for the occupants, the designers were able to create a “Midcentury Modern” home with sustainability features. The sustainability features that characterize the MCM 220 Modern Home include reclaimed structural elements in the wooden structure and fireplace, double-glazed low-E floor-to-ceiling windows and an unvented insulated roof system. Outside, a membrane roof combined with a deep roof channels stormwater to the screened porch for a “sensory experience” during rainfall. Additionally, a moss garden around the bedrooms creates a zen-like ambiance. New skylights and floor-to-ceiling high-efficiency windows were added to increase the flow of natural passive light inside the living areas, replacing the original small south-facing windows and outdated skylights. To create even more light, the outdoor landscape was completely overhauled, trees were pruned and brush was cleared to allow the windows to be more exposed. This also helped create an indoor-outdoor connection and make the home feel more spaciously associated with nature. A mudroom inside includes room for coats, laundry, crafting and space for the family dog. Custom walnut cabinetry can be found inside both the gallery and kitchen, with original brick stonework used to finish the fireplace and refurbished cantilevered hearth. A series of smaller, supplementary sustainability steps were implemented, such as high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, HVAC systems, LED light fixtures and light-colored roofing. Natural wood (oak, walnut and cedar) was used in aspects of the interior and exterior, including the dining room table. The inside is also decorated with reconditioned and reupholstered furniture and the interior is finished with a mix of slate and oak plank flooring built on the structure’s original concrete slab. + HAUS Via Dwell Images via HAUS

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Transformed midcentury modern home focuses on sustainability

Your eco-friendly travel guide for New York City

January 9, 2020 by  
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It’s easy to get caught up in New York’s frenetic energy. If you’re there as a tourist, the checklist of must-see attractions is exciting, but long and tiring: Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway shows, amazing museums. If you’re there for business, it’s easy to go from hotel to conference room to bar, repeat. But there are plenty of opportunities to find some beauty and tranquility within NYC’s nonstop style. Take some time to get outside, do something healthy, and take a few deep breaths. NYC outdoors Yes, there is nature within New York City’s urban jungle. The most obvious place to get outside is Manhattan’s massive, iconic Central Park. Within this 843-acre green space, you can visit the formal Conservatory Garden, pay your respects at the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial, rent a boat and paddle around the lake, and check out the Literary Walk, which is lined by statues of authors. For a very New York walk, stroll the 1.45-mile High Line. Manhattan’s elevated linear park, created from an old New York Central Railroad spur, has attracted a constant stream of locals and tourists since opening in 2009. Come as you are; you’ll see jogging shorts, haute couture, and everything in between. The 250-acre New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is gorgeous in every season. Peacefully wander through water lilies, lilacs and roses, or take advantage of the ambitious schedule of programming. The NYBG is on a serious sustainability mission, providing research to support government policy and protecting the world’s flora and biodiversity . Manhattan Kayak Company offers guided expeditions on the Hudson River, including its popular Skyline and NY After Dark tours. They also have many excursions for more experienced paddlers. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Boathouse has a free kayaking program during the summer. You’ll need to stay within a supervised area to participate. On Sundays, you can join them for kayak polo. Only the bravest visiting cyclists will want to take on Manhattan. But NYC has 300 miles of bike trails. Study this map and see if a bike rental might fit into your New York City plans. Wellness in NYC You can find any type of yoga you like in New York. But if you want to try something new and different, you’re in luck. Are cats your cup of tea ? You can enjoy both cats and tea during a Yoga & Kitties session at Meow Parlour . Like to let it all hang out? Bold & Naked might be the yoga class for you. If you want to get even bolder, one-on-one tantric yogassage is also available. During summer, consider joining a yoga class in a park or on a rooftop farm at sunset in the Brooklyn Navy Yard . Two of NYC’s most popular water therapy options are the old-fashioned Russian & Turkish Baths , serving New Yorkers since 1892, and the modern Great Jones Spa . At the Russian & Turkish Baths, you can get a platza oak leaf treatment, which involves being beaten with a broom made from fresh oak leaves dripping with olive oil soap. At Great Jones, the water circuit atmosphere is peaceful if a bit sterile. NYC appeals to spiritual seekers across the spectrum. Stop into Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, opened in 1879, for a few minutes of quiet or prayer. Visit the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island for tai chi, meditation, and a look at one of the biggest collections of Himalayan artifacts in the US. Join devotees of The Path for a nondenominational meditation, followed by relaxing in the Montauk Salt Cave. Or experience the power of spending time with ancient art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dining out in NYC Just as you might want to try an unusual yoga class while visiting NYC, this is a chance to eat vegan food that’s hard to find elsewhere. For example, vegans are out of luck in your average dim sum restaurant. But at Bodhi Kosher Vegetarian Restaurant in Chinatown, vegans can safely grab anything off the dim sum cart. When’s the last time you had gluten-free veg shark fin congee? Vegan star Beyond Sushi has six locations, including in the Chelsea Market food hall, ironically situated in the Meatpacking District. Their sushi rolls are creative and ambitious. For example, the smoky jack contains black rice, pickled cabbage, mango, hickory-smoked jackfruit , watercress, mint, dehydrated olives and tomato guajillo sauce. Cinnamon Snail , in Pennsy Food Hall right by Madison Square Garden, specializes in “vegan kosher food made by a gaggle of wild ponies who live in a magical tree.” Start the day here by raiding their case of vegan donuts and baked goods, or get a hearty serving of mac ‘n’ cheese at lunch or dinner. For dessert, try some matcha cream crunch or lemon ginger cream pie at Rawsome Treats . Founder, head chef and Muay Thai fighter Watt Sriboonruang makes everything raw, vegan and gluten-free . Public transit While a Pew Research Center survey found that about 88 percent of Americans own cars, only about 22 percent of Manhattan households are auto owners. This is good news for tourists, as it means lots of public transportation. Trains serve all three of NYC’s airports , connecting to buses and the subway system to get you wherever you want to go. That said, NY public transit can be overwhelming, and New Yorkers tend to move fast. If you’re unfamiliar with public transit, New Yorker Minh Nguyen kindly put together this website for newbies. Commuter rail lines serve outlying areas. You can also ferry around town. NYC Ferry operates six routes spanning more than 60 nautical miles of waterways, and service is still growing. You can even charge your phone and get a snack while cruising. CitiBike offers a bike share program if you’re planning on short rides. Or hire a pedicab and take a rest while somebody else does the work . Eco-hotels The Benjamin Hotel was one of New York’s first hotel to focus on both sustainability and luxury, partnering with students from the New York Institute of Technology to help them revamp and earn a Green Key Eco-Rating. The hotel’s wellness offerings include the Rest & Renew program that helps guests improve their sleep . The Element New York Times Square West incorporated recycled material into its furnishings, such as carpets made from recycled plastic bottles. This Marriott hotel features loaner bikes for guests and a free breakfast bar with fresh fruit. For budget travelers who value a hotel’s gym over in-room amenities, consider staying at one of NYC’s YMCAs . Your room will resemble a monk’s cell, but you’ll wake up in a huge gym with spin class, weights and a pool. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and New York Botanical Garden

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