Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

October 25, 2018 by  
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Located mere steps away from idyllic white sand beaches on one side and a coconut grove on the other, this beach house designed by Studio Saxe is giving us major home envy. Situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, the spacious 3,250-square-foot Villa Akoya’s beautiful aesthetic hides several passive strategies designed to reduce the home’s energy use and impact on the environment. The breathtaking location serves as the principal inspiration for the design. Built using traditional cinder block construction, the one-story home was was raised off the ground to create a continuous sight line with the ocean views. This feature also helped reduce the footprint on the landscape . Related: Triangular beachfront home is a dreamy retreat buried in the earth The beach house’s dimensions are divided into four separate horizontal roof planes that slant slightly upward, covering each of the three bedrooms plus the main living area. This strategy creates distinct volumes within the structure. Additionally, the flat wooden roofs extend out over the exterior walls to create large overhang extensions that shade the interior while creating several indoor-outdoor living spaces around the exterior. The interior layout includes several spaces that are open to the exterior, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. All of the bedrooms have their own outdoor spaces, and an all-glass wall in the living room slides completely open, leading to a wooden deck and a swimming pool . Concealed within the design are several passive features to create an energy-efficient beach house. The “elevated” roof lines create a natural system of air ventilation, cooling the home in the hot summer months. The abundance of windows and glass doors brighten the interior during the day, further reducing the need for electricity. The home also operates on solar-generated hot water and has a gray water system. + Studio Saxe Via Archdaily Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe

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Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

Apple invests millions in a carbon-free aluminum smelting method

May 11, 2018 by  
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For over 130 years, aluminum , a material in many Apple products, has been produced in the same dirty, greenhouse gas -releasing way. That could all change soon: Apple is partnering with aluminum company Alcoa Corporation and metal company Rio Tinto to commercialize technology that, according to Apple , “eliminates direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process.” Fast Company reported the tech giant is investing $10.1 million in research and development. Rio Tinto and Alcoa are coming together to form Elysis, a joint venture company, with the goal of packaging the technology for sale in 2024. Not only is Apple betting big on the venture, the governments of Quebec and Canada are investing around $47 million. Elysis will be based in Montreal and will employ 100 people to work towards commercialization of what Alcoa called the world’s first zero-carbon aluminum smelting technology. Apple said they’d be offering technical support. Related: Apple’s new recycling robot can disassemble 200 iPhones in a single hour Alcoa said in Canada, “the technology could eliminate the equivalent of 6.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, if fully implemented at existing aluminum smelters in the country. That represents an amount roughly equal to taking nearly 1.8 million light-duty vehicles off the road.” Apple chose eight materials to zero in on to seek cleaner production methods, and aluminum is one of those. The company said back in 2015, three of their engineers started a search for an improved method of mass-producing aluminum, and they found it at Alcoa. The company’s founder, Charles Hall, pioneered the old method in 1886, but it uses a carbon material that smolders throughout the process, so greenhouse gases are released. But then Alcoa developed a new process that utilizes an advanced conductive material rather than carbon. The smelting process releases oxygen , not carbon dioxide. Rio Tinto brings smelting technology development experience to the joint venture, which will work towards larger scale production. Alcoa CEO Roy Harvey said in the company’s statement, “This discovery has been long sought in the aluminum industry, and this announcement is the culmination of the work from many dedicated Alcoa employees. Today, our history of innovation continues as we take aluminum’s sustainable advantage to a new level with the potential to improve the carbon footprint of a range of products from cars to consumer electronics.” + Apple + Alcoa Via Fast Company Images via Apple

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Apple invests millions in a carbon-free aluminum smelting method

Architects propose a giant circular park in the sky for Asti, Italy

May 11, 2018 by  
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This giant green-roofed ring designed for Asti, Italy pairs a car park with a beautiful public space. The project, designed by architects Angelo Salamone and Ilaria Filippi of AS-DOES , is an example of how green infrastructure can create a functional and attractive community space. AS-DOES presented this car park as a proposal for a competition organized by Asti Servizi Pubblici S.p.A. The contest called for solutions to tackle the redevelopment of Piazza Campo del Palio in Asti. Every project needed to address how to revitalize the area and make it safer and more functional for citizens. Related: Striking new footbridge rehabilitates formerly derelict area of French city The multi-story elliptical car park functions as a covered overpass with a large green roof. The project provides vast open spaces , areas for parking and space for commercial and cultural activities. The designers incorporated green space to make the location more appealing and to provide a place for recreation. The green roof gives visitors incredible city views, too. The roof is an ideal location for friends to gather and play ball or skate. The ground floor of the car park has a central square that can be used for a variety of purposes, including as a venue for performances, local events or markets. + AS-DOES

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Architects propose a giant circular park in the sky for Asti, Italy

New photosynthesis machine is twice as efficient at creating hydrogen fuel

May 4, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Michigan and McGill University in Montreal have created a device that uses sunlight to efficiently split fresh or salt water into hydrogen that may be used in fuel cells. The new machine, which mimics the process of photosynthesis , is capable of producing hydrogen fuel at twice the efficiency of previous technologies. Producing only water as an emission, hydrogen is the cleanest burning fuel. However, its production has historically not been environmentally friendly or energy efficient. This new device may change all that, paving the way to a cleaner energy future. “If we can directly store solar energy as a chemical fuel, like what nature does with photosynthesis, we could solve a fundamental challenge of renewable energy,” said lead researcher Zetian Mi . Unlike solar panels, which can only store energy if they are attached to a battery, the artificial photosynthesis device uses splits water to store solar energy as hydrogen fuel. Despite this fundamental difference from solar panels , the device is made from the same materials, such as silicon and gallium nitride, which is also found in LEDs. Related: Scientists create world’s first solar fuel reactor that works at night Small towers of gallium nitride generate an electric field to turn photons into free charges, which divide water into its two component elements, oxygen and hydrogen. In contrast with previous solar splitters, which had only reached 1 percent efficiency, Mi’s team managed to achieve a 3 percent solar-to-hydrogen efficiency. “Although the 3 percent efficiency might seem low, when put in the context of the 40 years of research on this process, it’s actually a big breakthrough,” Mi said. “Natural photosynthesis, depending how you calculate it, has an efficiency of about 0.6 percent.” The device, further developed, may even be able to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, potentially alleviating the impact of climate change . Via Futurity Images via Faqrul A. Chowdhury/McGill University

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New photosynthesis machine is twice as efficient at creating hydrogen fuel

Whimsically windswept cabin-like kiosks are designed to soothe urban stress

December 22, 2017 by  
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A trio of tilted cabin-like kiosks is inviting visitors to escape the stresses of urban life in Mount Royal Park, the most frequented park in Montreal. Atelier Urban Face designed the three minimalist kiosks in the image of a hamlet to encourage congregation. Each building’s dramatically tilted shape is a playful expression of wind strength. Atelier Urban Face sought to create an artistic refuge that would complement the landscape. “They are not only respectful of the mountain, they participate, by their architecture in the poetry of the place,” says a description of the kiosks . “It’s an architectural achievement that does not alter the intrinsic qualities of the mountain, and has quality construction with undeniable potential for durability.” Related: Modern charred timber house juts out of Quebec’s forest landscape Set in a clearing, the steel-framed kiosks are tilted at varying degrees as if blown over by different gusts of wind. The first kiosk, tilted ten degrees, can accommodate up to 30 people. The second, inclined at 20 degrees, houses service equipment and a first-aid station. The final kiosk is the most dramatically tilted at 30 degrees and serves as the ticket office with additional storage space. The buildings’ simple gabled forms, glazed end walls , and dark zinc cladding help blend them into the environment. + Atelier Urban Face Images by Fany Ducharme and Sylvie Perrault

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Whimsically windswept cabin-like kiosks are designed to soothe urban stress

The ozone problem is back with a vengeance

September 19, 2017 by  
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The Montreal Protocol should have nixed the ozone-eating chemicals damaging the ozone layer over Antarctica. 30 years on, atmospheric chemists aren’t so sure.

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The ozone problem is back with a vengeance

The top headlines from Climate Week 2017

September 19, 2017 by  
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If you can’t keep track of all the climate-hip corporate news from New York City, start here.

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The top headlines from Climate Week 2017

Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

July 21, 2017 by  
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When the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent began pushing for green roofs , a supermarket wondered if it could do regulations one better. Fast-forward a few years and IGA Extra Famille Duchemin now claims to be the first grocery store in Canada to sell produce grown on its own roof. High above its LEED Gold-certified retail space, IGA’s 25,000-foot garden features more than 30 different varieties of certified-organic produce, including tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, kale, eggplant, and basil. Speaking to the Ottawa Citizen , co-owner Richard Duchemin said he decided to perceive Saint-Laurent’s requirement not as a burden but an opportunity. Related: New York City unveils massive green-roofed film and fashion hub in Brooklyn Not only does a green roof help regulate the temperature of the building below it, saving energy, but it also feeds into consumer demand for food with a smaller carbon footprint. “People are very interested in buying local,” he said. “There’s nothing more local than this.” The garden, which is irrigated using water reclaimed from the store’s dehumidification system, has also become a mini-Eden for birds, bees, and other embattled urban fauna. Duchemin compares IGA’s produce-laden roof to those “little boxes where [supermarkets] grow herbs,” but on a grander scale. “We pushed it further because we know we’re able to sell what we produce here,” he added. Related: Green roofs cool co-working shipping container office in Brazil If proven successful, GA Extra Famille Duchemin could even kick-start a trend across Canada. Pierre St-Laurent, executive vice-president for Quebec at Sobeys , which owns the IGA chain, is said to be following the store’s progress with great interest. Photos via Facebook Via Ottawa Citizen

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Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

Abandoned 1920s bank is transformed into a luxurious coworking space

September 21, 2016 by  
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Built in 1928, the heritage building has sat empty since the Royal Bank of Canada abandoned it in 2010. Montreal-born startup Crew Collective saw an opportunity in the glamorous building and hired architect Henri Cleinge to carefully remake the former bank into a 12,000-square-meter space that includes the startup’s headquarters, a cafe, and co-working space . While the building primarily caters to permanent and temporary freelance workers, it’s also open to the public. Related: Old Brooklyn factory gets new life as a vibrant co-working space for creatives Cleinge’s contemporary additions are minimally intrusive, with glazed dividers, brass-clad private rooms, and furnishings with thin black metal legs. The newly added spaces hand the spotlight to the historic decor. A coworking membership at the former Montreal bank starts at $450 per month and includes access to the cafe, conference rooms, kitchen, private desks, collective spaces, as well as to a community of Montreal’s creative professionals. + Henri Cleinge + Crew Via The Spaces Images via Crew Collective and Henri Cleinge

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Abandoned 1920s bank is transformed into a luxurious coworking space

Winning Montreal Biodme renovation deepens visitor connection to fauna and flora

August 3, 2016 by  
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The Biodôme is part of a series of museum pavilions collectively named ‘Space for Life’ located within the Olympic Park in the East side of Montreal . Its redesign, initiated as part of a city-wide renewal plan to celebrate Montreal’s 375th birthday, is based on the idea of deepening visitor experience of the animal and plant species clustered in four ecosystems : Tropical Rainforest, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Gulf of St Lawrence, and the Sub-Polar Regions (Arctic and Antarctic). Related: Extraordinary butterfly pavilion shelters its own artificial rainforest ecosystem The new revitalization strategy will result in reorganized spaces that make better use of the structure’s height and better focus visitor’s educational experience. A skin-like envelope will wrap around the existing building, utilizing residual spaces and offering a high level of flexibility, while new rest areas and amenities will further enhance time spent there. The Biodôme will close in September, 2016 for the construction process. + KANVA + NEUF architect(e)s Via v2com Images by KANVA

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Winning Montreal Biodme renovation deepens visitor connection to fauna and flora

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