SUNY New Paltz Engineering Innovation Hub achieves LEED Gold

August 14, 2020 by  
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In New York’s Hudson Valley region, the public liberal arts college SUNY New Paltz has earned a LEED Gold certification award for its newly completed Engineering Innovation Hub building. Designed by NYC-based firm Urbahn Architects , the $13.5 billion project champions energy-efficient and resource-saving design, from its diversion of nearly 90% of the project’s construction waste from landfills to the installation of double-glazed, low-E windows throughout. The two-story, 19,500-square-foot building houses a bachelor’s degree program in mechanical engineering, teaching and research lab spaces and the Hudson Valley Additive Manufacturing Center (HVAMC). Centrally located within the SUNY New Paltz campus near the existing Resnick Engineering Hall, the Engineering Innovation Hub features a handsome, gray-toned facade. The building has an energy-efficient rainscreen system created for minimizing heat loss along with high-performance and highly durable concrete panels by Taktl. The Hub sits on a 31,200-square-foot landscaped site specially engineered for responsible stormwater management practices. In addition to maximizing green space with native, low-maintenance vegetation, the site includes landscaped bioswales that direct rainwater into a 45-foot long retention pond. Related: “Story book of timber” designed for University of Arkansas Water-saving strategies have also been implemented inside the building, where water-efficient plumbing fixtures have resulted in a 31% reduction in the consumption of potable water. Energy efficiency is further enhanced by the maximization of daylighting through double-glazed, low-E windows, high-efficiency LED fixtures automated for energy conservation and a high-performance HVAC system. All building materials have low-VOC emissions and were locally sourced or made with recycled content wherever possible.  “The important lesson learned from this project is that an efficient, sustainable building can be designed within the confines of a limited budget,” said Nandini Sengupta, senior associate for Urbahn Architects. “Bring in seasoned design consultants early in the conceptual phase, and perform continuous energy modeling starting in the conceptual design phase. The final building envelope and mechanical systems designs have resulted in an energy cost savings of 28%.” + Urbahn Architects Photography by Ola Wilk/Wilk Marketing Communications via Urbahn Architects

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SUNY New Paltz Engineering Innovation Hub achieves LEED Gold

These funky sandals upcycle fabric from the cutting room floor

June 26, 2020 by  
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The fashion industry deserves a harsh slap on the wrist for how its manufacturing impacts the environment . From the overconsumption of resources to water pollution to material waste, it’s refreshing when companies take corporate responsibility and show concern for nature. Native Shoes is one such company, with a history of making a light footprint in the production of their footwear. The company’s newest release, Davis Repurposed, is a slight variation from their already popular Davis collection. Related: Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae The ‘repurposed’ portion reflects that these shoes use scraps of leftover material that would otherwise go to waste. By being repurposed for these bright, bold and fun sandals, the colorful fabric stays out of landfills. Featuring two-straps, adjustable buckles, an EVA midsole and a contoured footbed, Davis Repurposed serves as a versatile shoe option for day trips, hiking excursions, beach walks or backyard celebrations. The line carries adult, junior and child sizes for all genders, with the addition of a thoughtful stretchy heel strap for the toddler set. Each pair retails for $55 CAD (child), $61 CAD (junior) and $75 CAD (adult). Native is not new to the sustainable manufacturing effort, with a history of innovative research and design. For example, its Plant Shoe uses only natural glues and a  plant-based, biodegradable template . The company manufactures its Bloom collection with repurposed algae using Rise by Bloom technology. Each of these examples serves Native’s mission statement: “Our goal by 2023, is for each and every pair of Natives Shoes to be 100% life cycle managed.” Native’s Remix Project aims to provide a return method for all Native-produced shoes so consumers can easily send them back to the company, where they are then recycled into other products for the community. According to the initiative, “The unique composition of Native Shoes can be reground into versatile material that is useful in the creation of seating, playground flooring, insulation and more. Leveraging a proprietary regrind process, we are able to break down the materials found in every style of Native Shoes including sandals, slip-ons, knit sneakers and boots. From that point – there’s no telling where your soles could turn up!” + Native Shoes Images via Native Shoes

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These funky sandals upcycle fabric from the cutting room floor

Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae

May 18, 2020 by  
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Many conventional shoes are made with materials sourced from petroleum, but conscientious companies, like Native Shoes, have been rethinking that choice, digging for solutions in using readily available and eco-friendly materials instead. For Native Shoes, turning to algae , which naturally occurs in lakes and rivers, presented a benefit that is two-fold. Algae take oxygen from the water, and if oxygen levels deplete too much, they can kill off fish and become toxic to humans. Although algae often serve as food for aquatic life, removing some algae from the water makes it safer for the entire ecosystem. But then what do you do with all of this excess algae that has been removed? Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made using “Rise by Bloom” technology that repurposes the algae, transforming it into a high-performance material for the shoes. The company stated, “The innovative manufacturing process cleans up to 80L of water and 50 square meters of air per pair, resulting in cleaner lakes and rivers , healthier air and featherlight footwear.” Related: Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one The newest line builds on Native Shoes’ classic Jefferson model, with designs for women and children in new colors to welcome spring and warmer weather. The collection also includes the new Audrey Bloom, a classic, feminine flat; the Jefferson Bloom Child features a slip-on, slip-off kids’ shoe . The Jefferson Bloom is priced at $45, the Audrey Bloom is $55 and the Jefferson Bloom Child starts at $40. Native Shoes’ mission is to fuse innovation with sustainability to create comfortable, durable shoes that leave a small footprint on the planet. According to Native Shoes, the company hopes to find alternative uses for all of its products by 2023 in a goal to “Live Lightly.” As such, it has created initiatives such as the Native Shoes Remix Project, which recycles the shoes into playground equipment for local kids in Vancouver. Native Shoes is also experimenting with 3D printing and more plant-based designs. + Native Shoes Images via Native Shoes

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Native Shoes’ Bloom collection is made of repurposed algae

Home on a sloped ravine uses natural materials to blend into the landscape

February 20, 2020 by  
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Built by Chicago-based firm Wheeler Kearns Architects , the Ravine House is a beautiful home that sits tucked into a natural forest setting just outside of Highland Park, Illinois. Working directly with the nature-loving homeowners, the architects strategically focused on blending the minimalist home, which was built with natural materials , into the idyllic surroundings while reducing its impact as much as possible. The Ravine House comes in at more than 4,500 square feet across a single-story, rectangular volume. Sitting adjacent to a deep ravine, the home’s layout was designed to include the native vegetation that covers the area.  In fact, one corner of the volume is “broken” and set apart in order to create an entrance courtyard, where the vegetation is first incorporated into the living space. The courtyard’s local stones and birch trees pay homage to the homeowners’ love of nature. Related: The low-impact Bridge House hovers over a stream in Los Angeles In addition to incorporating the native plants and trees into the design, the home uses a variety of natural materials to blend into its natural forest backdrop. The exterior cladding is comprised of dark metal siding and a vertical rain screen made out of panels of American Black Locust, which was chosen for its durability. On the interior, walls of American Walnut and continuous white oak floors run throughout the living space. Large expanses of glass wrap around the Ravine House, further blending the exterior with the interior. A minimalist, yet cozy, interior design deftly puts the focus on the surrounding views while providing a comfortable living area for the family. In addition to the various uses of wood for a more sustainable design, protecting the landscape was also an essential element to the Ravine House project. During the construction process, the homeowners began to restore the adjacent ravine, which was being damaged by invasive species. They planted no-mow meadows to surround the home as well as multiple beds of vegetable gardens. + Wheeler Kearns Architects Photography by Tom Rossiter via Wheeler Kearns Architects

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Home on a sloped ravine uses natural materials to blend into the landscape

Henning Larsen unveils plans for Copenhagens first all-timber community

January 23, 2020 by  
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A sustainable, nature-filled neighborhood unlike any other in Denmark could soon take root just beyond Copenhagen’s city center. Scandinavian architecture firm Henning Larsen has collaborated with biologists and environmental engineers from MOE to design the Fælledby community, a proposal for Copenhagen’s first all-timber neighborhood. Proposed for a former dumping ground site, the development promotes sustainable living, a reduced carbon footprint and a harmonious relationship with nature. Designed to accommodate 7,000 residents on an 18.1-hectare project site, the Fælledby community features a hybrid architectural design that merges traditional Danish urban design with rural typologies and includes a mix of housing types. The development, which would be about the size of Billund, would be built in phases and comprise three radial village-like “cores” that accommodate about 2,300 people each. These cores are connected via a series of native-planted green corridors, thereby maximizing access to nature and ensuring free movement for local wildlife . For any given residence, nature will be less than a 2-minute walk away. Related: Henning Larsen completes award-winning Wave apartments in Denmark The green corridors will be part of the undeveloped habitat for local flora and fauna, which make up 40% of the development. Nature will also be integrated into the built environment with nests for songbirds and bats built into the walls of the houses. A pond that occupies the center of each of the three Fælledby “villages” will offer a habitat for frogs and salamanders, while community gardens would attract other local species and encourage neighborly relations. “Deciding to build the natural landscape around Fælledby comes with a commitment to balance people with nature,” said Signe Kongebro, partner at Henning Larsen. “Specifically, this means that our new district will be Copenhagen’s first built fully in wood and incorporating natural habitats that encourage richer growth for plants and animals. With the rural village as an archetype, we’re creating a city where biodiversity and active recreation define a sustainable pact between people and nature.” + Henning Larsen Images via Henning Larsen

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Henning Larsen unveils plans for Copenhagens first all-timber community

San Francisco breaks ground on new "Tunnel Tops" national park

November 7, 2019 by  
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Today, San Francisco has broken ground on “Tunnel Tops,” a new 14-acre national parkland that will span two sections across the top of the Presidio Parkway highway tunnels. Designed by New York-based James Corner Field Operations, the landscape architecture firm behind the High Line, the new park will include a campfire circle, scenic overlooks, a play area and more. The project is slated to open in fall 2021. Building on the international movement of turning post-industrial structures and underutilized transit areas into public green spaces, the new Presidio destination will provide direct pedestrian access from Crissy Field to the Presidio’s Main Post for the first time in eight decades. Created with input from more than 10,000 community members in the city, the elevated park will be free to access and provide dramatic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay, the Presidio and the San Francisco skyline. Related: James Corner Field Operations wins major competition to design a new national park in San Francisco Tunnel Tops will offer a variety of amenities for all of San Francisco’s communities and visitors. It will include interactive educational and recreational opportunities. Located directly adjacent to the newly opened Presidio Visitor Center and a planned transit center, Tunnel Tops will welcome guests with the Gateway Plaza and Visitor Center at the heart of the park. From there, visitors can explore the Campfire Circle; the spacious Golden Gate Meadow; a Cliff Walk with 360-degree panoramic views of the surroundings; the Crissy Field Center Youth Campus with new Learning Labs, a new Field Station and a new Youth Courtyard; and a multisensory learning environment for children called the Outpost. “The Tunnel Tops will provide greater access to fresh air, beautiful views, gardens and gathering spaces, where people can come to relax, play and connect with each other,” said Jean Fraser, CEO of the Presidio Trust. “Having a national park so close to downtown is part of what makes San Francisco great, and we hope it will inspire new visitors to discover the many things the Presidio, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and other national parks have to offer.” + Tunnel Tops + James Corner Field Operations Images via James Corner Field Operations

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San Francisco breaks ground on new "Tunnel Tops" national park

Easy ways to make your home and garden more sustainable this fall

November 7, 2019 by  
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As the final leaves drop from the trees and the temperatures continue to plummet, you’ve likely already prepped the woodpile and dug out your winter wear. But before you head inside to hunker down with movies and hot cocoa, also prep your home and yard to act sustainably throughout the months ahead. Preserve foods Before the first dusting of snow or below-freezing temperatures settle in, be sure to gather every ounce of goodness from your garden . Hang herbs to dry, can fruit from the trees and rely on that new Instant Pot to pressure cook foods for long-term storage. Related: Celebrate the season with this guide to sustainable fall activities Maintain the car When vehicles have to work harder, they are less efficient and consume more gas. Before winter hits, give your car a maintenance check. Test the air pressure in the tires, or swing by the local tire shop for some help. Change the oil and other fluids that are due, change filters, check spark plugs and estimate how much life your battery has left (look for the date of purchase and life expectancy). Clean and repair the furnace and water heater Fall is the perfect time to ensure your heating and water systems are working efficiently. Perform cleaning and maintenance by changing filters and cleaning out air ducts. Prepare for water runoff Head outside while the weather is still above freezing temperatures to make sure rainwater is draining away from your home. This will help avoid flooding. Clean out the French drains that feed water away from your house and into the storm drains, where it will eventually be filtered for reuse. While you’re at it, make sure your rain barrels are set up and working properly, installing a downspout diverter if necessary. Skip the yard chemicals Although the growing season is coming to an end, be aware of any chemicals you are using inside and outside the home. For example, spiders and ants like to transplant themselves this time of year, but if you want to deter them, rely on natural remedies instead of insecticide sprays . Work the compost  While you are busy cleaning up the yard in preparation of winter and the first buds of spring, use a composter to your advantage. Add grass clippings and leaves in thin layers combined with organic food waste and brown products, such as ink-free brown paper bags, toilet paper rolls and thin branches. You can also add the ashes from the burn pile, as long as they are the result of chemical-free wood products. If you have too many grass clippings or leaves for your compost pile, use them as mulch for plants and trees instead. Clean furniture and decking Prevention is key to maintaining your patio furniture and decking. Not only will proper maintenance help them last longer and avoid replacement purchases and landfill waste , but deterring mold and mildew curbs the need for nasty chemicals to treat these problems later on. Clean up your furniture, including lounge sets and dining sets. Cover them and place them on blocks if left on the deck. Sweep the deck’s surface to remove grime, and make sure the wood is sealed to protect against winter moisture. In the spring, your wood surfaces will thank you with easy clean-up and reduced damage. Limit electricity When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, we tend to rely on electricity for heat and light. Be conscious of your consumption by turning off lights when they are not in use, or set them on a timer for automatic savings . Replace your back-porch light with a motion sensor-activated option, and use energy-saving plugs and lightbulbs. Layer up with sweaters, socks and blankets before cranking up the heat, too. Avoid plastic As the season progresses, you’ll be busy performing home improvements, baking and gift-giving. Like other times of the year, try to avoid plastic as much as possible. Look for companies that promote sustainable packaging when ordering online. Skip the bulk warehouse plastic packaging and beware of foam plastic, also known as Styrofoam. Avoid plastic in your dinnerware during holiday celebrations by using washable plates, utensils and glassware. Decorate naturally The late months of fall through early winter are full of fun holidays to celebrate. Decorate your home inside and out using sustainable materials such as wood or metal rather than plastic. Incorporate fruit, nuts, pinecones, leaves, grapevine, hemp and burlap into your crafts. Skip the lawn ornaments that require a power source in favor of live plants and trees, decorated wood cutouts and luminaries made with paper bags and beeswax candles. Another way to limit the amount of energy you need is to insulate your home against heat loss. Have a local energy provider complete an energy assessment on your home. Many even offer free materials for energy savings, like blanket insulation for your water heater or outlet insulation inserts. You can also conserve water by installing water restricting heads on your shower and faucets. Buy local and organic Your garden and the local farmers market might be shut down for the season, but you can still buy produce and even meats from eco-friendly sources. Focus on organic produce , which avoids the use of pesticides and herbicides. If you don’t have any garden stands open in your area, hunt down the best organic options in your local grocery stores. For meat, cut back on consumption in favor of plant-based products . Not only are they healthy for you and the planet, but fresh fruits and vegetables often come package-free (again, watch for plastic and bring your own produce bags to the store). Meat production is blamed for high methane emissions as well as other types of pollution and resource consumption. When you do purchase meat, find a provider who raises livestock sustainably, and purchase it as close to home as possible to avoid the travel footprint. Take your own cups Cold weather and warm drinks go hand-in-hand. Avoid waste and save money by making your own coffee or tea. If the drive-through is your lifeline, at least take your own refillable travel mug instead of relying on single-use options. Speaking of coffee and tea, do the planet a favor by purchasing fair-trade and organic options. To stay hydrated, keep your refillable water bottle handy rather than relying on the single-use bottles at the office (and talk to someone about eliminating those in favor of a refill station). Images via Shutterstock

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Easy ways to make your home and garden more sustainable this fall

Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening

April 10, 2019 by  
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After a dreary winter, spring has finally arrived! It’s time … The post Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening

Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening

April 10, 2019 by  
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After a dreary winter, spring has finally arrived! It’s time … The post Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Native Plants: the Key to Eco-Friendly Gardening

5 Native Beauties to Grow Now

July 9, 2018 by  
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Past generations thought of native plants as weeds — probably … The post 5 Native Beauties to Grow Now appeared first on Earth911.com.

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