Worlds first LEED Platinum police station generates more energy than it consumes in Cincinnati

May 5, 2017 by  
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Serving the community goes hand in hand with serving the environment at this police station in Cincinnati. The Ohio city is home to the world’s first freestanding net-zero energy police station that’s also the first of its kind to earn LEED Platinum certification. Designed by local firm emersion DESIGN , the Cincinnati District 3 Police Station Headquarters is a beautiful facility that not only produces as much energy as it consumes, but also beautifies the community with public art and rainwater. Unveiled in July 2015 in the city’s Westwood neighborhood, the 39,000-square-foot District 3 Police Station Headquarters houses nearly 200 employees. Forty geothermal wells and a 330-kW solar array power the energy-efficient building, which consumes half the power used by traditionally built facilities of the same size. Since the building consumes less energy than it generates—the energy use intensity is 28 kBtu per square foot—the building is expected to save the city a significant amount of taxpayer money over the years. Related: BIG unveils plans for NYPD’s first-ever green-roofed police station The net-zero energy building was also designed with considerable community input, from the new station’s location to the selection of public art. As part of the state’s 1 Percent Art Program, the police station includes an LED art installation that tells the story of the district’s 14 neighborhoods. Generous amounts of glazing clad the station and create a sense of transparency with the community. The landscaping around the building incorporates native plantings and includes beautiful stormwater management design, such as rainwater gardens and a stone ‘river’ bioswale. + emersion DESIGN

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Worlds first LEED Platinum police station generates more energy than it consumes in Cincinnati

These solar-powered apartments in Sweden generate more energy than they use

April 28, 2017 by  
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Although the US may be moving backwards in terms of clean energy, countries like Sweden are going full throttle while adding plus-energy homes to their cities. Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture designed this newly-built apartment complex in Linköping. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also produces enough energy to sell surplus electricity back to the grid. Sweden’s solar energy tax used to be quite punitive, but the country has thankfully slashed the tax by 98% . As a result, developers and private home owners are embracing solar energy. In fact, the Linköping apartment complex generates more energy than it needs from its large roof-mounted photovoltaic array . Related: 8 homes that generate more energy than they consume As far as design, the architects wanted something that would pay homage to the city’s vernacular. Beautiful brass-colored windows on a white concrete facade give the building a delicate, yet modern aesthetic. On the interior, the units are bright and spacious and come with high ceilings . A community courtyard severs as a gathering place where residendts can discuss their amazingly low energy costs. + Kjellgren Kaminsky Images via Kjellgren Kaminsky

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These solar-powered apartments in Sweden generate more energy than they use

Net-zero Silicon Valley office prioritizes water conservation in drought-stricken California

December 2, 2016 by  
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A Silicon Valley office building that produces all the energy it needs on-site is a leading example of smarter, water-efficient architecture in drought-stricken California. The net-zero energy building, called Hanover Page Mill, was designed by Form4 Architecture to use significantly less water than comparable buildings thanks to low-flow fixtures, water-efficient irrigation systems, and native drought-tolerant plantings. Completed this year, the LEED Platinum-certified building was just awarded the LEAF Award in the Best Sustainable Development category. While the majority of corporate Silicon Valley office buildings are glass-clad behemoths, Hanover Page Mill bucks the trend with a more opaque facade that’s distinctly Californian with an earthy color palette. The building achieves net-zero energy on an annual basis with superior insulation, natural lighting, low-flow fixtures, and photovoltaic panels that provide all of the building’s electric energy use, including the energy used by the 15 on-site electric car chargers. The office uses 40% less water for toilet flushing when compared to similarly sized buildings, and 55% less potable water is needed for its drought-tolerant landscaping. Related: World’s largest green roof unveiled in the heart of Silicon Valley Hanover Page Mill is arranged around a C-shaped layout with two aboveground floors overtop an underground 118-space parking lot. A grand, south-facing square courtyard forms the focal point of the site’s central axis. “The project is the result of an exceptional design that blends form with function,” says Hanover Page Mill Associates’ James Gaither, Jr., a former ecologist for The Nature Conservancy . “We believe that designing toward sustainability and occupant health and comfort are the most valuable building attributes in today’s market, and will become essential in the future.” + Form4 Architecture Images by Craig Cozart Photography

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Net-zero Silicon Valley office prioritizes water conservation in drought-stricken California

9 of the most impressive Living Building Challenge certified projects

September 28, 2016 by  
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Image: Ethan Drinker Photography 1. Smith College Bechtel Environmental Classroom The Bechtel Environmental Classroom, designed by Coldham and Hartman Architects , is a former pastoral observatory transformed into a green learning space in Whatley, Massachusetts. The 2,500-square-foot, single-story building serves as a part of Smith College and sits on 223 acres of pasture and forest , overlooking an old stone dump site. One of the two enclosed areas provides space for biological and environmental science classes and the other, larger area gives plenty of room for humanities seminars and other classes, such as poetry and dance. A drilled well ensures a sustainable water supply and composting toilets give back to the Earth. LED lighting and two solar panels combined ensure a gentle footprint on this peaceful site. Image: Matthew Millman Photography 2. Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab If you are going to teach the next generation how to move forward with alternative energy, the facilities had better reflect the mission. That is just what the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab ensured with its completely sustainable, net-zero-energy design. Flansburgh Architects are behind the structure, which achieved

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9 of the most impressive Living Building Challenge certified projects

Beautiful Sea Song home in California is completely self-sustaining

August 30, 2016 by  
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The residence is located on a cantilevered podium in Big Sur on the coast of California. Flowing parallel to the existing topography, the pavilions are evocative of marine life, ranging from sea shells, crustaceans and Manta Rays. A full array of sustainable techniques was deployed in the design of the building which recently won first place at the International Design Awards. Related: Northern California Church Boasts One of the Largest Rainwater-Collection Systems in the U.S. Thanks to the presence of self-cleaning glass , rainwater retention cistern, and xeriscaping, the project ensures a sensible use of water. The xeriscaping reduces the need for supplemental water from irrigation and reinforces the idea that the project emerged from the site itself. The organization of the spaces creates spatial flow free of corridors, with the three structures scaled differently to accommodate different functions. The enclosed concrete slits house bathrooms, walk-in closets and laundry, leaving the rest of the space as column-free areas offering beautiful vistas. The public quarters occupy the bigger volume, while the master bedroom and a studio are located in the middle volume. + Form4 Architecture Via Archdaily

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Beautiful Sea Song home in California is completely self-sustaining

NASA says Earth is warming at a rate ‘unprecedented in 1,000 years’

August 30, 2016 by  
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New data has confirmed that the Earth has been experiencing the hottest temperatures on record . The latest findings from NASA’s top climate scientists now reveal the world is heating up at a rate that hasn’t occurred within the past 1,000 years. According to NASA , the planet will continue to warm “at least” 20 times faster than the historical average over the next 100 years. Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies , said that “in the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory.” He added, “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).” July 2016 was the hottest month on record, and this year the average global temperature peaked at 1.38C above levels reported in the 19th century. That number is dangerously close to the 1.5C limit determined by the Paris Climate Agreement . Nasa warns that temperatures will only increase by leaps and bounds at the rate we are going. Related: New NASA data confirms July 2016 was the hottest month on record If we have even the slimmest of hopes to combat this unprecedented rate of global warming, Schmidt says, “maintaining temperatures below the 1.5C guardrail requires significant and very rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions or co-ordinated geo-engineering. That is very unlikely. We are not even yet making emissions cuts commensurate with keeping warming below 2C.” “It’s the long-term trend we have to worry about though and there’s no evidence it’s going away and lots of reasons to think it’s here to stay,” Schmidt said. “There’s no pause or hiatus in temperature increase. People who think this is over are viewing the world through rose-tinted spectacles. This is a chronic problem for society for the next 100 years.” + NASA Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay , NASA , and NASA Earth Observatory

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NASA says Earth is warming at a rate ‘unprecedented in 1,000 years’

Living Baubotanik tree tower rises in Germany

August 30, 2016 by  
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Baubotanik, or Living Plant Constructions, is the brainchild of architect Dr. Ferdinand Ludwig who found inspiration in the ancient art of tree shaping that’s spanned cultures worldwide, from medieval European topiary to Japanese bonsai . Baubotanik puts a modern spin on the natural process of grafting by adding metal scaffolding and other construction materials to transform the trees into a load-bearing structure. Over time, the exposed tree tissue grows around and bonds with the man-made materials. Related: India’s Amazing Tree Bridges Are Made of Living Roots and Vines! After years of research, Ludwig found that the most suitable tree species were those that are flexible and fast growing, such as sycamore/plane tree, poplar, birch, and hornbeam. While willow , a favorite material among tree sculptors like Patrick Dougherty , initially met Ludwig’s standards, he now avoids them citing problems with rot and durability. Ludwig and the Baubotanik Research Group have completed three seminal works over the last decade that test these botanically inspired building methods. In 2005, Ludwig collaborated with architect Oliver Storz and sculptor Cornelius Hackenbracht to grow and construct a footbridge made from willow trees and metal scaffolding. Stainless steel tubes were inserted between young willow saplings that eventually grew around the material until the tube was fully embedded. The tubes are used as handrails for the 2.5-meter-tall elevated walking surface made from steel grates that’s supported by the tree “columns.” Another early Baubotanik creation is the three-story-tall willow tower with a height of nearly nine meters and an eight-square-meter footprint. Unlike the footbridge, the tower design began with temporary steel tube scaffolding anchored into the ground. Containers of willow were inserted in the structure and watered constantly to encourage fast growth. The architects shaped the willow saplings into crisscrossing formations and drilled them in place with screws to preserve the contorted shapes. The metal scaffolding will be removed once the living structure is stable enough to support itself. The Plane-Tree-Cube Nagold is the biggest Baubotanik building to date and the first of its kind to be developed for an urban environment. Created for a 2012 regional horticultural show in Nagold, the award-winning building is constructed from live sycamore and a massive metal scaffolding structure that serves as a temporary base. The sycamore is shaped over time using pipes, regulators, sensors, and valves. The public was invited to enter the treehouse and climb its three levels. Like the tower, the Plane-Tree-Cube was developed so that the metal scaffolding can be removed once the shaped sycamores have achieved a stable state. Part sculpture and part architecture, these beautiful Baubotanik buildings are no replacement for conventional construction practices. Not only are they time and labor intensive, but they also demand ongoing maintenance as living, breathing structures. However, these thought provoking buildings aren’t for naught. They encourage us to embrace biodesign , harness nature’s existing benefits, and design with nature to create a more sustainable future. + Baubotanik Via ArchDaily Images via Baubotanik

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Living Baubotanik tree tower rises in Germany

INTERVIEW: Queen of tiny living Felice Cohen on her new guidebook for small spaces

August 30, 2016 by  
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Our story on New Yorker Felice Cohen’s incredibly micro 90-square-foot apartment went viral when we first published it back in 2012, and now the author, organizer and speaker is sharing her tiny living experiences in a new book entitled 90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet (…or more) . Felice was kind enough to share some of her tiny living tips with us recently on our NYC site — click through to see what she has to say about making the most of a minuscule abode.

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INTERVIEW: Queen of tiny living Felice Cohen on her new guidebook for small spaces

Pittsburghs net-zero Frick Environmental Center is designed to meet the worlds toughest green standards

August 3, 2016 by  
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Created as a joint venture between the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy , the FEC is a welcome facility, education center, and gateway to the 644-acre Frick Park. The center will serve as a “living laboratory” offering hands-on environmental education to a projected 20,000 K-12 students along with hundreds of thousands of expected visitors each year. Its fully equipped classrooms, galleries, offices, and public spaces will help carry out the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s award-winning programs that include the restoration of the park’s ecological and historical landscape. Related: Pittsburgh’s Net-Zero Energy Center for Sustainable Landscapes Blows Fracking Out of the Water The FEC boasts an impressive array of sustainable features and will achieve net zero energy and water thanks to efficient systems such as ground-source heat pumps, radiant floors, a photovoltaic array , and a reclaimed water system that will capture and filter stormwater for reuse in irrigation and other non-potable uses. All the building materials came from a 1,200-mile radius of the site to minimize the FEC’s carbon footprint. To support the local economy, subcontractors and tradespeople were hired in the Allegheny County-Western Pennsylvania region. The FEC will host their first public celebration on Saturday, September 10. The building will be free and open to the public during park hours. The Living Building Challenge certification is targeted for Spring 2018. + Frick Environmental Center + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

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Pittsburghs net-zero Frick Environmental Center is designed to meet the worlds toughest green standards

Coiling glass skywalk opened in China lets people walk on a sheer cliff face

August 3, 2016 by  
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A new glass skywalk has opened up in China ’s Hunan province that allows tourists to walk along a sheer cliff face, seemingly supported by nothing at all. The 100 meter (328 feet) long Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk wraps around the side of Tianmen Mountain , and is about 1.6 meters (5.2 feet) wide. The attraction opened Monday, and while some visitors clung tightly to the side of the mountain, others strolled right up to the railing, selfie sticks raised high, for a once-in-a-lifetime shot. From the walkway, sitting at 4,600 feet above sea level, visitors can see Tongtian Avenue below, a winding mountain road with exactly 99 turns that snaked up the side of the peak. The mountain is just one of several stunning natural features in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park . The attraction is the third of its kind in the Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area. The Coiling Dragon path was once completely built of wood, but was recently converted to a glass bottom for a more dramatic view. Related: World’s longest and highest glass bridge to open next spring in China This isn’t the first dramatic glass-bottomed attraction to be built in China recently. Elsewhere in the park, the world’s longest and highest glass bridge is currently wrapping up construction. The bridge will connect both sides of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, allowing visitors to view the stunning natural landscape from 984 feet above the ground. Though the bridge was originally planned to open in May, it’s currently been delayed. Via CNN Photos via ImagineChina

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Coiling glass skywalk opened in China lets people walk on a sheer cliff face

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