This new energy concept from Sweden can make any building net zero

October 11, 2017 by  
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A new Swedish energy concept can turn any building into a net zero energy structure. Pioneered by Malmö-based company Innenco , the concept utilizes a building’s thermal mass to drastically reduce energy use by around 85 percent. With their active elements systems, heat pumps, chillers, and adding solar panels , Innenco can bring new or existing buildings to net zero energy consumption. Inhabitat spoke with CEO and founder Jonathan Karlsson to find out more. Innenco, which stands for innovative energy concept, dramatically slashes a building’s energy use. Karlsson told Inhabitat, “Our vision is to create possibilities to make new net zero constructions in an efficient way, giving everyone the capability to do so.” Their technology changes how a building operates for vastly improved energy efficiency . Related: California city could become the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S. It starts with their active elements system: pipes are integrated into the frame construction to utilize a building’s thermal mass. Adding heat pumps and chillers to the system allows Innenco to get four to six times greater efficiency in heating and cooling . At this point they’re able to reduce energy use by 85 percent, so to cover that last 15 percent, they install Innenco Quantum Solar panels. “This makes an investment in solar cells much lower than a traditional system, and we can get net zero for a really cost-efficient investment,” Karlsson told Inhabitat. Buildings with the Innenco system installed tend to maintain a temperature of around 22 degrees Celsius, or around 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Innenco has already seen their concept work in the real world. They’ve installed their system in homes, offices, schools, and industry premises. Karlsson said they were excited to discover they could utilize a really high rate of thermal mass in industry buildings, and think their concept could translate well to skyscrapers . They’ve worked in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Spain, and the Netherlands, with projects coming up in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. They provide maintenance, and their energy concept can be installed as new buildings are built or integrated in old ones. Karlsson said sustainability projects should deliver social, environmental, and economical benefits, all three of which Innenco aims to offer with their concept. “Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is a really high goal for us,” Karlsson told Inhabitat. “It’s the climate condition; it’s really necessary to figure out how we can help the planet.” Innenco hopes to introduce their energy concept to other markets too, such as the United States. You can find out more on their website . + Innenco Images courtesy of Innenco

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This new energy concept from Sweden can make any building net zero

Visionary eco-resort design for the Philippines features rotating seashell towers

September 19, 2017 by  
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Visionary eco-architect Vincent Callebaut has just unveiled images of his latest ecological masterpiece and it’s jaw-droppingly stunning. Nautilus is a futuristic 27,000-square-meter eco-resort designed for Palawan, Philippines. The beautiful self-sustaining complex, which would include various research centers, shell-shaped hotels and rotating apartment towers, is designed to be a shining example of how resilient tourism can allow travelers to discover the world without destroying it. Callebaut designed Nautilus to be a resilient, self-sustaining community that includes a series of rotating apartments and luxury hotels, along with a elementary school and sports center. Also on site would be a scientific research and learning center for travelers who’d like to collaborate with engineers, scientists, and ecologists in actively taking part in improving the local environment. It’s a pioneering collaborative concept focused on using real-world education to foster and spread the idea of responsible ecotourism –  or as the architect describes it – “a voluntary approach to reimburse ecological debt”. Related: Vincent Callebaut’s Twisting Citytree Towers Generate More Energy Than They Consume Using the principles of biomimicry , the design is inspired by the “shapes, structures, intelligence of materials and feedback loops that exist in living beings and endemic ecosystems.” The construction and operation of the complex would work under a “zero-emission, zero-waste, zero-poverty” ethos, using 100 percent reused and/or recycled materials from the surrounding area. All of the materials used in the construction would be bio-sourced products derived from vegetable biomass. Microalgae and linseed oil would be used to manufacture organic tiles, while any wood used would be locally-sourced from eco-responsible forests. Even the luxury lodgings would be self-sustaining, playing a strong role in the design’s net-zero energy profile. The main tourist village would be built on telescopic piles that produce ocean thermal energy as well as tidal energy. This energy, along with photovoltaic cells , would produce sufficient energy for the the village, which will also be installed with vertical walls and green roofs to increase the buildings’ thermal inertia and optimize natural temperature control. To the west, twelve small spiral towers with a total of 164 units are designed to be built on rotating bases that turn on their axis according to the course of the sun, fully rotating 360 degrees in one day, providing optimal views of the surrounding environment and taking advantage of a full day of natural light. On the east side, the complex would have 12 small snail-shaped “museum-hotels” constructed with recycled concrete . The hotels will feature various exhibition spaces on the bottom floors and guests rooms on the upper floors. At the heart of the resort will be Origami Mountain, slated to house a scientific research center and nautical recreation area. The building would be constructed using a Cross Laminated Timber framework that would be layered to create a number of undulating ramps that fold out like a massive origami structure. + Vincent Callebaut + Nautilus Eco-Resort Images via Vincent Callebaut

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Visionary eco-resort design for the Philippines features rotating seashell towers

America’s largest urban farm to be planted in Pittsburgh

September 19, 2017 by  
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Pittsburgh , once a site of heavy industry, could soon be home to the biggest urban farm in the United States. The 23-acre Hilltop Urban Farm will be located in the city’s Southside, an area underserved by supermarkets , where it could help supply nutritious, fresh produce to those who otherwise would have little access. Coal, steel, and manufacturing once boomed in Pittsburgh, until the city experienced an industrial decline in the 1950s. The healthcare industry has recently helped revive the city, but neighborhoods on Pittsburgh’s outer ring have yet to see a comeback. That’s where the Hilltop Alliance , the group behind the Hilltop Urban Farm, is working. The city is also home to the largest percentage of people living in areas with low-supermarket access for cities with 250,000 to 500,000 people, according to a 2012 report from the United States Department of the Treasury. Related: 20 kids transform a rough Pittsburgh neighborhood with solar art & charging station The Hilltop Urban Farm could offer an answer to the issues these Pittsburgh residents face. The farm will occupy space that was once filled with low-income housing – and according to Aaron Sukenik, Hilltop Alliance executive director, the land “was just kind of sitting there, fenced and looking very post-apocalyptic.” Soon it will be home to a farm where people will grow winter peas and other produce. There will be a fruit orchard, and an almost one-acre youth farm. There will be a 3.36-acre farmer incubation program, and a 57 plot community garden . There will also be a 3.31 community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Also part of the urban farm will be a 200-person events barn and a farm market building, where a seasonal farmer’s market will occur. According to the Hilltop Urban Farm Facebook page , green infrastructure, energy-efficient buildings, stormwater management , and native plants will be part of the design. Hilltop Urban Farm is slated to open in 2019. Via Reuters Images via Hilltop Urban Farm Facebook

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America’s largest urban farm to be planted in Pittsburgh

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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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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