No waste, no carbon, no wonder this net-zero home breaks the mold

March 29, 2021 by  
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When the Baboolals looked around their North Carolina community, they saw what many people see in their local areas: cookie-cutter houses that consume excess energy. A desire to break free from this mold is how their journey to create a net-zero house began. Working with architect Arielle Condoret Schechter, the Baboolals outlined a few essentials for the home. First, the net-zero home needed to be well-insulated, air-tight and energy-efficient. To reach a net-zero energy bill, the home needed a system to produce as much energy as it consumes. Achieving these net-zero goals meant creating a house with an air-tight building envelope to prevent energy loss. Additionally, a photovoltaic array on the roof generates solar power and is covered with a white cool-roof membrane. The windows are also triple-glazed and protected with deep roof overhangs. With these net-zero goals in mind, the family also wanted a functional home that suited everyone — parents, pets and children included. An open, airy and inviting central public zone meets the need for a functional family area. The gathering space includes a gourmet kitchen, deck access across the back of the house, and dining and living areas. The house also incorporates a study/music room, laundry room, pantry and two-car garage. Meanwhile, the north wall’s glass doors make it easy to marry the outside world with the home’s interior. But everyone needs their privacy sometimes. That’s why the home includes a private zone for the parents. The kids also enjoy their own separate bedroom suites and a playroom. The design naturally flows together, allowing one space to lead into the next. This is exemplified by the sleek deck that leads one from inside the house to the beautiful outdoors . Seamless design and net-zero strategies combine to make the Baboolal home both beautiful and energy-efficient . This modern house gives everyone the spaces they need while remaining sustainable and carbon-free. + Arielle Condoret Schechter, AIA Photography via © Tzu Chen Photography

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No waste, no carbon, no wonder this net-zero home breaks the mold

Bald eagle population bounces back from brink of extinction

March 29, 2021 by  
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The once shrinking population of bald eagles has quadrupled over the past 12 years, according to a new survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The study has found that there are over 316,000 bald eagles in the lower 48 states of the U.S., with over 70,000 breeding pairs . According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there were approximately 500 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the U.S. in the late 1960s. However, the story changed with the discovery that DDT, often found in insecticides , was affecting wildlife, effectively leading to its ban in 1972. In 1973, the federal government signed the Endangered Species Act, which led to the protections of various species, including the bald eagle. Related: Critically endangered regent honeyeaters are losing their song Since then, the population has been growing gradually, and the bird was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Following a recent survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has discovered that the number of bald eagles has more than quadrupled since 2009 when they were last counted. Speaking to the press, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said that this turnaround is historic. “The bald eagle has always been considered a sacred species to American Indian people, and similarly it’s sacred to our nation as America’s national symbol,” Haaland said. This success story proves that conservation measures work. Although the birds were hunted, killed and poisoned for years, the population has grown thanks to focused conservation efforts. While the report might seem like a good indication for the future of wildlife in the U.S., the reality on the ground is quite different. A recent study by Cornell Lab of Ornithology has established that the overall population of birds in the U.S. has dropped by about one-third in the past 50 years. A different report by the National Audubon Society has established that about two-thirds of North American birds are at an increased risk of extinction, primarily because of climate change. “By stabilizing carbon emissions and holding warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, nearly 150 species would no longer be vulnerable to extinction from climate change ,” the report noted. + U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Via NPR Image via Jan Temmel

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Bald eagle population bounces back from brink of extinction

By 2035, all new cars sold in Massachusetts must be electric

January 5, 2021 by  
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Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has released a masterplan for the state that requires all cars produced and sold to be electric come 2035. The plan, dubbed  Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap ,  looks at various factors that contribute to carbon pollution. State administrators noted that cars are major contributors to carbon pollution, and any plan to achieve net-zero emissions must include the eradication of fossil fuel-powered automobiles. In a  press release , the governor highlighted the negative impacts of climate change caused by excessive carbon pollution. “The people of Massachusetts are experiencing record droughts, increased risk of wildfire, severe weather, and flooding in our coastal communities,” Baker said. “The costly impacts of climate change are on display in the Commonwealth, making it critical that we take action.” Related: Solar-powered Lowell Justice Center will be Massachusetts’ first LEED Platinum courthouse Kathleen Theoharides, the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary, said that achieving net-zero emissions requires efforts from everyone to make the plan successful. “We know that achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050 will require hard work and collaboration across all sectors of the economy,” Theoharides said. The new roadmap “establishes a blueprint that will help us achieve our climate goals in a way that is cost-effective and delivers significant benefits to residents across the Commonwealth, especially those in our most vulnerable communities.” In the report, which was released on December 31, the state has identified key areas of concern to help reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Besides turning to electric cars, the report also outlines a shift from a fossil fuel grid to a renewable energy grid. According to the report, data indicates that low-income homes in the state do not have access to air conditioning as compared to more affluent homes. The plan looks at increasing temperatures due to climate change and notes that all homes will require clean energy to facilitate home air conditioning. Another area of focus will be new buildings. The state plans to prevent emissions from all upcoming buildings with improved building codes and construction policies. Massachusetts now becomes one of the few states with a clear roadmap toward net-zero emissions . However, the bulk of the work still lies in the implementation of the plan. + Mass.gov Via Clean Technica Image via David Mark

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By 2035, all new cars sold in Massachusetts must be electric

A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

October 2, 2020 by  
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Refined, elemental and minimal: these words were the inspiration behind a recently completed net-zero home in West Seattle. Built to endure the test of time and incorporate elegance with an unobtrusive aesthetic and restrained size, the home takes inspiration from the Japanese concept of Shibui. Uncomplicated and honest, the concept of Shibui in design favors simple, subtle beauty. The architectural team followed the client’s suggestion to utilize the technique by creating a minimal -yet-elegant home with few superfluous touches. Though the design is uncomplicated, leading to a sense of peace while inside, it is not lacking in convenience. Despite being on the smaller side when compared to similar luxury homes, the 1,153-square-foot house still has an open-plan kitchen, a living and dining area, a den to be used as an office or guest room, two bathrooms and a garage with electric vehicle charging capability, bike storage and a trash room. Related: Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines The home also maintains a small carbon footprint with energy-efficient features like Passive House-certified windows for high thermal performance, LED fixtures and WaterSense-certified fixtures. To put more value on privacy, the home is set farther back from the street to create a sense of distance from the public. Setting the house back also gained the additional bonus of preserving an existing cherry tree onsite. There is a non-infiltrating bio-retention tank to collect rain and stormwater, filtering the collected water before applying it to landscaping inside the raised yard. The location of interior spaces, also guided by privacy and control, features diagonal views and sliding doors that block neighbor views. A large roof accommodates a substantial solar panel system and guards the home against the elements. On the upper level, the home opens fully to the west deck through patio sliders while roof overhangs provide protection for occupants. + SHED Architecture and Design Photography by Rafael Soldi via SHED Architecture and Design

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A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

October 2, 2020 by  
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Refined, elemental and minimal: these words were the inspiration behind a recently completed net-zero home in West Seattle. Built to endure the test of time and incorporate elegance with an unobtrusive aesthetic and restrained size, the home takes inspiration from the Japanese concept of Shibui. Uncomplicated and honest, the concept of Shibui in design favors simple, subtle beauty. The architectural team followed the client’s suggestion to utilize the technique by creating a minimal -yet-elegant home with few superfluous touches. Though the design is uncomplicated, leading to a sense of peace while inside, it is not lacking in convenience. Despite being on the smaller side when compared to similar luxury homes, the 1,153-square-foot house still has an open-plan kitchen, a living and dining area, a den to be used as an office or guest room, two bathrooms and a garage with electric vehicle charging capability, bike storage and a trash room. Related: Twin timber buildings draw inspiration from traditional Japanese shrines The home also maintains a small carbon footprint with energy-efficient features like Passive House-certified windows for high thermal performance, LED fixtures and WaterSense-certified fixtures. To put more value on privacy, the home is set farther back from the street to create a sense of distance from the public. Setting the house back also gained the additional bonus of preserving an existing cherry tree onsite. There is a non-infiltrating bio-retention tank to collect rain and stormwater, filtering the collected water before applying it to landscaping inside the raised yard. The location of interior spaces, also guided by privacy and control, features diagonal views and sliding doors that block neighbor views. A large roof accommodates a substantial solar panel system and guards the home against the elements. On the upper level, the home opens fully to the west deck through patio sliders while roof overhangs provide protection for occupants. + SHED Architecture and Design Photography by Rafael Soldi via SHED Architecture and Design

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A net-zero compact home in Seattle is inspired by Shibui minimalism

How the First Net-Zero Energy Communities in the U.S. Operate

July 8, 2020 by  
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As with any brilliant innovation, net-zero energy communities were an … The post How the First Net-Zero Energy Communities in the U.S. Operate appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How the First Net-Zero Energy Communities in the U.S. Operate

Distinctly modern net-zero home sits in harmony with its woodland surroundings

May 5, 2020 by  
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Chapel Hill-based firm Arielle Condoret Schechter is known for its commitment to building sustainable homes that don’t sacrifice elegance or comfort. The company’s latest work includes the spacious Haw River House, which was built with several efficient features to create a net-zero energy home that is seamlessly linked with its natural surroundings. Tucked into a pristine woodland overlooking the Haw River, which runs through central North Carolina, the beautiful Haw River House sits in harmony with the landscape. Using this natural setting as inspiration, the 2,600-square-foot house is outfitted with several energy-efficient features that make it completely energy-neutral. Related: Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape According to the architects, the thick forest of towering deciduous and evergreen trees that soar out of the rocky landscape inspired the unique volume of the home . To mimic the dreamy, natural silhouettes, the home has a butterfly roof and various outdoor spaces. First, a cantilevered screen porch that nearly stretches the length of the home allows the family to enjoy a seamless connection to the outdoors. There is another deck off of the main volume and a private outdoor deck cantilevered off of the master bedroom. To achieve its net-zero energy status, the home includes many sustainable features, such as a 13 KW solar panel system and a geothermal heating and cooling system. To maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, Haw River House has an air-tight envelope and triple-glazed windows and doors, including a 20-foot-wide sliding glass door that looks out over the beautiful river rapids. The abundance of glazing provides the entire living space with optimal natural light, air circulation and, of course, views. Despite all of that glass, the extended roof overhangs shelter the interiors from harsh sunlight. Additionally, the roof has an integral water collection system . The strategically designed gutter system leads to downspouts on each end of the home, funneling all rainwater into two 5,000-gallon above-ground cisterns. The water is then processed into clean drinking water via a triple-filtering system that includes a state-of-the-art UV method that kills 99.9% of bacteria. + Arielle Condoret Schechter Photography by Tzu Chen via Arielle Condoret Schechter

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Distinctly modern net-zero home sits in harmony with its woodland surroundings

New net-zero LivingHomes capture the future of sustainable living

April 29, 2020 by  
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Koto Design has teamed up with Plant Prefab to create two new incredible net-zero energy homes. Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2 are modular homes that incorporate sustainable living systems of the future. Under the ethos of creating great architecture that is more sustainable, the dwellings are powerhouses of energy-efficiency, with passive elements to reduce energy demand and active systems that allow homeowners to reduce electricity consumption through an app. Ranging in cost from $419,000 to $830,400, the new homes are available in two modular models, Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2. Both homes are designed with a Scandinavian aesthetic. With clean lines and solid materials, they are built to have strong connections with the natural world through a variety of passive and active features that also keep energy needs to a minimum. Related: A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island The larger of the two homes, nicknamed Piha (Finnish for “courtyard”), spans 2,184 square feet and features a spacious courtyard that melds the interior and exterior. The second home, dubbed Yksi (Finnish for “first”), is a smaller, two-bedroom residence. Designed to be ultra-resilient to various climates, the homes can be built in virtually any landscape, from frigid mountainous regions to warm beachfront properties. Both designs count on using an abundance of natural light and air ventilation to keep the interior spaces cool and cozy without the need for artificial systems. Although most prefab homes already feature a relatively small carbon footprint, the Koto homes meet net-zero energy targets and are built with eco-friendly materials, such as recycled insulation. The designs also incorporate efficient heating and cooling systems, low-flow water fixtures and LED lighting. Koto LivingHome 1 and Koto LivingHome 2 have monitoring systems accessible via smartphone to ensure all systems are operating at maximum efficiency. + Koto Design + Plant Prefab Images via Koto Design

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New net-zero LivingHomes capture the future of sustainable living

Sweden and Austria close their last coal plants

April 29, 2020 by  
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Europe just gained its second and third coal-free countries. Sweden and Austria have both shut their last coal-fired plants in late April, joining Belgium in going coal-free in favor of renewable energy sources. “With Sweden going coal-free in the same week as Austria, the downward trajectory of coal in Europe is clear,” Kathrin Gutmann, campaign director for Europe Beyond Coal, told PV Magazine . “Against the backdrop of the serious health challenges we are currently facing, leaving coal behind in exchange for renewables is the right decision and will repay us in kind with improved health, climate protection and more resilient economies.” Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 Sweden had originally planned on going coal-free in 2022, but it was able to achieve this goal two years early. A mild Swedish winter meant that energy utility Stockholm Exergi’s last coal-fired plant, located in Hjorthagen, eastern Stockholm, didn’t need to be used this year. The plant opened in 1989. In addition to environmental awareness that decreased the popularity of coal, market forces have driven the operational costs up. Statistics from the U.K.-based think-tank Carbon Tracker show that 40% of EU coal plants ran at a loss in 2017. In 2019, it cost almost 100% more to run a coal plant than to rely on renewable options. More European countries plan to join the coal-free future: France is aiming to be coal-free by 2022; Slovakia and Portugal by 2023; the U.K. by 2024; and Ireland and Italy by 2025. Stockholm Exergi CEO Anders Egelrud told PV Magazine he hopes the utility will eventually go carbon-negative. “Today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels , therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan,” Egelrud said, according to TheMayor.eu . “Since Stockholm was almost totally fossil-dependent 30-40 years ago, we have made enormous changes and now we are taking the step away from carbon dependence and continuing the journey towards an energy system entirely based on renewable and recycled energy.” Image via Steve Buissinne

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Sweden and Austria close their last coal plants

Modern farmhouse targets net-zero energy in Vermont

April 27, 2020 by  
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On a hillside meadow in rural Vermont, local architecture firm Birdseye has completed Bank Barn, a new residence that, from afar, might look like any another agricultural building. But it is actually a modern farmhouse strategically engineered to meet future net-zero energy targets. The architects drew inspiration from the regional farm structures built into the banks of hills to create the gabled dwelling, which is clad in weathered cedar and topped with a durable metal roof. An intensive energy consultation and modeling informed all parts of the design. The resulting project features an electricity-based energy system that is expected to achieve net-zero energy operations, pending a future 18 kW solar array. Set into a steep slope, the 4,566-square-foot Bank Barn comprises three levels with the lowest floor — containing the garage, pool room and support spaces — below grade and flanked by two 160-foot linear concrete retaining walls. The long walls support an extended plinth for the floor above that houses an open-plan living area, kitchen and dining room with access to the rear outdoor deck as well as a spacious office that looks out over a green roof atop the garage. A central, freestanding steel staircase leads up to the three en suite bedrooms located on the upper floor. Related: Sublime net-positive energy farmhouse pays homage to the local vernacular Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass surround the home, filling the interior with natural light and uninterrupted views of the outdoors. To keep the focus on the landscape, the architects used a subdued palette of exposed steel, plaster, concrete and wood for the minimalist and modern interiors. “Early in the design process, the house was modeled to assess the design in terms of energy efficiency , thermal comfort and visual comfort,” the architects explained. As a result, the home boasts an airtight envelope with thermally separated r-40 walls, an r-60 roof, closed-cell polyurethane foam cavities and triple-glazing throughout. The house draws power from geothermal heating and cooling through water-to-water and water-to-air systems as well as heat recovery ventilators. + Birdseye Photography by Jim Westphalen Photography via Birdseye

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