Solar-powered Dutch home produces all of its own energy with surplus to spare

December 5, 2019 by  
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When Marjo Dashorst and Han Roebers set their sights on designing a sustainable home in Zutphen, a municipality on the east side of the Netherlands, the couple turned to Amsterdam-based practice Attika Architekten to realize their dream. The goal was to develop an energy-efficient home that would not only meet all of its own energy needs through renewable systems but also be capable of producing enough surplus energy to charge an electric car . The resulting project, aptly titled the Energy Plant House, combines solar panels, passive solar strategies and a highly insulating envelope to achieve its energy-plus goals. In contrast to its more traditional, gable-roofed neighbors, the Energy Plant House sports a contemporary, boxy appearance. The three-bedroom home is spread out across two floors: a ground-floor volume clad in sand-lime brick and a partially cantilevered upper volume wrapped in reclaimed 60-year-old Azobé campshedding planks. Reused Stelcon plates anchor the terraces. Large sliding glass doors on the north and south sides of the home create a seamless connection between indoors and out. Related: Snøhetta completes world’s northernmost energy-positive building To meet the client’s goals of an energy-plus home, the architects installed 32 rooftop solar panels with a capacity of 9.6 kW. Energy production is supplemented with a 8kW heat pump with a closed source at a depth of 180 meters as well as a heat exchanger in the ventilation system. Energy efficiency is optimized with a well-insulated envelope and vegetated roofs. Strategically located windows — from the skylights to the tall east and west windows — flood the interior with natural light despite the northern orientation. Unwanted solar gain from the south end is mitigated with an overhang from the cantilevered upper volume; advanced remote-controlled outdoor awnings have also been installed to shade the residents from harsh sunlight. + Attika Architekten Photography by Kees Hummel Fotografie via Attika Architekten

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Solar-powered Dutch home produces all of its own energy with surplus to spare

This durable, recyclable cooler is made from bamboo, wool, steel and aluminum

December 5, 2019 by  
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Coolers are a part of every camping trip and fishing excursion, because they are a convenient and necessary tool for keeping freshly caught fish cold or frosty beverages close at hand. The problem is that modern coolers are mostly made from plastic and polyurethane foam , materials that are costly for the planet from production to post-consumer waste. Now, husband and wife duo David Nomura and Brook McLeod at Wool Street, LLC have designed a completely recyclable cooler with practicality and sustainability in mind. Called the Wooly Mammoth, this cooler strives to solve the problem of trashed coolers filling landfills, where they remain for generations. The cooler uses stainless steel and aluminum for the main body, tray and hardware; both of these materials are completely recyclable. The handles use bamboo, a renewable resource that is also 100 percent recyclable . Perhaps the stand-out feature separating the Wooly Mammoth from nearly every other cooler on the market is the use of natural wool as an insulator. The wool can be added to any backyard compost when it is time to part ways with the Wooly Mammoth. After years of wear and tear, the cooler is easy to disassemble with nothing more than a screwdriver and a crescent wrench. Related: Mobile cooler designed by 22-year-old Will Broadway could save 1.5 million lives Although each material is recyclable, sustainable product design also requires durability and superior functionality for long-term use. With this in mind, the Wooly Mammoth team thoughtfully planned the components for functionality and efficiency. A bamboo cutting board is built into the hinged lid. Designed to open like a tackle box, the entire lid lifts out of the way without disrupting food sitting on the cutting board. The hinges are removable for easy cleaning when necessary. Because coolers need to be portable for picnics in the park, tailgating during football season and year-round camping, the Wooly Mammoth weighs less than 20 pounds, yet it has a 52-quart capacity and can hold up to 78 12-ounce cans. The estimated ice retention is three days. The Wooly Mammoth campaign launched on Kickstarter on November 29. Backers can receive up to a 30 percent discount off the final retail price. + Wooly Mammoth Images via Wooly Mammoth

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This durable, recyclable cooler is made from bamboo, wool, steel and aluminum

Where’s your Zero Czar?

October 16, 2019 by  
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What if net zero were the default setting for everything we use and make?

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Where’s your Zero Czar?

This prefab tower was built using net-zero design principles

September 10, 2019 by  
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Located 100 kilometers from Beijing, the Lakeside Plugin Tower was developed as a model prototype for a city concept using sustainable, net-zero design principles. The tower serves as an important model for a low-carbon eco city concept, called “Xiong’an New Area,” being advanced by the central government. The urban design will use 100 percent clean electricity, and 10 percent of the area will be protected as permanent farmland. The structure creates 480 square meters of living and working space and was developed by People’s Architecture Office in partnership with the Shenzhen Institute of Building Research, a China-based engineering company helping to lead the country in both green design and urban development. Related: The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day Once completed, the Xiong’an New Area will become a congestion-free, sustainable housing region that will serve as an alternative to the capital. The government hopes to keep the new area affordable by making all housing state-owned and subsidized. Built on a foundation made of distributed concrete piers and raised one story above the ground to lessen environmental impact on the building site, the tower adheres to China’s “sponge city concept,” the idea of building structures above the ground to allow stormwater to permeate the earth below to reduce extreme flooding and surface pollution , especially in metropolitan areas. The elevated-building concept also allows for sunlight to better access the site and produce more greenery. The prefabricated process serves to both reduce costs and make construction more efficient. Panels can be installed manually through a locking system using a single tool, so entire sections of the tower can be removed or added without affecting the main structure. Solar panels cover the roof of the building, which also serve as a way to heat the floors. The windows are designed to allow for natural ventilation, and an off-grid sewer system creates on-site sustainable wastewater treatment. + People’s Architecture Office Via ArchDaily Photography by Jin Weiqi and People’s Architecture Office

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This prefab tower was built using net-zero design principles

Behind Adobe’s bold plan to build an all-electric building

July 26, 2019 by  
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Many questions remain, including what technologies will play a role and the projected price tag.

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Behind Adobe’s bold plan to build an all-electric building

From Amsterdam to Zagreb, 3 steps to transition to a circular economy for cities

July 26, 2019 by  
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A new report on circular policies illuminates major opportunities for governments and people.

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From Amsterdam to Zagreb, 3 steps to transition to a circular economy for cities

Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design

July 25, 2019 by  
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Helsinki has entered a “new era of libraries” with the completion of Oodi, the Helsinki Central Library that not only serves as a new central point for the city’s public library network but also an award-winning public space with a movie theater, multipurpose hall and more in the heart of the Finnish capital. Designed by local architectural practice ALA Architects, Oodi is the largest public library in the Helsinki metropolitan area and marks the celebratory project of the 100th anniversary of the independence of Finland when it opened in December 2018. In addition to an eye-catching, undulating design, the library follows passive energy principles for extreme energy-efficient performance that reaches near Zero Energy Building (nZEB) status. Spanning an area of 17,250 square meters, Oodi consists of library facilities, meeting rooms, group working spaces, a maker space, a living lab, recording studios, a photography studio, editing rooms, offices, a cafe, restaurant, movie theater, auditorium, multi-purpose hall, exhibition facilities and information booths. Related: Urban waste is upcycling into an adorable, beetle-shaped micro library on wheels The library is divided into three distinct levels: an “active” ground floor, a “peaceful” upper floor that houses the “Book Heaven” and an enclosed in-between “Attic” volume with more specific functions housed inside flexible, irregularly shaped rooms, nooks and corners. To accommodate a large volume of people — the library is expected to attract 10,000 visitors per day and 2.5 million visitors per year — the ground floor has been engineered as a column-free public space. To ground the contemporary building into its surroundings, the architects constructed Oodi with locally sourced materials, including the 33-millimeter-thick Finnish high-quality spruce cladding used in the prefabricated wooden facade. Algorithm-aided parametric design models guided the design and manufacturing of the complex curved geometry. Passive solar design principles, highly efficient building systems and building information modeling has helped keep the library’s energy demands to a minimum. “The library will enliven and diversify the new urban environment created in the Töölönlahti area,” ALA Architects said. “It will offer activities and experiences for all ages. There will be plenty of spaces that enable people to gather and spend time together, free of charge. The role of the library’s clients will evolve from passive media users to active agents, participants and content producers. As a non-commercial open public space, the new Central Library will act as Helsinki residents’ common living room, work space and learning environment.” + ALA Architects Photography by Tuomas Uusheimo and Iwan Baan via ALA Architects

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Near net-zero energy Helsinki Central Library boasts an award-winning, prefab design

Britain promises net-zero emissions by 2050

June 14, 2019 by  
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Britain recently upped the ante on its commitment to fight climate change , promising to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The new governmental plan is more ambitious than its original Climate Change Act from 2008, which pledged to reduce emissions by 80 percent. Prime Minister Theresa May claimed net-zero is a necessary step for Britain and a moral duty as well as a strategy to improve public health and reduce healthcare costs. Britain is the first G7 country to propose carbon neutrality, an ambitious goal that environmentalists hope will encourage other nations to follow suit and increase their Paris Agreement emission reduction commitments. Related: Labour party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes According to Prime Minister May, Britain’s economy can continue to grow alongside the transition to renewable energy . “We have made huge progress in growing our economy and the jobs market while slashing emissions,” she said. Net-zero on a national level will mean that effectively all homes, transportation, farming and industries will not consume more energy than the country can generate through renewable energy. For certain cases where this is impossible, it will mean that companies and industries purchase carbon offsets. The roll out of this plan is to be determined but must include a variety of individual- and national-level actions, including a massive investment in the renewable energy industry as well as a reduction in meat consumption and flying and a total shift to electric cars, LED light bulbs and hydrogen gas heating. According to BBC, Prime Minister May also claimed that the U.K. “led the world to wealth through fossil fuels in the industrial revolution, so it was appropriate for Britain to lead in the opposite direction.” This claim erases the true legacy of the industrial revolution and the role Britain played, which includes environmental destruction, exacerbated inequality and economic exploitation of many nations — not wealth. Whether or not Britain is a world leader, its pledge might convince other nations to increase or at least stick to their commitments to reduce emissions . Via BBC Image via Sebastian Ganso

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Britain promises net-zero emissions by 2050

What does net zero mean?

May 2, 2019 by  
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What does ‘net zero’ mean and what are the challenges — from technological to moral — to achieve it?

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What does net zero mean?

With no upfront costs, this innovative financing tool makes energy efficiency affordable to all

May 2, 2019 by  
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By rolling upgrade costs into monthly bills, utilities are helping customers save energy and money at the same time

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With no upfront costs, this innovative financing tool makes energy efficiency affordable to all

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