Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape

January 11, 2019 by  
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Located adjacent to designated wetlands, the Tung House by Seoul-based firm Project Architecture  is a net-zero home that combines conscientious landscape design with energy efficiency. Along with a large photovoltaic array and solar water heater panels to provide power and heating, the home uses a number of passive features to achieve its  net-zero energy use . At 2,900 square feet, the Tung House is a fairly large structure but relatively small in comparison with other homes in the area. One of the reasons that the size was restrained is its location. The home is built in Lincoln, Massachusetts on a strictly preserved site adjacent to designated wetlands. The size limitations imposed by the local government presented a challenge to the architects, who met the restrictions head-on with a gorgeous angular design that aesthetically gives the home a unique character while simultaneously achieving net-zero energy use . Related: This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes At the heart of the design are the geometric features. The roof, which is comprised of various planes, was used to give the home ample space for the photovoltaic array and solar water heater panels . The rooftop solar panels provide sufficient power and heating to the house, and in the summer months, any additional energy is transferred back to the city’s local grid. In addition to making room for solar panels, the multiple roof planes provide several overhangs that shade the interior living space during the warmer months and help provide natural light and heat during the wintertime. Inside, the architects wanted to create an open layout that offered a seamless connection between the living space and the outdoors. From the front door to the upper level, multiple large windows offer views of the serene backyard. Naturally lit by sunlight , a loft-like living room and open kitchen are on the ground floor, which is connected to the upper floors through a mezzanine level. The interior design scheme of all-white provides a contemporary elegance throughout the home, enhanced by the various angular ceilings. + Project Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Project Architecture

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Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape

An adaptable timber house celebrates recycling in Ecuador

January 11, 2019 by  
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Ecuadorian architecture firm Natura Futura Arquitectura has teamed up with Frontera Sur Arquitectura to develop an inspiring example of social architecture in the town of Huaquillas, Ecuador. Dubbed La Comuna, the project is a double-story timber structure that not only provides a local family a place to live but also a safer work environment for them to continue their recycling business. The building was constructed with six easily replicable modules that take inspiration from the local vernacular with its “chazas”, or latticed screens. Commissioned by a foundation and private company, the architects were asked to create a live-work building that would also be held up as an inspirational landmark for the city, which suffers from a reputation of poor sanitation. To that end, the design studios created a two-story building with a community-facing ground floor that houses the recycling workspaces, while the upper level houses the private living spaces. The structural system is based on a 3-meter-by-4-meter module, with each floor made up of three modules. “’La Comuna’ becomes a milestone for the city, due to the transformation process it had, with a history of unhealthiness and contamination,” the team explained in a project statement. “The project communicates a discourse through its facade with a message, generating reflection between the private and the public through architecture and recycling. The wood is used by the tradition of the existing buildings in the area, the application of shafts or lattices contribute in the construction of the building.” Related: LOT-EK upcycles 140 shipping containers into an apartment complex in South Africa In contrast to the open workspace in the ground floor, the living quarters on the upper level are screened off for privacy. The operable timber latticed screens were also designed to spell out the word “RECICLA” (recycle) when closed. Inside, the home is engineered for flexibility with walls set on wheels and movable furniture that give the family freedom to reconfigure their living quarters as they please. + Natura Futura Arquitectura Via ArchDaily Images via Natura Futura Arquitectura

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7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths

January 11, 2019 by  
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When you decide to go green and adopt a sustainable lifestyle, you might think that some of the biggest steps you can take in the right direction are doing things like buying a hybrid car, dropping meat from your diet or using eco-friendly products. But over the years, we have been inundated with “green” messages that are easily taken for granted, and some of them are filled with misinformation. So to help you go green the right way, here is a list of seven of the biggest sustainable living myths that are easily busted. You need to buy a green car If you are considering buying a new vehicle, you would think that it makes sense for someone living a green lifestyle to opt for a small, efficient model with low CO2 emissions and killer gas mileage. The truth is, when a company makes a new car, it has to mine and process the necessary metals and assemble the components, and that takes a ton of energy. An expert at the Stockholm Environment Institute claimed that producing a modern car causes approximately 8 tons of CO2, which is the same as driving 23,000 miles. This means that the greener option might be to stick with your current car instead of buying a new one. To make your vehicle more fuel-efficient, get it regularly serviced, keep the tires properly inflated and consolidate your trips. A vegetarian diet is best for the planet Foods made from animal products usually have a higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods, so it’s easy to believe that switching to a vegetarian diet is good for the environment. However, if you are making up your calories by consuming dairy, you might be canceling out any gains you made by cutting out meat. Here’s why — some dairy products are more “carbon intensive” than meats. Things that take a lot of milk to produce — like hard cheese — can actually have a bigger carbon footprint per kilo than chicken. So if you really want your diet to reduce emissions, go vegan . A home should only have efficient appliances We are constantly told that we should buy energy-efficient appliances if we want to be environmentally friendly and keep our carbon footprint in check. What you may not know is that there are other ways you can lower your carbon footprint without dropping a ton of cash on new appliances. If you simply stop running your washer, dryer and dishwasher during the day — instead, turn them on before you go to bed — you can make a huge difference. The reason is that electricity consumption is at its highest in the daytime, and that means the dirtiest, least-efficient power stations are used to help meet demand. But at night, they can switch off those stations, and each unit of electricity has a lower carbon footprint. If buying energy-efficient appliances isn’t part of your budget, use your current ones at night to help spread the load on the electricity grid. Detergent is the most harmful part of the laundry cycle When it comes to doing laundry, choosing eco-friendly detergents that are rapidly biodegradable , have low toxicity and feature plant-based ingredients are definitely more favorable to the environment. But did you know that the biggest factor in your laundry footprint is the process of heating the water? This means that you can effectively cut your emissions by using low-temperature laundry cycles and using hot water sparingly when washing clothes. Incandescent bulbs are disappearing Over the past couple of decades, we have seen Light Emitting Diode ( LED ) and Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs revolutionize energy-efficient lighting. This led to the rumor that incandescent bulbs were going away and would disappear from the marketplace. This is simply not true. You don’t have to hoard incandescent bulbs, and you don’t have to buy the more expensive bulb options. Instead, manufacturers have been phasing out certain models and replacing them with more energy-efficient versions. The bulbs last longer, but the lighting stays the same. It’s impossible to avoid disposable plastic It’s no secret that single-use plastics are everywhere and a major contributor to climate change. It seems like everything we buy is packaged in single-use plastic, and then we tote all of those items home in plastic bags. But it’s not impossible to cut disposable plastic out of your life, you just have to plan ahead. Stock up on reusable bags, water bottles, coffee mugs, utensils and food containers, and before you leave your house, take what you need with you. Most restaurants are happy to fill up your reusable containers instead of using their packaging. When you hit the coffee shop or need to hydrate with water, you can use your reusable mugs and bottles instead of the single-use cups. Take your reusable bags with you to the grocery store, and stay on the lookout for items that aren’t packaged in plastic . You might not be able to cut plastics out completely, but you can make a big dent in your everyday use with a little bit of preparation. Green labels are always true Opting for eco-friendly products at the store might seem like an easy task. All you have to do is find something marked “eco-friendly,” “green,” “natural” or “biodegradable.” The truth is that those terms are not regulated and have no clearly defined standards. Just because a product has an eco-friendly label doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case. Images via Joenomias , Silviarita , Frank Habel , Pexels , Jasmine S.  and Shutterstock

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6 leading companies raising climate ambition

October 30, 2018 by  
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Global businesses are taking action, from net-zero

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6 leading companies raising climate ambition

Self-driving cars could cause more pollution without dramatic changes to the grid

October 30, 2018 by  
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But the growth in demand from EV versions should be welcome news for utilities.

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Self-driving cars could cause more pollution without dramatic changes to the grid

Solar-powered Technova College nearly hits net-zero energy in the Netherlands

October 29, 2018 by  
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Designed by Delft-based cepezed and cepezedinterior, the Technova College in Ede has recently opened its doors as the newest branch of the Regional Education Center ROC A12 with a strong focus on sustainability. Powered by energy from a biomass plant and on-site solar panels , the nearly energy-neutral building largely owes its eco-friendly design to an executive consortium (Team Technova) responsible for overseeing maintenance and the energy supply. The school’s highly transparent design fills the interiors with light and turns the building into a showcase for the neighborhood. Completed this fall, the Technova College began with the dismantlement of a couple of older buildings on the ROC campus as well as the seamless integration of a single existing structure into the new-build. The various classrooms are organized around a double-height space referred to as the “innovative workplace” that sits at the heart of the school, along with reception. A college theater is located adjacent to the central workshop. All areas are designed to promote collaboration and interaction for not only the students but the surrounding community as well. The glazed facade that surrounds the ground-floor work spaces allows direct views of the student activity inside. For the interiors, cepezedinterior used a material palette of wood and steel along with strong color accents to create a robust, industrial atmosphere to complement the departments of Technique & Technology, Media & ICT and Sound & Vision. “We wanted a building which empowers great education,” said Toine Schinkel, member of the board of directors of the Christelijke Onderwijs Groep (COG) that commissioned the building. “With this design, we will create an innovative and enjoyable learning environment for all our technical students. We aspire students to aim for the best, and this calls for an innovative and modern educational building.” Related: Weathered steel trees wrap around a solar-powered school building In addition to solar panels, the energy-efficient school building draws energy from a nearby biomass plant in Ede and is designed for natural ventilation that meets the standards of the ‘Frisse Scholen Klasse B’ (Fresh Schools, category B). “Join the Pipe” water fountains were installed throughout to deter the use of PET bottles. + cepezed Photography by Lucas van der Wee via cepezed

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Solar-powered Technova College nearly hits net-zero energy in the Netherlands

The Micropolis custom net-zero home generates all its own energy

September 6, 2018 by  
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When Cheryl and Ken Serdar saw one of the homes belonging to Micropolis®, a collection of sustainable and contemporary house plans designed by architect Arielle Condoret Schechter , they knew they wanted a custom home based on the original 950-square-foot “Happy Family” plan. Taking into account the couple’s needs for extra space, Schechter designed a 2,222-square-foot dwelling that also offered all of the sustainable and modern design features defined in her Micropolis® line. Located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, the custom net-zero home is the most energy-efficient residence that the architect has designed to date. The clients were very clear with their expectations of their new three-bedroom house and asked for an abode that was “very modern, extremely green [and] almost industrial.” The modified Micropolis® meets all three targets with its predominate use of concrete for durability and sustainability measures as well as through passive solar principles. The home is oriented toward the south for maximum solar gain, while all the aluminum-framed windows and doors were sourced from Awilux and certified for Passive House construction. Ample glazing opens the home up to natural light, natural ventilation and a connection to the outdoors. To minimize unwanted solar gain, Schechter designed deep roof overhangs built with cypress soffit to visually soften the prefab concrete sandwich panels with built-in insulation. The home is also outfitted with space-saving solutions such as sliding interior barn doors, built-in closets, cabinets and shelving. An industrial feel is achieved with exposed ductwork, concrete elements, minimalist cabinetry and a large factory fan. A wall of glazed folding doors opens the home up to the outdoors to create a greater illusion of spaciousness. Related: The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views The net-zero energy house is powered by a small 6 kW solar array . An energy recovery ventilator paired with seals on all air gaps makes for an airtight envelope. Under-slab insulation was installed beneath the polished concrete floors, and the home has achieved a HERS rating of -13. + Arielle Condoret Schechter Images via Kim Weiss / Arielle Condoret Schechter

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Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

August 31, 2018 by  
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A 1960s home has been reborn into an eco-friendly abode with an impressive net-zero energy footprint. Designed by local architecture firm Neumann Monson , the Koser II is a single-family home that combines forward-thinking sustainable strategies within a contemporary envelope in a leafy and walkable Iowa City neighborhood. Powered by solar and geothermal energy, the home doesn’t sacrifice comfort or luxury in its pursuit of energy efficiency — it even includes a beautiful backyard pool. Covering an area of 2,850 square feet (including a 420-square-foot finished basement), the Koser II house is mainly spread out over a single level. To provide privacy, the street-facing facade is primarily clad in dark cedar planks and punctuated with few windows. A long slatted timber screen near the entrance also shields the home from views and frames an outdoor dining area. In contrast to its introverted exterior, the home’s interior is bright and airy with full-height glazing that lets in plenty of natural light and views. “The design bears the mark of the 1960s home that came before it,” the architecture firm explained. “Removing the existing house’s superstructure and incorporating its slab-on-grade foundation into the new construction makes the most of the predecessor’s limited potential. Additional foundations and a concrete collar support exterior walls of nine- and 10-foot pre-cut studs. Their height differential provides adequate slope to the 14-inch truss-joists spanning the 20-foot width. Operable windows extend to the ceiling plane, maximizing daylight penetration and encouraging cross-ventilation .” Related: After a makeover, this local “shack” becomes the envy of the neighborhood The renovated home also features foamed-in-place insulation and a continuous rigid insulation shell with R-24 walls and an R-40 roof. The light-filled interior is supplemented by LEDs at night and equipped with EnergyStar appliances. Radiant floor heating is complemented with a geothermal climate control system connected to an underground horizontally bored loop. A rain garden in the backyard mitigates stormwater runoff, while a 10.08kW solar array brings the home to zero-energy building performance. + Neumann Monson Images by Cameron Campbell Integrated Studio

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Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

This beautiful tiny home doubles as a tasty doughnut shop

August 31, 2018 by  
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Although we’ve seen a lot of tiny homes from Tiny Heirloom that make our design-loving hearts flutter, its latest masterpiece is making our mouths water. The prolific tiny home builders have just unveiled the ‘Kentucky Donut Shop’ — a compact structure that has been custom designed to let the owners of KY Son Eats bakery make and sell their doughnuts from one beautiful, sophisticated tiny house. The gorgeous tiny home and doughnut bakery was custom built for a couple who dreamed of selling their tasty products from a home on wheels. Tiny home design is challenging at any level, but the team at Tiny Heirloom went above and beyond to create a 275-square-foot space that would enable the owners to run a business without sacrificing the comforts of home. Related: Tiny Heirloom unveils ‘The Goose’ — a custom tiny home with stunning interiors From the outside, the tiny house looks like any other compact living space on wheels. Built on a 34-foot-long trailer, the exterior is clad in cedar siding, with the exception of the blue panels that frame the front door. On the interior, pine tongue and groove panels, engineered wood flooring and a beetle kill ceiling create a cabin-like aesthetic. The living area is flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of windows. At the heart of the home is the professional-grade kitchen , which features stainless steel countertops and top-of-the-line appliances, such as a large baker’s oven, various sinks and a flat-top grill. There is also a microwave, deep fryer and large refrigerator. To avoid clutter and keep the shop organized, there is plenty of shelving space. As impressive as the spacious baker’s kitchen is, the designers didn’t sacrifice on the family’s main living areas when building the tiny home. Adjacent to the professional kitchen is the living room, which has a comfy couch and a small kitchenette, so the family can make a quick snack without having to use the larger kitchen. The home’s two bedrooms are located on sleeping lofts reached by two small ladders that can be stowed away when not in use. Now, the talented family can fully enjoy their time at home, even when they are hard at work. + KySon Eats Bakery + Tiny Heirloom Via New Atlas Images via Tiny Heirloom

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This beautiful tiny home doubles as a tasty doughnut shop

The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views

August 7, 2018 by  
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Portland residents in search of an energy-efficient home need look no further than Lightbox 23, the new net-zero project from Lightbox Portland and Steelhead Architecture . A speculative development project in northeast Portland, Lightbox 23 has two units and numerous sustainable features, including super-insulated walls, high-performance ventilation systems, and two 10-kW solar arrays. But sustainablity isn’t the project’s only draw – it also boasts beautiful design and stunning views of Mt. St. Helens’ and Mt. Adams’ snow-capped peaks. A set of floating stairs, which provides access from each floor to the half-levels above and below, serves as the duplex’s backbone. A deck on the building’s north side can be accessed from the exterior. From this deck, residents can enjoy the open air and, on a clear day, the distant peaks of the two mountains. Related: Net-zero Acacia Avenue House saves up to 90% of heating and cooling costs While the solar array on top of the building provides the building with its energy, part of making the project net-zero included finding ways to reduce the energy load overall. To tackle this problem, Steelhead Architecture turned to affordable super-insulation. Each unit has two-by-eight walls filled with blown-in cellulose, along with two inches of rigid insulation affixed to the exterior of the plywood. The concrete slabs have 3 more inches of rigid insulation. The roof construction has a similar mix of insulation, which eliminates the need for any vents. The home’s mechanical system further supports the unit’s net-zero goals. All-electric ducted heat pumps, which are much more efficient than gas systems, provide heat for the apartments. Furthermore, nothing on the project uses gas at all. A heat recovery ventilator with its own ducts effectively controls air exchanges with zero energy loss. To ensure a low heat/cooling loss, the architects sought out leaks and used repetitive joint sealing, further reducing the project’s energy use. Lightbox 23 is an exploratory project of Lightbox Portland, which is devoted to high performance, high-density modern progress. There are three additional Lightbox Portland/Steelhead Architecture projects presently underway. + Steelhead Architecture Images via Josh Partee Photography

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