Black timber Villa S makes more energy than it consumes

December 4, 2017 by  
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Energy bills are a thing of the past at Villa S, a plus-energy home in the western Netherlands built to replace a former home from the 1960s. RAU architecten designed the new solar-powered home that embraces the surrounding dune and forest landscape through large windows. The architects’ focus on sustainability also extends to materials, which include FSC-certified timber and “emission-free materials.” Clad in black timber , Villa S is a boxy building punctuated by windows of various sizes. A beautiful pine forest to the northwest side of the property informed the placement of the windows and sequence of indoor spaces. “The transition to this forest is gradual, a gradual transition from private to public,” wrote the architects. “An important quality in the design is the successive sequences of different spaces, each with a surprising view of the beautiful surroundings. The forest is always present but is always experienced in a different way. In the house it feels like the forest is part of the garden. The differences in height in the garden are solved in new slopes so that the garden smoothly flows into the environment.” The ground floor is partly sunken and contains a sauna , office, guest room, and a garden room that opens up to the living room above via a staircase. The first floor also includes a dining room, kitchen, and playroom. Bedrooms are located on the second floor. The large windows take in ample natural light that bounces off of reflective light-colored walls and frame views of the pool, garden, and forest. Related: Green-Roofed Villa L Floats Upon a Daylit Glass Volume in the Netherlands In addition to solar panels , the home is equipped with a wood pellet stove for energy generation. A concrete slab beneath the ground level floor provides thermal comfort and is complemented by a low-temperature climate system. + RAU architecten Images by Marcel van der Burg

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Black timber Villa S makes more energy than it consumes

The zero-electricity Gentlewasher does the laundry in five minutes flat

November 29, 2017 by  
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We’ve all been there – you need to wash just a few clothing items but you don’t have nearly enough for a full load of laundry . The gentlewasher offers a solution, washing clothes in five minutes with less water than washing machines and zero electricity . The hand-powered device can wash up to 12 T-shirts or eight dresses at a time, and it uses around 4.7 gallons of water – compare that to 13 gallons for an Energy Star washing machine, or 40 gallons for an older model washing machine. Need to wash delicates in a hurry? The gentlewasher makes hand-washing clothes a breeze. It’s easy to use: attach a water hose, put in clothes and a teaspoon of detergent, and start turning. After a two-minute wash cycle and two-minute rinse cycle, the garments are ready to hang-dry. The ergonomic handle ensures you won’t get too tired during the process. Related: 14-year-old girl invents pedal-powered washing machine from bike parts The gentlewasher lives up to its name, and it can actually prolong the life of your garments with the help of patented honeycomb holes that create a protective water layer so garments won’t come into contact with the drum. The company says that their product is the most sustainable and gentlest washing device for apparel ever. The company, based in the Netherlands, says results are “as good as a front-loading machine.” The gentlewasher is designed for clothes that should be washed by hand, but it can be used for all types of garments. It’s especially useful for people on the road – such as those traveling in an RV or camping. And it could even come in handy in between laundry loads or for cutting down trips to the laundromat for those living in tiny city apartments. The company says their mission is to “develop an affordable washing device for people around the world,” as five billion people worldwide still don’t have access to washing machines and must spend hours washing clothes. You can buy a gentlewasher online for $269. + gentlewasher Images courtesy of gentlewasher

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The zero-electricity Gentlewasher does the laundry in five minutes flat

BIG and WeWork reveal plans for interactive WeGrow kindergarten in New York City

November 29, 2017 by  
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International startup WeWork is expanding beyond its co-working roots with a public  kindergarten in New York City called WeGrow. The innovative school will be designed in collaboration  BIG Architects  and will provide an environment for education in an interactive space that focuses on introspection, exploration, and discovery. WeGrow will be a public elementary school for kids ages three to nine that aims to function as an environment where youngsters can experience hands-on and experiential learning. The first images of the space show wooden play areas, large grey pods for climbing and sitting, and several modular classrooms and treehouses that facilitate interaction. Related: 10 brilliant communal designs helping people work and live together WeWork claims that the new kindergarten will “focus as much on the growth of our children’s spirits as we will their minds.” References to various natural phenomena, as well as an element of futurism, permeate the new WeGrow concept, set to open its first location in Chelsea next autumn. “The design starts from the premise of a school universe at the level of the child: a field of super-elliptic objects forms a learning landscape that’s dense and rational – yet free and fluid,” said the firm. + BIG Architects Via Dezeen

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BIG and WeWork reveal plans for interactive WeGrow kindergarten in New York City

VW is building an electric race car to set a new speed record

October 20, 2017 by  
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Buckle your seat belt!  Volkswagen , on a mission to become a top producer of electric vehicles, is proving itself by developing an electric race car which will be entered in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb  in 2018. If the company is successful, the race will mark the first time in 31 years VW has competed in the hill climb. The race will take place in Colorado Spring, Colorado , and will be held on June 24, 2018. According to The Verge , the hill climb has been held annually since 1916 in the Rocky Mountains . Though the track is just 12.4 miles long, ascending it is no easy feat. In under 13 miles, vehicles will climb 4,700 feet to the summit 14,000 feet above sea level. Dr. Frank Welsch, the VW board member responsible for the development, said, “The Pikes Peak hill climb is one of the world’s most renowned car races. It poses an enormous challenge and is therefore perfectly suited to proving the capabilities of upcoming technologies.” Related: The Netherlands’ sun-powered Nuna9 race car wins the World Solar Challenge Last year,  e0 PP100 , which was driven by Rhys Millen, set the record for the fastest modified electric vehicle. The electric race car completed the run in eight minutes and 57.118 seconds. At the same time, a Tesla Model S set another record for a production car, with a time of 11 minutes and 48.264 seconds. Reportedly, electric cars have become quite popular at Pikes Peak over the past few years, as the thin air at a higher altitude makes it hard for internal-combustion engines to develop power. The new race car is presently being developed by Volkswagen Motorsport in Germany . According to Welsch, data obtained from the Pikes Peak race will be incorporated into electric vehicles that are sold by all VW brands. The infamous Microbus (which is coming back as an EV in 2022 ) will be but one vehicle improved upon using the lessons learned from the race. + Volkswagen Via The Verge Images via Volkswagen

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VW is building an electric race car to set a new speed record

World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens in the Netherlands

October 18, 2017 by  
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The Netherlands just made history by officially opening the world’s first 3D-printed bridge. On Tuesday, Dutch officials celebrated the opening of the innovative bridge, which is 8 meters (26 ft) long and located near the town of Gemert. Thanks to reinforced, pre-stressed concrete and 3D-printing techniques, the bridge (which is primarily intended for cyclists) can safely bear the weight of 40 trucks. In total, the structure took just three months to build. Said Theo Salet, from the Eindhoven University of Technology, “The bridge is not very big, but it was rolled out by a printer which makes it unique.” Using 3D-printing techniques, less concrete is used than would be required to fill a conventional mold. Says the official website, “a printer deposits the concrete only where it is needed.” The bridge, which is 8 meters (26 feet) long, spans a water-filled ditch to connect two roads. Though the bridge is intended to be used by cyclists , the BAM Infra construction company determined that it can safely bear loads of up to two tonnes — or 40 trucks — through testing. It took the company just 3 months to build the bridge, which has approximately 800 layers. Related: This twisting tower is made out of 2,000 3D-printed terracotta bricks Said the head of BAM, Marinus Schimmel, in a statement , “We are looking to the future. Schimmel added that BAM is ”searching for a newer, smarter approach to addressing infrastructure issues and making a significant contribution to improving the mobility and sustainability of our society.” This project also established the eco-friendly benefits of 3D printing. “Fewer scarce resources were needed, and there was significantly less waste,” said Schimmel. The Netherlands is but one country experimenting with 3D-printed infrastructure. The United States and China, for instance, are using the cutting-edge technology to create structures from scratch without relying on traditional manpower. Elsewhere in The Netherlands, a Dutch start-up called MX3D has started printing a stainless-steel bridge . Reportedly, up to one-third is already completed, and they aim to complete it by March of 2018. Time will reveal what other fascinating, environmentally-friendly structures will be constructed using 3D printing . + Eindhoven University of Technology Via Phys Images via Eindhoven University of Technology

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Solar-powered Villa H is a modern glass-fronted home in the Dutch dunes

September 29, 2017 by  
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Natural materials converge in the beautiful, tailor-made Villa H (Villa Hupkes) tucked into Rotterdam’s dune landscape. Architecture firm BERG + KLEIN designed this modern home for a client who wanted a warm and minimalist dwelling that embraced the landscape. Fronted with floor-to-ceiling glass, Villa H opens up to the garden and maintains a relatively low environment footprint with its use of solar energy, green roof, and air-driven heat pump. Built primarily of concrete, stained Western Red Cedar , and natural stone, Villa H features a muted materials palette that helps blend the structure into the surroundings. The low-lying building is spread across three levels: the basement level with a garage, the main living spaces on the ground floor, and the accessible landscaped roof. The ground-floor living area features an open-plan living room, kitchen, and dining area on one end and the bedroom and study on the opposite. A staircase between two concrete walls is located at the center of the home. Related: Unique asymmetrical home in the Netherlands takes a novel approach to sustainability The ground floor opens out via sliding glass doors to a terrace that doubles as an outdoor living space. These sliding glass openings and other windows promote natural ventilation . Timber brise-soleils slide along a track in front of the glazed sections to deflect sunlight, reducing solar heat gain while providing privacy. The inhabitat.com/tag/cantilever/ cantilevered roof also helps provide shade. Electricity is partially provided through rooftop solar cells. + BERG + KLEIN Via ArchDaily Images © Christian Richters

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Solar-powered Villa H is a modern glass-fronted home in the Dutch dunes

BIGs LEGO House officially opens to the public in Denmark

September 29, 2017 by  
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It’s finally here— Bjarke Ingels Group’s much-anticipated LEGO House in Denmark officially opens to the public today. Built in the small town of Billund where the iconic LEGO brick was invented, the “House of the Brick” is a unique space that promises visitors the ultimate LEGO experience with its exhibitions, experience zones, and LEGO-themed architecture, restaurants, and public spaces. The LEGO House, which celebrated its grand opening yesterday, is filled with 25 million LEGO bricks and took four years to build. The 12,000-square-meter LEGO House is a year-round destination expected to welcome 250,000 paying visitors annually. BIG designed the incredible toy-like building to look like 21 massive plastic LEGO bricks stacked together. These rectangular blocks, clad in textured clay tiles, are staggered to create publicly accessible rooftop spaces and to allow daylight into the interior. The building offers publicly accessible spaces such as the elevated terraces, LEGO Square, store, and restaurants; however, the experience zones that form the heart of the LEGO House are ticketed. The experience zones include two exhibition areas and four play areas divided into two color-coded zones, with each color symbolizing a special aspect of play and learning. Red is for creative skills, blue for cognitive skills, green for social skills, and yellow for emotional skills. “It has been a dream for me for many years to create a place that will give our visitors the ultimate LEGO experience. With LEGO House, we celebrate creativity and the strength of learning through play. When they play, children learn the basic skills that they need, such as creativity, collaboration and problem-solving abilities,” says third-generation LEGO owner, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen. Related: Build your own BIG-designed LEGO House with LEGO Architecture’s newest kit The LEGO House also includes three restaurants, a LEGO Store, and conference room, and a 2,000-square-meter LEGO Square. Visitors can purchase tickets online . + LEGO House Images via LEGO

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BIGs LEGO House officially opens to the public in Denmark

Schwarzenegger-backed startup takes on Tesla with new battery tech

September 20, 2017 by  
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Tesla may be the best-known electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, but its grip on the industry isn’t certain. The Elon Musk-founded company has plenty of competition, including the Austrian startup Kreisel Electric GmbH – backed by former California governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar and his nephew. Having experienced sweeping success in the past two years, Kreisel is moving into a $12 million research center and battery assembly facility where it will test new battery technology. Since 2014, Kreisel Electric GmbH has been operating out of a three-door garage. Now the startup is moving into a $12 million facility where its technology to improve upon its promising technology. “In the past two years, battery development has really taken off, and it’s now becoming incredibly dynamic. We have a different way of going about developing the technology, and we don’t carry any baggage,” said co-founder Markus Kreisel. Now that licensing deals have been signed, the startup’s battery technology will enter production lines with carmakers in 2020. The Austrian company has experienced rapid growth primarily because it promises to squeeze an extra 65 percent from standard lithium-ion batteries using its own patented laser-welding and thermal-cooling techniques, according to Bloomberg. Kreisel has received backing from not one, but two Schwarzeneggers. Patrick Knapp Schwarzenegger, Arnold’s nephew, led an investment round in the start-up, and Arnold hired the brothers to add an electric drivetrain to his Mercedes G-Class off-roader, according to Bloomberg . Though changes are afoot, the startup still faces challenges. So far they have only secured charging infrastructure cooperation with Porsche Holding Salzburg and VLD Groep in the Netherlands, for whom they need to deliver 2,000 electric powertrains and battery packs. The brothers must proceed carefully, though, as 95 percent of technology companies working in the electric and autonomous car spectrum will likely fail, according to BMW’s development head Klaus Froehlich. Related:  Ukraine’s leafy green ‘Tunnel of Love’ is a passageway for trains and lovers One of Kreisel’s tactics to “survive” the competition is to focus on the development of technology and leave mass production to Tesla’s challengers. Markus Kreisel said, “Our goal isn’t to get into large-scale production of batteries but to help carmakers with the development of the technology.” +  Kreisel Electric GmbH Via Bloomberg Images via  Kreisel Electric GmbH

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Rammed-earth walls clad an observation tower to blend into a Belgian nature reserve

September 12, 2017 by  
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Mother Nature has reclaimed a former gravel extraction area in Maasvalley Riverpark, a 2,500-hectare nature reserve straddling the Belgium-Netherlands border. To help visitors fully experience the revitalized area, De Gouden Liniaal Architecten designed a small observation tower that blends into the landscape with its rammed earth walls. Built of locally excavated materials, the Observation Tower Negenoord is the first public earthen building in the Benelux region. The 46-square-meter observation tower is located on a small hill in the heart of the former gravel mine, Negenoord. Although the tower features a sandblasted concrete core, it is clad in external walls built of locally sourced ochre-colored earth, clay, and gravel created with rammed earth building techniques and stabilized with mortar made of volcanic rock. Over time, the external walls will slowly erode away to reveal the gravel aggregate; the gravel content is also visible in the sandblasted concrete core. “To guarantee the quality of the construction, the design team was supported by an international team of experts: Cratterre/ Vessières&Cie/ BC Studies,” wrote the architects. “The earth-consultants analyzed different local materials, tried different mixes and evaluated them on compression force, abrasion, color and appearance. The chosen mix consisted of 20% gravel, 40% ochre-colored earth, and 40% clay , stabilized with Trasslime. Through its materialization, the building tells us about the location it’s built. and becomes strongly anchored in its environment.” Related: Giant timber periscope tower offers lakeside views to everyone — even those with disabilities Roughly triangular in plan, the observation tower features three staircases with landings that offer different views of the landscape. The rammed earth construction took seven weeks to complete, with about 20-meters-cubed of rammed earth finished every week. + De Gouden Liniaal Architecten Via ArchDaily Images by Filip Dujardin

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Rammed-earth walls clad an observation tower to blend into a Belgian nature reserve

Scotland to phase out new gas and diesel cars by 2032

September 8, 2017 by  
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We’ve recently seen a movement of governments banning new petrol and diesel cars – within the past year the Netherlands , France , and India have all announced plans to move away from the polluting vehicles – and now it appears Scotland is jumping on the emissions-free bandwagon. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently laid out the new Program for Government , which includes a target of phasing out the need for the dirty cars by 2032. The country also aims to fast-track the development of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network. Scotland’s Program for Government, which touches on issues like social security, childcare, and prison sentences, also draws attention to environmental issues. Perhaps its boldest goal is phasing out new diesel and petrol cars and vans in around 15 years. Scotland will promote other forms of travel like EVs by adding more charging stations, and pledged to double their investment on biking and walking from £40 million to £80 million, or from around $52.7 million to around $105.5 million, to boost air quality . Related: Britain to ban new diesel and petrol cars in 2040 Announcing the program, Sturgeon said, “We live in a time of unprecedented global challenge and change. We face rapid advances in technology ; a moral obligation to tackle climate change …We must aspire to be the inventor and the manufacturer of the digital, high-tech, and low-carbon innovations that will shape the future, not just a consumer of them.” She also announced the government plans to fund a North Sea carbon capture and storage project. And Scotland has already been winning in renewable energy this year. Between January and June, wind power provided 124 percent of household electricity needs in the country. Via the Scottish Government and EcoWatch Images via Wikimedia Commons and Gabriel Rodríguez on Flickr

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