LEED Gold hub for artists and activists takes over an abandoned NYC firehouse

August 2, 2018 by  
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An abandoned firehouse has been reborn as the newly certified LEED Gold home for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) in Harlem. Developed by CSA Group NY Architects & Engineers in conjunction with real estate agency Denham Wolf , the cultural center celebrates New York City’s Afro-Caribbean and African-American populations with exhibition and performance spaces, meeting and community rooms, a media center, classrooms and offices. The adaptive reuse project respects the architectural integrity of the historic building and features a variety of sustainable elements, including a green roof and 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified timbers. Located in the heart of East Harlem’s cultural district at 120 East 125th Street, the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute serves as a neighborhood anchor and catalyst for cultural and economic development. The CCCADI took over the former municipal firehouse , Engine Company Number 36, as part of the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Department of Housing Preservation’s initiative to turn decommissioned firehouses into cultural institutions. All parts of the 8,400-square-foot landmark building were preserved wherever possible, save for adjustments needed to meet the city’s current building codes, such as the addition of egress stairs. “Originally built to serve the local community , before being abandoned and becoming a symbol of blight, the firehouse has fittingly been restored for a public purpose,” said Ronzard Innocent, Director of Project Management at Denham Wolf. “As a connector to arts, culture and social justice, CCCADI brings the story of this building full circle.” Related: East Harlem celebrates opening of vibrant LEED Gold-seeking Center for Living and Learning To reach LEED Gold status, CCCADI focuses on saving energy and water while minimizing waste. Thanks to highly efficient bathroom fixtures, the project saves an estimated 37.2 percent in water use compared to standard baselines. The building also boasts an estimated 36.1 percent  energy savings from high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. Approximately 92 percent of the project’s construction waste was recycled . The team installed a high-albedo membrane on the roof along with a green roof. Low-emitting paints, coatings, flooring and agrifiber products were used throughout, and more than 20 percent of the materials used were sourced regionally. + CSA Group NY Architects & Engineers + Denham Wolf Images by Sakeenah Saleem

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LEED Gold hub for artists and activists takes over an abandoned NYC firehouse

UN Environment and Yale present a sustainable tiny home in NYC

July 13, 2018 by  
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U.N. Environment and Yale University’s School of Architecture has unveiled an innovative tiny home that explores the intersection of policy and eco-conscious design. The Ecological Living Module, located at the U.N. Plaza in New York City, is a sustainable dwelling that embodies many of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals , several of which are under review this month at the U.N. High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Designed by an interdisciplinary group of engineers, architects and designers from the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, the 22-square-meter tiny home includes integrated systems for on-site water collection, solar energy generation (using less than 1 percent of toxic semiconductor materials), micro-agricultural infrastructure, natural daylighting, plant-based air purification, passive cooling and cross-ventilation and various other cutting-edge technologies that allow the home to function off-grid. In addition to being powered solely by renewable energy with a net-zero footprint, the housing module is composed primarily of locally sourced, bio-based renewable or recyclable materials. Several of the materials used to construct the particular model on display were reused or repurposed from previous projects. Related: 10 eclectic tiny homes built with 99% scrap At a minimum, the living tiny house module includes a kitchen, bathroom, dining area and sleeping space for four people, and it can be adapted for both domestic and commercial needs. The project demonstrates what can be accomplished in a small space with a minimal environmental footprint. The tiny home symbolizes the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals and brings sustainability closer to home and to the forefront of our lives. U.N. Environment’s communications officer Sophie Loran said, “We really enjoyed the work that went into this project because it brought together such a wide variety of experts interested in making sustainability real for people.” Related: Architecture students build a tiny CLT classroom in just 3 weeks One billion people currently inhabit informal settlements across the globe, and many more live in structures that are not environmentally friendly. Communities faced by rapid economic growth and urbanization are increasingly facing the need for new infrastructure solutions in order to grow sustainably. “Everybody on this planet has a right to a decent home, but the housing sector uses 40 percent of the planet’s total resources and represents almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions,” said U.N. Environment Head Erik Solheim. “In the face of a growing world population, smart new housing solutions, such as the Ecological Living Module, will be needed to balance our need to house everybody while protecting our planet’s ability to support life.” In addition to examining where we live, the exhibition calls attention to how we live, namely, how our daily at-home habits impact the planet. As visitors move through the various spaces within the tiny home, they will have the opportunity to learn more about energy-efficient lighting and appliances, urban farming , composting toilets and methods for reducing water consumption and food waste. In the bathroom, visitors will be exposed to information about avoiding hygiene products containing microbeads and videos about various initiatives to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems. In the kitchen, they can explore information on global campaigns to reduce food waste or to redirect it from landfills to livestock food. Some of the Sustainable Development Goals embodied by the tiny house include “Responsible Consumption and Production,” “ Clean Water and Sanitation ” and “Climate Action.” After exploring how eco-conscious home design can directly support these goals, visitors can apply similar sustainable technologies and techniques to their own homes, making sustainability initiatives more personal and approachable. Related: Solar-powered mountain home is a sustainable prototype for Aspen development The tiny home exhibit will be on display at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City until July 18, after which it will be moved to the U.C. Berkeley campus. This first demonstration unit contains location-specific features that consider the climate and context of New York. Plans for future applications, including an adaptation in Kenya, will likewise incorporate features that cater to the local climate and culture. By demonstrating the practicality and benefits of eco-conscious affordable housing, the Ecological Living Module showcases the ability of sustainable design to meet the challenges of the 21st century. + U.N. Environment + Yale University Images via U.N. Environment

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UN Environment and Yale present a sustainable tiny home in NYC

Ancient rural hamlet reinterpreted as a solar-powered modern home

July 13, 2018 by  
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Rimini-based GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects  has renovated a cluster of historic buildings into a modernist dwelling set in the lush Italian countryside. Named the AP House, the project comprises three structures with a more streamlined farmhouse aesthetic on the exterior and a light-filled contemporary interior. The striking renovation is located on one of the highest hills in Urbino atop ancient remains that date back to the Medieval Communes. Clad in rustic stonework, AP House consists of three floors constructed with reinforced concrete walls and red concrete floors. To lend the interiors a sense of warmth, GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects inserted custom walnut wall furnishings throughout, from the kitchen storage and dining table to the walnut-lined office and double-height statement wall that rises from the living room. Large openings let in plenty of natural light and views of the picturesque Urbino countryside. “Linked to each other on the hypogeum level, the structures rest on a red concrete platform (38 X 20 mt) dominating the surrounding landscape,” wrote GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects. “The core of the houses, which forms a single housing unit, reestablishes a central role to this site in the landscape, restoring a direct and empathic dialogue between new buildings and historical stratification.” Related: Historic stone stable in Tuscany hides a beautiful contemporary interior To prevent views of any vehicles on the first floor, the architects tucked the main entrance and parking in the basement level. The lower level also comprises a movie room, an exhibition gallery, and a gym with a spa. The ground floor houses the primary living areas including the living room, dining room, kitchen and private studio, while the upper level contains the master suite along with two en-suite bedrooms. All of the systems in the house run on electricity and are powered by a hidden photovoltaic solar system onsite. + GGA Gardini Gibertini Architects Images by Ezio Manciucca

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Ancient rural hamlet reinterpreted as a solar-powered modern home

Go glamping with views of the Statue of Liberty on NYCs Governors Island

July 12, 2018 by  
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A new glamping destination has popped up in an unlikely location — a 172-acre island just across the river from New York City’s Statue of Liberty. Launched by Denver-based Collective Retreats on Governors Island , the Collective Governors Island retreat offers luxury tents with modern amenities in a verdant setting just a quick ferry ride from Manhattan. The experimental campsite is the first time camping has been allowed on Governors Island, which has recently undergone dramatic changes from a military base to a beloved summer escape for New Yorkers and tourists alike. Glamping — short for “glamorous camping” — at Collective Governors Island offers an all-inclusive experience with a variety of high-end dining options, amenities and activities available. Currently, the 100-person campsite includes two luxury tent types: the Summit Tents and the Journey Tents. The Outlook Shelters, a series of full-service suites housed in repurposed shipping containers , are coming soon as well. Both the Summit Tents and the Journey Tents are outfitted with comfy beds and linens as well as electricity, however, the former is a larger, more luxurious option that includes added amenities like a private en suite bathroom; the Journey Tents are connected to a shared bathroom. Related: Luxury facilities let campers enjoy nature with no hassles Although Governors Island is less than a 10-minute ferry ride from Manhattan , the naturalistic setting makes the island feel miles away and is ideal for a relaxed glamping experience. This area is mainly owned by the city and state, while 22 acres are controlled by the National Park Service. Related: Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food A recent push to open the car-free island to the public has seen the addition of movie nights, community gardens , and public art installations. However, a curfew and the ferry’s limited schedule meant visitors had been previously barred from staying overnight. Although guests at Collective Governors Island will not have free reign over the island at night, there are more than enough activities to keep families entertained, from the new The Hills Park to biking paths. A stay at the Collective Governors Island starts at $150 a night. + Collective Governors Island Images by Patrick Chin

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Go glamping with views of the Statue of Liberty on NYCs Governors Island

The LEED Gold-seeking Edible Academy teaches urban farming in NYC

June 29, 2018 by  
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New York-based architecture firm Cooper Robertson recently completed the latest addition to the New York Botanical Garden  in the Bronx — the Edible Academy, a new LEED Gold -seeking facility that will teach the greater community about sustainable agriculture, healthy eating and the environment. Created as an expansion of the New York Botanical Garden’s Children’s Gardening Program founded in 1956, the $28 million state-of-the-art development covers three acres on the grounds of the existing Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden. The facilities offer a wide array of programming as well as many sustainable features such as vegetated green roofs, composting toilets and geothermal heating and cooling. Opened earlier this month, the Edible Academy serves as a year-round teaching center that celebrates New York’s native landscapes. The campus comprises a collection of gabled structures that blur the distinction between indoors and out. The structures are positioned to frame views from the city’s largest uncut expanse of old growth forest to the Bronx River and its waterfall. The buildings were placed around the teaching and display gardens with the re-imagined Ruth Rea Howell Vegetable Garden taking up a sizable portion of the campus. New gardens include the Meadow Garden with native perennial shrubs and herbaceous plants experienced through winding paths as well as the Barnsley Beds, a formal vegetable garden with ornament plantings, arranged around the Event Lawn. The 5,300-square-foot green-roofed Classroom Building serves as the heart of the Edible Academy and boasts a child-friendly demonstration kitchen and technology lab. A connecting greenhouse doubles as a teaching space and a potting and propagation area. Outdoor lessons can be held in the shade under the Solar Pavilion, named after its rooftop solar panels, as well as in the 350-seat outdoor amphitheater carved from the site’s natural topography. Related: Solar-powered school will teach children how to grow and cook their own food “With its combination of inventive and flexible spaces for gardening programs, classes and outdoor events, the Edible Academy offers a strong design framework for addressing the 21st-century needs and interests of schools, families and the public,” said Bruce Davis, AIA, LEED AP, a partner with Cooper Robertson. “With this dedicated three-acre facility, the Edible Academy also provides an innovative national model for other institutions and schools expanding their garden -based education programs.” + Cooper Robertson Images by Marlon Co / The New York Botanical Garden and Robert Benson Photography

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The LEED Gold-seeking Edible Academy teaches urban farming in NYC

New resilient waterfront park helps protect NYC from storm surges

June 28, 2018 by  
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Waterfront parks have been springing up all over New York City, including in Long Island City, where Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park just completed its second phase this week. Designed by SWA/Balsley in collaboration with Weiss/Manfredi , this resilient stretch of parkland replaces 11 acres of abandoned industrial sites and boasts spectacular views of Manhattan’s skyline. In addition to a wide array of recreational facilities and equipment, the park was also integrated with salt marshes and native plantings that serve as a natural line of defense against extreme weather and storm surges. As New York City moves full-speed ahead on reclaiming the waterfront for the public, Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park joins an impressive lineup of post-industrial parks including the recently completed Domino Park in Brooklyn . Crafted to feel like New York City’s newest “island,” the new park features lush habitat as well as recreational and cultural features, like New York-based artist Nobuho Nagasawa’s ‘Luminescence’ land art installation. The landscape was sculpted in response to projected flooding patterns and rising water levels of the East River. “It’s a new kind of park,” said lead landscape architect Tom Balsley of SWA/Balsley, for whom the $100 million park project has been 25 years in the making. “Hunter’s Point South is at once resilient infrastructure and contemplative retreat — a dynamic, living platform with extraordinary power to touch the daily lives of so many people.” Related: 10 landscape design projects that turned neglected spaces into incredible parks The first phase, located closer to the ferry terminal, was completed in 2013 and serves as the more active half of the park with bicycle pathways, basketball courts, a playground, fitness equipment and a turf field. The second 5.5-acre phase added more walking trails, a kayak launch, picnicking areas and a  promenade that leads to the Overlook, a 30-foot-tall cantilevered platform with sweeping views of Manhattan skyline and East River. The park officially opened to the public this week. + SWA/Balsley + Weiss/Manfredi Images by Albert Vecerka Esto and Bill Tatham

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New resilient waterfront park helps protect NYC from storm surges

Bronx community garden transformed with sustainable improvements

June 18, 2018 by  
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A newly renovated community garden has officially opened in the Bronx. Fannie’s Garden at Paradise on Earth , a venture of the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), received a dramatic upgrade with sustainable features like permeable pavement , a rain garden , and a shade structure designed to support solar panels. The 13,000-square foot-garden offers space for urban residents to escape the city, get their hands dirty in 24 garden beds, and enjoy the colors of native plants. NYRP just celebrated the grand opening of the community garden last week. They renovated Paradise on Earth, founded in 1981, together with design firm Sawyer | Berson around what NYRP described as “simple, elegant geometry.” The garden includes 12 raised garden beds for kids, six raised beds for adults, and six raised beds that meet Americans with Disabilities Act height requirements. Related: Brooklyn Grange announces a new location — in a former WWII shipyard The garden also includes open space for children to run on natural turf, a multipurpose raised deck underneath a tree — a NYRP Instagram post shows students practicing yoga on the deck as one potential use — and a slatted shade structure that NYRP said has been “pre-fitted to support solar panels and an off-grid electrical system” at Paradise on Earth. A chicken coop, outdoor kitchen, drinking fountain, and a trellis and tool shed are also part of the renovation. The upgrades kept sustainability in mind with a rain garden meant to “capture, store, and infiltrate storm water before it reaches the sewer system” and a compost toilet . The community garden is located in the Morrisania neighborhood at 1106 Fox Street, Bronx, New York, 10459. If you’d like to volunteer at the garden, such as cultivating produce or helping with maintenance, you can find out more information at NYRP’s volunteer page . + Paradise on Earth + New York Restoration Project + Sawyer | Berson Images courtesy of New York Restoration Project

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

June 18, 2018 by  
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The City of London, the historic “Square Mile” central district of London , will soon switch to clean energy in a big way. Starting in October 2018, the City of London will source 100 percent of its power needs from renewable energy sources by installing solar panels on local buildings, investing in larger solar and wind projects and purchasing clean energy from the grid. Though no longer a square mile, closer now to 1.12 square miles, the City of London is a major financial center within the city and the world. Its green energy transformation sends a clear message that London intends to take strong action against climate change. In its plans to transform the neighborhood’s energy system, the City of London Corporation will partner with several sites throughout London, such as schools , social housing, markets and 11,000 acres of green space , at which renewable energy capacity will be installed. “Sourcing 100 percent renewable energy will make us cleaner and greener, reducing our grid reliance, and running some of our buildings on zero carbon electricity,” Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee Catherine McGuinness said in a statement . “We are always looking at the environmental impact of our work and hope that we can be a beacon to other organisations to follow suit.” Related: London considers car-free days to fight air pollution The City of London is among the many municipalities around the world that are stepping up to fulfill the pledges made in the Paris Agreement , even when national governments are not doing enough. “By generating our own electricity and investing in renewables, we are doing our bit to help meet international and national energy targets,” McGuinness said. “This is a big step for the City Corporation and it demonstrates our commitment to making us a more socially and environmentally responsible business.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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The City of London will be powered with 100% renewable energy by October 2018

The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

June 18, 2018 by  
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Don’t throw it out — throw it on. The Agraloop Bio-Refinery , a new technology developed by materials science company Circular Systems S.P.C. , is capable of turning food waste such as banana peels, pineapple leaves and hemp stalks into natural fiber that can be woven into clothing . “We want to enable food crops to become our primary fibers,” Circular Systems CEO and co-founder Isaac Nichelson told Fast Company . The waste materials mentioned, plus sugar cane and flax stalk, could generate up to 250 million tons of fiber each year if processed through the Agraloop, meeting the global demand for fiber two and a half times over. Farmers are encouraged to acquire their own Agraloop systems, so that they may earn extra income from creating natural, sustainable fiber from materials they would otherwise compost . While the Agraloop is a novel technology, its values are aligned with the clothing industry’s past. In 1960, 97 percent of the fibers used to produce clothing came from natural sources. Today, only 35 percent is naturally sourced. The return to natural form for the fashion industry is desperately needed in a moment where many acknowledge the need for reform within the industry, from its labor practices to its environmental impact. Related: Biotech company Nanollose could offer plant-free alternatives for the textile industry “Right now, it’s so extractive and so destructive, and we’re looking at these resources becoming more and more finite as the population grows,” Nichelson said. “If there’s not collective and very swift action, it’s going to be catastrophic for the industry from an economic standpoint.” Enter the Agraloop. “[It’s a] regenerative system that uses plant-based chemistry and plant-based energy to upgrade the fibres whilst enriching the local communities and creating a new economic system,” Nichelson explained. Ultimately, a move towards sustainability will be beneficial for both the environment and those seeking to make a profit. Nichelson said, “All of our industries need to be retrofitted for real sustainability and become regenerative by nature, and it will be better for business.” + Circular Systems Via EcoWatch and Fast Company Image via  Depositphotos

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The Agraloop turns food waste into sustainable clothing fibers

Noise pollution is the new ‘secondhand smoke’ according to experts

May 14, 2018 by  
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Noise pollution is “the new secondhand-smoke.” Researchers at New York University are conducting a five-year study of noise in the City  to better understand how the sounds that constantly surround us impact our health, which is important since a recent study showed that 97% of the population is subjected to manmade noise. Scientists generally agree that anything over 50 decibels increases stress, anxiety, hypertension, and heart attack risk – that’s the same level of sound as a quiet suburb. Now, experts are asking what we can do with this information to help change are sound landscape, or risk harming our collective health like we did for decades with secondhand smoke. There have been no definitive studies on change in city noise levels, which is what makes this study so vital. But while there is no official word, yet, there have been greater numbers of lawsuits over noise and more people with hearing problems, as well as short-term studies that point to the negative health effects of noise. “It took decades to educate people on the dangers of secondhand smoke. We may need decades to show the impact of secondhand noise, ”activist Bradley Vite told the Washington Post. Policymakers in the United States have some catching-up to do when it comes to noise pollution. “We’re in active denial,” Rick Neitzel, director of environmental health policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told the Washington Post. “We’re far, far behind what Europe is doing.” In 2009, the European Union (EU) approved regulations that set noise levels to 40 decibels at night to “protect human health,” while also limiting continuous day-time noise to 50 decibels. Related: The National Park System just got its first Dark Sky Sanctuary In the United States, 97 percent of the population must contend with human-caused noise. Even national parks are subject to loud human activity, with over two-thirds reporting significant levels of noise pollution, much of which is caused by airplanes and industrial activity such as drilling. So what can we do? To combat this rising threat, Texas is testing specially-grooved concrete that is capable of reducing highway sound levels by 5.8 decibels on average. In Phoenix, more than 200 highways have been repaved with a concrete-tire mix that uses recycled tires to create a more sound-absorbent roadway. Elkhart, Indiana recently approved high fines on “loud and raucous sounds,” such as caravans of motorcycles. “These biker gangs that roar through town can get up to 125 decibels,” Vite said. As a result of these fines, Elkhart has received $1.6 million in new revenue, which it has used to purchase four new police cars. Via the Washington Post Images via Depositphotos (1)

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