This tiny home on wheels has been turned into the ultimate Hogwarts experience

November 20, 2018 by  
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Harry Potter fans can now have the ultimate Hogwarts experience in this Harry Potter-inspired tiny home. Located in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, the Hogwarts Inn Express is a black and red 204-square-foot tiny house on wheels that is completely decked out in Harry Potter-themed memorabilia, and currently on sale for $99,000 . Stepping into the compact home , fans will be able to enjoy the carefully decorated space with over 100 licensed Harry Potter products along with many handmade items. The interior is laid out to represent each House of Hogwarts, with touches of the popular book series on display throughout the living space. Even the black and red exterior has a welcoming plaque that pays homage to Platform 9 ¾ – the fictional train platform located in King’s Cross Train Station in London. Related: Amazing Replica of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Wizardry Made from 400,000 LEGO Bricks However, although the details put into the home is incredibly impressive, it’s not all witchcraft and wizardry at Hogwarts Inn. The tiny home is actually a fully functional home on wheels . The dark black and wood “Gryffindor” living room has a convertible sofa, a smart TV and coffee table. A small chair next to a mini wood-burning chimney is the perfect spot for reading or re-reading J.K. Rowling’s beloved books. There are two sleeping lofts , a master Ravenclaw loft that has enough space for a double mattress and a smaller loft over the bathroom that fits a small twin mattress. This cozy space is reached by “Cupboard Under the Stairs”, which adds plenty of storage space. The kitchen comes with a large sink, fridge, and portable cooktop and the large bathroom with standard shower and vanity. Built on a RV-compliant trailer, the Hogwarts Express is also ready to travel. Additionally, LP Smartside panel siding on the exterior, double pane windows, closed cell insulation , and a portable heat/air unit make the tiny home on wheels perfect for almost any climate. + Tiny Home Builders Via Tiny House Talk Images via Tiny Home Builders

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This tiny home on wheels has been turned into the ultimate Hogwarts experience

A modern, solar-powered home breathes new life into the Dutch countryside

November 20, 2018 by  
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In the Twente countryside of Rijssen, the Netherlands, Dutch practice Reitsema & partners architects and landscape architecture firm Eelerwoude recently completed a new solar-powered dwelling that — despite its contemporary design — looks surprisingly at home with its bucolic surroundings. Taking inspiration from the rural vernacular, the designers styled the three-building project after farmhouse architecture with a modern twist. Dubbed Erve BE and powered by solar energy, the energy-efficient abode consists of a main building and two annexes, all with simple gabled forms and strong sight lines to the landscape. The long and slender volumes of the Erve BE country estate were created in reference to the traditional Twente barns distinguished by their low roof gutters; the new construction is also marked by an absence of gutters to create minimalist eaves. The architects gave the barn architecture more contemporary flair with modern roof trusses and walls of glass as well as with striking patinated zinc roofs over 200 feet in length. The cladding, window frames and roof trusses were built from pre-grayed wood to blend the structures in with the environment. In addition to the abundance of glass and slender floor plan, the main residence and both annexes are set up along two axes that reinforce sight lines toward the Regge River Valley and allow for views straight through the house. Related: A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof “The buildings are characterized by their slender floor plans and calmly designed roof surfaces, which appear almost as natural parts of the landscape,” the architects explained. “The house is characterized by a strong relationship between the interior and exterior. A long hallway runs along the front, linking the various functions. Large windows frame the landscape. The facilities are grouped near the entrance, and the living room and kitchen are separated by a veranda , which provides access to a patio that extends into the meadow.” Sustainability was also a guiding principle in the design. To keep energy use to a minimum, the home was built with timber-frame construction with a high insulation value. A hidden solar photovoltaic system also helps offset the electricity footprint. + Reitsema & partners architects Photography by Ronald Tilleman via Reitsema & partners architects

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A modern, solar-powered home breathes new life into the Dutch countryside

Harnessing the wind to help a sovereign culture thrive

October 31, 2018 by  
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An unprecedented partnership uniting six tribes of the Sioux Nation is poised to leverage one of the country’s strongest wind resources across North and South Dakota, accelerating the shift to clean energy, breaking decades of generational poverty, and creating a long-term path to self-sufficiency for the Cheyenne River, Flandreau Santee, Oglala, Rosebud, Standing Rock and Yankton Sioux Tribes.

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Harnessing the wind to help a sovereign culture thrive

Creating the workplace of the future

October 31, 2018 by  
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How Google and WeWork are creating spaces that enable workers to thrive – varied approaches and solutions, lessons learned and their visions for the future of work.

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Creating the workplace of the future

This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

October 16, 2018 by  
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Compact, energy-efficient and built with locally sourced materials, this hillside home takes a low-impact approach to its wetland surroundings in the city of Valparaiso in northern Indiana. Local design firm Bamesberger Architecture completed the home for a client who wanted a relatively small dwelling overlooking a pristine 400,000-square-foot wetland site. Named The Box after its boxy appearance, the home boasts low-energy needs and does not rely on air conditioning, even in the summer Completed in 2013, The Box spans an area of 960 square feet and consists of a main house, a screened porch and a small storage building. All three structures are slightly offset from one another to offer varied views of the landscape and are connected with two square timber decks. In response to the client’s wishes for a “very affordable” house with wetland views, the architects selected a budget-friendly yet attractive natural materials palette — including blackened steel, stone, concrete and birch plywood — to complement the property’s native trees and grasslands. “To set the house into the site, the main living space was built into the hillside,” the architecture firm explained. “Excavated rocks were reused as a base for the steel encased fireplace as well as a stepping stone inside the front door. The front door was built from a walnut tree found dead on the site.” Related: Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree The main dwelling includes an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living area on the ground floor. Above, a small loft offers space for sleeping and a home office. A two-story shower takes advantage of the double-height volume, adding what the architects call “a spatial surprise in the otherwise small space.” To minimize energy needs, The Box is wrapped in high-performance insulation and built into the side of the north-facing hill. Radiant underfloor heating and natural ventilation also help keep the home at comfortable temperatures year-round with minimal utility bills. + Bamesberger Architecture Images via Fred Bamesberger

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This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland

Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

October 3, 2018 by  
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Ben Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean back in 1998, is now attempting to be the first swimmer to traverse the Pacific Ocean . The record-setter is taking on the challenge not only for himself, but also to raise awareness about ocean pollution, health and conservation. Lecomte has now passed the 1,000 nautical mile marker from his starting point in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. “My eyes are not too much on the milestones,” Lecomte said of his headline distance. “But it’s important to have milestones to celebrate any progress.” The swimmer is nearly a fifth of the way through his 5,500-mile expedition. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution Despite six years of preparation, Lecomte and his crew aboard the research vessel dubbed ‘Seeker’ have had to overcome many obstacles since leaving Yokohama in June. The team has been forced back to port by typhoons , suffered sea sickness aboard the 65-foot (20-meter) sailboat and rerouted several times to avoid cargo ships. Aside from this, Lecomte attempts to swim an average of 30 miles a day, aided by North Pacific currents and a protein-based diet of approximately 8,000 calories. Throughout the roughly eight hours it takes him to swim this distance, he is also collecting ocean debris and plastic that his expedition team geotags for research. “Every single day we collect trash,” Lecomte said. “I’m truly shocked by the amount of plastic I find on my way every single day.” The team has collected more than 1,300 pieces of floating trash along its journey, scooping up to four samples each minute with a specially designed net. Related: Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change Even among the heart-rending stages of Lecomte’s journey, there have still been touching moments. “I am very surprised by the amount of amazing encounters I made in the middle of nowhere — birds, jellyfish, swordfishes, turtles , dolphins, whales and even a shark who followed me for two days,” he said. “As I swim everyday, I see this wild and beautiful environment being affected by the virus of plastic. Every stroke is dedicated to inspire people and find ways to rethink their plastic consumption on land.” Viewers can tune-in to top science publisher Seeker.com and its social channels to watch daily videos and live moments from the expedition, with weekly updates also airing on Discovery. Follow Ben’s journey at Seeker.com/TheSwim . Via Seeker Images via Seeker

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Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

Hurricane Florence could cause dangerous floods of toxic sludge and animal waste

September 12, 2018 by  
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Torrential rains are not the only thing Hurricane Florence will bring once it hits landfall. The massive storm is expected to dump record amounts of rain in the southeastern United States — rain that could overflow toxic chemical waste and animal manure sites along the coast, increasing danger to both public health and the environment. One toxic waste site in North Carolina is particularly vulnerable to the incoming storm. Two years ago, the state tasked Duke Energy Corp. with cleaning up coal-ash ponds in the area following a major spill, because the ponds posed serious hazards to nearby communities. Close to 40,000 tons of toxic waste was dumped near the town of Eden, North Carolina. State officials ordered the company to clean up the ponds by the summer of 2019. Although Duke Energy Corp. has started the cleanup process, it is nowhere near the finish line. The company is currently in the middle of cleaning up the sites and will not be finished by the time Hurricane Florence rolls in. Given the condition of the ponds, excess rain from the hurricane could lead to overflow, dumping the waste into the surrounding environment. Related: Climate change is expected to bring more intense storms like Hurricane Florence North Carolina is also home to lagoons that contain manure from the state’s hog and poultry industries. Hurricane Florence could overwhelm these lagoons with massive amounts of rain, which would dump the animal waste into surrounding waterways. If that happens, the state would be facing a major environmental disaster. That is, of course, if Florence stays on its current path and hits North Carolina. Hurricane Florence is growing in both strength and size as it prepares to make landfall. If the storm continues at its current pace, it could be the strongest hurricane to reach the Carolinas in the last 30 years. With Florence getting closer every day, about 1 million residents have already evacuated. Via Bloomberg Images via NASA and NOAA

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Hurricane Florence could cause dangerous floods of toxic sludge and animal waste

Bees addicted to pesticides much like smokers to nicotine, scientists say

August 30, 2018 by  
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Bees have developed a likening to pesticide-containing plants , according to a recent study. The affinity exhibited by the bees is similar to an addiction to nicotine from cigarettes. Apparently, the more pesticide-laced pollen that the bees ingest, the more they crave the tainted alternatives. The contaminated nectar is potentially harmful to bees and unfortunately, researchers are finding higher quantities entering bee colonies than before. To reach these conclusions, a British research team conducted a series of studies over 10-day periods, offering 10 different bee colonies access to both pure sugar solutions as well as a compound that contained neonicotinoids, or neonics. Over extensive exposure, the bees increasingly preferred the sugar flavored with pesticides over the natural alternative. Related: Canada moves to ban bee-killing pesticides “Interestingly, neonicotinoids target nerve receptors in insects that are similar to receptors targeted by nicotine in mammals ,” explained Richard Gill, researcher in the Department of Life Sciences at London’s Imperial College . “Whilst neonicotinoids are controversial, if the effects of replacements on non-target insects are not understood, then I believe it is sensible that we take advantage of current knowledge and further studies to provide guidance for using neonicotinoids more responsibly, rather than necessarily an outright ban.” Related: Total field ban on bee-harming neonicotinoids likely after new EU assessments Researchers will continue to experiment with the bees, according to lead scientist Andres Arce, part of the same Imperial College department as Gill. “Many studies on neonicotinoids feed bees exclusively with pesticide-laden food, but in reality, wild bees have a choice of where to feed,” Arce said. “We wanted to know if the bees could detect the pesticides and eventually learn to avoid them by feeding on the uncontaminated food we were offering. We now need to conduct further studies to try and understand the mechanism behind why they acquire this preference.” The extensive research will have major implications for agriculture practices in the EU as well as North America. The EU already imposed a partial ban on neonics in 2013 after evidence found that they may have an adverse effect to bee colonies. As of today, the ban has been extended to all crops that are not grown in greenhouses. Canada has already moved to ban the pesticide this year, with the U.S. following suit in the near future. + The Royal Society Publishing Via The Guardian Image via Axel Rouvin

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Bees addicted to pesticides much like smokers to nicotine, scientists say

BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen

August 9, 2018 by  
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Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group , the new home for the Shenzhen Energy Company has just reached completion in the business center of Shenzhen , China. Conceived as a new social and sustainable landmark in the heart of the city, the striking office development comprises two towers — one rising 220 meters to the north and the other to a height of 120 meters in the south — both of which are linked by a 34-meter-tall podium. Dubbed the Shenzhen Energy Mansion, the skyscraper is wrapped in an undulating facade that optimizes solar orientation while minimizing energy consumption. Created in collaboration with ARUP and Transsolar, BIG’s Shenzhen Energy Mansion design was selected the winner of an international design competition in 2009. Spanning an area of 96,000 square meters, this new headquarters for the Shenzhen Energy Company includes a pair of office towers and a mixed-use podium comprising the main lobbies, a conference center, a cafeteria and exhibition space. Circulation for visitors and workers are divided; the commercial spaces can be accessed through sliding glass walls on the north and south ends of the buildings while office workers enter from the front plaza to the lobby. Instead of the traditional glass curtain wall, BIG designed a pleated building envelope specially engineered to reduce solar loads and glare. Site studies and passive solar principles optimize the building’s orientation, which includes maximized north-facing openings for natural light and minimized exposure on the sunnier sides. Green roofs top the building. Related: BIG unveils designs for LEED-certified skyscraper in NYC “Shenzhen Energy Mansion is our first realized example of ‘engineering without engines’ — the idea that we can engineer the dependence on machinery out of our buildings and let architecture fulfill the performance,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “Shenzhen Energy Mansion appears as a subtle mutation of the classic skyscraper and exploits the building’s interface with the external elements: sun, daylight, humidity and wind to create maximum comfort and quality inside. A natural evolution that looks different because it performs differently.” + BIG Images by Chao Zhang

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BIG completes an energy-efficient sculptural skyscraper in Shenzhen

This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste

July 11, 2018 by  
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More than 1,000 square feet of plastic ultimately destined to pollute the ocean is getting a second lease on life in Rotterdam. On July 4, 2018, Recycled Island Foundation opened its prototype to the public: a floating park made entirely from recycled plastic waste and appropriately named the Recycled Park. According to a report commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment , more than 1,000 cubic meters of plastic waste is transported every year down the Meuse River and into the North Sea. The plastics come from landfills, agriculture, sewage and inland shipping. They ultimate reach the river through a number of methods, including dumping, littering and run-off. Instead of letting the plastic reach the ocean, the Recycled Island Foundation and 25 partners created the Recycled Park: a public space in Rotterdam consisting of floating platforms made from recycled plastic waste. The team set traps along the Meuse River that collect waste, which is then gathered and transformed into platforms for the floating park. Related: A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal The Recycled Park project is focused on the Meuse River because of the overall viability of plastic in the aquatic space. The collected waste  is newer than in other waterways, so it can easily be made into platforms. To create the platforms, the collected plastic is sent to Wageningen University, which leads the research on effective recycling techniques . From there, the platforms are designed with HEBO Mariteimservice , who removes the garbage from the water. But the platforms aren’t just designed to reduce plastic pollution — they also serve as a wildlife habitat. Plants grow both above and below the river surface, allowing greenery to thrive on top of the platforms, providing a habitat capable of sustaining marine life and encouraging fish to lay eggs below the platforms. With the prototype park open, the organization is now looking for expansion options. Its ultimate goal is to incorporate several aquatic platform types into the park, while finding a permanent location to collect plastic from the Dutch harbor . + Recycled Park + Recycled Island Foundation Images via Recycled Island Foundation

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This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste

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