LEED Gold home celebrates Utah’s brilliant light and beauty

September 28, 2018 by  
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Designed to “celebrate Utah’s brilliant light and raw beauty,” this LEED Gold -certified family home in Utah embraces indoor-outdoor living. Salt Lake City-based Sparano + Mooney Architecture crafted the home for clients who sought the perfect mountain home in Park City, Utah. Working in step with interior designer Julie Chahine of J Squared interior design and clients who had a clear idea of what they wanted, the architects pulled together a sustainable and contemporary dwelling that works in concert with the landscape inside and out. Perched at a high elevation overlooking views of Park City and the Utah Winter Olympic Park, the two-story Park City Modern Residence was designed with a sensitive approach to the landscape. The site-specific design and division of the public areas from the private zones were informed by the existing topography. Outdoor terraces offer a seamless connection to the outdoors with immediate access from the master suite and living room; an accessible green roof planted with native flora also offers stellar views of a nearby golf course. To relate the home to the mountain environment punctuated by highly textured scrub oak, the architects employed a nature-inspired material palette mainly comprising cedar wood, glass and board-formed concrete. “These were inspired through a study of transparency, minimalism and serenity,” the architecture firm noted in a project statement. “The architecture and interiors are speaking the same language — the details, color schemes and artwork — all worked so perfectly with the architecture. Julie’s palette came from nature, and our materiality did too.” Related: A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof Certified LEED Gold, the 5,500-square-foot abode draws renewable energy from a ground-source heat pump and keeps its energy demands low with high performance, energy-efficient building systems. Passive solar orientation also helps the home keep comfortably cool in the summer months and retains heat and access to natural light in winter. + Sparano + Mooney Architecture Images by Derek Israelsen

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LEED Gold home celebrates Utah’s brilliant light and beauty

A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof

September 10, 2018 by  
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The building elements of a century-old farmhouse in Park City, Utah have been salvaged and transformed into a beautiful and contemporary new residence that pays homage to its historic rural past. Located on a nearly 80-year-old forested plot of spruce and cottonwood trees, the former farmhouse was beyond repair and needed to be demolished. Wanting to save the spirit of the structure, the owners turned to Salt Lake City- and Los Angeles-based design studio Sparano + Mooney Architecture to design a modern abode that would occupy the former building’s footprint and make use of as many recycled materials as possible. Named the Reddish Residence, the two-story home spreads out over 4,000 square feet. A natural materials palette of timber and stone tie the building to the landscape, while elements like recycled wood and metal reference the farmhouse vernacular. Inspired by the petrified wood — fossilized remains of trees or plants that turn into stone — found on the site, the architects used building materials that also visually morph over time. Consequently, the Reddish Residence exterior includes weathering steel and reclaimed cedar that’s treated with the Shou Sugi Ban  technique for a charred, blackened finish. Further tying the modern house into its surroundings are the abundance of landscaping, a green roof atop the charred cedar-clad addition and large full-height glazing. In contrast to the mostly muted exterior palette, the interior is full of colors, patterns and textures set on a backdrop of mainly white-painted walls and concrete floors. The existing metal silo was preserved and renovated to house the home office. The rooftop is also topped with solar panels. Related: Minimalism adds a modern twist to this traditional farmhouse “This architecture takes a contemporary approach to form,” the architects said. “The house responds to the site by acting as a moderator between interior spaces and the landscape. Arcades, overhangs, courtyards and site walls articulate that relationship. An arcade marked by a gesture to the street bisects an entry courtyard. This path forms a strong entry sequence that welcomes and guides the visitor through a choreographed threshold and provides a series of expanding glimpses of the site. The design offers both ideal southern orientation and full access to the mountain and meadow views.” + Sparano + Mooney Architecture Images by Scot Zimmerman

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A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof

A sleek artist studio with Passive House elements projects over a cliff

September 10, 2018 by  
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Montreal-based MU Architecture recently completed a minimalist and modern artist studio that boasts dramatic landscape views of Lake Deauville and the Laurentians’ mountainous countryside in Quebec, Canada. Conceived as a multipurpose extension , the Workshop on a Cliff covers more than 5,000 square feet of space and includes two superimposed garages, a workshop, a spacious creative room as well as a mezzanine level. The building is partially elevated on thin pillars so as not to disturb the tree line. Oriented toward the north and views of the lake, the Workshop on a Cliff takes cues from the countryside vernacular with its barn-inspired gabled form. The exterior is clad is pre-aged gray wood, and the thick exterior walls were built to meet the standards of Passive House construction. Overhangs and superior insulation were a must given the harsh climate in this region of Quebec. Joined with the main residence by a cantilevered bridge, the artist studio’s connection with the surrounding forest is echoed not only in its timber material palette but also in its series of supporting inclined columns that are arranged to evoke tree trunks. A massive glazed gable end wall is partly sheltered by a roof overhang and lets plenty of natural light and views into the interior, which is mostly open-plan with minimalist detailing to keep the focus on the outdoors. Timber cladding on the interior is paired with highly reflective polished concrete flooring. A mezzanine is set in the rear of the building. Related: Solar-powered cube home in Australia hovers over the landscape “Spacious but intimate, the interior volume accommodates large formats of paintings,” the architects said. “The minimalist play of surfaces and the rigor of the alignments put the artist’s work in scene and supports his concentration. The Workshop on a Cliff is a place of expression where architecture immerses us in creative inspiration and Nature contemplation.” + MU Architecture Images by Ulysse Lemerise Bouchard

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A sleek artist studio with Passive House elements projects over a cliff

Stunning mountain passive house uses burnt cedar cladding

March 20, 2017 by  
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Tucked into the sloping mountainside near historic Park City, Utah sits a modern, passive solar dream home marked by a plunging roof that slices through its middle. The 2100 square foot residence designed by Salt Lake City-based Axis Architects features a bevy of environmentally-friendly features, including charred cedar cladding that is weather, insect and fire-proof and keeps the home comfortable while helping it blend into the rugged surroundings. The home was built by Benchmark Modern, fitting seamlessly into a challenging lot sloped and limited by Park City’s land use requirements. To help it blend in, the architect’s used shou sugi ban cedar to clad the home. The sloping roof cuts through the interior of the space, dividing public and private areas. Red cedar soffits line the underside of the roof and help extend the home horizontally into the environment. This cedar also extends to the interior, blurring the line between inside and out. Related: Seattle’s Palatine Passive House consumes 90% less energy than a conventional home The architects incorporated passive solar design with 95 percent efficiency, solar power generation, LED lighting, radiant heating and smart features controlled through the owner’s phone. The owners worked with the designers to create an open space on the interior that had as few doors and storage spaces as possible. Custom cabinets in the kitchen and open cubbies in the bedroom turn storage into beautiful displays. The extended roofline and positioning help block the hot summer sun while allowing winter light to reach the interior. Large windows on the rear and sides allow for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. This beautiful home is currently for sale by Sotheby’s International Realty for $2.4 million. + Benchmark Modern + Axis Architecture images via Sotheby’s International Realty

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New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80%

March 20, 2017 by  
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An innovative new project called LIFE+ Methamorphosis is pioneering a new sustainable biofuel for cars . Car company SEAT and water management company Aqualia have transformed wastewater into the alternative fuel . Powered with this biofuel produced during one year at a treatment plant in Spain, a vehicle could circumnavigate the globe 100 times. SEAT and Aqualia came up with a creative answer to the issues of pollution from traditional car fuels – which have led to traffic restrictions in cities like Madrid – and reusing water , a scarce resource. To make their biomethane , wastewater is separated from sludge in treatment plants, and then becomes gas after a fermentation treatment. Following a purification and enrichment process, the biogas can be utilized as fuel. Compared against petrol, production and consumption of the biofuel releases 80 percent less carbon dioxide, according to SEAT . The new biofuel works in compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled cars. Related: Africa’s newest sustainable biofuel grows on trees The project aims to show feasibility at industrial scales through two waste treatment systems. The UMBRELLA prototype will be set up in a municipal waste treatment plant serving Barcelona. The METHARGO prototype will create biomethane at a plant handling animal manure. The biogas made with the second prototype can be utilized directly in cars or could be added to the natural gas distribution network, according to the project’s website . A mid-sized treatment plant can handle around 353,000 cubic feet of wastewater every day, which could yield 35,000 cubic feet of biomethane, according to companies involved with the project. All that biomethane could power 150 vehicles driving around 62 miles a day. SEAT will supply vehicles to test the biofuel over around 74,500 miles. The European Commission is funding the project. Other companies participating include Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas , Gas Natural , the Catalan Institute for Energy , and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area . Via New Atlas Images via SEAT and LIFE+ Methamorphosis

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New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80%

Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

March 20, 2017 by  
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The far reaches of northern Vietnam are beautiful but heartbreakingly poor. Children of the Hmong ethnic minority who live in the villages routinely suffer from lack of access to healthcare and education. Vietnamese architecture firm 1+1> 2 has provided a ray of hope for those in Lung Luong village in the remote Thai Nguyen Province with the construction of a beautiful new school made from local materials including rammed earth and bamboo. The school’s beautiful swooping and colorful form is an inspiration to the village and serves as a welcoming haven protected from the harsh elements. The Lung Luong elementary school is sited on a mountain peak and constructed to replace a poorly insulated structure that was piercingly cold in days of heavy rain and draught. Under the leadership of architect Hoang Thuc Hao, the villagers excavated part of the peak to create an even foundation. The excavated soil was recycled into rammed earth bricks used to build the school’s structure. The soil bricks’ thermal properties help maintain a temperate indoor climate year round. Locally sourced timber and bamboo were also used in construction and existing trees were protected during the building process. The elementary school is spread out across the mountaintop, covering an area of over 1,400 square meters. The orientation and placement of the buildings and the swooping colorful bamboo canopy above optimize natural lighting, ventilation, and sound insulation. The school comprises classrooms, playgrounds, gardens, multipurpose rooms, a medical room, library, kitchen, toilets, and dormitory. Related: Rammed earth house blends traditional materials with modern techniques in Vietnam’s last frontier “The goal of this project is to create a school with conveniences striving against the harsh nature,” write the architects. “The classrooms are compatible with the mountain, spaces between them are slots which makes everything appears like an architectural picture pasted on the terrain. The corridor connects all functional areas. The foundation of the buildings respects the natural terrain which means that they wind up and down as the mountain path.” + 1+1> 2 Via ArchDaily Images © Son Vu

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Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower

Diapers, sanitary products could provide alternative fuel source

March 20, 2017 by  
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A waste-management company has developed a new, patented process that turns sanitary products, baby diapers, incontinence pads, and other so-called “absorbent hygiene products” into power. PHS Group , which serves 90,000 households, schools, offices, and retirement homes across the United Kingdom and Ireland, says that it handles about 45,000 tons of the stuff a year. A plant in the Midlands is currently converting 15 percent of that waste into compressed bales that can be burned to provide fuel for power stations. Refuse-derived fuel is neither an untested concept in Europe, where the practice is par for the course, nor in the U.K., where it’s gaining ground. But diapers, tampons, and their ilk have proved trickier because their dampness makes incineration most costly. But neither is dumping them in the landfill, where they’ll take decades to degrade, a sustainable solution. “Hygiene products are an essential part of many of our everyday lives but disposing of them has always been an issue,” Justin Tydeman, CEO of the PHS Group, told Guardian . PHS Group’s system, which is being evaluated by the University of Birmingham for its effectiveness, not to mention its impact on the environment, sounds simple in principle. Related: How Sweden diverts 99 percent of its waste from the landfill The company begins by shredding and squeezing the material, then disposing of any waste liquid as sewage. The remaining dry material is packed into bales, ripe for tossing into the fire. “Whether or not it turns out to be a major source of energy in itself, the key thing is we find a good way to handle what is a complex and growing waste stream,” Tydeman said. “We don’t want this stuff just going into the ground.” An aging population makes PHS Group’s tack even more vital than ever, Tydeman added. “The great thing about life today is people are living longer, but what comes with that is often incontinence issues,” he said. We want this to be a growing issue, because we want people to live longer.” Via the Guardian Photos by Unsplash , Pixabay

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2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle is ready for the mainstream

March 20, 2017 by  
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Fuel-cell vehicles are still pretty foreign to most of us, especially if you live outside of California. Automakers like General Motors, Hyundai , Toyota and Honda have been working on the technology for decades, but we’ve yet to see a model that could bring the technology more mainstream. Toyota got close with the new Mirai , but Honda may be even closer to increasing the public’s acceptance of fuel-cell vehicles with their all-new 2017 Clarity. You’ll recall that this isn’t the first time Honda has released a fuel cell vehicle for public consumption, since in 2008 the first FCX Clarity was leased to a small subset of customers in California. Now almost 10 years later, Honda has made significant improvements to make the Clarity feel even more like a conventional car than any fuel cell vehicle has been able to do before. The styling may still be a bit unconventional, but Honda learned a lot from what customers need with the first FCX Clarity. Related: Honda will offer the Clarity Fuel Cell in electric and plug-in hybrid versions For starters, the new Clarity is now larger with increases to its length and width, which brings its exterior more in-line with the brand’s popular Accord midsize sedan. Honda decided one of the biggest hurdles with the last generation was that its interior also had too many compromises in terms of interior volume and seating capacity. So now the Clarity can fit five passengers, compared to the last model that could only fit four. That’s also a big plus over the Toyota Mirai , which can only fit up to four. How did Honda manage to do this? The FCX Clarity’s fuel cell stack was positioned directly in the middle of the car, which meant that there wasn’t room for a middle passenger in the rear seat. To make room for the fifth passenger in the new Clarity, Honda repositioned the fuel cell stack and powertrain underneath the hood, like a conventional car. Honda couldn’t simply just take the old system and stuff it under the new Clarity’s hood, instead it had to downsize the size of the entire system so that it is now smaller than the brand’s V6 engine. One added benefit is now that the system is so much smaller, that opens the door for more future applications. To make more interior volume and cargo space, Honda also reconfigured the hydrogen storage system, which now consists of two tanks, one under the rear seat and one in the trunk. Having room for five passengers was one of the biggest complaints that buyers had about the last generation, but there was also one other problem – driving range. The last FCX Clarity could only drive up to 240 miles on a tank of hydrogen fuel, but now the new two tank system can hold more hydrogen: 3.93 kg vs 5.46 kg. The nominal pressure of the tanks is also up from 35 MPa to 70 MPa. This also means that the Clarity can now travel further than before with an estimated driving range of 366 miles – which is closer to the driving range of a conventional midsize sedan. Also one of the biggest benefits of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is that it only takes 3-5 minutes to refill its tanks compared to the many hours it takes to recharge an electric vehicle. Now that the Clarity can fit as many passengers as a regular midsize sedan and its driving range is more realistic – there was only one other big hurdle that Honda needed to tackle if it were to achieve its goal of increasing the acceptance of fuel cell vehicles – how it drives. The Clarity’s fuel cell powertrain generates 174 horsepower (up 30%) and 221 lb-ft. of torque (up 17 percent). For comparison, the Honda Accord’s four-cylinder engine generates 185 horsepower and 181 lb-ft. of torque. The upgraded powertrain now has a quicker response and is smoother than before. A new Sport mode also makes it a bit “sportier” when you need it. How did it drive in the real world? Honda achieved its goal of making it feel more like a regular midsize sedan. Around the back country roads of Santa Barbara, the 2017 Clarity drove just as we would expect from the Accord. It wasn’t particularly engaging, but it didn’t need to be. The updated powertrain is much quieter than before and accelerating from a stop was easy and effortless. The differences between the Normal and Sport modes is not as big as you would expect, but it does provide a bit more brake regeneration. On the road, the 2017 Clarity feels planted, quiet and comfortable. Most passengers probably won’t even realize they are in a “non-conventional” fuel cell sedan. Which is what Honda was hoping to achieve with the Clarity. The previous compromises to interior volume, comfort and performance are all pretty much gone now. There’s still one last hurdle to greater acceptance of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles: infrastructure. Currently the Clarity is only on sale in California and that’s because of the number of hydrogen re-fueling stations in the state. But even then there are still only 26 stations currently up and running in California . By the end of 2017 there will be another 20 coming online. Honda hopes to have at least 100 stations up by 2020. On the flip side, the automaker promises to cover the costs of the hydrogen fuel for the entire lease – for a cost of up to $15,000. Related: Toyota FCV Plus hydrogen concept car reveals the automaker’s vision of the future Honda won’t actually sell you a Clarity, so the only way you can get one is if you lease it for three years at $369 a month with 2,868 due at signing. If you’re still not quiet ready to make the jump to a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, there’s still good news. Honda is going to offer three versions of the Clarity: the Clarity Fuel Cell, Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in Hybrid. The Clarity Electric will be an affordable fully-electric version with a driving range around 80 miles, while the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will be the volume leader with a 40 mile electric mode and a 300 mile driving range. Both the Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will arrive by the end of the year. So there we have it, Honda’s latest attempt at making the fuel cell vehicle more mainstream is the closest one yet that we’ve seen from any automaker. We can expect others to follow suit; Hyundai is already working on its next fuel cell SUV and General Motors recently announced a partnership to work on fuel cell powertrains. + Honda All images @ Inhabitat and Honda

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Google Street View takes you inside the fiery depths of an active volcano

March 20, 2017 by  
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Have you ever seen an active volcano up close? Most of us haven’t had the opportunity, but now thanks to Google Street View , you can glimpse the fiery depths of one the world’s largest boiling lava lakes. Two explorers repelled down into the Marum crater on the island on Ambrym in Vanuatu , a country of islands around 1000 miles away from Australia, to collect images of the lava lake for Google (and all of us). Forget the relatively tame imagery of city streets. Google went to new extremes to collect dramatic images of Ambrym, from volcanic beaches to a volcano itself. Explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsley helped out by repelling around 1,312 feet down into the Marum crater to gather 360-degree imagery of the massive lava lake, which is about as big as two football fields, according to Google. Mackley said, “You only realize how insignificant humans are when you’re standing next to a giant lake of fiery boiling rock .” Related: Sheep enlisted to bring ‘Google Street View’ to remote Faroe Islands After repelling into the crater, Horsley said, “I hope that by putting this place on the map people will realize what a beautiful world we live in.” Over 7,000 people live on Ambrym. Chief Moses of Endu, a local village, welcomed Google in to share the incredible beauty of the area. Locals have been rebuilding after Cyclone Pam hit a few years past, and are ready to greet travelers again. According to Google, Chief Moses feels welcoming visitors to the region will help the island recover, help set up a sustainable economy, and preserve the island’s culture . Along with the volcano, Google Street View offers images of his village, a primary school, and a craft workshop on the island. Can’t hop on the next plane to trek to Vanuatu? You can also check out a jungle on Ambrym, more images of the Marum crater, and villagers harvesting coconuts on Google Street View. Via Google Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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Google Street View takes you inside the fiery depths of an active volcano

San Diego brewery unveils beer made from 100% recycled wastewater

March 20, 2017 by  
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San Diego is aiming to to become the most environmentally sustainable city in the United States. As part of its ambitious Climate Action Plan , last year the city council unanimously approved a $3 billion initiative to recycle wastewater for drinking. Now the city is demonstrating that the pure water program can be used for just about anything, even a cold beer, by partnering with Encinitas-based craft beer maker Stone Brewery to unveil Stone Full Circle Pale Ale — a beer made with 100 percent recycled wastewater from the city’s pure water program. “Just a great example of what this is gonna be like in terms of the future and Stone who’s a huge driver of not just the craft beer industry but sustainability, that’s what our pure water program is all about,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said at Stone’s Point Loma location last week, where city leaders gathered to sample the beer and talk up the pure water program. Related: San Diego to become largest U.S. city to run on 100% renewable energy The wastewater recycling plan puts purified water treated at the Point Loma Water Treatment Plant back into the freshwater system rather than the ocean — providing a steady source of potable water to protect the water supply from drought and disruptions to water imports. The pure water program is expected to deliver 30 million gallons of recycled water a day within five years and 83 million gallons of drinking water per day when fully implemented in 2035 — providing one-third of the city’s freshwater supply. Stone, the largest brewery in San Diego and ninth largest in the country, produced five barrels of the beer using water trucked in from the city’s pure water demonstration plant in Miramar. “We like trial and we like testing and if we can help others jump on the same bandwagon, we would love to do that because it’s a great thing for the City of San Diego,” said Stone Chief Operating Officer Pat Tiernan. + Stone Brewery + San Diego Water Sustainability Program Via UPI Images via Wikimedia  and Twitter

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San Diego brewery unveils beer made from 100% recycled wastewater

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