Energy-efficient Indian home features beautiful greenery

January 24, 2020 by  
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Mumbai based architecture and design firm,  unTAG  has just unveiled a stunning home built for a retired teacher looking to spend retirement in his home village of Dakivali, India. Working within the man’s limited budget, the architects employed several low-cost,  passive strategies  such as building the home in the middle of a lush bamboo field to use the vegetation as natural insulation. Spanning two levels, the 1,400 square feet home was constructed using  low-cost , locally-sourced materials, with the main material being concrete. The resulting aesthetic is a monolithic exterior, which contrasts nicely with the surrounding vegetation. Related: A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC In addition to the concrete’s innate  sustainable aspects , the home boasts several passive strategies to achieve optimum thermal comfort. Strategically located westward, the home was built in the middle of an existing bamboo grove. Abundant greenery envelopes the home, adding an extra layer of insulation that protects from the harsh summer sun. According to the architects, the large trees also help create a comforting microclimate for the interior, lowering the temperature by up to 5°C. The house’s entrance is through a landscaped courtyard with a large concrete  jaali  screen. A common feature in Indian architecture, the screen helps keep interior spaces private, while allowing pleasant breezes to flow through the interior. Additionally, the home was built with several seating areas, both covered and open-air, which let  natural light  filter into the living space. Adding to the home’s thermal mass, the various terraces are painted white to reduce heat gain. For the interior, large walls were built with  locally-manufactured bricks  and covered with natural plaster, while the floors were made out of natural stone. The home also features several rain collection drains that channel runoff into tanks where it is used as irrigation for landscaping. According to the architects, the main objective of the home was to provide a comfortable family home for a retired man to spend his years reconnecting with nature. The home’s simple but effective  passive strategies will also let him live with low operating costs, adding to his quality of life. The architects explained, “Inhabiting this meek abode, our dear client is a proud owner of a village home, exemplary of an affordable luxury, which he enjoys residing, nurturing and aging gracefully with it. This humble home of a farmer exemplifies that sustainability need not always come at huge costs, but can be practiced at grass root level too, through simple DIY solutions.” + unTAG Via Archdaily Images via unTAG Architecture & Interiors

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Energy-efficient Indian home features beautiful greenery

EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

January 24, 2020 by  
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Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, persist in the environment , grossly tainting the drinking water of many United States cities, like Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia. More specifically, findings by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveal that the a 2018 estimate of 110 million U.S. citizens being contaminated with PFAS is far below actual numbers. “It’s nearly impossible to avoid contaminated drinking water from these chemicals,” shared David Andrews, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the report. “Everyone’s really exposed to a toxic soup of these PFAS chemicals.” Related: Climate change-induced melting of mountain ice threatens global supply of freshwater PFAS are highly fluorinated chemicals that do not break down in the environment. The most infamous PFAS are those associated with Teflon and 3M’s Scotchgard. Much of the PFAS contamination is legacy pollution . In fact, both Teflon and Scotchgard were phased out years ago, but these harmful PFAS still persist in the environment — in soils and especially in water , such as the rainwater that supplies drinking water. Despite the original PFAS chemicals being taken off the market, they’ve been replaced by modern PFAS chemicals that might still be just as harmful, if not more so. These modern PFAS chemicals lurk in packaging, stain-resistant furnishings, water-repellent clothing and items, cosmetics and personal care products and firefighting foam. What’s worrisome, too, is that PFAS can accumulate in the human body, thus compromising health . Cancer, disease, endocrine disruption, reproductive issues, low birth weights and a host of other compromised health incidences are some of the consequences of drinking PFAS-tainted water. EWG is advocating for tougher regulations and laws to reduce PFAS chemicals in drinking water and consumer products to help reduce human exposure to these toxins . Some states are ramping up their efforts to reduce PFAS in the drinking water by banning PFAS-based food packaging or firefighting foam. But more work is still needed. + EWG Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Arcaion

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EWG warns forever chemicals are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected

Japanese box house uses passive design to slash energy bills

November 15, 2016 by  
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Designed by Japanese firm Sola Sekkei Koubou , which specializes in passive design, Fukuoka H House is a two-story, nearly 1,010 square feet home. The home owners wanted an environmentally-friendly home that would provide a peaceful retreat at the end of the day. The home design capitalizes on sunlight for heating, and insulation retains the heat during cold weather. A corner wood-burning stove allows for additional warmth if necessary. Related: Gleaming Holy Cross House saves energy with passive design and natural ventilation According to Sola Sekkei Koubou, the total primary energy consumption is a mere 72.89 kilowatt hours (kWh)/square meter-year. Annual heating load for the home is 52.21 kWh/square meter-year. The home is also equipped with a rainwater tank to capture water. Fukuoka H House obtained a low-carbon housing certification, per the house description on Sola Sekkei Koubou’s website. Inside the house, stone tiles, white walls, and wood furnishings create a snug, modern ambiance. High ceilings with exposed beams make the house feel spacious, and a mezzanine work area adds extra space. Although the lot on which the house sits is small at around 3,381 square feet, the family made the most of their outdoor space by planting a garden . The home design even benefits the family pet. A beam allows the cat to travel to a landing where it can look out the windows high above the ground. Other secret walkways throughout Fukuoka H House let the cat explore. + Sola Sekkei Koubou Via Homify Images via Sola Sekkei Koubou

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Japanese box house uses passive design to slash energy bills

Japanese fix massive city sinkhole within 48 hours

November 15, 2016 by  
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Within two days of swallowing a five-lane city street, a sinkhole in Fukuoka, Japan has been repaired – though, as the Guardian reports , the street’s re-opening was delayed several days for safety reasons. The sinkhole opened up on 8 November, and one week later, the street officially reopened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic with an apology from the city’s mayor. The 98-foot-long sinkhole in Fukoaka affected a sewage pipe, traffic lights, as well as utility pipes, all of which have been restored with fresh gas and power lines, the Guardian reports. Local press claim Fukuoka workers filled the urban cavity with 6,200 cubic meters of sand and cement, working around the clock to restore the busy thoroughfare. Related: Terrifying sinkhole swallows five-lane street in Japan Mayor Soichiro Takashima said the street is now 30 times stronger than it was before, adding that the city has assembled a panel of experts to determine what caused the sinkhole. Earlier reports placed blame on construction of new subway lines. “We’re very sorry for causing great trouble,” the mayor said, according to the Telegraph . “Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by groundwater circulating through them,” according to the USGS. Evaporite rocks, where sinkholes are commonly found, underlie up to 40 percent of US territory. Via The Guardian Images via Hideyuki Hongo, USGS

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Japanese fix massive city sinkhole within 48 hours

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