Escape to paradise in this nature-inspired surf hotel in Costa Rica

July 24, 2018 by  
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A beloved surfer hangout has been transformed into the stunning Gilded Iguana Hotel , a breezy and contemporary getaway that, despite its updated amenities, still exudes its original laid-back atmosphere. Located in the Costa Rican beach town of Nosara, the existing hotel was expanded and redesigned under the direction of Studio Saxe , a San Jose-based architecture firm renowned for its beautiful boutique hotel designs. Together with the owners, the architects sensitively restored and revitalized the originally run-down wooden house while imbuing it with bioclimatic design principles as well as other energy-saving systems including a solar photovoltaic panels and water recycling. Spanning an area of approximately 57,500 square feet, the Gilded Iguana Hotel includes a reception, spa, restaurant and bedroom suites all clustered around the communal pool located at the heart of the development. The renovated timber house is visually tied to the new structures through a shared natural materials palette that includes simple wood frames and balconies with hand-made palm thatch “palapas.” The nature-inspired palette continues indoors where sustainably sourced teak, palm thatch, jute fabric and concrete tiles are used alongside modern and locally crafted tropical furniture. “The Gilded Iguana Hotel is designed as a harmonious ‘dialogue’ between the tropical identity of the past and a new toned-down, unpretentious and timeless tropical modernity that sits softly in the landscape and reflects the relaxed town atmosphere which most wish to preserve,” explained Benjamin Garcia Saxe, principal architect and founder of Studio Saxe. Related: Scandinavian-inspired hotel emerges from the lush Costa Rican landscape As with many of Studio Saxe’s projects, the Gilded Iguana Hotel was largely informed by passive solar principles to naturally achieve a comfortable climate year-round. Locally sourced materials and labor were used to help create jobs for the community and reduce the project’s environmental impact. Water is recycled through water treatment systems, and solar energy is harnessed through solar hot water collectors and photovoltaic panels . + Studio Saxe Images by Andres Garcia Lachner

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Escape to paradise in this nature-inspired surf hotel in Costa Rica

Energy-plus home is a beacon of sustainability in Tel Aviv

July 17, 2018 by  
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Israeli architecture firm Geotectura recently completed a striking modern home that can produce more energy than it needs. Located in Tel Aviv , the energy-plus home — called the Eco360 — combines traditional passive design principles with improved energy-efficient systems such as solar photovoltaic panels and a gray water system. The sustainable house also embraces views of the outdoors and offers plenty of natural light. The project brief was for a modern home that could elegantly incorporate sustainable features with minimal maintenance. The client desired a house that would serve as an environmentally-friendly example for other developments. In addition to being equipped with solar panels and a gray water system, the Eco360 house also features durable and recycled materials . Aided by the mild Mediterranean climate, the energy-plus home requires little, if any, heating thanks to its highly efficient insulation and passive solar design . The energy generated from simple household items, like a hair dryer, can be enough to heat the home. Due to the client’s desires to embrace views of the sea to the west, Geotectura doesn’t face south as recommended in traditional passive solar design teachings. As a result, the architects used BIM (Building Information Modeling) to determine the optimal building envelope and positioning to harness passive design features while facing west. Related: Incredible rooftop farm takes over Israel’s oldest mall to grow thousands of organic vegetables “The client’s hope is that the house will inspire others to consider ways in which they can also use these green principles in building and that it will serve as a model of efficiency and environmental sensitivity,” wrote Geotectura in its project statement. “The house reveals and reflects the ideas of sustainability with more than 50 green design features. The hope is to raise awareness about green design challenges and solutions.” + Geotectura Via ArchDaily Images by Lior Avitan

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This passive-energy lake house unites multiple generations under one roof

June 14, 2018 by  
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Located on a peninsula on Ossippee Lake, New Hampshire, the Anker Jordan Residence is a lakeside cottage that offers multi-generational living with a spectacular view. Designed by New York City-based Scalar Architecture , the New England home was created with passive energy performance, privacy, and aging in mind. The dwelling’s relatively compact footprint and its unusual geometric form were informed by passive solar studies as well as surrounding views of the lake, forests, and White Mountains range beyond. Although one of the undeniable charms of the Anker Jordan Residence is the beautiful view, the site also proved one of the project’s most challenging aspects. The property’s main views lie to the north and it receives little southern solar exposure; neighbors on the south and east also posed privacy concerns. In addition to site considerations, Scalar Architecture had to develop a design that allowed for comfortable intermingling between three generations and protected the building against the region’s harsh winter weather. Through adaptive computation design, the 3,000-square-foot Anker Jordan Residence takes on the shape of two conjoined prisms clad in Everest roofing standing seam metal siding and insulated with high-density spray foam insulation. The folded roof mitigates southern exposure, northern views, and snow shed. The orientation of the building allows for the summer westerly winds but deflects northwestern winter winds. Large KasKel windows punctuate the metal-clad envelope to let in views and natural light from all directions. The home also opens up to a 700-square-foot deck. Related: Atmospheric 1950s home renovated as a school facilitates self-guided education “The interior of the prism is articulated as interconnected cells that afford a complex landscape of social interaction,” explain the architects. “The process is then reiterated in a fractal fashion to address a multi-generational dwelling program: A conjoined second prism – evolved from the first one, provides a discreet yet connected realm for the young adults occupying the middle level. Below it, the ground floor is given over to the grandparents’ quarters.” + Scalar Architecture Images by Miguel de Guzman, Imagen Subliminal

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This passive-energy lake house unites multiple generations under one roof

New net-zero Solar Farmhouse from Deltec generates all its own energy

January 24, 2017 by  
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In these uncertain times of erratic weather and changing climate patterns, net-zero energy (or NZE) is quickly becoming the gold standard in green building. If you can generate all of your own energy on site, you never need to rely on the grid or worry about energy bills. The North Carolina prefab builders at Deltec launched a line of affordable net-zero energy homes last year to great fanfare from off-grid buffs around the U.S. Now we’re thrilled to see them introduce a brand new design to this collection; a charming, classically-styled Solar Farmhouse with all of the old-fashioned curb appeal, plus the futuristic technology that makes this home achieve net-zero energy.

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Colorado man builds state’s most energy efficient house

January 17, 2017 by  
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Passive House is a globally-recognized building design technique that promises huge cuts in energy use for any kind of building in any climate. In a nutshell, the Passive House Design strategy relies on airtight buildings, super insulation, thermal mass and passive solar design. As a former Inhabitat contributor, I was keen to put Passive House design to the test in the Colorado Rockies, where the winters can be brutal and living off-grid comes with a tiny energy budget. The house I ended up building definitely lives up to its promises in terms of energy conservation, but the biggest surprise is how comfortable it is. Read on as I tell my story about how I came to build Colorado’s most energy-efficient house. After years of building, research, and writing about green design, I became fascinated with the concept of Passive House design, which was originally pioneered in Germany. In Europe, hundreds of buildings have been built to consume 90 percent less energy than their neighbors, using super tight insulation and passive solar design, and the trend is gradually picking up in the US as well. Reporting for Inhabitat, I visited a Passive House by NEEDBASED in New Mexico, and was amazed how well adapted it is to a climate that is both very cold and full of sunshine. The visit convinced me Passive House design is the state-of-the-art tool for building design, and that I wanted to apply it for my own home. Passive House has been both celebrated and spurned for its radical departure from normal building techniques. While in Europe it is catching on quickly , and is even being incorporated into the code from New York City to Vancouver BC, it is still considered exotic to many designers and builders. From the thick walls, triple pane windows, and sophisticated fresh air system, to the extensive energy calculations, Passive House design leaves little to chance and the certification process can be arduous. Related: How to design a passive house off-grid, and without foam After having an erratic and disappointing experience trying to certify with the US based group Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), I ultimately chose to certify with the Passive House Institute (PHI) in Germany. One of the main issues when doing energy modeling is avoiding bad inputs. As I looked closely at the critical climate data that we were building, it turned out to be way out of whack. PHIUS was in the process of introducing a more climate dependent certification scheme, and building to such a careful system using bad data left a sour taste in my mouth. Other issues kept coming up and it was time to change the approach. The process of certification with PHI though the Passive House Academy took some time but went relatively smoothly. To my surprise, we beat the energy threshold by almost two times. This turned out to be great news as the home is only powered by solar electricity and has a small propane hydronic heating system. The home’s main heating source is the sun, followed by the “waste” heat of the occupants and appliances, and then finally a small hydronic heating loop in the wall and at the Heat Recovery Ventilation system. The home has been occupied for a year, and while it uses practically no energy for heating, the real take away is how comfortable it is. The house tends to naturally hover between 67 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit without heating or cooling. I use the heating system sparingly, so during a recent cold spell, when exterior temperatures reached -10 degrees, I let the house get down to 62 degrees. After taking a shower, I was surprised that it did not feel chilly like in most houses. Why? What I learned in high school physics class paid off. The heavily insulated building envelope reduces heat loss through conduction, but it turns out that ambient air temperature is not the only reason we feel comfortable or not. With such a tight and well-insulated envelope there is neither cold air coming in nor interior air circulating by cooling convection. But what really makes the difference is the radiantly neutral surfaces, especially the triple pane glass. My bare (and damp) skin does not bleed heat via radiation to cold surfaces, which in turn reduces the need for extra layers. The other discovery was learning the difference between passive solar design and passive house. A typical passive solar building will utilize up to 50 percent of a home’s south side for glass. This works well in some conditions, but in very cold weather there is significant heat loss, or things can get too toasty, especially in spring and fall when the sun sits lower on the horizon. My house comprises about 20 percent glass on the south side, which means it neither heats up dramatically, nor loses heat. That balance pays off in simplifying heating and cooling needs. Even so, the house can still get a little too warm in fall, so I have to be active in opening and closing windows and plan to add some movable external shading. Much is said about health and indoor air quality, but little is known about how Passive Houses keep occupants healthy. I tried to minimize potential risks by building with low-processed materials like plywood, timber, tile, and cellulose and mineral wool insulations. But activities like cooking can still be problematic, so the University of Colorado Boulder is measuring my home’s indoor air quality to see how a passive house compares to a typical house in terms of indoor air quality. I’ll keep you posted! All images by Andrew Michler for Inhabitat

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Colorado man builds state’s most energy efficient house

Passive Erpingham House in Australia is affordable, lightweight and easily replicable

April 6, 2016 by  
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This historic village in France is on sale for $175,000 – but there’s a catch

April 6, 2016 by  
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If you’ve always wanted to own a picturesque French village, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has just emerged : the village of Baudin, near the border with Switzerland, is going up for sale via auction. The starting price? €150,000, or about $175,000. Potential buyers be warned; the 5.5-acre site requires heavy restoration work that could cost up to €20 million, with annual maintenance costs of at least €250,000. Read the rest of This historic village in France is on sale for $175,000 – but there’s a catch

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This historic village in France is on sale for $175,000 – but there’s a catch

Recently captured critically endangered Sumatran rhino dies

April 6, 2016 by  
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Last month conservationists praised the first contact with a critically endangered Sumatran rhino in 40 years . But hope dissolved when the rhino, who was christened Najaq, passed away this week. She appears to have died from an infection instigated by a poaching attempt before her capture , though the exact cause of death remains unknown. Read the rest of Recently captured critically endangered Sumatran rhino dies

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Report reveals 11 million people and half of World Heritage sites are threatened by industry

April 6, 2016 by  
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The World Wildlife Fund issued a new report that warns nearly half of all World Heritage sites are being threatened by industrial activity. Oil and gas exploration, mining, and logging (legal and otherwise) all endanger some of the world’s most beloved and natural locations, many of which are home to biodiverse animal kingdoms. WWF is calling on world leaders to respond by taking more aggressive action to protect natural sites from commercial development and corporate interests. Read the rest of Report reveals 11 million people and half of World Heritage sites are threatened by industry

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Report reveals 11 million people and half of World Heritage sites are threatened by industry

30,000 hanging flowers greet spring in Berlin

April 6, 2016 by  
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