Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

April 6, 2020 by  
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As one of the most beautiful states in the country, Maine offers an infinite number of advantages. But the state’s notoriously frigid winters often leave new residents desperate to find some respite from the long, cold months. After spending a few years in a drafty home where she and her family lived in multiple layers of clothing, author Jessica Kerwin Jenkins and her husband decided to build their own energy-efficient home. The result is an incredible barn-inspired structure that uses solar power and multiple passive features to keep the stunning interior living spaces warm and cozy throughout the year. Once they set out to build a new home, the couple researched passive house concepts that would suit their family’s needs, which included a comfortable living space where they wouldn’t have to dress in 10 layers of warm clothing for six months out of the year. With the help of a local architect, the couple set out to build an extremely airtight structure that used solar power and passive strategies to create an energy-efficient home with a minimal carbon footprint. Related: Beautiful Maine home uses passive solar principles to achieve near net-zero energy Located in the quaint community of Blue Hill, the beautiful home is tucked into an old blueberry field just minutes away from a secluded cove. The incredibly idyllic setting set the tone for the design, which focused on creating something that would fit the region’s style but also reap the benefits of modern sustainability. As for aesthetics, Jenkins explained that she and her husband were both intrigued by the traditional Japanese practice of shou sugi ban . But they ended up cladding the home in something that would pay homage to the local seaside community — pitch tar. Typically used to weatherproof ships’ masts, the material is durable, low-maintenance and highly insulative. Additionally, the jet-black exterior allows the home to both stand out and blend in with its natural surroundings. “We always wanted to do a black house, which seems really dramatic — but there are so many evergreens here that it disappears into the tree line,” Jenkins said. The house is topped with a 26-panel, 7.8 kW solar array on the pitched roof, generating more power than the home uses. The exterior is punctuated with an abundance of triple-paned windows that, thanks to the home’s southern orientation, provide optimal solar gain to keep the interiors warm. At 2,288 square feet, the four-bedroom home is quite spacious. Plentiful windows and high ceilings add to the modern feel of the living spaces. For an extra touch of warmth, the home is equipped with a radiant floor heating and an air exchanger that pulls in air from outside and passes it through a filter. This stunning, eco-friendly home set in an unbelievable location, not far from Acadia National Park, can be all yours for just $585,000 , as it is currently listed for sale. + Christopher Group Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Bruce Frame Photography via Christopher Group

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Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech

February 10, 2020 by  
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After a visit to the Bullitt Center in Seattle, Diana Blank was inspired to fund a similar project in Georgia. Taking action, she founded the Kendeda Fund and funded it with $30 million to donate toward the cause. Georgia Tech is the recipient of Blank’s vision with a project by Lord Aeck Sargent and The Miller Hull Partnership that resulted in a Living Building . The net-positive Kendeda Building opened for classes in January 2020 and provides a place for learning and a template for innovative, sustainable design. The construction and design were influenced by the Living Building Challenge, “a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment.” Receiving this certification means meeting a host of requirements on everything from material selection to accessibility, and the Kendeda building checks all of the boxes. Related: Net-zero Del Mar Civic Center celebrates community and the great outdoors One example is The Red List, which is a compilation of chemicals common in mainstream construction. In order to avoid these chemicals, every building material was scrutinized to ensure it didn’t contain Red List items. John DuConge, the senior project manager, admitted, “Getting through the Red List compliance, that was truly a challenge, and that probably took a lot more time than anyone expected. But we’ve moved the needle in the market, I think, and that’s one of the things that will make it easier for the next Living Building Challenge project.” This added effort creates an atmosphere without off-gassing or other toxins, resulting in clean indoor air for the hundreds of students and staff using the building daily. Every system in the building stands as an example of the focus on function, internal health, aesthetic beauty and energy savings. This is quickly apparent in the fact that the project is net-positive for energy and water, meaning that it gives back more than it takes. The Kendeda Building incorporated the use of solar panels as a basic step in providing energy to the 47,000-square-foot building. They do the job, plus some, with extra energy to return to the grid. Additionally, these solar panels function as water collection devices. The primary heating and cooling systems then push that water through the floors to maintain a comfortable surface temperature. For additional temperature control, 62 ceiling fans throughout the building help balance the humid Georgia environment. Now complete, the structure consists of two 64-person classrooms , four class labs, a conference room, makerspace, auditorium, rooftop apiary and pollinator garden, an office space for co-located programs and a coffee cart. The Kendeda Building will be audited for certification for the first Living Building Challenge facility of its size and function in the Southeast, following one complete year of functional occupancy. + Georgia Tech Photography by Johnathan Hillyer, Justin Chan Photography, Miller Hull Partnership and Vertical River via Georgia Tech

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Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech

Former scrapyard is now a site for sustainable, solar-powered homes

January 28, 2020 by  
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Unit One Architects has turned a disused London lot into a row of dwellings with energy-saving features to meet the Level 4 Code for Sustainable Homes . Located behind a historic neighborhood of terraced Victorian houses in northern London’s Harringay Ladder district, the Cozens Place properties include solar panels , energy-efficient insulation and semi-permeable drainage to sustainably manage rainwater. Originally a residential area, this spot was hit by a V1 bomb strike during World War II. In the years following, the neglected commercial site sat unoccupied, morphing from a back-land plot into garages and eventually a working scrapyard . The disused site became a hot-spot for criminal activity because of its lack of safeguarding and general isolation. In 2013, the land was purchased through auction by Reve Developments, and planning permission was gained to transform the site back into its initial purpose. Unit One Architects designed the set of row-style homes so that the site couldn’t continue to be cut through on foot, therefore dissuading criminals and improving security for the surrounding area as well. Related: War ruins are reborn as a sustainable home in Lebanon Cozens Place consists of three two-bedroom homes with thoughtfully landscaped, private front and back gardens, off-street parking and split-level open-floor plans. The included solar panels are concealed with a 45-degree roof pitch on the top of the second house, which can be accessed by the operable skylight. Apart from the high-quality insulation, the buildings also feature a high level of air-tightness and built-in underfloor heating. Bricks were used in the profile to match the Victorian buildings located behind the new homes. The houses were also positioned on an east-west axis to connect internal and external spaces. This allowed optimal light to shine into the habitable rooms, no matter what time of day, while making the homes feel more expansive, regardless of the narrow width of the building plot. + Unit One Architects Photography by Charlie Birchmore Photography via Unit One Architects

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Former scrapyard is now a site for sustainable, solar-powered homes

Self-sufficient floating office building for GCA will take anchor in Rotterdam

January 28, 2020 by  
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Copenhagen- and Rotterdam-based studio Powerhouse Company has unveiled designs for a unique floating office building to be anchored in the historic Rotterdam port of Rijnhaven. Created as the new headquarters for the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), the contemporary structure will use a wide range of sustainability measures, such as heat exchangers and a green roof , to target energy-neutral, self-sufficient operations. The building, named Floating Office Rotterdam, will also be built entirely from timber. Led by former UN-Chairman Ban Ki-moon alongside Microsoft founder Bill Gates and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, the GCA focuses on the mitigation of climate change through technology, planning and investment. Floating Office Rotterdam encapsulates the organization’s values with its sustainable design and will serve as a showcase of pioneering climate-resilient features. The unique building is expected to be opened by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb during the international Summit on Adaptation in fall 2020. Related: Carbon-neutral, prefab development targets sustainable urbanism for Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven area Floating Office Rotterdam will break ground in spring 2020 at the Van Leeuwen grounds at the Masshaven before it is shipped to the Rijnhaven. Timber will be used as the main construction material to reduce the building’s carbon footprint, while passive solar principles have informed the design to reduce the energy demands. In addition to office space, Floating Office Rotterdam will also include a restaurant with a large outdoor terrace and a floating swimming pool in the Maas River. “Designing a sustainable, floating office building was a very challenging commission, and we approached it in an integrated way,” said Nanne de Ru, architect and founder of Powerhouse Company. “By using the water of the Rijnhaven to cool the building, and by using the roof of the office as a large energy source, the building is truly autarkic. The building structure is designed in wood; it can easily be demounted and reused. The building is ready for the circular economy .” + Powerhouse Company Photography by Plomp and Atchain via Powerhouse Company

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Self-sufficient floating office building for GCA will take anchor in Rotterdam

Restored Georgian townhouse has rainwater-fed green roof

January 23, 2020 by  
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The Sun Rain Room is an extension and restoration of a two-story Grade-II listed townhouse designed and constructed by Tonkin Liu. Partnering with local craftspeople to complete the project, the London-based architecture firm was able to create an extension of the existing structure through a landscape that feeds off of the sun and rain . The house, which was built as a home and studio for the owner, features a green roof , garden room and reflecting pool that are all designed to uniquely celebrate nature. The garden room on the ground floor is encased in a wall of curved glass that works as both a living space for occupants and as a meeting area for the owner’s professional studio. The covered outdoor area connected to the garden room contains a studio workshop, kitchen, potting shed, recycling bay and a store. Another wall of sliding mirrors conceals the planter for a collection of small trees that grow through the green roof overhead. The neighboring open patio covers a basement refurbished with a new bedroom, two bathrooms and a utility area. The courtyard garden’s perimeter walls support a roof made of plywood cut to allow the most possible light into the site. Between the patio (which frames the terrace) and the house sits an etched glass staircase to bridge the two spaces. The true meaning of “Sun Rain Room” comes to play with the 110-millimeter structural shell roof that is perforated with coffered skylights made to mimic raindrops that land onto the pool . This creates an ethereal, organic environment inside the home. To make the townhouse more sustainable, heat loss from the ground floor is decreased through double-glazed, double-laminated glass with low-e coatings. Waterproof concrete was used in the construction of the basement, which removed the need for a backup waterproofing system. What’s more, the light-well from the plywood roof around the courtyard has improved the affecting passive ventilation strategy for the home. The green roof not only contributes to sustainable drainage, but is also planted with local trees and plants that suit the natural habitat to improve the site’s biodiversity . The reflecting pool is filled naturally with harvested rainwater, also used to irrigate the green roof. + Tonkin Liu Images via Alex Peacock, Greg Storrar, Tonkin Liu, and Alexander James Photography

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Restored Georgian townhouse has rainwater-fed green roof

Canadas largest shipping container market welcomes crowds in Toronto

September 12, 2019 by  
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The people of Toronto are enjoying the country’s largest shipping container market, courtesy of local firm LGA Architectural Partners . Located on a two-block, 2.4 acre site, the Stackt market is comprised of various repurposed shipping containers, configured to make the most of the space in order to create a vibrant market area that serves as a community hub. The project is located at Bathurst and Front Streets. The lot is slated to be converted into a public park in the future, but in the meantime, LGA Architectural Partners collaborated with the local council to utilize the space to build the temporary market. Accordingly, the shipping container project had to be designed to not only serve as a community-centered public space but also in a way that it could be dismantled and installed in another area in the future. Related: Repurposed shipping containers turned into solar-powered Cycle Hubs The design of the Stackt market was focused on creating a welcoming social hub for the community. The multiple repurposed shipping containers are strategically stacked to create an open, light-filled market punctuated with several open-air courtyards. The ground level is comprised of a network of detached buildings with single- and double-height interiors that house a number of retail shops as well separate containers that have been installed with the basic utilities needed to support the businesses, such as heating and cooling systems, water infrastructure and more. The top containers are arranged in grid-like formations to create side passageways and courtyards that can be used for cultural events. The third story of containers are arranged in a staggered design that adds a unique, eye-catching dynamic to the marketplace. The market contains anchor and pop-up stores as well as several food and beverage spots, including an onsite brewery . All of the storefronts have a uniform design to create a cohesive look to the market and reduce visual clutter. While some of the stores are permanent, pop-up spaces will change with the seasons. According to Janna Levitt, partner at LGA Architectural Partners, the prime focus of the shipping container project was to create a lively space that currently meets the needs of this community and possibly another one down the road without leaving a permanent impact on the landscape . “As our world becomes more digital, retailers are looking for unique physical spaces and experiential opportunities for their customers,” Levitt said. “Shipping containers suggest an unusual and immersive retail experience while also offering a practical and sustainable building solution. Their inherent modularity means that the project can be disassembled and deployed elsewhere to create future Stackt developments, while leaving the site unscathed.” + LGA Architectural Partners Photography via Industryous Photography

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Canadas largest shipping container market welcomes crowds in Toronto

An elegant car center in Thailand is made from 8 repurposed shipping containers

February 28, 2019 by  
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Thailand-based firm Archimontage Design Fields Sophisticated has repurposed eight old shipping containers into a beautiful car center in the Thai city of Nonthaburi, a suburb of Bangkok. The elegant, light-filled building is made up of four small containers and four larger models, which were arranged strategically to fit into a very compact and narrow corner lot. When the owners of an existing building on the same site approached the architects with the desire to expand their car care business, the designers immediately went to work strategizing the best way to build on the 3,000-square-foot lot, which was quite long and narrow. Accordingly, the team decided to create a custom vertical design that would make the most out of the space without overwhelming the streetscape. Their solution was to use several repurposed shipping containers to create a three-story building that could serve as a flexible, multi-purpose space for years to come. Related: Shipping container food halls slated to revitalize Southern California neighborhoods The ground floor was designed to house the overflow business of the existing car company and for extra storage. Although the space is currently empty, a restaurant and bar are planned for the second floor. The third floor was turned into a light-filled office space. An outdoor staircase lets visitors head up to the upper floors without entering the car storage area. The arrangement of the containers was based on a two-fold strategy: to make the most out of the space provided and to optimize the amount of natural light. The design also revolved around a number of passive features, including metal sunshades that were installed on the west façade and the roof to reflect the sunlight and provide shade from the blaring Thai heat. Additionally, the architects painted the exterior of the building in a matte black, not only as a way of blending it into the urban surroundings but also to reduce solar radiation . By contrast, the interior spaces were painted a bright white that modernizes the industrial design. + Archimontage Design Fields Sophisticated Via Archdaily Photography by Chaovarith Poonphol Photography via Archimontage Design Fields Sophisticated

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An elegant car center in Thailand is made from 8 repurposed shipping containers

Solar-Powered smart home in LA can be remotely controlled with a phone

January 3, 2019 by  
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Los Angeles-based general contractor and real estate development firm LA Build Corp has recently completed a single-family custom home that combines luxury modern design with energy-saving smart home technologies. Located in West Hollywood’s Kilkea Drive, the contemporary dwelling is equipped with a full home automation system that allows the homeowners to control multiple aspects of the house—from the sound systems to the window shades—with a touch of a button on their smartphones. Set on a lot with a spacious backyard, the house on Kilkea Drive takes advantage of its large lot and southern California’s temperate weather with a design that emphasizes indoor/ outdoor living . The open-plan interior is coupled with operable walls of glass that not only flood the rooms with daylight but also provide unfettered views of the backyard that pull the outdoors in. The outdoor terrace appears as a seamless extension of the indoor living area and is a continuation of the home’s material palette and neutral color scheme. Natural materials including San Quentin black beach pebbles, Cedar, ipe, and Kebony Wood—sourced from Delta Millworks—are used inside and out for cohesion.   Building on the popularity of home automation, LA Build Corp installed a full home automation system that allows all parts of the home from the lighting and irrigation to the entertainment systems to be controlled remotely. The air conditioning system operates at 97% efficiency. Rooftop solar panels power the home and heating for the outdoor two-lane lap pool with a spa and a wading pool. Related: Geothermal-powered Halifax home uses automation for energy savings As mentioned in the project’s press release: “This home really epitomizes the Los Angeles lifestyle and celebrates the increase in popularity of home automation and efficiency. By incorporating details such as a living room fireplace with a glass back wall, large open windows, exterior landscaping in the interior, etc., LA Build Corp was able to take California’s year-round lifestyle and build a home that is suited for every season and current to today’s home building trends.” + LA Build Corp Images by Sky Photography LA

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Solar-Powered smart home in LA can be remotely controlled with a phone

A gorgeous houseboat with a shockingly spacious interior can be yours for $375K

November 7, 2018 by  
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Tiny home builders are always popping up with new and ingenious ways to make a small space seem larger, and this gorgeous houseboat is no exception. The amazing interior design will make you forget all about the home’s 510-square-footage. Located on Seattle’s ship canal just minutes from downtown, the charming cottage on the water comes with plenty of unique features, including a Japanese-style, cedar soaking tub, a custom-made elevator bed and an open-air rooftop lounge. The beautiful houseboat, which is currently listed for $375,000 , is clad in a serene blue hue that pays homage to its aquatic environment. Inside, the design is simply jaw-dropping. Light wood panels on the ceiling complement the calming white walls, while large windows naturally brighten the entire space. Throughout the home, unique cork flooring leads from the living room to the kitchen to the two bedrooms, seamlessly connecting the spaces. Related: This whimsical houseboat in Seattle is straight out of a fairytale The interior, which has recently been renovated, uses a number of space-saving techniques  and fabulous furnishings to open up the tiny home. The living room is a welcoming area with a long comfy couch meant for socializing. The sofa and most of the furnishings were kept in neutral shades to keep the atmosphere peaceful. Strategic pops of color here and there add a modern vibrancy to the design. In this home, every room has a strong personality. The kitchen was renovated with rustic, live-edge counters and backsplash. Salvaged slate cabinets were installed to lend an industrial touch to the design. The spa-like bathroom boasts a soothing pebble floor and an aromatic, cedar soaking tub. The two bedrooms also hide a few fun secrets, such as the vertical lift bed that converts one of the bedrooms into an office space or playroom when raised. Throughout the home, ample storage in the walls and stairs helps to avoid clutter. Of course, the heart of the home is found on the upper level lounge with a small sitting area, which leads to an open-air rooftop balcony . This space is perfect for entertaining, al fresco dining or just enjoying the serene water views. + Metropolist Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Diwas Photography via Metropolist

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A gorgeous houseboat with a shockingly spacious interior can be yours for $375K

California becomes the first state to ban animal-tested cosmetics

October 1, 2018 by  
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A new California law banning the sale of animal-tested cosmetics is the first of its kind in the U.S. The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday soon after its inception by colleague and Senator Cathleen Galgiani. The regulations will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, restricting manufacturers wishing to “import for profit, sell or offer for sale” all cosmetics produced with animal testing. Violators will incur a base fine of $5,000, plus $1,000 for each day they continue their illicit activities. Currently, several  animals are manipulated in the cosmetics industry including mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs. A large proportion of these test subjects are killed after experimentation, but not before they have been exposed to possibly irritating or even deadly substances. Susceptibility to hazards is determined by force-feeding or causing the animals to inhale chemicals in order to evaluate toxicity levels. Related: LA City Council unanimously agrees to ban the sale of fur The new California law makes the Humane Cosmetics Act, a federal bill that would eliminate the practice of animal testing in the cosmetics industry, all the more significant. The vital legislature was introduced to Congress last year, but has yet to be passed. Unfortunately, the greatest loophole that remains in the groundbreaking law is an exception for products for which no alternative experimentation procedures exist. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been very lax thus far, simply asking companies to “employ whatever testing is appropriate and effective” to eliminate adverse effects for consumers. California joins a list of governments, such as the EU, India, Israel and Norway, that have already adopted such a ban. But some countries, including China , require animal testing on all imported cosmetics. These animal-tested products could also funnel through the California legislature’s loopholes — as long as animals weren’t used to determine the safety of a product for sale in California specifically. While there has been a push in China to move away from animal testing, there is also greater incentive for companies to stop animal testing. Companies hope to avoid having to pay for two sets of testing, one set of animal tests for China and another to be able to sell the same products in the EU or California. “It gives greater impetus for [the cosmetics] industry to push for changes in other countries,” said Vicki Katrinak, program manager for animal research issues at the U.S. Humane Society. “We’re hoping that California will just be the start of resolving this issue.” + The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act Via The Huffington Post Image via Siora Photography

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California becomes the first state to ban animal-tested cosmetics

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