Office building uses 112 ‘smart’ chimneys to regulate light, air and energy

April 10, 2020 by  
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Mario Cucinella Architects has created a sustainable public building that uses several active and passive elements to lower its environmental footprint. Specifically, the new timber-clad headquarters for the Regional Agency for Prevention, Environment and Energy (ARPAE) uses a soaring rooftop made up of 112 smart chimneys to regulate its air, light and energy so that the building relies on minimal technical systems. At more than 53,000 square feet, the immense public works building features a central courtyard. Its cladding is made up of thin timber panels that top a ground floor with floor-to-ceiling glass panels, creating a natural harmony with its woodland surroundings in the small city of Ferrara, in northern Italy. Related: 3D-printed home inspired by a wasp’s nest is made of local clay The architect chose the building’s materials based on their ability to help the structure reach a “maximum level of environmental sustainability.” Mario Cucinella explained, “The building in Ferrara explores the relationship between form and performance, that makes it the first hybrid public building in Italy.” The stand-out characteristic in the design is, without a doubt, its eye-catching rooftop, which is comprised of 112 chimneys. An essential element in regulating the building’s energy use, each chimney features a skylight that lets natural light and air filter down into the spaces below. Some of the chimneys feature solar panels that generate ample energy for the building. The passive building system also acts differently in the summer and winter months. During the hotter months, the chimneys constantly move air through the interior, creating a healthy working space for employees and visitors. In the winter months, they operate more like a greenhouse, where they accumulate solar heat to keep the spaces warm. All in all, the unique system helps the building enjoy a comfortable temperate year-round all while reducing energy demand. + Mario Cucinella Architects Images via Mario Cucinella Architects

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Office building uses 112 ‘smart’ chimneys to regulate light, air and energy

Office building uses 112 ‘smart’ chimneys to regulate light, air and energy

April 10, 2020 by  
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Mario Cucinella Architects has created a sustainable public building that uses several active and passive elements to lower its environmental footprint. Specifically, the new timber-clad headquarters for the Regional Agency for Prevention, Environment and Energy (ARPAE) uses a soaring rooftop made up of 112 smart chimneys to regulate its air, light and energy so that the building relies on minimal technical systems. At more than 53,000 square feet, the immense public works building features a central courtyard. Its cladding is made up of thin timber panels that top a ground floor with floor-to-ceiling glass panels, creating a natural harmony with its woodland surroundings in the small city of Ferrara, in northern Italy. Related: 3D-printed home inspired by a wasp’s nest is made of local clay The architect chose the building’s materials based on their ability to help the structure reach a “maximum level of environmental sustainability.” Mario Cucinella explained, “The building in Ferrara explores the relationship between form and performance, that makes it the first hybrid public building in Italy.” The stand-out characteristic in the design is, without a doubt, its eye-catching rooftop, which is comprised of 112 chimneys. An essential element in regulating the building’s energy use, each chimney features a skylight that lets natural light and air filter down into the spaces below. Some of the chimneys feature solar panels that generate ample energy for the building. The passive building system also acts differently in the summer and winter months. During the hotter months, the chimneys constantly move air through the interior, creating a healthy working space for employees and visitors. In the winter months, they operate more like a greenhouse, where they accumulate solar heat to keep the spaces warm. All in all, the unique system helps the building enjoy a comfortable temperate year-round all while reducing energy demand. + Mario Cucinella Architects Images via Mario Cucinella Architects

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Office building uses 112 ‘smart’ chimneys to regulate light, air and energy

Los Angeles air quality improves amid pandemic

April 10, 2020 by  
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There is one positive impact of the tragic coronavirus pandemic — Los Angeles is experiencing its longest stretch of good air quality since 1995. On April 7, Swiss air quality technology company IQAir cited LA as one of the cities with the cleanest air in the world. While the notoriously smoggy city is on lockdown, highway traffic has dropped 80% throughout the entire state of California, which probably accounts for much of the improvement. “With less cars on the road and less emissions coming from those tailpipes, it’s not surprising to see improvements in the air quality overall,” Yifang Zhu, professor of environmental health science at UCLA, told CNN. Zhu and her team of scientists measured a 20% overall improvement in southern California’s air quality between March 16 and April 6. They also recorded a 40% drop in PM 2.5 levels. This microscopic air pollutant is linked to both respiratory and cardiovascular problems, especially in the very young and very old. A recently released Harvard study linked PM 2.5 exposure to an increased likelihood of dying from COVID-19 . Related: Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions All over the world, scientists are noting that cleaner air is a side effect of the pandemic . Satellite images have revealed much lower concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over industrial areas of Europe and Asia in the past six weeks. The drops in nitrogen dioxide levels over Wuhan — a city of 11 million — and the factory-filled Po Valley of northern Italy are especially striking. “It’s quite unprecedented,” Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Service, told the Guardian. “In the past, we have seen big variations for a day or so because of weather. But no signal on emissions that has lasted so long.” Alas, when lockdowns lift and Angelenos return to the highways, the pollution will likely return. Zhu hopes that this glimpse of clear, blue skies will inspire people to work for better air quality post-pandemic. “From the society level, I think we need to think really hard about how to bring about a more sustainable world, where technologies and policies come together to bring us cleaner energy ,” she said. “So that the air that we’re breathing will stay as clean as what we’re breathing today.” Via CNN and The Guardian Image by Joseph Ngabo

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Resurrected greenhouse to honor father of modern genetics

April 10, 2020 by  
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International architecture and urban design practice  CHYBIK + KRISTOF has unveiled designs for an energy-efficient greenhouse to commemorate Gregor Mendel, a scientist and Augustinian friar regarded as the founder of the modern science of genetics. Set on the foundations of the 19th-century Brno greenhouse where Mendel conducted his pioneering experiments, the new greenhouse will pay homage to the original architecture and Mendel’s teachings. The greenhouse is slated for completion in 2022 to commemorate Mendel’s birth 200 years ago.  Born in 1822, Gregor Mendel spent eight seasons, from 1856 to 1863, cultivating and breeding pea plants in a 19th-century greenhouse that had been built in the St. Thomas Augustinian Abbey’s gardens to cement the monastery as a leading center for scientific research. In 1870, however, a storm destroyed the building, leaving only its foundations intact today. The experiments that Mendel had conducted within the greenhouse are now widely recognized as the foundation of modern genetics .  CHYBIK + KRISTOF’s resurrection of the historic greenhouse begins with the preservation of the foundations that will be integrated into the new structure and left visible. The foundations will inform the orientation and shape of the greenhouse, which will be reminiscent of the original building. “While the trapezoidal volume is identical to the original edifice, the reimagined supporting steel structure seeks inspiration from Mendel’s three laws of inheritance – and the drawings of his resulting heredity system,” explained the architects. “Likewise, the pitched roof, consisting of a vast outer glass surface, reflects his law of segregation and the distribution of inherited traits, and is complemented by a set of modular shades.” Related: Kuehn Malvezzi tops a brick office building in Germany with an energy-efficient greenhouse In addition to celebrating Mendel’s work, the revived structure will primarily be used as a flexible events space that can adapt to a variety of functions, from conferences and lectures to temporary exhibitions. The flexible design will also be entirely exposed to the outdoors. For energy efficiency, the architects have integrated a concealed system of underground heat pumps  into the greenhouse, as well as adjustable shades and embedded blinds to facilitate natural cooling and ventilation.  + CHYBIK + KRISTOF Images by monolot and CHYBIK + KRISTOF

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Resurrected greenhouse to honor father of modern genetics

A series of geometric, sustainable treehouses is imagined for the Italian Dolomites

March 5, 2019 by  
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Milan-based design firm Peter Pichler Architecture has unveiled a conceptual design for a series of gorgeous geometrical treehouses for the lush green forests of the Italian Dolomites. The two-story structures are arranged in a modern, vertical design and clad in sustainably-sourced wood. Each treehouse is punctuated with floor-to-ceiling glazed windows to provide breathtaking views of the surrounding forestscape. According to the architects, the stunning treehouses were designed as an addition to an existing hotel . The inspiration came from wanting to create a serene but modern lodging option that would help guests immerse themselves completely in the surrounding nature. Referring to the inspiration as a “slow down” form of tourism, they explained, “We believe that the future of tourism is based on the relationship of the human being with nature. Well integrated, sustainable architecture can amplify this relationship, nothing else is needed.” Related: Stunning wooden Oberholz Mountain Hut branches out of the mountainside like a fallen tree The project includes vertical, diamond-esque volumes with sharp, steep roofs inspired by the soaring trees in the area. The design also calls for using locally-sourced wood for the cladding, which would be painted jet-black to blend in to the nearby fir and larch trees. Large, floor-to-ceiling glass panels that stretch the length of the structure would allow the guests to feel a constant connection to the amazing views. The unique guest homes would vary in size, ranging from 375 square feet to almost 500 square feet in the larger units. Spanning over two levels connected by an internal staircase, the treehouses would hold the living area with a small reading nook that looks out over the forestscape on the bottom level. The sleeping areas and a small bathroom would be on the upper floor, which would also provide breathtaking views. + Peter Pichler Architects Via Archdaily Images via Peter Pichler Architects

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A series of geometric, sustainable treehouses is imagined for the Italian Dolomites

Deli-turned-distillery renovated using materials reclaimed on-site

January 12, 2018 by  
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Architecture studio tres birds workshop used reclaimed and locally available materials to turn the former Mancinelli’s Market in Denver into a modern distillery and cocktail lounge that emphasizes the relationship between distiller, chef, bartender, and guest. The designers paired industrial elements with rich wood details in order to create a gathering place that feels familiar and cozy. A large wooden door made from reclaimed  materials sourced on-site is the entry point into The Family Jones Distillery dominated by low-slung seating, deep blue booths, and soft lighting. During warmer months, the door can slide open to facilitate a seamless transition between the interior and the patio. Related: World’s Greenest Whisky Distillery Unveiled in Scotland Two-story wooden louvers flank the Osage Street glass facade, offering passive temperature and lighting control while drawing attention inside to the well-lit copper still which acts as the focal point of the project. This element, perched above the central bar, sits in an oculus flanked by wooden mashers. Concrete walls line the space and feature extrusions that house a combination of herbs used in spirit making, as well as light fixtures that illuminate the tables below. + The Family Jones Spirit House + tres birds workshop

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Deli-turned-distillery renovated using materials reclaimed on-site

These wirelessly-powered AA batteries pull energy from thin air

January 12, 2018 by  
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Did you know that more than 3 billion batteries are thrown away every year in the United States ? The Cota Forever Battery is the world’s first wirelessly-powered AA battery – and it offers a more sustainable, convenient alternative to traditional disposable batteries. Designed by Ossia the battery enables any device that requires AA batteries to be recharged from a distance through the air. Ossia’s Cota products are based on a wireless technology that broadcasts a precise, powerful RF signal to any device which contains a Cota RF antenna. The RF receivers then convert that signal into effective power. The Forever Battery takes this a step further, inserting the RF receivers into a AA battery – a familiar household item that could ease the transition towards wirelessly-powered devices. Related: New ‘thermal battery’ soaks up heat energy like a sponge As exciting as the technology sounds, it will likely be years before homes are outfitted with smart AA batteries. The first adopters of Cota’s technology are likely to be large commercial operations, like factories and stores. Even before wide release, Ossia’s Cota products are already making news. Cota was awarded a 2016 CES Innovation Award in the “Tech for a Better World” product category, and Cota Tile, a wireless transmitter designed to mimic a ceiling tile, was the winner of the 2017 CES Best of Innovation Award. Via Gizmodo and PR Newswire Images via Ossia

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These wirelessly-powered AA batteries pull energy from thin air

Newly-discovered hermit crab species uses living coral as shells

October 19, 2017 by  
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For the first time ever, a hermit crab has been documented to have found its “forever” home. Off the coast of Japan , a new species of the crab has partnered with a living coral. The coral grows as the crab ages, which means it has no need to continue searching for a bigger shell to live in. Unlike its counterparts, this new species has a perfectly symmetrical body to fit the coral that grows with it. The discovery of the Diogenes heteropsammicola  is described in the journal PLOS ONE . This is the first species of hermit crab to live within “walking coral,” a free-living variety of coral that grows as tiny lumps on the sea floor. This relationship has been witnessed before, but usually between the peanut worm (or more formally, a sipunculan) and the living coral. Because the coral protects the worm and the worm carries the coral around the sea floor, it is considered to be a mutually beneficial partnership . Both species are in sync with each other, as their relationship has evolved for thousands of years. Related: How We Harvest Horseshoe Crab Blood to Save Human Lives As IFLScience points out, that makes this latest discovery even more amazing — and unusual. It is relatively unheard of for one species to diversify to include other organisms , such as the coral has done with the hermit crab. This is because the initial partnership often requires an extraordinary amount of specialization. Nonetheless, the coral has accepted the crab, likely because the crustacean carries the coral around the sea floor and prevents it from being covered in sediment. In turn, the coral protects the small creature. This is definitely an improvement upon hermit crabs adopting discarded bottles and pollution as their new homes. + PLOS ONE Via IFLScience Images via  Momoko Igawa,  Igawa et al. 2017

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Newly-discovered hermit crab species uses living coral as shells

What a coffee cup says about McDonald’s supply chain strategy

July 5, 2017 by  
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Cross-industry collaboration accelerates supply chain sustainability, as proven by the relationship between International Paper (IP) and McDonald’s U.S. “We can have Rainforest Alliance Certified espresso, we can have great sustainability programs in our coffee supply chain,” said Townsend Bailey, director of supply chain sustainability at McDonald’s U.S. “But if we serve it to our customers in a foam cup, they won’t believe it.” 

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Natural Brookwater bottles use activated carbon and volcanic rock to purify and enhance drinking water

September 26, 2016 by  
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The Sylva biofilter is Sigal’s original creation, a biodegradable tool of simple design. The filter is meant to remineralize and purify water slowly, at the patient speed of nature. Trace elements are invited back into water as odors and contaminants are extracted. Volcanic rock, activated carbon , and other organic materials make up the uncluttered product’s ingredient list, which is said to improve the taste and quality of drinking water. Related: Living biofilters could use bacteria to help manage methane emissions The back-to-basics essence of the Sylva filter is expanded to create the Brookwater bottles. The experimental product allows for purification on the go, offering a more natural alternative to ocean-clogging plastic. Sigal says of the Brookwater bottles, “The aim is to give prominence to the relationship between nature, science and design to create a multi-faceted material that is harmless to the planet while acting upon the water.” The experimental design was spotted alongside the Sylva filter at Tent London . + Brook Sigal + London Design Festival + Inhabitat coverage of London Design Festival Images via Inhabitat, Brook Sigal

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Natural Brookwater bottles use activated carbon and volcanic rock to purify and enhance drinking water

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