Singapores new-build, first net-zero energy building opens its doors

March 12, 2019 by  
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Opened earlier this year, the newly completed NUS School of Design & Environment 4 (SDE4) is distinguished as Singapore’s first new-build, net-zero energy building school. Developed by the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore and designed by Serie + Multiply Architects with Surbana Jurong , the six-story multidisciplinary building is located on a hillock along Clementi Road near the southern coastline of Singapore where it joins a larger campus redevelopment. Engineered to strict net-zero energy standards, the 8,500-square-meter building is powered with over 1,200 rooftop solar photovoltaic panels and features a climate-responsive design to stay naturally cool in the region’s tropical climate. Serie + Multiply Architects and Surbana Jurong won the bid for the academic building through an international design competition back in 2013 with their design of a porous structure meant to blur the boundaries between the indoors and outdoors. Instead of creating a hermetically sealed environment heavily reliant on AC—like many of Singapore’s buildings—the architects wanted to integrate Singapore’s lush tropics into the building. Not only do landscape views and natural ventilation penetrate the building, but nature has also been made part of the teaching curriculum, from the planting palette that incorporates many native species to the south gardens that serve as a natural purification system for stormwater runoff. SDE4 includes over 1,500 square meters of design studio space, a 500-square-meter open plaza, public and social spaces, workshops, research centers, a cafe and library. The rooms are designed for flexibility with layouts that can be rearranged to suit diverse usage. The net-zero energy building also takes inspiration from vernacular Southeast Asian tropical architecture with an abundance of verandas and shaded terraces. Natural ventilation is supplemented with an innovative hybrid cooling system that feeds rooms with 100% pre-cooled air that work in tandem with ceiling fans. Related: A green-roofed underground extension breaks the mold for school architecture “Buildings are not isolated entities in their own context,” Lam Khee Poh, Dean of the School of Design and Environment, explains. “They form an environment, a precinct, or a neighborhood supporting community activities, which is crucial for all educational institutions. Our students and faculty get the opportunity to learn both inside and outside the classroom , being engaged in an integrated process of designing, developing, constructing, and operating state-of-the-art buildings that will, in turn, influence them to adapt their own behavior when they occupy it.” + Serie + Multiply Architects + Surbana Jurong Images by Rory Gardiner

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Singapores new-build, first net-zero energy building opens its doors

Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably

March 7, 2019 by  
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The goals of the Green School are anything but small, yet they are simple: take care of the local community and teach children to be stewards of our planet and leaders of sustainability in the future. The baby of John and Cynthia Hardy, the Green School was inspired after the retired couple viewed the Al Gore film The Inconvenient Truth . With four children of their own, the couple decided to make a difference and, in 2006, broke ground on a new type of school — an educational campus focused on using a holistic teaching approach and a natural canvas as classrooms. Related: Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round The Green School is located on 20 acres in south central Bali, where the Hardys lived and ran a jewelry store for decades. Using local architects and materials, mainly bamboo , they spent two years constructing an open-air campus, which now houses several hundred students and teachers. In fact, the local area is becoming a community with families building green homes nearby, so their children can walk to school. Those that don’t walk board a bio-bus, fueled by oils collected at the community level and processed into biofuel locally. In addition to eliminating a reliance on fossil fuels and reducing the carbon footprint, the process of making biofuel produces glycerine as a natural by-product that is then turned into soaps to use on campus. This earth-friendly alternative to traditional palm oil-based soaps reduces the chemicals that would otherwise end up in the water system. Electricity to the school comes from solar panels and a water vortex system, which diverts water from the river that flows through campus and turns it into energy. Waste is an issue at any school, and the designers of the Green School have taken special consideration to create a closed circuit. The composting toilets produce waste that can be amended back into the adjacent soil, feeding the bamboo that grows rampant on the campus. Local Balinese woman use wood-fired stoves instead of gas and traditional cooking techniques to minimize resource usage. Food waste from feeding over 400 people each day is either fed to the school’s pigs or added to the on-site composting pile. Speaking of food, most of the meals provided are grown on campus, giving the students a full understanding of how to plant, nurture, maintain and cook vegetables and rice. The students also help raise the pigs, cows and even the buffalo that roam the campus, enclosed only by organic , natural fencing made from branches and leaves. Mostly tapioca root, the students recognize the fencing is edible for grazing animals as well as themselves. The eco-friendly design continues all the way down to where the footprints go by eliminating any pavement and the petroleum-based chemicals that come with it. Instead, all pathways are paved with hand-laid volcanic rocks. Drinking water comes from a nearby well after traveling through a reverse osmosis system to filter it. Water is used other ways on campus, too, with an aquaponics system that combines aquaculture (raising fish) with hydroponics (raising crops with little to no soil). These systems work in conjunction with each other, so the fish waste feeds the plants while the plants provide much-needed water filtration for the fish. While the goal to be sustainable and local may seem simplistic, the objective of teaching the next generation how to work with students from 25 other countries to solve problems on campus and eventually in the world means the potential for a better future for the entire planet — and that’s no small feat. + Green School Images via Green School Bali

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Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen

March 7, 2019 by  
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Scientists in Belgium have invented a solar panel that produces hydrogen as a source of fuel to heat homes. Using moisture in the atmosphere, the solar panel converts sunlight into hydrogen gas, producing about 250 liters of gas every day. The team of scientists, lead by Professor Johan Martens, have been developing their hydrogen solar panel for the past 10 years. When they first started, they were only able to produce small quantities of hydrogen gas, but now the gas bubbles are visible the moment they roll the panel out under the sun. Related: California approves rule to require solar panels on new houses “It’s actually a unique combination of physics and chemistry,” Martens explained. “Over an entire year, the panel produces an average of 250 liters per day, which is a world record.” According to CleanTechnica , Martens estimates that 20 solar panels could provide enough energy and electricity to heat up a home and still have some to spare for the following year. The team is still not ready to build the panels for commercial use, but they are getting ready for a trial run at a home in Flanders. If the tests are successful, the researchers are planning to expand their trials to an entire neighborhood. Being an extremely combustible gas, hydrogen can be dangerous if not handled correctly. While the general public may have some concerns about using hydrogen as a heating source, the Belgium-based scientists said it carries the same risks associated with natural gas. The hydrogen produced by the solar panels is stored in an oil tank that is installed near the home. While this technology is certainly promising — and produces zero carbon emissions — the cost of the solar panels, storage tanks and furnace, plus installation, is a big unknown. That said, the upfront cost may be high, but homeowners would pay off the system over time, especially if they no longer relied on city electricity or natural gas. There is no word yet on when the hydrogen solar panels will be available on the market, but the scientists are very optimistic about the upper limits of this technology. + KU Leuven Via CleanTechnica Image via H. Hach

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It’s time to decide: clean your room or plant a tree

February 5, 2019 by  
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Are luxury and sustainability compatible? The Parq Vancouver complex in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia strives to have it all by balancing two luxury hotels, a casino and eight restaurants with LEED gold standards and a host of environmental initiatives, including the option to forgo one common hotel amenity in favor of a greener option. One of the Parq’s newer programs is a twist on skipping housekeeping in favor of an alternative reward, something becoming more popular among hotels . At the Parq , when a guest checks in for more than two nights, they can skip room cleaning and opt instead for either 500 bonus Marriott points per night or having a tree planted. That’s one tree for every two nights. If they stayed at the hotel long enough, soon they’d foster a small grove. Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth To personalize the tree planting program, the Parq allows guests to include their names or dedicate the seedling to somebody else. This information appears on a webpage showing a cartoon version of the forest, including where the tree is planted and to whom it’s dedicated. Workers plant the trees in the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area near Calgary, Alberta. Cutting down on hotel housekeeping is better for both the environment and the hotel’s operating costs. Less frequent washing of towels and bedding means decreased water usage and fewer chemicals dripping into sewers. “You get the benefit of not using cleaning chemicals in the rest of the room,” Jeanne Marie Varney, who teaches courses on sustainability at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, told the New York Times . “Not running vacuum cleaners saves energy .” The Parq, open since late 2017, also offers an unusual 30,000-square-foot park on its sixth floor, designed by landscape artist Christopher Phillips of PFS Studio. This elevated park combines an oxygen hit from more than 200 pine trees with dramatic views of Vancouver’s skyline. If that’s not enough green space , travelers can visit next door province Alberta to look for the tree that exists because they skipped room cleaning. The Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area welcomes hikers and snowshoers. + Parq Vancouver Via New York Times Images via Heiko Stein

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It’s time to decide: clean your room or plant a tree

Crayola Colorcycle initiative offers free recycling for markers used in K-12 classrooms

January 29, 2019 by  
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In the blur of school activity, students read, write, calculate and doodle. With that vision in mind, no company has created a bigger connection with the educational world than Crayola, monarch of colored pencils, crayons and markers. With that title comes a wave of concern regarding toxins and waste . After all, Crayola manufactures 465 million plastic markers alone each year, which begs the question of corporate responsibility. Fortunately, Crayola’s ahead of the curve on this one with the introduction of a voluntary marker recycling initiative for K-12 classrooms. ColorCycle, the cleverly-named program, came into being a few years ago when Crayola decided to take steps to divert billions of markers “marked” for the landfill . Since the ideology of the company focuses squarely on education, they feel it makes sense to take part in educating students about social and environmental responsibility. “The ColorCycle program has repurposed more than 70 tons of expended markers in the United States and Canada since 2013, and uses the most advanced plastic conversion technologies available today to make wax compounds for asphalt and roofing shingles as well as to generate electricity that can be used to heat homes, cook food, and power vehicles.” In conjunction with teachers, the front line in education, Crayola is backing the environmental movement with the ColorCycle plan that also includes educational-support tools. These lesson plans list supplies and activities that facilitate classroom learning about topics such as coral reefs, inventions, and how pollution travels across the planet. Related: 13 eco-friendly back-to-school supplies for a sustainable school year To participate in ColorCycle, school administrators or PTO members are informed about the program and an ambassador is chosen at the school. Collection boxes are then placed in classrooms or central locations around the school. When it’s time to ship the markers back, they are counted and packed into a plain cardboard box. A quick visit to the Crayola website will provide a shipping label and then FedEx ships the box on Crayola’s dime. To encourage involvement, Crayola also provides a letter that ambassadors can send out to parents and the community, informing them about the program along with signs that can be printed and posted around the school. There are no costs to the school or teachers so the time to set up, monitor, count and package the markers seems like a worthy investment both towards teaching children about eco-friendly practices and in promoting behaviors that help the environment. The Crayola ColorCycle program is currently available to K-12 classrooms across the United States and parts of Canada. Although not currently available outside the public schools, the company encourages daycares and other community members to take advantage of the drop boxes. Crayola will accept all brands of plastic markers, including dry erase markers and highlighters. See the Crayola website for more information about the program and how to sign up. + Crayola Image via ParentRap

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Crayola Colorcycle initiative offers free recycling for markers used in K-12 classrooms

Timber-clad Polish kindergarten encourages kids to play on the green roof

January 1, 2019 by  
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A recently completed kindergarten in Poland is giving children a new way to reconnect with the outdoors and stellar views of the neighborhood. Designed by Polish architecture firm Biuro Toprojekt , the kindergarten in ?ory boasts an accessible roof terrace planted with ornamental grasses with plenty of space to play and gather. In addition to encouraging play and appreciation of nature, the inspiring design of the building has also earned it a nomination for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2019. Located in the center of the Kleszczówka district in the Polish suburbs of ?ory, the kindergarten stands in stark contrast to the surrounding single-family homes. “A small parcel of an irregular shape similar to a triangle intended for the construction of a pre-school segment at an existing school, imposed rather two-story solutions, although a little overwhelming, but leaving a little space for the playground,” the architects explained of the kindergarten’s triangular design. “Instead, we decided to have a one-story building with rounded corners, which filled almost all of the possible surface, and for the outdoor play, we designed a large roof terrace.” Built with reinforced concrete walls wrapped in vertical strips of timber, the 1,060-square-meter kindergarten is protected against temperature fluctuations thanks to mineral wool insulation selected for low fire risk. The school is also equipped with a ground heat exchanger as well as heating and ventilation systems. A rectangular atrium at the heart of the kindergarten funnels daylight throughout the interior and offers a “piece of the outside world” where children can observe snow and rainfall. Related: MAD Architects to transform an ancient Chinese courtyard into a kindergarten with a “floating roof” Lined with wood and accessed via staircase from the atrium, the spacious roof terrace is punctuated with two circular islands of green space in the center. Curved metal railings wrap around the terrace , which is surrounded by gardens planted with ornamental grasses. + Biuro Toprojekt Photography by Juliusz Sokolowski via Biuro Toprojekt

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UNStudios green-roofed TBC Forum breaks ground in Tbilisi

January 1, 2019 by  
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Construction has recently broken ground on the TBC Forum, a green-roofed complex in Tbilisi designed by UNStudio to champion openness, sustainability and creativity throughout. Located within the Lisi Lake resort outside Tbilisi’s city center, TBC Forum will consist of the new headquarters for the TBC Bank, an Innovation Lab, and a mixed-use Culture Hub. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding highland landscape and traditional Georgian architecture, the large-scale development features a terraced design covered with green roofs to tie the buildings together with the Lisi green valley. The design for the new TBC Forum was conceived as a contemporary take on the historic highland village of Shatili, a stepped stone and mortar village that embraces the landscape with its clustered towers, large balconies and terraces . As a result, TBC Forum features buildings of varying heights grouped into three main clusters — the Headquarters Cluster, Subsidiaries Cluster and Public Cluster — surrounding a centrally located TBC Plaza and public esplanade. The Subsidiaries Cluster will include the Innovation Lab, a new center for research and development, while the Culture Hub will offer gallery spaces, restaurants, a children’s daycare facility and co-working spaces. Health and social sustainability were key driving features in the design of the interiors that are filled with natural light, plants and natural materials. In contrast to the “closed and introverted working model” traditionally used in the banking industry, UNStudio wanted to create an open environment conducive to socializing, collaboration and connection with nature. The headquarters will include diverse and flexible workplace environments, from seated work areas and standing desks to open lounge areas and flex spaces in the corridors and stairways. Related: UNStudio unveils twisting “Green Spine” high-rise proposal for Melbourne “UNStudio has carried out extensive research into the design of optimal work environments and the positive impact these can have on the health, wellbeing, creativity and therefore, productivity,” the firm said in a press release. “Within the design, both physical vitality and psychological wellbeing are understood to be synonymous, while the creation of community is considered fundamental to the encouragement of communication, interaction, knowledge exchange and creativity. In the design of the TBC Forum, environmental concerns are not merely related to the energy performance of the building, but to social sustainability and the performance of its users.” + UNStudio Images by Luxigon and Aand3 via UNStudio

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Floating prefab architecture addresses climate change on Chengdus Jincheng Lake

November 26, 2018 by  
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Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi of the firm NLÉ Architects recently unveiled his third iteration on the award-winning Makoko Floating School, a prefabricated building system aimed at addressing “the challenges and opportunities of urbanization and climate change” through sustainable and alternative building typologies. Dubbed the MFS IIIx3, the thought-provoking collection of structures has been set afloat on a lake in Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province. The project was created in collaboration with local Chengdu partners Fanmate Creative Furniture Company and Chengdu Keruijiesi Technology Company. Located on Jincheng Lake in Chengdu’s new ecological belt, MFS IIIx3 marks NLÉ Architects’ fourth prototype of the Makoko Floating School. The first prototype floating structure was built in 2013 for and by the historic water community of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria, an area considered at-risk for climate change . Although the initial project has met its demise , the architects have gone on to improve and reiterate their designs. In 2016, the Waterfront Atlas (MFS II) was launched in Venice, Italy, as well as the Minne Floating School (MFS III) in Bruges, Belgium. In their latest take on the Makoko Floating School, the architects have recreated the modular building in three sizes — small, medium and large. All structures were prefabricated from wood and locally sourced bamboo . The collection of floating buildings includes an open-air concert hall, an indoor exhibition space and a small information center. All three spaces are organized around a communal plaza. Related: Sustainable Makoko Floating School in Nigeria is finally complete “MFS IIIx3 is introduced into the dynamics of a 2,200 year-old history of water management expertise, originating from the Min River (Minjiang) and from Dujiangyan — an ingenious irrigation system built in 256 BC, and still in use today — keeping the southwestern Sichuan province free of floods and drought and making it one of the most fertile and economically developed urban and agricultural areas in China,” the architects explained. “MFS IIIx3 offers an approach to and revives an ancient yet contemporary civilizational relationship with water, originally inspired by the water community of Makoko in Lagos, and now adapted for the water city of Chengdu.” + NLÉ Architects Images via NLÉ Architects

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BIG and WeWork design a nature-inspired school for kids in NYC

November 5, 2018 by  
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Creative co-working giant WeWork and acclaimed architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group have teamed up to reimagine education starting with the launch of WeGrow, a new school in the heart of New York City that encourages education through play. Designed for children between three and nine years of age, the light-filled learning landscape is a tactile environment filled with custom-made curved architecture and movable furnishings. The theme of nature runs throughout and can be seen everywhere from the woodsy palette of timber surfaces and shades of green to the Laufen-tiled vertical garden filled with leafy plants. Located in WeWork’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the first WeGrow school spans 10,000 square feet and boasts a variety of communal spaces, which make up more than half of the school’s footprint. Designed to foster “natural education” by promoting activities centered on discovery and collaboration, WeGrow hopes to “undo the compartmentalization found in traditional schools … by interweaving learning with playing spaces,” Bjarke Ingels Group said. “The school environment becomes a third teacher that unleashes the superpower of each child.” In addition to diverse playscapes, the school consists of four classrooms , flexible workshops, community space, a multipurpose studio, an art studio and a music room. Hard corners are eschewed in favor of round, organic forms, like the curved storage units built with three different shelving levels for each age group. Sound-absorbing “clouds” made from felt and decorated with nature-inspired patterns hang from the ceiling and are illuminated with Ketra bulbs that change in color and intensity depending on the time of day. Felt is also used in the lobby and in the lounge. Related: WeWork opens gorgeous WeLive co-living apartments on Wall Street “From the lobby to the classrooms, WeGrow is lit by Gople Lamp and Alphabet of Light — flexible lighting systems designed by BIG Ideas and manufactured by Artemide to create ambiance effects that form comfortable, natural lighting throughout the school day,” Bjarke Ingels Group said in a project statement. “Playful and transparent, yet homelike and structured, WeGrow nurtures the child’s education through introspection, exploration and discovery.” + BIG Images by Laurian Ghinitoiu and Dave Burk via BIG

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Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 24, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Bring Environmental Smarts to the School Year

September 24, 2018 by  
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Evelyn Lopez and the Earth911 team gather around the microphone … The post Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 24, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Bring Environmental Smarts to the School Year appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 24, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — Bring Environmental Smarts to the School Year

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