This house made of drought-felled wood is a water-saving wonder

October 5, 2017 by  
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California’s extreme droughts are so dire that students at UC Davis have designed an impressive solar-powered home built out of drought-felled timber and installed with various state-of-the-art water conservation features geared towards California residents. The design of the team’s Our H2Ouse (pronounced “our house”) not only implements various grey water systems to use 50% less potable water than a typical residence, but smart technology with real-time LED displays enables homeowners to monitor and control water flow at every single water line. According to the students from UC Davis, who are currently exhibiting their solar home in this year’s Solar Decathlon event in Denver, they based the design on three main pillars: drought resilience, education, and inclusiveness. Using California-specific strategies in the prototype, the resulting Our H2Ouse is a highly-efficient, net-zero-energy design that is equipped to drastically reduce potable water use. Related: 8 amazing homes that are 100% powered by the sun Geared for the state’s inevitable future droughts, the home was installed with various greywater systems , including a cutting-edge sanitization technology developed at the university. All of the home’s water faucets are equipped with light-up feedback displays to help occupants monitor and control water flow rates at every step. For example, the shower has LED lights that change from blue to red, depending on water use. At the front of the house is a wooden water tank with a gauge that rises and falls to display the daily water usage of the home. According to the team, this smart monitoring system was geared towards overcoming the most unpredictable factor in energy and water conservation : human behavior. By installing smart technologies with real-time displays, the team hopes to bridge the gap between potential and realized water and energy savings. Interestingly, a unique feature of the home’s digitized system allows for sharing usage numbers within a network of users, meaning that eco-minded homeowners can actively participate in not only their own water conservation efforts, but that of the surrounding community. While the heart of the home may be geared to address the state’s water issues, the aesthetic is also a nod to California style. The simple, modern-rustic design reflects the two side of Cali life, urban and rural. To efficiently and sufficiently insulate the home, the team chose to use a 12” thick, bamboo-based , panelized exterior wall system and structural insulated panels (SIPs). This system reduces the home’s carbon footprint to a fraction of a standard residence. All of the wood used in the home was sourced from salvaged California trees  that died due to the state’s severe drought. Because this felled wood is dry and prone to burning, using it in the home design actively helps prevent forest fires. On the interior, the home is well-lit with natural light thanks to large glass doors that lead to the open-air deck. As for the interior furnishings, there are plenty of multi-functional items that were handcrafted by the students themselves, including hollow stools that can be used for storage, and that can be combined to be used as beds or tables. Motion-triggered recessed circadian LED lighting was installed into the flooring to create a modern, but efficient ambience throughout the home. + UC Davis Solar Decathlon Photography by Mike Chino

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This house made of drought-felled wood is a water-saving wonder

Off-grid camping just got so much better with these solar-powered teardrop trailers

October 5, 2017 by  
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Explorers could venture way off the grid thanks to a new collaboration between teardrop trailer maker Vistabule and solar power company Sunflare . Sunflare makes bendy solar panels a few micrometers thick that can be taped to any surface – so they’re the perfect solution to adorn the top of the Vistable camper , conforming to its unique shape. The lightweight solar panels add virtually no weight to the trailer. Vistabule trailers, manufactured by Minnesota Teardrop Trailers, can now be lined with flexible solar panels on their rooftops. Solar energy allows users to turn on lights, charge phones, and cook in the trailer’s full kitchen off-grid . Sunflare CEO Philip Gao said the solar panels can be installed on a new trailer or retrofitted to ones people already own. Related: Sunflare’s new ultra-thin solar “wallpaper” can stick to any surface The trailers feature 1950’s-inspired design, with plenty of space inside for adventurers to store gear, cook dinner, or snuggle up. There’s a full-size sofa bed, collapsible coffee table, and drop-down nightstands inside. A two-burner stovetop and sink with running water allows users to prepare food. Several large windows offer grand views inside the trailer that can be towed by just about any car. With Sunflare solar panels atop the Vistabule trailer can fully charge two smartphones, charge a laptop up to 30 percent, allow campers to switch on the lights and a fan, enable the refrigerator to keep running all day for two and a half days, and run the heater for three hours per day. Sunflare says after that users will probably need to recharge the battery . Minnesota Teardrop Trailers CEO Bert Taylor said in a statement, “When we first started our business, we wanted to make a camping trailer that was beautiful, energy efficient, and would easily blend technology with human comfort. Adding Sunflare solar collection panels to our Vistabule trailers substantially lengthens the time campers can be off the grid, and greatly enhances the entire camping experience.” + Sunflare + Vistabule Images courtesy of Sunflare and Vistabule Facebook

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Off-grid camping just got so much better with these solar-powered teardrop trailers

World’s first solar-powered, indoor vertical farm sprouts in Philadelphia

October 5, 2017 by  
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Future-farming experts Metropolis Farms have opened the world’s first solar powered, indoor vertical farm in the heart of Philadelphia . Although the City of Brotherly Love currently hosts only about eight acres of urban farming due to lack of traditional agricultural land, Metropolis Farms seeks to take advantage of the urban jungle to provide a new model for local agriculture in the city. Rather than receiving sunlight from the open air, the crops will receive concentrated full-spectrum light in a controlled indoor environment. In its latest undertaking, Metropolis Farms has installed a 500 kilowatt solar array composed of over 2,000 solar panels, which will be used to power the indoor vertical operation. The company plans to produce the equivalent of 660 acres of traditional farmland on less than 100,000 square feet. While it may not always be sunny in Philadelphia, the solar panels atop Metropolis Farms are an innovative way to capture energy and redirect it towards an efficient, controlled environment for growing vegetables. “By bringing the growing process indoors, in line with our mission of social responsibility, we are revitalizing abandoned spaces and are using them for local food production,” said Metropolis Farms in a statement. Their technological design is applicable for urban environments regardless of climate , making local, fresh, sustainable food accessible for the billions of people that live in cities across the globe. Related: This brilliant floating farm actually heals the world’s oceans The primary challenge to an efficient indoor growing operation is the high cost of electricity to power the lighting and pumps necessary to keep the plants healthy. Through its use of on-site solar power and further innovations, Metropolis Farms seeks to eventually achieve a zero-carbon farming operation. The company hopes to reveal its latest innovative practices and technology at the 2017 Indoor Ag-Con, which will be hosted by Philadelphia for the first time. Via Clean Technica Images via Metropolis Farms  and Jonas Ingold/Flickr

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World’s first solar-powered, indoor vertical farm sprouts in Philadelphia

The first off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes are shipping to customers this year

June 6, 2017 by  
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Want to travel to the beach or a mountaintop or a jungle – and spend the night in style every time? The Ecocapsule offers that flexibility in a tiny off-grid package. The company just announced it has secured financial backing to move forward with the microhome – and they’re planning to deliver the first Ecocapsules to clients later this year. Late night television host James Corden recently tested the versatile pods out in a peaceful garden, a horse ranch, and a restaurant rooftop – check out his take after the break. Corden hit up the Ecocapsule to explore the latest trends in travel and eco-friendly living. The egg-shaped, mobile microhome is around eight feet high, seven feet long, and 14.5 feet wide, and it’s powered by rooftop solar cells and a small wind turbine . It also collects rainwater to be reclaimed as drinking water. A folding bed, bathroom, kitchenette, and living area provide travelers with all the amenities of a luxury hotel . The Ecocapsule can be towed via trailer or sent to a location in a shipping container. Related: The world’s first off-grid EcoCapsule is now available for pre-order Corden envisioned the Ecocapsule in exotic locations like the Grand Canyon or a beach in Ibiza. He took his characteristic humorous approach to the design of the pod, asking founder Tomas Zacek, “How do I know this isn’t just some sort of spaceship?” Ecocapsule will only make 50 of the first edition pods, but they plan to start mass producing the microhomes for a lower price in 2018. It seems Corden enjoyed his time wandering in the Ecocapsule; he said in the video, “I could stay here for years.” He also told Zacek that snuggling encapsulates the ethos behind the Ecocapsule. + Ecocapsule

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The first off-grid Ecocapsule microhomes are shipping to customers this year

Oregon couple spends years building their net-zero ‘extreme green dream home’

June 6, 2017 by  
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Some people may spend years designing their dream home, but one ambitious couple in Oregon has just spent years building their “extreme green dream home.” As beautiful as it is sustainable , the Desert Rain home by Tozer Design is a 2,236-square-foot net-zero structure that was designed to meet the Living Building Challenge’s green building criteria – the industry’s most stringent. The couple began to build their “conventional” dream home on the same 0.7 acre lot in 2008, but upon hearing about the Living Building Challenge in the fall of 2009, they made the painful decision to scrap their original plans and shoot for the challenge. The result is a beautiful estate made up of five buildings, including the main residence, a detached apartment, a second detached building that can be used as an office or guest space, and the home’s two garages. Related: California city could become the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S. The new construction began by repurposing materials from two aging mill houses that were previously on the lot. In addition to salvaging the existing materials, the team went far and beyond in finding sustainable, locally-sourced materials for the new home. In addition to the recovered wood already salvaged, reclaimed wood and FSC-certified lumber were brought in from the surrounding region. Additional materials were also specially made for the home’s green construction , such as the exterior plaster, which is almost entirely made out of local clay, straw, and sand. To conserve energy and costs whenever possible, other materials were constructed by the team by ordering and crafting the materials onsite. For example, rather than purchasing the items separately, a large roll of steel was ordered and cut onsite to construct the roofing, eaves, and rain gutters. Desert Rain is a power house of sustainability as well as energy efficiency . The home uses three renewable energy systems , including a solar array on the rooftop, a solar thermal drainage system that heats water and powers the hydronic floor system, and an innovative solar “hot air” system that is used to evaporate liquid from the home’s composting system. Given that the home is located in the arid high-desert region of Eastern Oregon, where the climate is dry and annual rainfall scarce, water conservation can be complicated for any homeowner. This made achieving the Net Zero Water criteria of the project a complicated task. However, using the unique layout of the five buildings, a rainwater collection system was conceived using the standing seam metal roofs to route rainwater through downspouts to the ground-level gravel filters to be used in the landscaping, which features mainly native plantings. + Tozer Design Via Living Future Photography by Chandler Photography

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Oregon couple spends years building their net-zero ‘extreme green dream home’

Skylights stream light into tiny cantilevering home in German forest

January 13, 2017 by  
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We could all use more light in our lives, and good design provides. Dusseldorf-based architects Falkenberg Innenarchitektur have transformed a compact 1950s home in Germany into a stunning minimalist retreat . Tucked into an idyllic forest surrounded by the River Nethe, the renovated Haus Rheder II features three main essentials: light, air, and tranquility, lending a subtle sophistication to the arboreal design. From the start, the architects wanted to preserve the original character of the 65-year-old structure. Thankfully, the designers managed to keep the existing floor slab and terrace space that cantilevers over the river. To take advantage of the idyllic location, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors were installed that open up to the timber deck , offering amazing views of the surrounding Rheder country park. Related: Sophisticated minimalist house in Denmark lets you enjoy the outdoors even in the winter The interior space is 90 square meters of open space with scant furniture and virtually zero clutter. The heart of the home is the fireplace that sits in the middle of the living space. A ceiling-height partition separates the living room from the bedrooms and a small bathroom, all of which count on skylights for optimal natural light . Also on the interior is a technical room that acts as a control center for the home’s technology, all controlled by an app. The large windows and wooden deck help bring nature into the manmade space, but is further enhanced by the home’s reflecting pool on the southeastern side of the home. Sunlight streams into the living space during the day, further creating a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. According to the architects, leaving the interior space open was essential to the renovation process, “The new, great task of our time is to leave the unimportant and to give more space to the essential. To feel connected with nature is an integral and essential part of our lives. It gives us peace and structure, space for thought and grounding in the hectic of our age.” + Falkenberg Innenarchitektur Via Archdaily Photographs by Thomas Mayer  

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Skylights stream light into tiny cantilevering home in German forest

Energy-plus houses in Berlin are the future of eco-friendly living

June 3, 2016 by  
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The three structures, collectively named “Holistic Living”, are the result of a holistic design approach that combines energy efficiency , mobility and health. Each building was built using natural, recyclable materials -walls, ceilings and roofs are made of wood and clay. Related: Linked Towers Planned for Berlin’s Holzmarkt Area Triple glazing and thermally insulated envelope prevent thermal bridges . Floor heating systems and a heat recovery ventilation system provide stable indoor temperatures throughout the year. Photovoltaic panels installed on the roof generate enough energy to meet total energy requirements of the property. This energy is also used to charge an e-car. Thanks to their outstanding energy performance, the buildings meet the requirements of the German Plus Energy House standard. + GRAFT + BuroHappold Engineering Via Archdaily Photos by Tobias Hein

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Energy-plus houses in Berlin are the future of eco-friendly living

Middlebury’s InSite Solar-Powered Home is Made From Materials Sourced Within 10 Miles

July 5, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Middlebury’s InSite Solar-Powered Home is Made From Materials Sourced Within 10 Miles Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “natural materials” , eco design , FSC certified plywood , green design , irvine , locally sourced materials , low energy footprint , Middlebury College , passive design , prefabricated design , pv cells , Reclaimed Materials , SD 2013 , smart homes , solar decathlon 2013 , Solar Power , sustainable design        

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Middlebury’s InSite Solar-Powered Home is Made From Materials Sourced Within 10 Miles

NXP Unveils Greenchip WiFi Lightbulbs That Can Be Controlled With Your iPad

May 20, 2011 by  
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Shopping at your favorite organic market but worried that you left the kitchen light on? Don’t fret, just turn it off using your iPad . Designed by NXP in the Netherlands , these latest Greenchip light bulbs are fully networked like regular computers, thereby allowing users to fine tune their energy footprints wherever there is a WiFi connection.

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NXP Unveils Greenchip WiFi Lightbulbs That Can Be Controlled With Your iPad

Cylindrical Green Roofed Japanese Tsunami Control Center Lets Waves Pass Right Underneath

May 20, 2011 by  
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Read the rest of Cylindrical Green Roofed Japanese Tsunami Control Center Lets Waves Pass Right Underneath Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , Disaster-proof design , eco design , endo shuhei architect institute , green architecture , Green Building , green design , green roof , Japan , minamiawaji , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , tsunami , tsunami preventive control center , tsunami proof , tsunami proof architecture , tsunami proof design

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Cylindrical Green Roofed Japanese Tsunami Control Center Lets Waves Pass Right Underneath

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