A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

January 17, 2019 by  
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In one of its latest eco-conscious retrofits, Australian architecture firm Green Sheep Collective has given a single-fronted timber Victorian cottage a sustainable transformation in inner Melbourne. The renovation and expansion project combined recycled and eco-certified materials with low-tech, passive solar principles to reduce the carbon footprint of the home while improving livability. Filled with light and contemporary flourishes, the updated house — named Magnolia Soul — has also been designed to embrace the outdoors. Commissioned by a young family with pets, Magnolia Soul was designed with an emphasis on spacious indoor-outdoor living as well as healthy and eco-friendly materials. During the renovation, the architects preserved a mature magnolia tree — a stunning Magnolia x soulangeana — and turned it into a main focal point. In addition to the tree, the existing property conditions also informed the building’s siting, mass and volume, which were all optimized to follow passive solar principles. Moreover, the building footprint is minimized in favor of maximizing the garden area. “A unique folding roof form envelopes and cradles robust living spaces, whose lowered floor level is embraced by adjacent decking,” the architects explained, having created a flexible open-plan interior layout with strong sight lines to the outdoors. “Views of the magnolia tree are intentionally framed by the roof structure, through a high-angled window and bay window seat. The generous and versatile window seat creates a lovely place to relax, read a book, admire the flowering magnolia or sit on the edge of the garden. High angular ceilings offer views of the magnolia, allow dappled light to penetrate deep into the residence and provide stack effect ventilation.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia The home is oriented for optimal thermal comfort : north-facing windows draw in natural heat for winter, while deep eaves and strategically placed windows for cross ventilation combat unwanted summer heat gain. Low-E double glazing and effective insulation also accommodate a temperate climate. Recycled, low-emission and ethnically procured materials were used wherever possible. For added resource savings, the home is equipped with a rainwater tank that reuses roof runoff for the laundry and toilets. + Green Sheep Collective Photography by Emma Cross via Green Sheep Collective

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A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint

January 17, 2019 by  
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When it comes to conserving water , making small changes can have a huge impact. But many of us don’t really think about water shortages unless we are in the middle of a heatwave, when temperatures are consistently at 85 degrees or more. Extreme heat or not, the water system is overstretched, and with climate change , we can expect to put even more pressure on the depleting water supply. Here are some ways to do your part in conserving water. According to Friends of the Earth , 97.5 percent of the world’s water is locked in oceans and seas, which means it is too salty for humans to use. The remaining 2.5 percent is mostly in the ice caps, so we are all relying on a tiny amount of freshwater to survive. Water isn’t just for drinking. We use it for bathing, cleaning and producing everything from crops to clothing. It’s time to save water, and we need to do it fast. Here are seven ways that you can start conserving water now. As an added bonus, these ideas can also save you money. Change your diet It takes a lot of water to grow, process and transport food. Raising animals for meat and dairy products is also incredibly water-intensive. To reduce your water footprint , reduce your meat and dairy consumption, switch to shopping local and grow food in your own garden. If more people do these things, they will not only lead to a reduction in total water usage but also in less food waste . Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Have a plan for your garden If you do have a garden , water your outdoor plants early in the morning or at the end of the day, so the water doesn’t immediately evaporate in the sunlight. Also, make sure to water the soil, so the roots get the much-needed liquid. If you water your plants manually instead of with automatic sprinklers, it can cut your water use by 33 percent. American lawns consume a large amount of water, so reduce how much you are watering your lawn. Installing rain barrels to capture rainwater can also be a huge help and can save you up to 1,300 gallons of water every year. Related: New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns Turn off the tap When you let the water run while you brush your teeth, you are wasting over 1.5 gallons of water. If you have leaky taps, you could be letting up to 15 gallons a week go down the drain. Every minute you spend in the shower burns 4.5 gallons of water. So turn off the tap water when you are brushing your teeth, set a timer on your shower to keep it short and fix those leaky faucets. Don’t forget about the outside of your home. Leaky outdoor faucets, pipes, hoses and broken lawn sprinklers can waste water, too. Also, monitor your water bill for unusually high usage so you can discover leaks. Save your dirty clothes When you wash two half-loads of laundry, it uses more water and energy than washing a full load of clothes. Wait until you have enough dirty clothes to fill up the washing machine. This will not only save water and electricity, but it will also lead to lower utility bills. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Use the dishwasher It may be hard to believe, but if you fill up the dishwasher every time you use it , you will use less water than if you washed the dishes by hand — even if you fill up your sink and clean your dishes without the water running. If you use water- and energy-efficient appliances, you will save even more. When you have extra-dirty pots and pans, let them soak first instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean. Wash your car at home Instead of going to a car wash, wash your vehicles at home on the lawn, so you can water your grass at the same time. Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you are scrubbing your car so you can save up to 100 gallons of water each time you give it a wash. Recycle ice cubes When you have leftover ice cubes in your drink, toss them into a houseplant instead of pouring them into the sink. When you are washing fruits and veggies , save that water as well to use for watering your plants. Via Friends of the Earth Images via RayMark , Jerzy Gorecki , Pierre Gilbert , Charles Deluvio , Steve PB , Conger Design , Sasin Tipchai and Hans Braxmeier

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7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint

Morpholios new Smart Fill AR feature makes calculating design areas a snap

May 8, 2018 by  
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Many digitally savvy architects can attest to the incredible usefulness of Morpholio’s award-winning Trace —an AR sketch app that just got even better. The team just launched today their newest augmented reality feature, “Smart Fill,” that can instantly calculate any area of your choosing during a live sketch. From homeowners to architects, designers and design enthusiasts of all kinds will find use for the feature—not to mention that it’s beautiful to boot. Available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, Morpholio Trace is designed primarily with architects in mind but its versatility makes it a useful feature for designers of all types. With the addition of Smart Fill, designers can focus more on conceptualizing and expressing an idea instead of crunching numbers. “The new feature is a fill tool that not only calculates the area of the fill, it actually changes as the sketch evolves,” says Anna Kenoff, Morpholio Co-Founder. “Slice a room in half and watch it reduce or, erase a wall and watch it expand.” Related: INTERVIEW: We Talk to the Creators of Morpholio and Trace – Two Mobile Apps Ready to Shake Up the Design World Here’s how it works: after starting a sketch—whether from scratch or a trace drawing over an image—you set the scale and then select the target(s) for area calculation. The Smart Fill feature will instantly generate the calculation based on the scale provided, as well as an “Areas Chart,” which can be exported to Excel and its equivalents. The tool can also fill the selected region with your choice of colors and patterns, making it a quick and beautiful way to estimate the materials or budget needed for a project. You can download Morpholio Trace and TracePro, available for iOS only, in the App Store . + Morpholio Trace Images via Morpholio

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Morpholios new Smart Fill AR feature makes calculating design areas a snap

Italy wants to roll out Smart Highways with first aid drones

January 30, 2018 by  
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Self-driving cars and drones are transforming the world we live in – and designers are harnessing these new technologies to make transportation safer, faster and more efficient. Carlo Ratti Associati teamed up with highway agency ANAS to design a new Smart Highway where drones deliver first aid and warn of hazardous road conditions up ahead. The Smart Highway program could be be implemented on more than 2,500 kilometers of roads and highways in Italy. The pioneering infrastructure system comprises a series of “flying poles” equipped with multiple sensors and Wi-Fi connections. On the top of each pole there is a recharging station from which drones can take off and start monitoring the road. Drones can serve several purposes–from maintenance to delivering first aid equipment, and detecting accidents, fires and floods . Related: Self-driving cars are hitting Atlanta this September Data collected by the poles can inform drivers, in real time, of road conditions ahead. Direct, customized messages can be sent to each driver’s mobile phone or to each vehicle’s on-board navigation system , which in turn can give feedback back to the system. Related: Dubai plans to launch autonomous flying drone taxis by mid-2017 “With this project, we aim to superimpose a digital layer over the existing physical infrastructure of our road network, to gather better data about our highways,” said Carlo Ratti, founding partner at CRA and professor of the practice of urban technologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “The next step will be to pool this data with information already collected by individual cars, in an “Internet-of- Roads” scenario that will make us ready for the other revolutionary breakthrough that is likely to happen in the next decade: the arrival of self-driving vehicles,” he added. + Carlo Ratti Associati

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Italy wants to roll out Smart Highways with first aid drones

Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia

January 10, 2018 by  
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Green Sheep Collective aimed to create an affordable and highly energy efficient home with the design of Smart Home, a renovation and extension in Melbourne , Australia. Built for approximately $200 per square foot, the home is by no means a low-cost home but the price is impressive given the inclusion of high-level environmentally sustainable principles and components. In contrast to Melbourne’s many McMansions, the Smart Home is a site-specific compact home that boasts low to zero emissions, recycled materials, and connection to the outdoors. Smart Home is an expansion and renovation of a two-bedroom single-fronted Victorian cottage in inner Melbourne. Passive solar design principles guided the design and the home’s openings and room layout are optimized for natural light and ventilation. Recycled materials were used wherever possible as was ethically sourced materials like the radially sawn timbers and Flexo recycled rubber flooring. Water saving impacts were addressed with EcoVerta water saving units. Careful design and clever storage solutions with built-in furniture created 20% more usable indoor space within the 140-square-foot addition. Related: Beautiful Northcote Solar Home shows off modern energy-efficient family living “This project faced a number of critical challenges that had to be overcome in order to meet these sustainability and design targets,” wrote the architects. “The constraints included overshadowing, poor orientation, and a small 7.5 metre wide east-west block built close to the boundary. The existing home was dark and leaky with a lean-to at the rear.” The architects demolished the lean-to and added a mezzanine . “Our response creates interesting volumes for architectural beauty, and minimises idle space by ensuring the floor plan is utilised to its full capacity through clever storage solutions and split level living. The single storey addition includes open plan living, dining and kitchen opening via large openable glazed doors to an outdoor deck.” + Green Sheep Collective Images by Shae Parker McCashen

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Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia

Your Smart Thermostat Tutorial

December 11, 2017 by  
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By Eric Murrell If you’re interested in smart home gadgets … The post Your Smart Thermostat Tutorial appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Your Smart Thermostat Tutorial

These clever curtains transform your window into a dazzling nighttime cityscape

November 24, 2017 by  
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Do you dream of a new view from your city apartment? Now you can create your own with these snazzy curtains featuring cityscapes from New York and London. Designed by HoleRoll , the thick curtains – which block out heat and cold – are carefully punctured with thousands of tiny holes to let light shine through, resulting in sparkling urban skylines that will transform any room. The unique window coverings use a typical curtain system of roller blinds. Made out of thick German fabric, they block out 99 percent of light and UV rays from the interior. To create the dazzling cityscape images , the dark fabric is carefully punctured following a detailed design for each city. The tiny holes let in just a little bit of light, emulating those found in any nighttime skyline. Related: Light Activated Smart Curtains Could Cut Energy Bills by Half While the dreamy images are perfect for blocking out light and giving your home a bit of extra character, the curtain’s thick, light-blocking material may also help cut costs by keeping the cold out during winter and protecting the interior space from excessive heat during hot summer months. + HoleRoll Via Archdaily

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These clever curtains transform your window into a dazzling nighttime cityscape

Yves Bhar recycles wetsuits and boat sails into ocean-friendly bags

November 9, 2017 by  
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Yves Béhar is turning trash into treasure. The rock-star industrial designer, founder of the San Francisco-based firm Fuse Project , has teamed up with Mafia Bags to transform used wetsuits, recycled boat sails, and castoff climbing ropes from the Yosemite Valley into an “everyday urban adventure pack.” Even better, the proceeds benefit  Sustainable Surf , a California nonprofit that leverages surf culture into a force for protecting the world’s oceans. The project hits close to home for Béhar, an avid surfer and kiteboarder, as well as an ambassador for Sustainable Surf. “I am passionate about protecting the oceans,” Béhar wrote in a blog post . “I surf, swim and explore in them. And I have seen firsthand the damage done. When Sustainable Surf and San Francisco-based sail recycler Mafia Bags approached me, I saw this project as an opportunity to create awareness and finance sustainability programs … and to make a good bag with waste materials.” Related: Yves Béhar unveils new Smart Locks that make keyless entry a breeze Designed, sourced, and crafted in San Francisco, the Deep Blue Bag is chock-full of adventure-ready features, water-resistant wet pocket (for wetsuits and sweaty gym clothes), a padded laptop pouch, a hidden side-seam pocket for your wallet and keys, external and internal gear loops, and a place to secure a water bottle. All zippers are designed to be weather-resistant for “fog, rain, sun, shine.” Besides boasting a generous lifetime warranty from Mafia Bags, no two bags are exactly alike. “One thing that I love about this bag is that because of the way the sails are constructed and re-used, the stitching may happen in different places, which makes every bag a one-of-kind,” Béhar said. Each carryall diverts more than 10 square feet of material from the landfill, according to its Kickstarter campaign , where you can preorder a bag for $175. Related: “Listen Closely” lampshades are made with legacy sails from Canada Place All profits from the Deep Blue Bag will go to Sustainable Surf to expand Waste to Waves, a recycling program that reimagines trash as a resource for creating new products. “When you buy this product, you’re not only investing in a functional adventure pack— you’re helping to keep our oceans clean, and supporting a movement that’s making treasure from our trash,” Béhar said. + Deep Blue Bag at Kickstarter + Fuse Project

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Yves Bhar recycles wetsuits and boat sails into ocean-friendly bags

Target is selling fidget spinners that contain toxic levels of lead

November 9, 2017 by  
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If you’re planning to gift a fidget spinner this holiday season, take heed – the US Public Interest Research Group has found dangerously high levels of lead in some spinners sold at Target. In fact, one of the fidget spinners was found to contain 300 times the 100 parts per million allowable for children’s toys. The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass contains the highest levels of lead , testing at 33,000 parts per million. As we mentioned, that’s 300 times what is allowed for children’s toys. The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner in Metal tested at 1,300 parts per million. The response from Target and the manufacturer has been the same: the particular spinners aren’t intended for children under the age of 14. Hence, CPSC lead restrictions for children’s toys “don’t apply.” The companies say products marketed to those over the age of 12 have no specific lead-level restrictions. Said a spokesperson for Target: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has reviewed and explicitly defined fidget spinners as ‘general use products.’ They are not defined by the CPSC as toys.” Related: 11-year old inventor becomes “America’s Top Young Scientist” for creating lead-detecting sensor According to Kara Cook-Shultz, the toxics director at US PIRG, it doesn’t matter how the CPSC classifies these spinners — they’re still being marketed as toys for kids. “All fidget spinners have play value as children’s toys regardless of labeling,” said Cook-Schultz. “We can’t sit idly by while children play with these toxic toys. And, yes, they are toys.” CBS News reports that the gadgets are being sold in the toy aisles alongside the spinners sold to 6-year-olds. Additionally, the packaging for the brass spinner says the toy is appropriate for ages “6 and up.” The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass, on the other hand, does recommend “Ages 14+”. Lead poisoning is a serious concern, particularly for young children. This is because children absorb the substance more readily. Young kids are also more likely to put products that contain high amounts of lead in their mouths and near their noses. Excess levels of lead can lead to hyperactivity , lack of appetite, behavior problems, and learning disabilities. Of course, lead is toxic to adults, as well. Excess levels of lead can result in brain and nervous system ailments, stomach and kidney problems, high blood pressure, weakness, headaches and muscle problems in adults. + US Public Interest Research Group Via CBS News Images via Pixabay

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Target is selling fidget spinners that contain toxic levels of lead

How Recyclers Are Affected by Smart Gadgets

November 7, 2017 by  
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A refrigerator used to be a place where you merely … The post How Recyclers Are Affected by Smart Gadgets appeared first on Earth911.com.

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