Net-zero Sawmill House is 100% self sufficient in California’s high desert

June 28, 2018 by  
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Building a comfortable self-sufficient dwelling is no easy task, especially when in a harsh climate. But when Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig was tapped to design an off-grid home in the high desert in California, the architects rose to the challenge and delivered an elegant, net-zero dwelling known as the Sawmill House. Located in Tehachapi, California, the Sawmill House serves as a family retreat that weathers the harsh climate with durable materials and sustainable strategies. Completed in 2014, the Sawmill House is named after the valley in which it resides—a scrubby and remote landscape that had been used for mining, ranching and logging. In a departure from the site’s past, the homeowners wanted a family retreat with minimal environmental disturbance that would “give back to the land, rather than take from it.” With that guiding principle in mind, Olson Kundig crafted a self-sustaining, net-zero  vacation home that maximized connections between the indoors and outdoors. Spread out across 4,200 square feet, the Sawmill House is built mainly of concrete blocks, steel and glass, materials chosen for their durability against the harsh and fire-prone landscape. The living space with a central hearth marks the heart of the off-grid home and features a stunning 12-by-26-foot window wall that completely retracts with a few turns of the wheel, opening up the interior to the outdoor patio . The three bedrooms are housed in the three wings that branch off from the central living space. The longer wing, which houses the master bedroom, also includes the kitchen and dining area. Related: Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife “Tough as nails, Sawmill is made from durable materials that can withstand the harsh climate, where fires are a major hazard in summer and winters are extremely cold,” says Olson Kundig Architects. “The design approach was driven by a scavenger mentality, seeking always to do more with less, including using salvaged and recycled materials whenever possible.” The home is powered with a photovoltaic solar array and comes with backup propane and generator; water is supplied by an on-site well. + Olson Kundig Images by Gabe Border and Kevin Scott / Olson Kundig

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Net-zero Sawmill House is 100% self sufficient in California’s high desert

Platio unveils next-gen solar sidewalk that can charge electric vehicles

February 14, 2018 by  
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The sidewalks of the future could be paved with solar panels – and the clean energy they generate could power electric cars . Hungarian startup Platio recently installed a 50-square-foot solar sidewalk made of recycled plastic at an EV charging station in Budapest. Platio installed a 720 watt peak capacity (Wp) system on a sidewalk at one of the facilities of the logistics real estate company Prologis . Platio co-founder Miklós Ilyés said a team set up the system in a single day. When the clean energy from the paving system isn’t being utilized to charge cars, it helps power an office building nearby. Related: Recycled plastic paving company Platio installs first 3 solar systems Ilyés said , “As e-mobility rapidly emerges, the demand for more energy will grow soon as well. Local, independent renewable energy sources can supplement or even decentralize the utility grid .” Platio’s Solar Pavers integrate solar cells into paving elements comprised of recycled plastic. People can walk on Platio’s pavers, so the system integrates unobtrusively into the charging station. The company says their product doesn’t need a special foundation, and it can be upgraded with many smart functions. The company manufactures their power-generating systems in addition to installing and monitoring them. In a press statement, the company said: “The developers of Platio wanted to demonstrate that by turning energy-absorbing paved areas into huge walkable solar arrays , energy production can be achieved at large scale without taking up useful space or altering the cityscape.” Inhabitat has covered Platio in the past – when they installed their systems on a sidewalk in Kazakhstan, pontoons in Sweden, and smart benches where people can charge their phones in Budapest. + Platio Images courtesy of Platio

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Platio unveils next-gen solar sidewalk that can charge electric vehicles

UK man builds highly sustainable Passivhaus-standard home for his elderly parents

July 17, 2017 by  
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A UK man has built his parents the ultimate gift: a highly sustainable home where they can comfortably live out their lives in one of their favorite places on Earth—and it’s also a house that’s won numerous awards to boot. The loving son is Richard Pender, who began the self-built project, called Shawm , as a master’s student studying renewable energy at Newcastle University. Richard worked in collaboration with Dan Kerr of MawsonKerr Architects to create a beautiful airtight home in rural Northumberland that’s built to Passivhaus standards. Richard’s retired parents, Tony and Anne Pender, previously resided in a traditional farmhouse but needed a more modern home where they could comfortably age in place. To allow his parents to continue living in the beautiful yet wild landscapes of rural Northumberland, Richard lived and worked onsite to design and build a custom home with minimal environmental impact. Though Richard isn’t an architect, he drew on his experience with conventional property development projects and dedicated three years to research to meet the highest standards of energy efficiency and detailing. Related: Colorado man builds state’s most energy efficient house The new Shawm home is located within a former farmyard behind the existing farmhouse. The timber-frame new-build is attached to an existing stone wall and features a traditional barn-like silhouette with a clean and contemporary appearance. Materials were sourced locally, such as the larch cladding from Borders and the bespoke furnishings built from trees felled onsite. Richard also manufactured the entire timber frame with a specially designed jig in an old hay shed. Since Shawm was built with Passivhaus principles, the low-impact and low-energy home features highly insulated fabric with airtight construction, thus doing away with any need for a space heating system. The house also includes mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, ‘passive’ solar gain through the south, and use of local and low-carbon materials wherever possible. However, because the site on which Shawm is built is oriented to the north, the home was unable to attain Passivhaus certification. A small biomass pellet boiler provides space heating and domestic hot water in the winter. A solar array powers the house year-round, while rainwater is stored and pumped around the home for non-potable uses. Shawm is also disability friendly and includes ramps, electric blinds, and intercom front door control. The Shawm house won four Regional RIBA Awards, a National RIBA Award, and is long-listed for the RIBA House of the Year 2017 . + Shawm House Via Dezeen Images via Shawm House , by Renderloft

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UK man builds highly sustainable Passivhaus-standard home for his elderly parents

Biomimetic Eye_Beacon mimics deep-sea creatures in a hypnotic light show

July 17, 2017 by  
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UNStudio and MDT-tex have tapped into the ocean’s murky depths for their design of the Eye_Beacon, a sculptural pavilion for the Amsterdam Light Festival. Illuminated with LEDs to create a hypnotic pulsating light show, the colorful art installation draws inspiration from the bioluminescence of deep-sea creatures. The pavilion was created as the festival’s ticketing and information booth, and follows this year’s theme of biomimicry . Installed on the western side of the ‘Blauwburg’ next to the river Amstel , Eye_Beacon is an eye-catching pavilion that serves as the first stop for visitors to the festival. The structure also connects the ‘Watercolour’ canal route with the ‘Illuminade’ land route. The sculptural pavilion comprises two interconnected cube forms that are twisted to create a dynamic shape with 316 uneven panels. The designers used parametric optimization to determine the pavilion’s openings and complex, curved shape. MDT-tex developed the 2D and 3D tensile textile modules that make up the pavilion. Focused LED projections on the inside of the tensile structure turn the pavilion into constantly morphing composition of light and color ranging from orange sunset hues to neon greens and blues. Related: Amsterdam’s Light Festival Sets the City Aglow With Magical LED Installations “Similar to deep sea creatures that use bioluminescence to signal, attract and inform, the Eye_Beacon uses choreographed light sequences to alert visitors to its dual function as both a sculpture and an information point for the festival,” said Ben van Berkel of UNStudio. “Along with the effect of the pavilion partially overhanging the Amstel River, the twist that connects the two halves of the structure emphasises the crossing point between the land and water routes of the festival.” + UNStudio + MDT-tex Photo credit: Janus van den Eijnden

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Biomimetic Eye_Beacon mimics deep-sea creatures in a hypnotic light show

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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Solar-powered Vreugdenhil office earns BREEAM-NL Outstanding for its low energy footprint

November 3, 2016 by  
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Triangular in plan, Vreugdenhil’s new head office is built like a work of art that eschews hard corners for rounded edges for a sculptural appearance. Curved glazing wraps around the building to let in copious amounts of natural light that reflect off the mostly white interior surfaces. The office’s most eye-catching feature is the grand spiraling staircase that wraps around a live tree in the center and ascends a light-filled triangular atrium . The office spaces that branch off of the staircase are flexible and designed to encourage employees to socialize and collaborate. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects renovate a derelict fire station into Antwerp’s new BREEAM-rated port headquarters In addition to incorporating natural light to minimize dependence on electricity, the energy-efficient building also includes an intelligent climate control system, a 170-panel solar array system, rainwater collection reused to flush the toilets, and a thermal energy storage system that heats and cools the building. The new office’s comfortable and attractive environment is also aimed to help the company reach its 2020 target to reduce the absenteeism rate to below 4%. + Maas Architecten Via ArchDaily Images via Maas Architecten

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Off-grid healthcare housing is powered entirely by solar in Burundi

November 20, 2015 by  
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The daylit Covert House in London is a Passivhaus stunner

May 28, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of The daylit Covert House in London is a Passivhaus stunner Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Covert House , Daylighting , daylit home , DSDHA , London , natural light , natural ventilation , passivhaus , rainwater collection , solar array , solar panels , Solar Power , UK architects

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The daylit Covert House in London is a Passivhaus stunner

Apple sinks $850 million into massive California Flats Solar Project

February 11, 2015 by  
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Apple is the latest American corporation to make a major investment in renewable energy. The tech company just announced a deal to put $848 million into the California Flats Solar Project , a 2,600-acre facility in rural Monterey, California, run by photovoltaic company First Solar . Of the facility’s total 280-megawatt output, Apple secured 130 megawatts by signing a 25-year contract—the industry’s largest agreement to provide green energy to a commercial company. Read the rest of Apple sinks $850 million into massive California Flats Solar Project Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “solar energy” , apple , Apple solar investments , California Flatts Solar Project , green business , green investment , renewable energy , solar , Solar Power , sustainable investment

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The UK’s First Floating Solar Farm Unveiled in Berkshire

October 1, 2014 by  
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The UK’s first floating solar farm was just installed in Berkshire. The floating array features 800 photovoltaic panels and has a capacity of 200W. The project cost £250,000 ($405,400) and has been installed on a reservoir at Sheeplands Farm near Wargrave. Farm owner, Mark Bennett, has partnered with floating solar pioneers Ciel et Terre , and hopes to spur interest in applying the technology on reservoirs throughout the UK. Read the rest of The UK’s First Floating Solar Farm Unveiled in Berkshire Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alternative energy , Berkshire , Ciel et Terre , floating solar , Mark Bennett , photovoltaics , pv , renewable energy , Solar Power , UK , UK’s first floating solar array , united kingdom

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