California approves rule to require solar panels on new houses

December 12, 2018 by  
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The California Building Standards Commission has given its final approval to a new housing rule that is the first of its kind in the United States. Starting in 2020, the commission is requiring that all new homes built in the state include solar panels. “These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country,” said commissioner Kent Sasaki. “[It’s] the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels .” Related: California waters could open soon to offshore wind farms In addition to the solar panel requirement, the new standard also includes an incentive for homeowners to add a high-capacity battery to their electrical system to store the sun’s energy. The rule does have an exemption for homes that are built in locations that are often in the shade. California has a history of setting trends across the country, and this new rule is the next step in the state’s progressive environmental policy. The state has a goal of sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions and drawing all of its electricity from renewable energy sources. The California Energy Commission first endorsed the solar panel rule back in May as part of California’s Green Building Standards Code. This past week, the Building Standards Commission added the requirement with a unanimous vote. Drew Bohan, executive director of the energy commission, said that the homes built under the new rule should use about 50 percent less energy compared to previous standards. The new solar power requirement is for single-family homes and multi-family buildings up to three stories high. It will add about $10,000 to the upfront cost of a home, but the lower electricity bills should balance that out over time. Bohan said that over the course of a 30-year mortgage, a homeowner should save about $19,000. Homeowners will have the option of buying the panels outright, leasing them or taking part in a power purchase agreement with the home builder. Via NPR Image via Ulleo

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California approves rule to require solar panels on new houses

Canadas largest net-zero energy college building opens in Ontario

December 11, 2018 by  
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The Canadian port city of Hamilton in Ontario has recently welcomed its first net-zero energy institutional building — the new Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation at Mohawk College’s Fennel Campus. Architecture and engineering firm mcCallumSather collaborated with B+H Architects to design the striking solar-powered building, which has also been billed as the largest net-zero energy institutional building in Canada. Conceived as a living lab on sustainability, the Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation will also be the future home to the Centre for Climate Change Management. Spanning an area of 96,000 square feet, the $54 million Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation boasts state-of-the-art research, learning and lab facilities all powered by solar energy . To minimize reliance on artificial lighting, the architects organized the building around a large, light-filled atrium that also doubles as a social activator and central hub. The classrooms, co-working spaces and laboratories that branch off of the atrium are modular for flexible environments. All materials used in the contemporary interiors — from the steel and concrete to the timber and stone tile — were locally sourced. The building is also the first out of 16 selected buildings in Canada completed under the Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) new net-zero carbon pilot program. Students will also be trained on best energy practices and learn how to interpret the building’s real-time energy performance data to help the Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation meet its net-zero energy targets. Related: Perkins + Will’s KTTC building blends beauty and sustainability in Ontario The building is powered with 2,000 solar panels installed on a set of “wings” elevated above the four-story structure with dramatic overhangs that give the Joyce Centre for Partnership and Innovation its signature shape. The overhangs also provide shade and protection to the outdoor terraces. In addition to the solar panels and optimized building envelope, the net-zero energy building is also equipped with 28 geothermal wells, a rainwater harvesting system capable of storing up to 342,000 liters as well as occupancy sensor-controlled heating, cooling and LED lighting. + mcCallumSather + B+H Architects Photography by Ema Peters via B+H Architects

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Canadas largest net-zero energy college building opens in Ontario

Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community

December 11, 2018 by  
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The beautiful beach town of Camburi, Brazil, has gained a new community center that not only serves as a communal gathering space, but is also an inspiring social development project that was built for and by the local low-income community. Belgium and Brazil-based design practice CRU! architects provided the design as well as technical assistance and financial support, however, it was the community that decided all of the programming. The project started in 2004 and its first completed building is the community center, a low-impact building primarily built of bamboo and rammed earth. Located on the Brazilian coast not far from Sao Paulo , the community center at Camburi is a multi-phase project that includes a computer room, library, preschool, office space, assorted storage space and a bakery that is currently undergoing construction. CRU! architects was careful not to interfere in all of the decision making behind the programming and scope of the project beyond the design and technical details. The firm’s final design was shaped by the local association of Camburi’s brief for a centrally located communal space with space for classrooms and storage that would be visually integrated with the surrounding landscape and the neighboring school. “The entire Bamboostic project was foreseen as an educative training for this cooperative to perfect their techniques, whilst building community infrastructure,” explains the firm of the project, which spans 175 square meters. “The community decided all of the content and program of the building and its different parts built in different times over the last 10 years.” Related: Community hub built of recycled materials spotlights exploitation of nature in Vietnam Set 50 meters in land from the beach, the community center is oriented towards the sea to take advantage of cooling cross breezes that flow unimpeded through the building thanks to the raised roof and minimized perpendicular walls. The rammed earth bricks provide natural insulation and thermal mass, while bamboo was used for the structural frame and on the exterior doors and windows to help shield the interiors from harsh sunlight. + CRU! architects Images by Nelson Kon

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Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community

This holiday home in Montauk produces all of its own electricity

November 8, 2018 by  
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East of the Hamptons sits a solar-powered, holiday home that celebrates indoor-outdoor living. Wrapped in exposed concrete and fire-resistant charred timber, the home — dubbed the Montauk House — is the work of Desai Chia Architects , a New York City-based design practice that created the two-story home (with a basement level) for a family with two children. The roof of the house also conceals a large photovoltaic array that harnesses enough energy to power the entire residence, while passive design principles were applied to reduce the overall energy footprint. Located on the tip of Long Island , the two-story Montauk House spans 4,600 square feet on a corner lot edged in with mature landscaping for privacy and shade. The architects located the main living areas and master suite on the upper level, which includes the combined living room, dining area and kitchen, two studies for the parents, a powder room and a master bedroom suite. The two children’s bedrooms and an additional guest bedroom are located on the ground floor along with a shared bathroom and the one-car garage. Walls of operable glass pull the outdoors in, while the open-plan layout facilitates clear sight lines across large sections of the dwelling. Indoor-outdoor living is emphasized with the addition of three outdoor terraces, each protected by deep overhangs to allow for relaxing and dining in the summertime. A ‘garden’ terrace links the ground-floor family room to the outdoors, and a ‘reading’ terrace spills out from the upstairs office spaces. The ‘breezeway’ terrace — the largest of the three — is a south-facing space that runs the length of the home and connects to the open-plan living, dining and kitchen area. Related: Stunning Lake Michigan home is built from dying ash reclaimed onsite In addition to rooftop solar panels, the home embraces green design with the use of low-maintenance materials. The rainscreen of wood was treated with the traditional Japanese process of shou sugi ban to develop resistance against rot, pests and fire. Ample glazing also illuminates the interior with natural light, while the cantilevered roof deflects unwanted solar heat gain. Natural ventilation has also been optimized. + Desai Chia Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Paul Warchol via Desai Chia Architects

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This holiday home in Montauk produces all of its own electricity

Survey Results: Solar Panels on Your Home?

November 7, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Solar Panels on Your Home? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Solar Panels on Your Home?

Earthling Survey: Eco-Friendly Changes at Home

November 7, 2018 by  
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Which eco-friendly lifestyle and home improvement topics would you like … The post Earthling Survey: Eco-Friendly Changes at Home appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earthling Survey: Eco-Friendly Changes at Home

KOGAA creates an energy self-sufficient City Cell in response to climate change

November 2, 2018 by  
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Galvanized by the growing debate on climate change , Brno-based KOGAA Architectural Studio and NEXT Institute Research Platform have teamed up to create the City Cell Prototype (CCP), a pop-up installation that serves as a testing ground for ways cities can combat climate extremes. Completed this year, the temporary pavilion of nearly 300 square feet is presently located at Malinovsky Square in Brno, Czech Republic’s second-largest city. Built of timber and powered by solar energy, the City Cell Prototype is a multifunctional design that includes rainwater reuse, urban greenery, human shelter and educational opportunities. The City Cell Prototype is primarily constructed from pre-dried KVH timber, a material that has the added benefit of not requiring any additional protective coatings. Elevated off the ground on footings, the wooden structure is centered on a tree set inside a “biofilter.” To make the pavilion look inviting to the public, KOGAA inserted low-slung seating and made the all-timber envelope as transparent as possible using slatted wood screens and two entrances. In addition to the tree, planters have been installed on both ends of the structure, with one wall comprising rows of street-facing planters. Despite the pavilion’s minimalist appearance, the structure features multiple systems that work together to ensure energy self-sufficiency. The sloped roofs, which are made from a translucent material to let light through, are angled to channel rainwater into the centrally located biofilter, where the runoff is then filtered through settling and phyto-processes. Once filtered, the rainwater is stored in tanks and then pumped up to a drip irrigation system connected to the pavilion’s planters. The water pump is powered by solar energy harvested from photovoltaic panels mounted to the roof; solar power also provides electricity for the LED lighting system. Related: An experimental greenhouse pops up at a busy Copenhagen intersection “Together with the vertical greenery, the biofilter allows water retention and evaporation, allowing the surrounding microclimate to cool down,” the architects explained. “Its shape develops from the need to provide shading, collect water and the intent to create a spatial communication between the new object and the existing square, also achieved through the two-sided openness.” After the testing period, the CCP could be included in more permanent projects. + KOGAA Architectural Studio Images via Boys Play Nice

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KOGAA creates an energy self-sufficient City Cell in response to climate change

Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume

October 15, 2018 by  
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It’s no secret that the building sector is a resource-intensive industry, but La Mesa, California-based nonprofit Green New World believes that the future of construction can and should be greener, healthier and energy-producing. Green New World created the House of PeacE (also known as Project HOPE), an autonomous and regenerative residential housing model that champions carbon-free living. Combining biophilic design with renewable energy systems and natural materials, Green New World’s first carbon-negative residential prototype — dubbed HOPEone — is slated for completion by 2019. Conceived as a decentralized, autonomous housing model, Project House of PeacE (HOPE) will integrate water, energy, waste and food production and be adaptable to different climate zones. Shaped into a cluster of domes, the HOPEone prototype will be built from locally sourced earth using low-impact and affordable Superadobe construction methods. The building technique can be easily taught to people and can produce well-insulated and ecologically sound buildings with demonstrated resistance to earthquakes, fires and storms. The geometry of the domes is engineered to optimize energy-efficient thermal regulation and follow passive heating and cooling principles. Related: Dome-shaped Earth Bag House keeps residents naturally cool in Colombia “Modules are selected based on a low-embodied energy and environmental footprint while being simple to recreate with basic skills and, as far as is possible, are constructed with locally available, low-cost and low-impact materials,” Green New World explained. “The first HOPE model, HOPEone, is nearing completion, where the productivity of the core bioenergy modules and carbon sequestration modules will be assessed for the development of future prototypes.” In addition to energy and water conservation measures, the prototype will also harvest and generate its own resources. Depending on the location and climate conditions, different water harvesting systems will be installed and sized to meet the consumption of the inhabitants. The harvested water will be treated with ozone and subject to a three-stage purification, mineralization and alkalization treatment system. Solar photovoltaic panels will also be added to the buildings as will an anaerobic bioreactor for creating biogas used for heating and cooking. + Green New World

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Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume

Greek island Tilos is showing the world how to go 100% renewable

October 11, 2018 by  
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The Greek island of Tilos is nearing 100 percent energy independence using only renewable sources with the help of EU funding. The investment, which has helped the island establish the TILOS (Technology Innovation for the Local Scale, Optimum Integration of Battery Energy Storage) Project, will make the Greek landmass the first island in the Mediterranean to achieve energy independence using only renewable energy. The small island, more specifically located in the Aegean Sea, is home to merely 500 people. The population doubles during the summer months when the beautiful seascape is home to a flood of tourists from all around the globe. Despite renewable integration on such a small scale, however, the island is gaining international recognition for the adoption of a solar-and-wind-based energy system that has proven fault-free. Related: This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne Originally, the island received its electricity through an underwater cable connected to the adjacent island of Kos. The neighbor’s diesel power plant proved unreliable because of tectonic activity that led to power outages for both islands. Aside from problem of being fossil fuel -dependent, the existing power grid’s blackouts were disrupting the island’s main income source — tourism. The hybrid system taking over the island’s energy needs includes an 800-kW wind turbine and a 160-kW solar photovoltaic system. Together with a 2.4 MWh capacity battery storage, islanders and their sight-seeing guests will benefit from a consistent energy supply that will operate regardless of weather conditions or time of day. Experts say the project is so efficient that the oil-powered island of Kos will soon be importing energy from its small neighbor instead of supplying it. According to project partners, TILOS “will set the foundations for the future development and replication of similar hybrid systems in island regions and remote communities facing energy-related problems.” Other countries with islands participating in the project are Germany (Pellworm), Portugal (La Graciosa) and France (Corsica). A flyer for the German-based TILOS extension explained, “The overall idea is to create a special platform that will enable technological know-how transfer between islands, by also exploiting the experience gained from the smart grid system of Pellworm, and that will designate new opportunities for the development of similar systems in other islands.” The island’s new system will start by supplying  renewable energy  at 70 percent of Tilos’ needs, and it will reach 100 percent in the near future — undoubtedly serving as a successful model for islands in the region and hopefully worldwide. + TILOS Via Treehugger and PhysOrg Images via Chris Cherf and Ulrich Scherf

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Greek island Tilos is showing the world how to go 100% renewable

Mecanoo unveils winning designs for a solar-powered velodrome in Luxembourg

October 4, 2018 by  
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Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo and Luxembourg-based design practice Metaform Architects have placed first in an international design competition for the Mondorf-les-Bains Velodrome and Sports Complex in southeastern Luxembourg. The winning design was created to look like a natural extension of the landscape thanks to its engineered timber structure and sprawling, sloped green roof onto which a rounded velodrome is placed. Sustainable and passive solar principles also guided the design of the 24,500-square-meter complex, which optimizes natural light and is powered with solar energy. The Mondorf-les-Bains Velodrome and Sports Complex will be built among the rolling hills in the countryside of Luxembourg in a region known for its thermal baths. The 65 million-euro project will serve as a major sporting hub for the community and comprise a velodrome, aquatics center with indoor and outdoor facilities, two cafes, a multisports hall, a climbing wall and offices for the Luxembourgish Cycling Federation (FSCL). The pools and sports hall are designed to be embedded into the sloped landscape and topped with a green roof to visually reduce the size of the development and simultaneously draw attention to the elevated velodrome that will serve as a landmark structure visible from the neighboring highway. “The Velodrome, Multi-Sports and Swimming Pool Complex project is inspired by its surroundings, a subtly undulating topography,” the architects explained. “The main challenge was to integrate all three functions under one roof while paying respect to the context and at the same time to create the architectural landmark for the city of Mondorf-les-Bains.” Related: Mecanoo designs gorgeous green-roofed train station for Kaohsiung In addition to the massive green roof , wood and concrete finishes will be applied to further tie the building to the landscape. Strategically placed skylights and glazing will let in ample natural light while framing outdoor views. The dates for construction and completion have yet to be announced. + Mecanoo + Metaform Architects Images via Mecanoo

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Mecanoo unveils winning designs for a solar-powered velodrome in Luxembourg

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