LEED Platinum Stockman Bank harvests rainwater and solar power in Missoula

June 26, 2020 by  
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In Montana’s historic downtown Missoula, a Stockman Bank branch has recently earned LEED v4 Core and Shell Platinum certification — the second building in the U.S and the fifth worldwide to receive such accreditation. Designed by Billings-based architecture firm Cushing Terrell , Stockman Bank’s Missoula location boasts energy-efficient and energy-saving systems throughout, from high-performance glass and solar arrays to an innovative on-site rainwater system that provides 100% of average annual water use for toilet and urinal flushing. The six-story bank uses 75% less energy and 69% less water than a comparable office building. Certified LEED v4 Platinum in September 2019, Stockman Bank’s downtown Missoula branch spans 67,753 square feet across six floors, two of which are used as parking with space for 137 vehicles, covered bicycle parking and electric vehicle charging systems. The top three building levels include outdoor terraces, while the sixth-floor rooftop level features a lush garden space that can be used for meetings, entertaining and community activities. The roof level overlooks panoramic views of Missoula and the surrounding valleys and is also topped with a 48.75 KW photovoltaic array with 150 solar panels that provide 11% of the building’s energy. Related: Solar-powered Lowell Justice Center will be Massachusetts’ first LEED Platinum courthouse Despite the building’s inclusion of high-tech, energy-saving technology, the bank’s appearance is firmly rooted in the local vernacular respectful of its historic district location. The masonry exterior uses brick and quarried granite from South Dakota as well as cast stone detailing and a high-performance glass curtain wall that floods the interior with natural light. Approximately 70% of recycled material was used in the steel frame construction.  In addition to rainwater harvesting and solar panels , the bank includes an open-loop ground source heat pump system and chilled beams as well as energy-efficient elevators with regenerative braking to recoup electricity in descent. + Cushing Terrell Photography by Heidi Long via Cushing Terrell

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LEED Platinum Stockman Bank harvests rainwater and solar power in Missoula

This tiny home on wheels features white shiplap walls

June 11, 2020 by  
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The Heritage  tiny home  by Summit doesn’t sacrifice style for convenience. It features a spacious loft bedroom, a bay window bump out of the living room and a galley kitchen with white shiplap walls. This tiny house is designed for full-time living and comes in two sizes, the 24-foot Heritage and the 28-foot Heritage. Each model comes move-in ready with $6,000 to $8,000 worth of built-in upgrades, coming to a total of $69,999 and $78,500 respectively. The models are built on a trailer with a two-foot bay window that extends over the edge, two large  skylights  over the bedroom loft and a living room filled with windows to allow ample natural light. Related: A tiny home on wheels with brilliant interiors and two lofts can be yours for $56K The kitchen comes with a 24″  farmhouse  sink, gas stove, quartz counters, a full-size refrigerator, shelving units for a pantry and an off-grid 20″ propane range hood. Since the tiny homes are made-to-order, buyers can customize everything from the exterior color and storage options to updated kitchen appliances and washer/dryer combinations. The 24-foot Heritage provides 220 square feet of living space, while the 28-foot Heritage offers 250 square feet. Designers offer upgraded premium options for sustainability features as well, such as  solar panels , rainwater collection and a composting toilet. Stylistically, the Heritage features a modern-meets-rustic aesthetic, with its bright white shiplap and numerous windows that capture the feel of a larger family home on a smaller scale. The kitchen’s butcher block countertops, soft close shaker cabinets, 24″ fridge-freezer combination and the potential for a washer/dryer combo provide modern creature comforts with all the convenience of a  home on wheels . For storage, the staircase comes with built-in compartments, and there is a 28″ storage closet with rod and shelf (34″ in the larger model). The bathroom has a built-in vanity and shelving, with either a 48″ shower with glass door for the smaller model, or a 60″ tub and shower combo in the larger model. There is also a standard flushing toilet below the bathroom window and upgraded black fixtures throughout. + Summit Tiny Homes

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This tiny home on wheels features white shiplap walls

This electric camper is a houseboat and tricycle in one

June 9, 2020 by  
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The tiny-but-mighty Z-Triton camper by Zeltini is ready to take on land and water. Despite its small stature, this amphibious camper is designed to sleep up to two people, allowing for both short-term getaways and longer adventures. Tricycle wheels fold up and inflatable pontoons are added to switch the trike into boat mode. Though steering and power cables attached to the engine rod make the Z-Triton perfect for travel across lakes and rivers (with a range up to 10 km), it isn’t equipped to handle open ocean. To transform the camper into a living space, the seats can be removed and stored to become a bedroom, complete with pillows, sleeping mats and sleeping bags. An extractor fan inside one of the chimneys makes it easy to do some basic cooking. Inside, there are six shelving units for storage and a folding table for food prep and dining. Related: “Temple of Poop” grows a flowering rooftop with human waste While in tricycle mode, the Z-Triton is operated both manually by leg power and via a chargeable battery with a range of 40 km, depending on the terrain. While the designers included a wide range of amenities that combine practicality and functionality including disc brakes, front and back lights, a horn and USB charging ports, they also prioritized creature comforts for camping. There is a padded seat, an aerodynamic umbrella, two water bottle cages, a fold-up passenger seat with a safety belt, a coffee cup holder and a pet seat that can also be replaced with a child seat. Natural elements, such as a removable plant pot inside one of the chimneys, allow passengers to decorate with a plant or bring along potted herbs to use for cooking while camping. The trike element has a steel frame, and the body of the houseboat is made from a blend of plywood and fiberglass; the studio intends to use hemp fiberglass once the project is past the prototype stage. It also has six solar panels , and parts of the house were 3D-printed with bioplastic material. Zeltini is still testing prototypes of the camper in different environments and weather and will be releasing more information about price and availability in summer 2021. + Zeltini Photography by Gatis Priednieks-Melnacis and Aigars Lauzis via Zeltini

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This electric camper is a houseboat and tricycle in one

Project Lunark to test a prototype moon habitat powered by solar

April 30, 2020 by  
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“What does it take to live on the moon?” That was the question put forward by Sebastian Aristotelis and Karl-Johan Sørensen, the founders of SAGA Space Architects and the analog astronauts behind Lunark , a prototype moon habitat. Designed in collaboration with scientists, engineers and polar experts, Lunark will be tested over three months in northern Greenland as part of the first Arctic-simulated moon mission. In addition to its resilience to extreme temperatures, the habitat will be engineered for a zero-waste ecosystem and will draw power from solar panels. Currently in the research and prototyping stages, Lunark is scheduled for construction in Denmark over the summer of 2020. The expedition is expected to start in the fall of the same year, when Aristotelis and Sørensen will live in the prototype moon habitat for three months to carry out scientific experiments and evaluate the structural design. All of their research and analyses will be compiled in research papers and presented in a TV documentary. Related: SOM unveils designs for first-ever human settlement on the moon “The ultimate goal is to develop the best future moon habitat,” the duo said. “The experiment will develop and test a radically different moon habitat where architecture helps to counteract monotony, claustrophobia and psychological stress.” The designers have chosen northern Greenland as their testing grounds — and are looking at locations near Thule Air Base — because of the island’s extreme climate, remoteness, barren landscape and absence of normal circadian rhythms.  Inspired by origami, the Lunark habitat will be built from reinforced folding panels to allow for a unique expanding design that saves space during transport and expands by 560% by volume upon final installation. The exterior must be engineered to withstand temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius, wind speeds of 90 kilometers per hour and even polar bear attacks. Solar panels will be installed around the perimeter. In contrast to the tank-like exterior, the interior will attempt to follow the principles of hygge and will be equipped with systems that promote a zero-waste lifestyle. An algae reactor will be placed in the core of the habitat and provide highly nutritious food. + SAGA Space Architects Images via SAGA Space Architects

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Project Lunark to test a prototype moon habitat powered by solar

Dark Chalet in Utah will generate over 350% more energy than it needs

April 24, 2020 by  
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Los Angeles-based Tom Wiscombe Architecture will be putting the final touches on its “Dark Chalet” by October 2020. Located about an hour north of Salt Lake City on the slopes of Summit’s Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah, the mysterious, net-positive energy building will generate 364% more power than it needs thanks to an integrated commercial-grade solar panel system. Net-positive energy in architecture refers to a building that generates more power than is needed for the structure to operate, going a step further than traditional net-zero energy systems. The extra energy can be utilized for features such as electric vehicle charging and hosting large events or even as a long-term plan to help offset the energy it took to construct the building in the first place. Excess energy can also be returned to the grid. Related: Kendeda, a net-positive Living Building, opens at Georgia Tech The 5,500-square-foot Dark Chalet is meant to act as both a single-family residence and a venue for the Summit Powder Mountain community events. The main structure, which looks like a massive black diamond against the snowy white backdrop, is fitted to follow the natural slope of the mountain with a lifted section contoured to allow skiers to pass through. The entire exterior is constructed with a woven patchwork of matte and glossy solar panels embedded into each other. This design fades the system into the background unlike traditional solar panels; the arrangement helps draw little attention to the fact that energy is being generated and instead presents a sleek exterior. At the forefront of the interior, a mega-scaled fireplace will connect all levels of the house through a network of strategically embedded staircases, a design meant to inspire images of grand ski chalets and castles. The 28-foot-wide fireplace is made of black steel. Both the staircases and the fireplace will have elements including bookshelves, walkways and storage spaces. The completion of the Dark Chalet in October will mark the first phase of a 10,000-acre Summit Powder Mountain ski resort . + Tom Wiscombe Architecture Via The Architect’s Newspaper Images via Tom Wiscombe Architecture

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Dark Chalet in Utah will generate over 350% more energy than it needs

‘Tiger King’ drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in U.S.

April 24, 2020 by  
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Netflix’s wildly popular “Tiger King” documentary series has been progressively sweeping the nation since it first aired on March 20. As an outrageous, binge-worthy drama released when self-isolation and uncertainty were spreading around the world, the show certainly came at the right time to provide an escape from the news. Overnight, it seemed, conversations that didn’t revolve around the coronavirus or Joe Exotic were hard to come by. Photos of celebrities who’d visited the zoos were flooding the internet, Joe Exotic’s power-ballads were hitting it big on Spotify and even President Donald Trump was fielding questions about the gun-toting zookeeper during press briefings. While the eccentric documentary reveals some disturbing truths about the enigmatic underworld it portrays, the show’s colorful characters tend to overshadow serious animal welfare issues. The dizzying murder-mystery component camouflages animal cruelty behind a jaw-dropping “you have to see it to believe it” drama. Now that the initial buzz of the show has started to die down, animal conservationists are begging the public to take a closer look at what the series failed to address: why, and how, these types of animal “sanctuaries” are legal in the United States. Related: Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive for coronavirus The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) believes that the illegal wildlife trade presents the most substantial incentive for exotic animal breeding and estimates that a vast majority of the captive tigers in the U.S. are living inside people’s backyards, roadside attractions and private breeding facilities. “Tigers should not be kept or bred for entertainment or trade in their parts and products,” said Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy for WWF USA. “As a leader in promoting the conservation of tigers globally, the United States has a responsibility to manage the staggering 5,000 estimated captive tigers within its own borders.” The tigers remaining in the wild currently number around 3,900 and are continuing to be threatened due to poaching , illegal trade and habitat loss. Surprisingly, only an estimated 6% of the captive tiger population in the U.S. live inside zoos and facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Because tigers in the United States are regulated by a combination of federal, state and local laws, there is no single government agency monitoring the location, ownership or sales of the tigers or what happens to their parts when they die. According to Henry, any supply of tiger parts into the black market stimulates trade and customer demand, posing additional risks to the wild tiger population. Tiger abuse in the U.S. was on the radar well before Netflix aired “Tiger King.” In 2006, Joe Exotic’s GW Exotic Animal Park was fined $25,000 by the USDA for not providing adequate veterinary care or sufficient staff. Back in 2011, the Humane Society put an investigator undercover as an animal caretaker inside the park for about four months. They found hundreds of animals caged in barren conditions, cared for by workers with little-to-no experience and tiger cubs that were “punched, dragged, and hit with whips.” During that time, GW Exotic Animal Park was under investigation by the USDA for the deaths of 23 tiger cubs between 2009 and 2010. Even Emmy Award-winning comedian and political commentator John Oliver recently recalled learning about Joe Exotic in 2016. “Our researcher went back through his notes and did say, ‘It seems like the park he’s running is a little bit dangerous, we may not want to hold hands too closely with this, “ Oliver said . “Plus he started ranting about a woman named Carole.’” For the places that make their money from public encounters with tigers, continuous breeding is key in maintaining a constant supply of cubs for entertaining guests. Because of this, tigers are often inbred, causing birth defects and health issues that make them unsuitable for reintroduction into the wild . Most of the privately owned tigers in the U.S. are of mixed or unknown lineage, making them unable to participate in legitimate captive-breeding efforts in accredited zoos and institutions as well. “Facilities like Joe Exotic’s and Doc Antle’s masquerade as rescue or conservation operations, but in fact they breed tigers and subject the cubs, who are torn from their mothers immediately after birth, to stress and abuse,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and the CEO of Humane Society International. “After a few months, when the cubs are too large for close encounters with the public and the opportunity for profit is over, the cubs are caged, sold into the pet trade or die. This cycle of breeding for temporary use leads to a surplus of unwanted animals who languish in horrible conditions.” When it comes to ethical animal sanctuaries, the leading authority is the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). This accrediting organization requires sanctuaries to meet animal-welfare standards exceeding the federal Animal Welfare Act minimum. National Geographic also outlines several things to look for when participating in wildlife tourism . According to the GFAS, sanctuaries must provide lifetime care for abused, injured or abandoned animals, and rehabilitation or rescue centers are meant to provide temporary care with the goal of either releasing animals back into the wild or placing them in permanent care. To be accredited in the AZA, the leading non-profit organization connected to zoos and aquariums in terms of conservation, companies must go through a rigorous application process . Both the AZA and the GFAS provide lists of accredited facilities on their websites. Since the documentary was filmed, 39 of Joe Exotic’s tigers have been rescued and are now living peacefully inside The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado (you can see a video of the tigers’ new living conditions here ). WWF and the Humane Society are continuing to call for greater supervision and protection of captive tigers with the introduction of the Big Cat Public Safety Act . The act and its accompanying bill prohibiting cub petting are scheduled to be voted on by the end of the year. One could argue that “Tiger King” inspired viewership in ways that a more deliberate, expose-style documentary simply could not accomplish. Though the more severe components of the documentary have been masked by a barrage of memes and Twitter-fueled jokes, the ones who suffered the most in this human drama were actually the animals . Hopefully, what begins to come out of “Tiger King” will be the public’s refusal to let spectacle overpower mindfulness and that we all learn to see beyond the flashy images to realize that animal abuse is wrong — no matter how captivating the abusers are. Via National Geographic and World Wildlife Fund Images via Pixabay

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‘Tiger King’ drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in U.S.

The Nature Conservancys Oregon HQ gets a green renovation

April 8, 2020 by  
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Portland-based LEVER Architecture has breathed new life into The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon headquarters with a LEED Gold-targeted renovation. Completed in 2019, the refreshed headquarters has received a much-needed facelift constructed from sustainably harvested materials as well as a new addition topped with a roof garden. Beautiful and sustainable, the addition is also one of the first buildings in the nation to be built of domestically fabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Built in the 1970s, The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon headquarters was formerly defined by dark and introverted offices as well as a lack of sizable meeting and event space. To better meet the needs of the highly collaborative organization, LEVER Architecture expanded the building footprint to 15,000 square feet and introduced new open-plan layouts, meeting rooms of varying sizes and a staff cafe and lounge. The Nature Conservancy’s mission of environmental stewardship has also been proudly showcased through updates to the exterior facade and landscaping. Related: Metal-clad Treehouse for “no-commute lifestyles” mimics Portland’s forests The new landscaping that surrounds the building on all sides evokes three types of habitats across Oregon: the Rowena Plateau, Cascade-Siskiyou and forests of western hemlock and cedar. The connection to nature is strengthened by the use of juniper and cedar siding, materials that were sustainably harvested from The Nature Conservancy’s conservation sites. The weathering steel that wraps around the upper portions of the new addition and main building will develop a handsome patina over time to further blend the building into its surroundings. In addition to a sustainable renovation and expansion, the architects have introduced new energy-saving and -generating systems. New rooftop solar panels on the main building produce 25% of the headquarters’ energy needs, while efficient fixtures and building systems reduce electric consumption by 54% and water consumption by 44%. All stormwater is captured and managed on-site. Low-tech passive strategies, such as daylighting and operable windows for natural ventilation, also help cut down the building’s energy demands. + LEVER Architecture Photos by Jeremy Bittermann and Lara Swimmer via LEVER Architecture

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The Nature Conservancys Oregon HQ gets a green renovation

Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

February 28, 2020 by  
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Once known as one of Uganda’s most popular hotels, the Nile Safari Lodge had fallen into disrepair over the years. When it was tasked to breathe new life into the property, Kampala-based studio Localworks decided to pay homage to the building’s history by respectfully and carefully rebuilding the existing facilities instead of tearing them down and starting from scratch. Now, the fully refurbished accommodation is an incredible, solar-powered eco-retreat offering guests a direct connection to the nature surrounding the property. Located on the southern bank of the Nile River, the Nile River Lodge is enveloped in wilderness. Looking over the famed river, the lodge offers guests a chance to recharge their batteries while taking in the views. This calm atmosphere became the focal point of the green renovation process. Related: Two abandoned 1960s buildings in the middle of a desert become a chic eco-retreat Starting with the main building, the architects wanted to break open the communal spaces as much as possible. They did this by covering the existing building with a series of thick, grass-thatched roofs . The design strategy also aimed to implement new openings around the property to allow for indoor-outdoor living. The Ugandan climate is typically very hot and humid, so passive cooling strategies , such as natural light and ventilation, were used whenever possible. The wide, triangular openings and curved walkways found throughout the hotel allow guests to enjoy framed views of the river and surrounding Murchison Falls National Park from nearly anywhere onsite. At the heart of the eco-retreat is a soothing infinity pool that looks out over the river. A covered pavilion opens up to the pool and serves as the perfect spot to take in both the sunrise and the sunset. Guests will be able to enjoy down time in one of the eight cottages, all of which face the river. Although distinct in size and amenities, the cottages, referred to as bandas , are raised on stilts to reduce their impact on the landscape and generate air flow under the buildings. Made of natural materials such as wood, grass and stone, the buildings were all positioned to protect the interiors from the harsh equatorial sunlight. While passive strategies were used throughout the eco-resort, several modern features were also implemented to reduce the project’s environmental impact. Completely free of mechanical cooling systems, the lodge runs solely on solar power . + Localworks + Nile Safari Lodge Via ArchDaily Photography by Will Boase via Localworks

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Rundown lodge near the Nile River is now a solar-powered eco-resort

LEED Platinum-targeted Santa Monica apartments are powered by solar energy

January 30, 2020 by  
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Los Angeles-based design practice KFA Architecture has recently completed Pico Eleven, a new multi-unit residential housing project designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification. In addition to the building’s inclusion of solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and passive solar strategies, Pico Eleven has also dedicated approximately one-third of its units to affordable housing, with four units set aside for very low-income households. Located near Downtown Santa Monica, the housing project reflects its waterfront environment with reclaimed timber siding that recalls the rustic California beach house aesthetic. Nestled into a sloping hillside just blocks from Downtown Santa Monica , Pico Eleven comprises 32 units spread out across four floors and is organized into three distinct masses that step down the slope. The 33,000-square-foot building also includes two levels of subterranean parking with space for 64 vehicles. Eleven of the 32 units — which mainly comprise one- and two-bedroom units — are reserved for rent control, while four units are designated low-income. Related: Eco-friendly crematorium is envisioned for Santa Monica To take advantage of the building’s proximity to the waterfront, the architects have added three upper-level decks with sweeping ocean views and amenities including built-in barbecue grills, gas fire pits and outdoor seating. Outdoor space is further integrated into the design with the private patios that come with every unit as well as the inclusion of two large, open courtyards with drought-tolerant landscaping. Open floor plans and expansive glazing on the sides of every residential unit also give residents access to ocean cross breezes and plenty of natural light. In addition to an emphasis on cross ventilation and daylighting throughout Pico Eleven, the architects have added photovoltaic panels to the roof to generate electricity for the entire building. All units come with energy-efficient appliances and residents have access to two electric vehicle charging stations as well.  + KFA Architecture Images via KFA Architecture

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LEED Platinum-targeted Santa Monica apartments are powered by solar energy

Modern townhome in Philadelphia combines functionality and sustainability

December 18, 2019 by  
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Constructed with reinforced concrete and structural steel, the Red House is one home in a collection of three townhouses located in the northern Point Breeze neighborhood of Philadelphia . Custom, artistic elements throughout the property paired with the sustainable and efficient features give this building its unique, eco-friendly flair. Each home is 3,200 square feet in size, 18 feet wide and four stories tall. The complex is entirely electric-running and designed to operate a 7.37kW grid-tied, roof-mounted PV solar panel system. Apart from providing the owner with a significant cost reduction for utilities, the solar panels produce no carbon dioxide emissions. Related: Striking, LEED Silver-targeted tower to rise in the heart of Philadelphia All of the appliances and features in the homes are designed to maximize the efficiency of the massive rooftop solar panel. A one-car, heated garage comes complete with an electric car charger . To provide a great deal of natural light and natural airflow from front to back, there are 6-foot, wall-to-wall, aluminum-clad wood casement windows on the northern side, as well as double and single 5-foot casement windows on the southern side. The home is heated by a hydronic radiant heating system installed into the floors, complete with the ability to control the temperature of each individual floor separately to reduce excess electricity when all zones aren’t being used. On the second floor, you’ll find a spacious open plan that welcomes guests into a casual space for living, dining and cooking. The interiors are marked with an industrial design scheme; the modern, open kitchen utilizes stainless steel countertops and cabinetry inset with local black walnut wood embellishments. In each townhome, there are four bedrooms in total, dispersed among the first and third floors as well as the master bedroom on the fourth floor. Each of the three full baths are designed with colorful, handmade tiles from Spain. Families who need more space can make use of the finished basement, which is fully heated, insulated and waterproof. Outside, the green backyard was contained using corrugated metal fencing. Meanwhile, the roof deck provides a unique view of the Philadelphia skyline. + Octo Studio Photography by HomeJab via Octo Studio

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Modern townhome in Philadelphia combines functionality and sustainability

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