Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system

May 27, 2019 by  
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It’s always interesting to see the homes of architectural professionals, but one Texas home builder is blowing our minds with his custom-made design. When builder Jeff Derebery and his wife Janice Fischer were ready to build their own house just outside of Austin, they reached out to OM Studio Design and Lindal Cedar Homes to bring their dream to fruition. The result is a gorgeous prefab home  that features a substantial number of sustainable features such as solar power and LED lights, as well as whimsical touches that reflect the homeowners’ personalities such as a water catchment system concealed under the guise of pop art. The design for the 3,000-square-foot, single-story home is filled with features that show off the homeowner’s fun personality as well as building knowledge. Clad in an unusual blend of Shou Sugi Ban charred siding and cedar planks with an entryway made out of turquoise copper panels, the home boasts a unique charm. Related: A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island Stepping into the interior of the four bedroom and two-and-a-half bath home, an open layout that houses the living room, dining area and kitchen welcomes visitors. The space is incredibly bright and airy thanks to a series of clerestory windows and floor-to-ceiling glazed walls that both stream in natural light and provide unobstructed views of the river and rolling landscape. There is also a spacious 350-square-foot screened porch that is the perfect spot for dining with a view. But without a doubt, the heart of the home is an exterior open-air courtyard that separates the private spaces from the social areas. An idyllic space for reading in solitude or entertaining, the courtyard is decorated with furniture made out of recycled plastic . The beautiful design conceals a vast array of sustainable features. The roof of the structure is covered in commercial-grade foam panels in a solar-reflecting white that provides a tight thermal envelope for the home. Additionally, the house generates its own energy thanks to the rooftop solar array of 36 panels that was installed on the adjacent carport. According to the architects, the family has a negative electric bill in both winter and summer and are often able to sell energy back to the local grid. Texas builders have a lot of experience in dealing with the state’s drought issues, so Jeff and Janice were careful to integrate a water-conserving strategy into the home as well. An on-site well with a 2,500-gallon holding tank meets their personal water needs, and two additional tanks, one by the carport and another by the horse barn, collect and store rainwater that is used for various tasks such as taking care of the horses and dogs, cleaning and irrigating. Then, there is the fun artwork hidden throughout the home and the landscape. As lovers of art, Jeff and Janice wanted to incorporate a few unique but functional pieces on their property. First there is Cubie, a 12-foot storage cube made of polycarbonate panels that conceals a well holding tank as well as the water softener and a UV filtration system. There is a fun pop art propane tank shaped like a yellow submarine with the faces of the members of The Beatles painted in the windows. Finally, a pop art collection wouldn’t be complete without a little Andy Warhol, so a deer feeder tower was painted as an oversized can of Campbell’s soup. + OM Studio Design + Lindal Cedar Homes Images via Lindal Cedar Homes

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Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system

Labour Party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes

May 17, 2019 by  
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Britain’s Labour Party has announced a major new green program, pledging to install solar panels on up to 1.75 million government-subsidized and low-income houses. In what has been called the start of a U.K. version of America’s Green New Deal , the goal of the project is to radically address climate change while creating green jobs. The Labour Party will provide free solar panels to one million government-subsidized homes and offer grants and interest-free loans for panels on up to 750,000 additional low-income homes. The panels will be enough to power the homes, providing residents with free electricity and savings of approximately $150 USD per year. Any additional electricity produced from the panels will return to the national grid, which the party says will become publicly owned by local authorities. The program will also provide nearly 17,000 jobs in the renewable energy  industry. Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 When completed, the 1.75 million solar-powered homes will reduce electricity-related carbon emissions by 7.1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to taking four million cars off the road. Like the Green New Deal, the Labour Party’s green revolution promises to benefit low-income people and spur economic growth. This so-called “just transition” provides democratic access to energy sources at affordable prices as well as support for current employees of carbon-emitting industries to gain skills in green industries like renewable energy and technology . The program is led by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, who said , “By focusing on low-income households, we will reduce fuel poverty and increase support for renewable energy. Social justice and climate justice as one. Environmental destruction and inequality not only can, but must be tackled at the same time.” Critics of the program, however, argue that solar panels on private residences are a distraction from addressing and regulating large-scale carbon polluters . Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Labour Party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes

Playful gable-roofed home in Atlanta champions the power of CLT

May 17, 2019 by  
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Jennifer Bonner , architectural designer and director of MALL, has completed Haus Gables, a new ground-up residential project that was built almost entirely out of cross-laminated timber (CLT), an exceptionally strong wood material made from glued layers of solid-sawn lumber. Located in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia, the 2,200-square-foot, two-story home is one of only a few residences constructed from cross-laminated timber in the United States. Named after its cluster of six steep gable roofs that form a singular roofline, Haus Gables delineates its interior spaces according to the ridges and valleys of the roofline, creating what the press release said is a floorplan resulting from the roof. “The underbelly of the gable roofs creates an airy, lofty space filled with ample natural light in what is actually a small building footprint,” noted Bonner. The single-family house has an “uncharacteristically slim” width of 18 feet on the 24-foot-wide plot. The residence’s exterior and interior walls as well as the floors and roof were built of solid, custom-cut CLT panels that were hoisted into place and assembled in just 14 days. Although it has been presented as an alternative to traditional stick frame construction, the home lifts inspiration from the American South vernacular with its playfully colorful faux-finishes that clad the exterior and parts of the interior. For instance, faux bricks made of shimmering stucco dash cover two sides of the facade, while black terrazzo is applied as a thin tile indoors. Related: Tham & Videgård Arkitekter designs Swedish “vertical village” built from CLT Bonner dressed the interiors with furnishings by female designers, including the likes of Ray Eames , Jessica Nakanishi of M-S-D-S Studio, Stine Gam of GamFratesi Studio, Anna Castelli Ferrieri for Kartell and more. The modern furnishings pop against the “color blocking” style applied throughout, which creates areas of gray concrete, yellow vinyl marble and black terrazzo. + Jennifer Bonner Photography by naaro via Jennifer Bonner

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Playful gable-roofed home in Atlanta champions the power of CLT

Looking to make your mornings greener? Try these 7 tips for a sustainable morning routine

May 17, 2019 by  
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We all have our favorite ways to start the day, but how eco-friendly is your morning routine? You might be surprised to learn that most people waste a lot of energy and resources in the first few hours they are awake. Luckily, you can make your mornings more eco-friendly with a few easy steps. From drinking a more sustainable cup of coffee to saving on water, here are seven ways you can go green in the mornings. Sustainable Coffee A hot cup of coffee has become the staple of many morning routines. In fact, many people rely on the caffeine boost to help jumpstart their day. If coffee is something you cannot live without, there are ways in which you can make it more sustainable . A great idea is to start brewing your favorite beans in a thermal carafe. This will help keep the coffee warm for longer periods, which cuts down on the need to brew more later in the day. You should also consider investing in an efficient travel mug instead of disposable cups, even when you fill up at your local coffee shop. If you drink coffee on a regular basis, ditching the waste can really add up over time. You can also purchase coffee in bulk whenever possible. This will help cut down on packaging and is easier on your budget. Related: These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine Enjoy Some Sunlight Syncing your day with the sun is a great way to become more eco-friendly in the mornings. By getting up when the sun rises every morning, you are more likely to go to bed when the sun goes down. This allows you to use less energy at night because you are not relying on lights deep into the night. This, of course, is only applicable if you have a daytime work schedule and can easily adjust your mornings and evenings. If you do wake up with the sun, take advantage of the warmth by opening up the blinds and trapping the energy inside. Save Water It does not take much to waste water in the mornings, especially when it comes to showering. A lot of people wander off while they wait for the shower to warm up, which can waste significant amounts of water over time. Instead, stay close to the shower and jump right in as soon as the water is hot. If the water takes a bit to reach a desired temperature you can consider lowering the temperature of your water heater, as this will help save energy and is better for your skin. Healthy Breakfast Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, so why not make it as healthy as possible? One way to eat healthier in the mornings is to go vegan or vegetarian. Sub out meat products with fruit and veggies, tofu or even cereal. When shopping for the perfect breakfast ingredients, consider choosing items that are completely organic. Non-organic food is bad for the environment and not as healthy as organic products. You can also find great deals on organic food and should not have to break your budget to eat healthier. Switch Up Your Commute If you live within a reasonable distance from your job, consider walking or riding a bike a few days every week. Walking or biking to your place of employment will get your daily workout out of the way and make you more alert throughout the morning. This also helps cut down on vehicle emissions and traffic, which are two of the biggest concerns for cities around the world. You can also consider carpooling with your co-workers to help curb harmful emissions . If you are looking to buy a new vehicle, take a look at an eco-friendly option, such as a hybrid or a small car. These vehicles are much better for the environment and can generate considerable gas savings on an annual basis, both of which will make your eco-friendly morning routine complete. Eco-Friendly Bathroom Bathroom products are one of the worst offenders to the environment . Not only do they contribute to the growing problem of plastic waste, but they are packed with harmful chemicals that eventually find their way into our water sources. You can help curb some of these issues by choosing products that are eco-friendly. The only downside is that these products tend to be a little more expensive than their counterparts. But considering how many of these chemicals are linked to poor health, you will probably save on medical bills down the road. Related: 8 tips to make your exercise routine more eco-friendly Reusable Living One of the easiest ways to go green in the mornings is to reuse whatever you can. From coffee mugs to water containers, having something you can reuse on a daily basis can really cut down on excess waste. Reusing containers can also save you a few bucks every month. If you pack your own lunch to work, you should also consider investing in a reusable lunchbox or bag and avoid single-use plastics . It may be tempting to throw everything in a grocery bag, but these types of plastics are terrible for the environment and are filling up landfills at an alarming rate. Via Livegreen Recyclebank , The Fun Times Guide Images via Shutterstock

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Looking to make your mornings greener? Try these 7 tips for a sustainable morning routine

Earth911 Conscious-Shopping Guide: Best Solar Panels

May 14, 2019 by  
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Technological advances have transformed the solar energy industry in recent … The post Earth911 Conscious-Shopping Guide: Best Solar Panels appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Researchers rush to link toxic chemical to health concerns

April 24, 2019 by  
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A new trend in research reflects a growing concern about the health impacts of a commonly used toxic chemical substance called PFAs (per- and polyfluoralkyl substances). The family of chemicals is pervasive in heat and water-resistant technologies– and is now found in soil, drinking water and even in human blood. “Essentially everyone has these compounds in our blood,” Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences told NPR . Related: Researchers find weedkiller ingredient Glyphosate in name brand beer and wine PFAs are valued for their resistant qualities and used in a variety of items, including food wrappers, umbrellas, tents, carpets and firefighting foams. PFAs are also used in important emerging and lifesaving technologies, including pacemakers, defibrillators, low-emission automobiles and solar panels . However, the same qualities that makes them attractive to manufacturers and consumers are also what wreaks havoc in the environment. Nicknamed the “forever chemical ” the substances have been found in lakes, rivers and drinking water reserves. Recent research also links the contaminant with serious health concerns. The first study to link PFAs to human health was conducted in 2005, when researchers discovered a connection between PFA emissions and health problems among communities in West Virginia and Ohio, such as kidney cancer and thyroid disease. Since then, there has been growing interest and funding among researchers to further explore this critical connection. Another study indicates that prevalence of PFA in the body may make people resistant to vaccines. No limits: unchecked chemical emissions The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting limitations on potential toxic chemical use and emissions, but rarely conducts studies on new chemicals until a public health concern has been raised. Currently, there is no U.S. law that prohibits the sale of a new chemicals or mandates preliminary research on health impacts.  Even after health problems have been noticed, studies require long-term analysis to prove linkages and are often too slow to prevent serious consequences. Although the science of exactly how the toxic chemicals impact human cells is not fully understood, it is clear there is a connection between their abundance in the environment and problematic health symptoms. As a result, some states have decided to develop limits for PFA prevalence in drinking water , opting to seriously consider the warnings from initial studies in order to protect current and future generations. Via NPR Image via Shutterstock

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Researchers rush to link toxic chemical to health concerns

Solar-powered home stays naturally cool in Keralas tropical heat

April 2, 2019 by  
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In the South Indian city of Kochi, local architectural practice Meister Varma Architects recently completed Maison Kochi, a contemporary home for a family of four that mitigates the region’s intense tropical heat with energy-efficient and cost-effective techniques. Inspired by the concept of chiaroscuro, a Renaissance artistic technique named after the strong contrasts between light and dark, Maison Kochi features a solid white exterior and a dark interior finished in polished concrete to create a cool indoor environment. The interior layout is also arranged to buffer the heat, while the roof is equipped with solar panels and a rainwater collection system. Slotted on a tight, 1,830-square-foot lot, Maison Kochi was commissioned for a family of four who also sought a studio and office space in the home. As a result, the west-facing building is split into two volumes — the volume on the south side is slightly taller to provide shade on the second volume throughout the day — for a clear division of space between the work areas and the primary living spaces. An open-plan layout and large windows allow for cross ventilation, while a vent in the roof access hatch lets hot air escape for natural cooling. On the ground floor, the work areas (a studio, tool shed and flex meeting room that can be used as a guest bedroom) are located on the south side of the house, while an open-plan living and dining room are located opposite; the two volumes are joined by the entry foyer and a compact kitchen. The master bedroom with a terrace, a children’s bedroom, a TV room and a study are upstairs. To soften the polished concrete walls and black oxide floors, the interior is dressed with Kerala sari-inspired fabrics and multicolored baskets that mimic traditional urban crafts. Almost all of the interior furnishings are custom-made. Related: This rammed earth home in India uses recycled materials throughout “ Rainwater channels are integrated in the roof design as are solar panels,” the architects added. “Collected water is used to recharge the groundwater through an injection system. Flat roofs are insulated with hollow clay blocks and sloping roofs with polyurethane sandwich panels.” + Meister Varma Architects Photography by Praveen Mohandas and Govind Nair (drone photography) via Meister Varma Architects

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These sustainable headphones are making a debut just in time for Earth Day

April 2, 2019 by  
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The Exodus headphones are The House of Marley’s first release in its new 2019 line of eco-friendly audio products, and trust us when we say they are everything you’d want in a pair of headphones. Made from materials like FSC-certified wood, stainless steel, recyclable aluminum and soft natural leather, the Exodus headphones allow you feel good about your purchase while having a comfortable listening experience. The House of Marley doesn’t stop at headphones, either — the company also creates turntables built from natural bamboo and outdoor speakers made using organic cork. Not to mention all of its packaging is produced from 100 percent recycled paper. Inhabitat recently had a chance to try out the new Exodus headphones and interview The House of Marley’s Director of Product Development, Josh Poulsen. Eco-friendly and sustainable materials The headphone casing is made from wood that is FSC-certified, meaning that the trees cut down to produce the wood are guaranteed to be replaced and regenerated sustainably. The stainless steel making up the headphone architecture and fasteners creates less environmental impact and is more durable; it can even be recycled. Not only is aluminum (used for the headphone housing) one of the most eco-consciously produced metals, there’s no limit to how many times it can be recycled. Lastly, natural leather adds a sense of warmth and style while remaining a biodegradable option. Related: This eco-friendly wooden laptop is designed to curb e-waste Inhabitat: “What was the inspiration behind building the Exodus headphones with such eco-friendly and sustainable materials?” Poulsen: “We strive to build all House of Marley products with eco-friendly and sustainable materials, not as an inspiration but as our mission. With the Exodus, we aimed to design an over-ear headphone that can be listened to for long periods without discomfort or acoustic fatigue, offers premium construction and incorporates  sustainable materials while focusing on heritage and retro-inspired design elements. In the case of the Exodus, sustainability means more than just the materials from which the headphone is constructed. The quality craftsmanship means product life is extended and the emphasis on comfort allows the user to sustain longer listening sessions.” Sound quality The media website CNET called these the “Best new headphones of CES [Consumer Electronics Show] 2019.” The Bluetooth LE technology was fast while pairing with our devices, meaning less time waiting for a connection and more time enjoying music. 50mm hi-def drivers ensure quality sound, regardless of unconventional materials. Inhabitat: “What steps does the company make to ensure that these non-traditional materials don’t compromise the sound quality?” Poulsen: “Sound quality isn’t negatively affected by the sustainable materials we choose to use. In fact, often times the choice of wood can enhance and add to the warmth in acoustic we strive for. Wood is a premier choice for materials in many musical instruments for thousands of years, so it seemed logical that it be incorporated into audio listening products as well. We take it one step further by ensuring the non-traditional materials such as bamboo , cork and FSC-certified woods not only contribute the sound quality of our products, but are a sustainable design choice in the manner in which they are harvested and incorporated.” Long-lasting Not only is the sound long-lasting (the headphones boast a 30-hour lithium polymer battery life, the longest-lasting in the company’s history), USB-C charging makes it easy to plug into any USB-compliant outlet. The company doesn’t just exercise sustainable materials but also helps ensure that its products last longer than other audio makers. Related: Artist upcycles discarded cassette tapes into eco-friendly MusicCloth® Inhabitat: “We covered The House of Marley earbuds a few years back. Has anything changed about your products since then?” Poulsen: “It is important to produce timeless designs and high-quality products. The House of Marley intends for products to last longer without the need for replacement — meaning less products being sent to landfills . In the past five years, The House of Marley has increased durability and quality, while the product return rate has been brought down significantly.” Helping to save the planet As if it could get any better than a product that’s both high-quality and eco-friendly, The House of Marley has also been working with One Tree Planted since 2017 to fight global deforestation. One Tree Planted is a non-profit organization that has been planting trees in North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa since 2014. To celebrate Earth Day, The House of Marley will be contributing to tree plantings in Colorado, Kenya and Rwanda. Inhabitat: “How did your partnership with One Tree Planted come about?” Poulsen: “The House of Marley was conceived around carrying on Bob Marley’s legacy, which includes the charitable philosophy of giving back to the Earth what we take from it. Given our history of using FSC-certified woods, bamboo and cork in the sustainable construction of our products, in 2017 we were introduced to One Tree Planted to contribute to tree plantings around the world. Since then, we have planted 168,000 trees in an effort to bring awareness to the consumption and waste of the plastics-driven consumer electronics market. Reforestation contributes to positive environmental, social and economic impact through carbon offsets, cleaner air , water filtration and greater biodiversity within the world’s forests. By donating to the planting of trees, we hope to encourage growth and begin changing the minds of consumers and our industry.” Bottom line The House of Marley is not kidding when it says 30-hour battery life; these headphones can be enjoyed all day and then some. Over-ear headphones can get clunky or uncomfortable, and plenty of music-lovers out there prefer the smaller earbuds for these reasons, but the memory foam ear cushions combined with the natural leather definitely squash those excuses. The over-ear speakers are super comfortable and can be used for hours without getting painful. Related: Dimension Plus turned Oreo cookies into edible records that play music One of the best parts is the hinge allowing the headphones to fold into each other to easily fit into the premium stash bag (included) made from the company’s signature REWIND organic cotton fabric, helping to take up less space while traveling. We loved the option for plugging the headphones directly into your device with the included aux cable (because let’s face it, sometimes we forget to charge things), but even if you do forget to charge, it only takes two hours to get fully juiced. Any outdoor-lover will enjoy how the Exodus headphones look. The certified wood is a light, natural color, which pairs really nicely against the black color of the plastic and ear cushions. The charging and aux cables are designed with the same sturdy, braided design (a godsend for those of us prone to breaking those skinny plastic cables on other headphones). You can also control the volume and playback from the headphones themselves rather than fumbling for your device. Finally, we couldn’t help but pump some Bob Marley through these headphones, and unsurprisingly, it did not disappoint. + The House of Marley Images via Katherine Gallagher / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by The House of Marley. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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These sustainable headphones are making a debut just in time for Earth Day

This tiny home allows a family of 3 to go off the grid in Maui

April 1, 2019 by  
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DIY home building is always an ambitious aspiration, but when it comes to building your own tiny home, it can be an entirely different beast. But that didn’t stop Maui natives Zeena and Shane Fontanilla from taking on the task to unbelievable results. The Fontanilla tiny home is 360 square feet of an incredible blend of beautiful design mixed with some impressive off-grid features such as solar power and a water catchment system that allows the family to use all of the rainwater that falls on the property to meet their water needs. After getting engaged, the couple decided to forgo buying a large family home that would lead to decades of debt, instead opting to built their own tiny home that would allow them to lead the life that they had dreamed of. They kicked off the project around 2014, doing most of the work themselves along with a little help from family, friends … and the television. Zeena told Design*Sponge , “Binge-watching Tiny House Nation on HGTV helped us hone in our ideal design.” Related: Serene off-grid tiny home sits tucked away in a Hawaiian rainforest The first step of the DIY home build for Zeena and Shane was designing their dream layout. The next step was finding a trailer that would suit their desired floor plan, which is where they hit their first obstacle. After searching Craiglist and other sites, they couldn’t locate a trailer that would fit what they had in mind. Instead of changing their plans, they decided to build a customized trailer. From there, they cut their own timber to create the frame of the home. The couple took about two years of working nights and weekends to build the off-grid tiny home of their dreams. Located on an expansive lot of idyllic farmland, the final result is 360 square feet of customized living space, complete with a spacious living room and double sleeping lofts. The interior is light-filled with high ceilings. Plenty of windows, all-white walls and dark timber accents, such as exposed ceiling beams, make the home bright and modern. In addition to its beautiful aesthetic, the tiny home operates completely off the grid. A solar array generates enough power for the family’s electricity needs. Additionally, a custom-made, 3,000-gallon water catchment system allows the family to use the water that falls on the property to fulfill the family’s water usage. To reduce energy use, the home is also equipped with energy-efficient appliances and a waterless composting toilet. You can keep up with the Fontanilla family’s tiny home living adventures on their Instagram page . + The Reveal Via Design*Sponge Photography by Stephanie Betsill via Zeena Fontanilla

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This tiny home allows a family of 3 to go off the grid in Maui

A solar-powered luxury home blends into a Pacific Northwest landscape

March 27, 2019 by  
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When a client commissioned Seattle-based architectural practice Hoedemaker Pfeiffer to design their new solar-powered home, they asked that the design take inspiration from a stone-and-wood retreat that they had lost to a fire decades ago in the hills of Appalachia. As a result, the new build takes cues from the client’s former property as well as its location on a remote forested plateau atop a steep hillside in the San Juan Islands . The dwelling, named Hillside Sanctuary, is built of stone and wood volumes and appears to naturally grow out of the landscape, while its large walls of glass take in sweeping views of Puget Sound. The Hillside Sanctuary comprises two buildings: a main house and a guest house, both of which comprise two floors and are oriented for optimal views of Puget Sound to the southwest. In the main house, the master bedroom and the primary living spaces can be found on the upper floor, with the main rooms sharing access to an outdoor patio. Secondary rooms are located below. The smaller guesthouse also places the primary living spaces on the upper level. On the lower level are two bedrooms and an outdoor dining area and kitchen. The bases of both buildings consist of thick stone walls topped with light-filled timber structures. Simple shed roofs with long overhangs shield the interiors from intense southern summer sun and support solar panels . Walls of glazing along the buildings’ southern elevation let in ample natural light. Strategically placed clerestory windows allow for northern light and permit the escape of warm air. A particularly impressive application of glass can be seen in the guest house dining room, which is cantilevered into the forest and wrapped on three sides by floor-to-ceiling glass. Trees were carefully preserved so as to create the room’s treehouse-like feel. Related: Lakeside cabin made out of reclaimed wood is as idyllic as it gets “Taken together the buildings provide two related but distinct ways of appreciating the beauty of this site,” the architects explain. “Together they provide friends and family comfortable accommodation while offering a sanctuary for the owner at the main home.” + Hoedemaker Pfeiffer Images by Kevin Scott

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