Solar-powered home embraces Hudson River views and aging in place

January 24, 2019 by  
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Wanting to reconnect with the outdoors after decades of living in Manhattan, a couple nearing retirement asked New York-based architecture firm Resolution: 4 Architecture to design a contemporary home in the northern suburbs of New York City that would take full advantage of a waterfront site. Located on one of Croton-on-Hudson’s highest overlooks, the resulting design features an elevated profile that appears to float above the trees and boasts panoramic views of the Hudson River through walls of glass. The home — dubbed the Hudson River House — was also built for longevity as noted by the materials selected for durability, solar rooftop panels for self-sufficiency and the elevator for comfortable aging-in-place. Spread out across 2,374 square feet, the Hudson River House comprises two floors and a basement. The main entry is accessed from the ground floor, which consists of a spacious outdoor pool and deck sheltered by the upper floor, a carport with an entry patio and a small indoor area housing a powder room as well as an elevator and stairs. The primary living and sleeping quarters are placed on the upper floor, with the master bedroom and guest bedroom bookending the centrally located open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen. An office and deck are also located on the main level. “They wanted a compact home that was as extraordinary as the vista it offered, equipped with just enough space for two,” the architects explained of the clients. “The house is lifted high in the air to enhance views, with storage spaces and an outdoor recreational zone below.” To maximize space while keeping a compact footprint, the interior follows an open-plan layout so as not to disrupt sight lines. Full-height glazing lends the interior a sense of spaciousness as well. Transforming furniture, such as the Murphy bed in the guest room, gives the homeowners added flexibility. Related: Minimalist TRIPTYCH house pulls the Quebec outdoors in The Hudson River House features a mostly natural materials palette that includes untreated ipe and metal paneling for the exterior. Inside, white oak and light-colored surfaces create a muted backdrop for the homeowner’s pottery and art collection and the stunning outdoor vistas. The energy footprint of the home is reduced thanks to the optimization of cross ventilation as well as the solar panels installed across the entire roof. + Resolution: 4 Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Emily Andrews via Resolution: 4 Architecture

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Solar-powered home embraces Hudson River views and aging in place

Clyde Mews eco-village champions sustainable housing alternatives in Melbourne

January 23, 2019 by  
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Melbourne recently became home to Clyde Mews , an inspiring “eco-village” that champions sustainable, community-focused living in close proximity to the city center. Created as an alternative to resource-intensive, car-centric developments, Clyde Mews features attractive, pedestrian-friendly design and energy-efficient housing. Designed by local architecture firm Six Degrees Architects for property development company Excelon Group, the eco-friendly development includes eight contemporary townhouses fitted out with sustainable elements — such as solar panels and water-efficient appliances — inside and out. Located in the center of Thornbury near a mix of services and amenities, Clyde Mews includes eight dwellings clustered around a shared green space with an urban garden and a  reclaimed timber boardwalk. As a medium-density development, the project consists of six double-story, family-centric townhouses and two apartment units ranging in size from one to three bedrooms. In addition to the tight-knit community atmosphere, the design also stresses resident privacy through the careful consideration of layouts and window placements. Clyde Mews’ contemporary yet grounded appearance is achieved through a material palette consisting of recycled brickwork, black steel, stained glass, cyclone fences and sustainably harvested natural wood. All dwellings benefit from a 30,000-liter underground rainwater storage tank that collects and stores rooftop runoff for reuse in flushing toilets, filling washing machines and irrigating the communal garden. Each house is equipped with Canadian Solar photovoltaic solar panels as well as Fronius solar inverters. Related: Zaha Hadid unveils futuristic designs for “New Moscow” Inside, the Clyde Mews homes are outfitted with Aerotron ceiling fans, hydronic heaters and reverse-cycle air conditioners that work in tandem with passive design features to minimize energy use without compromising on comfort. Examples of passive heating and cooling include high thermal mass exposed concrete floors that absorb sunlight during the day and dissipate the heat at night; cross ventilation; an abundance of natural light through double-glazed windows; and a pitched roof design with operable roof vents to allow hot air to escape. Energy-efficient fixtures range from LED lightbulbs and high-star-rating V-ZUG or Miele appliances. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Alice Hutchison via Six Degrees Architects

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New library in Hanoi aims to show young children the benefits of aquaponics in an urban setting

January 14, 2019 by  
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While most libraries tend to be filled with nothing more than books, the new VAC library (an abbreviation of the Vietnamese words for Garden, Pond and Cage) in Hanoi is teeming with koi fish and greenery. Vietnamese firm Farming Architects has built the the new open-air library with an impressive aquaponic system to teach the kids about urban farming. Located in a Hanoi neighborhood, the VAC Library is an immense structure comprised of wooden frames with various cubicles filled with books. However, within the almost 600 square feet library is an integrated production system that was designed to teach kids about sustainable food production. Related: URBANANA is Vertical Banana Plantation That Would Bring Tropical Fruit Farming to Paris According to the architects, the library is designed to show children how energy from land, air, water and solar energy can be harvested in order to be completely self-sufficient even within an urban context, “The aim is not only to produce an effective use of natural resources but also favorite experimentation in using different types of plants and animals in the urban environment.” At the heart of its design, the VAC library relies on aquaponic systems to provide a sustainable model. The structure’s fish pond provide nutrients to the plants, which in return purify the water. Built with energy conservation in mind, the system runs on a few pumps powered by solar energy, which also provides the electricity for the lighting system as well. In addition to its impressive sustainable systems , the VAC library is a center of learning. Besides reading the many books on offer, local children enjoy learning about the way that the fish in the ponds are so vital to the vegetable planters and so on. There are also chickens on site whose eggs are used for meals and their waste used as fertilizer for the center’s gardens. + Farming Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Thai Thach and Viet Dung An via Farming Architects  

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Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape

January 11, 2019 by  
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Located adjacent to designated wetlands, the Tung House by Seoul-based firm Project Architecture  is a net-zero home that combines conscientious landscape design with energy efficiency. Along with a large photovoltaic array and solar water heater panels to provide power and heating, the home uses a number of passive features to achieve its  net-zero energy use . At 2,900 square feet, the Tung House is a fairly large structure but relatively small in comparison with other homes in the area. One of the reasons that the size was restrained is its location. The home is built in Lincoln, Massachusetts on a strictly preserved site adjacent to designated wetlands. The size limitations imposed by the local government presented a challenge to the architects, who met the restrictions head-on with a gorgeous angular design that aesthetically gives the home a unique character while simultaneously achieving net-zero energy use . Related: This net-zero home is inspired by Iceland’s volcanic landscapes At the heart of the design are the geometric features. The roof, which is comprised of various planes, was used to give the home ample space for the photovoltaic array and solar water heater panels . The rooftop solar panels provide sufficient power and heating to the house, and in the summer months, any additional energy is transferred back to the city’s local grid. In addition to making room for solar panels, the multiple roof planes provide several overhangs that shade the interior living space during the warmer months and help provide natural light and heat during the wintertime. Inside, the architects wanted to create an open layout that offered a seamless connection between the living space and the outdoors. From the front door to the upper level, multiple large windows offer views of the serene backyard. Naturally lit by sunlight , a loft-like living room and open kitchen are on the ground floor, which is connected to the upper floors through a mezzanine level. The interior design scheme of all-white provides a contemporary elegance throughout the home, enhanced by the various angular ceilings. + Project Architecture Via Archdaily Images via Project Architecture

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Net-zero home is designed to blend in with its natural, protected landscape

An adaptable timber house celebrates recycling in Ecuador

January 11, 2019 by  
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Ecuadorian architecture firm Natura Futura Arquitectura has teamed up with Frontera Sur Arquitectura to develop an inspiring example of social architecture in the town of Huaquillas, Ecuador. Dubbed La Comuna, the project is a double-story timber structure that not only provides a local family a place to live but also a safer work environment for them to continue their recycling business. The building was constructed with six easily replicable modules that take inspiration from the local vernacular with its “chazas”, or latticed screens. Commissioned by a foundation and private company, the architects were asked to create a live-work building that would also be held up as an inspirational landmark for the city, which suffers from a reputation of poor sanitation. To that end, the design studios created a two-story building with a community-facing ground floor that houses the recycling workspaces, while the upper level houses the private living spaces. The structural system is based on a 3-meter-by-4-meter module, with each floor made up of three modules. “’La Comuna’ becomes a milestone for the city, due to the transformation process it had, with a history of unhealthiness and contamination,” the team explained in a project statement. “The project communicates a discourse through its facade with a message, generating reflection between the private and the public through architecture and recycling. The wood is used by the tradition of the existing buildings in the area, the application of shafts or lattices contribute in the construction of the building.” Related: LOT-EK upcycles 140 shipping containers into an apartment complex in South Africa In contrast to the open workspace in the ground floor, the living quarters on the upper level are screened off for privacy. The operable timber latticed screens were also designed to spell out the word “RECICLA” (recycle) when closed. Inside, the home is engineered for flexibility with walls set on wheels and movable furniture that give the family freedom to reconfigure their living quarters as they please. + Natura Futura Arquitectura Via ArchDaily Images via Natura Futura Arquitectura

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7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths

January 11, 2019 by  
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When you decide to go green and adopt a sustainable lifestyle, you might think that some of the biggest steps you can take in the right direction are doing things like buying a hybrid car, dropping meat from your diet or using eco-friendly products. But over the years, we have been inundated with “green” messages that are easily taken for granted, and some of them are filled with misinformation. So to help you go green the right way, here is a list of seven of the biggest sustainable living myths that are easily busted. You need to buy a green car If you are considering buying a new vehicle, you would think that it makes sense for someone living a green lifestyle to opt for a small, efficient model with low CO2 emissions and killer gas mileage. The truth is, when a company makes a new car, it has to mine and process the necessary metals and assemble the components, and that takes a ton of energy. An expert at the Stockholm Environment Institute claimed that producing a modern car causes approximately 8 tons of CO2, which is the same as driving 23,000 miles. This means that the greener option might be to stick with your current car instead of buying a new one. To make your vehicle more fuel-efficient, get it regularly serviced, keep the tires properly inflated and consolidate your trips. A vegetarian diet is best for the planet Foods made from animal products usually have a higher carbon footprint than plant-based foods, so it’s easy to believe that switching to a vegetarian diet is good for the environment. However, if you are making up your calories by consuming dairy, you might be canceling out any gains you made by cutting out meat. Here’s why — some dairy products are more “carbon intensive” than meats. Things that take a lot of milk to produce — like hard cheese — can actually have a bigger carbon footprint per kilo than chicken. So if you really want your diet to reduce emissions, go vegan . A home should only have efficient appliances We are constantly told that we should buy energy-efficient appliances if we want to be environmentally friendly and keep our carbon footprint in check. What you may not know is that there are other ways you can lower your carbon footprint without dropping a ton of cash on new appliances. If you simply stop running your washer, dryer and dishwasher during the day — instead, turn them on before you go to bed — you can make a huge difference. The reason is that electricity consumption is at its highest in the daytime, and that means the dirtiest, least-efficient power stations are used to help meet demand. But at night, they can switch off those stations, and each unit of electricity has a lower carbon footprint. If buying energy-efficient appliances isn’t part of your budget, use your current ones at night to help spread the load on the electricity grid. Detergent is the most harmful part of the laundry cycle When it comes to doing laundry, choosing eco-friendly detergents that are rapidly biodegradable , have low toxicity and feature plant-based ingredients are definitely more favorable to the environment. But did you know that the biggest factor in your laundry footprint is the process of heating the water? This means that you can effectively cut your emissions by using low-temperature laundry cycles and using hot water sparingly when washing clothes. Incandescent bulbs are disappearing Over the past couple of decades, we have seen Light Emitting Diode ( LED ) and Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs revolutionize energy-efficient lighting. This led to the rumor that incandescent bulbs were going away and would disappear from the marketplace. This is simply not true. You don’t have to hoard incandescent bulbs, and you don’t have to buy the more expensive bulb options. Instead, manufacturers have been phasing out certain models and replacing them with more energy-efficient versions. The bulbs last longer, but the lighting stays the same. It’s impossible to avoid disposable plastic It’s no secret that single-use plastics are everywhere and a major contributor to climate change. It seems like everything we buy is packaged in single-use plastic, and then we tote all of those items home in plastic bags. But it’s not impossible to cut disposable plastic out of your life, you just have to plan ahead. Stock up on reusable bags, water bottles, coffee mugs, utensils and food containers, and before you leave your house, take what you need with you. Most restaurants are happy to fill up your reusable containers instead of using their packaging. When you hit the coffee shop or need to hydrate with water, you can use your reusable mugs and bottles instead of the single-use cups. Take your reusable bags with you to the grocery store, and stay on the lookout for items that aren’t packaged in plastic . You might not be able to cut plastics out completely, but you can make a big dent in your everyday use with a little bit of preparation. Green labels are always true Opting for eco-friendly products at the store might seem like an easy task. All you have to do is find something marked “eco-friendly,” “green,” “natural” or “biodegradable.” The truth is that those terms are not regulated and have no clearly defined standards. Just because a product has an eco-friendly label doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case. Images via Joenomias , Silviarita , Frank Habel , Pexels , Jasmine S.  and Shutterstock

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Solar-Powered smart home in LA can be remotely controlled with a phone

January 3, 2019 by  
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Los Angeles-based general contractor and real estate development firm LA Build Corp has recently completed a single-family custom home that combines luxury modern design with energy-saving smart home technologies. Located in West Hollywood’s Kilkea Drive, the contemporary dwelling is equipped with a full home automation system that allows the homeowners to control multiple aspects of the house—from the sound systems to the window shades—with a touch of a button on their smartphones. Set on a lot with a spacious backyard, the house on Kilkea Drive takes advantage of its large lot and southern California’s temperate weather with a design that emphasizes indoor/ outdoor living . The open-plan interior is coupled with operable walls of glass that not only flood the rooms with daylight but also provide unfettered views of the backyard that pull the outdoors in. The outdoor terrace appears as a seamless extension of the indoor living area and is a continuation of the home’s material palette and neutral color scheme. Natural materials including San Quentin black beach pebbles, Cedar, ipe, and Kebony Wood—sourced from Delta Millworks—are used inside and out for cohesion.   Building on the popularity of home automation, LA Build Corp installed a full home automation system that allows all parts of the home from the lighting and irrigation to the entertainment systems to be controlled remotely. The air conditioning system operates at 97% efficiency. Rooftop solar panels power the home and heating for the outdoor two-lane lap pool with a spa and a wading pool. Related: Geothermal-powered Halifax home uses automation for energy savings As mentioned in the project’s press release: “This home really epitomizes the Los Angeles lifestyle and celebrates the increase in popularity of home automation and efficiency. By incorporating details such as a living room fireplace with a glass back wall, large open windows, exterior landscaping in the interior, etc., LA Build Corp was able to take California’s year-round lifestyle and build a home that is suited for every season and current to today’s home building trends.” + LA Build Corp Images by Sky Photography LA

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Solar-Powered smart home in LA can be remotely controlled with a phone

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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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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