Photovoltaic glass clads a sustainably minded residential tower in Melbourne

August 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Melbourne-based architecture firm C. Kairouz Architects recently completed The General, an eight-story building that’s said to be Australia’s first-ever large-scale residential structure to use photovoltaic glass on its facade. Located in the inner-suburb of Northcote in Melbourne , the building comprises 87 apartments as well as mixed-use commercial space on the first two floors. Thanks to photovoltaic glazing as well as a slew of other energy-efficient systems and resource-saving measures, The General has achieved a 7-star energy rating. Set on a prominent corner lot on Northcote’s bustling High Street, The General takes it name from the nickname of Kairouz’s father, who had formerly owned a butcher business on the project site. The General also references Kairouz’s father in the patterned glass that makes up the curved secondary facade, which features a subtle image of a Victorian general on a horse. This facade is juxtaposed with the continuous bands of Onyx Solar photovoltaic glass that run along the northern facade as well as the horizontal balustrades and glazing on the east facade. All windows are double-glazed and let an abundance of natural light into the apartments. “Technically speaking, it displays a solar factor of 10%, making it an ideal candidate to achieve control over the interior temperature,” says C. Kairouz Architects in its project statement. “The product has been proven to yield low-emissivity properties, provide a UV and IR filter, promote natural light , and generate power. Statistically translated, this allows The General to generate 2,075 kWh per year and prevents the release of 1.95 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. This energy may be used for light, power and mechanical equipment in common areas.” Related: Steven Holl unveils office clad in colorful photovoltaic glass for Doctors Without Borders In addition to the building’s solar solutions, the architects also emphasized green-centric transit options. The General is located a short walk from a major tram station and from the Northcote shopping complex; 137 bicycle parking spaces were installed in the building’s basement parking garage. The basement also includes a 25,000-liter rainwater tank that collects rainwater runoff , which is then recycled to flush 50 toilets within the building. + C. Kairouz Architects Images by Peter Clarke

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Photovoltaic glass clads a sustainably minded residential tower in Melbourne

This riverfront pier is revitalized after Cyclone Maria ravaged Rockhampton

August 10, 2018 by  
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When Cyclone Maria hit Rockhampton,  Queensland in 2015, the whole community quickly joined forces to repair and rebuild local homes and businesses. Now, one of the most prized assets of the community, the Rockhampton Riverside Precinct, is getting a major makeover — led by Woods Bagot — that everyone can enjoy. The massive riverfront pier site suffered from neglect even before the cyclone hit, but its potential was steadfast. Architectural firm Woods Bagot is at the forefront of the renovation of the pier and adjacent structures and is intent to restore the two-story landmark back to the community hub it once was. Not only will the pier be overhauled and upgraded, the site will be designed to offer something for everyone, from kids to adults. The plans include interactive water attractions, galleries of local artwork, lush terraced landscaping, a playground and plenty of open space for mulling around or just taking in the picturesque surroundings. Local businesses, including a new restaurant celebrating the region’s fresh produce and seafood, will round out the attractions at the Rockhampton Riverside Precinct. Related: Australia’s cyclone-resistant home The rich auburn exterior of Corten steel will include embellishments of silver, gold and copper, homage to the region’s history of ore mining. Green aspects of the project include solar roof tiles that produce electricity for the project’s power grid, plenty of charging stations for electric cars  and sites for bicycle maintenance and minor repairs to encourage green transportation . Instead of energy-hungry cooling systems, the complex largely depends on keeping the atmosphere comfortable with huge roof overhangs and fresh breezes off the water wafting through the open hallways and deck. Images of ancient ship masts come to mind as the winds whip through the structure, impatiently changing direction as nature dictates. “Rockhampton Riverside Precinct has become a destination for everyone to visit, occupy and enjoy,” said Mark Damant, principal of Woods Bagot. “The vision of restoring the energy from the gold period has been realized along with the aim to provide the people of Rockhampton with a world-class civic and recreational space.” + Woods Bagot Images via Florian Groehn

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This riverfront pier is revitalized after Cyclone Maria ravaged Rockhampton

Solar-powered home takes advantage of Silicon Valleys mild climate

August 9, 2018 by  
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San Francisco-based architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson recently completed the Los Altos Residence, a modernist family home for a couple who strives to be environmentally conscious. Located in Los Altos in northern Silicon Valley , the home and adjacent guesthouse boasts an energy-efficient design that follows passive cooling principles and is equipped with renewable energy systems. The low-slung residence mimics the Northern California ranch-style home with a distinctly modernist slant marked with clean lines and a restrained material palette. The Los Altos Residence comprises two buildings: a main residence of 4,151 square feet and an additional 479-square-foot guesthouse. The existing landscape played a large part in the design of the site-specific home, which is organized around a mature Japanese maple tree. The windows and doors were strategically placed to frame views of the diverse landscaping surrounding the home and to take advantage of cooling cross breezes. “The home is detailed with a natural, crisp palette, reflecting the client’s fondness for simplicity and tranquility,” explains Bohlin Cywinski Jackson in its project statement. “A variety of woods, including Douglas fir , western red cedar, and gray elm, are used throughout and provide a sense of warmth directly contrasted by exposed structural steel, polished concrete floors, and a textured concrete fireplace. A locally sourced Claro walnut table, measuring 10-feet in length, creates a comfortable dining space, its live edge balancing the clean lines of the living room. Additional furnishings reinforce the client’s desire for a minimalist environment.” Related: This modern vacation home embraces indoor-outdoor living in Ontario In addition to passive cooling and use of the stack effect in the double-height living space, the energy-conscious Los Altos Residence is also equipped with photovoltaic and domestic hot-water rooftop panels to offset electricity consumption. Energy is further conserved with a highly insulated building envelope and large overhangs that block unwanted solar gain. Concrete radiant floors also provide added warmth in the winter season. + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Images by Nic Lehoux

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Solar-powered home takes advantage of Silicon Valleys mild climate

Embrace sustainable travel in this solar-powered A-frame cabin

August 6, 2018 by  
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A beautiful A-frame cabin has popped up on the remote Finnish island of Vallisaari to serve as an “ecological alternative to cabin life.” Imagined by Finland-based designer Robin Falck , Nolla is a beautiful cabin retreat that was built using sustainable materials and designed to leave minimal impact on the environment. Nolla (which means “zero” in Finnish) is located on the island of Vallisaari, just a 20-minute ferry ride from Helsinki. Carefully constructed for zero emissions, this  A-frame cabin stands just 13 feet tall, lifted off the landscape by multiple supports so that it leaves little-to-no impact on the pristine landscape. The minimalist design was inspired by the need to provide an off-grid retreat that lets guests truly connect with nature. An all-glass wall floods the interior with natural light and provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The interior of the cabin is modern with furnishings from the Stockmann Sustainable Collection, which specializes in eco-friendly products. Related: These tiny steel cabins in Joshua Tree epitomize off-grid design The cabin’s energy needs are met by solar power. Guests can cook on a Wallas stove, which runs entirely on Neste MY Renewable Diesel that is made entirely from waste and residue. Guests can rest assured that their voyage to the cabin is also sustainable, because the ferry that travels to the island runs on the same eco-friendly diesel, which reportedly reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent. “With the Nolla cabin, we want to offer visitors the possibility to experience modern cabin life in the realm of nature, with minimal emissions, Falck explained. “An ecological lifestyle does not only require giving up unsustainable commodities, but also discovering modern, sustainable solutions that can be used instead. This has been an essential part of the design process.” Nolla, which will be on the island until the end of September, is part of Neste’s Journey to Zero project. Neste has collaborated with notable eco-concious companies to design and promote the cabin’s eco-message. The first guests to visit the eco-retreat will be hosted by Finnish zero waste influencer Otso Sillanaukee, a specialist on sustainable everyday living . “Finns are known for spending time at their beloved summer houses. We wanted to explore sustainable solutions that could enable cabin life with minimal emissions,” said Sirpa Tuomi, marketing director at Neste. “Shared and circular economy, as well as new technologies and innovations, have made it possible to enjoy our cabins without harming or burdening the environment . Some of the solutions that have been used at the Nolla cabin are perfectly adaptable at any cabin.” + Robin Falck + Neste Images via Neste

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Embrace sustainable travel in this solar-powered A-frame cabin

Prefab open-air theater pops up with speed in a London park

August 6, 2018 by  
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Completed in just seven months, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater in central London is yet another example of how prefabrication can be a fantastic solution for site-sensitive projects strapped for time. Local architecture firm Reed Watts Architects designed the theater using a lightweight cross-laminated timber (CLT) panel system. Set amidst protected Royal Parks trees, the cultural institution houses new rehearsal studios and a catering kitchen, marking the first time in the theater’s 86-year history that its operations have been brought together onto one site. Spanning an area of over 5,000 square feet on the far corner of the site, the Regent’s Park Open Air Theater is designed to host over 1,200 people every night during the summer season. The architects installed the building during the winter season, when the Theater was closed, atop relatively small foundations to minimize site impact. The building exterior is clad in dark-stained larch at its base with more textured cladding higher up; the overall effect helps the structure recede into the landscape and makes it look like a natural extension of the existing Theater buildings. “Reed Watts have succeeded in delivering a significant new rehearsal facility for the theatre, as well as a state of the art kitchen to support the commercial catering arm of our business,” said William Village, Executive Director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theater. “Efficiently utilising every inch of the available footprint, the sense of scale when entering the building is impressive, and yet the design is sympathetic to the magical ambience of the Open Air Theatre. Realised with an acute understanding of the natural environment and the importance of our location in the heart of Regent’s Park, one might be forgiven for assuming that these new buildings have always been a feature of the theatre’s infrastructure.” Related: A prefab chapel’s sculptural form amplifies the landscape in Uruguay Most of the programs are located on the first floor; however, a floor above provides extra room for rehearsal spaces and a green room. The new studio is double-height to provide added flexibility for dancers, actors and acrobats. The space is illuminated by roof lights and tall windows, heated with underfloor heating and mechanically ventilated (and cooled) from upper-level ductwork. + Reed Watts Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Simone Kennedy and David Jensen

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Prefab open-air theater pops up with speed in a London park

Egypt set to open its first solar farm – and it’s the largest in the world

August 2, 2018 by  
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Egypt has long relied on environmentally taxing fossil fuels. Over 90% of electricity is generated from oil and natural gas, and the country subsidizes fossil fuels , making them a cheap option for its 96 million citizens. However, Egypt’s government plans to change courses and put itself on the clean energy map with the inauguration of the world’s largest solar park. Dubbed the  Benban complex , it is under construction in Egypt’s Western Desert and set to open next year. Located 400 miles south of Cairo, the $2.8-billion project will single-handedly revolutionize energy supply for the nation, and none too soon. The World Health Organization recently named Cairo the second most polluted large city on the planet. The Egyptian government, in response, aims to nearly halve its natural gas consumption and provide at least 42% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by the year 2025. Investment in Egypt’s  clean energy  market has increased by 500% since the announcement. Related: The largest solar farm apiary in the US opens this week The country’s prospects look good, says Benjamin Attia, solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie , an energy research and consultancy firm based in the United States. “I can’t think of another example where so many big players have come together to fill the gap,” he stated, referring to the role of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in supporting the Benban complex. The IMF has backed a reform program that aims to rescue the country’s economy, and scaling back fossil fuels is one part of it. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has unequivocally encouraged the country’s environmental push, inaugurating other big electricity projects, including the creation of wind power farms in the Red Sea’s Gulf of Suez. Several nations have aided with the initiative, including the United States, which is helping to train hundreds of employees in wind and solar energy at local technical schools in Egypt. The Benban complex’s 30 solar plants will be operated by 4,000 workers and generate as much as 1.8 gigawatts of electricity, which will in turn provide energy to hundreds of thousands of residences and business operations. + Benban Complex + WHO Via The LA Times

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Egypt set to open its first solar farm – and it’s the largest in the world

UK bag tariff halves plastic bag marine litter, reduces sales of plastic bags by 86%

August 2, 2018 by  
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Following a 5p charge per bag, the sale of plastic bags in the U.K. has fallen by 86 percent, according to reports from the “big seven” supermarkets in the country. Scientists at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) have also found that approximately 50 percent of plastic bag marine litter has been eliminated from the Earth’s waters since the tax was put into effect. Statistics on individual consumption show a decline from 140 bags per person to 19 as a result of the bag fees — a total elimination of 300 million bags. The 5p (roughly 0.07 USD) tariff introduced in 2015 seems to be working in the favor of marine ecosystems, which receive nearly all of the plastic waste after human handling. “Every plastic bag not purchased is one which will not end up in our sea, damaging habitats or harming marine life,” said Thomas Maes, a marine litter scientist who has been working on the 25-year study at CEFAS . Government scientist-contributed data has estimated that in the next 10 years, nearly one million birds and more than 100,000 marine mammals  will die each year as a result of consuming or getting caught in plastic litter. Realted: Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution “Since efforts from across Europe came into effect, including the U.K.’s 5p charge, we have observed a sharp decline in the percentage of plastic bags captured by fishing nets on our trawl surveys of the seafloor around the U.K. as compared to 2010,” Maes said. While the reduction in plastic bags found in the ocean was significant, the CEFAS study revealed that the dumping was only replaced by other plastic items and fishing debris, maintaining the amount of litter at an equilibrium, at least for now. Government projections report that levels in marine plastics will triple in the next 10 years, making efforts on every level that much more important. +CEFAS Via SkyNews ,  Sky Ocean Rescue  and  Mirpuri Foundation

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UK bag tariff halves plastic bag marine litter, reduces sales of plastic bags by 86%

After a makeover, this local shack becomes the envy of the neighborhood

July 30, 2018 by  
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Nearly everyone has strolled through a darling neighborhood and suddenly come across an orphan house. Sitting silently, often in the shadows of the prettier houses, there’s a neglected home that once had dignity. A family of four discovered such a home in an Iowa City neighborhood, and with some TLC and help from Neumann Monson Architects , they transformed it into a star of the community. Seeking a tranquil neighborhood near the University of Iowa campus, the family found the unpolished jewel, built in the ’60s, on a quiet street lined with lovely modest homes. It was a smaller, 1,300-square-foot home, and years of high-turnover renters had left their mark, earning the abode the local moniker of “ The Shack .” Related: O2 Studio renovated an old Netherlands home into a gorgeous energy-neutral villa Determined to change that image, the family embarked on a mission of a cosmetic makeover that would also embrace the home’s carbon-neutral potential. After commissioning Neumann Monson Architects for the project, the family wanted to create a guest room and recreation room in the formerly unfinished 500-square-foot basement. Then, the team expanded the ground floor from 1,300 square feet to 2,500 square feet with a slab-on-grade modification. All these upgrades used standard post and beam construction coupled with steel wood framing and steel columns. To sustain the eco-friendly theme, the home’s walls and ceilings were lined with insulated sheathing and foamed-in-insulation, creating R-24 walls and an R-40 roof. Upgraded windows take full advantage of natural light without sacrificing the mid-century spirit. A new tongue-and-groove bleached cedar ventilated rain screen beautified the home’s exterior. Energy-saving renovations also included new super-efficient climate control systems, such as LED lighting , EnergyStar appliances and a closed-loop, horizontally-bored geothermal system with fresh air energy recovery. An 8.4kW photovoltaic array powers the LED lighting, mechanical systems and energy-efficient appliances. The family enjoys the credit they receive from the utility company for their home’s surplus energy, but they love the homey ambiance of the neighborhood even more. A nearby property is undergoing a similar overhaul, so their success appears to be contagious. + Neumann Monson Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Integrated Studio

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After a makeover, this local shack becomes the envy of the neighborhood

This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne

July 17, 2018 by  
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What if renewable energy infrastructure could be both functional and beautiful? Exploring that notion is Italian architectural practice Antonio Maccà, who designed ‘Sun Ray,’ a massive solar collector that could generate enough energy to power 220 Melbourne homes — with approximately 1,100 MWh of electricity produced annually. Shortlisted for this year’s Land Art Generator Initiative Melbourne design competition, the conceptual design was conceived as a symbol for the future of sustainable energy that also doubles as public artwork. Envisioned for the City of Port Phillip in Melbourne , Sun Ray consists of a series of flat mirrors — each with a single-axis tracking system — laid out in a round shape with a diameter of 279 feet and elevated atop slender steel columns. To capture the sun’s energy, Antonio Maccà tapped into linear Fresnel reflector technology, in which mirrors are used to focus sunlight onto a solar receiver. A power block tucked underground transforms the solar energy into electricity before feeding it into the city power grid. “Sun Ray is a new symbol of renewable energy, lighting the way to the State of Victoria’s zero- greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target,” explained Antonio Maccà in his project statement. “It is also a cultural attractor for Melbourne, an investigation of light as a physical and symbolic source of illumination for life. It is a place for reflection, relaxation, learning and play — and it is a linear Fresnel reflector solar power plant that provides heat and electricity for hundreds of homes in St Kilda.” Related: This gigantic solar hourglass could power 1,000 Danish homes Residents and visitors can interact with the Sun Ray by using it as a shade canopy. The 50 primary mirror lines cast shade over the public park space, while the mirrors create a constantly changing play of light and shadow as they turn to track the sun. The winning design of the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative Melbourne will be announced on October 11. + Land Art Generator Initiative Renderings by Antonio Maccà

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This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne

Glass elements dramatically open up a solar-powered Sydney home

July 16, 2018 by  
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In Sydney’s affluent suburb of Kirribilli, a contemporary solar-powered home stands out from its Victorian manor neighbors. Local design practice Bijl Architecture reworked an existing semi-detached home into the Doorzien House, a two-story home that takes full advantage of its sweeping Sydney harbor views. In addition to floor-to-ceiling glazing installed in the rear of the house, glass elements are used throughout the home — in the form of skylights, flooring, highlight panels and balustrades — to fill the interior with light. The clients tapped Bijl Architecture to design a home that pursued a modern typology. To satisfy the project brief and comply with local heritage expectations, the architects restored and preserved the home’s traditional street-facing facade while inserting a contemporary zinc -clad addition to the rear side of the house that draws inspiration from the neighborhood’s naval and industrial history. The back of the property is opened up to the outdoors and overlooks views of Careening Cove, Neutral Harbor and Kurraba Point. “To embrace our clients’ desired openness and connectivity between the floor levels and surrounding context, we dismantled the existing plan,” the architects explained. “The broad Sydney Harbor view and neighboring vistas are exploited by the hybridized living spaces, while each room retains its individual focus and remains intimate and warm through the material palette and layered lighting. We oriented living spaces to the rear; multiple interior viewlines serve as a counterpoint to the expansive harbor views. This approach continues to the rear garden, with bleacher-style steps moderating the level change, extending the study and sitting room interiors to form a third living space.” Related: This self-sustaining Australian home harvests its own food, energy, and water A 3.5kW system of Nu-Lok solar roof tiles was the first approved installation for a NSW conservation area. The solar system and Redback Technologies’ Gen II inverter and battery are part of the clients’ plan to eventually move their home off-grid . + Bijl Architecture Images by Katherine Lu

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Glass elements dramatically open up a solar-powered Sydney home

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