Futuristic eco-city powered with renewable energy is unveiled for the Maldives

December 7, 2018 by  
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Beijing and New York-based design studio CAA Architects has placed first in the “Maldives Airport, Economic Zone Development” competition with their design of a futuristic, energy-producing eco-city on the east coast of the reclaimed island Hulhumalé, Maldives . Named Ocean’s Heaven after its nature-inspired design connecting the ocean with the city, the project features striking, sinuous buildings covered in green roofs and solar panels and will be capable of producing almost all of its own energy on-site. Commissioned by the Beijing Urban Construction Group Co. in partnership with the Maldives central government, the eco-city is yet another example of China’s increasing influence over the archipelago country. Global warming and rising sea levels are serious concerns for the Maldives, a tropical paradise famed for its pristine beaches and aquamarine waters. In response to the climate change threats and to celebrate the island country’s natural beauty, CAA Architects crafted Ocean’s Heaven with organically inspired buildings integrated with energy-producing systems to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. The mixed-use development will cover nearly two-thirds of the 100,000-square-meter site and include residences, an airport company service center, international trade center, convention center, island transport hub, shopping centers, a business hotel, dining, along with a centralized cultural center that will serve as the island’s “nervous system”. Ocean’s Heaven will promote high-density urban living and public transportation that includes both surface and water commuting. Ample green space, including sky gardens, will strengthen the community’s ties with nature. Related: This stunning underwater art museum is now open in the Maldives In addition to the solar photovoltaic arrays mounted on the buildings and the sculptural canopy elements along the boardwalk, Ocean’s Heaven will also draw power from tidal waves to generate over 70 percent of the electricity needed to power the development. Rainwater harvesting and passive cross ventilation are also woven into the design. The project, which will be carried out in two phases, is slated for completion in 2021. + CAA Architects Via ArchDaily Images via CAA Architects

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Futuristic eco-city powered with renewable energy is unveiled for the Maldives

This off-grid home on a Greek island provides ‘cinematic frames’ of the sea

November 29, 2018 by  
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Located on a remote hillside on the Cyclades islands off the coast of Greece, the Parallel House pays homage to the beautiful sea that surrounds the island. But behind its stunning design lies a completely self-sustaining home. Designed by Athens-based En Route Architects , the contemporary, concrete residence runs entirely off the grid thanks to solar panels, a rainwater collection system and energy-efficient insulation. The 1,000-square-foot home uses traditional building methods to become completely  self-sustaining . Because of the sloped topography of the building site, the backside of the home is partially embedded into the landscape, providing resilient, natural insulation to the home. By submerging the back of the structure into the hill, the architects were able to open up the front facade to face the sea. The elongated volume is broken up into a series of large square sections that frame the views from different rooms. Related: An off-grid home in South Africa features a conservatory for fully enjoying nature Made out of exposed concrete , the home boasts an impressive list of passive features that help reduce its energy and water usage. The concrete walls and flooring provide a tight thermal insulation to reduce the demand for electricity and maintain a stable, controlled temperature inside the home year-round. A recessed corridor in the back of the home enables cross ventilation to keep it cool through the searingly hot summer months. For water conservation, the roof was installed with a rainwater collection system that drains gray water into submerged tanks to be re-used as filtered water. Adjacent to the off-grid home, solar panels hidden within the landscape generate sufficient energy to power the residence. + En Route Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Yiorgis Yerolymbos and Nicholas Kourkoulas via En Route Architects

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This off-grid home on a Greek island provides ‘cinematic frames’ of the sea

Gorgeous, low-maintenance home comprised of dual farmhouse-style buildings

November 22, 2018 by  
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When architect Tim Sharpe and his wife Rani Blancpai decided to build their own home, they knew they wanted a design that would be low-maintenance in terms of energy and upkeep for years to come. To create their ultra-durable and low-energy home, they combined two extended barn-like volumes, clad in both galvanized steel and Australian spotted gum wood, to create a modern farmhouse installed with various passive features . Located in Byron Bay, Australia, on a large lot surrounded by hoop pines, the two farmhouse-style buildings make up the main four-bedroom home and a “granny flat”. Both structures have large gabled roofs, covered in a bright galvanized steel, which will patine over time. The rest of the structures are clad in a Australian spotted gum wood that contrasts nicely with the steel roofs. Not only were these two materials chosen to give the home a modern farmhouse aesthetic, but they are also known for their low-maintenance qualities. Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas The main home is a massive 3,600-square-foot space with four bedrooms. With its large steep-pitched gable ceiling, the interior is spacious and inviting throughout. To make the most out of natural light and solar gains , the main living space and bedrooms in the home were oriented to the north and east, “This results in minimal need for summer cooling and winter heating, and assures a pleasant, light-filled, comfortable space,” says Sharpe. Indeed, the interior living space is bright and modern, flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of large windows and a few strategically-placed skylights. A simple, neutral color scheme and natural materials give the space a contemporary, yet homey and aesthetic. Sharp designed a lot of the furniture himself, including the dining table and chairs. To create a comfortable and cost-effective temperature control year round on the interior, hydronic heating and cooling systems, sustained by a 23 KW solar PV system , were installed underneath the polished concrete floors. There are also multiple fans to enhance natural ventilation throughout the home. + Sharpe Design Construct Via Dwell Photography via Andy Macpherson via Sharp Design Construct  

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Gorgeous, low-maintenance home comprised of dual farmhouse-style buildings

A modern, solar-powered home breathes new life into the Dutch countryside

November 20, 2018 by  
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In the Twente countryside of Rijssen, the Netherlands, Dutch practice Reitsema & partners architects and landscape architecture firm Eelerwoude recently completed a new solar-powered dwelling that — despite its contemporary design — looks surprisingly at home with its bucolic surroundings. Taking inspiration from the rural vernacular, the designers styled the three-building project after farmhouse architecture with a modern twist. Dubbed Erve BE and powered by solar energy, the energy-efficient abode consists of a main building and two annexes, all with simple gabled forms and strong sight lines to the landscape. The long and slender volumes of the Erve BE country estate were created in reference to the traditional Twente barns distinguished by their low roof gutters; the new construction is also marked by an absence of gutters to create minimalist eaves. The architects gave the barn architecture more contemporary flair with modern roof trusses and walls of glass as well as with striking patinated zinc roofs over 200 feet in length. The cladding, window frames and roof trusses were built from pre-grayed wood to blend the structures in with the environment. In addition to the abundance of glass and slender floor plan, the main residence and both annexes are set up along two axes that reinforce sight lines toward the Regge River Valley and allow for views straight through the house. Related: A historic farmhouse is transformed into a modern home with a green roof “The buildings are characterized by their slender floor plans and calmly designed roof surfaces, which appear almost as natural parts of the landscape,” the architects explained. “The house is characterized by a strong relationship between the interior and exterior. A long hallway runs along the front, linking the various functions. Large windows frame the landscape. The facilities are grouped near the entrance, and the living room and kitchen are separated by a veranda , which provides access to a patio that extends into the meadow.” Sustainability was also a guiding principle in the design. To keep energy use to a minimum, the home was built with timber-frame construction with a high insulation value. A hidden solar photovoltaic system also helps offset the electricity footprint. + Reitsema & partners architects Photography by Ronald Tilleman via Reitsema & partners architects

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A modern, solar-powered home breathes new life into the Dutch countryside

A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

November 8, 2018 by  
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A dark and gloomy, non-insulated dwelling with zero views to speak of has been dramatically transformed into a bright and sustainable home thanks to the work of local architecture studio Urban Creative . Flanked by 6-meter-tall walls and set on a long and narrow lot in inner Melbourne , 2 Halves Make a Home is a three-bedroom family residence that comprises two structures centered on a light-filled courtyard that allows daylight to penetrate deep into the living areas. Bricks sourced from the original decrepit structure were recycled for the construction of the new home, which features repurposed and sustainable materials throughout, from low-VOC finishes to a solar photovoltaic system and green wall. Faced with a site only 5.5 meters in width, the architects knew that access to the outdoors and light were crucial to making the family residence feel comfortably spacious. To that end, a courtyard was inserted along with walls of operable double-pane glass that blur the line between indoors and out. In addition to allowing natural light to enter the home, the courtyard also promotes passive cross ventilation while the full-height glazing and adjacent masonry party walls help capture early morning solar gain for passive heating in winter. “The original brick party wall has been uncovered and cleaned back to expose its rich warmth throughout the main axis of the dwelling,” the architects explained. “Not only does this avoid the use of new materials to construct this facade, but both dwellings on either side of the party wall serve to insulate each other.” Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne Aside from the renovated brick wall and reclaimed brick used for the ground-floor facade, other recycled materials were used wherever possible. Reclaimed timber was used from the stairs and floorboards to the repurposed internal solid timber doors and timber shelves in the living room. Instead of replacing the ground floor structural slab, the architects polished the concrete and added a hydronic heating system. Low-VOC materials and finishes, like Tadelakt — a Moroccan rendering technique based on lime plaster and olive oil soap — promote a healthy indoor living environment. The house is also equipped with a solar array and a rainwater harvesting system. + Urban Creative Photography by Jessie May via Urban Creative

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A gloomy house is revived as a modern solar home built of recycled materials

Dutch couple to drive a solar-powered, 3D-printed vehicle to the South Pole

October 30, 2018 by  
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In a bid to promote zero-waste lifestyles, Edwin and Liesbeth ter Velde of Clean2Antarctica will soon embark on a thrilling adventure to one of the coldest places on Earth — Antarctica. The Dutch couple will drive from their base camp on the southernmost continent to the South Pole in a solar-powered vehicle — called the Solar Voyager — built from upcycled, 3D-printed plastic components. The expedition is expected to take 30 days and will kick off in less than a month on Nov. 28, 2018. Weighing in at 1,485 kilograms with a length of 16 meters, the Solar Voyager was mainly built from specially engineered,  3D-printed hexagonal blocks, called HexCores, made from industrially recycled PET filament that lock together into a honeycomb-like structure. Forty 3D printers were used to transform approximately 200 kilograms of plastic into the chassis of the Solar Voyager, which is held together with 3D-printed knobs that can withstand below freezing temperatures. The vehicle consists of a cab large enough for two people and two trailers on eight netted tires. Mounted on the trailers are 10 bifacial solar panels with 325-Watt peak for powering the Solar Voyager’s engine. Each panel measures nearly 19 square feet and weighs about 25 kilograms. In case of emergencies, the vehicle will be equipped with two 60-kilogram batteries with a total power of 10 kWh. The couple has also included infrared windows for absorbing sunlight and vacuum solar tubes that melt snow. Related: The world’s largest wildlife sanctuary proposed for Antarctica “If driving to the South Pole on solar power was our ultimate goal, we would still be proud of our mission because no one has ever done it before and the technology we developed can become a prototype for Antarctic research drones,” the couple said. “However, it’s not about technology but about starting experiments and discovering what’s possible with waste. To reach a circular society, we need to start doing things differently. Our expedition is an example how far you can get when you simply start doing things differently instead of talking about abstract solutions.” The expedition is expected to begin November 28 starting from Union Glacier, Antarctica. The Solar Voyager will be followed by a support group of three people for filming purposes. + Clean2Antarctica Images via Clean2Antarctica

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Dutch couple to drive a solar-powered, 3D-printed vehicle to the South Pole

An off-grid home in South Africa features a conservatory for fully enjoying nature

October 26, 2018 by  
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South African architect  Nadine Engelbrecht has unveiled a stunning family home in her hometown of Pretoria. The design was a result of working directly with the homeowners, who wanted a peaceful off-grid retreat where they could escape their hectic urban lifestyle. Connecting design with the gorgeous surroundings, the house’s best feature is a massive conservatory that brings in a wealth of natural light and acts as a passive heating and cooling feature for the solar-powered home. At 6,400 square feet, the Conservatory is a sprawling family home located on a 35-hectare farm outside of Pretoria. Cement washed bricks were used for the main volume of the house, which is attached to the large glass conservatory framed in black steel. The volume of the home was created to meet the needs of the homeowners, who requested a very spacious, one-story living area for two. This space is contained in the conservatory and adjacent living space. The rest of the structure houses guest suites that can be effortlessly separated from or integrated with the main home. Related: Glass elements dramatically open up a solar-powered Sydney home Besides the homeowner’s layout requirements, the surrounding environment drove the project’s design. The home was built into the sloped landscape, which is covered in natural grass. The lower portion of the home is partially submerged into the hill, allowing veld grasses to cover a portion of the roof  for a seamless connection to nature. This connection with the landscape continues through the interior thanks to the huge conservatory built into the core of the brick home. The glass structure, which is topped with translucent roof sheeting, provides spectacular views and also allows for passive temperature control . In the colder months, the glass panels allow solar penetration to warm the space. The area beyond the conservatory was built with glass partitions, which can be opened to allow warm air to flow throughout. In the warm summer months, the automated glass facade opens up completely to allow natural cross ventilation to flow. In addition to the passive temperature control features, the stunning home was built to operate off the grid. Solar panels on the roof generate clean energy, and the water installations are designed to conserve water and reuse any gray water. + Nadine Engelbrecht Via Archdaily Photography by Marsel Roothman via Nadine Engelbrecht

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An off-grid home in South Africa features a conservatory for fully enjoying nature

California waters could open soon to offshore wind farms

October 24, 2018 by  
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With 3,427 miles of coastline , one would think establishing wind farms in California would be a cinch. As it turns out, the depth of the waters has kept the idea of offshore wind in this area at bay. Energy companies have been eagerly awaiting the curtain fall from government regulators that was finally announced on Friday by the U.S. Department of the Interior. While turbine installation will prove to be a challenge because of unique terrain demands, offshore wind turbines could help California’s plans to reach 100 percent green energy by 2045. If all goes as planned, the wind farms could be operating within the next six years. “We are early in the process here,” explained California Energy Commission member Karen Douglas. “Offshore wind has potential to help with our renewable energy goals.” California’s first ever offshore wind auction, allowing energy companies to lease waters in certain areas of the Pacific Ocean, was announced alongside two other wind farm initiatives already underway in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. So what’s slowing down California’s state officials and utility companies? “They would be in much deeper water than anything that has been built in the world so far,” Douglas said. Because the ocean’s depths are substantial — even close to shore — California’s coastline is not ideal for offshore wind farms . Related: World’s most powerful wind turbine installed off the coast of Scotland Regardless, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management ( BOEM ) followed up on the announcement with a “call for information and nominations” from energy companies looking to develop the offshore technology. Submissions will be accepted over a 100-day period that will close on Jan. 27, 2019. The state’s new wind farms will be concentrated within proposed areas off of Central and Northern California. In total, the 658 full and partial blocks on the Outer Continental Shelf that are offered for commercial wind energy leasing cover an area of 1,073 square miles (687,823 acres). The announcement is good news for Gov. Jerry Brown and his office of environmental reformers. In September, the governor signed a bill that mandated California’s energy reliance be supplied solely through renewable sources by 2045. The addition of offshore wind turbines could propel this shift to happen much faster than expected, as the state is now able to look beyond land-based wind farms and solar panels to meet demand. Via The New York Times , NOAA and BOEM Image via Lars Plougmann

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California waters could open soon to offshore wind farms

Elementary teacher installs a dreamy tiny cabin on his pickup truck

October 24, 2018 by  
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Cabin builder and second-grade teacher  Jacob Witzling has spent much of his 35 years either living in or building fairytale-like tiny cabins made out of reclaimed wood . But now the ambitious builder is taking his creative cabin-making craft on the road in the form of an itsy-bitsy cabin installed on the bed of a pickup truck. Today, Witzling and his partner, Sara Underwood, are roaming from one amazing destination to another in their amazing Truck Cabin. Since he was young, Witzling has always been inspired by fairytales, forts and ewoks. In fact, as a teenager, he moved out of his parents’ house into an old cabin in the woods. He would go home to eat and wash his clothes, but he would always head back to his tiny cabin tucked deep into the wooded forest. It’s this love of nature that continues to drive his passion for constructing dreamy woodland dwellings. Related: These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials After years of building enchanting, off-grid cabins in remote forestscapes, the crafty duo decided to take their love of tiny living on the road. This Truck Cabin is a tiny structure built onto the bed of Witzling’s pickup truck. Clad in reclaimed wood, the home on wheels has just enough space for the couple to relax when they are not busy exploring new and exciting destinations. The cabin features an elongated volume with an asymmetrical roof. The front cantilevers over the cab of the truck, adding extra space for a tiny sleeping loft inside. Below the loft, the living space is comprised of a bench with comfy pillows and a compact but functional kitchen. Various windows, also made out of salvaged wood, flood the interior space with natural light and provide natural ventilation. The Truck Cabin is surely one of the most innovative tiny cabins we’ve ever seen, but the traveling couple have even bigger plans. Jacob and Sara are planning to open a “cabin land” in the Pacific Northwest where they will build a series of tiny cabins with views of the mountains. Guests to the cabin community will be able to rent out the cabins individually or for large group events. + Jacob Witzling Via Dwell Photography by Sara Underwood and Jacob Witzling

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Elementary teacher installs a dreamy tiny cabin on his pickup truck

Clean energy-producing Light Up wins the 2018 LAGI competition in Melbourne

October 18, 2018 by  
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New York-based NH Architecture and Seattle architectural practice Olson Kundig placed first and second respectively in the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition in Melbourne, Australia. Sponsored by the State of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Action Plan with clean energy targets of 25 percent by 2020, the international competition sought large-scale works of public art that generate renewable energy in visible ways for St. Kilda Triangle in the City of Port Phillip. NH Architecture’s winning proposal, named ‘Light Up,’ harnesses solar, wind and microbial fuel cell technologies to produce 2,200 MWh of energy annually — enough to power nearly 500 homes. NH Architecture’s winning Light Up proposal consists of a lightweight tensile shade structure topped with 8,600 efficient, flexible solar photovoltaic panels envisioned over Jacka Boulevard. Designed with the aim of “maximizing the public realm” without compromising views, the design makes use of tested components available on the market. The clean energy power plant was also designed to harness wind energy and uses microbial fuel cells to tap into energy from plant roots. Olson Kundig’s second-place submission ‘Night & Day’ also taps into the power of solar with 5,400 square meters of solar panels. The solar system is combined with two Pelton turbines and a hydro battery to operate 24 hours a day and produce 1,000 MWh annually. As an ideas competition, LAGI 2018 has no plans of realizing the winning submissions. The Light Up team will receive $16,000 in prize money while the runners-up will receive $5,000. Related: Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy “LAGI 2018 is a window into a world that has moved beyond fossil fuels — a world that celebrates living in harmony with nature by creating engaging public places that integrate renewable energy and energy storage artfully within the urban landscape,” said LAGI co-founders Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry. “Light Up and Night & Day are power plants where you can take your family for a picnic. They both show how beauty and clean energy can come together to create the sustainable and resilient infrastructure of the future city. These artworks are cultural landmarks for the great energy transition that will be visited by generations in the future to remember this important time in human history.” + LAGI Images via LAGI

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Clean energy-producing Light Up wins the 2018 LAGI competition in Melbourne

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