Luxury private-island resort in the Maldives aims for minimal site impact

November 2, 2017 by  
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A new paradise destination has surfaced on the waters of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Maldives . Singapore-based WOW Architects recently completed the St. Regis Maldives, a luxury hotel that extends out of a private island. In hopes of minimizing the resort’s impact on the landscape, WOW architects implemented prefabricated timber systems and uses local labor and materials whenever possible. Covering 16,000 square meters across land and water, the St. Regis Maldives comprises 77 villas divided into four experiential zones—lagoon, beach, coastal, and jungle—each defined by different anchoring activities connected via a meandering art trail. The hut-like building forms and spaces take inspiration from nature, with maximum use of cross-laminated wood and minimal use of concrete and steel. Landscaping focuses on conservation of existing island flora and fauna, as well as replacement of displaced plant material with native species. Related: World’s largest underwater restaurant installed in the Maldives “The local people live in a delicate balancing act with nature, and are totally dependent on trade, technology, and tourism to sustain themselves,” wrote the architects. “Thus, when we were given an opportunity to design a Maldivian resort hotel, we chose to delight the senses through education, creating awareness, and new paradigms of interacting with the physical environment. Here, paradise is emotionally and intellectually experienced and enjoyed, but with a profound awareness of the complex relationships of the eco systems being inhabited.” + WOW Architects Images 2018 copyright WOW Architects | Warner Wong Design

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Luxury private-island resort in the Maldives aims for minimal site impact

Leading Stanford climate scientist builds incredible net zero home, complete with Tesla Powerwall

October 30, 2017 by  
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A leading climate scientist — who has dedicated his career to proving the feasibility of transitioning the world off fossil fuels — walks the walk with his personal home. Professor of civil & environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, Mark Z. Jacobson has built an incredible Net Zero home using energy-efficient features that enable the house to generate all of its own energy from renewable sources . Jacobson is one of the founders of The Solutions Project , an initiative backed by scientific research that aims to show how every state in the USA can transition to 100 percent renewable energy . Using the organization’s ethos and his own research as a guide, Jacobson worked with luxury custom homebuilders, BONE Structure to design and build his ultra-efficient home . Related: This new energy concept from Sweden can make any building net zero Located in Stanford, California, the structure is the epitome of future efficient home design that doesn’t sacrifice on style or comfort. The project’s planning began by creating an ultra-low energy thermal shell that would insulate the home and reduce energy requirements. Next, to generate and conserve energy, the home was equipped with solar panels along with a couple of Tesla Powerwall battery packs for storage. This system meets all of the home’s energy needs, including heating, cooling, plug loads and even transportation charging. Jacobson moved into his Net Zero home last summer and has been monitoring its performance ever since. Not only does his energy system generate enough clean energy to meet his family’s needs, but Jacobson has also been able to sell 67 percent of the clean electricity back to the utility grid. + BONE Structure

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Leading Stanford climate scientist builds incredible net zero home, complete with Tesla Powerwall

New fractal concentrated solar power receivers absorb sunlight more efficiently

October 27, 2017 by  
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Concentrated solar power facilities are often large, sprawling across desert landscapes or the futuristic California of Blade Runner 2049. But smaller plants could offer a clean energy option for villages – if researchers could boost receiver efficiency. Sandia National Laboratories engineers have come closer to that goal with a fractal -like design for receivers that are as much as 20 percent better at absorbing light than today’s technology. India may want to develop concentrated solar power plants that are one megawatt or smaller to power villages, according to Sandia engineer Cliff Ho. Better receivers could make that goal more of a possibility. Sandia engineers tested out their new receivers for small- or medium-scale use at the National Solar Thermal Testing Facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which they say is the only test facility of its kind in America. Related: Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power Traditional receivers typically have “a flat panel of tubes or tubes arranged in a cylinder,” according to Sandia. They can absorb 80 to 90 percent of light directed towards them, but improving receiver efficiency could lower costs. Ho said in a statement, “When light is reflected off a flat surface, it’s gone. On a flat receiver design, five percent or more of the concentrated sunlight reflects away. So we configured the panels of tubes in a radial or louvered pattern that traps the light at different scales. We wanted the light to reflect, and then reflect again toward the interior of the receiver and get absorbed, sort of like the walls of a sound-proof room.” The engineers 3D-printed the receivers with a high-temperature nickel alloy, Iconel 718. They could test several fractal designs in an economical manner this way – Ho said it would have been difficult to create the complex geometries with casting, welding, or extrusion. Sandia will take their work and apply it to the Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States (SERIIUS) project, a five-year effort from the governments of both countries on cost-effective solar power technology. Via Sandia National Laboratories Images via Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories and Depositphotos

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New fractal concentrated solar power receivers absorb sunlight more efficiently

New fractal concentrated solar power receivers absorb sunlight more efficiently

October 27, 2017 by  
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Concentrated solar power facilities are often large, sprawling across desert landscapes or the futuristic California of Blade Runner 2049. But smaller plants could offer a clean energy option for villages – if researchers could boost receiver efficiency. Sandia National Laboratories engineers have come closer to that goal with a fractal -like design for receivers that are as much as 20 percent better at absorbing light than today’s technology. India may want to develop concentrated solar power plants that are one megawatt or smaller to power villages, according to Sandia engineer Cliff Ho. Better receivers could make that goal more of a possibility. Sandia engineers tested out their new receivers for small- or medium-scale use at the National Solar Thermal Testing Facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which they say is the only test facility of its kind in America. Related: Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power Traditional receivers typically have “a flat panel of tubes or tubes arranged in a cylinder,” according to Sandia. They can absorb 80 to 90 percent of light directed towards them, but improving receiver efficiency could lower costs. Ho said in a statement, “When light is reflected off a flat surface, it’s gone. On a flat receiver design, five percent or more of the concentrated sunlight reflects away. So we configured the panels of tubes in a radial or louvered pattern that traps the light at different scales. We wanted the light to reflect, and then reflect again toward the interior of the receiver and get absorbed, sort of like the walls of a sound-proof room.” The engineers 3D-printed the receivers with a high-temperature nickel alloy, Iconel 718. They could test several fractal designs in an economical manner this way – Ho said it would have been difficult to create the complex geometries with casting, welding, or extrusion. Sandia will take their work and apply it to the Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States (SERIIUS) project, a five-year effort from the governments of both countries on cost-effective solar power technology. Via Sandia National Laboratories Images via Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories and Depositphotos

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New fractal concentrated solar power receivers absorb sunlight more efficiently

These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features

October 26, 2017 by  
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These solar-powered, zero-emission floating homes are packed with green goodness. Designed by Dutch architect Koen Olthius in collaboration with Arkup , an “avant-garde life on water” company based in Miami, the livable yachts operate 100% off the grid and feature waste management, rainwater harvesting and water purification systems. The 4,350-square-foot homes are equipped with 30 kW of solar panels , 1,000 kWh of lithium-ion batteries and high-grade insulation. They are also extremely safe and, thanks to the inclusion of self-elevating systems, they can withstand high winds, floods and hurricanes. Related: Koen Olthuis of WaterStudio.nl talks about design for a Water World The 40-foot-long hydraulic legs can stabilize the floating homes or even lift them out of the water. If you want to relocate, two 136 horsepower electric thrusters can move the structure at 7 knots. Rainwater is collected from the roof, stored in the hull, and purified to ensure complete water autonomy. The 24×12 foot sliding terrace adds plenty of integrated outdoor space and is surrounded by shock-resistant glass panels, while a smart communications system (including satellite TV and WI-FI antennas, LTE and VHF) allows you to stay connected at all times. + Arkup + Waterstudio

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These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features

Italy seeks to phase out coal power plants by 2025

October 25, 2017 by  
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Nation by nation, Europe is going green. The latest country to prove its commitment to sustainable solutions is Italy . On Tuesday, the Italian Industry Minister announced that by 2025, the country plans to phase out coal power plants. Additionally, the country plans to meet 27 percent of “gross overall energy consumption” with renewable sources by the year 2030. During a parliamentary hearing, Minister Carlo Calenda asked the national grid company to identify the infrastructure needed to make the transition. Shortly after, the country’s biggest utility, Enel, said it will not invest in new coal-fired power plants. Unlike other countries in Europe, Italy’s renewable sector is constantly growing. In 2015, for instance, renewable energy sources generated just under 38 percent of the country’s electricity. Hydro-electrical plants remain the biggest contributor (15.5 percent), and solar and wind sources have reached nearly 13 percent, according to ZME Science. The country has no nuclear plants, as they were banned through a referendum in 1987 . Related: Supervolcano in Italy is “becoming more dangerous” as magma builds beneath the surface Chris Littlecott, who heads a fossil fuel transition program at think tank E3G , applauded the development. “Italy’s positive commitment to phase out coal by 2025 demonstrates real international leadership as it completes its year holding the G7 Presidency,” he said in a statement. “Italy now joins its G7 peers in Canada, France, and the UK in taking action to phase out coal power generation over the next decade. Together, they can lead a growing coalition of countries and regions that are now acting on coal,” he said. Though this development is commendable, nothing has been confirmed just yet. The strategy should receive governmental and parliamentary approval at the beginning of November. If it passes, the measure will also speed up the introduction of vehicles powered by alternative fuels , and it will raise the number of EV charging stations to 19,000 by 2020. Via ZME Science Images via Public Domain Pictures, Pixabay

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Italy seeks to phase out coal power plants by 2025

Tesla rapidly installs solar power at a children’s hospital in Puerto Rico

October 25, 2017 by  
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Elon Musk is a man who follows up his words with swift action. As part of its contribution to rebuilding Puerto Rico’s devastated electrical grid with more resilient and sustainable micro-grid technology and on-site solar generation and storage, Tesla has already begun constructing a solar field near Hospital del Niño, a children’s hospital in San Juan. And its Powerpack energy storage systems are on the way. The revival of Hospital del Niño is expected to be the first of many projects that Tesla leads as Puerto Rico, 85 percent of which remains without power, rebuilds after Hurricane Maria . It is estimated that it will take six months before power is restored on the island. While 98 percent of hospitals in Puerto Rico are now open and serving those in need, only a small number have electricity. Even as traditional electrical infrastructure is restored, policymakers are pursuing new systems that will endure for the long-term. One such system is the microgrid, a system which combines power generation, often through solar panels, and energy storage technology and allows an individual building or group of buildings to remain with power even as the larger grid fails. Related: Tesla earns contract for world’s first solar, wind and storage project Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello originally reached out to Musk in early October regarding plans to bring Tesla’s micro-grid technology and goodwill to the recovering island of 3.5 million people. Although Tesla has not yet clarified how large the project will be or where funding is coming from, it has made clear that it intends to establish a strong presence in Puerto Rico and continue to develop microgrid sites across the island. Via Business Insider Images via Tesla

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Tesla rapidly installs solar power at a children’s hospital in Puerto Rico

Groundbreaking Passivhaus development features ultra-green homes that you can actually afford

October 24, 2017 by  
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UK-based architectural firm Hamson Barron Smith have built a ground-breaking Passivhaus development in Greater Norwich, UK. The Carrowbreck Meadow project includes 14 ultra-sustainable homes, which have been designed to pay homage to the local rural barn vernacular found in the area. The Passivhaus development is the largest of its kind in the area, but will also serve as a benchmark for sustainable building everywhere because 43% of the development is comprised of affordable housing. Built in the traditional barn style, the Carrowbreck Meadow homes are clad in a mix of white render and black-stained timber. The A-frame roofs are covered in either slate or red roof tiles. Wood used in the construction was 100% locally sourced from sustainable northern forests. Additional sustainable features include using low-carbon materials where possible such as the insulation in the roofs, which is made out of recycled newspaper. Local contractors and subcontractors were also hired for the job to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. All of the homes are installed with electric car charging points, rainwater butts and PV connection points. The master plan also includes a unique waste management system that facilitates reusing and recycling processes for the homeowners. Related: Passivehaus Container Complex Proposed for Leeds Waterfront Located in a heavily wooded lot, the positioning and orientation of the homes was strategic in order to take advantage of solar gain in the wintertime and avoid extreme heat in the summer. The homes are installed with an abundance of windows that let in natural light , but are equipped with venetian blinds and brise soleils to provide shade. A heat recovery system provides fresh filtered air throughout the structures. The green building materials and low energy features used in the development, as well as the homes’ integrated thermal bridges and draft-free building envelopes – which is five time over the strict passivehaus regulations for airtightness – have earned the project a full Passivehaus certification . However, the fact that the development includes a high number of affordable homes really makes the Carrowbreck Meadow project unique. By offering 43% percent of the property as affordable housing, the architects hope to not only provide locals with sustainable and energy efficient options, but one that fosters a strong inclusive atmosphere as well. The Carrowbreck Meadow development design was recognized with a RIBA Eastern Region Design Award in May 2017. + Hamson Barron Smith Images via Hamson Barron Smith

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Solar-powered Noe Hill Smarthome is an eco-friendly dream in San Francisco

October 19, 2017 by  
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The LEED Platinum -certified Noe Hill Smart Ecohome marries state-of-the-art green technology and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle that urban dwellers dream about. The house, designed by EAG Studio , creates a healthy living environment with plenty of natural light, native plant gardens, rain catchment, solar power and a bevy of smart features to optimize power use. The house occupies a coveted site near the crest of the Collingwood hill in San Francisco . It spans three levels and comprises 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths (with 3 bedrooms ensuite on the upper floor), media room, gym, flexible use 2-room guest suite, an open main level floor plan, 4 distinct outdoor living areas and 2-car independent parking. Related: Sunset’s Green Dream Home in San Francisco The dramatic vistas open up from the main living room and dining area connected to a sunny deck and a landscaped garden. The garden features drought-tolerant , native plantings. Retractable glass doors in the kitchen open directly to the deck and enhances the experience of the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. A sculptural staircase leads to the upper level and receives natural light from the skylight above. The bedrooms occupy the upper floor, with the luxurious master suite openning to its own view deck ideal for a morning cup of coffee or casual lounging. The staircase leads further up toward the roof deck with multiple dining and lounging areas perfect for entertaining guests. Related: San Francisco’s Solar “Mission: House” is a High-Tech Marvel A rainwater harvesting system captures most of the roof/surface water for landscaping irrigation. All exterior walls are insulated and optimized for energy efficiency, while a solar array provides renewable energy for the building. These systems, along with LED lighting , occupancy sensors and the use of reclaimed building materials make this building a modern and truly eco-friendly home. + Noe Hill Leed Home + EAG Studio

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Solar-powered Noe Hill Smarthome is an eco-friendly dream in San Francisco

Switzerland’s NeighborHub wins first place in the Solar Decathalon 2017

October 14, 2017 by  
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This past week, eleven teams of students designed, built and presented futuristic houses at the Solar Decathalon 2017 . The competition took place in Denver , and though the challenge was simple it was by no means easy: create a super-efficient sun-powered building that seamlessly integrates green building technologies into its design. The winners of the highly-anticipated event were just announced this morning – and Team Switzerland’s NeighborHub took first place! For the first time in history, the winners of the Solar Decathalon won prize money. First place received $300,000; second place won $225,000; third place took home $150,000; fourth place won $125,000 and fifth through eleventh places each received $100,000. 1st Place: NeighborHub by the Swiss Team First place in the Solar Decathalon 2017 was awarded to the Swiss Team ‘s NeighborHub. The NeighborHub isn’t a home at all – rather, it is a collaborative community space. The team designed the eco-friendly space to serve as an educational resource, specifically for suburban neighborhoods. At the NeighborHub, residents can learn about seven sustainable themes: renewable energy, water management, waste management, mobility, food, material choices, and biodiversity. 2nd Place: reACT by University of Maryland The University of Maryland’s reACT House (Resilient Adaptive Climate Technology) took second place. It’s a smart, sustainable home that can adapt to different needs and environments . Not only is the self-sufficient home beautiful, it produces clean energy, clean water, and nutrient-rich foods — all the while automatically adapting to homeowners’ habits. 3rd Place: RISE by University of California, Berkeley, and University of Denver Students from the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Denver collaborated to develop RISE . The affordable and sustainable abode is designed for urban infill lots in Richmond CA, and it can be stacked and expanded like building blocks. The prefab solar is home is incredibly flexible, with a scalable size, customizable floor plans, and moveable walls. 4th Place: SILO by Missouri University of Science and Technology Finally, fourth place was awarded to the Missouri University of Science and Technology for their SILO House (Smart Innovative Living Oasis) . The light-filled home combines high-tech, energy-efficient technology with traditional farmhouse vernacular. Best of all, this futuristic house lets you control all systems remotely via a smartphone. Related: 11 Solar-powered homes that show the future of architecture Each team presented an incredible futuristic home that incorporates solar and energy-efficiency technologies. Congrats to all of this year’s teams, and we can’t wait for the return of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathalon in 2019. + Solar Decathalon 2017 + Solar Decathlon Coverage on Inhabitat Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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Switzerland’s NeighborHub wins first place in the Solar Decathalon 2017

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