Low-impact summer retreat boasts solar panels and a green roof

March 9, 2020 by  
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Seattle-based firm Heliotrope Architects has just completed work on a gorgeous summer home located on Orcas Island, off the coast of Washington state. Not only does the North Beach house boast a stunning aesthetic, but it is low-impact and uses several sustainable features, such as solar power and a green roof , to enable the home to be almost completely self-sustaining. The stunning, 2,400-square-foot North Beach home is located on the island’s stunning waterfront, tucked between a natural forest of fir trees on one side and an open meadow on the other. Framed in wide steel columns, the single-story house sits quietly in the landscape, clad in walls of glass that open the residence up to amazing views. Related: Green-roofed beachfront home fully embraces its coastal surroundings The house features a contemporary but cozy interior design. White walls and wooden flooring run throughout the dwelling. Walls comprised of sliding glass doors bring in natural light while also enabling the homeowners to truly feel connected with the outdoors. Several outdoor spaces, such as an open-air deck with a large dining table, further embed the home into its surroundings and promote indoor-outdoor living. Intended to be a summer home used from May through October, the design uses several sustainable features to make it self-sustaining for those months. A solar array was installed above the adjacent vegetable garden shed in order to provide energy to the home, while solar collectors on the roof are used to heat hot water and provide hydronic heating. Additionally, a lush green roof was installed with a rain harvesting system that collects rainwater to be used for irrigation. According to the architects, these systems have been designed to “zero-out” electricity use over the course of a full year. + Heliotrope Architects Photography via Sean Airhart via Heliotrope Architects

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Low-impact summer retreat boasts solar panels and a green roof

Brazilian home uses solar energy for 100% self-sufficiency

February 6, 2020 by  
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Brazilian firm  24 7 Arquitetura  has set a stunning modern home into a challenging mountainous landscape in Brazil’s Nova Lima region. In addition to the home’s contemporary aesthetic, which is comprised of several exposed concrete blocks, the residence is completely self-sustaining thanks to its massive rooftop  solar array  that generates all the power the home needs. Located north of Rio de Janeiro, Nova Lima is a mountainous region known for its mining sector. The area is marked by rugged low and high-rising topography covered in lush vegetation. Although the undulating landscape presented several challenges for the 24 7 Arquitetura team, the architects managed to use the natural layout to the benefit of the contemporary home . Related: Solar-powered residence in Thailand takes on a sculptural form with cantilevering cubes According to the architects, the solution to the building lot’s slope was to set the home’s main social areas at the highest elevation possible, jutting out of the sloped hill, but above the tree canopy. This allowed the main living area to open up to a large outdoor space with a swimming pool and outdoor lounge area. Building the home into the landscape also led the design to be slightly tilted to the east, which enables the home’s interior to be shaded from the harsh sun rays during the summertime. Additionally, the designers planted two trees in the middle of the home’s outdoor deck to provide additional shade and let  natural light  subtly filter into the living spaces. The first floor of the home was built out to house the garage, laundry facilities and extra storage while the second floor is at the heart of the home. The large open-plan living area opens up to a large deck via massive sliding glass doors, leading to the infinity  swimming pool . The top floor houses the master bedroom with an ensuite bath and open-air balcony space to take in the stunning views. At over 4,000 square feet, the home is a massive structure that requires a lot of energy. Thankfully, this energy is produced by a large rooftop solar array that produces about 1400kW per month. This not only generates enough energy for the home, but also for heating the pool water. + 24 7 Arquitetura Via Archdaily Photography by Pedro Kok

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Brazilian home uses solar energy for 100% self-sufficiency

Calamus unveils worlds safest e-bike at CES 2020

February 6, 2020 by  
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India-based startup  Calamus  recently unveiled the Calamus One Ultrabike, an electric bicycle that they claim is “the world’s safest and most advanced” of its kind. Integrated with elements typically only seen on motor vehicles, the innovative e-bicycle combines safety features and high-end tech into a sleek and beautifully designed package. The Ultrabike was exhibited at the CES 2020 show and is available on Indiegogo for pre-order. Crafted to evoke continuity, the Ultrabike uses 6000 series aircraft-grade aluminum with automotive-grade paint for both the lightweight bike frame and handlebar, which is also part of a one-piece stem and handle design. To emphasize the design’s seamless flow, the removable battery was integrated into the down tube of the frame while all of the  bicycle cables — from the hydraulic brakes to the electrical and electronic cables — have been routed inside the frame. The internally routed cables also make the entire bike weatherproof and improve aerodynamics. Promising a range of nearly 45 miles on a single charge, the Ultrabike is powered by 250w/750w Ultra-drive mid-motors from Bafang and driven by Gates’ carbon belt CDX system for a smooth riding experience. For an improved user experience, each bike will also be equipped with sensors that track motor, battery, and component health to provide real-time diagnoses viewable via a 5-inch TFT LCD touchscreen. A high-performance chip stores and analyzes riding patterns to provide auto gear shifts, while an inbuilt GPS chip offers added functionality. Related: Propella’s lightweight electric bike rides like a regular bike For safety, the designers have added  LED  turn indicators into the handlebars as well as built-in ultrasonic sensors with haptic feedback for blind spot assistance. Security is enhanced with the addition of an ultra-fast biometric scanner for locking and unlocking the bike, geo-tracking and fencing with a ‘Find My Ride’ feature in the case of theft, anti-theft fasteners, an anti-theft alarm, and a patent-pending smart lock that can be accessed using a mobile app to lock and unlock the bike. The Calamus One Ultrabike can be pre-ordered on  Indiegogo . + Calamus Images via Calamus

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Calamus unveils worlds safest e-bike at CES 2020

A solar-powered, concrete home in Brazil is a powerhouse of sustainability

July 26, 2019 by  
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São Paolo-based firm Steck Arquitetura has just unveiled the Julieta House, a concrete home that spans nearly 7,000 square feet. Located in the city of Piracicaba, the house is comprised of a concrete shell that provides a strong thermal envelope along with a bevy of sustainable features such as solar power to help the home reduce its energy needs to a bare minimum. Surrounded by a low-lying concrete wall, the three-story home is located on a sloped lot that creates extra space for its large volume. The partially-embedded ground floor houses the garage, storage space and maintenance equipment. Related: Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system The main living area is located on the first floor, where high ceilings with sunken spaces add a sense of whimsy to the atmosphere. The main social areas, along with the private bedrooms, all boast a modern, minimalist design. Sparse furnishings bring out the warm palette of wood and concrete that is further enhanced by an abundance of natural light . At the heart of the home is the massive swimming pool . Thanks to a few savvy design techniques, the indoor area and outdoor area have a seamless connection. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors slide completely open to create one large, open-air living space, which includes easy access to the pool. Concrete features prominently throughout the design. From the exterior envelope to the concrete roofs that have several shade-providing overhangs, the raw concrete surfaces throughout the home create an interesting juxtaposition with the Mediterranean-style layout. In addition to the tight thermal envelope, the home also boasts a number of sustainable features. A green roof shares space with a solar array hooked up to meet the home’s energy needs, including the solar-powered water heater. Additionally, using the wet Brazilian climate to its advantage, the home was installed with a rainwater catchment system that is used to irrigate the gardens. + Steck Arquitetura Via ArchDaily Photography by Adriano Pacelli via Steck Arquitetura

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Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint

July 16, 2019 by  
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Designed by Brazilian firm PITTA Arquitetura , the aptly named Casa Modelo serves as an architectural model for sustainable home design. Built using numerous bioclimatic principles , the solar-powered home has minimal environmental impact on its idyllic tropical setting just outside of São Paulo. Built for the owner of a sustainable real estate development company, Casa Modelo is located in the remote area of Ubatuba. Surrounded by acres of lush, green, protected biospheres that span out to some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, the home has a setting that is as idyllic as it gets. Related: Striking home in Greece uses bioclimatic features to be energy-efficient year-round The incredible location set the tone for the design. Working with the homeowner, the architects sought to create a model sustainable home that could serve as a platform for future constructions in the area. At the forefront of the design was the objective of reducing the home’s impact on the pristine natural setting. Inserting the 1,100-square-foot building into the lot with minimal interference was essential to the project. Accordingly, the timber home is elevated off of the landscape by a concrete platform and pillars that allow natural vegetation to grow under and around the structure. The local climate is marked by severe humidity, ultra hot summers and considerable rainfall, all of which prompted the designers to create a resilient structure that could stand up to the extreme elements. Not only did elevating the home reduce its impact on the landscape, but it also helps keep ground humidity at bay and improves natural air circulation. Passive, energy-saving features are found throughout the home, namely in the structure’s large openings and high interior ceilings. The open-plan living area and kitchen open up to the outdoors thanks to a long stretch of sliding glass doors with retractable timber screens on either side of the house. The doors can be completely or partially left open to ensure cool temps and natural ventilation on the interior, a feature that also creates a strong, seamless connection with the outdoors. The layout was also driven by the natural elements. The two bedrooms were orientated to embrace the morning sunlight , while overhangs shade the living spaces from the hot summer sun. In the winter months, sunlight from the large, north-facing windows is absorbed by the concrete walls and floors during the day and released at night. In addition to its impressive passive features, the home was installed with several systems to minimize energy use. A solar array covers 100 percent of the electrical needs, which are reduced thanks to highly efficient lighting, electrical equipment and smart home devices. Additionally, an innovative rainwater harvesting system provides water for the residents. + PITTA Arquitetura Via Dwell Photography by Gustavo Alkmim via PITTA Arquitetura

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Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint

Chevron spills 800,000 gallon of oil and water in California

July 16, 2019 by  
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Major oil corporation Chevron spilled 800,000 gallons of crude oil and water into a dry creek in Southern California. While the spill is estimated to contain mostly water, experts estimate that between 240,000 and 265,000 gallons of crude oil were spilled— making it in the largest oil spill in California’s recent history. The spill first occurred on May 10 and stopped immediately, however it began to seep again on June 8 and continued to spill into the creek until June 23. The head of California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources first cited Chevron with a violation and asked them to stop extraction within that area, however, since the company did not act swiftly the head of the Division has now ordered the corporation to completely stop the spill and take measures to prevent such spills in the future. Related: Airplanes’ contrail clouds are more harmful than their carbon emissions The increased citation came on the head of the Division’s second day in the position, after his predecessor was fired by Governor Gavin Newson for issuing more fracking permits than the state typically awards. Since the spill occurred in a dry creek in Kern County, it has caused as much damage as it would have in an active watershed. Therefore, the spill has been fairy contained with limited impact to surrounding wildlife . The spill is close to Bakersfield, one of the state’s major agricultural areas. “The Chevron spill clearly shows that California needs stronger climate leadership from the governor,” Greenpeace USA’s executive director said to local news KQED. “Oil and gas infrastructure will never be free from spills and leaks or from spewing climate pollution . We face a growing public health crisis and climate emergency stoked by rampant oil and gas development” Company officials only began to clean up the spill on July 12 and casually reported that they would “review the order” from the state. Via EcoWatch Image via ArtBrom

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Chevron spills 800,000 gallon of oil and water in California

Energy-efficient vacation home holds court over 15 acres of restored tidal wetlands

April 25, 2019 by  
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Manhattan-based firm Ryall Sheridan Architects has unveiled a modern home that sits elevated over 15 acres of restored tidal wetlands on Long Island’s Peconic Bay. Located about 100 miles outside of New York City, the beautiful Orient House V is a three-bedroom vacation home that was built to harmonize with its incredible setting. Lifted 10 feet off the marshy landscape, the light-filled refuge was strategically designed to be energy-efficient and resilient against the local climate. After the clients purchased 15 acres of tidal wetlands, they approached Ryall Sheridan Architects, a firm specializing in designing low-energy residences, to create a home that would have a strong connection to the unusual landscape. According to the architects, the first step was to restore the property’s natural state by removing non-native, invasive plants and planting indigenous plants. In restoring the natural habitat, the area is now home to abundant flora that attracts insects, butterflies and birds. Related: This bold, sustainable home will age gracefully near an Indiana wetland Secondly, the marshland called for raising the home high above the landscape, not only for stability, but also as a resilient measure that would withstand storm surges that are common in the area. In addition to increasing resiliency, the elevated stature also provides stunning views that look out over a beautiful saltwater swimming pool surrounded by expansive greenery. The project boasts a number of energy-efficient features that make it nearly self-sufficient. Supported by concrete walls, the frame of the home is made out of a high-tech membrane that was chosen for its ability to stand up to wind and rain. Dark cedar boards were then used to clad the exterior walls, which were also incorporated with various industrial-grade stainless steel screens that are rust-resistant and can withstand the salty, humid atmosphere. Powered by a large solar array, the home generates much of its own energy and is also extremely well-insulated to reduce energy loss. Triple-pane windows and walls insulated with eco-friendly cellulose help keep the interior spaces at a comfortable temperature all year long. Related: 7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home Throughout the interior, the design’s strong connection to its surroundings is visible from every angle. Large windows welcome  natural light  into the 3,275-square-foot residence. Blond Douglas fir was used for the flooring and wall panels, giving the home a modern cabin feel. The main floor features the communal spaces in an open layout. The master suite is located on the top floor and features a large corner balcony that provides unobstructed views of the breathtaking scenery. + Ryall Sheridan Architects Via Dwell Photography by Ty Cole via Ryall Sheridan Architects

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Energy-efficient vacation home holds court over 15 acres of restored tidal wetlands

Eucalyptus screens block out the sun’s harsh rays in this off-grid home

April 24, 2019 by  
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São Paulo-based firm Studio MK27 has unveiled a spectacular home made out of a beautiful blend of natural and prefabricated materials. The Catuçaba House is tucked into the remote rolling hills of Catuçaba, its horizontal volume sitting almost 5,000 feet above sea level. Wanting to forge a strong relationship with its stunning natural surroundings, the architects designed the home with a number of sustainable features to be completely off-grid and low-impact. In fact, the home’s sustainability profile is so impressive that it is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification. The 3,300-square-foot home is a beautiful study in eco-friendly minimalism. The residence, which is a wooden prefab structure , is comprised of an elongated form that sits on a series of pillars. These wooden pillars were carefully embedded into the landscape to reduce the impact on the terrain. Related: This off-grid home on a Greek island provides ‘cinematic frames’ of the sea A wooden deck cantilevers over the hilly topography, creating a large platform that is book-ended by two adobe walls made from local soil. As a passive feature , sliding shades made out of eucalyptus branches cover the floor-to-ceiling front facade and filter light through the interior, offering a vibrant movement of shadows and light in the living space. Further integrating the design into its natural surroundings, the architects covered the home’s roof in native greenery. Like the home’s exterior, the interior is marked by wood finishes throughout, all of which are certified as sustainably-sourced lumber . The living and private spaces are designated by interior wooden frames filled with eco-friendly wool insulation. The rustic decor continues with exposed wooden ceilings, clay flooring, white walls and wood-burning stoves. Because of its remote location, the house has no access to grid electricity or water; therefore, it operates completely off-grid. Solar panels on the roof, along with a nearby wind turbine, generate enough energy for the residence’s needs. Drinking water is collected from a nearby spring. Additionally, the house was installed with an integrated rainwater collection system which routes gray water to irrigate the garden. The sustainable Catuçaba home was completed in 2016 and has since earned a number of accolades. It is the first building in Brazil to earn LEED Platinum certification from the Green Building Council. + Studio MK27  Via Dezeen Photography by Fernando Guerra via Studio MK27

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Eucalyptus screens block out the sun’s harsh rays in this off-grid home

Stunning ‘beach shack’ on remote Australian beach is 100% self-sufficient

April 23, 2019 by  
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Sydney-based firm  Casey Brown Architecture  has unveiled a gorgeous home in Great Mackerel Beach, a remote coastal area in South Wales. Conceived as a modern beach shack, the Hart House is tucked deep into a steep cliffside looking out over the ocean. Only accessible by boat, the home, which is covered in an aluminum shell, is completely off-grid thanks to solar panels on the roof, a water collection system and an onsite waste system. According to the architects, the home’s simple box volume is a “contemporary interpretation of the quintessential one-room Australian beach shack.” The house sits back from the shoreline and is tucked into a rising cliffside covered in natural vegetation. Using the incredible landscape as additional inspiration, the architects focused on creating an  energy-efficient home that would be both resilient and self-sustaining. Related: Circular, solar-powered beach house is a sustainable holiday retreat Because of its remote location, the home is only accessible by water, which meant that the structure had to not only be resilient but self-sufficient. A rooftop array of solar panels generates enough energy to meet the needs of the residents. Additionally, the design has an integrated rainwater collection system, and waste is processed on-site. Clad in a corrugated aluminum shell, the beach house is well-protected from the local climate , such as the harsh salt environment, cold winds and even bushfires. Only the front of the home is left exposed with a large glass wall made up of several floor-to-ceiling panels that provide an abundance of natural light and stunning views of the ocean. The home’s corrugated aluminum shell is punctuated with small openings, framed in large Corten Steel frames, which allow for optimal cross ventilation. The interior design of the three-story home creates a harmonious connection with the surrounding natural environment. Lined in birch plywood with timber flooring and large windows, the top floor living space is a warm, light-filled oasis. Spotted gum was chosen to build the front deck as well as the doors and windows because of its sustainable profile as well as its natural fire resistance. Under the living space is a bedroom that leads out to a terrace constructed from  sandstone  harvested onsite. The terrace sits on a base, also made of sandstone, that cascades down toward the beach through various stepped retaining walls. + Casey Brown Architecture Via Wallpaper Photography by Rhys Holland via Casey Brown Architects

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Stunning ‘beach shack’ on remote Australian beach is 100% self-sufficient

A solar-powered seaside home embraces contrast and scenic views

February 20, 2019 by  
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Melbourne-based firm  Megowan Architectural has unveiled a beautiful home located in Mount Eliza in Victoria, Australia that uses strategic angles and contrast to make the most of the idyllic seaside setting. The three-story Two Angle House is not only aesthetically stunning — behind its sophisticated concrete and wood facade is a complex system that makes the home incredibly energy-efficient . Located in the seaside town of Mount Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula, the 5,920-square-foot home’s sophisticated design scheme is based on contrasting building materials. According to the architects, “The interior and exterior are a play on the contrast between two angles of internal organization, the contrast between warm and cold materials and a considered contrast between architecture and landscape.” Related: Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape The exterior and interior are made with a number of contrasting materials, namely concrete and wood. Using extensive concrete in the floors and walls was strategic to creating a tight thermal mass while in-slab hydronic heating further helps regulate the interior temperatures year-round. Using a system of cubed volumes, which contain two angles within the layout, the Two Angle House was strategically designed to provide stunning views of the ocean. Additionally, the design saw the home’s large concrete blade wall “stretched” from east to west to take advantage of optimal passive solar gain throughout. This allows the structure to not only benefit from a natural heating and lighting system, but it also reduces energy usage substantially. The roof was also equipped with solar panels to provide much of the building’s energy . Much like the outdoor space and wraparound deck, the interior is focused on the amazing sea views, which can be found from virtually any angle inside the home. In fact, just opening the front door leads the eye to the sea at the other side of the house. Large floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors naturally brighten the interior and open up the living space to the outdoors, creating a seamless connection to the natural surroundings. + Megowan Architectural Via Dwell Images via Megowan Architectural

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A solar-powered seaside home embraces contrast and scenic views

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