A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree

October 3, 2018 by  
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Many people design homes to be surrounded by nature, but Seattle-based PRDG Architects decided to take it a step further by building a modern home around a family’s beloved madrone tree. Located in a woody lot outside of Seattle, the ultra energy-efficient Farwell is a two story structure made from weathered steel. Plenty of windows and natural light blend the family home into its natural environment, but it’s the sculptural tree that is spotlighted by the design. Surrounded by trees and greenery, the 3,800-square-foot home was designed to be a serene oasis where the family can reconnect with nature. Using the madrone tree as a focal point, the architects strategically designed the home to both preserve the tree and make it visible from nearly every room. An expansive deck wraps around the house, further providing a constant connection with the tree and the surrounding environment. Related: Charming home uses local, natural materials to pay homage to a chestnut tree In addition to saving the tree, the architects set out to build a home with minimal impact on the landscape. All of the trees on site were preserved and maintained without harm, and the existing green space was left in its natural state. To add resilience to the landscape around the home, the team installed a bioretention garden with a cistern that collects rainwater and controls stormwater run-off. Beyond the reverence for the landscape, the design for the Farwell home also focused on energy conservation. The building has a high-tech, energy-efficient building envelope and generates its own power thanks to the solar roof tiles . Additionally, the home was installed with smart appliances and LED lighting fixtures. The stunning design is not only efficient, but boasts a modern, light-filled interior with a fresh aesthetic. An abundance of sliding glass doors and large windows open up the space — in fact, extra-large square windows were installed throughout the home to frame the madrone tree as if it were a piece of artwork. + PRDG Architects Via Dwell Photography by Lara Swimmer via PRDG Architects

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A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree

3XN unveils competition-winning designs for Denmarks Climatorium

October 3, 2018 by  
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Danish architectural practice 3XN Architects recently won a competition for the Climatorium, Denmark’s new international climate center that will be located in Lemvig. Created in collaboration with urban development consultancy SLA and technical advisory company Orbicon, the winning entry will help establish Lemvig as a center for climate change adaptation and support the country’s role as an exporter of climate solutions. Slated for completion in 2020, the sculptural waterfront building will serve as a public forum for knowledge, education, innovation and development projects that can promote climate-related growth and job opportunities. Inspired by the coastal location, the architects have integrated a wave motif to the entrance section of the two-story structure. The surrounding landscape, named the Climate Wedge, also mimics the local environment with its undulating shape structured with meteorological isobar lines in reference to the city’s wind conditions. The outdoor space is planted with native , low-maintenance vegetation and includes sheltered spaces where the public can gather and reconnect with the harbor front. A site-specific approach was taken to the building design as well. The Climatorium is carefully sized to match the existing scale of the other waterfront buildings and is clad in a simple material palette of wood, concrete and steel in a nod to the nearby boat halls. A ground-floor glass facade helps activate the building on the ground level and attracts passersby to come and visit exhibitions about climate change or enjoy food in the cafe. The lower floor can also be used for conferences, concerts and other events. Related: This dreamy Malibu beach house is designed to withstand climate change “We have aimed to create a building that tells the story about climate ,” said Jan Ammundsen, Senior Partner and Head of Design at 3XN. “The building has a rectilinear, stringent expression but forms a wave shape that lends it a distinct and easily decoded identity. The wave tells the story of the site and also refers to the serious challenges we face as a result of climate change.” + 3XN Architects Images via 3XN Architects

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3XN unveils competition-winning designs for Denmarks Climatorium

Modern LEED Gold home embraces outdoor entertaining in Aspen

August 7, 2018 by  
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Aspen’s historic West End neighborhood is best known for its ornate Victorian houses, but one residence in particular is turning heads for its modern, award-winning design and LEED Gold certification. Local firm Rowland + Broughton Architecture & Interior Design designed the ground-up home — dubbed “Game On” — that splits a historic landmark lot with a neighboring late-19th-century home. The new residence incorporates environmentally friendly and energy-efficient features throughout, from its solar roof tiles on the garage to its sustainably harvested materials palette. Constructed with a traditional gabled form and front porch that mirrors the surrounding architecture, Game On stands out from its neighbors with its clean lines and white-painted exterior. The 4,291-square-foot abode’s contextual design earned approval from Aspen’s Historic Preservation Commission. The minimal design approach carries over to the restrained landscaping as well. “Inspired by the residential vernacular of Aspen’s historic West End neighborhood, this home brings a sense of clarity and elegance to a traditionally ornate Victorian form,” the architecture firm said. “With the clients’ personal and professional lifestyle in mind, the design is intended to accommodate a large number of guests for entertaining yet provides a sense of intimacy for private relaxation. The open plan connects the indoor and outdoor spaces with seamless lift and slide pocket doors. Interiors feature custom built-in and floating furnishings and custom fixtures.” Related: Solar-powered mountain home is a sustainable prototype for Aspen development In additional to solar roof tiles , Game On minimizes its energy footprint with a highly efficient mechanical system, radiant in-slab heating and heat loss control. The sustainable water strategy includes high-efficiency fixtures and an irrigation system as well as a bocce ball court in the backyard that collects and filters all stormwater runoff. The interior is dressed in natural and recycled materials with no VOC paints for a healthy indoor environment. + Rowland + Broughton Architecture & Interior Design Images via Brent Moss Photography

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Modern LEED Gold home embraces outdoor entertaining in Aspen

The warmest ocean temperature in a century was just recorded in California

August 7, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have recorded the warmest sea surface temperature in more than a hundred years near a pier in San Diego. The Institute, affiliated with the University of California, San Diego, has been collecting data on sea surface temperatures at the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier since 1916. The 2018 level surpassed an unusual 1931 record by 0.2 degrees, coming in at a whopping 78.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Related: Ocean heatwaves have risen by more than 50% since 1925 According to a press release from Scripps , “the ocean region off Southern California has been experiencing anomalously warm temperatures for the past week, and other observational networks farther off the coast have reported record or near-record temperatures as well.” The continuous rise in temperature will have serious implications for sea life and marine ecosystems. For example, it could help create a toxic algae bloom, such as the one that spread along the north Pacific coast in 2014, altering the biodiversity of the area indefinitely. This bloom had a devastating impact on sea lions and other marine mammal groups, closed fisheries, and pushed species of jellyfish and stingrays further inward to shore, causing a perilous domino effect of altered food chains. In 2015, El Niño significantly altered water temperature levels off the coast of California . However, after such environmental phenomena, seawater temperatures are supposed to return to historical averages. This time, it never happened. “It really is weird,” explained Scripps research scientist Clarissa Anderson in an interview with NPR. “We have different records going back decades and while [our ocean water] temperature is tightly connected with the equator, we’re now seeing [temperatures] stabilize at the equator while temperatures in southern California keep going up.” According to researchers, the record temperature is yet another sign of the mounting effects of climate change . + Scripps Institute Via NPR

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The warmest ocean temperature in a century was just recorded in California

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

How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being

April 4, 2018 by  
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Dive into the practice of forest bathing. Doing so does not clean your body, per se, but rather refreshes the spirit and benefits your mood and health. Even scientific studies back forest bathing. So what are you waiting for? Discover the new trend that can make you feel more connected to the world. What is forest bathing? Since 1982, forest bathing — called shinrin-yoku — has been practiced in Japan as a means of reconnecting with nature. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries created forest bathing as a way to promote national health and being outdoors. While this is not an ancient practice, many see it as a cure for modern ailments. Thanks to the internet, forest bathing has dramatically increased in popularity all over the globe. For the full experience, participants walk with trained guides–experts who help people see nature in a new light. Forest bathing has many similarities to meditation — it quiets the mind and spirit, and it aims to use the five senses to experience nature as never before. The activity unfolds at a much slower pace than hiking, and the destination itself is less important than the journey. What are the benefits forest bathing? As the popularity of forest bathing increases, science has begun to provide evidence for the practice’s benefits. In a 2011 study, scientists found that people walking in nature had lower blood pressure than those in the city. Another study in Japan showed that inhaling the aroma from cedar trees boosts stress-fighting compounds in the body. Most of all, forest bathing benefits your mood. Participants have seen improvement in both focus and attention, and researchers have even linked this practice to better focus in those with ADHD . Mental conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety and anger all show improvements in people who forest bathe. Related: Tiny meditation shelters are the perfect place for hikers to connect with the forest Forest bathing also has physical benefits — during the activity, measurable differences in several bodily processes occur. The immune system increases production of white blood cells that kill disease, and blood pressure and surgical recovery time decrease as well. If these weren’t reasons enough to try forest bathing, you may be surprised by how accessible the practice is. How to forest bathe While you may forest bathe on your own, it’s better to have a certified guide take you through the process. Like therapists who take their clients through guided meditation, these professionals are trained to help people put their minds in the moment. By 2019, the world will have 450 certified forest bathing guides across 23 countries around the world, so finding one will be easier than ever. If you don’t have a forest guide near you, you can still experience forest bathing on your own. The secret is integrating all your senses. Look, listen, feel, taste and smell your surroundings as though experiencing them for the first time. Don’t carefully focus on everything. Instead, examine your surroundings and look at things that capture your attention . A soft gaze relaxes you more than the constant, close focus of modern life. Take a deep breath through your nose and notice the peculiar scent of the forest. Plants have different scents, which act as natural aromatherapy. Don’t forget the soil. Microbes in it produce a smell that may act as an antidepressant . Feel tree bark and leaves. Run dirt between your fingers. If you feel adventurous, embrace a tree trunk. The variety of textures will give your sense of touch a treat. Close your eyes, stop walking, quiet your mind and just listen. The longer you open your ears to the sounds of the forest, the more you’ll hear, boosting your experience. Sounds include more than just the chirping of birds. Listen for the wind in the trees, the scuttling of insects in the soil and the noise of larger animals deep in the woods. Though you don’t want to taste anything in a forest without a guide, you can bring natural foods and drinks with you, such as tea or fresh fruits. This will be especially effective if the fruits are native to your area. Bringing your own food allows you to taste the forest without putting yourself at risk of ingesting a toxic substance. Where to forest bathe Forest bathing locations in Japan must meet rigorous standards set by the practice’s founding organization, but elsewhere in the world, forest bathing typically can be done anywhere. Several American resorts offer forest bathing , including The Lodge at Woodloch, Blackberry Farm and Big Cedar Lodge. While many people opt for their nearest natural space, those stuck indoors can still benefit from connecting with nature. Forest bathing guides take groups outside, but for those without access to the outdoors, just connecting with nature in any way seems beneficial. A study from Texas A&M University researcher Robert Ulrich showed lowered pain, anxiety and blood pressure in those who looked at photos or paintings of nature. Though still a new practice, forest bathing has already shown great promise in treating real conditions without the side effects of medication. Next time you go outside, why not find your nearest nature trail and begin your own forest bathing experience?

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How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being

Tesla’s Buffalo Gigafactory is officially producing solar roof tiles

January 10, 2018 by  
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Tesla had planned to move Solar Roof tile production from their Fremont, California factory to the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo , New York and it looks like they may have met that goal. The company confirmed in an email they began manufacturing the tiles in December. Tesla is producing its photovoltaic glass tiles in Buffalo. We don’t yet know how many they have made, according to The Buffalo News , but the Solar Roofs are slated to be installed on customer roofs in upcoming months. Over a dozen Tesla employees, including Elon Musk , had the product installed on their houses during a pilot program last year. Related: Tesla aims to ramp up Solar Roof production in Buffalo next year Tesla has said Solar Roofs could cost around 10 to 15 percent less than a regular roof equipped with traditional solar panels . Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Hugh Bromley isn’t so sure. He told Bloomberg he estimates a Tesla roof on a 2,000-square-foot house could cost around $57,000. Meanwhile terracotta tiles with a five-kilowatt solar panel system could cost around $41,000, according to Bromley, and an asphalt roof with solar panels would be around $22,000. Tesla began taking orders for their Solar Roofs in May, but didn’t disclose how many they’d received. The Buffalo News said the local region is counting on the Buffalo Gigafactory to bring in around 2,900 new jobs . Tesla said they’d create 1,460 jobs, and other suppliers and service providers could create 1,440 jobs in the region. Tesla says there are around 500 employees at the factory, but didn’t specify how many are working for them and how many for other companies like Panasonic , with whom Tesla is collaborating on solar products in Buffalo. According to The Buffalo News, Panasonic began manufacturing solar panels last summer at the site, and had said their workforce would top 300 there by the end of 2017, with plans to add 60 people during the spring. Via Bloomberg , The Buffalo News , and Reuters Images via Tesla

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Tesla’s Buffalo Gigafactory is officially producing solar roof tiles

Now you can rent a vintage teardrop camper for a weekend in the woods

January 10, 2018 by  
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If you’re not ready to buy a teardrop trailer of your own, now you can spend the weekend cozied up inside one thanks to Camp Weathered . Based out of Marin County, California, the teardrop camper rental service offers a fleet of vintage teardrop campers for those looking for a private and cozy escape in the California wilderness. Camp Weathered’s “Forest Cottage” campers offer all of the basics for a comfy camping trip, including a sleeping space big enough for two adults and one small child. The campers also come with a small galley kitchenette with a sink, a two-burner camping stove, and plenty of dishes and cookware. The rental service even provides a picnic basket stocked with everything needed for a romantic candlelit dinner. Related: How this photographer escaped the grid with her tiny Teardrop Trailer There are two ways to rent the campers: you can either tow one yourself to your desired location, or the service will tow one for you and then pick it up. The lightweight trailers can be towed by almost any vehicle – even a motorcycle. Camp Weathered was started by two students, Alex McNeil and Jesse Bodony, who decided to launch the rental service after seeing how popular their own camper was among their friends and family. According to McNeil, the service is geared to those who want to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life: “So many of us feel kind of assaulted or barraged just by our connectivity, and the nonstop pace of reality that we deal with,” he said. “I really do believe that being in nature, especially for folks who aren’t often is one of the most restorative and valuable experiences you can have.” + Camp Weathered Images via Camp Weathered

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Now you can rent a vintage teardrop camper for a weekend in the woods

Bitcoin mining powers Canadian man’s innovative aquaponics system

January 10, 2018 by  
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This indoor garden is heated by something totally unexpected: bitcoin mining. When software company owner Bruce Hardy saw how much heat his computers were generating, he decided to put that extra energy to good use. Now, instead of using air conditioning to cool his computers, he takes the heat they generate to power and heat a thriving aquaponics system and greenhouse. The system works by using the heat generated by 30 computers as they work to mine bitcoin. That heat keeps hundreds of Arctic Char warm on the first floor of the Manitoba building, where nitrate-rich water is used to feed plants growing on the second floor. “It’s all connected, much like Earth,” Hardy told CBC Manitoba . Related: Hanoi’s koi cafe has a thriving ecosystem complete with an aquaponic garden Hardy’s company operates with the goal of creating sustainable food systems. The revenue that he has generated mining bitcoin has helped him grow his business, which he hopes will allow him to spread the concept around the globe. Investors in China and Australia are taking notice. He said, “If we can take our energy and use it here in Manitoba, we value-add that energy, and we can do all sorts of great things”. Via CBC Manitoba Lead image via Deposit Photos

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Bitcoin mining powers Canadian man’s innovative aquaponics system

BREAKING NEWS: Tesla unveils groundbreaking new solar roof system

October 29, 2016 by  
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Residential solar is quickly becoming a booming business, especially in sunny California – but there are still many challenges for solar installers when it comes to the logistics of bolting photovoltaic panels to the tops of homeowners roofs; old roofing materials, surfaces that aren’t even and setback regulations all limit the amount of panels and ultimate efficiency of rooftop solar. Elon Musk wanted to innovate and improve upon the current practice of bolting solar panels to the top of your roof, and he’s just shattered the mold with the unveiling of some groundbreaking new designs for roof-integrated solar rooftop tiles . The idea is that integrated photovoltaic roof panels will provide more electric power, beauty and efficiency than the old tack-on method. That’s because, in part, because you can fit a lot more on to the top of your roof. Also, since homeowners will now be able to integrate their entire roofing with solar, they will be able to create a more elegant roof design, and installation will become easier and more desirable. Now when homeowners upadte their roof, they can automatically update to photovoltaic roof tiles, instead of having to work with 2 sets of different contractors to set up a home solar system. In August, Tesla and SolarCity agreed to a 2.6 billion dollar merger . Tesla and SolarCity might seem like companies with pretty disparate goals – one makes cars and the other manages home energy. But they both have a long-term vision of moving the planet away from fossil fuels. So it makes sense that they would unite under one umbrella. Musk said, “That [Telsa and SolarCity] are separate at all, despite similar origins and pursuit of the same overarching goal of sustainable energy, is largely an accident of history.” Related: Tesla and SolarCity just agreed on a $2.6 billion merger Today’s announcement was the perfect opportunity for Musk to illustrate how the merger makes not just good sense for the environment, but good financial sense, too. It’s also an opportunity to show how Musk’s vision is a new step for solar. His plan involves an integrated solar panel/roof system, rather than the typical solar-panel-on-roof system. Musk said that this is “a fundamental part of achieving a differentiated product strategy.” The system will utilize Tesla’s Powerwall , which can store enough energy to power a home on the sunlight gathered during the day. + Tesla

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BREAKING NEWS: Tesla unveils groundbreaking new solar roof system

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