Inferno rages through North California, killing at least 10 people

October 10, 2017 by  
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For the past several days, 15 ferocious wildfires have been burning across at least 119,032 acres throughout Northern California . The inferno has claimed the lives of at least 10 people, a number that is expected to grow, and has torched over 1,500 homes and businesses. The scenic Wine Country counties of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino have been particularly hard hit. After igniting on Sunday night, the fires multiplied quickly due to the pervasive dry conditions in the area and strong winds of up to 50 MPH. In response to the raging flames consuming all in its path, 20,000 people were evacuated, many without much notice, into safer areas. In Sonoma County , the city of Santa Rosa, with a population of 125,000, has suffered serious damage. Seven of the 10 casualties from the wildfires have occurred in Santa Rosa. “That number’s going to change,” said Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano. Given the ongoing search and rescue operation, “it’s just logical,” he said, that more people trapped by the fire will be found. Local landmarks destroyed by the fires include The Fountaingrove Inn and Round Barn, and sections of the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts. “I’m lucky,” said Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey. “My house is fine. My family is fine. My city is not.” Related: Over 82,000 people evacuated as wildfire engulfs Southern California While Santa Rosa may have endured the most casualties so far, the most powerful fires are burning in Napa County. “I have friends fighting off fires with hoses in the hills, said Alison Crowe, winemaker for Garnet Vineyards & Picket Fence Vineyards in Napa Valley. “Thankfully a lot of my friends got out last night.” Although Crowe has not been ordered to evacuate her home in downtown Napa and the main route out of town remains open, she and her neighbors are concerned. “It’s scary,” Crowe said. “We feel surrounded.” Via CNN Images via US Department of Agriculture and Glenn Beltz

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Inferno rages through North California, killing at least 10 people

This prefab concrete house harvests rainwater with food-growing vertical gardens

October 10, 2017 by  
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Students from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri  designed this beautiful solar-powered home completely out of prefabricated concrete. Built to showcase the viability of building with concrete , the spectacular design includes a series of gutters on the exterior that serve as a large-scale hydroponic growing system that can produce food all year round. According to the team, the design of the Crete House is meant to be a reminder that concrete continues to be a viable and sustainable building material that makes for a beautiful alternative to wood constructions. Thanks an ultra-strong envelope comprised of four inches of standard concrete, five inches of insulation, and one inch of Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC), the home is incredibly resilient against fire, moisture, mold, insects, seismic activity, and extreme weather. Related: 8 amazing homes that are 100% powered by the sun The design focuses on providing the ultimate in self-sufficiency – including energy generation, water reuse, and food production. Solar panels provide sufficient energy to the home, and a water-to-water heat pump provides hot water for domestic use as well as water for the home’s radiant heating and cooling system installed in the floor and ceiling. The precast insulated concrete panels of the home are factory-manufactured, but assembled on-site, reducing travel time and energy. In addition to the home’s structure, the concrete panels were used to create a series of large L-shaped gutters that extend out and away from the house. The shape of the gutters was strategic in creating an innovative system of water collection that directs to vegetated channels built into the vertical gutters that extend out into horizontal planters on the ground level. This all-in-one hydroponic system, complete with drip emitters, integrates a home garden system into the design, allowing occupants to grow their own food all year round. + Crete House + Solar Decathlon Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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This prefab concrete house harvests rainwater with food-growing vertical gardens

Hippos could be threatened with extinction due to demand for their teeth

October 10, 2017 by  
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To satisfy black market demand for ivory , poachers have turned to hippos . Hippopotamus teeth offer an unfortunate alternative as elephant populations plummet. But now the animals could face extinction – with one estimate suggesting the species could vanish within 100 years . The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies hippos as vulnerable . Their populations have fallen in Africa as their habitats have shrunk, and they’ve been hunted for teeth, skin, and meat. They’re in trouble – but according to Anglia Ruskin University teaching fellow Ben Garrod, writing for The Guardian , “The simple truth is that they are not high on the priority list of the international conservation community.” Related: China promises to end ivory trade by the end of this year A study published earlier this year in the African Journal of Ecology dug into the issue; two researchers at the University of Hong Kong found discordance in trade data that they said could undermine regulatory measures and harm African hippo populations. They said 90 percent of the global hippo teeth trade goes through Hong Kong . 75 percent of the imports come from Uganda or Tanzania . But Hong Kong declared a different volume of imports than the exports those two countries reported. The researchers think the trade in hippo teeth exceeds quotas that have been agreed upon internationally, saying more than 14,000 kilograms – around 30,865 pounds – are “unaccounted for between Uganda and Hong Kong, representing more than 2,700 individual hippos – two percent of the global population.” According to Quartz, demand for hippo teeth spiked after a 1989 ban on the international trade of ivory from elephants. Also, it’s far less difficult to smuggle hippo teeth than elephant tusks. Lead author Alexandra Andersson said in a statement , “It is imperative that authorities in both exporting and importing nations cross check the volumes of threatened species declared on paper to those actually received, work together to understand the cause of any discrepancies, as well as correct any reporting errors or fraudulent declarations. The fate of hippos – and a plethora of other species – could depend on it.” Garrod said hippos now desperately need our help as do elephants, and will until there’s a change in the demand for ivory. Via The Guardian and Quartz Africa Images via Pixabay and Pexels

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Hippos could be threatened with extinction due to demand for their teeth

These Dutch designers are harvesting stardust from rooftops

October 10, 2017 by  
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Did you know that 37,000 to 78,000 tons of stardust falls on the earth’s surface every year? The dust is made up of micrometeorites that make it through the earth’s atmosphere – and now two Dutch designers are collecting this rare material from rooftops in the Netherlands. Kirstie van Noot and Xandra van der Eijk are exploring ways to utilize these mini meteorites as a precious resource that literally falls from the sky. Kirstie and Xandra believe that stardust could become a new resource for a world that is quickly using up its own natural resources: “As terrestrial resources are depleting and rare earth metals are arguably indispensable for our way of life and our survival as a species, we are in dire need of alternatives,” explains van Noot in her website. To salvage stardust, the pair first collects matter from the rain gutters and roofs of houses. They then incinerate the matter and use magnets to pull out particles for inspection. By studying the shape and composition of these particles, the pair is able to identify which ones came from outer space. The designers recently displayed their star dust exhibition, “As above, so below” at this year’s London Design Festival. The exhibition included the star dust itself as well as a solid cube made of meteoric material. + Dutch Invertuals Collected + Kirstie van Noot + Xandra van der Eijk + London Design Week Coverage Photography by Ronald Smits Photography

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These Dutch designers are harvesting stardust from rooftops

Apple design director perfects a prefab home into an ultra-minimal, modern dwelling

January 26, 2017 by  
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It should come as no surprise that when Apple’s Director of Store Design was in the market for a new house, he wanted a home that would be as modern and streamlined as his employer’s impeccable shopfronts. He, along with the team at Alchemy, tweaked the original designs of the Alchemy weeHouse to create the Sonoma weeHouse, a prefabricated home made up of two elevated open-sided boxes. The ultra-minimal home was swiftly assembled onsite between gnarled oaks and boasts fantastic views of the Santa Rosa valley in California. The 970-square-foot Sonoma weeHouse is based on Alchemy’s original weeHouse modified with several customizations and finishing requirements by the San Francisco-based client, who is also an architect. While the home’s design was finalized in Minnesota by the Alchemy team, the structure was mostly prefabricated in Oregon before it was shipped, 90 percent complete, to its California site. The steel accessories, which include stairs, porch railings, and lasercut trim, were prefabricated in and shipped out from Minnesota. The Sonoma weeHouse comprises two main modules—a 640-square-foot main house and a 330-square-foot accompanying guesthouse—set atop horizontally banded, board-formed concrete plinths . Both modules feature steel frames, nine-foot-tall sliding glass walls, custom corrugated weathering steel cladding, and ipe interiors with oiled oak cabinetry. The low-maintenance oxidized steel facade helps blend the home into the landscape of gnarled coastal oaks and seasonal grasses. Related: Alchemy Architects Build Tiny Prefab weeHouses that Connect with Nature The main house contains a whitewashed oak box in the middle that houses the bedroom and divides the open kitchen, dining room, and living room on one end of the box from the toilet and shower on the other. Sliding glass doors connect the interior to an outdoor bolt-on porch that cantilevers into the dramatic landscape valley of Santa Rosa. A rear walkway connects the main house to the small guesthouse. Doors, privacy screens, and insect screens are recessed to minimize visual clutter. + Alchemy Via ArchDaily Images © Geoffrey Warner

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Apple design director perfects a prefab home into an ultra-minimal, modern dwelling

Sonoma County contemplates building a tiny home village for the homeless

November 6, 2015 by  
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California’s Sonoma County may join a national trend of using tiny homes as low-cost homeless housing solutions. The county supervisors recently allocated $75,000 for county staff to study six sites in Santa Rosa that could potentially host a micro-home village. “We are in crisis mode when it comes to affordable housing,” Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane told Press Democrat . “We really can’t afford not to use every single tool in our toolbox, and here is another one.” Read the rest of Sonoma County contemplates building a tiny home village for the homeless

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Zimmerman and Associates’ Vista Del Valle House in Sonoma, CA is a Luxurious Vision of Sustainability

August 9, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Zimmerman and Associates’ Vista Del Valle House in Sonoma, CA is a Luxurious Vision of Sustainability Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: California , house , modern , sonoma , Sustainable , Vista Del Valle , Zimmerman and Associates

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Zimmerman and Associates’ Vista Del Valle House in Sonoma, CA is a Luxurious Vision of Sustainability

Willamette University’s Ford Hall is a State of the Art Academic Building in Oregon

August 9, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Willamette University’s Ford Hall is a State of the Art Academic Building in Oregon Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , 2030 challenge , 2030 challenge design award , Architecture 2030 , eco campus , eco design , eco university , ford hall , green architecture , Green Building , green design , hennebery eddy architects , LEED gold , Solar Power , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , willamette university

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Willamette University’s Ford Hall is a State of the Art Academic Building in Oregon

Dowling Studios’ Westside Road Residence is an Experiment in Green Living & Prefab Design

December 23, 2011 by  
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Read the rest of Dowling Studios’ Westside Road Residence is an Experiment in Green Living & Prefab Design Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , dowling studios , eco design , eco home , green architecture , Green Building , green design , julie dowling , leed for homes , LEED platinum , sonoma , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , sustainable home , westside road residence

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Dowling Studios’ Westside Road Residence is an Experiment in Green Living & Prefab Design

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