Luzinterruptus turns plastic waste into Death by Plastic eco-art for COP25

January 21, 2020 by  
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Frustrated with the “ludicrous charade” of the COP25 World Climate Summit in December, Spanish design collective luzinterruptus turned to visual protest by creating the temporary guerrilla art piece, “Death by Plastic.” Made from plastic waste and transparent fabric, the glowing environmental art installation depicts a crime scene-like visual with a series of people-shaped sculptures lying on the ground. Held in Madrid, Spain in the beginning of December, the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference became the target of social unrest by protestors frustrated with the inactions of the negotiators on the climate crisis . Members of luzinterruptus also joined the protest and, disappointed by the adopted resolutions at the end of the event, wrote a statement to express their anger. Related: Archstorming announces winning proposals for a school made of recycled plastic in Mexico “The people from the Climate Summit are already leaving with bowed heads (by taxi or by plane) without having reached any significant agreements, as we all expected,” they said. “Everything was just a mirage. Few effective resolutions and big business opportunities for those who parade the flag of sustainability around. Let’s try again next year, perhaps with lengthier political speeches, but never listening to the scientific community or the citizens. And always under the sponsorship of the most polluting companies, which are always happy to take this opportunity to clean up their image. For now, the ‘climate crisis’ is officially postponed until the most environmentally unfriendly countries find a better time to deal with it. We are ashamed for having provided the scenario for such a ludicrous charade.” To further illustrate their frustrations, the artists installed Death by Plastic, an eco-art piece located near the COP25 gathering at the close of conference. Using plastic waste generated from the Christmas shopping along one of Madrid’s busiest retail areas, the artists created large-scale, people-shaped sculptures illuminated from within. The artists also drew a chalk outline around each of the plastic “bodies” to denote a crime scene. The guerrilla installation was displayed for a few hours, after which the artists removed the artworks. The art pieces have been stored away for future use. + luzinterruptus Photography by Melisa Hernández via luzinterruptus

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Luzinterruptus turns plastic waste into Death by Plastic eco-art for COP25

This is one of the only LEED Gold-certified hotels in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Opened in March 2018 and located in Madrid, Spain, the VP Plaza España Design hotel is committed to sustainability efforts in both its design and daily practices. The hotel implements recycling and solid waste management programs and even continuous education on sustainable operation practices for the staff as well as incentives for guests to reduce their environmental impact. The hotel is one of the few in its country to earn LEED Gold certification as a mark of excellence from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 5-star hotel was able to secure the coveted certification with its high scores in sustainable setting, design, water and energy use efficiency and use of quality materials and resources. Related: LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood The hotel has implemented several measures to reduce energy consumption. These include thermal enclosures and installations, a lighting and energy system with motion detectors to save energy when the lights aren’t in use, daylight sensors to measure and adjust electric lighting and window sensors that open and close window shades depending on the daylight. In terms of water efficiency, the hotel has selected plants for its outdoor landscaping that require less irrigation. Systems throughout the property monitor water consumption and bathrooms while using high-efficiency fixtures and fittings, such as dual-flush toilets and low-flow showers. These environmental initiatives have reduced water consumption by nearly 33 percent. The building monitors outdoor air ventilation levels, and intelligent controls are utilized for lighting and thermal systems. To further support high air quality inside the hotel, the design team used low-VOC paints. Additionally, the hotel sourced building materials locally, including the furniture and artwork, with wood sourced from responsibly managed forests . This focus on materials supports local economic growth while minimizing the environmental footprint. The general manager of VP Plaza España Design, Francisco Garcia de Oro, has high hopes that the hotel can become an example for sustainability throughout Spain . “For us, being environmentally responsible is not an option but an obligation. We hope to continue to raise the bar in sustainable tourism and will continue to seek ways to improve our operation every day.” + VP Plaza España Design Images via VP Plaza España Design

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This is one of the only LEED Gold-certified hotels in Spain

Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Spain’s Rías Baixas area is a picturesque part of the country. Now, in this idyllic region sits a highly energy-efficient home designed by local firm ARKKE . The architects incorporated several bioclimatic features into the design, taking advantage of the local climate and landscape to help reduce the building’s energy use. The Small Bioclimatic House is a compact, two-bedroom home that sits elevated on a steep hill side overlooking the Ría de Arousa, the largest estuary in Galicia. The area is known for its picturesque landscape dotted with quaint fishing villages, so the architects wanted to create an energy-efficient home that harmonizes with the surroundings and complements the existing vernacular. Related: Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint The home is just over 900 square feet and is surrounded by natural landscaping. According to the architects, the layout and size of the house was inspired by the limited building space as well as the stunning views. The firm explained, “The essential premise of the commission was to design a small, highly efficient and healthy house capable of making the most of a very narrow plot but with delicious views of the Arosa estuary.” The architects created a simple, one-story design with two bedrooms, a living room, an open kitchen and a bathroom. The front wall is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a front deck; this helps the family to enjoy optimal natural light as well as unobstructed views year-round. To create a strong thermal envelope for the home, the architects chose to build with CLT . The porch extends laterally, forming eaves that shade the interiors from direct solar radiation, again reducing the home’s energy use. Additionally, the entire envelope has been insulated with a unique exterior insulation system (SATE) to withstand both the region’s frigid winters and the searing summer months. + ARKKE Via ArchDaily Images via ARKKE

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Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

Green-roofed luxury home blends historic Spanish influences with contemporary design

August 2, 2019 by  
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In between the Mediterranean Sea and the coastal mountain range in northern Spain, Tarragona-based architect Guillem Carrera has completed Casa VN, an energy-efficient luxury home that pays homage to the region’s historic heritage. Set on a steep slope, the modern home uses terraces to step down the landscape and is faced with walls of glass to take advantage of panoramic views. To reduce energy demands, the house follows passive solar principles; it is also topped with insulating green roofs and equipped with home automation technology. Casa VN is located in Alella, a village near Barcelona that was historically used for farming and marked by large estates and stonewall terraces. However, in recent years, changes in the economy have led to increased urbanization in the area. Given the landscape history, Carrera strove to conserve the original character of his client’s property while introducing modern comforts. Related: Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption The goal was to “preserve the soul and the morphology, to preserve each one of those things that make it unique and characteristic: the terraces, the retaining walls, the different elements of pre-existing vegetation and the dry stone chapel ,” Carrera said. “These elements are delimited and identified to be preserved in the plant, and once they have been delimited, a respectful implementation of housing directly on the existing land is established, so that the house coexists and interacts spatially and functionally with these elements. The resulting ensemble seeks to be a whole, timeless and heterogeneous, that is part of the place and the landscape.” At 869 square meters, Casa VN recalls the large estates that were once typical in Alella. Locally sourced stone — the same used in the preserved stone chapel — and native Mediterranean landscaping also respect the local vernacular. Meanwhile, the residence features modern construction with a structure of reinforced concrete, steel and glass. Passive solar principles also guided the design and placement of the house to reduce unwanted solar gain and promote natural cooling. + Guillem Carrera Photography by Adrià Goula via Guillem Carrera

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Green-roofed luxury home blends historic Spanish influences with contemporary design

Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

July 12, 2019 by  
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What do 4,300 birds, 1,500 reptiles, 10,000 turtles and tortoises, 23 primates, 70 truckloads of timber and 30 big cats all have in common? No, they’re not the residents of a new zoo — all of these critical plants and animals were seized in a major international operation that cracked down on wildlife smuggling. Throughout the month of June, international police and customs authorities united for ‘Operation Thunderball’ and rescued an astonishing number of dolphins, sharks, lions, tigers, birds, tortoises, parakeets, finches, ivory and rhino horns. The operation was carried out in more than 100 countries and hopefully dealt a serious blow to the $19 billion dollar illegal wildlife trafficking industry. Over 600 suspects have been identified, with 21 arrests in Spain and three arrests in Uruguay. Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund, said Operation Thunderball “underscores why international cooperation is so important to addressing this deadly criminal activity.” Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife Wildlife trafficking is a major industry that not only hurts the environment and targets endangered species , but it also supports a far-reaching, violent criminal network. Much of the illegal wildlife trade has shifted online to an internet-based black market. For example, in April of this year, Indonesian police officers detained smugglers who admitted to using Facebook for selling Komodo dragons. International animal rights advocates, police and conservationists agree that Operation Thunderball was a massive success for the fight against the illegal animal trade. But some argue that national authorities now need to pick up where the international authorities left off and fully prosecute the detained criminals. This will help set an example and further debilitate the illegal network. Susan Lieberman, vice president for international policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said, “This massive disruption of criminal networks is key to saving endangered wildlife across the globe, but seizures and arrests are only the first step — governments now must follow up with strong, meaningful prosecutions.” + Interpol Via New York Times Images via © INTERPOL

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Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

This eco-friendly bamboo restaurant was built in just 5 weeks

July 12, 2019 by  
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Crystal-blue waters, luxury accommodations and tropical appeal aren’t the only draws of Sundy Praia , São Tomé and Príncipe’s first five?star resort. The sustainably minded destination is also home to an award-winning restaurant designed by French architect-designer agency D.L.2.A (Didier Lefort Architectes Associés). Crafted in the shape of a large fish, the restaurant features a bamboo structure that was mainly assembled by hand and built in just five weeks. Located in the Gulf of Guinea off the western coast of Africa, Sundy Praia on the island of Príncipe was created with low-impact luxury in mind. Hidden among tropical almond and banana trees are the resort’s 15 tented villas, each anchored into the ground with retractable screws to reduce impact on the forest. In keeping with this eco-friendly ethos, designer Didier Lefort created a bamboo restaurant that uses local craftsmanship and materials. Related: Bamboo community center empowers the local Brazilian community Crafted to resemble a large fish with an undulating spine and a wide-open mouth, the building structure comprises a series of bamboo arches of varying dimensions that are fastened by hand with natural ties and only bolted at key areas. Measuring 24 meters from head to tail, the restaurant can accommodate up to 100 people inside and on the terrace. The undulating size of the restaurant — from its width to its height — creates spaces for different guests. The narrowest end of the restaurant, for instance, is for VIPs who wish to dine quietly, while the large “belly” area accommodates families. The “mouth of the fish” at the entrance is a popular place for couples wanting to dine by candlelight.  The interior of the restaurant is also dressed in locally crafted products, such as the chandeliers braided from bamboo and inspired by fishermen creels and the large curtains that are held together by strings of large seeds. The long buffet tables are designed by the D.L.2.A agency. + D.L.2.A Photography by Géraldine Bruneel via D.L.2.A

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This eco-friendly bamboo restaurant was built in just 5 weeks

Twisting brick facade fronts an innovative courtyard house near Chicago

June 12, 2019 by  
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In a Chicago suburb full of traditional gabled rooflines, California-based architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa has inserted a modern dwelling that puts a sculptural twist on a humble and overlooked building material: Chicago “Common” brick. Historically considered unattractive and only fit for unseen areas such as chimney flues, Chicago “Common” brick is given renewed attention in a recently completed courtyard house , dubbed the Thayer Brick House. Not only does the contemporary home use the brick for almost its entire facade, but it also shines the spotlight on the local resource with a sculptural, street-facing facade that’s made with twisting columns of stacked brick. Made from indigenous Michigan clay, Chicago “Common” brick has long been considered undesirable and cheap due to its variations and irregularities. Instead of the classic red color, the prosaic material takes on a more yellow hue and has been traditionally used for areas hidden from the street, such as the side and back walls, chimney flues and structural support behind the facades. In making Chicago “Common” brick highly visible in the Thayer Brick House, Brooks + Scarpa is celebrating a local material and inviting passersby to reconsider unexpected uses for everyday materials and concepts. Related: A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork “By using the familiar in an unfamiliar location and application, the material becomes perceptually both old and new at the same time,” the firm said. “This makes one more aware of not just the building, but also our sense of place. There is a sense of discovery, something spontaneous and unexpected. The object is important, but it’s the experience that has a profound impact and leaves something that lasts well beyond the mere physical and visual existence of the building. This gives us the opportunity to not only learn about design but also about ourselves, our collective cultures and our place in society.” The use of Chicago “Common” brick helps contextualize the building and gives the building an unexpected appearance. The street-facing facade is made up of columns of brick rotated at varying degrees to make the courtyard look open or closed depending on where the viewer stands. Passersby can see the full effect of the facade, which has a moire-like pattern that appears to move as one walks past it. The sculptural facade also has the added benefit of reducing glare and providing privacy to the fully glazed interior volume. + Brooks + Scarpa Photography by Marty Peters and Brooks + Scarpa

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Twisting brick facade fronts an innovative courtyard house near Chicago

An energy-optimized extension pierces a renovated brick bungalow

June 4, 2019 by  
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Having outgrown their single-story bungalow, a family approached Ghent-based architectural firm WE-S architecten for an expansion and renovation that would also bolster the home’s energy performance. The architects responded with an unusual proposal: an extension that appears to pierce straight through the existing structure at an angle. Clad in brick , the House TlL in Pittem, Belgium now spans 3,025 square feet with an east-west addition that follows site-specific passive design principles for improved energy performance. The clients’ former bungalow was not only poorly insulated , but also suffered from poor space allocation: a seldom-used indoor garage had occupied about a quarter of the home’s footprint. After conducting site studies, the architects removed the indoor garage and placed it to the front of the brick house in a covered parking pad as part of the new extension. Part of the volume is cut out of the building to maximize daylight, while the covered terrace protects the interior from cold westerly winds. Related: A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork Walls of glass bring natural light and air into the interiors, which have been renovated to look bright and airy. White-painted walls and a palette of natural materials with pops of greenery help achieve a minimalist aesthetic. The roofline has also been raised to heighten the spacious feel and bring additional light indoors. An open-plan living area, dining room, and kitchen occupy the heart of the brick house. The raised roofline allows for the creation of two rooms on the upper floor, one of which serves as a bedroom. “The project tries to interweave the existing bungalow within its environment with certain simplicity in planning and materialization,” explain the architects in a press release. “Variable room heights play a game of compression and decompression, which has its center of gravity in the double-height living space .” + WE-S architecten Images via Johnny Umans

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An energy-optimized extension pierces a renovated brick bungalow

Here’s how you can recycle and upcycle your yogurt containers

June 4, 2019 by  
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We all want to do the right thing when it comes to recycling. After all, it makes us feel good to know we’re diverting materials from the already-overflowing landfills . But sometimes we inadvertently cause more problems than we solve when we toss items into recycling that contaminate the rest of the goods in the bin. For example, when a material that has come into contact with food rolls down the conveyor belt at the recycling plant, workers have to pull other perfectly acceptable recyclable items from the line simply due to cross-contamination. Yogurt containers are one such item that leave us feeling a little helpless in our efforts to do the right thing. While they do come into contact with food, they may still be recyclable. Then again, they may not. Even if you understand the policy regarding single-use food containers in your area, you have the added ongoing conflict surrounding those little numbers on the bottom of plastic containers. Can you recycle a number 4? Are the containers of one yogurt brand recyclable while others are not? The answer is not black and white. In fact, almost no two recycling centers have the same standards when it comes to what they will or will not accept. The good news is that you can erase the question mark regarding the best way to deal with yogurt containers in your area. Related: DIY: Make delicious homemade yogurt in your slow cooker Step 1. Know your plastic The first step in the process is to investigate the identifying number on the bottom of your container. Yes, these are likely different from one brand to another. Beyond that even, some brands have more than one plastic type for different products. Numbers one and two are commonly recyclable. Number three is rarely recyclable. Number four is commonly recyclable, but perhaps not via curbside pickup. Number five is hit and miss for mainstream recyclability. Number six is rarely recyclable or recycled and is bad for the environment . Finally, number seven is a mixture of plastics that is rarely recyclable. Yogurt containers are most commonly number 5 or 6 plastic, which does nothing to answer the question as to whether you can recycle it or not. Step 2. Contact your recycle center The most accurate answer to your query will come directly from your local curbside recycling provider. While some will accept packaging labeled one to seven, some will only take non-food plastic . Yet, others only commit to the cleaner numbers one or two. Check out the website or send them an email. You can also give them a call, but note that many times the centralized call center won’t have reliable information about the recycling in your area. Facilities vary widely from one location to the next. Plus, protocol is constantly changing based on many factors, most recently the limitations implemented by China. Step 3. Alternatives The short answer here is that there is no easy answer, and it depends on both the capabilities of the facility and the plastic used in the production of the yogurt container. If your curbside service doesn’t allow it, look for a local facility that does accept lower grade plastic. If you have a Whole Foods in your area, look for Gimme 5 drop boxes near the front of the store or mail your clean, empty yogurt cups back to Preserve . Step 4. Other alternatives If you don’t find a viable way to recycle your plastic yogurt containers, it might be time to switch to a brand that serves it up in glass instead. Alternately, you can easily make your own yogurt with recipes that allow it to sit in the oven overnight. Or you can rely on a yogurt maker or Insta-pot for the same effect. Of course, yogurt containers can be useful around the house, too. Here are just a few ways you can put them to work: If they have a lid, use them to store paper clips, thumb tacks, hair bands, buttons, cotton balls, jewelry when you travel and any number of other small items throughout the house and garage. Used yogurt containers can also be used for other food items. Pack your nuts, berries or Goldfish in them, or take your dressings, sauces and dips on the road. Due to the size and shape of yogurt containers, they’re great for pantry items like flour and also cleaning products like the bucket of Oxy-clean or dishwasher detergent . For gardening , poke a few holes in the bottom, fill with soil and add seeds. Yogurt cups make a great small and available planter when you’re starting out plants prior to transplant. If you have children, yogurt containers might be the only bath toy you need. Prepare for endless filling and dumping or drill holes in the bottom so your child can watch it run through. They are also great in the sandbox when building a castle or just watching the sand cascade to the earth. Crafting— yogurt containers can reign in small supplies like tiny clips, stickers or googly eyes. Plus, they make great containers for Play-doh or fingerpainting when the kids are looking for an artsy outlet. Even without a clear cut answer as to whether your yogurt containers are recyclable, you can have a plan to make conscientious purchases (avoid number 6 and buy glass if you can), locate more information about local recycling resources and find ways to upcycle your containers to provide more than a single use. Via Preserve , LifeHacker Images via Shutterstock

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Here’s how you can recycle and upcycle your yogurt containers

A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork

April 30, 2019 by  
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In the mountains of the southeastern Spanish town of Jumilla sits “La Casa del Ángel,” a small shelter where outdoor enthusiasts have long sought shelter. To bring more people to the shelter, the local government commissioned Murcia-based firm Martin Lejarraga Oficina de Arquitectura to refurbish the small building, which had been worn down by use and the outdoor elements. In renovating the space, the architects reinforced the structural strength and clad the facade in a variety of brickwork to make the building pop against its lush green surroundings. After decades of use, La Casa del Ángel has become a known fixture in the town of Jumilla. To pay respect to the site history, the architects wanted to turn the building into a “landscape piece” that can be used internally and externally. As a result, a sculptural bench was added to the exterior that wraps around two walls while an extra opening has been added to the covered entrance area to invite passersby to take shelter beneath the roof, which has been reinforced with concrete construction. Inside, the architects improved the building’s thermal and acoustic insulation and added natural materials that create a warm and inviting atmosphere. The wood used in the structure, windows and doors complement the unique original masonry. Vertically laid brick is also used in the interiors for a portion of the walls and the floors, matching the vertically oriented brick that covers half of the facade. The other half of the facade comprises horizontally oriented brick perforated to let in light and natural ventilation. Related: Towering prefab cabins envisioned for Iceland’s rugged landscape “None of the materials are coated, taking advantage of its bareness for giving refuge also to other kind of inhabitants: plants, insects, birds, etc.,” the architects explained. “Because of all this, the refurbishing of ‘La Casa del Ángel’ turns out to be a sustainable and recognizable intervention and, on top of this, a proposal with the goal of being the shelter of people, animal and plants within the wonderful landscape it is inserted.” + Martin Lejarraga Oficina de Arquitectura Photography by David Frutos via Martin Lejarraga Oficina de Arquitectura

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