$20K studio in Virginia demonstrates straw bale can be viable in humid environments

October 4, 2016 by  
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Straw bale building offers an affordable, sustainable solution to materials like concrete. Sigi Koko of Down to Earth Design demonstrated straw bale building will work even in wet climates with the Zeljo Studio , a 300-square-foot cottage in Arlington, Virginia . Built with reclaimed and scavenged materials, the studio cost less than $20K to build . The Zeljo Studio is comprised of a ” timber frame structure ,” with straw bales providing insulation . Wood siding provides an elegant exterior and the interior is finished with clay plaster locally sourced with soil from the building site. The foundation was already in place. Atop the dormers is a green roof to absorb rainwater and help a loft remain cool in warm summer weather. Due to the straw insulation, the studio stays warm in the winter without needing much heat. Related: Super-efficient straw-bale houses hit the market in the UK – piglets need not apply The owners of the studio found salvaged bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets, a kitchen sink, doors, and flooring for the loft. According to Koko, they obtained many of the materials for free. They even found new energy efficient windows that were “misordered” so were sold for a hefty discount. Koko wrote in an article , “By far, the biggest concern with strawbale walls, as with most materials in a wet or humid climate, is moisture.” She designed the straw bale studio in humid Virginia to help show straw bale buildings are still viable in wet climates. By targeting areas where water can sneak in, like at the wall base, windows, or roof eaves, straw bale homes work in places heavily exposed to moisture. Koko wrote an article outlining what steps home owners can take to protect their straw bale homes that can be read in detail here . + Down to Earth Design Images courtesy of Sigi Koko, Down to Earth Design

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$20K studio in Virginia demonstrates straw bale can be viable in humid environments

11 green building materials that are way better than concrete

July 8, 2016 by  
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1. Straw Bales Rather than relying on new research and technology, straw bale building hearkens back to the days when homes were built from natural, locally-occurring materials. Straw bales are used to create a home’s walls inside of a frame, replacing other building materials such as concrete, wood, gypsum, plaster, fiberglass, or stone. When properly sealed, straw bales naturally provide very high levels of insulation for a hot or cold climate, and are not only affordable but sustainable as straw is a rapidly renewable resource. ®Flickr/Willie Angus 2. Grasscrete As its name might indicate, grasscrete is a method of laying concrete flooring, walkways, sidewalks, and driveways in such a manner that there are open patterns allowing grass or other flora to grow. While this provides the benefit of reducing concrete usage overall, there’s also another important perk — improved stormwater absorption and drainage. 3. Rammed Earth What’s more natural than the dirt under your feet? In fact, walls that have a similar feel to concrete can actually be created with nothing more than dirt tamped down very tightly in wooden forms. Rammed earth is a technology that has been used by human civilization for thousands of years, and can last a very long time. Modern rammed earth buildings can be made safer by use of rebar or bamboo, and mechanical tampers reduce the amount of labor required to create sturdy walls. 4. HempCrete HempCrete is just what it sounds like – a concrete like material created from the woody inner fibers of the hemp plant. The hemp fibers are bound with lime to create concrete-like shapes that are strong and light.  HempCrete blocks are super-lightweight, which can also dramatically reduce the energy used to transport the blocks, and hemp itself is a fast-growing, renewable resource. ®Flickr/Carolina Zuluaga 5. Bamboo Bamboo might seem trendy, but it has actually been a locally-sourced building material in some regions of the world for millennia. What makes bamboo such a promising building material for modern buildings is its combination of tensile strength , light weight, and fast-growing renewable nature. Used for framing buildings and shelters, bamboo can replace expensive and heavy imported materials and provide an alternative to concrete and rebar construction, especially in difficult-to reach areas, post-disaster rebuilding, and low-income areas with access to natural locally-sourced bamboo. 6. Recycled Plastic Instead of mining, extracting, and milling new components, researchers are creating concrete that includes ground up recycled plastics and trash, which not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but reduces weight and provides a new use for landfill-clogging plastic waste. 7. Wood Plain old wood still retains many advantages over more industrial building materials like concrete or steel. Not only do trees absorb CO2 as they grow, they require much less energy-intensive methods to process into construction products. Properly managed forests are also renewable and can ensure a biodiverse habitat. RELATED: Energy efficient timber cabin in Norway 8. Mycelium Mycelium is a crazy futuristic building material that’s actually totally natural – it comprises the root structure of fungi and mushrooms. Mycelium can be encouraged to grow around a composite of other natural materials, like ground up straw, in molds or forms, then air-dried to create lightweight and strong bricks or other shapes. ®Flickr/Zack Detailer 9. Ferrock Ferrock is a new material being researched that uses recycled materials including steel dust from the steel industry to create a concrete-like building material that is even stronger than concrete . What’s more, this unique material actually absorbs and traps carbon dioxide as part of its drying and hardening process – making it not only less CO2 intensive than traditional concrete, but actually carbon neutral. ®Flickr/Alan Stark 10. AshCrete AshCrete is a concrete alternative that uses fly ash instead of traditional cement.  By using fly ash, a by-product of burning coal, 97 percent of traditional components in concrete can be replaced with recycled material. ®Public Domain Pictures 11. Timbercrete Timbercrete is an interesting building material made of sawdust and concrete mixed together. Since it is lighter than concrete, it reduces transportation emissions, and the sawdust both reuses a waste product and replaces some of the energy-intensive components of traditional concrete. Timbercrete can be formed into traditional shapes such as blocks, bricks, and pavers.

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11 green building materials that are way better than concrete

New Hubble images finally reveal what the Crab Nebula hides in its core

July 8, 2016 by  
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Legions of scientists have studied and taken images of the Crab Nebula — in fact, it’s one of the most-studied object in space. But until now, astronomers have never been able to glimpse the object at the heart of the massive gas cloud. Until now. New Hubble images have revealed a fast-moving neutron star at the heart of the nebula. The Crab Nebula , which lies 6500 light years away from Earth, was created by a supernova long ago. A massive star in the Taurus constellation exploded at immense speeds, creating the expanding cloud of gas we see today, called a supernova remnant. Most images of the nebula focus on the intense colors and shapes of the nebula’s outer filaments, but what’s going on in the heart of the cloud may be even more interesting. It turns out that when the original star making up the nebula exploded, it left behind its inner core, a strange and exotic object known as a neutron star . While this star has roughly the same mass as our sun, it only measures a few tens of kilometers across — an incredible density made possible by the compression of the subatomic particles that make up the star. Until now, it’s been almost impossible to capture this star’s movement on camera due to its high speed: it rotates approximately 30 times per second. Related: NASA captures shockwave of a massive supernova for the first time ever To capture the neutron star, astronomers used the Hubble Space Telescope to take three high-resolution images about 10 years apart each. Those images were combined together to create a sort of time-lapse showing bright “ripples” in the center of the nebula; bands of light are actually caused by the radiation of electrons spiraling through the star’s magnetic field at nearly the speed of light. This isn’t the first time the Crab Nebula has made history . The supernova explosion that created the cloud was one of the first such events in recorded human history.  In the year 1045, astronomers in Japan and China noticed a bright new star in the night sky said to be nearly as bright as the moon. That bright light was caused by the distant explosion, and over the next several years it gradually faded until it was invisible to the naked eye. Luckily, it’s still possible to see with the help of the Hubble . Via Gizmodo Images via ESA/Hubble  

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New Hubble images finally reveal what the Crab Nebula hides in its core

Thousands of origami birds come together in Paris largest urban mural

July 8, 2016 by  
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The massive Lunar Cycles mural was installed on a building slated for demolition at the end of the year to make room for a new housing development. Before beginning her installation , Mademoiselle Maurice applied 500 liters of black paint to the front of the 140-meter-long building to create a sharp contrast for the rainbow-like, geometric patterns created by the origami. The artist spent over 150 hours folding thousands of origami birds, and also added 2,000 “Maurigamis,” a kind of two-dimensional painted origami, as a solution to weeks of rain onsite. Related: Madamoiselle Maurice’s Unique Urban Origami Brightens Up The Streets Of Vietnam and Hong Kong The final design was created with input from the community, including previous inhabitants of the demolition-slated building. The colorful and ephemeral artwork symbolizes the process of change and pays homage the hundreds of residents temporarily uprooted by the building project. “It was a big trauma for a lot of them because they spent their lives there, sometimes even there since they were born,” the artist said in an interview with Wide Walls . “They will come back later into the new building, but waiting for that they can say goodbye to their home with colors and with the evocation of changes.” Lunar Cycles opened to the public late last month and will be taken down late August 2016. + Madamoiselle Maurice Via Wide Walls Images via Mathgoth Gallery

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Thousands of origami birds come together in Paris largest urban mural

Fairy Tale Strawbale Cottage is a Charming Waldorf Preschool in Cuernavaca, Mexico

October 13, 2011 by  
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This charming straw bale classroom in Cuernavaca, Mexico is actually a Waldforf preschool that was designed and built with the help of the local community over an 8 week period. Laboratorio Arquitectura Básica Mx led workshops and building sessions to raise the roof on this strawbale building, bringing the community together in a really positive way. The teacher of the Tecilli Classroom requested that the school be like a fairy tale building with curved walls, round windows, and playful details. The end result is an adorable, organic, natural, and healthy building sure to inspire the young minds that attend. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “natural materials” , “sustainable architecture” , cuernavaca , eco design , eco preschool , green architecture , Green Building , green design , green school , laboratorio arquitectura basica mx , mexico , preschool , strawbale , strawbale classroom , Sustainable Building , sustainable design , tecilli classroom , Tecilli Strawbale Classroom-laboratorio arquitectura basica mx

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Fairy Tale Strawbale Cottage is a Charming Waldorf Preschool in Cuernavaca, Mexico

Design Build Bluff: Sustainable Homes For People Who Need Them

July 2, 2010 by  
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Read the rest of Design Build Bluff: Sustainable Homes For People Who Need Them http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/ohttp://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=better_feedptions-general.php?page=better_feed Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: affordable housing , bluff , design build bluff , Design for Health , eco design , Green Building , green design , green homes , hank louis , indian reservation , native american reservation , navajo reservation , net zero , off-grid , prefab construction , Prefab Housing , Straw Bale , strawbale , student design program , Sustainable Building , university design build program , Utah

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Design Build Bluff: Sustainable Homes For People Who Need Them

The Lamboo Solar Studio is a Curvy Eco Home Built from Bamboo

July 2, 2010 by  
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The Lamboo Studio Project is a small solar powered studio that uses a radical S-shaped roof system to help keep the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter - all made possible by bamboo grass. The unique standing seam metal roof also has built-in solar electric panels . The home’s appealing design is aesthetically pleasing as well as practical – it saves energy and provides generous daylight . Read the rest of The Lamboo Solar Studio is a Curvy Eco Home Built from Bamboo http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/ohttp://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=better_feedptions-general.php?page=better_feed Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bamboo beams , bamboo building , Bamboo House , bamboo joists , bamboo prefab , bamboo structure , bamboo studio , Lamboo I-joist , lamboo structure , Renewable building materials , solar studio

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The Lamboo Solar Studio is a Curvy Eco Home Built from Bamboo

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