Sustainable office renovation in Barcelona earns LEED Gold

September 15, 2021 by  
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Designed by Sanzpont Arquitectura, this sustainable renovation completely transformed a 1970s office building in Barcelona,  Spain . The project, a new headquarters of the Naturgy Group, overcame several structural obstacles to achieve LEED Gold certification. The building includes a main facade with large windows for ample  natural light . A series of photocatalytic krion 3D modules also give the building the ability to purify the air. The south facade incorporates photovoltaic louvers to protect from the sun in the summer while generating clean energy. According to the designers, the louvers generate enough energy to power 1,562 points of light for four hours a day for up to 35 years. Related: This O-shaped tower will reduce solar gain by 52% The building also has a large portion of its roof dedicated to a  natural green space . Landscapers incorporated drought-tolerant native plant species that provide extra insulation, improve the microclimate and help reduce solar gain. How did the architects develop such a sustainable design? To start, they conducted a detailed study of the area’s climate and environment to determine the characteristics of the building and how it responds to its surroundings throughout the year. The project was also designed using the latest BIM cloud technology to create virtual models of architecture, engineering,  interior design  and the urban environment before bringing the project to fruition. One of the challenges presented to the designers was the existing structure’s insufficient pre-existing floor heights and deformed slabs. The original use for the building was limited to housing — with structural regulatory requirements far below that of modern constructions. The building was changed from housing to offices by modifying and eliminating patios and adding access ramps to the basements. New supports were added, such as an emergency staircase and a new foundation. At 7,000 square meters in size, the newly renovated building also uses  carbon fiber  to reinforce concrete slab ribs and pillars.  + Sanzpont Arquitectura  Images by Sergio Sanz (courtesy of Sanzpont)

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Sustainable office renovation in Barcelona earns LEED Gold

The Ice Box Challenge shows effectiveness of passive house design

September 3, 2021 by  
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The Ice Box Challenge was a visual representation of the effectiveness of  passive house  design elements, presented as a collaborative effort from iPHA, Glasgow City Council, Passive House Institute, Edinburgh Napier University, Passivhaus Trust and Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. The display consisted of two small houses, placed side-by-side in Glasgow, Scotland’s city square. One house was built by standard Scottish building code, while the other implemented four of five passive house design elements. Each structure was filled with the same amount of ice, which was measured at the end of an established period. Related: Explore the Saltbox Passive House’s sweet sustainable design The results were undeniable, with the ice melting completely in the standard house within 11 days. Viewers could see the ice void days before the final measurements. In contrast, the passive house still had two large blocks of ice. In the end, the passive house still had 121kg of the original 917 kg of ice placed two weeks prior, even with unseasonably warm weather.  This demonstration highlights the effectiveness of energy-saving  passive design  elements since no active cooling systems were allowed. Passive design incorporates five standard elements to significantly reduce the need for mechanical heating and cooling. This not only reduces the use of limited environmental resources but saves money for the homeowner too.  For this challenge, the homes looked nearly identical from the outside, but the passive house relied on window glazing, insulation levels, airtightness and reduced thermal bridges for keeping out the summer heat and maintaining a cool and comfortable interior. Due to the nature of the competition, the passive house didn’t include the fifth element of passive design — a ventilation system with heat recovery — which adds to the  energy efficiency  of the construction.  The passive home standard is becoming increasingly more common in projects developed by the Glasgow City Council and local housing associations. Michelle Mundie from the Housing Investment Group at Glasgow City Council says, “Housing associations in Glasgow are looking at this very closely and what it means to new build programmes. For tenants it means more comfortable homes with lower running costs.” + Ice Box Challenge Images via © Passivhaus Trust, Kirsten Priebe

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The Ice Box Challenge shows effectiveness of passive house design

Dead zones expand in the Gulf of Mexico and on Oregon coast

August 9, 2021 by  
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Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) announced last week that the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico are worse this year than they expected. Four million acres of habitat off the Texas and Louisiana coasts are so oxygen-depleted that fish and other bottom-dwelling species can’t live there. Dead zones are more scientifically called “hypoxic zones.” This refers to places where so little oxygen is dissolved in the water that marine species move on, if they’re mobile like fish, or die in place, if they’re less mobile, like oysters. Dead zones happen when agricultural runoff, wastewater or other pollutants overwhelm rivers or coastal areas. The introduced nutrients stimulate  algae  growth, which then decomposes in the water, a process that consumes oxygen needed by marine life. Dead zones expand and contract with the weather, covering the largest area in summer when water is warmer and oxygen levels are lower. Related: Underwater robots just discovered the world’s biggest dead zone “The distribution of the low dissolved  oxygen  was unusual this summer,” said Nancy Rabalais, Louisiana State University professor and the study’s lead. “The low oxygen conditions were very close to shore with many observations showing an almost complete lack of oxygen.” Dead zones impact commercial fisheries, such as shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico and crabs and fish in the Pacific Northwest.  Oregon  has suffered from hypoxic areas every summer since 2002. Scientists said the dead zone developed earlier this year than any other time in the past 35 years. Perhaps as a result, crab fishers have found many Dungeness crab carcasses strewn on Washington and Oregon shores this year. Fertilizer  is one of the main culprits, having caused about $2.4 billion in damage to marine life and fisheries each year since 1980, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. In 2001, state and federal agencies set a target of 1,900 square miles as the maximum five-year average for the dead zone in the Gulf. This year, the hypoxic area is about three times that size. “Without a significant, concentrated effort to reduce  nitrogen  runoff from farms and livestock operations, Gulf Coast communities will continue to bear the costs of the dead zone,” said Rebecca Boehm, an economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The dead zone has not meaningfully shrunk in the last 30 years, and we are no closer to the goals set by the Hypoxia Task Force. Policymakers need to rethink their strategy, or we will find ourselves back here next year with the same bad news.” Via The Guardian , NOAA Lead image via Pixabay

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Dead zones expand in the Gulf of Mexico and on Oregon coast

Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home

August 6, 2021 by  
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Looking for some healthy options to grow in your garden? Whether you’re a novice gardener… The post Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home appeared first on Earth911.

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Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home

Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home

August 6, 2021 by  
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Looking for some healthy options to grow in your garden? Whether you’re a novice gardener… The post Summer Superfoods You Can Grow at Home appeared first on Earth911.

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Herbicide Free Campus: Student-led Environmental Advocacy

August 4, 2021 by  
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As the Pacific Northwest and Canada endured a record-breaking heatwave in the summer of 2021…. The post Herbicide Free Campus: Student-led Environmental Advocacy appeared first on Earth911.

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This luxury yacht runs on 100% renewable energy

July 2, 2021 by  
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For those who enjoy yachting, there’s nothing better than long stretches of propulsion across the water while you take in the sea and scenery. Except perhaps if you get to experience the newest Sunreef 80 Eco, an electric luxury ride that’s silent and sustainable. Sunreef Yachts developed a thin, highly efficient solar cell system that mounts completely flush to all surfaces of the boat, including masts, hull sides and bimini tops. The expected capacity of the system is 34 kWp energy, which is stored in ultralight lithium batteries until needed. Related: Isaac Burrough unveils solar-powered luxury yacht concept “We reinvented solar panels for yachts . Our team has challenged the status quo in marine photovoltaic technology, making solar panels an integral part of the Sunreef Yachts Eco design. This is something unique in the whole yachting world,” said Francis Lapp, founder and president of Sunreef Yachts. In addition to the solar panels, the yacht also produces energy through wind turbines , which seems like a natural addition as wind is a natural byproduct of moving through the water. Below the surface, the boat creates additional energy through hydropower from propeller rotations capable of generating over 15 kWh at about seven knots. All of these systems work together to provide quiet sailing with no range limitations because the energy to run both the propulsion and appliances of the Sunreef 80 Eco is renewable during travel. The processes also produce enough energy to power the water toys and the tender. Systems such as air conditioning, water makers and kitchen appliances that require power are designed to be energy-efficient .   The Sunreef 80 Eco is equipped with two electric motors that produce no pollution , fumes or vibrations, regardless of the trip distance. In addition to providing an environmentally guilt-free ride as one of the most energy-efficient luxury yachts on the planet, the boat is completely customizable with endless interior and feature options. Sunreef Yachts takes its commitment to the planet seriously with interior furnishings and hard finishes that meet stringent sustainability standards. The company expects a full release of Sunreef 80 Eco this summer.  + Sunreef Yachts Via Yanko Design Images via Sunreef Yachts

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This luxury yacht runs on 100% renewable energy

Medicine drum woman builds beautiful earth home village in Joshua Tree, California

October 31, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever wanted to stay in an earthbag dome home , here’s your chance. When Lisa Starr first purchased land in Joshua Tree, California, she wasn’t thinking about vacation rentals. Instead, the artist and drum medicine woman sought a place not too far from the coast where she could build a sustainable life for herself. After deciding to build in accordance with the Iranian architect Nader Khalili’s affordable and disaster-resilient superadobe methodology, she recruited volunteers and CalEarth alumni to first work on a few practice domes that eventually evolved into the “village” that can be booked through Airbnb. This extra income comes as an unplanned perk, but her real dream – to pursue her work as an artist – required building a couple more domes. After completing the practice homes, Starr and her crew of interns, volunteers and CalEarth alumni worked on her personal space – a 1,360 square foot dome home two connecting hallways. The 18″ thick walls, comprised of 15 percent cement and 85 percent earth, provide the thermal mass to keep the buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter, according to her Facebook page . Starr told Inhabitat she believes in sticking with “traditional Nader” – focusing on being creative with smaller structures rather than 20- to 30-foot domes. Khalili, who founded CalEarth to share his design and life philosophy with others, promoted sustainable homes that could be built with materials found on site. And that’s exactly what Starr was able to accomplish. She says she sourced 75 percent of the materials used in her dome structure from her own land. Related: Build your own disaster-proof home with materials of war While her home is private, guests have access to a “rustic yet luxurious camp-like experience” in the village. With expansive views and open skies day and night, “star gazing is a must,” says Starr. The village includes two 8-foot “Sleep Pod Earth Dome” structures with storage or a cave-like space for a child to sleep in. Each pod, which comes with a full size mattress, bedding and solar-powered ceiling light, can accommodate up to a family of four. In winter, tea light heaters keep the space warm at night. The communal area includes a shaded outdoor kitchen and kiva fire pits, along with a shower house and outhouse complete with a flushing toilet and sink. Guests are encouraged to bring their own bottles to refill with potable water available on site. Now Starr is working on building another 12-foot dome structure to use as a studio, honing in on her original intention. She has been living at Bonita Domes for four years now, and though it comes with its challenges, she says her dream has catapulted forward. + Bonita Domes on Facebook + Bonita Domes on Airbnb Images via Bonita Domes and Dylan Magaster

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Medicine drum woman builds beautiful earth home village in Joshua Tree, California

Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home

October 31, 2017 by  
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When Faulkner Architects was tasked with building a family home just outside San Francisco, the clients emphasized the importance of the environment. The Truckee-based architecture firm set about creating a striking site-specific dwelling with a small energy footprint. The result is an AIA award-winning three-bedroom home, called Miner Road, that’s wrapped in sheets of Corten Steel—chosen for its low maintenance and the way it “refresh[es] every time it rains, just like the landscape,” says architect Greg Faulkner. Located in Orinda on a sloped eight-acre site with large oak trees, Miner Road takes over the footprint of a former home that once stood on the property. The mature oak trees informed the orientation of the home and provide shade, while glass walls frame the trees’ large gnarled branches. Large cutouts in the weathering steel facade let in ample natural light and views of the landscape. Related: Green-roofed home with rusting walls appears to grow out of a Finnish forest “This bridging between interior and exterior is major feature of the main living space, and an entire wall is devoted to connecting the two visually,” wrote Faulkner Architects. In contrast to the weathering steel facade, the interior is bright and modern, and focuses on a natural materials palette , from the abundant use of white oak to white gypsum walls and basalt floor tiles. The home’s mechanical and electrical systems are designed at a 44.9% improvement over code and include a rainwater harvesting system and solar panels. + Faulkner Architects Via Dezeen

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Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home

Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio spruce up Shanghais waterfront

October 13, 2017 by  
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Shanghai’s most famous street, the Bund, is undergoing the “starchitect” treatment. Foster + Partners teamed up with Heatherwick Studio to design the Bund Financial Center as the “end point” to the city’s iconic waterfront. The 420,000-square-meter masterplan recently saw the completion of a pair of 180-meter-tall skyscrapers as well as an arts and culture center with a kinetic curtain-like facade. Shanghai is a city of contrasts. The Bund, renowned for its old colonial-era buildings along the waterfront , sits next to the city’s Old Town and looks out towards Pudong’s futuristic skyline of skyscrapers. The objective of the Bund Financial Center is to connect the old town with the new financial district, while staying sensitive to the scale of waterfront as well as the old and new surrounding architecture. “The opportunity to make something new in this prominent location that had formerly been the river gateway to Shanghai’s Old Town was extraordinary,” said Thomas Heatherwick , Founder of Heatherwick Studio. “With a project that would create 420,000 square metres of space, we felt a great duty to look for fresh ways to connect with China’s amazing built heritage and make a meaningful public place for thousands of people to work and come together.” Related: Drone video reveals progress on Heatherwick’s “tree-covered mountain” in Shanghai The Bund Financial Center is bookended in the south by two recently completed landmark towers. The arts and cultural center, which houses the Fosun Foundation and was completed earlier this summer, is located at the heart. Once complete, the mixed-use development will comprise office spaces, a boutique hotel, cultural center, retail, and restaurants. + Foster + Partners + Heatherwick Studio Images via Foster + Partners

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Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio spruce up Shanghais waterfront

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