Solar-powered Miami office is made entirely from repurposed shipping containers

January 16, 2018 by  
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Argentina-based Reale Arquitectos just unveiled plans for a stunning office building made completely out of shipping containers . Currently under construction in Miami, the contemporary structure is made out of four repurposed containers strategically configured to give the building plenty of open spaces and great ocean views. In addition to the shipping containers, the project take advantage of a variety of green building strategies including solar power and a rainwater harvesting system. Since its inception, the project focused on combining sophisticated design with sustainable systems . The use of repurposed shipping containers cuts down on building and transportation costs. Additional sustainable features include water heating panels, garden terraces, and a greywater harvesting system . The building also features interior and exterior LED lighting as well as energy-efficient appliances. Related: Affordable shipping container village can pop up almost anywhere in the world To fit into the Miami landscape, the containers were painted a stark white, which also helps with passive cooling. The strategic placement of the containers provides the interior with beautiful views of the Miami shoreline, as well as optimal natural light throughout the interior. The configuration was also pivotal in providing the building with a number of outdoor garden spaces for relaxing, working, or entertaining. + Reale Arquitectos Images via Reale Arquitectos

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Solar-powered Miami office is made entirely from repurposed shipping containers

Salesforce Tower to include largest blackwater recycling system in a US commercial high-rise

January 11, 2018 by  
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7.8 million gallons of drinking water will be saved every year with a blackwater recycling system at the new 1,070-foot tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco . The skyscraper , designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects , will be equipped with the on-site system, which is the first of its kind in the city and the biggest in any commercial high-rise building in the United States. Inhabitat spoke with Salesforce’s senior director of sustainability Patrick Flynn to hear more about blackwater recycling and the tower ‘s other green features. Salesforce Tower’s blackwater recycling system will take water from any of the building’s sources, according to Flynn – from toilets or sinks to drainage from the roof. The system itself will be housed in the basement – Flynn said they are converting “a handful of parking spaces on two levels into rooms and storage tanks that can house the system” – and it will extensively treat blackwater and resupply it for non-potable uses like irrigating plants or flushing toilets throughout the entire building. “The impact from a water perspective is huge,” Flynn told Inhabitat. “7.8 million gallons per year of freshwater use reduced – that’s a 76 percent reduction in the overall building’s water demands, and an amount of water avoided that’s equivalent to the use of 16,000 San Francisco residents.” That translates to savings of around 30,000 gallons of water every day. Related: SOM’s LEED Platinum 350 Mission tower offers an urban living room to San Francisco Flynn said California was experiencing a drought when they first discussed the building’s design years ago. “We know that periods of extreme drought will come again,” he said. “We know that climate change is amplifying extreme weather . And so we felt like upholding our values to do the right thing for our community, for our region, here at our headquarters, was to think about water responsibility and water recycling .” Salesforce is the first recipient of a blackwater grant from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), according to the company. But the blackwater recycling system isn’t the only sustainable feature in the tower. Flynn, a HVAC engineer by profession, also said a patented HVAC system will bring fresh air from the outdoors inside the tower – a move that will not only cut energy consumption but also boost occupant health. According to Salesforce, the tower has already achieved LEED Platinum certification. LED lighting , daylight sensors, and what Flynn described as healthy materials fill the building. He told Inhabitat, “We know that people spend most of their time indoors, and it’s important to make sure that that environment is inspiring and healthy.” Clean energy will power the tower; this past summer, the company signed Salesforce East and Salesforce West up for SFPUC’s SuperGreen Service , opting in to a 100 percent renewable energy program. Flynn said they were the first Fortune 500 company to do so, and their entry more than doubled enrollment in the program. Last year the company also reached net zero greenhouse gas emissions – 33 years early on a goal they’d set in 2015. The Salesforce Tower has already changed the San Francisco skyline (check out the construction camera here ), and when asked if there were concerns over its impact on the look of the city, Flynn said, “When I think about the tower, I think of how proud I am to have such a prominent example of how high-performance buildings and sustainable buildings and healthy buildings are all synonymous with one another. I think what we have here is a showcase for how real estate can uphold the expectations and exceed the expectations of its occupants, its local community, and all of its stakeholders – and I think the blackwater system is a great example of how we’ve been able to introduce a first-of-its-kind, largest such system in a commercial high-rise in the U.S. – and show a better way forward.” Salesforce is already beginning to move in to the tower. Construction on the blackwater recycling system hasn’t started yet, but Flynn said it will be constructed over the course of 2018 and could be up and running around the end of this year. Flynn told Inhabitat, “We hope we’ve shown a path forward that other companies can follow and inspired them to take action as well.” + Salesforce Tower + Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects Images courtesy of Salesforce

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Salesforce Tower to include largest blackwater recycling system in a US commercial high-rise

How the world’s first floating city could restore the environment

December 27, 2017 by  
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The world got a little closer to the first floating city when the Seasteading Institute signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Polynesian government earlier this year. Not only could floating cities offer a sustainable place to live, but they could also potentially help coral reefs recover and provide a habitat for marine life, according to Joe Quirk, Blue Frontiers co-founder and Seasteading Institute seavangelist. Inhabitat spoke with Quirk and architect Simon Nummy to learn more about the vision for the world’s first floating city. Quirk told Inhabitat, “We think of cities as being a blight on the land and polluting the oceans. Floating cities are so different because they could actually be environmentally restorative.” For example, an increase in ocean temperatures has caused much of coral bleaching . Quirk said the mere presence of a floating city could help combat this issue. He said, “The corals could actually recover if we could just lower the temperature a little. Our engineers at Blue Frontiers have devised a plan to position the platforms to create some shadows to lower the temperatures. So as the sun moves about, you get enough light on the ocean floor to spark photosynthesis, but you lower the heat just enough to have a restorative effect.” Related: World’s first floating city one step closer to reality in French Polynesia Solid floating structures can also increase the amount of sea life by serving as a habitat, according to Quirk. He said platform floors, that would be below water level, could be made of glass, creating an aquarium apartment or aquarium restaurant. There are currently a few visions for what the floating cities might look like from different designers, as seen in the images. Nummy, who won the Seasteading Institute’s Architectural Design Contest, told Inhabitat, “The intent is for an architecture derived from nautical technology and sensibility, combined with a deep respect and willingness to learn from the culture and knowledge of the original seasteaders, the Polynesians.” The goal is for the floating city, which will be placed around one kilometer, or a little over half a mile, from shore inside a protected lagoon, to be 100 percent renewable and 100 percent self-sufficient. Floating solar panels could help power the city, and Quirk said as water cools panels, they could generate 20 percent more energy than their landlocked cousins. 20 percent of the floating city could be comprised of solar panels. Another goal is to not discharge any water into the lagoon – waste water is to be treated and recycled. Food could be cultivated in sea farming systems. “Each building strives for energy independence and the architecture results from this; energy efficiency and passive strategies are vital,” Nummy told Inhabitat. “Polynesian architecture is primarily about the roof and we have tried to interpret this in a contemporary, sensitive way that both reflects local precedents while harvesting rainwater and discretely maximizing the opportunities for photovoltaics and vertical axis wind turbines .” The floating city could be designed to look like a natural island, featuring green roofs and buildings constructed with locally-sourced materials – potentially bamboo, coconut fiber, or local wood like teak. Nummy told Inhabitat, “The buildings are designed to connect to nature and embrace the magnificent Tahitian views. Walls are to be louvred or openable whenever possible.” 2020 is the goal for construction of the floating village, which would include around 15 islands 82 by 82 feet. Quirk said the first floating city could be kind of like the first iPhone – rather bulky and expensive – but they aim to drive down the price with later iterations. Two to three years after 2020, they hope to double the amount of platforms – from around 15 to around 30 – and then triple the amount two to three years after that. Quirk said, “Island nations and coastal nations are already suffering from sea level rise , and this is a realistic way for them to adapt.” + Seasteading Institute + Blue Frontiers + Blue21 Images courtesy of Blue Frontiers, Blue21, and Simon Nummy

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How the world’s first floating city could restore the environment

Gorgeous Belize eco-resort will be 100% carbon neutral

December 13, 2017 by  
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A new eco resort in Belize is pulling out all of the stops to be the Caribbean’s first carbon-neutral luxury lodging. Itz’ana Resort & Residences will feature a green building portfolio unprecedented in the area. The complex – designed by Boston-based architect Roberto de Oliveira Castro – will consist of multiple four- and five-bedroom villas, built with locally-sourced materials and completely powered by a combination of solar and hydro-electricity. The complex will offer 50 resort suites and 46 waterfront residences located on a heavenly 16-mile long stretch of Caribbean shoreline. The sustainable design of the resort was created by Boston-based architect Roberto de Oliveira Castro in collaboration with NYC-based interior designer Samuel Amoia . The program is reflective of Itz’ana’s “Mission-Driven Luxury” concept, which envisions a lifestyle that is as sustainable as it is high-end. With luxury beach lodgings in the Caribbean obviously high in demand, the Itz’ana design caters to travelers and homeowners who want to experience the beautiful region, but without leaving a harmful footprint on the environment. Related: Nevis is on track to become the world’s first carbon-neutral island Each of the villas will be equipped with rooftop solar panels , which will cut energy and consumption in half. Although the resort will source the remaining energy from Belize’s national power grid, that energy is generated by eco-friendly hydroelectric dams. The resort will also work through its Belizean forestry partner to offset any additional carbon emissions that the complex produces. Along with its clean energy sources, the complex will also be installed with various sustainable features such as a rainwater collection system, LED-efficient lighting systems, and an organic garden. Additionally, the building materials will consist of locally-sourced wood and designer furnishings throughout the buildings. An eco-friendly system will be used to clean the pools and green cleaning solvents will be used in the laundry service. + Itz’ana Resort & Residences + Roberto de Oliveira Castro

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Gorgeous Belize eco-resort will be 100% carbon neutral

2017 Gift Guide: Green gifts under $20

December 4, 2017 by  
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  Looking for a green gift that doesn’t break the bank? We’ve got 15 unique and affordable gifts that will wow everyone on your list for under $20. There’s something for everyone on your list, from a mushroom garden that grows right on the counter for the chef, to a recycled-paper photo album for the Instagrammer in your life. GIFTS UNDER $20 >

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2017 Gift Guide: Green gifts under $20

Antony Gibbon’s Helix House is a twisting tiny home that towers amidst the forest

December 4, 2017 by  
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Designer Antony Gibbon is known for his nature-inspired designs , each of which is more jaw-dropping than the last. His latest masterpiece is the Helix House – a beautiful twisting tower clad in wooden slatted beams that seamlessly blends into the forest. At just 100 square feet, the home is tiny, but the majestic design is straight out of a fairy tale. Like all of Gibbons’ designs, the Helix House was inspired by nature. The rising twisted form allows the structure blend in quietly with the surrounding forestscape. Clad in wooden beams, the home’s design is not only gorgeous, but the unique shape was also strategic to hiding all the structural support and access into the low-impact home. Related:Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone A tiny home in tower form, the one-bedroom home is less than 100 square feet. On the inside, the first floor has a kitchenette and a small bathroom. The second floor houses the bedroom, which has a beautiful glazed wall that provides natural light and stellar views of the surrounding environment. + Antony Gibbon Designs Images via Antony Gibbon Designs

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Antony Gibbon’s Helix House is a twisting tiny home that towers amidst the forest

MIT’s winning solar-powered dome tree habitats for Mars mimic earthly forests

November 28, 2017 by  
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If humans start constructing cities on Mars , we have an opportunity to build sustainably from the start. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) team designed an environmentally friendly city for the red planet that mimics a forest , with solar-powered dome tree habitats connected with roots, or tunnels. Their vision, called Redwood Forest, recently won first place in the Mars City Design competition’s architecture category. As many as 50 people can reside in each one of Redwood Forest’s domes, which offer open space with plants and water – harvested from Mars’ northern plains – atop roots with access to private spaces and other domes. The roots also protect colonizers from cosmic radiation, extreme thermal changes, or micrometeorite impacts. Related: Stefano Boeri Architects envisions a Vertical Forest City on Mars The 10,000-person city will “physically and functionally mimic a forest,” according to MIT postdoctoral researcher and team co-lead Valentina Sumini, and will draw on local resources like ice, regolith, and water . MIT doctoral student George Lordos said, “Every tree habitat in Redwood Forest will collect energy from the sun and use it to process and transport the water throughout the tree, and every tree is designed as a water-rich environment. Water fills the soft cells inside the dome providing protection from radiation, helps manage heat loads, and supplies hydroponic farms for growing fish and greens.” Solar panels will generate energy to split stored water to produce oxygen and rocket fuel, Lordos said. Solar power will also help charge hydrogen fuel cells , “necessary to power long-range vehicles as well as provide backup energy storage in case of dust storms.” These ideas wouldn’t only work on the red planet. The MIT team says many of their design features could be applied to Earth. Underground multi-level networks could ease traffic above by offering an alternative route for electric cars. Hydroponic gardens underneath cities could cultivate fresh produce with lower transportation and land costs. And their tree habitat design, MIT said, “could create living and working spaces in harsh environments, such as high latitudes, deserts, and the sea floor.” + Mars City Design Via MIT News Images via Valentina Sumini/MIT

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MIT’s winning solar-powered dome tree habitats for Mars mimic earthly forests

Stunning shipping container home can be yours for $125k

November 22, 2017 by  
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Architect and builder Ty Kelly wanted to disconnect from the stresses of city life in Seattle – so he built an incredible shipping container home deep in the picturesque Montana plains. The 720-square-foot home is made from plenty of reclaimed materials , and it’s currently on the market for $125,000 . The one-bedroom, one-bath home is a true example of shipping container design done right. The home design is a sophisticated blend of wood and glass. Partially clad in wooden planking on the exterior, the house has an all-glass wall that provides natural light into the interior as well as gorgeous views of the rugged Montana landscape. Further embedding the home into its stunning surroundings is the wooden flooring that extends the length of the home onto an open-air deck on the exterior. Related: You can now buy tiny shipping container homes on Amazon Although the design of the home is quite contemporary, Kelly used quite a bit of reclaimed materials in the construction. The redwood flooring and wall panels are made out of reclaimed wood, as well as the kitchen’s butcher block counters, which were made out of leftover lumber from another project. On the interior, the living space, although quite compact, is incredibly comfortable. The kitchen has a wood stove as well as the typical modern conveniences such as a dishwasher and washer and dryer. The home’s bathroom layout, however, is quite a different story. The home comes complete with an outdoor shower on the side deck that lets the homeowners truly get back to nature. Via Dwell Photos via Zillow  

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Stunning shipping container home can be yours for $125k

Massive sinkhole opens up in the middle of a Brazilian farming town

November 22, 2017 by  
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Watch your step! An enormous sinkhole has opened up in the tiny municipality of Coromandel, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. As Forbes  reports, the 65-foot hole appeared overnight in the thick of a local soybean farm swallowing up earth, crops, and putting some 28,000 residents on alert. While some in the area had suspected a meteor was to blame for the cavernous hollow, geologists from the Federal University of Uberlândia have confirmed the sinkhole was in fact caused by the disintegration of the town’s underlying limestone bedrock. In addition to farming soy, coffee, and corn, the region is active in mining pure calcareous limestone, a sedimentary rock that spans much of the area. The town of Coromandel, in fact, sits atop a large stretch of limestone. While the sinkhole is the first to be recorded in the area’s modern history, geologist Trevor Nace is quick to point out that its occurrence is far from abnormal and should not be considered unexpected given the region’s limestone bedrock. Related: Japanese fix massive city sinkhole within 48 hours Nace says rain is slightly acidic. “As it percolates into the ground it can, over time, dissolve calcium carbonate into calcium, carbon dioxide, and water.” He adds, “As the limestone (calcium carbonate) dissolves it leaves voids underneath the ground and eventually the overlying weight of the sediment causes the area to collapse. This collapsed feature is a sinkhole.” Nace also cites “ Poço Verde/Green Well ,” a local tourist destination that professors surmise was once a sinkhole that over time evolved into a lake. Via Forbes Images via Coromandel’s press release and Google Earth

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Massive sinkhole opens up in the middle of a Brazilian farming town

Steven Holl unveils office clad in colorful photovoltaic glass for Doctors Without Borders

November 2, 2017 by  
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Steven Holl Architects just beat out a slew of other firms with plans for the new Doctors Without Borders headquarters in Geneva. The energy-efficient “Colors of Humanity” building features an innovative facade made of multi-hued photovoltaic glass and it’s topped with a lush green roof . The New York-based architect’s design was chosen over various proposals from architecture firms around the world. According to Mathieu Soupart, Logistics Director for the MSF Operational Centre Geneva, the winning design best represents the MSF ethos of community: “Steven Holl Architects’ project is the opportunity for MSF to integrate its core values like independence, impartiality, neutrality, altruism and dynamism in a challenging new architecture and project itself in the future.” Related: Steven Holl Architects designs LEED Platinum-targeted cultural center for Shanghai The massive photovoltaic facade , which is 40% transparent, pulls double duty: it produces up to 72% of the building’s energy needs and creates an interior framework for the community inside. Solar panels will also be installed on the building’s roof, sharing space with a large roof-top garden . Additionally, the innovative glass wall system is “open ended,” which means the building could be expanded in the future if need be. The inside layout is focused on the needs of the MSF community, and each individual space is designated by its color. Designed to foster interaction , the building has various circulation paths where workers and visitors can take a break in one of the many seating alcoves. This design feature was strategic to encourage community collaboration: “These centers serve as a friendly catalyst for interaction, acting like social condensers within the building.” + Steven Holl Architects Via Archdaily

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Steven Holl unveils office clad in colorful photovoltaic glass for Doctors Without Borders

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