Amazing solar house generates enough energy to share with its neighbors

May 17, 2017 by  
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Although the Netherlands may seem like a tranquil place to live, its climate can be quite volatile. Frigid winters and searing summer heat make energy efficient home design a must – local architects such as Joris Verhoeven Architectuur are creating amazingly efficient designs that don’t sacrifice on aesthetics. The firm’s sophisticated “Positive Energy House” in the small village of Sterksel is a solar powerhouse that generates enough energy to share with its neighbors Although energy efficiency was the objective of the design, the architects did not want to sacrifice aesthetics. Therefore, the building materials were chosen to create a sophisticated design. Muted grey brick cladding gives the home a contemporary feel while providing the home with an ultra-thick layer of insulation. The slanted roof was chosen to enhance the home’s style while maximizing the energy output of 44 south-oriented solar panels . Related: 8 homes that generate more energy than they consume In fact, orientation was key to creating the ultra-efficient design . On the interior, all of the communal living spaces were built on the “sunny side” of the home to maximize light and natural heating. Integrated solar blinds and screens on the windows block the sun from overheating the interior during the hot summer months. On the back end of the house, a lovely canopy-covered terrace offers a tranquil outdoor area for the family. + Joris Verhoeven Architectuur Photography via John van Groenedaal

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Amazing solar house generates enough energy to share with its neighbors

Watch this groundbreaking new solar device open and move like a flower

May 9, 2017 by  
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The Smartflower is a groundbreaking solar panel that can’t—and won’t—sit still. Arriving Stateside this month, the portable all-in-one unit mimics the behavior of certain sun-tracking blooms by rotating its solar-module “petals” throughout the day. This format, according to Austria’s Smartflower Energy Technology, allows the system to be 40 to 50 percent more efficient than traditional photovoltaic arrays , which tend to be limited by their fixed tilt. The company claims that a single Smartflower can produce the equivalent of a 4 kilowatt rooftop system, which it hails as a breakthrough for a standalone solar product. You can tell that the Smartflower is designed for residential and small-business use. To add to its visual appeal, it’s available in a slew of colors with names like “berry,” “jungle,” and “porcelain.” The Smartflower’s day starts at sunrise when it deploys its panels, which are backed by brushes that slough off any dust and debris. Related: Tesla unveils discreet new rooftop solar panels Turning to face the sun at a 90-degree angle, it uses GPS-based dual axis tracking to calculate—and shift—its optimal angle as the day progresses. The modules fold up at night, or when sensors detect high winds that may cause them damage. The basic Smartflower model, which starts at around $16,000, can be used in a variety of “plug and play” settings, including juicing up an electric car. A pricier “Plus” version includes battery storage that lets you squirrel away harvested energy to tide you over cloudy days. About 1,000 Smartflowers have already been installed at sites across Europe, including the Botanical Gardens in Madrid and the University of Applied Sciences Kufstein in Austria. Related: Google’s Project Sunroof expands to 7 million homes in Germany Arnold Schwarzenegger , the actor and former governor of California, is apparently fan. “Even though I like size, sometimes something small is very effective, “ a brochure quotes him as saying. “And when it comes to photovoltaic solar there is nothing better than, for instance, the Smartflower. I mean what a brilliant idea, you put this in front of the house, you plug it in—no installation, nothing.” + Smartflower

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Watch this groundbreaking new solar device open and move like a flower

San Franciscos rapid transit to run on 100% renewable energy

May 9, 2017 by  
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Commuters in the San Francisco area can feel even better about taking public transport to lower their carbon footprints , as the Bay Area’s Rapid Transit (BART) system will soon be powered by 100 percent renewable energy . Days ago, the BART board of directors passed an electrical portfolio policy that requires 50 percent of the organization’s power to be sourced from renewables by 2025. By 2045, the electric train system is expected to run on 100 percent renewable energy . As Digital Trends reports , this move has far-reaching implications for the entire region since BART consumes roughly 400,000 megawatt-hours annually – the equivalent of a small city like Alameda. “Every day, BART takes cars off the road and helps drive down our greenhouse gas emissions,” said BART Director Nick Josefowitz. “But especially now, BART and the Bay Area must shoulder even more responsibility to combat climate change. Even though BART is not required to comply with the state’s renewable energy standards, we have committed to purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity and taking a leadership role in decarbonizing our transportation sector.” Related: San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike The train system already runs on a variety of renewable energy sources, including solar, wind and small hydroelectric facilities. Additionally, carbon emissions have been cut by lowering the number of single occupant automobiles sitting in traffic on the Bay Bridge each morning. Sustainability Director Holly Gordon said of the progressive initiative, “We’re doing this to advance clean energy, but we’re also doing this because we think it is cost effective. We feel as though we can purchase clean energy while maintaining low and stable costs for the district as well.” BART may very well be the first electrified public transit system to commit to running on 100 percent renewable energy – at least in the US.  Via Digital Trends

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This amazing shipping container hotel can pop up anywhere in the world

May 2, 2017 by  
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Prague-based firm Artikul Architects has managed to combine two of our favorite things: shipping containers and wanderlust. The ContainHotel is a small boutique hotel made out of three repurposed shipping containers that can be easily disassembled and transported to different locations. The eco-hotel is made out of three large shipping containers , but has a total of five rooms that can accommodate up to 13 guests at a time. A horizontal row of four rooms was built into a 40-foot high cube container, which is supported by two perpendicular 20-foot containers on the bottom level. The ground level containers house the sanitary facilities, a technical room, a storeroom on one end and a four-bed guest room on the other. Related: Luxury Hotel Made from 35 Recycled Shipping Containers Opens Next Month in China Although compact, the rooms are open and airy, with minimal, but elegant features on the interior. Large windows provide tons of natural light for all of the rooms. The interiors are clad in birch plywood, which was also used for the custom-made furniture. All of the rooms open up to an elongated shared balcony that provides great views of the surrounding nature. Currently located in in Treboutice, Czech Republic, the hotel was designed to be a self-sufficient, eco-friendly hotel that can be easily demounted and transported to multiple locations. The structure was built on railroad sleepers to leave minimal footprint no matter where it is assembled. The building is connected to a local electric power source and has an integrated water reservoir that supplies the showers and sinks, all installed with water saving taps. To save on heating and cooling, the hotel awnings, which were made of reclaimed wood planks from a local sawmill, insulate the roof and provide shade in the summer months. + Artikul Architects Via Contemporist Photography by Michal Hurych

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This amazing shipping container hotel can pop up anywhere in the world

Striking rammed earth home blends into the hills of Santa Fe

May 1, 2017 by  
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This incredible Santa Fe residence by Studio GP Architects was inspired by the rich landscape of New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon. The home is constructed from rammed earth and surrounded by native plants that help it seamlessly blend into the breathtaking desert landscape. The homeowners of the La Tierra Nueva Residence were looking for a home design that would allow them to enjoy the beauty of the natural landscape from the inside or outside of the home. Multiple large triple-pane doors and windows were installed to provide amazing views as well as optimal natural light for the interior. Additionally, the home had to be strategically functional for the aging couple so the living space, kitchen, and bedrooms are all located on the same floor. Related:Rammed earth walls form the core of this modern Australian home The home’s walls were constructed out of rammed earth , a technique traditionally and currently used for its strong insulative properties , which in this case, also provided the earth tone aesthetic desired by the homeowners. The zinc-toned roof and walls pay homage to the traditional corrugated metal traditionally found in the area. In fact, the roof plays a vital role in the design; the multi-layered planes mimic the rolling hills of the expansive La Tierra Nueva in the background while the extended panels shelter the structure from the elements, especially the high desert sun. The roof also has an integrated rainwater harvesting system that funnels water through concealed gutters to be used to irrigate the native juniper bark and sage bushes used in the landscaping. + Studio GP + Zola Windows Images via Studio GP and Zola Windows

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Striking rammed earth home blends into the hills of Santa Fe

Researchers want to save shrinking Swiss glacier with 4,000 snow machines

May 1, 2017 by  
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Climate change is shrinking the Morteratsch glacier in Switzerland by around 98 to 131 feet every single year. Scientists led by Johannes Oerlemans of Utrecht University think they have an answer: artificial snow . 4,000 snow machines could recycle water into flakes that could hopefully preserve the famous glacier. Oerlemans presented the idea in late April at the European Geosciences Union annual meeting. He thinks artificial snow blown over the glacier during the summer could help protect its ice . Sunlight melts that ice, but as Oerlemans said, “as long as there’s snow on top, the ice beneath is unaffected.” According to New Scientist, if artificial snow was put over the glacier, it would be the first attempt in the world to protect a glacier on this large of a scale. Related: Scientists hatch crazy $500 billion plan to refreeze the Arctic Morteratsch draws tourists every year because its snout, or the end of the glacier, is easy to reach. Oerlemans said, “Locals claim it’s the only place you can reach a glacier from a wheelchair.” But the natural wonder has dwindled from an 1860 length of five miles to 3.7 miles today. Residents of nearby Pontresina asked Oerlemans and other colleagues to save their treasure. They’d heard white fleece coverings on the smaller Diavolezzafirn glacier helped it grow around 26 feet across a decade. Oerlemans thinks Morteratsch could win back a length of around 2,625 feet in 20 years with some type of covering. A few centimeters of artificial snow fanned across a 0.2 square mile plateau high upon the glacier could help save it, according to the scientist. That may sound like a relatively small area, but it would still take 4,000 snow machines, using water recycled from meltwater lakes near Morteratsch. Scientists are starting with a pilot project at Diavolezzafirn’s foot. They’ll blow snow over an artificial glacier to see how the method works. If they’re successful, researchers hope the Switzerland government might fund the project with the millions of Euros required for Morteratsch. Via New Scientist Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Researchers want to save shrinking Swiss glacier with 4,000 snow machines

Escape to this dreamy Airbnb eco retreat in a pristine Yucatan reserve

May 1, 2017 by  
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Although Airbnb is chock full of luxury beach condos, it’s rare to find an eco-friendly retreat tucked into a secluded beach. Ría Luz is a wind-powered sustainable home carefully designed to coexist with its pristine surroundings – and it’s one of the only structures located in the Yucatan’s Ria Lagartos biosphere. Ria Luz is the perfect spot for a secluded getaway. Visitors to this beautiful beach retreat will have access to spectacular wildlife found along the shoreline, which is almost completely devoid of tourists. The home is made up of two white blocks connected by a wooden viewing platform with multiple points of beach access. The main building houses the kitchen, living room and master bedroom, while the second building has additional bedrooms and an outdoor shower with a deck. Related: 8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small Sliding glass doors and multiple windows provide the interior with optimal natural light and incredible views. Guests can also enjoy a rooftop terrace with a comfy open-air bed for sleeping under the stars. As one of the only buildings located in the protected biosphere, the beach cottage was built to be ecologically friendly and it operates solely on wind-generated electricity . Wildlife tours are provided by local experts, and those who visit in summertime can see the hundreds of turtles who come to nest in an adjacent beach. + Ria Luz Airbnb Images via Ria Luz

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Escape to this dreamy Airbnb eco retreat in a pristine Yucatan reserve

These solar-powered apartments in Sweden generate more energy than they use

April 28, 2017 by  
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Although the US may be moving backwards in terms of clean energy, countries like Sweden are going full throttle while adding plus-energy homes to their cities. Kjellgren Kaminsky Architecture designed this newly-built apartment complex in Linköping. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also produces enough energy to sell surplus electricity back to the grid. Sweden’s solar energy tax used to be quite punitive, but the country has thankfully slashed the tax by 98% . As a result, developers and private home owners are embracing solar energy. In fact, the Linköping apartment complex generates more energy than it needs from its large roof-mounted photovoltaic array . Related: 8 homes that generate more energy than they consume As far as design, the architects wanted something that would pay homage to the city’s vernacular. Beautiful brass-colored windows on a white concrete facade give the building a delicate, yet modern aesthetic. On the interior, the units are bright and spacious and come with high ceilings . A community courtyard severs as a gathering place where residendts can discuss their amazingly low energy costs. + Kjellgren Kaminsky Images via Kjellgren Kaminsky

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These solar-powered apartments in Sweden generate more energy than they use

Vietnam’s "Forest in the Sky" apartment building is topped with 50,000 trees

April 27, 2017 by  
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This lush residential complex in Hanoi takes green living to the extreme. More than 50,000 trees, shrubs and colorful flowering vines were used to cover the Forest in the Sky building, virtually camouflaging it into the surrounding forest. Along with the ample greenery, the building is equipped with various advanced green technologies and uses 20 percent less energy, and water than a traditionally-constructed building. The green “jungle” building is a prime example of green living and will set a new sustainability standard for Vietnam building practices. Besides its green exterior, which helps insulate the building, the tower is equipped with numerous sustainable features. Under the lush greenery, the interior and exterior walls are made of eco-friendly cellular lightweight concrete blocks that offer optimal insulation from extreme heat and cold as well as sound. Related: Posh new Vietnamese hotel with a lush green facade brings guests closer to nature The building also uses high-efficiency hot water boilers, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and energy-efficient lighting to reduce energy usage. Future residents will not only be able to enjoy the amazing greenery and stunning views of the location, but will also enjoy the benefits of green living such as low utility bills. The Forest in the Sky project has recently been awarded the preliminary EDGE certificate from SGS Vietnam , which is awarded to buildings that achieve a minimum standard of 20 percent less energy, water and embodied energy than traditional buildings. + Coteccons

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Vietnam’s "Forest in the Sky" apartment building is topped with 50,000 trees

This futuristic vertical factory feeds off a city’s waste to produce energy

April 13, 2017 by  
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Most factories gobble up natural resources while belching out pollution – but could these mammoth buildings actually benefit the cities of the future? Designers Tianshu Liu and Lingshen Xie just unveiled plans for a cleaner and greener vertical factory that doubles as a self-sustaining ecosystem . The soaring structure consists of alternating layers of industry and nature that support each other to create a sustainable urban environment. The forward-thinking design recently came in second place in the 2017 Evolo Skyscraper Competition . The multi-layered complexes would actively contribute to the environment of megacities, emitting zero CO2 emissions, improving local energy efficiency , and providing a higher quality of life for factory workers. Related: China plans its first “Forest City” to fight air pollution The vertical factory was inspired by the rapidly-growing city of Manila, where urbanization is spawning new industries and more pollution. The Vertical Factory would ensure green growth by transforming the city’s organic waste into water, fertilizer, heat and electricity. Via Evolo

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