This sustainable home in Chile is designed as an ‘unplugged’ retreat for a family of six

October 2, 2018 by  
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From luxury retreats to minimalist cabins, more and more people are looking for places where they can truly go off the grid. For one family of six, a remote area almost 200 miles from Santiago, Chile was chosen as the perfect place for them to disconnect. Working with architect Mauricio LLaumett of Nüform Studio , the family’s self-sufficient new home is completely “unplugged” thanks to solar energy, passive features and an independent water system connected to a nearby river. Located on an isolated landscape of Huentelauquén, the timber and glass home sits on a rocky field covered in cacti that extends to the ocean. When the family approached Llaumett about their desire to create a vacation home on the challenging topography, they requested a design that would respect the natural landscape. The next request was that the home be 100 percent off-grid, generating its own energy in order to be a self-sufficient structure that the family could use for generations to come. “The most important thing is that the house is totally ‘unplugged,’” LLaumett explained. Related: Minimalist cabin in the Chilean mountains lets climbers escape the daily grind The home’s electricity is generated by rooftop solar panels , while an innovative system collects water from a nearby river. The water is stored in two elevated containers that work with gravity to release water on demand. Additionally, a water waste system was built into the design so that excess water from the shower and the kitchen can be used to irrigate the interior garden. The home was built on a slanted concrete foundation with a shape that mimics the natural slope of the landscape. Dark pine siding  on the exterior blends the home into its surroundings. A wall of sliding glass doors opens up to a large, stepped wooden deck where the family enjoys panoramic views of the sea in the distance. On the interior, the layout was strategically designed to connect the off-grid home to its surroundings. The front glazed facade opens up completely to create a seamless passage between the interior and the exterior. As for the home’s furnishings, many of them were made from  locally sourced wood and handcrafted by local artisans. Even the family built some of the furniture, including the master bed frame and dining room table. + Nüform Studio Via Dwell Photography by Aryeh Kornfeld K. via Nüform Studio

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This sustainable home in Chile is designed as an ‘unplugged’ retreat for a family of six

Natural stone and an expansive green roof blend the stunning Gozu House into the Andes Mountains

August 30, 2018 by  
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When it comes to creating a serene living space, Medellín-based firm Opus Studio put nature first in their design for the gorgeous Gozu House. Located in the small Colombian province of Antioquia, which sits in the Andes mountains, the home blends into its stunning natural environment with help from its natural stone cladding and expansive green roofs . Sitting at an altitude of 7,200 feet, the 5,000-square-foot family home sits nested into a lush, green valley within the Andes Mountain range. The structure is comprised of three main modules, topped with two undulating green roofs meeting at the center module. The home’s jagged silhouette is designed to mimic the the mountains in the background. Related: A striking timber home with a green roof disappears into a Mexican forest The Gozu House has a subtle presence thanks to its low, elongated volume, which, along with the natural pine wood and stone cladding , virtually camouflages the structure into its natural environment. The entrance of the home sits between the two “wings” of the design. Once inside, the entryway extends into a winding corridor that wraps around the interior, leading to the central living area and the exterior. Large glass panels and sliding doors provide a seamless connection with the outdoor space throughout the home’s layout. At the heart of the design is an open-air courtyard with a swimming pool surrounded by a large wooden deck –  a fun entertainment area for socializing. To create a home that was energy-efficient, the architects relied on a number of passive strategies. For instance, the main living space is oriented to the east to take advantage of the day’s sunlight while the bedrooms face the West to provide shade and privacy. Although the dual green roofs certainly play a part in connecting the home to its surroundings, they also provide an insulative thermal inertia for the living space, reducing the home’s energy needs. + Opus Studio Photography and video by Isaac Ramírez Marín via Opus Studio

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Natural stone and an expansive green roof blend the stunning Gozu House into the Andes Mountains

This idyllic 15-acre farmhouse is the worlds second Living Building residence

February 21, 2018 by  
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A picturesque 15-acre farmhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan was just officially crowned the world’s second “Living Building” residence by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI). The owners of Burh Becc at Beacon Springs , Tom and Marti Burbeck, spent five years working with a team of 20 designers, engineers, architects and sustainability experts to transform their 2,200 square foot home into an icon of truly sustainable living that gives more than it takes. The beautiful farmhouse, whose design was inspired by traditional Tuscan farmhouses, has a large living space of 2,200 square feet. Additionally, the property has a 2,400 square foot barn and workshop. The farmland had been previously depleted due to years of commodity farming. Following the Living Building criteria, the land was carefully revamped with permaculture farming methods using an integrated system of agriculture, horticulture and ecology, creating a system that will be regenerative for centuries to come. The Burbeck’s not only use these farming methods to grow their own food, but they also provide healthy food for the local community – and for those with limited access to fresh produce. Related: 9 of the most impressive Living Building Challenge certified projects To create a net-zero energy design , the home is equipped with clean energy generation through a 16.9-kilowatt solar array, which provides electricity to the home and back into the grid. Additionally, a passive solar system works with a very tight thermal envelope and a tall cooling tower to minimize heating and cooling needs. A closed-loop geothermal system provides radiant floor heating during the cold Michigan winters. For water conservation, the home uses a rainwater and snow harvesting system to be water net-positive . A rainwater collection system reroutes to supply 7,500 gallons of in-ground cisterns, used for non-potable water. An on-site well provides potable water at the moment to comply with local building codes, but the home is installed with a future-ready potable rainwater filtration system. After more than three and a half years designing the reformation, 18 months in construction and a year of performance auditing, Burh Becc at Beacon Springs Farm was awarded the Living Building Challenge certification in December 2017. Additionally, the home has been awarded a Platinum LEED Certification. When the Burbecks were asked why they took on such an ambitious project, they explained that it just made sense to their lifestyle. According to Marti Burbeck, “As we looked at the criteria for LBC certification we thought, why not go for it. If our goals include helping to change peoples’ relationship with the environment and to change building philosophies, we should start with our own project, and then become advocates.” Now that they’ve achieved their dream of converting Burh Becc into an icon of sustainability, they’re on their way to becoming advocates. The couple plan to host educational workshops and house tours to educate the community, the building industry, government officials, and anyone who will listen about the benefits of truly sustainable living. + Burh Becc at Beacon Springs + Architectural Resource Via CSR Wire Images via Burh Becc at Beacon Springs

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This idyllic 15-acre farmhouse is the worlds second Living Building residence

Low-impact ‘Outside House’ is built on an old lava flow in the mountains of Maui

November 22, 2017 by  
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Oregon-based firm FLOAT Architectural Research and Design recently built the “Outside House” for a client who wants to spend her days communing with nature at its fullest. To provide a strong connection to the surroundings, the architects created two simple wooden cabins – the Mauka house and the Makai house – on top of a three-hundred-year-old solidified lava flow high up in the Maui mountains. According to FLOAT architect Erin Moore, the design was inspired by a back-to-basics philosophy that puts the focus on enjoying nature, “The Outside House is a place to live outside. Two small pavilions shape the basics of daily life and structure an intentional relationship with the land.” Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight The first cabin, the Mauka (Hawaiian for “inland toward the mountains” ) pavilion, is an enclosed cabin with a small bedroom. It’s equipped with just the basic necessities – a bed, built-in bench and small desk with chair – and it has a large sliding window that provides beautiful views of the landscape. The cabin is raised off the ground by four concrete blocks to reduce its impact on the ground. The Makai (Hawaiian for “seaward”) pavilion is an open-air deck with a small kitchen that offers stunning view out over the Pacific and the island of Kahoolawe in the distance. The wooden cladding and deck were are made from Juniper – a tree that is harvested for its protective qualities in the Pacific Northwest. An open shower is located on the backside of the kitchen, covered with a privacy panel made out of woven marine rope. Based on the wishes of the homeowner, the construction process took great lengths to protect the land. The architects built the cabins using prefabricated galvanized steel, which was carried to the building site by hand to anchor one of the cabins to the ground, while the other one was placed on concrete blocks. This reduced the impact of the project while also allowing the structures to be easily dismantled. + FLOAT Architectural Research and Design Via The Contemporist Photography by Olivier Koning

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Low-impact ‘Outside House’ is built on an old lava flow in the mountains of Maui

London buses swap out diesel for a coffee-based biofuel

November 22, 2017 by  
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Brits may prefer tea, but their busses will be getting a buzz from coffee. U.K. startup bio-bean , Shell, and Argent Energy have teamed up to fill London’s double-deckers with an innovative new java-based fuel. According to CNN , bio-bean has already brewed up 6,000 liters (1,585 gallons) of the high-octane joe, an amount able to power one city bus for an entire year. So, how is the coffee oil manufactured? As bio-bean shares on its site, the company gathers grounds everywhere from small cafes to Starbucks-like chains to universities and even instant coffee factories. The grounds are then brought to the bio-bean plant where they are dried and coffee oil is extracted. Related: Could coffee help fight cancer? The extracted oil is then blended with other fats and oils to create a “B20” biofuel, which is further mixed with traditional mineral diesel. The new concoction offers a 10-15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions as compared to pure diesel, and prevents the release of any methane that would have occurred had the grounds been sent to a landfill. Notably, the mix does not require a specialized engine and can be used with any diesel bus, making the switch easy. Bio-bean estimates that Britain produces nearly 500,000 tonnes of coffee grounds a year—enough to power a third of London’s entire transport network. At the moment, bio-bean’s plant has the capacity to recycle 50,000 tonnes of grounds a year. Company founder Arthur Kay, however, hopes to scale the project. Kay, in fact, has his sights set on the U.S. where coffee consumption is the highest of anywhere on the planet with 400 million cups downed daily. + bio-bean Via CNN Images via Pixbay and bio-bean

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Angular cedar-clad home in New Zealand is designed to go completely off-grid

October 17, 2017 by  
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New Zealand firm Herriot Melhuish Oneill has created a beautiful eco-friendly home deep in the rolling farmland just outside of Wellington. The Peka Peka House is comprised of three cedar boxes with glazed walls that provide views of the breathtaking landscape – and it’s set to be 100% off-grid. The home’s volume is comprised of three connected boxes. The living and dining area are located in the larger box and the bedrooms are in the second cube. These two structures are both clad in a beautiful black-stained cedar with large windows that connect the living spaces with the exterior environment. The third box, which houses the garage and workshop, was built out of profiled-polycarbonate, and “glows” from within at night. Related:See how the “Kiss-Kiss House” snaps in half like a branch to embrace the landscape The home’s orientation was strategic to benefit from the area’s harsh climate. Thanks to the home’s many openings, the interior is naturally ventilated by the afternoon sea breezes. Additionally, the interior courtyard faces north in order protect the space from any strong winds. The home is surrounded by a timber deck that connects the home to its natural surroundings and lets the homeowners enjoy the outdoors comfortably. The Peka Peka house was designed to eventually go 100% off grid . Installed with PV and solar hot water panels, the home produces a lot of its own energy. To conserve that energy, the insulation in the home is above-code insulation, and an exposed, insulated concrete slab under the home helps retain heat. LED lighting is also used throughout the space. + Herriot Melhuish Oneill Via Archdaily Photography by Jason Mann

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Angular cedar-clad home in New Zealand is designed to go completely off-grid

This startup is training crows to throw away cigarette butt litter

October 17, 2017 by  
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Did you know that cigarettes take twelve years to decompose on average? That’s a big problem, as they are the most littered item on Earth – every year, approximately 4.5 trillion cigarettes are discarded with little regard for the environment. The new startup Crowded Cities has a plan to rid streets of this type of pollution – and it involves training crows to exchange cigarette butts for food. It’s a well-established fact that crows are one of the smartest animals in the world. Not only are they skilled problem solvers, they can create and use tools . Dutch startup Crowded Cities is developing a device that trains crows to collect discarded cigarettes . In exchange, the crows receive peanuts. The CrowBar is based on a design created by an American inventor . The device has a large funnel where cigarette butts can be deposited, and a dispenser for releasing peanuts . The hope is that crows get busy cleaning up the streets in exchange for some easy food. The task isn’t impossible, considering Crowded Cities has a four-step plan to train the crows. Related: Meet Cig, the sea turtle made of over 1,000 cigarette butts strewn on a Florida beach First, the machine offers a piece of food next to a cigarette butt on a small platform. This trains the bird to expect food from the machine . Second, the machine begins dispensing food only after the crow arrives at the machine. This teaches the crow how to operate the CrowBar. Third, the machine presents only the cigarette butt with no food. Confused, the crow will begin pecking and looking around. When he/she inadvertently drops the butt into the dispenser, food will be released. The fourth step is to remove the cigarette butt entirely, leaving only a couple scattered on the crowd in the nearby area. The crow will begin collecting butts from the surrounding area, bringing them to the CrowBar, then dropping them into the dispenser for food . At this stage, the training is complete. The startup is in the process of building a prototype to test whether or not the design will work. Because cigarettes are filled with toxic chemicals, Crowded Cities will monitor the crows’ health and behavior. If the method proves successful and the birds aren’t adversely affected by the cigarette butts, you may see a CrowBar in your city in the near future. + Crowded Cities Via Popular Mechanics Images via Crowded Cities , Pixabay

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This startup is training crows to throw away cigarette butt litter

HonoMobo’s container homes can be shipped anywhere in North America

July 19, 2017 by  
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Canadian company HonoMobo is taking the stress out of building a new home with its ultra-green, ultra-swanky shipping container homes that can be sent anywhere in North America. Designed to be move-in ready, the repurposed structures make for great tiny homes – and they can even be combined to create bigger spaces for large families. Organized to be move-in ready, HonoMobo structures are designed by registered professionals and just need a foundation and utility connections to get up and running. However, these tiny spaces are solar-ready and can be used as off-grid structures as well. For optimal energy efficiency, the homes come pre-installed with highly-efficient climatization systems and high-grade insulation. Related: You can order HonoMobo’s prefab shipping container homes online The prefab structures are constructed in 10-12 weeks in a controlled environment in order to reduce waste and construction costs. Created to take the stress out of building a new home, the buildings are compliant with most local building codes. For extra assistance, the HonoMobo team works with clients and local contractors to ensure that the property is ready for installation. The container homes range in size from 200 square feet to 1,520 square feet and can be stacked or combined to create additional, personalized layouts. They have an open, flexible floor plan and come with plenty of storage. Large floor-to-ceiling windows give the home a strong connection to its environment and flood the interior with natural light . For interior and exterior design, the repurposed structures come with a number of high-end finishes such as drywall, quartz, cedar flooring, etc. + HonoMobo Images via HonoMobo

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Envirohaven’s super green geodesic homes can be built in just a few days

May 26, 2017 by  
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Geodesic homes are extremely energy efficient – and they’re a great option for those looking to reduce their footprint while living off the grid. Nevada-based company, Envirohaven , is offering beautiful, custom-made “eco havens” that can be constructed virtually anywhere in just a few days. At 1,600 square feet, the prefab structures are not exactly “ tiny homes “, but their decagon shape only measures 32 feet across. The design is ultra-efficient, affordable, and can be custom made to suit individual tastes. For easy assembly, the structures come with a set of site-specific engineered plans that are guaranteed to qualify for local building permits. Related: Zendome: Gorgeous Geodesic Domes Create Flexible Green Spaces The homes can be built using 30 percent less materials than conventional structures of similar stature. Each home ordered comes standard with sustainable green windows , siding sheeting, and a waterproof coating. They can be equipped with solar panels on the roof as well. Due to the nature of the decagon design, which places the core of the home in the center, energy consumption is minimal. Heating and cooling the home requires minimal energy thanks to the close proximity of the rooms. According to the Environhaven team, an entire house can be heated with a just a simple pellet stove – even in extreme cold climates. The many windows also help provide optimal air circulation during the warmer months while filling the home with a natural light . + Environhaven

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Envirohaven’s super green geodesic homes can be built in just a few days

Envirohaven’s super green geodesic homes can be built in just a few days

May 26, 2017 by  
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Geodesic homes are extremely energy efficient – and they’re a great option for those looking to reduce their footprint while living off the grid. Nevada-based company, Envirohaven , is offering beautiful, custom-made “eco havens” that can be constructed virtually anywhere in just a few days. At 1,600 square feet, the prefab structures are not exactly “ tiny homes “, but their decagon shape only measures 32 feet across. The design is ultra-efficient, affordable, and can be custom made to suit individual tastes. For easy assembly, the structures come with a set of site-specific engineered plans that are guaranteed to qualify for local building permits. Related: Zendome: Gorgeous Geodesic Domes Create Flexible Green Spaces The homes can be built using 30 percent less materials than conventional structures of similar stature. Each home ordered comes standard with sustainable green windows , siding sheeting, and a waterproof coating. They can be equipped with solar panels on the roof as well. Due to the nature of the decagon design, which places the core of the home in the center, energy consumption is minimal. Heating and cooling the home requires minimal energy thanks to the close proximity of the rooms. According to the Environhaven team, an entire house can be heated with a just a simple pellet stove – even in extreme cold climates. The many windows also help provide optimal air circulation during the warmer months while filling the home with a natural light . + Environhaven

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