The Invisible House is a reflective building that mirrors its desert surroundings

July 3, 2020 by  
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The Invisible House is a mirror-clad home designed to look like a New York skyscraper flipped on its side. It is covered in heat-reflective “Solarcool” glass to mirror the surrounding remote desert of its site, located 10 minutes from downtown Joshua Tree, California. Designed by architect Tomas Osinski and Chris Hanley, the LA-based producer behind American Psycho , the Invisible House is situated on 90 acres. The 5,500-square-foot building, completed in 2019, is made of concrete , steel and tempered glass. Related: Hidden in the Vinhedo rainforests of Brazil, this glass house was built for a scholar The home has a wall designated for movie screen projections and a catering kitchen. There are four bedrooms and bathrooms separated by white partitions instead of doors to provide views of the desert . The theme of invisibility is reflected in the interior furnishings, such as a bed frame made of glass and and a partially-exposed glass shower. The building’s sustainability features include an efficient insulation system using a combination of closed cell “Cool Roof” foam and a hill-adjacent  location protecting it from the sun. There is a solar water heating system, a thermal mass of concrete and a 100-foot-long indoor swimming pool to help regulate the temperature. During construction, large portions of the building were cantilevered to minimize disturbance of the natural grounds. The steel-frame is elevated above the ground onto cylindrical concrete columns.  The designers conducted a biological survey to map out the native flora and fauna before beginning construction, and the Invisible House has a landscape-to-dwelling footprint of 2,000 to one. Low-emissivity glass in the walls and photovoltaic panels on the roof help further reduce the environmental impact of the home. According to the owner of the house, the local birds have been thriving on the insects around the property and have not been harmed by the reflective glass nor have they flown into the building. + Tomas Osinski Via Dezeen Images via Tomas Osinski

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The Invisible House is a reflective building that mirrors its desert surroundings

Green-roofed Hive home opens and closes with the sun

July 3, 2020 by  
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Ahmedabad-based  Openideas Architecture  has completed Hive, an adaptable and sustainable family home that takes inspiration from nature in more ways than one. Located in Vesu, an up-and-coming area in Surat, Gujarat, the luxury home was commissioned by a client who sought to manufacture a flawless home inspired by his work with diamond industry machinery. Informed by extensive solar and site studies, the 600-square-meter residence’s name comes from its honeycomb-inspired facade embedded with solar sensor-based modules that open and close in response to lighting conditions.  When the client approached Openideas Architecture, he brought with him a nearly 90-point brief that covered everything from the structural materials and landscaping to sustainability needs and a year-long solar study. In response, the architects conducted an in-depth analysis of external temperature, humidity, solar radiation, cloud cover and wind pattern conditions that informed the creation of the V-shaped, metal-framed home, which opens up to greenery on multiple levels. In addition to a sunken court and stepped garden, the home features a walkable  green roof  with varying slopes and pockets of greenery dispersed throughout. The most eye-catching feature of the home is the  honeycomb-inspired  facade with a unique opening mechanism engineered to optimize sunlight exposure and thermal comfort levels inside the home. “Analyzed as per the structure, function and mechanism, its design is based on structural strength, transformability and biomimicry ,” noted the architects, who also took inspiration for the modules from the doors of airport buses. As the modules open and close, the sun creates changing patterns of light and shadow indoors.  Related: Honeycomb shading keeps Büro Ole Scheeren’s skyscrapers naturally cool in Singapore In contrast to the metal-clad exterior, the  open-plan  interior includes a mix of wood and stone that create a sense of warmth. As a continuation of the expressive facade, the indoor furnishings and structures feature strong geometric shapes and clean lines.  + Openideas Architecture Images by FABIEN CHARUAU

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Green-roofed Hive home opens and closes with the sun

Modern townhome in Philadelphia combines functionality and sustainability

December 18, 2019 by  
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Constructed with reinforced concrete and structural steel, the Red House is one home in a collection of three townhouses located in the northern Point Breeze neighborhood of Philadelphia . Custom, artistic elements throughout the property paired with the sustainable and efficient features give this building its unique, eco-friendly flair. Each home is 3,200 square feet in size, 18 feet wide and four stories tall. The complex is entirely electric-running and designed to operate a 7.37kW grid-tied, roof-mounted PV solar panel system. Apart from providing the owner with a significant cost reduction for utilities, the solar panels produce no carbon dioxide emissions. Related: Striking, LEED Silver-targeted tower to rise in the heart of Philadelphia All of the appliances and features in the homes are designed to maximize the efficiency of the massive rooftop solar panel. A one-car, heated garage comes complete with an electric car charger . To provide a great deal of natural light and natural airflow from front to back, there are 6-foot, wall-to-wall, aluminum-clad wood casement windows on the northern side, as well as double and single 5-foot casement windows on the southern side. The home is heated by a hydronic radiant heating system installed into the floors, complete with the ability to control the temperature of each individual floor separately to reduce excess electricity when all zones aren’t being used. On the second floor, you’ll find a spacious open plan that welcomes guests into a casual space for living, dining and cooking. The interiors are marked with an industrial design scheme; the modern, open kitchen utilizes stainless steel countertops and cabinetry inset with local black walnut wood embellishments. In each townhome, there are four bedrooms in total, dispersed among the first and third floors as well as the master bedroom on the fourth floor. Each of the three full baths are designed with colorful, handmade tiles from Spain. Families who need more space can make use of the finished basement, which is fully heated, insulated and waterproof. Outside, the green backyard was contained using corrugated metal fencing. Meanwhile, the roof deck provides a unique view of the Philadelphia skyline. + Octo Studio Photography by HomeJab via Octo Studio

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Modern townhome in Philadelphia combines functionality and sustainability

This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere

November 19, 2019 by  
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At nearly 70,000 square feet, Gillies Hall at Monash University in Australia has become the country’s largest Passive House-certified building. The school has a population of about 4,000 students, most of whom are studying subjects of early childhood education, physiotherapy and nursing. Since the building was opened, modeling has maintained indoor temperatures between 22 °C (71 °F) and 24 °C (75 °F) throughout the year. At the forefront of the project was the usage of cross-laminated timber (or CLT), which inspired much of the design for the building’s interior. CLT is a type of prefabricated , solid wood paneling that is both lightweight and strong and is widely considered to have a low environmental impact in construction projects. Aside from providing superior thermal insulation, its simple and quick installation generates minimal waste onsite. Related: LEED Platinum UCSB student housing harnesses California’s coastal climate According to Simon Topliss, project director for Jackson Clements Burrows Architects, “CLT was a wonderful, low-carbon solution and is a robust, structural product with a warmth that concrete doesn’t have.” Close to 50 percent of the entire building’s internal walls and the partition walls in each apartment were made using CLT . There are two wings of apartments on each residential floor, each joined by a connective “knuckle,” allowing the building’s circulation to integrate with the communal kitchen, lounge and study. There are glazed, open stairs with outside views connecting to other floors as well. In Australia, Passive House -certified projects typically cost 6 to 10 percent extra to construct but use about 70 percent less energy than conventional buildings. The region where Gillies Hall was built often sees a large number of extremely hot summer days, so plenty of shading and cross-ventilation methods were implemented in order to keep the building within the temperature standards of Passive House certification. The project was completed in 19 months, just in time for students to move in for the 2019 school year. Topliss said that the university’s commitment to fostering community was one of the main focuses for the design of the building. “So we wanted to take every design opportunity to create spaces for students to socialize, play and study together,” Topliss explained. “There is one resident adviser per 30 students, and floor planning was developed around this model.” + Jackson Clements Burrows Architects Via Dwell Photography by Peter Clarke via Jackson Clements Burrows Architects

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This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere

New report warns of extreme heat of 127 degrees or more in the US

July 29, 2019 by  
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Just when you thought the environmental news couldn’t get any worse, a shocking new report warns Americans that they may be facing temperatures of 127 degrees Fahrenheit. By the year 2100, more than one-third of the U.S. population could be exposed to this kind of heat and its accompanying health risks. The county-by-county survey predicts that by mid-century, more than 250 American cities will suffer from at least one month of days where the heat index surpasses 100 degrees. Historically, this number has been 29 cities. The heat-index scale combines temperature with humidity to arrive at what the temperature feels like. Related: Extreme heat wallops the US “We were very surprised at how steeply and quickly the number of days of dangerous heat increased in such a short time,” said Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist at Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Dahl co-authored the dire new report, “ Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days .” Extreme heat will hit the Southeast and Southern Great Plains the hardest. Texas and southern Arizona will also be sweltering. But even temperate areas, such as Seattle, will notice a significant increase in hot days. Humans, with a normal internal temperature of 98.6, function poorly in extreme heat. Climate researcher Tom Crowther said the increase in heat events “represents a terrifying prospect” and “a direct and immediate threat to human health and wellbeing.” Droughts, floods and wildfires will accompany the extreme temperatures. Sea level rise and compromised food production will also make life tougher. Humankind’s best hope? A fast and drastic reduction in carbon emissions . “Our past climate can no longer guide us,” said meteorologist Richard Rood. “We have to build and adapt to what’s coming.” + Union of Concerned Scientists Via National Geographic Image via Mark Hemmings

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New report warns of extreme heat of 127 degrees or more in the US

Beyond & Impossible alternative meats: are they actually healthier than the real thing?

July 29, 2019 by  
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Tempting the most loyal of carnivores, plant-based foods are spreading faster than wildfire as restaurant chains like Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Burger King and White Castle have added alternative meats to their menus, providing vegans, vegetarians and non-meat eaters with popular food options like burgers and tacos. However, a lingering question remains— how healthy are they? Studies Say Many of us remember the infamous 2006 study revealing that livestock and meat production are generating more greenhouse gas emissions than transport. The report, released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was enough to make any carnivore rethink their meat consumption. At the time, Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and author of the report said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”  Related: Impossible Foods tests a fish-less fish protein The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, released a statement classifying processed meat as a carcinogen in 2015 . It also classified red meat as a probable carcinogen. It took a total of 22 experts from 10 countries and the review of over 800 studies to reach this conclusion. They found that consuming 50 grams of processed meat each day (the equivalent of about four strips of bacon or one hot dog) could increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. When it came to red meat, the report found evidence of increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. The Big Bucks More and more people are making the switch to a plant-based diet, whether for the environment , personal health or love of animals. As the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles rise in numbers, corporations are taking notice and forming strategies to take livestock out of the equation.  The plant-based meat market is already booming. According to the Good Food Institute, the sale of plant-based meat grew 10% from April 2018 to April 2019 and 37% over the past two years. Last year 11.9% of all U.S. households purchased plant-based meat, which may not sound like much, but that equates to about 15 million households. Plant-based food is currently a $4.5 billion industry and has grown 31% in the past two years. Beyond and Impossible The question of whether these plant-based meats are actually good for your health, however, still has experts debating . Unsurprisingly, the futuristic vegan burgers of two most popular plant-based meat companies in the nation have found themselves under the spotlight. By 2016, Beyond Meat released the first plant-based burger sold in grocery stores (such as Whole Foods) internationally. Impossible Foods began selling their plant-based “bleeding” burgers to fast-food brands and gourmet spots such as Bareburger and Umami Burger in 2017. The controversy first began in 2018 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressed concern over soy leghemoglobin or “heme,” which is an essential ingredient in the Impossible Foods burger “meat.” The key ingredient creates the illusion of blood and aroma of real meat, and the company found a way to harvest it from plants creating a protein produced by genetically modified yeast cells. Soy is also a key ingredient in popular veggie meat patty brands, Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Burgers and Kraft Heinz’s Boca Veggie Burgers. Beyond Meat uses beets for color and pea protein isolate, which is processed and is not considered a whole food. The Ingredients Beyond : Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color). Related: Cell-based meat could replicate and replace shrimp, lobster and crab Impossible : Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12. Things to Consider While the protein content is similar to actual meat, the plant-based protein used to produce vegan meat is processed. Processed proteins should be eaten in moderation, so more isn’t necessarily better. The process isn’t nearly as synthetic or harmful as say, a twinkie, but it is still something to consider. Both burgers include coconut oil (rich in saturated fat) as a main ingredient, which the American Heart Association has risen concerns about . There is a large amount of sodium in both burgers. Beyond has 390 milligrams of sodium and Impossible has 370 mg. There is also the concerning fact that both Impossible and Beyond have yet to reveal how exactly their burgers are made. The companies consider production methods to be trade secrets, which is understandable in a business sense, but far more complicated than the cow = meat process we’ve all grown up with. When compared to a 4-ounce beef burger with 20 percent fat content, both Beyond and Impossible burgers have fewer calories, fewer grams of fat and the same amount of (or slightly more) protein. Both plant-based burgers have no cholesterol and more fiber than a regular beef burger. So, are these plant-based burgers actually healthier than the real thing? Well, it depends on the individual. High risk for colorectal cancer? Need to lay off the saturated fats or sodium? Your lifestyle, diet and personal health all need to be considered when making the switch to plant-based meats— and that’s between you and your doctor. Images via Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat

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Beyond & Impossible alternative meats: are they actually healthier than the real thing?

Scientific consensus reaches beyond 99% on human-caused climate change

July 25, 2019 by  
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Researchers have released three additional studies confirming the consensus among scientists that climate change is real. More than 99 percent of scientists have reached the same conclusion that global warming is real and caused by human activity, with findings showing that current warming is unprecedented when compared to the last 2,000 years. Even though most deniers are political or corporate-backed — rather than driven by science — scientists continue to release worrisome research repeating and reconfirming that all evidence indicates climate change is real in hopes that the consensus itself will be convincing. Related: Climate anxiety — is hopelessness preventing us from confronting our biggest challenge? “There is no doubt left — as has been shown extensively in many other studies addressing many different aspects of the climate system using different methods and data sets,” said Stefan Brönnimann of the University of Bern. The three studies were published in Nature and Nature Geoscience and indicate that the temperature spikes over the last few decades have not been as dramatic over the last 2,000 years . While there have been other roving and site-specific temperature changes, such as the Little Ice Age , the current record-breaking temperatures impact the entire globe. The researchers used proxy indicators such as evidence in trees , ice and sediment, which show that changes in climate have never been as severe as they are now. “The good news is public understanding of the scientific consensus is increasing,” said researcher James Cook, who wrote the original paper on scientific consensus in 2013. “The bad news is there is still a lot of work to do yet as climate deniers continue to persistently attack the scientific consensus.” Last week, the original paper was downloaded for the one millionth time, making it the most-read study by the Institute of Physics. Cook also wrote a follow-up to this study, but because of the recent rise in disasters and interest in climate change , he plans to revise his paper again. Via The Guardian Image via Christopher Michel

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Arctic permafrost already thawing at a rate not expected until 2090

June 20, 2019 by  
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Frozen ground — called permafrost — is thawing in the Arctic up to 70 years earlier than scientists originally predicted. The thawed landscapes were discovered during an expedition trip by a team of researchers from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The rock and soil in this area has been frozen for thousands of years, but a string of unusually warm summers was enough to drastically alter the temperature and ecosystem. “What we saw was amazing. It’s an indication that the climate is now warmer than at any time in the last 5,000 or more years,” University professor Vladimir Romanovsky told Reuters . The scientists used a small propeller plane to collect data in the far reaches of the Canadian Arctic . Some locations are so remote that the closest human settlement is up to 186 miles away. To their amazement, the landscape looked remarkably different than it had the last time they flew over 10 years ago during a baseline data collection mission. Related: NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier Instead of frozen ground and solid ice, the team saw depressions in the ground indicating thawing and sinking, and ponds where ice had melted, called thermokarst. They also saw vegetation in these areas, which is highly unusual for such a frozen place. The thawing of the permafrost is not only alarming because of the changes to ecosystems; the ice in these areas also contains large quantities of greenhouse gases. As the ice melts, the gases are released into the atmosphere and contribute to the climate crisis . According to the researchers findings, published on June 10 in Geophysical Research Letters , the amount of gases released could undo progress to curb emissions through the Paris Agreement . Jennifer Morgan from Greenpeace International told The Guardian, “ Thawing permafrost is one of the tipping points for climate breakdown, and it’s happening before our very eyes. This premature thawing is another clear signal that we must decarbonize our economies, and immediately.” Via The Guardian and Reuters Image via Bureau of Land Management

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Arctic permafrost already thawing at a rate not expected until 2090

This on-the-go carafe heats or cools water instantaneously as you pour

February 26, 2019 by  
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Good news for coffee and tea drinkers: No more wasting time and energy waiting for the perfect cup. Thanks to Heatworks, the company responsible for creating an innovative new heating carafe, you won’t have to. Using patented Heatworks ’ Ohmic Array Technology, the DUO Smart Untethered Carafe has the power to heat (or cool!) water to the exact degree while you pour. The DUO Carafe has Frog Design to thank for its modern, sleek exterior, and it is the third in a line of award-winning collaborations between the two companies. When it comes to functionality, convenience and stylish appearance, the DUO looks like quite the game changer. Related: This countertop dishwasher promises to wash your dishes in just 10 minutes So how does it work? The precise temperature control on the side panel lets you pick the water temperature to the plus/minus one degree. Simply set your temperature, pour water into the reservoir (fits four cups) at the top and pour into your cup. The carafe features one spout for filtered cold water and another spout for hot water (hence the “duo”). On the red side, the water appears to heat up instantaneously, or pour from the blue side for crisp, cool water. The entire device is battery operated, making it perfect for taking it to the office or really anywhere else. You’ll also be able to plug it in, so the carafe can stay comfortably on your kitchen table or desk to charge for on-the-go use. The DUO boasts 99 percent energy efficiency and an advanced water filtration system created by Heatworks CEO Jerry Callahan, who wanted to create a heating system without using metal heating elements. Unsustainable and flawed, metal heating parts have been used for heating for the past 100 years and carry the risk of rust and limescale to form, causing elements to fall apart or leak sediment into the water supply. Callahan felt it was time for an upgrade to traditional heating systems, and the Ohmic Array Technology was born. Using electrical currents passed through the water itself rather than separate heated elements to transfer heat into the water, Ohmic Array cuts out a whole step in the process. The DUO is not yet available for purchase, but you can learn more information and sign up for release updates on the Heatworks  website . + Heatworks Images via Heatworks

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This on-the-go carafe heats or cools water instantaneously as you pour

LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials

February 26, 2019 by  
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Nestled in the bucolic countryside of Garzón, Uruguay, the boutique winery Bodega Garzón produces estate-grown premium wines while keeping sustainability in mind. Designed by Argentina-based architecture firm Bórmida & Yanzón , the winery optimizes energy efficiency with insulating green roofs that total nearly an acre in size, rainwater harvesting and reuse, as well as a high-efficiency HVAC with heat recovery. Fitted with state-of-the-art technology, the 205,000-square-foot development is currently pursuing LEED certification. Set on property formerly overgrown with invasive species and marked by rocky and steep slopes, the Bodega Garzón winery has reintroduced the landscape to native species and more productive uses. Not only does the state-of-the-art winery encompass 500 acres of vineyards, but it also boasts a production facility, a tasting room for visiting guests, retail space, a wine club, an open-fire 120-seat restaurant, and caves for barrel storage, tours, private dining, and events. Views of the idyllic countryside are optimized in the design and placement of the buildings. As part of the winery’s commitment to sustainability, over 90 percent of the construction materials were locally sourced and include granite, concrete and stone. An earthy and natural material palette of raw steel, honed marble, brass accents, leathers, and rich textiles give the interiors, dressed by California-based Backen Gillam & Kroeger Architects, a luxurious and polished feel. The designers were also careful to select recycled and rapidly renewable materials, such as Forest Stewardship Council-certified timbers. Related: An award-winning winery in British Columbia elegantly steps down a hillside The 19 varieties of grapes grown on site — including the brand’s flagship Tannat and Albariño grapes — are connected to drip irrigation that uses recycled surface runoff harvested in newly dug man-made pond systems. All stormwater runoff is treated before leaving the site and recycled for not only all of the irrigation, but for cleaning the outdoor areas and for the water pond as well. + Bórmida & Yanzón

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LEED-seeking winery in Uruguay is built almost entirely of locally sourced materials

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