Recycled materials and traditional techniques define this farmstay in India

May 15, 2020 by  
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At the edge of the Sasan Gir wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India, d6thD design studio has completed Aaranya, an agricultural farmstay that pays homage to the rural vernacular and Mother Nature. Crafted with a small carbon footprint, the building adopts low-tech systems, such as passive solar orientation and terracotta roofing, to minimize energy usage. The use of local construction techniques also helped stimulate the economy by employing nearby villagers and craftspeople. Completed in January 2019, Aaranya comprises a series of buildings, each consisting of two attached cottages topped with gabled terracotta -tiled roofs that help offset the monsoon seasons’ heavy rainfall and intense heat in summer. Carefully set amidst the mango trees, the low-profile cottages blend into the lush landscape and look as if they were “planted” on site. The east-west orientation of the buildings also helps minimize heat gain and takes advantage of the cooling breezes from the adjacent agricultural field. Related: A terracotta home keeps naturally cool in one of Thailand’s hottest regions “Rather [than] spending millions on the best technology to create the greenest of green buildings when very few Indians can associate with them and even fewer can afford, we have came up with a simple, established and honest approach inspired by the vernacular architecture,” the architects explained. The use of terracotta, for instance, helps evoke the image of traditional Indian village architecture that has been built from the earthy material for generations. Over time, the tiled roofs will be covered in creeping plants and, as a result, the building will “virtually disappear” once the roof is fully vegetated. In addition to terracotta roof tiles, the architects also looked to traditional construction techniques for the rubble stone-packed foundation, load-bearing exposed natural sandstone walls and the brick dome, which features a mosaic and a window wall of recycled glass bottles . The architects noted, “Every effort has been made to ensure that the cottages remain true to its context and testifies itself to the norms of vernacular architecture.” + d6thD design studio Photography by Inclined Studio via d6thD design studio

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Recycled materials and traditional techniques define this farmstay in India

MIT moves toward greener, more sustainable artificial intelligence

May 15, 2020 by  
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While current  artificial intelligence  (AI) technology holds strategic and transformative potential, it isn’t always environmentally-friendly due to high energy consumption. To the rescue are researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) , who have devised a solution that not only lowers costs but, more importantly, reduces the AI model training’s carbon footprint. Back in June 2019, the  University of Massachusetts at Amherst revealed  that the amount of  energy  utilized in AI model training equaled 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. How so? Contemporary AI isn’t just run on a personal laptop or simple server. Rather, deep neural networks are deployed on diverse arrays of specialized hardware platforms. The level of energy consumption required to power such AI technologies is approximately five times the lifetime  carbon emissions  from an average American car, including its manufacturing.  Related:  This AI food truck could bring fresh produce directly to you Moreover, both  Analytics Insight  and  Kepler Lounge  warned that Google’s AlphaGo Zero — the  AI  that plays the game of Go against itself to self-learn — generated a massive 96 tons of  carbon dioxide  over 40 days of research training. That amount of carbon dioxide equals 1,000 hours of air travel as well as the annual  carbon footprint  of 23 American homes! The takeaway then? Numbers like these would make AI model deployment both unfeasible and unsustainable over time. MIT’s research team has devised a groundbreaking automated AI system, termed a once-for-all (OFA) network, described in  their paper here . This AI system — the OFA network — minimizes  energy consumption  by “decoupling training and search, to reduce the cost.” The OFA network was constructed based on automatic machine learning (AutoML) advancements.  Essentially, the OFA network functions as a ‘mother’ network to numerous subnetworks. As the ‘mother’ network, it feeds its knowledge and past experiences to all the subnetworks, training them to operate independently without the need for further retraining. This is unlike previous AI technology  that had to “repeat the network design process and retrain the designed network from scratch for each case. Their total cost gr[ew] linearly … as the number of deployment scenarios increase[d], which … result[ed] in excessive energy consumption and  CO2  emission.” In other words, with the OFA network in use, there is little need for additional retraining of subnetworks. This efficiency decreases costs, curtails carbon emissions and improves  sustainability . Assistant Professor Song Han, of MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was the project’s lead researcher. He shared that, “Searching efficient neural network architectures has until now had a huge carbon footprint. But we reduced that footprint by orders of magnitude with these new methods.” Also of particular interest was Chuang Gan, co-author of the MIT research paper, who added, “The model is really compact. I am very excited to see OFA can keep pushing the boundary of efficient deep learning on edge devices.” Being compact means AI can progress towards miniaturization. That could spell next-generation advantages in green operations that improve environmental impact. + MIT News Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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LEED Gold-targeted office mimics High Line via lush greenery

February 18, 2020 by  
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New York City’s award-winning High Line has attracted yet another sculptural building to its side — 512 West 22nd Street, a contemporary Chelsea office building that takes cues from the elevated park with landscaped terraces on every floor. Designed by local architecture firm COOKFOX Architects , the new building is inspired by not only its proximity to the High Line, but also the neighborhood’s industrial history. The office is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification.  Located adjacent to the “Chelsea Thicket” portion of the High Line, 512 West 22nd Street visually extends the park’s greenery with large landscaped terraces cut into the building’s profile on every floor for a total of over 15,000 square feet of outdoor space for occupant use. Light-filled workspaces, engineered for comfort and high-performance, enjoy direct access and views of these landscaped areas, which are planted solely with native species. Partly shielded from view by dense tree growth on the High Line, the building’s lower landscaped terraces are used for events and outdoor circulation, while the terraces on the fourth floor and above provide direct views of the city and Hudson River beyond.  The integration of landscaped terraces gives the contemporary building a dynamic and sculptural appearance that opens up at the edges. The streamlined facade of anthracite terracotta , zinc and granite is divided by industrial sash-inspired windows that wrap around the curved edges of the exterior. Operable glass gives occupants control of access to outdoor air. Related: Studio Gang’s 40 Tenth Avenue “Solar Carve” tower tops out near NYC’s High Line In addition to the air purification benefits of the nearby park and landscaped terraces, building occupants can enjoy access to a state-of-the-art overhead air distribution system. The large and flexible office spaces can also be adapted to a wide range of users. “Designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and foster an office environment connected with the natural world, 512 West 22nd Street sets new standards of health and productivity in the modern workplace,” the project’s press release stated. + COOKFOX Architects Images by Bruce Damonte

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Architects experiment with terracotta in the fight against climate change

December 26, 2017 by  
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Architects have drawn on terracotta for thousands of years – but are now exploring combating climate change with the ancient building material . Ceramicists, engineers, and architects converged on Buffalo this year for the Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop (ACAW) to investigate environmentally responsive terracotta designs . Terracotta is durable, breathes, offers a natural system to transfer water and heat, lasts for hundreds of years, and can be sculpted, transforming buildings into artwork, according to the University at Buffalo (UB). ACAW participants came together to work on terracotta facade prototypes with an emphasis on bioclimatic design. Workshop co-organizer and UB chair of architecture Omar Khan said in a statement, “Buildings account for two-thirds of final energy use and more than half of the world’s greenhouse gases . Yet the materials and assembly methods used for building facades have remained essentially the same since the 1950s. The skin of architecture must adapt to and mitigate such changes in our environment. Bioclimatic design invites us to change the paradigm from disposability to longevity.” Related: Brilliant zero-energy air conditioner in India is beautiful and functional Four research teams developed prototypes during the four-day workshop. Team UB/Alfred designed a terracotta shingle system with digital sculpting techniques that supports passive cooling . Team AECOM created a terracotta counter-current heat exchanger able to channel heat throughout a building using little to zero energy. A team from structural engineering and design firm Walter P. Moore explored a post-tensioned system of terracotta panels to answer questions on insulation, heating and cooling , and thermal mass and ventilation, as well as how different composite formulations would boost terracotta’s structural possibilities. And Team Morphosis worked on a facade system with ribboned terracotta panels for natural ventilation and evaporative cooling , while creating the feeling of movement. UB said the teams “are expected to advance results into full-scale projects, patented products, and actual buildings.” + Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop Via the University at Buffalo Images via Douglas Levere, University at Buffalo (1,3); Alexander Becker (2,4); and Laura Garófalo (5)

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Architects experiment with terracotta in the fight against climate change

Green-roofed gallery in Hanoi lights up like a lantern at night

November 29, 2016 by  
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This green-roofed gallery and lighting showroom in Hanoi is wrapped in a layer of perforated terracotta that filters sunlight into the narrow, tall volume of the building. Natural materials and different patterns and textures, trademarks of Vo Trong Nghia Architects , turn the building into a beautiful combination of traditional Vietnamese architecture and contemporary design. The building is located within Dong Da district in Hanoi. Its interior spaces are organized around a central void that houses a staircase which provides glances of the exhibitions. The terracotta blocks, traditionally used in Vietnamese architecture , facilitate natural ventilation and provide shade from harsh sunlight. These affordable building elements are coupled with a bespoke fixing system, enabling quick and simple assembly. Related: Lush green rooftop terrace invites homeowners outdoors in the foothills of Vietnam The top floor, where the gallery is located, overlooks a large neighboring tree and receives additional lighting through skylights that expose the roof garden above. While the building is in shade during the day, its internal nighttime illumination makes it look like a beautiful lantern. + Vo Trong Nghia Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Hiroyuki Oki , Trieu Chien

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Green-roofed gallery in Hanoi lights up like a lantern at night

7 ecological charities to support on Giving Tuesday and beyond

November 29, 2016 by  
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‘Tis the season of giving and all through the town, pocketbooks are jingling with the sound of spending. Hang the stockings with care, wrap up the last of the holiday gifts , and pour yourself a glass of cruelty-free vegan nog. With just a few days left on the calendar, it’s time to squeeze in a little more giving before the year is over. Charitable donations are a great opportunity to give back, helping organizations do good deeds around the globe and offering a little boost come tax time. But with thousands of nonprofit organizations asking for contributions, it can be challenging to figure out where best to send your money. To reduce your load during this already stressful time of year, we put together this charitable giving guide so you can rest assured your hard-earned cashola will help high-impact organizations that make the most of every dollar they raise. In order to make this list, organizations had to meet a number of criteria. First, we looked for groups focusing their efforts on protecting our Earth and its inhabitants. We also wanted to identify charities that have figured out how to make donations go as far as possible. That’s measured in two ways: the amount of money the organization spends in order to raise money and the percentage of funds raised that go to programs (as opposed to overhead and administrative costs). Monetary donations to each of these nonprofit organizations is tax-deductible in the United States. © Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice 1. Earth Justice Earth Justice was founded in 1971 “because the earth needs a good lawyer.” This non-profit public interest law firm is dedicated to protecting the environment and wildlife, as well as helping build healthy communities. EJ works on nearly every continent, leveraging legal action to garner cooperation from government agencies. © EWG 2. Environmental Working Group EWG is perhaps best known for its “Dirty Dozen” list which reveals the highest (and lowest) pesticide concentrations in conventionally-grown produce. Regular readers of Inhabitat may recognize the organization from a number of past reports, especially related to safety of consumer products like sunscreen and crayons . EWG reports donations received now will be doubled through a matching campaign. Related: The 6 most pressing environmental problems – and what you can do to help solve them https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuaxzgNX1bI&feature=youtu.be 3. Wildlife Conservation Society WCS field scientists working in over 20 countries work to protect wild animals and wild spaces. In particular, WCS researchers have been working to combat elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade with the 96 Elephants campaign. In an effort to stamp out ivory poaching, the organization has even enlisted the help of the Terminator to raise awareness about ongoing legislation in the U.S. that might undermine global efforts to end ivory trading. © Ecotrust 4. Ecotrust Ecotrust’s mission is to inspire innovative ways to create economic opportunity, social equality, and environmental well-being. One of its successful projects is FoodHub, an online marketplace designed to connect wholesale buyers and sellers of regionally grown food. That program is one of many Ecotrust backs that empowers individuals within a system that benefits all parties involved. Via Shutterstock 5. Animal Welfare Institute AWI works on a very specific type of problem – alleviating the suffering of animals caused by people. That ranges from scientific research to agriculture and from wild to domestic life. Most recently, the organization has been working to further legislation in Congress that would phase out orcas in captivity , putting an end to the suffering exposed in the film Blackfish . Via Shutterstock 6. The Conservation Fund The Conservation Fund works hard to protect America’s most important landscapes and waterways. This nonprofit is known for stretching funds far, putting 94 percent of funds towards program costs. In all, the fund reports saving 7.5 million acres of land and water across the United States. Related: Oil-rich Rockefellers divest charitable fund from fossil fuels Via Shutterstock 7. Rainforest Alliance Rainforest Alliance has gained public recognition with their independent certification of common rainforest products, such as chocolate, coffee, bananas, and tea. Producers must meet strict sustainability standards to gain certification. The Alliance also works with foresters and the tourism industry in ecologically vulnerable areas. Their website offers consumer and traveler information, helping us work together to steward some of the most biodiverse, threatened, and globally critical habitats. For information on these and other charitable organizations, check out Charity Watch , an online directory with ratings calculated by the American Institute of Philanthropy. Lead image via Shutterstock (modified)

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Terrapotta Army art installation gives reclaimed pots a new life

June 14, 2016 by  
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In Terrapotta Army, a population of long-lost terracotta pots invades an unsuspecting garden in the city center of Ghent, Belgium . With the help of Cultural Houses Ghent, Belgian designer Boomin Sep created this social installation amidst the beautiful greenery of the medieval Sint-Pieters abbey. The artwork announces a new cultural season in Ghent with reclaimed material that reference China’s Terracotta Army. Related: The Bali Ecological Center Creates a Modular Terracotta Green Wall with Local Craftsmen The army consists of dozens of old and forgotten terracotta pots from around the country, which come alive with the help of handcrafted and branded plywood decks. The reclaimed pots of varying heights and dimensions create an unusual effect, scattered amongst orchards, ruins, and vineyards. Boomin Sep says, “It’s really interesting to observe the interaction with the public, every morning you see the remains of circled pots, a remembrance of where the people came together.” + Boomin Sep Images via Wouter Maeckelberghe The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!

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Terrapotta Army art installation gives reclaimed pots a new life

Fatimata Ly’s Pounding Light is a Terra Cotta Chandelier Inspired by Power Cuts in Senegal

August 10, 2012 by  
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When electrical shortages and power cuts occur on a regular basis, you need to be flexible with your lighting sources. Pounding Light is a versatile terra cotta chandelier produced by Fatimata Ly that was inspired by power cuts in Senegal. It is possible to use it either with electrical lighting or with candles, for those moments without power. The shape draws inspiration from the traditional West African mortar, and the “pounding” of food in it. Read the rest of Fatimata Ly’s Pounding Light is a Terra Cotta Chandelier Inspired by Power Cuts in Senegal Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Bibi Seck , Dakar-Next , Fatimata Ly , green lighting , Plastic Chandelier , Pounding Light , Recycled Plastic , sustainable design , Terracotta Ceramics , Terracotta Chandelier

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Fatimata Ly’s Pounding Light is a Terra Cotta Chandelier Inspired by Power Cuts in Senegal

GREEN GUIDE TO PREFAB: Preparing Your Home for Green Certification

August 10, 2012 by  
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Our  Green Guide to Prefab series  has explored  a number of considerations that need to be made when  planning for a prefab home , from siting to personal style to financing and loans. But how do you translate that all of that newfound information into a succinct design that maximizes sustainability ? Green certification is one way to bring order to the often overwhelming process of constructing a home, and it provides a sustainability score sheet and solid guidelines that will help you systemize your decision-making process in a way that will make sense to you. By using a certification program to help plan your home, you can skip all the hair pulling and have peace of mind knowing that you’ve taken every step possible to create an energy-efficient , healthy, and sustainable space for living . Read ahead to learn more about the biggest certification programs out there, what you need to do to get started with one, and how getting your home certified will add to the long-term dollar value of your new prefab. Read the rest of GREEN GUIDE TO PREFAB: Preparing Your Home for Green Certification Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “leed” , building a kit home , building a new sustainable home , building a prefab home to be certified , designing your home to be certified , Eco Architecture , economical home , Energy Star Rated homes , factory made homes , flat pack architecture , green architecture , green certification , green certified architecture , green certified homes , green guide to prefab , green modern family homes , ICC , ICC Certification , ICC homes , kit homes , LEED architecture , LEED for Home , Lindal Cedar Homes , lindal homes , michael harris , modern home , modernism , money and building a new home , non-volumetric homes , portable homes , Prefab , prefab architecture , Prefab Homes , prefab industry , prefabricated architecture , prefabricated homes , volumetric homes

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GREEN GUIDE TO PREFAB: Preparing Your Home for Green Certification

See-Through Microchip Organs Help Scientists Test New Drugs

August 10, 2012 by  
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To perfect new medicines and surgical techniques, scientists need to conduct experiments on real humans. The only problem is, there aren’t too many living people who want to be guinea pigs for untested drugs or procedures. Human cadavers will work, but it’s not the same as a living, breathing person. Now, scientists from Harvard University have partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create a series of see-through computer chips that imitate the function of real human organs. The organs-on-chips will allow researchers to study complex human physiology safely without a human subject. Read the rest of See-Through Microchip Organs Help Scientists Test New Drugs Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency , drugs , harvard , human body , microchip , scientific research

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