Carrboro Hillside House looks like a giant black snake

October 14, 2021 by  
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The location is tucked into a protected forested area covered in trees with a creek nearby. It’s an odd-shaped lot with a hillside and boulders, surrounded by nature. It was a huge challenge for architect Doug Pierson and designer Youn Choi, but the end result is absolutely stunning. Carrboro Hillside House is tucked into the terrain like a slumbering black snake, which is how it got its name. The submerged design helps regulate the home’s interior temperature, as does the triple-pane glazing throughout that prevents energy loss through the windows. There’s also a tankless water heater, a solar-ready roof , Energy Star appliances and low-flow sinks and toilets. Related: YEZO is a nature retreat perched on a Japanese hillside The house is made up of three sections that create a z-shape, and, interestingly, all wrapped in black corrugated metal . The foundation and retaining walls are made of polished concrete. Natural light enters the space through glazed windows. The interior temperature is regulated with thermal mass and radiant flooring. Every one of the pine trees that were felled to build this home went to a local lumber company and then returned as the pine wood seen throughout the interior of the house. The black walls were made from repurposed liner material for poured concrete forms. Perforated metal or glass railings were used for the stairs and balcony. All of the floors in the living area are polished concrete. The upper-level floors are made from milled pine just like the walls . Found in Carrboro, North Carolina, Hillside House’s innovative design and eco-friendly materials used to create it (with extra care and attention given to energy efficiency) makes this a stunning example how even a difficult and unsavory lot can be the inspiration for a real dream home. Drawing inspiration from the exterior environment is often the best way to honor nature. + Doug Pierson and Youn Choi Images via Blue Plate PR

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Carrboro Hillside House looks like a giant black snake

Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

August 3, 2021 by  
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Spotted lanternflies are extremely cool-looking bugs, with polka-dotted wings in shades of red, black and beige that make them resemble paper lanterns. But people should be very worried about this invasive  insect , according to entomologist Frank Hale. The spotted lanternfly hales from India, Vietnam and China. It probably immigrated to the U.S. as a stowaway in a cut stone or wood product shipment circa 2012. The initial U.S. sighting in 2014 was, fittingly enough, on a common  invasive  tree of heaven in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Since then, spotted lanternflies have spread to at least 26 counties in  Pennsylvania  and been spotted in several other eastern states. Related: More than half of Europe’s native trees face extinction The problem is, this is one destructive little bug. Lanternflies feed by piercing  tree  bark and vines, biting right into the plant’s vascular system and sucking out the sap. At an inch long, they’re pretty big for a sucking insect and can remove an awful lot of sap, jeopardizing the lives of their hosts. Then they excrete large amounts of the euphemistically called “honeydew,” which coats the tree. “The heavy flow of honeydew and the resulting sooty mold makes a mess of the landscape,” said Hale, as reported in Ecowatch. Woe to those who park beneath a tree infested with lanternflies. These invasive bugs also have a yen for grapevines. It takes a lot of  insecticide  to kill them, driving up production costs and making vintners kiss their organic status goodbye. Eastern wine-producing areas, including Long Island and Finger Lakes in New York, Newport, Rhode Island and parts of Virginia all face the threat of lanternflies ruining their vineyards. How have these little bugs spread so far in just a few years? In late summer and autumn, lanternflies lay egg masses. Any smooth surface is fair game. Including  cars , trains and trucks. The unborn lanternflies can hitch a ride anywhere, leading to future infestations. Scientists are trying to figure out the best way to stop these bugs from continuing their west and southward trajectory. “Two naturally occurring fungal pathogens of spotted lanternflies have been identified in the U.S.,” Hale told Ecowatch. “Also, U.S. labs are testing two parasitoid insects – insects that grow by feeding on lanternflies and killing them in the process – that have been brought from  China  for testing and possible future release.” Wait, haven’t we seen that in a sci-fi movie? In the meantime, if you see spotted lanternflies in your area, contact your local county extension office for suggestions on how to control the bugs. And if you’re the unlucky first sighter of the bugs in your area, contact your state department of  agriculture .  “ If the infestation is caught early before it can become established in your area, hopefully it can be eradicated there,” said Hale. “Eventually, it will spread to many parts of the country. We can slow the spread by identifying and eradicating new infestations wherever they arise.” Via Ecowatch , USDA Lead image via F Delventhal

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Invasive lanternflies want to take over the U.S.

Villa bordering nature reserve features natural stone design

July 15, 2021 by  
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Located in the  Spanish  town of Sotosalbos, Segovia, the House Salbos honors the 12th-century Romanesque architecture of the region with a modern design. Created by ABIBOO Studio, the villa is made out of natural stone using local construction systems, helping it blend into its historic surroundings without sacrificing the comforts of modern life. Castilian tile and natural stone line the entire exterior as well as a series of large  flower planters  to keep the property uniform. The 250-square-meter house design includes an L-shaped plan, incorporated to address existing municipal codes while allowing residents to maintain a relationship with the outdoors. Related: Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone Perhaps most exciting of all is the 900-square-meter property’s proximity to a local nature preserve, which brings an ecological element to the project that combines the wild landscape with the overall contemporary feel of the design. The nature reserve bordering the home is characterized by cold and rough winds for a portion of the year. The landscape design remedied this by installing a large brazier,  fire pit  and masonry seats in the garden to protect the outdoor spaces. Also outside, the design features a  gabled roof  and a combination of local materials and corten steel. The in-ground fire pit area is well suited for hosting with plenty of seating areas, a series of stone walls rising in different levels against the tree-lined backdrop. Almost like a maze, each section of the outdoor landscape compliments the main structure’s contemporary framework with matching stone and sleek, clean lines.  Inside, the bright and natural theme continues with neutral finishes and minimalist decor, complemented by light  wood  details and earth tones in the furnishings. The home includes two floors, the ground floor containing the main rooms and a common area and the upper floor hosting the family’s children’s rooms. + ABIBOO Studio Images courtesy of ABIBOO Studio

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Villa bordering nature reserve features natural stone design

Villa bordering nature reserve features natural stone design

July 15, 2021 by  
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Located in the  Spanish  town of Sotosalbos, Segovia, the House Salbos honors the 12th-century Romanesque architecture of the region with a modern design. Created by ABIBOO Studio, the villa is made out of natural stone using local construction systems, helping it blend into its historic surroundings without sacrificing the comforts of modern life. Castilian tile and natural stone line the entire exterior as well as a series of large  flower planters  to keep the property uniform. The 250-square-meter house design includes an L-shaped plan, incorporated to address existing municipal codes while allowing residents to maintain a relationship with the outdoors. Related: Former camping site turned into gorgeous family home clad in charred wood and natural stone Perhaps most exciting of all is the 900-square-meter property’s proximity to a local nature preserve, which brings an ecological element to the project that combines the wild landscape with the overall contemporary feel of the design. The nature reserve bordering the home is characterized by cold and rough winds for a portion of the year. The landscape design remedied this by installing a large brazier,  fire pit  and masonry seats in the garden to protect the outdoor spaces. Also outside, the design features a  gabled roof  and a combination of local materials and corten steel. The in-ground fire pit area is well suited for hosting with plenty of seating areas, a series of stone walls rising in different levels against the tree-lined backdrop. Almost like a maze, each section of the outdoor landscape compliments the main structure’s contemporary framework with matching stone and sleek, clean lines.  Inside, the bright and natural theme continues with neutral finishes and minimalist decor, complemented by light  wood  details and earth tones in the furnishings. The home includes two floors, the ground floor containing the main rooms and a common area and the upper floor hosting the family’s children’s rooms. + ABIBOO Studio Images courtesy of ABIBOO Studio

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Villa bordering nature reserve features natural stone design

‘Trump Forest’ plants trees to offset president’s climate ignorance

August 15, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump is notorious for his ignorance on climate change . So instead of sitting by while his administration harms the planet, a British climate scientist, American PhD candidate, and French and Kiwi sustainable hat company founder decided to take action. They started Trump Forest to encourage people to plant trees , and have seen a huge response: so far hundreds of people around the world have pledged 130,999 trees . “Where ignorance grows trees” is the tagline of the Trump Forest project. Dan Price, Jeff Willis, and Adrien Taylor initiated the project in March of this year in New Zealand with a contribution of 1,000 native trees from Taylor’s company Offcut (which plants a tree for every cap sold). From there, hundreds of people in places as far-flung as Malawi, Japan, and the United States pledged to plant trees too. Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth Trump Forest isn’t after money, according to their website. Instead, they hope people will pay for and plant trees where they live in the name of America’s president, or donate to charity Eden Reforestation Projects . Taylor told the BBC of Trump, “Only a small percentage of the world voted him in, but we all have to deal with the consequences of his climate ignorance.” The organizers told the BBC they would need to plant a forest as big as Kentucky to offset Trump’s policies. They also estimated they’d need to offset 650 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025 to make up for the actions of America’s commander-in-chief – that’s over 100 billion new trees. They think it’s feasible. Wouldn’t a forest named after Trump just bolster his already large ego? The organizers say people have complained about that, but they’d prefer if the president got on board. Taylor told the BBC, “We kind of want him to love the forest; this is his forest after all. We would love it if he tweeted about it.” Price said, “All we’re trying to do is pick up the slack he created and do the work for him.” If you want to get involved, you can check out the project here . + Trump Forest Via BBC Images via Pixabay and Ozark Drones on Unsplash

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‘Trump Forest’ plants trees to offset president’s climate ignorance

Configurable wooden shelter hangs from the treetops

July 21, 2017 by  
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Need a quiet space to get away from it all? French architecture firm,  Les Etablissements Tourneux has created a multi-use wooden shelter that hangs from the tree tops. Although compact in size, the Sequoia Shelter is incredibly flexible thanks to multiple wooden planks with hinges, which allow the structure to be configured in a variety of shapes without causing harm to the tree or its branches. The shelter is made out of individual panels of spruce that can be configured in different shapes. It’s also possible to create various awnings and terraces within the design. The narrow apex at the top and flexible configuration were strategic to creating a hanging treehouse that causes little to no damage to trees and branches. Aesthetically, the natural spruce planks give the treehouse a light, airy feel. Related: Kengo Kuma envisions shapeshifting nomadic shelters woven from hundreds of identical wooden pieces The structure is incredibly easy to put together, making it a practical solution for off-grid living , an additional guest room, or just for plain, old fun. A flat base means it can be set on the ground and easily transported. Recently, the shelter was used as a music studio and lecture space for the Embranchements Festival in Nancy, France. + Les Etablissements Tourneux Via NotCot Images via Les Etablissements Tourneux

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Configurable wooden shelter hangs from the treetops

Shigeru Ban designs 20,000 homes for severely overcrowded refugee camp in Kenya

July 21, 2017 by  
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World-renowned architect, Shigeru Ban , is taking his talents to those who need it most. Working in collaboration with UN-Habitat, the UN agency that focuses on sustainable development , the 2014 Pritzker Prize recipient designed a prototype for some 20,000 new homes for refugees in Kenya’s Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement . True to form, Ban promotes the use of locally-sourced, sustainable materials in the shelter design. The Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement is currently home to almost 37,000 refugees, 17,000 of whom arrived in the first half of 2017 alone. This continuous influx of inhabitants is expected to increase over the next few months, putting the settlement, which has a capacity of 45,000, in a severely precarious situation. Related: 10 groundbreaking designs by Shigeru Ban that changed our ideas about architecture Ban is well-known for his dedication to humanitarian construction, having built various refugee and crisis shelters around the world, namely Rwanda, Italy, and Nepal. Ban is also known for his work with sustainable and locally-sourced materials, a trait that will be essential in the Kenyan camp. On a recent trip to the settlement, Ban highlighted the importance of using local construction techniques and sustainable materials , “The key thing will be to design and construct shelter where no or little technical supervision is required, and use materials that are locally available and eco-friendly. It’s important that the houses can be easily maintained by inhabitants.” The plan calls for Ban’s shelter design to be used initially as a prototype for 20 shelters. After a test period, the design, if successful, will be used to replace some of the camp’s deteriorating structures. + Shigeru Ban Via Archdaily Images via UNHCR

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Shigeru Ban designs 20,000 homes for severely overcrowded refugee camp in Kenya

Aspiring Jedis can pilot the Millennium Falcon at Disney’s upcoming ‘Star Wars’ hotel

July 21, 2017 by  
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Aspiring Jedis will now be able to practice their light saber moves at the upcoming Star Wars -themed hotel in Disney’s Orlando and Anaheim park locations. According to CNN , the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge experience will be set on a remote trading port on the edge of space. Visitors will be able to interact with a host of familiar characters, dress up in proper Star Wars attire, and even pilot the beloved Millennium Falcon, “shooting blasters or preparing for hyperspace” along the way. Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, revealed a few details of the new attraction at the recent Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, “To say we are excited for the Star Wars-themed lands to open in 2019 is an understatement,” Chapek said, “All along, we have said this will be game-changing, and through the model we can begin to see how truly epic these immersive new worlds will be.” Related: Disney’s ‘World of Pandora’ Avatar park opens with floating mountains and glowing forests Reportedly, the new park experience will be set on a remote planet in the Outer Rim where the First Order and Resistance forces are battling for control. The immersive experience will let visitors become active participants in the otherworldly atmosphere as well taking time to pilot the Millennium Falcon . On set will also be some familiar faces such as BB-8, Chewbacca, members of the First Order, and more. “You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. “It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits,” adds Chapek. Along with the multiple interactive experiences, all of the shopkeepers and staff in the park will be dressed up as Star Wars-themed creatures and aliens to ensure that the atmosphere is as authentic as possible. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is slated to open first in Orlando and then in Anaheim in 2019. + Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Via CNN Images via Disney Parks

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Aspiring Jedis can pilot the Millennium Falcon at Disney’s upcoming ‘Star Wars’ hotel

Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

July 21, 2017 by  
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When the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent began pushing for green roofs , a supermarket wondered if it could do regulations one better. Fast-forward a few years and IGA Extra Famille Duchemin now claims to be the first grocery store in Canada to sell produce grown on its own roof. High above its LEED Gold-certified retail space, IGA’s 25,000-foot garden features more than 30 different varieties of certified-organic produce, including tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, kale, eggplant, and basil. Speaking to the Ottawa Citizen , co-owner Richard Duchemin said he decided to perceive Saint-Laurent’s requirement not as a burden but an opportunity. Related: New York City unveils massive green-roofed film and fashion hub in Brooklyn Not only does a green roof help regulate the temperature of the building below it, saving energy, but it also feeds into consumer demand for food with a smaller carbon footprint. “People are very interested in buying local,” he said. “There’s nothing more local than this.” The garden, which is irrigated using water reclaimed from the store’s dehumidification system, has also become a mini-Eden for birds, bees, and other embattled urban fauna. Duchemin compares IGA’s produce-laden roof to those “little boxes where [supermarkets] grow herbs,” but on a grander scale. “We pushed it further because we know we’re able to sell what we produce here,” he added. Related: Green roofs cool co-working shipping container office in Brazil If proven successful, GA Extra Famille Duchemin could even kick-start a trend across Canada. Pierre St-Laurent, executive vice-president for Quebec at Sobeys , which owns the IGA chain, is said to be following the store’s progress with great interest. Photos via Facebook Via Ottawa Citizen

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Montreal supermarket is Canada’s first to grow produce on its own rooftop garden

This urban tree cleans as much polluted air as an entire forest

June 26, 2017 by  
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Air pollution might be invisible, but it results in 7 million premature deaths each year. Fortunately, there’s a solution – the CityTree is a high-tech green wall that scrubs the air of harmful particulates – and it has as much air-purifying power as 275 urban trees. As you might have guessed, the CityTree isn’t really a tree . Instead, it’s a moss culture. Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions said: “Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants .” The CityTree is under 4 meters tall, approximately 3 meters wide and 2.19 meters deep. Two versions are available – one with or without a bench – and a display is included for information or advertising. Due to the huge surface area of moss installed, each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. Additionally, the installations are fully autonomous, as solar panels provide electricity and collected rainwater is filtered into a reservoir where it is pumped into the soil. Related: Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide The invention also has WiFi sensors which measure the soil humidity, temperature and water quality. “We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is.” said Wu. Every day, a CityTree can absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter. Over the length of an entire year, the invention can remove 240 metric tons of C02. Green City Solutions seeks to one day install CityTrees in major cities around the world – but they presently faces bureaucratic challenges. Said Wu, “We were installing them (the CityTrees) in Modena, Italy, and everything was planned and arranged, but now the city is hesitant about the places we can install because of security reasons.” Regardless, the company will persist and already has plans to introduce the invention to India , where air pollution has reached dangerous levels in certain locations. So far, 20 CityTrees have been successfully installed in major cities around the world – including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong. Costing about $25,000 each, they are a big investment – but one deemed to be worthwhile as they clean the air of harmful contaminants. + Green City Solutions Via CNN Images via Green City Solutions

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This urban tree cleans as much polluted air as an entire forest

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