New biofabricated clothing made from algae goes through photosynthesis just like plants

October 25, 2019 by  
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There are a products that completely revolutionize the fashion industry for their eco-friendly approach and innovative vision. Although the fashion industry has made strides over the past few years in terms of sustainable clothing production, there is still a long ways to go. Thankfully, a handful of designers are coming up with incredibly innovative solutions to really change the concept of eco-fashion . One such visionary is Canadian-Iranian designer Roya Aghighi , whose new line of clothing, Biogarmentry, is made from algae that turns carbon dioxide into oxygen via photosynthesis. Made in collaboration with University of British Colombia (UBC) and Emily Carr Univeristy, the Biogarmentry line is a revolutionary design within the world of eco-fashion . While most sustainable designers are searching for fabrics that don’t harm the environment, Aghighi went straight to the environment for her unique fabric, using living, photosynthetic cells in its design. Related: SAOLA offers sustainable sneakers sourced from algae and recycled plastic The biofabricated textiles are made with a type of single-cell green algae called clothichlamydomonas reinhardtii. To create a solid textile, the algae is spun together with nano polymers. The result is a light, woven eco-textile akin to linen that photosynthesizes like plants. Currently a designer in residence at Material Experience Lab in the Netherlands, Aghighi explains that her inspiration for the design was to cut out the search for high-quality fabrics that don’t harm the planet, instead opting to create what could be the fabric of the future. “Biogarmentry suggests a complete overhaul rather than tinkering at the edges,” she said. “The living aspect of the textile will transform users’ relationship to their clothing, shifting collective behaviors around our consumption-oriented habits towards forming a sustainable future.” In addition to its sustainable design , the textile is also easy-to-maintain. To keep it clean, the garments just need to be watered once in a while, just like real live plants. When the garment has reached the end of its life cycle, which, for the moment, is just a month, it can be used for composting. + Roya Aghighi Via Dezeen Images via Roya Aghighi

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New biofabricated clothing made from algae goes through photosynthesis just like plants

Futuristic treehouse in Arkansas is designed to inspire imagination

May 16, 2019 by  
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Heat-treated pine and steel were used to create this unique treehouse inside the Garvan Woodland Gardens in central Arkansas. The space, a 210-acre nature park with botanical gardens owned by the University of Arkansas, borders the Quachita River. The structure itself resides inside a children’s garden full of native trees such as oak and pine, and serves as an interactive experience for children. The treatment process to create the “thermalised” southern yellow pine uses heat and steam to ensure longer-lasting durability of the wood . It also makes the wood less susceptible to weather and the elements. Related: Floating treehouse inside Mexican forest is a dreamy escape from city noise The slatted design provides a strong, safe way for the children to feel more connected with nature . The curves were intentional, influenced by “dendrology,” or the study of trees, exhibited by the way the house changes shape while walking through. Using six pairs of skinny steel columns, the treehouse is lifted 13 to 25 feet into the air. This ensures that the natural ground below wouldn’t have to be manipulated in order to install the structure— an important consideration for the protected nature park. It’s a win-win situation, as the elevated location allows visitors to feel suspended into the air among the trees without a dangerous climb. The treehouse is multi-storied and has a raised walkway leading into the entrance in the center. When it comes to the actual structural design , the designers built a centralized spine made of steel that runs along the entire treehouse. Connected to the spine are 113 ribs (10 made of steel and the rest out of pine) that act as a sort-of skeleton, as well as features floor plates and six pairs of columns. Holes constructed into the east and north-facing ends give visitors an unobstructed view of the forest and tree canopies, with the eastern side partly covered by a decorative metal screen for added safety and allure. As for the “tail” of the treehouse, the designers used a metal infill and net to give users the illusion of danger (while still completely protected) keeping the spirit and excitement of a traditional treehouse alive. + Modus Studio Via Deezen Images via Modus Studio

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Futuristic treehouse in Arkansas is designed to inspire imagination

This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

May 9, 2019 by  
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There’s a good reason why this beautiful, natural wood treehouse blends in perfectly to its surroundings on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica — the entire structure was built using the trees from the property site. Nestled in the jungle and complete with ocean views, the house, designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig , was inspired by the owners’ love for surfing and environmentalism. There are three floors to the treehouse , with the top floor visible from above the tree canopy, and the bottom two levels hidden among the dense trees. Occupants are able to check the surf at nearby Playa Hermosa Beach from the comfort of the top floor. Related: A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach Wood has the power to be a green, renewable resource when used with sustainability in mind. Nowadays, there are plenty of companies that offer certifiably sustainable wood that comes from forests that are responsibly managed to avoid things like erosion, pollutants and habitat loss. Locally harvested trees, like the ones used to build this surfer’s treehouse, can reduce the environmental impact of construction projects. Apart from contributing to social aspects of sustainability by utilizing local employment, green construction using locally harvested trees also helps to minimize carbon emissions from transportation. The designers took advantage of the natural sea breezes and tropic environment through the passive , open-air design of the structure. The lush vegetation is accessible from the bottom floor, which opens to a courtyard that helps blend the house into its setting. A double-screen shutter system, also made of teak wood, allows the two bottom floors to either open up to the elements, ventilation and natural light, or close to provide privacy. The treehouse is powered using a 3.5 kW solar array, and a rainwater collection system helps reduce the house’s  carbon footprint . In the evenings, the lights shine through the slatted walls to create an ethereal glow that shimmers through the thick leaves and trees that surround the property, making this unique treehouse an even more beautiful addition to the area. + Tom Kundig Photography by Nic Lehoux via Olson Kundig

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This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

Boxy volumes anchor a beautiful home into a rocky cliffside

March 21, 2019 by  
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When Montreal-based firm YH2 Architecture was tasked with the almost impossible feat of building on an incredibly sloped, rocky landscape, it came up with a solution that goes back to the age of time: building blocks. Using the natural landscape to its advantage, the firm constructed the gorgeous House Dans l’Escarpement out of two concrete “boxes,” one vertical and one horizontal. The ingenious design not only let the project expand vertically but also reduced the footprint of the home on its pristine surroundings. Located in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré region of Quebec, the home is tucked into a vast landscape made up of a lush forest and pristine lakes. The particular building location, however, is marked by a very steep cliff that has never been built on because of its rugged topography. Related: “Delightfully surprising” green-roofed island home cascades down a rocky slope When tasked with building on this seemingly impossible site, the architects employed an elementary concept to create an extraordinary home design. The House Dans l’Escarpement’s 3,230 square footage spans over two large blocks. The main entrance to the home is through an elevated metallic gangway that leads into the vertical block, while a horizontal block extends out on the ground floor. Spread out over three levels, the lowest floor of the vertical block houses a sauna and spa area, while the second floor is home to a small office and library. The master suite holds court on the upper level and boasts stunning views of the forest and river below. Connected to the vertical tower on the ground by an all-glass walkway , the horizontal block features an open-plan living and dining area that opens up to the outdoors with an open-air terrace. Driving the inspiration behind the unique design, the connection between the man-made and the natural is felt throughout the interior. Warm mahogany and  Corten steel panels were used to frame the home’s exterior, enhanced in some parts with slabs of exposed concrete, which the architects used to pay homage to the large boulders that make up the home’s setting. Mahogany is also the prevailing material used throughout the interior, giving the home a contemporary cabin feel. Selected for its durable quality as well as rich, warm tones, the wood is used in almost every surface, from the flooring, ceilings and beams to the window frames and kitchen cabinets. The result is a living space that blends in seamlessly with the forestscape that envelopes the home. + YH2 Architecture Via Archdaily Photography by Maxime Brouillet via YH2 Architecture

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Boxy volumes anchor a beautiful home into a rocky cliffside

Topas ecolodge aims to be a model of sustainability

February 19, 2019 by  
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From conception, the goal of the Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam has been to encapsulate sustainable practices at every turn. They also carry a heavy burden of social responsibility by focusing on providing local jobs and sourcing materials from the surrounding areas whenever possible. Nestled into a mountainous region in North Vietnam, they aim to assist the five local hill-tribes that remain largely untouched by the modern world. The vast majority of the 100 employees live in surrounding villages or are housed on campus with the supplies to grow and cook their own food . Investing in their employees, Topas offers educational and occupational training, opportunities for advancement and full medical benefits. Related: Bolivia’s Ecolodge del Lago takes inspiration from traditional Lak’a Uta architecture As stewards of the land, Topas Ecolodge also incorporates practices that help the local community as well as the environment . For example, food scraps are sent to local farms for pig feed and aluminum cans are reused by women in a local village. Thinking locally, the food served at Topas is sourced from local farmers, alongside property-raised chickens and a vegetable and herb garden behind the restaurant. Providing adequate energy in a sustainable way has been a challenge for the remote resort. Originally attempting solar energy, they found that inconsistent supply was not accommodating their needs so they switched to hydroelectricity and request that guests conserve wherever possible. Overcoming the struggles of sustainability in a remote mountain resort, Topas has implemented some innovative processes. As a solution for glass recycling , they invested in a glass-crushing machine that breaks it into sand that they then recycle into concrete for construction and maintenance. With no reliable recycling options and an understanding of the problems associated with single use plastic , they have a near zero single-use plastic policy and work to educate staff and guests about the reasons behind it. Inasmuch, they’ve become a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and help promote their “Planet or Plastic?” campaign. For water filtration, the property has a man-made wetland that treats wastewater from kitchen and bath facilities before releasing it into the rice fields. The Topas Ecolodge first opened in 2005 and offers 33 chalet-style stone bungalows built using local white granite from the Hoang Lien Mountains. They’ve since opened a second, more rustic accommodation named Topas Riverside Lodge, a short distance away. + Topas Ecolodge Images via Topas Ecolodge

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Topas ecolodge aims to be a model of sustainability

Stunning micro home features reclaimed materials and large garage door for entertaining

December 24, 2018 by  
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One of the best advantages to building a tiny home is the ability to custom design the space. When Chattanooga-based tiny home builders  Wind River Tiny Homes were approached by a couple with a strong love of outdoor hobbies, they knew that design had to reflect their active lifestyle. The result is a 650-square-foot house that includes several unique features such as a large garage door that opens up to an outdoor deck, a vertical green wall  and a battery charger for their training bikes. The exterior of the tiny home  is clad in Eastern cedar siding with light blue wood panels and corrugated metal. The aesthetic is fresh and modern, giving the tiny home just as much charm as any larger, more conventional home design. Related: Tiny homes made of concrete pipes could be the next big thing in micro housing The interior of the home, however, is where the design really shines. According to the team from Wind River Tiny Homes, the couple wanted a home that was no more than 600 square feet. In the end, the home measures a total of 650 square feet thanks to space-efficient measures such as putting the bathroom under the stairwell. Additionally, the homeowners wanted to have a space for entertaining. Accordingly, the designers installed a custom glass garage door that leads out to a 150 square feet deck. This unique feature not only floods the interior with natural light , but allows ample space for entertaining. Using mainly locally-sourced and reclaimed materials , the tiny home team custom designed the living space for the couple’s love of all things sporty. The living space was equipped with ample storage for sporting equipment such as space for the couple’s paddle boards, a carport with a pulley system for lifting kayaks off the car and a battery charger for their training bikes. The design team also used a number of reclaimed materials in the interior accents. In one corner of the living space, a beautiful Shou Sugi Ban barn door slides open to reveal a wall of reclaimed tongue-and-groove wainscoting that was reclaimed from an old elk lodge building in Chattanooga. Further into the living space, a fully-equipped kitchen features a bar made out of of the same reclaimed wood. The kitchen’s custom concrete counter top features inlaid bike gears on the bar’s countertop, another nod to the couple’s love of biking. In addition to the unique custom attributes, the home is also equipped with a number of energy-efficient features . The deck lighting is powered by solar power  and LED lighting is used throughout the home. A smart thermostat provides the home with a comfortable temperature year round, all while saving energy in the process. + Wind River Tiny Homes Via Dwell Images via Wind River Tiny Homes

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Stunning micro home features reclaimed materials and large garage door for entertaining

Pinecone-shaped treehouse provides stunning 360-degree views of dense Redwood forest

December 17, 2018 by  
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Suspended 60 feet above ground in the majestic red wood forest of Bonny Doon, California, this stunning pinecone-shaped treehouse was carefully crafted to let guests reconnect with nature. Designed by builder Dustin Fieder of O2 Treehouse , the Pinecone, which is listed on Airbnb , is clad in multiple diamond-shaped panels carefully layered to create the unique shape. The all-transparent facade provides guests with stunning 360-degree views of the dense tree canopy. Suspended high up in the majestic redwoods, the stunning treehouse is virtually camouflaged into the dense forest just north of Santa Cruz. Guests to the treehouse can access the gorgeous tiny treehouse via a 30 – 60 degree alternating step access ladder. However, the steepness and height of the ladder is not for the faint of heart and there is a harness and ascension safety system for those who would like to take the safer way up. Related: Cozy egg-shaped treehouses offer stunning views of the Italian Alps The entrance to the treehouse is through a trap door. Once inside, the full affect of the beautiful design is breathtaking. Multiple acrylic diamond-shaped panels were carefully crafted to create the pinecone-esque volume. On the interior, there is enough space for a double bed or two singles, both of which sit under a glass ceiling that provides the perfect opportunity to star gaze before drifting off to sleep. Guests can then enjoy the morning experience of filtered sunlight streaming through the transparent facade in the morning. A catwalk bridge leads to the bathroom, which is housed in a mini treehouse structure on the ground. The wooden interior features a hot shower, composting toilet and sink. Again, a large glass window offers expansive views of the forest, letting guests continuously immerse themselves in the incredible surroundings at every step. The Pinecone Treehouse is available to rent at Airbnb for just under $300 a night. Guests are advised to bring cold-weather gear. + O2 Treehouse Via Designboom Photography via Garna Raditya and Alissa Kolom via O2 Treehouse

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Pinecone-shaped treehouse provides stunning 360-degree views of dense Redwood forest

This groovy ‘Sculpture Home’ in California can be yours for just $1.4 million

August 2, 2018 by  
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If you’re in the market for an extraordinary home just steps away from the Pacific Ocean, this unique modernist home can be yours for a cool $1.4 million . The curvaceous monolithic dwelling, which was designed by a landscape architect in 1969, is a truly unique space. With its continuous flowing curves that wind from the exterior to the interior and various periscope-like lookouts, the home’s design gives off a quirky yet tranquil atmosphere. Located between Monterrey and Santa Cruz and just steps away from the beach, the home has a striking modernist style and all-white facade, enhanced with various periscope-like lookouts that jut out from different angles around the structure. A 5,000-square-foot garden oasis,  landscaped with winding paths and drought-resistant plants, only adds to the home’s allure. Related: Unique asymmetrical home in the Netherlands takes a novel approach to sustainability The interior space continues with a whimsical but sophisticated design that makes its 700 square feet seem much larger. The compact space exhibits expert craftsmanship throughout, from its smooth concrete floors and handmade glass tiles to the eye-catching stainless steel and glass staircase that leads to the bedroom.  The interior design is minimalist, with carefully-chosen furnishings that open up the space. The round living area has an abundance of windows and a curved seating and dining area with a gas chimney serving as the centerpiece. The living space is flooded with natural light thanks to the home’s many windows and glass doors. Upstairs, the bedroom is a quiet space with a private pod-like deck – a prime spot for enjoying beautiful sea views. Adjacent is a spa-inspired bathroom with a 54-inch round soaking tub that overlooks the garden. + Sculpture Home Photography by Brent Black

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This groovy ‘Sculpture Home’ in California can be yours for just $1.4 million

Coral forests thrive near Sicilys underwater volcanoes

July 10, 2018 by  
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Nearly one kilometer below the water surface near Sicily, a rare ecosystem of corals, sponges and wildlife is thriving. A recent study from conservation agency Oceana discovered healthy and active coral forests near underwater volcanoes just north of Sicily. These coral forests were previously undiscovered by humans but have not been spared from their impact via pollution. As an under-researched area, scientists wanted to learn more about the wildlife near the Aeolians Islands north of Sicily, the location of several underwater volcanoes . Exploring around a kilometer under the surface, the team found coral forests rich with endangered species. At the shallowest levels, a research robot found red algae beds that support both plants and sea animals in the area. Sea fans and horse mackerel were abundant near the surface. At intermediate depths, sharks laid eggs in beds of black coral, complemented with beds of red coral and yellow tree coral. Both colored corals are considered threatened species in the Mediterranean Sea . Related: Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species The most exciting discoveries were found at the bottom of the ocean floor. As far down as 981 meters, researchers found naturally growing bamboo corals on the endangered species list , as well as sea squirts and carnivorous sea sponges that were not known to live in the area. The deep dive also revealed two species never before seen in the area: the skinny sea star  Zoroaster fulgens and a goby fish originally found near the Adriatic Sea. Unfortunately, this unique environment isn’t immune to human damage. The diving robot discovered extensive evidence of fishing pollution , including abandoned traps, nets and fishing lines. Some of those contributed to the death of the wildlife, including turtles and corals. Other discarded waste found includes single-use plastic flatware, glass and even tires. “We have found tens of features that are internationally protected in the Mediterranean, from impressive coralligenous beds to loggerhead turtles and many species of corals and molluscs,” Ricardo Aguilar, senior research director for Oceania, said in a statement. “However, we also found widespread impacts of human activity, even in the farthest and deepest areas, and it is vital that we stop harming marine life if we are to preserve the uniqueness of this part of the Tyrrhenian Sea.” The discoveries will help scientists develop a plan to protect the unique ecosystem from future damage. Oceana’s expedition is part of bigger research expedition with the Blue Marine Foundation to better understand the Aeolians Islands and their  environment . + Oceana Images via  © Oceana

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Coral forests thrive near Sicilys underwater volcanoes

Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing "bat-friendly" streetlights

June 7, 2018 by  
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Street lighting can impact bats’ feeding patterns and internal compasses, as well as the activity of their insect prey, but a town in the Netherlands is taking steps to help the bats out. Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop , a housing development of around 90 sustainable homes near the Nieuwkoopse Plassen nature reserve, has installed what are thought to be the world’s first bat-friendly streetlights. The red LED  lights from Signify , formerly Philips Lighting, brighten the road for humans, but the the bats still perceive the light as darkness. The town and surrounding area are part of the Natura 2000 , a network of nesting and breeding sites for rare and threatened species across the European Union. These sites don’t all exclude human activities; in fact, most of the land is privately owned. The approach to conservation on these sites revolves around “people working with nature rather than against it,” according to the European Commission. Related: Bat bridge provides shelter for our winged friends in the Dutch town of Monster Bat-friendly lighting could fit that bill. Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop , according to Signify, is a key feeding ground “for some rare bat species.” The energy-efficient streetlights emit red with a wavelength that won’t interfere with the flying mammals’ internal compasses. The lighting is based on 2017 research from Wageningen University , the Netherlands Institute of Ecology , and Philips Lighting. Nieuwkoop city council member Guus Elkhuizen said, “Nieuwkoop is the first town in the world to use smart LED street lights that are designed to be friendly to bats. When developing our unique housing program, our goal was to make the project as sustainable as possible, while preserving our local bat species with minimal impact to their habitat and activities. We’ve managed to do this and also keep our carbon footprint and energy consumption to a minimum.” + Signify + Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop Images courtesy of Signify

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Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing "bat-friendly" streetlights

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