Luxe, solar-powered home boasts a green soul in Brazil

January 29, 2021 by  
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Brazilian architecture firm Studio CK Arquitetura has recently completed the Casa Doce Vida, a custom luxury home that emphasizes sustainable design. Dubbed a “residence with a green soul,” the house embraces views of and connections to nature from every room to give the homeowners a seamless indoor/outdoor living experience. The eco-friendly dwelling is also entirely powered by solar panels installed onsite. The structure captures rainwater for irrigating lush horizontal and vertical gardens as well for cleaning purposes. Casa Doce Vida is located in Aspen Mountain Lawn, an upscale condominium complex in Gramado, the southern Brazilian mountain resort town famous for its year-round temperate weather and idyllic environment. The residential development highlights the region’s wealth of green space with its naturalistic layout of winding roads, gently rolling hills and abundance of tall, mature trees. As a result, the architects surrounded the home with full-height glazing and operable windows to pull views, natural light and fresh air indoors. Related: CRA unveils designs for Biotic, a high-tech district in Brazil “With brutalist contemporary architecture, the organic facade, with a huge vertical garden permeating both sides, presents a total connection with nature!” the architects said. “An extraordinary environment to connect with the outside and with yourself, and enjoy the time and the absolutely beautiful landscape.”  A natural materials palette of stone and timber further blurs the boundaries between indoors and out, while a muted color scheme keeps focus on the lush outdoor environment. In addition to the solar panels, rainwater harvesting system and large expanses of glazing that help reduce the building’s energy footprint, Casa Doce Vida is also equipped with double-combustion fireplaces. These fireplaces rely on ethanol and certified firewood to reduce the use of vegetable-based fuel by over 50%. The architects offset the building’s carbon footprint by planting native trees on site. + Studio CK Arquitetura Photography by Roberta Gewehr via Studio CK Arquitetura

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Luxe, solar-powered home boasts a green soul in Brazil

Shark populations have decreased by 71% in the last 50 years

January 29, 2021 by  
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A recent study published in the journal Nature has revealed that the number of sharks in the oceans has reduced by 71% since the 1970s. Ray populations are also plummeting. Because of these alarming findings, researchers are now calling on governments to take drastic measures to reverse the trend. The study authors blamed most of the losses on overfishing. Sharks and rays are often fished for food but are also victims of sportfishing in many parts of the world. More disheartening is the fact that these animals are already at risk of extinction , according to Nicholas Dulvy, professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Related: Preparing COVID-19 vaccine could kill half a million sharks “Overfishing of oceanic sharks and rays jeopardizes the health of entire ocean ecosystems as well as food security for some of the world’s poorest countries,” Dulvy said. In the study, 31 species of sharks and rays found in the open oceans were analyzed. Of these species, 24 are already classified as threatened by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Further, three shark species — the oceanic whitetip shark, the scalloped hammerhead shark and the great hammerhead shark — are currently listed as critically endangered . For these wildlife populations to recover, scientific data must be taken into account. According to Sonja Fordham, president of Shark Advocates International, great white sharks are now recovering thanks to scientific data that influenced fishing limits. “Relatively simple safeguards can help to save sharks and rays, but time is running out,” Fordham said. “We urgently need conservation action across the globe to prevent myriad negative consequences and secure a brighter future for these extraordinary, irreplaceable animals.” + Nature Via BBC Image via Jonas Allert

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Shark populations have decreased by 71% in the last 50 years

Local communities want Trump’s border wall torn down

January 29, 2021 by  
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On his first day in office, President Joe Biden ordered construction to halt on Trump’s infamous border wall. But environmentalists and communities living along the border want him to go much further, tearing it down and reversing the wall’s damage. Donald Trump set aside $15 billion for his “big beautiful wall” between the southern border of the U.S. and Mexico. About 455 miles had been constructed out of a planned 738 miles by the time Trump left office. The former president got his hands on the money by declaring a national emergency in 2019 and diverting tax dollars that would have otherwise gone to defense or counter-drug programs. But he didn’t spend a lot of time assessing the environmental and cultural impact. Hundreds of miles of land have been blasted and bulldozed, including protected public land and sites sacred to Native Americans. Related: Trump administration disregards border wall’s environmental impact “It’s a disaster, a mess, the suspended laws must be put back on the books to give border communities equal protection, and every section looked at carefully so that it can be torn down in a coordinated and responsible way, and the damage addressed immediately,” said Dan Mills, the Sierra Club’s borderlands program manager, as reported by The Guardian . Community leaders are asking Biden to cancel outstanding wall-building contracts, send experts to assess damage, tear down the wall whenever possible and clean up all the metal, barbed wire and concrete. They also urge the president to rescind waivers suspending 84 federal laws pertaining to public lands, endangered species , clean air and water and Native American rights. They’ve asked him to withdraw lawsuits against private landowners lodged to seize their land by declaring eminent domain. “It was a complete waste of money and poorly thought out, and is a constant unsightly reminder of Trump’s ugly approach to Latin America,” said retired professor Sylvia Ramirez. “The wall should never have gone up, we tried to fight it, and now it will be very difficult to undo.” Ramirez has relatives buried in historic cemeteries which are now cut off between the international border and Trump’s 30-foot wall. Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case brought by the ACLU, Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Commission about the legality of diverting billions from the Department of Defense without Congress’ okay. Via The Guardian Image via White House Archive

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Le Littoral is a modern retreat tucked into an idyllic region of Quebec

January 29, 2021 by  
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Located in a region of Quebec known for its rolling hills and stunning views, this modern, minimalist retreat overlooks the area where the ocean meets the St. Lawrence River. The residence is known as Le Littoral and was designed by Architecture49, a firm based in Western Canada that specializes in creating wooden structures with off-center volumes. The clients are a couple who wanted to create a home with a contemporary style that complements the natural setting of rural Charlevoix. They wanted it to be used as both as a vacation residence and a luxury rental for visitors to the popular area. Architecture49 brought that vision to life by taking inspiration from the region’s historic architecture and farm buildings, then adding modern elements. Related: A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold With sustainability in mind, the architects were sure to take highlights such as woodcutting and landscaping into account to minimize the impact of construction on the natural surroundings. To address the sloping nature of the setting, the home was elevated, and a lack of a basement eliminated the need for excavation. The building’s layout minimizes energy consumption while still taking advantage of lakeside views in the front and a private forest in the back. La Littoral features a swimming pool , sauna, fireplace and a spa, with a kitchen inside the cantilevered upper volume. As avid foodies, the clients requested a fully functional kitchen with amenities that would allow professional chefs and amateur cooks alike to take advantage of Charlevoix’s abundance of local ingredients. In addition to turning to local businesses and artisans, the architects relied on locally sourced FSC -certified cedar and pine for the structure’s skeleton. The kitchen features Quebec granite countertops, and the roof is made of sheet metal. The home’s automation systems are produced by local companies as well. + Architecture49 Photography by Stéphane Brügger via v2com

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Le Littoral is a modern retreat tucked into an idyllic region of Quebec

Design experiment examines safety of food grown in urban vertical gardens

October 23, 2020 by  
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Interior architecture firm Annvil has brought together a team of urban planners, designers, environmentalists and natural scientists to study the interaction between the urban environment and horticulture. The project, called G(U)ARDEN, is a vertical garden experience set in Latvia aimed at exploring the safety of growing food in urban gardens. Urban agriculture has already been proven to reduce air pollution, collect and use runoff, increase productivity of space and aid in urban cooling, but it is still lacking in substantial scientific research in the safety of these plants being used for food. The G(U)ARDEN project will measure the biochemical composition of vegetables and fruits grown in urban environments, especially in places with intense traffic and air pollution.  Related: Snøhetta to revitalize Midtown Manhattan with vibrant garden The primary urban vertical garden of this project is located in Riga, Latvia and is made up of local plants from the city’s horticulture centers and nurseries. Researchers chose to use endemic plants to inspire residents to grow and conserve locally as well as to encourage sustainable and effective urban environmental development discussions. “Today we live in a digital world where everything is instantaneous. In answer to that, we want to stimulate people’s interest in real life — interest in the physical world and in being close to nature,” said Anna Butele, author of project G(U)ARDEN and the founder of Annvil. “We can do that by creating even more green environments in the city — meeting places that bring together different groups of society. This way we can also bring attention to neglected environments in the city.” The pilot program has started with the team studying the garden’s vegetable and fruit harvest in a scientific laboratory. Crops are measured for the presence of heavy metals, while the air and water is measured for microbiological composition to help identify all possible risk factors associated with the impact of the urban environment on edible plants . The data obtained from the experiment will aid in continued projects to help create a series of urban gardens in Latvia’s largest cities next year. + Annvil Photography by Ingus Baj?rs via Annvil

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Renewable energy to power 2024 Olympic aquatic center

October 23, 2020 by  
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The architectural team of VenhoevenCS and Ateliers 2/3/4/ have revealed plans for a timber aquatic center in Paris, which will use a smart energy system to provide 90% of needed energy from recovered or  renewable energy  sources for the 2024 Olympics. The complex will also include a vast pedestrian bridge connecting it to the existing Stade de France. As the only new building constructed for the 2024 games, the timber aquatic center will remain useful well after the  Olympic  games end, with further opportunities for residents to learn swimming, practice sports, relax and build community. The idea is to provide healthy living incentives for the local people, as well as promote sustainability and biodiversity with abundant vegetation surrounding the structure. The proposal includes plans to create room for over 100 trees onsite to improve air quality, stimulate biodiversity and create new ecological connections. Related: Tokyo’s Olympic medals will be made from recycled phones According to the designers, the complex’s  solar roof  will be one of France’s largest solar farms and will cover 25% of all required electricity consumption, equivalent to 200 homes. With water preservation paramount for utility cost and environmental conservation, the building includes an efficient water consumption system to reuse 50% of the old water when freshwater is needed. The center also utilizes  upcycled furniture  in its design. All of the furniture inside restaurants, bars and entrances uses wood waste from the construction site or demolition sites, and the chairs are fashioned from 100% recycled plastic collected from a nearby school. The main structure is made of  wood , with a suspended roof shape that will minimize the need for air conditioning and make it more efficient to heat. The interior Olympic arena tribunes on three sides and contains room for 5,000 spectators to congregate around a massive modular pool for swimming, diving and water polo competitions. All other events will occur inside temporary venues or existing structures. + VenhoevenCS Via Dezeen Design: VenhoevenCS & Ateliers 2/3/4/ Images: Proloog

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Gardenhouse in Beverly Hills boasts one of the nations largest green walls

September 4, 2020 by  
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International architectural practice MAD Architects has completed the Gardenhouse, a mixed-use development in Beverly Hills that is the firm’s first project in the U.S. and hosts one of the largest living green walls in the country. Designed to mimic the neighborhood’s lush and hilly landscape, Gardenhouse combines ground-floor commercial space with 18 above-ground residential units that appear to “grow” out of the building’s living green wall. Inspired by a “hillside village,” the residential units appear as a cluster of white gabled structures of varying sizes for an eye-catching and playful look. Located at 8600 Wilshire Boulevard on a prominent corner lot, the 48,000-square-foot Gardenhouse immediately draws the eye with its massive, two-story green wall covered in lush plantings of native , drought-tolerant succulents and vines selected for minimal maintenance and irrigation. True to the design’s image of a “hillside village,” the building offers a variety of housing typologies including two studios, eight condominiums, three townhouses and five villas. Each unit is defined by a pitched-roof volume and comes with an independent entry and exit circulation route as well as access to underground parking. Related: MAD brings a surreal sports campus that mimics a green, martian landscape to China At the heart of the cluster of white gabled “houses” is a private, second-floor landscaped courtyard that the architects have dubbed a surprising “secret garden” in an urban environment. Each home is also equipped with a balcony for overlooking the shared courtyard.  “ Los Angeles and Beverly Hills are highly modernized and developed,” said Ma Yansong, founder of MAD Architects. “Their residences on the hills seemingly coexist with the urban environment. However, they also see enclosed movement at their core. The commune connection between the urban environment and nature is isolated. What new perspectives, and new value, can we bring to Los Angeles? Perhaps, we can create a hill in the urban context, so people can live on it and make it a village. This place will be half urban, half nature. This can offer an interesting response to Beverly Hills: a neighborhood which is often carefully organized and maintained, now with a witty, playful new resident.” + MAD Architects Photography by Nic Lehoux and Darren Bradley via MAD Architects

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Gardenhouse in Beverly Hills boasts one of the nations largest green walls

PICO microgarden lets you grow anywhere from home to car

April 22, 2020 by  
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Indoor gardening offers all the same benefits as a garden in the ground outside. Namely, fresh food and a  low environmental impact . But not everyone has the natural space for a garden, which is where indoor planting comes in for the win. While there are many systems and techniques you can implement inside the home, PICO stands out as a versatile option that you can place anywhere and still achieve growing success.  Most plants need to be located near a window for light. Often this means taking up limited tabletop or bookcase space. PICO is different because, while setting it on a tabletop is an option, it will also mount to vertical surfaces. In fact, it comes with a magnetic mount, which could be used on a refrigerator or desk, plus a standard wall mount and Velcro option for mounting to windows, mirrors and other surfaces. There are also three color options to match nearly any decor. The unit comes fully assembled. All you have to do is add a bit of soil and a few of your favorite seeds. There is no membership or seed pod to purchase. Watering is stable and consistent with a water reservoir and easy fill spout. A transparent window in the front allows you to easily see when more water is needed, typically about once each week. From there, the system automatically wicks water from the reservoir through the soil, using an on-demand system that replenishes moisture as the soil dries out.  With location and watering figured out, the last major component for successful indoor growth is proper lighting. PICO is equipped with a multi-spectrum growing light that conveniently extends from the compact planter design. As your plant grows, the light extends up to one foot higher for consistent light.  PICO is the newest addition to the  urban gardening product line from Altifarm Enverde, the company that previously released two larger versions of in-home garden systems. While PICO is not intended to provide high quantities of food, it’s automatic functions and placement versatility make it an option for growing readily available herbs, visually pleasing succulents, or fragrant mini roses. PICO is currently trending on a Kickstarter campaign that will close on May 17th. Shipments are expected immediately following the end of the campaign.  + Altifarm Enverde  Images via Altifarm Enverde

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PICO microgarden lets you grow anywhere from home to car

Natufia’s hydroponic garden embraces farm-to-table eating

April 14, 2020 by  
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Farm-to-table is a practice that includes collecting food as close to the source as possible, therefore ensuring the greatest amount of nutrients and best quality. With that in mind, one company, Natufia, has taken the idea a step further with its indoor hydroponic garden systems.  Natufia is a temperature-controlled garden that fits inside your kitchen, providing the freshest herbs and vegetables possible and the shortest distance from “farm” to table. This hydroponic garden easily grows plants, nurturing them from pod to maturity. Once the system is in place, simply order seed pods and place them into the nursery trays to germinate. You then move them into the two pull-out racks that hold up to 32 unique plants at once, so you can personalize the garden to suit your family’s needs. You can grow everything from kale and basil to chamomile and cornflowers. Related: This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive From there, the system is automatically monitored, controlling temperature, hydration, humidity, nutrient distribution, water, pH, air circulation and even music that science suggests supports healthy growth. In addition to convenience, the plants are non-GMO and certified organic . That means they come without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or environmental pollutants. Natufia seeds are also Demeter-certified, which is the highest biodynamic certification available. When your plants are ready, the only thing left to do is pick the perfect amount for your meal as you pull ingredients together. Leaving the rest on the plant makes your food last longer and saves room in the refrigerator. Plus, the garden system allows for less trips to the market, zero packaging waste and limited transport emissions compared to other food options. The fully automated closed system that recycles water for up to 10 days to boost water savings is another eco-friendly benefit. Once you’ve harvested all you can from your plants, you can simply order more seed pods online. + Natufia Images via Natufia

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Natufia’s hydroponic garden embraces farm-to-table eating

Vincent Callebaut unveils bioclimatic LEED-Gold timber tower

March 26, 2020 by  
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Known for their love of infusing modern structures with an abundance of greenery, the prolific Paris-based practice  Vincent Callebaut Architectures has just unveiled their latest sustainable design. Slated for the Island of Cebu, The Rainbow Tree is a modular timber tower draped in layers of lush vegetation to become an “urban forest” for the city. Thanks to the design’s strong sustainability features, which include passive bioclimatism and advanced renewable energies, the tower will be a  LEED Gold design . Slated to be a sustainable icon for the fairly remote island of Cebu, the Rainbow Tree will be a 32-story, 377-foot-high tower built almost completely out of solid wood. The building’s volume will be comprised of 1,200  CLT modules , inspired by the local Nipa Huts made out of wood, bamboo and palm leaves traditionally found throughout the Philippines. Related: Vincent Callebaut wins bid to sustainably revive Aix-les-Bains’ ancient thermal baths All of the modules, which come with basket-style balconies, will be prefabricated off-site in a factory to reduce energy and construction costs. Once on-site, the innovative design will be implemented with several passive bioclimatic features and advanced  renewable energies . To save energy, the tower will be double insulated thanks to an interior and exterior cladding made of all-natural materials such as thatch, hemp and cellulose wadding. The tower’s name and design were inspired by the Rainbow Eucalyptus, an iconic and colorful tree native to the Philippines. To bring the nature-inspired design to fruition, the  timber building  will be clad in vegetation native to the island. Using plants sustainably-sourced from local tropical forests, the tower will be covered in more than 30,000 plants, shrubs and tropical trees. Many of the plants will change color through the season, giving the city a living “rainbow” throughout the year. The Rainbow Tree will be a mixed-use property, split between office space and luxury condominiums. Interior spaces will be flooded with natural light and include several vertical walls. Guests and residents to the tower will be able to enjoy the building’s eateries, swimming pool and fitness center. Adding to the building’s amazing sustainability profile, residents will also have access to an expansive  aquaponic farm  that will span over three levels. Combining fish farming and plant cultivation, the Sky Farm is slated to produce up to 25,000 kilos of fruit, vegetables and algae and 2,500 kilos of fish per year — the equivalent to almost 2 kilos of food per week for each family residing in the tower. + Vincent Callebaut Architecture Images via Vincent Callebaut Architecture

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