High school students are building tiny homes to give to flood survivors

February 20, 2017 by  
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In West Virginia, students that would normally be constructing birdhouses or bookshelves are instead contributing their labor and newly acquired skills to help give those who lost everything a new start. Last year, historic floods devastated the state, destroying over 5000 homes and killing over 20 people. So students from across the state have gathered together to build compact, energy efficient tiny homes for victims of the flooding. West Virginia has struggled to provide adequate housing for those thousands made homeless by the storm. So high school students attending 12 vocational schools throughout the state are demonstrating that they may have a promising solution. The participating vocational schools, such as Carver Career and Technical Education Center in Charleston, traditionally teach practices such as carpentry and plumbing.  A new, first of-its-kind partnership between the West Virginia Department of Education and the Greater Recovery and Community Empowerment initiative enables students to access hands-on learning to design and build homes for local flood survivors from concept to completion. Each unique  tiny house i s just 500 square feet. Related: Studio H launches Kickstarter Campaign to Build a Shipping Container Classroom at Berkeley’s REALM Charter school 15 homes have been built so far, thanks to funding from the state’s Board of Education and regional community supporters. All of the homes are unique and some are designed to be portable.  Unlike trailers that are supplied by FEMA in post-disaster zones , each of the tiny homes will have individual design accents. Each home includes a bathroom, kitchen, living room and laundry room.  The ground-breaking program has potential to be scaled to serve communities in other post-disaster zones. + WV Public Broadcasting Via NPR Photos Courtesy of West Virginia Department of Education  

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High school students are building tiny homes to give to flood survivors

Green makeover transforms cedar-clad Virginia house into a lifelong retreat

January 26, 2017 by  
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A few easy steps has transformed a normal Virginia home into a charming, lifelong retreat. A couple approaching retirement commissioned Thrive Architecture to renovate their Hickory House into an accessible home that uses less energy than it did before. The architects expanded the existing space to include a living room, bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and laundry, all organized on a single story. The main sitting area offers views of the surrounding forest. Related: Gorgeous cedar-clad house boasts stunning mountain views in Canada Three types locally-sourced hardwoods were used for the interior, including Hickory. This choice of materials complements the exterior cladding, dominated by ship-lapped oiled cedar . To make the house more energy efficient, the team added air-tight spray foam insulation, LED lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures. + Thrive Architecture Photos by Ansel Olson

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Green makeover transforms cedar-clad Virginia house into a lifelong retreat

Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

January 26, 2017 by  
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The rescued elephants at the Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Center in India get a second chance at life after being abused and exploited by their former owners and handlers. Along with finally having the freedom to take walks, bathe and play in water pools, and scratch themselves up against trees, several of the sanctuary’s elephants recently received a new winter wardrobe: giant sweaters lovingly hand-knit by the villagers of Mathura. As the nighttime temperatures dipped to freezing levels last year, the center’s staff issued a call to local women to help provide a little extra warmth to the giant pachyderms. The villagers responded enthusiastically, coming together to knit and crochet the brightly colored sweaters . The elephants quickly took to their new attire and, judging from the photos, seem pretty intrigued by the knitting process itself. In addition to looking cheerful and festive, the sweaters help protect the vulnerable animals from the cold and stave off their arthritic symptoms. Related: Cindy Chinn carves a tiny family of elephants into pencil tips The only downside to this giant knitting project is the length of time to make one sweater: each one takes about four weeks to complete. As a result, only three of the 20 elephants at the sanctuary have been fully outfitted so far, while the rest have been given blankets. Since the elephants suffered years of neglect and mistreatment, they are especially susceptible to infections and illnesses, so staying covered up in the poncho/sweater/long john combos is essential for keeping them healthy. The center is hoping for more volunteers to continue knitting in order to outfit every elephant with his or her own sweater by next winter. Considering that Wildlife SOS plans to rescue another 50 elephants this year , that’s a pretty tall order. If you want to get involved , including  volunteering on-site with the organization and preparing food or helping to bathe these gentle giants or donating funds, click here . Via Booooooom , Daily Mail , and My Modern Met All images © Roger Allen

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Villagers in India knit sweaters to protect rescued elephants from the cold

Frank Lloyd Wright beach house listed on Airbnb for under $150 per night

October 18, 2016 by  
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The 3,000-square-foot house located on Crystal Lake in Virginia Beach is the only Wright House with direct boating accessibility to the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay. For 23 years it has been home to the Cooke family, Maude, Andrew and their three children. In 1983, Daniel and Jane Duhl purchased the property. Their restoration of i received an award for preservation from the AIA of Hampton Roads. The restoration was informed by passive solar design and included the introduction of floor heating, indirect lighting and a new air conditioning system that protects the house from heat and humidity. Related: Life-sized replica of van Gogh’s The Bedroom to rent on Airbnb for $10 a night In its present state, the home features four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a spa, sauna and an exercise room. Surrounded by camellias, giant azaleas, dogwoods, magnolias and cherry trees, it takes advantage of the natural dune to provid a high degree of privacy. At lakeside are two docks; one floating dock for launching small boats and a larger one that can accommodate two significantly-sized yachts. + Frank Lloyd Wright Beach House Via Archinect

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Frank Lloyd Wright beach house listed on Airbnb for under $150 per night

Incredibly preserved 1950s Time Capsule House in Dallas could be yours

September 29, 2016 by  
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Originally designed by renowned architect Gordon Nichols in 1954 and restored by its current owner, graphic designer Carlos Cardoza in 1994, the four-bedroom house features an open-plan layout , original cabinetry, a retro swimming pool and vaulted ceilings. Related: Award-winning renovation slashes mid-century home’s carbon footprint by 80% It is located at 11016 Pinocchio Drive, one among several roads in Dallas named after Disney characters and part of a post-war development project built in the 1950s by the National Association of Home Builders. Cardoza restored the house and embraced bubblegum colors, sci-fi shapes and technicolor textiles as some of the trademarks of the era. Thanks to his efforts, the house looks as if it hasn’t aged a day. Via My Modern Met Photos via Virginia Cook Realtors

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Incredibly preserved 1950s Time Capsule House in Dallas could be yours

Incredible net-zero energy Brock Environmental Center turns rainwater into drinking water

July 14, 2016 by  
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? Located on the banks of the Lynnhaven River in Virginia Beach, the 10,500-square-foot Brock Environmental Center was created to engage and educate the public about the environment and ways they can help save the Chesapeake Bay from further environmental degradation. Per the requirements of the Living Building Challenge, the building produces more energy than it uses over the course of 12 consecutive months using clean energy technologies, such as solar panels , residential wind turbines, and geothermal wells. The Brock Center also meets a myriad of other stringent criteria for water use, location, health, materials, equity, and beauty. ? Elevated 14 feet above sea level to cope with flooding and reinforced to withstand 120-mile-per-hour hurricane winds, the energy-efficient Brock Center produces around 83 percent more energy than it uses, as well as 80 percent less energy and 90 percent less water than a typical building of its size. Its 168 rooftop solar panels generate 60 percent of the building’s energy needs, while two 10-kilowatt wind turbines produce the remaining 40 percent. The building’s utility bill is only $17.19 per month—the minimum fee to keep the building tied to the grid—and the remaining energy is returned to the Dominion Virginia Power grid, which will issue a refund check back to the center. Related: One of the world’s greenest buildings 14 feet above sea level prepares for climate change ? “The Brock Center’s performance pushed the boundaries on what is possible. Regenerative, net-positive design is more than an aspiration, it has been achieved,” said SmithGroupJJR project manager and design architect Greg Mella, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C. Thanks to an advanced drinking water system, the Brock Center turns its harvested rainwater into potable water used for drinking and hand-washing. Gray water is reused as irrigation, while waterless, composting toilets are used in the bathrooms. A Living Building Challenge Dashboard offers a real-time gauge of the building’s energy and water use, as well as energy generation. ? Related: CBF’s Brock Environmental Center Will Soon Be the Most Sustainable Building in Virginia ? The above-mentioned elements are only a handful of the Brock Environmental Center’s best eco-friendly features. The education center, which opened in January 2015, is open to the public for tours and also serves as the hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Hampton Road office, with space for an 80-seat conference room, meeting rooms, and exhibit display areas. + SmithGroupJJR + Chesapeake Bay Foundation Images via SmithGroupJJR

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Incredible net-zero energy Brock Environmental Center turns rainwater into drinking water

Stunning parametrically-designed office canopy filters golden light – like trees

July 14, 2016 by  
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The large light sculpture comprises 1,500 pyramid-shaped panels suspended from the ceiling to filter golden light like tree leaves. It covers the entire atrium space , which once functioned as the central courtyard of the mid 20th century building. Related: View this mesmerizing LED art installation from a distance to reveal its delightful surprise [VIDEO] The panels were programmed using low-level artificial intelligence to create daily light scenarios that give people a sense of time and showcase the company’s innovative, people-centric lighting technology. The panel surface reflects natural light coming into the interior through side windows and skylights and creates different light scenarios through the day and calendar year. Additionally, 500 panels use self-emitting LED lights with an integrated sound absorption and acoustic ceiling system. Depending on the time of day and orientation, the installation creates special environments for different work situations-from concentration, to interaction and relaxation. + LAVA + INBO + JHK Photos by Jonathan Andrew

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Stunning parametrically-designed office canopy filters golden light – like trees

The cicadas are have arrived, blanketing Midwestern porches by the thousands

June 21, 2016 by  
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The iconic, spine-tingling line from Poltergeist, “They’re here…” is on the lips of wide-eyed mid-westerners during the deafening invasion of 17-year cicadas. Photos of one Mansfield, Ohio homeowner’s porch have gone viral , depicting piles and piles of discarded exoskeletons and deceased insects. The scene, to some, is like a real-life horror movie. Cicadas emerge from under the ground in broods. This particular brood is surfacing for the first time since 1999. Over the span of about six weeks they will shed their exoskeleton, mate, lay eggs, and then die. The thunderous mating call of millions of male cicadas is the biggest nuisance for humans, unless they show up on your doorstep. Richelle Smart, in northern Ohio, recently posted photos of thousands of bugs overtaking her porch. Her children dutifully helped sweep up the crunchy mounds, when they weren’t not jumping back at the sight of a live, bug-eyed cicada. Related: They’re coming… BILLIONS of cicadas to invade the northeast next month The cicadas’ presence may only be an annoyance to people, as they have a symbiotic relationship with Mother Nature. Laying eggs on tree branches promotes healthy pruning and the underground burrowing aerates the soil. The exoskeletons are returned to the Earth as nourishment, completing the cycle of life. If you are living in eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia, southwest Pennsylvania, or some pockets of Virginia and Maryland, the beauty of nature may be the last thing on your mind. Luckily, once this brood takes care of their business, you won’t have to worry about them popping back up for another 17 years. Via  Daily Mail Images via  Wikimedia , Facebook

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The cicadas are have arrived, blanketing Midwestern porches by the thousands

Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

June 21, 2016 by  
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The FDA just approved the world’s first clinical trial of a Zika vaccine . The tests will determine whether or not the vaccine is safe for use in normal, healthy people – however, they will not be able to determine whether or not the vaccine prevents the disease. The vaccine, called GLS-5700, has been shown to cause a strong antibody response against the Zika virus in monkeys and mice. With any luck, the results of this new study will be available by the end of the year. The trial will be run by Inovio Pharmaceuticals , a company specializing in immunotherapy, and GeneOne Life Science , a DNA vaccine developer. It will begin in just a few short weeks, and it will include 40 adult subjects. If successful, the vaccine may be tested in people who have an existing Zika infection in later trials. GLS-5700 is what is known as a ” DNA vaccine ,” a relatively new approach to fighting disease. Instead of directly injecting parts of the infectious agent, it consists of DNA coded to produce a special protein that surrounds the Zika virus. The vaccine is injected the same way as a normal shot, and it’s also zapped with a device that delivers a short electrical pulse to help guide the DNA into the patient’s cells. Once this process is complete, the new DNA trains the immune system of the patient to fight the disease. Related: Millions of genetically altered mosquitoes are being released in the Cayman Islands to fight Zika This may be the first Zika vaccine approved for testing, but it isn’t the only one being developed. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is also in the process of developing a DNA vaccine , which may begin phase 1 testing as soon as August. However, it’s important to note that clinical testing is a long and complex process, and that it might still be years yet before either of these vaccines are ready for the mass market. Via The Verge Photos via Tom and Oregon State University

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Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

Ghostly army of decaying U.S. presidential heads takes over Virginia farmland

February 22, 2016 by  
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