7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home

January 4, 2019 by  
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Insulation is an important part of any home. Not only does it retain heat during the winter by restricting air flow, but it also reduces the cost of heating and cooling throughout the year. For more than a century, most new homes were built with fiberglass insulation, but this can cause many health issues. If you are building a new house or remodeling in the near future, try one of these green home insulation alternatives to make your home safe and healthy. Sheep’s wool Not only is sheep’s wool fire retardant, but the material can keep your home warm the same way it helps sheep survive frigid temperatures. In recent years, scientists have figured out how to apply the insulating properties of sheep’s wool to home construction. The compressed wool fibers form millions of tiny air pockets, and the outer layer is resistant to water while the inner layer absorbs moisture. This helps it generate heat while preventing condensation, and it keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. When you use sheep’s wool, you won’t have to adjust your heating and cooling system often, and that will save you energy and money. Cotton/denim Because cotton is a natural and renewable resource, it is one of the most eco-friendly insulation options on the market. Leftover blue jean scraps are shredded and recycled into thick batts that fit into your walls just like fiberglass. To make it safe for humans as well as the environment, companies treat the cotton with a borate solution, so the insulation isn’t flammable. Cotton is also a natural insect repellent, doesn’t contain formaldehyde and doesn’t cause respiratory problems. However, compared to fiberglass, it is incredibly expensive, costing nearly twice as much. Icynene One of the strongest home insulation alternatives, Icynene is a spray foam made out of castor oil that expands about 100 times its volume when you spray it into a wall or ceiling. Not only does it seal leaks and drafts, but it also cancels noise. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home During the foaming process, Icynene traps in tiny air bubbles, and when the foam cures, the air remains in place. This is why the insulation works so well. However, the sealing powers of Icynene are so strong, you have to install a ventilation system. Because of the additional requirements, the upfront costs to install Icynene are expensive. However, it will reduce your energy bill so drastically, in the long run, you will save money. Polystyrene At first glance, this might not sound like a green option, but polystyrene is considered to be green because it helps you save an enormous amount of energy. Polystyrene is a plastic that comes in two forms: rigid foam boards that will add structural integrity to your walls and a spray foam. Aerogel This man-made material is 90 percent air, but it is difficult for heat to pass through it, making it excellent for insulation. The legend has it that Samuel Stephens Kistler invented aerogel in 1931 after making a bet with a friend. Kesler bet that he could replace the liquid in a jelly jar without causing the jelly to shrink, and he won by removing the liquid and replacing it with air. This led to aerogel, which is made by removing the liquid from silica under high pressure and temperature. Aerogel is ultra lightweight and comes in sheets or stickers for easy installation. However, it is pricey, costing up to $2 a foot. ThermaCork This option actually has a negative carbon footprint , because the finished product is made from the outer bark of oak trees. It is natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable, plus it cancels noise and is free of toxins. Cellulose If you are looking to minimize the toxins in your house, cellulose is a good choice. Made from recycled newsprint and other paper, it is safe to install. Using this kind of insulation means that the paper in your walls didn’t make its way to a landfill to release harmful greenhouse gases . When it comes to insulation, there is no right or wrong choice. But there are many different options out there with various qualities, good and bad. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each to find the insulation that works best for you and your home. Images via Icynene , Tony Webster , Jon Collier and Shutterstock

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7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home

Light glides softly inside this cylindrical modern church in the Czech Republic

August 29, 2017 by  
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A beautiful modern church that looks like a sculptural work of art has popped up in a Czech village. Brno-based studio Atelier Št?pán designed the Church of St Wenceslas that combines inspiration from the historic rotundas built in the 10th century with contemporary and minimalist styles. The church has become the new focal point for Sazovice, a village that had sought a new church since before World War II. The Church of St Wenceslas was carefully placed at the heart of Sazovice to “amplify the spiritual sense of the church.” Instead of a rectangular form, the architects opted for a simple cylinder that’s roughly the same size and proportions as the old rotunda at Prague’s famous St. Wenceslas Chapel. The newly built church in Sazovice also contains relics of the saint. The architects wrote: “My aim was to dematerialize the building. When you observe the volume, you feel the lightness made by design principle of tapering the walls into tiny lines. It’s like cutting a paper cylinder and exploring its possibilities. I created the windows by pushing and pulling the cuts and letting the light glide softly on the walls. The church invites us inside and provides a sense of quietness and peace. You can experience being alone with God if you want. The interior is very personal and it’s better to come and live it out.” Related: Athens’ Placebo Pharmacy Is Wrapped with Light Infusing Braille Perforations Unlike its richly decorated predecessors, the Church of St Wenceslas is deliberately minimalist in order to create a meditative environment. The white exterior is made of reinforced concrete covered in plaster while the interior features light colored timber pews, furnishings, and ceiling. The altar takes on a sculptural appearance with its shiny bronze shell crafted with an organic shape. A variety of window sizes and shapes punctuate the curved walls and roof to let in glimpses of the outdoors and natural light. + Atelier Št?pán Photography by Jakub Skokan and Martin T?ma – BoysPlayNice

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Light glides softly inside this cylindrical modern church in the Czech Republic

Scientists invent graphene paint that makes your house super efficient

May 30, 2017 by  
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Graphene – the strongest material known to science – is used to create everything from condoms to night-vision contact lenses. Now, thanks to the ingenuity of  The Graphene Company , paint containing the world’s “thinnest, strongest and most conductive” substance is hitting shelves in the UK. The new lime-based paint is incredibly thin, beneficial for the environment and capable of making your home, or any building, more efficient. Because  Graphenstone is composed of a lime-base with a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms one atom thick thanks to the inclusion of graphene , the lime-based paint has superconductivity , which means it can improve the thermal regulation of buildings. As Dezeen reports , this means the invention lowers the necessity for heating and air conditioning. According to The Graphene Company director, Patrick Folkes, ”When used on interior wall surfaces, rather than heat being radiated through the walls, the graphene within the paint captures the heat. It then conducts the heat through the paint, and across the whole Graphenstone-painted surface of interior walls. This enhances the insulation measures used in buildings by slowing heat conduction through walls and out of buildings.” Because graphene is one atom thick in the paint, less is required to achieve a durable finish that is resistant to corrosion. One liter of paint would cover two eight-meter-square coats, says The Graphene Company. An additional benefit is that the paint is extremely eco-friendly . With a base made from 98 percent pure lime, the paint purifies the surrounding air as it absorbs carbon dioxide. For this reason, the company boasts it is “the most sustainable and eco-friendly paint in the world”. “Sustainability is becoming more and more important as people realise the damage that acrylics do to the environment throughout the manufacturing process and its use on walls,” said Folkes. “Graphene’s inclusion in paints, coatings and other building materials exponentially enhances hardness, durability, compression, tensile strength, elasticity, and coverage.” Related: New graphene super batteries charge up in seconds and last virtually forever After the paint is applied, a hard shell forms as the lime hardens up in the carbonization process. According to Folkes, the initial consistency is a “little bit watery.” Over a period of 10 days, however, hard coverage is provided. The best part? No fumes are released in the process. Already, the product has been used to coat the walls of hospitals , hotels, and schools. As demand for the graphene paint increases, it will likely be sold elsewhere in the world. + The Graphene Company Via Dezeen Images via The Graphene Company

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Scientists invent graphene paint that makes your house super efficient

Charred timber pavilion slides back and forth to expose rooms to the outdoors

September 30, 2016 by  
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Created as an “experimental shelter” to complement the firm’s existing workshop in nearby Heppeneert, the Hofer pavilion takes on the archetypical shape of a rural gabled home . The self-designed and self-built structure is elevated atop ten pillars and mounted on heavy-duty wheels and a rail. Three of building’s four walls are attached to the roof and can slide back and forth on the rail to open the studio up to the outdoors in summer, or enclose it during winter. Related: Carbon House’s burnt wood facade is a playful reference to the clients’ love of cooking Charred timber crafted using the Shou Sugi Ban technique clad the exterior walls, while the fixed gable wall and floor are fashioned out of sheet metal. The interior is minimally furnished with a long table, stools, hanging lights, as well as shelving and a wood-burning stove built into the fixed gable wall. Large windows let occupants enjoy views of the outdoors and access to natural light even when four walls enclose the interior. The temporary dwelling can be used in all seasons. + Stal Collectief Via Dezeen Images via Stal Collectief

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Charred timber pavilion slides back and forth to expose rooms to the outdoors

Sustainable eyeglass hut demonstrates closed loop recycling in Australia

September 30, 2016 by  
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The Australian architect describes the project as a demonstration of efficient resource use. In a statement on the project’s website, he explains that “sustainable materials in architecture is about thinking how we can most efficiently use the world’s resources in a respectful manner, I believe we need to create closed loop manufacturing systems where no material goes to landfill or pollutes our natural ecosystems, but is rather up-cycled to minimize resource depletion and environmental degradation.” Related: Tiny new flat-packed off-grid homes offer affordable housing breakthrough In the portable shop, Dresden cuts precision prescription lenses right on site. All components of the eyeglasses are interchangeable for eco-friendly repairs, and everything is recyclable as well. Inspired by the tiny house movement, Symes designed the portable workshop to be a sustainable example of portable architecture, while housing a sustainable business. Lens edging equipment is powered by a generator due to its high voltage needs, but most other electrical equipment, including lighting and the point of sale system, are powered by built-in photovoltaics and the accompanying battery storage system. To create a portable workshop that would also be lightweight, Symes called for a polycarbonate facade, which blocks out 70 percent of solar radiation and insulates better than double-glazed materials. Dresden Mobile’s awnings open to allow cross ventilation, so that climate control systems are not necessary. When closed, the polycarbonate sides allow daylight to filter through to the interior, further reducing the need for additional artificial lighting. + Alexander Symes Architect Images via Brett Boardman Photography

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Sustainable eyeglass hut demonstrates closed loop recycling in Australia

Passively cooled Walls and Vaults House in India brings lush tropical vegetation inside

January 29, 2016 by  
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Passively cooled Walls and Vaults House in India brings lush tropical vegetation inside

Cast Natural Silhouettes on Your Walls with Organic Shadow Chandeliers

August 15, 2014 by  
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If you liked the Hilden & Diaz fairytale chandelier,  you’re going to love these creations by  John Winstead. His Organic Shadows chandeliers  came about as an artistic dream to create interactive and natural works of art, and are designed to create a communion with nature in any space by casting soft, forest-like shadows on any interior space. The chandeliers come in two styles, Mandrake and Willow, with one being more antler-like and the other a bit softer and mossier. Both are lit with LED lights for maximum energy efficiency, and create a diffuse glow along with the shadows they create. Winstead designed these pieces with the desire to reconnect with nature by using natural, organic materials that would evoke a woodland space, but still maintain a modern and sophisticated aesthetic that’s suitable for an art gallery or performance hall. + Organic Shadows 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! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Chandelier , chandeliers , forest lamp , John Winstead , LED , LED Chandelier , LED chandeliers , LEDs , mandrake , MoSS , Organic Shadow , organic shadow chandeliers , shadow , shadow lamp , shadows , woodland lamp

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Cast Natural Silhouettes on Your Walls with Organic Shadow Chandeliers

How to Re-wild a City? East London Approves $13.5 Million Plan

August 15, 2014 by  
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The banks of the Upper Lee Valley in East London are to be “re-wilded.” By 2017, a vast stretch of riverbanks beginning just north of the Olympic Park will be restored to flood-mitigating marshland. The Walthamstow Wetlands will deliver the largest urban wetland nature reserve in London, and will incorporate bike paths, waterfowl habitat, an observation tower and a visitors’ center. Read the rest of How to Re-wild a City? East London Approves $13.5 Million Plan Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: east london , London , London Planning Awards , Mayor Boris Johnson , River Lee , UK , united kingdom , Upper Lee Valley , urban planning , urban wetlands , Walthamstow Wetlands , wetlands regeneration

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How to Re-wild a City? East London Approves $13.5 Million Plan

Brooklyn Boulders Rock Climbing Gym Allows Workers to “Climb the Walls” to Reduce Stress

February 14, 2014 by  
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Do stressful workdays make you want to climb the walls? Well, thanks to Brooklyn Boulders , you can now literally climb the walls to help relieve stress and stimulate your productivity. The climbing company’s venue in Somerville, Massachusetts is equipped with a 122-foot-high by 122-foot-long climbing wall topped with a spacious collaborative work area in the upper mezzanine. This unique climbing wall/office combo, set in a 40,000 square foot facility, is based on the philosophy that “physicality stimulates innovation and creativity.” Read the rest of Brooklyn Boulders Rock Climbing Gym Allows Workers to “Climb the Walls” to Reduce Stress Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: active work environments , active workspace , Brooklyn Boulders , Brooklyn Boulders Active Collaborative Workspace , Massachusetts , rock climbing wall , Somerville , urban architecture , Urban design , urban office design        

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Brooklyn Boulders Rock Climbing Gym Allows Workers to “Climb the Walls” to Reduce Stress

Juan Soriano Blanco’s New Dimension Tiles Grace the Walls of The Milan Furniture Fair

April 18, 2013 by  
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The city of Milan, Italy is synonymous with high fashion and modern design. Adorning the walls of the this year’s Milan Furniture Fair are Juan Soriano Blanco’s New Dimension Tiles. These modular all-natural cork units that can hold anything from a teacup to a potted plant. Elastic behind each button secures objects snugly to the wall, making home organization attractive. Each tile can be fastened to the wall in a variety of compositions, letting the designer create art installations, vertical gardens , or photo collages. A warm, neutral color, the cork is a novel way to add a little touch of nature a living space. + Juan Soriano Blanco Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cork , italy , juan soriano blanco , Milan , Milan Furniture Fair , new dimension tiles        

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Juan Soriano Blanco’s New Dimension Tiles Grace the Walls of The Milan Furniture Fair

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