Meditation cottage fits on the tiniest lakefront space

January 20, 2022 by  
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Sometimes, architecture is about specific design elements or striking visual characteristics. Sometimes, it’s more about letting the location of the structure have the last word. Situated on a slim slice of shorefront land in eastern Finland, the Kynttilä ( candle ) is a sustainable meditation cottage that honors unique location requirements.  The Nunnanniemi Peninsula is located in Lake Saimaa near Savonlinna in eastern Finland close to the Russian border. Due to the very narrow nature of the peninsula, a small building footprint was essential. The designers at ORTRAUM Architects met the challenge with a tiny home that not only caters to the special needs of the surrounding nature reserve, but highlights views of the water on both sides of the peninsula.  Related: Cozy waterfront cottage transforms old foundations using natural materials To ensure minimal site impact , the builders constructed a temporary road to move materials into the build site for a single day when assembly took place. Plants and other vegetation were protected and put back into their original place once the work was done.  The concept of Kynttilä is one of Zen and meditation. With a minimalist philosophy, the space is situated to encourage focus and calmness. A massive window provides an undeniable connection to the natural environment on the other side and the water element is ever present. Natural light floods the space in any weather.  Material composition is made up almost entirely of cross-laminated timber (CLT). The exterior is clad in larch wood that immerses the cottage into the surrounding trees. Exposed indoors create a light and organic space. Even the furniture and the front door are made from the same CLT. At night, the cabin illuminates like a candle, which can be seen flickering in the forest from around the lake.  + ORTRAUM Architects Images via ORTRAUM Architects

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Meditation cottage fits on the tiniest lakefront space

New ACME Pavilion employs sustainable CLT construction

January 17, 2022 by  
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Design house ACME’s director Friedrich Ludewig drew on the inspiration of Alpine architecture and nearby Olympic Park to guide the design of The Pavilion at Stratford Square in east London , a gently undulating pavilion made using cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction. The building has two interior levels inside a glass facade. The levels are occupied by Haugen, a delicatessen, brasserie and café inspired by Alpine dining, with an interior design concept created by award-winning creative studio Afroditi Krassa. The ground floor also features an information area, which directs visitors to sights such as the nearby mobile orchard display The Hothouse by Studio Weave and garden designer Tom Massey. Related: Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London Outside, a comfortable tiered and partially covered seating area in the shape of an outdoor amphitheater allows visitors to rest or view public events. Water fountains and an art piece by Troika decorate the open square in front of The Pavilion. The timber structure of the pavilion is lightweight thanks to CLT and glue-laminated timber panels that carry low embodied carbon. The architect worked on the master plan for Olympic Park and nearby bridges 15 years ago and was familiar with the area’s flow and needs. The Pavilion needed to be a building that “says hello from all sides,” Ludewig said. This meant eschewing a flat roof to enhance The Pavilion’s views through drops and vantage points. A rooftop garden conceptually connects to the nearby park and site’s origins. The building’s outdoor steps comprise several broad staircase-style seating areas that connect with other terraces , seating areas and native wildflower gardens, which sit beneath a beautifully curved roof. The light weight of the structure determined construction methods and materials, which are all wood except for glass windows and a shallow concrete foundation. The ease and relaxed feel of using a space with so much exterior functionality fits the project’s purpose of creating a resting place for passersby. + ACME Via Wallpaper Images via © Hufton + Crow

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New ACME Pavilion employs sustainable CLT construction

Kentucky coal mine to become clean energy water battery project

January 13, 2022 by  
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An old  Kentucky  coal mine will soon be turned into a pumped hydro “water battery” in an ambitious renewable clean energy scheme. Hydropower developer Rye Development is transforming a strip mine in southeastern Kentucky’s Bell County into the Lewis Ridge pumped storage project. While a lithium-ion  battery  holds power for a few hours, pumped hydro storage can hold energy long-term. It works by pumping water uphill to a reservoir during low-demand times, then releasing it downhill to run turbines when electricity needs are high. Open systems release stored water one way into the local waterway. Closed-loop systems, such as Lewis Ridge, recycle the water endless times. Related: Coal miners union shows support for renewable energy Rye Development projects $1 billion in investor dollars coming into Bell County, and three to five years’ worth of decently paid  construction  jobs for 2,000 workers. After that, “several dozen direct and indirect family-wage jobs” will remain in the county permanently. “The Lewis Ridge pumped storage project is located adjacent to the Cumberland River near the communities of Blackmont, Tejay, Balkan and Callaway, Kentucky,” Rye Development stated in a press release. “The project site sits on a former coal strip mine in an active coal  mining  area. As coal is phased out of the grid across the nation, coal communities face uncertain employment and economic futures. Projects like Lewis Ridge create new jobs and economic activity in energy communities.” Pumping all that  water  uphill will take a lot of energy. The idea is to use wind and solar to operate the pumps. Currently, Kentucky ranks 50th on the wind energy scale for the U.S. and 47th in solar. So, the Bluegrass state has a long way to go to fulfill its green future. As coal phases out, it’s been a challenge to figure out how to repurpose old coal sites for  renewable energy . Many strip mines are located far from towns and cities where people can put that energy to good use. Rye Development said its chosen site is “unique and features beneficial topography and proximity to transmission infrastructure.” Via Rye Development , Clean Technica Lead image via Rye Development

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Kentucky coal mine to become clean energy water battery project

California sues Walmart for allegedly dumping hazardous waste

December 23, 2021 by  
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The state of California , through its Attorney general, has filed a lawsuit accusing Walmart of allegedly illegally disposing of hazardous waste in landfills across the state. The  42-page document  directly implicates Walmart for dumping 160,000 pounds of hazardous waste each year over the past six years. Among the items that are said to be disposed of by the retailer include insect killer sprays, lithium batteries, aerosol cans and LED bulbs. The giant retailer stands accused of violating California’s environmental laws in its dumping of hazardous waste in landfills that are not equipped to handle such waste. Attorney General Rob Bonta and 12 other California district attorneys are working together over the allegations.  Related: Loophole allows 1M tons of sludge to be dumped on Great Barrier Reef “Walmart’s own audits found that the company is dumping hazardous waste at local landfills at a rate of more than one million items each year. From there, these products may seep into the state’s drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases,” Bonta said in a  statement . In defense, Walmart’s spokesperson said the company will defend itself and said the lawsuit is “unjustified,” according to NPR. “We have met with the state numerous times and walked them through our industry-leading hazardous waste compliance programs in an effort to avoid litigation. Instead, they filed this unjustified lawsuit ,” Walmart Spokesperson Randy Hargrove said. “The state is demanding a level of compliance regarding waste disposal from our stores of common household products and other items that goes beyond what is required by law.” This is not the first time that the retail finds itself in hot soup over waste disposal misconduct. In 2010, the company reached a $25 million settlement agreement with California’s Office of the Attorney General for the illegal disposal of dangerous waste . According to the Attorney General’s office, investigations have proven that the illegal waste dumping has continued since then. “ Walmart is a responsible corporate citizen in California and everywhere we operate. We take our obligation to protect the environment seriously and have industry-leading processes in place to comply with local, state, and federal environmental laws,” Hargrove said. Via NPR and CNN Lead image via Unsplash

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This year’s warmer winter could create irreversible damage

December 21, 2021 by  
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February 2021 brought the planet’s 16th-warmest February, and this December is much warmer than it should be. Although warmer climates are being experienced across the world , experts say that the temperatures have a much bigger impact in regions that are usually cold. Further, experts say that the warm winter is likely to lead to more adverse weather patterns in the coming year. In addition to climate change, uneven warmer winter can trigger tornados and heavy storms, according to Kai Kornhuber, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Related: Denver’s snowless season has experts worried “One of the truisms in climate science is that cold places and cold times of year warm faster than the warmer places and warmer times of the year,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. “Not only is the actual rate of warming faster in colder seasons and places – like the Arctic , which is warming three times faster than other places – but also a lot of impacts that are associated with warming are amplified.” Although global warming is a factor across the world, scientists have proven over time that colder regions warm much faster. This often means irregular precipitation, whether it is in terms of rain or snow . Further, the effects caused by even a slight increase in temperature can be far-reaching. For instance, if the temperature causes rain instead of snowfall, the effect will be that the rainwater washes away much faster than snow. “Winter warming affects the frozenness – or not – of things, which is ecologically important for the accumulation of snowpack and the water supply,” Swain explained. Extreme warm spells in winter can result in heat waves in summer. The warmth in this season can lead to premature snowmelt and even vegetation growth, which lowers moisture content in soils and increases the likelihood of extreme and persistent heatwaves in summer . Hot winters will also affect agriculture. Agriculture needs chill months to yield high outcomes. Fruits that require a long period of cold weather, such as apples, cherries and pears, will be hit the hardest. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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This year’s warmer winter could create irreversible damage

Welcome to Norilsk, one of the world’s most polluted cities

December 7, 2021 by  
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Norilsk, the world’s most northern city, has been dubbed one of the world’s most polluted cities by experts. The small city of about 176,000 started experiencing its pollution during the early days of the Soviet Union. As an area rich with precious metals, Norilsk remains a hotbed of mining at the expense of the ecosystem. An investigative series on the city done by Inside Climate News in association with NBC News and Undark Magazine established that the majority of pollution affecting Norilsk is produced by one major company, Norilsk Nickel. Related: First Nation residents exposed to dangerous levels of carcinogens Norilsk Nickel is the world’s leading producer of palladium and high-grade nickel. The company also produces platinum, cobalt and copper , among other minerals. This single company has been blamed for the pollution affecting the city. Built during the Soviet Union era, the center has made and processed metals for over 80 years. Over time, the company has turned the once blossoming environment upside down. The Daldykan River, once fishing heaven for the locals, has been declared unsafe by the government. Its water has turned grey with heavy pollution. Years of activity have carved a barren landscape of dead trees out of the boreal forest. Glacial rivers have turned red, and the air is highly polluted with sulfur dioxide. The town’s extreme pollution has led to the start of a worldwide movement calling for the criminalization of ecological malpractice. The proposal to entrench ecocide in the law would see those who commit such serious acts of pollution face criminal charges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague. Unfortunately, even if such recognition is adopted, the world’s leading polluters, such as the U.S. and Russia , may not be affected since they are not members of the ICC. What is more perturbing is that some of the world’s leading governments protect the interests of polluters. For instance, Russian President Vladimir Putin shares the ambition of developing the northern region economically by investing in more metal processing with Norilsk Nickel. The company has pledged to invest billions in rehabilitating the environment, a promise that residents are skeptical about. The company’s spokesperson told reporters that they will be embarking on rehabilitation projects in 2021. “This will be rolled out across all of Nornickel’s operations starting from 2021, with a clear focus on generating measurable and achievable results to significantly improve the company’s environmental performance,” the spokesman said. Via Inside Climate News Lead image via Nina

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Welcome to Norilsk, one of the world’s most polluted cities

Get these plants for everyone on your list this year

December 6, 2021 by  
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Plants make great gifts because they continue to bring joy throughout the year. A houseplant adds a little life and color to any space and it helps naturally clean the air, which is never a bad thing. So this year, give low-maintenance plants that just about anyone can grow and give the gift of an environmentally-friendly holiday. For someone who goes for the aesthetics Snake plant is well known for being low maintenance. It doesn’t need a ton of care and it’s got a cool look. The pattern on the leaves look a little like snakeskin, which is how this plant got its name. Snake plants are drought-tolerant and can survive in lower light levels, even though it prefers bright light. Best of all, this plant is one of the best air-purifying plants you can get. It filters out lots of chemicals you’d rather not be breathing. Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home For someone who has a black thumb A rubber tree is a great choice for someone who likes plants but also has a black thumb. This plant is hardy enough to withstand all sorts of neglect, including under-watering and over-watering. The thick, rubbery leaves add an interesting element to any space. Give this plant bright sunlight and it will filter the air and look great. For the health guru Aloe vera is the superstar of houseplants, so it’s hard to go wrong with this one. The plant is known for being a natural healer. All you need to do is cut off a leaf and place the juice on cuts, burns, rashes, cuts and skin irritations of all kinds. Aloe vera looks nice and it’s not hard to grow, so it’s a perfect gift. For someone who’s a little bit extra Monstera adansonii doesn’t get very large, always a plus in a houseplant, and has lacy leaves that are covered in small holes. This plant has a super cool look, which makes it great for gift-giving. As long as it gets light and semi-regular water , this plant will do just fine with a little light pruning. For the amateur plant lover The ZZ plant is a great choice for those who aren’t experienced plant growers. It’s highly drought tolerant so it doesn’t need a lot of care and attention. It also looks great with its dark green leaves in an interesting shape. For someone who’s such a ball of sunshine Think outside the box a little and give the gift of a moss ball. It’s aquatic and it can survive in just about any kind of condition. Literally, you drop this in a bowl of water. It can survive almost any level of light and it looks super weird and interesting. For someone who’s starting a new chapter in their life Jade plants symbolize renewal and growth, so it’s a great gift for anyone facing a new beginning in life . The plant is also unique-looking with a somewhat cigar-shaped foliage. This is a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t need a lot of care. Put it near some light and give it occasional water and it should do just fine. Via Martha Stewart , Salisbury Greenhouse and Oprah Daily Images via Pexels and Unsplash

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Get these plants for everyone on your list this year

Need eco-friendly gifts for friends? We’ve got you covered.

December 1, 2021 by  
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While compiling your list of besties to share the joy of the season with, look into companies dedicated to protecting the health of the planet, animals and customers too. These eco-friendly gifts will be perfect for your environmentally conscious friends. Mixture The name is appropriate for a company that hand mixes candles, bath & body and home cleaning products that cater to individual preferences. It provides small-batch options that incorporate  recipe  combinations from over 60 fragrances. Set the right tone through anything from Cilantro Coriander to Lime Blossom. Gifts, holiday products, and everyday items are made to order for freshness and to reduce waste.  Maria Nila For the vegan on your list, Swedish haircare brand Maria Nila has the label-reading done for you. All products are 100% vegan, animal-friendly and available for a variety of hair types. Check out options like shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, and even hair-styling products like sea salt spray and heat protecting spray. Maria Nila also gives back through a variety of campaigns. This year it will support  wildlife  through The Perfect World Foundation. Shop Maria Nila on Amazon Cannabolish As cannabis is decriminalized in more places, it’s a product people can enjoy more freely. However, not everyone appreciates the smell of freshly-burnt cannabis, so Cannabolish has developed a line of smoke-absorbing products that remove, rather than mask, cannabis smoke. The sprays, candles and gels are all made from natural  plant  oils and water and remove odors without toxic ingredients. Shop Cannabolish on Amazon Beeswax wraps Beeswax wraps have drawn a lot of attention in recent years as a helpful way to reduce plastic use. Although they’ve become easy to find, you can also make your own beeswax wraps for your family and friends. Kiley Gwynn, a contributor to Mountain Rose Herbs, maneuvered through several iterations of DIY beeswax wraps and provided a helpful tutorial describing the process  here . While the basics are simply to cut fabric squares and coat them in melted beeswax and other  natural ingredients , perfecting the craft took a bit more effort. Gwynn also developed another recipe that’s completely vegan. Shop Beeswax Wraps on Amazon Alternative Apparel The alternative to fast fashion that  pollutes  the environment and consumes resources is Alternative Apparel, an eco-conscious label dedicated to the creation of casual clothing made from natural and recycled materials. As a company, it’s been awarded as one of the 2021 World’s Most Ethical Companies, earned an ‘A’ Climate 2020 score, and been recognized by Energy Star. Clothing for men, women and youth can be found in the form of tees, sweats, sweatshirts, joggers, shorts and more.  Shop Alternative Apparel on Amazon Tablas Creek Vineyard Getting together with friends during the holiday season makes for the perfect pairing with a gift of wine. Grape plants at Tablas Creek are grown organically and biodynamically on land with a natural source of  water  from Tablas Creek. The soil, the plants and the resulting wines are propagated with attention to culture, history and a connection to the land. The vineyard is certified as Regenerative Organic and has won a host of international recognition awards. Cheers! Fenty Beauty Skincare is an ongoing endeavor for most people on the hunt for the right combination of protection for the skin and the planet. Rihanna’s trendy cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, fits the bill on both accounts. The cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens and other products are all made with clean ingredients and are vegan by design. All products are also gluten-free. In fact, the lineup might be more notable for what’s not in it than what is, considering it’s free of parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, formaldehydes, thiazolidinones, paraffins and sodium lauryl sulfate. Packaging is also environmentally-friendly with the use of recycled post-consumer materials and refill systems for products to minimize  waste . Shop Fenty Beauty on Amazon Champion True Wireless Earbuds Innovations in some industries, such as technology, have been slow on the environmental-protections, but these earbuds, available through House of Marley, have taken something small and made a huge statement. The earbuds use a combination of bamboo, other natural  wood  materials and REGRIND™ silicone. Even the standard charging cord was redesigned to be made from 99% post-consumer recyclable polyester. Paper Guardian Notebook Paper is a virgin material that results in innumerable trees being cut down for a single use, which contributes to deforestation. Plus, manufacturing pollution harms the water and air. Paper Guardian just successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to develop a notebook that uses paper you already have around the house. It allows you to resize the piles of misprints and junk mail to fit inside the protective case and neatly organize them into the integrated files. The notebook itself is made from 100%  recycled  plastic and is infinitely refillable, so you’ll never toss another notebook into the trash. Agar earrings, artwork and pendant lamps The material is innovative and visually appealing. The resulting products make gifts for the new homeowner, college student or environmentalist in your life. Artist Yi Hsuan Sung developed the material from a gel sourced from red seaweed and ubiquitous in food throughout Asia. It’s zero-waste, biodegradable and handcrafted. Via Mixture , Maria Nila , Cannabolish , Mountain Rose Herbs , Alternative Apparel , Tablas Creek Vineyard , Fenty Beauty , Paper Guardian , The House of Marley and Flora Gild Images via Pexels, Mixture, Maria Nila, Cannabolish, Mountain Rose Herbs, Alternative Apparel, Tablas Creek Vineyard, Fenty Beauty, Paper Guardian, The House of Marley and Flora Gild  When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commissions at no cost to you.

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Need eco-friendly gifts for friends? We’ve got you covered.

New riverside development in China will be an urban renewal

November 30, 2021 by  
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Architects VenhoevenCS have won a major riverside redevelopment in Shenzhen, China . They hope to protect large areas of land from flooding while also creating a vibrant new urban identity for the Bao’an district. The Pailao River Blueway Project constitutes a new biodiverse landscape along the central Pailoa River, an area under rapid urban development where rainfall intensity is increasing. Architects are using this project to design with the water instead of against it. It includes elements such as ponds, green roofs, urban farming plots, wetlands and soft banks, contributing to a natural sponge effect to absorb excess water from the river . Related: 100-year-old railway yard turned into a green space VenhoevenCS also has their sights set on integrating urban regeneration in the area. They have planned cultural and social spaces, including pavilions and parks for cyclists and pedestrians. The design illustrates their nature-inclusive approach, reshaping how humans and the natural environment interact in designed environments. With experience designing for climate change induced water issues in the Netherlands, VenhoevenCS Architects approached similar conditions currently affecting the subtropical Bao’an Water District in the same way. To redesign the waterway, the team created something called The Blueway Project, which takes into account the landscape far beyond the immediate area. A surrounding network of rivers flows to the sea through denseurban areas. The Blueway Project looked at the urban spaces, re-greening of surrounding natural areas and the flow of the rivers to design a space that holds room for nature. It will have fewer cars moving through the area, so less pavement and parking, but still allows Bao’an to be accessible with mobility hubs and public transportation and a way through for local traffic. The concrete quays of the Pailao River will be replaced by wide, soft banks that absorb water naturally. Various parks will punctuate the riverfront and create space for pedestrians. Bridges for traffic now feature new meeting places and public spaces for gatherings underneath the viaducts. Water levels may ebb and flow here, so pavilions for public gatherings are designed on stilts to accommodate changing conditions. + VenhoevenCS Architects Images via Shenzhen Hope Design Co., Ltd.

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Cozy waterfront cottage transforms old foundations using natural materials

November 29, 2021 by  
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Architecture company Prodesi/Domesi’s new cottage in the Czech Republic was inspired by a ship. The small cottage is covered in sunburned larch planks and sits in the trees above the Vranov Dam. Storage spaces are hidden in every corner of the home, just like the cabin of a ship, and the structure manages to eke out 65 square meters of usable floor space with an open concept main floor and a private attic. The interior is paneled in spruce, with large glass pane windows looking out over the water. This cottage actually sits on the owner’s inherited cottage foundations, handed down by the owner’s grandfather. The idea was to create a summer home for the family with every possible convenience built on the existing foundations of the old structure. Related: Meet The Line, a sustainable design that looks like a ship The architects had to deal with the influences of the surrounding forest land and the floor plan of the original cottage while creating the new home. Architect Klára Vratislavová said, “The construction of the house went hand in hand with its interior design, so that we could make good use of every inch of space that the original grandfather’s cottage had set for us.” The cottage features a dining room, living room with a water view, spacious entrance hall with a bench, bathroom, toilet room, pantry and utility room. Upstairs there are new larger and smaller bedrooms plus a dressing room. “We took a reverse approach when designing the upstairs. First, we created the necessary spaces for bedrooms and after that we “cut off” the exceeding part of the roof, so that the house would be as small as possible. Our goal was to design a building that humbly integrates into the green slope above the water with mostly modest old cottages,” Vratislavová added. The ship design was inspired by the nearby water. It’s designed to merge into the landscape while providing a cozy, functional space inside for the owners. + Prodesi/Domesi Images via Boys Play Nice

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