Thailand home connects to its beautiful surroundings

May 16, 2022 by  
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The Baan Hom Din House by TA-CHA Design is situated on a former rice paddy in Thailand . The paddy rests in the lush valley between parallel ranges of the Petchabun mountains. The house’s design caters to the lives of the residents and fosters a close connection with the surrounding environment. The house owners are a young couple, both working as doctors, who wished to settle down and start their family. They wanted the house to suit their uncertain work schedules and provide space for their children, while being minimalist in style and visually connected to the beautiful surroundings. Related: Naturally ventilated home in Thailand has a lush indoor garden The architects’ design choices create harmony between the site and the project. To do this, the house is elevated to maximize views of the nearby mountain range and prevent potential floods. The mountain viewpoint is accessible using ramps that lead from the interior spaces. This limits the use of stairs, making the higher level easily accessible to residents even as they age. To further maximize the site’s natural features, the buildings have fiberglass roofs. It harnesses natural light to flood the interior spaces. Additionally, the indoor courtyard also brings in sunlight, cool breezes and greenery. Additionally, the project creates a connection to the architecture of the region. The house borders a village , which features the local architectural style. For the Baan Hom Din House, the architects utilized modern, minimalist design strategies, but mapped out the spaces using the concept of a rectangular building complex. Instead of building vertically, the project spreads over the site horizontally, comparable to Thai vernacular architecture. To build, materials such as timber and bamboo were locally-sourced and/or repurposed. These materials were used by local carpenters to create doors, window frames and furniture. By maximizing the site’s features and fusing the identity of the owners with local architectural styles, the architects were able to create connections between the modern Baan Hom Din House and its socio-cultural and environmental contexts. + TA-CHA Design Photography by Beersingnoi

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Unique Unwasted leather bags are made from wine grapes

April 21, 2022 by  
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What do you get when you combine a waste product from wine making, a designer focused on sustainability and a French leather maker? Unwasted. Unwasted is a bag collection made from plant-based leather with a mission to make a statement or two. The process begins with Oddbird, Scandinavia’s largest producer of craft wines. Grape marc is a by-product of this wine production. Specifically, it’s the skins. Although it’s organic materials, its sheer quantity calls for recycling them in a more productive way.  Related: Cactus leather makes up the new straps from WoodWatch Enter Planet of the Grapes, a French company that converts the grape marc into sheets of leathery material.  “Once the grapes have been pressed to make the wine, the grape skins are essentially waste,” said Sam Mureau at Planet of the Grapes. “The grape marc is collected and dried out under the beautiful Provencal sunlight. Once dry, it’s ground into a powder. The powder is blended with some purely natural ingredients and turned into a liquid, which is then poured onto a fabric of natural stem fibers. Once the material is left to dry, the leather is ready to use and the lost grapes are reborn.” On the other hand, the availability of this animal -free leather inspired Meng Du, a young Chinese designer from Parsons School of Design, New York. The result of this collaboration is two bags for the Unwasted collection. The first, called the Merlot bag, resembles a crushed milk jug . In a statement, Du says it is to “change the meaning of what we otherwise consider waste.” The second bag, called the Chardonnay bag, resembles a dented beverage can.  “I see myself more like a designer rather than one concerned only with fashion as a medium,” Du explained. “It is there that I can be the most inventive about two issues that interest me the most, namely sustainability and minimal design . Yet, I will never impose my view on the matter at hand. […] The audience interested in this kind of product may be niche, but hopefully we are moving towards making long-term investments in something more meaningful than the casual fast fashion purchase.” + Meng Du Photography by Meng Du and Osman Tahir

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Conservation projects on track to score $1 billion

April 13, 2022 by  
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The new America the Beautiful Challenge will help tribes, territories, states and NGOs apply for grants for  conservation  projects. The Biden administration plans to use the new $1 billion program to help reach its goal of conserving 30% of U.S. waters and lands by 2030. Over the next five years, an initial $440 million will fund the challenge. The  Biden  administration hopes that philanthropic and private donations will boost America the Beautiful to its $1 billion target. Related: Supreme Court ruling could derail Biden’s climate plans The program “will help mobilize new investments in locally led, voluntary conservation and restoration projects across the country, while making it easier for  communities  to access these resources,” Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement. Many types of terrain stand to gain. Coasts, rivers, forests, grasslands and  wetlands  are all eligible for the award money. Groups working on expanding outdoor access, helping animals navigate landscapes, and increasing resiliency to climate impacts such as drought and coastal flooding can also apply for funding. Private nonprofit the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will oversee America the Beautiful. Tribal and Indigenous-led projects have priority.  Ecosystem  restoration funds of $375 million came to the Interior Department through a bipartisan infrastructure law. The Forest Service is kicking in $35 million in grants for improving water quality and preventing invasive species. The Department of Defense’s $25 million will help preserve natural resources near military installations. Not everybody wants to conserve land, though. Several climate-denying and anti-fed groups are hosting a Stop 30×30 Summit later this month in  Nebraska . Some big-name Republicans will be there to rant against the initiative. If you go, don’t expect any decent vegan refreshments. But many who understand the program are happy. “Protecting 30% of America’s lands and  waters  by the end of the decade can only be accomplished through partnerships and knowledge on the ground in all 50 states,” said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the conservation group Center for Western Priorities, as reported by HuffPost. “This billion-dollar commitment shows the administration is on the right track to reaching 30×30.” Via HuffPost Lead image via Pexels

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Conservation projects on track to score $1 billion

Conservation projects on track to score $1 billion

April 13, 2022 by  
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The new America the Beautiful Challenge will help tribes, territories, states and NGOs apply for grants for  conservation  projects. The Biden administration plans to use the new $1 billion program to help reach its goal of conserving 30% of U.S. waters and lands by 2030. Over the next five years, an initial $440 million will fund the challenge. The  Biden  administration hopes that philanthropic and private donations will boost America the Beautiful to its $1 billion target. Related: Supreme Court ruling could derail Biden’s climate plans The program “will help mobilize new investments in locally led, voluntary conservation and restoration projects across the country, while making it easier for  communities  to access these resources,” Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement. Many types of terrain stand to gain. Coasts, rivers, forests, grasslands and  wetlands  are all eligible for the award money. Groups working on expanding outdoor access, helping animals navigate landscapes, and increasing resiliency to climate impacts such as drought and coastal flooding can also apply for funding. Private nonprofit the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will oversee America the Beautiful. Tribal and Indigenous-led projects have priority.  Ecosystem  restoration funds of $375 million came to the Interior Department through a bipartisan infrastructure law. The Forest Service is kicking in $35 million in grants for improving water quality and preventing invasive species. The Department of Defense’s $25 million will help preserve natural resources near military installations. Not everybody wants to conserve land, though. Several climate-denying and anti-fed groups are hosting a Stop 30×30 Summit later this month in  Nebraska . Some big-name Republicans will be there to rant against the initiative. If you go, don’t expect any decent vegan refreshments. But many who understand the program are happy. “Protecting 30% of America’s lands and  waters  by the end of the decade can only be accomplished through partnerships and knowledge on the ground in all 50 states,” said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the conservation group Center for Western Priorities, as reported by HuffPost. “This billion-dollar commitment shows the administration is on the right track to reaching 30×30.” Via HuffPost Lead image via Pexels

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Conservation projects on track to score $1 billion

Made in the USA cotton sheets come from sustainable farming

April 13, 2022 by  
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Producers of high-quality textiles are bringing locally-grown cotton and bedsheets back to America. North Alabama’s Red Land Cotton produces its own home-grown cotton on a third-generation family farm. They create luxury linens like sheets and towels out of their cotton. It’s a sustainable farming operation that aims to change the way we buy cotton home goods. The Yeager family has run their farm for three generations. The red soil that is rain-irrigated only is processed by the family’s own self-built cotton gin. It allows the Yeagers to control the quality of their cotton fibers going into the sheets they create. Mark Yeager, who now runs the farm , has spent years implementing sustainable farming practices across thousands of acres to minimize environmental impact. Related: These bags are made with Fairtrade Certified organic cotton “Our American-made pure cotton bedding, bed sheets and bath towels are proudly made in the USA and crafted exclusively with cotton sourced directly from our North Alabama farm,” the Yeagers said. Their products have been featured in Country Living, Southern Living, The Cottage Journal and Veranda. Plus, sustainable farming practices are just the start. Locally-grown and locally-made sheets help the environment in several ways. It creates a smaller cycle of manufacturing and delivery, removes the large shipping carbon footprint from shipping goods overseas and builds healthy economies with fair-wage jobs. Red Land Cotton sheets are luxury , but that’s because they pay fair domestic wages and create products that are meant to last. Furthermore, Red Land Cotton’s American-made cotton bed sheets and towels are created 100% with the cotton grown on the family farm. You’ll find designs from basic whites and grays to heirloom -inspired striped ticking. The Leighton Bath Collection is made by one of the only towel manufacturers left in the U.S. located in Griffin, Georgia. The Classic Quilts are filled with cotton batting also grown on the Red Cotton farm. Lastly, cotton sheets are healthier for you. They are extra durable, good for cooling hot sleepers, hypoallergenic, easy to wash and can come in a variety of finishes for every taste. + Red Land Cotton Images via Red Land Cotton

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The first zero-waste, recyclable toothbrush in the world

April 12, 2022 by  
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Reswirl created the world’s first zero-waste , fully recyclable toothbrush to help address the plastic pollution. They are an eco-friendly dental hygiene brand that aims to help the climate by not compromising on quality or comfort to consumers. Reswirl brushes are made from something called Bio-PBS. It is a biodegradable and industrially  compostable  material mixed with calcium carbonate for stiffening and whitening. The company offers these brushes through a subscription service where new brushes are sent out quarterly. In exchange, used brushes are returned in provided pre-paid packaging to be recycled. Related: Why are toothbrushes so hard to recycle? The brand does this because much of what consumers recycle from their homes still end up in landfills . It also provides the company with a practical supply of materials to reuse for creating new products, which helps the bottom line. First, all returned brushes are washed. Then materials are separated. The handles are shredded and blended with new materials to create consistent quality for new brushes. Bristles and boxes are recycled. Lastly, sleeves and any unusable handles are composted. We’ve seen a number of compostable bio-based plastics come out in the last decade. If bio-plastics become the norm, consumers won’t notice any difference in the durability of their plastic products , but once they’re thrown out, they will degrade in the landfill decades faster than traditional, fossil-fuel-based plastics. Reswirl brushes are ergonomically designed for comfortable use. You can purchase one to try before you subscribe. All purchases include shipping to and from the U.K. Therefore, there’s no extra cost for ordering them at a distance. While there is a carbon footprint to shipping, all packages are shipped in prepaid biodegradable packaging. The system creates a circular manufacturing system with this “infinite brush” solution. They are helping to replace some of 3.5 billion toothbrushes sold worldwide annually that are used for only a few months before thrown away. + Reswirl Images via Reswirl

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The first zero-waste, recyclable toothbrush in the world

"Farming for Our Future" tackles sustainable agriculture

April 1, 2022 by  
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As the world examines ways to lower carbon emissions and increase carbon sequestration, sustainable agriculture is rising to the top of the priority list for discussions. Agriculture’s various environmental impacts are undeniable, but that also means agriculture is, perhaps, the industry with the greatest potential for sustainable change. A new book from agriculture policy experts Peter H. Lehner and Nathan A. Rosenberg, “Farming for Our Future: The Science, Law, and Policy of Climate-Neutral Agriculture,” addresses a variety of agricultural practices and how changes can provide a map for a healthier future. The authors present well-researched scientific findings on where the problems lie and provide solid solutions based on science, economics and law in the hopes the farmers and policymakers will pivot to adopt new processes. While Rosenberg and Lehner don’t want to detract from hot-topic measures aimed at reversing climate change, like those concerning  renewable energy  and innovative electric vehicles, they do aim to increase the visibility of food production problems.  Related: Why regenerative agriculture will reverse climate change   The truth is that our food systems are the world’s largest source of methane and are ultimately responsible for a third of global warming . Without reforming the industry, the planet has no hope of achieving Paris Agreement climate goals.  While terms like ‘regenerative farming ‘ and documentaries such as “Kiss the Ground,” “The Biggest Little Farm,” and “The Need to Grow” spark conversation, significant policy changes lag far behind. Approaching from a legal angle, “Farming for Our Future” addresses the obstacles in the way of creating and implementing effective land and  animal  management policies. The number of regulations, laws and policies preventing cleaner agriculture are many and complicated.  However, there is a path through the jargon and red tape. As guidance in the book outlines, new agricultural practices could consume fewer resources, improve the soil rather than stripping it, significantly lower carbon release and streamline the food production system. While the planet heals, farmers will also reap the rewards of more resilient  plants  and healthier animals. “Peter Lehner and Nathan Rosenberg have gone deeper and broader than anyone before in identifying the many legal levers that can be used to move agriculture toward carbon neutrality . Congress, the White House, USDA, other agencies, and the private sector should use this as their legal guide,” said leading climate law expert Michael B. Gerrard, professor and director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. Policymakers must pick up the fight, but the climate solution will also come from small-scale farmers. Not only does responsible agriculture benefit the land, but an increase in profitability for farmers will strengthen rural communities and the lives of the workers who put the food on our tables.  Seth Watkins, a fourth-generation farmer known for his TEDx presentation, “Farming Evolved: Agriculture Through a Different Lens,” commented, “This book does an incredible job of explaining the practices and policies we need to help farmers build regenerative production systems that will protect our climate and our future.” Lehner and Rosenberg’s book, published by ELI Press, the Environmental Law Institute’s book division, is on sale now . Lehner is Managing Attorney of the Sustainable Food & Farming (SFF) Program at Earthjustice, the country’s largest nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. Rosenberg is a visiting scholar at the Food Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School and an attorney consulting for Earthjustice. Review of “Farming for Our Future: The Science, Law, and Policy of Climate-Neutral Agriculture” I was provided an electronic review copy of the book to review. It’s a relatively short book at 267 pages, but there’s no fluff filling the space between the covers. The content is dense but approachable. The authors’ interest is palpable, and the sense of urgency is appropriate to enact change in an industry with the potential to carry a royal flush in the game of climate-change reversal.  Lehner and Rosenberg outline the current state of affairs in early chapters, explaining how farm economies work and where there are misunderstandings. They outline dangerous assumptions and existing policies that hold back the industry from valuable change.  The authors then clearly explain the tangible impact of agriculture on the climate and how various options can curb those impacts. These topics converge as the authors discuss how policy change can help facilitate climate-neutral agriculture. At the beginning of the book and the end of each chapter, Lehner and Rosenberg highlight key recommendations. To wrap up the comprehensive report, they include a section on ways consumers can help. This is not a pleasure read, but if you’re looking for a resource to better understand the issues with our food supply and its effect on the planet, it’s a book that shouldn’t be missed. + ELI Press  Images via ELI Press and Pixabay

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Plarn mats help homeless people get a drier night’s sleep

March 30, 2022 by  
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Knitters have long known about the health benefits of their hobby: reduced depression, anxiety and blood pressure and an increased sense of wellbeing, to name a few. But now, more and more knitters are finding a way to help both the environment and the homeless — by using recycled plastic yarn, or plarn, and knitting mats and sleeping bags for people sleeping outside. What is plarn? The origins of plarn are hazy. The material mentioned on the internet for more than a decade, but there’s no official inventor. It’s probably that multiple people came up with the idea independently. Related: LEED gold LGBT senior complex provides homes to the homeless So, here’s how to make plarn. First, sort your plastic bags by color. Then, choose a first color. Let’s go with white. Lay your first white bag out flat. Fold it in half lengthwise, then in half again. Use scissors to cut off the top handle. Then, cut your folded bag into strips about an inch wide. This will form loops. Once you have a nice pile of loops, you link them together using a lark’s head knot . See the whole plarn making process in this YouTube video . Once all your white bags are looped together, you roll the plastic string into a ball of plarn. Repeat these steps with your other color bags and soon you’ll have a whole basket of different plarn colors . Depending on your project, you might want thinner or thicker plarn, so cut accordingly. You can use plarn for knitting, weaving and crocheting to make your own chair covers, placemats, purses or just about anything you’d make with fiber . Plarn for the homeless Or you can knit plarn for a good cause. Many organizations around the country have started projects to make sleeping mats for homeless folks. The National Council of Jewish Women of Michigan (NCJW) took up the cause. Carrie Kushner, vice president of NCJW, knitted for as long as she can remember. “It’s the exact same thing,” she said, as reported by Fox 2 Detroit. “But it’s shaped differently and for a much better purpose than an extra sweater or an extra scarf .” Her chapter, based in Southfield, Michigan,  is making mats measuring about six by three feet and donating them to local groups like Corner Shower and Laundry that serve the homeless in Detroit . They’re accepting donations of used plastic bags from the public, and also looking for volunteers to make plarn. Janet Ray, cofounder, board member and volunteer at the Corner Shower and Laundry, said that not only do the mats provide comfortable bedding, they help to keep people’s clothes dry and presentable. “But more than that, the mats are a message that people care,” said Ray, as quoted by C&G Newspapers . “They are saying, ‘You are important enough to me for me to make these mats.’” In Texas, the Texas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) hosted a series of plarn making parties, resulting in 65 mats being crocheted and donated to local homeless veterans . More than 110 DAR volunteers joined with Girl Scouts and 33 children from a nearby community recreation center to turn more than 46,000 bags into useful mats. Making the mats According to Marilyn Mossman, the co-chair of NCJW’s Green Committee, grocery -style plastic bags work best for making sleeping mats. Newspaper sleeves are also okay. “When you think of how much plastic is already on our planet, and yet we are creating more plastic every day, the problem seems insurmountable,” she said, as quoted by The Jewish News. “We must start somewhere to rid our planet of this waste . Being able to take something that is harming our environment and using it to help people in need makes me think we can make a difference.” According to Kushner, making plarn is easy. You just need scissors and plenty of plastic bags . Crocheting the mats is quicker, but they look nicer when knitted. “During the pandemic , I’m not out and about as much as before, so while I’m watching TV, I might as well be doing something that is helpful to people, like knitting the mats,” she said. “I am in a position that my life is blessed and because of that, I feel I have a need to give back.” Plarn movement picks up momentum If you Google “plarn for homeless,” you’ll see many groups are making organized efforts to create and distribute plarn mats. They have great potential for anybody sleeping rough, from houseless people in Los Angeles to folks in refugee camps worldwide. Knitted or crocheted plarn mats create a barrier between a person’s body and the ground, which helps retain body heat. Plastic is less attractive to bugs than textiles. And when the mats get dirty, it’s easy to hose them off and dry them. Since plastic is lightweight, plarn mats are more portable than heavier padding. At the same time, they keep plastic bags out of landfills . If you’re feeling inspired, start or join a plarn mat making group near you. Via C &G Newspapers , Fox 2 Detroit and The Jewish News Images via Pexels

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Plarn mats help homeless people get a drier night’s sleep

Skincare line has a unique refillable packaging

March 14, 2022 by  
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We don’t tend to think about how much waste there is when we throw out skincare products . But it adds up. Proverb Skincare created a sustainable line of products that are petroleum, SLS, artificial fragrance and propylene glycol-free. They are packed with natural ingredients and come in reusable and recyclable plastic-free containers. Proverb also created the world’s first compostable skincare sample pouches, and we are here for it. The entire Proverb line relaunched with a plastic-free packaging. The Cleanse & Shave Nutrient Mud comes in aluminum , as does the Energizing Facial Scrub, which has clove and thyme. Not only that, the scrub uses only natural and organic ingredients for a natural exfoliant, including blitzed avocado pits and coconut shells. Additionally, the skin strengthening serum contains pomegranate, acai, witch hazel and papaya with bitter orange. There is also amino acids and peptides among other natural ingredients. However, allergy sufferers should still check the labels. Like many other natural skincare companies, Proverb created sensitive skin products such as their deodorant . It is fragrance free and baking soda free for those with delicate skin or allergies. Other fragrances include eucalyptus mint, coconut tonka bean and more. Furthermore, the anti-shine line contains a moisturizer that uses bamboo and salicylic acid, a unique combo that absorbs oil and treats blemishes naturally. In addition to their great products, Proverb partners with Earthley to offset their carbon footprint and become carbon positive. They help protect 2,000 elephants in Kenya. Proverb also partners with charity The Hygiene Bank to provide hand sanitizer to schools in underserved communities. The best part: Once you buy your first product with Proverb and receive the original container it comes in, you can purchase refills and reuse the container. Whether it’s a pump or a deodorant canister, you can recycle the aluminum tubes. + Proverb Skincare Images via Proverb Skincare

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Sustainable design makes this forest home timeless

March 4, 2022 by  
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Atelier C by Nicholas Francoeur is an artists’ residence in Quebec that transcends common forms of green design. The house incorporates multiple sustainable design strategies and has even received LEED Platinum certification. The house is clad in charred cedar that complements the white aspen used for the soffits and ceilings. This dark, cedar exterior juxtaposes with the bright, airy interiors. A selection of tall, rectangular windows creates vertical framed views to the outside. This verticality and rhythm further emphasize immersion in the lush woods. Related: Off Grid House takes remote sustainability to new heights One of the clients’ main requests was to incorporate spaces for working on their creative pursuits. The couple practices writing, photography and music, thus requiring ample workspace. To meet this requirement, Atelier C boasts four studios. The two south-facing studios are dedicated to music and fabrication. The two that face the north are for photography and writing and are integrated into the floor plan as spaces that one circulates through instead of as two separate rooms. For Atelier C, Francoeur intended to shift from typical green architecture and infuse the project with beautiful, modern details that support sustainable design strategies. For him, the house’s functional components needed to be aesthetically pleasing, too. One such example is the mono-pitched roof and overhangs. Beyond their elegant appearance, they manage climatic conditions to enhance user comfort and project longevity. During the harsh winters, the roof slope and overhangs efficiently drain off the snow. In the warmer months, they limit direct sunlight in the summer afternoons, keeping the interiors naturally cool. To further support these thermal comfort strategies, the house uses double the insulation required by code, minimizing energy needed during colder months. Sustainable material choices were also an important consideration for the project. The clients opted to use natural materials wherever possible, including cellulose insulation and various types of timber . The designer also selected furnishings to limit Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions without sacrificing aesthetics. Another green design aspect Francoeur considered is longevity. This meant prioritizing well-crafted technical details and a timeless design. Creating spaces with the intent of aging well is crucial, as architectural details become elegant and follow universal design principles instead of seasonal trends. Furthermore, the meticulous design details mean the project won’t require frequent renovations , thus minimizing costs and environmental impact. Through his work on Atelier C, Francoeur has been able to prove that sustainable architecture need not be unattractive and purely functional. Instead, through well-crafted details, environmentally-friendly design can be timelessly beautiful. Project collaborators include general contractor Renovia Inc., structure by Maisons Éléments, kitchen work by À Hauteur d’Homme, and cabinetry by Xavier Hackenbeck. + Nicholas Francoeur Photographs by Raphaël Thibodeau and Ronny Theriault

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