Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

July 11, 2019 by  
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Airbnb has any number of unique properties, but this luxurious cottage in an idyllic French village looks scrumptious enough to eat. Perhaps that’s because the luxury tiny home rental, now listed on Airbnb , was once an ancient bread cottage. Owner James Roeves and his wife renovated the old building with the utmost of care, recycling and incorporating reclaimed materials whenever possible to convert the structure into a boutique retreat. Located east of Toulouse, Vallée de Gijou is tucked into the region’s Haut Languedoc Park, an idyllic area comprised of rolling hills and lush forests. The area is perfect for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life while enjoying an authentic French agritourism experience . Related: This tiny Victorian cottage on a wildflower meadow belongs in a fairytale Formerly a structure used for its bread oven, the compact cottage has been renovated carefully to update its living space while retaining the structure’s original features. According to the owner, James Roeves, he and his wife renovated the structure, doing most of the work themselves. From the start of the adaptive reuse renovation, the project was focused on reclaiming as many materials from the original structure as possible. In the end, the bed, window sills, sideboards, shutters, bedroom floor tiles, wardrobe and front walls were all part of the original building. However, to bring the cottage into the 21st century, the process also required some modern touches. To keep the interior warm and cozy during the winter months, the structure is tightly insulated , and the windows are double-glazed to reduce heating costs. A bright, modern kitchen has all of the amenities a home chef could need. Beyond the kitchen, a comfortable living room features a sofa and chair along with a flat-screen television. This space also includes a small table that was made out of recovered wood planks . At the heart of the living area is a wood-burning Esse Bakeheart that has its own oven, a cooking plate and a grill that slides into the firebox for char-grilling. Of course, for those guests who prefer to leave their oven mitts at home, the owners are former restaurateurs who are happy to provide full catering prepared with fresh local produce. The rest of the home is just as lovely, with a spiral staircase leading up to a spacious bedroom. A queen-sized bed sits in the middle of the room, which has a spacious vaulted ceiling with exposed wooden beams for an extra dose of charm. + Converted Bread Oven Tiny Home Via Tiny House Talk Images via James Roeves

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Former restaurateurs convert an ancient bread oven building into a charming Airbnb cottage

France announces eco tax on plane tickets

July 11, 2019 by  
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The French government announced that it will roll out a tax on all international flights departing from France starting in 2020. The small tax will generate a predicted $200 million USD in revenue every year that the government will invest into cleaner transportation technology and infrastructure. Depending on the cost of the flight, the tax could cost anywhere from $1.70 to $20 USD per ticket. The eco tax will not apply to domestic flights within France nor flights arriving in the country from international origins. It will also exclude flights traveling to overseas territories still under French rule. A spokesperson from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) dismissed the utility of the tax, stating, “National taxes will do nothing to assist the aviation industry in its sustainability efforts.” Instead, the spokesperson, Anthony Concil, recommended national governments should help airline corporations invest in cleaner fuels and more advanced technology . In fact, shares in AirFrance, Ryan Air and EasyJet all went down after the announcement was made. Related: Airplanes’ contrail clouds are more harmful than their carbon emissions On the other side of the coin, environmental activists are somewhat content that the announcement is at least a step in the right direction and a nod to the role the transportation industry will have to play. According to Andrew Murphy from Brussels-based Transport and Environment, “This alone won’t do much, but at least it’s a recognition by the French government that more is required.” Germany, Italy and England already have similar eco taxes. In England, the additional fee can be up to $214 USD, and it generates a total of $3.7 billion USD annually. Other European countries are also looking to reverse a longstanding tax break for airline fuel that effectively subsidizes the industry’s use of fossil fuels and misses a significant opportunity for government tax revenue. Via AP News Image via BriYYZ

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France announces eco tax on plane tickets

Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system

May 27, 2019 by  
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It’s always interesting to see the homes of architectural professionals, but one Texas home builder is blowing our minds with his custom-made design. When builder Jeff Derebery and his wife Janice Fischer were ready to build their own house just outside of Austin, they reached out to OM Studio Design and Lindal Cedar Homes to bring their dream to fruition. The result is a gorgeous prefab home  that features a substantial number of sustainable features such as solar power and LED lights, as well as whimsical touches that reflect the homeowners’ personalities such as a water catchment system concealed under the guise of pop art. The design for the 3,000-square-foot, single-story home is filled with features that show off the homeowner’s fun personality as well as building knowledge. Clad in an unusual blend of Shou Sugi Ban charred siding and cedar planks with an entryway made out of turquoise copper panels, the home boasts a unique charm. Related: A prefabricated timber facade envelops a gorgeous glass home on a Norwegian island Stepping into the interior of the four bedroom and two-and-a-half bath home, an open layout that houses the living room, dining area and kitchen welcomes visitors. The space is incredibly bright and airy thanks to a series of clerestory windows and floor-to-ceiling glazed walls that both stream in natural light and provide unobstructed views of the river and rolling landscape. There is also a spacious 350-square-foot screened porch that is the perfect spot for dining with a view. But without a doubt, the heart of the home is an exterior open-air courtyard that separates the private spaces from the social areas. An idyllic space for reading in solitude or entertaining, the courtyard is decorated with furniture made out of recycled plastic . The beautiful design conceals a vast array of sustainable features. The roof of the structure is covered in commercial-grade foam panels in a solar-reflecting white that provides a tight thermal envelope for the home. Additionally, the house generates its own energy thanks to the rooftop solar array of 36 panels that was installed on the adjacent carport. According to the architects, the family has a negative electric bill in both winter and summer and are often able to sell energy back to the local grid. Texas builders have a lot of experience in dealing with the state’s drought issues, so Jeff and Janice were careful to integrate a water-conserving strategy into the home as well. An on-site well with a 2,500-gallon holding tank meets their personal water needs, and two additional tanks, one by the carport and another by the horse barn, collect and store rainwater that is used for various tasks such as taking care of the horses and dogs, cleaning and irrigating. Then, there is the fun artwork hidden throughout the home and the landscape. As lovers of art, Jeff and Janice wanted to incorporate a few unique but functional pieces on their property. First there is Cubie, a 12-foot storage cube made of polycarbonate panels that conceals a well holding tank as well as the water softener and a UV filtration system. There is a fun pop art propane tank shaped like a yellow submarine with the faces of the members of The Beatles painted in the windows. Finally, a pop art collection wouldn’t be complete without a little Andy Warhol, so a deer feeder tower was painted as an oversized can of Campbell’s soup. + OM Studio Design + Lindal Cedar Homes Images via Lindal Cedar Homes

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Solar-powered prefab home in Texas features a whimsical pop art water catchment system

Off-grid tiny home with beautiful undulating roof was almost entirely built with reclaimed materials

December 25, 2018 by  
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Founded by builder Greg Parham, the team at Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses is already well-known for their tiny home designs. But the Colorado-based company has really outdone themselves with their latest project. The San Juan tiny home on wheels is a gorgeous design with an eye-catching metal roof. More than just aesthetically pleasing, however, the solar-powered tiny home was almost entirely made out of reclaimed wood and built to go off-grid. Of course, the undulating roof made out of corrugated metal, is the first thing that catches the eye about the San Juan home. To line up with the curving roofline, the builders arranged reclaimed barn wood in the shape of a sunray, which also adds to the fluid nature of the exterior. On one end side of the tiny home, leftover cedar shake panels were layered in seven colors of blue with a large circular window in the middle. Related: This charming, solar-powered tiny home is handcrafted from reclaimed wood The entrance to the interior is through a fold-out deck with a set of beautiful French doors, which Parham and his team handmade. On top of the deck is an awning, which is made out of two 360 Watt solar panels . Both the deck and the awning can be easily folded down, flush with the exterior wall when the tiny home is on the road. Parham and his wife, Stephanie, built the tiny home for themselves so the interior space is designed around their needs. The interior is flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of large windows. White-washed pine panels line the interior walls. The kitchen is fully-equipped and was built with a sliding table top that can be pulled out to create additional dining space. The bathroom is a stellar design, which features a Cerulean blue accent wall and a hand-laid penny floor. Although the tiny home has a loft, the couple wanted to have their bedroom on the first floor. To do so, they custom made an “elevator bed” that runs on a pulley system. This enables the bed to be raised to the ceiling when not in use, creating ample living space below. A wood-burning stove keeps the interior warm and cozy during the winter months. + Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses Via Tiny House Talk Photography via Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses

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Off-grid tiny home with beautiful undulating roof was almost entirely built with reclaimed materials

Gorgeous, low-maintenance home comprised of dual farmhouse-style buildings

November 22, 2018 by  
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When architect Tim Sharpe and his wife Rani Blancpai decided to build their own home, they knew they wanted a design that would be low-maintenance in terms of energy and upkeep for years to come. To create their ultra-durable and low-energy home, they combined two extended barn-like volumes, clad in both galvanized steel and Australian spotted gum wood, to create a modern farmhouse installed with various passive features . Located in Byron Bay, Australia, on a large lot surrounded by hoop pines, the two farmhouse-style buildings make up the main four-bedroom home and a “granny flat”. Both structures have large gabled roofs, covered in a bright galvanized steel, which will patine over time. The rest of the structures are clad in a Australian spotted gum wood that contrasts nicely with the steel roofs. Not only were these two materials chosen to give the home a modern farmhouse aesthetic, but they are also known for their low-maintenance qualities. Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas The main home is a massive 3,600-square-foot space with four bedrooms. With its large steep-pitched gable ceiling, the interior is spacious and inviting throughout. To make the most out of natural light and solar gains , the main living space and bedrooms in the home were oriented to the north and east, “This results in minimal need for summer cooling and winter heating, and assures a pleasant, light-filled, comfortable space,” says Sharpe. Indeed, the interior living space is bright and modern, flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of large windows and a few strategically-placed skylights. A simple, neutral color scheme and natural materials give the space a contemporary, yet homey and aesthetic. Sharp designed a lot of the furniture himself, including the dining table and chairs. To create a comfortable and cost-effective temperature control year round on the interior, hydronic heating and cooling systems, sustained by a 23 KW solar PV system , were installed underneath the polished concrete floors. There are also multiple fans to enhance natural ventilation throughout the home. + Sharpe Design Construct Via Dwell Photography via Andy Macpherson via Sharp Design Construct  

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Gorgeous, low-maintenance home comprised of dual farmhouse-style buildings

6 environmental topics to spark discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner table

November 22, 2018 by  
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Nothing sparks political discussion and debate more than a family dinner during the holidays. In this explosive political climate, chances are the conversation will run wild during Thanksgiving even more than it has in the past. To give you some ideas for the upcoming holiday season, here are some environmental topics to help spur your political discussion while you enjoy your turkey dinner. Elections With a major midterm election happening just this month, politics will be a hot topic at Thanksgiving dinner tables across the country. In addition to Republicans who doubt climate science being voted out of the House of Representatives, there were also many environmental measures on the ballots in states across the nation. But  the results on these key issues sent mixed messages that are sure to get people talking. Food waste One-third of all globally produced food ends up wasted, and that makes food waste a huge problem . Americans throw away more than 40 percent of the food they buy, which is also a major factor in climate change. To tackle this problem, some cities are passing laws banning restaurants from throwing out food , and that is a step in the right direction. But making changes at home will help just as much, if not more. If we don’t change our food waste habits, a new study says the problem will continue to increase, and we will be throwing out 66 tons of food per second by 2030. What better time to bring this up than during your Thanksgiving feast? It’s a great time to encourage everyone to take home leftovers . Climate change The latest UN report on climate change has revealed that we are not on target to maintain the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less. If we want to avoid more extreme weather events and species’ extinction, we need to make some major changes to hit that goal. During the 2015 Paris Agreement, nearly 200 nations pledged to keep the ceiling for temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius, but that isn’t enough to avoid irreparable damage to Earth’s ecosystems. While discussing climate change , you can add a new twist on the topic and bring up the new study on barley production , which says that beer prices will soar in the near future because of climate change. Plastic bans The ban on single-use plastics is starting to trend all over the world , and the word “single-use” just became Collins Dictionary’s 2018 Word of the Year . States are banning plastic straws and other single-use items to reduce the waste, and the European parliament just supported a major ban of single-use plastics that member nations will implement over the next few years. Let everyone at the dinner table know it’s time to ditch straws or stock up on reusable options. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future? Veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarianism The meat industry has taken a big hit in recent years thanks to the diet trend of veganism , vegetarianism and flexitarianism. Vegetarianism has been popular since the ’90s, but veganism have become mainstream in recent years, with new vegan-only restaurants popping up in cities across the world. Now, flexitarianism is on the rise, which is a diet that is mostly plant-based but does have some select meat dishes incorporated on a limited basis. Related: 12 plant-based recipes for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner With this growing trend away from meat, a third of the people in the U.K. now have little to no meat in their daily food intake. But we still have a long way to go if we want to avoid a climate crisis . Perhaps it’s time to swap out the turkey for a vegan option. Animal welfare There are many different issues making headlines on the topic of animal welfare —  including Trump’s border wall , which is threatening the National Butterfly Center. This year, California became the first state in the country to ban animal testing for cosmetics, and Los Angeles also put a stop to the sale of fur . Burberry also vowed to stop using fur in its products, and an entire Fashion Week went fur-free . Encourage friends and family at the table to do the same. No matter where the discussion takes you, try to keep the environment in mind for every topic of your conversation. One of the most important things we can do is spread awareness about the major problems that are harming our planet and educate our loved ones on how to help. Happy Thanksgiving! Images via Aaron Burden , Patrick Hendry , Sagar Chaudhray , Simon Matzinger , Tamara Bellis and Shutterstock

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6 environmental topics to spark discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner table

Beech Architects convert 125-year-old windmill into a modern guesthouse

September 26, 2017 by  
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Beech Architects converted a 125-year-old windmill in Suffolk, England, into a modern guest house for rent. Complete with a metal-clad observation pod on top, the new guesthouse is well insulated and features custom-made furniture that fits its constraining circular layout. The 60-foot high windmill was built in 1891 and had a role in agricultural production at the time. However, the building had been disused for decades–until Beech Architects restored it. The owners, a surveyor and his wife who live in the house next door, plan to rent out the new guesthouse for extra income. Related: This windmill converted into a beach house is the perfect waterfront getaway “The biggest design challenge was the reinstatement of the cap or ‘pod’, which was not intended as a faithful historic reconstruction, but rather as contemporary and innovative interpretation that would also serve as the principal living and viewing platform ,” Beech Architects told Dezeen. Related: Rothschild Foundation Moves Into Beautifully Renovated Windmill Hill Dairy Farm The architects added insulation panels to the exterior walls and topped the entire structure with a wooden observation pod. The flexible timber rib system, manufactured by MetsaWood , is covered by 200 panels of zinc. This particular element of the conversion is why some locals complained that the structure doesn’t fit into its surroundings and looks “alien”. Nevertheless, the conversion project has recently received a RIBA award nomination. + Beech Architects Via Treehugger

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Beech Architects convert 125-year-old windmill into a modern guesthouse

Bill Gates gives away $4.6 billion worth of Microsoft shares

August 15, 2017 by  
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Time and time again, Bill Gates has proven himself to be quite the philanthropist . In his latest charitable act, Gates has donated 64 million shares of Microsoft – which is worth a total of $4.6 billion. The donation will reduce Gates’ stake in Microsoft to just 1.3 percent (compared to 24 percent in 1996). Bloomberg reports that the donation is the biggest since he gave away $16 billion worth of shares in 1999 and $5.1 billion in 2000. The news was revealed in a filing to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday. The filing doesn’t reveal the benefactor of Gates’ donation. Each year, Gates donates approximately 80 million Microsoft shares. The latest gift means that he has just 103 million shares left. The filing reveals that his wife, Melinda, holds nearly 425,000 Microsoft shares. If Gates continues to give away the shares, the philanthropist could reduce his stake in Microsoft to zero by 2019. To date, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is the largest holder of Microsoft Stock, followed by Gates, then the current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Related: Bill Gates launches $1 billion clean energy fund to fight climate change Even though the contribution is a massive sum in monetary terms, Bill Gates still holds the title of the richest person in the world. In fact, Bloomberg values Gates at $86.1 billion (down from $90 billion). Fortunately, he and Melinda have used their wealth to further progressive initiatives . They also intend to give away 95 percent of their wealth by the time they die — and that is commendable. Via Bloomberg Images via Flickr , Pixabay

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Bill Gates gives away $4.6 billion worth of Microsoft shares

The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic

May 3, 2017 by  
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Last fall The Ocean Cleanup found 1,000 large pieces of plastic in two hours in the Pacific Ocean during their first aerial reconnaissance mission. Today the Dutch foundation announced they’ve raised $21.7 million, and can now begin large-scale trials of their passive plastic capturing technology – in the Pacific – as soon as this year. The Pacific Ocean, plagued by the Texas-sized Great Pacific Garbage Patch , desperately needs to be cleaned up. The Ocean Cleanup is ready to tackle the problem with their plastic gathering technology tested in the North Sea thanks to new funding amounting to $21.7 million. Investors include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff and entrepreneur Peter Thiel . Related: World’s first ocean trash recon mission is complete – and the results are way worse than we thought Founder and CEO Boyan Slat said in a statement, “Our mission is to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, and this support is a major leap forward towards achieving this goal. Thanks to the generous support of these funders, the day we’ll be returning that first batch of plastic to shore is now in sight.” The Ocean Cleanup’s technology draws on ocean currents to collect trash and could reduce the theoretical cleanup time of plastic in the Pacific Ocean from millennia down to years – their Ocean Cleanup Array could scoop up almost half of the patch’s garbage in 10 years . When they launch their technology in the Pacific later this year, it will be the first experimental cleanup system in that ocean, according to the foundation. The Ocean Cleanup will share more details at the Werkspoorkathedraal , an exhibition in the Netherlands, on May 11 at 2:00 PM EST. According to their website the talk will unveil The Next Phase and share “what we’ve been working on for the past two years, and what will be happening next.” They’ll be live streaming the event on their website . + The Ocean Cleanup Images courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup raises $21.7 million to begin ridding the Pacific Ocean of plastic

Jon and Tracey Stewart celebrate Anna and Maybelle’s "rescueversary"

July 11, 2016 by  
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You know Jon Stewart used to work for The Daily Show, but do you know about The Daily Squeal! ? This is where Jon’s wife Tracey blogs about their New Jersey branch of Farm Sanctuary , a loving forever home for farm animals . For now the blog is mostly populated with adorable videos of two not-so-little pigs named Anna and Maybelle, the Stewarts’ first official adoptees. A video about their rescue was recently updated for the pigs’ one-year “rescueversary” and it’s a squeal. Take a look after the jump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJzhbN_oPu4 Anna and Maybelle most likely fell off a transport truck, and the pair were so terrified, it took two days before they could be coaxed onto a rescue vehicle. When the Stewarts met the two ladies at Farm Sanctuary in New York, they fell in love, and Anna and Maybelle soon moved to their new home in New Jersey. The video shows them chasing after Tracey, playing with the kids, and Jon Stewart even steps in for some piggy love. Related: Jon Stewart and his wife turn an NJ farm into a sanctuary for animals Tracey wrote on The Daily Squeal, “Well we couldn’t stop there…they needed friends. Goat, sheep, and horse “siblings” followed. Our new family will be the first residents of Farm Sanctuary’s New Jersey branch! There are sure to be many triumphs, challenges, and laughs along the way. We’ll let kindness be our inspiration and we’ll share it all with you. Come along for the ride! Love is fun!” + The Daily Squeal Via One Green Planet Images via screengrab Save

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Jon and Tracey Stewart celebrate Anna and Maybelle’s "rescueversary"

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