A rundown 1960s structure is converted into a stunning home that operates almost entirely off the grid

November 22, 2019 by  
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Los Angeles-based AUX Architecture has unveiled an amazing transformation of a 1960s home in Calabasas, California. Once a tract home, the Saddle Peak Residence is now a contemporary, light-filled space that has been equipped with several energy-efficient features, such as solar power , that allow the home to largely function off the grid. Located on a one-acre property, the former home sat on a protected area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Local restrictions prohibit new construction, so the architectural firm was forced to work within the parameters of the existing house. Although modernizing the older home was challenging, the renovation process resulted in reduced construction costs, less landfill waste and a minimized carbon footprint. Related: Anderson Architecture revamps a dim heritage home into a modern sun-soaked abode Using the surrounding natural landscape as a guide, the home was clad in a sleek combination of dark standing seam metal siding and grain cedar panels . As a central theme of the design, the architects wanted to create a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. Accordingly, they used cedar siding inside as well to bring a little warmth to the interior design. Large expanses of glass also create unobstructed views of the surrounding countryside. In addition to serving as a stunning living space for the owners, the home boasts several energy-efficient features. Because of frequent power outages in the area, it was important to provide the home with an off-grid system. Solar panels generate enough energy to power the home throughout the year. A hydronic heat-pump system utilizes water heated by the sun to heat the home in the winter months as well as to heat water for the adjacent swimming pool. + AUX Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Grant Mudford via AUX Architecture

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A rundown 1960s structure is converted into a stunning home that operates almost entirely off the grid

FAAB reimagines Warsaws largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park

November 22, 2019 by  
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In 2018, after celebrating the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence, Warsaw-based firm FAAB Architektura was inspired to look toward the future for a more permanent commemoration of Poland. To that end, the architects have reimagined Pi?sudski Square — Warsaw’s largest public square that is presently underused — as a sustainable city landmark redefined with Europe’s largest cycle park, photovoltaic panels and a new rainwater harvesting system. The redeveloped square would also “promote the creation of urban ecosystems” and become a celebrated meeting place for Polish arts, culture, innovation and more. Dubbed the Poland 2118 Project, FAAB’s reimagining of the Pi?sudski Square would emphasize the history of the site and surroundings, both existing and destroyed during World War II. One historical landmark of particular importance to the redesign would be the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monument dedicated to the unknown soldiers who sacrificed their lives for Poland . The architects intend to honor the monument with a museum accessible to locals and foreign visitors. Related: This smog-fighting music academy will have an air purifier as effective as 33,000 trees “This place is to inspire interactions between people with different interests and to provide for varied forms of curiosity,” the architects explained. “The planned investment promotes the creation of urban ecosystems, where buildings integrated with their surroundings and the city contribute to raising the living standards of all inhabitants and actively support the struggle with challenges arising from climate change . The intended plan is a proposal for the permanent commemoration of Poland regaining its independence in 1918.” To help offset the square’s carbon footprint, the architects propose the addition of a rainwater harvesting system that would eliminate the need to connect the development to the municipal stormwater drainage system. Photovoltaic coatings could be overlaid atop pavements and glazed surfaces to generate renewable energy. An addition of 8,100 square meters of green space would also combat the urban heat island effect and purify the air, while new bicycle infrastructure and narrowed roadways would emphasize non-motorized transit and reduce urban noise pollution. + FAAB Architektura Images via FAAB Architektura

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FAAB reimagines Warsaws largest public square as a solar-powered cycle park

Tofurky Trots offer alternative Thanksgiving races for vegetarians

November 22, 2019 by  
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The average American consumes about 3,000 calories at Thanksgiving dinner, so it is no wonder that Turkey Trots have caught on around the nation. Thanksgiving has now eclipsed Independence Day as the most popular day to run a race, according to Runner’s World , drawing more than one million people to over 1,000 events nationwide. It’s a fun time for walkers and runners of all ages. But as everyone knows, Thanksgiving is not a fun day for turkeys — hence, Tofurky Trots. Sponsored by the maker of the preeminent faux turkey on the market, the Tofurky Trots, a vegetarian alternative race, lag way behind the Turkey Trots in popularity. But they are already become a Thanksgiving tradition for a small group of people. In Portland, Oregon, Northwest VEG is in its sixth year of partnering with Tofurky to host a Thanksgiving race. “It’s my favorite event,” said Jaclyn Leeds, executive director of Northwest VEG . “It’s just a really fun, wholesome way to start off Thanksgiving. And it combines all of my favorite things: food and community and nature and doing something good for animals. And it’s dog -friendly.” Northwest VEG is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing awareness to the power of a plant-based, vegan lifestyle and helping support people in their transition toward making healthier, more sustainable and compassionate food choices. Founded in 2003, it is based in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Tofurky Trot history The first recorded Thanksgiving Day race took place in 1896 in Buffalo, New York . It was an 8K with only six participants and four finishers. But the tradition took hold, eventually leading to the many Turkey Trots of today. Portland’s first Tofurky Trot in 2012 was also an informal event, with just 43 racers. Leeds participated as a trotter that year. She’d just graduated from law school, and she, a few of her classmates and Tofurky founder Seth Tibbott put the race together. “The next year, Tofurky got a little more proper about the whole thing and invited Northwest VEG to be the race organizer,” Leeds said. “So it was Tofurky’s event with Northwest VEG organizing. Now, it’s Northwest VEG’s event with Tofurky as the title sponsor.” While Tofurky Trots have caught on strongly in Portland — the large number of vegetarians and vegans plus the proximity of Tofurky’s headquarters in Hood River, Oregon probably have something to do with that — southern California has also hosted the races. Pasadena organized one in 2013, and this year, Los Angeles vegetarians will trot on November 23. Tofurky Trots in 2019 More than 600 trotters braved Portland’s late-November weather in the last two years. This year, record numbers have preregistered for the race. “This is the first year that we added a promotional turkey trot tee if they signed up by VegFest,” Leeds said, referring to an annual Northwest VEG-sponsored festival in early October. “So that inspired a lot of earlier registrations.” The collectible T-shirt angle is a little sneaky. “I want people to register before they can see the weather forecast,” Leeds said. Indeed, Thanksgiving morning can be rainy, icy and generally unpleasant in Oregon. Trotters are doing more than getting exercise. Their $35 registration fee benefits local animal sanctuaries as well as Northwest VEG. The five original beneficiaries were Wildwood Farm Sanctuary , Out to Pasture Sanctuary , Green Acres Farm Sanctuary , Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary and Sanctuary One . Northwest VEG hasn’t yet announced the beneficiaries for 2019. “This is the first year that I’ve implemented more of an application process,” Leeds said. “There are now so many sanctuaries that I need people to commit to being present at the event and tabling and being willing to promote it.” Participants can sample foods from Tofurky and Portland’s own Snackrilege . GT’s Living Foods will set up a photo booth in conjunction with its Living in Gratitude campaign. Every time somebody posts a picture on social media holding GT’s Living Foods kombucha, the company will donate 10 meals through Feeding America . The Factory Farming Awareness Coalition , an educational nonprofit committed to empowering people to save the environment, animals and their own health, is organizing this year’s Los Angeles Tofurky Trot. It will start with a pre-race yoga session, then kick off at Griffith Park Crystal Springs Picnic Area. Professional body builder and vegan Torre Washington will give a post-trot talk. The weather is much more likely to be favorable at the Los Angeles event, but fun will be had at both locations. Both trots are dog-friendly, assuming the dogs are well-behaved and leashed. Neither race is chip-timed, but the first adult and child finishers will win prizes. There will also be awards for best dog costume (in Portland) and cutest dog (in Los Angeles). Organizing your own trot Tofurky offers two ways to start your own trot, either as a sponsored cause or a self-organized event for fewer than 20 people. Tofurky will support your race by sending T-shirts and creating a race landing page. Why trot? “It’s a really fun way to start off a family holiday,” Leeds said, emphasizing that all levels of fitness are welcome. People feel good about raising money for farm sanctuaries, and they’re still home early enough to cook — and feast. + Northwest VEG Images via Northwest VEG and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Tofurky Trots offer alternative Thanksgiving races for vegetarians

Easy ways to make your home and garden more sustainable this fall

November 7, 2019 by  
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As the final leaves drop from the trees and the temperatures continue to plummet, you’ve likely already prepped the woodpile and dug out your winter wear. But before you head inside to hunker down with movies and hot cocoa, also prep your home and yard to act sustainably throughout the months ahead. Preserve foods Before the first dusting of snow or below-freezing temperatures settle in, be sure to gather every ounce of goodness from your garden . Hang herbs to dry, can fruit from the trees and rely on that new Instant Pot to pressure cook foods for long-term storage. Related: Celebrate the season with this guide to sustainable fall activities Maintain the car When vehicles have to work harder, they are less efficient and consume more gas. Before winter hits, give your car a maintenance check. Test the air pressure in the tires, or swing by the local tire shop for some help. Change the oil and other fluids that are due, change filters, check spark plugs and estimate how much life your battery has left (look for the date of purchase and life expectancy). Clean and repair the furnace and water heater Fall is the perfect time to ensure your heating and water systems are working efficiently. Perform cleaning and maintenance by changing filters and cleaning out air ducts. Prepare for water runoff Head outside while the weather is still above freezing temperatures to make sure rainwater is draining away from your home. This will help avoid flooding. Clean out the French drains that feed water away from your house and into the storm drains, where it will eventually be filtered for reuse. While you’re at it, make sure your rain barrels are set up and working properly, installing a downspout diverter if necessary. Skip the yard chemicals Although the growing season is coming to an end, be aware of any chemicals you are using inside and outside the home. For example, spiders and ants like to transplant themselves this time of year, but if you want to deter them, rely on natural remedies instead of insecticide sprays . Work the compost  While you are busy cleaning up the yard in preparation of winter and the first buds of spring, use a composter to your advantage. Add grass clippings and leaves in thin layers combined with organic food waste and brown products, such as ink-free brown paper bags, toilet paper rolls and thin branches. You can also add the ashes from the burn pile, as long as they are the result of chemical-free wood products. If you have too many grass clippings or leaves for your compost pile, use them as mulch for plants and trees instead. Clean furniture and decking Prevention is key to maintaining your patio furniture and decking. Not only will proper maintenance help them last longer and avoid replacement purchases and landfill waste , but deterring mold and mildew curbs the need for nasty chemicals to treat these problems later on. Clean up your furniture, including lounge sets and dining sets. Cover them and place them on blocks if left on the deck. Sweep the deck’s surface to remove grime, and make sure the wood is sealed to protect against winter moisture. In the spring, your wood surfaces will thank you with easy clean-up and reduced damage. Limit electricity When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, we tend to rely on electricity for heat and light. Be conscious of your consumption by turning off lights when they are not in use, or set them on a timer for automatic savings . Replace your back-porch light with a motion sensor-activated option, and use energy-saving plugs and lightbulbs. Layer up with sweaters, socks and blankets before cranking up the heat, too. Avoid plastic As the season progresses, you’ll be busy performing home improvements, baking and gift-giving. Like other times of the year, try to avoid plastic as much as possible. Look for companies that promote sustainable packaging when ordering online. Skip the bulk warehouse plastic packaging and beware of foam plastic, also known as Styrofoam. Avoid plastic in your dinnerware during holiday celebrations by using washable plates, utensils and glassware. Decorate naturally The late months of fall through early winter are full of fun holidays to celebrate. Decorate your home inside and out using sustainable materials such as wood or metal rather than plastic. Incorporate fruit, nuts, pinecones, leaves, grapevine, hemp and burlap into your crafts. Skip the lawn ornaments that require a power source in favor of live plants and trees, decorated wood cutouts and luminaries made with paper bags and beeswax candles. Another way to limit the amount of energy you need is to insulate your home against heat loss. Have a local energy provider complete an energy assessment on your home. Many even offer free materials for energy savings, like blanket insulation for your water heater or outlet insulation inserts. You can also conserve water by installing water restricting heads on your shower and faucets. Buy local and organic Your garden and the local farmers market might be shut down for the season, but you can still buy produce and even meats from eco-friendly sources. Focus on organic produce , which avoids the use of pesticides and herbicides. If you don’t have any garden stands open in your area, hunt down the best organic options in your local grocery stores. For meat, cut back on consumption in favor of plant-based products . Not only are they healthy for you and the planet, but fresh fruits and vegetables often come package-free (again, watch for plastic and bring your own produce bags to the store). Meat production is blamed for high methane emissions as well as other types of pollution and resource consumption. When you do purchase meat, find a provider who raises livestock sustainably, and purchase it as close to home as possible to avoid the travel footprint. Take your own cups Cold weather and warm drinks go hand-in-hand. Avoid waste and save money by making your own coffee or tea. If the drive-through is your lifeline, at least take your own refillable travel mug instead of relying on single-use options. Speaking of coffee and tea, do the planet a favor by purchasing fair-trade and organic options. To stay hydrated, keep your refillable water bottle handy rather than relying on the single-use bottles at the office (and talk to someone about eliminating those in favor of a refill station). Images via Shutterstock

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Spectacular rammed-earth dome home is tucked deep into a Costa Rican jungle

September 19, 2019 by  
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Costa Rica has long been renowned for its commitment to protecting its natural environment, but one home nestled into 2.5 acres of a permaculture farm is really setting an example for green building. Located in the idyllic area of Diamante Valley, the House Without Shoes is an incredible rammed-earth complex made up of three interconnected domes, which are joined by an open-air deck that looks out over the stunning valley and ocean views. Measuring a total of 2,000 square feet, the House Without Shoes is comprised of three domes that were constructed with bags of rammed earth. All of the domes feature custom-made arched windows and wood frames with screens. They also have skylights that allow natural light to flood the interior spaces. Related: Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume The main dome , which is approximately 22-feet high, houses the primary living area as well as the dining room and kitchen. A beautiful spiral staircase leads up to the second floor, which has enough space for a large office as well as an open-air, 600-square-foot deck that provides spectacular views of the valley leading out to the ocean. The two smaller domes, which house the bedrooms, are separated by the main dome by an outdoor platform. The rammed-earth construction of the structures keeps the interior spaces naturally cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In addition to its tight thermal mass, the home operates on a number of passive and active design principles. The home’s water supply comes from multiple springs found in the valley. Gray water from the sinks and shower are funneled into a collection system that is used for irrigation. At the moment, the house runs on the town’s local grid but has its own self-sustaining system set up. The domes are set in a remote area, tucked into the highest point of a 60-acre organic, permaculture farm in the Diamante Valley. Not only is the house surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and abundant wildlife, but it also enjoys the benefits of organic gardening. The vast site is separated into three garden areas that are planted with everything from yucca and mango to coco palms and perennial greens, not to mention oodles of fresh herbs. + SuperAdobe Dome Home Images via Makenzie Gardner

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Spectacular rammed-earth dome home is tucked deep into a Costa Rican jungle

Railway heat to be repurposed to warm London homes this winter

August 28, 2019 by  
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Besides riding the railway, or ‘tube,’ to go from one end of the U.K. to another, some North Londoners will benefit from excess heat generated by the Northern Line by year’s end with a new initiative to reuse this heat to warm hundreds of houses and businesses in Islington. The plan, which is already underway, uses inexpensive, low-carbon heat or “ waste heat ” produced by the railway to pump into hundreds of Islington homes. Around 700 homes in the city currently use heat created in the Bunhill Energy Centre, which makes electricity. Another 450 homes are expected to use heat from the railway this winter. Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 The Greater London Authority has reported that about 38 percent of heating demands in the city could be met through waste heat. Utilizing alternative options of renewable heat has become increasingly important after the U.K. government’s decision to ban gas-fired boilers from newly built homes by 2025. Tim Rotheray, director of the Association for Decentralized Energy, told The Guardian that heat from the railway as well as other heating plans are gaining steam across the country as low-cost options in fighting climate change . “Almost half the energy used in the U.K. is for heat, and a third of U.K. emissions are from heating,” Rotheray said. “With the government declaring that we must be carbon-neutral within 30 years, we need to find a way to take the carbon out of our heating system. The opportunity that has become clear to the decentralized energy community is the idea of capturing waste heat and putting it to use locally.” Besides the railway, other heat sources are coming from some unusual places throughout the country. For example, take a sugar factory in Wissington, Norfolk that uses extra heat made from cooking syrup and pumps it into a greenhouse used to grow medical cannabis. According to The Guardian, another source of heat being considered in towns and cities is geothermal energy that is trapped in water at the bottom of old mines. In Edinburgh, engineers have created a heat network using pooled water at one mine as a large, underground thermal battery. The city council of Stoke-on-Trent, England estimates its geothermal energy project could reduce carbon emissions by 12,000 tons annually. Via The Guardian Image via Axel Rouvin

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Railway heat to be repurposed to warm London homes this winter

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

Rugged Wilderness House optimizes bush views and passive solar principles

March 7, 2019 by  
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Drawing inspiration from the midcentury Case Study houses, Osmington-based Archterra Architects designed the Wilderness House, a contemporary elevated home with treetop canopy views. Located on a secluded bush block in coastal banksia woodland near Australia’s iconic Margaret River, the home was created to take advantage of its rich and remote environment using large windows and a natural materials palette. The client’s desires for long-term durability and low-maintenance also informed the design and construction of the home, which was crafted with energy efficiency in mind. Covering an area of 1,743 square feet, with much of the footprint elevated on the second level, the Wilderness House features a simple rectangular plan that stretches east to west. The second floor interior layout follows the trajectory of the sun: the master suite is located on the east side to allow the homeowners to rise with the sun, while the open-plan living areas are placed on the opposite end to overlook sunset views. Access to the upper floor is reached via a raw galvanized expanded mesh walkway ramp. On the ground level are a single guest bedroom suite and a series of slender galvanized columns that support the insulated upper floor concrete slab. “Raw galvanized steel Juliet balconies in front of sliding glass doors to the bedroom, bathroom and living room enable the entire house to be opened up to the outdoors and the constant summer hum of cicadas and chatter of birds amongst the trees,” the architects explained in a project statement. In addition to floor-to-ceiling sliding glass , the exterior is clad in zero-maintenance and bushfire-resistant Colorbond sheeting, hot dip galvanized steel, raw compressed cement panels and raw spotted gum decking. Related: Solar-powered Bush House exemplifies chic eco-friendly living in the Australian outback For energy efficiency, the architects installed roof overhangs that shield the walls of low-E glass from the hot summer sun, yet still allow the winter sun to penetrate the charcoal-pigmented floor slab. The open floor plan also ensures that natural light and cooling winds can penetrate all parts of the home. + Archterra Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Douglas Mark Black

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Rugged Wilderness House optimizes bush views and passive solar principles

A ceramic facade blends this dome home into the Spanish coastline

March 7, 2019 by  
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Cloud 9 architect Enric Ruiz-Geli has recently unveiled a beautiful home design in the gorgeous Spanish region of Costa Brava. Located on a rustic lot of land overlooking the sea, the dome home is an experimental prototype that combines traditional building techniques with advanced digital and sustainable manufacturing . The Stgilat Aiguablava villa is a domed structure inspired by traditional Mediterranean architecture, normally marked by ceramic cladding, flowing shapes and ample natural light. For the experimental villa, Ruiz-Geli wanted to combine all of these aspects while reinterpreting the local traditional vault system, known as the Volta Catalana. Related: These beautiful desert biodomes will be 100% self-sustaining Using advanced fiberglass engineering , the structure was built with flowing vaulted volumes, adding movement and light to the design. The curvaceous arches, however, did present a challenge for the artisan ceramist Toni Cumella, who was charged with creating a ceramic cover that would allow the home to blend in with the surroundings. Similar to the exterior, the interior of the home is also marked by high arched ceilings. The living space is immersed in  natural light thanks to glazed walls that look out over the landscape to the sea. By using a modern version of the Volta Catalana, the home is energy-efficient. Natural light and air flow throughout the residence in the warm summer months, and a strong thermal envelope insulates the interior in the winter months. Also inside, a specially-designed ceramic piece was installed to to achieve strong, insulative acoustics. An experimental pavilion is separated from the main house by a swimming pool, which uses naturally filtered rainwater. Similar in style to the home, the innovative pavilion was designed in collaboration with the prestigious Art Center College of Design Pasadena. The team built this structure with an inflatable formwork injected with ecological concrete . This building method gives the structure its organic shape, that, according to the architects, was inspired by the existing pine trees that surround the complex. + Enric Ruiz-Geli Images via Cloud 9 Architects

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A ceramic facade blends this dome home into the Spanish coastline

Recycling Mystery: LED Bulbs

February 13, 2019 by  
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With limited sunlight during the winter months, increased lighting is … The post Recycling Mystery: LED Bulbs appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Recycling Mystery: LED Bulbs

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