HempWood offers a sustainable wood alternative with endless applications

February 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

With an educational background in vinyl siding and wood flooring, Fibonacci owner Greg Wilson has developed HempWood, an American-produced wood material made from a fast-growing agricultural product. Hemp has long been acclaimed for its versatility, but regulations in the United States have historically hampered research and development on the material. Now, hemp may be the material surrounding you inside your home. Replacing wood with other natural materials The company’s name is Fibonacci, although it’s now mostly known as HempWood with a focus on its primary product. No trees were harmed in the making of HempWood, since it is made of all-natural, U.S.-grown hemp, and the uses are just beginning to take shape.  Related: Levi’s announces product line made with Cottonized Hemp In the grand scheme of things, HempWood sees the opportunity to sit alongside the major players in the wood industry. Its current products include flooring, furniture, countertops and accent walls. Basically anything for indoor use made out of hardwoods, tropical woods, cork or other agricultural products, such as bamboo and eucalyptus , can be made using HempWood instead. Wilson originally worked in China with another plant-to-product material, bamboo. While great for many things, bamboo lacked strength as a commercial product. Wilson was part of a team that unlocked a process that turned bamboo into a more durable product. Later, he used a similar process in working with strand wood eucalyptus. As hemp availability and an interest in the possibilities for the material grew, Wilson moved back to the U.S. and opened shop in Kentucky to use his prior experiences in the advancement of hemp development. The environmental impact of hemp Even with Wilson’s prior dealings with similarly behaving materials, hemp has presented some unique challenges. Plus, launching a business in 2020 was no easy feat. Wilson told Cool Hunting in a recent interview, “It’s all based off this one algorithm that allows you to transform a plant fiber into a wood composite,” he explained. “You’ve got to modify it a little bit for the different fiber coming in, but for hemp we’ve also had to duck and weave around government regulation, COVID, wildfires and everything else 2020 has to offer.” Wilson and his team were already aware of the sustainability aspects of hemp, like the fact that plants grow quickly and are ready for harvest in only 120 days. Compared to traditional tree-based woods such as oak, hickory and maple that grow for hundreds of years, hemp can provide a renewable option for the wood industry. Plus, as a plant, hemp naturally helps create cleaner air by removing carbon and releasing oxygen. Hemp’s versatility means every part of the plant is used, leaving no waste behind. While HempWood primarily relies on the bottom part of the plant, the upper parts of thhe plant has other commercial uses, such as chicken feed. From a sustainability aspect, HempWood offers additional advantages. Harvesting trees damages the natural habitat of plants and animals . For example, removing a single large oak tree takes away a food and housing source. Plus, it eliminates protection for the plants growing underneath it. Forests are a carefully balanced ecosystem, so removing a single component can easily upset the stability within the region. As an agricultural product, hemp doesn’t have that lasting effect.  As a bio-based product, HempWood avoids creating future issues with its natural ability to biodegrade . Even the non-toxic, soy-based adhesive can dissolve back into the soil. “It’s a wood-composite comprised of greater than 80% hemp fiber,” Wilson explained. “We take the whole stalk and put it through a crushing machine which breaks open the cell structure. Then we dunk it into these enormous vats of soy protein, mixed with water and with the organic acid used by the paper towel industry. It’s essentially papier-mâché.” Corporate responsibility Fibonacci chose a location within 100 miles of the hemp farms it relies on for materials. This decreases transportation costs and the carbon emissions that result from shipping materials across the country. The company is currently looking into expanding with more facilities to create a web of strategically placed hubs on each coast and around the U.S. Inside the HempWood facility, the company is committed to a small carbon footprint . In addition to basic steps like using low-consuming LED bulbs throughout the buildings, the company has installed a bio-burner. This device not only vents heat throughout the facility, but it also provides energy savings and comprehensive waste reduction by burning material off-cuts onsite. The team at HempWood has enjoyed promoting an alternative for the green building community as well as creating a base product that people can get creative with. Customers report making many types of products out of the material, including duck calls, art projects, bowls and picture frames. There is no cap on the number of applications this material can be used for in the building industry and beyond. + HempWood Images via HempWood

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HempWood offers a sustainable wood alternative with endless applications

A three-handed robot quickly and efficiently sorts recycling

February 15, 2021 by  
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Robots contribute to efficiency and productivity in businesses around the globe daily. So when Matanya Horowitz, founder of AMP Robotics, discovered how inefficient the recycling business had become, he put his company to work to develop a solution. The result is a three-handed robot that views, makes decisions and sorts recycling on the line. Industry studies have shown a huge amount of recycling waste. Although education and improvements in curbside recycling availability have increased the amount of recycling at the business and consumer levels, a huge portion of that is pulled off the recycling conveyor belt and ends up in the trash anyway. Additionally, the stricter purity specifications from international buyers, such as China, have created more of a waste stream. Related: Oil and plastic industry spent millions to mislead the public about plastic recycling “There’s a tremendous amount of value captured in paper, and plastic, and metal, that right now is lost at the landfill” Horowitz explained in a video. “The trouble is that the value of this material is really eroded by the cost of sorting it out in these recycling centers.” This tedious manual sorting can now be done by a robot that analyzes and sorts 80 plastic , metal and paper items of recycling per minute, which is estimated to be twice the rate of human sorters performing the same task. Plus, accuracy is rated at 99%; the company reported, “We can recognize and recover material as small as a bottlecap and as unique as a Keurig coffee pod or Starbucks cup that may require secondary processing to ensure they are recycled.” The robot uses the same “seeing” vision as self-driving cars, which allows it to analyze and make decisions about materials as they approach. It then either tells its suction cup ‘hands’ to pick an item up or allows it to float by. The system is also equipped with artificial intelligence that allows it to continuously improve accuracy, including the ability to identify squished or faded containers. With the improved speed and efficiency, this innovation could dramatically increase the amount of recycled and reused materials. In turn, this means a reduction in waste and carbon emissions at the landfill. “Globally, more than $200 billion worth of recyclable materials goes unrecovered annually,” Horowitz told Inverse. “A.I.-driven automation enables the efficient recovery of more material, which increases recycling rates and reduces human impact on the environment.” While the entire system is high-tech and sounds a bit sci-fi, the installation is easily mounted over conveyor belts in as little as 48 hours. Following a weekend installation, recycling centers can implement the robot for $6,000 a month for an estimated cost savings of 70%. However, AMP Robotics recognizes the cost of human job loss and encourages employee retraining programs. In the spring of 2020, AMP Robotics reported robot installations in more than 20 states, estimating a reduction of half a million tons of greenhouse gases . The company claims to have processed more than one billion individual items in the waste stream over a 12-month period. Robots are here to stay in nearly every aspect of our lives, from cars to vacuums to food delivery, an idea further supported by the fact that the company entered into a contract with one of the largest waste management companies in the country, Waste Connections, to install 24 robots on recycling lines last year alone. + AMP Robotics Via Inverse Images via AMP Robotics

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A three-handed robot quickly and efficiently sorts recycling

This Colombian modular home is surrounded by Monkeypod trees

February 10, 2021 by  
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Located in Valle del Cauca, Colombia , the Mon Paradis House is made up of two spacious modules connected by a wooden deck and center pergola. Colectivo Creativo Arquitectos designed this modular home to highlight circular economy principles and other concepts that the architecture firm already strives to embody, such as sustainable construction methods and materials. Apart from the series of massive monkeypod trees that protect the exterior of the home, the landscaping also features a verdant philodendron  garden . Additionally, the region in which the home was built is famous for its stunning sunsets; so stunning, in fact, that the modules are constructed especially to respect the original environment of the site and complement the existing landscape rather than impact it. Related: An indoor-outdoor home in Colombia is remodeled with local reclaimed wood One module exists as the main living space, with floor to ceiling windows, a kitchen and an adjoining side porch for lounging or entertaining. The large windows look out onto the swimming pool to the back and another grove of  native monkeypod trees  to the front. The neighboring module houses private sleeping quarters with a smaller deck near the pool. Both modules feature sustainable wood panels in their walls and ceiling. Meanwhile, the entire structure is slightly elevated off the ground to keep the land as undisturbed as possible.  Inside, the spaces are decorated with soft tones of light gray and beige, complemented by houseplants and  wooden  furniture. The square, clean-lined style of the outside continues inside as well through simple, straightforward design choices. Every area of the home lets natural materials shine. In the center of the two modules sits the flowering plants garden and enough room for an outdoor furniture space where inhabitants can fully embrace the mountain views in the distance. This center terrace’s pergola makes use of black anodized  aluminum , a highly sustainable and recyclable material.  + Colectivo Creativo Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Photography by Andres Valbuena

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This Colombian modular home is surrounded by Monkeypod trees

Le Littoral is a modern retreat tucked into an idyllic region of Quebec

January 29, 2021 by  
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Located in a region of Quebec known for its rolling hills and stunning views, this modern, minimalist retreat overlooks the area where the ocean meets the St. Lawrence River. The residence is known as Le Littoral and was designed by Architecture49, a firm based in Western Canada that specializes in creating wooden structures with off-center volumes. The clients are a couple who wanted to create a home with a contemporary style that complements the natural setting of rural Charlevoix. They wanted it to be used as both as a vacation residence and a luxury rental for visitors to the popular area. Architecture49 brought that vision to life by taking inspiration from the region’s historic architecture and farm buildings, then adding modern elements. Related: A lakeside, prefab home in Quebec aims for LEED Gold With sustainability in mind, the architects were sure to take highlights such as woodcutting and landscaping into account to minimize the impact of construction on the natural surroundings. To address the sloping nature of the setting, the home was elevated, and a lack of a basement eliminated the need for excavation. The building’s layout minimizes energy consumption while still taking advantage of lakeside views in the front and a private forest in the back. La Littoral features a swimming pool , sauna, fireplace and a spa, with a kitchen inside the cantilevered upper volume. As avid foodies, the clients requested a fully functional kitchen with amenities that would allow professional chefs and amateur cooks alike to take advantage of Charlevoix’s abundance of local ingredients. In addition to turning to local businesses and artisans, the architects relied on locally sourced FSC -certified cedar and pine for the structure’s skeleton. The kitchen features Quebec granite countertops, and the roof is made of sheet metal. The home’s automation systems are produced by local companies as well. + Architecture49 Photography by Stéphane Brügger via v2com

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Le Littoral is a modern retreat tucked into an idyllic region of Quebec

This modular prefab office space offers sustainable solutions

December 30, 2020 by  
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London studio Boano Prišmontas is no stranger to projects that highlight sustainable  workspaces . Once the pandemic hit, the need for affordable, easy-to-assemble remote work solutions became even more urgent. Enter “My Room in The Garden,” a low-cost prefab home office that can fit a yard of any size and takes less than a day to install. Although many countries around the world have already eased  COVID-19  lockdown restrictions, there are still a huge number of people working from home without a clear idea of when they’ll be returning to the office. Spouses are sharing spaces with their children, setting up makeshift desks in the living room or on the couch (not the best way to stay productive or comfortable during times of uncertainty). “My Room in The Garden” offers a great solution to workers who might not have the time or money to invest in long term changes to the home. Related: Work from home in this minimalist, modular 15-sided cabin Boano Prišmontas believes that the solution can be found outside the home rather than inside since many London houses have backyard gardens, courtyards, shared amenity spaces, pocket parks and even rooftops that provide additional space. The idea isn’t just for individuals, either, but for  businesses  wishing to reduce rent costs for big offices by purchasing home office pods for their employees instead. Basic modules start at £5K for 1.8×2.4 meters of space and can be customized according to need. All versions come at a fixed height of 2.5 meters — the max height of a structure that doesn’t require planning permission. The standard finish for the pods includes corrugated clear polycarbonate cladding to protect the interior from the elements while still allowing  natural light  to flood the space. Thanks to the modular design, the wall options range from peg wall finishes and mirrors to plain or decorated  wood , all according to the customer’s taste. Higher spec modules can include energy-efficient insulated walls, roofs or floor panels as well as glass doors or windows for an extra cost. Even better, each component of the home office is created with minimal material waste through geometrically efficient design. + My Room in the Garden Via Dwell Images via Boano Prišmontas

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This modular prefab office space offers sustainable solutions

Architect designs his own breezy, plant-filled home in Los Angeles

November 18, 2020 by  
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David Montalba, founding principal of Montalba Architects, recently completed a 5,450-square-foot personal residence in Santa Monica, California. The design is based around a vertical courtyard concept with movable wooden screens that make up the facade. These screens help cool the home in an energy-efficient way during the area’s hot summers. Several additional green design elements, including a Tesla Powerwall and solar panels, further reduce the home’s carbon footprint. At three stories, the home seamlessly merges indoor and outdoor with the series of operable wooden screens, providing just enough privacy from neighbors. The vertical courtyard connects all levels of the house while a concrete base acts as an anchor to the lower levels. Landscaped balconies and the enclosed courtyard are divided by lush plants and connected with a bridge. The result is an L-shaped plan centered around the courtyard, locking into the site while the second floor hovers above the concrete footing and living quarters on the ground floor. Related: Santa Barbara home is surrounded by wooden screens for natural climate control   “Given the lot’s size and the neighborhood, the biggest challenge was making sure we didn’t overbuild and maintained some degree of privacy with our immediate neighbors,” Montalba said. “This was achieved by creating a basement level and vertical courtyard in which the house is organized. Los Angeles has a long history of residential courtyard buildings and that in combination with the privacy it offered helped drive this concept.” The louvers provide cross-ventilation over the footprint of the house, while the strategically placed pool provides evaporative cooling to create a breezy corridor through the living area. Adjacent terraced gardens and the perimeter of the home are landscaped with native plants for shading, cooling and stormwater retention. Other eco-friendly features include a rainwater collection system for potable water, a Tesla Powerwall , solar panels and radiant heating and cooling systems. A vertical garden adds more plant life to the home, while a thermal mass in the basement helps further achieve comfortable temperatures year-round. Soft tones and organic colors are featured in the interior design, with floor-to-ceiling length windows to let in plenty of natural light. + Montalba Architects Photography by Kevin Scott via v2com

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

November 17, 2020 by  
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The Gare Maritime railway station in Brussels has seen a huge transformation. The building, formerly one of Europe’s largest railway stations for goods, has been renovated into a new city district shopping and event development made of cross-laminated timber. Reimagined as a multi-purpose public space for companies and events, the building is covered entirely in  wood  and highlights sustainable architectural practices such as solar energy and rainwater collection systems. According to the architects at Neutelings Riedijk, the structure is the largest  cross-laminated timber  project in Europe. Architects added a series of 12 new building volumes to accommodate a new program of 45,000 square meters. Along with the existing halls, roofs and side aisles, the new design creates a structure that mimics a small city with streets and parks. Related: Sweden’s tallest timber building could save 550 tons of CO2 The choice of wood came down to sustainability and weight, as a concrete construction would have been five times heavier. Cross-laminated timber with a facade finishing in oak offered the perfect solution to create a prefabricated and dry construction method with shorter building time. As a result, the design features demountable connections and modular wooden building elements to promote sustainability. The central space is reserved for public events and contains a green walking boulevard on both sides. Routes measure 16 meters wide, giving pedestrians plenty of room to enjoy the spacious inner garden complete with a hundred trees. Overall, the space includes a total of 10 gardens based on four themes: woodland, flowers, grass and fragrance. As Brussels enjoys a Mediterranean climate, designers chose plants that adapt to the specific growing conditions. The Gare Maritime also remains completely energy neutral and fossil-free thanks to glass facades and solar cells, with a total area of 17,000 square meters of roof space dedicated to  solar panels . The building uses geothermal energy and a rainwater collection system to water the massive gardens. + Neutelings Riedijk Architects Via ArchDaily Photo: Filip Dujardin/Sarah Blee/Tim Fisher | © Neutelings Riedijk Architects

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

November 17, 2020 by  
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The Gare Maritime railway station in Brussels has seen a huge transformation. The building, formerly one of Europe’s largest railway stations for goods, has been renovated into a new city district shopping and event development made of cross-laminated timber. Reimagined as a multi-purpose public space for companies and events, the building is covered entirely in  wood  and highlights sustainable architectural practices such as solar energy and rainwater collection systems. According to the architects at Neutelings Riedijk, the structure is the largest  cross-laminated timber  project in Europe. Architects added a series of 12 new building volumes to accommodate a new program of 45,000 square meters. Along with the existing halls, roofs and side aisles, the new design creates a structure that mimics a small city with streets and parks. Related: Sweden’s tallest timber building could save 550 tons of CO2 The choice of wood came down to sustainability and weight, as a concrete construction would have been five times heavier. Cross-laminated timber with a facade finishing in oak offered the perfect solution to create a prefabricated and dry construction method with shorter building time. As a result, the design features demountable connections and modular wooden building elements to promote sustainability. The central space is reserved for public events and contains a green walking boulevard on both sides. Routes measure 16 meters wide, giving pedestrians plenty of room to enjoy the spacious inner garden complete with a hundred trees. Overall, the space includes a total of 10 gardens based on four themes: woodland, flowers, grass and fragrance. As Brussels enjoys a Mediterranean climate, designers chose plants that adapt to the specific growing conditions. The Gare Maritime also remains completely energy neutral and fossil-free thanks to glass facades and solar cells, with a total area of 17,000 square meters of roof space dedicated to  solar panels . The building uses geothermal energy and a rainwater collection system to water the massive gardens. + Neutelings Riedijk Architects Via ArchDaily Photo: Filip Dujardin/Sarah Blee/Tim Fisher | © Neutelings Riedijk Architects

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

November 17, 2020 by  
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The Gare Maritime railway station in Brussels has seen a huge transformation. The building, formerly one of Europe’s largest railway stations for goods, has been renovated into a new city district shopping and event development made of cross-laminated timber. Reimagined as a multi-purpose public space for companies and events, the building is covered entirely in  wood  and highlights sustainable architectural practices such as solar energy and rainwater collection systems. According to the architects at Neutelings Riedijk, the structure is the largest  cross-laminated timber  project in Europe. Architects added a series of 12 new building volumes to accommodate a new program of 45,000 square meters. Along with the existing halls, roofs and side aisles, the new design creates a structure that mimics a small city with streets and parks. Related: Sweden’s tallest timber building could save 550 tons of CO2 The choice of wood came down to sustainability and weight, as a concrete construction would have been five times heavier. Cross-laminated timber with a facade finishing in oak offered the perfect solution to create a prefabricated and dry construction method with shorter building time. As a result, the design features demountable connections and modular wooden building elements to promote sustainability. The central space is reserved for public events and contains a green walking boulevard on both sides. Routes measure 16 meters wide, giving pedestrians plenty of room to enjoy the spacious inner garden complete with a hundred trees. Overall, the space includes a total of 10 gardens based on four themes: woodland, flowers, grass and fragrance. As Brussels enjoys a Mediterranean climate, designers chose plants that adapt to the specific growing conditions. The Gare Maritime also remains completely energy neutral and fossil-free thanks to glass facades and solar cells, with a total area of 17,000 square meters of roof space dedicated to  solar panels . The building uses geothermal energy and a rainwater collection system to water the massive gardens. + Neutelings Riedijk Architects Via ArchDaily Photo: Filip Dujardin/Sarah Blee/Tim Fisher | © Neutelings Riedijk Architects

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Brussels train station transformed into wooden shopping and event center

These elevated wooden cabins can only accessed via hiking trail

November 5, 2020 by  
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Norweigian architectural firm Spacegroup has released renderings of the Movikheien Cabins, a development of raised wooden cabins in Hagefjorden, Norway. The property design purposefully does not include car-accessible roads; this limited access, along with the elevated cabins, aims to exhibit minimal physical encroachment on the natural terrain. According to the architects, the global COVID-19 pandemic that initially hit in mid-March has opened new opportunities in local travel industries despite having negative consequences on the economy. While international travel became limited due to pandemic restrictions, leading to uncertainty in the airline industry and a historically low value for the Norweigan Krone, the locals began to turn to domestic travel to explore the destinations in their own backyards. Related: Snøhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers The new development will boast environmentally friendly design and social inclusivity. In the past, cabin and campground developments meant manipulating the natural terrain by cutting down large areas of forest to produce oversized structures with large carbon footprints. The Movikheien Cabins project breaks this trend, with traditional “light touch” small units measuring about 62 square meters each and made using 100% wood construction. Sixteen new cabins are proposed for the development, each sitting on elevated columns above the terrain to preserve the landscape while remaining connected to the forest. This shared-yet-separate space provides a social community element all while protecting the land. Even better, a principle concept in the planning is dedicated to ensuring that the space would not be accessible to cars, since building roads would require too much intervention in the landscape. Instead, the site is accessed solely by a hiking trail designed by the client and architects as well as a rock climber and arborist who walked and mapped the location. This aspect also contributes to a lower construction footprint, as all building components must be of a dimension to be transported without the use of heavy machinery. + Spacegroup Images via Spacegroup

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These elevated wooden cabins can only accessed via hiking trail

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