This barn achieved LEED Platinum with its Zen design

May 13, 2022 by  
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The Zen Barn by Christopher Simmonds Architect is a home in a historic Ottawa neighborhood. It achieved LEED Platinum for homes status while maximizing on a casual, modern style. The second story is cantilevered over the first story to shade it from the sun, while a recessed courtyard allows for large windows on the south for passive solar heating. All of this work is invisible, with a light, effortless and tranquil effect to the final home. “The linear composition of this contemporary home is interrupted by the vertical volumes of light wells, the stairs and the courtyard ,” the architect said. “The resulting interpenetration of views, light and space along the south side of the home creates strong indoor-outdoor connections. The building’s orientation allows passive solar exposure at the east, west and south sides during winter months.” Related: Barn in Canada blends traditional and modern styles White lacquer and stained ash cabinetry create a sense of ease and flow through the interconnected kitchen, living and dining areas. The inside is bright, clean as a warm and inviting family space. There are three levels to the home for a total of 2,300 square feet. However, the home retains a welcoming sense of intimacy through the use of warm woods in the kitchen, dining room and living room. The long and lean exterior is clad with reclaimed white oak barn boards and lets in maximum natural daylight. Paired with sharp angles and glass balconies, the Zen Barn is what both relaxing and formal living spaces can be. The home has a rain shower, floating vanities and an open staircase that allows for light to flow from every angle around the central axis of the home. The Zen Barn achieved an EnerGuide rating achieved of 82, 10 points higher than what is required by the Ontario Building Code. + Christopher Simmonds Architecture Photography by Peter Fritz

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This barn achieved LEED Platinum with its Zen design

Reimagine project revamps outdoor spaces in Baltimore

May 9, 2022 by  
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The city of Baltimore , South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, Parks and People Foundation and James Corner Field Operations unveiled an urban renewal project. It will renovate more than 11 miles of shoreline along the Patapsco River in South Baltimore. Called the Middle Branch, the area traditionally was inaccessible to the predominantly minority communities nearby. Incorporating these previously segregated populations into the hub of river activity was at the core of the planning process. So much so, in fact, the planning team eliminated the term “masterplan,” deeming it a slave reference, and replaced it with the project name “Reimagine Middle Branch.” Related: 3D printing is behind plans for futuristic Sunflower Village The overall design plan features a connection to nature with new parks, playgrounds, fishing piers, wetlands (to improve flood resiliency) and pedestrian bridges. Planners are including a sports area with a baseball field called Black Sox Park, which is named for the Negro League Baseball team that used to play there. The park also takes advantage of other historically and culturally significant sites in the area through a connection with the African American Heritage Trail. Although a primary goal of the project is to increase equitability within the region, attention is equally given to public health and the environment . A press release outlined the three guiding principles of the project: “Protect and connect the shoreline; transform barriers into connections; and strengthen communities with parks and programs.” “Our work to ‘reimagine Middle Branch’ is a key component of our larger strategies to revamp and reinvigorate recreation opportunities and outdoor spaces throughout our city,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This is about providing clean, accessible and modern spaces that show our residents, particularly our young people, that they matter. That we care about them and are going to do everything in our power to give them the best quality-of-life possible.” The project has been in the works for many years and the public has repeatedly been invited to contribute to the conversation. There is hope of balancing the needs of the community with the goals of investors and other stakeholders.  “The plan integrates physical planning with economic development that prioritizes job creation, entrepreneurism and increasing the future earning potential of local residents,” said Brad Rogers, executive director at South Baltimore Gateway Partnership. “Alongside new public space amenities, we are equally focused on local workforce development and business incubation opportunities, such as green jobs involved in maintaining and monitoring the restored wetlands and pop-up markets for local vendors.” Funding for this work comes from a variety of sources. This includes casino local impact grant funds, managed by the City of Baltimore, and by South Baltimore Gateway Partnership. There is also a Maryland state capital grant and a mixture of grants secured for wetland construction and trail projects. Finally, there will be a new boathouse, fishing piers, playgrounds , gathering spaces, pedestrian and biking trails. It will connect several parks and other surrounding points of interest, skate park, wetland areas and a marketplace. In addition, traffic flow will be redesigned and slowed for safety throughout the area.  + James Corner Field Operations Images via James Corner Field Operations

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Reimagine project revamps outdoor spaces in Baltimore

Massproductions chair is slow furniture at its finest

March 7, 2022 by  
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Massproductions founders created a slow furniture company that looks not only at style and functionality, but how furniture will last in the long run. The company is sustainable from the design to the production to the shipping. And their 4PM chair takes this idea to the next level, creating a comfortable chaise lounge chair with connected foot rest. “We are in no rush here at Massproductions, because being slow is not necessarily a bad thing,” the designers said. “At Massproductions, we take pride in thinking twice before releasing a new piece of furniture onto the market. Even if that means that we develop only a few products every year.” Related: This outdoor furniture line uses upcycled rice hulls that outperform wood Massproductions created a new service called the Face Lift Network, a recommended group of upholsterers in 12 different markets . The idea is to encourage customers to find help locally for their furniture repairs and keep them from throwing away usable furniture. As a result, Massproductions created a series called The Crown Jewels. They took eight worn Crown Armchairs and commissioned four artists to reinterpret and restore the chairs. The company will continue to partner with artists to create art pieces out of used furniture, showing the value and beauty in repurposing old furniture. In late 2020, Massproductions began to account for the CO2 emissions of their full product line. This process is a partnership with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology “to develop a tool for identifying the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of our furniture. Three aspects of the production process were identified as emission contributors: materials, electricity and transport,” according to their website. Massproductions continued this work together with the Danish company MALBAR to fully green the entire production line. What could take this one step further? Founder Chris Martin wanted to create a comfortable chaise lounge that fits in a public environment, without unnecessary upholstery that would eventually need to be replaced. Martin chose to upholster only the headrest, leaving the rest of the chair in an ergonomic shape that would still provide comfort. The 4PM chair comes in Douglas fir and cherry. It also has both curved and flat surfaces, with a narrow footrest portion to allow the user’s feet to fit comfortably off the sides as needed. The footrest is also horizontal to serve as a seating area of its own or as a table surface. It’s a multi-purpose design that creates a long-lasting seating option for even heavily-trafficked areas. Easy to clean, you won’t have to throw it away after a few years of heavy use. The leather headrest is adjustable and held in place by an enclosed steel weight. So whether it’s for your own home or a public space, the 4PM chair or any of Massproductions’ products will create a sustainable furniture option. + Massproductions Images via Massproductions

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Massproductions chair is slow furniture at its finest

Emerging leaders weigh in on what’s missing from corporate climate action

March 4, 2022 by  
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Climate action requires listening to and learning from one another. That’s part of the work being done at GreenBiz Group’s annual gathering for sustainability practitioners.

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Emerging leaders weigh in on what’s missing from corporate climate action

Why is composting so hard in the United States?

March 4, 2022 by  
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Just 27 percent of people in the United States has access to some form of composting service.

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Why is composting so hard in the United States?

In Conversation, Advancing Racial Equity and Inclusivity in Companies and Communities

March 2, 2022 by  
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Hear from Kim Thompson, PwC Principal and Fellow at the CEO Action for Racial Equity, and Jorge Luis Fontanez, CEO of B Lab on their work in advancing racial equity and inclusivity in companies and communities. Jarami Bond will also share the latest on GreenBiz.org and its work driving diversity, equity and inclusion as a lever for advancing environmental justice.

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In Conversation, Advancing Racial Equity and Inclusivity in Companies and Communities

New York design studio recycles waste into beauty

February 23, 2022 by  
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Slash Objects, an award-winning design studio based in New York, recycles materials to create durable quality products and furniture . Some of their items includes coasters, placemats and mirrors. “Our work is rooted in a fascination with materials and how they are brought together,” the designers said of their work. Related: ChopValue recycles 25 million chopsticks into furniture and decor Featured in Elle Décor, Cultured, Dwell and Vogue, Slash Objects triumphs aesthetic with an eco-friendly mission. Founder, Designer and Architect Arielle Assouline-Lichten wanted design to transform how humans experience the world . Assouline-Lichten works with multidisciplinary design firm Slash Projects to create her beautiful objects de art. She hopes to reframe our understanding of the resources we have through tactile stories. Therefore, creating a sense of intrigue into our material world. Now she’s everywhere from FastCompany, Metropolis and The New York Times to HBO Max. Assouline-Lichten aims to change how we think of the objects we use every day and uses recycled materials for that reason. “We believe in a future of beautiful products made using sustainable materials which take the environment’s wellbeing into consideration,” Slash Objects said. “We believe that design can change the world through the choices we make.” Furthermore, caring for the environment means starting by avoiding waste in the first place with a long-lasting design that diverts waste from landfills . As a result, the collection of pieces is designed in New York City and made by hand from recycled tires and similar materials to repurpose our waste into beauty. Not only are they sustainable, the pieces from Slash Objects are touchable, durable and usable. + Slash Objects Images via Slash Objects

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New York design studio recycles waste into beauty

How to prepare future engineers to tackle problems such as climate change

February 17, 2022 by  
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Future engineers need to understand their work’s human impact. One professor explains his practice: a ‘sociotechnical approach.’

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How to prepare future engineers to tackle problems such as climate change

Biophilic design helps this office building breathe

February 4, 2022 by  
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The Shenzhen Rural Commercial Bank Headquarters in China is a living, breathing building by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The project is a 94,049-square-meter biophilic design made to respond to the area’s tropical climate through multiple unique and healthy ventilation strategies. With a glass exterior wrapped in a crisscrossed grid-shaped facade, this building is anything but boring. The facade elevates the building’s design and has a practical, sustainable purpose. Automated louvers in the vertical atria cross the full height of the tower, along with mechanized window vents on every office floor. This allows the building to breathe. Related: Biophilic Treehouse imagines a greener office experience The building’s exterior grid is designed to avoid obstructing the view while still providing shade. Designers say they were inspired by water and wind. They even included a multi-story interior water wall in the lobby. Most unique about the building is its seasonal air flushing function in the common areas and office levels. This keeps fresh air circulating for optimal occupant health . The mechanized window vents allow the building to “breathe” on Shenzhen’s good weather days and avoid the typical stuffy office feeling. The designers say their work often focuses on structural engineering solutions. This project’s solar shading reduces solar gain by 34% and reduces glare without losing natural daylight. Another benefit of this design is the lack of columns in the interior space, which allows flexible interior design options on any floor. Additionally, automated solar control blinds operate around the clock to maintain optimal light levels. For maximum relaxation and comfort in the building, trees and ground cover have been planted in the lobby. Small gardens blend into a nearby park outdoors and help the otherwise polished and clean office building feel like a welcoming greenhouse and botanical garden. With all of these smart features, the building is targeting LEED Platinum and China Green Star certification. + SOM Via ArchDaily Images via SOM

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Biophilic design helps this office building breathe

Meditation cottage fits on the tiniest lakefront space

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

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Meditation cottage fits on the tiniest lakefront space

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