This super-insulated concrete "cabin" hides a surprisingly cozy interior

May 15, 2018 by  
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Brutalist-inspired architecture is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when imagining cozy countryside cabins, but two daring designers have created a 900-square-foot house — made primarily of concrete blocks — in the Catskills. The homeowners, architect Jason Shannon and designer Paola Yañez of J_spy Architecture , created the contemporary home with a cluster of three cubic volumes and a white metal box for the roof. The result is a high-end, modern and eco-friendly retreat that sits on six acres of beautiful grassy landscape. The house was designed to be a serene getaway, a place to escape the city and return to nature. While many people choose to “nestle” their country homes into natural surroundings, this design stands out among the expansive fields thanks to its modern, bold aesthetic. The three cubist volumes made of concrete blocks and large white top floor create a fun juxtaposition to the flourishing, organic background. Related: Prefab Pyrenees cabin minimizes site impact and building costs The interior of the home is contemporary with a welcoming feel. Large windows and doors framed in mahogany provide an abundance of natural light and stunning views. Although the concrete walls were left unfinished on the exterior, the interior blocks feature a polished facade. The main living space has a beautiful 14′ ceiling clad in birch plywood that is interlaced with fabric to help absorb noise. With concrete as the primary building material, the home is extremely energy efficient . A geothermal heat pump is connected to the home’s concrete radiant floor, which emits both hot and cool air. The upper floor, which is clad in white metal, hangs over the dimension of the house for two reasons: to provide passive solar heating and to create high ceilings. In addition to the concrete blocks and radiant heating, the home also has a tankless hot water system and a condenser clothes dryer. To create a tight envelope that reduces energy loss, the house was insulated with a spray foam in the walls and ceilings. According to the architects, the efficient home is not only a reflection of how they live their personal lives, but also depicts their work ethos. Shannon explained, “This was our chance to say, ‘Let’s design the house as modern as we think we would like to be in the rest of our work.’” + J_spy Architecture Via Dwell Photography by Amanda Kirkpatrick

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This super-insulated concrete "cabin" hides a surprisingly cozy interior

Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

May 15, 2018 by  
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Inhabitat is thrilled to announce that New York City urban farming group Brooklyn Grange is launching its first location outside the city — at Kearny Point in New Jersey. The location holds its own storied past: a former World War I and World War II shipbuilding yard in an industrial area that’s spiraled downhill, Kearny Point is undergoing redevelopment under recycling corporation Hugo Neu . Inhabitat caught up with Brooklyn Grange COO and co-founder Gwen Schantz and Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Neu to learn about the project’s emphasis on not only economic revitalization but also the restoration of local ecology . At Kearny Point in New Jersey, Brooklyn Grange will help with  landscaping , converting just under three acres of sod into a native meadow. In addition, the group will help transform about an acre of former parking lot space into a demonstration garden, complete with a vegetable patch and children’s play area, as well as host plant sales and educational workshops. Although none of these gardens will be on rooftops, Brooklyn Grange does plan to host green roof workshops using a Kearny Point roof. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Schantz told Inhabitat, “We know what these industrial spaces can become and how they can be reinvented. We’ve seen the evolution of the Navy Yard. When we talked to the people at Hugo Neu about their vision about Kearny Point, we really got it. It resonated with us.” Neu is one of the people behind that vision. She told Inhabitat that Kearny Point, which is between the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, was once a main economic driver for the area as “one of the most productive shipbuilding facilities in the world.” During World War II, 35,000 people worked on the 130-acre site. But after the war, the shipbuilding industry died in the United States. Hugo Neu acquired Kearny Point in the 1960s and dismantled ships, but that operation shut down around 1985. Until recently, Kearny Point was an industrial warehouse distribution facility. “ Hurricane Sandy was a defining moment for us because we were approximately four feet underwater. We’d never had any kind of issue with flooding. My late husband and I know climate change is coming and the environment is changing dramatically, and we had to think about what we were going to do with this site,” Neu told Inhabitat. After her husband passed away suddenly, Neu joined forces with Steve Nislick, former Edison Properties CEO, with the goal of doing “something transformative.” The new vision for Kearny Point includes offices for startups, coworking spaces, and a waterfront opened to the public. “The opportunity to take a heavy industrial site like this and integrate all the new technology – wind, solar, stormwater – and be able to show we can have people growing businesses without having to harm the environment but also actually improve it at the same time is, to me, a very compelling opportunity,” Neu said. Brooklyn Grange is “an indication of just what the possibilities are.” The project’s native meadow serves as a prime example. According to Schantz, when people try to convert land into meadows or gardens, they sometimes kill what’s growing there with pesticides . Brooklyn Grange is taking a more natural approach: they’re suffocating grass and enriching the soil with the help of recycled materials , such as leftover cardboard from a nearby shipping company and wood mulch from a local tree service, both of which the urban farming group inoculated with blue oyster mushrooms. Once this process is complete, they’ll plant native flowers and grasses. “Our approach is, let’s take this strip of land which has had a rough history along a railroad track, it has not been loved the way it could be, and give it a new lease on life and make it a place where insects and birds can feed and nest, and restore it the way it might have looked before there was a shipyard here,” said Schantz. How will Kearny Point handle natural disasters in the future? Neu said that not only are they raising the site up two feet, they’re creating at least 25 acres of open space and putting in bioswales to boost the site’s resiliency. “We’ll have underground parking that will serve as reservoirs for water that comes onto the site. We’ll remove as many impervious surfaces as possible, which is huge in terms of the amount that gets discharged into the Hackensack, and we’re going to do everything to improve the quality of what gets discharged,” said Neu. “I want to minimize our impact as much as possible. We have to be able to figure out how to have people prosper without destroying the environment and further degrading it.” Brooklyn Grange’s first plant sale will be Sunday, May 20, from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. “We’re really excited to be reaching out to our neighbors across the river,” Schantz said. “We know there’s already a culture of gardening here in the Garden State, and so we’re excited to bring some of our urban farming techniques and our general mindset of sustainable, organic gardening to the local community and hopefully get people excited about growing their own food .” + Brooklyn Grange + Hugo Neu + Kearny Point Images courtesy of Valery Rizzo

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Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

The bitter better place

April 25, 2018 by  
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There is no need to apologize for being relentless in our work, or vociferously clear about the consequences of inaction.

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The bitter better place

Why ARPA-E is essential for U.S. energy innovation

April 25, 2018 by  
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The federal agency has a mission of overcoming long-term, high-risk barriers to developing energy technologies.

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Why ARPA-E is essential for U.S. energy innovation

Teen replants hundreds of mangroves that were destroyed by Hurricane Irma

April 11, 2018 by  
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18-year-old Theo Quenee saw Hurricane Irma’s impact in Florida firsthand and realized that the devastated  mangroves might not be able to make a comeback. So the local teen started growing the plants — 524 of them — from seeds he collected around his home for replanting, Mother Nature Network (MNN) reported . After around seven months, he began transplanting the mangroves to a sandbar and mud flat in Miami . My amazing little brother has been growing over 400 red mangrove shoots he collected after Hurricane Irma. Today, 7 months later, he planted over half of the seedlings in a coastal area that had been badly affected by the storm, and I really couldn’t be prouder. from r/pics Mangrove forests “stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides,” according to the National Ocean Service . But the 2017 hurricane wasn’t kind to Florida’s mangroves. Quenee told MNN, “After the hurricane there was a massive amount of [mangrove] seedlings mixed within the seaweed/debris mixture. Everything was then going to be gathered and thrown in a truck to dump at a landfill. I realized that all of South Florida would ultimately kill thousands of mangroves in the clean-up process.” Related: Meet the teen planting 150 trees for every person on Earth Quenee had grown mangroves in the past, and had learned about the plants in marine science classes in high school. He began to rescue mangroves, collecting ones in parking lots and streets the hurricane had damaged. He placed the plants in recycled yogurt bins. He told MNN, “I live in an area with a lot of trees , so the roof of my house was the only place that got the sunlight. I started with all 524 of them all at once…I knew that they grew best with humidity, so I designed a simple greenhouse with a big platter and a five-gallon bucket.” I've taken a little Instagram break in the last two weeks. Time to hop back on the creating game! New content on the way! Comment what you would like to want to see more of in 2018! ?- @mindmeetscamera / @michaelrodiles A post shared by T H E O Q U E N E E (@theo_quenee) on Jan 5, 2018 at 12:42pm PST After seven months of cultivation, the plants were ready to return to the wild. Some friends helped him move the mangroves to the Miami sandbar. He told MNN he’s working to obtain any additional permits required, although he said some officials passed by as he was planting the mangroves and they were happy to see his work. A Florida International University freshman, Quenee aims to pursue videography and photography as a career (check out his work on his Instagram ). But conservation will still be one of his priorities; he told MNN, “…in the future I also want to change the way we consume single-use plastics and teach younger generations and communities how to properly conserve our environments .” Via Mother Nature Network Image via Depositphotos

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Teen replants hundreds of mangroves that were destroyed by Hurricane Irma

The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

March 20, 2018 by  
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Devastating news for wildlife enthusiasts: Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino , has died. Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dv?r Králové Zoo announced the 45-year-old rhino was euthanized at the 90,000-acre non-profit wildlife facility Kenya on March 19 after being unable to overcome age-related muscle and bone degeneration or debilitating skin wounds. “His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal,” Ol Pejeta wrote on their Facebook page . Ol Pejeta says Sudan escaped extinction of his kind when he was first moved to the zoo in the 1970s, and then sired two females, significantly contributing to the survival of his species. Before he was euthanized, they collected his genetic material in anticipation of advanced cellular technologies they might be able to use in future reproductive efforts. Related: The last male northern white rhino suffers declining health “We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO. “One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide.” With Sudan’s death, the only remaining northern white rhinos are Sudan’s daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, according to Ol Pejeta. In their statement, the conservancy said, “The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.” While Sudan died of old age, it’s worth noting that humanity is a main driver of the sixth mass extinction, which, according to a news report released last year, is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal . + Ol Pejeta Conservancy All images via Ol Pejeta

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The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

It’s time to rethink sustainability goals and targets

March 1, 2018 by  
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Your work is not an add-on to the rest of the company, so stop treating it that way.

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It’s time to rethink sustainability goals and targets

Breast cancer spread connected to amino acid in asparagus

February 16, 2018 by  
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Scientists have linked the spread of the disease breast cancer in mice to a compound that’s in asparagus and several other foods, The Guardian reported . Studies with mice revealed asparagine drives the advance of the cancer , and when researchers reduced asparagine, the amount of “secondary tumors in other tissues” dropped. Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute director Greg Hannon told The Guardian, “This is a very promising lead and one of the very few instances where there is a scientific rationale for a dietary modification influencing cancer.” Research with mice showed the amino acid asparagine is important for breast cancer to spread, and scientists think the process could be similar in humans. Researchers found that blocking the amino acid hampered the spread of the cancer. Hannon said in a statement , “It could be that manipulating levels of asparagine in the body might be used as a way to boost a patients’ cancer treatment.” Related: Many anti-aging products contain ingredients that can cause breast cancer The researchers blocked asparagine in mice tested, which had an aggressive type of breast cancer, to reduce the cancer’s ability to spread with the drug L-asparaginase. Giving the mice a low-asparagine diet worked to a lesser extent, according to The Guardian. There’s still a lot work to be done. The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute cautioned research is in the early stages and “doesn’t form the basis for DIY diets at home.” This work also doesn’t seem to offer a cure for cancer; per the press release, “So far the story suggests that lowering asparagine levels blunts the ability of cancer cells to spread in mice, but doesn’t affect the original tumor.” Lowering asparagine didn’t prevent breast tumors from forming, the researchers found. Hannon said, “The difficulty is finding ways to study this in the lab that are relevant to patients. It’s a challenge, but I think it’s worth pursuing.” The journal Nature published the research online this week . 21 scientists at institutions in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States contributed. + Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Stephanie Studer on Unsplash and Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr

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Breast cancer spread connected to amino acid in asparagus

Pepsi launches new drink option with reusable bottle

February 16, 2018 by  
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Soda is struggling, with sales of non-diet soda dropping by over 25 percent during the last 20 years, according to Co.Design . In response, PepsiCo is trying something new: a product they’re calling Drinkfinity with reusable, BPA-free bottles . Users mix the contents of ingredient Pods into water to create beverages that Drinkfinity’s website boasts are “unapologetically less sweet.” PepsiCo piloted Drinkfinity in 2014 in Brazil, and now they’re launching the product in the United States. Users choose flavors like Mango Chia Flow or Elderflower Chill in Pods they place over the top of the reusable bottle, which they call a Vessel, and press down to release the flavor inside and mix it with water inside the bottle. The company says they don’t use artificial flavors or sweeteners. Related: New study finds PET bottles of five huge soda brands contain harmful heavy metals Vice President of Global Business Innovation Hernan Marina said in a statement , “Drinkfinity was made to do more than just hydrate — it was created with a simple vision to make a beverage that connects the dots between wellness and versatility, while trying to balance the needs of both people and the planet.” What about the waste from the Pods? PepsiCo’s press release says the Pods use up around 65 percent less plastic than a 20 ounce bottle. But Co.Design pointed out the Pods themselves can’t be recycled easily. When checking out from Drinkfinity, a consumer can obtain a postage-paid envelope to send 30 Pods to a company for recycling. An average recycling facility won’t be able to process them, according to Co.Design, because they contain materials that aren’t generally recycled together. Marina hopes in a few years they can offer Pods that are more easily recyclable, according to Co.Design. The Drinkfinity reusable bottle, which is dishwasher-safe, costs $20. Pods come in packs of four and cost between $5 and $6.50. As of now, the products are available only online, according to the press release. Drinkfinity plans to donate $1 for every purchase in the United States in 2018 to Water.org , up to $100,000, to provide clean water for people in developing countries . + Drinkfinity + Drinkfinity press release Via Co.Design Images via Drinkfinity/PepsiCo

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Pepsi launches new drink option with reusable bottle

The Netherlands plans 26,910-square-foot floating solar farm at sea

February 16, 2018 by  
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Around 26,910 square feet of floating solar panels could provide clean energy for the Netherlands . Six Dutch companies and institutions are developing the offshore solar plant, Project Solar-at-Sea, devised by Oceans of Energy . The pilot will have $1.48 million in government funding, Reuters reported. Utrecht University will conduct research – as the solar modules are expected to offer a power yield 15 percent greater than they would on land. Could an offshore solar farm provide renewable energy the Netherlands needs? Six Dutch organizations plan to find out. A pilot project of around 323 square feet of solar panels could be in place this summer, around nine miles from The Hague in the North Sea Farm, a testing zone, to scrutinize equipment, energy output, weather conditions, and the impact on the environment . Related: Dutch engineers unveil ‘floating island’ to combat rising sea levels There are significant challenges in an offshore solar project. Utrecht University solar power expert Wilfried van Sark said in the university’s press release that sometimes the solar panels will be underwater – “when the waves reach heights of ten meters, this is unavoidable. The panels will wobble a bit, too. The impact of those dynamic shifts in tilt angle hasn’t yet been studied, either.” Floating solar farms can be found on lakes around the world, but ones at sea are much rarer. But there are also benefits to operating a solar farm on the waves. Van Sark said seawater offers a cooling effect, so the yield of the solar panels is anticipated to be higher than on the ground. Oceans of Energy pointed out in their press release a solar farm at sea doesn’t use up valuable land space. Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN), Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN), Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), and TAQA Energy are also part of the consortium. The team hopes to operate 26,910-square-feet of solar panels by 2021. Inhabitat reached out to Oceans of Energy for project images but they are still confidential; we hope to see them when the pilot project kicks off. + Oceans of Energy + Oceans of Energy press release + Utrecht University Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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The Netherlands plans 26,910-square-foot floating solar farm at sea

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