Prefab timber complex shows off net-zero energy technologies in Beijing

January 16, 2019 by  
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Beijing-based architecture firm SUP Atelier has completed the Xuhui Demonstrative Project, a solar-powered community complex that serves as a demonstration project for net-zero energy technologies in Beijing. Built to follow BREEAM and LEED standards, the complex boasts an array of sustainable features ranging from low-waste prefabrication to green roofs. Real-time monitoring and smart automation optimize energy savings and comfort levels. Commissioned by Xuhui Group’s Beijing office for the Xuhui No. 26 Block in Shunyi District of Beijing , the Xuhui Demonstrative Project serves as a small-scale sharing space with rooms that can be digitally booked by residents. The project consists of three main buildings — a fitness center, a meeting room and a book cafe that doubles as an exhibition space — organized around a central sunken permeable courtyard that retains and purifies rainwater. Accessed via wooden boardwalks, each unit is prefabricated from timber; the modular design allows for flexibility and reduced construction waste. “As an experimental platform for prefabricated buildings with zero energy consumption, the project has established an integrated mechanism of the ‘design-construction-test-feedback’ process,” SUP Atelier explained in a statement. “With the help of information technology, the analysis of sustainable indicators can bring forth implementation methods, which can fit in newly built and renovated buildings in cold areas or serve as prototypes in both public and housing projects.” Related: MAD Architects to transform an ancient Chinese courtyard into a kindergarten with a “floating roof” To protect against Beijing’s cold winters, the buildings are wrapped in a high-performance, double-layered timber envelope as well as composite facades with photovoltaic double-glazed glass. Raised roofs with air-ducting devices help mitigate the summer heat and promote natural ventilation. Renewable energy is drawn from film glass, photovoltaic panels and a hybrid heating system that taps into solar thermal energy and an air-source heat pump. + SUP Atelier Via ArchDaily Photography by Su Chen and Chun Fang via SUP Atelier

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From farm to table, sustainability shines at the Belle Mont Farm eco resort

January 16, 2019 by  
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Anyone who has savored the beauty of the Caribbean can attest to its splendor. Not only are there captivating coastlines, but the islands in the area are accustomed to managing limited resources and are naturally focused toward sustainable development. One eco resort, Belle Mont Farm, has taken steps to lead the way in creating an earth-friendly luxury option in the region. The Belle Mont Farm on the island of St. Kitts, West Indies is a sanctuary that encompasses a lush golf course lined with crops and fruit-laden trees that you can enjoy as you play. The resort encourages physical activity in the surrounding natural environment, allowing you to skip typical paved walkways in exchange for miles of fertile farmland , tropical forest, cane fields, fruit groves and pastures. Related: Green-roofed eco resort on Easter Island designed to blend into the landscape In fact, an opportunity to immerse yourself in the physical environment is one of the main goals of the farm. From there, designers believe there are four pillars to sustainable development. The first is art and culture. Belle Mont Farm is dedicated to exposing visitors to the fine arts by hosting several festivals each year, ranging in theme from film to photography to music to culinary, and it hosts a film institute and resident art program. The second goal is to financially contribute to the local economy. The eco resort does this by hiring local vendors; the entire campus was built using local contractors. This has driven millions of dollars back into the community rather than exporting it elsewhere. Related: Stunning sustainable resort in Colombia built out of compressed-earth blocks and bamboo Social responsibility is the third element of sustainable development, which simply means that the Belle Mont Farm aims to maintain the culture and history of the island through consistent, heritage-based architecture that remains true to the fabric of St. Kitts. Finally, Belle Mont focuses on ecology by focusing on stewardship of the natural environment through sustainable practices and net-positive food production. Some of the steps toward sustainability include transitioning to complete renewable energy and making electric cars available to guests. Plus, the farm-to-table program creates a sustainable model for resort dining with fresh, organic vegetables and catches from the surrounding ocean. “My vision is to bring together community and culture, mindful conservation of natural resources, along with rewarding activities and learning opportunities,” said founder Val Kempadoo. “This means we can offer an unforgettable experience while bringing lasting, life-changing benefits to the local people and economy.” + Belle Mont Farm Images via Belle Mont Farm

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This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures

September 13, 2018 by  
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Nestled in a historic mining area in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains, a holiday retreat offers luxurious comfort without compromising sustainability targets. Despite the region’s freezing cold winters and extremely hot summers, Bainbridge Island-based Coates Design Architects crafted the Tumble Creek Cabin to net-zero energy standards using renewable energy and passive solar strategies, rather than traditional energy consumptive cooling and heating systems. Powered by solar energy, the energy-efficient cabin boasts a contemporary design with an abundance of full-height glazing to look out on the landscape beyond. With a natural palette designed to evoke the region’s mining history, the 3,835-square-foot Tumble Creek Cabin is mainly built of stone, Corten steel and reclaimed barn wood. The steel and timber elements are left exposed throughout, while floor-to-ceiling glazing establishes strong connections with the outdoors. To minimize the home’s energy usage, Coates Design Architects oriented the home to follow passive solar principles and mapped the interior layout to conserve energy as much as possible. The self-contained entry vestibule and mud room, for instance, doubles as an air lock to stop chilly drafts and unwanted hot air from entering the main living spaces. Designed as “a legacy piece” for the clients’ extended family, the vacation home includes two primary bedroom suites and a bunk room in the main residence, and an additional guest room can be found in the separate extension. An L-shaped open-plan great room on the east side of the main house is anchored by a massive board-formed concrete fireplace and opens up to a spacious patio. A winding outdoor walkway leads from the patio to an outdoor spa and a freestanding garage on the southwest side of the site. Related: Weathering steel wraps around a solar-powered California home In addition to a 10 kWh photovoltaic array on the roof, the cabin relies on radiant underfloor heating and an energy recovery ventilation system; both systems can be monitored and adjusted remotely. Energy-efficient aluminum-clad wood windows and doors were installed, as is a Tesla Powerwall for electric vehicle charging. + Coates Design Architects Images via Coates Design Architects

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This beautiful Washington cabin meets net-zero targets even in extreme temperatures

Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

August 31, 2018 by  
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A 1960s home has been reborn into an eco-friendly abode with an impressive net-zero energy footprint. Designed by local architecture firm Neumann Monson , the Koser II is a single-family home that combines forward-thinking sustainable strategies within a contemporary envelope in a leafy and walkable Iowa City neighborhood. Powered by solar and geothermal energy, the home doesn’t sacrifice comfort or luxury in its pursuit of energy efficiency — it even includes a beautiful backyard pool. Covering an area of 2,850 square feet (including a 420-square-foot finished basement), the Koser II house is mainly spread out over a single level. To provide privacy, the street-facing facade is primarily clad in dark cedar planks and punctuated with few windows. A long slatted timber screen near the entrance also shields the home from views and frames an outdoor dining area. In contrast to its introverted exterior, the home’s interior is bright and airy with full-height glazing that lets in plenty of natural light and views. “The design bears the mark of the 1960s home that came before it,” the architecture firm explained. “Removing the existing house’s superstructure and incorporating its slab-on-grade foundation into the new construction makes the most of the predecessor’s limited potential. Additional foundations and a concrete collar support exterior walls of nine- and 10-foot pre-cut studs. Their height differential provides adequate slope to the 14-inch truss-joists spanning the 20-foot width. Operable windows extend to the ceiling plane, maximizing daylight penetration and encouraging cross-ventilation .” Related: After a makeover, this local “shack” becomes the envy of the neighborhood The renovated home also features foamed-in-place insulation and a continuous rigid insulation shell with R-24 walls and an R-40 roof. The light-filled interior is supplemented by LEDs at night and equipped with EnergyStar appliances. Radiant floor heating is complemented with a geothermal climate control system connected to an underground horizontally bored loop. A rain garden in the backyard mitigates stormwater runoff, while a 10.08kW solar array brings the home to zero-energy building performance. + Neumann Monson Images by Cameron Campbell Integrated Studio

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Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living

June 22, 2018 by  
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Many people mistake tiny homes for delicate structures that provide a minimal amount of space for simple living. But these modern tiny homes are proving that they can be just as resilient as any traditional home twice their size. Check out eight tiny homes that are built to withstand brutal climates and rugged landscapes while still offering residents the sustainable option of  off-grid living . NestHouse offers charm and energy efficiency Designed by Jonathan Avery of Tiny House Scotland , the beautiful NestHouse is a sustainable and energy-efficient tiny home. Hidden behind its endearing Scandinavian aesthetics, the home boasts impressive off-grid options like passive ventilation and solar. Related: This mini caravan with a telescopic roof is the stuff of off-grid dreams Payette Urban tiny home runs on solar power TruForm Tiny has made a name for itself by crafting made-to-order tiny homes, and the Payette Urban is one of our favorite models. The tiny home is as big on design and comfort as it is on energy efficiency. The house can utilize solar or wind power, offering residents more flexibility for their energy source. Father and son build tiny off-grid cabin in Wisconsin When Bill Yudchitz  and his son, Daniel, decided to bond over a tiny home project, they did not realize that the result would be so spectacular. The duo created a contemporary 325-square-foot home designed with minimal impact on the landscape. Installed with various sustainable technologies such as solar lanterns and a rainwater harvesting system, the light-filled home is a great example of tiny house design done right. $33K hOMe offers off-grid luxury on wheels It’s not often that a tiny home is considered luxurious, but this house is the exception. Built by Andrew and Gabriella Morrison , hOMe is a 221-square foot tiny house built to go off the grid with solar connections and a composting toilet . The structure can be mounted on a flat-deck trailer, allowing homeowners to tow and set up their homes virtually anywhere. Tiny flat-packed homes provide affordable housing Architect Alex Symes developed this flat-pack off-grid home as a solution to expensive city housing. Built with low environmental impact materials, Big World Homes are powered by solar energy and include rainwater harvesting systems. The homes can also increase in size with additional modules. World’s most active volcano harbors tiny off-grid home Located at the base of Mauna Loa volcano next to Kilauea, the tiny 450-square-foot Phoenix House — designed by ArtisTree — is a very cool Airbnb rental with some incredible eco-friendly features, such as solar power and a rainwater harvesting system. Built with recycled materials, the home is part of a local regenerative, off-grid community compound. Zero-energy retreat has a near-invisible footprint COULSON architects’ Disappear Retreat stands out for its ability to disappear from sight… and the grid. Built to Passive House Standards, the 83-square-foot mirrored home boasts a near-invisible footprint. According to the architects, the prefabricated retreat was strategically designed for “triple-zero living”: zero energy, zero waste and zero water. Old-fashioned caravan home is 100% self sustaining This hand-built caravan tiny home proves that sometimes state-of-the-art technology isn’t needed to get completely off the grid. Built by the father and son team known as The Unknown Craftsmen , the Old Time Caravan is crafted from reclaimed wood and relies on natural light to illuminate the interior. Images via © Jonathan Avery of  Tiny House Scotland ; TruForm Tiny ;  Revelations Architects/Builders ;  Tiny House Build ;  Big World Homes and Barton Taylor Photography; ArtisTree ;  COULSON architects and  The Unknown Craftsmen

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8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living

SOM’s net-zero Paris skyscraper will be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe

March 20, 2018 by  
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Prolific firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) just unveiled plans for Charenton-Bercy, a net-zero Paris skyscraper that’s designed to be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe. The 180-meter tower would include multiple green features, including rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, green roofs, and waste-to-energy conversion systems. As part of its “garden in the sky” design, the project would also feature a  band of vegetation running the length of the tower’s facade, leading into a tree-filled plaza at the tower’s base. The architects would place the skyscraper on the banks of the Seine in southeastern Paris. The building will house a mix of residential units and a hotel, with shops and outdoor cafes in the adjoining plaza. The master plan calls for  green space to occupy more than one-third of the site. In fact, the developer working with the architects has committed to planting one tree on-site per residential unit. Related: SOM unveils impressive LEED-targeting medical campus for Egypt’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) The plans reflect the firm’s goal of creating an icon of sustainability while blending the design into the traditional cityscape of Paris. In the words of Daniel Ringelstein, director at SOM London, the architects “saw [their] role as bringing a fresh perspective from an international point of view, refined in close collaboration with [their] local team to ensure a sensitive integration within the existing community.” + SOM Architecture Via Dezeen Images via Som Architecture

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SOM’s net-zero Paris skyscraper will be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe

Groundbreaking Passivhaus development features ultra-green homes that you can actually afford

October 24, 2017 by  
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UK-based architectural firm Hamson Barron Smith have built a ground-breaking Passivhaus development in Greater Norwich, UK. The Carrowbreck Meadow project includes 14 ultra-sustainable homes, which have been designed to pay homage to the local rural barn vernacular found in the area. The Passivhaus development is the largest of its kind in the area, but will also serve as a benchmark for sustainable building everywhere because 43% of the development is comprised of affordable housing. Built in the traditional barn style, the Carrowbreck Meadow homes are clad in a mix of white render and black-stained timber. The A-frame roofs are covered in either slate or red roof tiles. Wood used in the construction was 100% locally sourced from sustainable northern forests. Additional sustainable features include using low-carbon materials where possible such as the insulation in the roofs, which is made out of recycled newspaper. Local contractors and subcontractors were also hired for the job to reduce the project’s carbon footprint. All of the homes are installed with electric car charging points, rainwater butts and PV connection points. The master plan also includes a unique waste management system that facilitates reusing and recycling processes for the homeowners. Related: Passivehaus Container Complex Proposed for Leeds Waterfront Located in a heavily wooded lot, the positioning and orientation of the homes was strategic in order to take advantage of solar gain in the wintertime and avoid extreme heat in the summer. The homes are installed with an abundance of windows that let in natural light , but are equipped with venetian blinds and brise soleils to provide shade. A heat recovery system provides fresh filtered air throughout the structures. The green building materials and low energy features used in the development, as well as the homes’ integrated thermal bridges and draft-free building envelopes – which is five time over the strict passivehaus regulations for airtightness – have earned the project a full Passivehaus certification . However, the fact that the development includes a high number of affordable homes really makes the Carrowbreck Meadow project unique. By offering 43% percent of the property as affordable housing, the architects hope to not only provide locals with sustainable and energy efficient options, but one that fosters a strong inclusive atmosphere as well. The Carrowbreck Meadow development design was recognized with a RIBA Eastern Region Design Award in May 2017. + Hamson Barron Smith Images via Hamson Barron Smith

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Worlds first negative emissions power plant opens in Iceland

October 13, 2017 by  
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Go, Iceland! On Wednesday, the nation flipped the switch on the world’s first power plant that eliminates more CO2 than it produces. The pilot program, which is operated by Climeworks , can remove an estimated 50 metric tons of CO2 from the air each year. The gases aren’t just contained; rather, they are turned into limestone where they will remain for at least one million years. The process works by capturing the CO2 from ambient air using Climeworks’ patented filter. The geothermal power plant then heats up the filter using low-grade heat; this extracts pure carbon dioxide . The gases are then bound to water and sent 700 meters deep into the ground. When CO2 reacts with basaltic bedrock, it forms a permanent solid mineral. Quartz reports that by burying the harmful greenhouse gases in rock, the odorless gas is prevented from being released for at least one million years. The project is still in its pilot stage, but scientists with Climeworks are optimistic that similar negative emissions plants could be rolled out across the globe. There are some challenges to this vision, however. The process isn’t exactly cheap, for instance. Climeworks estimates that it costs $600 to extract just one ton of CO2 from the air. Related: Midwest greenhouse heated with geothermal energy produces citrus year-round for $1 per day By the end of 2017, the full capacity of the plant is expected to be 900 tonnes per year — but that’s only the equivalent of the annual emissions of 45 American people. Nonetheless, the company remains hopeful that this is the beginning. Said Christoph Gebald, the founder and CEO of Climeworks, “The potential of scaling-up our technology in combination with CO2 storage, is enormous.” By 2025, the company seeks to cut costs to $100 a tonne and capture 1 percent of man-made carbon emissions each year. There are no details on how this will be accomplished, but with investors such as Bill Gates and the European Space Agency throwing money into research for “direct air capture,” it could be accomplished. Of course, it’s still important — now more than ever — that the general populace adopts sustainable habits , as data from the UN shows that humans are far from reaching the 2 degrees Celsius limit set by the Climate Agreement. + Climeworks Via Quartz Images via Climeworks , Arni Saeberg , Sandra O Snaebjornsdottir

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Brilliant zero-energy air conditioner in India is beautiful and functional

September 14, 2017 by  
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New Delhi -based Ant Studio made a zero-electricity air conditioner to combat the brutally hot summers in India’s capital. Built for a DEKI Electronics factory, this low-tech, energy efficient, and artistic solution to the sweltering heat harnesses the power of evaporative cooling. The innovative honeycomb-like installation is made with conical clay tubes that naturally reduce the surrounding temperature. Built as part of a larger beautification project for DEKI Electronics, the innovative cooling installation is highly functional and adds an artistic flair to the factory. The shape and size of the beehive -inspired structure’s densely packed terra-cotta cones were determined using advanced computational analysis and modern calibration techniques. When water runs down the structure—it’s sufficient to wet the cones just once or twice a day—the process of evaporation gradually lowers the air temperature. The porous terra-cotta units absorb water that then seeps to the outer surface where it evaporates and turns into cold air. The flow of water empties out into a collection basic and gives the installation a beautiful waterfall effect. “I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece”, said Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio. “The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders, could allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze.” Related: 3D-printed “Cool Brick” cools a room using only water The prototype is capable of cooling hot air at above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degree Fahrenheit) to temperatures of less than 36 degree Celsius around the structure, while atmospheric temperature drops to 42 degrees Celsius. The architects see the honeycomb-shaped installation as a scalable low-tech solution for natural cooling, as well as an art installation that incorporates ancient craft methods. + Ant Studio Via ArchDaily Images via Ant Studio

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Brilliant zero-energy air conditioner in India is beautiful and functional

New rooftop cooling tech beams excess heat into outer space

September 5, 2017 by  
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Heat rises, and, with a little help from scientists, can soar as high as outer space. A team at Stanford University has created a roof-mounted system which cools buildings, without the need for electricity, by incorporating solar panel-like machines that beam heat into the cold expanse of space. This system, known as radiative sky cooling, is seen as an early step to developing a full strength system to cool buildings without the need for an external energy source. This could prove enormously beneficial in dealing with the impacts of climate change (a warmer planet) while reducing its causes (lowering emissions). Shanhui Fan, professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, and his team have been working on radiative sky cooling since 2013. Their recent research has demonstrated that the radiative sky cooling system is capable of lowering the temperature of flowing water to below that of the air around it. While Fan and his team have specifically harnessed radiative sky cooling for air conditioning purposes, this process is something that occurs naturally. “If you have something that is very cold – like space – and you can dissipate heat into it, then you can do cooling without any electricity or work. The heat just flows,” explained Fan. “For this reason, the amount of heat flow off the Earth that goes to the universe is enormous.” Related: Massive new data center to be built in chilly Norway to offset energy use The primary obstacle to achieving a net-temperature decrease through radiative sky cooling is the heat received from the sunlight. To solve this problem, the radiative sky cooling system at Stanford incorporates panels that are coated with a multilayer optical film, which has the ability to reflect up to 97 percent of the incoming sunlight . Using data gathered from small-scale testing, the Stanford team projected that a full-scale radiative sky cooling system would result in an 18 to 50 percent reduction in the amount of energy needed to cool a building. To further develop the concept, the team has started a company called SkyCool Systems and plans to incorporate their system into refrigeration and air conditioning models, with a particular focus on cooling massive data centers . Via New Atlas Images via  Norbert von der Groeben and Aaswath Raman

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