At the annual Greenbuild International Conference in Philadelphia last week, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) finally announced the latest version of LEED. Aiming to make a larger forward step than previous versions, LEED v4 is described by Rick Fedrizzi, the CEO and president of USGBC as a “quantum leap”. But what are the key changes in the new LEED criteria, and what effect will they have? Furthermore, what problems have they yet to address? Read on to find out.
As cities continue to attract more people, naturally vegetated areas slowly wither, leaving little to no green spaces for city dwellers to escape to, no trees to purify the air and enhance the environment. Australia plans to change this. The 202020 Vision is a concerted effort from the government, academic and private sectors to create twenty percent green areas in Australia’s urban centers by 2020. “Urban heat islands, poor air quality, lack of enjoyable urban community areas are all poor outcomes when green spaces aren’t incorporated into new developments and large scale building projects.” Read about the 202020 initiative here, “More green spaces in urban areas, says new national initiative.”
The materials we select and specify to make up our buildings have a real meaningful impact on human health and the environment. Unfortunately, due to a lack of material transparency, that impact is frequently negative, damaging the environment and harming populations across the globe.
In February of this year, Chinese authorities were forced to face the tragic facts and admit that “cancer villages” existed in areas where harmful chemicals, many of which are banned in developed nations, are prevalent in current manufacturing processes. There are many that believe these chemicals are contributing to make cancer the number one killer in China, surpassing cardiovascular disease.
After months of design refinement and engineering, Synthesis Design + Architecture (SDA), winners of the “Switch to Pure Volvo” architecture competition, have launched a free-standing mobile pavilion capable of harnessing solar energy to power the new Volvo V60, the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid car. The ‘Pure Tension’ Pavilion was birthed by SDA’s extensive research on dynamic mesh relaxation, utilizing bendable, lightweight aluminum structures with flexible fabrics that can be stored in the trunk of the car and easily mounted within one hour, similar to a tent.
Arup Associates was founded in 1963 by the legendary engineer Ove Arup as a design practice in which engineers and architects worked on an equal footing; it later became a subsidiary of Arup (also founded by Arup as Arup and Partners in 1946). These early origins marked Arup Associates as a forward-thinking and revolutionary practice in an era where truly multi-disciplinary practices were almost unheard of.
Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) has been announced as winner of a major design competition for World EXPO-2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan. Selected from 105 entrants, which included the likes of Coop Himmelb(l)au, Zaha Hadid Architects and UNStudio, AS+GG’s 173.4 hectare proposal plans to build on the Expo’s theme “Future Energy” by becoming the “first Third Industrial Revolution city.”
Chinese city-dwellers are waking to find eight stories of construction debris outside of their homes. Over two billion tons of waste, outside Beijing and other major cities, is a result of a booming construction industry. “There’s no systematic way to deal with [the garbage],” says Wilson W.S. Lu, architecture professor at the University of Hong Kong, “The illegal dumping is everywhere.” Recycling efforts have just begun, but local activists believe it will require a radical paradigm shift in the way Chinese residents reclaim material. Read the full New York Times article, “China’s Mountains of Construction Rubble.“
Michael Green is calling for a drastic paradigm shift in the way we build. Forget steel, straw, concrete and shipping containers; use wood to erect urban skyscrapers. In a 240 page report – complete with diagrams, plans, renders and even typical wooden curtain wall details – Green outlines a new way of designing and constructing tall buildings using mass timber, all the while addressing common misconceptions of fire safety, structure, sustainability, cost and climate concerns.
Borealis, Team Alberta’s entry to the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, addresses the housing needs of professionals working in remote locations. This modular house was designed in consideration of severe housing shortages and high housing costs driven by booming industries in northern Canada. Named after the iconic Northern Lights and lush Boreal forest, Borealis is designed to be sustainable and ecologically sensitive.
David Zahle, a partner at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Lead Architect on the recently opened Danish National Maritime Museum, spoke to Mies. UK earlier this year. The practice, widely known for its creative approach to the issue of sustainability (sustainability should be experienced rather than hidden), recently won an an international competition to design a new Waste-to-Energy plant in Copenhagen.
Read more and watch the interview after the break…
The people have spoken: UNC Charlotte’s 2013 Solar Decathlon entry, UrbanEden has won the “People’s Choice Award.” Designed as an urban infill project for a couple in Charlotte, North Carolina, the net-zero solar-powered home defines itself by establishing a strong indoor and outdoor connection in the middle of the city. By enclosing the back deck with a seven-foot tall vertical garden and integrating a high-performance glass wall along the home’s south side, dwellers are presented with the unlikely option of privately enjoying the outdoors within a dense urban context.
From the architect. Stanford University’s Start.Home has won fifth place overall and tied for first place in affordability in the 2013 Solar Decathlon. Read the team’s description to learn more:
For the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, Stanford University designed the Start.Home to provide energy efficiency at the push of a button to a new generation of environmentally conscious occupants. With modular architecture and advanced controls to optimize each component, the house aims to spark a revolution by lowering the entry barrier for an ultra-efficient house and making sustainability trendy, social, and affordable.
From the architect. This “L-shaped” energy smart house by the Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT), dubbed Ecohabit, won second place in the architecture category and fourth overall in this year’s Solar Decathlon competition. The L-concept divides the house into two modules, “wet” and “dry”. Read the team’s description to learn why:
As explained by this article in the Guardian, planners in Copenhagen are thinking ahead – to the years 2050 and even 2100 - to propose plans that will cope with the storms and floods that will threaten the low-lying city due to climate change. From ”percolating pavements,” “pocket parks” and “cloudburst boulevards,” read about some of the innovative measures they are proposing, many of which are now being adopted around the world, here.
From the architect. Placing second overall, just a few points behind the winning 2013 Solar Decathlon team, students from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (Team Las Vegas) have won the “Market Appeal” contest at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) sixth solar-home competition. Known as “DesertSol”, the project was lauded for its “livability, marketability and constructability” as well as its “appeal within the housing market of the target client chosen by team.” It is designed to be a self-reliant, energy-efficient second home for upper-middle income Americans who pursue active lifestyles in the sparsely populated Mojave Desert. Read on for the team’s project description.
A team of Austrian students from Vienna University of Technology (Team Austria) has won top honors for “designing, building, and operating the most cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive solar-powered house” at the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon. The net-positive home, known as “LISI – Living inspired by sustainable innovation,” prides itself for being a simple, smart house that is capable of adapting to a variety of lifestyles and climate zones.
Prior to being crowned as winner, LISI competed against eighteen other student-built, solar-powered homes over the course of ten days in Irvine, California. This was the first time an Austrian university has participated in the U.S. Solar Decathlon. Learn more about the winning design by reading the team’s project description after the break.
d3 has announced the winners of its Natural Systems Competition for 2013, an annual award that offers architects, designers, engineers and students the chance to investigate natural processes from the microscopic to macroscopic scale, and propose innovative and nature-based solutions in architecture, urbanism, interiors and product design for sustainable living.
The jury, a panel of architects and designers engaged in sustainable practices and computational explorations, has this year selected a top three as well as fourteen special mentions. Join us after the break for images from all 17 designs.
“Designing Recovery,” a competition focused on the planning and rebuilding of resilient and sustainable communities, has announced its three winning entries, by sustainable.to Architecture + Building, GOATstudio LLP, and Q4 Architects.
The competition, which was a collaboration between the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Make It Right, Architecture for Humanity, the St. Bernard Project, and Dow Building Solutions, was envisioned to aid communities affected by devastating natural disasters – in this case, New York City, New Orleans, and Joplin, MO.