This modern prefab home has windows that double as solar panels

If you love natural lighting, prepare to swoon over the light-filled Reflect Home. Designed and built by Sacramento State students, this modern prefab house soaks up the California sun and surrounding views through numerous openings. However, not all windows are made equal—our favorite feature of the house is the rows of photovoltaic skylights that harness solar energy while letting the sun shine through.




Chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to compete in the annual Solar Decathlon student competition, Sacramento State’s Team Solar NEST (Natural, Elegant, Sustainable, Tranquility) spent months designing and planning the Reflect Home. The 996-square-foot home was created to meet the DOE’s stringent net-zero and cost-effective requirements without sacrificing stylish and comfortable living. “The Reflect Home’s design is focused on the resident, with the intention of making the house as functional, livable, and comfortable as possible,” says the team. “The Sacramento State team believes net-zero design will achieve widespread application only when homebuyers realize that sustainability can be achieved without sacrificing accommodations.”




Inspired by local Craftsman bungalows and small mid-century ranch homes, the two-bedroom Reflect Home emphasizes indoor-outdoor living with its numerous windows and glazed accordion doors that open to the outdoor living area. Raised ceilings and an open-plan dining, living, and kitchen area create a sense of spaciousness. Each room is individually warmed and cooled by an efficient air-to-water heat pump with a ductless mini-split HVAC system.


Via: inhabitat

Exotic solar and wind-powered Bangkok Tree House resort is a masterpiece of sustainable design

Located a few miles from the bustling streets of central Bangkok, this eco-friendly resort pushes the limits of sustainable passive design. Its sustainability features are endless, including LED lighting powered by solar and wind energy, solar cookers, rainwater harvesting, floors, as well as walls and ceilings built from reclaimed wood and bamboo and insulated with discarded juice cartons.


The hotel and restaurant complex named The Bangkok Tree House, was conceived by 36-year-old Jirayu (Joey) Tulyanond, who wanted to see how far can one go to create a comfortable retreat relying on sustainable design. It turns out, pretty darn far – hit the jump for a closer look.


Via: inhabitat

Futuristic eco city breaks ground in Kazakhstan for the World Expo 2017

Construction works on the highly anticipated Expo City 2017, designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG), are well underway in Astana, Kazakhstan. The 429-acre master plan responds to the Expo theme “Future Energy” by incorporating buildings that will operate as power plants, generating energy from solar panels and wind turbines to power themselves and the rest of the campus through an innovative smart grid.




The project focuses on using renewable energy as the primary source for infrastructure and daily operation of the buildings. Each element of the design aims to encourage and support the idea of clean energy across the project, which will feature exhibition and cultural pavilions, a residential development, commercial areas, educational and civic facilities, as well as parks and parking.


Santiago Calatrava picked to design UAE pavilion for Dubai World Expo 2020




Located at the very heart of the campus, the sphere-shaped Kazakhstan Pavilion will be a true symbol of the “Future Energy” concept. Its transformative skin will reduce thermal loss and reduce interior solar glare, at the same time increasing the building’s energy output through integrated sustainable systems such as photovoltaics.




Each building was designed to reduce energy use and increase the amount of clean energy that can be harvested. “The building forms are the direct result of a considerate and thorough design process, which AS+GG practices as ‘Form Follows Performance,” said AS+GG partner Adrian Smith, FAIA.


In addition to the excellent energy performance of individual buildings, the architects ensured that the entire development will be interconnected by including a smart energy grid, smart recycled water grid, integrated waste management system, and inter-seasonal underground thermal energy storage. After the Expo, the site will be converted into an office and research park for international companies and entrepreneurs.


Via: inhabitat

Mail Your Friends the Universe With an Envelope Full of Constellations

If you still believe that a hand-written letter carries more emotional weight than an auto-generated response to a text message, these star-filled envelopes will even let you send an entire galaxy to your friends and loved ones—if they peer inside.





Once they’ve neatly sliced off the end of the envelope (not torn it to shreds) and emptied its contents, all the receiver needs to do is hold it up to a light source to see an astronomically-accurate group of constellations.


It’s an especially thoughtful way to send a letter if the person you’re writing to lives in a big city with too much light pollution to ever get a good look at the stars overhead.

You can buy a package of five star-filled envelopes from the Japan Trend Shop, which is probably the easiest way to import them. The only catch is they’ll charge you $83, plus the cost of shipping. Ouch.


You can also buy them directly from the Kaminokousakujo’s online store in Japan for about $10. Having them delivered to North America might be a little more challenging, but the cost savings is almost certainly worth the risk.


Via: gizmodo

Absurd Creatures: Fish Think They’re Safe From Birds But This Bird Is Like LOL


Nine out of 10 historians agree: Vlad the Impaler was a bad person, largely because there are several less cruel ways to dispatch your enemies. But for a bird called the kingfisher, impalement is a way of life. Hovering above rivers, it’ll spot a fish, dive into the water, and skewer its prey. And that’s pretty damn impressive, considering that because light bends when it hits water, the kingfisher has to correct its course on the wing. Find out more about Kingfisher the Impaler in this week’s episode of Absurd Creatures!

Nevada to Begin Testing Autonomous Passenger Drones

In Brief

A Chinese company called EHang is partnering with the state of Nevada to test automated flying passenger drones, and they plan to begin later this year.


While many companies are racing to perfect autonomous driving technologies, no one really meddles in the “flying drone taxi” category. But now, that may change. The world’s first passenger drone capable of autonomously carrying a person in the air has been given clearance for testing in Nevada.


A Chinese company called EHang, the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development have all partnered to put EHang’s drone through testing and regulatory approval.



The drone—the electric Ehang 184 passenger drone—premiered in the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January. Able to carry a passenger for 23 minutes, the company envisions simplicity in the operation of the drone. After setting up the flight plan with a single click, the user can take off for any location, sit, relax and enjoy the flight.


EHang expects to begin testing at the Nevada FAA UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Test Site in 2016, and will work closely with NIAS over the coming months to work through the UAS flight requirements.


Via: futurism

World’s Largest Indoor Vertical Farm to Produce 2 Million Pounds of Food Using 95% Less Water

If you haven’t heard about these massive indoor vertical farms, they’re a fast-growing trend in the agricultural world because of their ability to yield a high amount of crops using very little water.


AeroFarms is currently building a 70,000 square-foot facility in Newark that is on track to produce 2 million pounds of food each year it’s in operation.  This operation, which is less than an hour outside of Manhattan, is quite efficient, building upon previous experience with smaller facilities.



The facility will have tremendous output, “while using 95% less water than field farmed-food and with yields 75 times higher per square-foot annually.”


While AeroFarms’ massive Newark operation can be compared, in terms of efficiency, to the current largest vertical farm located in Japan, it is about three times larger.


They practice all-season growth using specialized LED lights, climate control, and an aeroponics misting system to eliminate the need for sunlight and soil.




“We use aeroponics to mist the roots of our greens with nutrients, water, and oxygen.,” explains AeroFarms. “Our aeroponic system is a closed loop system, using 95% less water than field farming, 40% less than hydroponics, and zero pesticides.”


Not to mention, with their location being so close to New York City, they incur lower costs for transportation while being able to cater to a large urban market yearning for fresh and local produce.




The Newark facility is in its final stages and nearing completion since breaking ground last year.


“There has been tremendous demand for our locally grown, delicious, produce, and we have farms in development in multiple US states and on four continents. There has never been a greater need for safe, dependable, nutritious food, and we are scaling quickly to transform agriculture around the world.”


Via: expandedconsciousness

Los Angeles is Turning Old Motels Into 500 Apartments for Homeless Vets

If you’ve been to Los Angeles in the past five years or so, then you know just how much of a homeless problem the city has.  What’s even worse is that so many of these homeless folks are veterans who once served our country.


In an effort to house these homeless veterans, the City of Los Angeles has a new plan to renovate old motels and hospitals, turning them into 500 new apartments for homeless veterans.


How will it work?  First, developers purchase the rundown properties and build them into the efficiency apartments discussed above.  Then, homeless veterans will use vouchers, gained from the Department of Veteran Affairs, to pay for their rent.


The vouchers given to the homeless vets expire after 15 years, and the deal is set up so that landlords will earn a profit as well.  Not to mention, residents of these abodes are eligible for supportive services like case management and counseling.


This is easily recognizable as a step in the right direction after learning, from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, that there were 2,733 homeless veterans on any given night in the city last year.


“Instead of allowing blighted properties to decay, let’s use them to make powerful change in our communities by giving our veterans the access to services and housing that they need and deserve,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.


The announcement of this new plan to help homeless veterans comes after the city failed to deliver on its promise to end veteran homelessness by the end of last year.

Converted shipping containers combine to form angular Flying Box house

Architect Josué Gillet used shipping containers to construct this prefabricated house in France, which features an asymmetric facade and a rooftop terrace.





The Flying Box house was devised by Gillet’s studio 2A Design for a small plot in the French village of Orgères, near Rennes.


Both its design and construction method were a response to the confines of the compact, sloping site and the clients’ limited budget.





To reduce the overall cost and the required building period, the house utilises a system developed by local company B3 Ecodesign, which converts shipping containers into modular homes at its Rennes factory.


The company adapts the containers by adding insulation, wiring and other necessary services, before transporting them to the site.





The dimensions of the containers conveniently matched the size of the plot for Flying Box house, and the prefabricated construction process meant the building could be produced and assembled in just three months.




Three layers of containers are stacked to create a structure that is defined by angular sections removed from the top and bottom floors.


Via: dezeen

Adidas launches trainers made from ocean plastic with Parley for the Oceans

Sports brand Adidas and environmental initiative Parley for the Oceans have released the first batch of running shoes with uppers made using recycled plastic recovered from the sea (+ movie).

Coinciding with World Oceans Day held on June 8, the Adidas x Parley trainers have been launched as a limited edition of 50 pairs to be earned rather than purchased.

Those who wish to gain a pair are required to take part in an Instagram competition, submitting a video that demonstrates their commitment to stop using single-use plastic items.



Designed by London-based Alexander Taylor, the shoes are made using Adidas’ existing footwear manufacturing processes but the usual synthetic fibres are replaced with yarns made from the recycled Parley Ocean Plastic.


“This project triggered a new way for me to work and imagine how my studio could adapt and evolve in the future,” said Taylor.


“A designer can be the agitator and the agent for change. He must be entrepreneurial in spirit, seeking out collaborators to reach amazing solutions which outperform and offer truly viable alternatives to current methods.”




The green wave pattern across the uppers is created from recycled gill net, which was dredged from the sea and recycled into the fibre.


The rest of the upper is formed using waste plastic collected around the Maldives, where the government is collaborating with Parley to rid the island chain of the issue within five years.


Via: dezeen