A Super Green Building Planned for Brussels

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Architect Vincent Callebaut is well-known for his ambitious sustainable architecture project proposals, and this latest one that he’s proposing for the EU city of Brussels is no exception. His plans call for turning the city’s industrial area of Brussels into a sustainable community. They plan to renovate existing buildings, as well as build new high-rises, which would be equipped with a wide array of sustainable features.

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Callebaut’s plans call for the building of three high-rises, which would have a total floorspace of 915,000 sq ft (85,000 sq m). These buildings would feature a slide-like shape and rise to a max height of 328 ft (100 m). The roof would be clad in solar panels, while the balconies could be used to grow fruits and vegetables.

The plans also include the renovation of the old Marine Terminal, which measures 538,000 sq ft (50,000 sq m) to serve the communities needs. It would be divided up into different areas, and would feature several geodesic domes that would house restaurants, bars and other structures. There would also be raised pods made from CLTs that would serve as meeting spaces. Retail and office spaces would be housed in another set of CLT structures. It would also be possible to attach small greenhouses to the exterior of the buildings.

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Among the green tech planned for this project are the already mentioned large solar power arrays, wind turbines, airtight building envelopes, natural ventilation, and rainwater collection systems. They calculated that the complex would generate 186 percent of its annual electricity requirements, and this surplus would then me used to power the historic buildings in the area, as well as any planned future developments.

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We will, however have to wait and see whether this project gets picked up by the city’s planning commission.

Simple Yet Beautiful Furniture

When faced with the need to move, one of the more daunting tasks is dealing with the furniture. When such moves are required every couple of years, such as when changing jobs, the type of furniture you own plays a big role. And the lighter and more movable it is, the better. To solve a part of this problem, the firm Studio Corelam, of Vancouver, British Columbia designed a line of furniture which is made of super-thin, corrugated plywood which is strong, lightweight and gorgeous.

The material that their line of furniture is made of is called Corelam, and according to the makers, it uses a lot less energy to produce than conventional materials. It is made using a hydraulic press that applies 400 tons of pressure to the plywood. This technique was developed by Christian Blyt, the founder of Studio Corelam and it is patented. The idea is to corrugate plywood in order to make it stronger as well as more aesthetically pleasing than just regular plywood.

The first line of furniture created using this technique is called Tidal. One of the pieces is the so-called Lean-To shelf that can either be leaned against a wall, or connected to a second such unit to create a freestanding shelf. Another piece is the Round-about, which is a multipurpose unit that can be used as a storage stool or a side table, and also features a reversible top to give it some variety. The next piece is called the Capilano, and it is a coat rack, which can also be used as a small shelving unit. More than one of these can be attached to the wall by a French cleat to make a type of closet space. All the pieces in the collection can be transported in a flat packed box, which is light enough to be carried by one person. The pieces are also easy to assemble and disassemble.

This line of furniture would be perfect for a tiny house or a micro-apartment, since it also saves a lot of space. They are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to begin production where it is also possible to pre-order the first pieces.

UK Team to Get a Sustainable Wooden Stadium

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It’s always great to hear about new, large-scale construction projects getting underway in a sustainable way. One such is certainly the new stadium that will soon be built for the Forest Green Rovers soccer team in the UK. It will be designed and built by Zaha Hadid Architects, and it will be a low-carbon structure made out of sustainably-sourced wood.

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The stadium will be located in the town of Stroud, UK and will be large enough to accommodate up to 5,000 fans. The design of the structure will also allow for increasing this capacity to 10,000 people. This will be achieve by adding extra seating space along the sides once Phase One of the building process is completed. As such, the expansion will not require costly construction work.

The stadium will have the shape of a continuous spectator bowl that will feature a low profile, sweeping curves and a wooden skeleton. Each seat will have a clear sightline to the field, and the closest spectators will be seated just 16 ft (5 m) from the pitch.

This new wooden stadium will be a part of the so-called Ecotricity’s Eco Park development, which is a sports and green tech business park that is set to cover an area of 40 ha (100 ac), and will cost about $125 million to build. Construction of the stadium is set to begin in late 2017 or early 2018, and it will take two years to complete.

This stadium will be the first of its kind constructed entirely of wood. While the use of this sustainable material is commendable, it does present a risk of a devastating fire, while a building of such size could arguably never be considered entirely sustainable, due to the amount of electricity it requires to run. Heating such a structure is also quite a burden on the environment. Yet given the alternative of building it out of concrete, this stadium will still very sustainable.

A Device That Purifies Polluted Air While Producing Hydrogen

Air pollution is one of the key problems that need to be overcome in order to secure a more sustainable future for our planet. So it’s great news that a team of scientists from the University of Antwerp and KU Leuven, have devised a process that can both mitigate air pollution as well as provide a clean energy source in the form of hydrogen, at the same time. This device does so using nanomaterials and sunlight.

The nanomaterials are contained within the membrane of the device the team developed, where they are used as a catalyst in this process. Previously, this same type of membrane was used to extract hydrogen from water, but the team has now found that it’s possible for this material to also be used to extract it from polluted air. And on top of that, this membrane is also more efficient at doing so. To test it, the team has made a small prototype of the device, which measures just a few square centimeters, but they plan to scale it up to make it industrially applicable.

The energy for the process to run comes from sunlight, and the device which makes it possible is described as an “all-gas-phase unbiased photoelectrochemical cell”. It works by converting volatile organic pollutants into CO2 at one photoanode, and by harvesting hydrogen gas at the cathode. The device is most efficient when applied to organic pollutants in inert carrier gas, while if oxygen is present, the cell performs less efficiently though significant photocurrents are still generated, meaning that it can be effectively used to purify organic contaminated air.

It will most likely take some time before this device is ready for use on an industrial scale, but it does show a lot of promise. If they successfully scale it up, air pollution could become a source of clean energy instead of being an energy sink and a health hazard.

Sustainable Living in one of the Harshest Climates in the World

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Think it isn’t possible to live comfortably off-the-grid in the Arctic Circle? Well, think again. Because the Hjertefølgers, a family of six, have been doing it for three years now, and they’re absolutely loving it. What’s more, they live in a geodesic dome that’s paned in glass, so they also have majestic views from their house. The glass isn’t useful just for stargazing though, since it also serves as a sort of greenhouse, which allows the family to grow their own food.

The home is located on Sandhornøya island in Norway, and it is called Nature House. It has three stories and five bedrooms, as well as a rooftop terrace, and it’s all enclosed in the 25 foot (7.6 m) high dome. The home is solar powered, and features a greywater filtering system that creates all the needed water to irrigate the garden.
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It took them two years to design and build the home. It was constructed using a mixture of natural materials, namely earth, straw and sand. The dome is 49 ft (15 m) wide and was built by the company Solardome. It’s made up of 360 panels of 0.26 inch (6 mm) thick single-paned glass, which can withstand the heavy snow loads and winds that are the norm in this region. The frame is made of recycled aluminum and apparently has a structural lifespan of 100 years. It also requires very little maintenance, while the fact that it is dome shaped also led to a 30 percent savings in materials compared to traditionally built houses. The dome also features 11 operable windows, which can be opened for ventilation.

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The interior of the home is cozy and well laid out, and offers both privacy when needed, as well as a way for the family to enjoy their time together. Given that this home is located in a region that only gets about three months of sunlight per year, it is quite a feat in sustainable architecture.