Sustainable Airport Terminal Built in Norway

There is nothing very sustainable about air travel, but the airport terminals can be, as has now been proven by the architects of Nordic – Office of Architecture who designed and built a new terminal at Norway’s Oslo Airport. The new terminal is equipped with many sustainable and energy-efficient features and was built using recycled materials.

The new extension to the airport is basically a 984 ft (300 m)-long structure and it provides an additional floorspace of 1,237,849 sq ft (115,000 sq m). It was built using primarily recycled and natural materials, such as recycled steel, curved glulam beams, as well as concrete mixed with volcanic ash. The latter is thought to be more sustainable than regular cement, since lower temperatures are needed to mix it, and it is said to have a longer expected lifespan. The cladding and flooring is mostly oak.

The terminal is insulated to Passive House standards, while they also achieved the BREEAM “Excellent” sustainability rating, which is a first for an airport building. They will also be storing the snow collected off the runways in winter and using it to cool the building in the summer. The curved shape of the terminal also maximizes solar heat gain, while the generous glazing lets in ample amounts of natural daylight and eliminates the need for artificial lighting. Oslo only gets about 6 hours of daylight in the winter months, so I suppose artificial lighting will be needed then. As for heating, the terminal utilizes low-carbon technologies like district heating and natural thermal energy.

Overall, this is a great example of large scale sustainable architecture, which needs to become the norm going forward if we wish to preserve the planet.

Tesla Announces Sleek New Solar Panels

Late last year, Tesla unveiled a range of solar panels that were actually roof tiles as well. The price was prohibitive though, since there was no way to install them on an existing roof without some expensive and time-consuming renovations. But this is no longer the case.
The company has now added a new product to their line-up: solar panels that are so sleek and thin that they will make any roof look good.

The new Tesla solar panels are to be made by Gigafactory 2, a Tesla factory located in Buffalo, New York. They will be exclusive to Tesla, and are intended to be integrated with their Powerwall energy storage units to provide an uninterrupted 24-hour a day supply of clean energy.

The mounting hardware of these new 325-watt panels is hidden, while the integrated front skirt allows them to blend with the roof on which they are installed almost seamlessly. According to Tesla, these panels not only meet but also exceed industry standards when it comes to durability and lifespan, though no data was provided to support this. According to Elecktrek, other 325-watt panels that Panasonic currently produces have an efficiency rate of 21.67%. The new Tesla panels probably have a similar efficiency, or perhaps an even slightly better one.

The company will start producing these new panels in the summer of 2017. They will be used exclusively for all future residential solar installations by the company, as well as for replacement of any other existing third party solar panel installations. No word on pricing yet, though those interested can also get a custom quote for their home via the Tesla website.

Tiny Home for Cold Climates

As more and more people decide to downsize to a tiny home, it has become imperative that these homes be made as cold-proof as possible. The Quebec, Canada-based firm Minimaliste recently completed this luxury tiny home for a client, which is exactly that. Apart from being very well-insulated, it also features many other comforts usually reserved for larger houses.

The so-called Sakura home measures 380 sq ft (35 sq m) and was built on a gooseneck trailer. it features a living area, which can easily be converted into a dining room. This is done with the help of modular sofa pieces that can be moved around, and a coffee table that is designed to open up into a 22 by 60 inch (56 by 152 cm) dining table, which can seat up to four people. The home also features a large bedroom and a bathroom big enough for a tub.

The kitchen runs along two facing walls, and is equipped with a fridge and stove. The bedroom is in a loft, which is accessible via a storage staircase. There is additional storage under the bed, and there is a lot of headroom in this area. There is also a second loft which can be used as a sort of reading nook and provides access to the cedar roof deck, through a skylight.

The home is also equipped with a number of sustainable features such as a composting toilet, hydronic radiant heating in the floors, a Lunos air exchanger with a heat recovery system, and a three-level water filtration system. Water passing through this filter goes through a pressure regulator, a big sediments filter, a fine sediments filter, and lastly through a water sanitizer, so pretty much any kind of water can be filtered using it.

The Sakura is a luxury home with many add-ons, so the price tag reflects that, since it cost a whopping $102,000.

A house digitally fabricated from the ground up

A team of professionals at ETH Zurich have started work on a house which will be digitally fabricated at nearly all stages of the construction process. The so-called DFAB House is being crafted at the NEST building near Zurich in Switzerland. Designing and constructing it will be a team effort between architects, robotics specialists, materials scientists, structural engineers and sustainability experts, as well as local contractor Erne AG Holzbau. One of the main aims of constructing this house is putting sustainable technologies developed in labs to real-life use to test them.

When completed, DFAB House will measure 2153 sq ft (200 sq m). The ground floor walls are being built by a 6.6 ft (2 m) tall robot with a toolhead that is used to bend and weld 0.24 inch (6 mm) steel rebar to construct the mesh wall framework. This is then filled with a specially formulated concrete which hardens so that it does not leak through the gaps. This process will result in a curved wall, while the robot used to build it is autonomous and moves around on caterpillar tracks. The ceilings of the house will be constructed using a 3D sand printer.

The so-called Smart Dynamic Casting method will be used for the ground floor façade. This is a new slipform construction method which allows for complex structural elements to be built without needing concrete molds. A team of robots will be used to construct the building’s upper floors, using prefab timber elements.

Apart from providing apartments and work spaces for guest researchers and NEST partners, the house will also be fitted with a range of smart home and IoT technologies, including innovative systems that communicate with and learn from each other, as well as other energy control systems. The DFAB House is expected to be finished by the summer of 2018.

Tiny Off-The-Grid Home Full of Bells and Whistles

The Canadian firm Rewild Homes recently designed a cool new tiny home, which is big enough for two and features a very cozy and comfortable layout. They are calling it Blue Heron, and it can be taken off-grid if the owners so desire.

The Blue Heron rests atop a double axle 24 ft (7.3 m)-long trailer, and the interior measures 250 sq ft (23 sq m). Most of the floorspace is taken up by the lounge and a kitchen. the latter features a four-burner propane range cooker, a stainless steel fridge, a sink and plenty of cabinetry. The sitting area is fitted with a sofa and a corner unit, both of which have a storage area hidden within. Heating is provided via a Morsø wood-burning stove, while they also installed a fan/lighting unit in the lounge area for cooling and aiding ventilation. They left the fir beams exposed, which gives the tiny home character and works to make it appear more spacious.

The bathroom is separated off from the rest of the space by a sliding barn-type door. it is fitted with a composting toilet, sink, shower and a custom-made closet. The bedroom is located in a loft, which is accessible via a set of stairs with built-in storage space. The headroom in this area appears quite generous.

The Blue Heron tiny home is also fitted with a solar power harvesting system. This system is made up of 6 x 285 W solar panels, a 2.8 kW inverter, and 6 x 6 V, 460 Ah batteries. All the lighting is LED, while the home also features an on-demand propane-powered tankless water heater. There is also a hookup on the outside, which allows for connecting the propane to an outdoor barbecue.

The Blue Heron is selling for $78,000, which is quite high, though with all the off-grid features it is still quite affordable.