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.

A Passive 3D Printed Tiny Home

Ukrainian engineer Max Gerbut has just unveiled the prototype of PassivDom, which is a passive tiny house with many intriguing features. PassiveDom was built using 3D printing technology, and according to Max, it is the first completely autonomous house in the world, since it does not require any fuel combustion of any sort, no matter where it is placed i.e. not even in an Arctic climate.

PassivDom measures 387 sq ft (36 sq m) and features a 3D printed carbon-reinforced fiberglass frame. It has vacuum panel insulation and, according to the designers, it meets the stringent Passivhaus or Passive House standard. This is quite a feat since the home features a lot of glazing. They achieved this by using windows that they developed themselves, and they claim these are “the warmest mass-produced windows in the world.”

The home is powered exclusively by solar energy, which feeds the heating and cooling system, the water generation system, and the air quality and oxygen control system, as well as all household appliances. This is achieved via rooftop mounted solar panels and a system of lithium phosphate batteries, which together produce and store enough energy for 2 weeks of autonomous running, even when there is no sunlight in that period. That’s quite a feat.

The interior layout is simple, but functional. The living space takes up most of the home, and is used as the bedroom at night. There is a small but functional kitchen, as well as a bathroom, which is separated off from the rest of the home.

They have already announced pricing. The complete, fully autonomous package, which includes the self-sufficient power system (solar panels, batteries, inverters), an independent water supply (water storage, a powerful purification system, and independent sewage) as well as all the appliances, furniture, and water tanks costs $63,718 (59,900 EUR) which is very low, given all the features of this home, as well as the cost of the components.

Solar Roof Tiles as Imagined by Tesla

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Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and SolarCity chairman recently unveiled a new type of roofing tiles, which are also solar panels. It’s no secret that the Tesla company is rapidly developing new ways of establishing a more sustainable future, and these roofing tiles are a great idea. They would be used to cover a roof just like regular tiles, and thereby incorporate solar energy harvesting potential directly into any home without the need to spend money on and install a separate solar power array.

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These solar tiles are made of glass and come in many different styles, including textured tiles, French slate, flat modern and Tuscan style curved roof tiles. Every tile appears opaque when looking at it from ground level, so the solar cells inside it would only be visible from the air.

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The main goal of this project was to develop rooftop solar arrays, which would be more aesthetically pleasing than currently available ones. And by having the solar panels also act as roofing tiles, the whole system would also be much more affordable than currently available solutions. The tiles they created in some cases look even nicer than regular ones, while they also last longer, provide better insulation and, according to Musk, “Have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity.”

Tiles made of glass might not sound very durable, but they tested their durability by dropping a weight onto a roof covered in them from above. The tiles did not shatter as traditional roofing tiles do in such a test, but only cracked. They did not yet announce the price of these tiles, or their energy generation and insulation value. But it is a project well worth following as it goes forward.

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Apart from introducing these new solar roof tiles, Tesla also announced the second generation of their Powerwall battery. The so-called Powerwall 2 is basically a battery pack, which is capable of providing 14 kWh of storage. This is enough to provide sufficient power for everything needed in a four-bedroom home for a day. Hooked up to a rooftop mounted solar system, it could in theory be used to power a home for quite a long time. The Powerwall 2 costs $5,500 and they will begin taking orders for it soon. Its development is a joint effort between Tesla and SolarCity.

Gorgeous and Light-Filled Passive House

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Passive homes are often criticized for being more about satisfying rigid and strict guidelines than about being a home to somebody. But thankfully, that is starting to change in recent times, as is clearly demonstrated by the so-called Tigh na Croit house recently built in Scotland. Just looking at the pictures I’d never guess this was a Passive Home, due to its modern design. It’s spacious, full of natural daylight and must be quite comfortable to live in. it also recently won the Passivhaus award, given out by UK’s Passivhaus Trust, in the Rural Category.

The L-shaped, single story house features a large open plan kitchen, living and dining area, as well as three bedrooms, a cinema room, a utility space, and a storage area. The main living areas have a southern orientation, and open onto a small but functional terrace, so the occupants can better enjoy the surrounding countryside. Which is absolutely gorgeous, by the way.

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The bedrooms face eastward in order to make the most of the rising sun. The home also features large windows throughout, which offers great views, and connect the occupants with the outdoors. The home also features a number of skylights. They installed an air source heat pump and a wood burning stove to provide heating, while the bathrooms are fitted with electric towel bars, which are powerful enough to heat up the space.

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The design of the home also looks nothing like the Passive homes we are used to seeing, as in it’s not boxy with small windows. Hopefully, this home is one of the heralds of a new era of more occupant-friendly Passive House designs.

Modern Passive House

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Passive homes tend to be a little boxy and unappealing, which is probably the reason they haven’t caught on as much as they could. So it’s nice to see companies finding ways around that. One such example is certainly the Cousins River Residence, which was designed by GO Logic of Maine. This firm has been making prefab and passivhaus homes for a while now, and the simple elegance of their designs sets them apart from others.

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The Cousins River Residence is located in Freeport, Maine. It measures 1600 square feet designed and was built to Passivhaus standards. It is very well insulated with the foundation having a rating of R35, the wall R50, and roof R80. It was also fitted with high performance triple pane German windows, which provide 50% solar heat gain and have a rating of R8. The home also features a heat recovery ventilation system that boasts of an 88% efficiency. The shell of the home is airtight and provides 0.5 air changes per hour at 50 Pa. The home is also near net-zero, and features a rooftop mounted 4.6 KW Photovoltaic array, which takes care of the remaining energy needs.

The specs are great, but what’s also very impressive is that the home is modern architecture at it’s best. The shape of a home is simple enough to blend in seamlessly in any environment, and the color palette they chose is mostly whites and naturals. The single story home features a large living and dining area, with a spacious kitchen at one end. One of the walls of this area is covered by glass doors that let in plenty of natural light into the home, which is something not often seen in passive homes.

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The home also features a wooden deck, a screened-in porch as well as a covered walkway. One of the main aims the designers had when planning the home was to provide freedom of movement both inside the home, and between the interior and exterior. They also designed it so that it is easily accessible for both the young and the old, since the current owners plan to spend a long time living in it.

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