Who else is excited for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s expansion plans? Recently announced is a huge vertical garden or living wall of native plants expanding the entire block. Not only that, we can also expect:
- The largest public living wall of native plants in San Francisco
- 130,000 sqft of gallery space covering indoor and outdoor exhibits
- 15,000 sqft of free access public space galleries, filled with art
- A new ‘Live Art’ display area with state of the art sound and lighting know as the White Box
- LEED Gold certification for the new building resulting in a 30% reduction in water use, 15% reduction in energy costs and 20% less wastewater produced.
- Expansion of 5th floor rooftop sculpture garden with a new seventh floor outdoor terrace
- New conservation studios to preserve and care for the SFMOMA’s growing collection
A perfect example of green re-purposing- turning an aging and abandoned elevated railway into a public greenspace. The High Line Park in New York city is probably my favorite urban walkway (with Seattle’s SAM Sculpture Park not far behind) with it’s architectural elements, art displays, and multi-use abilities.
Originally opened in 1934 to reduce the on-street crossing accidents and deaths, this 1.45 mile stretch of railway runs along the lower west side of Manhattan. The increasing use of trailer trucks to deliver goods eventually shut the tracks down in 1980 and was slated for demolition. It sat unused until re-development began in 2006 and the first section opened in 2009 to the public as a walkable greenspace.
Currently it spans a little more than a mile with another half mile slated for re-development and features all sorts of plants and trees paying homage to the hearty and resilient sproutings of neglect before it was redeveloped. › Continue reading
A while back, I wrote about Green Driveways and Paths, which ended up being a pretty popular article. I figured that it would be helpful to see your options when it comes to porous surfaces, permeable paths and eco-friendly driveways.
Green driveways not only are more pleasant to look at, they also can reduce urban heat retention, reduce CO2, reduce runoff, improve drainage and aquifer recharging, provide some water filtration and more! They can also be cheaper in the long run over asphault (resurfacing costs and crack repairs) and concrete (repairing cracks, staining) not to mention preventing washouts and pot holes.
Systems already embraced in Europe typically last over 20-30 years, with little to no repairs or maintenance. The main options for green driveways are using some sort of permeable surface along with turf, gravel or ground cover to enhance the beauty and green factor.
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An exciting (and well-publicized) example of this is the Sanctuary development on Capital Hill in Seattle.
The original church was built in the early 1900s and has been a distinctive landmark of the neighborhood for years. Through the renovation of this historical icon, ecological- minded urban residences are being created.
The preservation of the beautiful building was a cornerstone of the project planning. Architectural details, bricks, wooden pews, flooring and windows were repurposed and used within the new residential development as stairs, detailing, in-fill and patching. New sustainable aspects of the housing itself include dual flush toilets and tankless water heaters. › Continue reading
Winter: tis the season to be jolly. Christmas and Valentine’s day have already come to pass, but the season hasn’t lost all of it’s festivities for those of us enjoying the Winter Olympics. Some time during the beginning of each month though, in spite of how joyful the season may be, you’re bound to get an envelope in the mail that’ll bring you down from all that cheer. Inside the envelope, you’ll find a letter with a lot of fine print and a very clear number representing how much money will be going to go towards paying off the additional heating expenses that every Winter brings along with, the Winter hangover.
Environmentally sound technology has advanced though to the point where you can stay warm in-doors without paying as much of the annual extra costs of heating utilities and without causing unnecessary harm to the environment. It’s a win-win situation in the form of a window material that won’t even clash with your drapes.
The technology is called Low-emittance coating and is applied to the glass during the manufacturing process but the science behind it is pretty simple. When your home is warmed up, eventually things will cool down (it’s why you have to keep the heater on over extended periods of time) as the heat radiates. The heat leaves in the form of infrared radiation, and these microscopic layers work to prevent that by only allowing specific frequencies through. Best of all though, it can work both ways. So in the Summer the same coating that kept heat in during the winter, can keep heat out (diminishing the need to keep rooms regularly air-conditioned).
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Thinking about re-siding your home? Take a look at this eco alternative. Just like a trees own weather proofing, these bark shingles insulate, protect, and are virtually maintenance free. It is made up of tulip tree bark waste from timber operations that would otherwise get burned, mulched, or left to rot.
Lasting up to 75 years, renewable, sustainably harvested and containing no chemicals, it is quite possibly the greenest siding on the market today. The textured look only adds to its appearance and acoustic properties, blocking out sounds much like another bark, cork.
PNC now holds the title for the largest living green wall in North America currently hanging on the exterior of their Pittsburgh headquarters building located at One PNC Plaza. With approximately 14,448 plants covering 602 modular panels, the 2,380 square-feet living mural really livens up the 30-story building.
The eight varieties of plants, installed by locally sourced (within a 500 mile radius of downtown Pittsburgh) materials and labor, only need 15 minutes of irrigation per week. Not only does it look pretty, its also doing some work- reducing the ambient temperatures of the south-facing wall by 25%.
Not only that, PNC has constructed more green United States Green Building Council LEED certified buildings than any other company in the world with a count of 64 Green Branch locations and two office buildings.
Great lighting can really make a house feel like a home. While we tend to focus on the energy efficiency and design of lamps and bulbs, often we neglect to consider the actual electrical system in the house. Whole House Lighting Control System by Verve Living Systems brings a whole new element to eco-friendly lighting.
A wireless lighting system that works via radio frequencies without the need for batteries, it works by routing all lighting to a programmable central controller. Each switch transmits a ‘blip’ of a radio transmission to the central hub up to 300 feet away, get this: by using the energy from the act of flipping the switch. That’s right, the switch itself powers the transmission without needing batteries or its own power source, so they are completely independent and self sustained units. This allows them to be mounted anywhere, you could even just carry it around in your pocket if you want.
By eliminating the need for light switch wiring and having a central hub to control lighting of the entire home, one can program an endless combination of lighting scenarios, and change it without having to do any re-wiring. The energy saving opportunities are equally as enticing. A one switch shutoff for the entire house so you won’t have to worry about that closet light you forgot to turn off.
The benefits of the system are endless. Not only does it greatly reduce lighting install time, labor, and cost due to the lack of a need for wiring switches, but the switches can be installed anywhere, and moved at any time. The system is completely programmable, so you can change the operation of each switch, or group lighting elements together. Imagine turning on one switch and having your entryway, driveway and garage lights all turn on at once, and then be able to click a button in your car to just turn on the driveway and garage lights only.
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