sustainable architecture
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sustainable architecture
design strategies + innovative technologies that promote a sustainable built environment
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Beautiful, Innovative, and Sustainable: The Future of Green Architecture

Beautiful, Innovative, and Sustainable: The Future of Green Architecture | sustainable architecture |

Today, architecture finds itself at a crossroads.

Building materials and new construction, along with the operation and maintenance of buildings, account for a significant sum of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Faced with this fact, how are architects to responsibly pursue the act (and art) of architecture without further deteriorating the planet’s environmental make-up or depleting its resources?

What forms of high and low technology can be developed to curtail the injurious side of building?

Can good—or even great—architecture be sustainable?

The answer, of course, is yes. The best buildings have always shown a concern for their immediate environs and how they fit in them, whether they were conscious of “sustainability” or not. Now, all architects and buildings are expected to be engaged with sustainable standards, such as LEED titles, photovoltaic cells, or green roofs—all things that these 10 projects have in common. Check out our favorite projects in architecture + sustainability...

Lauren Moss's insight:

A curated collection of (relatively) recent sustainable building projects that highlight innovative approaches to environmental design and green building, with links provided for additional information and details.

Paige's curator insight, August 6, 2014 2:47 PM

Green architecture! I've dreamt and have considered going into a field of real estate specializing in the building and selling of eco-friendly homes!

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Sustainability & Education at Shanghai's Largest Organic Farm

Sustainability & Education at Shanghai's Largest Organic Farm | sustainable architecture |

Tony’s Farm is the biggest organic food farm in Shanghai, which produces certified vegetables and fruits. But it's more than just a place for vegetable production. The vision is to integrate the consumer and therefore promote a natural lifestyle.

To link the activities of the working people with the visitors of the farm, playze developed a building complex, which combines the main reception, a lobby, (working also for the future hotel rooms) and a vip area, with the new offices and an existing warehouse, where the fruits and vegetables are being packed. The building provides transparency within the manufacturing process. Thus it supports the vision of integrating the visitor and helps to reinforce the consumer confidence in the products of the farm. At the same time the building design is driven by the concept of sustainability, combined with it's iconic qualities, it communicates and promotes the core concept of the Farm...

Lauren Moss's insight:

An interesting project that incorporates relevant social issues and educational opportunities within the context of a working farm...

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The UK’s Most ‘Outstanding’ Green Building

The UK’s Most ‘Outstanding’ Green Building | sustainable architecture |

BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, with 200,000 buildings certified and around a million registered for assessment since it was first launched in 1990.

The largest commercial office in Manchester has now become the highest scoring BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ building in the UK with a score of 95.32%.

Designed by 3DReid, The Co-operative Group’s new £115 million low-energy, highly sustainable headquarters brings their 3,500 staff under one roof in a spectacular 500,000 square foot building.  

The building, known as 1 Angel Square, has been designed to deliver a 50 per cent reduction in energy consumption compared to The Co-operative’s current Manchester complex and an 80 per cent reduction in carbon. This will lead to operating costs being lowered by up to 30 per cent...

GlazingRefurbishment's curator insight, December 21, 2012 4:42 AM

A hugely ambitious design concept. With so much glass however the control of the intenl environment will be a major challenge

association concert urbain's curator insight, December 21, 2012 6:20 AM



via Territori ‏


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Nelson Cultural Center: LEED Gold at the American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis

Nelson Cultural Center: LEED Gold at the American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis | sustainable architecture |

The American Swedish Institute received a new addition with the LEED Gold-designed Nelson Cultural Center by HGA in Minneapolis.

The 34,000 sq ft addition provides space for education and cultural facilities for contemporary exhibitions, administrative offices, collections care, and expanded programs. Designed by locally-headquartered firm HGA, the new extension incorporates contemporary design, traditional Swedish aesthetics and a number of sustainable strategies. The Nelson Cultural Center is anticipating LEED Gold certification due to its sustainable building strategies, which include geothermal heating and cooling, a green roof and much more.

Sustainability was an important aspect of the design, and the institute anticipates LEED Gold certification for its efforts – which would make it the first museum in Minnesota with such accolades.

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University of Applied Sciences by BDG Architecten

University of Applied Sciences by BDG Architecten | sustainable architecture |

This building challenges the preconception of an exclusively formal climate for institutions of higher learning. Designed by BDG Architecten, the CAH University of Applied Sciences in Dronten (a school for agricultural studies) symbolizes a new educational vernacular.

In line with BDG’s programmatic doctrine, the overall design of the building is driven by a strong sustainable concept with the efficient use of sunlight, rainwater and clean air flow.
The solution was a 16-m-high greenhouse, inside which two buildings provide space for both people and plants. The greenhouse functions as a huge air duct, regulating ventilation through an integrated smart climate system. Passive cooling in the form of solar blinds and etched-glass panels prevents overheating in the summer. Rainwater is collected and reused to flush toilets and to clean the building.

The architects’ inside-outside juxtaposition of volumes. Composed of a skeleton of white steel trusses and modular glass panels, the outermost structure encompasses a pair of timber-clad buildings whose solidity cuts through the otherwise light-filled structure. The incorporation of vegetation at various places increases the flow of fresh air and further diminishes the sense of enclosure...

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Vila Alstrup in Demark: energy-plus design

Vila Alstrup in Demark: energy-plus design | sustainable architecture |

The house on the shore with a view of the Wadden Sea is an energy-plus house, which means that it produces more electricity and heat than it uses.

This was achieved without compromising on the exclusive qualities of a large home, including panoramic sea-views. The architecture uses clear and simple expression, open and transparent to the sea and more closed and private towards the neighbors. The unusual geometry of the volume is combined with a calm and unpretentious detailing, and a restrained material palette.

Designed with ‘passive house’ principles, the home is compact in form, with large windows facing the view to the south-west, to make optimal passive use of the sun’s heat. The angle also respects the shoreline protection zone, creating a triangular floor plan. The sloping roof is angled to optimize the performance of the solar heating cells. Passive solar heat gain is absorbed and accumulated in the interior concrete walls and floor slabs, while the south-west facing balcony and overhangs shade the facades and control the amount of seasonal solar energy. The balcony is a free-standing concrete slab completely eliminating any cold-bridging to the interior...

Read more about this contemporary and contextual green design at the article link...

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Sustainability in Sonoma: Green architecture at Stryker Sonoma Winery

Sustainability in Sonoma: Green architecture at Stryker Sonoma Winery | sustainable architecture |

This beautiful, family-owned winery on a 32-acre site in Geyserville, California is noted for its red wine offerings as well as its stunning surroundings and spectacular views, not to mention an architectural design that features green strategies and sustainability as key design elements.

Reflecting Stryker Sonoma's 'bold but thoughtful' philosophy, the design expresses this spirit with a distinctly contemporary aesthetic that references the rural characteristics of the site, creating continuity between the natural and built landscapes.

Designed by Sonoma-based firm Nielsen : Schuh Architects, the winery building incorporates sustainable strategies and passive design concepts at the 12,600 square foot working facility. An environmentally-responsive and site-inspired design serves the needs of the program with minimal development impact to the existing vineyards. The design also conveys the the winemaking processes that occur within it through the thoughtful application of local materials, the incorporation of varying levels of visual transparency, and an environmentally-sensitive site layout.

For more images and to learn more about this beautiful, sustainable destination in Northern California, check out the complete article at the link...

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A Sustainable Home Blends into the Landscape...

A Sustainable Home Blends into the Landscape... | sustainable architecture |

The Caruth Boulevard Residence, located in Dallas, Texas designed by the Dallas-based architect, Tom Reisenbichler combines luxury with green design.

Sustainability played a very important role in developing this project. Solar panels, the use of recycled materials, the care towards the landscape with the trees and the lush untouched vegetation are a few of the green strategies employed in this residential design.

The house was designed to fit into the landscape:, as described by the architect “Integrated tightly into the large iconic trees on the site, this house uses traditional home proportions to blend with the neighborhood. The horizontal lines of the design tie the home to the land, while the roof and balcony reach into the trees making them integral to the home.”

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The Netherlands Institute of Ecology: Raising the Bar with Cradle-to-Cradle Design

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology: Raising the Bar with Cradle-to-Cradle Design | sustainable architecture |

The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) is a truly innovative green laboratory.

From NIOO director Louise Vet: ”Ecologists... do high-level research on genomes and biodiversity, and I wanted the building to express this.” Thus, she chose Claus en Kaan Architecten, a Dutch architectural practice with a track record in laboratory design and challenged the architects to design a building that embodied cradle-to-cradle principles.

Claua en Kaan rose to the challenge with a variety of sustainable strategies. The linear building, 335 feet by 100 feet, has west-facing, sealed laboratories that manage heat gain via a deep brise-soleil. Windows on the east side are operable, allowing daylight and views of the surrounding environment, populated with native plants.

Vertical light-wells span two floors; a core of support labs not requiring daylight occupies the center of the building. The building’s columns were spaced in such a way as to allow for flexibility in future renovation, which is likely to prove a key factor in its longevity, and a green roof shares space with a roof deck.

Heating and cooling is handled via underground storage, making use of deep vertical pipes that store heat from solar arrays and the building at 984 feet below ground. A radiant, in-floor system circulates the warmed water through the concrete floors.

Additionally, the building treats all of its own greywater on site, and releases it into the surrounding landscape.

The architects here are to be commended on this design, as green laboratories are notoriously hard to design. By embodying cradle-to-cradle principles — as well as tailored green build strategies — the Netherlands Institute of Ecology raises the bar.

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Sustainable Innovation at Gardens By The Bay, Singapore: World Building of the Year

Sustainable Innovation at Gardens By The Bay, Singapore: World Building of the Year | sustainable architecture |

Much of the environmental control is achieved through passive means, before resorting to less efficient, active systems such as air conditioning. Fresh air filters through a desiccant, then to conventional chillers. As the desiccant extracts moisture, it also cools the air inside. But to keep the desiccant functioning, energy is needed to remove the accumulated moisture. This is where sustainable technologies come in: An on-site biomass boiler—fueled entirely with green waste from the city’s national parks—and hot air collected from the top of the glasshouses provide sufficient energy to cool the conservatories.


“The result is not an experimental building, but its ventilation strategy has an experimental component,” Finch said. “In a globalized environment, there is so much interest in how we deal with density and this combination of urbanism with a garden that is both an attraction and nature is a wonderful solution. If they can cool these glasshouses through natural cooling, we should ask why it can’t be done in other buildings?”

Via Olive Ventures
Stacy Mata's curator insight, March 8, 2016 8:34 AM
I mean can anything get better than a flower dome?!? Well at first I though no, but it be actually seeing the flowers in the building thriving in its natural habitat. But, hey, this is a stride towards conservation, awareness and beauty. All things we need in the world, oh, and passive design of course!
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The Rock House in Norway Adjusts to the Terrain...

The Rock House in Norway Adjusts to the Terrain... | sustainable architecture |

The Rock House replaces an older building at the site and had to be well adjusted to the terrain, both in terms of shape, scale, material and color. The house and terraces are partly built upon existing stone walls, the parts of the walls which are new are made of stones from the blasting at the site. The low elongated volume is cut into to allow for wind shielded outdoor areas, embraced by the house itself. These cuts also bring down the scale of the building, and together with the local variations of the section, make the building relate to the surrounding cliff formations.

On the outer perimeter of terraces and pool, a glass fence also protects against wind, but allows for maximum view. The house is clad with Kebony wood, a sustainable process of treating the wood to allow for good durability towards the exposure to salt water...


View the link for more great images of the Rock House...

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Greening Japan: sustainable trends in architecture + reconstruction

Greening Japan: sustainable trends in architecture + reconstruction | sustainable architecture |

Japan’s historic architecture was among the most sustainable and environmentally friendly on the planet. Think of a traditional machiya (merchant’s house) or even a palace, such as the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto; made of local materials such as wood, tatami, paper.
The 20th century’s rush to modernize favored new technologies over tradition, and Japan became one of the most exciting architectural landscapes on the globe. There are few environments as adventurous: a place where microhouses are built on microscopic building sites, where skyscrapers rise on seismic quake lines and where material and form are pushed to new heights- it is a constantly changing architectural landscape... 

But the price for this constant reinvention is often environmental; with global economic uncertainty and recent disasters, Japan has had to rethink how it wants to go forward. It could be the beginning of a quiet architectural revolution, as architects and urban planners – as well as the public – question architectural ideals since 1945 and ask: how can this be done better?

Now, with reconstruction beginning, the need and desire to find innovative and sustainable ways of building is growing. Japanese architecture has traditionally prized and worked in response to nature, so it's no surprise that architects are not only looking to new green technology but also back to Japan’s architectural traditions; a shoji screen can be as relevant as a solar panel in sustainable architecture...

Visit the link for the complete article for case studies, example projects and more images that address this new phase of architecture and sustainable development in Japan.

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E+ Green Home by Unsangdong Architects | passive house design

E+ Green Home by Unsangdong Architects | passive house design | sustainable architecture |

Energy Plus House by Unsangdong Architects creates a new type of energy-producing sustainable housing.
A combination of natural properties and technology, this green home incorporates all elements, such as the structural system, materials, spatial composition, landscape and lifestyle into it's passive design and optimized intelligent energy system. The result of a collaboration between UNSANGDONG Architects and Kolon Institute of Technology, the building has acquired Passive House Certificate from the Passivhaus Institut in Germany.

Read the complete article for details on Passivehaus requirements, as well as the green strategies and systems incorporated into the dynamic exterior and minimalist interior of the E+ Green Home...

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Crystal clear: the case for green building

Crystal clear: the case for green building | sustainable architecture |

Part office, part exhibition space, a new London landmark aims to challenge our assumptions about green design.

A new building in east London’s Royal Victoria Docks aims to change public perceptions of green architecture – while trialling some new sustainable technologies and approaches at scale. There’s not a green roof or thick insulated wall in sight. In fact, the structure, which is called the Crystal, is everything we’ve come to believe a sustainable building shouldn’t be: lightweight, angular, glazed from top to bottom and with a roof made out of steel.

Part office space, part interactive exhibition about the future of cities, the building is intended as a living experiment in sustainability that business leaders, politicians and the general public alike can learn from. “The building is a great demonstration of the ‘art of the possible’”, says Martin Hunt, Head of Networks and Partnerships at Forum for the Future. “It’s refreshing to see an interactive exhibition that visualises what our cities could be like – based on high quality research and thoughtful benchmarking. It brings the big issues of urban living – such as water and energy consumption, public health and safety – to life in a way that engages people and inspires them.”

Duane Craig's curator insight, January 7, 2013 10:13 AM

It's quite enlightening, as pointed out here, that a lot of glass used correctly can actually yield a zero energy building. But I agree that assessing the true sustainability of the building would have to factor in all the embodied fossil fuel and other energy used to make its components. And when you're talking about glass, that could be huge.

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MM house in Sao Paulo, Brazil by studio mk27

MM house in Sao Paulo, Brazil by studio mk27 | sustainable architecture |

Brazilian practice studio mk27 has completed the 'MM house' in Braganca Paulista, a wooded municipality of Sao Paulo.

The dwelling consists of two perpendicular rectangular footprints, and features a green roof that blends into the landscape.

A folding screen of retractable slender wooden slats wraps the entire envelope along the exterior glass wall, softening any direct sunlight, with all the bedrooms situated along the eastern elevation facing the valley. The indoor/outdoor gathering space is completely open to the elements where the solid building mass intersects with a wooden deck, allowing occupants to fully engage with the environment. The public living room and tv room at either side of this outdoor room contain large glass doors, enabling a strong visual connection among all the shared spaces.

The timber terrace extends out towards the lower area of the site, ending in a swimming pool upon a concrete plinth that reflects the picturesque environment.

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The Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability at the University of British Columbia

The Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability at the University of British Columbia | sustainable architecture |
Located on a dense site next to ‘Sustainability Street’ at the University of British Columbia, the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability [CIRS] houses 200 researchers from private, public, and NGO sectors, who work together with the common mission of accelerating sustainability.

The 5,675m2 ‘living lab’ is organized around two four-story wings linked by a central atrium. The atrium serves as a building lobby and entry to a daylit auditorium, and as a social and educational space from which all of the project’s sustainable strategies are visible.

The CIRS building has embraced the ambitious sustainability goals of the Living Building Challenge, including those of net zero water consumption; waste water treatment on site; net zero energy consumption, and construction and operational carbon neutrality...
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Rugged, Sustainable Architecture at Shoal Bay, New Zealand

Rugged, Sustainable Architecture at Shoal Bay, New Zealand | sustainable architecture |

The owners of this small weekender in Shoal Bay New Zealand wanted a getaway that was rugged, rural in character and felt unpretentious. Architect Gerald Parsonson responded with the design of a beautiful cedar clad bach in the form of two offset pavilions.

Architects Statement:

"Shoal Bay is a remote settlement on the rugged east coast of southern Hawkes Bay. The building is designed to be part of the rural setting, raised off the ground and sitting beside the original woolshed, which has served the bay since the early 1900's. The bach is rugged yet welcoming and offers unpretentious shelter, it is the type of place where you kick off your shoes and don't need to worry about walking sand through the house.
The bach is formed of two slightly off-set pavilions, one housing the bedrooms and the other the main living space. Decks are located at each end of the living pavilion allowing the sun to be followed throughout the day. Sliding screens at the north-west end provide adjustable shelter for the different wind conditions, offer privacy from neighbouring campers and act as walls for outside sleeping."

The sustainable, passive design features an interior spatial arrangement oriented for solar gain, shaded in the summer by the sliding shutters, which also provide shelter from the prevailing northwest winds. Also increasing the efficiency are high levels of insulation, along with solar panels that sit between the two pavilions...

Visit the link to view more images of this contemporary passive design that responds to its site and rural context...

Mark Warren's curator insight, December 16, 2012 10:28 AM

The owners of this small weekender in Shoal Bay New Zealand wanted a getaway that was rugged, rural in character and felt unpretentious. Architect Gerald Parsonson responded with the design of a beautiful cedar clad bach in the form of two offset pavilions.

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B House in Shimasaki by Anderson Anderson Architecture

B House in Shimasaki by Anderson Anderson Architecture | sustainable architecture |

This hillside cabin in Japan by Anderson Anderson Architecture generates energy using photovoltaic panels and a ground-sourced heat pump.

Despite being surrounded by electricity pylons, this cabin by San Francisco firm generates all its own energy and heating using photovoltaic panels and a ground-sourced heat pump. Named B-House, the single-storey building is positioned on a slope overlooking Kumamoto.

The house was built on a tight budget and sustainability was key to the design. “The extremely modest budget required a close collaboration of the architects and builder to achieve a high quality, off-site fabricated timber frame construction meeting high sustainability standards,” explain the architects.

Read more about the sustainable features of this unique contemporary home and view more images at the article link...

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A Modular System for Sustainable Housing by Cso Arquitectura

A Modular System for Sustainable Housing by Cso Arquitectura | sustainable architecture |
SAMVS is a system of generation of industrialized open modular housing- the user can adapt it to his or her needs, and the product can be realized in a very short time with a fixed price and with the utilization of all kinds of sustainable systems.

Learn more about this efficient and innovative approach to green building at the link...
Elisabeth Avalos's curator insight, October 18, 2013 11:55 AM

Vivienda sustentable


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Huangshan Mountain Village: sustainability grows in the Chinese landscape

Huangshan Mountain Village: sustainability grows in the Chinese landscape | sustainable architecture |

MAD has unveiled plans for a towering village of apartment blocks beside the Huangshan Mountains in eastern China. 

Inspired by the topographical layers of the landscape, the buildings will have organically shaped floor plates and will emerge from amongst the treetops on a site beside the Taiping Lake.

The high-density village features low-rise residences that echo the contours of the surrounding topography and offer unequalled access to one of China’s  landscapes.

The site of verdant scenery and limestone cliffs have long inspired artists and offered sheltered spaces for contemplation and reflection, contributing to its UNESCO Heritage status. Composed in deference to the local topography, the village provides housing, a hotel and communal amenities organized in a linked configuration. As its form evokes the geology of the region, the village blurs the boundaries between the geometries of architecture and nature.

For residents, the apartments will be a quiet retreat –  all have spacious balconies which overlook the lake. Communal amenities and walking paths encourage residents to explore the landscape. Each floor is unique and accessed from shared social spaces, creating a seamless balance between private and public spaces. The same serene design sensibility of natural environment extends to the interiors, with the use of local materials and the incorporation of plants and greenery enhancing comfort and well-being, while simultaneously setting up a closer connection with local culture...

François Lanthier's comment, November 19, 2012 4:48 PM
Love it! Where do you find all thins great information?
association concert urbain's comment, November 19, 2012 4:55 PM
association concert urbain's comment, November 19, 2012 4:55 PM
Via Lauren Moss
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Eneco sustainable headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands

Eneco sustainable headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands | sustainable architecture |

Amsterdam-based Hofman Dujardin Architects, in collaboration with Fokkema & Partners, has helped sustainable energy company Eneco practice what it preaches with the design of its headquarters in Rotterdam. The 14-floor office has been operational since April, with employees enjoying one of the Europe's best workspaces.

The heart of the building is a central atrium surrounded by a light-filled meeting centre with a reception space, meeting rooms, working areas, informal meeting areas, lounges, restaurant, service desk and auditorium. Sun collectors on the south façade and on the roof track the sun throughout the day, absorbing the maximum amount of solar energy.

The working and meeting areas are designed to be energetic islands floating on a white terrazzo floor. Some islands are open spaces and others enclosed for privacy but they are all executed with vibrant colours and materials. Those on the ground floor are red, purple and orange, while those on the first floor are in different shades of verdant green (meeting rooms) and blue (working spaces). The diversity of color and materials on the work islands are not only lively and inviting but give the different spaces specific identities and atmospheres that enable people to orientate themselves better in the office.

Learn more about the sustainable strategies incorporated into the design of this green office space at the article link...

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San Francisco's new Exploratoruim science museum seeks net-zero energy goal

San Francisco's new Exploratoruim science museum seeks net-zero energy goal | sustainable architecture |

When the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco relocates next spring to a new $220-million waterside home, visitors no doubt will marvel first at the spectacular views of San Francisco Bay from the building's perch on Piers 15 and 17.

Less noticeable is the network of heating, cooling, water-use and other systems that assist in achieving the goal of net-zero energy use—a lofty target for a major museum.

The new 422,166-sq-ft Exploratorium will be nearly three times larger than the museum's current facility at the landmark Palace of Fine Arts.

The new building also could be the largest net-zero energy museum in the world, according to Nibbi Brothers, San Francisco, the project's general contractor.

Stop by the link to learn more about the city's new Exploratorium and how the project team plans on achieving the high energy-efficiency goals through green design strategies, innovative technologies and renewable energy systems...

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Center for Solar Energy & Hydrogen Research in Stuttgart

Center for Solar Energy & Hydrogen Research in Stuttgart | sustainable architecture |

The new research building in Stuttgart is designed on a grid for a highly flexible workplace that serves as a dynamic framework for ongoing research activities. The Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research comprises offices, laboratories, meeting and conference facilities.

“The grid structure of the research centre ensures a high degree of mobility and freedom to change and expand the building”, explains Design Director Louis Becker, Henning Larsen Architects. “The building has a rational design and is organised in modules. 

Carefully integrated into the surrounding context, the building features various heights that relate to the city and adjacent buildings. The building will create a new, distinctive entrance to Stuttgarter Engineering Park and provide an insight into the ongoing research.

Read the complete article for details on the sustainable strategies and technologies utilzied in the design of this flexible, adaptable and green research building...

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Sustainable Modernism: House in Regensburg

Sustainable Modernism: House in Regensburg | sustainable architecture |

Building a green home, while increasingly popular in recent years, isn't a completely new concept, and the House in Regensburg by Thomas Herzog, built in 1977, still resonates today as a unique and beautiful example of thoughtful, site-responsive architecture.

Elegant in its simplicity, the design employs key sustainable principles, including passive heating and cooling, appropriate material selection and responsive building form, all of which enable the structure to have minimal development impact while maintaining a high degree of efficiency- the result of an integrated approach to site, technology, and design.

Herzog's House in Regensburg is not only a beautiful example of modern design, but also a testament to the fact that creativity is not compromised by sustainability. In fact, creativity is enhanced by this type of contextual and innovative thinking, making for a project that is not only green, but timeless and visually engaging, in both concept and execution.

Jonathan Belisle's comment, September 28, 2012 3:23 PM
I really like this article. !
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