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Advanced Builder Blocks

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Vermont artisans transform local, sustainable timber into 78-piece building block set $96.00

In an age when babies are using iPads, it's nice to have toys around that harken back to a simpler, less digital era. This timeless builder block set is a perfect example. Handmade by artisans in Middlebury, Vermont, the 78-piece set helps encourage budding imaginations with varied blocks all sized in multiples of 1". The wooden blocks are crafted from locally sourced, sustainably harvested......read more

Green Cement

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German researchers look to reduce emissions from cement production.

Cement production accounts for five percent of global CO2 emissions, which is double the emissions from all airline traffic. That spells a massive greenhouse gas problem, just so society can continue to build and expand its infrastructures. But there has to be another way, right? Cement is the glue that holds concrete together. Concrete is so ubiquitous as to be nearly invisible. Producing the......read more

Tea Houses by Swatt Miers Architects

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Three small buildings in a Silicon Valley oak grove offer a quiet retreat

When the owner of a Silicon Valley property decided to renovate his family home, he also decided to make good on an idea he and his daughter shared: building treehouses in an oak grove on the edge of the property. While not exactly treehouses per se, these three tea houses nestled among the stands of oak should do the trick. Designed by Swatt Miers Architects, the glass-paneled tea houses......read more

Local Materials Only: The 100-Mile House

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Home-building competition challenges architects to keep it local

The food-based locavore movement is maybe best defined by the "100-Mile Diet," which involves eating only what's available in your region. Now, that concept is being applied to architecture with the "100-Mile House," an approach to homebuilding that involves using only materials available in your immediate environment (duh).  The idea is being promoted by the 100 Mile House......read more

Flick the Switch, and Smart Glass Blocks Heat and Light

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Spray-on smart windows could ignite an energy efficiency revolution

US Department of Energy scientists have engineered a spray-on nanocrystal window coating that uses electricity to control how much heat and light passes through it. The "smart glass" coating, which can be controlled to respond to changing weather conditions, could represent a major leap in energy efficiency technology for buildings. The technology, described in Nature, makes use of conductive......read more

California Commission Boosts Building Energy Standards

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Unanimous vote approves sweeping energy efficiency standards, including 'solar ready roofs' on new buildings

The California Energy Commission today unanimously approved upgraded building energy efficiency standards that one commissioner called "the strongest in the nation." The new standards, which take effect Jan. 1, 2014, include a host of common-sense standards designed to save energy, from insulating hot-water pipes to making sure that air conditioner installations are inspected for sufficient air......read more

Dovecote Studio: Preservation, Meet Prefab

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London architects Haworth Tompkins insert a Corten steel artist's studio into a ruined Victorian dovecote

On England's Suffolk coast, architects from London firm Haworth Tompkins have made unlikely bedfellows of prefab architecture and historic building preservation. Dovecote Studio was created from the ruins of a Victorian-era dovecote, which was used as a frame for a Cor-ten steel "lining". The inner form was lowered by crane into the aging brick structure. Say the architects: "The......read more

Bigfoot Country: The Adventures of Woody and the Blue Ox

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After building his own truck-bed camper in Carpinteria, CA., Trevor Gordon embarks on a surf mission in Cascadia's Bigfoot Country

Last summer, surfer Trevor Gordon took his newly built camper north to British Columbia in search of surf and adventure. Having traded in his 1988 VW Vanagon for a blue four-by-four Jeep Comanche, he set out to build a wooden camper with a sturdy frame to withstand the rough terrain and torrential rains that define the region. “The day I finished, I immediately started the maiden voyage......read more

Bringing Solar Power To Remote Hospitals Is Saving Lives

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One startup working in Nepal learned that delivering high-quality health care often means having to innovate in unexpected ways--such as building new energy systems.

Founded by three Yale University Medical School students, Possible is a nonprofit health care company that runs medical facilities in remote Nepal. These include the 25-bed Bayalpata Hospital, in Anchham, a series of local clinics, and a small army of community health care workers. Part of its model revolves around importing Western standards of medicine and management, including modern......read more

Sri Lankan Living Building to be World's Largest Vertical Garden

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This 46-floor apartment block will be home to 33,000 plants

A residential high-rise project located just outside of the Sri Lankan port city of Colombo will be home to over 33,000 shrubs and a rare tree species. Rising 46 stories and topped with a solar panel-covered rooftop, Clearpoint Residencies will boast the world's tallest residential vertical garden.  The 146-unit complex was designed in by Sri Lanka-based architectural......read more

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