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Will Passive Homes Save the Planet? What to Know About the Eco-Friendly Movement – ELLE Decor

Above: The living room of a Passive House conversion in Jersey City, New Jersey, designed by Mowery Marsh Architects with interiors by Elaine Santos Design.


If you were building a new house or gutting an old one and could drastically reduce energy use, enhance indoor air quality, and contribute to a greener future, would you do it? Most people likely would, which is why Passive House construction—which offers all of these advantages, and more—is rapidly evolving from a system that used to be viewed as a fringe curiosity embraced by eco-warriors to a preferred new way of building.

“It’s just a better building standard,” says Alan Barlis, principal of the New York–based architecture firm BarlisWedlick, which has been building Passive Houses since 2008. “We’ve always been interested in craft, and we’ve always been interested in making sure that our design offers great value for the investment. Passive House is just a way to bring it all together, into a series of techniques that are very clear and amount to real results.”

What is Passive House construction? It’s simply a commonsense method of building that doesn’t leave a home with drafty holes and wasteful insulation gaps. It makes the exterior of a home airtight with a continuous membrane, employs high-performance insulation without gaps or so-called thermal bridges, makes triple-pane windows standard, and, because the resulting living space is fully sealed, uses an energy recovery ventilator to supply constant fresh air while maintaining a set indoor temperature.

a green room with a table and chairs and a beautiful overhead light fixture

Joshua McHugh

A home office in an 1852 Manhattan townhouse renovated to Passive House standards by BarlisWedlick.

Implementing these measures can result in jaw-dropping energy savings. “We’re able to save 80 to 90 percent of the energy that would be used on heating and cooling,” Barlis says. Because energy consumption is so low (the little heating and cooling that’s required is usually provided by an air-source heat pump), it’s relatively easy to make a net-zero home—where the building produces as much energy as it uses—by adding some solar panels.

“It’s just a better building standard,” says Alan Barlis.

But it’s not just about energy savings. Passive House principles also result in improvements you feel on a daily basis. There are no hot or cold spots in interior rooms like there are when a forced-air furnace heats a home; old, stale air is constantly replenished with fresh, new filtered air; and the resulting spaces are reassuringly quiet, because all that insulation and air sealing virtually eliminate noise from outside.

Another advantage is that building a Passive House requires almost no aesthetic compromise beyond having thicker walls. “It doesn’t have to look a certain way because it’s sustainable,” says Jennifer Marsh, who runs Mowery Marsh Architects in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband, Brian Marsh, where they have been building or retrofitting gorgeous homes that are covertly Passive Houses since 2008. “There’s no trade-off. We’re adding comfort; we’re adding value.”

These days, the firm simply builds with Passive House principles as a no-brainer, she notes. “We rarely talk about Passive House at all,” Marsh says. “It’s just part of our DNA. Our starting point is wanting to do good architecture.”

Passive House principles result in improvements you feel on a daily basis.

Jennifer Hanlin, founder of the Brooklyn-based interior design firm Hanlin Design, found the same freedom when renovating her Brooklyn townhouse to Passive House standards with her husband, Chris Cooper, a partner at the architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. “When people were taking the first stabs at sustainable building in the ’70s, it all had a hippie look to it,” Hanlin says. “But with a Passive House, you would never know it.”

While estimates vary, Passive House construction can cost up to 15 percent more than conventional building. Another big challenge is finding builders, electricians, and plumbers who are experienced with the different construction methods required and do not drill holes willy-nilly.

But as Passive House principles become more common-place, that knowledge gap is shrinking. And the benefits are too good to ignore. Someday, Barlis predicts, it will just be the regular approach to building. “It’s going to take time,” he says, “but it will become the norm.” 

april 2024 cover elle decor

This story originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE

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Watch: Astronaut Gives Virtual Tour Of International Space Station – NDTV

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Watch: Astronaut Gives Virtual Tour Of International Space Station

Andreas Mogensen first provided a sneak peek into the front section of the space station.

A European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut has offered the public a virtual tour of the International Space Station (ISS). Five space agencies namely NASA, JAXA, Roscosmos, CSA, ESA, and their contractors work together to manage the ISS, which is the largest space station ever constructed, in low Earth orbit. Andreas Mogensen made his way back to Earth from his six-and-a-half-month stay on ISS in the middle of March. He documented his time at the station as a member of NASA’s Crew-7 mission by recording a video inside and showing it to his social media followers. 

In an elaborate post that Andreas Mogensen posted on X (formerly Twitter) on April 12, the ESA astronaut revealed, “It’s been a month since I left the International Space Station. One of the very last things that I did on undock day, was film a tour of the Space Station. It is as much a keepsake for me as it is a way for me to share the wonder of the International Space Station with you. Whenever I will miss my time onboard ISS, and especially my crewmates, I will have this video to look at.”

Andreas Mogensen first provided a sneak peek into the front section of the space station. Above it, there was a SpaceX Dragon craft, which brought him to Earth on March 12. The roughly 114-by-22-foot Columbus module, which the ESA supplied as a science lab back in 2008 could be spotted in the clip. Viewers could also make out the smaller Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) kept across the lab. Also known as Kibo, it was built soon after the construction of Columbus. 

Several more ISS amenities, like the workstations, storage units, restrooms, exercise equipment, several docking nodes, and even the station kitchen, were shown by Andreas Mogensen through first-hand observation. The cupola, which offers an unparalleled 360-degree panorama of the Earth as well as an impressive look at the space station’s overall size, is unquestionably the most stunning spot on the entire International Space Station (ISS).

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Atomos Ninja Phone Announced – Record Footage on iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max – CineD

Atomos Ninja Phone Announced - Record Footage on iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max

Atomos announced a unique accessory to turn your phone into an Atomos Ninja monitors/recorder: the Atomos Ninja Phone. If you already own an iPhone 15 Pro/Pro Max and a mirrorless camera, this might be the least expensive way to get ProRes recording from a camera with interchangeable lenses.

The iPhone has a great screen, so it makes sense to use it as a monitor for your compact camera when shooting video. But most of those compact mirrorless cameras use highly compressed formats when recording video. This makes it difficult to make necessary adjustments to the picture in post-production. The Atomos Ninja Phone accessory seeks to solve that problem.

Atomos unveils the Ninja Phone

The Ninja Phone attempts to bridge the gap between your iPhone 15 Pro and your mirrorless camera. A “co-processor” unit clips into the back of a custom iPhone case. Both the unit and the case have locking mechanisms for the USB-C and HDMI cables that need to go between the two devices. The Ninja Phone is powered by a single Sony NP battery.

The Ninja Phone converts the video signal out of your camera’s HDMI feed into a stream that goes into your iPhone’s USB-C port. The Atomos app then records that video to your phone’s internal storage (you might want to opt for an iPhone with a large internal capacity) as ProRes and also 10 bit H.265 simultaneously. Additionally, you can stream your video feed to Atomos’ Cloud Service via 5G or Wi-Fi.

Atomos Ninja Phone
Atomos Ninja Phone. Image Credit: Atomos

The Ninja Phone delivers app gives shooters access to Atomos’ array of tools. Users can select focus and exposure overlays that may be a big improvement over the tools on their mirrorless camera.

Atomos also included support for external USB-C mics through a jack on the back of the unit. The Nina Phone will match the sample rate of your microphone and lock the audio to video on the output.

The iPhone’s incredible screen

Some may not realize it, but the iPhone’s screen is better than many stand-alone monitors. Apple has equipped the iPhone with an HDR OLED display that can hit a peak brightness of 1600nits. This makes the phone easy to see in broad daylight. The iPhone’s 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio delivers excellent contrast. And the Super Retina XDR display boasts a spec of 460ppi . This means the display on the iPhone will be more crisp when zoomed in.

Atomos Ninja Phone
Atomos Ninja Phone. Image Credit: Atomos

Shooting Vertical Video

Atomos has included a 9:16 feature to help shooters compose their shots for social media. The app automatically adjusts to the proper orientation.

Atomos Ninja Phone
Atomos Ninja Phone. Image Credit: Atomos

Limitations: 1080p 60fps

It’s critically important to note that the Ninja Phone’s performance tops out at 1080p 60fps. Creators will have to weigh this limitation against 4K options with more highly compressed codecs, like H.265, that are available within many cameras.

Here are the specifications for the output from the Ninja Phone to the iPhone

  • ProRes HQ / ProRes 422 / ProRes LT / ProRes Proxy / H.265 Main 10 / H.265 8b / H.264 8b
  • 1080p 60 / 59.94 / 50 / 30 / 29.97 / 25 / 24 / 23.98fps
  • 720p 60 / 59.94 / 50fps

Is it practical?

Getting ProRes recording out of smaller mirrorless cameras is great. However, the 1080p limit may be a limiting factor for many. The ability to easily stream to major platforms from your mirrorless camera may be the strongest selling point of this device. While the iPhone does have an excellent screen, 1600nits is the peak brightness; so you may find that the sustained brightness of the iPhone is just a bit dimmer than you’d like in broad daylight.

On a recent corporate shoot, I was asked if I could stream the interview to a third party who could chime in with suggested questions. The third-party was on the phone, and the interviewer had an Airpod in their ear. We streamed the audio, but we needed another crew member or additional gear without a quick and easy way of streaming video and audio together. The Ninja Phone would have been a great solution for this use case if only for the streaming capability.

Pricing and availability

The Atomos Ninja Phone will be priced at $399 and is available for pre-order now.

For more information visit Atomos’ website.

What do you think about using Atomos Ninja Phone so you can use your iPhone as a monitor and recorder on set? Let us know in the comments below!

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Zimbabwe economy | Former Finance Minister labels ZiG a waste of time – eNCA

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