SF Bay Couple Lives in 712-Square Foot Cottage as an Experiment in Energy Conservation

Since 2012, architect, David Baker, and design communications consultant, Yosh Asato, have made their home in Zero Cottage, a 712-square foot home in the Mission District designed by Baker with the goal of achieving Net Zero Energy certification. According to Living-Future.org, Net Zero certified buildings are rare, and must be designed to harness “energy from the sun, wind or earth to exceed net annual demand.” “The basic concept is that you need hardly any energy for heating or cooling because the house is so well-insulated,” Baker recently told the San Francisco Chronicle. Baker explained that the cottage uses an innovative 92% efficient Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system, that extracts heat from day-to-day use, “heat that you generate—taking a shower, cooking, using your computer.” The HRV system then uses that extracted heat to “warm fresh, incoming air.” Baker said that after using the HRV system, he never wants to build another house without one. “It’s an amazing system,” he said. “It’s so quiet, you can’t tell you are in the middle of the city.” Zero Cottage also makes use of sustainable materials, like reclaimed metal tiles and wood flooring. “We… incorporated wood flooring salvaged from a pasta factory,” Baker explained. “We didn’t …

Bay Area Boutique Uses “Magic Mirrors” to Merge Online and Offline Shopping

Like something out of Back to the Future Part II, the new “magic mirrors” at Rebecca Minkoff in San Francisco may be the future of shopping. The new technology was developed by eBay as a way to bring the online shopping experience into the real world. “People still want to use their five senses, not just the one sense you use when you’re doing e-commerce,” said Steve Yankovich, eBay’s Head of Innovation and New Ventures. “So physical retail, a showroom, I think will never go away.” Customers at Rebecca Minkoff can use “connected glass” walls to view the latest looks through pictures and video. When they want to try something on, they simply tap the item to add it to their dressing room. They can even order drinks, like champagne, which they can enjoy while trying on clothes. By entering their mobile number, the customer can receive a text when their dressing room is ready. The magic mirror experience continues into the dressing room, where the mirror uses RFID technology to recognize which items the customer is trying on. It also acts as a virtual stylist, suggesting accessories and other items to complement the customer’s selections. The customer can then ask …

AltSchool: New SF Bay Tech Startup is Creating the Future of Education

Altschool, a San Francisco Bay area startup founded by former Google product manager, Max Ventilla, is an innovative new school system that combines advanced technology with traditional education. AltSchool’s “micro-schools” are modeled after the one-room schoolhouses of the past. Students aged from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade learn together in classrooms with no more than 25 students and two teachers each. For a tuition of around $20,000, students study a curriculum focused on project-based learning and real-world lessons. “The point of education is to prepare our kids for the world that they’re going to actually experience as adults,” Ventilla explained. Students go on weekly field trips and complete activities like designing irrigation systems and building drones. Micro-schools have no principals or other administrators, but instead use technology to connect teachers with students and parents. Engineers and software developers work closely with teachers in their classrooms to constantly improve the AltSchool platform. “All engineers have ‘buddy teachers’ and study what’s going on in the classroom so they can learn about what’s most effective,” said Director of Education, Carolyn Wilson. “It lets us iterate very quickly and improve very, very quickly and validate for others that this is actually an approach that can …

Lazy Bear: An Elegant Dinner Party Every Night

Once the San Francisco Bay area’s best kept culinary secret, Lazy Bear is now the hottest ticket in the Mission District. What began as a series of underground dinner parties in 2009 became a legitimate dining establishment in August of 2014. Far from a traditional restaurant setting, Lazy Bear offers a “communal dining experience,” where diners sit together at long tables, all enjoying the same tasting menu of about 12 courses plus extras. Twice per night, 40 lucky ticket-holders file into the chic gastropub-style venue for an exclusive dinner party like no other. The festivities begin in the cozy upstairs mezzanine, where diners lounge on couches, enjoying drinks and snacks. Dinner is served downstairs at two communal tables. Each course is explained in detail before a team of waiters quickly pass around plates at designated times. Lazy Bear’s FAQ explains that the dinner party setting means that the pacing of the meal may be different from what diners expect, and that the course explanations “might interrupt your conversation a bit.” Lazy Bear’s communal style dining is designed to foster a more social, energetic atmosphere, where guests share stories while enjoying the modern American menu. Purchasing tickets in advance makes dining less …