Articles - March, 2010

Green, Efficient, and Small West House

West-house-smallworks

With the economy the way it is, retiring folks are downsizing or losing their homes, while newly educated folks are graduating with slim pickings.  Not to be grim, but this is causing people to use property in new ways, such as with accessory dwelling units.  The space can be used for family or as a rental to cover loose ends.  In Vancouver, this is happening with laneway housing.  Smallworks, a Vancouver-based design and build firm, specializes in small and laneway houses, just like this one, the West House. 

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Affordable, Curvy, and Super Green

Block Blandscape

Across the pond in the London Borough of Hillingdon, this infill development of five ultra-green buildings continues to garner attention.  The project, Birchway Eco-Community, was built to Level 5 of the Code of Sustainable Homes (with 6 being the highest possible score) and provides 24 one- and two-bedroom affordable housing units.  These buildings were finished on site after being prefabricated and delivered with kitchens and bathrooms already installed. 

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Testing a New Dynamic Solar Facade

HeliOptix_wallsystem_exterior-syracuseCOE

Just a few days ago, the $41 million Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental & Energy Systems (SyracuseCoE), a 55,000 square-foot building designed to LEED Platinum certification, was dedicated.  The facility was built to be a living laboratory and platform to showcase technological innovation.  Currently, the south facade of the laboratory wing includes a spot to test building envelope and window systems, and it's currently testing this innovative integrated concentrating dynamic solar facade. 

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Graphic: The Pyramid of Conservation

The other day, Martin Holladay, a blogger for Green Building Advisor, mentioned this energy-efficiency pyramid, which I found to be quite interesting.  He said The Pyramid of Conservation originated from Bob McLean, CEO at Hunt Utilities Group, and was created for Minnesota Power.  Minnesota Power uses the interactive graphic to help customers determine where to start when taking on energy efficiency projects.

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Solar Basics: The Easy Guide [Giveaway]

Solar-basics-cover-neil-kaminar We are giving away one (1) copy of this book to a random commenter, so make sure to comment before the end of Friday, March 12, 2010.*

Solar power is exploding these days, what with generous financial incentives and the price of products going down.  All sort of people are looking at the technology to provide green power, but they need good information.  One place to find that is in a new book called Solar Basics by Neil Kaminar.   Kaminar, a solar engineer with nearly 40 years of industry experience, explains most of what you need to know about solar modules and how to make a solar system work. 

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New Book: Shift Your Habit

Shift-your-habit-book Elizabeth Rogers, co-author of The Green Book, has a new book being published this week called Shift Your Habit, and we've been given a review copy.  Shift Your Habit is more of a resource book or a toolkit of ideas, rather than something that you would read on a snowy day, but I guess you could do that, too.  The premise is that moderation is revolutionary, or more specifically, that living greener doesn't just help the planet but it helps you save money. 

Thus, save money and save the planet at the same time.  It's a theme that's been played out quite regularly in the media with headlines like "Earn green by going green."  But that's not to say there's no value in the message. 

Rogers actually quantifies the incremental, monetary benefit to shifting your habit from one behavior to another.  And she does this with hundreds and hundreds of eco-friendly tips, just like this one:

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