This is VOLKsHouse, and it’s a prototype for an affordable, net-zero energy family home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In terms of achievements, the home carries an Emerald rating from NAHB and is also the first certified Passive House on the New Mexico market. The project was developed by investor Bob Schneck, Certified Passive House Consultant Jonah Stanford and architect Vahid Mojarrab, all with MoSA Architects, as part of a Passive House Initiative which includes a linked home and office condo called the Balance House.
I spent three days camping and hiking in the mountains of Utah last week and used my iPhone to snap the above photo while slightly downhill from the summit of Mount Timpanogos, which has an elevation of 11,749 feet. In preparation for this trip, I researched for a sustainable, backpacker-worthy solution to keeping my iPhone powered in order to take photos, jot notes, listen to music, and maybe communicate with family when presented with an available signal. I don’t have an iPad, but this solution works for both iPhones and iPads, either one. Here’s what you need:
- The current U.S. drought.
- Energy audits reap energy savings.
- The growing, feeling house of the future.
- EPA identifies substitutes for flame retardant decaBDE.
- Greenery makes a tiny house live larger.
- The secret of liquid-cooled LED bulbs.
- Minimally invasive window modules.
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If you want to wind up a building scientist, you might mention the topic of insulation. Better yet, mention the advent of expanded cork insulation in the United States from Portugal-based Amorim Isolamentos. The insulation is made from leftover material from cork bottle stopper production which is heated and sliced into boards, according to Alex Wilson of BuildingGreen. Thus, the insulation is rapidly renewable and entirely natural.
It’s surprising how easy it is these days to line up all the components necessary for a residential-scale photovoltaic array. Solar panels can be purchased on Amazon (among other places) and tracking systems are readily available, too. If you have the land or your roof isn’t right for your needs, Arizona-based Schletter makes a ground-mount kit for up to 2.5 kW of solar PV and it can be purchased for under $1,000.