Couple Converts School Bus Into a Home

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Living in a mobile home is a dream for many, and there are many ways of living that dream. Filmmaker Felix Starck and musician Selima Taibi are a young German couple hailing from Berlin, and they recently transformed a yellow school bus into a cozy and quite comfortable home for themselves and their dog Rudi. They plan to live in it full time, while traveling from Alaska to South America. (more…)

By |September 21st, 2016|Green Building|0 Comments

Every Room in the Home Has a Place for Bamboo

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Properly sourced and manufactured bamboo can be an alternative to wood if you like that look but want to use something that is more sustainable in your home.

“Bamboo is considered a rapidly renewable material, meaning that it can be harvested in less than 10 years and is used in the interiors of many types of projects,” said Lisa Kamphaus, an associate professor of interior design at La Roche College in McCandless, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.
Although it is durable like wood, bamboo actually is a form of grass.

“It is lightweight, strong and versatile,” said Kamphaus, who also is the chairwoman of the Design Division at La Roche.

“While it is commonly used as flooring, it is becoming more widely used for furniture, textiles and window coverings.”

Bamboo traditionally has been used in many ways in Asia. In fact, Kamphaus said, there is an an Asian saying that “a man is born in a bamboo cradle and leaves in a bamboo coffin.”

Now, bamboo is becoming more common in the United States. “Bamboo definitely has become more of a mainstream product over the last 20 years,” said Aurora Sharrard, executive director of the Green Building Alliance in Pittsburgh. She said bamboo flooring even is available at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Bamboo can be used in many places at your home, from the outside in.

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Yards
Outside the home, bamboo is an attractive material for privacy fences.

Fences can be made from bamboo stalks for an Asian look or from bamboo formed into slats for a look similar to a traditional wooden fence.
Check out a variety of styles by searching for “bamboo fencing” on Pinterest.

 

 

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Living Rooms
Designtrends.com has a web page on “Modern Bamboo Living Room Designs and Ideas” that can give you plenty of ideas for ways to use bamboo in that room.

Photos show examples of bamboo flooring and the wide variety of stains and grains.

You also can see examples of bamboo wall paneling and ceilings and even bamboo frames for sliding glass doors.

 

 

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Kitchens
The uses of bamboo in the kitchen include flooring, countertops and cabinets. You can find more than 1,000 photos on Pinterest in the category of “Design Trends: Bamboo Bliss.”

At the Houzz website, you can check out the gallery of “Modern Bamboo Kitchen Home Design Photos” to see different styles of bamboo cabinetry.

The most common uses for bamboo in U.S. homes are in floors and cabinetry, said Asa Foss, LEED residential technical director for the U.S. Green Building Council, based in Washington, D.C. “Bamboo products can have a similar look and hardness to other hardwood floor options,” he said.

 

 

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Bedrooms
Bamboo flooring and paneling also can be used in the bedroom.

The About Home website’s gallery of “Bamboo Bedroom Floor Pictures and Ideas” says that “bamboo has an intrinsically serene demeanor” and can be a good choice for bedrooms because it promotes “a sense of soothing energy” in the room used for slumber.

 

 

 

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Bathrooms
Bamboo has a place in the bathroom, too, where it can be used for cabinets, vanities and even vessel sinks.
Go to the Houzz gallery of “Bamboo Sink Home Design Photos” to see some of those sinks, along with other examples of bamboo in bathroom design.

 

 


Author Bio

Madelyn Dinnerstein

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By |September 13th, 2016|Design, Green Building, Modern design, Tips|0 Comments

The Basics of Window Energy Ratings

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Things feeling a little drafty in your neck of the woods? If you notice yourself shivering every time you walk through your home, it may be time to think about buying a new set of windows. But a lot has changed for windows in the past decade or so. Specifically, the products on the market now have gotten a lot more efficient, thanks to material and design improvements that help reduce drafts and keeping heating and cooling inside your home, where it belongs.

However, unlike a washer and dryer, where the end game for efficiency is pretty much the same across households, buying the right energy-efficient window depends a lot on the climate in your area. For instance, if you live in the North, you might want your windows to allow in more passive solar heat than you would if your home was in a warmer part of the country. And getting the recipe just right for your region can seriously affect your home’s energy consumption.

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NFRC Ratings and ENERGY STAR Certifications

To help homeowners make sense of how different windows behave in various climate conditions, the National Fenestration Ratings Council created a system for gauging their performance. The NFRC runs a voluntary program which tests different products for both their heat loss and gain, as well as the amount of visible sunlight windows allow into your home. After a product has been tested, a label displaying the ratings can be applied to the window’s packaging and product brochures.

These ratings are used to determine whether or not a window can be labeled as ENERGY STAR certified, meaning that it meets the EPA’s minimum criteria for energy efficiency. This certification is a sure sign that a window will be more efficient than one that doesn’t bear the ENERGY STAR label—however, if you want the maximum energy efficiency, you may need to dig a little bit deeper. A minimum requirement is just that—the minimum. So you may find that slightly higher or lower ratings are needed to keep your home comfortable and to truly save money on your energy bills. To help you pick out the best window for your area, let’s take a look at each individual rating and what it means.

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U-factor Ratings and Climate

A window’s U-factor indicates how much heat escapes through a window once it’s installed. Most windows rate somewhere between 0.15 and 1.20 for U-factor, although the lower the U-factor, the better the window is at preventing heat loss. That doesn’t necessarily mean the lowest U-factor you can find is the best, however. In hotter climates, a slightly higher rating may actually be ideal, since it will keep your home from overheating throughout the winter. For instance, the minimum U-factor requirement needed to achieve ENERGY STAR certification is 0.27 or lower in the country’s northernmost reaches, whereas it’s only 0.40 or less in the south. To view the minimum U-factor requirements for each region, check out the EPA’s program requirements.

When shopping for windows, make sure the U-factor has been determined by the NFRC, however, since the ratings council tests the whole window—including the frame and insulation—for overall performance, rather than basing its rating on just how the glass performs. A window’s frame is one of its weak points, so a product that hasn’t been tested for leaks in this area may not perform as well.

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Solar Heat Gain Coefficients and Extreme Temperatures

On the other side of the equation, there’s a window’s solar heat gain coefficient, or SHGC. This measure indicates how well a window’s glazing shades a home’s interior, preventing heat gain from solar radiation. You’ll want to pay particularly close attention to your window’s SHGC if you live in a warmer climate, since reducing excess heat in your home can make your AC work more effectively. A rating below 0.25 will serve you well in these areas—the lower the SHGC, the better the window is at shading your home.

However, northern homeowners who find themselves saddled with high heating expenses may also find their window’s SHGC a useful measurement. Higher heat gain coefficients can be used as a passive heating technique to lower HVAC energy consumption in the winter. To do so, it’s important to balance the SHGC with the appropriate U-factor rating to achieve a beneficial equivalent energy performance. These comparisons can also be found in the North Climate Zone table in the ENERGY STAR program requirements.

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Air Leakage Also Plays a Role in Energy Efficiency

While a window’s U-factor rating gives an indication of how much heated or cooled air escapes through the window, there’s also a separate measurement for how much outside air a product allows into a home. This is the Air Leakage, or AL, rating. The lower a window’s AL rating, the less air it allows inside. In order to be labeled as an ENERGY STAR window, it should measure no higher than 0.30 cubic feet per minute.

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Visual Transmittance Helps with Lighting Expenses

The previous measurements express how a window affects your home’s heating and cooling efficiency. But that’s not the only benefit energy-efficient windows can provide. Windows with a high Visual Transmittance (VT) rating also allow more visible daylight to filter into your home, which can be used in the daytime to offset lighting costs. Lighting a home typically makes up about 10 percent of a home’s total energy expenses, so a little relief there is helpful. To help homeowners understand the relationship between a window’s VT and SHGC ratings, the NFRC also created the Light-to-Solar-Gain rating, or LSG, which indicates how effectively a window allows daylight into your home while still shading the interior from solar heat gain. If you’re hoping to use VT to reduce your lighting expenses, it’s a good idea to look for products that display an LSG rating as well—the higher the number, the more light you’ll get without excess heat.

If you’re smart about your energy ratings, you can effectively use your windows to reduce energy costs in your home. When you see the rate of return on your energy bills, the time you invested reading and understanding window measurements will seem well worth it.

Author Bio
Erin Vaughan is a blogger, gardener and aspiring homeowner.  She currently resides in Austin, TX where she writes full time for
Modernize.com, with the goal of empowering homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big home projects with confidence.

By |September 10th, 2016|Energy Efficiency, Green Building|0 Comments

Smarter and Greener: The Future of Building

Print The face of construction is changing fast as innovative technologies introduce smarter and greener building methods and materials to help the industry’s future meet consumer demands to save energy and the environment.

 


Inspiration from the way termites build their mounds has engineers at Harvard researching swarm robotics, which are thought to be the way forward. This pioneering technology uses robots which can multi-task rather than just being programmed to carry out one duty. This means should a robot malfunction another can immediately take its place to get the building completed on time.

3D printed houses are another area where designers are looking to change the face of construction. This type of housing is already in existence in China and have been tested by the WinSun company, while DUS architects in the Netherlands are also experimenting using 3D printed buildings. Coupled with swarm robots, 3D printed houses could potentially be built virtually anywhere, including other planets or the moon.

Construction materials are also under constant research and development. Some of the latest innovations include Aerogel Insulation, an ultra-strong, lightweight, see-through aluminium that has super-insulating properties and Microalgae which has the ability to produce renewable energy and provide shade.

The infographic offers an insight into these new building materials and construction methodologies. It also takes a look at some buildings that are leading in the way in smarter and greener construction, including the Crystal in London and The Edge Building in Amsterdam.

With smart buildings breaking the mould from design and conception, the materials being used to the way they are built, they are showing us how to be more eco-friendly and potentially increase productivity without having detrimental effects on the world around us.

Using renewable energy sources, having their own recycling abilities and using data collection to make working spaces more efficient, smart buildings are becoming a reality on a global level.

Infographic courtesy of RubberBond.co.uk.

Cleaner and Smater Green Technology

By |September 8th, 2016|Green Building|0 Comments

Couple Build a Fun Tiny Home

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Samantha and Robert, a couple hailing from Yakima, Washington, recently built their first home together. They both enjoy an adventurous lifestyle, from backpacking through Europe and South America, to road tripping across the US, so moving into a tiny home will be just another adventure for them. Samantha is a nurse, and Robert is an architectural designer. They both work full time, and it took them about 14 months to complete the home in their free time. (more…)

By |September 1st, 2016|Green Building|0 Comments

Spend Your Vacation in a Tiny House Village

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Ever wish you could rent out a tiny home so you could see how living in one actually feels like? Well now you can. The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company are currently building a new tiny house vacation village near Portland, Oregon, and the houses there will soon be available to rent.The village will consist of five homes and it will be located inside the Mt. Hood RV Park. This means that guests will also be able to use the park’s amenities, namely the swimming pool and spa, game room, as well as the hiking and biking trails. (more…)

By |August 19th, 2016|Green Building|1 Comment