In the news, there’s a lot of talk about process journalism and using a feedback loop to evolve stories. It made me think about iterative design and the potential role of blogs and new media to transform projects. Probably, one of the most interesting and current examples I can think of comes from Michael Janzen, who’s behind Tiny House Design, Nine Tiny Feet, and Tiny Free House, among other ventures. Using Google SketchUp, Janzen transformed a shed cluster (through comments, analysis, feedback, and subsequent iterations) into a sustainable dogtrot home. Check it out:
Last week, Willamette Week Online published an article called "Futurehaus," which we linked to in our Saturday Week in Review. The article describes an Oregon Passive House project in the works by Root Design Build. The house is referred to as the Shift House, which, awkwardly enough, is not to be confused with the other Shift Home that we covered recently. But that's not to take anything away from it. With construction set to begin next month, upon completion in September, it'll be one of only a few certified Passive Houses in the United States.
This modern, award-winning abode is the first LEED Platinum home in Virginia. Located at 5803 16th Street North in Arlington, the home was built by Metro Green and designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects (the firm that also designed the popular net-zero energy Bright Built Barn). Although it’s a little bigger than the ones we tend to mention — 3,825 square feet with a tight footprint — I think the home is worth mentioning for a number of reasons. First, annual heating and cooling costs are $180 and $125 respectively! In addition, 5803 has the following green elements:
EcoRock by Serious Materials continues to make headlines. If you haven't heard of it, you will once the product starts to sell. EcoRock is billed as a green replacement for gypsum drywall, and it's already received a number of awards and certifications: Cradle to Cradle Gold Certification, GREENGUARD Certification, and ASTM D3273 for resistance to mold, etc. In addition, Serious Materials just announced that EcoRock received the world's first validation of claims by UL Environment.
Update 12/17/2009: Honeywell Wind Turbine Coming Soon!
Last week, we mentioned that the small wind market is growing like crazy, and if things go as planned, there could be another turbine company to watch. The Honeywell Wind Turbine from EarthTronics, according to Martin LaMonica of CNET, will be sold in participating Ace Hardware Stores starting this October. EarthTronics claims the turbine can generate power at wind speeds as low as 2 mph. With Class 4 winds, the turbine can generate about 2,000 kWh per year, which is roughly 15-20% of an average home’s electricity needs.
Green building detractors often point to the lack of hard numbers on how green buildings actually perform in the real world. As time goes on we'll have a better information as to how all LEED Platinum buildings perform, but for now, we have this success story. Ohlone College's Newark Center for Health Sciences and Technology is celebrating a year of energy conservation and has the numbers to back it up. The 128,000 square-foot facility was completed in early 2008, and received LEED Platinum in August of 2008. It's the first community college to receive such a high certification, and after operating for one year, here's what the numbers tell us: