This home isn’t necessarily modern, but it has all the modern conveniences one could ask for: solar panels, small wind, radiant floor heating, air filtration system, and a trombe wall, etc. Kent and Kathy Lawrence’s custom country home, which was completed in 2005, ended up costing roughly $300 psf. The wind turbine alone came in at a cool $37,100 (producing 13,000 kwh/year), and that’s without tax subsidies. And unlike many custom homes that tend to explore new boundaries of profusion, this home is only 2,200 sf. Not bad. But the Lawrence’s weren’t just concerned with smart design and energy efficiency. Currently, they’re removing invasive plant species and planting native flowers, just trying to be gentle stewards of the land they inhabit. I think this is a rather picturesque setting for a home … much the American Dream.
Have you ever wanted to walk through a prefab or see what the excitement is about in person? If you live on the west coast, the opportunity to walk through a prefab happens fairly frequently. Just wait for the right conference or event and you'll hear about a tour or walk through. Now, two hours north of San Francisco in Napa County (Pope Valley), there's a Rocio Romero prefab open for tour, rental, or even for commercial photo, movie, and production shoots.
At West Coast Green in San Francisco last week, U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine announced winners of the first inaugural Lifecycle Building Challenge competition. Winners were recognized for their cutting-edge green building ideas that aim to reduce environmental and energy impacts of buildings. Ideas from the design contest will jumpstart the building industry to help reuse more of the 100 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris sent each year to landfills in the U.S. The winners are listed below:
- Sustainability by Design, Professional Unbuilt, People’s Choice Award
- Pavilion in the Park, Professional Built, Buildings
- GreenMobile, Professional Unbuilt, Buildings
- groHome, Student, Buildings
- Demountable Tape, Profesional Built, Components
- Deconstructable & Reusable Composite Slab, Professional Unbuilt, Components
- Guidelines for Building with Reusable Materials, Student, Components
- ATHENA Assembly Evaluation Tool, Professional Built, Services
- Deconstruction Engineer, Student, Services
Congratulations to all the winners, honorable mentions, and participants.
Many of you have probably seen this house by Stuart Tanner Architects, it was the Architectural Record House of the Month in July 2006. But I just noticed it and want to post a few images. It’s a small house of 1,184 sf located near Eaglehawk Neck on Tasmania’s Tasman Peninsula. As you can see, it juts out into the air, blending the boundary between the wildlife and sea. I’m sure the owners have witnessed the grandeur of nature at its best, being enveloped by the eucalypt forest and the sea. Due to the location, the architect had the home partially prefabricated — framing was complete in two days. The home also has many of the green features most homes should have, such as energy-saving lights, heating, and appliances. It’s well-insulated throughout and designed to maximize cross ventilation. And there’s an on-site waste management system, greywater recycling, and fresh water catchment and storage, too.
Over the weekend, I noticed another good article in the NY Times by Amy Gunderson, with the above illustration by Nancy Doninger. The article makes some salient points about prefab, things that must be considered before getting into it. For instance, one customer said "there is no substitute for seeing a house in person," because what you see online or in a rendering, may not be what you actually get. The same customer opted for Rocio Romero, and the home took 10 months to build at a cost of $300 psf (including installation and finishes). That price ends up being pretty decent, when compared to the cost of going after a custom-design modernist home.
Hot on the heels of Best Buy’s announcement to build new stores to LEED standards, we have Office Depot and Staples jumping into the LEED game. With these announcements, we’re seeing two main trends: (1) the mainstreaming of green buildings and (2) the business case for green buildings, especially in the retail context. It just makes sense. But as many other commentators have mentioned, these so called green stores will be energy efficient, made of renewable materials, and will use less water, BUT they’re huge and a by-product of American sprawl. Without passing judgment, I have the belief that a green retail store is better than a non-green retail store. It’s a step in the right direction. More on each company below.