Windermere West – Chicago Slanting Windows (S2)

Windermere West - Click to View Larger Wired has an interesting story about a new 26-story tower soon to be built in Chicago’s Hyde Park called Windermere West.  The building was designed by Jeanne Gang, with a little help from Arup.  Here’s the idea:  the hottest sun of the year is the highest in the sky and this is when electricity bills skyrocket.  So, Gang designed this sawtooth facade effect for roughly 2/3 of the south-facing balconies.  At a 71 degree tilt, the glass is angled enough to shade the interiors during that hot period of the day, but not so much that people feel like they will tip over into the streets.  Pretty neat?!  I wonder if this is actually going to get built.  It’s interesting to see how architects come up with creative solutions to incorporating natural light in just the right way. 

::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::

Powerfully Small and Green Ideabox

Ideabox

"It's like a loft you can take anywhere.Ideabox offers a pretty cool product in the modern, prefabricated housing industry.  Ideabox emphasizes good design, not square footage, and they make it easy to do.  With Ideabox, you're going to get the entire package right to your site.  There's one day to install it, one day to build the deck, and that's about it.  Depending on your site, all you really need to do is set up the water, power, septic, and sewer systems.  You can even go wireless with the turnkey solar system package, too. 

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VitraStone Eco-Friendly Sinks + Surfaces

Wedgesink 2314cgrey

I’m excited about this post.  When it comes to surface materials, there’s a lot out there, and I’ve blogged about a few companies that have good products.  Concrete countertops appear on house flipping-type shows every now and then, so I thought it was time we all got to know VitraStone.  VitraStone products are made from 70-85% recycled content (post consumer & post industrial) such as recycled glass and fly ash blended with a proprietary mix of ceramic cement.  Products in the VitraStone line up include vessel sinks, sink tops, countertop systems, back splash, floor tiles, wall cladding, and furniture and accessories.  VitraStone is strong, too.  Scratch and chip resistant.  Freeze/thaw cycle resistant.  Mold resistant.  VitraStone products come in a variety of colors (as you will see below) for interior and exterior applications.  No off-gassing here. 

Couple cool things about VitraStone:  (1) you may get LEED credits for using these materials, and (2) VitraStone offers free design services to create 3-dimensional layouts for client approvals (or they’ll work directly with architectural specifications).  Matter of fact, the green building store here in Salt Lake City carries VitraStone, so maybe I can push the old landlord into a green kitchen renovation?  Any thoughts …

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Home Design + Construction, Consumer Environmentalism + Corporate Sustainability (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Why is new housing so big and lousy?  Why do builders build these homes? 
  2. Despite unwavering focus by the media, government and business, "going green" is only of moderate concern to most consumers, according to a recent research study.
  3. There is a reason why homes rot (hint: it has to do with much more than age). 
  4. Shades of Green – with more large companies going green, the entire industry is under scrutiny. 

Boulder's Green Hickory Home by VaST

Hickory Home

This green home was built in 2003, so it’s not anything new in particular, but I wanted to share some of the green concepts the homeowners worked through during process of building it.  First, the owners, Brandy LeMae + Joseph Vigil, purchased an odd-shaped lot near a well-traveled road for $157k.  It was rather cheap, with some lots in Boulder costing nearly $400k, so the design would have to solve the noise and space problem.  Second, they wanted a green home on a budget.  In the end, they were able to build the Hickory House for about $91 psf.  There’s an excellent article from Dwell about their process, but I’m going to explain a little below.

The owners raved about structural insulated panels, or SIPs, which went up quickly, were cut to size, allowed for minimal waste, and helped to defray the costs of the project.  They also used Forbo natural linoleum countertops, radiant heating in the concrete floors, and denim by-product cotton insulation.  LeMae + Vigil tried to keep the design simple — the more complicated the design is, the less money there is to go towards green things (check out VaST’s 3 Design Strategies to Build Green + Save Money).  Vigil also designed a foot-wide concrete-block wall stuffed with foam insulation for the west side of the house.  By doing this, he was able to block out noise from the road and provide shading for the home.  They finished up with some interior design straight from IKEA and were happy with the final product.  Looks great from this angle.  More images below. 

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Former AOL CEO to Build Costa Rican Eco-Resort

Cacique Costa Rica

Steve Case, the former CEO, Chairman, and co-founder of AOL, recently announced the launch of his new company, Revolution, which will build a sustainable resort, Cacique – Costa Rica, in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.  I saw the press release and asked the PR department for some images of the resort … needless to say, the above is all I received.  So I think we’re in the very beginning stages of planning.  One thing is for sure: that’s a beautiful island with lots of trees.  Wouldn’t it just be incredible to sit there and chill out … take in the vibe … enjoy it the crystal clear water?  Cacique – Costa Rica will feature high-end, luxury services and amenities with a focus on intelligent, environmentally friendly designs that reduce energy and water demand and take advantage of spatial, wind, and solar patterns to maximize natural ventilation, shade, and daylight.  Fairly general information, I know, but we’ll keep it on our green resort watch.  See the press release

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