October 7, 2006: National Tour of Solar Homes Day

Asestourlogo119 To kick off the Natural Energy Awareness Month of October, the American Solar Energy Society (www.ases.org) will be sponsoring the National Tour of Solar Homes on October 7, 2006.  A solar home tour will happen in most states on or near this date.  Depending on the state, the tour may (or may not) have modern homes, but this will be an excellent opportunity to get first-hand information on solar energy:  information relevant to the particularities of the state YOU live in. 

Del_junco_solar_residence To find a list of links relevant to the state you live in, click here.  The tour in Texas will be in Houston and costs a nominal $10.  This looks to be an awesome tour, and as of today, there will be 8 homes with various green features.  Here’s a link to the list of homes with pictures and a description of each sustainable home. 

This is an awesome opportunity for anyone thinking about retrofitting their house or building a new sustainable house.  Why not learn from the experiences of others that have already taken the green plunge?  They will be able to talk about solar power, solar heating, cooling, passive cooling, wind power, day lighting, and other various green building technologies.  The Texas tour includes access to all 8 homes, a guide book, and a free energy efficient light bulb.  I’m thinking of taking the 5-hour drive (from Dallas to Houston) just to see some of these places and learn about the tax incentives specific to my state. 

For my Colorado readers (and there’s a lot of you), my friend in the blogosphere, Tom Konrad, Ph.d., has some good info on what’s going on in that state.  Just an FYI…

2006 National Solar Tour Sponsor Links:
U.S. Department of Energy EE/RE
Sunplan.com
Solar Today Magazine
Find Solar
Renewable Energy Access
Fronius

Blog Tagged by the Eco-Entrepreneur

The Fountainhead Well…I’ve been blog tagged by the eco-entrepreneur, Shea.  Here it goes…

A Book that Changed My Life:
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  Honestly, I don’t agree with the concept that one can find true greatness sans religion (or one’s personal, internal inspiration), but otherwise, this book is an amazing articulation of the greatness humans can acheive, intertwined with modern architecture commentary. Other notables:  Enchantment by Orson Scott Card, Dune by Frank Herbert, Zen in the Art of Writing/The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, Autobiography of Ben Franklin, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A Book I’ve Read More than Once:
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.  Had to do it for class, but I really like the themes expressed in this book. 

A Book I’d take with me if I Were Stuck on a Desert Island:
The Bible.  Honestly, it’s one of the biggest books I can think of and the authors pass the batton every now and then.  It offers a modicum of variety. 

A Book that Made Me Laugh:
Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen.  His stuff is non-stop, hilarious.  Some parts are more scandilious than I prefer, but otherwise, his stuff is absolutely ridiculous. 

A Book that Made Me Cry:
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.  This book really pulls at the heart strings.  Gotta read it, however. 

A Book that I Wish Had Been Written:
A personal diary of Genghis Khan.  He’s an interesting character in the spectrum of dominant world leaders, so I’d be interested to know what was going through his mind, that is, other than fleeting thoughts of goat’s milk and riding horses. 

A Book that I Wish Had Never Been Written:
I don’t know, everyone has the right to put it down on paper, so I can’t really think of anything, but I thought the recent book called "Jarhead," by Anthony Swofford, was utterly crass.  I tossed it 25% through the book. 

A Book I’ve Been Meaning to Read:
Still River by Harry Hunsicker (a mystery situationalized in Dallas real estate). 

Books I’m Currently Reading:
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and Lone Star by T.R. Fehrenbach. 

Okay, so now…I blog tag:
Tom Konrad (EE/RE Investing), Karen (Emerald Market), and Michael Davis (Dallas Progress). 

miniHome: Modern + Green Urban RV

Minihome

Introducing the miniHome.  Technically, it’s an RV, but it’s also designed for year-round living in extreme climates.  Ask the company, and they’ll tell you it’s perfect as a ski chalet, vacation retreat, cottage, guest cabin, or simple + luxurious home-away-from-home.  The base price is about $107,000 USD (max price $167,000), and if you’re thinking of hauling it around, you’ll need a vehicle that can handle a 14,000 pound haul.

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Linz, Austria Hotel Tubes – Dasparkhotel

Dasparkhotel

I was skimming through one of my favorite magazines called Architectural Review, and I noticed a really cool article entitled "Tubular Troglodytes."  I couldn’t find the article online, but I did some research on the architect and discovered a hotel in Linz, Austria with the name of dasparkhotel.  Some of the website is in German, so I found the Google Translator somewhat (not completely) helpful.  From what I understand, Dasparkhotel is a concept creation of Andrea Strauss. 

As far as accomodations, this place isn’t that bad!  You get a double bed, fresh blankets (or sleeping bags–can’t tell from the translation), lighting, moon/day light hole in ceiling, stow-a-way space beneath the bed, 220 V power connection, and an internet connection. Further, the surrounding area has toilets, showers, and a minibar & cafe. 

Each tubular hotel room was created with redesigned, standardized sewer pipes, with a diameter large enough for normal people to stand up.  Reservations for a "room" can be made online, and you use a code received via email to access the room.  Apparently, the pay rate is "pay as you wish."  I couldn’t discover whether the surrounding area services (toilet, minibar, shower, & cafeteria) were "pay as you wish"–meaning if you use it, you pay for it–or the actual hotel tube was "pay as you wish"–choose the amount and pay it.  Regardless, I think this is a great idea!

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LivingHomes Prefab in BusinessWeek

Livinghomes

This week’s edition of BusinessWeek has a feature on LivingHomes and entrepreneur Steve Glenn, founder of the company.  Glenn is a leader in the growing movement that is green prefab — modern, prefabricated homes built with sustainability in mind.  The BusinessWeek feature also includes a slide show of the first LEED-H Platinum certified home in the country, and some of photos are pictured above and below.

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Bush Library Candidate SMU Takes LEED with Embrey Engineering Building

Embry_engineering_building The official opening for the J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering Building is set for September 8, 2006. This event marks the beginning of an explosion of green building projects slated for the Dallas area. Sustainable construction is here to stay, but this project could be a precursor to greater things at SMU…namely, the Green Presidential Library!

Green President Bush Library:
There’s a heated race for the Bush Library, and SMU is one of the finalists. The Embrey Building embodies SMU’s commitment to responsible, efficient building practices. It’s not that big of a stretch to think that if SMU were to receive the nod for Bush’s Library, it would build the library in a sustainable manner. Understanding there are a myriad of intricacies before that process works out, let me just put this into the blogosphere: Bush should pick SMU and top off his presidential legacy by building the first green presidential library in the country.

I should add, in full disclosure, that SMU is my school of choice for two graduate degrees (JD & MBA), so I have a modicum of bias. But all partisan allegiance aside, I hope SMU can continue its green building legacy with future sustainable building. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me talk about the building. I know, it’s not really modern, it’s Collegiate Georgian architecture, but the LEED stuff is what I’m going to hammer away.

Turner Construction:
Recently, I blogged about Turner being #7 in large design and construction firms for having LEED Accredited Professionals (LAP). This Embrey Building isn’t the only green building in the Turner Portfolio.  Purely in the Dallas metroplex, Turner is renovating Haworth‘s two floor furniture showroom (LEED), constructing the new LEED Corgan Associates offices in the West End, and completed Wal-mart‘s green prototype store.  Not bad Turner!

Embrey Building Features:
There’s a rather detailed article about many of the things SMU did to receive LEED points, but I want to talk about just a few: 

  • A three story light column funnels natural light into the interior
  • The lighting system is run by motion detectors
  • High reflective pavers (with marble chips) reflect heat from the building for cooling
  • Rainwater is captured and held in a tank across the street
  • Gray water is used for drought tolerant landscaping
  • Landscaping will use natural pesticides rather than poisons
  • An information kiosk will provide information on sustainable building and real-time building stats on building temperature and power usage
  • All lumber has chain of custody certificates from certified forests

To quote the SMU Dean of Engineering, Dean Geoffrey Orsak said, "A decade from now, I can’t imagine constructing a building that doesn’t include at least some aspects of LEED…once you’ve built one, you will want all of your buildings to be LEED certified." Yes, indeed. Ladies and gentlemen, green building is the trend.

Extra Links:
SMU Website
SMU Dedman School of Law
SMU Cox School of Business
U.S. Green Building Council

UPDATE: 12/15/2006 – I need to correct this.  President Clinton’s library received two globes from the GBI Green Globes, certifying it as green.  Here’s a PDF of the specifics.

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