Growing food in the colder months of the year is a challenge, and growers in colder climates that want to extend the crop-growing season are always looking for a better way to do so. Greenhouses are a great option, but they cost a lot of money to construct and heat during the colder months. The American sustainable agriculture non-profit organization Benson Institute has come up with a set of easy to follow instructions on how to build a much cheaper alternative, the so-called walipini, which means “place of warmth” in Aymara Indian. The walipini is basically an underground, pit greenhouse in which it possible to grow vegetables all year, even in the coldest regions of the world.
The Santa Clara team are designing a 980-square-foot Radiant House for their entry into the Solar Decathlon 2013 competition. The team’s goal is to expand the accessibility of solar energy and prove that sustainable living is something that can easily be achieved in this day and age. Another important innovation of the Radiant House project is the use of bamboo to build a large portion of the structural elements of the house. Bamboo is used in Radiant House’s walls, floor and ceiling and the Santa Clara team spent the last 10 years designing and engineering bamboo into structural elements.
Marc Rutenberg, the CEO of the Florida company Marc Rutenberg Homes, has recently successfully designed and built a luxury home that complies with and even surpasses all Energy Star standards and is LEED Platinum certified. The Castaway III, as the house is called, measures 4,552-square feet, which is about 3,100 square feet larger than the average zero-energy home. This house proves that there is no need to sacrifice comfort and luxury to reduce one’s carbon footprint.