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.
Jay Hicks didn’t miss a beat when he lost his South Carolina cabin to a fire. He decided to build off of the 80-year-old original structure’s partial wall that had remained standing and devised a plan to have Addison Homes design and build a high-performance, energy efficient home that would have an old-world charm.
Fitting the floor plan to the topography and granite subsurface of the site that is located near Caesars Head State Park, Todd Usher, president of Addison Homes, directed workers to follow the flow of the rock shelf and form a foundation of concrete footings made of recycled content. Rigid foam insulation that was placed under the slab serves as a thermal break. The structure is oriented to benefit from passive solar heating and natural daylighting.
Dubbed BARNagain, this LEED Platinum-certified home was designed by Rick Hauser of In.Site:Architecture to meet the client’s request for an energy-efficient house that utilized materials from a deteriorating barn for its structure and skin.
The main structural elements of the home were built using timber frames, while reclaimed barn siding served as the exterior skin. Salvaged barn framing was also used for flooring, ceilings, drywall, and decking.