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JoT House – Handsome, Approachable Prefab?

Jot

What do you get with prefab?  (1) modular economies of scale and supposedly less construction waste, (2) labor efficient construction process, (3) ease of variability or parts interchangeability, and (4) the possibility of green, energy efficient homes, if you make that happen.  Jot Homes is backed by Yeh + Jarrard, who built the prototype JoT House in Joshua Tree (get it? JOshua Tree?) for a jaw-dropping $48 psf way back in 2004.  It seems that one of the ways they kept the costs down was by using a "central utility core" for the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry supplies.  Simple plumbing is cheaper, right?!  In addition, they use SIPs and sustainable harvested birch plywood (as opposed to fir plywood that comes from old growth), Forbo Marmoleum and cork tiles for the flooring, double-glazed low-E glass for the windows, and LED lighting technology.  Kitchen and cabinetry fixtures were all sourced from IKEA, too.

Currently, JoT House is planning some new stuff for release in early 2008 or so.  They will have the JoT Original, JoT ‘L’, and the JoT Two-story ‘Urban JoT’, with standard model prices at $210k, $260k, and $300k, respectively.  That works out to roughly $180 psf.  If you’re going after the mini-JoT, that starts at about $45k+.  And multiple mini-JoTs can be put together, too.  Let’s keep an eye out for new developments in 2008, and check the detail in some of the images below.

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Visualizing the Benefits of Clean Tech

Harnessing Wind

I have a couple clean tech articles I want to focus on.  It’s my personal belief that if we can learn and understand these technologies, we can apply and benefit from them.  The first article by BEST LIFE is called "5 Best Ways to Go Zero Energy at Home."  The article explains hot water panels, solar roofs, small wind turbines, water harvesters, and geothermal wells.  Importantly, for each technology, the generalized cost and potential benefits are explained.  If we know what the technology can do, and we can live with the price, why not talk to a professional about getting that technology installed on that next project?  That’s the way I see it. 

The other article is really an interactive web feature developed by National Geographic.  Titled "Harness the Power of Wind," the website takes you inside the workings of a wind turbine.  You can see what makes wind turbines work.  I gave it a look and figured out why wind turbines aren’t as effective here in the mountains of Salt Lake City, as opposed to locations near the ocean.  I also gave the "Try it Out" feature a try and maxed everything out.  With a 150 ft blade radius, 315 tower height, 49 mph wind speed, and 0 altitude, I’m producing 2,300 kw of power for roughly 759 homes.  I like those numbers. 

Brad Pitt's Hypnotic, Green Holy Cross Project

Active

My wife sent me this article from Perez Hilton about Brad Pitt, who will be appearing on NBC’s Today with Ann Curry to talk about his green development project in New Orleans.  I’m not a reader of the celebrity sites, so I would have missed this, but the New Orleans development project is really moving along.  And the green houses they are building are 100% incredible.  Brad has good style — it fits so well with Jetson Green, we should just bring him on as a regular writer! 

Global Green broke ground on the Holy Cross Project on May 10.  Yesterday, they unveiled the progress on this first home, which is still under construction.  It’s going to be a showcase home, but in total, the Holy Cross Project will have 5 homes and 18 apartments.  All of them will be affordable and green.  The goals of the project are to achieve LEED Platinum certification (LEED-H for the single family homes and LEED-NC for the other buildings), net zero energy, and carbon neutral building. By using solar panels, high performance building design, HVAC systems, energy and resource monitoring systems, and energy efficient appliances, the buildings in the Holy Cross Project will use at least 75% less energy than typical buildings. In addition, Global Green is also exploring the use of river turbines in the adjacent Mississipi River.

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Jellyfish House, Future Sustainable Structures [Video]

I watched this video of the Jellyfish House by architects Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, and needless to say, I was kind of blown away.  It’s quite compelling to watch, but at the same level, it’s complicated.  I can’t say I understand everything that’s going on but I like it.  Jellyfish are responsive to the environment around them, so like jellyfish, one concept with this house is that water is filtered and harvested through the actual structure of the home.  The structure uses UV light filtration, which could come down in price in the future, and titanium dioxide, which is now used for self-cleaning glass in tall skyscrapers.  This concept prototype for the future of sustainable living was designed (hypothetically) for Treasure Island, a decommissioned military base in San Francisco Bay with toxic top soil. 

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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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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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