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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By |August 16th, 2007|Land Use, Materials, Modern architecture|0 Comments

[Video] Nanosolar Causing Disruptions at 1/3 Cost

Nanosolar wants to create paper-thin, flexible solar panels that can be made at 1/3 the cost of heavy, silicon-made solar panels.  It’s important to keep an eye on tech like this because Nanosolar is currently building the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the U.S.  If successful, this stuff is going to be on every building and structure starting in 2008.  It’s going to change the way the game is played in a major way. 

To give you an idea of how compelling, how enormous this is, check this:  the Google founders are investing in Nanosolar, an IBM manufacturing executive just joined Nanosolar, and the U.S. Department of Energy just awarded them $20 million. 

By |August 8th, 2007|Energy Efficiency, Materials, News, Solar|3 Comments

Trend Q: Modern, Green All Surface Material

Trend Q

Trend USA has just released details of their new engineered, agglomerate stone product called "Trend Q."  Trend Q is a USA-made, 1/4" surface material that is impervious to stains and fading.  It can be made in sizes as small as 12" tiles and as large as 10′ x 4′ slabs.  Containing up to 72% post consumer recycled content, Trend Q not only contributes to LEED certification, but it comes in a veritable cornucopia of colors.  Organic neutral.  Fiery orange.  Brilliant red.  You name it.  Another cool aspect of the product is that it’s made to be applied to all types of surfaces, whether it’s walls, counters, or floors.  Just bust out the water jet machine and make that magic happen. 

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By |August 7th, 2007|Gadgets, LEED, Materials, Modern design|0 Comments

Human Bones + Nanoengineering = Green Concrete?

Greenconcrete_2 The following post may seem a little esoteric, if not absolutely dry, but don’t be intimidated.  Bear with me a second as the idea opens up towards the end of this article.  Every year, roughly 1.89 billion tons of cement (the main component of concrete) are manufactured.  Cement accounts for about 7-8% of all human-generated CO2 emissions (a main ingredient in the recipe for climate change).  Here’s what happens: cement is made by burning fossil fuels to heat a limestone and clay powder to 1500 °C.  Then, the resulting cement powder is mixed with water and gravel and the invested energy in the powder is released into chemical bonds that form calcium silicate hydrates.  Those calcium silicate hydrates bind the gravel to create concrete. 

So, the idea goes, human bone could show us how to manufacture concrete with less CO2 emissions.  Human bone achieves a similar packing density to concrete at the nanoscale, but with human bone, this packing density is achieved at body temperature with no extra release of CO2.  Stated otherwise, bone strength is achieved naturally without having to heat powder at a high temperature, and thus, without the CO2 release.  The problem is, however, the hardening of apatite minerals in the bone takes a long time.  Say, a month or more. 

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By |August 1st, 2007|Gadgets, Materials, News|0 Comments

The Orb Steps Up for a Younger Generation

Home Office The Orb

This is incredible.  It would be nice if someone here in the U.S. would put something like THE ORB into production.  According to the company’s website, The Orb "is a new generation of mobile structures created specifically to fire the imagination of a younger, style conscious generation.  It has been designed to appeal across three distinct markets: commercial show units, holiday park homes and adaptable home offices.  Built to a standard far beyond that of comparable structures using marine technology, it is both incredibly durable, lightweight and transportable."  Appeal?  Done. 

Now, the website reveals some details on how The Orb is built (and Treehugger suggests that using GRP may not be that green), but I think one could use green materials to get it built.  Plus, you could toss up a few solar panels on a separate pole and provide renewable energy for it too.  Another positive aspect of The Orb is that it’s small by design, but chances are, this will not be a primary dwelling, so size is not an issue.  Regardless, I dig it and think it could be used in a variety of applications.  Plus, it’s kind of similar to Dasparkhotel (and we know that’s been successful).  More images below.  Via CubeMe

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By |July 31st, 2007|Materials, Modern architecture, Prefab|0 Comments

An Example of Green Renovation, the Brownstone

Vanessa Rae, excellent host of the Pulse Videocast, takes us through this video of green builder Blake Holden as he turns a dilapidated Brooklyn brownstone into a vintage green home. While reclaimed wood and materials preserve the look and feel of a classic brownstone, energy–saving features like blue jeans insulation and radiant heating minimize the home’s carbon footprint. Natural building materials prevent toxic indoor air pollution.

By |July 18th, 2007|Energy Efficiency, Gadgets, Materials|0 Comments