The mkSolaire is currently the featured attraction at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) as part of the Smart Home: Green + Wired exhibition. As you can tell from the above video, it’s a prefab that includes cutting-edge green materials, energy efficient systems, a living roof, and a smart technology system. I love those rectangular, green tiles in the bathroom — check it out.
Thanks in part to the recent launch of FreeGreen, I think I’ve found the green house of my dreams. The home rendered above and below is called the Smart Box and it’s a stunner. Designed by FreeGreen, Smart Box is the newest free home plan that’s going to be available from the website in the next couple weeks. Smart Box was designed for practically any climate and can range in size from 1000 – 2200 sf. In addition, the plans will identify do-it-yourself type opportunities so that you can find ways to do more on a tighter budget.
Last October we blogged about the Inhabit prefab prototype built in Washington and designed by Mithun and Hybrid. Since then, there hasn’t been much news about the prototype, except that the initial two units are for sale right now. Now comes news, however, based on an article in The Seattle Times, that Unico Properties is planning to bring Inhabit to market in a legit, 62-unit apartment complex that includes a few live/work spaces. The development is planned for a site on Dexter Avenue North above Lake Union. Unico has been quiet about the project because the land is still under contract and the permitting process has just begun. But long and short, Seattle is on the cusp of becoming a major demonstration city for green, prefab apartments in the U.S. — fantastic news for proponents of healthy, affordable, and stylish living spaces.
You’ve probably seen Big Ass Fans in the gym or in some larger space, and that’s because they’re huge and energy efficient. Just last week, Big Ass Fans launched their newest product called the Element Fan. Element uses the 10 airfoil and wiglet design to move air quietly and efficiently. According to BAF: "At standard speed in a room with 16 ft. high ceilings Element is able to create comfortable breezes over an area larger than a basketball court, all while requiring less than 100 watts to operate. That is considerably less energy than even the most efficient small ceiling fan in production today." I’ve been around these gargantuan fans and love them. Seriously, they cool down a large space like nothing I’ve ever seen. Plus, you can really get creative with the colors, so as far as large fans go, this is a dang good option to go with.
The fulcrum of the green building revolution, I think, is conservation and living happily with less. It’ll be interesting to see how we get there, to see if we can live lighter. In the meantime, I like to monitor small projects to see what piques the interest of crowds. Lately Abōd® has been getting some quality attention. Abōd was honored by the AIA this year with a Small Project Award. The AIA explained the concept: "The design goal was to develop a breakthrough in value-engineered lowest cost housing with an extensive array of add-on options to personalize each home. The resulting design incorporating the Catenary arch is simple and structurally sound but also aesthetically pleasing and can be built by 4 people in just one day with only a screwdriver and an awl."
KEO International Consultants has received word from the USGBC that its design for Sabah Al Ahmed International Finance Center (ICF) has been precertified at the Gold level under the LEED-CS green building rating system. The 1.2 million sf, 40-story tower is the first building in Kuwait to be registered or precertified by the USGBC. As you can partially tell from the renderings, the design includes four stacked courtyard atriums ranging from 8-13 floors each. Three of the atriums serve the office portion of the building, while the fourth atrium serves the 200 key, 4-star business class hotel. The tower generates part of its energy from a PV system, as well as from roof-mounted wind turbines. You may be able to see the lattice-work of wind turbines at the crown of the building; I think they’re the vertical axis, helical-type, but it’s hard to tell with this one image. We’ll make sure to keep you posted …
The use of wind turbines at the building’s apex is similar to what’s planned for Discovery Tower in Houston. It’ll be interesting to see these designs meet reality — the media world will definitely have fun running video and stories of building integrated wind turbines.