With the economy the way it is, retiring folks are downsizing or losing their homes, while newly educated folks are graduating with slim pickings. Not to be grim, but this is causing people to use property in new ways, such as with accessory dwelling units. The space can be used for family or as a rental to cover loose ends. In Vancouver, this is happening with laneway housing. Smallworks, a Vancouver-based design and build firm, specializes in small and laneway houses, just like this one, the West House.
Across the pond in the London Borough of Hillingdon, this infill development of five ultra-green buildings continues to garner attention. The project, Birchway Eco-Community, was built to Level 5 of the Code of Sustainable Homes (with 6 being the highest possible score) and provides 24 one- and two-bedroom affordable housing units. These buildings were finished on site after being prefabricated and delivered with kitchens and bathrooms already installed.
Sacred Heart Schools' new Michael J. Homer Science and Student Life Center in Atherton broke some records recently. It's the first school to obtain LEED Platinum certification under the LEED for Schools program and the first school in San Mateo County to use fruits and vegetables from an on-site organic garden for food service in the school cafeteria. It's also designed to use 69% less energy than a typical school and features some incredible green features.
It's been through several years of remodeling, but the Natural Home Show House is now complete. The word show house, though, is kind of a misnomer because the project includes two connected homes. One is on Nevins Street and the other is on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. They both have distinct styles and both anticipate receiving Health House and LEED certifications.
Sloan Ritchie, the same developer that brought us the beautiful, green Alley House, just launched a new endeavor called Backyard Box. As the name indicates, the Seattle-based company helps homeowners add extra space — whether for an office, studio, mother-in-law apartment, or income property — to lots with room and flexible zoning. Backyard Boxes, commonly referred to as accessory dwelling units, come in three sizes, three finish packages, and have a Smart Box option, which includes some geeky green technology.
Ideabox's newest prefab model, the Fortino, is on display at the Portland Home & Garden Show this weekend, so you'll want to check it out if you're in the area. The Salem-based prefab company teamed up with Crate & Barrel to design the interior and several landscape designers to transform a 50'x100' show space into a contemporary landscape setting. Jim Russell, president of Ideabox, says it's a complete "living experience" on an urban lot.