A quick, but interesting, little tidbit of information … in Haringey, a city in the UK, the city council hired a company to use a military-style plane outfitted with a thermal imaging to take pictures of every structure in the area. They took the heat loss information from the pictures and created a color-coded map identifying the various levels of heat loss for each building. As you can see from the image shot above, the dark red homes are really losing some heat. By visiting the Haringey Interactive Heat Loss Map, you can scroll over each gray dot and get the address of that particular energy loser. I’m not sure if the data has led to any improvements (there’s definitely a concern over privacy here in the U.S.), but it’s probably led to some interesting discussions: "Excuse me neighbor, did you know you’re a red house? Well, I’m a blue house and I think I can help…" Via CD + TechDirt.
CNET and Michael Kanellos went on the scene at XtremeHomes‘ factory to walk through the process of building a modern home. The video is just over 3 minutes long and talks about the efficiencies and environmental benefits of factory-built homes. Towards the end, there’s a small portion with Michelle Kaufmann demonstrating the NanaWall; she’s having the mkLotus built right now at XtremeHomes’ factory and the home will be unveiled at West Coast Green.
The Skystream here cost about $13k (including installation) and is intended to provide roughly 30-70% of the home’s energy, depending on weather conditions. The video is interesting in that it shows the community reaction to the turbine: they love it. Skystream turbines are good for places that have more than 1/2 acre of land and zoning that allows structures more than 42 feet tall. Experts say the system should pay for itself over time, even without Michigan incentives. Also visit the Skystream website.
First, it receives a 2006 red dot design award, and now, the Verdi Lawnscaping System has received a 2007 Gold IDEA Award. Verdi is a low-maintenance, modular landscaping system that hopes to become the alternative to traditional grass lawns. Verdi tiles are pre-seeded with built-in irrigation and they interlock for easy installation. Once completed, the entire system can be attached to a grey water pump, which uses certain recycled water from the home to irrigate the landscaping. The Verdi system also has other modular parts, such the solar-powered light tiles, shrub planters and path tiles, recycled glass composite inserts, and bamboo or molded recycled plastic inserts. The technology is compelling because it has the capability to transform the process of landscape design in the backyard, terrace, or even on the roof. And the built-in irrigation system reduces inefficient use of water, too. This is a cool product concept to keep an eye on.
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.
Although it’s not all that attractive looking from these images, it’s the greenest building in Billings, Montana, and one of a select few buildings certified "Platinum" under the LEED-NC (new construction) certification system. Using technology such as solar panels and composting toilets, it offices the Northern Plains Resource Council and consumes about 21% of the energy and 41% of the water of a similarly sized building. Financially, the building cost about $140 psf, which is about $35 psf cheaper than if the older building had been demolished and a new one put in its place.
In all honesty, there are only three other buildings in Montana that have green certifications from the USGBC. BUT, this building, known as Home on the Range, has created a gathering place for local architects, students, and the public. Now, there are 18 LEED projects in the registration phase in Montana. That’s incredible. We’re really getting some serious momentum behind this thing, that’s for sure.