The stage was set for rowdy debate of the tensions between mechanical and passive green building techniques at the recent Congress of the New Urbansim. Steve Mouzon, designer and author of The Original Green, Bill Browning of Terrapin Bright Green, Ann Daigle of the Princes Foundation, and Daniel Sloan of McGuire Woods, moderated by Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, a founder of CNU, principal of DPZ and Dean of the University of Miami School of Architecture.
Southwest Windpower, maker of the small-wind turbine Skystream, just announced a refreshed Whisper line of turbines for battery-charging applications including off-grid residential homes. The Whisper 100 (7′ diameter) has the potential to generate up to 100 kWh per month at 12 mph; the Whisper 200 (9′ diameter) has the potential to generate up to 200 kWh per month at 12 mph; and the Whisper 500 (15′ diameter) has the potential to generate up to 538 kWh per month at 12 mph.
FreeGreen, an online source for green house plans, recently announced a strategic pivot to make homes better and cheaper. The company wants to give homeowners the opportunity to save money by helping them get involved in some of the finish work. FreeGreen has a DIY series of house plans, and the first design — the DIY Shed — isn’t value engineered to meet a budget. It’s designed so that certain portions can be finished by the homeowners themselves.
It turns out that “building reuse almost always offers environmental savings over demolition and new construction,” according to a new study published by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Green Lab published its findings after a life cycle analysis of environmental impacts of various buildings located in four cities around the country.
What’s planned for construction by students on an infill lot and aiming to meet the Living Building Challenge with LEED Platinum certification? That would be Canada’s Greenest Home in Ontario. Students enrolled in The Endeavour Centre’s Sustainable New Construction: Building a New Future program will build the 2,000 square-foot home during a five-month period this summer.
Over Thanksgiving break, I enjoyed reading about this small, energy-efficient home in North Carolina built using the Harbinger plan offered by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Built to International Building Code requirements, the plan includes a loft, home office, kitchen, bathroom, living room, and deck — tightly placed in less than 500 square feet! Details are hard to come by, but Tumbleweed sells this plan for $695 and estimates that it costs about $33,000 in materials to build.