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.
Colorado has millions of acres of pines throughout its forests that have been killed by an infestation of beetles. New Town Builders, a residential homebuilder in Denver, Colorado, has begun using salvaged wood from these trees for the structural framing of homes it is constructing. The company was approached about building a single demonstration home using wood from lodgepole pine trees which had been killed by the mountain pine beetle. New Town found that the wood was discolored but structurally sound and has now begun using the “blue wood” for all of their framing.
Carolyn and Kyle Cave, both university professors in Hadley, Massachusetts, built this super-insulated home to minimize energy consumption. Then they dropped a 20kW solar PV array on the roof and now use energy from the sun to generate a surplus that also powers this tiny little Wheego LiFe electric vehicle. I was able to ask Carolyn Cave a few questions about their solar-powered situation, and this is a portion of that response: