The Johnsons, a four-person family in Mill Valley, California, have been called “extreme,” “austere,” and “OCD,” by some onlookers. But I appreciate what they’re trying to do. The family has been on a trash diet to completely eliminate garbage and waste. In fact, they only produced two handfuls of trash in a year, according to Sunset Magazine!
Interest in urban chickens is growing and — it would seem — the same holds true for urban beekeeping. An outfit out of West Bend, Wisconsin, Beepods.com, is selling personal use beehives for $450, including everything but bees and the know how. The kit comes IKEA-style ready for assembly with a screwdriver and Allen wrench. A single, top-bar Beepod will create about 40 pounds of high-quality honey, as well as propolis, pollen, and wax, if you harvest it.
The other day I was able to tour Swaner EcoCenter with the Salt Lake City Professional Chapter of Net Impact. I took several pictures in an attempt to let you see everything I saw, so scroll down and make sure to visit the Swaner EcoCenter flickr set for more views. Although I’m an amateur when it comes to taking photos, I hope you get the idea how impressive this building is. It has beautiful woodwork, artful touches of 3form, and incredible views. The folks behind Swaner are seeking to obtain the first LEED Platinum certification in Utah, but nonetheless, the building is the greenest in Utah.
Maybe you’ve never considered living in a cohousing* situation, but some of the greenest neighborhoods in the country are trying to use this pattern of living for their communities. The images in this article show a peaceful, cohousing condominium community called Nubanusit Neighborhood & Farm. Nubanusit is located in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and all the homes will be super green — that is, if they’re all not LEED Platinum certified. Imagine that: 29 homes on 70 rolling acres and all of them are LEED Platinum certified!
A few months ago, I became interested in Samsø after reading Elizabeth Kolbert's column in The New Yorker entitled The Island in the Wind. Then, just this week, I noticed a photo essay of Samsø in The Guardian with pictures from Nicky Bonne. What's interesting about Samsø is that it's a producer of energy — the entire island produces more energy from renewables than it uses. They sell the rest and have been doing so since 2003.
Shannon Quimby, as far as I can tell, is the first to successfully reuse 100% of an old dilapidated home in a new home construction project. The REX House, or Reuse Everything eXperiment, is located at 2030 SE Rex Street in Portland, Oregon and Shannon has been documenting the entire process since December 2007. What she’s doing is quite difficult, especially if/when you’re deconstructing a house that has toxic materials, lead, asbestos, and other damaged parts. But that’s the goal of the project: to share with everyone how to recycle and keep landfills from overflowing with useable construction materials.