Whitehead-Elniski Residence, Green Adaptive Reuse!


This is a refreshing story of a another innovative green home in Chicago.  Frances Whitehead and James Elniski recently had their green home featured in NY Times.  It’s a fantastic rendition of green adaptive reuse.  Check the images of the living rooftop and two twirling turbines (by Windside).  Those turbines cost about $40,000,including installation, and provide about $500 per year in savings.  Still, the owners don’t mind the payback of 80 years because their perspective is guided by the realities of a carbon cluttered world.  Drastic times require drastic actions?

This live/work residence has some of the following green features: cellulose insulation, geothermal heating and cooling, solar thermal hot water and cooling, photovoltaic panels, rainwater collection cisterns, and water-saving appliances and dual-flush toilets, etc.  Perhaps the greenest feature of all is that the building used to be a blighted, 3000 sf, brick warehouse on a chunk of land with a contaminated underground gasoline storage tank.  Ugh … removing USTs can be nasty, expensive, and fraught with administrative burdens, too. 


Schaar's Bluff Gathering Center, a Living Building

Schaar's Bluff

I’m not going to write too much about this project because it’s under construction and we’ll end up doing more when it comes to life.  Here, though, is the design for a living building — one that gives something back.  It’s the kind of building that goes beyond LEED (although I think it will also get LEED certification, too).  Schaar’s Bluff Gathering Center ranks within the top 1% of all sustainable structures, as compared to the USGBC’s registered buildings.  How?  The structure will generate its own power, react to weather conditions, reuse rainwater, and feed the animals with a trellis planted specifically with fruit vines.  Located in Nininger Township, Minnesota, the 3,500 sf Gathering Center will also have an on-site wind turbine, operable windows linked to the HVAC system, a high performance building envelope, automated shading devices, in-floor radiant heating, and rainwater capture and treatment. 

The Gathering Center will be a model of sustainable building for the future: living buildings. 


By |March 7th, 2008|Conservation, Land Use, LEED|0 Comments

Next Generation Wal-Mart Uses 25% Less Energy!


I know, I know.  I’m treading on thin water with this one, what with all the haters and anti-sprawlsters out there.  But strictly to make the point that businesses can use less and save money, I like this story.  Next week, Wal-Mart will open the first store of the company’s next generation of green stores in Romeoville, Illinois.  Where their first generation of two green stores saved about 20% energy, this store will save about 25% energy.  The energy savings result from experimentations in refrigeration and heating/cooling systems in their first generation of green stores. 


By |January 17th, 2008|Conservation, Corporate, Energy Efficiency, Nature, Retail|0 Comments

An Earth-Friendly Home [Graphic]

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The average American releases about 50,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.  A large portion of that comes from our homes and wasted, wasted energy.  Matter of fact, according to a recent McKinsey study, the single most cost-effective way to reduce GHG emissions is via building insulation.  Click on over to the Time Earth-Friendly Home graphic and move the lens around for other ideas to reduce GHG emissions and save some dolla, dolla bills.  Before you click over though, I will say, this is pretty basic information, but at least they provide some numbers and illustrate the impact of concerted effort. 

While you’re over there, check out this article, too:
++51 Things We Can Do to Save the Environment [Time]

By |January 11th, 2008|Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Gadgets|0 Comments

The Most Ecological City in the World


You’ve probably heard of Treasure Island, the entirely man-made island that was formerly a Naval base.  It was decommissioned several years ago, but San Francisco wants to bring it back to life.  The city has held hundreds of meetings to determine the future of the 400-acre Superfund site, and they’ve got a plan: Treasure Island will become a testbed for the newest ideas in energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, and low-impact living.


By |January 3rd, 2008|Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Land Use, LEED|0 Comments

BaleHaus by Modcell, Semi-Modern Strawbale


The renderings in this article are of BaleHaus by ModCell.  This UK concept springs from the three positions that we need to: (1) live within our environmental means, (2) maintain a healthy and comfortable quality of life, and (3) build strong communities.  Stated otherwise, the BaleHaus is meant to provide good, comfortable living with a guilt-free eco-conscience.  BaleHaus is super-insulated, boxy and functional, and geared towards communal living.  More renderings below …