The Santa Monica-based award-winning green design studio Minarc partnered up with Habitat for Humanity, and a local non-profit firm Restore Neighborhoods LA to design and build affordable, net-zero energy prefabricated homes in the low-income areas of South Los Angeles. Together they built 3 homes, which were all built on vacant lots in the poorest neighborhood of South Los Angeles. The houses all feature Minarc’s innovative, interlocking panel system, which is called mnmMOD. The homes are also equipped with roof top mounted solar panels.
A single family home in Glencoe, Illinois recently received the LEED Platinum for Home certification. This 4,800-square-foot house is the first new home in the North Shore area of Chicago to receive this rating. Despite its many green and sustainable features, the residence looks like a traditional house from the outside. The home also boasts of a HERS rating of 32.
A group of researchers at the North Carolina State University (NCSU) have recently successfully developed solar cells that are able to heal themselves. More specifically, the scientists have successfully been able to solve the problem of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC), namely that the dyes used to create energy in these cells would eventually be destroyed by UV radiation.
DSSC cells contain a water-based gel core, electrodes, and inexpensive, light-sensitive, organic dye molecules that capture light and generate electric current. The original cells were created by mimicking the photosynthesis process that occurs in the leaves of plants. In trying to solve the problem of the dyes eventually becoming ineffective due to exposure to UV rays, the NCSU scientists again looked to plants for inspiration. The solar cells they developed contain a network of vascular channels that are very similar to the veins in a leaf, which are used to maintain water and nutrient levels throughout the leaf. The researches found that the needed dyes could be effectively delivered and replenished via this network. The dye that had been rendered ineffective by UV radiation can also be removed through this network.
Boat builder Steve White from Belfast, Irland has recently constructed a houseboat made from shipping containers. He intends to live in it and has parked it in the Brooklin marina. White was helped in bringing his project into existence by SnapSpace Solutions, which is a Brewer company specializing in repurposing containers for living and office space, as well as Ellsworth container homeowners Jennifer Sansosti and Trevor Seip, and boat builder Andrew Baldwin.
Michael and Jenny have recently completed a modern version of a tiny rustic house in Portland, Oregon. The tiny house was designed from the ground up by the couple and it took them from October 2012 through January 2013 to build it. The tiny house is built of primarily wood, and they only used materials that were already on hand, with most of it recycled or repurposed.
The owners wanted to make the house as sustainable as possible, and have searched far and wide to find the right mix of reclaimed and repurposed materials. The trim and shelves in the tiny house were reclaimed from an old shed that once stood on the property. Teak hardwood flooring is installed in the house, which was salvaged from high-end construction jobs in the area, as was the home’s cedar shake siding. The windows are wood-clad and were salvaged from a horse farm in the Oregon countryside.
Tanya Shukstelinsky of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Israel, came up with a totally novel idea for a micro home. Cocoon, as she called her creation is a thin, multi-story shelter, which is nestled between two layers of fabric. It is also extremely mobile as you can simply fold it up and move it at a whim. Cocoon came to exist as part of a project of creating a private space in a public area.