Researchers at the University of Illinois, or more precisely the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, have discovered a process that can turn used plastic shopping bags into a compatible drop-in diesel fuel and a number of petroleum products. The recycling process also works to recover most of the initial manufacturing inputs that go into producing plastic shopping bags. Given that each year an estimated 100 billion shopping bags are thrown away in the US alone, this is great news indeed.
The city of Johannesburg, South Africa, recently got an innovative student housing structure made of recycled shipping containers and disused grain silos. Mill Junction student accommodation, as the complex is called was designed and built by the South African property developer Citiq. All told, the building process took a year to complete.
The complex is located in a prime location of the city, and is comprised of 11 stories, which contain 375 affordable student apartments. First, windows were cut into the sides of the silos, the inside of which was converted into student apartments. To create additional living space, recycled shipping containers were then attached to the sides of the grain silos and stacked four floors up atop them. Apart from the private units, the complex also contains several common areas, such as study rooms, a library, communal kitchens, and a gym. The builders also placed astro turf on the roof and covered it to create an outdoor common area with amazing views of the city, since the entire structure is roughly 40 meters high.
The Art Deco home situated on a Colonial Lane property in Palm Beach, and designed by architect Jacqueline Albarran recently received the LEED Platinum certification. The home was completed in November 2013, and took two years to build. This home is the first in the Palm Beach area to receive this, highest LEED certification. The building team consisted of architect Albarran, as well as the local contractor Tim Givens and Kyle Abney, a Palm City-based LEED consultant.
Living in a tiny house doesn’t necessarily equal sacrificing comfort, at least not according to work-at-home husband and wife team Andrew and Gabriella Morrison. Their 221 square foot home, which is dubbed hOMe, is designed in a way that maximizes each part of the living space, giving the appearance of being a much larger hose than it is. The home greatly resembles a shipping container from the outside due to its shape, and is only 8 feet and 6 inches wide.
Ray Armstrong’s mountain home in Colorado Springs is a sprawling 5,500 square foot structure, with the living space extending outdoors where the owner’s fish ponds and water gardens are located. Armstrong is an award-winning koi fish enthusiast, and his home uses even more energy since the ponds and tanks, where his fish are, require precise temperature and water regulation. Since such a large home also consumes vast amounts of energy, Armstrong enlisted the help of David Bednarski, owner of Bestway Mechanical in Colorado Springs, to help him install the necessary solar and other technologies to reduce this footprint.
The La Jolla, CA home of Jill and Jack Nooren recently received the highest LEED certification awarded to homes, LEED Platinum. The home took three years to build and is a true example of energy efficiency, sustainability and design. The house was designed by domusstudio architecture and built by the Hill Construction Company. The 2,350-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath home also won a 2013 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Merit Award for its innovative mild-climate building and design approach, which brings together outdoor and indoor spaces seamlessly.