The San Francisco based studio, Klopf architecture, in collaboration with mechanical engineering firm Monterey Energy Group has successfully completed a net-zero energy house in Cupertino, California. The renovation of the existing home on the site was aimed towards scoring as high as possible on the “GreenPoint Rated System.” The result is a two-story home that is filled with natural light and is capable of producing as much energy as it requires. The net-zero status of the home was achieved through features such as insulated concrete forms, structural insulated panels, high-performance windows, cementations siding and a rooftop-mounted solar photovoltaic array.
Sustainable living is something that more and more people are becoming interested in, but unfortunately the costs of downsizing to a tiny home are still prohibitive to many. When Mariah Pastell, an eco-designer from Worcester, Massachusetts wanted to downsize to a tiny home, she decided to transform a vintage camper trailer, rather than build a traditional tiny home from scratch.
She transformed a 1960’s Avalon trailer into what she calls the COMET, which stands for Cost-effective, Off-grid Mobile Eco Trailer. She lives in this tiny home all year, transporting it to warmer climates during the winter months.
Altius RSA (Rapid Systems Architecture), the makers of MiniHomes recently unveiled their newest prefab housing model, the Solo 40. The company has been designing and manufacturing eco-friendly and sustainable prefab homes since 2002, and their latest model offers a great balance between wide market appeal and price. The Solo 40 is longer, wider, more spacious, and resembles conventional homes in its layout. It measures 480 square feet and the fully equipped model costs only $195 per square foot. The units can be shipped from the company’s facilities in Ontario or California.
Danish architecture student Konrad Wójcik has come up with a very modern and unique way for people to live in the suburbs of large cities, with minimal impact on the natural habitat. At the heart of his so-called “Primeval Symbiosis” plan are tree shaped houses that have a tiny footprint and very little environmental impact on the forests where they could be built. In his design, he drew inspiration from trees and the way animals use them as shelters. His tree houses are powered by renewable energy, while they also fertilize soil, clean the air, provide shade, and have natural ventilation.
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.