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.
Designers Mateusz Mastalski and Ole Robin Storjohann from Denmark have come up with an innovative way to produce affordable housing for people living in cities. Rents in most major cities have gone through the roof in recent years, and more and more often the solution is micro housing, as well as more lenient zoning laws. But in their micro-apartment plans, the two Danish designers have gone a step further and eliminated the need for even needing vacant land for the new houses to be built on. Their innovative infill concepts are designed so that the micro-houses they propose can fit in the residual spaces between existing buildings, while still letting in plenty of natural light and being quite spacious.
Alek Lisefski, a 29-year old freelancer designed and built his own tiny home in 2012, after deciding that paying a high rent was just not a viable option. The tiny home he built rests on an 8-by-20 flatbed trailer and can be towed around the country as necessary, or desired. He designed the house using the 3-D modeling program SketchUp, some books on the subject, and a number of tutorials off the internet. It took Lisefski 7 months to design and build the home, and it is currently located in Sebastopol, California. He lives there with his girlfriend, Anjali Krystofiak, and their dog.
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.
Karl Wanaselja and his business partner and wife Cate Leger from Berkley, California opted to build a home office using a retired shipping container. They chose to do so primarily because they live in an earthquake prone area, which makes shipping containers the perfect choice as building blocks. They purchased the 40 foot container, which was once a refrigerated unit, for just $1800 from the Port of Oakland.
Frederick Corson’s 5000 square foot home in Northern California is one of the largest in the area, yet its cooling and heating costs are very low. Instead of using traditional sources of heating and cooling, Carson fitted the house with a ground-source heat pump known as a geothermal heat pump. Such a heat source is environmentally friendly and sustainable, while it also keeps the costs of heating and cooling the house minimal.