I watched this video of the Jellyfish House by architects Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, and needless to say, I was kind of blown away. It’s quite compelling to watch, but at the same level, it’s complicated. I can’t say I understand everything that’s going on but I like it. Jellyfish are responsive to the environment around them, so like jellyfish, one concept with this house is that water is filtered and harvested through the actual structure of the home. The structure uses UV light filtration, which could come down in price in the future, and titanium dioxide, which is now used for self-cleaning glass in tall skyscrapers. This concept prototype for the future of sustainable living was designed (hypothetically) for Treasure Island, a decommissioned military base in San Francisco Bay with toxic top soil.
A home doesn’t need to be modern to be green, but I like the modern ones. I’d love to see entire neighborhoods of modern green homes. I like the idea of changing the way we perceive the single-family home, too. Denser neighborhoods? Sure. Residential wind turbines? Definitely. Solar on the roof? You bet. But right now, we’re still in the early stages of recognizing legitimate green homes.
2020 Lawrence breaks ground early next year, but it’s already making headlines. With prices ranging from $290k-$800k, 20 of the 60 units have been pre-sold. But there’s a compelling financial scenario lurking in the numbers of this $20 million development: buyers that go with the 2-kw photovoltaic system will get a quarter point break on the 30 year mortgage (assuming buyer’s go with Countrywide Financial). The result is that it becomes cheaper to buy a unit with the pv system, than without the system. Nice.
Additionally, 2020 Lawrence will be built to LEED silver certification and will be the first condo community in the region to receive a Near-Zero Energy Home designation. As far as green amenities, 2020 Lawrence will have dual-flush toilets, sustainable hardwood floors, reserved hybrid vehicle parking, and rooftop solar power, to name a few. Via BGTV.
It looks like Best Buy is upping its green cred with the recent announcement that starting in early- to mid-2008, all future Best Buy stores will be built to LEED standards. In all honesty, the retail sector has been kind of slow to adopt programs such as LEED. But this is starting to change. Best Buy has the in-house architect and senior facilities manager working on getting LEED accredited right now. Additionally, the company plans to get its eco-prototype store certified by the end of the year. The eco-prototype will have energy-efficient lighting, rainwater recycling, recycled content building materials, a high-efficiency HVAC system, and some sort of day lighting system.
Best Buy’s greening will go beyond the new stores also. Before the end of the fiscal year, it plans to increase its use of reusable containers by 30 percent; retrofit 20 percent of its 650+ stores with dimmable, zonable ceramic metal halide lights; and recycle 75,000 tons of cardboard, 1,800 tons of plastic, 15,000 tons of consumer electronics, and 27,500 tons of appliances. Via MBJ.
The implications of this research are unbelievable. Seriously. I’ve written about the ten common problems associated with sprawl previously, but this story opens up the discussion again. Angkor Wat is the home of a magnificent temple in Cambodia and was the center to one of the largest cities in the pre-industrialized world. Recently, NASA used ground-sensing radar to study the extent of the city and found that it took up approximately 400 square miles. In comparison, Phoenix sprawls across about 500 square miles, not including the suburbs. The research revealed a complex network of canals, 1,000 man-made ponds, and roughly 70 long-lost temples. The canals carried and distributed water towards the temple and through the south of Angkor. Interestingly, the study also revealed evidence of breaches in dykes and areas where they attempted to fix the canals.
What’s most interesting is the idea that Angkor’s increasingly intricate and complex system of canals might have been too expensive and difficult to maintain. So, there was an elaborate infrastructure that might have run into disrepair … which possibly contributed to the downfall of Angkor? This is very interesting research. Apply that to our situation and query whether the issues we have with the levees in New Orleans or the bridge in Minnesota parallel the situation in Angkor. Do we have an infrastructure, fueled by sprawl and fractional planning, that is too expensive to maintain?