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.
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.
One of four teams that are representing California in the 2013 Solar Decathlon, Team USC (from the University of Southern California) will be submitting its fluxHome, a net zero prototype, as an entry in the competition to be held in October 2013 in Irvine, California.
fluxHome reimagines the suburban tract home in an energy efficient and affordable combination of smart home technologies with readily available and customizable components that can serve as a single family residence for up to four people or be adapted to other lifestyle scenarios.
The first city-wide collegiate team to be formed in Washington, D.C. and compete in the Solar Decathlon is Team Capitol DC, made up of students and faculty mentors from Catholic University, American University, and George Washington University. Their entry is HARVEST HOME, taking its name from its harvesting of natural resources, and is designed to meet the needs of a wounded veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who will live in the home after the competition.
In August 2013, Green Builder Magazine showcased the best durable/sustainable green building products that are made in the United States, pointing out that American manufacturing creates domestic jobs, reduces the impact of overseas shipping, and often makes use of locally-sourced raw materials.
Among the thirty-one products featured was the Xero Flor Green Roof System (the only green roof system to be included in the issue), which enables builders to create vegetative roofing on surfaces that range from 0 to 45 degree slopes. The Xero Flor system comprises a pre-vegetated mat, XeroTerr growing medium (a mix of compost and porous mineral aggregate), a retention fleece that distributes and stores water within the root zone, drain mat, and root barrier.
Winners of the Solar Decathlon China 2013, Team UOW (of University of Wollongong and TAFE Illawarra Institute) was the first Australian team to have ever won a place in a Solar Decathlon final and was the largest student-run competition that the UoW has ever entered.
Hosted by the United States Department of Energy, the Chinese National Energy Administration, and Peking University, Solar Decathlon China 2013 challenged 24 teams from 14 countries to design, build, and operate a solar-powered home that is energy efficient, cost effective to build, and appealing. Categories in which entries are judged include architecture, engineering, solar application, energy balance, market appeal, home entertainment, and appliances.