Solarsmith, a green building firm out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, recently helped Betsy Armstrong and Richard Barr build an eco-friendly, traditional southwest-style home in the foothills of Santa Fe. The residence's roof is filled with solar panels, which are tied into the grid, helping to heat water for the radiant floors, exercise pool and appliances. Excess energy is fed to neighboring homes.
Wow, isn't this home striking? It's a green house and a house meant to act like a true greenhouse — the steel-framed structure is enveloped in alternating layers of insulated transparent glass and translucent polycarbonate plates, so when the sun comes through the glass and heats up the interior, the insulation in the glass keeps the heat inside. The insulation and translucent materials also provide a level of privacy, particularly on the first level, whereas the glass is featured prominently in the more public areas of the home.
This exciting new line of prefab houses comes to us from Bensonwood Homes, based out of Walpole, New Hampshire. Their Unity House, a Unity2 model built for the president of Unity College, has achieved a LEED platinum rating, making it one of a select group of homes around the country to reach such a lofty goal. And the small design-build company debuts not one, two, or even three, but four stunning models to the sustainable housing market. Reasonably priced and quickly assembled, all homes in the series are designed to be net-zero energy. The design aesthetic seems to lean towards the classic single family American home, while the high tech materials and features thrust towards the future of home building. The list of sustainable features is long to be sure, but here are a few key elements.
It looks like the 100k House idea has migrated overseas because a similar prototype just popped up in Italy last year. Mario Cucinella Architects has conceived Casa 100k, which is a prototype home for Є100,000 that prioritizes three main elements: style, sustainability, and affordability. It's billed as a low-cost, dream home with zero bills and zero emissions. And as you can see from available renderings, the method of accomplishing such goals is primarily through prefabrication and passive and active design strategies.
A lot of people in Pennsylvania have been talking about green building, but according to my quick research, no one in the state has received the USGBC's highest certification under the LEED for Homes program yet. But that could change if the stars align for Thin Flats — the developer is seeking LEED-H Platinum for all residences and waiting on Energy Star certification. Thin Flats includes eight, market-rate, up-down units split between four rows. The newly completed project recently received case study treatment by GreenSource Magazine, and from what I've read, observers either love or hate the exterior facade. Personally, I like it, but what do you think?