Articles With "residential" Tag

Throwback: Henry David Thoreau on Small Living

Hdt Recently, I wrote an article for another website (full disclosure: I decided to stop writing for this website) called, "What’s the Deal with Big Green Homes?"  The article lead to some good comments and discussion, but I’ve been nagged by some thoughts that were in the comments.  Two of the homes that were discussed in the article were very green by almost all green measures except that of size: one was 4,700+ sf and the other 6,000+ sf.  I readily admit the superior green amenities and features of each home, but here’s a portion of my argument:

Think about all the materials that went into such a behemoth. In many ways, big a** homes represent the unsustainability of gross commercialization and over-consumption. Good old fashioned American waste. If you’re the Cheaper by the Dozen family, a big house might be necessary. Otherwise, big does not equal green.

One of the entrepreneurs of this green website disagreed stating, "if it’s Green, go as Big as you can and want."  I don’t understand this line of thinking because for this to be logical, a green home would have to have absolutely zero impact.  But there’s always an impact, even if it’s managed or negligible or offset or balanced.  There’s always an impact, even if it’s the impact of taking something that could go to someone else. 

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The Loftcube by Werner Aisslinger

Loft_cube_night

This is the Loftcube, which is designed and engineered in Germany.  Including the bathroom and kitchen, there are two models, one for $136,000 and the other for $180,000.  I love the look of it … if you had $180k and a vacant roof, would you put it up there?  Add some landscaping?

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QR5 + 2007 Bottom Line Design Awards

Berkshire

The first time I saw the QR5 was on Inhabitat last year, and ever since then, my thoughts have occasionally wandered back to its simple, elegant design.  Now, in April 2007, this UK-based innovation is one the recipients of the 3rd Annual Bottom Line Design Awards.  Pictured on the cover of Business 2.0, the QR5 is referred to as "The Personal Power Plant."  The QR5 can generate about 800 kilowatt-hours a month in 13-mph winds and costs about $48,000.  Back of the envelope-style, the payback is about 18 years.  According to Quietrevolution’s designer, Richard Cochrane, prices will go down with volume sales and about 70-80 wind turbines will be installed in the coming year. 

About the QR5:
Looking at the helix portion alone, the turbine is about 9 feet tall x 15 feet wide (but various different sizes are also in development).  Here’s how the parts work:  (1) three ‘S’ shaped blades are tapered to shed noise, (2) the vertical axis easily integrates into existing buildings and structures, (3) the helical design captures turbulent winds and eliminates vibration, (4) central compression spar, dependent on conditions, (5) the blades, spars, and torque tube are made of strong carbon fiber, and all moving parts are sealed to minimize maintenance, and (6) the direct drive in-line generator has auto-shutdown and peak power tracking, which is incorporated into the mast.  The QR5 is expected to have a life of about 25 years, assuming annual inspections.  Feel free to click on over to get the finer details on noise + vibration, connecting to the grid, and mounting in various applications

My Thoughts:
I think it’s fantastic, but I do have one concern.  It’s UK-based.  Localization is the new globalization because carbon emissions have changed the rules of the game.  If this thing is going to get big, and I believe it can, there must be US-based production.  I understand Quietrevolution is working on their non-UK patents, so establishing an American presence may be the company’s next step.  I hope it is, because I can’t stop thinking about it.  That’s what good design does.  It changes the way we see the game being played. 

Extra Links:
Quiet Revolution Wind Turbine [Evelyn - Inhabitat]
QuietRevolution [Sarah Rich - WorldChanging]

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Dongtan_2

2007 New American Home Goes Green in a Big Way

[Email/RSS - Click to View Images] Every year, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) sponsors a home project and industry experts team up to create a demonstration home with the newest technologies and products.  This year’s New American Home was unveiled at the 2007 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida last month.  The 2007 New American Home is a 3-story, 4,707 sf urban loft home with a roof plaza.  There’s also a first floor terrace, pool, and a 576 sf suite with the two-car garage.  Designed by BSB Design, the New American Home has a distinct look.  The mission of the home was to illustrate that housing performance can be incorporated into the most simple or complex homes without sacrificing aesthetics.  And as it turns out, housing performance = green home. 

Green Features:
The New American Home is a standout in green achievement: it’s designed with universal design compliance, designated to be Energy Star certified, and certified green by the Florida Green Building Coalition.  The home includes a 2.4 kw solar photovoltaic system; pre-cast, insulated structural concrete wall system; impact resistant, low-emissivity windows; residential automation and home control for all low-voltage systems; air conditioning systems between 15 + 17.8 SEER; four-foot overhangs over most of the south- and west-facing windows; and natural gas instantaneous water heaters.  Nice. 

So you’re saying, "Yeah but, this house is freakin’ huge!"  Yes it is.  It’s huge with Cribs-type amenities such as automated, built-in home theaters, an elevator, and a state-of-the-art security system. It’s a model home with tons of green features.  More precisely, it uses 73 percent less energy for heating and cooling and 54 percent less energy for water heating, compared to a comparable house in a similar climate.  For whatever reason, people build houses this big, so if you’re gonna go big, you might as well go green and energy efficient, too. 

Sky House, St. Louis Eco-Friendly, Mixed-Use Tower (S2)

Sky House St. Louis

A Fresh Perspective on Urban Living.
  Looks like we’re starting to see teasers for the newest, hottest address in downtown St. Louis: 1400 Washington.  With pre-sales beginning in May 2007, Sky House will be a 22-story building with 166 units of residential and 13,000 sf of street-level retail.  The residential units will be about 850 to 2,230 sf (1-3 bedrooms), with prices starting in the mid-$200,000.  Sky House will be built to LEED standards and have Energy Star stainless steel appliances, a green roof, energy-efficient window systems and balcony doors, and computer-controlled, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Residents will also have access to the Sky Club on the 19th floor.  The Sky Club level includes a pool, hot tub, fitness center, green space, and a dog run.  The importance of the dog run can’t be understated either.  With a dog run, there’s less of a reason for vertical living to be at odds with dog lovers.  The project is developed by Chicago-based Metropolitan Development Enterprises and constructed by RileyWaldrop.  Looking good. 

Extra Links:
Eco-Friendly, Mixed-Use Tower to Rise in St. Louis [BDC Network]
SkyscraperPage Forums + Urban St. Louis Forums

::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::

Caveat Emptor: The Green Sheen

Bw_march_26_2007_cover Sure, the housing market is in a bit of a lull right now, but BusinessWeek’s article on page 131, "How to Make a Deal Bloom," was totally irresponsible.  BW presents five tips for residential home sellers: (1) Get on the Net, (2) Dress Up the House, (3) Don’t Overprice, (4) Be Green, and (5) Forget About As Is.  Here’s what they say under Be Green: "Environmentally friendly features are in, especially if buyers don’t have to pay for them.  You can give your home a green sheen inexpensively by replacing incandescent bulbs in light fixtures with energy-saving compact florescent ones.  Put filters on the faucets and a compost bin in the backyard."  You might as well call it a veil or mask, because this isn’t green, it’s green-washing.  With a few add-ons, the seller is putting out the vibe that the house is green and the buyer unwittingly infers that it has more beneficial green features.  That’s quite deceptive. 

Buyers Tip:
Don’t buy into this hype, you’ll be disappointed by the results.  Don’t think you’re getting something special if you have CFLs, water filters, and a compost bin.  Sure these green add-ons are helpful, but don’t be swayed.  If someone shows you these things and says their home is green, here’s a model reply:  "Cool.  Can you show me the results of the energy audit?  I’m interested in knowing about the AC SEER rating, the windows, and all the Energy Star appliances.  How much energy does that refrigerator use?  Did you landscape green, too?"  Let’s try to be discerning.



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