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.
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.
Growing food in the colder months of the year is a challenge, and growers in colder climates that want to extend the crop-growing season are always looking for a better way to do so. Greenhouses are a great option, but they cost a lot of money to construct and heat during the colder months. The American sustainable agriculture non-profit organization Benson Institute has come up with a set of easy to follow instructions on how to build a much cheaper alternative, the so-called walipini, which means “place of warmth” in Aymara Indian. The walipini is basically an underground, pit greenhouse in which it possible to grow vegetables all year, even in the coldest regions of the world.
The Art Deco home situated on a Colonial Lane property in Palm Beach, and designed by architect Jacqueline Albarran recently received the LEED Platinum certification. The home was completed in November 2013, and took two years to build. This home is the first in the Palm Beach area to receive this, highest LEED certification. The building team consisted of architect Albarran, as well as the local contractor Tim Givens and Kyle Abney, a Palm City-based LEED consultant.
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.
Solar ovens are a great way to cook sustainably, but they have the drawback of not working very well on cloudy days. However, the new SunFocus solar hybrid oven, made by Sun BD Corporation, takes care of that problem. And what’s more, you can even use this oven to cook at night. This is possible because the SunFocus oven has a hybrid solar and electric system, with the latter taking over once the sun sets or hides behind the clouds.