Quick post here, but I want to let you iTunes users know that there’s a free download of the new Sundance Channel TV show called "big ideas for a small planet." No direct links because you need to have iTunes downloaded to get it, but it’s on the front page right now. The season premiere is called "Fuel," and I just finished watching it. Download it, come back, and leave a comment on what you thought.
When I was in Washington, D.C., a couple weekends back, in addition to participating in GWU’s real estate competition and visiting AWEA, I took a tour of the National Building Museum’s exhibit called "The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design." If you’ve been there, by all means, leave a comment as to what you thought. I thought it was a great exhibit. I wanted to take pictures to show everyone, but no cameras were allowed inside. Regardless, pictures wouldn’t do it justice, because the entire exhibit showcases some incredible green concepts and materials.
Included in the tour is a real-life The Glidehouse, which is a prefab by Michelle Kaufmann. It’s very cool. Very modern. The tour also has a Heliodon, or a sun machine, which allows you to see how the sun hits a home (see solar orientation). The exhibit also explains the 5 Principles of Sustainable Homes:
- Optimizing Use of Sun
- Improving Indoor Air Quality
- Using the Land Responsibly
- Creating High-Performance and Moisture-Resistant Homes
- Wisely Using the Earth’s Natural Resources
Towards the end, there’s a green materials section that lets you see and feel different green floorings, ceilings, countertops, and paints. I heard people looking at it saying stuff like, "Wow, that’s nice…," or "That doesn’t look green at all…" It’s true. The environmental movement of yesterday has an entirely new face for the future. It looks good and comes at a competitive price. If you can’t go to D.C. or you want some more information, you can buy the exhibit book here or at your local bookstore. The Green House Exhibit will be on display until June 24, 2007.
Late last week, McStain Neighborhoods announced intentions to build the largest solar neighborhood in Colorado. The neighborhood development, known as Bradburn Village, will have 42 solar-electric homes available for sale in early Spring 2007. From what I understand, McStain builds their homes to Energy Star certification, so going with the solar option is a nice added feature. With prices starting in the upper 400s, these two-story homes will range in size from roughly 2,446 to 2,842 sq. Bradburn Village is located off 120th Avenue, between Federal and Sheridan boulevards.
McStain isn’t like your average builder or developer, either. For instance, here’s their mission: "To create homes and neighborhoods that stand the test of time, that grow in beauty and value, that help maintain the environment and lifestyle that make Colorado so special." They test and certify 100% of their homes, and I just get the feeling that a McStain home will be a damn good home.
- Duke Energy Donates $80,000 to The Nature Conservancy for Shareholders Choosing Paperless Delivery of Annual Report
- S. California "Green Schools" Light Bulb Exchange Program Enables Students to Reduce their Families’ Home Energy Bills
- The U.S. Supreme Court Ruled 5-4 that the EPA violated the Clean Air Act by Declining to Regulate New-Vehicle Emissions Standards to Control the Pollutants that Contribute to Global Warming.
I love blogging, I really do. Blogging enables me to connect with and learn from some really smart people. For example, last week I posted that I’d be in Washington, D.C., and I received a flood of suggestions and ideas for enjoying the greener side of the city. My friends at Edelman (Tristan + Kate) lined up a meeting with small-wind expert, Ron Stimmel, at the American Wind Energy Association’s Headquarters. It was awesome. I was able to sit down with Ron and talk about a pretty big development in the small-wind industry right now.
Recently, Senators Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) introduced legislation ("Rural Wind Energy Development Act" (S. 673)) that would allow purchasers of a small wind system to receive a credit on their taxes for a portion of the turbine’s total cost, or $1,500 per 1/2 kW of capacity. The five year credit would apply to all wind systems with capacities of under 100 kW used to power homes, farms or small businesses. The same day I was in town, a similar version of this legislation was also introduced in the House, H.R. 1772, by Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.). According to current estimates, small wind is suitable for about 15M homes and 1M businesses in America. If you want to get involved, Stimmel recommends calling your representative and asking them to co-sponsor the legislation. Get it moving.
According to Stimmel, "This would be the first federal incentive in 20 years to help individuals – homeowners, farmers, and small business owners – buy a small wind turbine." I asked him about some of the hurdles the industry is going through and he was positive about the direction small wind is going. Small wind needs reputable companies manufacturing the turbines and installers need to be well-trained to make sure the turbines get the best wind. Maybe in the near future, there could be some type of certification system for installing small wind, which could be a significant boost to the technology. At least for the moment, having these tax credits puts small wind within reach for many homeowners, farmers, and small business owners that could desperately use the technology.
I’m asking because if you have an Ikea, you may be one of the next cities to have their prefab home product. Maybe in 5, 10, 15 years, but it looks possible. Over the past decade, Ikea has teamed up with Swedish construction company Skanska to build a home that was light, well-planned, functional, and furnished with natural materials. That home, the BoKlok, which is Swedish for "smart living," has become Ikea’s big idea. After building about 3,500 BoKlok homes across Scandinavia, Ikea has decided to expand and create a British BoKlok development with about 36 flats in St. James Village, Gateshead (UK). After that, they’ll add another 60 homes.
BoKlok Homes are timber-framed, almost entirely pre-fabricated, and brought onto the site in pre-assembled units on the back of a truck. After transport, put on the roof + siding, install the plumbing + wiring, and that’s about it. BoKloks usually come in a two-floor, L-shaped configuration with three apartments on each floor. Early on, Ikea sold the BloKlok from the store, but they were so popular that people were camping out to get them. Now, Ikea chooses residents using a random lottery. Yes, I just wrote that. Demand is so big, there’s a lottery to choose residents. I can’t believe this, but it goes to show that there really is a problem with the lower portion of the economic pyramid being served with quality products.
Maybe I’ll get around to converting these figures, but for now, I’ll give you the original metrics so the data is accurate. The houses planned for Gateshead cost about £120,000 – £150,000. Ikea priced the units specifically to target households earning roughly £15,000 – £30,000 a year, and they’re excited to have a modern, environmentally-friendly, affordable living space. One bedroom flats are about 46 square meters and two bedroom flats are 58 square meters. Residents are expected to move in towards the end of 2007 or in early 2008. I wonder when we’ll see these in the U.S.? See also Guardian.