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.
With all the recent discussion about crumbling infrastructure and stimulus spending, it seems appropriate to talk about a design proposal that is actively addressing many issues that are showing progress across the country. Project Green, slated for downtown Austin, Texas, represents a comprehensive approach to sustainability in the context of an urban, mixed-use development. In addition to incorporating the usual features like solar panels and wind turbines, this proposal takes a serious approach to handling the most precious resource on earth. Water.
What's Sunday evening without a little Ty Pennington and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? I don't catch it every week, particularly if the Dallas Cowboys are on, but the program is a juggernaut for helping people in real need. So we caught news that ABC was planning a green show for April 6 and were put in touch with the team doing a 5 kW solar photovoltaics installation. They're using the Akeena Andalay system, which we mentioned previously was a Top 5 Green Building Product (as voted by the builders). The Akeena Andalay system is pretty sharp, and Linda Panitz, a solar evangelist herself, was on the set with Akeena to install the system. Here's our Q&A:
One of Chicago’s biggest names in landscaping now lays claim to one of the greenest locations in the city. Christy Webber Landscapes, along with the City of Chicago and GreenWorks, came together to develop an area in a struggling neighborhood. After decades of abuse as an auto impound, landfill, and iron-works, the polluted site had been declared a brownfield. Subsequently, in 2003 the City of Chicago proposed an initiative to reclaim the site, and a short three years later, the 12.5 acre piece of land was clean and fully operational. Called "Rancho Verde," in honor of the mostly Hispanic workforce that makes up the landscaping industry, the former brownfield is now the headquarters for Christy Webber Landscapes. Rancho Verde features a one-story office building, warehouse, and a shop-yard big enough to hold dozens of trucks that keep Chicago looking healthy all year round.
This could just be one of the most innovative sustainable designs you’ll see all year. Here’s the background: a team from Weber Thompson designed this building for the Cascadia Natural Talent Design Competition put on by the Emerging Green Builders of the USGBC. They won the Cascadia competition and moved on to compete against about 15 other regional winners from around the country. They won there, too, and "Eco-Laboratory" was announced as the winner of the 2008 Natural Talent Design Competition at Greenbuild. Eco-Laboratory is a theoretical design set in Seattle with affordable and market-rate residential housing, a job training center, homeless shelter, hygiene station, and public farmer’s market.