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House of Tomorrow, Zero Energy Green Prefab

House of Tomorrow

This green prefab, sponsored by French architecture magazine Architectures à Vivre, was on display last weekend at the Batimat Show in Paris.  I think it’s called La Maison de Demain, which I also think is French for House of Tomorrow.  We’ll go with that as the name for now.  Their website is in French, so if anything, you can glean certain design elements from studying the images.  Some of the below information is from Google’s translation, so I hope it’s accurate. 

The home is built with three prefabricated modules and meant to show that green design can be affordable and attractive.  An important aspect of the house is the open area in the middle, which could be used as a covered patio to extend the footprint of the home into the natural environment.  Everything about the home is green, too, as far as I can tell: FSC-certified wood and siding, green label paints, low-VOC recycled carpet tiles, LED lighting, low-flow toilet, reinforced insulation, and photovoltaic panels.  You’ll also notice the living roof that provides numerous efficiency benefits (and seems to get water from the slanted roof).  In the end, the compact, modern home is very efficient.  Matter of fact, it’s nearly net zero energy consumption once the solar panels are live.  Nice.

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Half-Moon Outfitters Takes Platinum in Green Rehab


It’s nice to hear about companies that stretch just to get the LEED Platinum certification, especially when it’s easier to go ‘certified’ and brandish that certification like it’s a shiny, new, plug-in hybrid.  Half-Moon Outfitters received the Platinum certification in the middle of the summer for their 9,600 sf distribution center in North Charleston, South Carolina.  They went for Platinum under the LEED-NC 2.2 system, and more importantly, they didn’t skimp in the energy and atmosphere category, opting instead to rack up ten points.  The distribution center was formerly an old Piggly Wiggly store, but it’s been through what could be the greenest renovation in the country.  It’s now a super green, corporate office and distribution center. 

Here’s what they did:  First, they installed two 1550 gallon storage tanks, which combined with the water efficient fixtures and native landscaping, helped them use about 78% less domestic potable water than a conventional building.  Second, they added insulation throughout the building and installed both a 4,900-watt photovoltaic system and 19 SEER efficient Lennox heat pump system.  Third, they switched to energy-efficient fluorescent lamps and found ways to benefit from the building’s east-west orientation (passive and active solar strategies).  Nice work!

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[Podcast] San Francisco Federal Building, Thom Mayne

There’s an interesting podcast with architect Thom Mayne, principal at Morphosis, and Andrew Blum (contributing editor at Metropolis and Wired).  This article at Treehugger explains the building’s green features and striking exterior.  Notably, it’s designed to use about half as much energy as a similar-sized office building.  Via Andrew Blum.

Technische Universität Darmstadt Takes First Place at Solar Decathlon 2007

Solar Decathlon Winner 2007

It’s pretty unbelievable to see all these cool houses at Solar Decathlon.  I mean, why can’t all houses look like this?  Late yesterday, it was announced that the Technische Universität Darmstadt team from Germany took first prize.  Congratulations!  Word on the street is that this house was consistently swarmed with visitors the entire week.  Rightfully so, too.

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Austin to Require Zero Energy Homes by 2015


The City of Austin, after a year of serious research by the Zero Energy Capable Homes Task Force,  announced a huge initiative towards requiring all new single-family homes to be zero-energy capably by 2015.  Here’s how it works.  Today, the city adopted the first in a series of code amendments and a  road map of code amendments that will be implemented through 2015.  Due to this first series of changes, roughly 6500 new homes built in Austin will be about 20% more efficient.  Through 2015, as the code changes ratchet up the efficiency baseline, homes will end up using about 65% less energy than those built today.  Then, owners will have the option of adding solar or some other clean tech to get the home to zero energy status. 

Speaking of the Zero Energy Homes Initiative, Mayor Will Wynn said, "We’re taking action today that will lower the cost of utility bills, make housing more affordable, help improve air quality and take critical steps in the fight against global warming."  He continued, "The savings here are staggering – over the next ten years these policies will save homeowners almost $125 million on utility bills and have the same greenhouse gas reduction effect as taking almost 200,000 cars off the road."  It should be said, however, that home prices will increase slightly due to the initiative, but all those green Dell employees should be able to handle it, right?!  Speak with your wallet. 

Good Links:
++Zero Energy Home Initiative Approved [Austin Biz Journal]
++Mayor Winn Announces Action on Zero Energy Homes [ACC]

Sidwell Friends School, Anatomy of a Green School

Sidwell Friends School

The Sidwell Friends School is the first LEED Platinum-rated K-12 school in the world, but what’s incredible is the story behind it.  First, it’s a renovation of a fifty year old facility.  Second, the renovation involved the students, so everyone was able to participate and learn about the benefits of a green building.  Matter of fact, about sixteen 5th – 8th graders studied the building, wrote about its benefits, and recorded an audio feature explaining each green feature.  Feel free to take the green building tour to learn about low-VOC materials, CO2 monitoring, natural light, native plants, the green roof and biology pond, photovoltaic panels, a heat recovery wheel, vertical solar fins, and the settling tank, etc.  This is quite the impressive interactive visual/audio tour.  Seriously, great work. 

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