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.
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.
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.
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.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a friend on the scene in Washington D.C., providing us these exclusive shots from the Solar Decathlon. The Solar Decathlon joins 20 college and university teams in a competition to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. And, as you can see from these images, this place is flooded with visitors. I bet many of them are asking themselves, “what would it take to live in a home like that?” “Why can’t I get a home like that?” We’re seeing the essence of Jetson Green on display — this is the ultimate confluence of modern + green.
Over the weekend, REI opened the doors on a brand-spanking new, LEED-CI Silver certified, green retail store in Boulder, Colorado. Designed by Gensler, this store is an extension of REI’s commitment to green building. REI’s director of store development, Dean Iwata, said, "REI’s Boulder store builds on our more than 10 years of green building experience, and helps us test concepts that will pave the way for how our stores are built in the future, including design, material selections and use of technology." I couldn’t be happier for the company — I think I’ve found a justification to splurge $165 on a new North Face Denali jacket. Vote with your money, right?!
The store has tons of green technology, such as specially-designed Solatubes (which save major deniro and energy). Also, using efficient, low-flow fixtures, the store uses 30% less water than federal code mandates. 70 percent of the store’s hot water is heated through solar energy. REI Boulder is the first retail integration of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) and uses recycled, renewable, and low-VOC materials throughout. Plus, as many responsible builders do, REI diverted 75% of construction waste from the local landfills by using it in other areas of the store or recycling it.