When the Museum of Science and Technology in Chicago wanted a “smart” house on their grounds to showcase energy-efficient and healthy living at its best, architect Michelle Kaufmann was a natural choice to design it. Â After all, her passion for sustainability, coupled with an impeccable eye for style and plenty of award-winning projects under her belt, has made Michelle an authority on good green design. Â The Smart Home: Green and WiredÂ exhibit has inspired thousands of visitors with its perfect mix of high and low-tech green building techniques, materials and gadgets in a friendly, modern setting.
Current and recent projects for Michelle Kaufmann Studio include a sustainable neighborhood, a co-housing complex for some very with-it Franciscan nuns, and several private residences for green-minded clients. Â With so much hands-on experience with many of the materials and technologies we write about here at Jetson Green, I was eager to pick Michelle’s brain.
I proposed a series of open-ended questions starting with â€œWhat is the one green product â€¦â€, hoping the busy designer would find it a fun, thought-provoking exercise.Â Luckily she did — and I hope you find her responses as illuminating and insightful as I have!
What’s the one green product …
… every home would have in a perfect world? Â Living roof that produces food for the family in the home.
… as stylish as it is sustainable? Â Reclaimed wood. Â Whether it is a live-edge dining table or wood flooring from wine barrels, material that has a history to it, a tactile memory, plus a lengthened life. Â So lovely.
… that will be a game-changer? Â Systems like Aqus that can make gray water easy, even in retrofit situations.Â Water is our next oil, our next scarce resource. Â Products that help us get maximum use out of each drop will be successful.Â
… to deliver the most bang for its buck? Â The learning thermostat by Nest.
… to surpass your expectations? Â No-VOC paints. Â So happy to see most of the big companies now (finally) offer no-VOC options in all of their colors. Â
… so clever/amazing/beautiful you wish you had invented it? Â Solar Ivy, the solar panels that behave like leaves.Â
… you include on every project without exception? Â Healthy materials and systems. It is criminal not to as a designer or builder.
… you’ve been dying for the opportunity to work into a project? Â A living wall that would create the homeâ€™s food, and purify the water and the air at the same time. I love when something beautiful has multiple uber beneficial functions.
… you’d want to have if you were stranded on a deserted island? Â Solar charged water purifier — that could hopefully charge my iPhone too!
To learn more about Michelle Kaufmann, please visit her website.