While living in solar powered homes is very sustainable and environmentally friendly, the materials from which most solar PV arrays are constructed are not. Since they are often made from rare natural materials or plastics, researchers are constantly looking for way to improve this flaw and make the whole package more eco-friendly. A team of scientists from the University of Maryland, the South China University of Technology, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have recently developed a type of paper, which is made from wood fibers. This paper is 96 percent transparent and could conceivably one day be used instead of the plastic materials used to construct the solar cells of today. This would make solar cells more eco-friendly as well as much cheaper.
Former airplane interior designer, Steve Sauer, worked hard to transform a tiny closet space in Seattle into a functional apartment, which is also known as a “pico dwelling.” The apartment measures only 182 square feet, yet consists of two beds, a full kitchen with a dishwasher, a bathroom with a shower, and a soaking tub set into the floor just inside the front door.
Sauer succeeded in fitting 8 separate and functional spaces into the tiny space, including a café area, which is stacked atop a video lounge that is equipped with a 37-inch TV. In a lofted area on one of the walls there is a bedroom that sits atop a walk-in closet that can also double as a home office.
Architect Christian Salvati of Marengo Structures built the house on Vernon St. in New Haven, Connecticut out of six recycled shipping containers. The house was co-designed by architect Edsel Ramirez, and they used 45-foot containers, into which holes for doors and windows, as well as some of the interior walls to make rooms, were cut out prior to transporting them to the building site.
The Santa Monica-based award-winning green design studio Minarc partnered up with Habitat for Humanity, and a local non-profit firm Restore Neighborhoods LA to design and build affordable, net-zero energy prefabricated homes in the low-income areas of South Los Angeles. Together they built 3 homes, which were all built on vacant lots in the poorest neighborhood of South Los Angeles. The houses all feature Minarc’s innovative, interlocking panel system, which is called mnmMOD. The homes are also equipped with roof top mounted solar panels.