All posts from Philip Proefrock

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Prizewinning Affordable Housing

The contemporary looking building pictured here is not a high-end green building full of high tech features. Rather, it is a prizewinning affordable housing design for South Africa that costs significantly less than a new car. This is a house designed to provide affordable housing for very little cost: 50,000 South African rand (which is […]

October 2nd

Super-Effficient Water-Saving Shower

Showering is one of the major uses of domestic water. Showering is responsible for roughly 18% of indoor water use. But with a new kind of shower system invented in Australia, showering could, according to the manufacturer, use 4 times less water and save up to 87% of the energy used in typical showering. Australia […]

September 28th

Canadian Proposal for Green Building Incentives

As part of the current Canadian election campaign, leaders of the Canadian Liberal Party have announced a plan for spending more than a half a billion dollars to improve the energy efficiency of homes across Canada, if they are elected next month. Under the four-year proposal, the Liberals would offer homeowners $10,000 in financial support […]

September 15th

New Options for Home Wind Power

Utility-scale windpower is an important and growing part of the US energy portfolio. Farms ranging in size from dozens to hundreds of turbines can produce in excess of 60 megawatts of power. Plans for gigawatts of wind power are being proposed all over the globe, and new wind farms are regularly being proposed that outstrip […]

September 12th

Building a DIY Wetland

A family in Australia has created their own tiny wetland as a part of a household grey water system.  It is a fairly large DIY project, but, as the article demonstrates, not an overwhelming project.  The writer even enlisted his young children to help in the construction. Black water is toilet waste and other water […]

September 7th

Are Extruded Houses Green?

For several years, Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California has been working on systems for rapidly creating buildings with system that is essentially a very large 3-dimensional printer.  Called Contour Crafting, the equipment is able to rapidly build up walls.  Already, test runs have been able to produce six-foot high concrete walls. […]

September 5th

California Moving to Block Sprawl

Sprawl is a constant issue at the outside periphery of every city in the country. Although matters have abated temporarily in the midst of the housing and mortgage crunch, new construction continues to decimate the countryside at further distances away from the city centers. However, the state of California is weighing a measure in the […]

August 28th

How Green Are the Beijing Olympics Buildings?

The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are supposed to be the greenest yet. There has been some coverage on television, and despite all the attempts to clean things up beforehand and to limit especially the air pollution during the games, pictures from the city show it still in many ways to be a smoggy, grimy […]

August 17th

Green Communities, Part 2: Cottage Communities

Sometimes, some of the greenest solutions come from the simplest of ideas.  Take the cottage community.  What could be simpler than the idea of building houses that are radically smaller in square footage than the national average?  Not everyone wants all that extra space, and many would rather have a smaller home built well than […]

August 15th

Weighing the Value of Concrete Housing

A South African company called Moladi is promoting their system for quickly building homes. Using their system, the exterior walls for a single-family dwelling can be built in a matter of just a day or two, and it can be done using unskilled labor. But, while their goals are admirable, it’s a question whether or […]

August 5th

Showing the Green Building Process

What does it look like to build a house with lots of green features? We see pictures of the finished buildings, and we read about the features that make them green. We know about the importance of good insulation and reducing electrical loads and choosing efficient equipment. But what does it look like while it […]

July 30th

Recessed Lights and Greenwash

Recessed can lighting is a familiar method of lighting rooms.  Rather than having fixtures protruding into the space, the light source is hidden in a recess in the ceiling, reducing glare.  But, when the ceiling above is insulated, the can light fixture is a potential source of air leaks and thermal bridging. I recently got […]

July 21st

Green Building Mandates

Governments are beginning to mandate green building for some new construction, and that ought to be a cause for celebration. But because of the way these requirements are made, the possibility of problems arising when a building does not meet a required level of green building could lead to legal difficulties and lawsuits.

July 17th

Hawaii Mandates Solar Hot Water

Solar water heaters are far more efficient and have a much shorter payback period than do solar photovoltaic systems.  Getting heat from direct solar radiation is extremely simple (just step outside on a sunny day), and can be done with far less complex systems than what solar PV requires. Starting in 2010 all single family […]

July 7th

Green Building Game Misses the Point

I recently came across an online game called “Design Your Dream Home” on the Green Is Universal website. I was shocked by what I found and how bad the game really was. I prefer to focus on the positive aspects of green building, but this strikes me as so misguided that I could not let […]

July 1st