Eco classroom at Benenden School

Eco Classroom Gets Drinking Water From Green Roof

This 230 square foot eco classroom, built in the trees at the Benenden School in Kent, United Kingdom, is in demand from students and faculty alike because of its view and its interesting construction.  Built by treehouse builders Blue Forest, the classroom is completely self-sufficient, using solar power for electricity and water harvested from its green roof. Rainwater falls on the sedum (rock flowers) green roof, is collected, and then run through six reverse osmosis filters and a UV light…

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Garage After Tiny House

Tiny House Built in a Garage Has French Style

You won’t believe this “tiny house” living space was built into a single-car garage, but it’s true!  The French “home” owner hasn’t told the City, however, so- if you happen to know where this house is- try to keep it on the down-low. The owner couldn’t afford an apartment in the city, so he purchased a dilapidated garage full of old junk and turned it into a beautiful, tiny house-style living space.  With the help of an architect friend who…

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Green Building With Renewable Rice Straw

For every ton of rice that is grown, 500 lbs of rice husks and straw are created. Typically, those husks and straw are burned as waste. But two innovations on opposite sides of the world are changing that. In India, 16-year-old Bisman Deu saw all those rice husks being burned and wondered whether they couldn’t be put to better use. So she started experimenting in the family kitchen and came up with a material she calls Green Wood. Her creation is…

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Prefab Construction Promotes Energy Efficiency

Alexander Kolbe, co-owner of ecoDOMUS, an architectural firm that specializes in prefab construction to build green homes that are highly energy efficient, says that, “Given the choice of spending a sizable sum of money for a home that consumes energy at an alarming rate, or spending slightly more initially to benefit from substantially lower utility costs, and thereby helping to conserving our planet’s limited supply of fossil fuels, we at evoDOMUS believe that the latter can prevail … the key…

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This Tiny House Delivers Big Functionality

One look at this tiny house and you feel as if you are about to enter a doll house! With bright pink walls, Villa Hermina clearly stands out from the rest of the cottages in the area. Situated outside the southern Czech town of Černín, it was created by HSH Architekti, which unfortunately is now defunct. The home was inspired by architect Ludwig Leo’s Versuchsanstalt fur Wasserbau und Schiffbau building. This 635 square feet rhombus shaped house has three levels that…

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Light Bandit

Light Bandit Brings Daylight to any Room in the House

For those of us who are deep in the dark of winter, this is a great time to think about bringing sunlight into our homes.  The Light Bandit allows sunlight to be directed fiber-optically to any room in the house – even one with no windows! Like the luminous ceiling we covered back in 2010, the Light Bandit is a box that is placed or mounted in a window or skylight.  Fiber optic cable is run from the box to…

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Binishell Town

Binishells Make Affordable, Energy Efficient Homes

Looking something like homes for modern day Hobbits, Binishells are ideal for meeting the world’s need for affordable, energy efficient homes. They can be built quickly using locally sourced green materials with little or no waste. These column-free organic spans can be designed in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit any need while reducing carbon footprints and construction schedules by more than 50 per cent. Invented in the 1960s by Italian architect Dr Dante Bini, there are now 1,600 Binishells in…

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Behold: the 100% Maintenance Free House

An experimental maintenance free house built in Denmark is exploring ways to eliminate one of the single biggest obstacles to home ownership: upkeep. Designed collaboratively by RealDaniaBYG and Arkitema Architects, the dwelling is patterned after a traditional Viking longhouse and features almost 1700 square feet of interior living space. The designers anticipate the house will need no significant maintenance for over 50 years, thanks to the novel system they devised to protect the outside of the house from the elements. The entire…

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Timbatree Offers Sustainable Christmas Tree Option

This post is part of Important Media’s “More About the Love, Less About the Stuff” holidays series. This year, we’re talking all about redefining holiday traditions to focus on sustainability and compassion over cutting down trees and fighting for more stuff.   Since it’s well past Halloween and officially the “holiday season,” here is a sustainable option for those looking for something different from a live Christmas tree this year.  It’s a story that seems very familiar. Timbatrees are lovingly…

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Create Thermal Barriers to Stay Warm and Save

The importance of properly insulating your home should be quite apparent at this point. Creating thermal barriers in the home to prevent heat moving from one place to another can save a lot of money on heating and cooling costs and help keep living and working spaces more comfortable. There are many effective ways to create thermal barriers in the building envelope. You can find tips on how to do weather stripping to fiberglass windows (or other energy efficient windows) to studs…

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Meet the Largest Passive House Building in the US

The largest Passive House structure in the US, called The Orchards At Orenco, is under construction in Hillsboro, Oregon, a suburb of Portland. The 57 unit residential building is being built by REACH Community Development, a non-profit developer dedicated to lowering overall living costs for residents. REACH believes delivering truly affordable housing places a minimal burden on the finances of low-income families by keeping utility costs as low as possible. How did the architects make such a large building conform to Passive House standards?…

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cdl treehouse largest vertical garden

CDL’s Treehouse is World’s Largest Vertical Garden

Earlier this year, CDL’s Treehouse condo project in Singapore set the official Guinness World Record for world’s largest vertical garden. The building’s green wall covers nearly 2300 sq. meters, and is expected to save the building’s residents more than $500,000 in heating and cooling bills each year. CDL’s Treehouse was completed in 2013, but the company’s project website makes it seem as if several of the apartments- in a pretty wide variety of floorplans, actually– are still available. So, if…

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US is Close to Building Net Zero Neighborhoods

Hidden in the suburbs of Sacramento, California, in an otherwise unremarkable subdivision, is the ZeroHouse. The ZeroHouse is special because, as its name suggests, it uses zero net energy from the region’s electrical grid, making it one of America’s first net zero homes– and it wasn’t significantly more expensive to build than the rest of the houses in the area, either! Built by homebuilder KB Homes, the 2600 sq. ft. ZeroHouse uses an advanced, grey water recycling system to save…

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Net-Zero Building Opens In Brooklyn

On the second anniversary of Super Storm Sandy, a ribbon cutting ceremony in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn announced the opening of a new net-zero building called Bright ‘N Green in the neighborhood. The date is a symbolic reminder of the importance of building in a way that contributes minimally to climate change and that is resilient in the face of extreme weather events.  The building occupies a former brownfield containing hazardous levels of lead. Today, the land has…

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new insulation in a wall

New Windows, Insulation Star in Green Home Upgrade

Holland and Nick Brown of Long Beach, California have been upgrading their home to Net Zero standards and blogging about their experience for AOL. At the start of their project, their house had no insulation, and old-fashioned, single pane windows. Adding insulation and installing new windows that are more energy efficient are the two most important ways to reduce unwanted heat gain or loss in any structure. Of the two, the Browns found that insulating their walls to bring them up…

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Skinny Houses Adapt to Site Constraints

One of the most important decisions that gets made when designing a building, if not THE most important decision, is where to build it.  Site conditions can affect how big a house is, its shape, its orientation across cardinal directions, and- as such- how energy efficient the home has the potential to be. The skinny houses highlighted in the gallery, below were adapted to fit in some very tight spaces!   Skinny House in Long Beach Built on a Bet…

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make your home more energy efficient

An Energy Efficient Home Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

40% of all the energy consumed in America every year is used for heating or cooling homes and commercial buildings. Modern insulation, fiberglass composite windows and draft reducing doors combined with passive solar design and the use of solar panels could cut that energy usage in half. So why aren’t more people insisting on higher energy efficiency for their homes? Most people think that building an energy efficient home means spending a lot more money. But John Colucci, vice president of sales and marketing at Westchester…

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Architects admire steel framed house

Pre-Cut Steel Buildings Snap Together Like Legos

The flexibility and simplicity of steel framing systems draws many clients because there are no interior load-bearing walls, so remodeling or reconfiguring rooms when needs change is a snap. “When children leave at 28, you can easily knock down walls.  And when they return at 32 you can erect them again,” BONE founder and president Marc Bovet joked (perhaps, inappropriately) about the ease with which his system allows a steel building frame to be reconfigured. → Also see: Metal house kits → Also…

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