Tag Archives: Home and Interior

Fairy Doors Provides a Whimsical and Uncommon Miniature Architectural Detail

Architects are trained to look at the smallest details and those details in turn make the buildings unique and beautiful. If one looks close enough, the small elements can be the most surprising. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, those small elements seem to have taken on a life of their own. Throughout the city miniature doors can be found.

5 Projects You Can Complete in 15 minutes or Less to Green Your Home

Who says completing green updates around your home should take a long time and cost a lot of money? Here are some simple ways that you can enhance your home with products that are better for the environment, and save money.

LED Expansion of Intematix’s ChromaLit Lighting Collection

Intematix released their expansion to their existing ChromaLit Lighting Collection which expected to launch this week. Their expansion was in response to their clients’ reception of the original ChromaLit Collection launched in January of this year and their demand for more high performance LED lighting design options.

Loblolly House on Stilts Stands Up To Traditional Architecture Processes

Kieran Timberlake Architects have been fighting for architecture to improve throughout the years. They have questioned why architecture is still done the same way that it has been done for years when professions such as ship building, automotives, and airplane engineering have bounded ahead with technological breakthroughs.

GE Appliances Launches a Website to Help with Building Project Management

BuildWithGE.com home page

Managing a building or remodeling project means keeping up with a myriad of details, as any trade professional knows. Now, GE offers help in the form of BuildWithGE.com, a website that offers convenient access to a wide variety of practical information — without the need to register, or remember a password or sign in.

Gelderloos’ Hybrid is a Self Sustaining Energy-Efficient Home

In Paradise Valley, Montana, experienced builder, Pouwel Gelderloos and family designed, built and are marketing the first “hybrid” house. It is a hybrid because it can be completely self-sustaining (off the grid) but is also connected to the grid incase the need should arise for additional energy sources.

“Katrina Cottages” Spark Tiny House Movement

Katrina Cottage in New Orleans

In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the people of New Orleans were desperately looking for answers to their usable housing shortage. The now infamous FEMA trailers were brought in to provide residents semi-permanent housing.  At $70,000 a piece, it quickly became clear that the trailers would just be too expensive.  170 participants,…

Aqua Creations Uses Biomimicry to Design Lighting and Furniture

Architects, engineers and designers are now doing what scientists, naturalists and environmentalists have been doing, instead of trying to change the planet in the name of progress they are looking at the planet’s progress. Designer-Artist, Ayala Serfaty and her photographer partner, husband, Albi Serfaty created a company that mimics marine life, uses natural materials, and brings sustainability technology to the forefront of light and furniture design. Serfaty artistic abilities allowed for the business of Aqua Creations to unfold, but to enhance the design world with beautiful, nature-influenced products is what the science of Biomimicry is about.

Premier Copper Products are Sustainable, Artisanal and Recycled

Premier Copper Products is a company looking to better their surrounding world with beauty, creativity and sustainability. Today the company sells an ever-growing range of 160+ products, including kitchen, bar/prep, and bathroom sinks, bathtubs, faucets, drains, light fixtures, switch plates, and tiles.

Miranda Homes is a Company That Leads the Way of Sustainable Construction

Efficiency as a home builder is just as important as efficiency for the home owner. Miranda Homes knows how important this is and is changing the construction industry by changing their ways making more sustainable options available to the public.

What Is a Passivhaus?

Passive house

Passivhaus is a type of design for homes that are super efficient.  It was started in Germany in 1996 by physicist Dr. Wolfgang Feist.  He developed the design based on superinsulated homes built in the United States and Canada during the 1970s.  There are five basic elements in a Passivhaus design: High levels of insulation Reduce thermal…

Five Home Winterizing Myths

It is time to start thinking about getting our homes ready for winter. Maintenance and repair work done while the weather is still mild will pay off not just in the coming cold weather, but with year round benefits. Here are five common issues to think about when considering your winterization projects, and how to avoid making some common mistakes while improving your house.

Window film insulates windows. False.

A window film serves as a draft barrier to stop air leaks, rather than effective insulation. The plastic film itself will contribute very little. Having another air layer is more helpful, and keeping moisture sealed out can help reduce frost forming on old windows. But if you have big windows that are losing lots of heat, a quilted curtain can be more helpful. Windows are big thermal holes in your walls, and even very efficient windows lose heat much faster than the walls that support them. A window film adds only a slight increase, but it can be effective for stopping drafts.

Green Building Elements: Warmboard

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Radiant heating is a popular option in green buildings. Many green buildings feature it because it is a more efficient, and more comfortable, method of heating. If a building doesn't require air conditioning, it may be possible to eliminate ductwork altogether, or at least use a much smaller system that is sized for air conditioning. And even in buildings where air handling is still necessary, the systems that push the air around can be run less frequently because they are needed only to provide fresh air, and don't need to take care of the heating as well. Radiant heating systems don't cause the air to be dried out in the same manner that heated forced-air systems tend to do. Most of all, radiant heating is comfortable because it is warmest at floor level and slightly cooler at higher levels, matching the human desire for warmth for the feet, and less for the head.
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A recent <a href="http://jetsongreen.typepad.com/jetson_green/2007/09/solar-decathlon.html">blog post by Jetson Green about the National Solar Decathalon</a> reminded me of an intriguing product that can be used for in-floor radiant heat systems. Warmboard is a specialty subflooring for use in radiant-heated buildings that doesn't require a concrete slab to embed the radiant tubing. This makes it especially useful for multi-story buildings where a concrete slab floor may be less desirable. Warmboard is much lighter than a corresponding concrete slab, meaning that less structural material is needed to support the floor. It also does not need curing time, unlike a concrete slab, which is another factor that makes it appealing for use with modular and pre-fab construction. <br />
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<a href="http://www.warmboard.com/">Warmboard</a> is a plywood material that is slightly thicker than typical subflooring plywood. It has regular channels cut into it that the radiant heating system tubing can be laid into. On top of this, an aluminum plate is formed to the surface, providing a transfer surface to uniformly distribute the heat from the tubing across the floor.</p>

Green Building Elements: Better Partition Walls

Architect Magazine

Construction, as many of you know by now, is one of the biggest single sources for waste and may be responsible for as much as 30% of the volume used in some landfills. And, because commercial space is turned over more frequently, the interior build-out of office space is one of the biggest sources of construction debris and waste. As companies change their staff, the space they occupy fluctuates, and often old spaces are torn out and new spaces built with different configurations.

Since the spaces in an office are not part of the structure (in most cases), the walls that divide offices and meeting rooms can be relatively quickly disassembled and rebuilt in a new configuration without affecting the building structure. This flexibility appeals to building owners and tenants alike, because space can be easily customized to meet the particular needs of any tenant. But it leads to an awful lot of waste, as well.

A new system of wall construction devised by Sean Dorsy, a graduate architecture student at The Catholic University of America, uses standard 4 x 8 sheets of plywood cut with slots so that the panel can be unfolded like an accordion to make a wall structure to replace standard stud construction.

Green Building Elements: Decking

It's full-blown summer now, and people are spending more time outdoors on their patios and decks. So let me offer a summertime question for discussion. Which is better to use for an outdoor deck: wood, or a manufactured product (like Trex, Timber Tech, etc.)?

This is no more a black and white issue than most other green building questions. This can depend on the particular situation and the specific needs of a particular project. I'm not going to give you a definitive answer, because I don't think that there is one, any more than I do for most green building topics (other than greener is better).

First, there is the issue of material content. On the one hand, the manufactured products often use some combination of wood fiber (which is often sawdust and other scrap that would otherwise go to waste) and plastic (sometimes incorporating post consumer recycled material). On the other hand, wood is a natural material. It is sustainable, in that wood can be grown and harvested. There are some deck materials that have natural rot-resistant properties, but these tend to be more expensive. There is also the question of whether or not they are sustainably harvested, as well as the issue of shipping these materials.

Weekly DIY: Pedal-Powered Clothes Washer

<p><img src="/files/images/saladspinner.jpg" border="0" alt="Homeless Dave" width="240" height="195" />Image Credit: Homeless DaveSome people looking to reduce their home power use may be interested in alternatives to the typical clothes washer and dryer. While the washer and dryer aren't the appliance with the biggest energy budget in the typical household (that distinction belongs to the refrigerator), an opportunity to save energy here may be something to consider. </p><p>The dryer is the easy part. A clothesline is about the simplest, cheapest alternative to a clothes dryer you can find. But the washer is harder. Hand-washing clothes is a difficult task. And wringer washers are a hand-operated option, but they aren't very efficient. A bicycle powered clothes washer is a more efficient, and much more ambitious project. While it's not likely that most of you will rush out to build one of these for yourselves, it offers a wonderful insight into how far you can take DIY if you are inclined to.</p><p>The pedal-powered washer was designed and built by <a href="http://www.homelessdave.com/abouttt.htm">Homeless Dave</a> (who is not really homeless, but whose real name <em>is</em> Dave), a local advocate for community and for human-powered tools in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His website, <a href="http://www.homelessdave.com/totterhome.htm">Teeter Talk</a>, features interviews with &quot;folks from Ann Arbor … Detroit … and beyond&quot; which are conducted on a teeter-totter in his back yard.</p>

Is Green Building an Oxymoron?

<p><a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f"><img src="/files/images/greenenvy_0.jpg" border="0" alt="San Francisco Chronicle" width="200" height="200" /></a>Image credit: <em>San Francisco Chronicle</em>An opinion article by Jane Powell in the <em>San Francisco Chronicle</em> titled '<a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/13/CMGA7PCMDH1.DTL">Green Envy</a>' begins by saying, &quot;'Green building' is the feel-good trend of the moment. Cities stipulate it, builders market it and home buyers supposedly demand it. Who could be against it? It's the panacea that will combat global warming, prevent sprawl, revitalize our downtowns, contribute to the region's economic growth and keep California on the leading edge,&quot; and goes on to declare, &quot;'Green building' is an oxymoron.&quot; <br /><br />I have a different opinion about green building. I spent all day yesterday attending a USGBC Technical Training Seminar, in order to become a LEED-accredited professional. To dismiss all green building as an oxymoron overlooks much of the good that is involved. Green building is not an oxymoron. Green building is taking steps for real change, improving the performance of buildings, and establishing methods for construction of buildings that will improve the spaces where we spend as much as 90% of our lives.</p>