Really Natural Houses

March 19, 2008

30 Years of Solar Living

51hUIDudJjL._AA240_.jpgWhen I took an alternative energy course at Humboldt State University over ten years ago, the Real Goods Solar Living Source Book was our textbook. This book is the definitive source for renewable technologies and sustainable living. Even if you don't plan to install solar panels in your home, you can learn a lot from this book. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the Real Goods Solar Living Source Book includes brand new sections on Peak Oil, Climate Change, Relocalization, Natural Burial, Biodynamics and Permaculture. Other expanded chapters include:
  • Land & Shelter
  • Natural Building
  • Passive Solar
  • Biofuels
  • Sustainable Transportation
  • Grid-tied Photovoltaics
  • Solar Hot Water Systems
This book covers it all and is a basic reference for almost all things green!
Jennifer Lance at Permalink social bookmarking

January 9, 2008

Is Prefab Really Natural or Really Fabulous?

Read more about prefab homes at Inhabit.

We think so. Instead of using tons of resources to build a house on site, you can easily build the majority of the house at a central location and save money and resources. We recommend prefab to anyone who has the time to research what it truly is in these modern times - oh wait - thank you New York Times.

The New York Times has an interesting article on just what Prefab even means in these modern times. The article covers the effort at the Museum of Modern Art. The museum has commissioned five architects to erect their own prefab dwellings in a vacant lot on West 53rd Street, adjacent to the museum. Whittled down from a pool of about 400, the five architects are participating in “Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling,” an exhibition opening in July.

We can't wait to see what response these dwellings will get, and we hope more people fall in line with prefab housing.

Read New York Times

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

June 28, 2007

Birch and Willow Handmade Lamps and Sconces

Want to bring the forest into your home? Artist and designer Katherine Ahern of Birch and Willow here in Boston makes one-of-a-kind pendants, sconces, and lamps from bittersweet vines, grapevines, reeds, sea grass, and stones.

cairn3.jpgThe lamps are positively gorgeous, and create almost magical shadows and reflections. Pictured here are Ahern's Roost Pendant Lamp (above) and her Cairn Table Lamp.

Ahern explains Birch and Willow's mission as "Nature illuminated." Her philosophy carries over to an eco-friendly manufacturing process, outlined on the Environment page of the Birch and Willow website.

ArrowContinue reading: "Birch and Willow Handmade Lamps and Sconces"

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 10, 2006

Weekend Reading: Green House and Beyond

Hello Folks,

It's taking a while to get writing this morning - that's what a holiday (even Veteran's Day, evidently) will do to you. But hopefully it's worth the wait. I've got three - count 'em, three - books to recommend this morning, all from The Green House exhibit at The National Building Museum.

greenHouse.jpgFirst, The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design by Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne. This is the companion volume for The Green House exhibit. It shows how buildings fit with their surroundings and how we can make efficient use of our personal space. It presents sustainable design principles through the refreshing examples that appear in the exhibit itself. If you can't make it to D.C. for the exhibit, or if you went and want to take some of its ideas home with you (in a more comprehensive and durable package than the exhibit handouts), this is the book for you.

green building products.jpgLooking to put the lessons from The Green House to use? These next two books may be up your alley:

Green Building Products contains descriptions and manufacturer contact information for more than 1,400 environmentally friendly products and materials from ag-fiber panels to zero-VOC paints. All phases of residential construction are covered, from site work to flooring to renewable energy.

green remodeling.jpgDon't have the budget to rebuild from scratch? Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time by David R. Johnston and Kim Master describes simple green renovation solutions for homeowners, focusing on key aspects of the building, including foundations, framing, plumbing, windows, heating and finishes. Addressing all climates, this is a great resource for conventional homeowners, as well as for architects and remodeling contractors.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 8, 2006

Kitchen Scraps: Scrapile Dining Table

At least as interesting as the materials used to make the Glidehouse for The Green House exhibit were the furnishings found inside it. One of my favorites was the SCRAPILE dining table.

Brooklyn designers Carlos Salgado and Bart Bettencourt have developed a unique method of collecting and repurposing discarded scraps of wood from New York's woodworking industry, and created a furniture line as funky looking as it is ecologically sound.

Available at Vivavi.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 7, 2006

Green House continued - The Glidehouse

One of the best things about the National Building Museum's Green House exhibit was walking through Glidehouse, a pre-fabricated, modular house designed by Northern California architect Michelle Kaufmann. Kaufmann designed the house in 2004 and has been working with builders in the U.S. and Canada to sell variations on it ranging in size from 672 to 2,016 square feet.

According to her website, the house is designed "to collaborate with nature":

The design is based on basic sustainable—green—design principles. The house is designed as a series of shallow buildings to allow maximum natural ventilation. Through the use of the gliding glass wall and the opposite operable clerestory windows above the storage bar, breezes are maximized. Indirect lighting minimizes the need for electric lighting.

Depending on the location, the house can either have solar panels, a geothermal, or a wind generator system, or a hybrid system. The exterior walls are made of maintenance-free Cor-Ten steel, Galvalume, Hardi panels or cedar planks to blend in with the context.

Through the implementation of sustainable design and solar, geothermal, or wind generator equipment, the Glidehouse™ modular home provides owners with reduced, if not eliminated, utility bills. The Glidehouse™ could be situated in a rural area, and through the use of solar, geothermal or wind generating equipment, the Glidehouse™ would not need to be connected to electricity lines, therefore reducing the long term cost of ownership and widening the range of potential building sites.

A modular home also affords construction efficiencies, virtually eliminating waste materials that are normally associated with new home building. Construction impact on the new home site is also minimized through factory-based modular home construction

The slats on Glidehouse (pictured at right) remind us of Taylor Smyth's pre-fab Sunset Cabin, which we blogged back in August.

Pricing, which includes the cost of design, transporting materials to the site, and construction, starts at $132 per square foot, or around $200,000 for most variations. According to the Building Museum, that's $83,000 less than the average cost of a new American home in 2005.

Learn more at Glidehouse.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 6, 2006

The Green House Exhibit at National Building Museum

green-house.jpgHave you ever dreamed about living off the grid? Not in a creepy cultish commune kind of way, but in the "Hey, my 'green' house just got featured in Dwell" kind of way. In the "Jeez, I saw An Inconvenient Truth and want to help conserve the Earth's resources" kind of way. Yeah, me too.

Well, I found new hope for that dream last week at The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design, an exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The Green House builds off the growing popularity of "green" and eco-friendly design, and sets out show that houses can be green and stylish at the same time. Moreover, it sets out to demonstrate green and sustainable building techniques and materials in a way that makes them easy to understand and approachable for everyday consumers.

bamboo house.jpgWalking through the exhibit, I was both awed by what was possible if you decide to really "go for it" (read: money is no object), and what was do-able, if, like the rest of us, money is an object, and you'd kind of like to save yours, but still make some eco-friendly updates to your place.

The exhibit starts when you walk in the door of the Glidehouse, a highly green, pre-fab modular home designed by Northern California architect Michelle Kaufman. It includes energy efficient windows and appliances, and is furnished with eco-friendly materials, furnishings and household stuff designed to inspire and educate.

Well, I'm inspired. And educated. (At least more than I was when I started.) I'll use this week to highlight some of the coolest things I saw in The Green House exhibit, and to provide info on where you can go to check 'em out.

The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design runs through June 3, 2007 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

September 25, 2006

Now that's Green Building: Fab Tree Hab at MIT

From today's Boston Globe:

Faced with global warming, a projected energy crunch, and suburban sprawl, a team of MIT researchers has envisioned a radical antidote: truly "green" homes, nurtured from seedling to tree house.

The "fab tree hab" is a fanciful orb of a home that is literally alive, with a frame of growing tree trunks grafted together, insulation made of clay and straw, and vines instead of vinyl siding. The heating, cooling, and plumbing would all mimic natural processes.

"The structure is a statement against cutting down timber," said Mitchell Joachim , the architect who designed the house, "composed of 100 percent living nutrients."

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

September 7, 2006

Yo, MTV: Green My Crib

Looking to make your dorm room a little greener? Even if your school hasn't embraced the sustainability movement, there are steps you can take to reduce your own impact on the environment. MTV tells students how to "Feng Shui the Eco-Way".

You can also make a difference by using eco-friendly products. When Berkeley College launched its experimental "green room" last year, they stocked it with environmentally sensitive personal-care products such as Tom's of Maine soap, Seventh Generation facial tissue and Avalon Organic Botanicals shampoo.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "We must become the change we wish to see in the world." Lead by example.

And speaking of the environment, memo to your roommate: that 3-day-old pizza under his bed has got to go.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

NYTimes on Biophilic Home Design

The Home and Garden section of today's NYTimes has a cover story on "biophilic" design. Writes Virginia Sole-Smith,

Biophilic design — the term is derived from biophilia, coined in 1984 by a Harvard biologist, Edward O. Wilson, to describe what he considered the innate human attraction to nature — incorporates real or simulated natural elements in an effort to promote well-being. It is a quirky, lesser-known cousin of green design, and is concerned more with “speaking to our emotions, our ancient genetic predilections, probably fundamental, for interaction with a natural world.”

Greenhouses on rooftops, "living walls" of plants that improve indoor air quality, design that brings nature indoors. Unlike green design, which focuses on sustainable building practices which conserve energy and protect natural resources, biophilic design is more concerned with appearances and natures relaxing effect.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

August 30, 2006

Ban Beater Recycles Your Bathwater For Plant Watering


What's not to love about recycling your bath water? How about drinking it? YUCK. Okay this really isn't for you to drink after recycling, but it is for you to use in your garden. Recycled "HUMAN WATER" is perfect for plants and other water uses in the outdoors. Ban Beater is actually available in the UK and you can get it shipped internationally.

Via Gizmodo at Ban Beater

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

August 22, 2006

Prefab Sunset Cabin from Taylor Smyth

Taylor Smyth Cabin Sunset

We are big fans of modern prefab, and even bigger fans of where you can put a modern prefab house. How about on the side of a lake with floor to ceiling glass with a wrapped ceder exterior? Wow. The cabin is also green roofed and seems to almost glow in the sunset.

Via MoCo Loco at Taylor_Smyth’s Sunset Cabin

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

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