The Micropolis custom net-zero home generates all its own energy

September 6, 2018 by  
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When Cheryl and Ken Serdar saw one of the homes belonging to Micropolis®, a collection of sustainable and contemporary house plans designed by architect Arielle Condoret Schechter , they knew they wanted a custom home based on the original 950-square-foot “Happy Family” plan. Taking into account the couple’s needs for extra space, Schechter designed a 2,222-square-foot dwelling that also offered all of the sustainable and modern design features defined in her Micropolis® line. Located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, the custom net-zero home is the most energy-efficient residence that the architect has designed to date. The clients were very clear with their expectations of their new three-bedroom house and asked for an abode that was “very modern, extremely green [and] almost industrial.” The modified Micropolis® meets all three targets with its predominate use of concrete for durability and sustainability measures as well as through passive solar principles. The home is oriented toward the south for maximum solar gain, while all the aluminum-framed windows and doors were sourced from Awilux and certified for Passive House construction. Ample glazing opens the home up to natural light, natural ventilation and a connection to the outdoors. To minimize unwanted solar gain, Schechter designed deep roof overhangs built with cypress soffit to visually soften the prefab concrete sandwich panels with built-in insulation. The home is also outfitted with space-saving solutions such as sliding interior barn doors, built-in closets, cabinets and shelving. An industrial feel is achieved with exposed ductwork, concrete elements, minimalist cabinetry and a large factory fan. A wall of glazed folding doors opens the home up to the outdoors to create a greater illusion of spaciousness. Related: The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views The net-zero energy house is powered by a small 6 kW solar array . An energy recovery ventilator paired with seals on all air gaps makes for an airtight envelope. Under-slab insulation was installed beneath the polished concrete floors, and the home has achieved a HERS rating of -13. + Arielle Condoret Schechter Images via Kim Weiss / Arielle Condoret Schechter

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The Micropolis custom net-zero home generates all its own energy

Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

August 31, 2018 by  
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A 1960s home has been reborn into an eco-friendly abode with an impressive net-zero energy footprint. Designed by local architecture firm Neumann Monson , the Koser II is a single-family home that combines forward-thinking sustainable strategies within a contemporary envelope in a leafy and walkable Iowa City neighborhood. Powered by solar and geothermal energy, the home doesn’t sacrifice comfort or luxury in its pursuit of energy efficiency — it even includes a beautiful backyard pool. Covering an area of 2,850 square feet (including a 420-square-foot finished basement), the Koser II house is mainly spread out over a single level. To provide privacy, the street-facing facade is primarily clad in dark cedar planks and punctuated with few windows. A long slatted timber screen near the entrance also shields the home from views and frames an outdoor dining area. In contrast to its introverted exterior, the home’s interior is bright and airy with full-height glazing that lets in plenty of natural light and views. “The design bears the mark of the 1960s home that came before it,” the architecture firm explained. “Removing the existing house’s superstructure and incorporating its slab-on-grade foundation into the new construction makes the most of the predecessor’s limited potential. Additional foundations and a concrete collar support exterior walls of nine- and 10-foot pre-cut studs. Their height differential provides adequate slope to the 14-inch truss-joists spanning the 20-foot width. Operable windows extend to the ceiling plane, maximizing daylight penetration and encouraging cross-ventilation .” Related: After a makeover, this local “shack” becomes the envy of the neighborhood The renovated home also features foamed-in-place insulation and a continuous rigid insulation shell with R-24 walls and an R-40 roof. The light-filled interior is supplemented by LEDs at night and equipped with EnergyStar appliances. Radiant floor heating is complemented with a geothermal climate control system connected to an underground horizontally bored loop. A rain garden in the backyard mitigates stormwater runoff, while a 10.08kW solar array brings the home to zero-energy building performance. + Neumann Monson Images by Cameron Campbell Integrated Studio

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Net-zero home brings sustainable design to a walkable Iowa City neighborhood

This beautiful tiny home doubles as a tasty doughnut shop

August 31, 2018 by  
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Although we’ve seen a lot of tiny homes from Tiny Heirloom that make our design-loving hearts flutter, its latest masterpiece is making our mouths water. The prolific tiny home builders have just unveiled the ‘Kentucky Donut Shop’ — a compact structure that has been custom designed to let the owners of KY Son Eats bakery make and sell their doughnuts from one beautiful, sophisticated tiny house. The gorgeous tiny home and doughnut bakery was custom built for a couple who dreamed of selling their tasty products from a home on wheels. Tiny home design is challenging at any level, but the team at Tiny Heirloom went above and beyond to create a 275-square-foot space that would enable the owners to run a business without sacrificing the comforts of home. Related: Tiny Heirloom unveils ‘The Goose’ — a custom tiny home with stunning interiors From the outside, the tiny house looks like any other compact living space on wheels. Built on a 34-foot-long trailer, the exterior is clad in cedar siding, with the exception of the blue panels that frame the front door. On the interior, pine tongue and groove panels, engineered wood flooring and a beetle kill ceiling create a cabin-like aesthetic. The living area is flooded with natural light thanks to an abundance of windows. At the heart of the home is the professional-grade kitchen , which features stainless steel countertops and top-of-the-line appliances, such as a large baker’s oven, various sinks and a flat-top grill. There is also a microwave, deep fryer and large refrigerator. To avoid clutter and keep the shop organized, there is plenty of shelving space. As impressive as the spacious baker’s kitchen is, the designers didn’t sacrifice on the family’s main living areas when building the tiny home. Adjacent to the professional kitchen is the living room, which has a comfy couch and a small kitchenette, so the family can make a quick snack without having to use the larger kitchen. The home’s two bedrooms are located on sleeping lofts reached by two small ladders that can be stowed away when not in use. Now, the talented family can fully enjoy their time at home, even when they are hard at work. + KySon Eats Bakery + Tiny Heirloom Via New Atlas Images via Tiny Heirloom

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This beautiful tiny home doubles as a tasty doughnut shop

The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views

August 7, 2018 by  
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Portland residents in search of an energy-efficient home need look no further than Lightbox 23, the new net-zero project from Lightbox Portland and Steelhead Architecture . A speculative development project in northeast Portland, Lightbox 23 has two units and numerous sustainable features, including super-insulated walls, high-performance ventilation systems, and two 10-kW solar arrays. But sustainablity isn’t the project’s only draw – it also boasts beautiful design and stunning views of Mt. St. Helens’ and Mt. Adams’ snow-capped peaks. A set of floating stairs, which provides access from each floor to the half-levels above and below, serves as the duplex’s backbone. A deck on the building’s north side can be accessed from the exterior. From this deck, residents can enjoy the open air and, on a clear day, the distant peaks of the two mountains. Related: Net-zero Acacia Avenue House saves up to 90% of heating and cooling costs While the solar array on top of the building provides the building with its energy, part of making the project net-zero included finding ways to reduce the energy load overall. To tackle this problem, Steelhead Architecture turned to affordable super-insulation. Each unit has two-by-eight walls filled with blown-in cellulose, along with two inches of rigid insulation affixed to the exterior of the plywood. The concrete slabs have 3 more inches of rigid insulation. The roof construction has a similar mix of insulation, which eliminates the need for any vents. The home’s mechanical system further supports the unit’s net-zero goals. All-electric ducted heat pumps, which are much more efficient than gas systems, provide heat for the apartments. Furthermore, nothing on the project uses gas at all. A heat recovery ventilator with its own ducts effectively controls air exchanges with zero energy loss. To ensure a low heat/cooling loss, the architects sought out leaks and used repetitive joint sealing, further reducing the project’s energy use. Lightbox 23 is an exploratory project of Lightbox Portland, which is devoted to high performance, high-density modern progress. There are three additional Lightbox Portland/Steelhead Architecture projects presently underway. + Steelhead Architecture Images via Josh Partee Photography

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The net-zero Lightbox 23 boasts sustainable features and stunning views

Towering prefab cabins envisioned for Iceland’s rugged landscape

August 7, 2018 by  
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Cabins come in all shapes and sizes, but innovative architect Bartosz Domiczek has just unveiled a tower-like prefab cabin that is one of the most extraordinary we’ve ever seen. The Northern Wisps Cabins — inspired by traditional Nordic design principals — are pyramid-like shelters that are covered in ultra-resistant sail fabric to withstand harsh climates and rugged terrain. Domiczek’s shelter design is a prefab cabin that can be assembled quite easily thanks to minimal materials and an efficient layout. The tower’s pyramid-like frame is made from wood with steel posts embedded into a flat concrete platform for stability. The entire structure is covered with a resilient fabric, similar to boat sails — a nod to Iceland’s long history of building boats . Related: Solar-powered glass PurePod cabins provide the ultimate connection with nature Inside the prefab cabins , the layout is an efficient design that uses vertical space to incorporate all of the basics. The living area is quite spacious and has a swinging hammock and ample space for seating. A large wood-burning stove that hangs from the ceiling is used for heat and cooking. The bedroom is built into a sleeping platform reached by ladder. According to Domiczek, the aesthetic of the monolithic cabins is designed to contrast with the natural surroundings . “The cabins themselves are formed as white ephemeral monoliths,” Domiczek said, “contrasting with the organic surrounding and being something between the reminiscence of the ancient dwelling built around the fireplace and the idea of Nordic gods standing in the row on a mountain ridge.” Domiczek’s incredible shelter concept, which was recently awarded first place in  Ronen Bekerman’s CABINS 3D design challenge, is just conceptual at the moment. However, it’s easy to see just how practical these cabins could be in the real world. + Bartosz Domiczek Via Uncrate Images via Bartosz Domiczek

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Towering prefab cabins envisioned for Iceland’s rugged landscape

Net-zero Sawmill House is 100% self sufficient in California’s high desert

June 28, 2018 by  
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Building a comfortable self-sufficient dwelling is no easy task, especially when in a harsh climate. But when Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig was tapped to design an off-grid home in the high desert in California, the architects rose to the challenge and delivered an elegant, net-zero dwelling known as the Sawmill House. Located in Tehachapi, California, the Sawmill House serves as a family retreat that weathers the harsh climate with durable materials and sustainable strategies. Completed in 2014, the Sawmill House is named after the valley in which it resides—a scrubby and remote landscape that had been used for mining, ranching and logging. In a departure from the site’s past, the homeowners wanted a family retreat with minimal environmental disturbance that would “give back to the land, rather than take from it.” With that guiding principle in mind, Olson Kundig crafted a self-sustaining, net-zero  vacation home that maximized connections between the indoors and outdoors. Spread out across 4,200 square feet, the Sawmill House is built mainly of concrete blocks, steel and glass, materials chosen for their durability against the harsh and fire-prone landscape. The living space with a central hearth marks the heart of the off-grid home and features a stunning 12-by-26-foot window wall that completely retracts with a few turns of the wheel, opening up the interior to the outdoor patio . The three bedrooms are housed in the three wings that branch off from the central living space. The longer wing, which houses the master bedroom, also includes the kitchen and dining area. Related: Floating Olson Kundig home makes way for Washington wildlife “Tough as nails, Sawmill is made from durable materials that can withstand the harsh climate, where fires are a major hazard in summer and winters are extremely cold,” says Olson Kundig Architects. “The design approach was driven by a scavenger mentality, seeking always to do more with less, including using salvaged and recycled materials whenever possible.” The home is powered with a photovoltaic solar array and comes with backup propane and generator; water is supplied by an on-site well. + Olson Kundig Images by Gabe Border and Kevin Scott / Olson Kundig

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Net-zero Sawmill House is 100% self sufficient in California’s high desert

A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal

June 28, 2018 by  
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Five tons of plastic waste has been pulled from the oceans and transformed into the Bruges Whale, a gigantic sculpture that highlights the staggering amount of trash floating in our oceans. Designed by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang of the Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary practice StudioKCA , this massive environmental artwork was created for the 2018 Bruges Triennial with the theme of “Liquid City.” The Bruges Whale, also called the Skyscraper, was positioned to appear in mid-breach in a canal opposite the city’s iconic Jan Van Eyck statue. Installed in the UNESCO World Heritage City Center of Bruges, the Bruges Whale was created to draw attention to the unrelenting flow of plastic waste into our oceans — with an estimated eight million tons added every year. Teaming up with Hawaii Wildlife Fund and Surfrider Foundation, StudioKCA collected more than 5 tons of plastic waste from the ocean in four months. After cleaning and sorting the trash, the team also launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the project to life and to fund fabrication of the steel and aluminum structural system created in collaboration with Thornton Tomasetti. “Skyscraper is a physical example of why we need to change how we use and dispose of plastic in the world today,” said Lesley Chang, Principal of StudioKCA. Principal Jason Klimoski continues, “[The sculpture] is 5 tons of plastic waste that we’ve pulled out of the ocean to create a four-story tall whale to help raise awareness about the other 150 million tons of plastic waste still swimming in our oceans. The more people know about a problem, the better, as it takes all of us working together to change the way things are done. This is a real opportunity to help bring awareness to a large audience about this global issue.” Related: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is growing at an exponential rate Located in the historic Jan Van Eyck Square, the Bruges Whale is one of 14 other installations selected for the 2018 Bruges Triennial , a free event that’s expected to welcome more than two million people. The art and architecture event is held from May 5 to September 16, 2018. + StudioKCA Images via StudioKCA

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A massive five-ton plastic waste whale breaches in a Bruges canal

Why it matters that affordable housing hits the triple bottom line

May 18, 2018 by  
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The net-zero energy (NZE) opportunity for all.

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Why it matters that affordable housing hits the triple bottom line

4 net-zero energy lessons from Colorado

April 25, 2018 by  
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The John Madden Company reveals its journey to cut energy by 30 percent and stay cost neutral for buildings in its portfolio.

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The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs

April 23, 2018 by  
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This beautiful brownstone in Brooklyn  has been refurbished into the first Passive Plus House in the United States. Located in Carroll Gardens, 78 Third Place features an impressive array of cutting-edge renewable technologies wrapped in a thoughtful renovation that preserves the original home’s historic character. The house, remodeled by Baxt Ingui Architects , saves 80 to 90 percent of the energy needed to heat and cool the building and nearly reaches net-zero energy consumption. The Brooklyn townhouse was originally built in the early 1900s. Baxt Ingui Architects expanded the building to include a new third floor with a mansard and a modern rear addition that nearly doubles the brownstone’s original footprint. “The homeowners’ goal was to create a beautiful, open and inviting home suitable for everyday living and entertaining as well as respecting the historic character of the original house while incorporating high-performance construction,” the architects wrote. “They emphasized the need for abundant natural light throughout the home as well as an open flow when designing indoor/outdoor living spaces.” Related: Park Slope row home renovation marries historic charm with energy-conserving features The architects collaborated with a team of six contractors, three engineers, Passive House consultants and eco-conscious clients to make the upgrades. Baxt Ingui Architects installed low E and argon-filled triple-glazed windows, cellulose insulation and a 387-square-foot Brooklyn Solarworks solar canopy to help offset the home’s energy needs. The well-sealed townhouse is also equipped with a very quiet Energy Recovery Ventilation system, an air-to-air heat pump and an improved gas-condensing boiler. + Baxt Ingui Architects Via ArchDaily Images © John Muggenborg Photography

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The United States’ first Passive Plus House generates nearly all the energy it needs

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