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Greensburg goes green

One of the strongest tornadoes to ever hit the US ripped through Greensburg, Kansas seven years ago, demolishing everything in its path, and the resulting devastation gave Greenburg a unique chance to become an aspirational beacon to the rest of the country.

Rather than pack up and haul out, the residents decided to stay and rebuild, and they decided to “do it right.” Starting from scratch gave the town the opportunity to adopt green technologies and the financial benefits that come with them. “After all,” says Bob Dixson, Greenburg’s Mayor, “Our name is ‘Greensburg.’”

Although new, green, city buildings cost between 15 percent and 20 percent more than the non-green replacements, long-term reductions in utility and maintenance bills can recapture those extra expenses in as little as seven or eight years. “After that,” Dixson said. “It’s total savings.” [click to continue…]

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ugly green row house11

What at first might look like a Sea Shepherd ship collision with a row house is actually an amazing feet of engineering and energy efficiency. Local architect Tom Faino was anticipating into the future when he decided to raise his Queens row house by several feet. But after Hurricane Sandy hit the area his plans sprung into action immediately, particularly after FEMA updated flood maps and showed that the homeowners in the neighborhood where Tom lived better own two vehicles: one car and one boat.

Tom ended up raising the house by three feet, renovated it to state of the art Passivhaus standards and achieved LEED certification. For the reasons that behooved the entire neighborhood Tom covered the entire facade with multi-colored tiles made from recycled glass meant to mimic a cloudy sky. Critics hit hard at Tom’s non-conformist approach but the stoic architect wasn’t moved, “I don’t really care what people say, so long as they’re talking about the house and the environment. That’s the whole idea.” [click to continue…]

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at the Ideal Home Show 2011

I find it comforting to know that some of the world’s leaders are not part of “the headless chicken brigade.” Global-warming deniers have been dubbed “headless chickens” by none other than the Prince of Wales. A royal title traditionally linked with a restrained sort of opulence, the current Prince of Wales is at the forefront of minimalism insulating his home roof with sheep’s wool for starters.

Hailed as “a hero of the environment,” the Prince did not like what he saw at the Building Research Establishment’s (BRE) Innovation Park. Tasked with creating environmentally-mindful living environments, the BRE constructed Innovation Park in order to demonstrate easy-to-build, low-carbon houses for bulk builders to use in their developments. Upon seeing the results at Innovation Park, however, the Prince decided that more could be done; they could do better.

One particular building caught his eye, and he said that he would get The Prince’s Foundation to come up with an alternative. A keystone statement of The Prince’s Foundation is that they, “believe building can be done in a way which is both sustainable and eye-catching at the same time.” This ideology was properly completed in “The Prince’s Natural House.” [click to continue…]

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ray4

Would you prefer just a wash of “Celery Sprig” or go head-on “Limeade?” If you’re a homeowner looking to enter the world of “eco-friendly” building or remodeling, then you’ll quickly learn that there are many shades of green.  You could simply replace an old appliance with an energy-efficent one, or you can learn the lingo [continue reading...]

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tiny home massachusets

Doug Immel, a school teacher, built his own 8 foot by 20 foot mobile tiny house on a trailer in Massachusetts.  His new address is 0 (not a type, it really is zero). His super well insulated shack has a passive solar room which collects energy from the sun and helps heat the entire house. Doug [continue reading...]

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passive solar Greenhouse design

What if you had your own grocery store attached to your house? And what if that grocery store saved you money on both produce and energy? Well, imagine no further; the day is upon us. A passive solar greenhouse, like the most famous one in British Columbia, could make endless, fresh produce a reality – [continue reading...]

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rolling-flower-pots2

Just when you’re thinking one can not re-invent a flowerpot… it happens. Some genius Spaniard, while sipping on Sangria during noon siesta, looks at the plant that is half bathing in the sun and has an epiphany – why not tilt the flowerpot so that the entire plant is facing the sun? Heck, why not [continue reading...]

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Bioclimatic House in Spain2

Arguably and despite its relatively recent origins, the current crest of the American green movement wave has been one of the broadest in terms of public awareness. However, America still has far to go when compared to the leaps and bounds that European and Asian countries have been making for over half a century, especially in [continue reading...]

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Brad-Pitt

Brad Pitt has been noticed these days more for his and his wife’s humanitarian activities more than for his acting. His nonprofit “Make it Right” has been involved with many housing projects that provide earth-friendly housing for those without homes, a sort of “Captain Planet” version of Habitat for Humanity. One of his most recent [continue reading...]

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st john passive house

Expensive but worthwhile work should be wrapped up this fall on Canada’s northernmost Passivhaus, a 1,895-square-foot home in Fort St. John, British Columbia. Coming in at almost double the initial cost estimates and double the challenges, this unique house is built in one of the harshest inhabited climate zones and deemed by local mayor as [continue reading...]

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