Green Roofs are becoming blase, perhaps, as design moves into living walls. A number of the Solar Decathlon teams have incorporated some form of living wall -- think garden on the walls of the house. These walls help cool the house in the summer (reducing solar gain), water management (reduced storm water runoff as they take water from the roof), and have the potential for helping feed the residents (think tomatoes, grapes, herbs ...).
Teams with living walls include, among others, three "Ms":
The living wall offers a real benefit in rain water mitigation, offering the potential for reducing the burden on storm sewers and, down the line, pollution into water systems. And, the green vegetation provide a cooling effect in summer. And, well, part of the Solar Decathlon is overall environmental impact -- the gardens increase greenery, improving the air.
For these superinsulated buildings, the insulating implications of six inches of soil might not be critical, but think about most buildings in temperate climates, which are unlikely to have R-40 or so in the walls. Thus, an additional factor is the interesting question of backfitting opportunities. Vertical walls could be relatively easy backfits onto many buildings and many homes around the world. And they might offer the potential for significant energy savings along with fresh tomatoes for the dinner table.
REI has some plans in mind when it comes to its next generation of retail stores. These plans, besides your usual design changes and better layout, incorporate some green technology ideas and could help to enhance REI’s image as an environmentally friendly retailer.
The first REI retail store with the green technology enhancement is a prototype retail outlet opening in Boulder, Colorado. The building itself is partly made of green materials, said REI, such as bamboo, recycled rubber and cork. These materials are present in the floor, benches and other places. Solar makes up the other primary environmental focus of this building. It will use passive solar, solar thermal and solar electric to handle much of the location’s energy needs.
In summary, according to REI, natural daylight coming through “Solatubes” will be channeled into the building, with store lighting dimming or turning off during the day. Also, a large entryway skylight will collect solar energy into imbedded silicon solar cells, while a solar water heater will reportedly meet close to three-quarters of the building’s hot water needs.
REI Boulder was constructed, according to the co-op, using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, specifically to achieve a LEED Silver certification.
â„¢ modular home welcomes visitors to West Coast Green
, a residential building show and expo taking place Sept 19-22 in San Francisco. The prefab was built entirely off-site, using sustainable, high-performance building materials and delivered about a week prior to the show. Designed by noted prefab architect Michele Kaufman, the house demonstrates the potential modular construction has to offer. The era of the "double-wide" may well be over. According to the designer, modular construction reduces construction waste by 50-75%, reduces construction time, and increase quality control and predictability of time and cost. Photos from my tour are up on Flickr
The 1-bedroom, 1-bath home is built using long-lasting cement board panels, a wood siding rain screen, and decking material made from wood flour and high-density polyethylene. A green (living) roof coupled with rain water catchment and a gray water (sinks, shower water) system conserves water. Foam insulation and an on-demand water heater make the home energy efficient. LED lighting uses minimal energy and last 90x longer.
Non-VOC paint improves indoor air quality. Wood flooring throughout is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The shower and bathroom flooring are made from recycled glass. Believe it or not, the vanity counter and integral sink are composed of porcelain from recycled toilets and other materials [see tour photos]. The toilet itself is dual flush, saving an estimated 2000 gallons of water/year.
The mkLotus home is surrounded by a native garden featuring locally sourced recycled/reused materials, drought tolerant vegetation, and a native plant catchment basin to capture rain water. Stay tuned for more posts about innovative green products from the show.
Click for larger image. Courtesy of Mithun Architects.
We face a lot of challenges, complex and sometimes overwhelming challenges. There are no Single Shot / Silver Bullet solutions out there. But, in some ways, there are solution sets that could be considered a Silver BB.
Our challenges include Peak Oil, Global Warming, clean water constraints, food supply challenges (including every increasing food miles, how far food is traveling to the dinner table), poor urban infrastructure, urban heat islands, housing challenges, etc ...
Vertical urban agriculture offers a potential silver BB in this domain ... with a new concept from Seattle offering one of the most integrated and interesting approaches that I've seen to date.
Mithun won a best of show prize (Cascadia Region Green Building Council's Living Building Challenge) for their urban farm design that to integrate farming (vegetables, chickens) and housing to a high-rise in downtown Seattle.
The Living Building Challenge is a competition that encourages building owners, architects, engineers, and design professionals to build in a way that advances knowledge and innovation in the sustainable building industry. The term "living building" comes from the idea that it is possible to create a structure that functions like a living organism - able to survive using only the natural environment around it.
Some features of the "Center for Urban Agriculture" (CUA):
- Fully self-sufficient building: in energy and water.
- 31,000 sq ft rooftop water rainwater collection
- Recycling of gray water (including an ability to handle some of the surrounding area's waste water up to "20 times its own discharge potential")
- 34,000+ sq ft of solar PV cells with hydrogen gas backup
- "Agricultural features include fields for growing veggies and grains, greenhouses, rooftop gardens and even a chicken farm."
- Local produced food is critical for changing energy patterns as "40 percent of an individual's ecological footprint is generated by the embodied energy in food."
- 318 apartments (studio, 1 & 2 bedroom units)
- Restaurant & Cafe (The "Greenhouse" using building grown food.
What is the site requirement? .72 acres!!!
Images from Mithun's PDF entry found at the Cascadia Regional Green Building Council
Hat tip to Jetson Green.
More pictures below.