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Latest Articles in Green Architecture

Visitor tour the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 in Washington, D.C., Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, with Arlington, VA, left, and the Lincoln Memorial, right, in the background. (Credit: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

Solar Decathlon Highlights

From September 23rd to October 2nd, Washington D.C.'s monuments to presidential greats and civic leaders, museums of art and history, and houses of government were juxtaposed with houses of another breed: the green and technologically-advanced. Once every two years since 2002, teams of students from all across the United States (and now all across the globe) congregate on the National Mall in a Department of Energy-sponsored competition to design and build energy-efficient, solar-powered homes. This year, in the Solar Decathlon's 5th competition, 20 teams from five countries presented their designs, which ranged from SCI-Arc and Caltech's highly conceptual "outsulated" CHIP house, to Appalachian State's Solar Homestead influenced by vernacular typologies, to the University of Maryland's WaterShed whose micro-wetland helps reduce water pollution. I toured the homes this weekend and share a few of my favorite designs.
October 3, 2011
Achieving zero net energy required integration with every aspect of zHome’s design. Even in initial site planning, we had to take into account solar heat gain and ensuring clear solar access to each unit’s roof.

A Zero-Energy Community: Part 2

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of the zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 2: Building REALLY green... It's easier than you think. Forty percent. That’s the share of total CO2 emissions each year in the US that comes from energy used in buildings. Building operations—heating, cooling, lighting, and everything else inside the walls—are the single largest generator of carbon dioxide in the country. It’s an easy thing to forget about, sort of like background noise. But it’s there, humming along, 24/7.
September 28, 2011
All photographs by Brett W. Messenger. © 2011 The Museum of Modern Art.

"Foreclosed" Open Studio at PS1

Back in May, New York’s Museum of Modern Art kicked off a nearly yearlong series of presentations, workshops, and public symposia on the topic of America’s ongoing foreclosure crisis. Out of this dense thicket of discourse will emerge a new exhibition, “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream,” scheduled to open early next year. It follows last year’s “Rising Currents” show in MoMA’s Issues in Contemporary Architecture series and—part of a longstanding tradition of public engagement by the museum’s Department of Architecture & Design—“Foreclosed” is set to feature ambitious ideas for reshaping the ragged social and economic landscape of the nation’s suburbs.
September 27, 2011
lamesadevenn part 2

lamesadevenn: Part Two

In this series, trace the evolution of lamesadevenn, an international collaborative of architects, product designers and communication specialists who are redefining how and why we design. They’ve brought in journalist Seth Biderman and illustrator Nacho Durá to chronicle their “living projects,” like the Rancho—a live/work space they’re building to foster community and sustainability in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Check out Part 1: A Vision is Born, and learn about the challenges of finding the right site in Part 2: The Sweet Spot. In late 2010, lamesadevenn hooked up with La Mesita, an emerging social profit organization in New Mexico. The convergence of spirits and philosophy was too compelling to ignore. Lawyer Todd Lopez, the driving force behind La Mesita, and lamesadevenn architect and project coordinator Christian Alba began searching for a site to make their dreams reality.
September 19, 2011
2 bar house

Bar Method

When plans for a prefab home flopped, Rian and Melissa Jorgensen were introduced to Jonathan Feldman of Feldman Architecture, whose custom design was able to deliver an environmentally conscious modern home that met all budgetary restrictions and exceeded all expectations.
September 15, 2011
zHome post1 thumb

A Zero-Energy Community: Part 1

Project Manager Brad Liljequist chronicles the building of the zHome, a ten-unit townhome in Issaquah, Washington—the first multifamily zero-energy community in the United States. Part 1: Introduction to the project.   I am writing this as I sit in the zHome Stewardship Center, which will open later this Fall as a hub of education and market transformation for radically green housing in the Pacific Northwest. I’m surrounded by the sounds of typical construction wrap-up on a residential community—the clink of rebar being laid down for the concrete walkways, Motown being played on the radio by a cleanup crew, and a trackhoe moving larger trees into place. There’s also non-typical sounds—those of drills on the roof, where the solar panels are being installed, and ground source heat pumps starting up for the first time.
September 14, 2011
fayetteville  1

Small Footprint in Fayetteville

Fayetteville, Arkansas, doesn't have a reputation for "going green." Rather, the town has historically garnered recognition for its local beacon, the University of Arkansas. Yet homeowners Myria and A.J. Allen are redefining conventional building practices, beginning with their energy-efficient and environmentally conscious home. Completed in the spring of 2011, the petite 1,368 square foot two-bedroom, two-bath structure sports a broad, wing-like roof, detached carport, clerestory windows and cathedral ceilings. But don’t be deceived by the modern shape; underneath the sharp-cornered dressing lies dozens of meticulous details chosen in the name of sustainability. “We wanted to do our small part to reverse the negative environmental trajectory we see around us,” says Myria. “Essentially we wanted to use our financial resources to create a comfortable home which is consistent with our values.” Working closely with Skiles Architect, Myria, a Professor in Environmental Communication at the university, and A.J., an employee for the city’s Parks and Recreation department were able to honor their earth-friendly lifestyle while maintaining an economical outlook. Meeting the highest possible Energy Star 5+ certification through the use of a geothermal heat pump, SIPs for roofing, and Ultrex windows with Low-E II glazing, among other eco-friendly choices, the couple’s lowest across-the-board electric bill has been $43, while the highest came in at a modest $69. Aside from the financial boon, the house also proves valuable in education. Myria says she’s taken advantage of her Fayetteville rarity and brought her students in to talk with them about creating ethically responsible yet beautiful living spaces. “Most folks really don’t think outside the box when it comes to building a home—this helps them to do so,” she says.
September 12, 2011
The facade of the green-built Suttles and Shah residence.

A Green Home to Last a Lifetime in Austin

Austin couple Anne Suttles and Sam Shah built a house to last their lifetime—and longer. Mixing new efficient systems with old upcycled materials, they keep it weird while keeping it green.
August 31, 2011
Charred wood facade of a modern house in The Netherlands

Second to None

With House 2.0, architect Pieter Weijnen demonstrates the exponential rate at which green design is advancing.
August 17, 2011
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