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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
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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
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Method Laundry Pump

A few weeks ago I attended a press event at method, which is headquartered conveniently around the corner from our Dwell offices. Besides a fascinating behind-the-scene tour of their labs (I had to sign an NDA, so can't tell you much about that...), they gave away a bunch of their products for people to try, and premiered a cute "crowdsourced" video, cobbled together from clips sent in by their fans (aka "people against dirty").
August 9, 2011
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Green Car Test Drive

If you've ever fantasized about driving a silent, uber-green hybrid or electric car, or are thinking about buying one, come out to Dwell on Design in Los Angeles on Saturday June 25 and Sunday June 26 for a free test drive between 11 am and 4 pm. Organized by Ron Cogan of Green Car Journal and GreenCar.com, and held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, attendees can try zipping around town in any of 13 fuel-efficient models.
June 21, 2011
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Interview with Bill McDonough

Next year, William McDonough's revolutionary book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, which he co-authored with Dr. Michael Braungart, will turn ten years old. During that decade McDonough has emerged as a leader of the sustainable design movement, both as an advocate for creating more responsible products through his Cradle-to-Cradle certification process, and as an architect at William McDonough + Partners who set out to reinvent buildings and is now rethinking the way we design cities. At this year's Dwell on Design he'll be talking about how designers can change the language of sustainability by creating work that is focused on being "more good" not just "less bad."
June 2, 2011
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KBIS 2011: Part 3

Here we are with our final report from the 2011 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, held this year in Las Vegas (it's heading back to Chicago in 2012). In this slideshow, we take a peek inside Toto's Integrated Power Eco Faucet, look at Moen's multipurpose universal designs, and explore the history of True's residential undercounter fridge drawers.
May 3, 2011
KBIS 2011 part 2

KBIS 2011: Part 2

Our second update from the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the 2011 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show includes outdoor kitchens, hybrid gas-charcoal grills, and a $6,400 toilet that will open when you enter the bathroom, warm your feet while you sit, and play your iPod through its built-in speakers.
May 2, 2011
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KBIS 2011: Part 1

This week, we headed to the annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (more commonly referred to as KBIS, pronouced "k-biz") in Las Vegas, Nevada, to check in with favorite manufacturers and see what's new for 2011. In Part 1 of our coverage from the show floor we highlight sinks made in America, granite quarried in Italy, hammered-copper sinks handmade in Mexico, and more.
April 29, 2011
Greensburg GreenTown Conversation

Daniel Wallach of GreenTown

After an EF5 tornado devestated the tiny town of Greensburg, Kansas, (then populartion 1,500) in 2007, the residents came together and did the unbelievable: Rebuilt as a sustainable town. Leading the charge were the mayor, city administrator, city council president (who assumed the role of mayor just three weeks after the storm), the governor (then Kathleen Sebelius), and two residents from nearby Stafford County: Daniel Wallach and Catherine Hart. In January, we sent photographer Alec Soth to document the town as it is today, nearly four years after the tornado struck, for our May 2011 Photo Issue. Here, we chat in further depth with Wallach about the days after the storm and the latest construction and developments.  
April 21, 2011
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