The Low Down On Green Living
October 26th, 2009
One of our favorite prefab home designers, Blu Homes, just completed a home in Colorado at the beginning of the October. The Fischer Chalet, a modern green prefab home in Breckenridge, Colorado, is a perfect example of what Blu Homes is capable of. While designed as a custom home built with the Colorado climate in mind, the plans for this home will be standard Blu design by mid 2010. The Blu Chalet combines a simple and practical floor plan, with sustainable materials, lots of natural lighting and energy efficient design.
Popularity: 35% [?]
October 18th, 2009
We’ve been watching in eager anticipation to find out which amazing solar powered green home would win this year’s Solar Decathlon. This year marks the fourth competition, with teams from around the world journeying to Washington DC to showcase their most technically advanced and energy efficient prefabricated homes. The best and brightest turned out this year modeling high efficiency home envelopes, solar systems, high-tech home control systems, advanced framing techniques and superb architecture and design. The winners of the competition were announced on Friday the 16th. Read more to learn about the top four winning designs.
Popularity: 26% [?]
September 29th, 2009
Blu Homes, a LIL favorite in the green prefab sector, announced today that they have purchased the assets of mkDesigns, the pioneering prefab company founded by architect Michelle Kaufmann that has been one of the most visible leaders in modular sustainable design. The plan is to bring some of mkDesigns’ leading models (Glidehouse TM, mkLotus TM, Sunset Breezehouse) to customers around the country via Blu’s proprietary manufacturing and building system innovations.
This could be an intriguing combination, for mkDesigns and Blu were targeting different segments of the market and didn’t overlap much. The combined entity should be able to target a much broader swath of the market, achieving economies of scale in manufacturing, design and sales. mkDesigns offered high-end homes that were often the stars of trade shows and green architecture exhibits around the country, while Blu homes combine eco-friendly features with more reasonable prices.
We won’t know for some time whether this will all work as planned. The assets of mkDesigns were bought out of bankruptcy, so there were clearly some issues with their original approach that must be worked out. And although Blu is building its first homes in locations across the country, we haven’t heard much from them yet about finished projects and future plans. And, all good intentions could be for naught if the economy doesn’t turn around soon. Let’s hope, though, that this combination is the first sign of a maturing and consolidating prefab market, and that Blu can deliver on the original promise of prefab - high quality, eco-friendly homes at mainstream prices.
Here are some pictures of the mkDesigns’ designs acquired by Blu:
Popularity: 34% [?]
September 22nd, 2009
Passive solar design is the most economical way to provide heat for a home and also reduce cooling loads. But what do you do when passive solar design is impractical because your lot or the surrounding terrain makes it challenging or impossible? You make sure the home is very well insulated and install a very efficient heating and cooling systems. That’s what Henry Siegel, an architect from San Francisco based firm Siegel & Strain Architects, did for his family’s weekend home in Sonoma County. … read the rest of this entry »
Popularity: 30% [?]
September 16th, 2009
While it’s easier than it used to be to find truly green products out there, it’s still not that easy. It’s often hard to find that Energy Star label on appliances or home electronics, even if the product qualifies. And there seem to be five dubious green claims for every one legitimate one.
Through time, better programs are being put in place by governments and companies to separate out the green from not-so-green, and journalists (including bloggers) are always there to poke holes in undeserved claims.
The past week brought a couple of items that all green shoppers will find useful / interesting:
- Inhabitat’s Evelyn Lee reviewed the green claims made by Method home products. Her verdict? Very green! Read her original post here.
- CNET wrote about the revised Energy Star standards for TVs, just released by the EPA on September 3rd. The new standards are pretty tight and draw a brave line in the sand: TVs over 50″ in size have to meet the same Energy Star limits as those under 50″, regardless of how it performs against its supersized peers. The standards for TVs smaller than 50″ have been tightened significantly too.
And, of course, you can make use of the green shopping tools we profiled awhile back. The Good Guide is always adding new products and categories to their 70,000+ item database, so with their help you’re likely to be able to find many green options in a store near you.
Popularity: 23% [?]