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 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. (more…)
Popularity: 30% [?]
February 1st, 2009
Written by Brian Liloia, courtesy of Green Building Elements.com
Are you interested in a hands-on straw bale building experience? As you know, there is no better way to learn than by doing. Red Earth Farms is an 80 acre, off-the-grid intentional community based in northeastern Missouri, composed of individual homesteads. Members strive to live ecologically - this means, of course, that members use natural building materials in their homes. Mark Mazzioti is one such individual building a straw bale house, featuring a pasive solar design, post-and-beam framing, and a cement-free rubble trench foundation. Mark, an experienced natural builder, is seeking interns for the upcoming 2009 building season. Here’s his strawbale house and natural building internship information:
Interested in straw bale house construction? Want some hands-on experience with natural building? Want to experience community life on an off-grid homestead? If your answer is “yes” to these questions, then this internship opportunity may be for you.
Red Earth Farms is an intentional community of homesteaders located on 76 acres of pastoral rolling hills in northeastern Missouri. We have in common a commitment to developing sustainable lifestyle skills such as local food production, permaculture and natural building. We’re looking to host interns during the 2009 building season (April-September) to help with our straw bale house.
The house you’ll help build
The building is based on current best practices in natural building and passive solar design. It has round pole post-and-beam framing and a cement-free rubble trench foundation. It features an earthbag stem wall, strawbale walls, and a pallet truss gambrel roof. It will be finished with a poured adobe earthen floor and earthen and lime plasters.
How you’ll be living
Camp style. We have great tent sites and a couple of small cabins that may be available. We eat meals together as a community in our outdoor kitchen. Our meals are mainly vegetarian, and you will be included in the cooking rotation as soon as you feel ready. We have two other intentional communities in our neighborhood. Sandhill Farm is a 30-year-old egalitarian community, and Dancing Rabbit is a 10-year-old ecovillage with forty-plus members. We have a tri-community potluck dinner once a week.
Your qualifications and experience
You need to have a good work ethic and be capable of physical labor. It would be great if you have some building experience but it’s not required. We will choose interns with the best overall fit for the program.
What you’ll get in the bargain
You’ll be working directly with an experienced natural building teacher and learning alternative building techniques. You’ll be eating with our food coop and all of your meals will be covered. You’ll get a place to camp or a cabin to stay in. We have a great swimming pond and a solar shower. You can use our wireless Internet, powered by wind and sun. You’ll get exposure to three intentional communities and access to our collective knowledge in the areas of growing food, permaculture, consensus decision making and community living.
What we’ll expect from you
30-35 hours of work per week, a good attitude and enthusiasm for learning. You’ll also need a way to get here and to wherever you’ll be going when you leave. Transportation from a train bus station in the area can be arranged.
The Bottom Line
This is a unique opportunity to get a bunch of natural building experience without paying for it. If you stick around long enough you could learn everything from earthen floors on up to finish plasters. The list of things you will be exposed to is broad: earthbags, strawbales, pallet trusses, passive solar, off-grid power, permaculture, cooking, and great vegetarian meals. You may even have the opportunity to help teach workshops in natural building. Other programs like this cost thousands of dollars.
How to contact us if you’re interested:
Or call: 660-883-5330
Popularity: 6% [?]
July 2nd, 2008
Think you can’t afford an architect to design your green dream home? Wrong-ola. Now you can get free green home plans from FreeGreen.
FreeGreen’s mission is clear and simple: ”At FreeGreen we hope to encourage progressive building practices by making green home designs free for everyone.” The company is able to provide these free designs because they make money from companies looking to promote their green home materials/products (e.g., flooring from FLOR, tankless water heaters from Rinnai, GE Energy Star appliances, etc.) To learn more about FreeGreen’s history and business model, click here.
This is really an amazing service– you just go to the site, find the home design you want, and download the plans. It is amazingly easy. The site is quite new and has some little bugs, but you can still really do a lot with it. (For instance to download you need to click on the “virtual tour” link for the house you want.) In addition to downloading the drawing set for your builder, you can download the energy performance data for the home you have selected. You can also get a Spec Book of the building products and finishes that can be installed in your home.
They have three house plans they are featuring now and they will be adding more as time goes on. The one pictured at right above is the “Suburban Loft,” which can be 1,200 to 2,600 square feet. I’m personally partial to the Smart Box, pictured at left. It can be 1,000 to 2,200 square feet. They also offer a more traditional looking “Healthy Family” home which can be 1,800 to 3,000 feet. And you can customize any of these designs to your geographic location and sizing desires. Check out all of the plans here.
Green Prefab Homes: Prefabulous!
Find companies designing and building prefab homes here
If you’re looking for a builder in your area, don’t forget to check our nationwide directory of green builders here.
Popularity: 4% [?]
July 1st, 2008
If you can’t tell, we’re pretty hooked on the latest and greatest in green prefab design. One big problem, though, is that there’s a huge amount of noise and not all that much action - plenty of fabulous prefab designs and museum / conference exhibits, but very few actual installations (and even fewer mid-market installs, which is where prefab has to go in order to make a true difference in our housing stock).
Finally, the log jam seems to be breaking. Several firms have begun to produce green prefab homes for real people in small but growing numbers. This past month, Marmol Radziner, a prefab company here in Southern California, made a splash with some pretty showy installation videos on local media outlets. These homes are either a) high end or b) for the firm’s founders, so they’re still a ways away from mass-market. But, the videos do a good job of showing what elements make prefab homes unique (factory construction, rapid installation, modular components) and at least to me suggest that they’re not all that far away from being able to replicate these installations on a larger and thus less expensive scale.
So, take a few minutes out of work and check out this great video from the LA Times on the installation of one of the homes. And continue to hope for the day when all you have to do is walk down the street instead of visit the local museum to see a beautiful green prefab home near you. (our apologies for whatever ad the LA Times is running in front of this clip - when I last viewed it it was a Chevy Pickup ad - ugggggg). To see more great green prefab options, visit our green prefab directory here.
Popularity: 4% [?]