Aug/Sept 2013: SHADE brings Sustainability to Desert Living

TEAM ASUNM is counting down the days until the Solar Decathlon 2013 begins. With less than  three weeks to go, they have filmed a walk-through before preparing to take apart the SHADE home. It will be shipped to Irvine, California and re-configured on site at Orange County Great Park for the competition.

Team ASUNM av video

Walk through the SHADE house with Team ASUNM.

The team has looked at the relationship of plants in the Sonoran desert for inspiration – much as the Chinese Decathlon winners from Australia looked to their native environment to inspire the Illawarra Flame House.

Watch the video for more details on SHADE’s design philosophy inspired by the Saguarro cactus and mesquite tree, their unique PV (solar) canopy and an unconventional cooling system that involves a thermal storage unit and a radiant ceiling. Bonus – find HOG on the scene!

Where will SHADE go once the competition is over? It will become a model sustainable home for an urban reclamation project in Phoenix called Phx Renews.

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Aug/Sept 2013: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

                         Australia Wins 2013 Solar Decathlon China

This August, the University of Wollongong in Australia took home first place in the China Solar Decathlon 2013 with their Illawara Flame House.

illawarra flame house

The Illawara Flame House designed by UOW Australia. Image via Inhabitat.

Co-hosted by the US Department of Energy, and the National Energy Administration China, this was the inaugural Solar Decathlon on Asian soil.  Much as American and European competitions do, the China 2013 competition challenges university teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

Why is it beautiful? Richard King, from the US Department of Energy, calls the victory of the first ever retrofitted home to enter the competition “remarkable.” He commended the Illawara Flame as a  “modern, very energy efficient house that won the praise of everyone who [went] into it.” The Australian team was inspired by their native Illawara Flame Tree’s spring time renewal and transformation – a metaphor for their radical approach to refurbishing an existing home rather than creating a brand new building.

Why is it useful? “It all began with the idea of retrofit,” Team UOW explain in their walk-through video of the Illawara Flame home, which has been designed for an older couple whose children have left home. The home design emphasizes water efficiency, solar energy harvesting, passive design and advanced ventilation systems.

Three bedrooms have been converted into two, with a large open space for the dining room and living room. Multiple windows promote flow between indoor and outdoor space.

Why is it green? With 8 million homes in Australia that account for 13% of carbon dioxide emissions, refurbishing existing ‘fibro’ homes to a net zero energy standard upcycles homes for the next generation. It also eliminates the waste of tearing down existing buildings.

“The Illawarra Flame is perfect for clients looking to downsize while ensuring a clean energy future for their grandchildren,” explains Team UOW. The jurors thought so too, and Australians took home first prize!

Want more info on a ‘fibro’ house and exactly how it fits into the Australian landscape? Check out this informative overview from Matt Hickman at Mother Nature Network.

Visit Sally’s Blog for more B.U.G. Designs.

December 2012: Rainwater Catchment Options for the Urban Prefab Home

Greenbuild 2012 Showcases 5,000 Gallon Water Tank

https://i2.wp.com/assets.inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2012/11/greenbuild-method-homes-paradigm-4.jpg

Image via Inhabitat

“I was curious to see the show house at Greenbuild 2012 demonstrating a large, above-ground, steel riveted water tank,” writes HOG inventor, Sally Dominguez.  “In a seismic high risk area like San Francisco riveted steel tanks are not recommended – in fact most manufacturers will not supply them to parts of California – because in a moderate seismic event a small amount of movement is enough to twist the structure and pop the rivets – and any movement could send tons of water rolling! Did I mention that HOG tanks can’t roll?!”

Inhabitat writer Charley Cameron reports, “The water management for the Paradigm house has several levels; rainwater is diverted from the home’s roof to a 5,000 gallon free-standing outdoor tank, from which water is filtered for domestic use. Greywater is then collected for irrigation and fed directly to two small outdoor greenhouses where produce can be grown. The home’s compost toilet could potentially provide fertilizer for this on-site veggie patch.”

Sally responds, “What I find curious about an otherwise really tight, economical design is the size of the tank.  A 700 sq ft roof can only yield 436 gallons for every inch of rain, so for six months of the year in San Francisco the tank sits nearly empty; in March, our statistically highest rainfall month, it’s just under half full. A tank significantly smaller would still fulfill the water needs of a single bedroom house, especially one with a composting toilet.  It seems to be a case of seeking the largest storage without actually reckoning for local climate and household use.”

Simpatico Homes features Modular HOG System

Simpatico Homes rooftop

Image via Simpatico Homes

This month’s issue of Dwell magazine asks the the question, “Why prefab?” Simpatico Homes, a modular home company based in Emeryville, California, helps answer the question.  Although both homes have net zero energy as their goal, Simpatico Homes has a very different approach to rainwater harvesting than Method Homes’ Paradigm house. In a profile of the Simpatico Prototype House which founder Seth Krubiner now calls home, Joanne Furio reports, “Instead of taxing the taps, the home’s drought-tolerant garden can be watered with runoff from the roof. Krubiner’s technology of choice: Rainwater HOG, an off-the-shelf, expandable system of rainwater collection tanks that stores water for irrigation. Because the HOGs are slim, they can be positioned directly under a downspout without blocking the walkway – a necessity on a tight city lot like this. “The nice thing is that you can easily link them together,” says Krubiner… [who has] two sets of five 50-gallon HOGs…for the property.”

For more on the HOG tank’s unique design that prizes a small footprint and flexible, modular installation options for urban rainwater storage, check out the Rainwater HOG profile in AIArchitect’s online magazine.

April 2012: B.U.G. (Beautiful.Useful.Green) Design

BISEM Inc.’s BiPV Curtain Wall

BISEM Inc., our neighboring exhibitor at Eco City, is an example of a cleantech company whose growth parallels that of the industry itself. For Eco City show-and-tell, they brought along a high-rise-sized photovoltaic ‘curtain wall’ – a structurally sound glass window that generates electricity from the sun.

CEO Nick Bagatelos explains his solar-powered electricity-generating modular windows in terms of peaches.  He says, “If you have a peach tree in your backyard, when the peaches are ripe, you go out and grab a few peaches. After a week or so of this, the low hanging fruit is gone. So, you go to the garage and grab a ladder to get the fruit at the top of the tree, right? The rooftop PV (photovoltaic solar panels) are the low hanging fruit, my BIPV (building-integrated photovoltaics) Curtain Wall is the stuff on the top of the tree.”

Why is it beautiful?  The BiPV curtain wall is an elegant package – a glass wall that takes solar power from the roof and into the windows. As CEO Nick Bagatelas says, “Most glass walls let light in and keep water out. This wall also generates power.”

Why is it useful? The American-made BiPV Curtain Wall is a Net Zero Energy solution. A building must generate power on site in order to achieve Net Zero, but large multi-story buildings have limited rooftop area to add PV panels.  BISEM’s BIPV Curtain Wall provides an alternative location to harvest electricity at a cost effective price.


Why is it green?
The Curtain Wall, a structurally engineered glass wall that captures sunlight and turns it into electricity, can generate 20% of the energy required for a building to achieve Net Zero Energy.  It can also add as many as 7 LEED point to a building project, and it reduces carbon footprint.

Check out BISEM’s blog to keep up with this innovative cleantech company. See the real thing – a building clad in the curtain walls – at their headquarters in Sacramento. And in the future, find a curtain wall installation, scheduled for a 2013 install, in the San Francisco Airport, among other places.

Check out Sally’s blog for more B.U.G. Designs.