Sustainability is partially in the details, like finding clever ways to re-use our Soy Candle jars, using recycled and eco-friendly packaging , or investing in wind energy, but it’s also about the grand scale projects. Here are four of our favorite solutions to grand, sustainable living spaces. They each inspire us to dream a little bit bigger.
Sustainable designs come down to two teams: Green Buildings, which use environmentally responsible processes and materials, or Zero-energy buildings, which have zero net energy consumption and reduce zero carbon emissions.
Earthships are the green building innovation of Michael Reynolds, born out of frustration of the existing housing construction process. Dedicated to using only recycled materials like glass, tires, and tin found in landfills, the houses have everything a tenant could want. Greenhouse areas were included to allow tenants to sustain gardens year round, while water collection systems, wind turbines and solar panels keep the buildings off of expensive electrical grids. The project started over 30 years ago, and now dozens of earthships exist in all types of climates.
Even the temperatures in Canada can’t deter architects with zero-energy designs. The Eco-terra Zero Energy House opened in 2007 in Quebec. The design uses geo-exchange heating, rainwater for garden irrigation and flushing toilets, solar panels, extra thick windows and hundreds of monitoring systems to help track every bit of energy use. It was at first opened for tours and monitoring, but was sold for occupation in 2009.
Bosco Verticale should receive the award for the most creative use of plants in green building design. Constructed in one of the most polluted cities, Milan, Italy, the vertical forest is made up of two towers that have plants and trees covering the buildings facade. The hundreds of trees planted will help reduce the CO2 and dust in the air, plus naturally heat and cool the apartments throughout the year. Each tree type was handpicked to best fit the climate and building’s needs.
The Algae Powered Building, commonly called the BIQ House, just recently opened up its zero-energy doors in Germany. The exterior of the building is covered with panels of micro-algae which are fed liquid nutrients and sunlight until they are processed into bio-gas to use for heating and electricity. The panels also provide shade for the 15 apartments housed in the building, which will be ready for occupation in April.
These are just a few examples of the designs out there, but if you had to choose, which one would you live in?
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