Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The first U.S. home to meet the Living Building Challenge

The challenge asks the question: "What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place? " Can this house become the first U.S. home to meet the Living Building Challenge? The existing house was taken down and all parts reused or sold by the two brothers Garrett and Dustin Moon. This is when they discovered that their building design might qualify for the Living Building Challenge. This new house will generate it's own power, be passively heated and cooled, and captures and reuses its water. The building must prove its design during 12 continuous months. The house features passive solar design, living roof gardens, solar panels, composting toilets, non-toxic construction, rain catchment, and gray water sand filtration. Excess energy produced will be sold back to the local power company. Stella and I are so excited to see a design that connects to and is a part of the ecosystem in an urban environment. This alone is is a great achievement. Way to go Garret and Dustin! To read more about their "the commons" house click on their website at http://pdxlivingbuilding.com/

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How-To: Dome Building Video

View our new slide show with great captions detailing how we built a 10ft(3m) dome in New Zealand

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sustainable Sanctuary

Recently Stella and I had the opportunity to stay at the Warbler Home, a sustainable sanctuary that is for sale outside of Prescott, Arizona. This was perfect for us as we are constantly exploring the concept of home and creating a film that explores the relationship between people and home.

As we were unpacking the car the first night at the Warbler house we were interrupted by the sun setting over the mountains and sat on the west deck to watch the event. The house and landscape has the ability to pull you into the rhythms of the land. That first night I enjoyed waiting for the evening temperatures to drop so we could open the windows and allow the home to take in the cool night air. I went outside that night to watch the stars and listen to the coyotes. While outside kicked off my shoes and found that the front patio was still warm from the day's sun and was a great place to lay on my back to see the stars.

This house is a beautiful example of a bridge between sustainable building and modern design. Not everyone wants to live in a mud or straw house and as a natural builder and teacher I am always interested in what creates a sense the of magic in a structure. I point out to students that they can build or convert a conventional looking house into a sustainable home and create a sense of magic by connecting the building to the energy flows of it's environment.

The thing that stood out to me the most besides the comfortable temperature proved by the house’s passive solar design and balance between thermal mass and insulation was the warm earthy feel that was provided by the colors in the floors and walls. The mixture of greens, warm yellows, and reds made me feel like I was in an earth home.

I find that when I am in a conventional house, and the surrounding land is not honored, I feel isolated from the landscape. Relating to our surroundings is so import because as we connect to our environment we are reminded of our own nature. When we are constantly reminded by the evening stars, the coyote’s howls, sun sets, and wild flowers it helps to call us back, to recenter ourselves and feel what it means to be home.

Home Features:
radiant floor heating
passive solar design
solar hot water panels
solar electricity
gray water filtration
wet lands alternative septic (purified with irises)
rain catchment
vastu energy flow organic garden
foam panel walls
concrete walls and slab (made with gravel sourced on-site)

Click on the image above or this link to see more pictures

For more details check out: