“Instead of focusing only on energy efficiency at this year’s Solar Decathlon, the University of Maryland is also tackling water conservancy with their entry, WaterShed. WaterShed was inspired by the ecosystem of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. WaterShed is an example of how natural water resources can be maintained and protected by homes and buildings, and the house features technology to manage and harvest stormwater, filter and recycle greywater, and minimizing water use in general. In addition, the house also has PV and solar thermal arrays for sustainable energy production.
“Located in the cooler central Utah climate at 6,000 foot elevation, the Allan’s solar home integrates at least ten different forms of solar, including: trombe wall, solarium convection, photovoltaic cells, propylene-glycol heat exchange, eutectic salt chamber, berm insulation, black chimneys and under-ground intake for passive solar air conditioning, and dehydration of food.”
“Building your own greenhouse is a great idea if you are a gardener and want space to start seedlings, or grow plants that require a longer growing season than your climate can normally provide. But a standalone greenhouse is one thing — an attached greenhouse design for your house brings in a whole other host … Read more
What is an optimum house shape that stays warm in winter and cool in summer without reliance on outside energy sources? Designers have grappled with this question since ancient times. Socrates, the Greek philosopher, studied this problem about 2,500 years ago. His solution – Socrates House as it’s now referred to — is a trapezoid … Read more
A simple underground house design uses a novel insulating/water-shedding blanket that covers the structure and surrounding soil. The umbrella creates a huge subterranean thermal reservoir that soaks up the sun’s energy during summertime and stores it for winter heating. In many cases, the clever design makes a heating system unnecessary. By John Hait My first … Read more
I’ll never forget the Native American museum exhibit of a pit house in Anchorage, Alaska. I couldn’t stop staring at it. Pit houses are so simple and yet so effective that people lived in structures like this for thousands of years with relatively minimal environmental harm. This building method and lifestyle really captures my imagination … Read more