Active Praise for Passive House

We spend lots of money heating and cooling buildings when we can be designing buildings to naturally regulate their temperatures. This form of heating is known as passive heating (or cooling) because it requires no outside input to work.

Old buildings generally do this and were designed with environmental regulation in mind, today we are seeing a resurgence of smart building.

The Passive House concept, which is well established in Europe, is now getting a foothold in the U.S. with a method that promises overall energy savings of about 70 percent overall and a 90 percent lower heating load without on-site solar power.
While the U.S. Green Building’s Council’s LEED certification touches on energy, water, materials, and location, Passive House, which started in Germany as Passivhaus, brings rigorous requirements focused entirely on building energy efficiency. Because of that focus on lowering building energy demand, some say it yields better performance than LEED on efficiency.

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ECObitat is Green Disaster Relief Housing

ECObitat is a proposed modular housing design that looks good and is green. What’s even better is that it is easily deployable in the event of a disaster like a flood or earthquake. These sustainable shelters can be a good relief for the environment and people affected by natural disasters.

ECObitat is made of standard oriented strand boards (OSB) sheets with everything scaled using 1.22 m x 2.44 m dimensions. The structure of the house is made of a steel frame while structural insulated panels (SIP) panels are used for the walls and floor to define the rooms and provide support and insulation. The modular system has dimensions of 2.44 m x 3.10 m x 12.20, which is about the size of a standard 40′ shipping container. The vertical walls and floors are sheathed in OSB with thermo-acoustic insulation.

The whole house stands on telescoping legs, which makes it easier to place it on any type of ground without the need to search for a flat area. The metallic roof of the house features a series of solar panels and a small-scale wind turbine to produce enough power for the entire home. Modular plant boxes are mounted on the exterior and are planted with vegetation, which provides extra insulation. Depending on the types of plants used, the walls of the house can even produce food.

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Soy Habitats for Humanity

A company built a house to show off soy products and other environmentally friendly building techniques for the modern home and they have chosen to donate their model home to Habitat for Humanity.

The Soy House was built to showcase environmentally friendly, soy-based products used in home construction. It includes products such as spray foam insulation, soy board cabinets, soy-based adhesives, low-VOC paint, carpet backing, bathroom fixtures and foam for mattresses and furniture.

Dale Petrie, director of Strategic Development and Innovation, Grain Farmers of Ontario, says his group staged an exhibit of 101 uses for soy in December 2008 at the Toronto Stock Exchange and decided to showcase an entire home at the Royal. Because there would not have been time to construct a home from scratch, the province’s soy farmers approached modular builder Quality Homes Inc., which agreed to build the house in its factory and ship it to the fair.

“We don’t mind taking on a challenge like this at all,” says Howard Sher, executive vice-president of Quality Homes.

“And we weren’t concerned about the quality of the soy products at all. We are using the soy rigid insulation in our homes now.”

“But after the fair, the next step was, what are we going to do with this house?” says Petrie. The decision was made to offer it to a Habitat Canada affiliate.

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Thanks Kathryn!

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An Introduction to Green Roofs

Want to get the low-down on something that could be above your head? Well here’s what you’ve been looking for: an introduction to green roofs!

Roof types

There are two basic types of roof greening covers: intensive (roof gardens) and extensive. Intensive planted roofs have a greater depth of growing medium to support a wider range of planting, and often include shrubs and trees. Extensive roofs are systems with low growing plants, such as sedums, with no access other than for occasional maintenance; this type of roof is intended to be self sustaining.

There are three main methods of building up a green roof:

Inverted roof – has the insulation layer above the roof deck, on top of the waterproofing layer; usually constructed over a concrete roof deck.
Warm roof – has the insulation layer on top of the roof deck and the waterproofing layer on top of the insulation. In this system the insulation is always dry, giving a static thermal rating.
Cold roof – has the waterproofing membrane placed directly on top of the roof deck, with the insulation installed below the roof deck, or the roof may be uninsulated.

Sustainability issues

Green roofs are recognised as important in the delay of rainwater run-off entering the storm water system, and the general retention of rainwater. Other recognized environmental advantages of green roofs include:

Improved conservation and biodiversity.
Provision of new wildlife habitat.
Improved thermal insulation of buildings.
Reduction of airborne particulates.
Reduction in urban heat island effect.

Read more about green roofs here.

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