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Thatch-covered Enterprise Centre may be the world’s greenest building

Prefab thatch wall panels (built indoors during the off season) and materials palette which the Treehugger writer calls ‘almost edible’.

“John French, CEO of the university’s Adapt Low Carbon Group and project director, … was eager that the next generation of buildings at UEA should move away from high thermal mass and a dependence on carbon-intensive concrete, towards natural and locally sourced materials.”

ThatchedPassiveHousePlus

“The building also features a wide array of other sustainable materials including recycled timber finishes, wood wool acoustic boards, spray-on cellulose, and wall coverings made from hemp, nettle fabric and reeds”

More at:

http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/thatch-covered-enterprise-centre-may-be-worlds-greenest-building.html

http://passivehouseplus.ie/magazine/new-build/is-this-the-uk-s-greenest-building.html

Los Angeles is first major city to require Cool Roofs

The Los Angeles City Council has voted unanimously to require “cool roofs” for all new and refurbished homes, becoming the first major U.S. city to do so. “Cool roofs” incorporate light- and heat-reflecting building materials, which can lower the surface temperature of the roof by up to 50 degrees F on a hot day, according to Climate Resolve, the local organization that pushed for the ordinance. Such roofs do not necessarily need to be white, the Global Cool Cities Alliance says; they can also be shades of gray, or even red. Research suggests that by mid-century temperatures in Los Angeles will increase by 3.7 to 5.4 degrees F, with the number of days above 95 degrees F tripling in the city’s downtown. “The changes our region will face are significant, and we will have to adapt,” said UCLA scientist Alex Hall, who led the research. The cool roof mandate will not cost homeowners additional money because of expanded incentives.

Lighting section re-do

Our lighting section just got a major overhaul, courtesy of meticulous researcher Paul Robbins of the Austin Environmental Directory.

Paul sifted through a lot of material and presents a coherent and understandable overview of the differences between incandescent, fluorescent, CFL, and LED lights.  He answers (with numbers to back it up) some of the common questions: how efficient are they, really; does the energy cost of manufacturing these fancy bulbs negate the savings; why do some CFLs and LEDs burn out prematurely; and more.

Have a look!

PS: comments are open in lighting – got a question or an update?

Note to those in the lighting industry: Now would be the time to list your company in the lighting page’s Resource Listings.  And if your company’s web address is listed in the article (or should be) and you want it to be a live link, please contact us!

100% Tuition Assistance for Veterans Solar and Renewable Energy Career Training!

Do you know a Veteran or are you a Veteran yourself? Good news! Solar Energy International is offering 100% tuition assistance and career training in partnership with SEI’s Veterans and Active Duty Training Outreach Program and the Colorado Department of Labor.

In 2013, Solar Energy International’s (SEI) full certificate training program, the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program, received approval through the Colorado Department of Labor. With this approval, training funding was also unlocked for Veterans seeking career training in the renewable energy sector through the Veterans Workforce Investment Program (VWIP).

The VWIP has been funded again for 2013 for veterans in Colorado and many states throughout the country. VWIP funds can help veterans attain training through certificate program and certifications in various sectors that would help veterans become more marketable.

Other states may also have VWIP funds in place and should contact SEI.

2012 Straw Bale Olympics

The 2012 International Straw Bale Builders’ Conference hosted by the Colorado Straw Bale Association was a gathering of over 200 builders, architects, engineers, plaster professionals, researchers and educators from 15 countries. While much was serious exchange, the Straw Bale Olympics was great counterpoint and so much fun. See more at www.strawbaleconference.com and www.coloradostrawbale.org.

International Straw Bale Conference in Colorado, September 2012

Did you know that the early registration deadline for the 2012 International Straw Builders’ Conference is only a few days away! The conference itself runs from Sept 16-22, 2012.

It’s not too late for EARLY registration for the 2012 International Straw Bale Building Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. EARLY registration ends July 16th July 31st so get hopping and sign up!

If you have never attended an International Conference you are missing a great opportunity to meet some of the professionals from around the world and to experience an event which will boost your energy and confidence in building with Straw.

And if you have never been to Estes Park, I’m told it is one of the world’s most scenic venues – adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, the mountains and wildlife are to die for. The YMCA conference site is excellent, and the facilities food and accomodations are super according to friends who have been there.

By the way, a conference like this is NOT just about straw. It’s about plasters, earthen floors, building for cold (or hot) climates, compressed earth blocks and more.

SO – get busy and register today!

I’ll see you there!

–Bill Christensen
Founder, Sustainable Sources

Straw Bale in International Building Code?

For a long time, straw bale builders have wanted to legitimize their favorite construction method by getting building codes passed specifically allowing plastered straw bale construction.   A lot of headway has been made, starting with the Pima County code for load-bearing straw bale construction back in the 90s, followed by a fair number of local and even some state (California) straw bale building codes.

But it takes a lot of work to get something like straw bale construction passed in each jurisdiction, and it seems that nearly each new construction project has to reinvent the wheel, educate the local code officials, etc.

To remedy this problem, a group of dedicated baleheads have been working over the past several years to get straw bale construction accepted into the Big Daddy of all codes, the International Building Code (IBC).

International Code Council will hold hearings in Dallas on either Monday, April 30 or Tuesday, May 1 regarding the Fire Resistance of straw bale construction, and a week later on structural considerations.  These hearings are just part of the many important steps needed.

Sustainable Sources founder Bill Christensen will be joining longtime code advocate David Eisenberg (Development Center for Appropriate Technology), builder/architect Ben Obregon (Sustainable Design Center), and architect Gayle Borst (Stewardship Architecture and Design~Build~Live) in Dallas for the Fire Resistance section of the hearings.  Bill, David, and Ben participated in the 2006 fire tests which gained plastered straw bale construction ASTM 1- and 2-hour burn ratings (earthen plastered and cement plastered, respectively).  See the video.

The hearings are free and open to the public, though you are required to register.  They’re also being streamed, in the event you can’t make it but are interested in the proceedings.

To see all the supporting documentation including the proposed Straw Bale Construction chapter, and testing reports regarding moisture, structural, seismic “shake table”, fire, and of course thermal tests, see EcoBuildNetwork.

David and architect Martin Hammer will return the following week for Structural hearings.

To learn about building with straw, see our straw bale construction overview, or see one of the many books on bale construction, or visit The Last Straw Journal, the definitive quarterly journal on bale construction.

Finally, to see an actual straw bale home near you, check our Straw Bale Building Registry.

Green Real Estate ads – Major Upgrade!

As we enter our 19th year at Sustainable Sources, we’re happy to announce that we’ve completely revamped our long running Real Estate section.

  • Your listings can now have up to 20 images.
  • Easier to list property.
  • Easier to update.
  • It’s on a much faster server.
  • Improved searches.
  • Includes green sales AND green rentals.
  • New sections for commercial properties, too!  (For lease and for sale)
  • Ads from 30 days for $5.00 (that’s right, just $5.00!!) to a full year for $20.00.

Obviously, we’re not looking to get rich off of this – unlike the other sites which list green real estate and start at $19-$25 for a 30 day listing and over $200 for a one-year listing!  Electrons don’t cost that much.

The real estate market has changed a lot since we first started Green Real Estate listings in 1998 –  there is greater awareness of the need for energy efficiency and homes and offices built with healthy materials, and more people than ever are specifically looking for green.  Make sure they find you here!

View the current listings…

 

 

Rare opportunity to visit Gaviotas village

The village of Gaviotas in the llanos of Colombia today announced a rare chance for outsiders to visit.

So far, few outsiders have managed to visit this special place. But public order has made a comeback in the region, and in 2010, two groups of 20 people each (including a 1-year old baby girl!) traveled all the way to Colombia’s eastern plains to visit this unique community. The visits were a success, and the village now wishes to invite another 20 people for a fully hosted day visit. In addition, Gaviotas founder Paolo Lugari is personally inviting you to spend a few additional days in conversation with him and other Gaviotans in and around the Gaviotas office in Bogotá.

During the 8-month rainy season the roads turn into mud and the Gaviotas landing strip is flooded – March is your chance to go before is starts pouring!

See FriendsOfGaviotas.org for full details.

For more info about Gaviotas, see reflections on our meeting with founder Paolo Lugari, and the book Gaviotas, A Village to Reinvent the World.

A Different Kind of HVAC Contractor – And the Book He Wrote

Trish Holder of GreenspirationHome.com Interviews Joe Gorman, Contractor and Author of From Contractor to Consumer

Joe Gorman From Contractor to ConsumerThe book you’ve got to read (or at least skim) before choosing an HVAC contractor!

Not long ago I ran across a book on the internet entitled, “From Contractor to Consumer:  The Truth about Heating, Air Conditioning, and Home Comfort Systems”. HVAC nerd that I am, I had to investigate.  After all, this was pretty out of the ordinary for a HVAC contractor to write a book – much less one that is actually geared toward educating consumers.  Frankly, I think a lot of them would like to keep us stupid.  So, I asked Joe to send me a copy of his book and he did.  I was so impressed with this easy-to-read little book (and Joe’s initiative to write it) that I decided to interview this rare contractor who happens to agree with me that what a homeowner doesn’t know about their HVAC system really can hurt.

Read the rest…

 

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