The San Francisco Chronicle hits the showers with a look at bath curtains made from eco-friendly vinyl alternatives like TPU, PEVA, and hemp. 

Jetson Green admires the first certified Passive House on the West Coast. It's in Salem, Ore. and includes a solar hot water system, wool carpets, dual-flush toilets, and an airtight doggy door for the owners' pooch. 

The Montreal Gazette gets down with round: prefab circular homes are popular among those looking for energy-efficient and hurricane-resistant dwellings built to withstand a "world where the climate is changing faster than Kirstie Alley's dress size."

Re-Nest loves an artsy, fold-out drying rack designed for Levi's Care to Air Design Challenge. And so do I. 

The Christian Science Monitor roughs it with an extensive investigative piece on Americans deciding to lead a "snug, even smug, lifestyle totally or mostly unhitched from public utilities. Using nature — the sun, wind, water, and the earth itself — they cheaply warm and cool their homes and power everything from a blender to a giant flat-screen TV to a raging hot tub."

Inhabitat takes a peep at architect Dennis Wedlick's super-efficient Hudson Passive House, the first home in New York slated to achieve Passivhaus Institute certification. That's it pictured up top. 

The New York Times explores the purple martin tending trend. Try saying that three times fast. 

USATODAY takes a gander at Corey Saft's Passive House Institute certified home in Lafayette, La., the first of its kind in the South. Says Saft of the German certification system: "Passive House is more strenuous, much more hard-core. It's focused on energy consumption. LEED is broad. Passive House is deep."

Mocoloco is digging designer Jesper Jonsson's collapsible, portable solar-powered lamp.

Ecofriend dreams of unwinding in a rocking chair concept from Shawn Kim that generates enough kinetic energy to power your gadgets and gizmos, a built-in LED light, and a radio with speakers. 

The Guardian reports that recent "EU legislation will make it compulsory for energy efficiency ratings to be published in all UK homes for sale advertisements from 2012."

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.