Ah, 2013 — a year when garden gnomes were both embraced and executed; backyard chickens were both rented and rejected (and dressed in neon vests); and bees faced both triumph and tragedy. In the past 12 months, micro-apartments have been the subject of celebration and scorn and urban gardens have been planted atop grocery stores and in baseball stadiums. It was a year in which residential solar got cheaper, LEDs got better, smoke detectors got smarter, and IKEA news got weirder. It was a year defined by tales of resilience, recovery, creative recycling, and really small houses. Perhaps most notably, it was a year in which we discovered that old shipping containers can be repurposed into really just about anything.

That, dear readers, is pretty much how the 13th year of the 21 century went down as it pertains to eco-friendly architecture, design, gardening, renovation, and real estate here on MNN. If you're interested in revisiting some of 2013’s most popular and provocative posts (and a few overlooked gems) as the year winds down, please do ... I've rounded them up below for your end-of-the-year perusal. And since this is the holidays and you may be looking to dazzle family members with your deep knowledge of how algae can be used to power apartment complexes, this is a great place to brush up on all the facts. 

As always, I want to express a hearty dose of gratitude not only to you, my readers, but all of the eco-minded architects, designers, builders, gardeners, homeowners, planners, business owners, innovators, influencers, game-changers, and Kickstarter entrepreneurs. And feel free to drop a line or tweet me with any comments, questions, concerns, and love letters. What stories/trends from 2013 stood out to you? Any personal favorite posts? What would you like to see covered more of in the new year? And please, don't be shy. I'm all ears.


Prefab brings modern day sustainability to historic planned community • Big winner announced in New York City's quest for tiny housing • For marginalized urban recyclers, a nonprofit with a can-do attitude • Interface expands fishing net recycling scheme on quest toward 'zero'


Gnome hard feelings: Wee humanoids finally allowed at Chelsea Flower Show • America's oldest indoor shopping mall to be reborn as mixed-use micro-loft complex • In Sonoma, a green community that's free of sensory overloads • WFH House: A green abode that conceals freight container framework


From Cree, a budget LED that won't make Edison roll over in his grave • Texas developer eyes shipping containers in shale boom housing shortage • Renewable rules: Lancaster, Calif., requires all new homes to have solar power • A Bronx kale: Affordable housing meets hydroponic farming in Morrisania


Algae-powered apartment complex blooms in Hamburg • Superfund meets super-fresh at farm-topped Whole Foods in Brooklyn • Fat-fueled power station in London to run on recycled cooking grease • Italian firm invites inmates to help create prototype micro-dwelling unit


EU bans bee-harming pesticides ... will U.S. wise up and follow suit? • Micro-apartments met with NIMBYist sentiment in Seattle • In Maryland, tiny houses that are a little bit Tolkien, a little bit Thoreau • Yes, Delaware has a Frank Lloyd Wright house (and it's for sale)


Block party: BIG unveils plans for LEGO House in Denmark • San Antonio sprawl threatens famed bat cave • Ottawa neighborhood embroiled in squirrel deportation scandal • Brooklyn's largest public housing development gets urban farm


Tom Kundig goes head to head with residents of Methow Valley • Hipster hen dump: The issue of urban chicken abandonment • Try tiny house living on for size at Portland's newest hotel • At Seabrook, New Urbanism goes to the beach


ÁPH80: A prefab cabin from Spain that's clean, calming and compact • Field of greens: Edible garden coming to San Francisco's AT&T Park • Shigeru Ban's Cardboard Cathedral opens after ungodly delay • Suds with a side of guilt: Shower head turns red when you're dawdling


In Amsterdam, nasty neighbors banished to shipping container 'scum villages' • Test your cluck with a chicken rental service • 'Smart' micro-housing for Swedish students gets high marks in affordability • IKEA stores in U.K. to sell home solar systems, Allen wrench not required


Texas professor to teach Dumpster Dwelling 101 • Nest Protect: A smoke detector with added smarts, less shrieking • A cardboard cabin built in one of the wettest places on Earth • Wien wins it! Team Austria scores first at Solar Decathlon


Australian officials outlaw Katy Perry's seed-embedded 'Prism' packaging • Beware Kudzilla, the Kickstarter-funded invasive plant beast • Vancouver aims to stomp out cigarette litter with new recycling scheme • Home2O: Trashed bottled water transformed into disaster relief roofing


Flock of feral turkeys terrorizes Staten Island homeowners • Fresh starts, tiny dwellings abound in eco-villages for the homeless • Kick back with fellow 'healthy hedonists' in a shipping container day spa • Eden Paper: Beautiful gift wrap that you can plant and, eventually, eat

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

Holiday breather: A selection of 2013's standout stories
Looking for an scape from visiting relatives? Here's your chance to duck out revisit some of 2013's most intriguing and inspiring stories.