Architectural Record goes back to school with a look at an abandoned 5,000-square foot West Philadelphia residence built circa 1872 that, up until an arson incident in the late 1990s, served as Drexel University's Phi Lambda Pi frat house for over thirty years. A $2.5 million, student-headed project is underway to renovate the home, tack on an addition, and reopen it as "The Drexel Smart House," a dorm/living laboratory for sustainable design. The new building, pictured above, will include "a bevy of green features, such as energy-efficient lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures, and a graywater capture-and-reuse system."


Jetson Green shares the Earth Advantage Institute's roundup of 10 green housing trends to keep an eye for in 2012. And here they are: Urban density, green multifamily homes, consumer-friendly energy tracking devices, energy education for commercial tenants, more accurate appraisals, the broader adoption of residential energy ratings for homes, smart grid-compatible high-performance homes, transparency in home marketing, the deployment and testing of new materials, and, last but not least, home remodels driven by energy-saving upgrades. 


The San Francisco Chronicle catches up with humanitarian-minded "industrial designer for the future," Yves Behar. The Swiss-born San Francisco transplant and creator of bangin' speakers, designer vibrators, and recycled-content Herman Miller chairs says of his adopted city: "The environment here is about people challenging the world and assumptions. From the Gold Rush to now, the skills have changed, but it's the same spirit — to find an environment that is welcome to new ideas."


Grist gets off to Free Cabin Porn, a Tumblr blog geared for those who spend their time "daydreaming about packing up and moving off-grid, maybe to Walden Pond or the Lake Isle of Innisfree."


Re-Nest disappears. Well, kind of. The green home design website known for photos of immaculately styled interiors, drippy "Weekend Meditations," and more DIY cleaning tips than you could shake a reclaimed beech wood stick at, has become the "Green Living" category residing within recently overhauled parent website, Apartment Therapy. I'm not loving the shake-up ... I liked Re-Nest as a freestanding site. Any Re-Nest/Apartment Therapy readers care to chime in?


Dwell spends a delightful weekend in the country at the simply stunning Ochre Barn, a Victorian-barn-to-modern-home conversion in Norfolk, England. 


TreeHugger welcomes the American Passive House Network to the green building dance floor. Those divided by last summer's split between the Passivhaus Institute and the Passive House Institute US, will find neutrality in this new org that aims to "serve as a resource and communication hub for any and all existing and emerging regional Passive House organizations." 


Inhabitat tours 125 Haus, a super-efficient, 2,400-square-foot home that injects a whole lotta Deutchsland into Park City, UT.


Garden Design shares the story of the King Street Garden, a vacant lot-turned-ramshackle community plot in Red Hook, Brooklyn that was recently, after 13 years, reclaimed by its owner for development. Writes Laura Harmon: "What I can’t shake is the feeling that what was so truly special about the King Street Garden was its ephemeral quality and yet realizing that gardening for any period of time was worth the effort. I like to think that the impermanence of the garden created fertile grounds for experimentation.  With nothing to lose, the gardeners had everything to gain. The success of the garden was due to the gardeners’ commitment year after year, to keep growing, despite the odds." RIP, neighbor.

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

Playing catch up: Comings and goings
This week: A community garden in Brooklyn and a popular green home design blog both sail off into the sunset while a Passive House 'sharing platform' and an aba