TreeHugger has some issues with the typically glitzy and gargantuan (but oh-so-green) The New American Home that will be officially unveiled next week at the International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. Writes Lloyd Alter of the tricked-out LEED Platinum (apparently) showhome: "The third party verifier also says that the house is certified Platinum by the USGBC LEED for homes program, which is pretty quick work for a house that was finished like yesterday. I won't even ask how a 6,721 square foot house in a gated community on the far outskirts of town with a monster pool evaporating into the Las Vegas heat qualifies for Platinum because that is another story."
Very much relatedly, The Atlantic Cities considers the "embarrassing" aspects of LEED for Homes. While detailing the various "warts in the system" that plague the LEED for Homes certification process, the NRDC's Kaid Benfield takes a closer look at everything that's wrong with the otherwise "spectacular and beautiful" New American Home.
Curbed is only slightly terrified by MainStreet America, a recently opened "ghost town of patchwork suburbia" in Houston. So what can visitors expect to find at this theme park/self-described "premier green building demonstration site?" Explains Curbed: "Basically a giant home-goods store disguised as a potpourri of provincial, uninspired single-family homes, the park consists of a dozen architecturally disparate vessels of merchandise, homes brimming with stuff that will never be used, creating an environment less lived-in than a dollhouse and just as artificial as any other manmade city. It's a crazy idea for a tourist destination, but, hey, with dozens of corporate sponsors looking to get in on this glut of free advertising, the wacky plan is likely to see at least a small surge of success."
The New York Times explores the bacteria-laden "bio design" trend. Examples of "the growing movement to integrate organic processes in the creation of buildings and household objects so that resources are conserved and waste is limited" include, but are certainly not limited to, Petri dish-based chandeliers, energy-producing coffee tables covered with moss, and a lampshade coated with hamster ovary cells that have been modified with firefly DNA.
Gizmodo inspects every square inch of Graham Hill's 420-square-foot transformer apartment in Manhattan. Although Hill's LifeEdited project has been pretty well covered by the tech/green/design media at this point, I appreciate the round-up of space-saving products at the end of the article. Also, I need myself a $500 floor washing robot.
AOL Real Estate tracks the rising demand for bike-friendly housing. Obviously, Portland — a city where the "collective voice of cyclists is louder than in many other American cities" — is the focal point of this quick AP piece. And although I promised I wouldn't make any references to Lance Armstrong or his televised barf-fest with Oprah, the mention of Portland's bike culture reminds me of this perfect zinger found in the comments section of Deadspin: "If I wanted to hear the opinions of some smug a**hole who rides a bike and does drugs, I'd just go to Portland."
Co.Design examines the work of Joost Gehem, a Dutch designer who crafts basic three-legged stools that are made from, well, the domestic clutter left behind by dead people. Says Gehem, who creates the stools in his studio (AKA The Transformation and Distribution Centre for Abandoned Household Items): "135,000 deaths, 32,000 divorces, 10,000 bankruptcies, and thousands of hospitalizations occur each year [in the Netherlands]. Many household inventories are left without a home. If heirs and dealers have no interest in the household goods, they usually end up in the local dump. The Centre infuses new life into the cycle of collecting and throwing away.”
Architizer eyes a few of the kitty casas entered into a recent Architects for Animals-organized competition in which participants were challenged to design comfortable/innovative modes of housing for New York City's feral cat population. Remarks Charlton Hutton of winning firm M Moser Associates: "We treated the cats like our clients: what do they need, how will they live within this space, what materials can we use that a cat will gravitate towards?”
EcoHome profiles the Dow Revitalize Home, a once-leaky 52-year-old bungalow in Midland, Mich. that was treated to an extensive, energy-saving retrofit that decreased the home's annual carbon emissions by 33 percent. Currently, the home serves as an open-to-the-public educational center.