SmartPlanet takes a gander at a net-zero energy rental apartment building only a few blocks away from this blogger's own (non-net-zero energy) rental apartment building in Red Hook/Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The $1 million project headed by Voltaic Solaire finds an ordinary brownstone transformed into an off-the-grid, six-unit residential building that's completely powered by a 18,000-watt rooftop solar array (pictured above). Rents in the new space? Studios are $1,600/month while a two-bedroom will set you back $2,600. Utilities are included. 


Jetson Green can get down with Warburg, a "simple, contemporary, and energy efficient" 750-square-foot home in the wilds of Alberta built for under $100,000. Says J.G. of the Bioi-designed abode: "There’s something about the traditional yet contemporary 'house-shaped' form of this design that just resonates with me." Ditto, but I'd like to see it not blanketed with snow. 


The New York Times walks away from this year's International Contemporary Furniture Fair with craft on the brain. Writes Julie Lasky: "For as long as factories have efficiently spat out objects, craft has been an antidote to the chilly uniformity of mass production. Fragrant knotty furniture of one variety or another has always appeared at this fair, along with the occasional woven tapestry and thrown pot. This year, however, craft, with its quirks and nicks, threatened to overshadow the sleek machined goods that are a calling card of the 23-year-old event."


Core77 takes a stroll down memory lane with Jan van der Lande, founder of one of my favorite design firms — the silly, smart, and often sustainable Kikkerland (Dutch for "Frogland" in case you were wondering). 


TreeHugger recommends "5 Must-Read Books for Small Space Organizing." Some fine ideas for summertime apartment revamping/de-cluttering here ... 


EcoHome profiles a drafty and decrepit 1880s home in Amherst, Mass. treated to a deep green retrofit (new windows, HVAC systems, insulation, etc.). The revamped 2,000-square-foot home is the eighth home in the country to meet the requirements of the 1,000 Home Challenge.   


The San Francisco Chronicle is a bit late to the game with a trend piece on reclaimed-wood-as-home-decor fad.


The Chicago Tribune sets the story straight with Jim Russell, founder of Oregon-based prefab firm Ideabox — yes, the Ideabox of "OMG IKEA is now selling prefab homes" fame. Russell explains what happened after word (erroneously) spread that IKEA was selling Ideabox-designed homes: "We got 4,000 emails in just the first few days after the erroneous story broke. We tried to do our best to respond right away, explaining to people what we do and that the Aktiv house just contains some IKEA products. IKEA put out a corporate press release explaining things, saying that despite erroneous reports, it is not selling prefabricated homes in the United States. We were told that people were walking into IKEA stores around the world and asking about getting a house."



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

Playing Catch up: 'Til Tuesday
Net-zero apartments in Brooklyn, the real story behind IKEA prefabgate, craft o' plenty at ICFF 2012 and other green home odds and ends to hold you over through