The recent post about the Solar Decathlon contest piqued my curiosity about initiatives related to sustainable building. In the public/private field we have, of course, the DOE, with its Building America partnership. It works with home builders in projects around the country that strive to implement energy-efficient solutions and technologies.
It is hard to get into what private companies are doing, the list would be so long…. just today I was reading about the project SunEdison is providing for Kohl´s department stores. More that 75% of Kohl´s locations in California will be converted to solar power.
Other companies provide services related to Green Building, to achieve the most energy efficient designs. An example in Miami is PGI Group, a firm that has been awarded with the “2006 M.E.P. Engineering Firm of the Year” by the South Florida Latin Builders Association. Its mother company in Spain, has worked in projects like the largest European photovoltaic system for a commercial building, at the Telefonica “District C” complex (16,000 solar panels) in Madrid.
Telecom City or District C – Telefonica new headquarters in Madrid
(virtual model courtesy of PGI Grup)
In the non-profit area, Habitat for Humanity has been building safe, affordable and sustainable homes for many people around the world, with the concern of sustainable construction practices and environmental responsibility in mind. They dedicated their first “green home” in 1997. The new houses are built as tight as possible — well-insulated and well-ventilated, well-caulked and very well-sealed, with the goal of achieving “net zero energy” homes.
Even more aggresive is the approach taken by the Earthships, off-grid semi-buried houses built with discarded tyres. They blend with the environment and benefit from their three wall insulation to offer what seems to be an enviable thermal comfort. See their explanation of the concept here: