green architecture

Launching Cleantech 2010

Launching Cleantech 2010

The depressing strip of grey concrete nothing-ness you see in the photo above runs through East Downtown LA, right along the LA River. It’s the site of the Los Angeles Cleantech Corridor and Green District Competition, recently announced by SCI-Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture) and The Architect’s Newspaper. The hope is to transform this zone into “an integrated economic, residential and cultural engine for the city,” and asks architects, landscape architects, designers, engineers, urban planners, and environmental professionals to challenge conventional wisdom about civic development and green architecture to create a thriving, livable new space.

Japan's first Passive House

Japan's first Passive House

In the last 10 years more than 15,000 buildings in Europe, from single family residences to entire factories, have been built or remodeled to the passive house standard. This means that, among other factors, these structures use 90% less energy, and it’s done, for the most part, by simply better utilizing the natural resources of the surrounding environment. To begin with, a passive house is virtually airtight. It’s also equipped with an energy recovery ventilator that provides a constant, balanced fresh air supply, minimizing energy losses and providing top rate indoor air quality. Furthermore, instead of relying on active systems to bring a building to zero energy, passive houses use natural resources like sunlight, for example, and apply them efficiently.

Buildings that meet the passive house standard are popping up all over the world, but only recently has Japan finally built their very first passive house in Kamakura, a small city 30 miles from Tokyo.

The ZEROprize

The ZEROprize

The recently “greened” Bank of America Tower, New York’s second tallest building and a possible contender for the ZEROprize?

Zerofootprint, the Canadian company whose goal is to massively reduce our environmental footprint, is currently hosting two competitions to promote carbon management. You may know Zerofootprint through VELO, its web-based software for large companies to measure and monitor their carbon emissions. The first competition is the “Re-Skinning Award,” which will be given to the most sustainable restoration project, judged on these criteria: energy efficiency, economic efficiency, aesthetic value of the design, the transferability of the concept to other projects, the use of ‘intelligent’ building systems and the social effects of the restoration. Submissions are due January 10th and the winner will be announced at the World Urban Forum in Brazil in March 2010.

Craig Hodgetts, Playmaker

Craig Hodgetts, Playmaker

In 1978, architect Craig Hodgetts was commissioned to design a sustainable utopia of the future based on the book “Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston,” by Ernest Callenbach. Some credit the book with anticipating the use of videoconferencing (one of the technologies of the future the characters use selectively so as to not…