Barn-Inspired Tiny Home


Say what you will, but tiny houses are fun! And the Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses firm makes some of the most unique ones in the world. They completed this barn-like tiny home for a client who recently retired and wanted a cozy, functional and affordable home. It’s called the Bitterroot Valley tiny house and was built using recycled and reclaimed materials. It’s also equipped with several sustainable features and technologies, and can function completely off-the-grid.

This tiny home was named after the unique barns found in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. It was built out of SIPs and rests atop a 20 ft (6 m)-long trailer, so it can be hauled around. The home was clad using leftover materials from the firm’s other projects, such as rough-cut lap cedar, rusty reclaimed corrugated metal, and cedar shakes.


The interior is modest but functional. The ground floor features a sitting area, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. The latter features a Loveable Loo composting toilet, but no shower, at the request of the client. They did leave enough room for a shower to be installed at a later time. The kitchen is equipped with a bowl sink that features a pump faucet used to pump water from the 6 gallon container below. The sink drains to daylight under the house. This, according to the firm, is the extent of the plumbing they did on the house. The interior walls were left unfinished since the owner wants to paint it herself, and the bedroom is located in the loft and is accessible via a staircase with integrated storage space.



The home features a rooftop mounted 1,000 watt solar power array that is connected to a battery. This system takes care of all the power needs of the home. The house was fitted with LED lights throughout and also features two 30 lb (13 kg) propane tanks, which are used to power the two-burner stove and heater.

The Bitterroot Valley tiny home cost $39,000 to build, while the solar power system cost an additional $6,400. According to Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses that a build like this one, but with proper plumbing, a shower, a hot water heater, and more appliances, would cost around $46,000, not including the solar power array.

Nike Unveils a Sustainable Warehouse


At the end of May, Nike opened its new warehouse, which will be used to serve all of Europe from a single location. This warehouse is incredibly sustainable, which is always welcome when it comes to large companies. The Nike European Logistics Campus as the place is called spans an area of 1.6 million sq ft (150,000 sq m) and is located 31 miles (50 km) outside of Antwerp, Belgium.

According to Nike, the warehouse is built to LEED standards, though they did not provide a LEED rating. It is also energy-neutral, while 100 percent of its power comes from renewable energy sources. These include solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass sources. The wind turbines located near the warehouse are 492-ft (150-m-high) and are reportedly able to generate enough electricity to power 5,000 households. And the on-site PV array covers an area the size of three soccer fields.


About 99 percent of containers bringing in the goods reach the facility by water, though there is also a network of railways, canals and highways, which provide access. They estimate that this reduces the number of needed truck journies by about 14,000 a year. For moving the products, Nike uses a number of fast moving hybrid robot cranes, which are able to regenerate energy much like hybrid cars do.


The structure itself is completely supported by the racks on which the goods are stored. By building it this way, they were able to use less material and create less waste during the construction process, compared to a steel and concrete-built structure. They also recycle 95 percent of waste products, and all the pathways around the warehouse are made from recycled footwear.

They fitted the warehouse with large windows to let in plenty of natural light, and equipped it with smart, automated LED lighting to be used when required. They also have water efficiency systems in place in the form of storm and discharge water buffering, infiltration and recycling. The building also has a green roof. In addition to that, they also added beehives to help with flower pollination in the area, and they will be using sheep instead of lawnmowers.

Micro Apartment Complex Coming Soon to Houston


There is a housing shortage in many cities worldwide, which has in recent years led to the emergence of “micro apartment” complexes. These offer small homes, which are just as functional as larger ones, but cost much less. Ivy Lofts is one such “micro apartment” complex. It was developed by Novel Creative Development and it will be located in the East Downtown, or EaDo, neighborhood of Houston, which is very close to the cultural and business center of the city.

Ivy Lofts will feature a number of space-saving features that will allow the units to be small yet still comfortable to live in. the main aim is keeping prices low while offering living space in one of the most popular areas of the city. Prices start at $139,900, which might not sound cheap, but is still well below the average apartment price in the area.

The complex will be made up of 500 apartments spaced over 24 floors. The floorspace of the units will range from 350 sq ft (33 sq m) to more than 1,000 sq ft (93 sq m). All the apartments were designed to be modern and simple, and will feature hardwood floors, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. To let in as much daylight as possible, the units will be fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows, while LED lighting will be installed throughout.




The interiors of the units will also be highly adaptable. They will feature transformer furniture and sliding doors, which will save space, as well as allow occupants to open up or close off spaces according to their needs. The units will also feature all-in-one washer-dryers, cleverly located storage space (for example above the bathrooms), while in some of the units there will also be kitchen islands with pull-out tables.


kitchen large

bed living large

Each apartment will feature a ductless air system that can be controlled via a smartphone or tablet. The units will also feature electric solar shades and curtains, and various other home automation features. The developers have also partnered with Zipcar and Houston B-Cycle, to offer residents access to drive-as-you-need vehicles and subscription bike rental. The complex will also feature communal green spaces, a sky lounge, an outdoor courtyard with cooking spaces, a pool and a fitness center.

Construction will begin this June and they expect Ivy Lofts to be completed by 2018.

Shipping Container Used to Build a Skyscraper


The international firm Ganti and Associates Design has proposed a skyscraper to be built out of repurposed shipping containers. This skyscraper would be erected in the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, India. While building large structure such as this out of used shipping containers is certainly very sustainable, there is always the question of how to make them structurally sound and how to prevent excessive heat gain to consider.


The proposed shipping container skyscraper does not yet have a name. Once built, it will rise to a height of roughly 32 floors, or 328 ft (100 m). To bear the weight, a steel girder framework would be used to support the shipping containers. Judging by the concept pictures, not much would be done to alter the original shape of the containers. They will simply be slotted into place and welded together to form the apartment units. Keeping the original shape and look of the containers would allow for the exterior of the building to be painted in different colors, giving the tower a unique look.


Each of the apartment units would be made up of three shipping containers welded together. The units would have a kitchen, lounge, dining area, master bedroom and kid’s bedroom, as well as two bathrooms, a study and a deck area, The units would be placed around a central core of the building, that houses the stairs and elevators.



The skyscraper would also feature a solar panel array mounted on the south-facing facade, while energy-saving LED lighting would be used throughout. Designers are also set on using wind turbines to generate additional energy. The corridors of the building would be clad with terracotta jaalis (a traditional Indian latticed shading and ventilation screen), which would be made locally using recycled materials. Use of these screens would provide adequate ventilation for the interior spaces, as well as let in ample amounts of natural daylight.



This project is still in the concept stage with no word yet on when construction is to begin.

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Salt Water Powered Lamp


In developed parts of the world, lighting is something we take for granted, but there are many who still live without this luxury. Aisa Mijeno, an engineering professor and Greenpeace volunteer recently came up with a simple design for a lamp, which is capable of running for eight hours on a single glass of salt water.

The invention is called The SALt (Sustainable Alternative Lighting) lamp and is aimed at providing reliable lighting to underdeveloped regions, many of which rely on kerosene to fuel their lamps. Not only do kerosene lamps pollute the air indoors, but the oil is also often hard and laborious to obtain. The lamp Mijeno created is also a great example of clean technology.


The SALt LED lamp uses a galvanic cell battery with an electrolyte solution made up solely of salty water. Two electrodes are then placed into this solution. As it is with other batteries, the electrodes won’t carry a charge forever. According to the creators, the lamp will last for six months when used for eight hours a day then the anode will need to be replaced. This is still a lot less work than servicing a kerosene lamp though. Apart from that, the lamp can also be used to charge smart phones via a USB port on the side of it.


As a start, the company developing the lamp is aiming to offer 600 lamps to native tribes in the Philippines as soon as possible. They are also striving to amp up production and plan to bring the lamp onto the market by early 2016. Pricing has not yet been revealed, but given the simplicity of the design, it should not be too steep. Since it is run on salt water, the SALt LED lamp is a great alternative to other portable lighting sources, and I’m sure it will be embraced by many looking to live more sustainably. It would make a great light source for camping trips and such.

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