A Passive House certification is one of the highest available for energy-efficient homes. And this residence hall in Belfast, Maine demonstrates that, “space heating costs for TerraHaus are less than $300 per year ($30 per student), a big improvement from the two poorly insulated housing units it replaced, each with an annual space heating cost of about $500 per student.”
That is a 94% reduction in energy bills – helped out by the rooftop solar panels. The dorm sleeps 10 students and features chemical free building materials and durable fixtures to survive many school years. There is a solar water heater, an ultra-efficient (88%) HRV system that circulates in fresh outdoor air, and windows that absorb and keep in sunshine during the winter (50% solar heat gain).
The walls and roof were constructed to minimize any heat loss during the winter. They were measured for thermal efficiency using R-values and the walls achieved a value of 50 and the roof 80-100. The typical home has R-values ranging from 18-25 for walls and 50-60 for ceilings.
It’s an impressive home and worthy of the Design Award it received.
Have you seen a wooden surfboard in the water yet? If not, you will soon as these earth-friendly boards grow in popularity.
The famous shaper, Tom Wegener, gave a talk about his designs for the ancient Hawaiian board, the Alaia (pronounced: ah-LIE-ah):
According to Wegener, this historical Hawaiian surfcraft – which appears to be little more than a flat piece of wood in the shape of an ironing board – may not only be the most enviro friendly surfboard available today, it might be part of one of surfing’s next big leaps in modern board design.
It is also a much-needed design, since the foam boards of today are nearly as toxic as you can make something. The recent movie, ‘Manufacturing Stoke’, discusses this strange development, as well as a detailed post I wrote on Green Surfboards.
The next step is finding the right type of wood that can match the ultra-high performance of the industrial-era poly/resin/chemical boards used by professional surfers today.
Phil Joske introduced him (Tom) to a sustainable board building material called Paulownia wood. With a much greater strength-to-weight ratio than balsa, an easy-to-work-with nature, and an imperviousness to saltwater, Tom used this unique wood and his innovative longboard designs to help revolutionize the genre of hollow wood surfboards.
Many in the industry are taking note of these designs, there is a certain beauty to a glossy wooden board. Especially, knowing that it is handcrafted and great for the environment.
Learn more at Patagonia’s – Wood is Good series (featuring videos, interviews, and lots of links to surf films and designers).