Links for environmental and carbon-cutting sites
COOL TINY HOUSES
Okay, the five houses shown in this article from Earth Techling are way too wee and twee for me, but they're really cute, and you can play with the idea of building them yourself. http://www.earthtechling.com/2012/04/5-tiny-houses-with-big-green-ideas/houses-via-simondale/
Space Shuttles vs Breathers
Driving through the near Heights, I saw a huge new apartment complex I'd never noticed before. From the street it looked like probably 150 to 200 units grouped in 15 to 20 buildings, nicely detailed on the outside in a vaguely Mediterranean style.
Without even knowing the name of the development, I'd guess that it's being marketed as "green." And it's probably well-insulated, with decent quality double glazed windows and Energy Star appliances.
But here's the problem. The north-side elevations look just like the south-side elevations--the same number and size of windows, the same shading arrangements, or lack of shading. I'd also guess that the floor plan layouts are the same, regardless of which rooms the renters would prefer to have sunlit.
I see the same thing in multi-family dwellings all over town. "Green" buildings are thought of as heavily insulated, tightly sealed "space shuttles," completely separated from the outside environment; it doesn't matter which way a building faces.
It doesn't make sense, particularly in New Mexico's climate where the 24-hour swing in temperatures can take care of almost half the heating and cooling load. For free.
For my Christmas present, I'd like for all the apartment builders in town to shell out for at least two floor plan and elevation layouts for each project--one for north-facing units, and another for south-facing units. Savings for heating and cooling would soon pay back the minimal extra cost.