By Tara Lane, Staff Writer
Everywhere we look, eco-consciousness and green living are being fused together through creativity and sustainability in fresh and exciting ways. Green cleaning products, clothing, cars and organic food are prevalent in stores, and for many, the move to greener living is becoming a way of life. Whether your motive is to save money, be healthy or reduce your carbon footprint, being eco-friendly is not only effective, but fun and creative as well. Architects, artists and innovators around the world are changing the world thinks about sustainability by embarking on social cause missions through eco-design. We’ve compiled some of the most interesting designs and movements making a positive impact and inspiring others at the same time.
Lego-like Eco Houses
Typically, building a house involves an architect, construction crew, and designers, with a lot of time devoted to picking out floor plans, appliances, windows and paint colors. As the homebuyer, you don’t actually do any of the building yourself. German company HIB is changing the way we think about “building” a home, and has introduced the HIB-System, a system of Lego-like blocks that allow consumers to build their homes themselves. The system has many desirable features such as being soundproof, insulated, and energy-efficient, as well as being fully earthquake and storm-proof. Consumers get the added benefit of conserving resources, energy and a smaller carbon footprint. They also have the satisfaction of knowing they have truly built their home from the ground up.
(Want to see an actual home built out of Legos? Click here!)
“Clay” Solar Panel Tiles
Solar panels have long-been a way to reduce energy costs and be green at the same time. While many consumers wish to have solar panels, many resist them due to their unsightly aesthetic. Philadelphia based SRS Energy is changing the way we think about solar panels and solar energy with their Solé Power Tiles, designed to look like clay roofing tiles popularly seen throughout the West coast and tropical areas. The long-lasting dark blue tiles are a breakthrough in eco-design, and will most likely become a popular choice for those who may have been turned off by solar panels in the past. The tiles are already available in some parts of the West, and are scheduled to be nationally available in 2010.
Small House Movement
In a time when just about everything is being downsized, people following the small house movement are taking their downsizing to the next level. These small houses, which average 100 square feet, are an ecological and economical alternative to the larger homes we’ve become accustomed to. The mission of the movement is “… the result of concerns about what we are doing to the environment, and what the environment is doing to us (wild fires, flooding, hurricanes), as well as a shifting economy.” In addition to proving that life can be lived without frills, the movement also aims to promote discussion about eco-friendly and sustainable living and building.
House on the Water
Though Frank Lloyd Wright will always be remembered for Fallingwater, two Polish architects have reinvented the idea with their plans for the “House on Water.” Drafted after extensive research on yacht architecture, Jedrzej Lewandowski and Lukasz Skirzynski have created plans for sustainable, self-sufficient two-family homes that rest on the water. The plans boast many eco-friendly features such as solar energy accumulation, green ventilation, and water recycling, along with the use of the tides for energy as well. This spectacular design may not be right for every family, but is definitely a work to be admired for its functionality and can lend ideas to others looking for ways to make changes in their own homes.