Sustainable housing is no longer solely the preserve of the rich and idealistic. Housing that is made cheaply from renewable sources are popping up with increasingly frequency all around the world. From New Orleans homes to huge apartment blocks, sustainable housing is good for the planet, good for your company’s reputation, and is increasingly within everyone’s price range.
Singapore recently unveiled plans for their first residential, sustainable housing project. The ecologically sound complex uses solar power, water recycling, and is surrounding by an eco-deck intended to absorb heat and allow for outdoor recreation. Rainwater will serve to provide the estimated 130,000 gallons required by the complex. With a chute for recycling in every apartment, it couldn’t be easier to be eco-friendly. Plants grow on outside walls to keep the inside cool. This will reduce the 712 apartments’ need for high-energy air-conditioning. The apartments are priced as low as $90,000, only 15% higher than similar apartments.
BedZed, the Beddington Zero Energy Development offers affordable sustainable living, reproduced for 82 houses, 17 apartments and almost 1,500 m sq. of work-space. The development is a zero-energy community close to London and it considers itself carbon-neutral. The energy neutrality comes from a mix of smart-building choices, sustainable materials, and clever energy saving and production technology such as waste water recycling and water heaters that double as radiators, fed by a centralized heat and power plant that burns waste wood that would otherwise be sent to the landfill. They also emphasize mitigating the use of cars and try to ensure that the energy that went into the product is low energy and sourced locally.
Dinkins Gardens [New York City]
New York is also getting in on the sustainable housing act with a $20m development that works out at a very manageable $250,000 per unit, which is a comparatively small for New York City. The development features include south-facing solar shades, apartments that are individually vented and a grey-water system that irrigate local landscape and the gardens. About a quarter of the units are reserved for people on low incomes who perhaps can’t afford a huge home loan, part of a drive to to fulfill a pledge to build 165,000 units of affordable housing in the next decade in New York.
Rural Zed [United Kingdom]
With an increasingly eco-friendly housing regulation coming into force in the United Kingdom, houses like those built by Rural Zed will not be a novelty for long. Rural Zed is realistic, understanding that housing needs to be constructed in medium density locations and occasionally on flood plains, adjusting their designs for both situations. The basic design can be utilized as terraces, or as north/south or east/west facing constructions and can be optimized so that they can be built on flood plains.
Solara [San Diego]
This apartment community in San Diego is powered entirely by solar power, with unit price depending on occupants’ income. They come with the ever increasing range of eco-friendly and sustainable living features such a passive solar orientation and tankless boilers for the apartment’s hot water needs. They were developed with the aid of California’s Zero Energy Homes program, allowing rebates for homes like these that offer ’smart growth’ and are local to public transport and amenities. Like many of the sustainable housing projects featured, these are geared towards and located to maximize pedestrian lifestyle.
GreeNOLA [New Orleans]
Sustainable living cannot function best when stuck on the edge of a city, away from convenient public transport links. The chance provided in New Orleans for sustainable housing is great. After a design competition with which Brad Pitt got involved, a winner was chosen: the wining design uses energy efficient appliances, use recycled building materials, and is designed to cut pollution and save money on operating costs.
Last decade, development of sustainable housing began to take speed. Donald Watson was commissioned to produce an eco-house that could be built for the same price as an average starter home would cost. The ‘Ecology House’ was the result, winning design awards in 1990 and leading the way for low-energy housing focusing on sun-path positioning, suitable for locations as far north as New York and Detriot. By saving people money on energy costs, these houses gradually pay for themselves, even with an initial cost slightly home than average homes. The $100,000 house costs $100 a year to heat and cool.