Archive for the 'Green' Category
At an organic farm just outside Monterey, Calif., a super-eco building material is growing in dozens of darkened shipping containers. The farm is named Far West Fungi, and its rusting containers are full of all sorts of mushrooms–shiitake, reishi and pom-pom, to name a few. But Philip Ross, an artist, an inventor and a seriously obsessed amateur mycologist, isn’t interested in the fancy caps we like to eat. What he’s after are the fungi’s thin, white rootlike fibers. Underground, they form a vast network called a mycelium. Far West Fungi’s dirt-free hothouses pack in each mycelium so densely that it forms a mass of bright white spongy matter.
Mycelium doesn’t taste very good, but once it’s dried, it has some remarkable properties. It’s nontoxic, fireproof and mold- and water-resistant, and it traps more heat than fiberglass insulation. It’s also stronger, pound for pound, than concrete. In December, Ross completed what is believed to be the first structure made entirely of mushroom. (Sorry, the homes in the fictional Smurf village don’t count.) The 500 bricks he grew at Far West Fungi were so sturdy that he destroyed many a metal file and saw blade in shaping the ‘shrooms into an archway 6 ft. (1.8 m) high and 6 ft. wide. Dubbed Mycotectural Alpha, it is currently on display at a gallery in Germany.
Nutty as “mycotecture” sounds, Ross may be onto something bigger than an art project. A promising start-up named Ecovative is building a 10,000-sq.-ft. (about 930 sq m) myco-factory in Green Island, N.Y. “We see this as a whole new material, a woodlike equivalent to plastic,” says CEO Eben Bayer. The three-year-old company has been awarded grants from the EPA and the National Science Foundation, as well as the Department of Agriculture–because its mushrooms feast on empty seed husks from rice or cotton. “You can’t even feed it to animals,” says Bayer of this kind of agricultural waste. “It’s basically trash.”
After the husks are cooked, sprayed with water and myco-vitamins and seeded with mushroom spores, the mixture is poured into a mold of the desired shape and left to grow in a dark warehouse. A week or two later, the finished product is popped out and the material rendered biologically inert. The company’s first product, a green alternative to Styrofoam, is taking on the packaging industry. Called Ecocradle, it is set to be shipped around a yet-to-be-disclosed consumer item this spring.
One of the beauties of Ecocradle is that unlike Styrofoam–which is hard to recycle, let alone biodegrade–this myco-material can easily serve as mulch in your garden. Ecovative’s next product, Greensulate, will begin targeting the home-insulation market sometime next year. And according to Bayer’s engineering tests, densely packed mycelium is strong enough to be used in place of wooden beams. “It’s not so far-out,” he says of Ross’s art house. So could Bayer see himself growing a mushroom house and living in it? “Well”–he hesitates–“maybe we’d start with a doghouse.”
Referenced from: http://www.time.com/
The Eisaku Ushida and Kathryn Findlay studio is a husband-and-wife partnership founded in 1988 as a bicultural (Japan and Scotland) collaboration and best known for its work dealing with architecture as a reflection of regional topography and the psychological interface between habitat, technology, and nature.
Unlike many green architects, who see their buildings as structure imposed on the environment — with a certain deference to ecology in terms of energy conservation — Ushida-Findlay’s philosophy proposes their work as “the taming of technology, not the taming of nature.”
They see the combined physical, aesthetic, and scientific role of buildings as a harmony of nature’s forces capable of offering a combination of protective retreat from the city and a visual, technical, and atmospheric absorption of the immediate urban context.
Through formal means, theoretical propositions, and an attitude toward garden space reminiscent of the Japanese concept of “borrowed scenery,” the partnership has created a vision of the house as a microcosm of the city.
By observing that broader social fluctuations outside have an influence on their more compressed counterparts inside, the intimate spaces of residence can be seen as protective capsules, while the more public areas — like the living room and kitchen — can be tied more directly to the cityscape.
Conventional urban planners tend to see buildings exclusively from the exterior and as nothing more than physical intrusions conflicting with their ambitions for uninterrupted traffic flow.
This article is excerpted from Green Architecture by James Wines, with permission of the publisher, Taschen Books.
California’s Green Building Standards Code Unanimously Adopted
“The California Building Standards Commission (BSC) unanimously has adopted the mandatory Green Building Standards Code (CALGREEN). California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the adoption on January 12. The code, which is the first in the nation mandatory code, requires all new buildings in the state to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Taking effect on January 1, 2011, the comprehensive regulations will achieve major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and water use. “
Reference from “www.eco-structure.com, California’s Green Building Standards Code Unanimously Adopted on http://www.eco-structure.com, January 13, 2010.
The rest of the article can be read at: http://www.eco-structure.com/codes-and-standards/californias-green-building-standards-code-unanimously-adopted.aspx#
I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity on the weekends. At the end of August, we finished our first LEED Home. This was the first LEED for Homes that a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Illinois has completed. It is a great opportunity to network, learn about construction and do something rewarding for your community.