The Windy City’s first net-zero-energy home employs a butterfly roof and other smart design ideas to help it unplug from the grid.
Homes are responsible for 23 percent of the energy used in the US and 18 percent of carbon emissions. In cities like Chicago, where the temperature can vary by 100 degrees, heating and cooling bills can be bank-breakers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Five years ago, local architecture and urban-design firm Farr Associates was asked to solve the problem. The company built a 2,600-square-foot house that is now “very, very close” to generating all of its own power, architect Jonathan Boyer says.
Cars dominate cities, especially in America. But as many cities in other countries have found, removing cars can turn busy streets into lively public places. Now the U.S. is starting to catch on.
Public space has a loose definition. It can be sidewalks, government buildings, or even streets, which account for nearly a third of the land area in an average city. But in people's minds, "public space" is a park or a forest or a beach – places associated with recreation, the out-of-doors and that "nature" thing we tend to divorce ourselves from. Making a connection between the idea of public space and the mundane reality of potholes and rush hour can be difficult.
Can cities get back in touch with nature? Planners, developers, architects, and policy makers convened in Los Angeles June 7 to face the challenge and develop a plan of action to help bring life onto the rooftops of L.A.'s downtown.
"Nature" is increasingly represented in the urban world as an incidental garnish -- a potted shrub at the door of a towering high-rise; a bush inside the loop of a freeway onramp.
These greening gestures calmly try to suggest a connection between the urban environment and the natural one. Yet other than providing window dressing, they contribute little to counter the harm that cities inflict on the natural ecology.
So what is a densely developed and thoroughly paved American downtown to do? ...