Green Homes: Ten Out of Ten for The Factor 10 House in Chicago

Factor 10 House in Chicago was named for the philosophy behind its design;  the philosophy that claims structure consumes a tenth of the environmental resources used by the average home. Therefore, using green design can help minimize the ecological footprint of a house by the factor of ten.

Factor 10 House Chicago - Design for Green HomesThe Chicago Department of Environment and Housing’s Green Homes for Chicago program hosted a design competition and Factor 10 House was one of the winners. The program was financed by proceeds of a lawsuit that the City of Chicago filed against a local energy company for causing damages resulting from a city-wide power outage back in 1999.

Using city-owned sites, the project aimed to serve as a case study for bettering the city’s understanding of green design and to see how the knowledge could be applied to the affordable construction of green homes.

Design Elements of the Factor 10 House

While no data has yet been made available to calculate the annual payback analysis of the Factor 10 House, the design elements clearly indicate the potential for saving both resources and money for this and similarly designed green homes. Much deliberation went into selecting materials with high durability levels and low production impact.

Recycled Materials:  Edge treatments, pavers and rooftop planters are constructed from 100% recycled materials. The concrete block that constitutes the front walk minimizes stormwater runoff, while the parking area uses grass block and concrete to create a grid which minimizes stormwater runoff, increases more oxygen emission and reduces heat accumulation. Insulation is achieved by using cellulose, a produce made from recycled paper, reconstituted cement is used to make an attractive siding.

Fly Ash:  The foundation of the F10 House and the wall of the basement are constructed using concrete that contains fly ash, which is a by-product of the coal-fire power industry. This fly ash-containing concrete replaces half of the portland cement.

Sustainable Lumber:  The lumber used for framing the F10 House was harvested only from forests that are sustainably managed. The 24 module on which the house is built allows it to be assembled off-site and requires less wood than other structures. Brazilian Ipe hardwood, which is a long-lasting product, is obtained from a certified forest and used in constructing the deck of the home, with cork flooring completing the interior. Cork is harvested every 9-15 years.

Other green features of the Factor 10 House include carpets made from recycled soda bottles (polyethylene terephthalate polyester), dual-flush toilets and low-flow plumbing fixtures, as well as Energy Star compliant kitchen appliances and a gas-fired hydronic-distribution water boiler which is 90% energy efficient.

Air ventilation and shade  is brought about by perforated metal awnings. Low-VOC paints were used to apply a soft tint throughout the house.

The Factor 10 House is like other low-tech green homes with large windows that allow in beautiful sunlight, and reduces the necessity for additional lighting. A natural breeze keeps the home cool on warm summer days while a rheostat operates the speed of ceiling fans, while the floor plan enhances cross ventilation throughout the home. A green roof minimizes storm water runoff, creating a permeable site.

Government’s Example of Green building: CDC Division of Laboratory Sciences, Building 110

The  U.S government has embraced green building and partnered with Perkins+Will to design their new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) building in Atlanta, Georgia. By incorporating a variety of sustainable building techniques, the developers have managed to achieve LEED Gold status, making it the first ever high-performing government building to receive this prestigious award.

Sustainability Features of the CDC Division of Laboratory Sciences, Green Building 110

CDC Green Building 110 InteriorDirectors of the CDC Division of Laboratory Sciences, Building 110 stated that the goal of the facility is to enhance their research efforts in a sustainable manner. With the help of Perkins+Will, the architecture firm that designed the green building, a new lab was designed that operates more smoothly and allows scientists to focus on finding new and improved solutions to major health challenges more easily and efficiently.

Perkins+Will claim that the design will significantly reduce the impact it has on the environment, and save tax dollars. Additionally, it is estimated that the design of the building offers an upfront saving of $87,000 and annual savings of in excess of $1 million. These savings are realized through the flexible design of the lab which allows for easy reconfiguration, as well as the energy-efficient design. Productivity gains are realized through the estimated effects of a healthy workplace and employee satisfaction, utilizing these leading sustainable design features:

  1. A state-of-the-art water conservation system collects rainwater and condensation from the heaving, ventilation and air conditioning systems, in cisterns to seep into the ground in order to irrigate the landscape.
  2. Constructed from renewable sources, the building utilizes bamboo and builders managed to recycle in excess of half the construction waste.
  3. Energy is preserved through innovative lighting technology known as solar harvesting, sensors detect whether a room is occupied and whether sunlight is sufficient, triggering the lights to shut off. Architects paid extra attention to the lab areas, since they especially require adequate sunlight, as they are frequently occupied. While the positioning of the building made it difficult, the sixteen-foot ceilings enable sunlight to extend deep into the laboratory rooms. A sunshade structure, known as a brise-soleil system, absorbs light, which it reflects throughout the building while simultaneously blocking solar heat. As a result, the building saves approximately $175, 000 in energy costs yearly.

The CDC Division of Laboratory Sciences, Building 110 produced only a tenth of the waste that a typical home does.

The LEED rating system, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council has become the benchmark for design, construction, operation and maintenance of sustainable design and green buildings. Levels of the LEED certification are determined by means of measuring the performance of a building against five key areas of environmental and human health, including:

  • sustainable development of a site,
  • water savings,
  • energy efficiency,
  • material selection,
  • and indoor environmental quality.

In addition to the practical elements of sustainability, which includes the use of natural daylight and better air quality, the sustainable  building design lends itself to a more sophisticated design, which leads to operational efficiency. All of these factors combine to deliver not just a sustainable green building but also a superior research environment.

EcoVillage and ecoReality!

In the middle of the picturesque setting of Saltspring Island in the Gulf Islands off the coast of British Columbia Canada, the group ecoReality is developing an ecoVillage – a working model of a co-operative and sustainable land use, habitation, public outreach and education.

The group has recently acquired 37 acres of farmland from a 104 acre package that  was recently deeded to the Salt Spring Island Farmers’ Institute by Three Point Properties.

“This acquisition of the 37 acres split from the Hughes Farm is great news for the Salt Spring community,” said Dan Jason, of Salt Spring Seeds, who was instrumental in the 63 acre farmland donation, “EcoReality has an expansive and extensive vision of what can happen on the reconnected 100 acres. This purchase adds immensely to the already exciting possibilities inherent in the land donation.”

With a stated goal of providing equity in farmland to small farmers via co-operative ownership, EcoReality is helping people get back to the land that are no longer able to afford to on their own and the ecoVillage is ground-zero for their efforts.

The nascent ecoVillage project is currently seeking new members that can become financial investors in the project as well as individuals of exceptional skills that can begin a formal process of involvement.

Perhaps most intriguing about the community model ecoVillage has developed is their idea and model for ‘shares and shareholders’.  They have established a share structure encourages community participation that includes:

  • Class C, or community supported agriculture shares (eat your investment throughout the year)
  • Class D, or dairy shares allow legal raw milk distribution through shared ownership of our dairy goats and associated infrastructure
  • Class E, or energy shares allow for production of biodiesel and distribution to Class E shareholders.
We will be watching this project and commenting in the future. If any ecoVillagers out there want to comment or provide more information, please feel welcome to contact me through the contact form
In addition, I would love to hear about other similar projects going on around the world and how they are similar or different.

World’s Largest Solar Bridge Being Built in London

The historic Blackfriars Bridge in London England, the present version completed in 1869 and 923 feet long, is the new home of Blackfriars station and soon to sport the largest solar array in London with over 6 thousand square meters of PV Panels.

The project being undertaken by London based SolarCentury was started in early October 2011 and when completed, will generate an estimated 900,000kWh of electricity every year, provide up to 50% of the station’s energy and reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year. The solar modules used in the array are from SANYO.

The pioneering new station will integrate many other energy conservation projects including the use of light pipes for passive natural indoor lighting as well as a rain capture system for harvesting fresh water.

For more information about the project please see the press release.

For more information about BlackFriars bridge please see the Wikipedia Article

WaterPod, experimentation, art, living

Very interesting eco habitat project developed in New York city by designers, environmental organizations, architects and marine biologists designed to investigate designs revolving around rising tides. It was launched in 2009 and traveled the waterways of Manhattan Island, New York Harbour and other Hudson River ports.

From the project:

“Waterpod™ was a floating, sculptural, eco-habitat designed for the rising tides. It launched in the summer of2009, navigate down the East River, explore the waters of New York Harbor, and docked at several Manhattan piers on the Hudson River before continuing onward. The Waterpod™ demonstrated future pathways for water -based innovations. As asustainable, navigable living space, the Waterpod™ showcased the critical importance of the environment and art, serving as a model for new living, d.i.y. technologies, art, and dialogue. It illustrated positive interactions between communities: public and private; artistic and social; aquatic and terrestrial while exploring the cultural richness of New York’s five boroughs and beyond. By visualizing the future, the Waterpod™ embodied self-sufficiency and resourcefulness, learning and curiosity, human expression and creative exploration. Through its dilatory, watery peregrinations, the Waterpod’s intent is to prepare, inform, inspire, provoke, and fortify humanity for tomorrow’s exterior explorations. Waterpod™ is fiscally sponsored by Action Arts League, a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization.”

You can learn more at