breaking the "fast house" habit

What is Slow House?

A slow house cannot be a standardized, mass produced commodity. While any good design will attract our attention, and ignite our desire, it will also add true value to the neighborhood, and provide long-term benefits to the homeowner.

In describing the problem of poorly designed houses across North America, Slow Home Studio points out, “…like fast food. A fast house is a standardized, mass produced commodity that has been designed to attract our attention, ignite our desire, and give the illusion of value as much if not more than its been designed as a place to live. This lack of attention to the fundamentals of good design makes a fast house difficult to live in and hard on the environment.”

They go on to describe their findings from their survey of design quality of over 4600 new residential properties in nine North American cities, they discovered 57% were badly designed fast houses. Even more unsettling was their finding that in the single-family house category 78% would be considered fast houses.

The slow home attempts to break the “fast house” habit by offering equally compelling but different standards for the homeowner to use in making future housing decisions.

“We believe that homes are too emotionally significant, have too large an environmental footprint, and represent too significant a financial investment for this kind of institutionalized bad design to continue unchecked. A Slow Home is the antithesis of this too-fast mindset.”

the pretty good house: balancing cost and energy performance in a house

Finding the right balance between construction cost and energy performance POSTED ON FEB 6 2012 BY MICHAEL MAINES “Energy Star. LEED. Passivhaus. There are many programs with different metrics for determining how green your home is. But what elements of green building are important to you when designing and building a home? This was the topic recently at our building science discussion group… There are issues with any “official” program — many in the green building world believe that Energy Star requirements don’t go far enough; LEED is comprehensive but expensive to administer, run by a private company, and it seems to be possible to get around true sustainability in the pursuit of points; Passivhaus is the gold standard for energy use, but puts no weight on other aspects of green building, some consider it too extreme, and it is currently embroiled in political in-fighting. So, along the lines of Sarah Susanka’s “Not So Big House,” Kolbert asks the group, “What would a Pretty Good House look like?”
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Indoor Air Quality

A tight envelope may exacerbate indoor air quality problems, so what should you watch for? By Fernando Pages Ruiz Tightening a home’s building envelope can result in significant energy savings, but it can also choke off the air exchanged through the building shell, potentially contributing to the buildup of indoor air pollutants. Improving IAQ requires a systems approach…The prescriptive directions of Indoor airPLUS focus on seven general categories: moisture control, radon mitigation, pest management, HVAC best practices with whole house ventilation, proper combustion venting, specifying building materials with reduced chemical off-gassing potential, and home commissioning… a balance between proper ventilation and source control.
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Seven secrets for building sustainable homes on a budget

Seven Affordable Construction Tips
Seven secrets for building sustainable homes on a budget.

By Jennifer Goodman
In the affordable housing sector, energy efficiency isn’t an add-on luxury—it’s a necessity that helps to keep the cost of homeownership within reach of low-income families, who spend 17 percent of their income on utility bills, says Matt Clark of Habitat for Humanity International. In comparison, middle-income families pay about 4 percent.

“Green building makes complete and utter sense for us,” he says.

Building pros in the affordable and for-profit sector gathered last week at the 2012 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo to pick up sustainable construction knowledge from the nonprofit, which builds 66,500 houses each year in the U.S. and abroad. Mike Haigh of the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity (HFH) provided these tips:

—Build small to keep costs down. Dallas Area HFH houses average 1,262 square feet, almost 700 square feet less than the national average.

—Don’t rely on technology to combat a problem that can be fixed with good design, such as blasting the air conditioning in a room with too much southern exposure.

—Place the HVAC system and hot water heater in a centrally located space to keep duct runs and piping short and eliminate air leakage. Dallas Area HFH places the hot water heater within 15 feet of all fixtures and specs duct runs of no more than 10 to 15 feet. “That way the air handler doesn’t have to work so hard to push air over a shorter distance,” Haigh said.

—Provide natural light whenever possible, especially in small, enclosed spaces. Find a way to squeeze a window into every room.

—Spec 36-inch-wide doorways and 42-inch-wide hallways for future aging-in-place needs. “That way it’s not a costly expense to figure out ways to make the house accessible,” he said.

—Rely on advanced framing techniques such as 24 inches o.c. framing, two-stud corners, ladder blocking, and engineered trusses to save money on lumber and maximize structural integrity. Haigh noted that “this takes a little extra time on the front end, but you save money on the construction and the buyer saves money on operating costs.”

—Tightly seal the entire building envelope, including an encapsulated attic, careful flashing, and premium energy-efficient windows.

By considering a few simple, inexpensive techniques builders can add to the energy and resource efficiency of their projects, Haigh concluded. “Call it what you want—common sense, feng shui, or building science,” he said. “In the long run it leads to a much better product.”


why GreenScape?

Our yards are our outdoor homes: fun, beautiful, great spaces for relaxing. By taking care of our lawns and gardens properly, we can save money, time and help the environment. GreenScaping encompasses a set of landscaping practices that can improve the health and appearance of your lawn and garden while protecting and preserving natural resources. Save time by landscaping with plants that require less care Save money by eliminating unnecessary water and chemical use
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glass roof tiles act as solar collector

SolTech Energy system

“We have a new, good looking, roof that also heats the house with renewable energy that does not add to the green house effect,” says Camilla Sparring in Svärdsjö, Sweden.

Soltech System_illu_text_eng

As a house owner one is always interested in lowering the heating costs.


“With a SolTech System installed, you can reduce your heating costs and at the same time get a beautiful house. The SolTech System can be combined with the most common heating solutions on the market today.


Instead of laying the traditional concrete or clay roofing tiles, the special glass roof tiles are laid, The glass roof tiles allows the sun to shine through on to the special absorption fabric underneath that absorbs the sun’s rays. Beneath the absorption fabric, special beams form a column where the air is heated and circulated through a patented technology. The energy captured is then directed into the house and integrated with the house’s existing heating system.


The system is designed to be integrated with the house’s existing energy solution, both air based and water based, for example, a ground source heat pump, air heat pump, pellet boiler, oil boiler or electric boiler. The most common solution is that the system is connected to a water based heating system via an accumulation tank, but we also offer other solutions. The only requirement is that the house has some form of central heating systems.


If you have direct electrical heating method, or lack a central heating solution, we have developed a cost effective solution for you. By installing a SolTech Mini Water System you complement your current heating solution with a few fan coil units which are connected to an accumulation tank. This will give you all the benefits of a water based system for a fraction of the cost. Your current heating solution can remain as a reserve”


(slated for introduction to US in 2012)