A non-partisan, neutral perspective supporting diversity in the color of water

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Greywater Z6

No, this posting is not advertising a new model of Rolls Royce or BMW, but rather a new entry into the "living building" category.  Recall from previous postings that Oregon is getting ready to construct the largest living building in the world, the Oregon Sustainability Center, and that some of the permitting concepts that are being kicked around for the Oregon Sustainability Center focus on what was learned at a smaller living building in Missouri, the Tyson Center.

But now the living building concept has reached the housing scale.  Treehugger profiled these "living homes" that are prefabricated, and subscribe to the LivingHomes "Z6" program described below:

A "Zero Energy" home produces all the energy it consumes. To make every LivingHome as self-sufficient as possible, we find ways to dramatically reduce the demand for energy (insulation, low energy lights, appliances, etc.) and integrate technologies that produce the majority (or all) of the power it needs.

Dwindling water supply is an increasing problem in many parts of the country. To conserve water, all LivingHomes use low-flow water fixtures and are grey-water ready, which means that bath, shower, washing machine and dishwasher waste waters can be used for irrigation.

LivingHomes eliminates waste from every stage of the home-building process. Modular design and fabrication processes reduce the waste from 40% for a standard site-built home, on average, to just 2-10%. Almost all materials used in LivingHomes are from recycled materials and/or can be recycled.

Indoor air pollution from mold, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and Formaldehyde/Urea is a growing problem. Getting to zero indoor air emissions means eliminating the sources of harmful gases and compounds that are often off-gassed in indoor environments.

We take many steps to reduce each home's carbon footprint by using reclaimed and recycled materials, and by sourcing materials locally.

We integrate systems and training to insure our homeowners have information on how their lifestyle choices impact their resource use. With that information, we hope and assume they'll make better choices.

This last one is worth mentioning in the context of the Oregon Graywater Advisory Committee as I proposed some public outreach during the rulemaking process. I was shot down, but I did hear it was brought up again during the last meeting I attended as the group wrestled with recognizing that county governments were more than likely going to be involved in the implementation process. Unfortunately, the diversity of the committee did not include a professional planner (mentioned to me at one of the presentations I gave early in the process) or someone from a county planning department.

I think LivingHomes would do well in Oregon. Hope they give us a look.    

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