As we look to the future of sustainable apartment living, there’s certainly no dearth of new ideas–and many of them are being implemented in small scale now, a kind of conceptual test kitchen of ideas for clean rental living. Let’s check out the ideas that have made the news lately, and see how we could be living in just a few years.
From Australia: A vegetable garden with every unit
A new 123-unit apartment building down under is catching attention with a rather unusual amenity–every one of the units in the five-story building will come with it’s very own vegetable plot. Developer Robert DiCintio hopes that the plots, which will each be about two square meters, will “engender a community spirit…and allow people to meet their neighbors.” So how will the story end–with delicious vegetables, or sad neglected patches of dirt? The building will be completed in December 2014; we’ll have to wait until then to find out. Read more.
From Germany: An apartment building covered in algae
Ah, the almighty algae–although it looks very nice on the walls of a fish tank (I really should clean that), there’s one use that we hadn’t thought of, until this report came out of Germany, where a five-story apartment building has been engineered with algae in the walls. More specifically, the algae is sandwiched between glass panels that function as solar hot water collectors. The algae will be working hard, shading the building, muffling street noise, and creating biofuels that will heat the building as well. Who knew one little plant could do so much? Read more.
From Seattle: A carbon-neutral city?
Determined to make the city carbon neutral by 2050, Seattle officials have released an “ambitious, expensive” action plan, with many of the steps to be taken within the next fifteen years. So how does a city become carbon neutral? According to the Seattle Times, the plan calls for increased bike access and walkability and increased light rail infrastructure to reduce “approximately 40% of greenhouse gases that come from cars and trucks.” In addition, smart meters and energy audits could assist residents and businesses with conserving energy. So is it feasible? Check out the full report and decide for yourself. Read more.
…And from Spain (and Jane Fonda): A people-powered apartment
When we read this was a Jane Fonda project, we thought they were joking–but indeed, the queen of the leotard exercise empire is back in the fitness game with this new sustainable apartment prototype from Spanish design firm Elli Studio. Christened the Jane Fonda Kit House, the apartment (which is currently a little too bare-bones for our liking–hopefully in the finished product, walls would replace plastic sheeting) utilizes many of the kinetic elements you would find in a gym to power its appliances. Want to heat some water in that electric kettle? Better spend a few minutes on the exercise bike. We love this idea, but we wonder about its ability to be mainstreamed–how many people would be willing to do a hundred sit-ups just so they can watch The Office? Read more.