Usually, when you hear of someone living off the grid, it’s a homeowner in a cabin in the woods. But two renters in Ontario are decided to try an experiment–going off the grid in their apartment for three summer months. So just what does “going off the grid” in an apartment even entail? The roommates canceled their electricity and turned off their hot water heater, and are relying on portable solar panels to charge cell phones and a few lights. In addition, they’ve put a solar oven into work on the balcony, and do laundry in the tub with a bar of soap. Looks like going off the grid still isn’t for the faint of heart–but there are things to be learned from their experiment. Read more.
From Davis, CA: Solar energy included in affordable housing developments
Solar panels are usually spotted on public projects (like schools) and upscale houses, due to the investment required at the outset–but in Davis, CA, a program is putting solar onto affordable housing, in light of the money it will save tenants over time. The entire complex, dubbed New Harmony, will utilize green building techniques and materials, including a sustainable water filtration system–but the big news are the solar arrays that will cover the building rooftops. The installation will allow residents to have a fixed-rate utility bill for the next thirty years, instead of an expensive, unpredictable one–and that will help these tenants immensely. Read more.
From England: “Eco-overhaul” turns ordinary apartment building into paragon of sustainability
Sometimes we forget the sustainable options for apartment buildings that have already been built, focusing on the development of green building practices for new construction. But one apartment building in England has just undergone a major sustainability overhaul–so drastic that the building is now being hailed as “one of the most environmentally friendly high-rise blocks in the UK.” The building was overhauled as part of a government program, and the renovations included a solar-powered heating system, more efficient insulation, brand-new kitchens and bathrooms, and double-paned windows. As a result of the upgrades, residents have found themselves saving over $700 each month on utilities. Read more.
From Seattle: The urban chicken-raising trend comes home to roost
The past few years have seen urban chicken raising go from an unknown to a practically mainstream hobby, especially among homeowners. The chickens–a great source of fresh, local eggs–have caught on in a such a big way that Redfin recently released a list of the top chicken-raising cities in the United States. Seattle ranked fifth, behind Portland, Ventura CA, San Diego and Sacramento. According to Seattle laws, residents can keep up to eight chickens on their property. No word yet on rentals with chicken coop availability, although we have a hunch this trend will mostly stick with the single-family homes. Read more.
From GreenerIdeal.com: “Eco smarthomes” are the next big thing
It’s been decades since the “home of the future” first entered our cultural lexicon via Worlds Fairs, Disneyland, and other sources–and while a few technological advancements took place over the 90s and early 2000s, most of the true “smart home” developments have happened over just the past few years. And while homes of the future back in the 1950s mostly had to do with convenience, many of the advancements we have recently made–products like smart thermostats and lighting that can be controlled from elsewhere–have the added bonus of conserving energy and being more sustainable than their earlier counterparts. With that in mind, Greener Ideal thinks ecologically friendly smarthomes could “replace smartphones” as the consumer fad of the future. We won’t hold our breath for smartphones to fall out of favor with the public any time soon; but there’s no question that Nest thermometers are only the beginning, and houses will get “smarter” from here on out. Read more.