Simple and Green Building

By Leigha Dickens

I’m a green building consultant for a company that builds unique round homes in Asheville, North Carolina.  I work with customers from all over the US — customers who have all kinds of different dreams about what it means to build and live in a “green” home. You might imagine that I am involved in many LEED-certified projects, that I work with an array of neat technologies like wind and solar power, geothermal heat pumps, and greywater recycling systems. I do get a lot of customers asking about these things, and not a small few of them go on to incorporate these efficient and forward-thinking building systems into their new homes.  I’m both an environmentalist and a nerd, so I love seeing all of these things coming into more widespread use.

I want to live in an apartment building like this, where there is space integrated into the architecture for the soil to plant trees and flowers and shrubs. With waterfalls spanning the entire height of the building on four sides that use recycled water. Mega cities won’t suddenly go away, so it would be great if all the apartment buildings were like this.

This is actually a project building to be constructed in Mexico.


Una nueva generación de eco-diseñadores ha creado la Soleta ZeroEnergy One, el primer prototipo de casa modular que no consume energía,situada en Bucarest,desarrollado por FITS (Justin Capra Foundation for Inventics and Sustainable Technologies).

Soleta ZeroEnergy One, a new concept of premium eco homes,  a self-sustainable home situated in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, and designed by FITS (Justin Capra Foundation for Inventics and Sustainable Technologies)

Top seven trends to green your home

1. Energy use monitoring systems.

As Hydro rates rise and provinces, such as Ontario introduce time-of-use billing for electricity, consumers desperate to manage energy costs will snap up this technology. Easily installed products, like Blue Line’s Powercost Monitor (about $60 at, which provide real-time information on energy use and are compatible with trend-tracking software, will be especially popular.

2. Smaller is Better.

Money-sucking McMansions will increasingly go the way of the dodo as homeowners face skyrocketing energy bills, a lacklustre economy and social pressure to do more with less. 

3. Solar products.

Solar systems for electricity generation and domestic hot water will dot more roofs as energy production capacity grows, product costs shrink and future-thinking governments like Ontario’s, ramp up financial incentives for alternative energy production. (Quebec, you want to take note of that) 

4. Formaldehyde-free interiors.

Formaldehyde, a naturally occurring substance added to some adhesives and other products, is considered a potential contributor to upper respiratory irritation, asthma, and, at very high levels, even cancer.

5. Wool carpets.

Nolan also sees a jump in the popularity of wool carpets. Wool is sustainable — it comes from sheep, after all — and free of the off-gassing that characterizes synthetic carpets. Nolan says that wool carpets have dropped from upwards of $100 a square yard to as little as $35.

6. Super-efficient windows.

Triple-glazed windows, some with xenon gas fill and boasting insulation values of up to R-13, will become the new darling of the eco-conscious homeowner, according to EcoHome Magazine ( These windows can cost 20- to 30 -per-cent more than double-glazed, low-E windows, but their energy efficiency is impressive.

7. Buying local.

Like the 100-mile diet, buying locally-produced products salves the environmental mind. The trick is to ensure that the product is produced within a 500-mile radius, not just supplied by a local company. Even marble, which often comes from Italy or elsewhere, can be found locally: Polycor ( in the Eastern Townships quarries it or hardwood flooring made from 100-year-old logs pulled from the river looks good and also boosts the local economy.