When looking for information on natural green building, Inhabitat is an excellent source of ideas with slide shows of many unique sample buildings found in remote parts of the world. Be kind to the planet as well as avoid becoming a slave to high mortgage payments by building small and using some of these eco-friendly building techniques.
Mali’s Falatow Jigiyaso Orphanage shows how to build in the sweltering heat of West Africa which was similar to that in Greenville, South Carolina in 2015. Using natural ventilation, no fans or air conditioning are needed. This was achieved by F8 Architecture’s design of reducing solar gain, and improving thermal mass. Hollow “H” -shaped concrete blocks filled with mud and grain husks in a mixture called banco make up the walls. Most of the building and the children’s activity terrace are sheltered by a second roof. The layout was planned for natural ventilation along with vent grills in each building.
Mali also has severe water shortage so water waste management is a priority. Solid waste is separated and the liquid sent through a bio-filter. Anaerobic bacteria purify the water which then goes into a pond for farming fish. Agriculture benefits from the pond overflow so more than one harvest can be accomplished each year, teaching the children gardening and fish farming techniques.
In Nepal, MOS Architects designed the sustainable Lali Gurans Orphanage and Learning Centre outside Kathmandu which harvests rainwater in three large cisterns. A concrete frame set on a solid foundation was the building design for the seismically active region to house a library, women’s clinic and dormitory for about 50 children. Landscape waste is harvested to provide biogas to generate power. The practical low-cost space will be used to teach green building and environmental education.
Annandale Seascape Cottage in New Zealand used rock from a neighboring quarry and other local materials to make use of an ocean front rock escarpment. Designed by Pattersons, the remote site is accessible only by helicopter or tractor so became a secluded self-sustainable get-away place. Containing three rooms, lobby, living room, small kitchen, and a bathroom, it harvests and filters on-site water, and nestles into the adjoining rock slope forming a living roof. The site was re-vegetated and reforested. The integrated joinery and shatter proof mullions are flexible using earthquake-resistant sliding heads.
All the glass in the living room provides natural daylight with views of the Bay and distant Rocky Spires. The cottage created a warm atmosphere in the tiny rocky South Pacific cove, said to be perfect for honeymooners or anyone needing to relax.
There are plenty of gorgeous places left in Greenville County where some of these green building techniques could be duplicated, off the grid and with mountain stream views. Cisterns worked for water collection decades ago and winds still blow where air conditioning is not necessary when houses are built and positioned properly. Read articles below for help in plan designs from local green building architects.