Sustainable Homes, Outdoor Oases and Artificial Photosynthesis

It’s that time of the week again, time to share a handful of articles dedicated to some aspect of eco-living that have come across my desk lately.  Hopefully, you find these as insightful as I do, as I find reading them does lend some more optimism to my outlook.  

Turning CO2 into a Replacement for PetroChemicals 

You may or may not realize that petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels are in the vast majority of items in our homes, in some way, shape or form.  A Bay Area startup called Twelve is developing technology that will allow some of those chemicals to actually be made from captured CO2.  The subsequent chemicals will be able to be used in the exact same manner as their petrochemical counterparts, except they will be made of recycled emissions.

The process is known as artificial photosynthesis, and is inspired by the way plants turn CO2, water and sunlight into carbon.  Development of the technological process actually began back in the 1960’s in universities, but the challenge has been scaling the process to meet industrial needs.  Issues of energy efficiency, costs and ability to make specific products have been some of the biggest hurdles along the way.  However, Twelve believes they have developed the technology to move past those obstacles and have even partnered with Mercedes Benz to make the first-ever car part from recycled CO2.

Given that this process has the potential to remove petrochemicals from so many items, without forcing the need to redesign them from the ground up, this could become an important means of reducing the carbon footprint of many everyday items in our lives.  You can read the full article from Fast Company here.

Achieving that Eco-Friendly Lifestyle with Sustainable Homes

Follow this link to a great article from Yanko Design that details a wide swath of sustainable and well designed homes. 

One model is based on the use of AirCrete, which is a foamy mixture of air bubbles and cement that is cost-effective to produce and still has all the essential properties required for construction.  It can reduce construction costs by a factor of ten, and is lightweight, easy to work with, fireproof, water-resistant, insect-proof, and helps to insulate the overall structure.

There is also the Garden House which pursues sustainability through the sharing of energy, as it is powered by solar energy and actually powers the local block’s shared energy grid.  Coupled with a design that works around the network of pre-existing garden spaces and trees, it sets the stage to deliver on the home’s commitment to producing more sustainable energy than it consumes.

The article also showcases a set of tiny homes that blend great design with eco-living traits.  Check out The Natura, The Huga and the Pod-Idladla – my personal favorite is the Huga.

Sustainably Transforming Your Outdoor Oasis

In the past eighteen months we have made more use of our outdoor backyard space than the previous five years combined.  Thankfully for us, we had already purposely created a yard that is low on lawn space, but designed with different areas for cooking and entertaining, a beautiful “secluded” area to escape and relax, and just enough space for some highly competitive backyard games.  You haven’t lived until you have some scars you can point to that you earned from spirited games of “Viking Chess”.

The description above probably makes our backyard sound enormous, but it’s just your typical suburban yard space, just well designed (my wife gets all the credit) for what we thought was important.

In any case you can check out this great, short article from the Warwick Beacon here.  It has tips on how to add some elements of sustainability to your backyard.  The tips are a bit obvious, but it can be a good starting point if you are unsure of your options and are looking for some good, basic advice.  Whether you have a small terrace or a full-sized backyard there are no shortage of ways to create your ideal and eco-friendly outdoor space.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s articles, and I will be back this weekend to share some more travel adventures.

The Free Range Viking

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