#Travel Tuesday: EcoLiving In Japan

Today we are highlighting an environmentally genius home in Kitasaku District, Japan.  This structure was conceived by Kotaro Ide / ARTechnic architects and constructed in 2008.  This house is not only a unique architectural marvel, it also is intended to coexist with nature as a weekend retreat to escape busy weekday life in Tokyo.

What Makes it Energy Efficient:

  • Due to the humid climate it is constructed mainly of steel to reduce deterioration.
  • Custom made floor heating improves the energy efficiency and prevents the growth of mold.  By dividing the oval section with a flat floor, a bow-shaped space  serves as a heat chamber.  Warm air blows from locations of frequent use will efficiently heat the flooring.
  • Since the house is not utilized full-time, other measures were added to automatically kick in to run an antifreeze procedure, dehumidification and ventilation as needed.

 

Take a Ride on an Earthship

Imagine a home that produces energy to use and produce to eat, yet you can still build in all the modern conveniences you could want in a home.  Sound like somewhere you would want to live?  You may want to check out earthships.  Earthships are an eco-friendly dwelling made from recycled materials.

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The exterior walls are typically formed out of old tires while interior walls can be made from bottles or cans.  These homes are built half way into the earth so the ground helps to moderate the temperature inside the home; warming it in the winter and cooling it during the summer.  Earthships are constructed with a wall of windows on the front where occupants have a built in green house and solar panels collect energy.  Rain water is also collected and filtered through the plumbing of the homes.  In some cases, water gets recycled several times so it can be used in the faucets, then gardening, then toilets.  Earthship residents can use either a composting toilet or have it connected to a septic system.

This Canadian couple built their own earthship with less than $70,000.  Even in the cold Canadian winters he reports the home stays around 70 degrees, he’s even grown bananas in his house during the winter.  

Would you reside in an earthship?

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Travel Tuesday: Maggie Island

Once upon a time; five planes, one shuttle and a ferry ride from where I am today, I found myself on a rocky tropical island off the Queensland coast of Australia.  If I were being honest, the mystery of Maggie Island was one of the reasons I chose to attend a semester in Australia as opposed to Europe where I had always planned to go.  I can recall my travel advisor reporting:

maggieisaldnkoala.jpgStudents who go to James Cook University in Townsville have the ability to go an hour inland to the rain forest or an hour out the the Great Barrier Reef.  They also can take a 20 minute ferry ride out to an island to spend the weekend.  Maggie Island was named Magnet Island because it interfered with the compass of the ship when it was discovered.

With the promise of endless natural adventures ahead, I headed for Australia and Maggie Island did not disappoint.  Over half of it’s 20 square miles is reserved as a national park.  I learned to scuba dive in the bays, spent hours hiking the rocky trails and soaking up sun on the beach, rode horse back into the ocean, and spotted koalas in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe eucalyptus trees.  With so much the island has to offer with natural beauty and abundant wildlife, it is no wonder the 2,100 island’s residents recognized the need to move towards sustainable living.  The island embraced the opportunity to go solar and installed panels on many homes and businesses,  the majority of homes received smart meters to monitor energy usage and the island has cut energy during peak houses down by 16%.

Maggie Island has plenty to offer eco-minded travelers as well.  There is a wide range of Eco Accredited accommodations to stay and even more eco-tourism activities to enjoy.  In order to keep the island healthy, they limit where motorized vehicles can go and provide walking tours of the forts.  Hostels and hotels adhere to recycling and minimize waste.  They work to build environmental awareness and strive to minimize their impact.  There are dozens of ways to appreciate the island and with so much devotion to conserving it, Maggie Island will be able to be appreciated unchanged for a long time.

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