ENVIRONMENT

The BI(h)OME is designed to be environmentally friendly and contribute to sustainability. It has a low life-cycle impact, low energy and water use and is designed to enhance backyard habitat for other species.

Energy

California’s building energy efficiency standards are the toughest in the nation, and the state’s Energy Commission has mandated that all new residential buildings need to have “net-zero-energy” consumption by 2020 and all new commercial buildings must be so by 2030. This means buildings produce as much energy as they consume, through solar cells, for example. The skin of the BI(h)OME can be printed with solar cells to produce energy. Due to the use of innovative construction techniques the Bi(h)OME also has a life-cycle impact ten to a hundred times lower than standard construction on key measures.

Biodiversity

Habitat loss is the primary cause of species endangerment globally. And cities displace habitat. But we are also increasingly understanding cities as habitat for diverse species. The Backyard BI(h)OME is designed so that it doesn’t take away habitat from a backyard, but instead adds to it through elements that can be incorporated in the building itself, as well as the surrounding landscape to provide habitat for diverse species.

Water

In Los Angeles, most of our water currently come from outside the city, often from hundreds of miles away. Efforts are underway to decrease consumption inside and outside homes, and increase our reliance on local water resources. The Backyard BI(h)OME incorporates the best water-saving technologies inside the home, including a composting toilet, and a grey water system for watering the backyard habitat.

Life Cycle Comparison

Life-cycle assessment  is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. Here the construction of the Bi(h)OME has been compared with a standard auxiliary dwelling unit of the same size for various environmental impacts. The Bi(h)OME has a significantly lower impact compared to a conventional dwelling.

Conventional Auxillary Building

Methods and Principles

  • Material intensive construction
  • Permanent foundations damage site
  • Waste material largely un-managed
  • Materials sourced globally and shipped individually
  • Material assemblies permanently bonded together
  • Demolished structure becomes landfill

Backyard Bi(h)ome

Methods and Principles:

  • Minimize weight/material
  • Eliminate permanent foundations
  • Minimize waste
  • Source and ship intelligently
  • Assemble to disassemble
  • Recyclable/reusable materials