As the year end approaches and we count down to the new year, we want to take a moment to reflect on the year in design. 2006 has been a pivotal year for green design. With the success of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, and books like Worldchanging & Design Like You Give A Damn, 2006 seemed to be the year that environmental design went mainstream. In our opinion, here were the most pivotal moments for green design in 2006:
1. AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH Al Gore’s documentary may prove to be one of the most influential films of our generation. A true call-to-arms, An Incovenient Truth brought to light some terrifying realities about global warming and the future of our planet, while inspiring the masses to take action.
2. HURRICANE KATRINA’S AFTERMATH In the wake of such a large-scale and devastating natural disaster, we’ve seen designers respond to Hurricane Katrina through a variety of inspiring projects, initiatives, and competitions. From the New Urbanists’ $35,000 Katrina Cottage to a slew of design competitions including Global Green’s GreeNOLA initiative and Architectural Record’s Designing the Future of New Orleans competition, designers, architects, and non-profits have joined forces to produce some truly innovative and humanitarian projects.
3. DESIGN LIKE YOU GIVE A DAMN Architecture For Humanity’s book was hugely inspirational for many of us here at Inhabitat, reminding us that there are people out there who actually DO give a damn about sustainability and socially responsible design.
5. ADVANCES IN SOLAR POWER With photovoltaic efficiencies now approaching 40%, and the cost of the technology falling fast, solar power made big gains in 2006. I hope we will look back at 2006 as the year that solar power finally started approaching its potential as the power of the future.
4. THE RISE OF SOCIALLY-CONSCIOUS MANUFACTURING With commited companies like Artecnica leading the way, designers are more often turning to more sustainable, socially conscious and affordable manufacturing practices, by engaging co-opts and fair trade craft guilds in developing countries. Through partnerships with groups like Aid to Artisans and the Design With A Conscience initiative, designers like Hella Jongerius and Tord Boontje are proving their commitment to great design, responsible manufacturing, and fair labor.
6. GREEN ROOFS 2006 saw a surge of interest in green roofs, and this couldn’t have come at a better time. Athough the planet seems to be warming, green surfaces can help mitigate this with O2 production, solar radiation absoption, and climate control. Fortunately, it’s easier than you might imagine to inject a little life onto the surfaces of your buildings. New modular systems like Green Grid Roofs can be installed and maintained with little effort or know-how.
7. LIVING HOMES 2006 brought us a bunch of seriously green prefab homes, but none was more sustainable (or more beautiful) than the Ray Kappe designed Living Home, which became the very first LEED Platinum Home.
8. LEED FOR HOMES Although it doesn’t publically launch until 2007, 2006 was a pivotal year for Leed for Homes, the USGBC’s new green rating program for residential buildings. The Leed for Homes pilot program was launched in 2006, and Living Homes (mentioned above) became the first home to win the LEED platinum rating.
10. TRADE SHOWS GO GREEN From the inaugural West Coast Green conference in San Francisco to GreenBuild in Denver, and even smaller exhibition events like HauteGreen, we’re excited to see organized trade shows and industry events turning their focus to green design and technologies.
It’s that time of year again, and today marks the start of our Holiday Gift Guide here at Inhabitat. Our first installment is Cheap Gifts Under $30- wallet-friendly green gifts that are great for co-workers, stocking stuffers, or the yearly white elephant party. Read on for the best cheap gift suggestions, and stay tuned in the next few days for more gift ideas for her, him, pets, and more!
YULE TREE TO BE – $22 Give the gift of a tree this holiday season, and encourage family and friends to nurture Christmas trees (instead of chopping them down year after year as tradition goes). With a little care, you can watch this baby Christmas tree grow each year from a mere seedling to a majestic Noble Fir. We think it would make a lovely housewarming gift or memento for a baby’s first Christmas.
PLANT-ME PETS- $20 These quirky little creatures, made of decomposing natural latex rubber, sprout into melons, tomatoes, and pumpkins. So cute you may not want to plant them, Plant-Me Pets make great desktop companions and are the ideal gift for that impossible-to-buy-for individual on your list.
WORLDCHANGING BOOK- $25 Edited by Alex Steffen and Inhabitat’s own Sarah Rich, this is the quintessential guide to living sustainably. Usually we at Inhabitat focus on design and building, but this whopper highlights just about everything, from technology to politics. 600-plus pages of ideas and innovations will no doubt inspire, intrigue, and have you thinking it is indeed time for change. + $25 from Amazon
ORIKASO DINNER SET- $27 Great for your outdoorsy hiker friend, the Orikaso line of flat-pack dinnerwear is durable, leak-proof, and easy to clean. Just throw it in your backpack and fold into cups, bowls, and plates in seconds. The dinner set comes in a reusable packing sleeve, and is made from Greenpeace-endorsed polypropylene.
RECYCLED PLASTIC NANO CASE- $19 For your iPod-addicted friend, the Jimi recycled plastic Nano case provides both protection and eco-friendly style. Made from 100% recycled translucent polycarbonate (closely related to bullet-proof glass), the case features a belt/armband clip and swappable faceplates.
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH on DVD- $17.99 Al Gore’s influential documentary on global warming is a must-have for anyone on your list who owns a DVD player. For those who missed it, Gore presents a wide array of facts and information in a thoughtful and compelling way, stressing the gravity of worldwide environmental problems. An Inconvenient Truth is not a story of despair but rather a call to action to protect the one earth we all share.
POTION BRAND GREETING CARDS- $18 a box When it comes to holiday greetings, you can do no better than the holiday cards from Potion Brands. Uber stylish and suitable for folks of all faiths, these cards are also printed with environmentally responsible inks on a cardstock with 20% PCW. You can order them by the box or with custom imprints. And as a little holiday bonus, enter the word, “petitgreet” into the promotion code at checkout and receive a darling set of free gift tags.
RECYCLED BIKE GIFTS – $13 Charm the bike nerds in your life with these thoughtful handicrafts made from recycled bicycle parts. The simple but elegant Tea Light Holder is made from recycled freewheels and cogs, and candles even come included. The picture frame shown above is made from a recycled chain and costs $38.
BAMBU BOWLS- $12-15 These colorful bamboo bowls are hand-coiled, shaped, and given a food-safe waterproof finish. Produced in Vietnam by manufacturers committed to environmental protection and fair labor laws, the bowls are a perfect housewarming gift for holiday parties. $12-$15 from Re:Modern
VINTAGE RECORD SNACK BOWL – $26 A perfect gift for the record nerd in your life, the vintage record snack bowl gives new life to damaged or unplayable old vinyl LPs. Great for nuts, popcorn, and conversation starting, you can even custom tailor your bowl down to genre of music (although you can’t choose individual artists).
BAMBOO COMPUTER MOUSE- £17.99 Your computer-savvy yet eco-friendly friend will love this bamboo mouse that combines modern technology with sustainability. The mouse works like any other, but the case is made from bamboo instead of plastic. Also available are matching bamboo keyboards and monitors!