The Ellis Park house is a multi level home built by Altius Architecture in Toronto Canada. It is a contemporary style home that incorporates clean lines and boxy style with sustainable elements such as geothermal heating and cooling, passive solar design and daylighting strategy, recycled and reclaimed materials, passive thermo-siphon ventilation and a green roof. The design of the house includes open concept living spaces that take advantage of the large expanse of windows and the use of sustainable materials such as cork, reclaimed stone, birch and marine plywood, clay brick, copper and Douglas fir.

Description of the Ellis Park House by Altius Architecture
Located in Toronto’s Bloor West Village neighbourhood the Ellis Park House was conceived as an ecological urban home that places a bold emphasis on sustainability and contemporary living. The home was constructed on an overgrown infill site, just steps from Bloor Street, that was considered unbuildable because of its 45 slope and shallow depth. Where others saw obstacles the design team saw potential for an earth sheltered home, ideally sited in an urban context with good solar orientation and exceptional vistas over Toronto’s High Park.

The design and construction of the home provided the architectural team with the opportunity to experiment with various systems, materials and assemblies, providing real world experience and long term monitoring to verify theories and assumptions that could not be tested on private clients.
The enduring legacy of the Ellis Park House is that many of the design strategies that were novel at the time of its design have become standard in the firms current work. The house proved to the firm’s clients that reducing ones ecological foot print can be done with out compromising comfort, luxury or style and more importantly that sustainable practices really do pay for themselves.

Click the below link to read more.

Via Contemporist


Lauren and Kyle purchased this 1910 home and have transformed the small, choppy 970 sf home into a modern dwelling that still has the original original character of the home. They removed almost all the interior walls  to create a large open home but kept such details as the exposed beams to retain some of the original charm. Lauren and Kyle updated the kitchen in a modern style and chose to use a dark cork flooring through out the entire home. The dark floors and the light walls create a nice contrast that does not make the space feel small. Their apartment is part of the “Small Cool 2012” contest at Apartment Therapy so click the link below and vote for their space.

What I Love About My Small Home
Our 1910 home was dark and cramped when we moved in, but now it’s open and filled with natural light. We love that it’s modern while also celebrating original features, like the exposed joists in the living room. We also love that everything has a purpose and that many elements serve double duty. (For instance, the studio loft doubles as a guest sleeping area, and the guardrail for the stair doubles as a storage “fauxdenza”.) Our house is now more functional, more efficient and a reflection of the way we live.

Biggest Challenge of Living in a Small Space
The biggest challenge of living in a small home was to transform the original layout to meet our current needs (while living in the house and doing the work ourselves!). By removing walls and reconfiguring spaces, we were able to add a second bedroom without increasing the overall footprint. We also took advantage of every square inch – a small studio space was carved out of the attic, the porch was closed in to create a mudroom (so important in Seattle!) and the ceiling was vaulted over the kitchen and dining area to create more volume. A wall of sliding doors maintains privacy for the bedrooms and bathroom without taking up precious floor space, and carefully placed built-ins provide valuable storage for a house that had not a single closet! Because everything is so open, we chose a cohesive palette of bright whites, warm wood tones and pops of color to create a cozy yet modern space that we call home.

Via Apartment Therapy

Building a spec home is always a risk since the builder is paying for the cost of the home out of pocket and only gets paid when they sell the home. Because of this builders typically build a home in a way that will appeal to the most buyers so that they can sell the house quickly. However one of our customers decided be bold and use cork flooring and other sustainable materials to make their home as green as possible. If the building industry had more people like this our community would not be filled with energy sucking McMansions.

Via Flooring Store Online

Another happy cork flooring customer who had it installed in a bonus area of their new home. Their exact comments were “I Love My Cork Floor!”

It is amazing how we take water for granted here in the U.S. but in many countries water is a commodity worth more then gold. To show how important water rights are, did you know that the two highest paid fields for lawyers are oil and gas and water right litigation? If the lawyers are involved that means ownership and how you define ownership is going to be huge issue in the future.

In the mean time here are 5 simple tips on you can do at home to conserve water.

Here are some simple tips on water conservation but click through to the article so you can see specifics on each item.

Listed below are five ways you can conserve water at little or no cost to you.

1. Wash and Rinse Reduction
2. Save on the Shave (or Brush)
3. Toilet Training
4. Lawn Lushes
5. Watch What You Eat


I first discovered straw bale homes about 7 years ago when we were moving to Oregon and looked at a development in Ashland Oregon. The homes we saw were amazing with walls that were approximately 24 inches thick and covered with a earth/clay mixture. We ended up not living in Ashland but I do think back on those homes and wonder why this old-new way of building a home ended up having such a niche presence in the building industry.

Which leads me to this great straw bale home that Eco Friend has done a write up on. This home is in Taos, New Mexico and is completely off the grid, using solar power (battery storage with inverter) to power the home and rainwater roof catchment and many more green technologies.

Living in the wild desert, where temperatures vary between extremes is a challenging task, and to uniquely suit the circumstances, Edge Architects from Taos, New Mexico, has designed a high desert home that will make living in the desert not only more convenient, but also greener. This house supposedly runs off grid and is completely self sufficient.

The outer walls of the house, including the north, west and eastern walls; all are clocked in straw bales and have a thickness of 24 inches. This unusual thickness of the walls prevents them from heating quickly, thereby, keeping the inside temperatures at bay, while the outside temperatures keep fluctuating. For quickly exhausting the trapped hot air inside, the skylight at the top of the stairway can be opened when required. During winters, the suns heat is allowed to penetrate deep inside the house and is absorbed by the floor and interior walls that will retain it and keep the house warm during evenings.

Via Eco Friend


My daughter and I always walk by this house that has 4 or 5 toilet bowls outside that are used as planters. She laughs hysterically at them calling it the “Toilet House” and I have tried to tell her the merits of re-using items instead of taking it to the dump. But deep down I think they are really ugly and they may be better in a landfill. – John

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