Michelle Kaufmann, as you probably know, is an architect, designer, and advocate for smarter and more sustainable designs. mkDesigns actually led the movement towards prefabricated green homes. We recently came across an interview she gave at green lifestyle blog Mind Body Green. She shares a bit of her background, new companies and products she's excited about, her predictions for green building in the future, and much more.
An excerpt from the Q&A session:
Were you always passionate about great, green design?
MK: "I suppose I have been. But for the first 35 years I didn't know that it was called "green design." I thought it was just "good design" that was thoughtful and smart. My mother used to call many of the green design elements "being frugal" when I was growing up. When Kevin and I decided to build our own house, we wanted it to be healthy, with no mold (as I was getting migraines in our apartment in Sausalito, and we found it was because there was mold in the walls); we wanted no energy bills (we were and are on a budget); we wanted low water bills (that budget thing again); and we didn't have a lot of money, so we couldn't build a big house but still wanted it to feel spacious. Also, I thrive on natural light, so I wanted the house to use natural light in a smart way, so that we wouldn't have to turn on lights during the day. Kevin wanted to make sure we chose materials that would last a long time with little maintenance. In the end, all of our qualifications defined a green home. But it was before the term "green" was being used. And definitely before green was cool."
What new companies are out there doing great things that we probably don't know about yet—but that we should know about?
MK: "Here are some fun current faves:
- Novacem's cement that eats carbon.
- Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology (SMIT) is a new approach to solar and wind power, a hybrid energy-delivery device that resembles ivy growing on the side of the a building. Leaf-like solar panels harvest the sun's rays, while their fluttering harnesses wind power using a series of piezoelectric generators on the underside of each leaf.
- Eco-Machines by Todd Ecological. Eco-machines are miniature ecosystems that use flora, fauna, and bacteria to naturally cleanse water, treat sewage, and turn wastewater and material into fuel and food.
- Green roofs. I love them. They help reduce storm-water runoff, improve insulation, help protect the roof from the sun, help create more oxygen, and visually nestle the building in the earth. Can you imagine how different our earth would be if every building on the planet replaced the earth by having a green roof? It would be a very different place."
• Green Tour: Michelle Kaufmann's Very Own Glidehouse
• House Tour: Michelle Kaufmann's Smart Home
• Blu Homes Acquires Michelle Kaufmann Designs
• Inspiration: Michelle Kaufmann's LegoSolaire
• Michelle Kaufmann: Nutritional Labels for Homes
Image via Mind Body Green