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Energy monitoring device lets dad bust up rager from 500 miles away

If this were a movie, hardware and software developer David Rowe would look like a sitting duck for teen shenanigans -- I mean, we don’t know the dude, but we’re pretty sure he’s a dweeby dad (or as close as you can get in Australia). The man describes himself as “kind of a power geek” -- and he is talking about home energy use, not imperialism. But in fact, Rowe’s power geekiness has now translated into powerful hardass parenting: He busted up his daughter's New Year's bash from 500 miles away, thanks to his home energy monitoring device.

Over New Year's, Rowe was traveling in the Melbourne area, an eight-and-a-half-hour drive from home. His 16-year-old daughter was staying with friends. The vacant house piqued Rowe's energy geek curiosity: How would it perform with no one in it? So he fired up his energy-monitoring device and took a look.

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Gecko-inspired adhesive lets your TV cling to the wall like a lizard

With its Tom Cruise-like talent for scattering straight up walls, the gecko has become one of biomimicry's favored muses. Studying its feet, scientists have come up with a variety of gecko-inspired tapes, but now a team at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst has developed a stronger adhesive patch they're calling "Geckskin.”

A piece of the stuff about the size of an index card can hold up to 700 pounds of weight on a smooth wall. That's a 42-inch flatscreen TV or a mirror or that Dutch masterpiece you picked up on your last European vacation. And if you get the placement wrong, no problem -- you can peel this stuff off the wall and smack it back on without leaving a trace, supposedly.

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Now you can buy a prefab IKEA house

Image by ideabox.

Oregon architecture firm ideabox is producing this prefab tiny house, which comes pre-installed with IKEA cabinets, flooring, and closets. The "activ" house is about 750 square feet and costs $86,500, and you can pick the color scheme of IKEA accoutrements that you prefer. And unlike most IKEA stuff, it doesn't come flat-packed and there's no assembly required.

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Frank Lloyd Wright goes solar, posthumously

Taliesin West. (Photo by Artotem.)

Taliesin West, the iconic desert home created by Frank Lloyd Wright, is about to go net-zero, which means it will produce as much energy as it consumes. It's a fitting update for a structure that was way ahead of its time.

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How to turn an abandoned oil silo into an awesome sustainable home

Once we either kick oil for good or descend into Mad Maxish fuel-based anarchy, you're going to want to set up a pretty good personal Thunderdome. And if we're way past peak oil anyway, why not nest in an abandoned oil silo? Architecture collective Pink Cloud has designed a sustainable home for a post-petroleum world, repurposing the 49,000 refinery oil silos that will, one day in the not-too-distant future, be otherwise pointless.

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Smallest legal apartment in California is prefab, adorbs

If you're like me, you watch this video and think "my house is 10 times as big as this apartment and only slightly more functional," and then curse the day you moved to the suburbs.

This is the smallest studio apartment you can build in California, by law -- 160 square feet -- and it includes a bevy of space-saving measures.

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Damien Hirst to build eco-homes, possibly full of formaldehyde

Non-artist's rendering of artist's rendering of houses in a tank

World's richest artist Damien Hirst, best known for preserved sharks and diamond-encrusted skulls and having his assistants make all his artwork, apparently owns an obscene amount of land in Ilfracombe parish, Devon, England. And he wants to use it to build a development of 500 "eco-homes." 

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The McMansion trend has peaked

Americans' ideal home size declined to 2,100 square feet from a peak of 2,300, according to real estate research firm Trulia. (The full account of this trend was laid out by Kaid Benfield at Atlantic Cities, and it's worth checking out.)

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House fit for a green: Sustainable home construction booms

When it comes to home building, green is queen.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

With the construction industry still recovering in the U.S., companies offering “green” services may be able to set themselves apart and grow business faster, according to a survey conducted by McGraw Hill Construction.

In 2011, green builds in the residential sector made up 17 percent of construction, totaling $17 billion in economic activity. And the value of the residential green building market is expected to grow fivefold by 2016, taking up to 38 percent of the market and representing $87 billion to $114 billion.

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Austin gets a super swank zero-energy suburb

How do you build a (nearly) net-zero-energy suburb in 2008, at the nadir of the economic crash, when no bank in the country is convinced you'll be able to sell your more energy-efficient but pricier homes?