Can an inflatable vinyl bubble building really be called green?

casa bubble
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter

OK, here is the pitch from CasaBubble, the North American distributor of the Bubbletree, designed by Pierre-Stephane Dumas and covered in TreeHugger with the question Love the Treading Lightly, Portability And Size, But Is The Bubbletree Green?

Concerned about the environment and the future of our planet, CasaBubble is proud to be the sole US distributor of a collection of nomadic bubble houses that address topical issues. Our bubble houses use minimum energy and minimum material and provide maximum comfort and interaction with their environment. They do not need a building permit and offer total freedom.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

They have installed one at the National Home Show in Toronto, and I still wonder how anyone can call a vinyl bubble, that is kept inflated by a constantly blowing fan, green. They do try, offering solar and fuel cell power, and "bio-air conditioning" using "earth-air heat exchangers," and they do point out that the thing doesn't use a lot of material, which has its benefits:

At a time when it is urgent to think about the impact we have on the environment, even in our choice of leisure activities, we wanted to find a way of getting in touch with nature that would appeal to private individuals and holiday accommodation professionals. So our products are ideal for ecotourism projects. They are consistent with a macroeconomic approach on human scale that seeks to ease the pressure of construction while protecting the natural environment.

OK, it does tread lightly on the ground, and in case you don't want to get too close to nature, it " leaves mosquitoes, pollen and other allergens outside", although it wouldn't do much to stop bigger animals, reminding me of a classic Far Side cartoon.

© Ant Farm Pillow

Given that the idea of the inflatable home goes back to Ant Farm and Archigram in the sixties, credit should be given to Urban Mode for furnishing it in a fabulously retro look; I love the interior.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

It's hard defining green and sustainable design, and it is a moving target. But it usually includes non-toxic and low impact materials, energy efficiency, and durability. A bit of insulation is sometimes nice too. I'm not sure that a vinyl inflatable bubble makes the grade.

Tags: Green Building | Toronto

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