All Images Courtesy of NAU
Traveling to new cities can be an enriching and wonderful experience, but it can also take a toll on the environment. Choosing a hotel based on its sustainable credibility can get expensive, and guilt on your green conscience can put a real cramp in your style. So what to do? Couch surf? Camp? Why do either, when you can crash in an uber high-tech, energy-producing rooftop pod? Introducing the Living Roof, one of the cooler-looking but least necessary designs to come along in a while.
The Living Roof, the work of design firm NAU, comes with photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and a rainwater collection system. To save space, its main room transforms via a rotating ring (see the diagram below) between lounge, sleep and working modes.
I won't try to deny that spending a few nights in one of these would be very cool, and relaxing. And yes, the design is green in that it uses sustainable energy and cleverly saves space. But what about the carbon footprint that would go into making and transporting the pods? NAU says they are "intended for urban rooftops, but ready to be airlifted into the savanna at short notice." Any points the Living Roof gets for energy independence go out the window when you start flying the thing around the world.
My real bone to pick with the Living Roof is that it's an overly complicated solution to a problem that I'm not sure really exists- NAU cites it as a way to avoid staying in the "tourist ghettos" where most hotels are located. Do those exist?
If you want luxury and sustainability while traveling, do the research and spend the money for a green hotel. If you just want to limit your vacation's impact on the environment, buy some carbon offsets, keep it frugal, and enjoy yourself. Then go really green when you get home.
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More cool places to stay on vacation:
Stay a Night in a Bridge Made from Reclaimed Wood, Built Over a River-to-Be
Cool Camping Hotel: Guests at Berlin's Hüttenpalast Sleep in Refurbished Caravans
Carré-d'Etoiles Mini-Prefabs For Green Vacations