Dr. Ali Raissi, scientist. At a time when fossil fuels account for the lion's share of man's pollution footprint, Raissi has taken over as the head of the new Hydrogen Research and Development Division of the Florida Solar Energy Center. A 20-year veteran of research on hydrogen as an alternative energy source, Raissi will continue his forward-thinking research, with a $5.4 million award from NASA.
Dave Heslam, builder. After coming up through the construction ranks, from carpenter to framer to site supervisor, this ecology-minded builder committed himself to building homes that are green to the extreme. Based in Portland, Ore., he runs Coho Construction Services, and has served as president of the Portland Northwest Ecobuilders Guild. Heslam recently built a home exclusively with salvaged and green materials.
Steven Winter, consultant. Tireless in his efforts to assist and encourage the use of alternative materials and construction techniques, energy-saving technologies, and affordable housing, Winter and his associates have assisted builders large and small in their efforts to build tighter homes with better designs. They recently assisted with an affordable housing project in New York where 30 new units will require 75 percent less energy than comparable, older units.
Mary Jane Poynter, program manager. Through her work with a multifamily development near Burlington, Vt., Poynter has lightened Vermont's ecological footprint. Working for Efficiency Vermont, a utility program, in partnership with the nonprofit affordable housing agency, Housing Vermont, she helped bring 160 much needed units of new, super energy-efficient, affordable housing to the region.
Lots of celebrity action went down on the real estate front.
By Carolyn Weber
Man, it feels good to be a gangsta: Now you too can live like a mob boss. Just click on www.sopranohomedesign.com to see Tony and Carmela Soprano's beautiful 6,000-square-foot, $3.5-million New Jersey mini-mansion. For a mere $599, consumers can purchase the elevations and floor plans of the original Sopranos Estate Home built and owned by the extremely enterprising builder Victor Recchia of North Caldwell, N.J.
O town: Mass media mogul Oprah Winfrey paid $50 million for a Montecito, Calif., estate that includes a newly constructed 20,000-square-foot main house and several 1930s era outbuildings.
Spidey's suite: The cool urban New York pad where the Peter Parker character lived in the summer 2002 action hit "Spider-man" went on the market in October. After a major renovation, the owner is asking $8.9 million for the Greenwich Village loft. Watch your step: Full-lipped movie temptress Angelina Jolie is building a house in Cambodia, the homeland of her newly adopted son Maddox. She was a bit on edge during the land clearing process though, because the site was rumored to be filled with landmines.
Diva's digs: With a big new show in Las Vegas, Canadian-born singer Celine Dion said goodbye to Jupiter, Fla., this year, putting her 15,000-square-foot custom home on the market for $20 million. The price included practically everything--the furnishings, art, and a fine wine collection.
Oz nest: Early this year, former Black Sabbath front man turned MTV reality star, Ozzy Osbourne, purchased a new gated Beverly Hills estate for $3.5 million. Fans of the show are sure to be familiar with the 9,000-square-foot Mediterranean home's floor plan with a spacious kitchen and satanic interiors.