Archive for the ‘building materials’ Category
Interesting domestic fuel cell news from Japan:
Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Panasonic Corporation recently announced the joint development of the worlds first “Ene-Farm” home fuel cell for condominiums. The new “Ene-Farm” home fuel cell for condominiums will be sold by Tokyo Gas from April 1, 2014. The product is the first commercialized fuel cell in the world where the fuel cell unit, hot water unit and backup heat source unit can all be stored in the pipe shaft of the condominium.
In comparison to detached houses, condominiums have more restrictions on the conditions for installations. By increasing the airtightness of the unit itself, it is now possible to install the new fuel cell in the pipe shaft in the open hallway of a condominium. In addition, in order to meet the installation standards of condominiums, the legs that anchor the unit have been strengthened, making the fuel cell more earthquake resistant. Additional measures, such as a modified exhaust structure, have improved the wind resistance of the fuel cell, making installation in the upper floors of a condominium and operation in strong winds possible.
Compared to using electricity from thermal power plants and heating water using city gas, the new “Ene-Farm” fuel cell for condominiums reduces primary energy consumption by approximately 37% and CO2 emissions by approximately 49% when operating at the rated electricity generation. In a model case, users can cut around 30,000 to 40,000 yen from their annual utility bills, and reduce annual CO2 emissions by approximately 1.0 ton. Read the rest of this entry »
Very cool story over on Green Building Elements about a collaboration between Portland State University and Walmart.
The design of green roofs—and all of their stormwater filtering, energy efficiency enabling, heat island mitigating, and habitat providing features—is poised to improve following a two-year research partnership between Portland State University (PSU) and Walmart that will collect in-depth data on the largest green roof installation in Portland.
PSU’s Green Building Research Laboratory will lead the effort to deploy scores of sensors and a weather station on Walmart’s new Hayden Meadows store in North Portland, which will feature 40,000 square feet of vegetative roof installed in three separate sections—each devoted to testing different aspects of green roof design, such as materials and soil depth. The remaining 52,000 square feet of white membrane rooftop will also be monitored by sensors, providing an opportunity to deliver side-by-side comparisons on factors including surface temperature, water flow and building operations. Data collected from the Hayden Meadows roof will be compared to similar data collected on a Walmart green roof in Chicago, providing a comprehensive view of green roof performance in various conditions.
According to a recent research report from Navigant Research, the worldwide market for green construction materials will grow from $116 billion in 2013 to greater than $254 billion in 2020. Europe is forecasted to be the largest of the regional markets, accounting for approximately 50%, by 2020.
[According to the report,] the benefits of green building – energy savings and techniques – [have] started to become more affordable, but more importantly, acceptable. Today, more and more construction projects around the world want a green building certification and this has created a new demand for traditional materials and methods to reduce the impact on the environment.
According to Navigant Research senior research analyst, Eric Bloom, innovation in green materials made from bio-based or quickly regenerating resources and low in embodied energy and carbon, [is] re-emerging. Bloom lists examples such as timber structures and cladding, straw-bale construction, lime renders and mortars, cellulose insulation, bamboo flooring, and natural mineral and fiber floor coverings.
The report also states that advanced production technology and research and innovation in materials science are contributing to the growth and versatility of green building materials. Advanced technology in photovoltaics, thermochromic and electrochromic glass and windows, heat exchange systems and electronically controlled drives and motors is making advanced building design and performance both more affordable and possible.
This is unnerving information:
Newer homes are remarkably energy tight thanks to superior insulating materials that are in wide circulation today. The energy savings can be substantial – homeowners can use up to 60% less energy in the most efficient green homes. Now, a study published by a team of researchers in Building Research & Information makes it clear that the very materials that provide us with such energy efficiency are pumped full of harmful flame retardant chemicals. These chemicals, HBCD hexabromocyclododecane and TCPP 1-chloro-2-propyl phosphate, are related to banned and phased-out substances like DDT, pentaBDE, and Tris. They are environmentally persistent, bioaccumulative, and are being manufactured at a frenetic pace without thought to how they might impact our environment and ultimately, our health.
Matt Pike, a contractor living in Marshall, North Carolina, realized just last weekend that he needed to build a coop for the quickly growing 20 chicks that call his farm home.
The coop is made up of two 4′ by 8′ pallets, a salvaged tin roof purchased at a flea market, assorted lumber, and shingles made from empty beer cans. Matt bought the chicken wire and the latches for the gates, and spent less than $40 on the whole shebang, which he built in less than ten hours.
Follow the link for pix and more.
Companies will be able to benchmark their sustainability data against information from thousands of other firms, using a database just launched by the Global Reporting Initiative.
GRI said the Sustainability Disclosure Database includes data on the sustainability and environmental, social and governance ESG transparency of over three thousand companies. This information was previously hard to find, but GRI said the new database will make the data easily accessible for companies and investors alike.
Any organization can upload a sustainability report and profile information to the database, which will help them engage with stakeholders and get feedback, GRI said. A global team of 22 GRI “data partners” will also collect information from companies in their regions, to populate the database.
I’ve been a fan of Diego Stocco’s since I saw his Experibass video a couple years ago. He’s up to new tricks with the Bassoforte:
I started thinking about how I could re-purpose the keyboard of the dismantled piano I keep in the garden, so I thought to build a new instrument by combining it with some other parts I had laying around. I ended up with this mechanical hybrid thing I thought to call “Bassoforte” (bass + pianoforte).
The neck is from a broken electric bass, as a bridge I used a cabinet handle, the pickups are from a guitar, and the part at the top where the strings are attached is a chimney cap, which works as resonator as well as percussive sound.
Open Source Ecology is developing and testing the Global Village Construction Set, a set of tools to build replicable, open source, modern, off-grid resilient communities. By weaving open source permacultural and technological cycles together, we intend to provide basic human needs while being good stewards of the land, using resources sustainably, and pursuing right livelihood.
With the gift of openly shared information, we can produce industrial products locally using open source design and digital fabrication. This frees us from the need to participate in the wasteful resource flows of the larger economy by letting us produce our own materials and components for the technologies we use. We see small, independent, land-based economies as means to transform societies, address pressing world issues, and evolve to freedom.
I really like this idea for managing the acoustics in the the combined music-project room KJ and I are scheming on.
Acoustic treatments are often used to help improve the acoustics of a room by taming “flutter echoes,” “room modes,” and other problems which arise from a room’s dimensions and construction.
Although a variety of treatments are available for commercial use, they tend to be quite expensive. After some research both online and in print, we came across several sources for DIY acoustic treatments using rigid fiberglass panels and simple frames. These are often referred to as “bass traps,” although the ones that we’re focusing on have a fairly wide rage of absorption. While commercial versions are available for almost $100, we were able to make these panels for about $24 each.
For more information, check out the good folks in the acoustics forum at recording.org
Some folks are wondering if there are any possible health hazards from compounds leaching out of PEX tubing used for household water supplies. The Green Building Advisor article below and related links are trying to address the subject.
“As with most building materials today, it’s not easy to determine the relative merits of copper and PEX for domestic water supply,” writes Robert Riversong. “There are significant benefits and liabilities, including deleterious health impacts of both.”