Archive for the ‘green building’ Category
I love the idea of this tool for architects and planners:
The 2030 Palette is a free online platform that puts the principles and actions behind low-carbon and resilient built environments at the fingertips of design professionals worldwide.
Since planning and designing the built environment is primarily a visual activity, the 2030 Palette is structured as a visual network of interrelated elements called Swatches. Swatches present highly complex and multi-dimensional information in a readily accessible format organized by category – Region, City/Town, District, Site and Building. Each Swatch contains a written recommendation, rule-of-thumb, images and graphics representing the physical application of the recommendation, as well as more detailed information for its successful application.
A pair of University of Cincinnati researchers has seen the light – a bright, powerful light – and it just might change the future of how building interiors are brightened.
In fact, that light comes directly from the sun. And with the help of tiny, electrofluidic cells and a series of open-air “ducts,” sunlight can naturally illuminate windowless work spaces deep inside office buildings and excess energy can be harnessed, stored and directed to other applications.
This new technology is called SmartLight, and it’s the result of an interdisciplinary research collaboration between UC’s Anton Harfmann and Jason Heikenfeld. Their research paper “Smart Light – Enhancing Fenestration to Improve Solar Distribution in Buildings” was recently presented at Italy’s CasaClima international energy forum.
“The SmartLight technology would be groundbreaking. It would be game changing,” says Harfmann, an associate professor in UC’s School of Architecture and Interior Design. “This would change the equation for energy. It would change the way buildings are designed and renovated. It would change the way we would use energy and deal with the reality of the sun. It has all sorts of benefits and implications that I don’t think we’ve even begun to touch.”
Major Improvements through Minimal Adjustments
There’s a simple question SmartLight addresses: Is there a smarter way to use sunlight? Every day the sun’s rays hit Earth with more than enough energy to meet many of society’s energy demands, but existing technologies designed to harness that energy, such as photovoltaic cells, aren’t very efficient. A typical photovoltaic array loses most of the sun’s energy when it gets converted into electricity. But with SmartLight, Harfmann says the sunlight channeled through the system stays, and is used, in its original form. This method is far more efficient than converting light into electricity then back into light and would be far more sustainable than generating electric light by burning fossil fuels or releasing nuclear energy. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
There’s an interesting story on Treehugger about the new Dragonfly wind turbine design:
While large wind turbines remain the dominant force in wind power, wider adoption may lie with small-scale turbines fit for urban and low wind conditions.
There’s some cool pix, a video, and this short snippet on the Piano site:
The ‘Libellula’ or ‘dragonfly’ wind turbine was designed in association with Enel Green power (Italy’s largest power company) and has been conceived for small-scale electricity generation. It can produce up to 55Kw, enough to power 10 to 15 homes.
Strangely, the Renzo Piano group calls this an “eolic windmill.” Eolic means, er, “wind,” so seems a bit redundant, but maybe it works better in Italian.
The Libellula (dragonfly) wind turbine, designed by the architects at the Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW) in collaboration with Italy’s Enel Green power, could be a viable choice for small-scale electricity generation, with the ability to produce up to 55Kw (sufficient to power up to 15 homes).
And RPBW says this about their design:
Constructed to take advantage of lightweight and resilient composite materials (carbon, polycarbonate), the slim, 35cm-diameter mast stands only 20m high, and is secured to the ground with cables.
The Libellula is able to harness even the lightest breezes, requiring winds of only 2m/second to power it more or less continuously. This also means that it can be installed successfully at low altitudes.
The turbine has been designed to have a minimal visual impact and has only two blades, rather than the more usual three. When the turbine is not turning, the blades align vertically with the mast.
The turbine blade was inspired by the transparent wing of a dragonfly, from where the turbine gets its name. Transparent plexiglass panels in the blade are intended to show off the carbon structure inside.
Inhabitat has a similar story on the Dragonfly.
The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) has launched an online LEED Project Profiles database. This tool showcases the 4000-plus LEED projects currently registered and certified in Canada, including project case studies and high-resolution photos, as well as a team list and summary of each certified project and its features. Canada currently sits in second place in terms of completed LEED certifications, after the United States.
There’s a really interesting story over on Earth Techling about a couple who designed and contracted to build a green building — and the issues they had to deal with.
Straw bales are highly insulating, environmentally friendly, and can be locally sourced. The R-value of straw bales is a bit controversial, but recent tests put a straw bale wall at R-30 to 35, perfect for the cold winters and hot summers of Colorado. Plus, straw is actually a waste product, what’s left over when grains are harvested. In the U.S. alone, over 200 millions tons of waste straw are generated each year, much of which is burned, contributing to air quality problems.
We designed the house ourselves, and although we might have been able to save money by building the house ourselves as well, we wanted to keep our full-time jobs and our marriage together building a house together is one of the biggest stresses on a relationship, so we decided to hire a general contractor.
Really interesting piece over on Green Building Elements about some research out of U. Alberta.
Relatively inexpensive, easy-to-manufacture, nano-particle-based solar cells can be created with materials that are abundantly common throughout the Earth’s crust, according to new work from researchers at the University of Alberta. The new nano-particle-based solar cells — which could be mass-manufactured using simple methods, such as roll-to-roll printing or spray-coating — are possible thanks to a new type of nano-particle designed by the researchers.
An Associated Press article by Joann Loviglio on the rise in passive building caught my eye:
After decades of near silence, a passive voice is making itself heard in American architecture.
So-called passive houses, which have been around in Europe but never really caught on in the United States, are basically built around the idea of making houses airtight, super-insulated and energy efficient.
The goal: a house that creates nearly as much energy as it consumes. Think of being able to keep your house warm without a traditional big furnace, cool with no air conditioning unit.
“At this point there’s no reason why any developer can’t now build this way,” said Tim McDonald, whose firm has designed and built energy-efficient buildings with eco-friendly materials for more than a decade in Philadelphia, and recently entered the world of passive housing.