Episode 103: McDonald’s soil solution; Tesla’s future fleet

December 8, 2017 by  
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Big companies invest in low-carbon products, the race to map the future of fleets and five policies that threaten U.S. clean energy markets.

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Episode 103: McDonald’s soil solution; Tesla’s future fleet

Why Chicago is pollinating bee populations

December 8, 2017 by  
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In a fresh spin on “concrete jungle,” urban green spaces are home to conservation efforts that bolster declining bee habitats.

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Why Chicago is pollinating bee populations

Lessons from China’s industrial symbiosis leadership

December 8, 2017 by  
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The eco-industrial park in the coastal city of Rizhao offers lessons for students of circular economy principles.

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Lessons from China’s industrial symbiosis leadership

Peek inside the zero-waste kitchen of the future

May 24, 2017 by  
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The kitchen of the future will be healthier for our planet and improve our family ties through food. That’s the vision behind The Future Kitchen, a proposal by New York-based architect Marc Thorpe and students of the industrial design department at Pratt Institute. Installed for WantedDesign Manhattan at the Caeserstone booth, the innovative kitchen prototype emphasizes sustainability with zero-waste systems and in-home gardening, while strengthening social ties with its community-oriented design. ? Environmentally friendly principles were at the heart of the kitchen design process. With Thorpe’s guidance, Pratt students researched sustainable strategies for water use, composting , farming, smart technology, and food storage. The Future Kitchen is self-sufficient, a feature Thorpe says will be a necessity in 2050 when 80 percent of the world’s population is estimated to reside in urban centers. ? Related: Friends give their kitchen a green makeover filled with fun upcycled touches The innovative design is centered on a circular hearth that reinforces the idea of the kitchen as a social meeting place. The circular hearth opening also doubles as a food waste disposal chute that feeds the biogas generator and 3D printer, repurposing waste as energy and material. The washing area uses stream automation to minimize water usage, and water drains into a filter system that repurposes wastewater into hydroponic and aquaponic systems. A food prep area with Caesarstone quartz, induction cooktop with smart technology, and separate dining area are also integrated into the compact Future Kitchen. + Marc Thorpe + Pratt Institute + Caesarstone

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Peek inside the zero-waste kitchen of the future

Peek inside the zero-waste kitchen of the future

May 24, 2017 by  
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The kitchen of the future will be healthier for our planet and improve our family ties through food. That’s the vision behind The Future Kitchen, a proposal by New York-based architect Marc Thorpe and students of the industrial design department at Pratt Institute. Installed for WantedDesign Manhattan at the Caeserstone booth, the innovative kitchen prototype emphasizes sustainability with zero-waste systems and in-home gardening, while strengthening social ties with its community-oriented design. ? Environmentally friendly principles were at the heart of the kitchen design process. With Thorpe’s guidance, Pratt students researched sustainable strategies for water use, composting , farming, smart technology, and food storage. The Future Kitchen is self-sufficient, a feature Thorpe says will be a necessity in 2050 when 80 percent of the world’s population is estimated to reside in urban centers. ? Related: Friends give their kitchen a green makeover filled with fun upcycled touches The innovative design is centered on a circular hearth that reinforces the idea of the kitchen as a social meeting place. The circular hearth opening also doubles as a food waste disposal chute that feeds the biogas generator and 3D printer, repurposing waste as energy and material. The washing area uses stream automation to minimize water usage, and water drains into a filter system that repurposes wastewater into hydroponic and aquaponic systems. A food prep area with Caesarstone quartz, induction cooktop with smart technology, and separate dining area are also integrated into the compact Future Kitchen. + Marc Thorpe + Pratt Institute + Caesarstone

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Peek inside the zero-waste kitchen of the future

Why Trump’s cabinet won’t derail renewables’ growth

January 20, 2017 by  
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As Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees have their confirmation hearings, global clean energy market momentum shows no signs of stopping.

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Why Trump’s cabinet won’t derail renewables’ growth

Off-grid village with game-changing green solutions blooms in the Middle East

January 3, 2017 by  
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An oasis for clean-tech solutions has bloomed in an unexpected place—the arid Negev desert. Located at Israel’s Kibbutz Ketura north of the Red Sea, the Off-Grid Demonstration Village is a hot bed for game-changing off-grid solutions that aim to improve the lives of people outside the grid and to provide a testing ground for eco-minded companies. Rapidly deployable housing, low-cost renewable energy systems, and experimental technologies flourish in this factory of ideas for a greener tomorrow. The availability of off-grid technologies has improved in recent years as the price of solar continues to fall and as research and development chugs along. But for the millions of people in developing and emerging countries who are disconnected from the national water and energy grids, the research has not yet kept up with demand. That’s why the non-profit Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative teamed up to launch the Off-Grid Demonstration Village (also known as the Eilat-Eilot Off Grid Hub) in 2014. The fairly remote and spartan desert with its temperature extremes provides a fitting environment for the village as a place of experimentation to test technologies designed for hard-to-reach, undeveloped areas around the world. “Living off-grid has a direct impact on quality of life and health and it is the most prominent indicator of the global injustice in the distribution of resources,” writes the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative. “In most of these cases, there is no future prospect of obtaining traditional grid connectivity. Consequently, there is a dire need to implement solid strategies and tools to deal with the implications of living off-grid.” The initiative and Arava Institute work directly with African communities and Bedouin communities in Israel to test out the viability and sustainability of these off-grid technologies. Individuals, companies, and governments from around the world visit the Off-Grid Demonstration Village to learn how they can bring these technologies back to their home country. Related: Israel’s greenest building produces more energy than it consumes The products and technologies currently showcased at the village fall under four main categories—buildings, energy, water, and food. The village currently comprises three demo buildings—a rural home, urban structure, and earthbag dome—each host to different off-grid products as well as large-scale technologies like the solar water desalination system by SunDwater ; more buildings are planned for the village in the future. Each building is based on existing building types found in off-grid communities and can be built inexpensively with locally found materials. The innovations lie in the easy-to-implement improvements to these types of houses, such as the addition or solar stoves or a biogas system to substitute fuel for cooking and heating to reduce pollution, risk of asthma, and the taxing labor of collecting wood for fuel. Rural Home Modeled on traditional and existing designs found in rural developing regions, the rural home is a round building topped with a thatched roof. The simple construction of grass, earth, and stone makes it easy and affordable to build. While the traditional rural structure is sufficient in providing shelter, the designer who worked on the project added a pagoda-shaped dome above the roof and inserted more openings to let in more natural light and improve ventilation for hot air and smoke to escape. Plastic bottles filled with purified water and bleach punctuate the thatched roof to serve as low-tech light bulbs that can reach up to 40 or even 60 watts. The backing of the rooftop solar panel was also removed to let in more natural light. A backyard biogas system, called HOMEBIOGAS, sits outside the home to convert household waste into energy and organic fertilizer. Urban Structure The urban structure is the largest of the three demonstration homes and is based on buildings found in informal urban settlements like slums. Built easily and inexpensively, this boxy communal building can suit a variety of needs such as a primary school building. The urban structure was built from plywood, a cheap and commonly found construction material, but the designers improved upon the traditional design by adding an insulating layer made from simple materials like straw or unprocessed sheep wool. Ventilation is also improved with the inclusion of a double roof: the first roof of palm leaves allows for natural ventilation and cooling, whereas the upper metal roof protects the structure from rain. The backyard includes an adjustable solar panel hooked up to a monitoring system so that users inside can adjust the position of the solar panel to maximize energy efficiency. A vacuum tube solar oven on display on the south side of the structure features insulated inner tubes that absorb solar energy to heat up food or water placed in the tubes to boiling temperatures. Earthbag Dome The earthbag dome house was constructed using methods developed by Iranian-born American architect Nader Khalili in the 1980s. The building was cheaply and quickly constructed with sacks of soil, called ‘earthbags,’ to create a stable and thermally balanced structure with no need for deep foundations. Since the roof was built as part of the dome, the builders don’t need to construct beams or a separate support system. To improve insulation, the designers built the earthbag dome with two layers: a thermal mass layer of compacted sacks of soil and an external insulating layer made from straw and soil. The Off-Grid Demonstration Village serves as a crucial step of validation between the research and development phase and implementation in developing countries. This testing ground encourages startups and larger companies to experiment with new ideas and gives them a space to demonstrate their products to potential investors, educators, and other innovators. Open to visitors, this inspiring village hidden away in an unlikely place in the desert is part of a greater aim to tackle world poverty by improving the quality of life for the millions who live off grid, one clean tech solution at a time. + Arava Institute + Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative + Vibe Israel Tour courtesy of Vibe Israel Images © Lucy Wang

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Off-grid village with game-changing green solutions blooms in the Middle East

The Netherlands will spend 150 million Euros to turn cow poop into biogas

November 4, 2016 by  
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Dutch farmers now have the opportunity to turn cow manure into energy . Turning cow poop into power isn’t a new idea , but the Netherlands government is banking on poo being a potent source of power for their country. The country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs will spend 150 million Euros, around $166.5 million, on a cow poo to power project. In the Netherlands, the agriculture industry is responsible for 10 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions . Methane emanating from dairy farms comprises a majority of the offending emissions. Through the economic ministry’s program, Dutch dairy farmers might be able to curb those emissions through leasing anaerobic digesters , which break manure down into biogas with the help of bacteria. A machine inside the farm takes the cow poop to the digester dome outside, and other machines extract phosphates and nitrates farmers can use for fertilizer from the cow dung. Farmers can sell the biogas at a 12-year fixed price which the government will subsidize. Related: Villagers in carbon-hungry Thailand tap the sun and dung for clean energy Dairy farmer Pieter Heeg, who works on his family’s 75-hectare farm, is among the farmers who will turn poo into power with anaerobic digesters. He told The Guardian he anticipates making 10,000 Euros, or over $11,000, every year selling the biogas. His farm used to simply spread manure across their land, but now they’ll be able to obtain energy for their own use and extra income. In 20 days, the Heeg farm generated 9,342 kilowatt hours of electricity using an anaerobic digester, enough to provide a year’s worth of power for three homes. Huge dairy collective FrieslandCampina, which purchases milk from 13,500 of 17,000 Dutch dairy farmers, is also behind the project. Their goal is for 1,000 big farms in the Netherlands to turn poo to power through the program in the next four years. Via The Guardian Images via U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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The Netherlands will spend 150 million Euros to turn cow poop into biogas

Disney, Microsoft, PepsiCo lead business charge on biogas

April 7, 2016 by  
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Despite a few early innovators, the waste-to-energy field still has a long way to go.

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Disney, Microsoft, PepsiCo lead business charge on biogas

Grand Junction, Colorado converts human waste into fuel for 40 city vehicles

January 22, 2016 by  
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When it comes to renewable energy sources, an often overlooked fuel is right under our noses. Human waste, collected and processed in waste treatment plants just about everywhere there are humans, can be used to produce renewable natural gas that just so happens to be a great way to fuel vehicles, produce heat, and electrify anything that needs electricity. The city of Grand Junction in Colorado is going where few have dared to go before, relying on converted poo to power 40 city vehicles. Read the rest of Grand Junction, Colorado converts human waste into fuel for 40 city vehicles

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Grand Junction, Colorado converts human waste into fuel for 40 city vehicles

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