Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017

October 20, 2017 by  
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China , a consistent leader in solar power production and installation, is having another banner year with 25 gigawatts of solar energy being installed in June and July alone. It is estimated that China is capable of installing over 50GW of solar energy by the end of 2017. As of October 1, approximately 42GW of solar energy had been installed, though the pace of installations is expected to slow in October. Although China’s solar boom yields economic benefits, an self-interest understanding of the need to protect the environment also drives the movement. “Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping at the National Congress of China’s Communist Party. “This is a reality we have to face.” Much of the recent growth has been concentrated in the non-utility distributed solar sector, in part because China is pushing a new program called Top Runner, which aims to install more efficient solar panels in smaller projects. By any measure, China is absolutely dominating the global solar race. In 2016, the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people installed 34GW of solar power, the most ever by any country in a single year. In contrast, the United States , in the second place position for added capacity in 2016, added only 14.6GW of solar power. Related: China announces plan to ban sales of fossil fuel cars and shift focus to EVs Although China’s solar energy domination has proven to be valuable in the export market, with many of the components for solar systems around the world being produced locally, the domestic impact of its deliberate, consistent investment in solar energy is undeniable. In transforming its energy economy, out of necessity and strategy, China may provide important global climate leadership in a time when the United States has ceded its authority in this realm. “Taking a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change, China has become an important participant, contributor, and torchbearer in the global endeavor for ecological civilization,” said President Xi Jinping. “[China must] develop a new model of modernization with humans developing in harmony with nature.” Via Electrek Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia

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Solar record-breaking China aims for 50GW installed in 2017

New concrete roof includes thin-film PV cells to generate power

October 20, 2017 by  
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Digital design and fabrication techniques allowed researchers in Switzerland to create a curvy, super thin concrete roof that will one day help a residential unit produce more power than it consumes. Using the innovative methods, the researchers assembled the roof with much less materials than would otherwise be needed. The concrete roof is also equipped with thin-film photovoltaic cells to generate energy. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) recently unveiled the prototype for a sinuous, self-supporting concrete roof. The roof is comprised of multiple layers, including concrete , heating and cooling coils, insulation, and more concrete fitted with thin film solar cells. The prototype was around 25-feet-tall, with a surface area of around 1,722 feet squared. The average thickness of the concrete was around two inches; the support surfaces had a thickness of 4.7 inches and the edges of the roof were just around one inch thick. Related: The company that offered integrated solar roofs before Elon Musk A cable net supporting a polymer textile provided the formwork for the concrete roof. The researchers used a precise concrete mix, fluid enough to be sprayed but firm enough to not flow off. Professor of Architecture and Structures Philippe Block said in a statement, “We’ve shown that it’s possible to build an exciting thin concrete shell structure using a lightweight, flexible formwork, thus demonstrating that complex concrete structures can be formed without wasting large amounts of material for their construction.” The prototype has already been dismantled to make room for other experiments, but in 2018, the roof will be erected atop materials science and technology research institute Empa ‘s HiLo Penthouse. Guest faculty will live and work in the penthouse, which is expected to produce more energy that it uses thanks to the concrete roof’s solar cells and what ETH Zurich described as an adaptive solar facade . Via ETH Zurich Images © Block Research Group, ETH Zurich/Michael Lyrenmann and © Block Research Group, ETH Zurich/Naida Iljazovic

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Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill visitor center blends into the landscape with a rolling green roof

August 9, 2017 by  
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Prolific architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson crafted the Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill Visitor Center in Qingdao, China with a gorgeous rolling green roof . Located at the base of the Zhushan National Forest Park, the wooden building ‘s undulating canopy mimics the mountain range in the backdrop. At 223,000 square feet, the visitor center is certainly massive, however it was carefully designed to blend into its natural surroundings thanks to its subtle stature and verdant green roof. Additionally, the building is strategically oriented so that visitors can enjoy amazing views of the mountain range on one side and expansive sea views on the other end. Floor-to-ceiling glazed walls provide these views while illuminating the building with natural light . Related: Manetti Shrem Museum’s 50,000-square-foot canopy was inspired by the agrarian landscape The designers choose to use wood as the building’s principle material to create a strong connection to nature. The unique wooden truss roof structure uses large logs to support a layer of Canadian Class J SPF wood. At the center of the undulating roof is an abundance of lush greenery, further integrating the building into its environment. The green roof was strategically designed to insulate the interior and reduce the building’s overall carbon footprint. + Bohlin Cywinski Jackson Via Archdaily Photography by He Lian

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Vance Tsing Tao Pearl Hill visitor center blends into the landscape with a rolling green roof

Luscious eco-resort design in China inspired by the Silk Road

July 26, 2017 by  
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An existing native village in China is being transformed into a modern eco-resort that offers a variety of activities and spaces. Architects Jean Pierre HEIM and Carolyn HEIM of HEIMdesign approached the redesign of Sasseur eco-tourist village using “One Belt, One Road” development strategy that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among China and the rest of the world. The project will be implemented near the city of Chongqing– starting point of the Silk Road economic belt and the hub of a 21st century maritime Silk Road that connects the Chinese interior with the rest of the world. Taking advantage of the existing topography and incorporating an element of feng shui, the team divided the various buildings and facilities into categories like housing, entertainment, art etc. Related: Earthquake-Resistant Eco Village Wins Christchurch’s Breathe Competition The design combines traditional and contemporary elements, with references to the silk industry and raw silk production. The silk thread and the cocoon, the Mulberry tree and silk production in Chongqing are the inspirational elements for this project. The main idea was to keep the existing forms of the villages and existing homes and give a modern contemporary makeover. Included are a multi-media center, wellness and spa facilities , art galleries , green homes, a hotel and childcare facilities. + HEIMdesign

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Worlds first MUJI hotels to open in China and Japan

July 11, 2017 by  
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If you’ve ever dreamt of sleeping in a MUJI showroom, your retail wishes may soon become reality. The Japanese lifestyle brand is building their first-ever MUJI hotels in China and Japan designed in their beloved minimalist style. The hotels are planned for the cities of Shenzhen and Tokyo , with the first hotel expected to open in former later this year. Though it might come as a surprise, MUJI’s plans for its first hotel will be in the Chinese city of Shenzhen , not Tokyo. Creative studio Super Potato will design the MUJI development in Shenzhen that will rise to a height of four floors and include a store, restaurant, and hotel. The hotel will be located on the top two floors and comprise 79 rooms in five different layouts. The designers will furnish the rooms in a clean and minimalist style with MUJI products, from the toothbrushes to the bed sheets. Related: MUJI unveils trio of tiny prefab homes that can pop up almost anywhere Hotel guests will also have access to the fitness room, conference room, and other hotel facilities on the third floor. Retail and restaurant space will be located on the lower two levels. The world’s first MUJI hotel will be located in Shenzhen’s Futian Central District as part of the Shenye Shangcheng project. Japan’s first MUJI hotel is planned for the upscale Ginza district in Tokyo and when complete, will replace the nearby MUJI Yurakucho , currently the world’s largest MUJI store. The new MUJI development will be housed in a 10-story building, where the lower six levels will be used for retail and the remaining floors used for the hotel. Like the Shenzhen location, Tokyo’s MUJI hotel will be decked out in MUJI furnishings in an aesthetic iconic of the minimalist “no-brand” brand. The MUJI hotel in Japan will open Spring 2019. + MUJI Via Spoon & Tamago , ??

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BREAKING: Trump announces U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement

June 1, 2017 by  
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During a highly anticipated speech at the Rose Garden, climate denier President Donald Trump announced that the United States of America will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement secured under Barack Obama’s leadership. President Trump stated that the accord was “bad” and poorly negotiated by the Obama administration, and that he “is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first.” Part of Trump’s speech read, ”The Paris Accord is a BAD deal for Americans, and the President’s action today is keeping his campaign promise to put American workers first. The accord was negotiated poorly by the Obama administration and signed out of desperation. It frontloads costs on the American people to the detriment of our economy.” Before the announcement was officially made, Donald Trump was cited by The Daily Best telling congressional staffers on a conference call that he is withdrawing from the Paris accord. Energy policy adviser for the White House, Michael Catanzaro, confirmed that “the United States is getting out of the Paris agreement.” Catanzaro added that Trump “will be open to and will immediately be looking for a better deal.” Reportedly, the Trump administration will follow steps for withdrawal laid out in the agreement. In total, says Catanzaro, removing the U.S. from the deal will take four years. “But we’re going to make very clear to the world that we’re not going to be abiding by what the previous administration agreed to,” he said. Despite the fact that countries such as Costa Rica run on 100% renewable energy and Denmark once generated 400% of the power it needs from wind turbines , the Trump administration remains resistant to transitioning the U.S. to run on renewable energy resources. This is because President Trump, a businessman, believes that energy sourced from fossil fuels is the solution to making America great again – and he thinks climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese . Related: China says they’ll stay in the Paris Agreement – with or without Trump At the time of its signing, 195 countries, including the United States, pledged to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change in order to prevent global catastrophes which may result from rising temperatures. President Barack Obama committed America to a goal of lowering emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The broad aim was to increase these cuts over time. With the United States exiting the Paris Agreement, carbon emissions are likely to increase, potentially propelling global disasters resulting from rising sea levels , severe weather conditions, and increased temperatures. On a positive note, China and the European Union are prepared to publicly recommit to the agreement with or without the United States. Also, Trump cannot technically withdraw from the agreement until November of 2019. Finally, many U.S.-based companies, including Apple , have ambitious goals to run on 100% clean energy in the near future. With support from educated consumers, the U.S. may reach its previously contracted emissions goal with or without the President’s support. Via CNN Images via Pixabay , Wikimedia Creative Commons

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Brilliant bamboo house uses ground water for natural cooling

April 14, 2017 by  
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This experimental bamboo home is helping to set the pace for sustainable growth in China. Milan-based Studio Cardenas designed Energy Efficient Bamboo House, a home with a minimal carbon footprint and Feng Shui-inspired construction. Located in the Longquan International Bamboo Commune in Zhejiang, the energy-saving abode uses locally available natural materials to create a cost-effective building that saves substantially on energy use. The architects built the house primarily out of bamboo, a renewable material that grows in abundance in the Baoxi area. “For the structure of the Energy Efficient Bamboo House we explored new ways of building using bamboo as a construction material,” wrote Studio Cardenas. “Sustainability for us is not only the use of natural materials such as bamboo but to design appropriate construction solutions.” To that end, the architects developed a modular “industrialized bamboo construction system” with precise geometry and lightweight aluminum connections to allow for easy expansion, disassembly, and transport. Drawing upon the building’s Chinese context, the architects applied Feng Shui principles to the layout, which comprises nine squares on each floor. The interior is mostly open plan with minimal dividing walls to allow positive energy (Qi) and natural ventilation to flow freely. The modular bamboo construction sits on a rammed earth base that houses the technical room, while gray Chinese clay tiles clad the exterior and terra-cotta clay tops the roof. Related: Rammed earth school in Vietnam blooms like a colorful jungle flower To minimize energy use, the Energy Efficient Bamboo House uses groundwater coupled with a geothermal heat pump for indoor heating and cooling. Since this system takes advantage of earth’s naturally stabilized temperatures, it’s at least 25 percent more energy efficient than conventional systems and is estimated to use 15 percent less energy than traditional chiller plants. + Studio Cardenas

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Brilliant bamboo house uses ground water for natural cooling

Copycat Tower Bridge in China sparks controversy

March 2, 2017 by  
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China is infamous for copying famous architecture from other countries – according to The New York Times the country boasts 10 White Houses, a couple of Great Sphinxes, four Arcs de Triomphe, and at minimum one Eiffel Tower. Now in the city of Suzhou, a Tower Bridge based on London’s iconic landmark is drawing attention, although the New York Times says it’s unclear why the bridge , which was completed in 2012, has suddenly been garnering international notice. Images of Suzhou’s Tower Bridge have drawn awe – one news outlet described the Chinese bridge as even more magnificent than the original. Suzhou’s bridge certainly is much larger; it accommodates a five-lane highway and flaunts four towers instead of two. Pedestrian walkways and observation platforms allow people to enjoy the views and architecture of the bridge. Related: China officially bans ‘weird’ architecture But not everyone is enamored with the Chinese Tower Bridge. Suzhou, which has been called the Venice of the East, has its own architectural traditions, such as whitewashed courtyard houses and ancient gardens. Some of China’s most beautiful traditional architecture can be found in the city. Li Yingwu, president of Beijing-based firm OAD Group , called Suzhou’s Tower Bridge plagiarism. He said, “I was really surprised that it got built in Suzhou, because it has preserved its culture really well. It shows that local officials lack confidence in their own culture. They don’t understand that architecture essentially is about culture. It’s not merely an object.” One news outlet, JSChina.com.cn , even suggested the copycat bridge would hinder promotion of the country’s traditional culture. Suzhou has 56 other copycat bridges, according to The New York Times, imitating international bridges like Australia’s Sydney Harbor Bridge or Paris’ Alexandre III Bridge. Architect Cheng Taining of the Chinese Academy of Engineering told Beijing News in 2015 some officials believe foreign-style structures bestow status on an area, making it look more modern or sophisticated. Via ArchDaily and The New York Times Images via CCTV Facebook

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World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion-years-old

March 2, 2017 by  
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Around four billion years ago, bacteria formed tiny tubes and filaments, likely in deep-sea hydrothermal vents. An international team of scientists lead by the University College London (UCL) recently discovered those microorganism remains, preserved for billions of years, which the scientists think could be the oldest fossils humans have ever unearthed. The discovery might even hold clues to life on other planets like Mars .

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World’s oldest fossils discovered in Canada – and they’re 4 billion-years-old

Net-zero Acacia Avenue House saves up to 90% of heating and cooling costs

March 2, 2017 by  
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This energy-efficient home in Oakland Hills features a patented steel construction technology inspired by the aerospace industry. The house, designed by BONE Structure , features state-of-the-art sustainable technologies and materials which make it not only highly ecological, but also built to last. The house has a soy-based polyurethane thermal envelope that provides optimal insulation. This technology patented by BONE Structure allows homeowners to save up to 90% of their heating and cooling energy costs . All BONE Structure homes are open-concept living spaces without load-bearing walls and have large windows that let in ample amounts of natural light . Related: Low-impact Cape Cod house is designed to provide all its energy on-site The house that is currently for sale features bay and canyon views, floor-to-ceiling windows and a bright open interior. It boasts five bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, a living room, home office, gourmet kitchen and a two car garage with interior access. + BONE Structure

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