California approves rule to require solar panels on new houses

December 12, 2018 by  
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The California Building Standards Commission has given its final approval to a new housing rule that is the first of its kind in the United States. Starting in 2020, the commission is requiring that all new homes built in the state include solar panels. “These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country,” said commissioner Kent Sasaki. “[It’s] the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels .” Related: California waters could open soon to offshore wind farms In addition to the solar panel requirement, the new standard also includes an incentive for homeowners to add a high-capacity battery to their electrical system to store the sun’s energy. The rule does have an exemption for homes that are built in locations that are often in the shade. California has a history of setting trends across the country, and this new rule is the next step in the state’s progressive environmental policy. The state has a goal of sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions and drawing all of its electricity from renewable energy sources. The California Energy Commission first endorsed the solar panel rule back in May as part of California’s Green Building Standards Code. This past week, the Building Standards Commission added the requirement with a unanimous vote. Drew Bohan, executive director of the energy commission, said that the homes built under the new rule should use about 50 percent less energy compared to previous standards. The new solar power requirement is for single-family homes and multi-family buildings up to three stories high. It will add about $10,000 to the upfront cost of a home, but the lower electricity bills should balance that out over time. Bohan said that over the course of a 30-year mortgage, a homeowner should save about $19,000. Homeowners will have the option of buying the panels outright, leasing them or taking part in a power purchase agreement with the home builder. Via NPR Image via Ulleo

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Minimalist TRIPTYCH house pulls the Quebec outdoors in

December 12, 2018 by  
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Nestled in the Laurentian Mountains about a hundred kilometers from Montreal is TRIPTYCH, a crisp and contemporary home that blurs the boundaries of indoor and outdoor living. Designed by Montreal-based architecture firm yh2 , the residence was built in the image of three interconnected pavilions fitted out in a natural material palette as well as full-height glazing to pull the forested landscape indoors. Envisioned as a “theatrical stage for the surrounding nature,” the sculptural abode was carefully situated and angled for optimized views accentuated by the roofs that slope upwards in three directions. Constructed over the span of two years in Wentworth-Nord, Quebec, TRIPTYCH includes 2,500 square feet of living space spread out across two floors. The main living spaces—comprising an open-plan kitchen, dining room, and living room—are centrally located on the first floor in addition to an office, spacious outdoor terrace, and a guest suite located in the west wing. The master bedroom, on the other hand, is found on the ground floor’s east wing beneath the living room and is separated from the interior parking garage on the east end by centrally located storage and utility rooms. “The architects designed this building with a classical triptych in mind,” explains the firm in their project statement. “It features a central piece, with direct views of Lac St-Cyr, and two side pavilions meant to be in more intimate contact with the nearby trees. The project is about the idea of fragmentation; it evolved from the desire to integrate three discrete shapes among existing trees on naturally sloping grounds.” The three pavilions are connected with two glassed-in passageways. Related: Decrepit lumberjack shack transformed into a beautiful retreat with minimal site impact Natural materials were predominately used in construction. Eastern cedar planks clad the exterior facade and continue into the entrance area to blur the line between the indoors and out. The interior walls and ceiling are mainly gypsum board or white cedar while the floors are white oak or polished concrete. Black aluminum casings on the wide patio doors and windows provide a pop of contrast against the light-colored wood. + yh2 Photo credit: Maxime Brouillet

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Minimalist TRIPTYCH house pulls the Quebec outdoors in

Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape

December 12, 2018 by  
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A family’s wish to spend time in a self-sufficient weekend home has resulted in a beautiful modular design. Located just southeast of Melbourne, the solar-powered Fish Creek Home is a prefab design, comprised of two Archiblox modules that boast various sustainable features that make the home completely energy efficient. The large home, which is 1,371 square feet, is clad in corrugated Colorbond in a slate grey color. A wooden pergola and wrap-around deck are made out of natural timber panels . Built to reduce impact on the landscape, the interior space is comprised of just two elongated modules, the main living area and the bedrooms. The sleeping module was oriented to the northwest to protect it from the wind. Strategic skylights allow for stunning night sky views. Butting up to a lush green forest, this part of the home is calm and quiet, the perfect atmosphere to enjoy a soak in the private outdoor bathtub that sits on the deck. Related: Australia’s first carbon-positive prefab house produces more energy than it consumes The living module was orientated to the North to make the most out of the amazing sea views. Multiple floor-to-ceiling glass facades and windows flood the interior living space with natural light . A pair of large sliding doors open up to a wrap around deck, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. The two spaces are connected by sliding doors that can close to provide a noise barrier between the rooms. Additionally, closing the wall allows the home to minimize heat loss in the wintertime. The home’s beautiful design is not only pleasing to the eye, but also hides a powerhouse system of sustainability . The home runs on a rooftop solar power array. Operable windows and doors throughout the home provide optimal cross ventilation while a wood-burning fireplace keeps the energy use down in wintertime. Additionally, the home was installed with a rainwater collection system to reduce water waste. The landscaping around the home was left in its natural state, with expansive stretches of greenery that lead out to the sea. The homeowners plan to use this space to create a permaculture edible garden so that their home is 100 percent sustainable. + Archiblox Via Dwell Images via Archiblox

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Solar-powered modular retreat design in Melbourne inspired by the local landscape

INFOGRAPHIC: The challenges and benefits of autonomous vehicles

August 4, 2016 by  
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Autonomous vehicles have finally come of age and will revolutionize the way people commute by improving traffic flow, easing road travel hassles and improving road safety. But to achieve these goals, the autonomous vehicle industry will have to overcome a host of legal, ethical and engineering challenges. To learn more, checkout this infographic created by Ohio University’s Online Masters in Electrical Engineering degree program. + Ohio University

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INFOGRAPHIC: The challenges and benefits of autonomous vehicles

Super Bowl power outage sheds light on smart grid

February 5, 2013 by  
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The 34-minute blackout was a potent reminder of the electrical grid's vulnerability and how energy management startups are poised to prevent future outages.

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Super Bowl power outage sheds light on smart grid

Dominion and FuelCell Energy to Build North America’s Largest Fuel Cell Power Plant in Connecticut

December 18, 2012 by  
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Dominion , a large energy company based in Virginia, and FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCE), a Connecticut manufacturer of fuel cell power plants, have announced that they will be developing the largest fuel cell power plant in North America. Located in Bridgeport, Conn., the plant will use a clean-tech process to transform natural gas into electricity. The 14.9 megawatt facility will produce enough electricity for about 15,000 homes delivered through a local micro-grid. Read the rest of Dominion and FuelCell Energy to Build North America’s Largest Fuel Cell Power Plant in Connecticut Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: clean , connecticut , Dominion , electrical , fuel cell , FuelCell , generation , power plant , renewable , renewable energy

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Dominion and FuelCell Energy to Build North America’s Largest Fuel Cell Power Plant in Connecticut

Self-Healing Circuits Could Lead to Longer-Lasting Electronics

December 21, 2011 by  
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A team of engineers at the University of Illinois have figured out how to create self-healing circuits in electronics and batteries, a discovery that could lead to longer equipment life and make a nice dent in the piles of e-waste plaguing the planet. As electronics have become more complex, one small circuit failure can render a device useless, especially since it is hard or often impossible to diagnose where that failure occurred to fix it. Nancy Sottos, an engineer working on the project said: “In general there’s not much avenue for manual repair. Sometimes you just can’t get to the inside. In a multilayer integrated circuit, there’s no opening it up. Normally you just replace the whole chip. It’s true for a battery too. You can’t pull a battery apart and try to find the source of the failure.” The solution her team came up with was an army of microcapsules about 10 microns in diameter dispersed along a circuit. When a crack occurs in the circuit, the microcapsules break open and release a liquid metal that fills in the crack and restores the electrical flow. The time between a failure and the microcapsules filling the crack is only a few microseconds. In tests, 90 percent of the samples were healed to 99 percent of their original conductivity. It also require zero human intervention. Only the microcapsules intercepted by a crack opened while the others remained intact. The engineers see this breakthrough as especially useful for air and spacecraft where miles of conductive wire would have to be gone through to diagnose a failure. The team, which originally used microcapsules to create self-healing polymers, want to see what other applications they may have. via Physorg

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The good, the bad and the ugly about Smart Meters

October 22, 2011 by  
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Garima Goel: Smart Meters Smart Meters For those who want to keep a tab on the electricity consumption for their home or business, the Smart Meters are a great option. Unlike the traditional meters, the smart meter helps you in tracking your energy consumption on hourly, daily, weekly or month basis. The data offered by smart meter will help you make better energy choices, and will give you full control over your energy bills. Moreover, smart meters can also transmit and receive data, which helps in remote reporting. The smart meter technology is being utilized popularly in different nations. These energy counting devices are available in market with various features. The good benefits of Smart Meters benefits of Smart Meters for the consumers Smart meters are being regarded with great favour in homes and business globally. This popularity is due to the reason that the energy saving is more convenient by making use of smart meters as they monitor the energy that is consumed by the users. The smart meters can also interact with electrical devices like TVs and washing machines. These devices can also broadcast the present price of the energy consumed by the electrical appliances. This technology would enhance energy conservation and also minimise the energy costs. The most prompting advantage of installing a smart meter is that the consumers will not be issued any erroneous electrical bills. The smart meters will help in cutting the energy consumption and therefore indirectly national carbon emissions. The product can be therefore categorized as eco-friendly. The bad Smart Meters Cost are Smart Meters Costly While smart meters have various advantages, they also come with certain drawbacks and challenges to the consumers. The smart meter is very costly and this is the most prominent lowdown due to which, they are not favoured much, by everyone. These cunning little gizmos make use of a communicating thermostat to interact with electrical devices at home. The smart meters are installed with an in-home display where the details about the current energy usage are shown. The GPRS technology used by the device keep your electricity supplier au fait of the energy that you have consumed and also allows you to check your gas and electricity consumption on the internet. With all such costly components and software, the smart meter by all odds will be expensive. Moreover, the knowhow of the technology and software installed with the smart meter is necessary for the customer. The ugly Safe Smart Meters are Smart Meters safe The most horrible disadvantage of smart meters is the microwave radio frequency radiation emitted by the installation of these devices, which cause various health hazards. These devices when set up at homes or other commercial buildings will radiate microwaves that are dangerous for health of humans and animals as well. Therefore consumers, especially electro-sensitive persons have given an account of various health problems. The microwave radio frequency is used in the communication process between smart meters and electronic devices. Tumors and cancer risks, DNA damage, cognitive difficulties and heart problems are some of the series health problems that are caused due to these radiations. So overall, the smart meters are not worthy at all. You can afford to buy a smart meter but not at the cost of your health. Why are we so critical? Everything has its pros and cons, and so is with smart meters. Many companies are manufacturing the smart meters with various attractive features. The technology used by smart meters keep a record of your daily energy consumption and thus can help you to cut off the extra energy that was consumed by you. Of course, establishing the smart meters in your households or any other commercial place would certainly not be cheap. Moreover, after installing the device, you need to be cautious while maneuvering the device. As most of the electrical appliance will be connected with the smart meter using a certain technique or some particular software, you need to handle it with extra care. Regarding the health problems called by radiations, many companies are taking precautions to fabricate a product that is safe for the users. But, you cannot be sure about the long term impacts of the smart meters. The bottomline Because smart meters tend to save energy, therefore the product is definitely an eco product. With various modifications, the disadvantages of the product can be removed, thereby making the product safe and secure to be used. Though the initial cost of the smart meter is high, we should not forget the reductions given to us in the future energy bills.

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Five most amazing pedal powered boats

October 21, 2011 by  
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Apara Bhattacharya: Amazing pedal powered boats Most amazing pedal powered boats Boats were the conventional means of transport that is nowadays a great choice for the eco- conscious generation. Although you cannot deny the drawbacks of boats in comparison to the modern automobiles, if you are solely focused on the level of pollution imparted by the modern vehicles and that of boats, the latter always tops the list of most effective means of transport that causes almost no pollution. Boats are better regarded as human powered water vehicles that can be both human driven and motor driven. Not only this, boats also vary according to their construction, function and capacity. Thus, while on one hand simple and conventional boats, driven by two boatmen or a single boatman in there, pedal boats are also there on the other hand. Likewise submarines, hydrofoils, etc. are also there in the category of water crafts. Here are five boats that run on pedals and are unique in their own ways. 1. WiTHiN pedal powered boat WiTHiN WiTHiN – a pedal powered boat This is a boat that runs on human power and has the ability to stride across the ocean. This human powered boat, Ocean WiTHiN draws its inspiration from the water craft, WiTHiN. The body of this water vehicle is made from fiberglass which are in the form of flat carbon fiber panel that are stitched together to form the hull at the bottom. The base of the same comprises of a double kayak hull, which was donated to the designer of WiTHiN by Steve Schleicher of Nimbus Kayaks and sponsor and adviser of PedalTheOcean. The designers of this boat are Rick Willoughby and the award winning naval architect, Stuart Bloomfield. 2. Solar and Human Powered Concept Boat Solar and Human Powered Solar and Human Powered Concept Boat This boat has been designed by the French designer, Jonathan Mahieddine. This is solar powered boat that has the dual function of running on human power as well. The most notable feature of this boat is that unlike the conventional boats it targets at zero noise emission while floating on the water. The unique appearance of this boat has a wide deck that is a great option for relaxing amidst nature with your whole family, while having a wide view of the ocean. Moreover, you can also enjoy sunbathing while on boards. The human operated oars are also beneficial for exercising your hand muscles while floating in the ocean. But when you feel tired, switch over to the solar powered mode and let the boat sail by the energy it has accumulated in its solar cells throughout the day. 3. Torpedalo designed by Bentley engineers Torpedalo Torpedalo designed by Bentley engineers This boat is a combined creation of two engineers from Bentley, who have the aim of crossing the Atlantic this December in their self made boat, thereby covering more than 3000 miles in ocean and setting a world record. The designers of this boat are Mark Byass and Mike Sayer. They will have a competition with twenty five such racing boats in the world championship known as Woodvale Challenge Atlantic Rowing Race. The boat, Torpedalo, which they have made, features a fiber glass body, which is made from carbon fiber panels. It has a length of nine meters and is also equipped with solar panels for capturing green energy from the sun and using it to produce fresh water by desalinating ocean water and also to empower devices that they will carry on board, such as GPS, radar, satellite phone, etc. 4. Ilha by Alexandre Bellerose Zero-emission pedal-powered boat concept Ilha Ilha by Alexandre Bellerose Zero-emission pedal-powered boat concept Now water rafting is going to be more fun with the help of the green boat that will not harm marine life as conventional water vehicles do by toxic emissions and awful noises. This boat has been designed by an eco conscious designer, named Alexandre Bellerose and is human powered. The passengers on board are supposed to pedal the boat and make it cut through the waters and move ahead. The extended feature of this boat are that it has a light weighted, folding foundation, which when stretched, becomes almost an small private island for those on board and provide them opportunities for various water activities. Together with it, water rafting in summers is also pleasant in this boat as it has a folding umbrella that collapses to become a fan so that the occupants can adjust the exposure to sun as per their choice. 5. Waterbug by Garry Hoyt and the Harken brothers Waterbug Waterbug by Garry Hoyt and the Harken brothers This is a strange looking boat, made by the nautical manufacturer, Fisheries Supply. It is an outcome of the joint venture of yacht designer and sailing innovator brothers, Garry Hoyt and Harken. The body of the boat is made from roto molded material and has a two seated option. It also features an electric propulsion package.

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What’s next: Bladeless wind turbines

October 21, 2011 by  
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Mahashweta Patra: Wind turbine Future of wind turbines As we know it You must be aware of the fact that wind turbines are very helpful in making efficient use of renewable source of energy. The wind turbines are such device, which convert various forms of energy into electrical energy. The kinetic energy first is transformed into mechanical energy, and is ultimately used to generate electrical power. In current times, wind turbines are mainly available in two versions. One is vertical wind turbines and second is horizontal wind turbine types. However, many portable forms of wind turbines are also developed to fulfill all day-to-day domestic needs like battery charging and many more. Research is still on to advance the wind turbine technology through various efficient ways. Wind turbines without blades are also invented in order to minimize many air accidents with birds and bats. One more concern is also taken into consideration regarding noise pollution created by wind turbines in land areas. In this way, many advanced form of wind turbines are demanded apart from conventional types of wind turbines. Need for change There is always a possibility of demerits associated with everything that exists in the world. The technology using wind energy also contains some major disadvantages along with it. Wind turbines should be always situated in areas with consistent wind supply. At the same time, wind turbines are also responsible for causing wildlife threat, noise pollution, disturbance with television and radio signals, and many more. However, the negative impacts associated with wind turbines are reduced through several modifications in their conventional designs. As a result, wind turbines with no blades are introduced due to which several complications like noise pollution, wildlife threat especially birds and bats, and radar interference are pacified. The bladeless wind turbines are also efficient to deliver a very low maintenance cost to the man. Therefore, some major bladeless wind turbines are invented. What’s next? 1. Bladeless wind turbines inspired by Tesla Bladeless wind turbine inspired by Tesla Solar Aero’s bladeless wind turbine is a noise-free way to generate wind power What’s new The new thing introduced in these wind turbines is the use of the design presented by Tesla. The conventional turbine blades are replaced by the parallel and thin metal discs with spacers. The entire device is enclosed in the form of compact portable set up. The device is able to convert the energy of fluid or airflow into potential work. As the wind flows through the areas between the disks, air passage ultimately adapts the inward flow direction and leads to disc rotation. As a result, the disc rotation also causes the shaft movement. The number of discs is directly proportional to the amount of power generation. What difference will it make The main highlights of bladeless Tesla wind turbines are the less noisy application, comparatively safer in use in respect of wildlife injuries, no radar interference situation, and many more. It is also useful in domestic as well as commercial aspects in terms of reliability and cost cutting factors. Problems The development, however, is still on with bladeless wind turbines. As a result, currently no definite manufacturing process has started yet. 2. Windspire Windspire Bladeless design and capacity to produce nearly 2000 kilowatt hours per year What’s new Windspire is another wind turbine that is very incredibly designed with no presence of blades. The unique sleek design makes it visually very attractive and safer for birds too. The device has efficiency to produce about 2000 Kilowatts hours power per year. The whole design is prepared with 30 feet length by 2 feet wideness. The Windspire wind turbine is very much efficient to reduce the chances of noise pollution. What difference will it make The Windspire wind turbine machine produces about 25 decibels of noise, which is almost equivalent to average noise produced in any living society. A wireless monitoring facility is also provided with such type of wind turbines. As a result, you can easily monitor or attain the complete information regarding power generation. Problem The only problem with Windspire device is the high purchasing cost. 3. Mekaro Akita’s windmill Mekaro Akita’s windmill Mekaro Akita has developed a windmill that uses cylinders replacing propeller blades What’s new The Mekero Akita’s windmill is a special windmill designed with no blades. The uncommon design helps to deliver harmless generation of electric power. What difference will it make The entire device works by using cylinders instead of wind blades. Around five cylinders are attached with 10-meter diameter measurement. Each of these cylinders rotates in order to produce electricity. Problem The initial electric unit is used to start the function of cylinders. The entire eco-friendly set-up is useful in two ways – for protecting birds from injuries and for using wind energy proficiently.

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