Self-sustaining island eco-lodge in Florida has its own desalination system

February 21, 2017 by  
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For those looking to get away from the chaos of modern life, a stunning luxury eco-lodge is currently on the market. The solar-powered Melody Key Lodge is a timber home located on 5.24 acres of secluded island paradise, just 25 miles from Key West, Florida. But if you’re on a tight budget, you might not want to read on. The breathtaking lodge previously owned by an undisclosed rockstar comprises a three-story timber structure with three bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms. The top open floor, which houses the gourmet kitchen, dining area, living and lounge space, offers beautiful 360-degree views of the ocean. Lucky guests will be able to choose between a dip in the pristine beaches or the adjacent freshwater pool. Related: For $2.3 million, this breathtaking self-sufficient Scottish island could be yours The home, which is listed for $6,900,000, is perfect for wealthy folks looking to go off grid . In addition to its integrated solar system and backup generator, there’s also a desalination water system. Add in all-you-can-eat seafood, and off-grid living has never been so luxurious. + Engel & Völkers Florida Keys Via Uncrate  

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Self-sustaining island eco-lodge in Florida has its own desalination system

Star-shaped Schneider Electric building in South Africa aims for LEED Gold certification

February 7, 2017 by  
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The Midrand Waterfall Development in South Africa will soon receive a couple of world-class, energy-efficient additions aiming for the highest green certification in the country. The first among them, the Schneider Electric office designed by Aevitas Group is a star-shaped structure optimized for a superior energy performance, targeting a LEED Gold certification . Located on a five-sided site, the building assumes a star-shaped form. It was designed as a perimeter building with a central, enclosed, quadruple-volume atrium flooded with natural light that penetrates the interior through large skylights. The atrium features landscaped elements and planters that double as public seating. Related: BIG’s battleship-inspired LEED Gold office opens in Philadelphia The architects conducted extensive energy performance studies, analyzing thermal loads on the building. As a result, the facades are single glazed, double glazed and clad in insulated aluminium panels . Thanks to low-flow fittings, the water consumption has been reduced by 30 percent, while the efficient drip-irrigation systems reduce water consumption by 55 percent. An efficient waste management plan reduce the amount of waste generated during the construction. Renewable energy systems, lighting control, BMS, daylighting control and HVAC systems add to the sustainability of the design. + Aevitas Group Via solid GREEN

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Star-shaped Schneider Electric building in South Africa aims for LEED Gold certification

8 innovations that will electrify 2017

February 2, 2017 by  
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Distributed energy resource (DER) valuation, electric vehicles and alternative capital planning are front of mind for grid innovators.

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8 innovations that will electrify 2017

The long view: A conversation with RMI’s CEO Jules Kortenhorst

February 2, 2017 by  
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General Motors, Salesforce and many others prove corporate demand for renewable energy is charging forward, never mind the moves from Washington.

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The long view: A conversation with RMI’s CEO Jules Kortenhorst

8 surprising uses for hemp that could make the world a greener place

January 30, 2017 by  
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Hemp isn’t just for hackin’ the sack at Phish shows or making rope. This amazing plant, a non-psychoactive variety of cannabis grown specifically for industrial purposes, has a vast number of applications for a greener planet. Cultivated hemp grows quickly in a wide variety of climates and does not degrade the soil in which it is grown. Tune in, turn on, and read this feature to learn the latest developments in the magical (yet still illegal in most countries) world of hemp. Housing Hemp can processed into a durable material that was once used by Henry Ford to construct a car that was lighter, less expensive and consumed less power than traditional metal cars. These principles have also been applied to housing throughout the world. In the United Kingdom, farmer Nick Voase turned his own grown hemp into an amazing eco-house, held together by lime, that is cool in summer, warm in winter, and even features a walk-in fridge made out of hemp. In South Africa, hemp advocate Tony Budden is working hard to demonstrate the value of the wonder plant; he and his partner built the country’s first hemp home. Northern Ireland’s Bevan Architects  used hemp to construct a simple low-impact cottage on a riverside apple orchard for an environmentally friendly retreat from urban living. Lastly, in Australia, Mihaus Studio built a prefabricated hemp-based modular space that can be adapted for a wide variety of purposes. Plastic Traditional plastic is derived from non-renewable resources and is non-biodegradable, which means that disposed plastic usually ends up in ever expanding landfills. Enter our hero, hemp, a renewable resource which can be used to produce biodegradable plastic. A shift to the greener hemp would not require a sacrifice of quality . Hemp plastic may be up to 5 times stiffer and 2.5 stronger than traditional plastic made from polypropylene and unlike glass fibers, hemp plastic would not pose safety and health risks. Designers, such as  Studio Aisslinger , have incorporated this fine bioplastic into its products, such as the chair shown above. Pet Toys Hemp isn’t only for humans. Dogs, cats, and other furry, feathered, or scaly friends can also benefit from the plant. Honest Pet Products has created a line of pet toys made from sustainable hemp and organic wool. The method by which these toys are produced is also beneficial for the environment and community. The toys are manufactured by adults with developmental disabilities in Wisconsin and women living in the Gobi Desert and Nepal, who simultaneously support their family with their work and vow to protect the local snow leopards as a condition for their employment. Energy Storage Graphene  has received a great deal of attention for its superstrength and its astounding ability as a superconductor of electricity. Lost in this storm is the fact that hemp may be able to replicate graphene’s function as a supercapacitor, a revolutionary energy storage device, at a radically lower cost . David Mitlin of Clarkson University , New York discovered hemp’s superconductive properties by “cooking” plant material in a process. “Once you dissolve the lignin and the semicellulose, it leaves these carbon nanosheets – a pseudo-graphene structure,” said Mitlin. These nanosheets are then fabricated into electrodes, infused with an ionic liquid as an electrolyte, and function as supercapacitors that work in a wide range of temperatures and conditions. Mitlin founded a small company, Alta Supercaps , with the goal of producing hemp-based supercapacitors on a small scale. Insulation Not only is hemp a durable material for housing structure, it also is an excellent insulator. In Belgium,  Martens Van Caimere Architecten  renovated a local home with a sustainable hemp-based insulation material known as hempcrete . Hempcrete is a mixture of lime, hemp, and water that is superior to concrete in its sustainability and cost while also offering better insulation. “In our projects we try finding solutions to lower the building costs,” said architect Nikolaas Martens. “In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Belgians were building houses that were badly or not insulated. So renovating these houses in a sustainable way tends to be expensive. Hempcrete combines the insulation and finishing in one layer, reducing building costs. Plus it is durable and sustainable, because it is made from a waste product.” Airplanes Fly high in the sky with hemp! In 2014, Canada-based Hempearth  contracted with a Florida-based plane manufacturer to build an airplane almost entirely out of hemp material . The plane will seat four people and have a wingspan of 36 feet. Approximately 75 percent of the plane will be constructed of industrial hemp. Originally scheduled for its first flight (appropriately out of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina) in 2015, the plane has yet to fly. Hempearth is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their project. Biofuel Not satisfied with simply being made from hemp, the designers at Hempearth also plan for their plane to be powered entirely by hemp-based biofuel . While hemp biodiesel has great potential, there are currently legal and economic barriers to widespread adoption . “That particularly, is very much an issue of economies of scale,” said Arthur Hanks, executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance. “We are still very much a specialty crop.”  The limited production of hemp is primarily geared towards the health food market, in which hemp provides the greatest return to farmers. “Every pound that’s being produced goes into the food chain,” Paul Bobbee, a Canadian hemp grower. While hemp production is legal in Canada, the continued haziness surrounding hemp policy in the United States suppresses the market.  If hemp production were legalized nationwide, “it would help regularize hemp in America, and help to increase markets,” said Hanks. Food Bring on the munchies. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, sprouted, or ground up while the iconic hemp leaf can be thrown into a salad. Hemp seeds are high in protein and have a similar amino acid profile to meat, milk, and eggs. Often cold-pressed into oil form, hemp seeds are a rich source of Vitamin B, iron, dietary fiber, magnesium and zinc. Although illegal to produce in most American states, hemp can be imported as a food product. As of 2011, the U.S. imported $11.5 million worth of hemp products. Images via  The Event Chronicle , vhcmor/Flickr , Christina Griffin ,  Cedric Verhelst , Hempearth , FluffyMuppet/Flickr , Wikimedia Commons   (2) , Don Goofy/Flickr , Studio Aisslinger   and Bob Doran/Flickr

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8 surprising uses for hemp that could make the world a greener place

A new efficiency standard challenges data center status quo

January 27, 2017 by  
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It was a big deal when ASHRAE released a standard just for data centers.

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A new efficiency standard challenges data center status quo

California’s Grid Geeks: Mastering kinetic force

January 27, 2017 by  
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California’s wind and solar farms can generate the electricity to power its grid — but it needn’t go it alone.

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California’s Grid Geeks: Mastering kinetic force

Tech entrepreneur renovates UK castle into a giant happy office space

January 20, 2017 by  
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When entrepreneur Chris Morling decided to renovate a historic castle into his company’s UK headquarters, he looked for a designer who would think out of the box, and well … that’s exactly what he got. Morling hired famed designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen who teamed up with Interaction to take on the massive task of transforming the “ugly, unfriendly and un-creative” interior into a dizzyingly vibrant office space with plenty of sustainable features for money.co.uk . https://youtu.be/KiSFafxBGpk Located in Cirencester, UK, the 10,000-square-foot Victorian Castle is now filled with a dizzying hodgepodge of colorful paints and quirky design features , from Rolling Stone-inspired toilets and suits of armour to a Star Wars-themed cinema and even an ice cave meeting room. Although certainly flashy, the office space is really geared to the comfort of the employees. There are plenty of distinct areas for team meetings or quiet nooks like the library for a little bit of solitude. Nature lovers can enjoy the large vertical garden wall in the reception area, which is equipped with automatic water release system. Related: Medieval Italian Castle Transformed into Modern Mountain Museum Mr. Morling told the Daily Mail that the inspiration behind the renovation was to make his employees happy, “It is about making this a wonderful place, a productive place to work,” he said. “What we have done is modeled all the design around the needs of the team. Some people want to stand while they work, some people to work alone. Ultimately it boils down to creating a space where you feel comfortable.” Thankfully though, this design isn’t purely in-your-face aesthetics. The castle was installed with a super-efficient high specification energy recovery system that provides fresh air ventilation into every single room in the castle, cutting down on the office’s energy needs. For further energy conservation , each room is equipped with passive infrared sensors that light up when people are in the room and turn off when they aren’t. + Money.co.uk + Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen + Interaction Via The Daily Mail Images courtesy of Interaction

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Tech entrepreneur renovates UK castle into a giant happy office space

A clean energy economy brings billions in benefits

January 13, 2017 by  
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The clean-energy transition would cost about $320 billion a year from 2020 to 2050, but the benefits would be far greater.

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A clean energy economy brings billions in benefits

New zero-energy districts: A mile high and growing

January 4, 2017 by  
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Colorado takes the cake for upcoming net zero energy districts to watch in 2017 and beyond.

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New zero-energy districts: A mile high and growing

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