This futuristic vertical factory feeds off a city’s waste to produce energy

April 13, 2017 by  
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Most factories gobble up natural resources while belching out pollution – but could these mammoth buildings actually benefit the cities of the future? Designers Tianshu Liu and Lingshen Xie just unveiled plans for a cleaner and greener vertical factory that doubles as a self-sustaining ecosystem . The soaring structure consists of alternating layers of industry and nature that support each other to create a sustainable urban environment. The forward-thinking design recently came in second place in the 2017 Evolo Skyscraper Competition . The multi-layered complexes would actively contribute to the environment of megacities, emitting zero CO2 emissions, improving local energy efficiency , and providing a higher quality of life for factory workers. Related: China plans its first “Forest City” to fight air pollution The vertical factory was inspired by the rapidly-growing city of Manila, where urbanization is spawning new industries and more pollution. The Vertical Factory would ensure green growth by transforming the city’s organic waste into water, fertilizer, heat and electricity. Via Evolo

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This futuristic vertical factory feeds off a city’s waste to produce energy

Mesmerizing building explores the past, present, and future of energy

April 12, 2017 by  
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London-based architect Asif Khan just unveiled plans for a mesmerizing building that explores the evolution of energy since the beginning of time. The massive cylindrical pavilion takes visitors on a computer-generated tour that starts with the origins of energy and ends with present-day sustainable energy production . The project will serve as the UK pavilion at the Astana Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan. Khan’s pavilion, We Are Energy, uses sound and animation to depict the creation of energy from the beginning of time. As visitors enter the 2,200 square-meter pavilion , a computer-generated simulation of the world is projected onto a 360-degree screen. At the center of the structure is an illuminated canopy – a nod to human ingenuity. Related: UN Studio pavilion in Amsterdam rises like a bioluminescent creature from the deep The architect worked in collaboration with Catherine Heymans, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh , to develop the scientific timeline of the presentation, which is broken up into four sections: the “expansion of the universe”, “human ingenuity, “landscape and nature” and “UK innovation”. Each section has its own specific soundscape composed by musician Brian Eno. The pavilion’s ethos fits in perfectly with the theme for the Astana Expo 2017, which is the “Future Energy.” Khan’s says that the pavilion seeks to promote the development of sustainable energy sources and technologies: “The universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago. At that moment all energy and matter was in the same place at the same time. The idea that everything, including life on earth, is comprised of this archaic energy is fascinating to me.” “I wanted to find a way to express this relationship to our visitors and explore how energy is being continually harnessed and balanced around us,” he added. + Asif Khan Via Dezeen

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Mesmerizing building explores the past, present, and future of energy

Futuristic floating skyscraper ‘heals’ the effects of climate change

April 12, 2017 by  
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Climate change is rapidly affecting every corner of the earth – but could an innovative new skyscraper help turn the tide? Heal-Berg is a proposal for a gigantic iceberg-shaped skyscraper designed to stop, heal and reverse the effects of climate change using some of the world’s most innovative green technology. The Heal-Berg proposal, which was recently awarded an honorable mention in the 2017 Evolo Skyscraper Competition , envisions a futuristic floating skyscraper that actively heals the state of its surroundings. According to the creators, the design would use four criteria to help improve the environment. The first mission of the design would be to cleanse and purify the immediate air using lasers (invented by the University of California, Davis ) to zap carbon dioxide and convert it into oxygen. Related: Hyper Filter Skyscraper Inhales Greenhouse Gases and Exhales Pure Oxygen The building would also operate on green energy by using osmotic power as well as wind power generated by the aerodynamic design of the building, which would channel wind through turbines. As far as green building materials, the design calls for 3D printed technology using a form of graphene, one of the strongest lightweight materials in existence, invented by MIT researchers . Within the building and surrounding area, a hyperloop would provide fast access and connectivity for residents and drones would enable the mobility of entire residential units between the different complexes. According to the designers, the healing skyscraper utilizes “some of the most recent innovative technology breakthroughs from all around the world, and combine[s] them as elements of a greater embodiment operating as a whole to achieve a goal, survival.” + Evolo

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Futuristic floating skyscraper ‘heals’ the effects of climate change

6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry

March 29, 2017 by  
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Da Vinci was definitely on to something when he observed birds and copied their forms to create his own wings for flight. Although biomimicry wasn’t ultimately successful in helping Da Vinci achieve flight , it has a solid track record for getting engineers, thinkers, and inventors to approach problems in design and technology by returning to nature and its processes. Here are six examples of how observing and imitating nature lead to designs that can improve issues in the modern world. Wind turbine with hummingbird wings Wind turbines typically incorporate a pinwheel shape, but a breakthrough design from Tyer Wind has cleverly tapped into the gravity-defying hovering abilities of hummingbirds . While it may look like these feather-light birds are furiously flapping their wings in a linear fashion, they actually use a figure eight configuration. The design for this new turbine uses wings instead of traditional rotating blades to turn energy from wind into green electricity through 3-D Aouinian Kinematics . Cactus water collector After observing certain cacti ’s ability to collect and store water particles from fog, students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago were inspired to create Dewpoint , a design with real-world applications beyond the desert. By recreating a cactus’s prong-like spines and attaching them to a panel that can absorb, collect, and efficiently save water, the team is beginning to explore water security possibilities for a world that is increasingly facing drought, desertification, and disappearing water sources. Stable and durable bridge Anyone who has ever watched a little leaf on a tree take hit after hit from wind or pelting rain (or perhaps a child with a stick) and still persist knows that surprising hidden strength can be found in many of Mother Nature’s designs. Wanda Lewis has been studying that idea for 25 years, looking specifically at how examining the ways that fragile elements in nature respond to external forces and stress can benefit the structure of a modern, man-made bridge . Lewis developed a mathematical model for bridge design that would take into consideration modern stressors such as traffic and extreme weather conditions. Lewis’s “form-finding” would enable the creation of bridges that are safer, more durable, and long-lasting  by using a previously elusive optimal arch. Related: Biomimicry keeps hope alive despite the new regime Light-sensitive robot caterpillar What may look like a tiny piece of wavy plastic (or perhaps a miniaturized piece of bacon) is actually a robot that can carry loads up to 10 times larger than itself . With caterpillars as inspiration, physics researchers in Poland created this 15 millimeter long critter which is crafted from light-sensitive Liquid Crystalline Elastomers. Mimicking the wave-like motions of a moving caterpillar, this soft robot can also go up a slope or squeeze into a small space. Watch this little robot move in a surprisingly meditative video. Artificial leaf Artificial photosynthesis has been around for over a century, but Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis has found a way to mimic the natural process and safely, effectively, and affordably produce and store energy using the sun . The group’s artificial leaf consists of two electrodes (one that generates hydrogen gas, the other that generates oxygen gas), as well as a plastic membrane that keeps the collected gases separate. The Caltech crew is working on scaling up the design, but their innovation shows promise for creating a system that uses only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce hydrogen fuels that can be utilized as needed. Avian-inspired train It’s a bird…it’s a train…it’s kind of both: a bullet train  whose design was partially inspired by features of an owl and a kingfisher . Engineer, general manager of the tech development department for Japan’s bullet trains , and avid bird-watcher Eiji Nakatsu wanted to make his trains both faster and quieter . He first employed his observations about the noise-dampening feather parts of an owl to reduce the sound effects of the trains as they whizzed through neighborhoods and tunnels. Later, he observed that the streamlined shape of the kingfisher’s bill could be used in a new train design to further reduce noise (including a persistent sonic boom effect) and decrease necessary fuel amounts, all while reducing travel time.

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6 groundbreaking examples of tech innovations inspired by biomimicry

How Internet of things startup Verdigris gives buildings a voice

March 16, 2017 by  
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The new cloud-based company promises savings up to millions of dollars. But for starters, the upfront investment is minimal.

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Parasitic wooden cubes slash Parisian building’s energy consumption by 75%

March 3, 2017 by  
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Stéphane Malka has designed a clever way of optimizing the energy efficiency of older urban structures while working within the restrictions of Parisian building codes. Malka’s Plug-in City 75 design envisions attaching parasitic wooden cubes to the facade of a 1970s-era building, extending the living space and significantly reducing the building’s annual energy consumption by approximately 75 percent. The innovative design is slated for a 1970s-era building in the French capital’s 16th arrondissement. Like similar buildings in the city, this one is burdened with low energy performance due to thermal bridges, poor insulation, and permeable windows. However, current building laws are quite restrictive and do not allow for the structures to be raised to make way for better, more efficient space. Related: Parasitic prefabs mounted atop buildings create affordable green housing in Paris Malka’s solution is to incorporate a type of parasitic architecture to improve the building’s energy envelope. According to the design, a series of bio-sourced wooden cubes would be mounted onto the facade, extending the apartments horizontally through openings in the exterior. Extending the apartments outwards would divide the total energy consumption of the building by four. This would significantly reduce the rehabilitated building’s annual energy consumption from its current 190KWh per square meter to 45KWh per square meter. The modular boxes , made from wood particles and chips are quite lightweight, which allows for easy transport and on-site assembly. Once mounted onto the building, the cubed extensions would not only add more living space and light to the interior, but would also create an inner garden courtyard on the first floor. The new facade would be draped in hanging greenery, greatly improving the structure’s overall aesthetic. + Malka Architecture

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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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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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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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