4 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

March 24, 2017 by  
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Many news outlets have extensively covered the advantages of solar energy, and there are plenty. But very few things in life come with zero downside. Although the cost of solar energy has fallen dramatically in recent years and the technology has…

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4 Disadvantages of Solar Energy

NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral goes green with new geothermal plant

March 17, 2017 by  
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When St. Patrick’s Day revelers parade past St. Patrick’s Cathedral on NYC’s 5th Avenue today, they will be celebrating not just the patron saint of Ireland, but also a renewable energy future for the famous landmark. Last month, the Archdiocese of New York announced that the historic Saint Patrick’s cathedral activated a new geothermal heating and cooling system that will reduce the building’s energy consumption by more than 30 percent and reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 94,000 kilograms – an impressive feat for the largest Catholic Gothic cathedral in the United States. St. Patrick’s geothermal plant is part of the final phase of a four-year, $177 million renovation that has been overseen by the cathedral’s architectural design team of Murphy, Burnham, & Buttrick working in partnership with Landmark Facilities Group and PW Grosser. It is the institution’s first restoration in more than 70 years (it was dedicated in 1879). Related: Futuristic power plant complex generates clean power through wind, solar and geothermal energy The geothermal heating and cooling system consists of 10 wells in terraces flanking the north and south sides of the cathedral drilled through dense Manhattan schist (a coarse-grained metamorphic rock) to a depth of up to 2,250 feet. When fully activated, the plant will be able to generate 2.9 million BTUs per hour of air conditioning and 3.2 million BTUs per hour of heating through 76,000 square feet of space. While wind and solar grab a bigger share of the renewables market and garner more media attention, the potential for both geothermal electricity and heating is huge. The global geothermal power market is projected to more than double operating capacity to 32 gigawatts by the early 2030s, according to the US and Global Geothermal Power Production Report from the US Geothermal Energy Association. Currently only 6 to 7 percent of the world’s estimated geothermal potential is being harnessed. Related: Pope’s official encyclical: “a bold cultural revolution” can halt climate change The Archdiocese of New York and St. Patrick’s Cathedral are not as interested in tapping the geothermal market as they are in heeding the call of Pope Francis to protect the planet and conserve God’s creation as written in his 2015 encyclical on the environment , Laudato Si. “A consistent ethic of life does not compartmentalize these issues. It prioritizes life and the preservation of life at every level,” said Cathedral Rector Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie. “One of the most basic ways in which we are called to do so is through responsible stewardship of our natural resources.” Images via St. Patrick’s Cathedral , MBB and Local 3 IBEW

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NYC’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral goes green with new geothermal plant

Dubai-based firm to construct world’s first 3D-printed skyscraper

March 17, 2017 by  
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3D printing could soar to new heights with the construction of the first 3D-printed skyscraper in the world. Dubai -based firm Cazza recently announced they aim to print the high-rise in the United Arab Emirates . They will draw on a novel construction technique known as crane printing. To print their ambitious skyscraper, Cazza will draw on cranes with added units designed for constructing 3D-printed buildings higher than 262 feet. It’s not yet known how tall the skyscraper will be. The company’s CEO Chris Kelsey said when they started their company, they focused on 3D-printing low-rise structures or houses, but developers kept asking about skyscrapers, so they decided to adapt their technology to reach higher. Related: Three-mile-high futuristic skyscraper has a smog-eating, self-cleaning coating The crane printing process includes all the major structural components needed by towering buildings, according to Construction Week Online. Current construction methods will complete the rest of the building. Mechanical engineer Xavier Hernand said there are vast possibilities for what kind of materials they could use, including steel or concrete . Cazza Chief Operating Officer Fernando De Los Rios said, “The crane printing system can be easily adopted with existing cranes which means we don’t have to build cranes from scratch. We are adding new features to make it adaptable to high wind speeds along with the use of our layer smoothing system that creates completely flat surfaces. You won’t know it’s 3D printed.” Cazza gained notice for blending mobile 3D printing robots with existing building methods to speed up construction processes and make them more cost effective and environmentally friendly. Kelsey said, “Through our technologies, we will be able to build architecturally complex buildings at never-before-seen speeds. It is all about economies of scale where the initial high technology costs will reduce as we enter the mass production phase.” The company has not yet announced a start date for the skyscraper construction. + Cazza Via Construction Week Online Images via Pexels and Good Free Photos

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Dubai-based firm to construct world’s first 3D-printed skyscraper

Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ inspires beautiful home design in California

March 16, 2017 by  
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California-based architect Mario Romano ‘s motto “live in art” is clearly visible in his design of the stunning Preston House, inspired by Hokusai’s “The Great Wave.” The home’s exterior was clad with layers of brushed aluminum to create a “rolling” volume that reflects the varying tones and colors of the sky. Although the 5,700 square-foot home is certainly unique in its artful aesthetic, it also has various eco-friendly features incorporated throughout the design. The home’s sculpture-like volume was meant to mimic the blowing winds, detailed brush strokes and the “solitude of barreled water” found in Hokusai’s famous print. However, the unique materials were not only chosen for their art-inspired aesthetics. The aluminum facade sits one inch above the building’s waterproof skin, strategically allowing it to breathe. This feature pulls double duty as a rain screen system that allows air to flow into the layers, essentially stopping any moisture from growing into mold. It also helps ventilate the home by pushing rising hot air outwards and upwards, away from the main volume. Related: Philip Johnson’s Wiley House hits the market for $12 million The home’s interior is a luxurious space comprised of six bedrooms and five baths and a number of common areas, each with its own distinct design. The architect used his own product line, M.R. Walls and Floors, which are resistant to bacteria and water, to cover much of the walls and flooring. Using customized digital tools and CNC technology, the surfaces convert  eco-friendly materials into bold design patterns inspired by nature. For example, the interior flooring on the second floor appears to be wooden planks, but it’s actually an innovative material called SIMOWOOD, which is made of recycled rice husk. + Mario Romano

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Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ inspires beautiful home design in California

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

Rick Perry confirmed as Energy Secretary

March 3, 2017 by  
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With bitter battles over the confirmations of Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency administrator or Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise the Senate confirmed the slightly less controversial Rick Perry . In a 62 to 37 vote, the former Texas governor slid right into his new role as Energy Secretary. He’ll oversee energy policy , 17 national laboratories, and the United States’ arsenal of nuclear weapons . Perry’s views have come a long way from those he touted during his failed campaigns for president, or so it appears. During his 2012 campaign, he called for the elimination of the Department of Energy , but could not remember the department’s name in a debate. During his recent confirmation hearing, he said he regretted that proposal. Related: Rick Perry tapped to run the Department of Energy – which he once promised to shut down According to The New York Times, people close to Perry said he once thought the Energy Department centered around promoting and developing America’s energy resources – a weighty task in its own right, but it was only after the former governor heard about the agency’s other functions he changed his tune. During his confirmation hearing he said after “being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy,” he now supports its goals. For many years Perry showed complete disdain for the science of climate change , but the Energy Department does deal with the issue through research into energy technologies. It appears Perry has changed his mind on that too. He told senators, “I believe the climate is changing. I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by man-made activity.” Some of that man-made activity can be linked to oil and gas companies, such as Energy Transfer Partners , where Perry once sat on the board. To his credit, he did resign from the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline after his appointment, according to The Texas Tribune . During his confirmation hearing he also made a poorly phrased but promising claim: “I am going to protect all of the science, whether it’s related to the climate or other aspects of what we’re going to be doing. I am going to protect the men and women of the scientific community from anyone that would attack them, no matter what their reason may be, at the Department of Energy.” Via The New York Times Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Rick Perry confirmed as Energy Secretary

A Guide to Eco-Living in a Concrete Jungle

March 1, 2017 by  
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It’s easy to mistake cities as hubs for mass pollution. Big cities are home to millions of residents and have thousands of cars on the road, which can produce huge amounts of waste compared to their rural neighbors. But take a closer look and…

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A Guide to Eco-Living in a Concrete Jungle

Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

February 27, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy can generate enough power for entire countries–a fact Denmark can confirm. Last week on Wednesday, the nation met all of its power needs via wind energy , according to information from wind power trade organization WindEurope . The group said the energy Denmark produced from onshore and offshore wind was sufficient to power 10 million European Union (EU) households. Denmark produced 27 GWh via offshore wind and 70 gigawatt-hours (GWh) via onshore wind on February 23, according to WindEurope. This isn’t the first time wind power has achieved renewable energy feats in the country; 2015 saw several big days for wind energy. By the end of that year, 1,271 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind and 3,799 MW of onshore wind was installed in Denmark, amounting to a little over five gigawatts (GW) of wind energy. Related: Germany generated so much renewable energy last weekend electric prices went negative The industry did experience a slight slump in 2016, owing mainly to low winds. Before that year, Danish Wind Industry Association CEO Jan Hylleberg said since 2008 they’d “experienced continuous growth in the wind energy production and each year set a new world record.” Although the industry expected the trend wouldn’t continue in 2016, Hylleberg said the fact they didn’t maintain that upward movement was frustrating, but it appears 2017 is off to a soaring start. MHI Vestas Offshore Wind ‘s new nine MW wind turbine already smashed the record for energy generation in a 24 hour period during testing at a test field off Denmark’s coast. Hylleberg described Denmark as world champions at harnessing wind. But the Nordic country wasn’t the only nation to obtain a large amount of power via wind energy last week. WindEurope also reported Germany and Ireland respectively met 52 and 42 percent of their electricity needs with wind. According to the organization, “Wind power in the EU as a whole covered almost 19 percent of the bloc’s electricity needs.” Via CleanTechnica Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Wind energy supplied all of Denmark’s power needs one day last week

Green-roofed house for a pilot looks like a temporarily grounded aircraft

February 27, 2017 by  
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This unique home for a young pilot and his family in South Korea looks like an aircraft that has been grounded. Appropriately called the Flying House, it was designed by IROJE KHM Architects , who drew inspiration from traditional Korean architecture to create a delicate balance between sky and land. The architects combined the elements of yard, garden and rumaru, a traditional courtyard with a canopy , to create a space which connects the ground to the roof surface. The resulting sloped roof garden allows the house to coexist with nature, with a flowing design that establishes a strong connection to the ground. Related: IROJE KHM’s green-roofed house in Seoul blooms like a flower A limited budget influenced the choice of materials. By leaving the concrete framework surfaces exposed, the architects managed to utilize the structural material as the finishing material and lower the total construction cost of the building. + IROJE KHM Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Sergio Pirrone

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Green-roofed house for a pilot looks like a temporarily grounded aircraft

50% of Earth’s species face extinction by 2100

February 27, 2017 by  
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Biologists, economists, and ecologists have gathered at the Vatican to discuss what actions humanity can take to preserve Earth’s biosphere . Attending the Biological Extinction conference, these researchers say one in five species are currently threatened with extinction , but that statistic could skyrocket to 50 percent of all species on Earth by 2100 if we do nothing to stem the preventable carnage. The conference organizers said endangered species like the rhinoceros or tiger may make headlines now and again, but we’re largely overlooking the peril other living things face. In case we think otherwise, Earth’s animals and plants are vital for the planet and for us: they provide food and medicine, absorb carbon emissions , purify the air and water, and regenerate soil, to name a few functions. The organizers said, “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring.” Related: First mammal species succumbs to climate change Paul Ehrlich, a biologist from Stanford University , blamed the destruction of the environment on the lifestyles of rich Western countries. He said, “Rich Western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate. We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs , and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?” Researchers will be at the Vatican today talking about economic and social changes we could take to try and save the planet’s species. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences are sponsoring the workshop, which continues until March 1 to explore several ecological issues. Ehrlich said, “If you look at the figures, it is clear that to support today’s world population sustainably – and I emphasize the word sustainably – you would require another half a planet to provide us with those resources. However, if everyone consumed resources at the U.S. level – which is what the world aspires to – you will need another four or five Earths.” Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Pexels

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50% of Earth’s species face extinction by 2100

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