Inside Kathy Hannun’s quest to provide accessible household geothermal energy

May 16, 2018 by  
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It’s about the consumer-friendly product, yes, but for this ex-Googler, it’s especially about the right employees.

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Inside Kathy Hannun’s quest to provide accessible household geothermal energy

Colorado meth lab transformed into a minimalist artist retreat with rammed earth walls

April 23, 2018 by  
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A former meth lab in North Boulder, Colorado has received a new lease on life as an artist retreat with a beautifully minimalist design. Denver-based tres birds workshop designed the Swoon Art House with a careful eye on environmental stewardship, using “100 percent renewable resources” including rammed earth walls and geothermal wells. Created as part of the Swoon/ Boulder Museum Contemporary Art International Artists Residency , the 7,000-square-foot Swoon Art House merges forward-thinking design and technology with ancient construction techniques. Designed like a sculpture in itself, the artist retreat features two long structures set at an angle to one another. Round metal roofs top the building and contrast with the 30-inch-thick rammed earth walls created using soil from the site. Four vertical geothermal wells power the building’s heating and cooling system. Related: Tattoo shop-turned-distillery renovated using materials reclaimed on-site The first building houses two lofted bedrooms with bathrooms and a full kitchen for artists in residency. A small glass-walled passageway leads to the second building, which serves as an art studio. Energy-conserving windows line the studio walls, while hidden storage spaces add to the clean, minimalist feel. “The structure, from the physical design to the flow of energy, is based on the circle,” the architecture firm said. “The circle holds particular significance in ancient and modern culture, symbolizing that which is without a beginning or an end.” + tres birds workshop

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Colorado meth lab transformed into a minimalist artist retreat with rammed earth walls

Even NASA isn’t quite sure how to explain these holes in the Arctic Sea’s ice

April 23, 2018 by  
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Can you identify the holes in the sea ice pictured above? If so, let NASA know. They recently posted the image, snapped over the Beaufort Sea, as the April 2018 Puzzler on their “Earth Matters” blog. They aren’t quite sure what caused them, although they ventured a few ideas, including heat, thin ice, and even rogue seals. NASA Operation IceBridge mission scientist John Sonntag captured the baffling image from a P-3 research plane soaring over the eastern Beaufort Sea. Sonntag had never seen holes like this before; writing from the field, he said, “We saw these sorta-circular features only for a few minutes today. I don’t recall seeing this sort of thing elsewhere.” Related: The first salty lakes discovered in the Arctic could hold the key to finding alien life Before the agency revealed that the photo was from the Arctic , Internet users offered plenty of guesses as to its location – from fires in Oklahoma to the surface of Mars. User Scott Stensland came close when he guessed the circles were open water holes in ice created by ocean mammals, such as seals . Indeed, that’s similar to one answer NASA has come up with: the holes bear a resemblance to photographs of breathing holes harp seals and ring seals have created. National Snow and Ice Data Center scientist Walt Meier told NASA, “The encircling features may be due to waves of water washing out over the snow and ice when the seals surface. Or it could be a sort of drainage feature that results from when the hole is made in the ice.” Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory sea ice scientist Chris Polashenski told NASA he’d glimpsed features like these holes in the past. Seals could offer one answer; another is convection. University of Maryland at Baltimore County glaciologist Chris Shuman, who’s based at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told NASA, “This is in pretty shallow water generally, so there is every chance this is just ‘warm springs’ or seeps of ground water flowing from the mountains inland that make their presence known in this particular area. The other possibility is that warmer water from Beaufort currents or out of the Mackenzie River is finding its way to the surface due to interacting with the bathymetry , just the way some polynyas form.” + NASA Earth Observatory + Curious Circles in Arctic Sea Ice Images via John Sonntag/Operation IceBridge/NASA and NASA/Joe MacGregor

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Even NASA isn’t quite sure how to explain these holes in the Arctic Sea’s ice

Steven Holl Architects unveils designs for geothermal-powered Angers Collectors Museum

March 19, 2018 by  
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Steven Holl Architects and Compagine de Phalsbourg have won an international design competition for the new Angers Collectors Museum (Le Musée des Collectionneurs) and hotel in the heart of Angers , France. Envisioned as a new cultural gateway, the sculptural museum is undeniably modern yet pays homage to its historic settings and derives inspiration from the nearby historic Chateau d’Angers located across the river. Geothermal heating and cooling will be used in the museum to reduce the building’s energy footprint. Built of exposed titanium white concrete, the 4,742-square-meter museum has a striking sculptural appearance that will be set within a series of reflecting pools—filled with recycled water—in a nod to the site’s riverine history. The museum will be connected to a linear hotel clad in clear and translucent glass for a mosaic-like effect inspired by the 14th century Apocalypse Tapestry on display in Chateau d’Angers. Related: Gigantic Slugs Made From 40,000 Recycled Plastic Bags Crawl Through the Streets of Angers, France In addition to the museum and hotel’s prime riverside location on the east bank of the Maine River, their proximity to Le Quai, the city’s largest theater , further cements the buildings’ future as the cultural heart in Angers. The museum will share a rooftop restaurant with the hotel as well as a public sculptural garden at the ground level. + Steven Holl Architects Images via Steven Holl Architects

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Steven Holl Architects unveils designs for geothermal-powered Angers Collectors Museum

Geothermal-powered Halifax home uses automation for energy savings

January 17, 2018 by  
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Omar Gandhi Architect completed a handsome luxury home in Halifax that’s both modern in appearance and in its use of energy-efficient technologies. Located in the south end of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Syncline House is a two-story residence with a mezzanine set atop a rocky foundation that inspired the home’s name. Energy efficiency was a major feature of the new-build, from the ample natural lighting and triple-glazed windows to the use of geothermal and solar energy. Set atop a concrete base, Syncline House comprises two interconnected volumes connected via a light-filled atrium and clad in textured Fibre-C panels, a type of lightweight white fiber-cement panel that boasts fire resistance and long-term durability. The taller of the two volumes houses the communal areas like the open-plan living room, dining area, and kitchen on the main floor and a media room and gym on the ground floor. The second volume contains a master ensuite, office, and dressing room on the main floor and a garage on the ground floor. A guest bedroom is placed on the mezzanine level. Related: Artists’ Wooden Cabin Climbs Up a Hillside in Nova Scotia Full-height triple-glazed windows frame stunning views of Point Pleasant Park next door and the ocean waters of the North-West Arm beyond. The homeowners can also enjoy the view from west-facing walkout decks that extend from the living room and from the master bedroom. The airy and light-filled interior features wide white oak flooring, whitewashed walls, and floor-to-ceiling header-less doors. Rooftop solar panels and geothermal heat pumps power the home that uses automated blinds and recessed windows on the southwest facade for passive cooling. + Omar Gandhi Architect Via ArchDaily Images via Omar Gandhi Architect

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Geothermal-powered Halifax home uses automation for energy savings

Worlds first negative emissions power plant opens in Iceland

October 13, 2017 by  
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Go, Iceland! On Wednesday, the nation flipped the switch on the world’s first power plant that eliminates more CO2 than it produces. The pilot program, which is operated by Climeworks , can remove an estimated 50 metric tons of CO2 from the air each year. The gases aren’t just contained; rather, they are turned into limestone where they will remain for at least one million years. The process works by capturing the CO2 from ambient air using Climeworks’ patented filter. The geothermal power plant then heats up the filter using low-grade heat; this extracts pure carbon dioxide . The gases are then bound to water and sent 700 meters deep into the ground. When CO2 reacts with basaltic bedrock, it forms a permanent solid mineral. Quartz reports that by burying the harmful greenhouse gases in rock, the odorless gas is prevented from being released for at least one million years. The project is still in its pilot stage, but scientists with Climeworks are optimistic that similar negative emissions plants could be rolled out across the globe. There are some challenges to this vision, however. The process isn’t exactly cheap, for instance. Climeworks estimates that it costs $600 to extract just one ton of CO2 from the air. Related: Midwest greenhouse heated with geothermal energy produces citrus year-round for $1 per day By the end of 2017, the full capacity of the plant is expected to be 900 tonnes per year — but that’s only the equivalent of the annual emissions of 45 American people. Nonetheless, the company remains hopeful that this is the beginning. Said Christoph Gebald, the founder and CEO of Climeworks, “The potential of scaling-up our technology in combination with CO2 storage, is enormous.” By 2025, the company seeks to cut costs to $100 a tonne and capture 1 percent of man-made carbon emissions each year. There are no details on how this will be accomplished, but with investors such as Bill Gates and the European Space Agency throwing money into research for “direct air capture,” it could be accomplished. Of course, it’s still important — now more than ever — that the general populace adopts sustainable habits , as data from the UN shows that humans are far from reaching the 2 degrees Celsius limit set by the Climate Agreement. + Climeworks Via Quartz Images via Climeworks , Arni Saeberg , Sandra O Snaebjornsdottir

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Worlds first negative emissions power plant opens in Iceland

How the upcoming solar eclipse will affect 7 million homes and businesses

August 14, 2017 by  
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A total solar eclipse will block sunlight from reaching parts of the Earth for an estimated three hours on August 21. As a result, at least 7 million U.S. homes and businesses that rely on solar power will be directly affected. But there’s no reason to be nervous: electric grid and skilled operators are well-prepared. A total solar eclipse is a rare phenomenon which occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun . Though it will disrupt solar generation during times of peak generation, the event is not one to fear. According to Julia Prochnik , the Director of Western Renewable Grid Planning, people will not notice any change in their electrical service as electric grid operators across the country have made appropriate preparations. The last time citizens in the U.S. glimpsed a solar eclipse was in 1979, when solar energy was in its infancy. In the time that has passed, the energy system has changed significantly. Wind and solar energy are now the fastest-growing sources of renewable electricity in the U.S. Prochnik says that some states will see a larger drop in solar power than others; it all depends on how much the sun is blocked by the moon in their specific location. Fortunately, there are plenty of energy resources available to “fill the gap,” and they include geothermal , wind and hydropower. Related: Coming Total Solar Eclipse to be an ‘event of the century’, scientists say NASA reports that the solar eclipse will block a 70-mile-wide path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. The longest period of total darkening will be about two minutes and 40 seconds. Nationwide, the moon will still block at least a portion of the sun. At any one spot, the longest period of partial darkness may last three hours. Arizona can expect to experience a brief interruption in 70 percent of its rooftop solar generation. New York follows with 68 percent, Utah can expect a 39 percent, and Nevada a 24 percent interruption. California and North Carolina may experience the biggest impacts from the eclipse, as they are both major solar producers. The difference can be compensated by reducing energy use and/or by temporarily drawing electricity from the grid. A few things environmentally-conscious individuals can do to prepare for the eclipse is replace all light bulbs with LEDs , turn off lights, unplug chargers and appliances, and turn down their thermostats. All of these steps will help save energy and reduce load grid pressure. All in all, the celestial event is one to celebrate, as it is one few will likely witness again. Via NRDC Images via Pixabay

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How the upcoming solar eclipse will affect 7 million homes and businesses

Affordable home geothermal energy systems come to upstate New York

July 17, 2017 by  
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When you think of home renewable power systems, geothermal energy probably isn’t the first source that springs to mind. But new company Dandelion , which starts after time at Google’s moonshot factory X , aims to power houses with the clean , free source “right under our feet.” They’re offering their systems beginning in northeastern America. The Dandelion team launched their company independent of Alphabet this month, offering geothermal heating and cooling for homes. They come in and replace cooling, heating, and hot water equipment with their geothermal systems, including underground pipes and a heat pump, which gather energy from the earth. The company describes geothermal cooling and heating as the most efficient method of such climate control for the home. Related: St. Patrick’s Cathedral unveils state-of-the-art geothermal plant Affordability was one of Dandelion’s main goals. They say many homes haven’t yet adopted geothermal systems due to the hefty cost associated with setup. In contrast, Dandelion’s system costs $20,000. On their website they say they’ve partnered with a leading financing company to install the systems with zero costs upfront followed by low monthly payments. The company also designed a better drill to install the systems. In the past, geothermal systems were installed with a wide drill that was intended for water wells more than 1,000 feet into the ground. The Dandelion team designed a slender drill that can create one or two deep holes a few inches wide – with less waste. Their new drill lets them put in ground loops in under one day. Overall, putting in their geothermal systems takes two to three days. Dandelion’s heat pumps will last around 25 years, while the closed-loop piping can last for a minimum of 50. The system comes with a smart thermostat enabling homeowners to regulate the temperature inside. The team is starting with 11 counties in New York – they say regions with cold winters and hot summers are ideal for home geothermal systems. + Dandelion Via Kathy Hannun on Medium Images via Dandelion Facebook and Dandelion

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Affordable home geothermal energy systems come to upstate New York

Switzerland votes to ban nuclear power and invest in renewable energy

May 22, 2017 by  
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Switzerland just passed a new energy law that promotes renewable energy and bans nuclear power plants. The landmark vote brings the nation closer to meeting its goal of generating 4,400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable energy by 2020, and 11,400 GWh by 2035. Over the weekend, approximately 42% of the population turned up to vote in the national referendum, which marks the eighth time in recent history Swiss citizens have voted on the issue. Though the Energy Strategy 2050 was approved by Parliament last year, the country’s right wing Swiss People’s Party challenged the reform to the referendum in an attempt prevent the move from taking place. The move to initiate the reform passed easily with a 58.2% vote, however, shutting down any talk of investment in nuclear energy . At a press conference, Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said “After six years of debate in parliament and at committee level, a new chapter in Switzerland’s energy policy can begin. But there is still a lot of work to do.” Related: Tunnel collapses at America’s most contaminated nuclear waste facility Energy Strategy 2050 mandates that general licenses provided for nuclear power plants (which presently provide 38% of the country’s energy) will no longer be sold, beginning in 2019. Additionally, when existing nuclear power plants reach the end of their lifespan, they will be closed and not replaced. The reform also aims to reduce per capita energy consumption by 16 percent within the next three years, and by 43 percent by 2035. Energy Strategy 2050 intends for electricity consumption to decline by 3 percent in 2020 and 13 percent in 2035. This will be managed by increasing the output of solar , wind, biomass, and geothermal energy. Supporters of the law say that investing in renewables will make Switzerland less dependent on energy imports. At the same time, the country will maintain its highly supply standard. Activists are also celebrating the fact that by phasing out investments in nuclear energy, the environment and future generations will undoubtedly benefit. Via Swiss Info Images via Pixabay

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Switzerland votes to ban nuclear power and invest in renewable energy

EarthCraft-certified Organic Life House teaches Atlanta agrihood residents about healthy living

March 27, 2017 by  
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An American agrihood making waves with its sustainable living movement turned heads again with the completion of the first Organic Life House early this year. Located on the outskirts of Atlanta, Ga., the Serenbe community teamed up with Rodale’s Organic Life Magazine to build an EarthCraft-certified demonstration home to teach residents and visitors about healthy living and eco-friendly building practices. Constructed from natural materials, the 6,000-square-foot dwelling draws energy from renewable geothermal and solar sources and features a variety of wellness-promoting spaces. Designed by architect J.P. Curran and built by Bobby Webb, the Organic Life House is a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath home that promotes wellness and connection with the outdoors. In addition to the use of natural materials throughout the home, the stone-clad Serenbe house reinforces its ties with nature with views of the preserved woods, edible and medicinal gardens, and a series of outdoor spaces like the labyrinth and multiple porches. Thoughtful choices for the neutral-toned interior, from the flooring to window treatments, create a healthy indoor environment promoting wellness and relaxation. Tall ceilings, ample natural light, and warm textures create a homey feel. “The partnership between Serenbe and Organic Life is the perfect collaboration,” says Steve Nygren, founder of Serenbe. “We are both dedicated to helping people enjoy well-balanced lives that are in tune with their environment and community. The Organic Life House will be an exciting opportunity to introduce the Serenbe lifestyle to the Rodale audience and show how they can apply these practices in their own homes.” Related: America’s first urban ‘agrihood’ feeds 2,000 households for free The Organic Life House expands on the Serenbe mission to serve as an inspiring leader for agrihoods and wellness communities, and was the first home to break ground in the 1,000-acre community’s newest neighborhood, Mado. Like Serenbe’s other energy-efficient homes, the Organic Life House features renewable energy systems like geothermal heating and cooling as well as energy-saving appliances. The home also includes a yoga and meditation studio, saltwater lap pool, and hot tub. + Organic Life House Images by J. Ashley Photography

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EarthCraft-certified Organic Life House teaches Atlanta agrihood residents about healthy living

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