Greenpeace says Apple is world’s most sustainable tech company

January 11, 2017 by  
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Five years ago, Apple , Facebook, and Google were the first companies to commit to powering their businesses 100 percent with renewable energy, according to Greenpeace . Delving into the carbon footprints of those and other leading technology companies, Greenpeace recently released a report titled “Clicking Clean: Who Is Winning the Race to Build A Green Internet?” We bet you can guess a few of the winners. Apparently Apple, Facebook, and Google are living up to their commitments; they received top marks alongside newcomer Switch, beating out the competition on factors like renewable energy use and transparency. Apple “played a catalytic role within its IT supply chain, pushing other IT data center and cloud operators who help deliver pieces of Apple’s corner of the Internet to follow their lead in powering their operations with renewable energy,” according to the report. Related: Apple’s water-resistant iPhone 7 will fight e-waste due to drowned gadgets Greenpeace gave Apple As in renewable energy commitment, energy transparency, renewable procurement, and energy efficiency and mitigation. The company’s only B was in the advocacy category. Google also received mostly As except for a B in energy transparency, but Apple edges out Google on Greenpeace’s clean energy index to be the top winner. But not everyone in the tech industry is a winner. According to Greenpeace, Netflix streaming accounts for around one third of North America’s Internet traffic, but they gave the company a D because, according to a statement, Netflix “is likely turning to carbon offsets or unbundled renewable energy credits, which do little to increase renewable energy investment.” Similarly, Greenpeace called for increased transparency from Amazon Web Services, calling them “a prime example of a company that talks up its renewable projects, but keeps customers in the dark on its energy performance while expanding into markets served by dirty energy like Virginia.” There’s hope yet for Netflix and Amazon; as recently as 2011 Greenpeace called Apple the “least clean” tech company , but today they lead the way in running a sustainable tech business. Via Greenpeace and Business Insider Images via Michele Ursino on Flickr and Mike Deerkoski on Flickr

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Greenpeace says Apple is world’s most sustainable tech company

French schools create extra classrooms with Lego-style PopUp Houses

January 11, 2017 by  
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Two savvy private schools have just upped their learning space by almost 4,000 square feet with Multipod Studio ‘s incredible prefab Pop-Up Houses that snap together like LEGO bricks. Located in Indre-et-Loire, France, both schools went with the low-cost option not only due to budget restrictions, but also because of the structures’ sustainable materials and optimal energy performance. Low-cost and energy efficient pop ups are becoming the go-to solution for those with limited budgets in need of additional space. The PopUp House system is easy to assemble, lightweight and made with breathable materials. Constructed with insulating blocks and wooden panels, the design is a very practical system that provides optimal thermal insulation, reducing dependence on additional heating and cooling. Related: Multipod Studio’s Affordable Pop-Up House Snaps Together Like LEGO Bricks The staff at Rollinat High School and Alfred de Vigny High School worked with Multipod Studio to design the most efficient version of the structures to meet their needs. The popup building for Rollinat High School is 1614 square feet and includes two connected classrooms, while the three classrooms at Alfred de Vigny total about 2422 square feet. Once the materials were on site, the actual construction process happened (with just a screwdriver as the only required tool) in about two weeks. The final building was completed in December, 2016 and students began using their new classrooms in early January, 2017. + Multipod Studio + Arc A3 Sud Touraine Via Business Insider

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French schools create extra classrooms with Lego-style PopUp Houses

Tesla just kicked off battery production at its massive Nevada Gigafactory

January 5, 2017 by  
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Tesla just took a big step towards realizing CEO Elon Musk’s vision of a sustainable energy future by kicking off the mass production of lithium-ion battery cells at its Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada. Tesla has set an ambitious target of eventually producing 150 GWh of lithium-ion battery cells annually – enough batteries to support up to 1.5 million electric vehicles. Tesla also plans on manufacturing as many as 500,000 cars per year before 2020. There are more than 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3 so the demand is certainly there. The electric vehicle maker and clean energy storage company partnered with Panasonic to design, engineer and manufacture the “2170 battery cell” (21 millimeters in diameter and 70 millimeters in length). The 2170 cells that began production Wednesday will be used in Tesla’s Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 energy products. The batteries for the Model 3 — the company’s first affordable EV, which is priced at $35,000 and expected to hit the assembly line this year — are set to start production in the second quarter. Tesla said that by 2018 the Gigafactory will produce 35 GWh/year of lithium-ion battery cells, “nearly as much as the rest of the entire world’s battery production combined.” The Gigafactory is being built in phases, with nearly 30 percent completed — a footprint of 1.9 million square feet. When the 10 million square foot structure is completed, Tesla expects it to be the biggest building in the world. A second Gigafactory is planned for Europe, with the location yet to be announced. Related: Panasonic investing $256M in Tesla’s Buffalo solar manufacturing plant While Musk has discussed how increasing automation will likely lead to a universal basic income for displaced workers, he is doing his part to create jobs. Tesla and Panasonic said they will hire several thousand employees this year and at peak production, the Gigafactory will employ 6,500 people and indirectly create another 20,000 to 30,000 jobs in the surrounding area. + Tesla + Panasonic Via Greentech Media Images via Tesla 1 , 2

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Tesla just kicked off battery production at its massive Nevada Gigafactory

Amazon wants to build flying warehouses in the sky

December 30, 2016 by  
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We’ve all heard before about Amazon’s plans to deliver orders via drone , but a recently-unearthed patent shows the company could one day push the concept to a startling extreme. Discovered by Zoe Leavitt , an analyst for CB insights, the patent describes an “airborne fulfillment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery” – what is essentially a giant flying warehouse in the sky. The airborne fulfillment centers would exist aboard a giant airship , floating at altitudes of around 45,000 feet. As Amazon orders came in, individual drones would be deployed to deliver the goods. Smaller airships would be used to return the drones, resupply the fulfillment center with new inventory, and shuttle workers back and forth from the facility. While drones launched from the ground have a fairly limited range, the aerial deployment would allow the drones to cover a much wider delivery area. The warehouses would also be mobile, allowing Amazon to easily shift position depending on consumer demand. For example, the patent explains one of the warehouses could be positioned near a stadium during a game to allow fans to immediately purchase team merchandise or snacks during the game. Related: Amazon’s new Prime Air delivery drone is part helicopter, part airplane The concept is just that for now – there’s no indication that Amazon will de deploying drone-carrying blimps in the near future. However, don’t be surprised if airborne drone delivery one day replaces FedEx or the postal service. Via The Verge Images via Zoe Leavitt and Wikimedia Commons

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Elon Musk just confirmed plans for a new Tesla Roadster

December 30, 2016 by  
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Get excited, electric car fans – the Tesla Roadster is coming back. Elon Musk just announced plans to bring the zero emissions sports car back from the electric vehicle graveyard where it was buried at the end of 2012 after selling nearly 2,500 units during its brief four-year life. When a Twitter user asked if there will be a new Roadster , Musk replied that a new version is “some years away, but yes.” The CEO of the California-based electric vehicle maker actually said in a conference call last year that the next-generation Roadster will debut in 2019 so the tweet is further confirmation that a new Roadster is indeed being developed. The Roadster was a two-seater with an open top and a chassis based on the Lotus Elise. The EV was notable for being the first street legal electric car to use lithium ion battery cells and the first electric car to travel more than 200 miles per charge. Related: Tesla’s next Supercharger could charge electric cars in mere seconds Tesla has come a long way since the Roadster, producing the Model S and Model X and soon the Model 3 — the company’s first affordable EV. The automaker is expanding into energy storage and solar panels and most recently solar shingles . But the future wasn’t always so bright for Musk, who earlier this year during a shareholder meeting admitted that the Roadster’s rollout was anything but smooth. Musk said that when he took Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin for a test ride, the Roadster only reached 10 mph. The early Roadster “was completely unsafe,” it “broke down all the time,” and it “didn’t really work,” said Musk. While there are no details about what the second-generation Roadster will look like, there has been speculation that the name could change from Roadster to Model R so as to align with the automaker’s other models. + Tesla Via Auto Evolution Images via Wikipedia 1 , 2 and Tesla

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Elon Musk just confirmed plans for a new Tesla Roadster

The world’s cheapest offshore wind farm is coming to Scandinavia

November 14, 2016 by  
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Swedish energy firm Vattenfall will soon begin building the largest offshore wind farm in Scandinavia – the 600 MW Danish Kriegers Flak in the Baltic Sea. When it’s complete, the project will produce the cheapest offshore wind power in the world at 49.9 euros per megawatt hour (about $54 US). On Thursday Vattenfall announced that it made the winning bid to build the Kriegers Flak wind farm, one of three offshore wind farms promised by the Danish Parliament as part of plans to divest from fossil fuels by 2050. Vattenvall will also be building the other two projects, which include the 406 MW Horns Rev 3 and the Danish Near Shore project, with a 305 MW combined generating capacity. Not only is the Danish Kriegers Flak the largest offshore wind farm in Scandinavia – according to Clean Technica it will also produce the world’s cheapest offshore wind power – even cheaper than the 60 euros per megawatt hour of the Danish Near Shore project, which was the lowest in the world when it was announced in September 2016. Both of these projects are significantly cheaper than the average offshore wind cost of $126 per megawatt hour announced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance earlier in November. Related: Shares in the world’s largest wind turbine producer slump after Trump wins election “The announcement is an essential milestone for our ambition to increase our production of renewable power,” Vattenfall CEO, Magnus Hall said. “We are already the second largest offshore player globally. The winning bid of EUR 49,9 per megawatt hour proves that Vattenfall is highly competitive and brings down the costs for renewable energy.” When power starts flowing out of the 1.3 billion euro project, it will produce enough electricity to light up about 600,000 homes in Denmark, which represents about 23 percent of all households in the country. Via Clean Technica Images via United Nations Photo and A_Cro , Flickr Creative Commons

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The world’s cheapest offshore wind farm is coming to Scandinavia

World’s first streetlights powered by footsteps installed in Las Vegas

November 8, 2016 by  
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World’s first streetlights powered by footsteps installed in Las Vegas

The world’s first levitating pneumatic Hyperloop system will be tested next week

October 27, 2016 by  
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The Waterloop team is focusing on reducing the weight of its futuristic vehicle in order to boost speed . Currently, the team is aiming for 340 miles per hour (550 km/h). While that is only around half the speed that theoretical Hyperloop pods can travel, it will be an impressive accomplishment for an actual prototype. The GOOSE I pod, backed in part by crowdfunding efforts, is the team’s half-scale, functional prototype vehicle pod. Related: Is it real? Redditor claims to show first glimpse of futuristic Hyperloop test track After unveiling the initial Hyperloop concept in 2013, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk moved quickly to share the technology by making it open source. In doing so, he fired a starting gun of sorts, kicking off a global innovation race. Although Musk is not directly involved with any of the teams working toward a working Hyperloop system, SpaceX launched the Hyperloop Pod Competition I in 2015, which invites Hyperloop teams from around the world to test their human-scale pods on the mile-long test track built adjacent to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The competition is scheduled for the weekend of January 27-29, 2017. Team Waterloop, the only Hyperloop competition team from Canada, is looking forward to unleashing their creation at that event. + Team Waterloop Images via Team Waterloop

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The world’s first levitating pneumatic Hyperloop system will be tested next week

Intriguing ION2 installation in Seattle responds to the movement of passersby

October 21, 2016 by  
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The 98 acrylic panels of the five-foot-wide by seven-foot-tall ION2 prototype is controlled by a micro-servo motor that rotates each individual panel in response to external input and pre-programmed patterns. A Microsoft Kinect and a panel of 98 buttons create the two inputs to the system by picking up activity outside the storefront. A Grasshopper definition sends angle data to the servos through microprocessors that is then translated in the rotation of the acrylic panels. Related: Kinetic “Cloud Seeding” pavilion creates shade with 30,000 tiny balls made of recycled plastic bottles “The installations we build are like sketches, allowing us to physically manifest an idea and begin to see where our attention should be focused,” said Scott Crawford, LMN Tech Studio founding member. “Tech Studio plays a similar role for the office, exploring other directions of what could be next for building systems as well as the tools within our design process.” + LMN Architects

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Intriguing ION2 installation in Seattle responds to the movement of passersby

New European Union law could require EV chargers in all new homes

October 11, 2016 by  
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Electric car sales are up in Europe, and a proposed initiative could make it even more convenient to own one within the next few years. The draft EU directive would require every new or refurbished house in Europe to be equipped with its own EV charger and, if approved, would go into effect by 2019. Car makers are also stepping up to help with the bigger picture by turning used EV batteries into renewable energy power stations to offset the additional demand EVs will place on the electricity grid. As Germany moves closer to solidifying its plans to ban new registrations on combustion engine passenger vehicles beginning in 2030, the nation’s Federal Council has asked the European Commission to enact a similar measure across the EU. German policy has a long history of setting the tone for broader EU policies, and with the lofty emissions reductions goals set forth in the Paris climate agreement adding pressure, many think the European Commission will devise a similar ban. This is just one aspect of a broader effort to promote EV purchases and make it easier for consumers to make the switch. Related: Germany moves closer to approving 2030 ban on new combustion engine cars Additionally, the EU regulations (due to be published by year’s end) will require 10 percent of parking spaces in newly constructed buildings to install EV charging stations by 2023. These early measures are designed to create a stable infrastructure throughout the EU zone that supports and promotes EV ownership. As countries like Norway and the Netherlands aim to ban diesel engines as soon as 2025, EU leaders realize that people need incentives to get on board with cleaner vehicles, and the convenience of plentiful recharging stations is a large component of that. Installing so many new EV chargers could put an additional strain on the electricity grid, but some European carmakers like Renault and BMW  are already working on clever solutions. Renault is working with energy companies to develop plans for a power plant that makes use of used vehicle batteries, which are too weak to rely on for transportation but can be grouped together and charged up from onsite wind and solar power generators. The electricity is then sold back to the grid during peak times, contributing clean, renewable energy (and providing a second-life use for old EV batteries at the same time). BMW, partnering with engineering manufacturer Bosch, recently opened a similar power station near Hamburg that is composed of 2,600 used EV batteries and has a 2MW output. Via The Guardian Images via byronv2/Flickr , Wikipedia , and  Bosch

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