World’s first solar-powered hot air balloon visits UK school

July 18, 2017 by  
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Schoolchildren living in the coolest city in the UK just got a glimpse of one of the coolest energy sources in action with the arrival of the world’s first solar -powered hot air balloon. The balloon actually took its maiden voyage back in 2015 , but on Monday youngsters from the Hannah More Primary School got to learn about how renewable energy can power global transport — even a hot air balloon. The balloon is made of lightweight polyurethane coated nylon. The air inside the balloon is heated by the sun instead of a propane burner, causing it to rise. The black side of the balloon faces the sun, collecting heat, while the silver side prevents the heat from escaping. The balloon is technically a hybrid because it is fitted with propane burners as a back up in case the sun hides behind the clouds when the balloon is up in the air. Related: The world’s most efficient 5-seater car is powered entirely by the sun The balloon is owned by Bristol Energy and developed by Cameron Balloons . “It’s this kind of very simple science that gets people, young and old, excited about green energy,” said Simon Proctor, Bristol Energy’s Origination Manager. “We have incredibly powerful natural resources that can heat our homes, power our cars, and fly hot air balloons too! It’s now crucial that we support renewable energy, so we can create a sustainable energy future for the next generation.” Via Bristol Post Images via YouTube ,  Bristol Energy  and  Balloon Fiesta 2015

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World’s first solar-powered hot air balloon visits UK school

Energy-efficient Bluebonnet Studios offers sustainable housing to Austins most vulnerable citizens

July 14, 2017 by  
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The Bluebonnet Studios social housing development in Austin supports a healthy lifestyle through the design. The property, designed by Forge Craft Architecture + Design , provides housing for the homeless, low-income veterans and local musicians. It features forward-thinking sustainable elements such as recycled and locally-sourced materials, a well insulated envelope, optimal orientation, low-flow fixtures and occupancy sensors. The architects worked with a difficult site and a very tight budget, which required a close collaboration between the design, construction, and ownership teams, as well as help of sustainability experts like Pliny Fisk and Jason McLennan . An important aspect of the design was access to natural light , which the team provided by creating a light well that runs through the center of the building. This emphasis on daylight also allows for most of the building to be functional without artificial light in the event of a power outage – including all circulation. Heating and cooling are provided by centralized LG VRF units tied to individual apartment thermostats. Each thermostat is coupled to both window sensors and door-triggered occupancy sensors . All the interior finishes and products were regionally sourced, recycled and healthy. On top of the building, a green space allows for outdoor activities. Related: Top 6 Green Supportive and Low-Income Housing Projects Of the 107 single-occupancy units, 22 are reserved for the area’s homeless and low-income veterans, while five are dedicated to local musicians. Each resident received a small package of tools, including a recycling bin, recycling magnet, green cleaning recipes, and recommendations for conservative thermostat settings to help residents keep their homes green. Additionally, a green housekeeping program provides a dispensing station with Green Seal certified cleaning chemicals for maintenance staff and janitorial contractors. + Forge Craft Architecture + Design Photos by Paul Bardagjy

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Energy-efficient Bluebonnet Studios offers sustainable housing to Austins most vulnerable citizens

Reflective paint helps women in slums combat extreme heat caused by climate change

July 14, 2017 by  
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Temperatures are skyrocketing in India, as a result of climate change . Sadly, this has resulted in a 150 percent increase in the number of heat waves , killing thousands of people in recent years. To help those who are suffering find some relief, the non-profit Mahila Housing Trust is working with Indian women based in 100 slums across five cities to apply reflective paint to units, decreasing indoor temperatures by several degrees. Additional goals of the non-profit include upgrading and redeveloping slums, helping women secure property rights, and assisting women in dealing with climate change pressures by utilizing techniques such as rainwater collection and harvesting. The organization is presently experimenting with reflective paint, as well as insulated ceiling and modular roofs in units located in the Ramesh Dutt Colony. This low-cost approach to making homes more comfortable could literally save lives, since more than 2,400 deaths were recorded in 2015 due to heatwaves , according to government data. One individual benefiting from the reflective paint is Meenaben, who says she used to dread summers in India . Before applying the reflective paint, her two-room home in the Ahmedabad slum would get so hot, she could not sit indoors for several hours during the day. Now, she is able to sit in her abode and work, sewing quilts and bedcovers. “We used to really suffer from the heat. We could not sit inside, we could not work, people were falling sick,” said Meenaben. “This year it has been so much better. The paint brought the temperature down by several degrees, and I have been able to sit in my home, do my work.” Related: School principal uses $22,000 of paint to transform former slum into a rainbow wonderland Bharati Bhonsale, a program manager at Mahila Housing Trust, noted the devastation some families experience from unexpected weather patterns which result from climate change . “They work so hard to improve their lives, their homes. But even one setback from something like flash floods or a heat wave can have a big impact and cause them to slip back into poverty ,” Bhonsale told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “A flash flood can destroy their belongings, heat stress affects their work and their health. So it is important they are equipped to manage the effects of climate change.” Fortunately, most poverty-stricken citizens are happy and willing to implement technologies that may better their lives and the environment . Some measures the women have been trained to incorporate include using fuel-efficient stoves to reduce reliance on firewood, composting, cleaning stormwater drains, planting shrubs to help prevent flash floods, and harvesting rainwater. The women have also learned how to keep narrow lanes free of trash and to dump unused collected rainwater in an effort to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. Bhonsale said, “They may not understand the science of global warming , but they have first-hand experience of its effects, and with some education and simple solutions, they are better able to tackle it.” + Mahila Housing Trust Via Scroll Images via Mahila Housing Trust , Pixabay

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Reflective paint helps women in slums combat extreme heat caused by climate change

Sleep hundreds of feet in the air in this renovated air traffic control tower

July 14, 2017 by  
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An old fight control tower in Stockholm ‘s Arlanda Airport has been transformed into a unique luxury apartment that offers panoramic views of planes taking off and landing – and you can spend the night there. Swedish artist and designer Cilla Ramnek and the Arlanda airport teamed up with vacation rental company HomeAway and Swedavia to give the old tower a complete makeover. Now, the unique living space is perfect for aviation geeks and those who dream of sleeping hundreds of feet in the air. The 262-foot-high tower is located directly next to the runway, which makes it a perfect sport from which to observe plane take off and land. Cilla Ramnek designed the interior in a retro sixties style and furnished it with products already available for purchase inside Arlanda. Related: Architect turns old cement factory into incredible fairytale home – and the interior will blow you away Right now, HomeAway is giving away the opportunity to spend the night in the high-flying tower. Five winners of the competition, which will run until the end of July, will have the opportunity to stay in the apartment for a night, and enjoy a meal at the Pontus in the Air restaurant. The winners can bring guests and, after the stay in the tower, choose other HomeAway rentals for three more nights. + HomeAway + Swedavia + Cilla Ramnek Via CNN Travel

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Sleep hundreds of feet in the air in this renovated air traffic control tower

13-year-old Ohio girl taps traffic to generate renewable energy

July 10, 2017 by  
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We may be one step closer to tackling our energy crisis if this 8th grader has anything to say about it. 13-year-old Laalitya Acharya from Ohio came up with TraffEnerate, an invention that uses vehicular traffic to generate clean power . She’s a finalist in the 2017 Young Scientist Challenge , and stands to win $25,000. Acharya started researching cheap, easily renewable resources of energy, and came across a device she calls a piezo. She explains when stress is applied to a piezo, it generates electricity . She wanted to make it easy to utilize piezos, so she designed TraffEnerate to obtain power when cars drive over the devices. Her prototype incorporates 11 piezo sensors and a 3D-printed block so stress will be applied to all 11 piezos even if a car just barely passes over the corner of the prototype. Related: 13-year-old Maanasa Mendu invents groundbreaking clean energy device that costs just $5 Acharya also designed a reciprocating motion machine to test the prototype. Her robot consistently applied stress to the invention, seen in an oscilloscope reading. She hopes to implement TraffEnerate in the busiest intersections of her hometown of Mason, Ohio . Acharya said on the challenge website, “I wanted to change the world, that simple. On my family’s yearly trip to India, I saw children who have no power in their homes, huddling near dangerous fires. I wanted to change their position in life, to make it better by creating clean energy and electricity.” The 2017 Young Scientist Challenge is put on by Discovery Education and 3M . There are 10 finalists for this year’s challenge, with innovative projects such as a way to detect lead in water, treating Alzheimer’s with plant components, and cleaning up oil spills with pomegranate husks and orange peels. A winner will be chosen in October. + Young Scientist Lab Via Young Scientist Challenge and Rajesh Acharya Images via screenshot

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13-year-old Ohio girl taps traffic to generate renewable energy

IKEA is launching its virtual reality app this fall

June 20, 2017 by  
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Ikea’s been playing with augmented reality (AR) for a few years now – in 2014 they released an AR catalog so shoppers could see what furniture would look like in their homes without ever leaving their couch. Now they’re teaming up with technology giant Apple to create an AR app . Leader of Digital Transformation at Inter Ikea Michael Valdsgaard claims this will be the “first augmented reality app that will enable you to make buying decisions.” Using the app, customers could check out how Ikea furniture looks in their home before they buy a thing. If users do want to buy the pieces, it remains unclear whether they will be able to purchase pieces directly through the app – Valdsgaard said that’s the ambition but can’t “promise [the payment facility] will work in the first version.” That first version should be rolling out as soon as fall of this year. Related: IKEA teams up with NASA to design out-of-this-world space saving furniture That first AR app will feature around 500 to 600 products so customers can see how they fit in their homes. And Valdsgaard said in the future when Ikea launches new products, they will show up in the app before stores. Ikea will draw on Apple’s AR expertise to roll out the app. Valdsgaard said it’s not enough to understand sofas to venture into AR – and he said the Ikea app will become the world’s largest AR platform overnight. Although Valdsgaard indicated technology will be an important element of Ikea moving forward, the AR app doesn’t seem to be a move to phase out stores. He told Di Digital, “The stores are our greatest assets. We have almost 400 of them and we want to complement them in as many ways as possible, through mobile, social media , AR, and third-party e-commerce players. One thing will not replace the other, but we’ll try as many things as possible.” Via Business Insider Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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IKEA is launching its virtual reality app this fall

Mobile Smartdome homes pop up almost anywhere starting at 20k

May 31, 2017 by  
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Dome homes are durable, efficient, and—above all—fun to live in. Now you can get your hands on your very own mobile dome home with Slovenian firm smartdome construction . Available in a variety of styles, the Smartdome consists of prefabricated modules engineered for energy efficiency and designed for the enjoyment of nature lovers and DIY enthusiasts. Built on a set of adjustable steel legs, the elevated Smartdome sits lightly on the land with the option of placement in degraded and difficult terrain. Thanks to its modular design , the homes can be easily expanded, dismantled, and transported to new locations with little technical knowledge needed. The base Smartdome model measures 25 square meters with a starting cost of 19,900€. Related: These gorgeous glass homes can pop up in 8 hours for under $50k “The project is really something fresh and different […] for every nature lover,” said Željko Ho?evar of smartdome construction to Inhabitat. “It’s the first printed dodecahedron structure in the world.” The modules are constructed from galvanized steel and a laminated and moisture-resistant timber framework sealed with UV-resistant rubber gaskets. Buyers can choose between transparent modules with two or three-layer thermoformed polycarbonate or opaque versions filled with mineral wool or space-tech foil. All Smartdome homes are designed, engineered, and manufactured in Slovenia. + smartdome construction

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Mobile Smartdome homes pop up almost anywhere starting at 20k

This modern log home in Finland is heated by the earth

May 11, 2017 by  
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This may look like a traditional log home, but unlike other homes, it can withstand harsh winters and freezing temperatures down to -30°C (-22°F) without a huge impact on the environment. Finnish architecture firm Pluspuu Oy designed the Log Villa house in Finland as an energy efficient modern residence for cold climates that offers optimal living conditions thanks to a well-insulated envelope and the use of geothermal energy. The Log Villa sits near a beautiful lake in Central Finland and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Thick laminated timber logs constitute the envelope and features three-layer glued pine as the outer layer. This allows the structure to withstand extremely low temperatures. Although the design references traditional log buildings of the region, the villa’s envelope has no overlaps or visible cross corners. Related: Four-Cornered Villa is an Off-Grid Minimalist Retreat in Finland Geothermal energy is the main source of heat, which is pumped out of a well drilled in the ground. During the summer, when temperatures can go up to 30°C, cool air is pumped from the ground into the building. Triple-glazed thermal glass and blown-in wood fiber insulation make the envelope airtight and contributes to the ecological construction approach. + Pluspuu Oy Via Archdaily Photos by Samuli Miettinen

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This modern log home in Finland is heated by the earth

Australian home builder to include a Tesla Powerwall in every new home

April 4, 2017 by  
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An Australian home builder has announced plans to include a Tesla Powerwall in all new homes. Arden Homes says they will outfit all their new homes with the energy storage technology through a partnership with solar energy company and certified Tesla Powerwall reseller Bradford Solar . The move is expected to slash electricity costs for homeowners. Tesla Powerwalls will now be standard in Arden homes as part of the Bradford Solar ChargePack. Solar panels on home rooftops will gather energy, which can then “be used to power your appliances, fed back into the grid , or stored for later use,” according to an Arden brochure . The pack also includes cloud-based monitoring so people can track energy consumption right from their smartphones. Related: Solar homes with Tesla’s Powerwall 2.0 are already cost-competitive with the grid in Australia The Tesla Powerwall, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery , allows homes to run on renewable energy whether the sun is shining or not, and can even power homes during an outage. Powerwalls can also help homeowners slash electric bills by up to 92 percent; according to Tesla , the battery charges when electricity demand is low, and therefore rates are low, and discharges when electricity demand is higher and rates are more expensive. According to Arden’s brochure, families could save around $2,500 every year on electric costs, and their five kilowatt (kW) Bradford Solar ChargePack allows a family of four to attain 90 percent self-sufficiency a day. Their six kW pack allows an Australian family to live with little dependency on the grid. Arden Homes are also designed to allow plenty of natural light to brighten up their dwellings through sun courts and large picture windows. 15 percent of Australian households – or around 1.5 million homes – are utilizing solar energy, and information released late last year showed the electricity generated in Australian solar homes with a Tesla Powerwall 2 is cost-competitive with the grid. + Arden Homes + Bradford Solar Via Futurism Images via Bradford Solar Facebook and Arden Homes Facebook

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Australian home builder to include a Tesla Powerwall in every new home

Tiny pod-like home balances on single concrete pillar

January 26, 2017 by  
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Although typical country homes tend to blend into their natural surroundings, some are just made to stand out. Built by Prague-based architect Jan Sepka , House in the Orchard is a concrete-clad tiny home set on a single concrete pillar in the middle of a green field, looking as if it just plopped down from outer space. Although the tiny home design may look extremely contemporary, its concept was inspired by the natural green surroundings. The inclined slope of the landscape led the design’s unique volume and support. From most angles, the home appears to be floating above the green space, but there is a steel footbridge that leads to the entrance from the other side. Related: Romantic Treehouse huts are tucked away in Beijing’s tranquil mountains Although completely supported by a reinforced-concrete foundation, the home has a timber frame , which was designed digitally. A light natural wood makes up the interior walls and the sloped double height ceiling, which gives the compact area a surprisingly spacious feel. Thanks to a large window, the living space is naturally lit and a small fireplace is used for heating. The master bedroom is located on the second floor, which leads to a private office space with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. + ŠÉPKA ARCHITEKTI Via Archdaily Photography by Tomáš Malý

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Tiny pod-like home balances on single concrete pillar

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