Top 5 Green Gadgets That Will Save You Energy and Money

March 26, 2018 by  
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One of the biggest myths of sustainable design is that you have to spend lots of green in order to go green. Fortunately, there’s a plethora of great gadgets out there that stand to cut down your bills while reducing the amount of electricity you consume. From active solar solutions and energy monitoring systems to ultra-efficient appliances, read on for our top 5 green gadgets that save energy and money. LED Lighting Over the past year energy efficient lighting has proven to be one of the most exciting fields in green consumer tech, and we’ve seen some remarkable advancements in LED technology that stand to save significant amounts of energy while cutting down on your electricity bill. LED lights also last much longer than incandescents and even compact fluorescents – new bulbs by Pharox and Panasonic have life-spans rated for 19-25 years . Although these next-generation bulbs tend to cost a bit more, you can count on technological advances and economies of scale making them cheaper and more plentiful in the years to come. Household Energy Monitors Studies show that if households are able to measure and track energy use, then residents tend to automatically take steps to cut down on electricity use and increase energy bill savings. Of course, our favorite energy monitor for the always-connected web 2.0 set is the Tweet-A-Watt , a household power meter that automatically tweets your home’s energy use. The system is sure to spark a bit of friendly competition among neighboring households, and there’s nothing like a little public accountability to jump-start home energy savings. Portable Solar Chargers Gadget geeks on the go know that keeping charged can be a challenge with today’s energy-draining smart phones and mp3 players. Fortunately we’ve seen a slew of great portable solar chargers that enable you to skip the grid altogether and charge anywhere the sun is shining. The K3 Wind and Solar Charger , the Suntrica Solar-Powered Badge , and the Solio Charger are three of our favorites, and for the fashion-forward set there are even several solar-powered satchels and backpacks out there – our top marks go to Voltaic and Noon Solar . Fuel-Saving Car Systems Anyone who’s ever driven a Prius knows how fun and addictive it can be to save fuel by easing off the gas and watching your milage go up. For those who don’t have a heads-up display handy, Kiwi makes a great fuel-saving system that plugs right into your car’s on-board diagnostic port to gather driving data, analyze it, and offer steps to increase your mileage. The device is compatible with all vehicles made after 1996 and can increase your fuel economy by up to 20%. Energy-Star Rated Appliances TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, and other household appliances make up for a huge amount of your monthly electricity bill, so by selecting more efficient electronics you’ll be saving both energy and money. An easy way to do this is to keep an eye out for the Energy Star label when purchasing new appliances – the certification mandates strict energy efficiency standards and covers practically every area of household technology. Last year alone Energy Star appliances avoided 29 million cars worth of greenhouse gas emissions while saving Americans $19 billion on their utility bills.

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Top 5 Green Gadgets That Will Save You Energy and Money

Speed breeding technique inspired by NASA grows three times the wheat with less land

January 3, 2018 by  
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Scientists inspired by NASA have found a way to grow wheat at incredible speeds using intense lighting regimes. The method, called “speed breeding”, produces wheat that is not only healthier, but grows in half the time, meaning you could feed more people with less land. The rapid-growing technique not only works on wheat but sunflowers, lentils, peanuts, amaranth, pepper, and radish, which could signal a major breakthrough for feeding the planet’s growing population. By 2050, the planet could host an additional two billion people, but the space for growing and raising food isn’t increasing. So scientists have been looking for ways to tackle the problem of feeding a large population with less space. Scientists at the University of Sydney , the University of Queensland  and the John Innes Center took a look at technology developed years ago by NASA to grow crops in space. Building on this base, they developed their speed breeding technique. Related: Urban Produce vertical farm grows 16 acres of food in just 1/8 acre of space The technique involves growing plants under LEDs with a continuous, specific wavelength to boost photosynthesis. Using this lighting regime, the researchers grew wheat, barley, and chickpeas in half the time of traditional plants – six generations in one year to the two or three that can traditionally be grown. That’s from “seed to seed” in just six weeks. And the plants are actually better quality than traditional plants. This is likely the first time scientists have grown crops this quickly while also improving quality. “In the glasshouse we currently use high pressure sodium vapor lamps and these are quite expensive in terms of the electricity demand,” study co-author and UQ Senior Research Fellow Lee Hickey told New Atlas . “In our paper we demonstrate that wheat and barley populations can be grown at a density of about 900 plants per square meter, thus in combination with LED light systems, this presents an exciting opportunity to scale up the operation for industry use.” The researchers published their findings in the journal Nature Plants . Via New Atlas

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Speed breeding technique inspired by NASA grows three times the wheat with less land

Vietnam’s longest cable-stayed bridge lights up with 16.7 million colors

July 18, 2017 by  
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A prism of colors bathes the recently completed Nhat Tan Bridge in Hanoi , transforming it into an illuminated work of art. Philips Lighting partnered with Vietnamese construction company the Sun Group to install their cloud-based ActiveSite lighting management system, which can create a staggering 16.7 million different colors. The new Nhat Tan Bridge is Vietnam’s longest cable-stayed bridge . It crosses the Red River in Hanoi , connecting the city to its main airport. Its five colorful spans symbolize the five ancient gates to this capital city. This symbolic quality is further enhanced by Philips’ new lighting system, which can illuminate the bridge in special colors to commemorate events and holidays. Related: Choreographed lights to illuminate New York City bridges and tunnels The new lighting system is for more than just looks, however. Compared to conventional lighting, the new long-life LEDs can deliver up to 75 percent energy savings, significantly cutting operation and maintenance costs. + Nhat Tan Bridge + Philips + Sun Group

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Vietnam’s longest cable-stayed bridge lights up with 16.7 million colors

These incredible lights look exactly like giant soap bubbles

March 28, 2017 by  
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Dutch designers Martens & Visser created a collection of mesmerizing kinetic objects that rotate and reflect light and color like massive soap bubbles floating through the air. The ‘Reflecting HOLONS’  may look like fragile bubbles that could pop at any moment, but they are made from razor-thin iridescent plastic strips attached to an axis. As the axis rotates they change shape, revealing all the colors of the rainbow in a constantly-evolving light show. https://vimeo.com/145396389#at=5 Jetske Visser and Michiel Martens aimed to investigate the refracting and reflecting properties of light and color through their unique Holons. As they reflect the light around them, the Holons glow, while the refracted light spreads out in different wavelengths, revealing all seven colors of the rainbow on the walls, ceiling and floor around them. The spheres were carefully crafted from thin strips of transparent iridescent plastic attached to a metallic rotating axis suspended from the ceiling. Watch the video below to see them in action. Related: Eindhoven’s annual Glow Festival set the city aglow with hundreds of LED installations Jetske Visser and Michiel Martens  aimed to investigate the refracting and reflecting properties of light and color through their unique Holons. As they reflect the light around them, the Holons glow, while the  refracted light spreads out in different wavelengths, revealing all seven colors of the rainbow on the walls, ceiling and floor around them. The spheres were carefully crafted from thin strips of transparent iridescent plastic attached to a metallic rotating axis suspended from the ceiling. Watch the video below to see them in action. The rotating axis is powered by a spinning electronic motor that makes the Holons look like soap bubbles as they float and dance in the air. The kinetic pieces were first commissioned by Eindhoven art space MU  and displayed during last year’s Glow festival of light. More recently they were shown at a converted Philips factory, creating an immersive landscape during last year’s  Dutch Design Week . Visser and Martens say the Holons look so real, visitors are constantly wanting to blow them through the air and pop them. + Martens & Visser Photos by Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat and  Boudewijn Bollmann

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These incredible lights look exactly like giant soap bubbles

Daniel Libeskind unveils twisted, tree-covered skyscraper for Toulouse

March 28, 2017 by  
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Studio Libeskind has been tapped to design Toulouse’s first skyscraper , the Occitanie Tower, a twisting modern building draped in vertical gardens. Created in collaboration with Paris-based landscape architect Nicolas Gilsoul, the 40-storey mixed-use skyscraper will serve as an economic catalyst for the French city’s central business district and comprise offices, a hotel, a restaurant, and residences. The tree-covered areas of the tower will give the building its iconic appearance and a portion of that green space will be open to public use. Unlike architect Daniel Libeskind’s more jagged and geometric designs, the 150-meter-tall Occitanie Tower stands out from his usual style with its sinuous lines. The curved and twisted shape draws inspiration from the waterways of the Canal du Midi that snake through the city. The eye-catching skyscraper will consist of 11,000 square meters of office space, a Hilton hotel, 120 apartments, retail space, and a restaurant with panoramic views . Related: Libeskind unveils zero-emissions university building designed in collaboration with students “The tower becomes a unique object in a vast urban space – the tower will not only become a destination, but also a defining public space,” said Libeskind. “With its suspended gardens that change colour during the seasons, the slight silvertine of the glazing of the facade will reflect the pink tones of Toulouse and the brightness of this material will change perception of the space, according to the variation of light.” The Occitanie Tower is slated to start construction in 2018 with an expected completion date in 2022. + Studio Libeskind Via Dezeen

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Daniel Libeskind unveils twisted, tree-covered skyscraper for Toulouse

These mesmerizing kinetic objects float like giant soap bubbles

February 16, 2017 by  
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Dutch designers Martens & Visser created a collection of mesmerizing kinetic objects that rotate and reflect light and color like massive soap bubbles floating through the air. The ‘Reflecting HOLONS’  may look like fragile bubbles that could pop at any moment, but they are made from razor-thin iridescent plastic strips attached to an axis. As the axis rotates they change shape, revealing all colors of the rainbow in a constantly-evolving light show.

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These mesmerizing kinetic objects float like giant soap bubbles

Lego-like LEDs snap together to transform your walls into light art

November 24, 2016 by  
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Designed by James Vanderpant and James Glover of Dyena , Helios Touch uses moveable hexagon LED modules to create light art. The slim modules measure 4.3 inches (11 centimeter) across and are 0.4 inches (1 centimeter) thick. Each 6.3-watt unit produces 400 lumens, which generates around the same brightness as a 40-watt incandescent bulb . After a central Helios Touch panel is rigidly mounted onto the wall (with nails or sticky pads), users can easily expand upon their tessellated lighting design. The modules snap together via magnets, located on the sides, which also allow electricity pass through from one piece to another. Related: Brilliant DiscoDisco LED sculpture comes alive to the sound of music A capacitive sensor is installed behind the Helios Touch surface to allow users to turn individual modules on and off with a simple touch of a finger or swipe of the hand. Currently up to 105 tiles can be joined on the same power circuit. The modular LED panels are powered by a mains power supply; a 120 / 220 v to 24v 2A adapter can power up to 35 panels. The Helios Touch modular lighting system is currently on Kickstarter , where a pledge of £49 (US$61) includes a pack of five panels and a power unit. + Helios Touch Kickstarter Via New Atlas Images via Helios Touch

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Lego-like LEDs snap together to transform your walls into light art

Tiny robot caterpillar can push objects ten times its size

August 23, 2016 by  
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Physics researchers at the University of Warsaw have created an innovative soft robot that packs a powerful punch for its size. Despite being only 15 millimeters long, this powerful machine can carry loads up to 10 times larger than itself. While soft robots inspired by caterpillars have been designed before, it’s been a challenge to build them at a natural scale due to the available parts simply being too large and inflexible. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wulyMNiakpU That’s where this robot is different. At first glance, it appears to simply be a thin, transparent piece of plastic. However, when exposed to light , the body contracts in a wave pattern which moves it forward. The secret to this motion is in the light-sensitive elastomer the robot is made of, which is aligned in a specific molecular pattern. Related: Robo Raven Robot Can Flap its Wings Like a Real Bird The researchers could even change the lighting conditions in order to made the robot perform a variety of different actions . Not only can it haul a cargo, but it can also crawl through small crevices and climb up slopes. The robot is further controlled with a spatially modulated laser beam . Using what they’ve learned of new fabrication techniques and design strategies, the Warsaw team hopes to further develop the technology and create soft robots capable of swimming and even flying. Their findings have been published in the journal Advanced Optical Materials . + Faculty of Physics University of Warsaw Via Engadget Images via FUW and coniferconifer

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Tiny robot caterpillar can push objects ten times its size

Tropical solar-powered home boasts spectacular views of the ocean and jungle

August 23, 2016 by  
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While sustainability is a key objective of the two-story Terrace House, the architects also strived to make the home as comfortable and beautiful as possible. The 300-square-meter building’s remote location on Puntarenas necessitated the design of semi-prefabricated steel members lightweight enough to be brought on-site and preassembled with local construction methods. The use of lightweight materials and careful placement of the house against the back of a steep hill helped minimize site disturbance . To minimize dependence on air conditioning despite the region’s hot and humid climate, the architects created computer models to analyze local wind patterns and the solar trajectory. That data informed an airy and open house layout that uses passive solar design and cross ventilation to stay naturally cool. Photovoltaic panels power the home’s electricity needs, while solar thermal technology heats the water. All appliances and fixtures in the house were chosen for their energy efficient features. Rainwater is collected from all roof structures and reused throughout the home. Related: Tropical Casa Flotanta Hovers Lightly Above the Pacific in Costa Rica The most open areas of the home are placed closest to the ocean and jungle views, while the bedrooms and bathrooms are tucked to the rear. “The result is a series of interwoven terraces that relate to each other in all dimensions creating not only an internal dynamic interaction between levels, but also varied and sometimes unexpected relationships between the inhabitants and the natural landscape,” write the architects. “In these interstitial terrace spaces, which are never truly inside or out, architecture comes to foster the relationship, enjoyment, and appreciation of the natural world by the inhabitants.” Most of the construction materials were locally and ethically sourced, such as the certified Melina wood, and assembled by local workers. + Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture Images via Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture , by Andres Garcia Lachner

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Tropical solar-powered home boasts spectacular views of the ocean and jungle

Light Bulb Moment? Researchers See Bright Idea

August 18, 2016 by  
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The humble light bulb has been around so long that it feels a bit strange to discuss it in the realm of eco-tech. We forget that the light bulb, now found in virtually every single home in America, was once a groundbreaking innovation. Light! At…

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Light Bulb Moment? Researchers See Bright Idea

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