UK’s first energy positive classroom produces 1.5x the energy it uses

June 29, 2018 by  
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After one year in operation, the numbers are in: the United Kingdom ‘s first energy-positive classroom is capable of producing 1.5 times the amount of energy it needs to operate. Known as the Active Classroom, the energy-producing classroom stands as a shining example of what is possible as the U.K. and other nations attempt to transform their energy systems in response to climate change. The building was designed by experts at SPECIFIC, a U.K. Innovation and Knowledge Center led by Swansea University, whose “research focuses on developing solar technologies and the processing techniques that take them from the lab to full-scale buildings,” according to its research director Dave Worsley . Currently, 40 percent of British energy is consumed by buildings. The Active Classroom incorporates several different technologies and design features to achieve its net positive energy status. The roof is curved and lined with laminated photovoltaic panels , while a thermal photovoltaic system is installed on the southern facing wall of the building, capable of producing heat and energy from its sun -exposed location. To store this energy, the classroom harnesses lithium ion batteries and a 2,000 liter water tank specifically for storing solar heat. Related: Magical new classroom reconnects children with nature in the UK The Active Classroom stands next to the Active Office, a similar structure built by SPECIFIC. “The Active Office and Classroom will be linked together and able to share energy with each other and electric vehicles , demonstrating how the concept could be applied in an energy-resilient solar-powered community,” Worsley said. These buildings are designed to be simple and quick to assemble, taking only about a week to set up. “It’s difficult to overstate the potential of developing a building that powers itself,” explained Innovate U.K. executive chair Ian Campbell . “The concept could genuinely revolutionize not only the construction sector but completely change how we create and use energy.” + SPECIFIC Via ScienceDaily Images via SPECIFIC

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UK’s first energy positive classroom produces 1.5x the energy it uses

Episode 116: Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy is optimistic, drones meet clean energy

March 16, 2018 by  
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On this week’s episode, a hopeful perspective on the potential for meaningful, grassroots climate action and why automated, flying robots could reduce the cost of wind and solar power.

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Episode 116: Former EPA chief Gina McCarthy is optimistic, drones meet clean energy

New quantum tunneling application captures electricity from Earth’s heat

February 8, 2018 by  
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Researchers at  King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia have learned how to produce electricity from Earth’s excess heat through quantum tunneling. Quantum tunneling is a phenomenon in which particles are able to tunnel through a barrier that, under the rules of classical mechanics, they are usually unable to pass through. First predicted in the early 20th century and generally accepted by mid-century, quantum tunneling plays an important applied role in devices such as the tunnel diode, quantum computing, and the scanning tunneling microscope. Its more recent application, the harvest of electricity from Earth’s radiant heat, involves a specifically designed antenna that can identify this excess heat as high-frequency electromagnetic waves, then transforms the signals into a direct electrical charge. The heat produced by sunlight hitting the Earth results in a constant flow of infrared radiation that, if untapped, is essentially free energy gone to waste. It is estimated that the global output of infrared radiation may be as much as millions of gigawatts per second. Since the infrared wavelengths are so short, scientists at KAUST needed to design micro-antennas suited to catch this heat. “There is no commercial diode in the world that can operate at such high frequency,” said lead researcher Atif Shamim . “That’s why we turned to quantum tunneling.” Related: New double-pane quantum dot solar windows generate power with better efficiency Via a tunneling device known as a metal-insulator-metal (MIM) diode, electrons are able to pass through a small barrier, despite lacking the energy classically required to do so. As the electrons pass through this barrier, they are converted into an electrical direct current. The technology could be applied to solar panels , which currently only harvest a small percentage of the potential heat and light energy available for electrical power. While there is work to be done, the potential for how we gather and use energy is huge. “This is just the beginning – a proof of concept,” said Shamim . “We could have millions of such devices connected to boost overall electricity generation,” Via ScienceAlert Images via Depositphotos and  KAUST (1)

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New quantum tunneling application captures electricity from Earth’s heat

Our heaping food waste problem has an open secret: It can be solved

February 8, 2018 by  
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Experts from Kroger, Dow, ReFed, Feeding America and TSC weigh in the potential for making great systemic change.

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Our heaping food waste problem has an open secret: It can be solved

Can business policies untangle the fate of sea life?

November 28, 2017 by  
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Laws to protect wildlife are the first step in any conservation effort, but the potential of business to strengthen policy should not be overlooked.

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Can business policies untangle the fate of sea life?

Renewables offer mining a groundbreaking opportunity

August 10, 2017 by  
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With the potential to cut a gigaton of carbon, it’s time to take a hard look at sustainable mining.

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Renewables offer mining a groundbreaking opportunity

3 digital strategies to make your sustainability story pop

August 10, 2017 by  
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Americans increasingly want to hear your company’s sustainability story, a key way to differentiate your brand. Now, make that story stand out.

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3 digital strategies to make your sustainability story pop

Can craft butcher shops help transform the meat industry?

November 23, 2016 by  
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Small, artisan shops have the potential to encourage more farmers to switch to pasture-based practices, and could help scale up the market for better meat.

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Can craft butcher shops help transform the meat industry?

Outdoor recreation can’t beat the heat of climate change

November 23, 2016 by  
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If you do business in a place like Montana, Big Sky Resorts, Columbia and Newell Rubbermaid offer lessons in adaptation.

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Outdoor recreation can’t beat the heat of climate change

Amip Shah on the triple-bottom-line case for IoT

September 30, 2016 by  
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The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the way we connect and interact with the world, from wellness and health monitoring to smart utility meters, integrated logistics, and self-driving cars. What is the potential impact beyond “things” — on our workforce, our communities and the way in which we work? Hewlett Packard Labs has been asking these questions. Learn how they are harnessing IoT innovations to drive solutions that work for both people and the planet. 

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