Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia

January 10, 2018 by  
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Green Sheep Collective aimed to create an affordable and highly energy efficient home with the design of Smart Home, a renovation and extension in Melbourne , Australia. Built for approximately $200 per square foot, the home is by no means a low-cost home but the price is impressive given the inclusion of high-level environmentally sustainable principles and components. In contrast to Melbourne’s many McMansions, the Smart Home is a site-specific compact home that boasts low to zero emissions, recycled materials, and connection to the outdoors. Smart Home is an expansion and renovation of a two-bedroom single-fronted Victorian cottage in inner Melbourne. Passive solar design principles guided the design and the home’s openings and room layout are optimized for natural light and ventilation. Recycled materials were used wherever possible as was ethically sourced materials like the radially sawn timbers and Flexo recycled rubber flooring. Water saving impacts were addressed with EcoVerta water saving units. Careful design and clever storage solutions with built-in furniture created 20% more usable indoor space within the 140-square-foot addition. Related: Beautiful Northcote Solar Home shows off modern energy-efficient family living “This project faced a number of critical challenges that had to be overcome in order to meet these sustainability and design targets,” wrote the architects. “The constraints included overshadowing, poor orientation, and a small 7.5 metre wide east-west block built close to the boundary. The existing home was dark and leaky with a lean-to at the rear.” The architects demolished the lean-to and added a mezzanine . “Our response creates interesting volumes for architectural beauty, and minimises idle space by ensuring the floor plan is utilised to its full capacity through clever storage solutions and split level living. The single storey addition includes open plan living, dining and kitchen opening via large openable glazed doors to an outdoor deck.” + Green Sheep Collective Images by Shae Parker McCashen

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Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia

Your Smart Thermostat Tutorial

December 11, 2017 by  
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By Eric Murrell If you’re interested in smart home gadgets … The post Your Smart Thermostat Tutorial appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Your Smart Thermostat Tutorial

These clever curtains transform your window into a dazzling nighttime cityscape

November 24, 2017 by  
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Do you dream of a new view from your city apartment? Now you can create your own with these snazzy curtains featuring cityscapes from New York and London. Designed by HoleRoll , the thick curtains – which block out heat and cold – are carefully punctured with thousands of tiny holes to let light shine through, resulting in sparkling urban skylines that will transform any room. The unique window coverings use a typical curtain system of roller blinds. Made out of thick German fabric, they block out 99 percent of light and UV rays from the interior. To create the dazzling cityscape images , the dark fabric is carefully punctured following a detailed design for each city. The tiny holes let in just a little bit of light, emulating those found in any nighttime skyline. Related: Light Activated Smart Curtains Could Cut Energy Bills by Half While the dreamy images are perfect for blocking out light and giving your home a bit of extra character, the curtain’s thick, light-blocking material may also help cut costs by keeping the cold out during winter and protecting the interior space from excessive heat during hot summer months. + HoleRoll Via Archdaily

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These clever curtains transform your window into a dazzling nighttime cityscape

Yves Bhar recycles wetsuits and boat sails into ocean-friendly bags

November 9, 2017 by  
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Yves Béhar is turning trash into treasure. The rock-star industrial designer, founder of the San Francisco-based firm Fuse Project , has teamed up with Mafia Bags to transform used wetsuits, recycled boat sails, and castoff climbing ropes from the Yosemite Valley into an “everyday urban adventure pack.” Even better, the proceeds benefit  Sustainable Surf , a California nonprofit that leverages surf culture into a force for protecting the world’s oceans. The project hits close to home for Béhar, an avid surfer and kiteboarder, as well as an ambassador for Sustainable Surf. “I am passionate about protecting the oceans,” Béhar wrote in a blog post . “I surf, swim and explore in them. And I have seen firsthand the damage done. When Sustainable Surf and San Francisco-based sail recycler Mafia Bags approached me, I saw this project as an opportunity to create awareness and finance sustainability programs … and to make a good bag with waste materials.” Related: Yves Béhar unveils new Smart Locks that make keyless entry a breeze Designed, sourced, and crafted in San Francisco, the Deep Blue Bag is chock-full of adventure-ready features, water-resistant wet pocket (for wetsuits and sweaty gym clothes), a padded laptop pouch, a hidden side-seam pocket for your wallet and keys, external and internal gear loops, and a place to secure a water bottle. All zippers are designed to be weather-resistant for “fog, rain, sun, shine.” Besides boasting a generous lifetime warranty from Mafia Bags, no two bags are exactly alike. “One thing that I love about this bag is that because of the way the sails are constructed and re-used, the stitching may happen in different places, which makes every bag a one-of-kind,” Béhar said. Each carryall diverts more than 10 square feet of material from the landfill, according to its Kickstarter campaign , where you can preorder a bag for $175. Related: “Listen Closely” lampshades are made with legacy sails from Canada Place All profits from the Deep Blue Bag will go to Sustainable Surf to expand Waste to Waves, a recycling program that reimagines trash as a resource for creating new products. “When you buy this product, you’re not only investing in a functional adventure pack— you’re helping to keep our oceans clean, and supporting a movement that’s making treasure from our trash,” Béhar said. + Deep Blue Bag at Kickstarter + Fuse Project

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Yves Bhar recycles wetsuits and boat sails into ocean-friendly bags

Target is selling fidget spinners that contain toxic levels of lead

November 9, 2017 by  
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If you’re planning to gift a fidget spinner this holiday season, take heed – the US Public Interest Research Group has found dangerously high levels of lead in some spinners sold at Target. In fact, one of the fidget spinners was found to contain 300 times the 100 parts per million allowable for children’s toys. The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass contains the highest levels of lead , testing at 33,000 parts per million. As we mentioned, that’s 300 times what is allowed for children’s toys. The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner in Metal tested at 1,300 parts per million. The response from Target and the manufacturer has been the same: the particular spinners aren’t intended for children under the age of 14. Hence, CPSC lead restrictions for children’s toys “don’t apply.” The companies say products marketed to those over the age of 12 have no specific lead-level restrictions. Said a spokesperson for Target: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has reviewed and explicitly defined fidget spinners as ‘general use products.’ They are not defined by the CPSC as toys.” Related: 11-year old inventor becomes “America’s Top Young Scientist” for creating lead-detecting sensor According to Kara Cook-Shultz, the toxics director at US PIRG, it doesn’t matter how the CPSC classifies these spinners — they’re still being marketed as toys for kids. “All fidget spinners have play value as children’s toys regardless of labeling,” said Cook-Schultz. “We can’t sit idly by while children play with these toxic toys. And, yes, they are toys.” CBS News reports that the gadgets are being sold in the toy aisles alongside the spinners sold to 6-year-olds. Additionally, the packaging for the brass spinner says the toy is appropriate for ages “6 and up.” The Fidget Wild Premium Spinner Brass, on the other hand, does recommend “Ages 14+”. Lead poisoning is a serious concern, particularly for young children. This is because children absorb the substance more readily. Young kids are also more likely to put products that contain high amounts of lead in their mouths and near their noses. Excess levels of lead can lead to hyperactivity , lack of appetite, behavior problems, and learning disabilities. Of course, lead is toxic to adults, as well. Excess levels of lead can result in brain and nervous system ailments, stomach and kidney problems, high blood pressure, weakness, headaches and muscle problems in adults. + US Public Interest Research Group Via CBS News Images via Pixabay

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Target is selling fidget spinners that contain toxic levels of lead

How Recyclers Are Affected by Smart Gadgets

November 7, 2017 by  
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A refrigerator used to be a place where you merely … The post How Recyclers Are Affected by Smart Gadgets appeared first on Earth911.com.

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New smart grid solution heals itself amid central grid outages

November 1, 2017 by  
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Renewable energy may offer emissions-free electricity , but it isn’t always easy for electrical grids to integrate that energy. Dutch company Alfen is launching their answer to the dilemma. The Cellular Smart Grid Platform (CSGriP) allows a central grid to be divided into smaller cells that can operate independently, if necessary, and even self-heal . CSGriP provides energy from sources like biogas , solar power , or wind power for local consumers. It includes “a 0.5 megawatt energy storage system and complex algorithm used for local energy management.” Should the central grid go out, local cells would take over to restore power for local customers. According to Alfen, “Once the grid balance within a cell is restored, it automatically reconnects to other cells, and, as such, quickly rebuilds the larger power grid” to reduce the duration of central grid outages. Related: INFOGRAPHIC: How a smart electric grid could reduce emissions by 58 percent in the US Alfen energy storage specialist Evert Raaijen said in a statement, “Unique about this solution is that the local cells are intrinsically stable through self-adjustment of supply and demand based on the frequency of the electricity grid. This makes the grid truly self-healing in cases of central grid outages. The self-healing mechanism based on frequencies sets it apart from many IT-related smart grids that require relatively vulnerable data and ICT connections for balancing local grids.” In developed countries, the point of the platform is to decentralize the grid and make it more ready for renewables. But the platform could also be deployed in developing countries that still need to be electrified, allowing them to avoid constructing central grids obtaining power from large fossil fuel -burning plants in favor of these local cells with storage systems for renewable sources. Alfen has worked in countries from the United Kingdom to the Czech Republic to Nigeria, on projects for electric vehicle charging , transformer substations, energy storage, smart grids, and grid automation. They are currently field testing CSGriP at the Application Center for Renewable Resources in Lelystad, the Netherlands . + Alfen Via Alfen Images via Alfen on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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This pop-up prefab cocoon can immerse you in the heart of nature

November 1, 2017 by  
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Immersing yourself in nature without leaving the comfort of the hotel room may sound too good to be true, but that’s exactly what French architect and civil engineer Christophe Benichou sets out to achieve in LUMISHELL . Created in the shape of a cocoon, this prefabricated curved dwelling blurs the distinction between indoor and outdoor space with LUMICENEs, a patented reversible window concept. The LUMISHELL is designed for placement in a variety of exotic environments—even in Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat that experiences below freezing temperatures. Clad in a protective aluminum skin, the 40-square-meter LUMISHELL comprises all the needs for a comfortable, long-term stay including a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room. The bedroom and living room are located at opposite ends of the curved dwelling and wrapped by LUMICENE , a curved glass sliding door that opens up to transform the room into an outdoor space. Curtains attached to the LUMICENE rails allow for privacy and protection from solar gain, while the shape of the structure is optimized for natural cross ventilation. Related: Cover installs its first prefab dwelling “for the masses” in L.A. “Both rooms provide unique panoramic views and can be occasionally transformed into outdoor spaces to enhance the feeling of being transplanted in the middle of vast scapes,” wrote the architect. “Various mirrors also create reflections that diffuse the landscape in the heart of the dwelling.” The self-supporting and prefabricated LUMISHELL can be assembled on site in as little as four days—not including hookups—and does not require foundations. The LUMISHELL is currently available for pre-orders and is expected to ship out for first installations in 2018. + LUMISHELL

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This pop-up prefab cocoon can immerse you in the heart of nature

New electric smart fortwo is ready to revolutionize car-sharing

August 31, 2017 by  
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Smart is planning to transition its small lineup of tiny cars to fully electric powertrains – in the not-too-distant future. The company has unveiled a preview of what the future smart fortwo could look like and how it could forever change the world of car-sharing. At first glance, the smart vision EQ fortwo concept looks like a more modern take on the current fortwo, but there’s more than meets the eye here. The EQ fortwo concept is smart’s vision of a future in which autonomous cars can improve the car-sharing experience in urban cities. Currently the car2go car-sharing service uses the smart fortwo, with over 2.6 million users worldwide. The vision EQ fortwo concept would build on this, since users wouldn’t have to search for a car or find a place to park it after they reach their destination. Instead, users summon the vision EQ fortwo, just like when they would request an Uber or Lyft ride. The vision EQ fortwo then drives autonomously to the pick up point and once the user reaches the destination the concept moves on its own to pick up the next user. It never actually parks on the street, like car2go , which will help reduce the amount of needed parking spaces. Related: From now on all Smart cars in North America will be electric On the outside, the smart vision EQ fortwo concept’s exterior communicates with users and pedestrians through a Black Panel Grille and LED displays, which replace traditional headlights and taillights. If the car is unoccupied, information about local events, the weather, news or the time can be displayed. The smart’s Black Panel Grille indicates whether the car is occupied by one or by two passengers. The smart vision EQ fortwo concept is powered by a 30 kWh battery. When its battery is depleted, it can automatically drive to a charging point to recharge its battery pack . Smart will debut the vision EQ fortwo concept next month at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. + smart Images @smart

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New electric smart fortwo is ready to revolutionize car-sharing

The world’s most efficient 5-seater car is powered entirely by the sun

June 27, 2017 by  
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A team of students at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) just unveiled an electric car that seats five and is completely powered by the sun. Called Stella Vie, the vehicle stands apart because it’s more efficient than all solar cars before it. Even with fewer solar panels on its roof, the car is capable of a range of about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) on a warm summer day. According to the students, Stella Vie is “the car of the future.” Charged by the sun, the solar-powered vehicle can reach speeds up to 130 km/h (80 mph) and it also contains new, smart technology such as a parking navigation system that takes into account the position of the sun when parking (so it can keep charging). Like a Tesla, Stella Vie also uses the latest technology to warn drivers of upcoming traffic events. This allows for safer and more efficient driving. According to TU/e, Stella Vie was designed to find the most efficient route and show how much energy can be saved compared to a standard, fossil fuel-powered car. Any surplus energy that is generated by the vehicle can be supplied back to a house or the electric grid . Additionally, the smart charging and discharging system keeps track of energy prices and daily use to find the best time to recharge and discharge. Related: Record-Breaking Solar Car Can Travel 98 Miles on 15 Cents Worth of Electricity All in all, 23 students worked together to develop the car which is competing to win TU/e’s third world title at the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge , which will take place this October in Australia . The competition requires the solar -powered cars to run 3,000 kilometers through the Australian outback. Stella Vie will compete in the Cruiser Class (for practical cars), where technical innovation, battery consumption and the number of occupants that can be transported are taken into account by judges. + TU/e Images via TU/e, Bart van Overbeeke

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