16-year-old inspires U.S. city to pass law requiring solar panels on all new homes

July 20, 2017 by  
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More United States cities are taking strong measures to move the clean energy economy forward. This week, South Miami passed a law requiring new houses to be outfitted with solar panels . The law will even apply to some renovations. It’s the first of its kind in Florida , and passed four to one – and some of the inspiration for the law came from a high school student. High schooler Delaney Reynolds, who was 16 at the time, learned about San Francisco’s 2016 measure requiring solar panels on all new buildings of 10 stories or less. She thought cities in Florida could do the same. Reynolds, who started a nonprofit called The Sink or Swim Project to tackle climate change in South Florida, wrote mayors of around half a dozen cities in her area, according to InsideClimate News, and South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard was the first to reply. He asked Reynolds to help write the ordinance. Related: San Francisco approves measure to require solar panels on new buildings Under the law, new homes will have to have 175 square feet of solar panels per 1,000 square feet of roof area in the sun, or 2.75 kilowatts per 1,000 square feet of living space – whichever one is less. If the house is constructed beneath trees already there it may be exempt. If more than 75 percent of an existing home is being replaced by renovations , or if a home is being extended by 75 percent, the new law will apply as well. On Tuesday, the law passed, with only commissioner Josh Liebman voting against it. Liebman said he’s not against solar power but is for freedom of choice. The law will go into effect in September. Only around 10 new homes are built in the area a year, so Stoddard acknowledges the measure won’t change the world. But he said officials in other areas like Orlando and St. Petersburg have indicated interest, so the idea could spread. Via InsideClimate News and Miami Herald Images via Wikimedia Commons and The Sink or Swim Project Facebook

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Nebraska landowners fight Keystone XL pipeline with solar panels right in its path

July 12, 2017 by  
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Many Nebraska landowners are opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline slashing through their land. So they’re fighting the proposed oil pipeline with a clean, renewable tactic: solar panels . Activists have launched the Solar XL campaign to install solar on land Nebraska locals refuse to sell – directly in the path of the pipeline. The Solar XL campaign is intended to raise money for solar installations to power ranches and farms in Nebraska. Landowner Bob Allpress is one of those people hoping for a solar array. He said, “The need for the KXL pipeline product is non-existent in the United States. The monetary benefit to the peoples of Nebraska will be gone in seven years, while the risks to our state are for the life of this pipeline. The installation of wind and solar production in Nebraska will provide many good Nebraska jobs and provide years of cheap electricity for everyone in our great state.” Related: The Keystone XL pipeline would only create 35 full-time, permanent jobs Keystone XL could threaten multiple Nebraska sites like the Ponca Trail of Tears, the Ogallala Aquifer, and the Sandhills. Bold Nebraska , 350.org , Indigenous Environmental Network , CREDO , and Oil Change International are backing the campaign, and hope to install the first solar array at Jim and Chris Carlson’s farm. The Carlsons have refused to sell their land even though TransCanada , the company behind Keystone XL, has offered them $307,000. Family-owned company North Star Solar Bears would install the panels, which will be connected to the grid . According to the campaign, “If Keystone XL is approved, TransCanada would have to tear down clean and locally-produced energy to make way for its dirty and foreign tar sands.” If you’d like to donate to the Solar XL campaign, you can do so here . Each nine-panel installation costs $15,500, including labor and connection to the grid. Donations go to Bold Nebraska. + Solar XL Via Curbed Images via Mary Anne Andrei/Bold Nebraska ( 1 , 2 ) and 350.org on Flickr

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Nebraska landowners fight Keystone XL pipeline with solar panels right in its path

Audi confirms plans for a second electric SUV in 2019

July 12, 2017 by  
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Audi is scheduled to release its first all-electric SUV sometime in 2018, but the automaker recently announced plans to introduce a second electric SUV in 2019. The Audi e-tron Sportback concept was unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai Motor Show and is a preview of its second electric SUV . Next year’s e-tron electric SUV will be a more family friendly large model with a driving range over 300 miles, but Audi expects that some buyers may want something a bit sportier. This is why a year after the original SUV goes on sale, a production version of the e-tron Sportback will arrive. Both models share the same basic architecture, but the e-tron Sportback will have a sleeker, more coupe-like profile with a more unique liftback design. Related: Audi debuts Q8 plug-in hybrid SUV concept “Our Audi e-tron will be starting out in 2018 – the first electric car in its competitive field that is fit for everyday use,” according to a company spokesperson. “With a range of over 310 miles and the special electric driving experience, we will make this sporty SUV the must-have product of the next decade. Following close on its heels, in 2019, comes the production version of the Audi e-tron Sportback – an emotional coupé version that is thrillingly identifiable as an electric car at the very first glance.” The e-tron Sportback concept is powered by three electric motors . In normal driving conditions, the electric motor mounted on the front axle is responsible for keeping the SUV moving, but when the driver floors the accelerator or more traction is needed, all three electric motors work together. The system generates a total 430 horsepower, although it can be temporarily bumped up to 496 horsepower. With that much power the e-tron Sportback can reach 62 mph faster than most sports cars at only 4.5 seconds. Recharging the e-tron Sportback is easy using the traditional charging socket in the front fender or a much more convenient contactless inductive charging system called Audi Wireless Charging. You simply park the SUV over a charging pad and the battery is recharged. Both electric SUVs are part of Audi’s plans to have at least three electric models available by 2020. The third model will be a smaller compact EV that will share its platform with the production version of the VW I.D. concept . Images @Audi + Audi

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Audi confirms plans for a second electric SUV in 2019

Colossal iceberg weighing a trillion metric tons finally breaks off in the Antarctic

July 12, 2017 by  
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It finally happened. For several months scientists have had their eyes on the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica , where a massive iceberg has been dangling by a thread. Now they report the iceberg has indeed calved, and is floating in the Weddell Sea. The volume of this iceberg is twice that of Lake Erie. It’s thought to be one of the 10 biggest icebergs we’ve ever recorded. The new iceberg, which will likely be called A68, is around 2,239 square miles. It weighs over a trillion metric tons. Project Midas , which has been monitoring the Larsen C ice shelf, reported the calving happened sometime between July 10 and July 12. Scientists noted the break in NASA satellite data. Related: A colossal iceberg is breaking off Antarctica right now – and it’s big enough to fill Lake Michigan The Larsen C ice shelf has been reduced by 12 percent, meaning it’s at its lowest extent we’ve ever recorded. There isn’t evidence this event is linked to climate change , according to Project Midas leader Adrian Luckman of Swansea University . He said it is possible, but recent data shows that the ice shelf has actually been thickening. United States National Ice and Snow Data Center glacial expert Twila Moon agreed but did say climate change makes it easier for such events to occur. Project Midas team member and Swansea University glaciologist Martin O’Leary said in a statement, “Although this is a natural event, and we’re not aware of any link to human-induced climate change, this puts the ice shelf in a very vulnerable position. This is the furthest back that the ice front has been in recorded history.” Scientists don’t yet know what will happen to the rest of the Larsen C ice shelf. Luckman said more icebergs might break off, or the ice shelf could regrow. But the team’s prior research indicates an ice shelf is likely less stable now that A68 is floating free. Luckman told The Guardian, “We will have to wait years or decades to know what will happen to the remainder of Larsen C.” Via The Guardian and Project Midas Images via NASA/John Sonntag and Project Midas

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Colossal iceberg weighing a trillion metric tons finally breaks off in the Antarctic

This urban tree cleans as much polluted air as an entire forest

June 26, 2017 by  
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Air pollution might be invisible, but it results in 7 million premature deaths each year. Fortunately, there’s a solution – the CityTree is a high-tech green wall that scrubs the air of harmful particulates – and it has as much air-purifying power as 275 urban trees. As you might have guessed, the CityTree isn’t really a tree . Instead, it’s a moss culture. Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions said: “Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants .” The CityTree is under 4 meters tall, approximately 3 meters wide and 2.19 meters deep. Two versions are available – one with or without a bench – and a display is included for information or advertising. Due to the huge surface area of moss installed, each tree can remove dust, nitrogen dioxide and ozone gases from the air. Additionally, the installations are fully autonomous, as solar panels provide electricity and collected rainwater is filtered into a reservoir where it is pumped into the soil. Related: Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death worldwide The invention also has WiFi sensors which measure the soil humidity, temperature and water quality. “We also have pollution sensors inside the installation, which help monitor the local air quality and tell us how efficient the tree is.” said Wu. Every day, a CityTree can absorb around 250 grams of particulate matter. Over the length of an entire year, the invention can remove 240 metric tons of C02. Green City Solutions seeks to one day install CityTrees in major cities around the world – but they presently faces bureaucratic challenges. Said Wu, “We were installing them (the CityTrees) in Modena, Italy, and everything was planned and arranged, but now the city is hesitant about the places we can install because of security reasons.” Regardless, the company will persist and already has plans to introduce the invention to India , where air pollution has reached dangerous levels in certain locations. So far, 20 CityTrees have been successfully installed in major cities around the world – including Oslo, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong. Costing about $25,000 each, they are a big investment – but one deemed to be worthwhile as they clean the air of harmful contaminants. + Green City Solutions Via CNN Images via Green City Solutions

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This urban tree cleans as much polluted air as an entire forest

Indian Railways installing rooftop solar panels on 250 trains

June 23, 2017 by  
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Some of the world’s most polluting cities may be found in India, but the country’s government, as well as private corporations, are working hard to transition the economy into a more sustainable one. Indian Railways, for instance, is installing flexible solar panels on 250 local trains. The intention is to reduce fuel costs and benefit the environment while lowering the company’s own emissions to meet government standards. The railway has not yet decided which trains will receive the solar panels but has floated the money to install the systems, which will be used to power lights and fans on the trains. According to The Economic Times , companies selected through the process will need to install flexible solar panels and battery systems on six trains. Following a two-month trial period, large-scale implementation will take place. The initiative is expected to give another boost to India’s rapidly growing renewable energy program, especially since the trains would primarily run in areas where tracks have yet to be electrified. Related: New project could see UK electric trains powered by off-grid solar As Clean Techies reports, Indian Railways has undertaken numerous initiatives to shift to clean energy sources. Earlier this year, it was announced by the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that “7,000 railway stations across the country will be fed with solar power as per the Indian Railways mission to implement 1,000 megawatts of solar power capacity.” The news was shared during the union budget speech on February 1, 2017. Minister Jaitley also said that work to set up rooftop solar power systems at 300 stations has already begun and that the number will increase to 2,000 stations. Because of initiatives such as these, Indian Railways could potentially source up to 25% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2025, according to a study conducted by the United Nations Development Program. The report reads, “The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has found that Indian Railways could set up 5 gigawatts of solar power capacity, through rooftop and utility-scale projects, to significantly increase its consumption of renewable energy over the next few years.” As a result of solar prices declining in recent months, India has canceled plans to construct nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations . Experts now expect a profound shift in global energy markets. Via The Economic Times , Clean Techies Images via Pixabay  and Unsplash ( 1 , 2 )

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The 2018 Nissan Leaf will feature semi-autonomous driving technology

June 23, 2017 by  
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We’re just a few months away from the debut of the all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf – and the automaker just announced a killer feature for its next-generation electric vehicle. In addition to a complete restyling and a longer driving range , the 2018 Leaf will be able to drive itself with Nissan’s new ProPILOT Assist autonomous technology. ProPILOT Assist can take over driving tasks on the highway, which includes accelerating, braking and steering controls. The 2018 Leaf won’t have the full SAE Level 4 technology, which would give it the ability to also drive autonomously on city streets. Nissan says that “in the coming years” the ProPILOT Assist technology will be improved to give it the ability to navigate city intersections. Related: Nissan is working on a new 340-mile-range electric car Nissan hasn’t revealed any details about the 2018 Leaf’s powertrain – and most importantly – what its new driving range will be. It’s being reported that the 2018 Leaf will be offered with two battery options, similar to what Tesla does with its models. The bigger battery pack could give the 2018 Leaf a driving range close to 300 miles, which would easily beat the Chevy Bolt and the upcoming Tesla Model 3. The 2018 Nissan Leaf will be officially revealed in early September. Images @Nissan + Nissan

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Breakthrough algae strain produces twice as much biofuel

June 23, 2017 by  
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Scientists have been working since the 1970’s to transform algae into biofuel . Now a new breakthrough could make this alternative energy source a more viable option. Researchers from Synthetic Genomics, Inc. and ExxonMobil were able to edit algae genes to produce two times more lipids. Those lipids can be turned into biofuel that isn’t too different from the diesel we use today. Researchers figured out how to tune a genetic switch to regulate the conversion of carbon to oil in the alga Nannochloropsis gaditana . They used multiple editing techniques including CRISPR-Cas9. They were able to boost the algae’s oil content from 20 percent to over 40 percent – and importantly, did so without stunting the algae’s growth rate. The modified algae can produce as much as five grams of lipid per meter per day. Related: New biofuel from wastewater slashes vehicle CO2 emissions by 80% Vice president for research and development at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company Vijay Swarup said the milestone confirms their belief algae can offer a source of renewable energy . Synthetic Genomics CEO Oliver Fetzer said carbon dioxide and sunlight are two major components necessary for algae production, and both are plentiful and free. According to ScienceAlert, a past report indicated biofuels from algae could become a $50 billion industry , with the potential to offer transport fuel and food security. But we still could be years away from pumping this particular algae-based biofuel into our cars at gas stations. Researcher Imad Ajjawi of Synthetic Genomics told ScienceAlert this step was just a proof of concept, but did describe it as a significant milestone. According to Greentech Media , organizations have been working on making biofuel from algae for years, without much progress towards commercialization. In fact, they cited former ExxonMobil CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson , who back in 2009 said the work on turning algae into biofuels might not come up with real results for 25 years. The journal Nature Biotechnology published a study on the concept online this month. Via ScienceAlert and Synthetic Genomics Images via ExxonMobil and Wikimedia Commons

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Breakthrough algae strain produces twice as much biofuel

Solar-powered Cloverdale house is made of reclaimed wood from a 1970s kit home

June 23, 2017 by  
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This solar-powered home in Cloverdale, California was built using reclaimed wood from an existing 1970s kit log home. Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects utilized existing site elements to create the new 2150-square-foot house with minimal impact on the environment. The owners of the property commissioned the architects to design a sustainable home that’s easy to use and doesn’t disrupt its natural surroundings. Inspired by traditional screened porches , the architects designed a screened-in living space and included the porch in the body of the house as an entry to the guest bedrooms. This double role of the porch reduced the need for circulation and helped keep the footprint of the house to it minimum . Related: Kentfield Hillside Residence Rises Under a Green Roof North of San Francisco A solar array installed on the south-facing roof, along with solar hot water panels, provide enough power to meet most of the energy requirements of the house. PV-powered heat pumps provide radiant heating or cooling, depending on the weather conditions and seasonal needs. In order to reduce construction costs, the architects reused the wood of the original kit log house as decking, interior and exterior wood paneling. + Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects Via Dwell Photos by Matthew Millman

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Solar-powered Cloverdale house is made of reclaimed wood from a 1970s kit home

Amazing elevated museum lets you stroll through the treetops in British Columbia

June 23, 2017 by  
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This angular museum meanders through a forest in British Columbia . Canadian firm Patkau Architects designed the elevated building to house a private collector’s artwork and keep it safe from flooding. The museum’s linear succession of spaces creates a promenade that evokes the experience of strolling through the forest. An elevated walkway leads to the main entrance of the building, which is located beneath an angular form clad in pale wooden slats. While the exterior facade, clad in black metal panels , gives the building an artificial appearance, the wood-dominated interior connects it to its forested surroundings and introduces an element of warmth and familiarity. The configuration of the site informed the overall massing of the building. In order to protect the gallery from flooding , the building is elevated a full story above the ground. Related: Spectacular new shipping container museum nestles near China’s Great Wall Looking towards the forest, a glass walkway occupies an entire side of the building, while a large stairway at the center connects the museum to the green space below. These design decisions reflect the intent to focus all attention on nature and the artwork. + Patkau Architects Via Dezeen Photos by James Dow / Patkau Architects

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Amazing elevated museum lets you stroll through the treetops in British Columbia

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