Flexible new solar panel is almost 80% lighter than traditional panels

March 22, 2017 by  
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Solar panels just got a lot slimmer. Zhengrong Shi, a.k.a. the Sun King, is now marketing eArche, a super flexible, ultrathin solar panel that could stretch along building facades, atop buses, or on top of carports to charge electric cars. According to Shi, the groundbreaking panel has unlimited potential, and 40 kilowatts (kW) of the new technology has already been installed in three locations throughout Australia . eArche draws on a composite material like that utilized in airplane windows that is almost 80 percent lighter than conventional photovoltaic panels, according to RenewEconomy. Shi is distributing his new products through Australian company Energus and Hong Kong company SunMan , and believes eArche is the biggest innovation in over 10 years in the solar industry . He told RenewEconomy, “Most of the cost reductions we have seen come from manufacturing, growing efficiency, and supply chain. There has been very little innovation on products and applications, so we have decided to focus on the panel itself, which has been very rigid and heavy.” Related: SolarWindow unveils new energy-generating glass that bends Some companies haven’t been able to install solar because panels are too heavy for their buildings’ roofs, but Shi’s technology could remove that issue. Rooftop solar systems typically weigh around eight metric tons for a 100 kW array, according to The Daily Advertiser, but eArche weighs just around two metric tons for 100 kW. Shi said eArche can be custom-shaped for building roofs or walls. He told RenewEconomy, “We think governments should require all new buildings to have solar panels integrated into their structure. With this panel, it is easy to do.” SunMan also envisions the technology on RVs, yachts, vending machines, and more. Time will tell if eArche is as revolutionary as Shi thinks. The technology stands in contrast to Tesla’s proposed solar tiles , which Shi said is “the wrong way of doing it” largely due to expense and weight. Via RenewEconomy and The Daily Advertiser Images via Sunman Energy Facebook

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Flexible new solar panel is almost 80% lighter than traditional panels

Ultra-green house in Seattle marries aesthetics and sustainability

March 22, 2017 by  
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This ultra-green house for a Seattle family of four has achieved an exceptional level of sustainability without compromising on aesthetics. Shed Architecture & Design designed the Madrona Passive House as a net-zero residence for former Microsoft program manager and renowned environmental advocate Jabe Blumenthal. With a super-insulated envelope and passive design features such as heat recovery systems, photovoltaics, green roofs and stormwater and rainwater harvesting, the house minimizes its energy consumption and act as a stellar example of climate-friendly living. The 3,700-square-foot home relies on solar panels , high-performance construction and a contemporary design for its energy efficiency. A well insulated envelope which includes a Zehnder ComfoAir heat recovery ventilator that pumps fresh air into the interior contributes to its low energy consumption . This technology also recovers 90 percent of thermal energy from exhaust air for reuse inside. Rainwater from the home’s roof and the green roof on the garage goes into two cisterns via permeable pavers, while mechanical shading system and triple-pane windows regulate solar gain . The owners can also tap into the building’s real-time consumption by using the circuit-by-circuit energy monitoring system with dashboard. Related: Seattle’s Palatine Passive House consumes 90% less energy than a conventional home Achieving the world’s most demanding building energy standards – Passive House – the building is expected to also receive the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready and Living Building Challenge’s Net Zero Energy Building certifications. The project was recognized by Green Builder Media as winner of the 2016 Green Home of the Year Award in the Best Energy Efficiency category. + SHED Architecture & Design Via Green Builder Media Photos by Mark Woods

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Ultra-green house in Seattle marries aesthetics and sustainability

Wright Electric unveils revolutionary plan for 150-seat electric passenger plane

March 22, 2017 by  
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The electric car market just keeps growing, but electric planes aren’t yet a common sight. Wright Electric plans to change that with a 150-seat commercial passenger airplane powered by batteries . They presented their idea in Silicon Valley at renowned startup accelerator Y Combinator’s Demo Day yesterday – can they usher in a new era of cleaner flight? After quietly running in stealth mode, Wright Electric unveiled their business idea to a group of investors in Mountain View, California. Their plan? To disrupt the 737 market with an environmentally friendly alternative. Even though the company is just a year old, they’re well on their way to success: they hired a team NASA funded in the past to explore electric planes, and have partnered with EasyJet , a low-cost British airline, to help propel their vision. It appears Wright Electric captured the attention of the Y Combinator team; CEO Michael Seibel said, “This is one of the best hard tech teams I’ve seen.” Related: Meet Maxwell, NASA’s zero-emission 14-motor electric airplane Wright Electric’s battery-powered planes are targeted for short-haul trips, or flights with a duration of less than 300 miles: New York to Boston or London to Paris. 30 percent of existing flights are currently short-haul. How the planes are precisely powered will depend on how far battery technology advances; Wright Electric’s planes could either be all-electric or run on a hybrid system much like a Chevy Volt . There’s already interest for such airplanes: earlier in March in a blog post the company said a “high-net-worth individual wants our electric 150-seater as his fifth private jet.” Last year Airbus and Boeing sold 737-style 967 planes for around $90 million apiece, so Wright Electric has the potential to be profitable once their planes are ready. That date could still be several years away, but the company has still set an ambitious goal: make every short-haul flight electric in just two decades. Via TechCrunch Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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Wright Electric unveils revolutionary plan for 150-seat electric passenger plane

California city on its way to becoming the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S.

February 19, 2017 by  
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The city of Lancaster, California is one step closer to becoming a Zero Net Energy city – the very first in the U.S. The proposed ordinance, recently moved forward by the city council, will require all new homes to be equipped with solar panels or to take other steps toward energy mitigation. The end goal is to create a city with a truly sustainable future. “This is a great stride in Lancaster’s journey to become a Zero Net City,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris in a statement. “The Zero Net Energy Home Ordinance expands upon Lancaster’s residential solar ordinance so that new homes built in Lancaster now will not only be environmentally friendly, but have a zero net impact on our environment, while reducing energy costs for the homeowners.” Related: Lancaster, California to require all new homes to have solar panels The ZNE ordinance requires all new homes built in the year 2017 and beyond to choose one of three options for energy use: install photovoltaic panels to support two watts of energy for each square foot, pay mitigation fees that will result in a discount on the energy generation rate section of their bill, or select a combination of both options. The required feasibility study for the ordinance is already taking place, which is needed before receiving approval from the California Energy Commission . These processes are expected to be complete by the end of the year. Images via  Wikimedia

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California city on its way to becoming the first Zero Net Energy city in the U.S.

Finnish gaming company wraps new circular headquarters in solar panels

December 29, 2016 by  
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Finnish gaming company Paf has demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by wrapping their circular new headquarters in solar panels . The building, designed in collaboration between architecture firm Murman Arkitekter , interior designer Bettina Ingves and Passive House expert Hans Eek, features an interior layout based on research into optimizing positive human interaction. The main aspects of the building, located in Mariehamn, capital of Åland in Finland, are its energy-saving potential and establishing a healthy work environment that encourages collaboration and increased productivity. Solar cells are integrated into the curved facade, minimizing heat loss . Laminated wood dominates the interior and creates a warm atmosphere for Paf’s 200 employees. Related: Brand New Aarhus Office Building Covered In A Wall Of Solar Panels “The building is designed to suit the variety of forms of collaboration that we need in a complex organization like ours,” said Anders Sims, Communications Director at Paf. “In our new office the workspaces are separated by glass walls to increase visibility. Research shows that people who see each other often tend to work better. This communal atmosphere is central to our work, as it is in all our operations and in Paf’s approach to our customers”. + Murman Arkitekter

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Finnish gaming company wraps new circular headquarters in solar panels

Russia investigating men who brutally ran over a bear with heavy trucks

December 29, 2016 by  
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Russia has launched a criminal investigation after a horrifying YouTube video showed men in Siberia driving heavy duty trucks over a brown bear . One man can be heard yelling for the others to crush the poor animal . Many people are outraged over their atrocious treatment of the bear that ultimately led to its death, and Russia’s environment minister is now calling for tough punishment for the “villains.” In the appalling YouTube video, men ran over the bear in off-road trucks typically operated by mining and oil workers. The video, which looked as it it was filmed on a cell phone, showed the men driving trucks over the bear several times in the snow, as one man yelled “Squash him! Squash him!” The words “It’s still alive,” could be heard as the men prodded the animal using a metal rod, while it struggled to escape before it perished. Related: Tigers punched for fun at horrifying “sanctuaries” in China The video has since been taken down, but the crime is too enormous to be forgotten. Russian investigators in Yakutia, a northern region of the country, opened a criminal inquiry. They said the men work for a mineral prospecting company, and they could face up to two years in jail due to sadistic treatment of the animal. Russian media reported on the sickening video, sparking anger from the public. Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi posted on social media, “There should be real jail time for this sort of crime! We’ll make sure these villains get the most serious punishment.” According to The Guardian , people working in the oil and mining industries in Siberia come into conflict more often with animals – including bears, which can be dangerous. People in this area of the world are legally allowed to shoot bears if they don’t go into hibernation and wander near villages or towns. But that can never excuse the way these men cruelly treated the bear. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Cozy READER shelter made from plywood offers escape into the world of books

December 29, 2016 by  
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Have you ever fantasized about burrowing into a tree trunk like a squirrel? First-year architecture and urban planning students at the Estonian Academy of Arts designed and built this cozy timber shelter that lets you experience something similar without going too far off the ground. Made from curved pieces of plywood , this cavernous installation is ribbed to mimic pages of a book and offers seating perfect for curling up on with a good novel. Developed in 2015 as part of an annual student architecture project, READER was selected out of 15 designs for construction and temporary display in the heart of Tallinn. When viewed from afar, READER appears as a solid cuboid mass. Upon closer inspection however, the shelter reveals itself to be made from individual plywood sheets evenly spaced apart. The project was constructed over the course of five days and is elevated atop nine adjustable legs. Related: Gigantic wooden megaphones amplify the sounds of the forest in Estonia READER can be entered via a round opening that leads to an inner winding path that diverges into two and rises and falls like a small hill. The individual pine plywood panels are connected by spruce logs and are cut to slightly different sizes for an undulating tunnel effect. The student architects invite the public to enter and “escape from the real world of problems into the fictional world of books.” READER is currently on display in a grove in Pedaspea, Lahemaa, North-Estonia as part of an outdoor exhibit that showcases student work. + Estonian Academy of Arts Via ArchDaily Images © Paco Ulman

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Cozy READER shelter made from plywood offers escape into the world of books

Wedge-shaped ‘Acute House’ shows no space is too awkward for a home

November 28, 2016 by  
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The architects wanted to retain the character of the existing Victorian weatherboard cottage and reused as much of the original materials as possible, including warped weatherboards, fence palings, door knobs, vents and street numbers. They carefully removed, labeled and stored these artifacts before re-installing them. Related: Renovated Victorian House in Toronto combines the best of rural and urban living The three-story Acute House occupies the entire 516-square-foot triangular plot, leaving no space for a garden. In order to compensate for this shortage of open space , the architects installed a balcony and full-height sliding doors that open up the main living area. Lawn-green carpets, hanging plants and a centrally positioned aquarium help create a sense of being outside. Due to heritage constraints and site shape, it wasn’t possible to install solar panels on the roof of the house. Instead, in order to make the building more energy-efficient, the team added a gas-boosted solar hot water system , water-efficient toilet and taps, and energy-efficient appliances . + Oof! Architecture Via New Atlas Photos by Nic Granleese

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Wedge-shaped ‘Acute House’ shows no space is too awkward for a home

Plant-covered bamboo structure in Vietnam offers low-cost sanitation and food

November 25, 2016 by  
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The project is based on the same principle as the firm’s previous project in Son Lap, aiming to provide a low-cost sanitation solution that can be easily and quickly constructed and transported across the country. Toigetation 2 lightly touches the ground with a layer of vegetation on its four sides. This layer of foliage helps regulate indoor temperatures and functions as a food source. Related: Vo Trong Nghia Unveils Lovely Low-Cost Housing Made from Locally Sourced Palm Trees Local craftsmen used locally-sourced materials to construct the building. Solar panels provide energy for the lighting, while rainwater and waste water are used for cleaning and irrigating the adjacent garden. Efficient, low-cost construction methods and the use of local materials make this project replicable in areas experiencing a severe shortage of proper sanitation facilities , including schools in rural Vietnam . + H&P Architects Via Archdaily Photos by Nguyen Tien Thanh

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Plant-covered bamboo structure in Vietnam offers low-cost sanitation and food

Scientists warn of uncontrollable climate change amid drastic Arctic melt

November 25, 2016 by  
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Arctic scientists warn we may be headed for uncontrollable changes in the environment – and fast. Drastic Arctic ice melt could set off 19 tipping points from which the world may never recover. Even now the striking effects of melting Arctic ice reach as far as the Indian Ocean , and researchers say Arctic temperatures are “off the charts.” The Stockholm Environment Institute released their Arctic Resilience Report , and the news isn’t good. They warned of several potentially irrevocable climate change tipping points. For example, more vegetation has been growing in the tundra, but the darker plants don’t reflect sunlight like snow would, instead absorbing the heat and leading to even more warming. And that’s just one of the 19 tipping points. Related: Arctic ice levels hit a new winter low – again Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute Marcus Carson told The Guardian, “The warning signals are getting louder. [These developments] also make the potential for triggering [tipping points] and feedback loops much larger.” Even though Arctic ice melt will make itself felt around the world – in the report the scientists say “what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic” – the way of life for Arctic people could be dramatically altered forever. The scientists said these people should be given the resources they need to survive the coming changes. Carson said the serious issues we see in the Arctic still aren’t well understood and we need further research, much of which has been done by the United States. But one man may now try to stand in the way – Donald Trump . The President-elect has been rather wishy-washy on his climate change stance lately, recently announcing he wants to stop giving money to NASA for climate research. On Trump’s idea, Carson said, “That would be…like ripping out the aeroplane’s cockpit instruments while you are in mid-flight.” The report also says greenhouse gas emissions around the world need to be reduced if we have any hope of heading off some of the disastrous effects of climate change. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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