Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

May 27, 2020 by  
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Italy has been hit hard by COVID-19 and is attempting to jump-start its economy through the Relaunch Decree, a revitalization package of 55 billion euros ($60 billion) that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and his cabinet passed earlier this month. The stimulus includes tax breaks for clean energy projects and renovations; Italian homeowners are offered free rooftop installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems through the Relaunch Decree. To help Italy recover from the coronavirus-induced recession, incentives — like tax credits for homeowners pivoting toward energy efficient home improvement projects — are offered. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Tax News , “Individuals can offset 110% of qualified building renovation and energy efficiency costs incurred between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2021 against their tax liabilities in five equal installments (up to certain thresholds).” Related: First home solar pavement installed on a driveway PV Magazine explained that the bonus is “for building-renovation projects from 65% to 110% and a jump in support for PV installations and storage systems associated with such renovation projects, from 50% of costs to 110%.” Any solar photovoltaic installations for the next year-and-a-half will be subsidized. Only a few weeks ago, Green Tech Media warned that Italy’s subsidy-free solar sector had stalled due to the pandemic, placing many projects on hold. While the solar industry is no stranger to vicissitude cycles, the pandemic added unexpected variables. “For the sector, the Relaunch Decree is certainly a great opportunity for the spread of photovoltaics on the roofs of Italian homes,” said Paolo Rocco Viscontini, president of PV association Italia Solare. Italy’s investment incentives for solar should come as no surprise, since Statista describes Italy as “the leading country worldwide for electricity consumption covered by solar PV.” Since the early 2000s, Italy has been a strong proponent of solar installations. In 2017, it unveiled its National Energy Strategy — a 10-year plan to decarbonize, expand renewable energy and promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. As of early 2020, Italy is second only to Germany in the photovoltaic sector, with solar power as the country’s preferred renewable energy source. In 2019, Italy had a 69% increase in solar photovoltaic installations compared to 2018. That growth was deemed “the most substantial recorded in Italy” by PV Europe with a grand total of 56,590 new solar power system installations in 2019, of which 50,653 were residential. While COVID-19 dampened photovoltaic growth for Italy’s first quarter of 2020, many nonetheless hope that the Relaunch Decree’s incentives can support a swift restart of the solar PV sector. Tom Heggarty, principal solar analyst for global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, said , “Solar [projects are] pretty quick to develop and construct. So once we start to see restrictions lifted, the industry should, theoretically, be in a good place to bounce back quite quickly.” Via EY Global Tax News , PV Magazine , Green Tech Media , Statista and PV Europe Image via Giorgio Trovato

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Italy’s Relaunch Decree helps homeowners install solar photovoltaic systems for free

An abandoned Chinese village is reborn as an interactive art destination

May 27, 2020 by  
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With 1 billion people estimated to be living in Chinese cities in 2050, China is seeing hundreds of thousands of its rural villages abandoned. In a bid to bring renewed life to one of its 102 abandoned villages, the Government of Jinxi tapped Dutch firm NEXT Architects to sustainably revitalize the ancient village of Dafang. Created in collaboration with IVEM (Dutch Institute for Cultural Heritage and Marketing), Smartland (landscape design), Total Design (graphic design) and numerous Dutch and Chinese artists, the recently completed Holland-Dafang Creative Village transformed a dilapidated village into a new hub for the arts. Spanning an area of 43,000 square meters, the Holland-Dafang Creative Village serves as an inspiring model of rural revitalization achieved by a multidisciplinary team of Chinese and Dutch architects. Led by the design strategy “adapt to newness,” the entire village of Dafang has been renewed with three main strategies: thoughtful restoration of the architecture and landscape; the construction of new public facilities; and the re-programming of spaces through art and activity. Related: MAD reactivates an abandoned Japanese tunnel using surreal immersive art Although Dafang has over 900 years of history, years of neglect has led to its deterioration. The architects restored the historical architecture with new materials, such as the use of glass roof tiles on the roofs of old houses and the resurrection of an ancient irrigation system with a new, natural helophyte filter for water purification . New construction was also added, including a sculptural watchtower — a throwback to the defense structure popularly used in ancient times — with a twisting form loosely resembling a giant Chinese “dragon column”. The team also included a new camphor tree-inspired public hall set on the former site of a courtyard building that had been destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. The designers also gave the restored landscape and architecture new purposes, from rehabbing old buildings into a new village museum to the creation of a library and artist studios. “Rural revitalization is one of China’s key future developments,” said John van de Water, partner of NEXT Architects in Beijing. “We believe this asks for the design of balance between old and new, living and visiting, history and future.”  + NEXT Architects Images via NEXT Architects

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An abandoned Chinese village is reborn as an interactive art destination

Modern, self-sustaining home blends into a rocky landscape

November 13, 2018 by  
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Zagreb-based architectural office PROARH completed Issa Megaron, a family retreat in Croatia that’s disguised inside a rocky hillside with a zigzagging road. Due to its remote location and lack of surrounding infrastructure, the modern home operates off the grid by necessity and includes self-sustaining technologies from rainwater collection tanks to solar photovoltaic panels. Going off grid, however, hasn’t compromised the architect’s pursuit of luxurious living, made evident by the contemporary interior design, large pool and spacious footprint of 420 square meters. Completed in 2016, Issa Megaron began with the conceptual combination of a cave, a megaron (a great hall in ancient Greek palaces) and stone dry walls. “The house is envisioned as a dug in volume, a residential pocket between the stretches of space forming walls, an artificial grotto, a memory of a primitive shelter,” explained the architects, who split the house into two floors. The upper floor contains six bedrooms and bathrooms organized around a central living room and book-ended by two offices. The master bedroom and bath, the  open-plan dining room, lounge and kitchen, the game room, the gym and storage are located on the lower floor, which opens up to the pool and outdoor terrace. The traditional stone dry walls have been reinterpreted as reinforced concrete retaining walls topped with rocky green roofs . When viewed from above, Issa Megaron appears to blend into the steep terrain. “The design that emerges from such conditions is subtle, creates a symbiosis with the new/old stonewall topography,” the firm noted. “The newly built structure is man-made but unobtrusive in intent, material and ultimate appearance.” Related: Croatian freshwater aquarium by 3LHD is built right into the hillside In addition to green roofs and solar panels, the house minimizes its energy footprint by following passive solar design principles that promote natural cooling. A concentrating solar power system is used for heating, while harvested rainwater is filtered and reused in the house and for the pool. + PROARH Via ArchDaily Photography by Damir Fabijani? and Miljenko Bernfest via PROARH

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Modern, self-sustaining home blends into a rocky landscape

Clean energy-producing Light Up wins the 2018 LAGI competition in Melbourne

October 18, 2018 by  
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New York-based NH Architecture and Seattle architectural practice Olson Kundig placed first and second respectively in the 2018 Land Art Generator Initiative design competition in Melbourne, Australia. Sponsored by the State of Victoria’s Renewable Energy Action Plan with clean energy targets of 25 percent by 2020, the international competition sought large-scale works of public art that generate renewable energy in visible ways for St. Kilda Triangle in the City of Port Phillip. NH Architecture’s winning proposal, named ‘Light Up,’ harnesses solar, wind and microbial fuel cell technologies to produce 2,200 MWh of energy annually — enough to power nearly 500 homes. NH Architecture’s winning Light Up proposal consists of a lightweight tensile shade structure topped with 8,600 efficient, flexible solar photovoltaic panels envisioned over Jacka Boulevard. Designed with the aim of “maximizing the public realm” without compromising views, the design makes use of tested components available on the market. The clean energy power plant was also designed to harness wind energy and uses microbial fuel cells to tap into energy from plant roots. Olson Kundig’s second-place submission ‘Night & Day’ also taps into the power of solar with 5,400 square meters of solar panels. The solar system is combined with two Pelton turbines and a hydro battery to operate 24 hours a day and produce 1,000 MWh annually. As an ideas competition, LAGI 2018 has no plans of realizing the winning submissions. The Light Up team will receive $16,000 in prize money while the runners-up will receive $5,000. Related: Olson Kundig solar sail proposal could power up to 200 Melbourne homes with clean energy “LAGI 2018 is a window into a world that has moved beyond fossil fuels — a world that celebrates living in harmony with nature by creating engaging public places that integrate renewable energy and energy storage artfully within the urban landscape,” said LAGI co-founders Elizabeth Monoian and Robert Ferry. “Light Up and Night & Day are power plants where you can take your family for a picnic. They both show how beauty and clean energy can come together to create the sustainable and resilient infrastructure of the future city. These artworks are cultural landmarks for the great energy transition that will be visited by generations in the future to remember this important time in human history.” + LAGI Images via LAGI

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Clean energy-producing Light Up wins the 2018 LAGI competition in Melbourne

Solar-powered Austin home can save owners nearly $100K in energy costs

August 23, 2018 by  
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This sculptural home in Austin is a scene-stealer, for more reasons than just its good looks. For starters, the dwelling—named the Vista Residence—is powered with a 15.4-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system that not only covers an estimated 90% of the home’s annual energy needs, but is expected to help save homeowners more than $94,000 in energy costs over the next 30 years. Miró Rivera Architects designed the abode with many energy-efficient features for long-term cost savings that include both low-tech and high-tech elements from deep overhangs to a variable refrigerant flow (VRF) mechanical system. Nestled into a steep slope in West Austin, the Vista Residence lives up to its name with full-height glazing that frames sweeping views of the hill country landscape and downtown Austin. The large windows, found throughout the home, let in ample natural light. A material palette dominated by exposed concrete, metal and concrete panel cladding emphasize low maintenance and a contemporary aesthetic. Inside, the 8,660-square-foot house is split into three floors and organized around a dramatic staircase made from over 200 individual pieces of steel and white oak treads. Flooded with light from above, the dramatic central stair branches off to the various rooms of the home defined by white walls and white oak floors. The first floor, which is partially buried into the hillside, houses two bedrooms, a shared bath, a game room, a storage / mechanical room as well as access to a small courtyard. The floor above is far more spacious and consists of the main living areas as well as the master suite. A small third floor contains an office with a sitting area, kitchenette, bath and outdoor balcony. Related: A net-zero modern farmhouse kicks off a sustainable community in Texas The architects installed a 15.4-kiloWatt rooftop photovoltaic system that covers an estimated 90% of the Vista Residence’s annual energy, an amount the architects say is equivalent to offsetting 18.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year (equal to the annual energy use of 1.8 average homes). The payback period for solar will take an estimated eight years. High-performance materials and energy-saving fixtures were installed throughout. + Miró Rivera Architects Images by Paul Finkel | Piston Design>

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Solar-powered Austin home can save owners nearly $100K in energy costs

ASU’s SHADE House is an Affordable Eco Home for Suburban Living in the Southwest

July 5, 2013 by  
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SHADE isn’t just shelter from the sun – it stands for Solar Homes Adapting of Desert Equilibrium, which is the name of an eco house designed in collaboration between Arizona State University and the University of New Mexico . The stand-alone energy and water efficient house addresses the unique challenges presented by the suburban sprawl of southwestern cities like Phoenix and Albuquerque. The project is designed to work in harmony with the desert while providing an affordable housing option for the growing population in the Southwest. Read the rest of ASU’s SHADE House is an Affordable Eco Home for Suburban Living in the Southwest Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: adaptability in architecture , Arizona State University , desert appropriate design , flex space , flexible floor plan , indoor outdoor spaces , irvine , modularity in architecture , movable walls , passive heating and cooling , radiant cooling , shade , solar decathalon 2013 , solar homes adapting of desert equilibrium , solar photovoltaic panels , southwest suburban sprawl , sustainable house , Thermal storage , university of new mexico , us department of energy        

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ASU’s SHADE House is an Affordable Eco Home for Suburban Living in the Southwest

Solimpeks debuts hybrid solar collectors to provide electricity and hot water

July 3, 2010 by  
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Eco Factor: Hybrid solar collector provides renewable electricity and hot water Based in Turkey, Solimpeks Corp has released the Volther hybrid solar collector, which produces electricity and hot water simultaneously. The hybrid modules allow extra module heat to be absorbed to produce hot water, thus optimizing efficiency

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Solimpeks debuts hybrid solar collectors to provide electricity and hot water

Belkin debuts Conserve Valet energy-saving charging station

July 3, 2010 by  
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Eco Factor: Charging station reduces energy consumption by 75 percent. Belkin previously unveiled its new Conserve Insight energy saving power-outlet adapter and has now come up with yet another energy saving gadget, the Conserve Valet .

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Belkin debuts Conserve Valet energy-saving charging station

Indian engineering students develop compressed air-powered motorbike

July 3, 2010 by  
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Eco Factor: Zero-emission motorbike powered by compressed air. With fuel prices on a constant rise, it becomes even more important to develop engines that run on alternative sources of fuel. While a majority of manufacturers are placing their bets on electricity, a bunch of mechanical engineering students at the Gyan Vihar University Jaipur , India have come up with an experimental motorbike that runs without any emissions on compressed air

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Indian engineering students develop compressed air-powered motorbike

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