New report shows solar could generate 40% of US energy by 2035

September 10, 2021 by  
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A report prepared by the Energy Department and National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that the U.S. could increase its solar power generation from the current 3% to 40% by 2035. To achieve this feat, the federal government would need to invest less than $562 billion and support related policies. The report further shows that solar power could be scaled up to generate 50% of U.S. energy by 2050. According to the report, generating solar energy has become affordable thanks to the falling costs in the industry. Related: mySUN combines human energy and solar for a renewable solution To achieve 50%, U.S. solar capacity must reach 1,600 gigawatts. This would cover more than the total electricity consumed by commercial and residential buildings. Though “not intended as a policy statement,” the report may offer inspiration for policymakers. As Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the Energy Department’s solar energy technologies office, said, the report is “designed to guide and inspire the next decade of solar innovation by helping us answer questions like: How fast does solar need to increase capacity and to what level?” The report also addressed the economic implications of expanding solar systems in the U.S. When it comes to green energy, many people debate how it will impact jobs in the energy sector. Those who oppose energy reforms claim that the oil and coal industries provide jobs to millions of Americans and are the backbone of the economy . Would a shift to renewable energy be able to replace the jobs lost in coal and oil? According to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, if solar, the “cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy , could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035,” it could “employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process.” Further, transitioning to solar energy could generate an estimated $1.7 trillion in economic gain via reduced health costs associated with air pollution. Via EcoWatch Lead image via Pixabay

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New report shows solar could generate 40% of US energy by 2035

A history of sustainable energy efforts at the White House

September 2, 2021 by  
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Global warming, carbon emissions and climate change have been hot topics for decades. All the while, the reigning U.S. administration has changed its tone with each election. As a result, the focus on renewable energy has waned and grown throughout the country and in the president’s own home. In fact, since the White House was first equipped with electricity, the use of  renewable energy  sources has seen an ebb and flow that matches the attitude of the commander in chief at the time.  The beginning of electricity at the White House September 1891 saw the introduction of electricity to the White House, although Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, President and First Lady at the time, feared electrocution and never touched the switches as a result. Related: Activists protest Biden’s compromised green infrastructure deal In 1926 President Calvin Coolidge saw the installment of the first electric refrigerator at the residence. Six years later, the Roosevelts installed air conditioning in the private quarters. Beginning in 1948, the White House saw an extensive renovation under the guidance of President Truman, which included upgrades to the electrical system. President Lyndon Johnson set an example of electricity conservation in the 1960s by consistently turning off lights when not in use, earning him the moniker “Light Bulb Johnson.” The first solar panels at the White House The year 1979 saw the first solar panel installation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when President Jimmy Carter had 32 solar panels placed on the White House roof in response to a national energy crisis (a result of the Arab oil embargo). Although the technology of the time did little more than heat  water  for the cafeteria and laundry, Carter hoped it would set an example for the future of the country saying, “a generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the Sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil .” However, his intentions didn’t take hold, and the solar panels were removed during the Reagan administration while roofing work was being done. While cost may have been a factor in the decision not to reinstall the solar panels, Reagan’s policies made it clear he supports oil more than green energy. When the Clintons moved into office and the residence, they committed to “Greening the White House,” which included installing  energy-efficient  windows, light bulbs and a new HVAC system. The first solar power system on site Breaking the trend of Democrats leaning into renewable options and Republicans reversing them, George W. Bush was the first to install a solar system that provided electricity to the grounds. The 9-kilowatt system produced both current and hot water, which was used in part to warm the presidential pool. Another notable event in the history of the White House’s sustainability journey took place in 2008 when the iconic Portico lantern was upgraded to LEDs . The arrival of modern solar panels President Barack Obama, who was very vocal about prioritizing  environmental issues , oversaw the installation of solar panels, completed in 2014. He also installed a solar water heater in the residence.  “By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the president is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States,” said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. This newer technology was six times more effective than the solar equipment Carter installed, making a financial difference and not just a symbolic one. Those  solar panels  are still in use today.  The Trump administration not only did not put a priority on renewable resources but actively worked to roll back many of the environmental protections put in place before he took office. Solar panels make history For historical value, the solar panels installed during the Carter administration were kept in governmental storage until 1991, when half were installed above the cafeteria at Unity College in Maine . Here they provided hot water until the end of their useful life in 2005.  Today, other White House solar panels are on display at museums in the United States and China . Specifically, there are examples at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Solar Science and Technology Museum in Dezhou, China.  There’s also one on display at the NRG Systems headquarters, as an example of early technology at a company that manufactures modern  wind  and solar technology solutions. With all eyes on the White House for guidance on where we’ll focus next in the current of renewable energy , it’s clear that it will be some time before we see universal agreement on how to approach the topic.  For more information on the history of the solar panels President Jimmy Carter installed, you can check out the 2010 documentary “A Road Not Taken,” which details their journey from 1979 to 1986. + Energy.gov  Via Thought Co. and Sullivan Solar Power   Images via Pexels 

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Live, work and shop at this green building in France

August 12, 2021 by  
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The Partenord Habitat Plot in the Porte de Valenciennes neighborhood in Lille, France , eliminates the idea of a pollution-creating commute to work. In this design, office space, housing and retail areas are all integrated into one. Three sections of the building work together in an integrated design. The offices, headquarters and housing all share the same foundation. The housing section includes 50 units, and there are seven different office spaces. On either side of the headquarters, there are five retail units. The headquarters for Partenord Habitat, the Nord Department Public Housing Office, is a main feature of the space. It sits at the corner of the lot. There is also a car park with 232 underground parking spaces for the housing, office and retail areas. Related: Experimental, ecological home is inspired by a tree in France The building has several distinct architectural features. Terracotta cladding was used for the exterior. Meanwhile, three sides of the building are made with reflective glass, creating a mirror-like shine. As for eco-friendly features, the building is built on them. Graywater will be recovered and stored, solar panels are integrated into the design and digital radiators help create an environment dedicated to optimizing electricity consumption. The heat recovery from the headquarters will provide for 80% of the winter heating needed for the housing units. There’s also a garden built right into the ground on the ground floor. This space also has support facilities, an atrium, a print shop and a bike shed. The triple-height atrium is right at the corner of the crossroads, the entrance to the headquarters. On the ninth floor terrace is the shared vegetable garden. This space faces the center of the design so that it’s protected from the wind. It’s accessible through shared areas. There is also ramp access for those with limited mobility. The 10th-floor terrace houses solar panels. Created by the team at Coldefy, this innovative design won a 2017 competition for Partenord Habitat’s new headquarters. + Coldefy Photography by Julien Lanoo

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Domaine de l’Anse Sauvage emphasizes lush greenery

August 12, 2021 by  
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The Domaine de l’Anse Sauvage uses abundant outdoor green space in conjunction with a residential housing and apartment hotel development to blur the lines between the natural and indoor worlds. Located in northern Tunisia , the complex set out to counter the overdevelopment up and down the surrounding coastline and protect the endangered forest to the south. Planners put vegetation at the center of the overall project, both for the benefit of residents and the environment. Botanical gardens, green annexes, nurseries of native species and planted roofs look to bolster the area so it doesn’t replicate the destruction around the project site.  Related: 555 Greenwich office building aims for LEED Platinum in NYC With a central focus on green space, the team then developed 164 housing units and included green roofs on half of those. In addition to improving air quality and ground support, the copious gardens create a circular ecology between residents and nature, where each is dependent on the other.   The Domaine de l’Anse Sauvage sits on a hillside overlooking the Baie des Singes on the Gammarth coast. To support the eroding coastline and restore balance to the soil, the project ensured 70% of the property would be  vegetative , including 16% taking form as private gardens and 54% as a botanical garden.  The remaining 30% of the property is occupied by the housing units, which were carefully situated to take in the views. 75% of the apartments offer direct  water  views with the others looking towards the Forest of Gammarth or the marina. The surrounding horizon can be seen from the private rooftop gardens. Designers refused to block the bay with concrete, which left the development as a free-flowing living space without boundaries.  The project team reports, “The design echoes the Byzantine and Islamic Persian gardens that made it possible to create places of social gathering, mediation, and amplification in a symbiotic environment that is “second nature.” The “ interior-exterior ” limit no longer serves as a closure, but rather as a spatial unit, both as the “subject” of the different functions it fulfills, and the attributes of the architecture that it defines.” + Philippe Barriere Collective Images via Philippe Barriere Collective (Mamary Coulibaly, Farouk Dine, Mohamed Yahmadi, Philippe Barriere)

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Marjan van Aubel’s solar roof couples renewable energy with beauty

August 9, 2021 by  
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Expo 2020 Dubai is gearing up to open in October 2021. This multi-national event will bring together ideas to improve societies and the environment . The Netherlands is participating with a pavilion that will display the ability to harvest water, energy and food through innovative technologies, including a cone-shaped vertical farm beneath colorful solar panels. Marjan van Aubel, a Dutch designer with several solar-based innovations under her belt, was selected to design the solar roof for the Netherlands Pavilion at the expo.  The designer’s work is more than simply piecing together solar panels . With artistic flair, the lightweight, organic transparent solar cells (OPV) are installed with the effect of skylights. A colorful pattern reflects throughout the space, which is intriguing for visitors while illuminating the natural features inside the pavilion. Related: Sunne passively and stylishly collects sunlight for use after dark “Beauty is powerful. For the World Expo 2020 I combine solar technology with aesthetics to realise the Netherlands pavilion’s solar roof,” van Aubel said. “The aim is to show new ways in which solar can be seamlessly integrated into a space.” Because there will be a vertical farm below, van Aubel designed the solar skylights to filter through the exact range of light for plant growth and optimal health. The panels will also power the needs of the pavilion.  “Not only does the solar roof power the Dutch biotope, it also filters Dubai’s sunlight to ensure the right spectrum of light enters the biotope for the plants to photosynthesise,” she explained. The pavilion is made from locally sourced materials, and van Aubel followed suit with organic , non-toxic options in her material selection for the solar panels. Additionally, the panels can be removed and reused at another site. She hopes the work not only represents the function of solar and the innovations within the field but presents the realization that function can exist hand-in-hand with art and beauty as represented with the Moiré effect in her chosen graphic design. + Marjan van Aubel Studio Images via Marjan van Aubel Studio

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The Garden House is built like a renewable power station

July 5, 2021 by  
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This seemingly small, shingle-covered home in Melbourne, Australia may not look like a sustainable powerhouse, but in reality it is generating 100kwh of  energy  per day with a 26kwh Tesla battery. This number stands out compared to the 19kwh of energy the average Australian house uses per day. Known as the Garden House, the modern abode has an impressive set of sustainability features. In addition to its 17kW  solar panels  that face north, east and west to maximize solar output throughout the day, it also boasts a 15,000-liter rainwater tank stored under the garage for use in the toilets and to irrigate the garden. Related: Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume The goal was to create a self-sustaining,  modern  home that didn’t feel big yet could accommodate a family of five. According to the clients, the architects were able to make this dream a reality. “Our home doesn’t feel too huge, it feels homely and cosy,” said the owners. “It’s like a little eco system, the more people the more sense it makes. It’s a multitasking house, doing four things at the same time. There’s logical space for it and it all works.” This was achieved by breaking up the bulk of the house into four smaller zones: an office, a kitchen/living room, a dining area and a kids’ area, each connected through mirrored glass links or bridges. Since the glass reflects its lush surroundings, the result is a cozy space that maintains a cohesive style. According to the designers, the clients wanted to keep as much of the plot’s existing greenery as possible, so they could enjoy the  garden  feel right when they moved in. The home also includes underfloor insulation, hydronic heating and double glazed windows with thermally broken aluminum frames. Such features allow the house to operate without gas or fossil fuels. For materials, the designers opted for  recycled  brick and 50% fly-ash content cement to lower emissions. The home has since won accolades from the Victorian Institute of Architects Awards. Austin Maynard Architects also dubbed the project its “most sustainable house so far.” + Austin Maynard Architects Via Dezeen Images via Austin Maynard Architects

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The Garden House is built like a renewable power station

The Garden House is built like a renewable power station

July 5, 2021 by  
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This seemingly small, shingle-covered home in Melbourne, Australia may not look like a sustainable powerhouse, but in reality it is generating 100kwh of  energy  per day with a 26kwh Tesla battery. This number stands out compared to the 19kwh of energy the average Australian house uses per day. Known as the Garden House, the modern abode has an impressive set of sustainability features. In addition to its 17kW  solar panels  that face north, east and west to maximize solar output throughout the day, it also boasts a 15,000-liter rainwater tank stored under the garage for use in the toilets and to irrigate the garden. Related: Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume The goal was to create a self-sustaining,  modern  home that didn’t feel big yet could accommodate a family of five. According to the clients, the architects were able to make this dream a reality. “Our home doesn’t feel too huge, it feels homely and cosy,” said the owners. “It’s like a little eco system, the more people the more sense it makes. It’s a multitasking house, doing four things at the same time. There’s logical space for it and it all works.” This was achieved by breaking up the bulk of the house into four smaller zones: an office, a kitchen/living room, a dining area and a kids’ area, each connected through mirrored glass links or bridges. Since the glass reflects its lush surroundings, the result is a cozy space that maintains a cohesive style. According to the designers, the clients wanted to keep as much of the plot’s existing greenery as possible, so they could enjoy the  garden  feel right when they moved in. The home also includes underfloor insulation, hydronic heating and double glazed windows with thermally broken aluminum frames. Such features allow the house to operate without gas or fossil fuels. For materials, the designers opted for  recycled  brick and 50% fly-ash content cement to lower emissions. The home has since won accolades from the Victorian Institute of Architects Awards. Austin Maynard Architects also dubbed the project its “most sustainable house so far.” + Austin Maynard Architects Via Dezeen Images via Austin Maynard Architects

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This house made of drought-felled wood is a water-saving wonder

October 5, 2017 by  
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California’s extreme droughts are so dire that students at UC Davis have designed an impressive solar-powered home built out of drought-felled timber and installed with various state-of-the-art water conservation features geared towards California residents. The design of the team’s Our H2Ouse (pronounced “our house”) not only implements various grey water systems to use 50% less potable water than a typical residence, but smart technology with real-time LED displays enables homeowners to monitor and control water flow at every single water line. According to the students from UC Davis, who are currently exhibiting their solar home in this year’s Solar Decathlon event in Denver, they based the design on three main pillars: drought resilience, education, and inclusiveness. Using California-specific strategies in the prototype, the resulting Our H2Ouse is a highly-efficient, net-zero-energy design that is equipped to drastically reduce potable water use. Related: 8 amazing homes that are 100% powered by the sun Geared for the state’s inevitable future droughts, the home was installed with various greywater systems , including a cutting-edge sanitization technology developed at the university. All of the home’s water faucets are equipped with light-up feedback displays to help occupants monitor and control water flow rates at every step. For example, the shower has LED lights that change from blue to red, depending on water use. At the front of the house is a wooden water tank with a gauge that rises and falls to display the daily water usage of the home. According to the team, this smart monitoring system was geared towards overcoming the most unpredictable factor in energy and water conservation : human behavior. By installing smart technologies with real-time displays, the team hopes to bridge the gap between potential and realized water and energy savings. Interestingly, a unique feature of the home’s digitized system allows for sharing usage numbers within a network of users, meaning that eco-minded homeowners can actively participate in not only their own water conservation efforts, but that of the surrounding community. While the heart of the home may be geared to address the state’s water issues, the aesthetic is also a nod to California style. The simple, modern-rustic design reflects the two side of Cali life, urban and rural. To efficiently and sufficiently insulate the home, the team chose to use a 12” thick, bamboo-based , panelized exterior wall system and structural insulated panels (SIPs). This system reduces the home’s carbon footprint to a fraction of a standard residence. All of the wood used in the home was sourced from salvaged California trees  that died due to the state’s severe drought. Because this felled wood is dry and prone to burning, using it in the home design actively helps prevent forest fires. On the interior, the home is well-lit with natural light thanks to large glass doors that lead to the open-air deck. As for the interior furnishings, there are plenty of multi-functional items that were handcrafted by the students themselves, including hollow stools that can be used for storage, and that can be combined to be used as beds or tables. Motion-triggered recessed circadian LED lighting was installed into the flooring to create a modern, but efficient ambience throughout the home. + UC Davis Solar Decathlon Photography by Mike Chino

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This house made of drought-felled wood is a water-saving wonder

The world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant just popped up in the middle of London

September 28, 2017 by  
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The mobile recycling factory of the future just landed in the 19th century courtyard of the historic Somerset House in Central London. Trashpresso is a giant solar-powered recycling plant that transforms discarded plastic bottles into architectural tiles. The machine is the brainchild of Pentatonic , a furniture and design company based in Berlin and London committed to using only post-consumer waste in their products – from chairs made from “felted” plastic to glassware made from smartphone screens. Trashpresso is the world’s first off-grid, industrial grade recycling solution designed to be mobile and functional in isolated locations where traditional recycling plants aren’t a feasible option. “Our non-negotiable commitment to the consumer is that we make our products using single materials. That means no toxic additives and no hybridized materials which are prohibitive of recyclability,” explains co-founder Johann Bodecker. Trashpresso made its global debut this week at the Design Frontiers exhibition during the London Design Festival . Visitors to Design Frontiers were invited to contribute their trash and watch the Trashpresso process from start to finish – from the sorting of plastic bottles to the compression of shredded PET into solid hexagonal tiles. Enormous black spheres made of recycled plastic were also installed in the courtyard, lending an imposing presence to the Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court. Throughout the week, the black spheres were gradually covered in the architectural tiles created by Trashpresso, with the public taking part in the installation. Large spheres made of metal mesh contained more plastic bottles, calling attention to the ongoing problem of tons of plastic a year entering our oceans. Starbucks UK recently announced a partnership with Pentatonic to turn their coffee shop waste into furniture, with their Starbucks Bean Chair reinterpreted with upcycled textiles and a frame made from plastic bottles and plastic cups. The Trashpresso machine debuting at Design Frontiers boasts upgraded engineering designed for global transportation. An earlier version of Trashpresso was previewed in Shanghai for World Earth Day by Pentatonic collaborator and investor Miniwiz , which is based in Taiwan and specializes in upcycling. Trashpresso was the featured installation at Design Frontiers, a new exhibition featuring more than 30 designers showcasing projects and products pushing the frontiers of innovation and material use. + Pentatonic + Design Frontiers + London Design Festival Coverage

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Nicaragua joins Paris Accord, leaving the US and Syria as lone dissenters

September 22, 2017 by  
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Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has announced plans to sign the Paris Accord, leaving President Trump alone with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as the two remaining national heads refusing to support the international agreement. In December of 2015, the leaders of nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce global greenhouse emissions and prevent climate change from worsening – including former president Barack Obama. But Trump refused has reneged on that commitment, formerly claiming climate change is a “hoax” invented by the Chinese. According to a report by Managua-based television station 100% Noticias, Ortega said on September 18, “We will soon adhere, we will sign the Paris Agreement. We have already had meetings addressing the issue and we have already programmed the accession.” The Central American nation originally opposed signing the Paris Accord because the goals in the text “did not go far enough.” To elaborate, it had been confirmed by scientists that emissions levels from some of the top polluters — including the US, EU, China, and India — were not low enough to prevent sea levels from rising or to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. As a result, Nicaragua abstained. President Trump has said he will withdraw the US from the historic accord. Despite receiving an environmental encyclical from the Pope himself and being informed by a variety of scientists about the dangers of climate change , he said the action for the US by an executive order which Obama signed while in office puts American workers in the steel, coal and other manufacturing industries at an “economic disadvantage.” Related: Hundreds of Dead Sea Turtles Wash Up on Nicaragua’s West Coast Nicaragua has been a haven for renewable energy . More than half of the country’s energy is sourced from geothermic, wind, solar and wave energy. Nicaragua plans to increase that to 90 percent by 2020. The World Bank referred to the country as “a renewable energy paradise” four years ago. Because the agreement will not go into effect until 2020, Nicaragua has until then to draft a required national action plan and to formalize it into law. No date has yet been set for the signing. Via The Independent Images via Pixabay

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