Coronavirus: Falling power demand is impacting clean energy

March 26, 2020 by  
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With the pandemic spurring a dramatic drop in economic activity across Europe, electricity, renewables and carbon prices have also plummeted

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Coronavirus: Falling power demand is impacting clean energy

Should land be used for solar panels or agriculture?

March 26, 2020 by  
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The burgeoning Solar Sheep movement argues: Why not both?

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Should land be used for solar panels or agriculture?

Should land be used for solar panels or agriculture?

March 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

The burgeoning Solar Sheep movement argues: Why not both?

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Should land be used for solar panels or agriculture?

Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions

March 4, 2020 by  
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In the coastal township of Barwon Heads, Australian architecture firm Peter Winkler Architects has completed the Green Velvet House, a family’s solar-powered home that sensitively responds to the landscape in more ways than one. Positioned for passive solar design and to maximize views over the surrounding tree canopy, the sustainable dwelling was engineered to minimize impact on the existing terrain. In addition to walls of glass that let in natural light and ventilation, the home draws power from a rooftop solar array and minimizes its environmental footprint with rainwater collection tanks for irrigation and toilet-flushing. Nestled into an existing depression in the site, the Green Velvet House rises to a height of two stories with 580 square meters of living space. Its minimalist appearance — a facade of cement sheets and floor-to-ceiling glazing divided by exposed structural timbers — helps to reduce the building’s visual impact on the landscape. “In response to the program, we have minimized the building footprint by efficiently consolidating the form, rather than creating a sprawling building that overtakes the site,” the team explained. Related: Samurai-inspired home keeps naturally cool in Melbourne To keep the focus on the outdoors, the solar-powered home is surrounded by walls of glass and terraces that invite the owners outdoors on multiple floors. The outdoor spaces and the interiors are protected from unwanted solar gain by generous eaves and horizontal screens. The main living areas and the guest bedroom are located on the ground floor, while the upper floor is reserved for the more private areas, including the master suite and two children’s bedrooms. Plywood walls and a sealed fiber-cement ceiling reference the exterior materials and lend a sense of warmth to the interiors. Recycled “Grey Ironbark” hardwood columns and beams are also featured throughout the building. For energy efficiency, the Colorbond tray deck roof is fitted with a 10.26 kW photovoltaic system . The aluminum sliding doors are also outfitted with double glazing, while the double-hung, sashless windows can be opened for natural ventilation. Three 5,000-liter water tanks were installed beneath the north deck to store rainwater for garden use and toilet-flushing, while other stormwater runoff is retained in bioswales. The home is also equipped with hydronic heating, wood-burning fireplaces and a Sanden heat pump with a 315-liter water tank. + Peter Winkler Architects Photography by Jack Lovel via Peter Winkler Architects

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Solar-powered home embraces tree canopy views in all directions

How long will the slowdown in renewables last?

March 3, 2020 by  
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There was impressive growth in renewables during the last decade, with about $2.6 trillion of clean energy investments. But the market seems poised to transition from a sprint to a long-distance event.

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How long will the slowdown in renewables last?

Jimmy Carter’s solar plant powers half his Georgia hometown

February 25, 2020 by  
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Half of Plains, Georgia’s energy comes from solar panels, thanks to former President — and former farmer — Jimmy Carter. Since installing a solar plant on his former farm in 2017, Carter’s nearly 4,000 solar panels have kept the lights on for many of Plains’ 727 residents. The company SolAmerica first approached Carter with the idea to turn his land into a solar farm. SolAmerica Energy President George Mori recently told People that this experiment is still fueling the town a few years later. On a good sunny day, the panels provide 1.3 megawatts of power, Carter told the Sierra Club soon after the panels were installed. One megawatt provides enough energy to power 400 to 900 homes . Related: Jimmy Carter built a solar plant on his old peanut farm Carter was the first president to embrace solar energy. In 1979, during the Arab oil embargo, he had 32 solar panels installed on the White House. This semi-symbolic gesture served as a reminder to ordinary citizens about the importance of conserving energy. “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 ,” Carter said at the time. The White House has undergone a changing relationship with solar energy , as reflected by successive administrations and their attitudes. After Carter left office, President Ronald Reagan had the panels removed. President George Bush had solar panels installed on the grounds during his administration, and in 2010, President Barack Obama ordered panels be reinstalled on the White House. Despite changing trends over time, the 95-year-old former president has remained true to his alternative energy vision. “Distributed, clean energy generation is critical to meeting growing energy needs around the world while fighting the effects of climate change ,” Carter said in 2017. “I am encouraged by the tremendous progress that solar and other clean energy solutions have made in recent years and expect those trends to continue.” Via People and ThoughtCo Image via Baxter Slate

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Jimmy Carter’s solar plant powers half his Georgia hometown

First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

February 24, 2020 by  
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Move over steel and concrete — a pioneering cross-laminated timber (CLT) project that’s set to break ground in Boston could spearhead a greater adoption of mass timber across the country. Local startup  Generate Architecture + Technologies  has teamed up with progressive developer Placetailor to lead the project — the city’s first-ever CLT Cellular Passive House Demonstration Project — and provide live/work spaces in Lower Roxbury. Developed with the startup’s Model-C system for prefabricated kit-of-parts construction, the building will forgo conventional concrete and steel materials in favor of carbon-sequestering engineered wood products. Expected to break ground in June of 2020, the CLT Passive House demonstration project will comprise five floors with 14 residential units as well as innovative and affordable co-working spaces for the local community on the ground floor. In addition to introducing low-carbon, mixed-use  programming to the neighborhood, the project will be a working prototype for Generate’s Model-C, “a replicable system for housing delivery methods designed to address climate and community.”  The Model-C system is not only designed to function at net-zero carbon levels, but is also Passive House certified and built to the new Boston Department of Neighborhood Development “Zero Emissions Standards,” which were developed with Placetailor. As a result, the demonstration project is expected to have a significantly reduced carbon footprint as compared to traditional construction. The  CLT  rooftop canopy is also engineered to make it easy to mount solar panels. Modular units, like the bathrooms, can be prefabricated offsite and then plugged into the building to reduce construction time and waste.  Related: This student housing is the largest Passive House-certified building in the Southern Hemisphere Thanks to  prefabrication  methods and the reduction of interior framing, the Model-C prototype is expected to completed by the end of 2020 and will be available for tours at the Industrial Wood-Based Construction (IWBC) conference in Boston on November 4. Generate is also exploring the possibility of applying the Model-C system to projects that range from six to 18 stories across the U.S. + Generate Images by Forbes Massie Studio

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First CLT Passive House project in Boston breaks ground

Check out Glasir, the tree-shaped urban farming solution

February 20, 2020 by  
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In a bid to revolutionize agriculture, New York City and Bergen-based innovation studio  Framlab  has proposed Glasir, a community-based system for urban farming that combines the flexibility of modularity with aeroponics to vastly reduce the environmental footprint for growing food. Created in the likeness of a tree, the space-saving conceptual design grows vertically and can be installed in even the densest of urban areas. The high-yield, vertical farming proposal would be integrated with smart technology, sensors, and renewable systems such as solar panels to optimize production and minimize its carbon footprint. Named after a fabled and supernatural tree in Norse mythology, Glasir was conceived by Framlab as a response to the World Health Organization’s estimates that half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025. To curb the water-guzzling and land-intensive processes of modern  agriculture , Framlab developed Glasir as an alternative that would provide neighborhoods with affordable, local produce year-round. The self-regulating system comprises a monopodial trunk that is expanded with branch-like modules and would occupy only a two-by-two-foot space, about the same size needed for a small street tree on a sidewalk.  The basic components for a Glasir system comprise ten base  modules : five growth modules, three production modules, and two access modules. The modules are all interconnected and feed information to one another through an artificial intelligence program. Environmental sensors track and evaluate site conditions such as solar gain, temperature levels, and winds to optimize growth. The system can be assembled in a variety of configurations to fit the needs of the community that it serves.  Related: Sustainable agriculture cleans up rivers in Cuba In addition to the use of extremely water-efficient aeroponic growing methods, Glasir reduces its environmental impact with translucent photovoltaic cells that power its electricity needs. A  rainwater collection  system stores, purifies and redirects runoff for irrigation in the production modules. The exterior of the modules will also be coated in Titanium Oxide to help clean air pollutants.  + Framlab Images via Framlab

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Check out Glasir, the tree-shaped urban farming solution

Tropical greenery surrounds a sustainable, solar-powered home in Singapore

February 13, 2020 by  
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In Singapore, a lush veil of tropical plants has enveloped a sustainable home for a family of five. The house, aptly named “Fade to Green,” is the work of Singaporean design studio HYLA Architects , who was tapped to create a semi-detached home that was green in both design and spirit. In addition to its thriving tropical foliage, the house is equipped with a rainwater harvesting system and rooftop solar panels to reduce the building’s environmental footprint. Located on a long and narrow lot, the Fade to Green house makes the most of its rectangular footprint by building upward and leaving space for a generous L-shaped garden that wraps around the front and side of the home. In contrast to its more traditional neighbors, the contemporary house is wrapped in a timber screen made from strips of Kebony — a treated timber product from Norway — selected for its ability to develop a natural gray patina over time. The spacing of the slats in the timber screen vary in size to either provide privacy or enough sunlight for plants to thrive. Related: Stunning solar-powered home in Singapore melds with adjacent botanic gardens “Sited within the tropical heritage surrounding of the botanic gardens , the house was designed with the narrative of nature and its relationship with architecture,” the architects explained. “Building around the inhabitant’s experience, the house blurs spatial boundaries to orchestrate light and environment into daily life. Contrary to resisting the elements of nature, the house pursues this idea of when the building stops, nature takes over.” Dense tropical foliage surrounds the building and provides privacy and a cooling microclimate. Nature is continuously referenced throughout the home, from the ground floor where the open-plan living and dining area seamlessly connects to the garden through sliding glass doors to the predominant use of timber and stone in the minimalist materials palette. The bedrooms — three on the second floor and the master suite on the top floor — are also set back to provide space for a continuous layer of landscaping that grows along the wraparound garden terrace. + HYLA Architects Images via Derek Swalwell via HYLA Architects

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Tropical greenery surrounds a sustainable, solar-powered home in Singapore

San Francisco library boasts a green roof and LEED Gold status

February 7, 2020 by  
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When Hacker Architects redesigned a historic, 1969 branch library in the southeastern Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco in 2013, the firm wanted to make sure that the building continued to serve as an educational and communal space for the area. As such, added sustainability measures were included to support the environmental goals for the library but also to act as teaching tools for the community. The library replaced an original building on the same site and features green design elements, such as solar panels and a lush green roof, that earned it LEED Gold certification. Despite its modern, sustainable technologies, the project honors its history and celebrates the local culture and community in its design. Related: LEED Silver museum’s shimmering, iridescent facade evokes flames in Kansas In the center of the library, a courtyard brings in natural ventilation and light, all while providing visitors with views of an urban garden. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow natural light even deeper into the building. The library’s green roof is also visible from the inside. The vegetation, mostly native grasses and perennials, on the roof helps filter stormwater runoff, while the onsite electricity is generated through solar panels. Additionally, a natural ventilation system inside helps to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the interior. The 9,000-square-foot library was renamed in 2015 to commemorate Linda Brooks-Burton, who worked as the head librarian of the branch from 1995 until 2011. Brooks-Burton was an advocate for education, co-founding the Bayview History Preservation Project and the Bayview Footprints Network of Community Building Groups in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Brooks-Burton passed away unexpectedly in 2013, just months after the library was rebuilt. The building received the 2013 Sustainability Award from the Portland, Oregon chapter of the American Institute of Architects San Francisco and was named a New Landmark Library by the Library Journal. Karin Payson Architecture and Design (KPa+d) was awarded the Kirby Ward Fitzpatrick Prize by the San Francisco Architectural Foundation for its role as associate architect and interior designer for the project. + Hacker Architects Photography by Bruce Damonte via Hacker Architects

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San Francisco library boasts a green roof and LEED Gold status

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