Renewable energy generated more power than nuclear for first time since 1984

July 7, 2017 by  
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Nuclear power has dominated alternative energy sources in the United States for decades – that is, until this spring. Statistics recently released by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) revealed renewable energy surpassed nuclear energy in power generation in March and April of this year. Wind , solar , and hydroelectric power made that feat possible – the first two set records for generation, while hydroelectric generation surged after heavy rainfall in the country’s West. Utility-scale renewable sources generated more power than nuclear energy in the spring of 2017 in America, and it’s the first time they’ve done so since July 1984. According to the EIA, part of the reason for this fact is nuclear power plants often undergo maintenance when electricity demand is lower, like in the spring or fall. But renewable energy is also generating more and more power in the country. Related: The U.S. just generated 10% of its electricity from solar and wind for the first time In March, hydroelectric power generated 30 billion kilowatt-hours, which is the most amount of power from hydroelectric in almost six years. California’s emergence from their drought had a role to play in that – both record precipitation and the snowpack have made the state wetter than it’s been in years, which is great for hydroelectric generation. And with more wind and solar installations, the two sources have been offering record amounts of clean energy . The EIA said between March 2016 and March 2017, wind generation increased by 16 percent, while solar generation spiked by 65 percent. Net generation from nuclear has stayed largely flat since the late 1990s, according to the EIA. Many plants have also been retired. Even so, the EIA doesn’t expect the trend to continue. They said nuclear will probably overtake renewables during this summer, and looking at 2017 as a whole, nuclear power will likely generate more energy than renewables overall. Via the United States Energy Information Administration Images via Louis Moncouyoux on Unsplash and the United States Energy Information Administration

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Renewable energy generated more power than nuclear for first time since 1984

California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space

April 14, 2017 by  
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Poppies, dune evening primrose, lupine, and other wildflowers are blanketing California in a super bloom so immense you can see it from space. After an especially wet winter, most of the state is finally drought-free – and it’s flourishing with a colorful floral array that spans miles and miles. California received above-average rainfall this year, and the state is being rewarded with several distinct super blooms. Los Padres National Forest, Carrizo Plain National Monument, and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge are all exhibiting spectacular super blooms that can be glimpsed from space thanks to Planet Labs , a company offering stunning satellite images of Earth . Related: Death Valley springs to life with millions of flowers in rare ‘super bloom’ March saw the height of the bloom, but in some snow-covered areas like Lassen Volcanic National Park and the High Sierra, wildflowers might not arrive until June or July – so there’s still time to see the natural beauty. If you’re hoping to glimpse California’s super bloom in person, Visit California put together a list of where and when to see spring wildflowers. The California Department of Parks and Recreation also has a site with information on where and when you can see the blooms, along with phone numbers to check if the landscape is in bloom and which types of flowers are showing. Planet Labs was launched by a team of former NASA scientists, and they debuted a Planet Explorer Beta tool in March that allows the public to see satellite images for 85 percent of Earth’s terrain. In February they acquired Terra Bella , thesatellite business behind Google Earth – and they now control the world’s biggest fleet of satellites imaging the Earth. You can check out other satellite images around the world thanks to Planet Lab’s gallery , which highlights images ranging from illegal mining in Peru to sugarcane deforestation in Bolivia to the Disneyland parking lot in California. + Planet Labs Via EcoWatch and KQED Science Images courtesy of Planet Labs and KQED

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California’s super bloom is so gigantic you can see it from space

Icelands geothermal Blue Lagoon is getting an amazing new hotel this year

March 30, 2017 by  
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Travelers have been drawn to Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon for decades, eager to take a dip in the steamy, mineral-rich water nestled in the heart of a lava field. Hundreds of thousands of visitors make the journey every year to experience the magical, intensely blue pools for themselves. Now, the spa is making plans to expand into a full-fledged resort with the 62-room Moss Hotel, a new Moss Restaurant, and a new spa called Lava Cove. The man-made lagoon is filled with the waste seawater released from a nearby geothermal power station. While the water is perfectly safe for visitors to take a dip in, the high mineral content makes it unsuitable for recycling and it must be filtered through the porous rock of the lava field before it can be returned to the landscape. The lagoon gets its trademark milky blue shade from the silica, sulfur, and other minerals infused in the water, which is said to aid relaxation and heal skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. Related: Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is an Incredible Hot Spring Spouting from the Runoff of a Geothermal Power Plant The new hotel will offer visitors stunning views with floor-to-ceiling windows and terraces leading directly to the geothermal waters. For a broader view, guests can visit the hotel’s balconies to see the stunning scenery of the lava field. The goal of the new resort is to make its connection to nature as seamless as possible. The subterranean Lava Cove spa takes advantage of the natural landscape, offering visitors the chance to explore lava corridors, waterfalls, and other geological features while they rest and relax. The new Moss Restaurant will serve up fresh, local, seasonal ingredients inspired by Icelandic cuisine, along with stunning views of the resort. The new resort is currently under construction and set to open in Autumn of 2017. + Blue Lagoon Hotel Via CNN

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Icelands geothermal Blue Lagoon is getting an amazing new hotel this year

Worlds largest passive house settlement tops off Heidelberg Village in Germany

October 12, 2016 by  
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Located on the land of a former old freight train terminal, the 116-hectare Bahnstadt celebrates sustainable architecture and diversity in its living, work, and cultural spaces all built to passive house standards for an ultra-low energy footprint. The 6,100-square-meter Heidelberg Village , located at the heart of Bahnstadt, encapsulates the urban development’s values with ecological features like passive houses, green frontages, and solar panels . Related: Germany is building world’s largest passive housing complex “Heidelberg Village represents the notion of sustainable urban planning and architecture both socially as well as environmentally,” explained architect Wolfgang Frey. “The idea behind Heidelberg Village is to attract a heterogeneous neighborhood, thereby creating an energetic, home-like living space with lots of social interaction.” The village has 100-percent handicap accessibility as well as child and elderly care. The multigenerational , heterogenous neighborhood includes 162 one-to-five room apartments, each with its own balcony. Solar panels and vertical gardens top the roof and wrap around the facade. The project is slated for completion in the spring of 2017. + Frey Architekten + Heidelberg Village Images courtesy of Frey Architekten

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Worlds largest passive house settlement tops off Heidelberg Village in Germany

California looks to its roads for new source of renewable energy

September 27, 2016 by  
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California is putting $2 million into research to determine whether gridlock can be a beneficial source of electricity . The technology at the heart of the idea is piezoelectric crystals, which could turn mechanical energy from traffic into usable electricity that can be added to the power grid. The approach seeks to harness energy that is usually wasted, thus providing an additional source of renewable energy for the state’s residents. The California Energy Commission is looking for a research facility to conduct small-scale tests on harnessing the energy that is currently being lost from vehicles traveling on the state’s roadways. Piezoelectricity uses naturally occurring crystals to capture heat generated from moving vehicles and convert it into electricity for any number of uses. The primary objective of the research will be to determine whether a cost-effective system can be installed to produce a substantial amount of energy. Related: Piezoelectric energy-generating roads proposed for California “It’s not hard to see the opportunity in California,” said Mike Gravely, the commission’s deputy division chief of energy research and development. “It’s an energy that’s created but is just currently lost in vibration.” California currently has a goal of producing 50 percent of its electricity with renewables by 2030, and the energy commission says the state is on target to reach 25 percent by the end of this year. The $2 million research fund for testing new technologies will come from the California Public Utilities Commission, which expects to award a contract in the spring. Via Phys.org Images via Wikipedia and Flickr

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Solar-powered home in Tainan puts a modern twist on the traditional courtyard house

June 27, 2016 by  
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WLA built the Spring House for a single client who wanted a clear delineation of space between her personal living area and the rooms for entertaining guests. As a result, the 288-square-meter home is split into two interconnected sections: a three-story structure that houses the homeowner’s main living areas and is set farthest from the busy roadways on the northeast side; and a two-story L-shaped structure on the opposite side that’s mostly used for visiting friends and family. The communal areas are kept on the ground floor, while the guest bedrooms, master bedroom, and library and located on the upper levels. In keeping with the vernacular courtyard house style, the home is centered on an open-air space used as a light well for bringing natural light and ventilation deep into the building. Like its courtyard house neighbors to the north, the Spring House also makes use of wood and brick building materials. The architects combined those traditional materials with glass, concrete, and a steel framework for a contemporary finish. “The location was formerly agriculture-based settlement, and there are many local industrial factories appeared through the changing times,” said the architects. “After the completion of the high speed railway in recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear that the area is intertwined with old and new, tradition and technology, quiet and speed…such contrast characteristics, these qualities create a unique geographical character. Therefore, while we follow the example of Taiwan’s traditional architecture that combined with wood structure and load-bearing brick structure, and combine them into a modern steel structure with brick, on the one hand, we use this combination to produce a unique local architectural type whereby create the symbol of the janus characteristics of the environment on the other.” Related: Stunning South Korean Courtyard Home Balances Tradition With Modern Design The client’s desire for a self-sufficient, disaster-ready home was born from fears of climate change and seismic activity. Thus, WLA equipped Spring House with rooftop solar panels and rainwater collection . The roofs are sloped to facilitate rainwater runoff and to maximize rooftop solar exposure. Natural ventilation and solar shades were also carefully attended to as a means to mitigate Taiwan’s hot summers. + Wu & Liu Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Wu & Liu Architects , by AKIRA Photography

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Solar-powered home in Tainan puts a modern twist on the traditional courtyard house

Charming upcycled Igloo parklet brings the community together with a place to leave wishes

June 27, 2016 by  
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The Wish-Igloo parklet is part of the Renaissance Covington’s Curb’d program which focuses on temporarily repurposing parking spaces throughout the city. It was selected as one of five winning entries to the design-build competition, all of which are based on the idea of repurposing small chunks of urban space into engaging spatial experiments. Related: Mini Gabion Parklet pops up in a Brazilian neighborhood The structure is installed in front of Left Bank Coffeehouse in Covington, where it will stay throughout the summer. Passersby and customers of the coffee house can pin their wishes to the fabric of the Wish-Igloo and move its operable panels to personalize the space. Related: Portable ParkedBench parklet injects a breath of fresh air in London The upcycling design strategy the architects deployed is reflected in every aspect of the project, which comprises a curved roof structure with a single steel spine, together with laminated ribs made of marine grade plywood. Every element of the structure -from planters and timber ribs, to steel components – can be upcycled. This philosophy includes the timber flooring and decking which the team reused from an old barn in Ohio. + fieldCRAFTstudio

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Charming upcycled Igloo parklet brings the community together with a place to leave wishes

NASA’s inflatable room will attach to the International Space Station this year

April 5, 2016 by  
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Later this spring, NASA will launch an experimental, inflatable capsule that will be attached to the outside of the International Space Station and will, someday, house visiting astronauts. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is an attempt to create structures that are compact and portable, without sacrificing durability or safety. If the tests produce positive results, this inflatable model could inspire the next generation of outer space living quarters. Read the rest of NASA’s inflatable room will attach to the International Space Station this year

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Reverse photosynthesis is an ultra-efficient biofuel “game changer”

April 5, 2016 by  
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The ongoing quest for renewable energy takes a lot of cues from nature, and here’s one more. A team of scientists from Denmark ’s University of Copenhagen has developed a “reverse photosynthesis” process that turns biomass into fuel using the sun’s energy. It’s essentially the opposite of what plants do by converting sunlight into chemical energy – and it could lead to new industrialized forms of clean energy that give fossil fuels a run for their money. Read the rest of Reverse photosynthesis is an ultra-efficient biofuel “game changer”

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Indoor Gardening Gets A Makeover With These 15 Unique Planter Ideas

February 24, 2016 by  
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This time of year, everyone is talking about planning their spring garden and starting seeds indoors. Gardens are wonderful givers of life and a tremendous way to give back to your family and to the Earth. Not only do the fruits and vegetables…

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Indoor Gardening Gets A Makeover With These 15 Unique Planter Ideas

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