This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

October 31, 2017 by  
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Ljubljana-based firm Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti has built a beautiful contemporary home in Maui that provides striking views of the expansive coastline. The home’s unique angular roof – which is twice the size of the building itself – was designed to mimic the rugged surrounding landscape, and it doubles as an expansive open-air terrace . Located in the West Maui Mountains, the 5,000-square-foot home was built with locally-sourced materials whenever possible – including beach sand, which was integrated into the plaster finish applied to the interior walls. The building consists of five semi-separate “mini houses” arranged in an elongated u-shape that provides perfect ocean views from every angle. Related: Timber Chimney House gives farmhouse vernacular a modern twist At the heart of the design is the irregular roof, whose elongated, “choppy” angles are actually more than a unique design whim. The roof’s large shape provides protection against the area’s strong sun and wind conditions. Additionally, the roof extends generously over the structure’s perimeter in various areas, creating several shaded outdoor nooks. And just for fun, one section of the roof slopes to ground level, enabling the occupants to easily climb on top to enjoy the jaw-dropping ocean views. Clad in wooden slats, the roof will weather over the years with a green-hued grey patina , further embedding the structure into its idyllic surroundings. + Dekleva Gregori? Arhitekti Via Dezeen

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This gorgeous Maui home has a geometric roof that doubles as the ‘ultimate terrace’

This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

October 31, 2017 by  
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This gorgeous monolithic house in Portugal , designed by Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos , uses modular design to stay true to the simplicity of a child’s drawing of a house. Its geometry and materials not only reflect the archetypal image of a home– they also allow for optimal energy performance and lower maintenance costs . The house sits on a sloping piece of farmland in Ourém, Portugal, with a difference in height of approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) from one end to the other. It is surrounded by natural landscape and overlooks the historic Castle of Ourém. Related: This charming home in Portugal is insulated with soil The design of the residence mimics a child’s drawing of a house, composed of five lines that represent walls and roof, while rectangular shapes represent doors and windows. In line with this simplicity, the main approach to the construction is based on prefabricated elements such as black concrete panels . The black concrete panels not only help the project blend into the surroundings, but it also reduce maintenance costs. + Filipe Saraiva Arquitectos Photos by Joao Morgado

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This beautiful home in Portugal was inspired by a child’s drawing

CO2 levels in Earths atmosphere hit a record high in 2016

October 30, 2017 by  
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2016 was a year for breaking records — and not all of them were good. Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest month in the modern temperature record – and a new report shows that CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere hit their highest point in 800,000 years. “The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent,” said the report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Every year, the Geneva-based organization compiles data for its annual greenhouse gas report. While reviewing 2016’s data, it cited a combination of “human activities” and “a strong El Niño event” as the reasons why CO2 levels increased so abruptly. CNN reports that the last time Earth experienced similar levels of concentrated CO2 in the atmosphere was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer and the sea level was 10-20 meters higher than it is now. “Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions , we will be heading for dangerous temperature increases by the end of this century, well above the target set by the Paris climate change agreement,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Future generations will inherit a much more inhospitable planet.” In 2015, 195 countries signed the Paris Climate Agreement , which outlines specific emissions targets each nation must meet to prevent climate change from worsening. The United States, under President Donald Trump’s leadership, is the only developed nation that hasn’t agreed to join the Paris accord. As a result, some US states have joined together and set their own emissions goals that are in line with the Paris treaty. Related: The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut In October, the UN Environment Programme will release a separate Emissions Gap Report. This report keeps track of the policy commitments each country has made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also analyzes how present policies will meet 2030 goals. “The numbers don’t lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed,” said Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme. “The last few years have seen enormous uptake of renewable energy , but we must now redouble our efforts to ensure these new low-carbon technologies are able to thrive. We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency.” + World Meteorological Organization Via CNN Images via Pexels, Pixabay

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CO2 levels in Earths atmosphere hit a record high in 2016

LEGO relaunches its beloved Taj Mahal model with almost 6,000 bricks

October 30, 2017 by  
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LEGO lets people enjoy the beauty of some of the world’s most iconic buildings, one stunning model at a time. Now, their collection of LEGO architecture models  is getting even better, because the company is relaunching an old favorite, the Taj Mahal. Originally released in 2008, the majestic building is back almost ten years later with an improved building experience that includes 5,900 pieces that capture the building’s most intricate details. Easily one of the most recognizable designs in the world , the iconic Taj Mahal was built in 1632 by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, the Empress Mumtaz Mahal. The building’s four facades are covered in a series of sophisticated arches, balconies and windows that give the design its unmistakable majestic character. A large central dome is surrounded by subsidiary domed chambers and a number of minarets covered in intricate finials. Related: LEGO celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday with Guggenheim Museum kit The original LEGO Architecture model of the Taj Mahal, which was released almost ten years ago, was one of the company’s most popular architectural sets. The brand new version carefully recreates the icon’s beautiful details, down to the ornate detailing and intricate tile work. As one of the largest LEGO models ever released, its dividable into seven modular sections to make for easy transportation. At almost 6,000 pieces, the set is sure to inspire both budding architects and serious LEGO fans. The LEGO Taj Mahal model will be available November 27th. + LEGO Architecture

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LEGO relaunches its beloved Taj Mahal model with almost 6,000 bricks

China’s self-driving trackless train hits the streets of Zhuzhou

October 30, 2017 by  
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Back in June, Chinese company CRRC Corporation debuted a self-driving train that runs on virtual tracks – and it just officially hit the streets of Zhuzhou in China ‘s Hunan Province. The Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) could ease emissions and traffic for a fraction of the cost of building a subway or streetcar system. The 100 percent electric train can transport as many as 300 passengers in three carriages through cities at speeds of 43 miles per hour. No traditional train tracks are necessary for the ART, which runs on dotted lines painted on streets, aided by sensors. The trackless train has been described as a hybrid between a bus and tram, and it’s 100 percent powered by electricity. Channel NewsAsia reported the ART could help speed up public transportation in Zhuzhou before spreading to other cities in China. The train can reportedly run for over 15 miles after charging for 10 minutes. A few outlets say the ART has lithium titanate batteries and charges via a flash charging facility . The ART is more than 103 feet long, and instead of steel wheels it has rubber tires. A twin-head system allows the train to travel without ever making a U-turn. The trackless train’s lifespan is reportedly around 25 years. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ People’s Daily Online reports that the ART is less expensive than the typical subway, which in China costs between 400 million to 700 million yuan, or around $60.1 million to $105.3 million, per kilometer. Compared against electric streetcars, which run around 150 million to 200 million yuan, or around $22.5 million to $30 million, per kilometer, the ART “is only about one-fifth the investment.” The train will be tested in Zhuzhou before opening to the public in 2018. Via Channel NewsAsia Images via New China TV on Youtube

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China’s self-driving trackless train hits the streets of Zhuzhou

New fractal concentrated solar power receivers absorb sunlight more efficiently

October 27, 2017 by  
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Concentrated solar power facilities are often large, sprawling across desert landscapes or the futuristic California of Blade Runner 2049. But smaller plants could offer a clean energy option for villages – if researchers could boost receiver efficiency. Sandia National Laboratories engineers have come closer to that goal with a fractal -like design for receivers that are as much as 20 percent better at absorbing light than today’s technology. India may want to develop concentrated solar power plants that are one megawatt or smaller to power villages, according to Sandia engineer Cliff Ho. Better receivers could make that goal more of a possibility. Sandia engineers tested out their new receivers for small- or medium-scale use at the National Solar Thermal Testing Facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which they say is the only test facility of its kind in America. Related: Trump’s DOE invests $62 million in concentrated solar power Traditional receivers typically have “a flat panel of tubes or tubes arranged in a cylinder,” according to Sandia. They can absorb 80 to 90 percent of light directed towards them, but improving receiver efficiency could lower costs. Ho said in a statement, “When light is reflected off a flat surface, it’s gone. On a flat receiver design, five percent or more of the concentrated sunlight reflects away. So we configured the panels of tubes in a radial or louvered pattern that traps the light at different scales. We wanted the light to reflect, and then reflect again toward the interior of the receiver and get absorbed, sort of like the walls of a sound-proof room.” The engineers 3D-printed the receivers with a high-temperature nickel alloy, Iconel 718. They could test several fractal designs in an economical manner this way – Ho said it would have been difficult to create the complex geometries with casting, welding, or extrusion. Sandia will take their work and apply it to the Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States (SERIIUS) project, a five-year effort from the governments of both countries on cost-effective solar power technology. Via Sandia National Laboratories Images via Randy Montoya/Sandia National Laboratories and Depositphotos

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New fractal concentrated solar power receivers absorb sunlight more efficiently

MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

October 26, 2017 by  
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Americans consume 8.6 billion water bottles — every year. Of those, only 1 of 5 is recycled . Fortunately, a handful of MIT students have developed a solution to this problem, and it involves repurposing waste plastic bottles to reinforce concrete. Because the newly-invented method results in the concrete being more durable than existing concrete, plastic bottles may soon be used to construct everything from stronger building foundations to sidewalks and street barriers. According to the study , which was published in the journal Waste Management, MIT students discovered a method to produce concrete that is up to 20 percent stronger than conventional concrete. First, plastic flakes are exposed to small amounts of harmless gamma radiation . Then, they are pulverized into a fine powder, after which it is added to concrete. The discovery has far-reaching implications, as concrete is the second most widely used material on Earth (the first is water). MIT News reports that approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon emissions are generated by manufacturing concrete. By replacing small portions of concrete with recycled plastic, the cement industry’s toll on the environment would be reduced. The newly-discovered method would also prevent millions of water and soda bottles from ending up in landfills . Michael Short, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, said, “There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT students Carolyn Schaefer and Michael Ortega explored the possibility of plastic-reinforced concrete as part of their class’s Nuclear Systems Design Project. In the future, the team intends to experiment with different types of plastic , along with various doses of gamma radiation, to determine their effects on concrete. So far, they’ve determined that substituting 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic significantly improves the mixture’s strength. While this may not seem like a lot, it is enough to have a significant impact if implemented on a global scale. “Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” said Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”’’ Via MIT News Images via MIT , Pixabay

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MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features

October 26, 2017 by  
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These solar-powered, zero-emission floating homes are packed with green goodness. Designed by Dutch architect Koen Olthius in collaboration with Arkup , an “avant-garde life on water” company based in Miami, the livable yachts operate 100% off the grid and feature waste management, rainwater harvesting and water purification systems. The 4,350-square-foot homes are equipped with 30 kW of solar panels , 1,000 kWh of lithium-ion batteries and high-grade insulation. They are also extremely safe and, thanks to the inclusion of self-elevating systems, they can withstand high winds, floods and hurricanes. Related: Koen Olthuis of WaterStudio.nl talks about design for a Water World The 40-foot-long hydraulic legs can stabilize the floating homes or even lift them out of the water. If you want to relocate, two 136 horsepower electric thrusters can move the structure at 7 knots. Rainwater is collected from the roof, stored in the hull, and purified to ensure complete water autonomy. The 24×12 foot sliding terrace adds plenty of integrated outdoor space and is surrounded by shock-resistant glass panels, while a smart communications system (including satellite TV and WI-FI antennas, LTE and VHF) allows you to stay connected at all times. + Arkup + Waterstudio

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These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features

Tiny Montana company signs $300M contract to help restore power in Puerto Rico

October 24, 2017 by  
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The majority of Puerto Rico ‘s 3.4 million residents still lack electricity in the wake of Hurricane Maria . Now, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is looking to a two-year-old Montana -based company, Whitefish Energy , to help them switch the power back on. But some people are wondering why PREPA would sign the $300 million contract, the largest issued yet, with a company that only had two full-time employees when Hurricane Maria hit the island. Whitefish Energy has been tasked with repairing and reconstructing electrical infrastructure in Puerto Rico. The company said this week they have 280 workers laboring now, and that they’re close to finishing work that will provide power to key industrial facilities that will help get the local economy going again. Related: Germany company steps in to help Puerto Rico with microgrid installations PREPA signed the contract with Whitefish instead of activating mutual aid agreements – which have aided United States utilities in recovering after natural disasters – with other utilities. As Puerto Rico is bankrupt, many people are wondering why they’d hire a company instead of turning to the mutual aid network. Former Energy Department senior official Susan Tierney told The Washington Post, “The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish. I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.” PREPA executive director Ricardo Ramos told reporters Whitefish was the first firm “available to arrive and they were the ones that first accepted terms and conditions for PREPA.” Whitefish is based in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown, but Zinke’s office said he didn’t play a role in the Puerto Rico contract. Whitefish had landed a $1.3 million federal contract just before Hurricane Maria to replace and upgrade parts of an Arizona transmission line 4.8 miles long in 11 months. There are 2,400 miles of transmission lines in Puerto Rico, where an estimated 80 percent of the grid has been harmed. Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rosselló recently said 95 percent of power would be on by Christmas. Whitefish CEO Andy Techmanski seems to disagree, saying, “I don’t know where he got that and what information he was using. Without doing a full assessment countrywide, I couldn’t fathom how many months, if it’s going to be two months, three months, five months.” Via The Washington Post Images via Whitefish Energy on Twitter ( 1 , 2 )

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Tiny Montana company signs $300M contract to help restore power in Puerto Rico

Biggest grid operator in US attacks Perry’s proposal to prop up coal

October 24, 2017 by  
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Energy Secretary Rick Perry is attempting to keep coal alive under the guise of grid resiliency , but the largest grid operator in the United States called on regulators to scrap the plan. PJM Interconnection CEO Andrew Ott called Perry’s pricing proposal unworkable and discriminatory, and even said it’s inconsistent with federal law. Multiple other grid operators have also called for its rejection. Perry has urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to alter how wholesale power markets price electricity – so some nuclear and coal generators can recover costs, according to Bloomberg. Perry’s plan would attempt to reward power plants able to store 90 days of fuel supplies onsite. Ott told reporters, “I don’t know how this proposal could be implemented without a detrimental impact on the market.” Related: Trump administration halts study on health risks of living near coal mining sites Ott said it seems the rule targets PJM – between 2011 and 2016, they retired over 19 gigawatts of coal-fired power, according to Bloomberg. But “the PJM market is more diverse and reliable today than we’ve seen,” Ott said. PJM serves over 65 million people in over a dozen states in the Midwest to Mid-Atlantic. Bloomberg said hundreds of energy companies commented on the proposal, with firms like ExxonMobil , Anadarko Petroleum , and Devon Energy pointing to the low cost and reliability of natural gas . The Solar Energy Industries Association said nuclear and coal plants aren’t invulnerable to outages. FirstEnergy supported Perry’s plan because they said the grid will be at risk if nuclear and coal plants are retired. They operate several coal plants in the PJM market. Grid operators like the New York Independent System Operator , the Midcontinent Independent System Operator , and ISO New England called for FERC to toss out Perry’s plan as part of a coalition that also included organizations the proposal wouldn’t impact, such as the California Independent System Operator , the Electric Reliability Council of Texas , and the Southwest Power Pool . Via Bloomberg Images via Pixabay and U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr

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Biggest grid operator in US attacks Perry’s proposal to prop up coal

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