Green Building

Green tech finds (6/9/11)

Article: Green tech finds (6/9/11)

The original electric cars, a solar-powered train tunnel, and geothermal energy harvesting that also sequesters carbon… your green tech finds for the week.

Big battery breakthrough?: Researchers at MIT are redesigning batteries as “semi-solid flow cells,” which could eliminate charging time issues for electric cars, as well as provide viable storage of energy generated from renewable sources. (via Grist)
Solar-powered train tunnel opens in Belgium: A two-mile stretch of train tunnel near Antwerp is now covered with solar panels, and will provide electricity for both high-speed and inter-city rail links, as well as a train station. (via AOL Travel)

Passive House next addition to Greensburg's Chain of Eco-Homes

Article: Passive House next addition to Greensburg's Chain of Eco-Homes

With the recent spate of deadly tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri, Greensburg, Kansas, the town destroyed by an E5 tornado in May, 2007, has largely fallen out of public view. That’s too bad, as this small western Kansas town has made itself a model of resilience and adaptation… not to mention turning itself into a hub of sustainable development.

Using shipping containers to house prisoners: green or inhumane?

Article: Using shipping containers to house prisoners: green or inhumane?

Shipping containers have become a hot form of prefabricated building material: they’re cheap, plentiful, and ready for retrofitting. Their modular nature provides lots of opportunities for creativity, and architects have used them for both homes and larger buildings.

All of these reasons have played into Adelaide, Australia’s decision to experiment with shipping containers as prison cells. But a number of state legislators and activists are crying foul, claiming that the plan is inhumane. Civil libertarian George Mancini told The Advertiser that he sees the plan as representative of short-term thinking on corrections: “I would have thought the future of prisons involves the rehabilitation of prisoners… There needs to be a focus on rehabilitation and reasonable conditions, not just cheap housing but effective housing.”

The $300 House: safe green housing for the world's poor

Article: The $300 House: safe green housing for the world's poor


The world’s poorest citizens often have to make do with shelter… and that often involves scrap or natural materials found near shantytowns. In one sense, this is green building at its simplest; on the other, such structures provide minimal protection, while often creating risks for fire, suffocation from cooking smoke, and other hazards.

Last Summer, Dartmouth business professor Vijay Govindarajan and marketing consultant Christian Sarkar tossed out an idea on the Harvard Business Review blog: the $300 house. The concept: create a safe, sustainably-built structure that provided shelter and even some utilities (solar power and water filtering) at a price that the world’s poorest people might be able to afford. To keep costs and environmental impact down, the house would use prefabricated materials. People would buy the houses on a microfinance model.

The carbon-neutral, ultra-modern tiny house: The Cube Project

Article: The carbon-neutral, ultra-modern tiny house: The Cube Project

A tour of the Cube from Mike Page on Vimeo.

Think you could live in 100 square feet? Certainly, you’d have to do without some basic amenities, right… because you couldn’t cram a kitchen, bath, bedroom, and living/dining area into that small a space?

Green tech finds (4/14/11)

Article: Green tech finds (4/14/11)


Lots of solar news this week… from a new efficiency record, to solar company corporate responsibility rankings, to a DIY solar cooker.

Green tech finds (3/31/11)

Article: Green tech finds (3/31/11)

LSA In Action from Sticky Advertising on Vimeo.


Plastic made from meat wastes, and “self-charging” cell phones… these and more in this week’s green tech finds.

  • Floating solar panels: “Offshore renewables” has generally meant wind or wave power, but an Australian company has developed a prototype for floating solar panels… and Indian company Tata Power is going to give the concept a go. Check out the Liquid Solar Array in action above. (via Calfinder’s Residential Solar blog)

  • Plastic bottle schools: Plastic bottles get recycled into all sorts of consumer products… but the Bottle Schools Project is turning them into literal building blocks for schools in the developing world. (via Springwise and @COSEnergy)

Green tech finds (3/17/11)

Article: Green tech finds (3/17/11)

Raise a glass of Guinness to St. Paddy… and to a couple of Irish green tech finds this week.

Social gaming app for saving energy: JouleBug, a social gaming iPhone app for saving energy, was released this week at SXSW.
ENERGY STAR certified buildings increase by nearly 60%: That’s just one finding from this week’s release of its third annual report on the top 25 cities for ENERGY STAR certified buildings.

Green tech finds (2/24/11)

Article: Green tech finds (2/24/11)

Going off-grid as economic necessity, quiet compostable chip bags, and green beer… your green tech finds for the week.

Green beer in the Last Frontier: Juneau-based Alaskan Brewing Company faces some relatively unique challenges and costs in making its beer… and has implemented some relatively unique green technology (for a craft brewer, anyway) to keep a lid on both economic and environmental costs. (via Utne Reader)
Adjust the thermostat with your phone: ecobee, the makers of the Smart Thermostat, now offer an Android app that allows you to remotely adjust your home’s temperature.

Green tech finds (2/3/11)

Article: Green tech finds (2/3/11)

warning signs from Susan Ngo on Vimeo.

T-shirts that detect pollution, wind power from transit tunnels, and solar power in coal’s heartland… your green tech finds for the week.

  • The pollution-detecting t-shirt: NYU grad students Nien Lam and Sue Ngo’s Warning Signs t-shirts display either a heart or a pair of lungs that change color according to the levels of carbon monoxide in the air. Watch it work above… (via Green Energy News and @greeneconpost)

  • All renewables by 2050? A brand new report from WWF claims we can get there, “…with only isolated residual uses of fossil and nuclear fuels.” (via Mail & Guardian Online)

Green tech finds (12/30/10)

Article: Green tech finds (12/30/10)

For our last green tech finds of the year, we’ve got some predictions (of course), as well as new thoughts on tobacco, and high praise for white roofs.

  • Green tech predictions: IBM’s fifth annual “Next Five in Five” list of tech predictions has four items with a green bent, including much more efficient “breathing” batteries, and environmental data collection from all of us via our phones and other devices. (via Information Week)

  • Green tech hopes: Heather Clancy at GreenTech Pastures isn’t going so far as to make predictions, but has a thorough list of stories she’d really like to write in 2011.

Green tech finds (12/16/10)

Article: Green tech finds (12/16/10)

Plastic bottles you can eat, a tiny solar home, and hybrid street sweepers… this week’s green tech finds. Audi’s green history: You likely associate the phrase “green cars” with Toyota and Honda; Denis Duquet at The Car Guide thinks Audi should be on that list, also… More bang from your bike: Fandi Meng’s I-Green battery…

Polli-Bricks, the stuff of miracles

Article: Polli-Bricks, the stuff of miracles

I never thought I would get excited about a brick, but the Polli-Brick is a potentially life-changing building material that can’t be talked up enough. The Polli-Brick is, essentially, a 6-liter plastic bottle made of 100% post-consumer PET. The bottles have a gear-like structure that allows them to lock together into light-weight but insanely strong panels that can withstand earthquakes and hurricanes. Stack enough of these panels and voilà, you have a building.

Green tech finds (11/18/10)

Article: Green tech finds (11/18/10)

Gardening apps, high-speed rail, and electric vehicles made from electronic waste… this week’s green tech finds.

Finnish culture meets green building: Traditional Finnish building involves a lot of wood, and the Luukku House design combines this tradition with solar energy, high-efficiency windows, and other “green” features. The design has won awards from both the Finnish Timber Council and Solar Decathlon Europe. (via Good News from Finland)
Onsite composting for restaurants: GaiaRecycle’s new G-30H provides onsite composting for restaurants and schools… no need to have those food scraps hauled away (or — shudders — throw them in the trash).

Green tech finds (10/21/10)

Article: Green tech finds (10/21/10)

Hybrid CFLs, more convenient e-waste recycling, and Steven Chu on Youtube… this week’s green tech finds.

Floating wind turbines pay off: A new study from Energy Technologies Institute finds that floating offshore wind turbines are both technically and economically feasible because of stronger, more consistent winds. (via Cleantechnica)
Grades are out on electronics takeback…: And while no one’d doing a stellar job, Dell, Asus, and Samsung received the highest marks from the Electronic Takeback Coalition in their new Recycling Report Card. (via Mother Jones’ Blue Marble)

Green tech finds (9/23/10)

Article: Green tech finds (9/23/10)

Poop-powered lighting, a shipping container office building, and the trade-in possibilities for a Chevy Volt battery… your green tech finds for the week.

Green tech finds (9/16/10)

Article: Green tech finds (9/16/10)

Sell your e-waste, build your own e-bike, and get your Fritos from electric vehicles… your green tech finds for the week.

Green tech patent information goes online: The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched its IPC Green Inventory today, which consolidates information on patents and patent applications involving “environmentally sound technology” into one database. (via eGov Monitor)
Middle Eastern mud buildings: Arwa Aburawa at Green Prophet takes note of some of the phenomenal (and sustainable) mud buildings in the Middle East (like the one above).

Green tech finds (9/9/10)

Article: Green tech finds (9/9/10)

A bee beard for David Cameron, subway energy harvesting, and using search technology to identify endangered species… this week’s green tech finds.

The Wolverine solar cell: Researchers at MIT actually looked to plants, not the X-Men, when creating a solar cell that “heals” its own UV damage.
Tweet for the honey bees: British marketing firm LBi has created a “twittition” (Twitter petition) to support honey bee populations in the UK. Each tweet added to the petition adds a bee to a “bee beard” on a likeness of Prime Minister David Cameron (shown above).

Green tech finds (8/12/10)

Article: Green tech finds (8/12/10)

The greenest cell phone companies, solar Marines, and DIY LED Facebook notification… your green tech finds for the week.

Smart energy cities: The NRDC’s Smarter Cities project has published a list of 22 US cities taking the lead on more sustainable energy use and production. (via GreenTech Pastures)
LED Facebook notification: OK, this is only marginally green, but Instructables has a project up for a DIY Facebook notification device that uses LED lights.

Orange County's Project Playhouse features green building for kids

Article: Orange County's Project Playhouse features green building for kids

Playhouses have apparently come a long ways since I was a kid: the wooden posts and chicken wire structure my uncle built at my grandmother’s house has given way to small cottages featuring “flat screen TVs, entertainment systems and video game players.”

Yep, sounds more like mini-mancaves as opposed to spaces for kids to exercise their imagination, but at least one group of architects and builders sees the luxury playhouse concept as an environmental education tool. The Ocean Adventure Lab, designed, built, and supported by LPA, Inc., Turner Construction, ProRepro, and Tangram Interiors, features “…a working wave tank, microscopes, oceanography books, a working projector featuring underwater sea creatures, and a Playstation 2.”

New York's first passive house

Article: New York's first passive house

For the last two years architect Dennis Wedlick has been redesigning the cave. A cave, Wedlick explains, is the perfect metaphor for building a passive house: “One continuous material provides super insulation with only one energy-leaking opening.”

Just over a month ago, Wedlick raised the frame of his cave-inspired design, a 3-bedroom house on the Hudson, which, when completed, will be New York’s very first passive house. That’s kind of a startling figure, but “there are only about 10 certified passive projects in the entire country,” Wedlick says, “but something like 10,000 in Germany. That really tells you how far behind we are on sustainability.”

Another hub for affordable green homes: Corning, Iowa

Article: Another hub for affordable green homes: Corning, Iowa

If cost is no object, you probably look to the coasts for the latest in green building design. But when affordability is figured into the equation, the Midwest seems to be leading the pack: from Greensburg, Kansas to Reynolds, Indiana, the region’s turning into a laboratory of green building experimentation designed for the rest of us.

The state fair goes green

Article: The state fair goes green

Rickety carnival rides. Animal and agricultural exhibits. And fried… well, just about anything. State fair season is coming up, and future farmers, midway operators, and bands past their prime are ready to roll. At a few fairs around the country, you can add renewable energy vendors, green builders, and organic foodies to the mix: the greening of the state fair is slowly but surely underway.

Green tech finds (7/2/10)

Article: Green tech finds (7/2/10)

Summer’s here, it’s hot, and so, naturally, we’ve got lots of solar news in this week’s green tech finds…

Fuel-efficient driving on your iPhone: Consumer Reports’ new listing of smart phone apps for drivers includes Greenmeter, an iPhone app that “…monitors your driving and displays your car’s mpg, fuel cost, and carbon emissions.”
Is that a secret for more efficient solar cells in your pants…? No, not a really bad, geeky joke: researchers at Cornell have discovered a specific molecule “in blue jeans and some ink dyes” that could be used to build frameworks for cheaper solar cells. (via Treehugger)

Italy's Greensburg, Kansas

Article: Italy's Greensburg, Kansas

While Greensburg, Kansas may have fallen off the media radar just a bit, the Midwestern town’s determination to rebuild green after an EF5 tornado leveled it in 2007 still provides a lot of inspiration. While I can’t say it for certain, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that Greensburg’s vision provided a model for the tiny village of Pescomaggiore, Italy.