Next week, the new series Quirky debuts on the Sundance Channel. We’ve featured lots of quirky ideas in the weekly green tech finds posts over the past two years, so in anticipation of the show I thought I’d go back to some of our most innovative (or, at least, most unusual) finds. And if you’ve just got to have the latest, we’ve got a few new ones, too.
While I don’t have numbers at my fingertips, I’d be willing to bet that most new LEED certified commercial buildings fall into the office space category: corporate headquarters or other buildings in which lots of people work behind desks. There’s nothing wrong with that; These structures certainly use plenty of energy and water, and elements of green building such as the focus on daylighting and air quality make for more pleasant and productive workplaces.
But what about those buildings where products are manufactured, processed and/or distributed? In many cases, these are the real resource hogs sorely in need of, at the very least, a good green retrofitting. And new structures built around resource efficiency can be real cost savers for their owners.
Old school shipping, CO2 as a source of fuel and yet another new solar technology for charging your phone: this week’s green tech finds.
Another recycling robot: While not as directly practical as the ZenRobotics Recycler we mentioned in an earlier post, Florida Robotics‘ Dr. R.E. Cycler is designed for educational purposes – essentially, to show kids what happens to the aluminum cans that go into those blue bins. Take a quick look at it above. (via Fast Company and @TaigaCompany)
Lots of news on the car front this week, plus electronic paper, and a (partially) green-powered STAR TREK theme park in Jordan (yeah, Jordan).
Lotus’ wine and cheese-powered car: Okay, not exactly, but the British automaker’s Exige 270E Tri-fuel concept can do 0-60 in under four seconds on ethanol made from “undrinkable wine (whew!), whey (a byproduct of making cheese), and surplus chocolate.” Check it out in action above. (via The Discovery Channel)
Ford getting into the solar business? Kind of. They’re partnering with SunPower to offer future buyers of the company’s planned electric vehicles a rooftop solar system that could power the car completely on renewable energy.
Would you live in an old Hummer? Could solar power be available even when the sun’s not shining? These and other questions answered in this week’s green tech finds.
Harvesting ambient energy with paper antennas: Researchers at Georgia Tech are experimenting with pulling electromagnetic energy from the air with “antennas” printed on paper with inkjet technology. (via Grist)
Biodegradable sneakers that sprout flowers: Amsterdam-based OAT Shoes creates sneakers that not only biodegrade in soil, they even have wildflower seeds embedded in the tongue, so you can add to your garden once the shoes are worn out. (via Yahoo! Green)
We get a little more fashionable than usual in this week’s green tech finds: from Linda Loudermilk’s compostable bikini, to a cutting-edge design for an RV (really!), to air-purifying clothing.
The film set trailer goes green: King Kong Production claims its Helios Solar Hybrid Production Trailer can run a full day on the built-in solar and biodiesel generators. So, no fossil emissions from a pampered celeb who’s late to set.
A solar array, or a wind farm, can certainly have aesthetic appeal… but the visual interplay between the technology and its surroundings, or the beauty inherent in those panels and turbines themselves, usually isn’t high on the priority list of installers. The Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, which is dedicated to “exploring the mysteries of our electric world,” thought that beauty needed further exploration… and commissioned local artists to create works that “demonstrate a new, creative approach to using alternative energy sources.”
“Brown” hybrids, super-efficient wind turbines, and a solar-powered golf bag… your green tech finds for the week.
- Not all hybrids are created equal: Yep, the Prius, the Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid all deliver on the value promised by this vehicle platform. But, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are also a number hybrid models that just aren’t worth the cost, and do very little in terms of fuel efficiency… check out the video from CNET above to see the top five “brownest” hybrids.
- Enterprise, Fed Ex love them some EVs: Yesterday at the National Summit on Energy Security, Andy Taylor, CEO of Enterprise Holdings (which owns Enterprise Rent-a-Car and others) and Fred Smith, CEO of Fed Ex, made impassioned arguments for ramping up vehicle electrification. Marc Gunther has the details…
Skiing down a Danish incinerator, seaweed for biofuels, and a solar unit that can save the lives of mothers in the developing world… your green tech finds for the week. The solar suitcase: Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic takes a look at the WE CARE Solar Suitcase, a compact solar power unit designed specifically for…
Colleges and universities are hot spots for renewable energy installation and experimentation. From on-site energy generation to educational programs designed to train students for clean energy careers, schools are right up there with start-ups in terms of pushing renewable technology towards mainstream use. Last week, a community college district in Northern California set a new standard for renewable energy use in higher education, though: Butte College became the first “grid positive” school in the nation.
A car designed by teenagers that gets nearly 2000 mpg, white roofs for New York City, and how your DVR is jacking up your electric bill… this week’s green tech finds.
Puma’s “clever little bag” is biodegradeable: We mentioned Puma’s alternative to the shoe box back in April of 2010; PSFK reports that the bags will also be compostable (or, if you’re impatient, they’ll dissolve in water in a few minutes). (via Environmental Leader)
The 2000 mpg car? OK, not quite… this design by students at Kingdown School in Warminster, UK got a mere 1,980 mpg. That was more than enough for it to win the Mileage Marathon Challenge at Mallory Park track near Leicester. (via Inhabitat)
eople-powered gyms, transmitting from turtles in Illinois, and combining flies and poop for good use… your green tech finds for the week.
- The open-source solar concentrator: Designer Eerik Wissenz claims that his Solar Fire open source solar concentrator concept can harvest power at ten times cheaper than photovoltaics. Check it out in the video above… (via Earth Techling)
- New university trend — the human-powered gym: Powering exercise and recreation facilities with energy harvested from workout equipment is catching on at universities… the Sustainable Cities Collective takes a closer look at Drexel University’s approach.
A pedal-powered helicopter, a very low-tech speaker for your iPhone made from bamboo, and an online map of solar power potential for NYC… your green tech finds for the week.
- The pedal-powered helicopter: Think it’s impossible to achieve this kind of flight on human power alone? Engineering students at the University of Maryland managed to get off the ground for 4.2 seconds (a US national record) in their Gamera helicopter. See more about the project in the video above. (via Crisp Green)
- Reused wine bottles: New company Wine Bottle Renew claims it can clean pre-consumer wine bottles (from tasting rooms and manufacturers) to the point where they’re better than new… and cheaper, also. (via Earth 911)
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)
Got to have your gadgets with you when you hit the beach? Need your tunes with you while you sunbathe, or don’t want to miss calls? Fear not: designer Andrew Schneider’s solar bikini (which first received attention in the concept stage) has hit the market (only for custom orders, though). Yes, you can swim in it (though you need to dry off before connecting any gadgets), and yes, there’s a version for guys on the way (that includes a solar-powered beer-cooling coozy).
Mini electric Hummers, solar-powered prisons, and the climate risk posed by biodegradable products… this week’s green tech finds.
- Autodesk meets sustainability: Design/engineering software suite Autodesk has now added a tool that allows users to generate environmental impact assessments of their creations.
- Biodegradable products may not be climate-friendly: Turns out that biodegradable disposable tableware and such may have a real downside — the creation of methane in landfills (most of which aren’t set up to capture the potent greenhouse gas). (via @conservationval)
Diaper-eating mushrooms, recycled oil booms, and global warming’s effects on your wi-fi signal… this week’s green tech finds.
- Solar and wind power for apartment dwellers: Jonathan Globerson’s Greenerator concept allows apartment dwellers to harvest both wind and solar power from their balconies. (via Inhabitat)
- GM recycling oil booms into Volt parts: Lots of oil booms left over from last year’s BP oil spill. Instead of letting them get tossed into landfills, GM is collecting these materials and recycling them into air-deflecting baffles for the Chevy Volt. (via Earth 911)
Off-grid in the Big Apple, and geothermal energy capture that doesn’t cause earthquakes… your green tech finds for the week.
- The recycling robot: Finnish start-up ZenRobotics claims its ZenRobotics Recycler, a robot designed to sort recyclables from other waste, has correctly identified half the materials presented to it in tests. See the “trailer” for the robot above. (via Good News from Finland)
- Can electric vehicles work in car sharing programs: Electric Vehicle Update discusses the potential issues, and solutions, for incorporating EVs (with their long charging time) into “on-demand” car sharing services. (via Cleantechies)
A church installing solar panels… not all that unusual these days, right? Maybe not, but for Washington, DC’s Florida Avenue Baptist Church, the recent ribbon-cutting on a 44 panel solar array represents more than “going green” and cutting energy costs: it’s also a way to address issues of energy and environmental justice and economic stagnation in the local community.
Car parts made from dandelions, “flying” trains, and power-producing toilets… this week’s green tech finds.
A field guide for tree species… on your phone: The new Leafsnap app allows you to identify species of trees simply by taking a picture of a leaf. Users can also share images and locations, making for potentially useful data on tree species. (via Grist and The Guardian)
Car parts made from dandelions: The “milky-white substance that seeps from dandelion roots” may work as a sustainable source of “rubber” for car parts such as cup holders and floor mats. Ford and The Ohio State University are experimenting…
Blimps, chicken feathers, and viruses… your green tech finds for the week.
- The 10,000 year heat pump: Heat pumps aren’t sexy; they are, however, an incredibly efficient technology means of heating and cooling buildings. Researchers in Norway are experimenting with a new, more simple design framework that they think will create a heat pump with a “dramatically longer life.” (via @adamwerbach)
- Tracking e-waste: Where do your old electronics end up? The basement? The trash? Or in a developing country for “recycling?” The UN’s StEP project wants to find out, and the US EPA has provided them with $2.5 million to track US electronic waste. (via @TerracomChicago)
- Are you ready for an electric vehicle? A new smart phone app and companion website from BMW tracks your current driving habits to show whether you’re ready to transition to an EV. (via Crisp Green)
- Crowdfunding community solar: Berkeley company Solar Mosaic creates a marketplace for individuals to invest in (and get paid from) community solar installations. See how it works above… (via Care2)
A new green smart phone, water from diesel, and the dirtiness of your data… your Earth Week green tech finds.
Recyclemania at Dell: The Austin, TX-based computer and electronics maker announced it recycled more than 150 million pounds of e-waste in 2010. (via GreenTech Pastures)
Google, Department of Energy mapping EV charging stations: The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory is working with Google to map electric vehicle charging stations, along with other alternative vehicle fuels. (via Earth Techling)
Lots of solar news this week… from a new efficiency record, to solar company corporate responsibility rankings, to a DIY solar cooker.
- Solar powered washing machines: They’re just one part of a test to see if people are ready for the smart grid in Breda, The Netherlands. (via Crisp Green)
- ENERGY STAR certification for senior facilities: Living and care facilities for elders are now among new commercial building types eligible for ENERGY STAR certification (via Earth Techling)