Mercedes and Renault Working on New Small Car Platform

from Green Options by Nick Chambers

According to a report from Autocar UK, Renault and Mercedes are teaming up to design a new, modular small car platform that will form the basis for a new Smart Car, a new Renault City car and the upcoming Renault Twizy EV. In addition, the two companies are jointly developing new engine platforms to power these vehicles—well, the gas versions anyway.

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Storing Renewable Energy in Boxes of Air

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Storage is needed to harvest the full yield available from intermittent sources of energy like wind and solar. One of the options is compressed-air storage; till now only possible in underground caverns. But SustainX Energy Solutions; a Dartmouth College start-up that got $4 million in VC funding from Polaris Venture Partners andRockport Capital this year is working on compressing and storing air in cheap off-the-shelf shipping containers.

Over the next two years SustainX will try to develop a way to cram 4 megawatt-hours worth of stored energy into each 40-foot long container and to reduce the energy that it currently takes to compress and release air by about 70%.

The goal? A renewable energy storage system with the portability and scalability of a battery and the economy and capacity of a cave. Make that a portable cave.

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cityLAB Design Competition WPA 2.0 Rides Perfect Storm in DC

from News by Vanilla Hustler

WPA 2.0: Working Public Architecture, the design competition organized by UCLA’s cityLAB, culminated with the announcement of “Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park” as the winning proposal of the professional competition and “R_Ignite” and “Aquaculture Canal_New Orleans” as the winning proposals of the student competition – WPA 2.0 (SE).

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Winner of the professional competition: “Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park” by PORT architects Andrew Moddrell and Christopher Marcinkoski (Chicago/New York). Video by Richie Gelles

UCLA Architecture and Urban Design Chair Hitoshi Abe, Dana Cuff, cityLAB director, and Roger Sherman, cityLAB codirector congratulated the winners at the conclusion of a day-long symposium in Washington, DC on November 16. Housing and Urban Development’s Ron Sims and Adolfo Carrion of the White House Office of Urban Affairs urged those gathered at the symposium at the National Building Museum to think outside the box, and to “boldly lead us to places we have never gone before.” The federal administration is primed for innovative thinking about urban issues, creating a perfect storm for designers to lead the way. The WPA 2.0 winners do just that.


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Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park

“Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park” is the brainchild of PORT architects Andrew Moddrell and Christopher Marcinkoski of Chicago and New York. The proposal uses algae pontoons to capture mobile-source carbon-dioxide emissions along New York City’s transportation arteries and employ them in bio-fuel production, creating an urban park with structured wetlands, aquatic and avian habitat, recreation amenities, as well as high speed bike lanes and public promenades. The jury of Elizabeth Diller, Cecil Balmond, Marilyn Taylor, Walter Hood, Stan Allen, and Thom Mayne was unanimous in its decision, citing two primary qualities: The floating, carbon-capturing bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan would be a visible marker for the tunnel hidden below, and the periodic rotation of the parkway across the river had the power to reshape the image of the city.


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Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park


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Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park


Click above image to enlarge
Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park


Click above image to enlarge
Carbon T.A.P.// Tunnel Algae Park

Winning Projects of the WPA 2.0 Student Competition:

“R_Ignite” was designed by four graduate students of the Manchester School of Architecture – Peter Millar, Jamie Potter, Andy Wilde and Stuart Wheeler. This proposal revitalizes port cities and greens the shipwrecking industry through the addition of recycling and social activities.

cityLAB Student Design Competition WPA 2.0

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Joint winner of the student competition: “R_Ignite” by Peter Millar, Jamie Potter, Andy Wilde, Stuart Wheeler (Manchester)

cityLAB Student Design Competition WPA 2.0

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“Aquaculture Canal_New Orleans,” by Fadi Masoud, a Landscape Architecture student at the University of Toronto, envisions the New Orleans’ Industrial Canal as productive infrastructure for flood control and aquaculture. The jury noted that the winning submissions were ideal as a pair, representing the range of innovative ideas relevant to WPA 2.0.

cityLAB Student Design Competition WPA 2.0

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Joint winner of the student competition: “Aquaculture Canal_New Orleans” by Fadi Masoud (Toronto)

cityLAB Student Design Competition WPA 2.0

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Aquaculture Canal_New Orleans

For the WPA 2.0 competition, more than 300 proposals – half from professional teams, half from student teams – , envisioned a new legacy of publicly-supported infrastructure hybrids. The projects explore the value of infrastructure not only as an engineering endeavor, but as a robust design opportunity to revitalize communities. Students from China to the United Kingdom submitted proposals to WPA 2.0 (SE) tackling the problems of America’s next generation of public works. Seven student finalists’ proposals were exhibited at the National Building Museum: Re-Ignite, Aquaculture Canal_New Orleans, Polytechnic HighSchool and Transportation Center by Douglas Segulja, Fluctuating Freeway Ecologies by The Crop, urban ConAgraculture by Dale Luebbert, Cash for Clunkers = Bike Sharing for Chicago by Matt Moore, and Topographic Infrastructure: Hollywood Freeway Central Park by Meng Yang.

The six finalists from the professional competition (previously on Bustler) presented their work at the symposium, and exhibited creative videos that animated their projects, bringing them to life. They are: PORT (Chicago/New York), Lateral Office / Infranet Lab (Toronto), Rael San Fratello Architects (Oakland), UrbanLab (Chicago), aershop (Los Angeles), and Nicholas de Monchaux & Collaborators (Berkeley).

The symposium, held in the impressive Great Hall of the National Building Museum, allowed experts to examine infrastructure from a range of unique yet critically integrated perspectives. In his keynote address, White House Director of Urban Affairs, Adolfo Carrion, praised all the finalists for imaginatively engaging the future of American cities. His words were echoed by HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims who called on designers to reimagine public works in terms of sustainability, community, and jobs. Director of cityLAB and UCLA Professor Dana Cuff, said the cityLAB team followed his advice. “The cityLAB team spent the entire day after the symposium taking the message to agency heads and legislators on Capitol Hill. We showed them that designers have the vision to bring innovative policies to reality. Our timing couldn’t have been better.”

Images: WPA 2.0

Scientists Developing Swarms of Miniature Drifting Robots to Patrol the Ocean

from Green Options by Tina Casey

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to UCSD reserchers, to develop small scale robots that will study tiny marine creatures.The National Science Foundation has just awarded researchers at UC San Diego a $1million grant to develop small robotic devices that will drift with the ocean currents to study the mechanisms that support plankton and other tiny marine creatures. Swarms of the autonomous underwater explorers (AUE’s) could provide a window into the underlying factors that drive broader ocean processes, by more precisely focusing on localized data on currents, temperature, salinity, pressure, and other properties.

The robots could also some day patrol and monitor protected marine areas, provide early warnings of potential hazards such as algae blooms and oil spills, and even scout out plane crashes and other ocean-going emergencies. Depending on how the devices are powered, the robot swarms could also provide a moresustainable means of accomplishing oceanic research compared to the use of ships and other fossil fuel-powered equipment.

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World’s First Osmotic Power Plant Opens

from Green Options by Tina Casey

Statkraft has opened the world's frist osmotic power prototype plant in Norway

Mix salt water with fresh water and there you have it: instant carbon-neutral energy. The process is calledosmotic power, and a company called Statkraft has just opened the world’s first osmotic power plant in Norway.

For now the plant has a limited production capacity and will focus mainly on testing and developing the technology for commercial application. When osmotic power does go commercial, it could make a significant contribution to a sustainable, carbon neutral energy future. The company estimates that the global potential of osmotic power is equivalent to half of the European Union’s current energy production.

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coke’s new green packaging

from Designboom – Weblog

coca-cola revealed their new plastic bottles made from recycled plant materials will soon hit shelves in
north america. the new bottles will soon be used on the coca-cola classic and dasani water bottles and
are already in use in denmark. the bottles are made from up to 30% plant-based waste materials and are
100% recyclable. the aptly dubbed plantbottle packaging is made the by-product of sugarcane processing
in brazil. while the bottles will contains up to 30% plant materials in north america, the danish version
has about 50% recycled material and 15% plant material. coke hopes to eventually make 100% plant
based plastic bottles.

following the announcement, we came across designer harc lee’s coke can concept that takes a similar
sustainable approach. instead of wasteful inks on the can, lee’s design uses embossing to brand the
aluminum can. this saves countless liters of ink and helps make the recycling process easier and less

Electric Rolls-Royce Phantom Coming In 2010

from Gizmodo Australia by Rosa Golijan

While we don’t have the official price, we’re reading that the electric Rolls-Royce Phantom will run just a bit higher than the current $US380,000 gas-powered model. Let’s round that to about half a mill and daydream together. (more…)

Polaris, ARPA-E Pump Money Into Nocera’s Breakthrough in Biomimic Photosynthesis

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Daniel Nocera’s Sun Catalytix was one of the 37 ARPA-E awardees last month with a $4.1 million vote of confidence from the Nobel prizewinner-driven Department of Energy. Now Polaris Venture Partners has just added $1 million to its earlier $2 million investment in the MIT spin-off to bring their total investment to $3 million.

Nocera’s work first burst on the world in 2007 with his work in figuring out how to ape the process of photosynthesis to create cheap solar energy stored as fuel. Nocera’s research, which was published last year inScience has been called the most important single solar energy discovery of the century.

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Fossil Fuel CO2 Emissions Trends — 1990, 2000, 2008

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan

Overall, global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels increased 29% between 2000 and 2008 and 41% from 1990-2008, and the current concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now at its highest in at least 2 million years, according to a new study in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The new report published this week by an international team of researchers who are part of the “Global Carbon Project” shows emissions trends through 2008 (including changes in emissions causes and in the amount of emissions remaining in the atmosphere) and brings up some major questions for the future as well.

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Throwing Out Food and Paper Will Be Illegal

from Green Options by Chris Milton

Quebec has taken a long hard look at itself, and decided it doesn’t like what it sees.

Its policies simply aren’t working. Overall waste generated has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, with waste going to landfill rising by over 10% in the same period.

One of its key targets was to get 60% of the state’s waste food into composting by 2012 has had to be abandoned: the current figure is only 12% and the target just cannot be met.

However, rather than just trying to fiddle with green taxes, the state government has gone straight for the jugular and announced plans to make it illegal to dump rubbish and food waste.

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Nov 20, 2009 11:48 AM

MVRDV: market hall, rotterdam – construction begins

from Designboom – Weblog

new market hall in rotterdam by MVRDV architects
all images courtesy MVRDV architects

at the place where rotterdam was founded, near the historic laurens church,
a new market hall will be realized by MVRDV architects. the market hall is
a sustainable combination of food, leisure, living and parking – fully integrated
to enhance and use the synergetic possibilities of the different functions, a public
building emerging from housing.

an arch of 228 apartments, will create a large hall which houses 100 market stalls,
shops and restaurants, 1200 parking spaces and an underground supermarket.
each apartment will have a balcony on the outside and a window to the inside of
the market. insulation will prevent any unwanted effects. the 40 meter tall and wide
opening of the front and back will be covered with a flexible suspended glass façade,
allowing for maximum transparency and a minimum of structure. the interior of
the arch will display market produce.

the project with a total of 100.000 m2 is set to be completed in 2014 and part of
the current regeneration of rotterdam’s post war centre. project developer provast
realizes the building, unibail rodamco invested in the shops and restaurants whilst
housing corporation vesteda will manage the rental apartments.

ofis: ljubljana city municipality design development

from Designboom – Weblog

the new ljubljana administration centre by ofis

slovenian architecture firm ofis have received third prize in the competition to design
the new ljubljana administration centre. the brief proposed several departments to move
to the same site but occupy different buildings. located along the river on the edge of
the city the building is surrounded by some protected buildings.

ofis designed three new buildings as cylinders related with loops of space in various
heights. in the middle of each cylinder is a public entrance area and offices arranged
around the center. the logic of connected and disconnected departments follow
mathematical models of intersections and unions. two departments that share meeting
spaces are connected in various floors with loops and bridges.

the external facades will feature a high performance glazing and an adaptable external
shading device to reduce solar gain in summer. the concrete slab imbedded pipe system
provides cooling without draft problems and in winter comfortable radiant heating.
in summer the cooling of the offices spaces will be achieved for major amount of time
just using the slab system.

main data:
location: ljubljana, slovenia

type: offices with public program

client: city municipality ljubljana
surface above ground:
new buildings: 42.288m2
existing buildings: 16.868m2
existing buildings + new buildings: 59.148m2
surface below ground (new buildings): 20.800m2
project leaders:
rok oman, spela videcnik

project team: andrej gregoric,
janez martincic,
magdalena lacka, katja aljaz,