12 Million Homes Powered By German Off-Shore Wind

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer
Germany’s position as the world wind leader was consolidated today with an announcement of 40 offshore wind farms to be built in German waters more than 12 miles off the coast. The goal is to get a total of 25,000 megawatts just from ocean-sited wind power by 2030. This would provide the first half of that; from a 12,000 MW wind farm. Germany is only just starting to dip its toes into off-shore wind production. It signed its first offshore wind project of just 15 megawatts a few months ago with the Alpha Ventus project that was co-financed by German energy giants Vattenfall, E.on and EWE and subsidized by the German government. Read more of this story »

In Seoul, Subway Riders Learn a New Way to Walk

from Wired: Autopia by Keith Barry
subwayseoul Starting October 1, riders of  Seoul Metropolitan Subway must walk on the right through stations, ending the longstanding Korean habit of walking on the left. The move is aimed at reducing pedestrian congestion and traffic accidents, though we had to check to make sure there’s no Korean equivalent to April Fool’s Day anytime in mid-September.

Environmentalism as a Step in Individual Evolution

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan
Environmental care is a practical, worldly thing. But it is also a step in one’s personal evolution. On the one hand, it is a practical response to the environmental problems we are facing. It is also a foresighted response to the issues (economic and environmental) that we might be facing if we don’t think more about the environment we live in and rely on. But, on the other hand, it is much more than that. Read more of this story »

Australia is #1 — New World Leader in Global Warming Emissions

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan
Australia has passed the US as the new world leader in CO2 emissions per capita. That is not the only climate change problem in Australia, though. Read more of this story »

Arizona Project Uses Algae to Turn Coal Pollution Into Biofuel

from Green Options by Nick Chambers

Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electricity provider, has secured $70.5 million in stimulus funds toexpand an innovative project that turns carbon dioxide emissions from a coal power plant into biofuel using algae. While part of the funds will be used to scale up the algae processing portion, some of the funds will also be used to investigate the potential benefits of turning the coal into a gas prior to burning it for power. The concept of creating two products — electricity and fuel — from the same process is known as cogeneration. In this case, the cogeneration also helps to reduce environmental pollution. It’s an idea that has been gathering support as a way to make coal less polluting while finding an additional revenue source to pay for the pollution control itself. In fact, a while back I reported on a similar pilot project in Oregon. Read more of this story »

off architecture: jean moulin high school

lycee jean moulin will be built into the hilly landscape of revin in france all images courtesy of off architecture the architectural reconstruction project of lycee jean moulin in revin, france is to be completed by off architecture in association with duncan lewis scape architecture and jeans giacinto. located within a vast and undulating terrain with many curves, the architects want to install the new building into the topography of the landscape. they will utilize the constraints of the slope, so the school is elevated and recedes upwards, creating a pattern of movement. through incorporating the architecture into hilly surroundings, they want to ensure that the users of this new college will benefit from the natural qualities of the surrounding environment. the project is set to be completed for 2012. an aerial view of the architecture’s receding layers grass will be placed on the roofs of each level so that the building blends in with the green landscape appearing like a hill itself

It’s the end of the world as we know it

image
Dubai’s mega-project The World – a series of man-made islands in the shape of the major landmasses on the planet – is officially canceled, reportsTimesOnline.com

GreenSun Develops Colorful Solar Panels that don’t need Direct Sunlight

from Green Options by Jeff Kart
Solar power comes in many forms, from rigid to thin film. The panels are shiny, gleaming and ready to harness the power of the sun. They’re also usually silver. Yet they also come in colors, not just for looks, but for efficiency. Read more of this story »

Li�ge-Guillemins train station: a ticket to tomorrow

image Photo by Neil Pulling It is majestic, daring � and a destination in itself. This glorious new station in Belgium is the future of train travel, writesJonathan Glancey.

Prefab Resources, Tiny House Ideas, and Small Dwelling Design Links

from Green Options by Lucille Chi
Check out the prefab community blooming online these days! Tiny House Village is trying to connect communities of creative small dwellings. Ideas are abound for these eco communities with Resources For Life’sSmall House Society. Tiny House design has a great set of resources all linked here as well. Check out the plethora of architectural resources, Read more of this story »

loop.ph: sonumbra

as part of the ‘in praise of shadows’ exhibition at the V&Aloop.ph will be exhibiting sonumbra inside the jones gallery. sonumbra is an experimental body of work which explores how alternative sources of energy and low cost lighting can be crafted to provide light and shade for a community of people. parasols constructed from strands of lights laced together, have the potential to offer shelter from the sun by day and provide light for a local community at night through energy which has been collected from solar cells that have been embedded within its canopy. the use of the low cost, flexible, organic solar cells is a collaboration with riso DTU, the national laboratory for sustainable energy in denmark. the installation runs during london design week from september 19th to september 27th. the parasol-like form hanging down from the ceiling display of the architectural textile’s flexibility the form behaves like a fabric and can be draped, bent and folded

NBBJ: dalian stadium

image credit: li fang NBBJ has finalized their proposal for the new dalian shide football stadium in dalian, china. the structure is designed with principles of organic architecture in mind, modeling itself after a garden by having only what is needed to thrive. the design imagines if the ground were folded open to create two garden walls to contain the venue. this concept creates a strong visual impact and leaves both ends open to overlook the ocean and mountains nearby. the exterior of the walls are clad with living plants that naturally change colour throughout the year, while the inside features giant LED panels. a roof made from a flexible cable system covers the stadium and is interwoven with fabric to shield the fans from the elements. the design is an attempt to improve the in-stadium experience, rather than focus on the exterior form like many other modern stadiums. the stadium will have 40,000 seats and intends to set a new standard for sustainable stadium architecture. http://www.nbbj.com image credit: li fang

How Straw Bale Building Will Go Mainstream

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer
Building houses out of straw is as old as, well, as old as the medieval nursery story about the Three Little Pigs, and their houses; one of Bricks, one of Straw and something… it’s been a while. Straw building has a long long history. It is a great natural insulator. But it’s not so easy for the average builder to access straw, these days. You’ll not find straw insulation at your local hardware store. Read more of this story »

Google Reveals Plans to Develop More Efficient and Cost-Effective Solar Thermal Technology

from Green Options by Beth Graddon-Hodgson
Solar Thermal As if Google isn’t already doing enough for the world of technology, they’re actually joining the solar technology movement in order to help increase the progress, which they believe has been disappointing to date.  Their goal is to use mirror technology for solar energy that will be cheaper and therefore more accessible to the masses, so cost isn’t such a contributing factor to why many are unable to make their homes a little bit greener. Read more of this story »

Water withdrawal and consumption: the big gap

from Random graphic of the day: UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library by UNEP/GRID-Arendal <mapmaster@grida.no>
Water withdrawal and consumption: the big gapFreshwater use by continents is partly based on several socio-economic development factors, including population, physiographic, and climatic characteristics. Analysis indicates that: – Annual global freshwater withdrawal has grown from 3,790 km3 (of which consumption accounted for 2,070 km3 or 61%) in 1995, to 4,430 km3 (of which consumption accounted for 2,304 km3 or 52%) in 2000 (Shiklomanov, 1999). – In 2000, about 57% of the world’s freshwater withdrawal, and 70% of its consumption, took place in Asia, where the world’s major irrigated lands are located (UNESCO, 1999). – In the future, annual global water withdrawal is expected to grow by about 10-12% every 10 years, reaching approximately 5,240 km3 (or an increase of 1.38 times since 1995) by 2025. Water consumption is expected to grow at a slower rate of 1.33 times (UNESCO, 1999). – In the coming decades, the most intensive rate of water withdrawal is expected to occur in Africa and South America (increasing by 1.5-1.6 times), while the least will take place in Europe and North America (1.2 times) (Harrison and Pearce, 2001; Shiklomanov, 1999; UNESCO, 1999).

Renault unveils space buggy-style Twizy Z.E. concept vehicle

from DVICE by Adario Strange
Renault unveils space buggy-style Twizy Z.E. concept vehicle Renault rocked the auto world today by showing off the new Twizy Z.E. concept vehicle. The car’s futuristic design brings to mind visions of a space exploration surface buggy, sporting hexagonal wheel coverings and headlights as well as neon yellow trimmings. The company’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, said, “[Twizy’s] distinctive layout combines advantages of both two- and four-wheel vehicles, offering maximum agility with stability.” Renault won’t commit to releasing this exact vehicle design to the public, but hopes to use the 15kW (20hp) electric motor that powers the Twizy in vehicles scheduled to hit the market in 2011. Via Renault

White House Unveils Landmark Fuel Economy and Emissions Standards

from Green Options by Nick Chambers

Today the Obama Administration released a 1,200 page document of proposed regulation changes that will drastically alter the fuel economy and emissions standards that auto manufacturers are required to meet in the US. Although it could be an incredibly contentious topic, it seems that so far the proposal has gained wide support from all sides of the spectrum including environmental organizations and industry lobby groups. The changes — which would alter both the Department of Transportation’s and the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules — call for what amounts to about a 5% increase in fuel economy standards per year from 2011 to 2016 starting with 27.3 mpg in 2011 and ending with 35.5 mpg in 2016. In addition to the new economy standards, the White House has outlined the first ever greenhouse gas emissions limits for new cars sold in the US. Starting with model year 2016, each manufacturer’s new car fleet would have to meet an average limit of 250 grams of carbon emitted per mile driven. Read more of this story »

Dubai 2010 video depicts a futuristic Arabian metropolis

from DVICE by Adario Strange
Dubai 2010 video depicts a futuristic Arabian metropolisThe ever-growing state of Dubai recently took the wraps off its new, 7.6 billion-dollar Dubai Metro project. Other than its whopping price tag, what makes the project special is that it claims to offer the longest driverless metro system in the world.

Along with Dubai’s new metro system and adventurous architecture, the city’s residents also hope to make the city one of the world’s first truly sci-fi metropolises. Perhaps the most ambitious vision of the area’s future comes from Dubai-based post-production house Rolling Thunder via its “Dubai 2010” trailer that features everything from flying cars to the requisite mirror maze of sci-fi-style buildings. You can check out the full trailerhere.

Via The National

Dead Forests to Fuel Vehicles

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer


Here’s a resource we’ll have plenty of as ever wider swathes of our forests get decimated by pests like the Pine Bark Beetle. Dead trees. In an adaptation eerily reminiscent of Thomas Edison’s dictum We live like squatters, not as if we owned the property” a university has invented a technology to harvest one of the horrific effects of climate change.

The University of Georgia Research Foundation has developed an innovative way to turn dead trees into a liquid fuel and has licensed it to Tolero Energy in California. We could be driving on our dead forests as soon as 2010.

The technology represents a leap forward for the biofuels industry. Not only does the resulting biofuel need no additional refinement before blending with diesel fuel, but it is a naturally very low-sulphur biofuel.

And it would prevent additional CO2 from being released if the forest was left to decay.

But the biggest leap is in thinking of using a non-food source (at least for us humans) of biomass that we will have an ever increasing abundance of, as our climate gets worse and worse. And it doesn’t take scarce water resources to grow. Quite the contrary. Droughts and rising temperatures are all it needs.

Dead trees are one of the major sources of waste biomass, says Tolero CEO Chris Churchill.

Read more of this story »

Skyscraper Bridges

from BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh
[Image: “Skyscraper Bridges” by Raymond Hood (1929), as seen in the project PDF for Rael San Fratello‘s Bay Line].

$1.1 Trillion to Cut Carbon Emissions in India

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan


The United Nations stated a couple weeks ago that developed (rich) countries need to provide developing countries with about $500-600 billion a year to control global warming. This was a big increase from other predictions.

Big portions of these funds need to go to India, a large developing country that includes about one sixth of the world’s population. A new study shows what is needed to significantly cut growth in greenhouse gases in this top country.

Read more of this story »

Mercury-Laden CFLs to Overwhelm Minnesota’s Recycling Program

from Green Options by Dave Dempsey

A surge in the number of mercury-bearing energy-efficient light bulbs in use in Minnesota is expected to overwhelm recycling programs in the next few years and there’s no plan yet on how to recycle more of them.

Fluorescent light bulbs use only one-fourth as much energy per unit of light produced as incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. One CFL bulb contains 5 milligrams of mercury, about one-fifth the amount in a watch battery.

Read more of this story »

Extreme agricultural statuary

from BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh
[Image: “Endothelium” by Philip Beesley].

I mentioned a recent issue of Mark Magazine the other day, but I deliberately saved one of the articles for a stand-alone post later on. That article was a long profile of the work of Philip Beesley, a Toronto-based architect and sculptor, whose project the “Implant Matrix” BLDGBLOG covered several years ago.

In issue #21 of Mark, author Terri Peters describes several of Beesley’s projects, but it’s the “Endothelium” that really stood out (and that you see pictured here).

[Image: “Endothelium” by Philip Beesley].

Celebrating the Life of a Scientist that “Fed the World”

from Green Options by Steve Savage

Norm Bourlag (center) consulting with IRRI researchers

Dr. Norman Borlaug passed away this weekend at 95.  He left behind an amazing legacy of contribution to humanity.  It is likely that he saved more human lives than any other person in history.  He did it by developing far more productive wheat than had ever been grown.  His “short stature” wheat had shorter, thicker stems so that it could hold bigger heads of grain that would otherwise “lodge” (collapse over on to the ground where it can’t be harvested).  It was also resistant to the devastating wheat disease called “Stem Rust.”  This wheat ended up feeding millions of people around the world, particularly in Pakistan and India in the 1960s.  Borlaug’s breakthrough was a key part of the “Green Revolution” and it did much to address the hunger and poverty issues of the time.  For this, and his life-time of additional work Bourlag recieved the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Metal .  Only Martin Luther King, Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa have received all of these commendations.  He was also awarded theNational Medal of Science and a host of other awards from around the world.  There is an excellent article about the life and career of this remarkable man in the Des Moines Register.

Read more of this story »

Liquid-Filled LED Bulbs: 360 Degree Light

from MetaEfficient Reviews by Justin
Liquid-Filled LED Light Bulbs: HydraLuxLiquid-Filled LED Light Bulbs: HydraLux

I’ve been testing a new LED bulb called the HydraLux. These unique bulbs are filled with a clear liquid coolant (a non-toxic paraffin oil). Other LED bulbs use large metal fins or fans for cooling purposes. The advantage of using a liquid coolant is that the LED bulb can produce 360° light like a regular incandescent bulb. (more…)

Control4 readies first smart grid energy/home control module

from DVICE by Stewart Wolpin
Control4 readies first smart grid energy/home control module
Local power companies all over the country are helping to built a 21st century smart grid, complete with smart meters, which talk back to the grid, attached to your home. Control4 is getting ready to deploy its home Energy Management System (EMS) EC-100 so you can monitor and control not only your home’s energy consumption via data provided by the smart meter, but your A/V system, security, lights, HVAC, etc.

In March 2010, the EC-100, which has a 5-inch LCD touchscreen, will be initially deployed by the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative in Austin, TX, in 35,000 homes in the first wave and an additional 30,000 in a second wave. The control module actually displays your energy use in a variety of sub-categories (lighting, kitchen, air conditioning, etc.) in dollars, and lets you automate your home to conserve energy. For instance, as the sun comes up, an expanded EMS Control4 Home Area Network (HAN) system could automatically lower the shades or, when you leave a room or your house, the system automatically adjusts the thermostat to use less power – in other words, your house could run on energy-saving cruise control.

In case you’ve never heard of them (honestly, I hadn’t until I got to Atlanta for CEDIA), Control4 sells arguably the most affordable and simplest home automation system around, along with a whole bunch of inexpensive modules to control everything from your A/V system to window blinds, all controlled using the ZigBee wireless control spec from your HDTV via one simple remote.

As the smart grid/smart meter trend grows, Control4 will supply the EC-100 to local power companies to distribute or sell at a subsidized price to their customers, or perhaps sell them directly to consumers. All to be decided.

1.27 million displaced by China’s Three Gorges Dam: report

Beijing (AFP) Sept 13, 2009 – China has relocated 1.27 million people to make way for the controversial Three Gorges dam development, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, state media reported

$900 Billion to Cut China’s Emissions with Wind Power

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan


As mentioned in previous posts, the United Nations is calling on rich (developed) countries to provide developing countries with $500-600 billion a year in support to tackle climate change. A recent report declares that India needs $1.1 trillion in the next several years to cut emission growth by 50-60% by 2030. Another report from the last week says that China could cut its emissions by 30% by 2030 as well with $900 billion of investment in wind energy.

Read more of this story »

Volkswagen’s Diesel-Hybrid L1 Concept Gets 170 MPG, Available by 2013

from Green Options by Jerry James Stone

Volkswagen will display an updated version of its 1-Liter concept this week at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The diesel-hybrid car which only weighs around 800 lbs gets an jaw-dropping 170 MPG. So who wants one?

It was seven years ago when VW first announced the idea. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch–currently the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Volkswagen Group–drove a prototype of the car from Wolfsburg to Hamburg. It was the world’s first car to travel 100 kilometers on just a single liter of fuel. But the concept wasn’t ready for production as the body’s carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) was too costly for consideration.

Read more of this story »

Finalists of the UPTO35 Competition Revealed

image In June 2009, OLIAROS, a young Greek property development company, issued a call for architects up to 35 years old to submit proposals for the design and construction of a model, affordable student housing complex in Kerameikos and Metaxourgeio (KM), an area in the historic center of Athens, Greece. Finalists have just been announced – view them at Bustler

Dirty coal is here to stay

from Random graphic of the day: UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library by UNEP/GRID-Arendal <mapmaster@grida.no>
Dirty coal is here to stayCoal producers are already taking advantage of the oil shortage and might even more in the future. In 2004 43 % of the electricity produced in the world came from coal.

Certified Emission Reductions

from Random graphic of the day: UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library by UNEP/GRID-Arendal <mapmaster@grida.no>
Certified Emission ReductionsOne certified emission reduction unit is equivalent to a one-tonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (measured in CO2 equivalent). Circles have only been drawn for countries that have issued more than 50,000 CERs. Certified Emission Reduction units issued by host parties.

Clean Energy Technology has Arrived – Funding Stalled

from Green Options by Elizoebeth Jensen

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming recently heard from a panel of leading edge scientists and industry executives on the state of existing U.S. clean technology and the lack of funding for developing and scaling the technology into commercially viable products and services.

The primary technologies discussed were solar and carbon capture technologies. Dr. Brent Constantz, CEO ofCalera Corporation, which focuses on a transformational technology that converts CO2 into green building materials such as cement and aggregate, argues that this process is better than traditional CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage or Sequestration), as it represents a permanent CO2 conversion from gas to solid material.

Read more of this story »

IDSA Announces Winners of 2009 International Design Excellence Awards

from Bustler.net News by Vanilla Hustler

The winners of the 2009 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) competition—a celebration of year’s most innovative and exciting product and product concept designs and one of the world’s most prestigious and recognizable design competitions—exhibit a focus on sustainability, functionality and, in some cases, breathtaking aesthetics. Additionally, a recent trend toward designing products and concepts for underserved or underprivileged markets continued to be in evidence when BusinessWeek, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)Target and Autodesk announced the winners yesterday.

Out of 1631 entries, 31 were awarded the coveted Gold award, while 47 received Silver awards and 72 won Bronze awards, while 349 finalists were named in addition to the winners. This year’s jury, an international cross-section of design leaders led by Andrew Hartman, Philips Design’s design director, new business, bestowed this year’s “Best in Show” award to Nike’s Trash Talk, a performance basketball shoe made from manufacturing waste. This shoe, championed by NBA star Steve Nash, incorporates as many leftover materials—leather and synthetic leather, foam and rubber—as possible without sacrificing any of the performance that comes with shoes made from virgin materials.

Demonstrating the continued value of the IDEA program internationally, 66 designs from 15 countries outside the US were given an IDEA Award: Australia, Brazil, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, The Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. 2009 also marked the second year of IDEA/Brasil, organized by Objeto Brasil and endorsed by IDSA, to spur interest in design from Brazilian corporations as well as to heighten global awareness of Brazil’s rich design heritage. Six winners were honored with IDEA Awards this year, a testament to the exceptional design being created in Brazil as well as the remarkable success of the IDEA/Brasil program for another year.

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Gold Award: NAVE building; Category: Environments; Client: Oi Futuro (Brazil); Design: Jair de Souza, Rita Sepulveda, Ana Carolina Montenegro, Vinte Zero Um (Brazil)

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Gold Award: Nymphenburg Store; Category: Environments; Design: Alf Hackenberg, Martin Langkau, SIGNCE Design (Germany); Joerg Richtsfeld, Nymphenburg (Germany); Axel Hofstadt, Hofstadt Architekten (Germany)

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Gold Award: Havaianas Flagship Store; Category: Environments; Client: Alpargatas (Brazil); Design: Isay Weinfeld, Domingos Pascali, Elena Scarabotolo, Marcelo Alvarenga, Luciana Siqueira, ISAY Weinfeld (Brazil)

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Gold Award: iCASTS; Category: Interactive Product Experiences; Client: University of New South Wales (Australia); Mines Rescue (Australia); Design: UNSW iCinema Design Strategy & Research Centre (Australia); Mines Rescue (Australia)

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Gold Award: Project Masiluleke Home HIV Test Kit; Category: Packaging & Graphics; Client: Pop!Tech (U.S.); iTeach (South Africa); Design: frog design (U.S.)

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Gold Award: SEED transport system; Category: Student Designs; Design: Matthew Vergin, Ryan Callahan, College for Creative Studies (U.S.)

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Gold Award: ICON A5 Amphibious Sport Aircraft; Category: Transportation; Design: Steen Strand, Diego Miralles, Kirk Hawkins, Matthew Gionta, Jon Karkow, ICON Aircraft (U.S.); Randy Rodriguez, Steve Moneypenny, Jim McJunkin, Brenda Parkin, Bruce Campbell, Nissan Design America (U.S.); Troy Lee, Troy Lee Designs (U.S.); Bill Moggridge, David Kelley (U.S.); Stewart Reed, Art Center College of Design (U.S.)

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Gold Award: Better Place Charge Spot; Category: Commercial & Industrial; Client: Better Place; Design: Gadi Amit, Mike Massucco, Chad Harber, Justin Porcano, and Barbara Stettler of NewDealDesign (U.S.); Nekuda DM (Israel)

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Gold Award: Apple LED Cinema Display; Category: Computer Equipment; Design: Industrial Design Team, Apple (U.S.)

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Gold Award: Human-Centered Design Toolkit; Category: Design Strategy; Client: International Development Enterprises (U.S.); Heifer International (U.S.); International Center for Research on Women; and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (U.S.); Design: Tatyana Mamut, Jessica Hastings, Fidel Calderon, Scott Tong, and Sandy Speicher, IDEO (U.S.)

The commitment to sustainability was the hallmark in products such as the Better Place Charge Spot, Dell Studio Hybrid, Energy Seed and Coca-Cola Refresh Recycling Bin. A sense of social responsibility drove the creation of winners such as the Kitten Scanner, the Project Masiluleke Home HIV Test Kit and The Next Generation Perkins/APH Mechanical Braille Writer®. And the striking aesthetics of Apple’s MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro, Samsung’s BD-P4600 Blu-Ray Disc Player and LED 7000 Series (the world’s slimmest LED TV) and the ICON A5 Amphibious Sport Aircraft were also among those products recognized by this year’s jury. The continually-increasing number of student entries and student winners from across the globe demonstrates the future of the design profession is in good hands.

Samsung of South Korea was the top winner from the corporate world, claiming eight awards, while Apple claimed seven, Dell Experience Design Group claimed six and GE Healthcare claimed five. The jurors were captivated by the WEDZE Virtuous, a ski jacket with a removable, inflatable vest that allows you to decide how warm you want to be; impressed by Teneo® Storage Furniture, a storage system whose 20 parts can be used to create 80 different products, and wowed by the BTS! Dual-Cooking Oven, which offers the versatility of a double oven in one oven, prompting juror Claudia Kotchka, Affiliate IDSA, to remark “this is an entry which falls in the ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ category.”

Among design firms, IDEO captured eight awards this year, while NewDeal Design received four awards, and ASTRO Studios, frog design and fuseproject each received three awards. Korea’s Samsung Art and Design Institute/Samsung Design Membership Program topped the list of college wins with a total of eight awards, while Art Center College of Design received five.

The 2009 jury, comprised of 20 world-renowned designers and design thinkers, spent weeks previewing entries online and two-and-a-half days of intense, face-to-face evaluation and debate on IDEA. Judging criteria for each entry focused on eight areas of industrial design excellence: design innovation; benefit to the user; benefit to the client/business; benefit to society; ecological responsibility; appropriate aesthetics and appeal; usability testing; rigor and reliability (Design Research category); and internal factors and methods, implementation (Design Strategy category).

A “People’s Choice” award will also be presented when the winners are honored in a formal ceremony at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Miami on Saturday, September 26, the final day of the anticipated 2009 IDSA International Conference, followed by a gala celebration. Winners will be displayed in the Conference Design Gallery. All 150 winners with descriptions, photos and contacts are now featured on BusinessWeek and IDSA’s web sites.

Eco-Docks Designed to Float in NYC’s Nasty Rivers

from Green Options by Bryan Nelson

Eco-docks

A professor and student team have designed a network of modular floating docks to harness clean energy for New York City.

The eco-docks would generate the energy by harnessing tidal power from the city’s rivers; they should also help to add much needed green space above the dirty waters.

Read more of this story »

nissan: new forest AC aromatherapy

nissan‘s new ‘forest air conditioning’ system controls cabin temperature and ventilation as well as aroma and humidity to help benefit the driver’s mental state while driving.

nissan worked with the tokyo university of science, to better understand the effects that aromas have on human mental activity. their findings resulted in the new ‘forest AC’ system which will be implemented into the new fuga model.

the ‘forest AC’, intermittently and alternately sprays two aromas, borneol (kapur wood, lavender and essential oil) and leaf alcohol, which is meant to ‘alleviate boredom and stimulate the driver’s brain.’the relaxed state allows the person to calm down from external conditions or the consequences of what he or she has done and achieves mental acuity, resulting in good work’ says professor kikunori shinohara of the tokyo university of science.

another feature of the ‘forest AC’ is ‘breezy air’, which fluctuates natural breezes by changing the volume of air flowing through the upper and front vent outlets. it can detect sunlight and outside temperatures and control the ventilation patterns accordingly. the AC system also incorporates humidity control and high performance filter for pollen, odors and allergens. the air inside the cabin is ionized by the deployment of plasmacluster ions, achieving 10 times higher ion densities than in current systems.

via autoevolution


nissan fuga

‘think outside the parking box’ international design competition
designboom and nissan motor company are looking for YOUR artwork that illustrate your perception within the theme ‘think outside the parking box’. challenge conventional urban parking! playful enhanced parking technology, robotic facilities, safety, dynamic services, green parking … creative solutions that address urban parking problems, statements of objections, creative-innovative-and-hilarious ideas in form of videos, art- design objects and illustrations can be submitted. register for free here

Small Wind Sucks, Test Finds

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Interestingly, while big wind can generate far cheaper power than big solar, small wind turns out to do quite the opposite.

A comparative turbine test performed over the last 12 months in Zeeland, Holland revealed that small wind turbines generate very little power for the money. The smaller the rotor, the less power. So I did some comparisons between small wind and solar. I found something surprising.

Small wind could cost 10 times the cost of residential solar to make the same power.

The energy yield was measured in an average wind speed of 8.5 mph over the year.
Here are the results, translated for the U.S. reader, with the comparative solar costs:

Read more of this story »

The Austonian: Dog friendly high-rise touted to become tallest residential building in North America

 The Austonian: Dog friendly high-rise touted to become tallest residential building in North America July 28, Austin

Luxury loving dog owners seeking a new abode that offers pet friendly amenities definitely need to visit the Austonian in Austin, Tex. The Austonian is a 56-story condominium development that is being developed by Grupor Villar Mir. A completely pet friendly luxury high-rise, it offers its dog loving prospective buyers an outdoor pet park, a pet grooming area and a staff of personal assistants available around the clock…more.

Milan Announces the World’s Largest Solar Rooftop Array

Milan Announces the World’s Largest Solar Rooftop Array July 27, Milan

Italy’s Milano Fiera trade fair facility announced that it will be getting a major eco update in the form of the world’s largest solar rooftop solar array! The massive photovoltaic system will cover 2.9 million sq ft of the roof, and carry a peak capacity of 18 megawatts. Due for completion in 2010, the project stands to snag the world title from Zaragoza, Spain’s General Motor’s factory, which currently holds the record for largest rooftop solar plant at 12 megawatts…more.

Coke Extends Commitment to Reduce Carbon Footprint

from Green Options by Ruedigar Matthes

In 2002 the Coca-Cola Company used 3.12 liters of water to produce every liter of poduct. The company, which has captured the taste buds of drinkers worldwide used .57 megajoules of energy and averaged 12.54 grams of waste per liter of product. It’s no wonder that the Coke Kingdom has been less than popular among environmental groups.

With concern for the environment rising among pop culture, however, Coke’s pop has begun to lose its fizz with more than just special interest groups.

Since 2002 the Coke Kingdom has made some changes in order to become more sustainable. In India, the company has worked to offset their water usage by establishing local rainwater harvesting facilities. Over the last two years, Coke has installed 320 rainwater harvesting structures across 17 states in India.

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landor rebrand melbourne

the australian city of melbourne was recently rebranded by landor. the new ‘M’ logo replaces the leaf logo which had been in use for the past fifteen years. the city’s mayor robert doyle says ‘the new design will become an icon for melbourne, synonymous with the modern, vibrant, cool city melbourne is today and will continue to be in the future.’

the new design hopes to achieve better identification of services the city of melbourne is delivering, greater brand impact and flexibility, more cost and time-effective in-house design and brand management.

Popout

‘it was deemed necessary to rebrand when an extensive audit and review revealed the ‘leaf’ logo to be outdated. after 15 years this was understandable. the creation of one strong masterbrand is an opportunity to build a new identity that resonates with our staff, our community, our customers and for the city of melbourne as an local, national and international destination. looking at other cities such as london or new york you see the strength of their single brand.’

the ‘leaf’ was found to be weak when stacked up against other national and international city brands and there was also little understanding of what the ‘leaf’ represented. In addition, the proliferation of additional logos resulted in a lack of shared understanding of the city of Melbourne exposing a fragmentation of our identity.

the cost for the new design was 147,906 AUD in addition to developmental work which cost 91,652 AUD.

full details of the rebrand can be found here.

rafael vinoly architects: curve


image by peter cook

the curve theatre in leicester is the first building in the UK by rafael vinoly architects. the new building
turns the typical theatre configuration inside out, putting the backstage operations on show. through the
clear glass faced, the public is free to look at the theatre building up productions, involving them in the
process. the glass facade is also covered with a louvered curtain wall that covers the building’s four stories.
the two auditorium spaces are also visible from the outside, conceived as islands within the public foyer
around them. the offices and other facilities are all located in an l-shaped wing at the back, containing all
the spaces in a more private setting. the theatre also has a cafe on the ground level that is open outside
performance hours

http://www.rvapc.com

NASA Releases First Image of Mysterious ‘Night Clouds’

from Green Options by Andrew Williams

NASA has released the first ever images of mysterious polar night clouds that form 50 miles above Earth’s surface, and says that they might be linked to global warming.

The startling images were captured by NASA’s “AIM” satellite (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere), and show night clouds above 70 degrees north latitude on May 25. Since then, eyewitnesses on the ground have reported seeing the formations on June 6 over Northern Europe (see image after the jump).

When viewed from space, the mysterious clouds are known scientifically as Polar Mesospheric Clouds, or PMCs, when seen from the ground they are called Noctilucent or “night-shining” Clouds.

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Garbage Trucks to Troll the High Seas

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Shared by 

Here’s a real shifting baseline. Fishing catches may be decreasing, but inadvertent ocean litter pickups of mostly plastic debris are increasing. Fishermen don’t actually go out looking for plastic debris to pick up. These ocean garbage pick-ups are accidental. For now.

But soon, fishermen may be paid to bring garbage back to port.

Already, ocean garbage levels are damaging fishing catches. Dealing with garbage is now costing fishermen an ever increasing amount of time.

Everyone has read different estimates of the size of the giant plastic trash dump now swirling in the Pacific. The Air France crash added evidence of just how big of a problem ocean litter is becoming when oceantrash was mistaken for crash debris.

Currently several organizations are starting to pick up ocean litter:

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Save Amazon With Nuke Waste, Says Environmentalist

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer


In desperate times, people look at desperate measures.

James Lovelock – – who is one of the leading environmentalists on the planet has made a startling proposal: that the best way to save the Amazon from being destroyed is to turn it into a repository for nuclear waste.

He argues in “The Revenge of Gaia” that animals and plants don’t perceive radioactivity as a danger. What is far more threatening to ecosystems are people — who create extensive farming or mining and construction sites.  So to keep humans out of valuable ecosystems, we could dump our nuclear waste there.

That will keep people out.

Oddly, both plants and animals have increased around the areas of Belarus that were heavily radiated after the accident at Chernobyl, although radiation reduces their lifespan.

The lack of human intervention may make nuclear wildlife refuges more beneficial overall:

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Whole Foods Removes GMOs from Grocery List

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan


Whole Foods Market made a big step in food retail this month. The corporate giant that dominates the healthfood market is leading their customers away from GMOs. The company joined the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program this month. The Non-GMO Project is a consortium of people, businesses, and organizations who are committed to cutting GMO’s out of our food stream. This non-profit organization has now established the first scientifically-based, third-party system in North America for identifying if a product is GMO-free — the Product Verification Program.

The fairly new Product Verification Program is what Whole Foods has been searching since GMOs came to the US, the company says.

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New Electricity 42% Wind Says DOE

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Last year almost half the new electricity capacity added to the grid (42%) was wind power, according to Secretary Chu of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Texas led all states with 7,118 MW of total wind capacity installed, followed by Iowa (2791 MW) and California (2517 MW). Seven states now have more than 1,000 MW installed, and 13 have more than 500 MW.

$16 Billion invested in wind projects in 2008 made the United States the world leader in added capacity last year, says  This the fourth consecutive year that the United States has been the world’s fastest-growing wind power market.

Wind power added 8,558 megawatts of new electricity to the grid – – and 8,400 new jobs to the economy.

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that now about half of the components needed for wind turbines are made in the United States.

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Experts surprised by audacity of proposed Hanoi master plan

Experts surprised by audacity of proposed Hanoi master plan July 21, Hanoi City

Hanoi authorities reviewed an ambitious plan for Hanoi’s development to 2030, with a ‘vision’ to 2050. The plan calls for the city’s evolution as ‘the first sustainable capital city.’ It is the work of PPJ, a consortium made up of the US design and architecture firm Perkins Eastman and Posco Engineering & Construction and Jina from South Korea. The Vietnam Institute for Architecture, Urban and Rural Planning (VIAP) also contributed. However, the draft plan is drawing fire from Vietnamese experts…more.

China Invests $30 Billion in Renewable Energy; Economy Rebounds

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

China’s economy makes stunning rebound:

China’s economy grew nearly 8% in the second quarter of 2009, the government said, in a stunning turnaround for the Asian powerhouse that offered some hope for the rest of the world.

Analysts said the rebound in China would offer a boost of confidence for the global economy as it struggles out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. To fight the downturn, the government had begun implementing an internal infrastructure stimulus package from November last year.

China’s exports dropped 21%.
Yet its overall industrial output actually expanded 9%!

Wait. How can that happen?

Because China is investing in its own renewable energy infrastructure:

Read more of this story »

What we can Learn from China’s Heavy Investment in Solar Energy

from Green Options by Jeff Wolfe

Solar Energy in China

As I write this I am preparing to board a very long flight to China, where I’ll be talking to a few Chinese PV module manufacturers, as well as our existing inverter supplier, Motech, in Taiwan. This will be a chance to meet and greet potential future suppliers on their own ground, and review factories as we consider sourcing more materials from China, but there are many things I already know before embarking.

New York Times Columnist, Tom Friedman is right. China is investing heavily and preparing to leave the rest of the renewable energy world in the dust. In the past two weeks Suntech, currently the largest solar module manufacturer in the world, signed 2 GW (2000 MW) of projects in China. Those 2 GW represent merely the contracts of a single company. Last year – and likely this year – the total U.S. market is 350 MW (0.35 GW). Granted, not all the Chinese projects happen this year, but plans are on paper – there is a schedule.

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Timber is tops for environmentally friendly buildings – Teatro Naturale

Timber is tops for environmentally friendly buildings
Teatro Naturale
The study considered the full life cycle of the buildings including the initial embodied energyof the materials used, maintenance, transport, 

England’s homogenised woods are bad for biodiversity

The woodlands of lowland England are becoming less diverse, even though most woods contain just as many species as before.

4 New Eco-Design Rules for the EU — Saving as Much Power as Austria and Sweden Use Annually

from Green Options by Zachary Shahan

The EU is cutting electricity use equivalent to Sweden and Austria’s annual usage. In total, after previous ecodesign regulations, the savings will be greater than Italy’s total consumption by 2020.

The European Union (EU) agreed to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 earlier this year. They stated: “The challenge is to spark a new industrial revolution that will deliver a low-energy economy, whilst making the energy we consume more secure.” In another move to spark this new industrial revolution, the European Commission added 4 new eco-design standards this week to the 5 they had previously set.

The four new eco-design measures will save as much electricity as Sweden and Austria use annually. Combined with the previous five measures, the electricity savings will be more than the total annual usage of Italy!

Read more of this story »

Solar plane to make public debut

Swiss adventurer Bertrand Picard is set to unveil a prototype of the solar-powered plane he hopes one day to fly around the world.

Australia greens up its hospitals – Construction Contractor

Australia greens up its hospitals
Construction Contractor
The Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) new Green Star – Healthcare v1 environmental rating tool will help owners and operators of healthcare 

and more »

UNstudio: retreat exhibition at kunstfort asperen opening june 28th

retreat exhibition, kuntsfort asperen june 28th – september 20th, 2009
curators: ben van berkel and caroline bos/ UN studio
http://www.kunstbus.nl


UNstudio’s installation in the fort
photo © katrien franken
image courtesy UNstudio

on june 28th the exhibition ‘retreat’ curated by ben van berkel of and caroline bos/ UNstudio
will be open to the public at kunstfort asperen. 12 artists were invited to exhibit works which
provide surprising interpretations on the theme of retreat from differing disciplines
and perspectives.

participating artists include: tobias rehberger, frank havermans, ann lislegaard, pipilotti rist,
absalon, andrea zittel, a.p. komen/karen murphy, cosmic wonder, jerszy seymour, lucy orta,
hans op de beeck and sandra backlund.

here is a sneak preview.


exterior of kunstfort asperen
photo © katrien franken
image courtesy UNstudio

retreat – away from daily routine
for ben van berkel and caroline bos the kunstfort asperen and its surroundings was
the starting point for the theme retreat. the fortress has lost its original function, whereby
the perception of place and space has changed. this transition from defense post to idyllic
place forms the premise of the exhibition. the theme, although reflecting today’s
socio-economic realities, was in fact chosen prior to the current global crisis.


‘open my glade’, 2000 installation by pipilotti rist
photo © katrien franken
image courtesy UNstudio

according to ben van berkel en caroline bos, ‘each in their own way has invented solutions
for people in need of a refuge. but each also shows that the solution and the situation you seek
to escape are interwoven, and that there is a painful fragility to the human that no shelter
can cover up.’


‘retreat’ section
image courtesy UNstudio


‘retreat’ elevations
image courtesy UNstudio


‘retreat’ core
image courtesy UNstudio

unstudio has designed a spatial installation which reinterprets the organization of
the fort and forms the binding element between the exhibited works. the structure winds
through the fort like a ribbon, playing with the changing perceptions and experiences
of the space, both literally and symbolically. the material and the diamond structure
of the installation reflect the exhibited artworks which are installed around the fort.


UNstudio’s installation in the fort
photo © katrien franken
image courtesy UNstudio

credits:
architectural installation: ben van berkel and caroline bos
with christian veddeler and arndt willert, gary friedman
curating: ben van berkel and caroline bos
production: machteld kors, cas bool and eric otten
building and engineering: p&p gmbh fuerth, odenwald
graphics: bloemendaal & dekkers, amsterdam
advisory board: jan brand, jose teunissen, ole bouman,
tom van gestel, meta knol, catelijne de muijnck, anne van der zwaag

Sears Tower Reaches for Heights of Efficiency With $350 Million Retrofit

from Green Options by Leslie Berliant

sears towerThe Sears Tower loomed large during my childhood in the Chicago suburbs. I remember when it opened in 1973. We took a special trip downtown to see it. According to my aesthetics as a seven year old, it wasn’t very elegant and I preferred the John Hancock Tower with its swanky restaurant on the 95th floor and proximity to Marshall Fields. Then the company my dad worked for was bought by Coldwell Banker, a subsidiary of Sears at the time, and his office was moved to the Tower. I spent some quality daddy-daughter time there, and one memorable summer got paid the incredibly generous sum of $8 an hour to take the train to the city every day, do some filing and hang out downtown.

But the Tower, in my mind, never had much to distinguish it other than a great view from the 103rd floor, its height of 110 stories and the convenience of the train station. But now everything is changing.

By the end of the summer, it will no longer be the Sears Tower. It will be called the Willis Tower, named for the global insurance broker. But more importantly, the building will undergo a $350 million efficiency and renewable energy retrofit that will reduce the base building electricity use by up to 80 percent – 68 million kilowatt hours annually or 150,000 barrels of oil every year. The retrofit will also create more than 3,600 jobs in the Chicago area.

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a- asterisk: ‘shanghai 2035’ concept design


‘shanghai 2035’ by a – asterik
all images courtesy a – asterik

‘shanghai 2035’ was developed by japanese firm a- asterik is a concept design for
the future of shanghai city.

in 2009, the population of shanghai increased to 24.5 million. the city today has
a rare situation that can not be seen in any other countries. their population is raised
by the pace of 3 billion every year causing an aging society  and a divide between
the rich and the poor, yet building construction is growing at a rapid rate.


estimated population increase by 2035


skyscrapers in shanghai

after the olympic games in 2008 an urban renewal planning project was established.

shanghai 2035 aims to enhance the city’s appeal and improve city life for the future.
the project features two elements an ‘air’ city and ‘ground’ city that will prevent the
loss of green and the land. the network will promote the correlation between the life
in the air level and the grand level.

making the most of the tall buildings and extending the verticality and the availability
of publicized facilities to 300m up in the air. while  preserving the current buildings
and historical buildings, the new city layers will function not only as the infrastructure
of the air level and the ground level, but also the high quality network refined by the
object and the operation of the city.


vertical plan of shanghai 2035


air level of ‘shanghai’ 2035


aerial view of ‘shanghai 2035’ concept design


aerial view of ‘shanghai 2035’ concept design


aerial view of ‘shanghai 2035’ concept design


aerial view of ‘shanghai 2035’ concept design


‘shanghai 2035’ positioned over the city’s skyscrapers

credits:
project name: shanghai 2035
location: shanghai china
principle use: urban concept
site area: 6 340km2
design: a – asterisk (nobuhiro nakamura)
collaboration with: ouvi inc (shin yokoo)
design period: oct 2008 – jun 2009
photographer: shuhei kaihara
perspective: gao dayong

The WWF living planet index for freshwater

from Random graphic of the day: UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library by UNEP/GRID-Arendal <mapmaster@grida.no>
The WWF living planet index for freshwater‘The over-exploitation and mismanagement of fisheries, particularly when combined with other man-made stresses, can lead to the collapse of regional fish faunas. In many countries, aquaculture is rapidly increasing in response to declining natural fisheries, often exacerbating the degradation of inland and coastal ecosystems through habitat alteration, pollution and the introduction of alien species’ (Revenga et al., 1998). The Freshwater Species Population Index measures the average change over time in the populations of some 194 species of freshwater birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish. Between 1970 and 1999, the Freshwater Species Population Index fell by nearly 50%, which is a very rapid decline in population indices. The harvest of freshwater fish is likely to increase either through capture fisheries or aquaculture (otherwise known as ’fish-farming’). In many developing countries, freshwater fish provide a significant contribution to the diets of local communities. In Africa and Asia, fish provide 21% and 28% of all animal protein, respectively (Revenga et al., 1998). The figures are more significant in landlocked countries, where data on the fish caught are often not formally recorded, and their importance is not fully known. In 1999, reported fish production from inland waters totalled 28 million tonnes, with contributions of 8.2 million and 19.8 million tonnes from capture fisheries and aquaculture, respectively. With major under-reporting from subsistence fisheries, these figures could be twice as high (FAO, 2000). ‘The introduction of the non-native Nile Perch to Africa’s Lake Victoria in 1954, combined with pollution loading and increased water turbidity resulting from agriculture and industrial development, has greatly reduced indigenous fish populations. Kenya, for example, reported only 0.5% of its commercial fish catch as Nile Perch in 1976. Five years later, the proportion was 68%. Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world, has lost an estimated 200 different endemic cichlid species found nowhere else, while the remaining 150 are endangered. Two-thirds of the freshwater species introduced into the tropics worldwide have become established’ (Revenga et al., 1998)

BIG: Tallinn’s New City Hall

from AMNP

big-tallinn-town-hall-7.jpg

The Bjarke Ingels Group has won an international competition to design Tallinn’s [Estonia] new city hall on a 35,000 square meter plot near the Linnahall building. The new design presents a cluster of volumes, housing different administrative offices and interconnecting to form atrium and/or courtyard spaces that would seem to connect to more public plazas surrounding the structure.

Bjarke Ingels, BIG, Partner-in-Charge:

There is a saying that success has many fathers. That is especially true when designing such a crucial public building and public space as a town hall. The design needs to be shaped by input from neighbours  and users, citizens and politicians. Paradoxically we architects often find ourselves isolated from this crucial dialogue at the moment of conception, due to the anonymity of the architectural competition. Since this was a 2 stage competition, we already had our first feedback from the jury – causing us to dramatically rearrange our design to fit the citizens’ needs. As a result we have envisioned a very elastic structure – capable of adapting to unexpected demands. We see it as the first conversation in a design dialogue we look forward to continue.

big-tallinn-town-hall-1.jpg

The design emphasizes openness, and connections with the surrounding city. Located within the tower/spire shown, the city council looks out onto the city and outdoor public spaces – while at the same time, those outside can get a glimpse at the inner workings or the city’s government. To give those inside, and out, a better/more interesting view, the ceiling of the tower is to be tiled with a reflective surface – creating a kind of ‘periscope’ effect. This gives the city council a reflection of the city overhead – maybe a constant reminder of who/what they’re working for – and possibly gives the average citizen the ability to look in on meetings as they’re taking place, as if looking over the shoulders of their representatives.

big-tallinn-town-hall-2.jpg

The periscope is a form of democratic tower, where even the average Tallinn citizen on the street gets to enjoy the overview from the top. From a distance the silhouette of the town hall tower enters the family of Tallinn’s historical spires including those of the Niguliste Museum-Concert Hall, Toomkirik, Kaarli Kirik, Pühavaimu Kirik, St. Olav Church and the current town hall.

big-tallinn-town-hall-3.jpg

big-tallinn-town-hall-4.jpg

::images + quoted text courtesy of the Bjarke Ingels Group::

China Heating Up Global Competition for Solar

from Green Options by Jennifer Kho

There’s no question that China is a force to be reckoned with in the solar industry. The country is the largest silicon-based solar-cell producer in the world, with Chinese and Taiwanese production accounting for 39 percent of global production last year, compared with 28 percent from Europe, according to a report the Worldwatch Institute released last week.

But while China had long been considered a potential game-changer in solar, companies’ growth had previously been slowed by a silicon shortage that hit newcomers more dramatically than incumbents. Even so, Chinese manufacturers overtook German and Japanese companies in 2007. Now that plenty of silicon is available, could the country’s dominance grow even larger? Or will some Chinese manufacturers struggle to differentiate themselves and suffer more than the rest of the market during an oversupply of panels?

Read more of this story »

Water and Energy – A Crisis and An Opportunity

from Green Options by Paul O’Callaghan

This post was written by Paul O’Callaghan, founding CEO of the Clean Tech consultancy, O2 Environmental Inc. and lecturer on Sustainable Energy at the BC Institute of Technology.

inside renewable energy podcastAny plan to switch from gasoline to electricity or biofuels is a strategic decision to switch our dependence from foreign oil to domestic water’.

So says Dr. Michael Webber of the University of Texas at Austin in an interview with Steven Lacey on the Inside Renewable Energy Podcast this week.

Webber comments on the links between water and energy, the potential conflicts, but also about the potential opportunities which arise when you start to understand these links and realize that saving water saves energy, and saving energy saves water.

Read more of this story »

The Opening of the Northwest Passage is Happening Today, not in 10 years!

from Green Options by Amiel Blajchman

Last week’s confirmation of climate change by the White House has only further raised the stakes for the Arctic. As detailed in formerposts, one of the significant effects of our changing climate is the thinning of the ice pack in the Arctic, and the subsequent opening of the Northwest Passage. As the Northwest Passage opens, so too will we see an upsurge in the demand for shipping and the rush to access oil, gas, and mineral resources. [More…]

Significantly for observers, commercial fleets are beginning to view the Northwest Passage as a viable option for getting from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

“The ice is more favourable than in past decades,” said Capt. Georges Tousignant of Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping, “It’s navigable, it’s not that high-risk.”

And it’s not just Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping that is interested in navigating the Northwest Passage, the Canadian Coast Guard has seen an increase in the number of ships that entered the Northwest Passage. The longer that good shipping conditions continue, the more companies that will view the Passage as a viable transit route.

Unfortunately for the polar bears and infrastructure built reliant on permanent ice in the north, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that ice melt rates have increased. In May of 2009, ice melted at a rate of about 54,000 square kilometers per day throughout the Arctic. Average May ice melt has traditionally been closer to 47,000 kilometers per day.

The implications of all this ice melt is that similar to the long-term melting of permafrost, there will be less of the dangerous multi-year ice that impedes shipping every year. And therefore every year there will be increased shipping, and increasing attention to the viability of the Northwest Passage.

With increasing attention being paid to the Northwest Passage, watch for its status under international law to become a point of contention along with other northern concerns such sovereignty and related territorial claims.

Image: ashatsea (Creative Commons)

menis arquitectos: jordanek music hall

spanish architecture studio menis arquitectos won the competition for the jordanek music hall in torun,
poland. the city is embarking on the project in an effort to win the bid to become the european capital for
culture 2016. the new music hall aims to bring a world-class venue to the UNESCO protected old town in
torun. the building site’s on a large plot, most of which will be used for park space. to keep the building
unimposing, the architects kept it as low as possible. brick will be used on the interior to recall the brick
facades of the historic buildings nearby and the exterior will be a light concrete that is intentionally cracked
to reveal the red brick inside. fernando menis designed the interior space to be very flexible, modelling it
after the polish dish zurek (a soup served in a hollowed out bread bowl). 2 halls dominate the space,
a smaller one seating 1000 and the main one, which seats 3000. however these two halls are parallel and
can be combined for big performances. the music hall is set for completion in 2012

Green timber scheme ‘discriminatory’ – Architecture and Design

Green timber scheme ‘discriminatory’
Architecture and Design
The new scheme is part of the GBCA’s ongoing review of the Green Star environmental rating tools for buildings. The framework was developed in consultation 

and more »


Human Health Endangered by Australian Drought

from Green Options by Susan Kraemer

Due to climate change; one of the now dried up lakes in Australia is gradually turning into Sulphuric Acid.
murrayriverdrought
The Age is reporting that there are fears people living in towns around the lakes may suffer from acid dust, blowing off the bare lakes as rising acidity threatens to wipe out ecology in the lakes. The lake-bed soils turn into sulphuric acid when exposed to the air, and record low flows down the Murray are exposing the beds.

Read more of this story »

World’s largest solar array planned for the Sahara Desert

from DVICE by AdamFrucci
World's largest solar array planned for the Sahara DesertThe Sahara Desert gets a lot of sun. In fact, it gets so much that if a mere 0.3% of its area was used for a solar plant, it could power all of Europe. So it only makes sense that 20 German companies are looking into doing just that.

The plan would be to scatter solar collectors all across northern Africa in politically stable countries rather than putting them all in one spot. It’ll take years to build everything as well as $555 billion in funds, but in the long run it’ll be well worth it.

Next100 via Inhabitat

Chinese projects focus on the economics of heat recovery – Engineer Live

Chinese projects focus on the economics of heat recovery
Engineer Live, UK
To achieve that, and depending on the precise brief, in-house teams run emissions assessments, source and manage carbon portfolios, and design staff/customer engagement programmes. To meet net zero carbondioxide reductions, carbon offsetting is part 

moho architects: mixed use tower in san jose de costa rica


mixed used tower, san jose costa rica
image courtesy moho architects

rising above the skyline of san jose in costa rica, this mixed use tower by spanish firm
moho architects will be a new landmark, providing crucial amenities for the city, sheltered
from the local climate. the concept is driven by a progressive environmental strategy that
is expected to establish new benchmarks for the region.

the building offers an ideal model of sustainable urban living by reducing reliance on
transport and balancing energy consumption between its mixed-use program of day
and night time activities. program include  mixed commercial and retail spaces together
with a business centre, offices, conference rooms, hotel floors and casino. the tower rises
25 floors consisting of a viewing platform and restaurant providing panoramic views
over the city.

the tower splits and creases independently as it rises into the sky. this ‘head split’ configuration,
permits natural lighting, while sky courts filled with vegetation punctuate at intervals the tower
and mitigate the hot climate.

the development will take advantage of a number of sustainable energy strategies and key
to the energy performance of the building are its wooden brise-soleil facades, designed to
filter solar gain and to encourage daylight to permeate the complex.  the tower is intended to
be a paradigm for passive environmental control, providing an alternative to the more conventional models
of sealed and air-conditioned glass stumps. the layered facade cuts air-conditioning load
and the plan encourages daylight, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

the project is currently in the schematic design phase and is expected to be completed in 2012.


mixed used tower
image courtesy moho architects


mixed used tower
image courtesy moho architects


mixed used tower
image courtesy moho architects

Two Thirds of Americans Would Refuse to Give Up iPod – Even if it Ruined Environment

from Green Options by Andrew Williams

An astonishing new survey has revealed that more than 60% of Americans would refuse to stop using their iPods, even if they knew it was seriously damaging the environment.

The survey, which quizzed more than 1,000 people across the US, found that, whilst the majority of Americans are making efforts to buy greener products, most wouldn’t do so if it meant compromising on convenience or comfort.

Read more of this story »

Reforestation, town of Galma and surroundings, Niger 1975 and 2003

from Random graphic of the day: UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library by UNEP/GRID-Arendal <mapmaster@grida.no>
Reforestation, town of Galma and surroundings, Niger 1975 and 2003In 1970s and 1980s – years of environmental crisis, there were few trees remaining in Niger. Wind-blown sands razed farmers’ young crops and they often had to plant crops three times to succeed. Since the middle of the 1980s in the most densely populated parts of Niger farmers have begun to protect and manage young trees and bushes regenerating on their cultivated fields. This is natural farmer-managed forest regeneration. Some trees fix nitrogen from the air on their root system, which helps to maintain and improve soil fertility. Improved soil fertility leads to higher crop yields. The trees and bushes protect crops against wind and sand and farmers now often need to sow only once, which increases the length of the growing season. Women are perhaps the biggest winners. They spend much less time now on the collection of firewood than they did 20 years ago – about 0.5 hours/day now instead of 2.5 hours/day in 1984. They also now own 80% of the goats and sheep, which provides them with income. Fodder is much less of a problem now than 20 years ago as the trees produce seedpods and leaves, which are a major source of fodder in the dry season. The most important incentive for tree regeneration by farmers was a change in perception of ownership of the trees. In 1985 the perception was that trees were owned by the State, but farmers now perceive an exclusive right to their on-farm trees. Farmer-led tree regeneration has happened on at least 5 million hectares – once barren, sandy soils almost devoid of vegetation now has 20, 40 or more trees/ha. This is a spectacular scale, unique for the Sahel and probably even unique for Africa. It is not spread evenly. It is strongest in the regions with higher population densities.

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